View Full Version : How to get good results with plain old spray cans

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01-05-2010, 03:02 PM
Hi all,
I'm posting this because I am amazed at the results I achieved on my Bergen canopy using Rustoleum. Thought maybe I could help someone else out there by showing how I did it.
I was getting ready to send my canopy off to be painted because I wanted this one to look good. But the thought of spending over 200 bucks for a paint job when I also needed to get my cyclic servos made me decide to go a different route.
I read some of the posts here about clear coating and decided to do a test on an old plank cowling I had with some rustolium red and clear. I always did super basic paint jobs on my plane cowls since I didnt have any painting gear. I never tried wet sanding and clear coating before. I couldnt believe what a little elbow grease does!! So I decided to give it a shot with my heli.

So here is how I did it.

1. First, here are the materials, all from WalMart for about 25 bucks. (!!!!!)


2. After sanding down the seams with 400 grit on a board,I applied 3M glazing compound to fill in the holes. This stuff dries pretty quick.


3. After sanding the whole canopy with 400 grit dry, I washed it with hot soapy water again and sprayed a few light coats of white primer.


4. After letting the canopy dry for a couple days (the BIGGEST drawback I think to this procedure) I wet sanded the entire canopy until smooth. I didn't have any pinholes left and my seams were filled . Time to move on.

5. Next, I laid down my color coats starting with a white base coat and then the black since every other line was placed in relationship to it. I used 3M green painting tape. As you can see in some of the next few photos, some of the paint bled under the tape. I blame this on me rushing. I was getting annoyed that I had to wait two days before putting more tape on in fear of the tape lifting the paint off. Thankfully it didnt.
(The yellow you see is actually Krylon Fusion paint since I already had it and I knew it was compatible with the Rustoleum)


6. As I laid more color I discovered if you start off with a very fine mist coat, the paint doesnt bleed under the tape. DOH! Lesson learned.


7. After all the color was on and it sat for a couple days, I wet sanded the entire canopy again, this time with 600 grit. VERY LIGHTLY! As I read somewhere here, more water, less elbow grease!! This smoothed all the paint edges. (In the below picture you can clearly see the Orange peel effect. No worries, it will go away soon.)


8. Next, I laid a few light coats of clear, about three minutes in between each coat. again, you can see the orange peel, its just getting more shiney now!!


9. Next, I wet sanded the clear (again after two days :arggg: ) with 1000 grit. Once it was all nice and smooth and the orange peel was all gone, I applied the graphics which are vinyl from Kirby's Kustom graphics.

10 Next, I sprayed clear again, just like the first time. After it was all dry, I wet sanded it again, this time with 2000 grit. Here you can see how as you sand, the orange peel starts to go away:


biggest thing to remember is to watch the water carefully... If you see the water changing colors then you have sanded through the clear!!!

11. After it is all wet sanded and dry, I pollished it using 3M rubbing compound and then McGuires car wax. It is as smooth as a babies botttom! Here is the end result:



I really hope this helps someone. Thanks for looking!

01-05-2010, 03:06 PM
You mean 1000 grit right??? You wet sanded with 1000 grit...not 100 grit. :YeaBaby:

Might want to change that...someone may take some 100 grit to their paint and destroy all of their hard work!

Looks great!! :thumbup:

01-05-2010, 03:11 PM
Wow, good catch!! I fixed it. Yeah, 100 grit would have ruined my day....

01-05-2010, 03:29 PM
Great job... Looks amazing...:noteworthy

01-05-2010, 03:40 PM
Thank you very much!

01-05-2010, 03:58 PM
To get started with all of this, I first came up with my idea on how I wanted it to look. I used Paintbrush to first draw an outline of a bergen canopy (yes, very rough, but it got the job done.) and then filled it in with color. This was the one of about 10 versions that I decided on, and even then I decided to go with blue instead of black at the last minute....


01-05-2010, 08:37 PM
Looks great!

I have not found any single part clears that stand up to glow fuel... but I have not tested them with gas. When you did your cowl test did you see if gas or two-stroke oil would damage the clear?


01-05-2010, 09:01 PM
After I saw your post, I decided to give my all white Align canopy a little rattle can makeover. I was tired of loosing orientation with the dark blue canopy that my CopterX came with because I couldn't hardly see the thing when there were any clouds in the sky.....but this new paint job should be much easier to see.

Some of the colors started to bleed a little when ever I sprayed the clean on it for some reason...but overall I think it turned out ok.



01-05-2010, 09:23 PM
When I did one test of the clear, I found the clear bubbled the base coat if I didnt let it sit longer than a day. Not sure if that is the same thing that happened to you. But it looks nice!

I didnt test the gas on the cowl, but thats a good idea! I will try that tomorrow.

01-05-2010, 09:30 PM
Yeah, next time I'm going to let the base dry overnight before I spray the clear on.....:thumbup:

01-05-2010, 10:00 PM
As for the clear smudging your colors... that usually happens if the clear is laid on too thick. You will get that with high dollar 2K clears too. Just build up the clear in layers, letting each layer flash before moving on.

Basically the solvents in your clear will melt into the layers below (as it should) but when you have too much it melts you work. It can be a nice effect if you want your canopies to have a Salvador Dali look :) :)


01-05-2010, 10:25 PM
Yeah, I was really rushing it. I knew something was going to happen...either I was going to pull the paint up with the tape, or the clear was going to do something weird, or something else.....

I do a lot of automotive paint work on the side, and I learned a long time ago that you need to be patient and wait for each coat to flash you are you are going to have issues. And like you said, with the clear you need to wait for each coat to flash before you lay another coat down or you can run into all kinds of issues.

I did the whole job on this canopy...start to finish, in a little over 2 hours :shock:. I used a hair dryer to cook the coats and make them flash faster. I will take my time on the next one...this one was just an experiment more than anything. :)

For as many "wrong" things that I did....I'm really surprised it turned out as good as it did.

01-06-2010, 11:17 PM
Looks killer hey if need be i have a outline drawing i use when i do my work .http://i153.photobucket.com/albums/s221/bouoy/bergenoutline.jpgif you click it it will go larger and you can save it or i can post a bigger one if need be

01-07-2010, 01:25 PM
I am just starting to try to dream up some paint designs, and I use these with colored pencils. I did them in Autocad using images from the net.

Trex 600N

Raptor 50 3D

01-12-2010, 03:42 PM
Ed, Your nicely detailed walk through has finally given me the ambition to paint a canopy...:clappp Thank you for your efforts! :noteworthy

01-12-2010, 06:03 PM
Thanks man, your post made the effort worth while!!

01-12-2010, 08:39 PM
One thing that might make things easier. Go to your automotive paint store and pick up some 3M pinstripe tape, it will make a better seal and keep your paint from bleeding under the tape. It is also easier to bend and make curves. :thumbup:

02-07-2010, 10:46 AM
i had used the same RUSTOLEUM spray paint with the step you post BUT when i applyed the clear coat the colors beging to pell off like if it were an paint remover,so i did all over again ,wait for 3 long days and re applyed the clear coat same thing happen the clear coat ruin the job,what am i doing wrong ???????

02-07-2010, 07:18 PM
Are you spraying a light mist coat of clear first? When I practiced on some scrap and sprayed the first coat heavy, it lifted the paint some also. When I sprayed a light mist coat first and let it dry for a few minutes before spraying a few more heavier coats, I had no problems.

02-07-2010, 07:52 PM
When you mask off for your trim colors use a lithe coat of clear on the tape edges to seal it down to prevent bleeding under the tape.

02-10-2010, 07:52 AM
Well, I had a little crash...so it looks like I'll be painting another canopy soon. I'm going to try for the same color scheme/design.....but I'm going to try to make it a little nicer this time....maybe with some more affects. I'll take my time with this one :thumbup:

02-10-2010, 02:59 PM
thats probably it after waiting three days i procced to apply an HEAVY CLEAR COAT with awfull results ,just like an paint remover does,i"ll try again with an light mist like you recomend (hope doesn"t run the paint again)

02-16-2010, 10:08 PM
That looks super

02-17-2010, 01:36 PM
Ed, Your canopy looks super. The question I have is how well does the paint hold up to flexing of the canpy as well as fuel mist. Any crazing or cracking? Is the finish coat fuel proof?
I am about to paint a Protos canopy and will try to duplicate your paint procedure.

Thanks for the great article.

02-28-2010, 09:45 AM
What strength of 3M rubbing compound did you use? Every time I search it it comes up with descriptions like aggressive cutting action? I dont want to do all the work then rub the whole thing clean because I used the wrong one. :)

Fantastic job btw hope mine looks as good as that!!