N4184R Painting

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Scheme3-.jpg (167694 bytes)In late 2001, I contracted with SchemeDesigners to produce a novel scheme, based on my aesthetic preferences.  Craig Barnett, the owner, did a wonderful job.  He put up several variations on several themes, which I reviewed (via a specific URL for my design on his website), and we iterated a few times based on my feedback.  I did an "electronic vote", over the web, as a way of soliciting input from family, friends, and flying acquaintances.  ultimately, I chose a design that would hide both the sharp edges and bulk of the Cherokee's outline, as well as give it something of a "patriotic" look.

Kevin Barr, Santa Paula Aircraft Painting.jpg (125704 bytes)Then, in early February, 2002, Santa Paula Aircraft Painting, owned by Kevin Barr, went to work.  Kevin's team takes great pride in their work, and have developed a reputation for being one of the best aviation paint shops in the West.  They take their time, and don't work on more than two or three planes at a time, but the results are fantastic. Of course, you have to pay for that kind of quality work, and Kevin knows the value of his work.

N4184R old-paint parts off.jpg (76382 bytes)As every good aviation paint shop must, Santa Paula Aircraft Painting works very closely with a good mechanic shop, right across the "street", called Marple Aviation, owned and operated by Walt Marple.  Walt's staff took care of removing the control surfaces, and doing miscellaneous mechanical repairs that arose during the paint job.  For instance, two of the fuel sump drain valves were leaky, so I had them replaced during the paint job.  At Kevin's suggestion, I also had Walt install superior heat shields on the interior of the engine cowl so that a hot engine wouldn't cause the paint to overheat and eventually bubble.

N4184R rwingtip discussion.jpg (87594 bytes)As the old paint came off, we discovered that someone previously had been "bondo happy".  It seems that whenever a dent or even a puncture in the skin occurred, rather than fixing it correctly, the previous mechanics would simply slap bondo on, smooth it out, and do a touch-up paint job.  The pictures below show some of the dents and holes that we discovered from removing the bondo.

N4184R Painting 008.jpg (131069 bytes)    N4184R Painting 014.jpg (163836 bytes)    N4184R Painting 015.jpg (131069 bytes)    N4184R Painting 016.jpg (163836 bytes)  

N4184R Painting 007.jpg (98302 bytes)There was a lot of bondo all over, in many places: the wing-tips, especially the right one, the STOL leading edges, a hole in the fuselage, a dent on the stabilator, etc.

N4184R right wingtip bondo.jpg (57022 bytes)    N4184R Painting 009.jpg (131069 bytes)    N4184R Painting 010.jpg (98302 bytes)    The right wing tip appeared to have a bondo-repair job of some unreported damage.  If you look over these pictures closely, you'll see the wingtip bondo "repair job".  N4184R right wingtip leak stains.jpg (58398 bytes)

There also was some spotting from a gasoline leak on the bottom side of that same bondo repair job.

It was very interesting to see my plane being transformed from the old Piper paint scheme into an aluminum "SPAM" can, and, eventually, into its now beautiful self.  The pictures below show some of the intermediate steps.

N4184R Painting 003.jpg (196603 bytes)    N4184R Painting 004.jpg (196603 bytes)    N4184R Painting 005.jpg (163836 bytes)    N4184R Painting 006.jpg (163836 bytes)    N4184R Painting 020.jpg (163836 bytes)    N4184R Painting 021.jpg (163836 bytes)   

N4184R Painting 024.jpg (149096 bytes)N4184R Painting 023.jpg (163836 bytes)Of course, the landing gear struts got their own special paint stripping treatment too.

 

   

N4184R Painting 011.jpg (64397 bytes)N4184R Painting 012.jpg (98302 bytes)N4184R Painting 013.jpg (131069 bytes)The bottom of the plane had some corrosion along its belly seam, and around and under the foot step. Kevin's crew took care of it with some brushing and an acid wash.

The engine cowls and control surfaces were removed from the very beginning and treated specially.  Kevin normally includes about 10 hours of fiberglass work on all paint jobs, but my plane required a bit more than that.  Here are some shots of the intermediate and finished, but unpainted results.

    N4184R Painting 018.jpg (163836 bytes)    N4184R Painting 019.jpg (163836 bytes)    N4184R Painting 017.jpg (98302 bytes)

My wife says that the three most expensive words in the English language are "might as well", and when considering the effort and result of a custom paint job in contrast with the existing 30 year-old plastic windows, it became obvious that we "might as well" replace all the windows too.  So, that's what we did.  Of course, this also meant having to remove the interior window frames, and install new ones.

N4184R new paint - new window & frame detail.jpg (663983 bytes)New Piper wanted $$$ for new plastic frames, so Walt found an alternative source of plastic with which we was able to fabricate new window frames.  He did a really nice job, and the plastic is even the same color as the rest of the relatively new interior.  The picture above is of the new frame in the left door window.

Finally, in late May, the "restoration" and painting was completed, and here is what N4184R now looks like, from many angles, with some details, too.

N4184R newly painted.jpg (750471 bytes)    N4184R new paint - right front close view.jpg (898293 bytes)    N4184R new paint - nose detail 1.jpg (676351 bytes)    N4184R new paint - nose detail 2.jpg (642909 bytes)   

N4184R new paint - left side.jpg (735531 bytes)    N4184R new paint - left rear.jpg (685731 bytes)    N4184R new paint - left rear detail.jpg (674916 bytes)    N4184R new paint - left door detail.jpg (589327 bytes)

N4184R new paint - rear detail.jpg (614375 bytes)    N4184R new paint - right wheel detail.jpg (648946 bytes)    N418R new paint - nose gear detail.jpg (667397 bytes)    N4184R new paint - wingtip detail.jpg (543373 bytes)    N4184R new paint - aileron detail.jpg (565570 bytes)

N4184R new paint - right rear view.jpg (717233 bytes)    N4184R new paint - right front view.jpg (836455 bytes)    N4184R new paint w-Alan.jpg (708040 bytes)

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Alan K. Stebbens Flying Website - Last updated: 04/13/2003