Experimenter

JAN 2015

Experimenter is a magazine created by EAA for people who build airplanes. We will report on amateur-built aircraft as well as ultralights and other light aircraft.

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20 Vol.4 No.1 / Januar y 2015 IT'S NOT PAINT; IT'S A WRAP! "HEY, NICE PAINT JOB on your airplane!" commented numerous admirers when they saw Pete McCoy's sunny yellow-and-white airplane on the flightline at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2014. Pete, who hails from Laguna Niguel, California, and completed his Van's RV-9A in February 2013, would smile jubilantly and reply, "It's not paint; it's a wrap!" His response provoked some incredulous expressions and intrigue, and those passersby paused to learn more. "It's a 3M Scotchprint vinyl wrap," Pete explained. "There's been a lot of talk on the Internet about people thinking about doing this, and there are at least a couple of companies that specialize in it. So I contacted them and asked a bunch of questions, and they were really helpful. The main company that I know of is in Florida, but I live in southern California. They wanted to get a few people together at one time and then fly somebody out to do the job. That got me thinking I should look in my local area, and I found dozens of companies that do vinyl wrap. You see a truck driving down the street with all the colorful advertising images; well, that's vinyl wrap. So I went to the 3M website and they had a list of installers in southern California. I contacted six of them and sent them a photo of a paint scheme similar to this plane and asked if they could do that in vinyl. They got back to me and I made a selec- tion. Gatorwraps had never done an airplane, but they had done guitars, motorcycles, scooters, cars, vans, and trucks. They had even done a submarine with the conning tower and wings on it, but they hadn't done the really complex corners and contours of an airplane. They were very confi- dent that the installer wouldn't have a problem with it." Pete was pleasantly surprised to hear the low price quote for the project; it was less than half the price of a paint shop's quote. Not only that, it would require very little time to complete. Another aspect Pete liked about the vinyl wrap installation was that he didn't have to remove any control surfaces from the airplane. Nor was there any tedious masking process. "I was flying for a year with no paint," he said. "And I know several guys who took their airplanes to the paint shop and it took about three months. My first flight was more than a year ago, and I fly every weekend; I couldn't bring myself to go into the paint shop, take it apart, and not see it again for three months!" THE PROCESS As preparation for the vinyl wrap installation, Pete made diligent efforts to comply with Gatorwraps' simple instruc- tions to ensure that all the surfaces of the airplane were very clean and very smooth. "I cleaned all the bare aluminum really well with microfiber cloths and rubbing alcohol to make sure there was no grit, grime, or grease anywhere on them," said Pete. "I also went over the fiberglass wingtip fairings with 400 Pete McCoy and his vinyl-wrapped RV-9A. One hundred and seventy hours of fl ying time so far, and the vinyl wrap seems to be just fi ne. Even the spinner is vinyl wrapped. Photography by Sparky Barnes Sargent

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