Nose Cone Painting techniques

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Angel_of_the_Skies

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Hey there guys, just finished spray painting the nose cone to my zephyr Jr. I went with a neon yellow color rather than the original black nose cone since I want to be able to find the rocket easier once it touches down on ground.

Here is a process of what I did and hopefully you guys can add on to what I did to my nose cone.

First, I sanded the polyethylene nose cone with 220 grit, until left the material ‘fuzzy’ and soft.

I then used duplicolor plastic adhesión promotor on the nosecone, using a total of 3 light coats with 3 minutes of dry time in between as per instruction.

Within 10 mins of that, I priceeded to spray the cone with duplicolor automotive Primer 2 in 1 Filler and Sandable primer. I sprayed 2 light coats followed with one medium coat, allowing 10 mins between each coat

Once filled, I used once again 220 grit (dry) to smoothen out the primer and get an even smooth surface

Then I moved onto rust oleum flat white primer (since my topcoat will be a neon yellow). I painted 3 light coats with about 10 minutes in between each coat. I did not sand in this stage (there were very small low spots in the paint but wasn’t too worried since this will be a park rocket)

Last stage here, I used Rustoleum fluorescent neon yellow. I sprayed on 3 light coats with 10 mins in between each.

Overall the cone came out to my liking (for my first ever MPR), but not perfect. I do plan to gloss the top coat.

I did have to sand some of the top coat and repaint due to an uneven pass that left a darker streak of yellow on the cone.

Overall i would give my painting technique a 6. Not too happy but satisfied for its use. I will upload a picture of the cone. Please let me know how I can improve next time.
 
Sounds like you did the proper procedures and materials, but the last fluorescent paint that I used, I ended up having to use the entire can on one rocket as it was unbelievably thin and with naturally poor coverage.
 
Sounds like you did the proper procedures and materials, but the last fluorescent paint that I used, I ended up having to use the entire can on one rocket as it was unbelievably thin and with naturally poor coverage.
It does have a thin property to it. I realized on my second pass that it was best to spray from 12 inches away rather than the recommended 8-10, in order to not risk any uneven passes. Didn’t have this problem in any of the primer stages.
 
First of all, fluorescents are notoriously difficult to work with, so it's hard to assess your entire paint regimen based on success (or lack thereof) with a fluorescent top coat. Also note that clear-coating the fluorescent paint will lessen its fluorescence.

In my own experience I do quite a bit less than that, at least for my LPR nose cones.
1) sand smooth
2) apply one good coat filler/primer, sand smooth
3) Only if top coat will be a light color, apply 2 light coats of white primer, 5-10 minutes apart. Sand if necessary.
4) Apply 3 coats top coat, 5-10 minutes apart.
5) Only if top coat is not satisfactory, sand lightly and apply one more medium-heavy coat.

Actually this is my entire painting regimen, not just for nose cones.
 
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First of all, fluorescents are notoriously difficult to work with, so it's hard to assess your entire paint regimen based on success (or lack thereof) with a fluorescent top coat. Also note that clear-coating the fluorescent paint will lessen its fluorescence.

In my own experience I do quite a bit less than that, at least for my LPR nose cones.
1) sand smooth
2) apply one good coat filler/primer, sand smooth
3) Only if top coat will be a light color, apply 2 light coats of white primer, 5-10 minutes apart. Sand if necessary.
4) Apply 3 coats top coat, 5-10 minutes apart.
5) Only if top coat is not satisfactory, sand lightly and apply one more medium-heavy coat.

Actually this is my entire painting regimen, not just for nose cones.
I should have gone with a white filler primer instead of gray (didn’t register when I went to the auto parts store for the paint lol).

Going to follow this regimen too. I will say however, I’m a fan of high gloss finishes, so I may add some light sanding with a high grit #.

not overly happy with the finish of my cone but I am glad I went through the learning curve of the process. Going to keep the cone in this shape, will adjust my paint regimen on the body, will keep you guys updated
 
Wash the nose cone before sanding etc. I use spray orange cleaner, that gets all the mold release off the plastic parts. You'll feel it, squeeky clean.
 
Wash the nose cone before sanding etc. I use spray orange cleaner, that gets all the mold release off the plastic parts. You'll feel it, squeeky clean.
I used alcohol prior to sanding of the nose cone and repainting in between coats of the topcoat. Also, what happens if one skips this step ?
 
If there is leftover mold release on the plastic it can hinder paint adhesion. I don't know if plastic adhesion promoter can cut through it. Also don't know if alcohol is a reliable remover; most folks recommend a detergent-and-water cleanup.

By the way, the fact that I don't use plastic adhesion promoter doesn't mean it's a bad thing. I just haven't needed it up until now.
 
My nose cones would lose paint off the tips before I started washing them. I haven't had as good results with alcohol or any solvents. Dish soap, or Simple Green, work ok, but orange seems to be best.

Same goes for other parts, like LOC transitions, and Aerotech fins.
 
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If there is leftover mold release on the plastic it can hinder paint adhesion. I don't know if plastic adhesion promoter can cut through it. Also don't know if alcohol is a reliable remover; most folks recommend a detergent-and-water cleanup.

By the way, the fact that I don't use plastic adhesion promoter doesn't mean it's a bad thing. I just haven't needed it up until now.
Okay, I’ll keep this in mind. Dish soap and water, got it.
 
My nose cones would lose paint off the tips before I started washing them. I haven't had as good results with alcohol or any solvents. Dish soap, or Simple Green, work ok, but orange seems to be best.

Same goes for other parts, like LOC transitions, and Aerotech fins.
Orange ? Is that a certain detergent brand ?
 
I have the same issue with the tip paint coming off. My next NC paint job will include the full regimen - sand, adhesion primer, filler primer, sanding, (white primer if light top coat, more sanding), 2 top coats, wet sanding, final top coat, clear coat. We shall see if it makes a difference. If not, I just may stick to using black plastic nose cones and fly them naked. It's a lot of steps and time for something that is going to get mucked up in a midwestern corn field when it's all said and done...
 
I have the same issue with the tip paint coming off. My next NC paint job will include the full regimen - sand, adhesion primer, filler primer, sanding, (white primer if light top coat, more sanding), 2 top coats, wet sanding, final top coat, clear coat. We shall see if it makes a difference. If not, I just may stick to using black plastic nose cones and fly them naked. It's a lot of steps and time for something that is going to get mucked up in a midwestern corn field when it's all said and done...
This is almost exactly the steps I took. The finish was fine, not the best, but I blame my inexperienced self for the dark spots, and not knowing fluorescent colors are a PITA to spread evenly.

Overall the paint looks/feels firm on the nose cone, I believe I will stick to this regimen.

Next time, I believe I’ll use ordinary colors as a top coat. Upvote for the process you mentioned
 
My next NC paint job will include the full regimen - sand, adhesion primer, filler primer, sanding, (white primer if light top coat, more sanding), 2 top coats, wet sanding, final top coat, clear coat.

all that is fine. but, as repeatedly noted above, start by washing with a good degreaser. before sanding, etc.
 
No such thing, as far as I know.
Duplicolor makes Sandable Primer (not Filler Primer) in White, Black, Red and Gray. Their Filler Primer (higher solids) comes in only Red and Gray. I just got 2 cans of the white last week at my local Advance Auto Parts store to primer my Zoom Broom kit.
 
Glad you got thin fluorescent paint. I recently had a can of fluor orange Rustoleum that looked like little balls of paint on the surface--like it was spit out. Had to completely refinish the nosecone after I tossed the paint. To date, my best luck with fluorescents has been with the Testors model spray cans painted over white primer.
 
To date, my best luck with fluorescents has been with the Testors model spray cans painted over white primer.

Too bad Testors is pricing itself out of the market. They're making it so expensive hobby vendors are dropping the product.
 
Yellow is the hardest color to paint. Takes many light coats and even then it can still look green underneath. If you want glossy finish, you can scuff with a scotchbrite pad, recoat with yellow. Allow to dry and then shoot a clear on top.
 
I should have gone with a white filler primer instead of gray (didn’t register when I went to the auto parts store for the paint lol).
No such thing, as far as I know.

I've so far been using Krylon Acryli-Quik paints. They have a white primer that goes on very thin. Seems to be "recoat anytime" compatible with Rustoleum light grey filler/primer. So you can get your surface squared away with the filler primer and then hit it with the white primer as a base coat under bright colors.

I once got in a hurry and painted a nose cone red over the light grey Rusto (trying to make a deadline), and while it's not dramatic, you can tell the difference in color between the cone and the body tube painted with the same can over the white primer.

Wash the nose cone before sanding etc. I use spray orange cleaner, that gets all the mold release off the plastic parts. You'll feel it, squeeky clean.

Dawn dishwashing soap gets my plastic stuff squeaky clean. First thing I do to any nose cone, period.

By the way, the fact that I don't use plastic adhesion promoter doesn't mean it's a bad thing. I just haven't needed it up until now.

My understanding is that polystyrene, if it's properly washed to get the mold release off, and then sanded with about 400 grit* to get just enough tooth, provides excellent adhesion of standard lacquer primers. At least, that's been my experience so far. Fortunately, Estes uses polystyrene for all its nose cones and other plastic parts, AFAI am aware.

*At least on the blow molded stuff, after the Dawn wash, I like to do some blocking with 220 grit, then further with 320 grit wet sanding before the first layer of primer. I need to try Chris Michielssen's recommended method of filling the seams with a line of gap-filling CA as a first step. I've been using the Testors putty, and it seems like it can get torn out of the groove if the groove is really fine, leaving a channel that still has to be filled with the filler/primer. Does nicely in the bigger divots, though.

The polypropylene nose cones used for high power stuff, such as from LOC, require the adhesion promoter to get paint to stick.
 
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Sounds like you did everything correctly. Duplicolor makes some great paints and primers. Somethings I'll use flat white or gloss white and then paint the top color. Another step is you could always shoot 3-4 or coats on clear over the nose cones and light wet sand with 800-1000 grit just to dull it up a bit and then polish it out by hand. The more you paint the better you get. I think over all you were spot on with your procedure. Keep up the good work!
 
Hey there guys, just finished spray painting the nose cone to my zephyr Jr. I went with a neon yellow color rather than the original black nose cone since I want to be able to find the rocket easier once it touches down on ground.

Here is a process of what I did and hopefully you guys can add on to what I did to my nose cone.

First, I sanded the polyethylene nose cone with 220 grit, until left the material ‘fuzzy’ and soft.

I then used duplicolor plastic adhesión promotor on the nosecone, using a total of 3 light coats with 3 minutes of dry time in between as per instruction.

Within 10 mins of that, I priceeded to spray the cone with duplicolor automotive Primer 2 in 1 Filler and Sandable primer. I sprayed 2 light coats followed with one medium coat, allowing 10 mins between each coat

Once filled, I used once again 220 grit (dry) to smoothen out the primer and get an even smooth surface

Then I moved onto rust oleum flat white primer (since my topcoat will be a neon yellow). I painted 3 light coats with about 10 minutes in between each coat. I did not sand in this stage (there were very small low spots in the paint but wasn’t too worried since this will be a park rocket)

Last stage here, I used Rustoleum fluorescent neon yellow. I sprayed on 3 light coats with 10 mins in between each.

Overall the cone came out to my liking (for my first ever MPR), but not perfect. I do plan to gloss the top coat.

I did have to sand some of the top coat and repaint due to an uneven pass that left a darker streak of yellow on the cone.

Overall i would give my painting technique a 6. Not too happy but satisfied for its use. I will upload a picture of the cone. Please let me know how I can improve next time.
I just started building again after many years and haven’t tried the Duplicolor yet for rockets but heard nothing but good on the product. (have used for autos.

the first few i painted, i sanded like you did- and tried some Testors on some plastic fins (previous owner had glue on it and tried to make perfect and .. leave at that. I found the Testors (now Rust Oleum) and Krylon spray paints to cause a lot of problems in both the plastic and in the Fins (was painting another kit as well (Alpha). Krylon Fusion was ok. still too many coats and sand and painted and wasn’t happy.

Finally tried the BERHR spray paint from Lowe’s (Paint and Primer). I used that on the nose cone and other rockets and gave me excellent adhesion and nice smooth finish. 3 light coats with minor wet sanding in between and awesome finish.

Have never had a problem with Krylon or Testors in the past, but neither liked the balsa or the plastic fins.

Will try some duplicolor as i just got my Nike X in and a bull pup and few other kits and want to see how it goes.

the small cans of testors will give to wife for her arts and crafts.

Def pleased with the BEHR spray cans. coverage and adhesion and smooth finish.

Now if i stop ignoring reading instructions first i may learn to install engine thrust ring in tube before gluing. (like my teen days). just wanna see it fly but i had no excuse this time. (flew nice though. had ample glue around centering rings and held the engine hook in place and don’t plan on flying more than an A8 engine. (at least it was free) 👍
 

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