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Mar 1, 2004
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Okay everyone, on the subject of painting, what does everyone do?

1) I have bought little spray cans, but was thinking of an airbrush, they're not too expensive, anyone use one?

2) Little bottles of paint, does anyone use them? If so how do you not get paintbrush lines in the paint?

3) I was thinking of coating the final rocket with polyurethane for kicks, does anyone do this?

4) Enamel or Acrylic?


Originally posted by trailboss
Okay everyone, on the subject of painting, what does everyone do?

1) stare at the rocket , willing it to paint itself .....

2) If Step 1 = not worked for the 2nd time goto 4

3) if step 1 = not worked Then Goto 1

4) Get can of Car paint , try best to paint rocket

5) Try and think of the whole thing as a experience and itll get easier with time ( I said TRY Dammit !)

6) Enjoy flying the final creation come what may , build new rockets , then try and paint them even better, GOTO 1

Thats my normal procedure , though I know my freinds are looking to get airbrush systems and will consider those if their rockets seem to benefit from them.

I did try an airbrush, but here in the UK I couldnt find the right sort of paint for them...

I use standard Halfords car spray paint. (I hear Krylon is very good over there). I put one or two coats of primer on, then about 3 coats of each colour. Then I apply decals if any and spray the whole thing with a couple of coats of clear coat.

Aparently Enamel paint yellows with age.... Dont quote me on that though.

What is polyurethane :confused:

For most jobs where I'm trying to get a "nice" finish, I shoot water-based acrylic paints using an airbrush. If I want gloss, I lay Future floor "wax" on top. A basic single action, external feed airbrush is great for rockets. The highly detailed work that airbrush "artists" do is not really in the domain of most rocket designs, so the fancier dual-action, internal mix brushes are not really necessary. Working with water-based media is just a lot more pleasant to deal with and easier to clean up than are organic solvent based paints.

As much as I like nice "sleek" paint jobs. I've done a bunch of rockets with ordinary latex housepaint and a 1" trim brush. (Our house has lots of different wall colors, so we have lots of leftover paint in a mutitude of colors.) That too, works fine, and it's great because it allows my 4yr old to get into the painting action. ("Hey Daddy! I like the rocket that's painted the same color as the house!") Step back 10ft from the rocket and all the brush marks magically disappear!
I use Kilz primer exclusively these days. I have been using Krylon in the rattle can for a while. It is not good in high humidity. Krylon Fuson paints for plastic are excellent paints for NC, fin cans and transitions. DO NOT primer first when using Fusion on plastic. I have used white Fusion for a primer on plastics, then painted other Krylon paints on top.
Do not mix different kinds or even brands of paint. This will almost certainly lead to refinishing. Trust me on this. I am looking for a better high humidity paint, but that jump to the compressor/airbrush is a scary one. I am becoming very resistant to starting on the low side of the learning curve these days. I may have no choice, though. :rolleyes:
I have used Duplicolor spray paints on a few occasions and found them to be decent to work with. As with anything, it is all about patience and technique.
I started out buying some cheap rockets with the intent of building them as learning experiences, from preparation to construction to finishing to flying. My first few I did my best to replicate the paint job on the packaging. I learned a lot about masking and spraying from the tips on the EMRR site. And a lot I learned by just doing it. After about 4 or 5 "learning experiences" I've gotten pretty good at making the rockets look good. I use rattle cans exclusively, mostly Krylon.

One thing you will find is that everyone has their favorite method, paint, etc....

I use Elmer's Fill N Finish for the filling, and Wal-Mart brand flat white/grey for the sealing/priming.

For a topcoat I use Wal Mart gloss White... or Ace Hardware brand gloss paints (Wal Mart red really bites... it is a brick red).

I warm the paint by letting it sit in a pot of warm tapwater for a fewminutes, and apply 3-4 light coats, 15 minutes apart.

I do have a Badger 200 airbrush and a 5 gal tank compressor. I have not used it for rockets yet, but plan to start soon....

I do use Future Floor polish as a gloss coat over decals.

The real secret to a nice finish is not the paint, but patience. If you rush your painting, you will mess up the paintjob. Then it takes more time to fix than if you simply took yourtime in the first place.

here is one of my latest clones. I built it over a one month period, giving it 5-6 primer coats, well sanded, and letting everything dry as it should. The result is a model I am very happy with.

That is truly all that matters.

Astronboy - that Sprint is beautiful!

Agreed, patience is rewarded when it comes to painting.

That said, I've found that airbrushing water-based acrylics has really speeded up my painting. Most of these paints dry really fast and I can get multiple coats down in any given session. It can be a matter of just a few minutes between coats, if the weather's warm or using a blow dryer is when it's colder out. Though I'm sure there are some incomatible paint combinations out there in the water-based world, I've mixed and matched house paint, acrylic craft paints, airbrush "specific" paints, diluted acrylic "tube" paints and clear Future with no incompatibility problems so far. YMMV. Overall, it's a lot easier than the guessing games I used to play with organic solvent based paints. There, the general rule was that it *won't* be compatible unless it's the same brand and type, or somebody has given you explicit guidance that the materials are compatible.

The only time I "wait" between coats these days is if I have masking to do. A day's worth of cure time helps ensure the masking tape won't lift previous coats. On non-masked jobs, I've primed, sanded, color coated, and clear coated all in a single evening. What's great about using this "fast" technology, is that I can spend more time actually working on the finish. With old spray-can technology, I'd get so tired of waiting for it to dry, that I'd give up before it was "just right". Now I can shoot extra coats, do some extra sanding, or whatever else it takes to get it just right - all within a reasonable amount of time.

The other thing I like about airbrushing is that I can pick from the zillions of different colors of craft paints at Wal-mart/Michael's/HobbyLobby. For under a buck per 2-oz bottle (44-cents at WalMart!) - I can have a huge color palatte of colors for not much money. Compare to $2-3 per 1/2 ounce for normal "model" paints, or the $4-$6 per spray can. In model-rocket terms, 2-oz of paint is a lot. When thinned to airbrush-able consistency, it's way more than you'll ever get in a spray can. I use leftover house-paint primer either as primer or as a basic white.
All of what astronboy said plus....

remember this if nothing else said on the subject
"If you can see it (blemish) in the primer...You WILL see it after the paint job is complete!

Airburshes are fine, I use them both professionally and in my hobby, but I also more often than not use bottle and spray can Krylon and hobby paints. You can have as fine a finish from a spray can as you can with the finest automotive spray paint equipment on the planet. The trick is the buffing after the application with a material called 3m Finesse-it II. This material will remove all trace of orange peel, or other surface mirco scratches giving a mirror smooth surface to your painted model.
As far as bottle paints. or cans or anything like them...Water base, acrylic, or Oil base.. the finish is also dependent on the viscosity of the paint and type "Hair" in the brush your using. Hobby brushes with the plastic handles and plastic hairs are useless for anything but putting on sanding sealer.
Futura is OK over decals, again application is the key. Liquid decal clear is better, sandman knows the name... I use a variety of spraycan clears...EXCEPT Krylon #1301 "Crystal Clear" which should never be used over decals!
If your looking for a start to finish read on every thing from filling fins to finished brush work. I have a series of Tech-tip articles in the library section of web site that will answer most of your questions. Look for Tech-Tip's 002,003,004 & 005.
Hope this helps a little

you can use either minwax polyurethane or polyacrylic as a base coat/filler.... or use them as a final coat.....they will work both ways..... I prefer acrylics over enamels....

I buy those handles that fit on spray cans for better spray can control and look.......
Can handles are a must. They are available at just about any hardware store, and they really help a lot. Just make sure you recheck your nozzle direction if you have to shake the can again after you put the handle on!

Originally posted by wwattles
Can handles are a must. They are available at just about any hardware store, and they really help a lot. Just make sure you recheck your nozzle direction if you have to shake the can again after you put the handle on!


I finally decided to try out one of those spray can handles a couple of weeks ago. It made a HUGE improvement in the consistency of my paintjobs. I just felt like I had more control over the spray... Definitely the best $1.50 I've spent in a while. It's one of those "how did I live without it?!?" kinds of products!

Make sure it's the kind that grabs the upper lip of the can from the inside--not the outside! The inside grabbers have a more snug fit & are a lot less likely to come accidentally unhooked :eek:
Step 1. Z-poxy finishing resin brushed on fins with 1" foam brush, let stand for 10 min to soak in. Gently smooth and squee-gee off excess with stiff card stock (playing cards work great). Let dry over night.

Step 2. Sand smooth with 220 then 400 grit paper (wet sanding works great if you are careful not to go through to the bare wood)

Step 3. Plastikote "One Step Spot Filler And Primer" from Pep Boys. 3 or 4 coats wet sanding in between coats with 400 grit paper.

Step 4. Krylon, Krylon, Krylon!!! This paint lets you apply it real heavy without drips for a nice smooth glossy coat with one application.

The main problem I have with airbrushes on large areas is that the paint does not cover quickly enough. It dries really fast and builds up into that orange peel finish.
Originally posted by rokitflite

The main problem I have with airbrushes on large areas is that the paint does not cover quickly enough. It dries really fast and builds up into that orange peel finish. [/B]

With an ultra-basic Paasche H and a #5 tip, I can get output flow that is easily as much as out of a Krylon spray can, if not more. I've painted BT-80s easily with excellent coverage. BT-100s wouldn't be an issue, to my guess. I think it's mostly a matter of using the "big" tip (#5) and getting enough air flow (pre-packaged canned air won't cut it) . For laying down single-color base coats or primer, I don't hesistate to mix the paint a bit heavier and crank the pressure up to 40+PSI.
Thats cool, to each their own. I have a detail gun used to paint full sized cars which can shoot out a pint in about a minute, but I still prefer Krylon spray cans. For those using Krylon, another good tip is to go to a good auto supply store and get a fine grade of clear coat polish. Some of the Krylon reds and oranges do not dry to a very high gloss. A little clear coat polish rubbed on with a soft paper towel will make that paint shine like you wouldn't believe! I have heard enogh good things about future floor polish that I am going to give it a shot a little later today!
I am in the process of getting an airbrush system. But, in the mean time,

1.) Fill n Sand all balsa and spirals. Before fins were glued on, they either got a coat of 50/50 water/glue or spread a layer of CA and sanded.
2.) Sand entire rocket and use tack tack...DUST.
3.) Prime. Look at it. See any imperfections? If yes go back to step 1! If no, proceed.
4.) One last coat of primer and sand. Tack after sanding.
5.) 2-3 coats finish coat.

If multilple colors, don't mask until it passes the Sandman Sniff Check (SSC =If it smells like paint, it ain't dry:D )

I Like Krylon the best. I have a hardware store in area that has the COMPLETE line of it. Better than any other store I've seen.

Watch the humidity. If it's above (guessing here) 78%, you could end up with a dull finish.

After you are positive everything is dry, coat with Future floor polish for nice clear coat (never on silver of chrome type paints!!!!)

If you don't want your wife to be upset...don't clear coat on kitchen counter....who me?:kill:
Hey Flying_Silverado (maker of the best nylon chutes on Ebay!).
Can you get that floor polish at Lowes/Home Depot? What is the drying time on it?

You get Future Floor Finish at the local supermarket! In the floor wax section.

Don't go to Lowe's or Home Depot, they won't know what yer talkin' about!

Keep in mind I'm only 1 month back from 20 years away. I may have rediscovered some wheels.

Fluourescent spray paint that specifies "high visibility" means "bumpy finish", just like highway signs, but not with reflective beads. It works as advertised and will be great on the "demo" Big Bertha which just kind of saunters anyway, but don't try it on high performance models. You'll go through entire sheets of sand paper, gum them up in no time, and still have a rough surface.

Deft spray sanding sealer makes an excellent base coat. My balsa only needed one coat for a glassy and near transparent finish, and it did great on the tube too. It's very runny but that can work for you -- runs will spread out.

I bought polyuerathane, but it says not to use on paint. I'm building "my wife's" model with a walnut verneer surface and I'll try it on that. If it works like I suspect, like decoupage, it's be a thick (read: heavy) coat. Nice for looks, not for sport.

I can get more paint in a coat without running by "lathing" the model. I stick it on a junk tube, such as paper towel, and keeping the model horizontal, spin it constantly 1 or 2 revs per sec) while spraying and while until the surface sets. I'm thinking of buying an old record turntable and using it for a mechanical version of this.

Rustoleum has a new "plastic primer". It might work OK on your $5 lawn chairs, but on plastic nose cones it takes forever to dry. I waited 24 hours, sprayed on a coat of metallic silver, and the whole thing started to shift and run. I actually managed to push and work it back up into place with very little wrinkling. But I shouldn't have had to. All straight enamel primer on the plastic from here on.

I'm getting good results with Rustoleum's "American Accents" line. It's a dollar cheaper than their regular stuff at Lowe's, and at least as good if not better at finish. I've used Krylon before. I think this is as good. They have a matte finish clear which testing indicates will make a good flat looking but smooth feeling finish for scale models.

Oh, and Turtle Wax may make your car look good, but it makes a rocket feel sticky and no more smooth than without.
How to paint? Take the prepped rocket to the local auto body shop, when they have a lilttle extra paint from a repair (as long as it's not green in the east) let them give it a professional shot. I don't breathe any furmes, I throw them a few bucks for something they would have dumped in the sink (hopefully not) and I'm never one rattle can short. There are times which I have to wait for the right color wreck, but such is life.
There is an article about a swivel device for painting rockets on page 3 of the July/August 1999 issue of the Leading Edge at the NIRA website visit:

I use a fast drying sandable automotive primer such as Varsity brand white (Pep Boy's) over fins and tube spirals filled with Elmer's Interior Wood Filler. I only use Krylon brand Enamels! I had too many problems with other brands of paint; though I will occasionally use high temperature engine or grill paints when they are needed.

I apply decals then top coat with Future Floor Wax (FFW) using a foam brush to apply. If I need a dull coat, I spike Talcum powder into the FFW. FFW removes easily with house-hold ammonia if you need to remove it. I am considering adding UV protectant to the FFW to keep the paint underneath from yellowing.

A little patience goes a long way toward achieving a good finish.

Bruce S. Levison, NAR #69055