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Painting Balsa?

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Old 10-11-2005, 10:22 PM
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flyhi
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Default Painting Balsa?

I've tried to search threads for this but so far can't seem to find the answer to a simple question, took covering off astro hog now want to paint it instead, is this practicable? can i buy some type of spray paint and use that? thanks.
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Old 10-11-2005, 11:22 PM
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zope_pope
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Default RE: Painting Balsa?

You can paint a fiberglassed airplane, but I am not sure it would be wise to paint straight on to balsa. Research fiberglassing an airplane. It has to be done to a plane thats fully sheeted though. I am not familiar with the airplane you are referring to
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Old 10-11-2005, 11:36 PM
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nickj
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Default RE: Painting Balsa?

I'll paint a balsa cowl or set of wheelpants after first brushing on and sanding two or three coats of butyrate dope. Dope with some king of filler is best.

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Old 10-11-2005, 11:44 PM
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ballgunner
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Default RE: Painting Balsa?

You can make a pretty decent filler out of baby powder and water mixed to a brushable consistency. Works well on plain balsa but requires several coats. Sand until you can no longer see the grain, then paint as desired. Doesn't work on fiberglass or smooth plywood that has no deep grain showing. When I glass a hull or fuselage I use Bondo in tubes. Squeeze out a small stripe and smooth with a credit card or similar plastic. Dries hard in aout 10 minutes. If you leave lumps you will have a lot more sanding to do
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Old 10-12-2005, 01:04 AM
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Default RE: Painting Balsa?

I use 1/4 water, 1/4 Baby Powder (Corn Starch is ok), and 1/2 cheap (I mean cheap) flat latex paint. The flat latex will help with bonding the corn starch and will wet sand perfectly smooth. However, water and latex will raise the grain substantially. Another great method that will not only seal balsa, but harden it as well with out substantially raising the grain is a 3 lb cut of Shelac with Baby Powder. Use a fine brush because you will leave brush strokes in the shelac. Let dry for at least a 2 hours between coats and at least a day between sanding. Start with 320 and work your way up. Shelac sands best dry, and watch for build-up on the sand paper or you will mar the finish. Shelac is NOT fuel proof as it will desolve with alchohol.

Balsarite is also excellent or finishing resin.
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Old 11-19-2005, 03:16 AM
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Default RE: Painting Balsa?

Grunt from Australia when i was doing uc models and rc model aircraft i used dope and baby powder thick like cream and brush it on, know i glass all balsa 1/2 oz fibre glass i believe for a good paint job fibre glassing is the best way to go.
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Old 11-19-2005, 10:04 AM
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Default RE: Painting Balsa?

You can also mix baby powder with clear butyrate dope to use as a balsa filler. Smells pretty good when you sand it, too!
Some guys use spackle thinned with water to a consistancy so that you can brush it on. But none of these methods provide any strength to the balsa (like you get if you cover the piece, then paint it). But some pieces are difficult to cover, at least in one piece, like the cowl shown in the former post. But I'd cover it in 3 or 4 pieces: 1 piece around the main part, 1 piece for the front, and 2 pieces for the part at the bottom of the cowl. You can pull and stretch silk, for instance, around some pretty good compound curves if you work with it "wet". "Wet" means with water, in case anyone's not familier with silk and dope. You'd need to have it wet before applying it and keep it wet while stretching it. You also then dope through the cloth while it's still wet and work the dope in with your fingers. This is assuming there have been several coats of dope applied to the balsa before applying the silk. Forcing the dope through the silk allows it to soften the coats previously applied, which then makes a bond once it completely dries.
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Old 11-19-2005, 10:12 AM
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flyhi
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Default RE: Painting Balsa?

More stuff to think about over the next couple months when I finally hope to do something. many thanks for the good ideas.
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Old 11-19-2005, 11:00 AM
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Default RE: Painting Balsa?

There are two (2) methods that I have used in the past with good results. Most often, I use nitrate dope and unscented talcum powder as viet-grunt described. The other method is to cover with lightweight silkspan and nitrate dope. This gives a good surface for sanding and adds very little weight.
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Old 11-19-2005, 11:20 AM
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Default RE: Painting Balsa?

You've sort of gotten an assortment of advice. There are a number of ways to go about covering/
painting models. You can fill/paint the wood directly (not the best), cover with fabric or tissue paper and dope (an old favorite), cover with iron-on fabric and then paint (pretty popular esp on larger models), cover with very light fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin and paint (on solid areas only), or cover the solid areas with carbon fiber veil and dope, then paint.

Paints include nitrate and butyrate dope, epoxy, urethanes, auto paint, and latex.

Here's a link to a project that includes a really nice treatise on finishing. Look up the complete article in the Feb 2005 MA, I think it is. The web site has that info.
http://www.modelaircraft.org/mag/diva/index.html

Here's an example of what you can do with dope, silkspan, CF veil, and ink lines. Then this will get a coat of auto clear to seal and fuel proof it. This guy is a great builder. This Supermarine S6B is completely from scratch.
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