Mail Sack, 1/13/13, words on levels of aircraft finishes.

Builders, Here is a sample of the mail on aircraft finishes and how professional builders and magazine editors distorted the perception of traditional craftsmanship:

Cleanex builder and flyer Dale Williams of SC writes:

“William, You are singing my song here about aircraft finishes! I’m currently painting my “Cleanex” with a very experimental method that many would run from i.e. aluminum boat paint put on using a series of rollers. The paint itself is a three-part Acrylic Urethane Enamel. After applying the paint I’m doing a bit of sanding and using some 3M rubbing compound to turn my 20′ paint job into a 10′ paint job. The swirls and final polish will be done with Meguiars #9 Swirl Remover. This paint goes on extremely thin so the weight of the applied paint verses the finish is easy to control. I do not yet have mine finished as I’m awaiting the trim colors from the supplier before I can apply the numbers, striping, and graphics. Here is a photo of the Cleanex belonging to Clarence Dunkerley that used the same paint and application method:

I’m sure you remember Clarence from CC # 21 at Barnwell, SC:

These are indeed “industrial” paint jobs but also are “experimental” and the money saved goes under the cowling where it belongs. Besides, I learned something by doing it this way! Thanks for a great story and having the courage to write it. Dale N319WF a.k.a. Myunn- daughter of cleanex”

701/Corvair builder, CC#20 graduate Terry Samsa writes:

“Very interesting and quite compelling. I like you even better after that than I did already. Thank you for becoming part of the solution rather than remaining part of the problem.”

 Terry, I wrote the second half so that no builder working in his own shop looking at the results of his efforts ever mistakenly compares his work to that of a paid professional who has spent a career getting very good at the skill, and who’s budget puts any tool, material or process in their hands. The magazines had countless stories that implied that you were looking at the work of other regular builders, and I think thousands of builders at home were discouraged by their own results in the unfair comparison. I wanted rank and file traditional homebuilders to have actual confirmation from a former insider that what the may have suspected was actually more true than they knew. I don’t need to be thanked for it, it doesn’t risk my work nor business relationships, my involvement with that side of experimental aviation is long over. -ww

Pietenpol Builder/ATP Terry Hand writes:

“What happens to a business/association that supports and even rewards such dishonesty in “builders”? Fifteen years later they have a CEO who thinks flying a Stearman and a T-6 is staying in touch with the common man, and building huge chalets to rent to Corporate America while spoiling the view at Airventure for the little people is a good idea. And once he is fired his replacement is a guy that bought his degrees from a diploma mill, and everyone thinks he is a great guy. Maybe he is a great guy, but I sure can’t Google and find anywhere that he has owned up to his mistakes the way you did in 2,500 words. That’s where all of this has taken us. Thank you for all that you do- not just for Corvair builders but for all of experimental aviation. -Terry.”

Builder Bruce Culver writes:

“Another timely and revealing essay on the basics of homebuilding, and the ‘dark side’….. Long ago (I joined EAA in 1982) I had a small library of homebuilding books, and I am now replacing those. I just acquired all of Tony Bingelis’s books off eBay, and I remember how much I learned from them many years ago. As for my paint, I was looking at a paint supplier’s website, and marveling at how much money would go into enough paint to do an airplane. I figured it would take as much money as building one of your Corvair engines (or close to it). Since I am doing a “warbird”, I will go for a satin sprayed finish, and it won’t be using paint that costs $335 a gallon….. Echoing others, we owe you a debt of gratitude for helping to make aviation affordable for those of us really bad at picking winning lottery tickets.It was frankly sad and disturbing to see EAA engage in such fraud, but it is obvious they have “moved on”.And 95% of the people going to Airventure won’t have any idea any of this is happening. I have two framed copies of “The Man in the Arena”; one will go into my office, the other into the workshop, a reminder to me that nothing worthwhile comes without struggle and sacrifice. And that is as it should be……”


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