Plane & Pilot
Monday, September 1, 2008

Project 182, Part III

Exterior Makeover!

project 182Renovation on N9771H is complete! In “Project 182, Part I” [April 2008], we covered the modernization of the aircraft’s avionics panel. We took care of the interior in “Project 182, Part II: Redressing A Skylane” [June 2008], and in this final edition, we address the exterior.
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Mendoza suggests that it’s critical for the surface to be totally clean and uncontaminated before the application of the primer. Art-Craft takes great pains to assure a smooth surface for the paint application, but that rarely includes sanding. “Our maintenance manager is called the maintenance police around here,” Mendoza laughs, “and he gets furious if he sees anyone near an airplane with a power sander. We generally don’t even consider sand-and-paint proposals unless we did the previous paint job within a recent time frame.”

Art-Craft doesn’t strive to be a high-volume shop, but it still paints about 120 to 140 planes a year. “We use both enamel and lacquer paint, according to a client’s preference, and our technicians are equally schooled in the differences between the two,” says Mendoza. Unusual colors don’t present any special challenge “except for chameleons, those deep colors that shift shades as you look at them in different light,” Mendoza explains. “Those can cost extra, as the paint itself is very expensive. The flake of a chameleon makes it about double the price of a standard color.

“Our paint technicians are actually happy to see unusual paint jobs, as the standard white base with two colors is all too common and doesn’t present much of a challenge,” says Mendoza. “Our guys love to do things in bright red or yellow with emphasis stripes in gold or something else equally interesting.” For that reason, Art-Craft welcomes unusual paint schemes, and Esmeralda works directly with clients to assure the design is exactly what an owner wants. “Sometimes, what seems like a good idea in concept isn’t so good in execution, and we try to warn clients of the final configuration.”

Art-Craft typically applies a clear coat to aircraft that will be hangared, but not to those that are stored outside. The heat and humidity of open-air storage can cause a clear coat to lift and separate. The Santa Maria company charges $12,500 to $14,500 for full aircraft paint on a typical Cessna, Mooney, Bonanza or Piper; that includes a one-year warranty.

In the case of our Cessna Skylane, we couldn’t be happier with the new paint job. The airplane garners appreciative comments everywhere we go, often something to the effect of, “How do you like your new Skylane?” We just love to answer with something like, “This airplane is 26 years old.”

• Art-Craft Paint Inc.: (805) 925-5934
• Globe Fiberglass: (800) 899-2707,
• Wings Aviation Design Group: (214) 206-7199

• “Project 182, Part I,” April 2008
• “Project 182, Part II: Redressing A Skylane,” June 2008


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