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Thread: Removing old paint from metalized PA22

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2018

    Default Removing old paint from metalized PA22

    So, I have a metalized PA22 with the only fabric remaining is what is covering the mains, rudder and entire elevator. The paint that is on the plane is mostly original. I am going to get my little gal painted but started to think what if I instead showed off that metalized surface instead and rather then paint it all up have some pin striping done but left the rest as polished aluminum.

    So my question is actually two fold, has anyone ever heard of someone doing this? Secondly, should I let a shop remove the paint when it goes in or can I some of the work myself and what would be the best way to remove the paint before it goes to the shop?

    Thanks again folks!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Weatherford Tx



    I don't want to be a "downer" nor discourage you unnecessarily, but from my experiences, polishing an airplane that has been previously painted would be a very (at least to me) daunting task.

    The only practical (cost effective) way to strip the paint on light aircraft is with chemical paint stripper. The best stripper that I have found is "Jasco" brand (sold at Lowes - and probably Home Depot) "Crown" brand is also very good.

    Doing small pieces that can be easily removed from the plane (doors, cowling, fairings, etc) is relatively easy, but if you are thinking of doing the whole plane without completely disassembling it...is a whole different ball of wax. Before you begin, just contemplate the underside of the wing (for instance). You will be applying (extremely caustic) stripper overhead, with it dripping down your arms, & into your face!

    After you get the "large sheets" of paint off, there will be COUNTLESS small, stubborn, patches that have to be addressed individually, usually around rivet heads, seams, etc. Keep in mind that the stripper is very caustic, and fluid, and WILL flow into all "nooks & crannies", and absolutely HAS to be washed out.

    After you persevere, and get the last bit of paint removed, and stripper cleaned off; you will be rewarded with a dull and spotty airplane. Now you have to get out the buffer and polishing compound, and spend 100's of arm numbing hours buffing.

    When you have completed all that, you will be rewarded with an utterly fantastic looking plane that you can be ultra proud of!

    However, while your friends with painted planes, will spend an afternoon washing their planes, then fly out for a "100$ hamburger"; you will be spending the whole weekend hand polishing all the water spots off your plane. (several times a year)

    Again, I don't want to discourage you, I have met several people that have done exactly that (not PA22's) and consider the time spent polishing to be down right 'therapeutic'. You might well find yourself in that category.

    I would encourage you to start with something small, perhaps an inspection panel, maybe your spinner (work with your A&P on the spinner)...see what you think.

    Best of luck!

    P.S. (& this is JUST my opinion), but I (personally) just don't think it looks 'right' to have a polished plane, with painted wing struts, and painted (fabric covered) pieces (landing gear, rudder, elevator, etc) Some planes lend themselves to be polished,,,some don't. Emphasis on JUST my opinion!


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