Another RV-10 Site



rv01 (6K)


rv02 (5K)


rv03 (5K)


rv04 (4K)


rv05 (5K)


rv06 (4K)


rv07 (4K)


rv08 (5K)


rv09 (5K)


rv10 (4K)


rv11 (4K)


rv12 (4K)


Painting the RV-10 Airplane

I put off thinking about paint until I was ready to paint and that was a bit of a mistake. I should have been looking at paint schemes and colors all along.

Some of the decisions you need to make regarding your paint are:

  • Overall Scheme: All one color or two? If two then you need to decide on the darker color on top or the bottom. The RV-10 has a significant amount of fiberglass and some say the higher temperature on the fiberglass from darker colors can lead to premature damage. Others point out that the military paints their aircraft black. In the end, it is your decision. You also have to decide on the boundary between the two colors. Is it a straight line or is it a curve? How does it flow along the airplane?
  • Colors: Your painter will supply you with color chips of every conceivable color in the light spectrum. Even if you decided on white to keep it simple, there are bright whites, off whites, sort of whites and kind of whites from which to pick. I am looking for a blue and there are at least 20 shades of blue for me to choose from.
  • Stripes: After you are done agonizing over your scheme and color, you get to start over for stripes. Are they tapered, uniform or variable width and what color are they? What was worse for me was that two colors for stripes were included in my base price and not one.

There are some helpful resources to help with this:

  • Your painter. He/she can supply you with pictures of airplanes they have painted and tell you the color codes of the paint. This gives you an idea of how a color on a paint chip will look on an entire airplane.
  • Another great resource are the pictures of RV-10's I took at airshows and airports over the years. No need to reinvent when you can copy what you like from other designs.
  • There is a RV-10 registry on Doug Reeves' Vans Air Force page that has many pictures of RV-10s.
  • Lastly I mention resources that cost money. They are the aircraft paint scheme design centers that provide drawings to you. They range from $40 for an existing design to $800 for a custom design. The lesser expensive provide drawings like I generated myself below and the more expensive provide every minute detail of stripes and line placement.

Using the above free resources, I decided on a two tone paint scheme with blue on the bottom and light gray on the top. I used the free outline drawings provided on the Van's home site. Then I colored them in as best I could with my design. I then opened the files in power point and added the notation ballons for placement of the lines. Here are my concept drawings for the design that I provided to the paint shop.

Side View (click to enlarge)
Top Down View

I have contracted with Master Aircraft Services in Wickenburg, AZ which is run by Good Olde Gus. I delivered the airplane to him on August 12, 2011. They promised the airplane back to me in two to three weeks. I had my friend Ron in a RV-7A chase plane to take me home. We both worked to disassemble the airplane and were done in 5 hours.

Control Surfaces Removed
All my stuff.

I returned to the paint shop the next day to retrieve some tools that I left there. The picture with the airplane being corrosion treated was taken that day. One week later, 19 August I stopped by again and the airplane was primed after the body work was finished.

Corrosion Treatment
Cabin Top Body Work
Door Body Work

After I saw the airplane primed on 19 August, Gus asked me to fly back out on the following Tue or Wed after basecoat to approve where the second color goes. That was the last I heard from Gus. I called him on Tuesday the 23rd and the base coat had not gone on yet. He told me to plan on coming out on Sat or Sun the 27th or 28th to approve where the second color goes. He never called me. I called him on Monday the 29th and Gus was kind of rude to me on the phone. He said the base coat has gone on and that he would send me pictures. He did not send any pictures so I decided to go out on my own on Wed. The airplane had been base coated and Jose was ready to go over stripe, line and logo placement with me when I got there. A simple phone call the week before could have avoided much angst this week. It is reminiscent of having my Dakota held hostage by an FBO doing an annual inspection and why I got into experimental aviation in the first place. They have had my airplane for 2.5 weeks now.

The upper tape line on the fuselage divides the top color (jet stream) from the bottom color (fighter blue) which is to be painted next. The line below the dividing line marks where the stripe goes. On the tail will be a lone wolf logo which shows a resemblance of my black labs Zeke and Zak and captures my own spirit of the last 10 years. I originally had the wolf facing forward but the stripe above him is angled down toward the front. So I turned him around and the stripe above him will follow the arch of his back. The rest of the painting should take place over the Labor Day Holiday and the airplane should be ready for reassembly by the middle of next week.

Base Coat (Jet Stream)
Logo Placement

Once again no call from Gus. I called him and he tried to put me off from flying out this weekend until the following week. This will be the fifth week he has had the airplane. He later responded with an email that I could come out this weekend for reassembly. That sounded good until Friday night when he called me to say that the spinner, cowl, all wheel and leg fairings and all control surfaces had been painted with a different color than the fuselage!! He says they ordered two gallons of Jet Stream for the fuselage and then later one gallon to do all the remaining pieces. The paint company seems to have given him two different mixes of paint. I told him to go with what is on the fuselage since it is the most work to change and I am happy with the color anyway. So it will be at least until next weekend before I can get the airplane back which is a full five weeks since the airplane went in the shop. On the plus side, he sent me the final bill in anticipation of being finished this weekend and he did match his quote without any cost over run.

Color Mismatch

Status at the end of week 4. On the left is the actual Jet Stream color painted on an elevator fairing and on the right is the other color painted on the elevator.

At the end of week 5 the call came to come and reassemble. Consistent with Murphy's law, my Dakota sold that very week and I had no way to get there except to drive. So on Friday a friend and I drove to Wickenburg and spent about 8 hours reassembling the airplane. The paint shop had a fairing to paint and then they went over the airplane taking care of areas of overspray and cutting paint so I could open the side vents and things like that. We weren't completely done with reassembly before having to leave and the next day I was air dropped back into Wickenburg. I worked for anohter 6 hours and the "Lone Wolf" was finally together enough for the flight home.

Tail Logo

The airplane is now back in its home hangar. I am very happy with the quality of the paint job. I have a couple of hardware issues to take care of but it is pretty much ready for flight again. The paint changed the dimensions of some parts and I need to switch to longer quick locks on the cowl. There also was some spray of paint into the plate nuts and that makes it difficult to get the screws to take. So I need to chase some of the holes with a tap part of the way. It is good to have the RV-10 home and the Dakota sold. Both required much more work than I anticipated.

Good to be home.

Mike Andresen
All Rights Reserved 2011 to Forever