aircraft painting

aircraft painting

Is it me, or the price to paint an aircraft is ridiculous?
I recently purchased a 67 Cessna 172, I have worked on it many hours to clean it, organize paperwork, general maintenance etc. The a/c has the original paint, so as you can imagine is faded and in some areas is missing altogether, plus is a very ugly brown and white color. Thankfully it has no corrosion, but I decided to give it a paint job. I’ve gotten a couple of estimates and realized that I might have to abandon the Idea of painting it due to the prices. A good paint job, and I mean a real good paint job in a car can run for about 3k-5k, and it seems to be more difficult because of all the doors compartments, lights, etc. So, how come paint jobs in planes are so expensive?
I live in Miami, Florida and I don’t know if it’s the area that’s expensive or is it a nationwide issue.
I have offered the painters to prepare the a/c for painting so they only have to spray (considering that my father is an A&P so we can help preparing the aircraft without screwing it up) and I still get ridiculous prices. 7k-8k.
What can I do? Am I right for thinking like this? I work very hard to earn my money and I also pay for college, flight instructions, and support a family. I can’t afford to pay that much money for a paint job.
Any suggestions?
Jaime
Miami, Florida

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Re: aircraft painting

What kind of quotes did they give you? Doesn't repainting an aircraft require that the old paint be removed first, at least as much as possible?

Are you really comparing painting an aircraft to painting a car?

If you "prepare" it and they apply the paint, and there are problems later, are you going to blame yourself, or them?

I'd like to get my 172M repainted eventually. I saw the links to that place in Texas that will do rebuilds and fresh paint at the same time. Very tempting.

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Re: aircraft painting

jeff:

They gave me a quote for $7000-$8000. I don't know about must people, but to me that's a lot of money. I was only comparing the job to a car because of the amount of ours it takes, etc.
I understand that preparing the aircraft takes skills but as one of the painters told me, my a/c does not need to be stripped, only sand and paint because of the conditions is in. I know this guy is very good, I've seen what he has done around the ramp to the other aircrafts, but I can't justify that amount of money. I have to see about that texas place you are talking about, but my engine has only 580 hours so I'm not going to rebuild it in a while.

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Re: aircraft painting

That additional information gives some perspective. Seems a bit hight to me but I'm no expert.

Calling other aircraft repaint shops is probably the best way to get an idea of how reasonable the quote is. I'm sure a google search will get you started. If you're willing to fly the aircraft to a distant location and leave it, you'll probably save a few thou.

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Re: aircraft painting

Jamie

It isn't gonna get cheaper by waiting. $7-8K+ is about the going rate for a paint job on a 172.

Stop by some shops and see just what is done to properly prep a plane for a good paint job. Sure you can get a scuff and spray, see how long that may last. The original paint lasted and protected the plane for almost 38+years. If you have not properly stripped and prepped a plane for painting, you are in for some "treat". Just think if the new paint lasts another 38 years it will only cost about 15/mo. Think what the cost will be if corrosion sets in down there in FL.


Bill



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Re: aircraft painting

We too have an older 172.  A 1963 model with original EVERYTHING.  We are considering painting it but will probably do the job ourselves.  Yes a lot of work but for the savings it is well worth if to us since we already have nearly all the skills and can "enlist help" with those that we don't.  Living on the strip and having an A&P shop at the other end helps a lot.

We still figure it will cost us in the neighborhood of 1,500 to 2,500 dollars by the time we spend the money for a temp paint room, the A&P work (removing, balancing, and reinstalling control surfaces, W&B, etc.), stripper, paint, masking supplies, and all those other little things. 

To have a shop do the job for 7 - 8 grand doesn't seem too out of line when you start to look at the time and expense to do it yourself compared to the "ease" of writing a check.  On the other hand, it's a big chunk of change.  Then again, have you checked the price of a new radio installation lately?   OUCH

Bruce Cook
USMC (ret)
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Re: aircraft painting

Bruce:
I think I'm going to end up doing it my self. I rather save a few dollars becasue I just dont have the money right now. I'm about to get marry, plus I'm paying for school and paying for my private instructions as I mentioned before. So, maybe the paint job will not be the best but I think I can do pretty good.
THanks for hte comments.
Jaime
Hapy Flying.

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Re: aircraft painting

Just be careful with those materials as to how and where they are disposed of. Make sure EPA doesn't get involved. Or you may find a bigger expense, than the cost of paying someone to do it. Some parts of the country are very uptight about that right now.



Bill





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Re: aircraft painting

The May, 2005 KITPLANES magazine has several articles on painting your own though they are written more toward the homebuilder painting for the first time.  They do have some good info and ideas on how to go about building a temp paint booth.  Probably a good investment if you can find it on the magazine rack.

Bruce Cook
USMC (ret)
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Re: aircraft painting

painting aircraft costs is a sore subject with me. first of all in my humble opinion the costs of materials are reasonable. to strip lets say a 172 your looking at $500 in materails depending on how many coats of paint they have to take off..forgive the spelling btw.. easily, between good quality stripper, foil and tape, $500 is about right.

paint, good quailty enamel ranges from $50 to $300 a gall so if you use 4 gals of primer and paint and use a good paint like jet glow $200 // gal average

well you do the math..so lets say were up to $1500 in materials

the rest of the money your spending is labor..AND THATS WHEN YOU NEED TO START WORRYING

screwing up a paint is very easy and the problem with knowing if you got a good job or not can take time..2 years at least  mishandleling the paint, not prepping the job (thats 75% of work) and of course application..

so lets say the shop is capable, addiquate dry air supply, dust free, good humidity controlthen its labor costs. stripping, prepping and spraying a 172 sould be about 30 to 40 man hours..

but all that aside heres what i would do in your shoes,
a) get your plane out of the salt water enviroment. you need to be bout 40 miles from salt to not worry about dew points laying salt on your freshly stripped airframe
2) if you want to do works yourself, hire a shope to strip the plane and HOT WATER PRESSURE WASH your aircraft..fly it home and do the body filler, sheet metal yourself, drag it back to them, HAVE THEM HOT WATER PRESSURE WASH AGAIN, let it sit on the sun and bake all the water out and then turn em loose on it.
3) BE PAITIENT let the plane sit as long as you can after the inticial kick off period a good 30 days would be great...give that paint a fighting chance to stick,dry heat and sunlite is the ticket..find a shop like in Lake city and leave it with em as long as you can..my thought. a 172 should not be more than $5500 plus extra work..ok, off my soap box..good luck

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Re: aircraft painting

Don't forget the additional expense that comes with replacing plastics, which involves removing the old and riviting and painting the new.  Plastics don't come cheap and the associated labor to paint and install!  Also puchase the fiberglass and not plastics, which is more expensive initially but you save money as it ages better and can be repaired. Then comes the rerigging of the plane since all control surfaces were removed and then painted, right?  So there is a lot of work in getting the plane set up right again.  Also, finding and repairing areas having corrosion.  You do not want to paint over these areas.

I'm the last one to NOT to complain about price, but there is also a lot more work involved in painting airplane then there is painting a car.

I'm sure I will be able to identify other expenses after I get my plane painted. In fact, I won't have to the identifying it will be presented to me!

My 2 cents

Barry

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Re: aircraft painting

Thank you for the comments guys.
I agree wit you Barry but also I agree with Jim that the paint should not cost more then $5500 specially because my a/c does not have corrosion (said the painer him self, and I know this for fact) it has only one thin coat of paint and my father is going to do the dissassembly and assembly of the parts (he is an A&P and he is going to sign off on it) so considering all that $7000-$8000 paint job is too much money, even if the paint job is very very good.
Jaime
Happy Flying

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Re: aircraft painting

DO NOT let any paint stripper touch the windows.

This is also a great time do window replacement. 

Several years ago, I stripped and repainted a C-205.  Very labor intensive but fun.

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Re: aircraft painting

If You do the work Yourself - Don't breathe that stuff - take lots of care with the respirator equipment.

Next - I have heard of and read in these forums of some people, including fleets, painting the aircraft but not always painting (and removing, reinstalling and rerigging and balancing) the control surfaces. If the surfaces are in good shape - and usually thay're white anyway they repaint the rest of the aircraft from time to time, provides a nice job at a reasonable cost -if the controll surfaces are reasonably good.

0.01
Ken 

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Re: aircraft painting

A collegue had his Cessna 175 painted in Mena, Arkansas about 3 years ago for $4000. It looks great. I can give you a link to some pictures if you email me privately. Anyway, he is an A&P and considers it to be a good paint Job. My guess is they are higher now but I bet still around $5000 maybe. Check the internet for paint shops there.

Kris

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Re: aircraft painting

I must say there is a lot of "interesting" conversation regarding this topic.  First let me give full disclosure: we paint airplanes for a living (Dial Eastern States Aircraft Painting.
Lets start with cost. It is correct that the labor is the larger cost versus materials.  When you look at the variables in price labor and overhead are going to be the biggest factors in an expensive job versus an inexpensive job.  I can only speak for our company but we have long term employees which increases our labor costs.  It also contributes greatly to the quality of our work and I think that it shows.
Now overhead. What about the cost of treating waste water? Or shipping solid hazardous waste? Or liabilty insurance?
Hangar rent? Medical insurance for employees? List is longer but you get the gist.  The more a company does it right the more it costs.
Now on man hours needed. I read a post that it should only take 40 to 50 man hours to strip, prep and paint.  If it did I would be driving a Cadilac Escalaide instead of 177k Honda Passport.  It takes anywhere between30 to 60 hours to just strip the plane! The variables being the type of paint used and the type of stripper we can use. Total time to prep, strip, etch alodyne (bodywork) prime and paint can be anywhere from 200 to 500 hours depending on the type of plane!
Folks the facts are that this is a very tough business and you pay for what you get. You can pay for a inexpensive paint job but don't expect it to last more than 5 to 7 years. A paint job done right (and taken care of) can last indefinitely. So in the end, what is less expensive?

Please feel free to e-mail me with questions.

Rich

Richard Guenther
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Re: aircraft painting

Jaime, I have a 1965 Skyhawk that I'd like painted. It's very sraight with no hangar rash. I priced a shop in WV for a base white paint job, no second colors or decals. I'd place the decals myself. Their quote? Twelve grand. Right. I'm gonna pay that. I'll keep looking and let you know what I find out. I know of one shop in Arkansas that strips and paints for $3500.00, and they say it's nice work. Details to follow. Good luck.

Mike Sprow
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Re: aircraft painting

I think there are about 1/2 dozen paint shops at Mena.  I have a buddy that takes his aircraft there.  A Cessna 310 runs $7,000 or less for strip and paint.  He seems to be happy, but he has told me that is just for the strip and paint.  They don't do any body work so you need that taken care of before you show.

One of the things I consider before having major work done on my aircraft is the time it takes vs. price.  If I can get a great paint job in a week (not sure if that is even possible) for more money, then that might be worth it.  I know a guy that had a $9,600 paint job on a C172RG and they had the aircraft for 6 weeks.  The plane looks great and they took care of a couple small problems afterwards, but if you are going to keep pushing me to the back of the hangar, then start knocking some dollars off the price. 

Probably too late for you now, but I have heard of a guy at Stuart, FL that does paint for $1500 plus materials.  Of course there would be no warranty and no one to sue if things went wrong, but it might be worth saving a few bucks.

Bryan Ward
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