79 Decathlon restoration

Bob Turner

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My first cover job was Stits, finished with butyrate. At the time Stits had no top coat. Worked fine.
 

Bob Turner

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Been so long ago I forget. My current cover is Stits coated with Ditzler Delstar - an automotive acrylic enamel. Six bucks a gallon back then.

$600 a gallon now, but not in California. I am now using either butyrate or Poly Tone, and admire folks who can paint catalyzed products.

Most butyrate users shoot alkyd enamel on the metal parts. In your case the Randthane works.
 

Cindy

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Been so long ago I forget. My current cover is Stits coated with Ditzler Delstar - an automotive acrylic enamel. Six bucks a gallon back then.

$600 a gallon now, but not in California. I am now using either butyrate or Poly Tone, and admire folks who can paint catalyzed products.

Most butyrate users shoot alkyd enamel on the metal parts. In your case the Randthane works.
The *last time* we painted parts of the plane, we used enamel on the struts and fiberglass parts which looked nice for the first year, however it didn’t hold up. Over time it developed crazing and cracks especially on the cowling which got hot from the engine. I believe it actually shrunk on the surface, creating cracks in the original gel coat. It was hell to sand off and repair all the surface cracking, which I did by grinding out each and every gel coat crack with a small grinder on a Demel. Then I back filled them all with aircraft Bondo. I had to do this on the wheel pants and upper and lower cowling. Enamel is definitely easier to spray, but not as durable As Ranthane. My hubby did the Ranthane spraying because he’s much more skilled, and he’s no professional, but it looks pretty good.
 

Bruce

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Hi Cindy been a wile since you posted and wanted to check in on how things are progressing also I would like to know if you have any install pictures and advice for the skylight, and how the fabric was placed around this? I finished the headliner install and bought a envelope I ordered the skylight and windshield last week so I’m fitting the interior wile waiting on them to arrive I’m pretty sure the skylight goes in before the fabric goes on. I thought I took pictures when I took it apart but can’t seem to find them Bartman sent some install drawings which are hard to understand. Any help or suggestions are very welcome. Thanks
 

Bartman

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Bruce,
I'm pretty sure the headliner goes in first, then the fuselage gets fabric, then the skylight goes on last. My parts have evidence of a cushion/gasket layer on the metal strips and 3" tapes are used down each side to help hold the skylight panel in place. Screws through the front and back. Last layer that helps to hold it is the wing root fairing that overlaps it on each side by a bit.
 

Bob Turner

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Rainbow Ron was quick to offer upgrade solutions in that area - I was asking for a friend who had the top window depart. I have forgotten his recommendations, but I think it was more and better attach points. Ron is an asset to the community.
 

Bruce

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I received these with the headliner the black was the old seal and the tan is the new with 2 ribs is the best I can describe them. Is there a rubber gasket or seal at each end. The old was stapled in place then the skylight on top of that.
 

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Cindy

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Hi Cindy been a wile since you posted and wanted to check in on how things are progressing also I would like to know if you have any install pictures and advice for the skylight, and how the fabric was placed around this? I finished the headliner install and bought a envelope I ordered the skylight and windshield last week so I’m fitting the interior wile waiting on them to arrive I’m pretty sure the skylight goes in before the fabric goes on. I thought I took pictures when I took it apart but can’t seem to find them Bartman sent some install drawings which are hard to understand. Any help or suggestions are very welcome. Thanks
Hi Bruce. I've attached a couple of images of the current status of the plane. The fuselage is painted, and we are finishing up the paint on all the rest of the small pieces. Then we'll finish up the Ranthane on the wings. The green Ranthane is a custom color, and it's been a real bitch to spray. At the recommended recipe of paint to thinner, it orange peels, and essentially needs twice the thinner as recommended. How do we know that? Because I have spent hours sanding down the orange peel to respray. And to make things worse, with twice the thinner, the color does not cover very well, and it tends to run if you spray even a tiny bit heavy. How do I know that? Yes, again, hours sanding out the runs. It's been slow, but we are getting there. As far as your question about the skylight, first headliner goes in. Then the beading gets stapled to the top of the wood formers, and then the fabric goes on and gets it's first coat of brushed dope or whatever you're using. Then the skylight goes in with the BACK metal trim piece. A piece of 3" tape goes over top of that metal trim piece AND the fabric on top, as well as on the sides overlapping the wood formers, gets glued, ironed and doped. Then you'll have to mask off the skylight both inside AND outside for spraying the rest of your paint. I hope this helps. Best of luck! IMG_6132.JPGIMG_6395.jpgIMG_6408.jpg
 

Bartman

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if it's any consolation @Cindy, it's a beautiful green and you and the hubs are doing a great job!

thanks for the explanation of how the skylight gets installed, very appreciated!
 

Bruce

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Great information and pictures, so the final picture hear must be the beading, When you covered with the fabric did you wrap or attach it to the top of the wood under the headliner where it stapled or on top of the headliner. I only used a few staples there till I was ready to install the beading thinking I would be under the vinyl. I Hate to hear about all the sanding I know I got some runs in the wing with the Stewart’s system because I changed hands wile spraying and my speed changed it was going great till I did that. A trick my brother showed me (he’s a brick mason) is to get some medical tape and cover your finger tips. Helps keep the skin and leaves some feel for what you’re doing.

Thanks for the help and hope to meet up some time in our finished projects. I am planning on sun and fun we shall see how the year unfolds.
 

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Big Ed

N50247 - '79 Super D
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Cindy, based on your experience, do you think it would be possible to recover a Decathlon fuselage with the engine, panel, etc remaining on the frame? Not an airshow winning job, just cut off the old fabric, repair any issues found, then glue on new fabric and paint?
 

Cindy

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Cindy, based on your experience, do you think it would be possible to recover a Decathlon fuselage with the engine, panel, etc remaining on the frame? Not an airshow winning job, just cut off the old fabric, repair any issues found, then glue on new fabric and paint?
I think you could do it with the engine and panel on, but the wings, boot cowl, landing gear and windshield would definitely need to come off because the fabric wraps around the tubing at the front, top and bottom of the fuselage. However, without the wings and landing gear, the fuselage would be dangerously nose heavy and difficult to keep moving it around safely. Also, doing the fabric on the bottom would be difficult if you can’t turn the fuselage at least 90 degrees. I can’t even imagine how you would spray the bottom if you couldn’t turn it. My back and knees shudder at the thought of trying to do that. Let me know what you decide. I can see why you wouldn’t want to disconnect all the engine plumbing but I think you’d be trading that set of problems for different problems. Also, I don’t know what the state of your firewall is, but ours was a sticky oily mess with disintegrated insulation on it. It needed a lot of TLC.
 

Big Ed

N50247 - '79 Super D
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Funny you mention the firewall. I spent most of today ripping the rotted insulation from the backside of mine. Fortunately it was bone dry, no oil, and I was able to brush most of the foam debris out of the crevices. Easy to access with the boot cowl detached at the bottom and sides and peeled up.
 

Cindy

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Funny you mention the firewall. I spent most of today ripping the rotted insulation from the backside of mine. Fortunately it was bone dry, no oil, and I was able to brush most of the foam debris out of the crevices. Easy to access with the boot cowl detached at the bottom and sides and peeled up.
PS: our N-number is 5031. Also a ‘79.
 

Bruce

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What insulation replacement have you chosen to replace the original? Or are you just putting the original stuff back?
 

Bartman

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What insulation replacement have you chosen to replace the original? Or are you just putting the original stuff back?
the original material was attached prior to the firewall and engine mount being bolted to the frame, fwiw
 

Cindy

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What insulation replacement have you chosen to replace the original? Or are you just putting the original stuff back?
We bought a new one from Airtex. It’s made of the same stuff as the interior sidewalls, vinyl quilted top, and fiber insulation sandwiched between that and a quilted foil backing. And yes, it has to be installed before the firewall and engine mount. I’m pretty sure I’m going to use the Airtex cement that came with the headliner. Then it will have to get a bunch of holes punched in it for all the plumbing and wiring. The foam insulation from the carpet, the firewall and the interior side panels of the boot cowl made a real mess after 40 years. The stuff migrated and collected between the steel tubing and the fabric along the sides of the fuselage, causing the fabric and paint to deteriorate. Otoh, since it was so oily, it prevented any corrosion along the lower longerons. ;-)
 

Cindy

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We bought a new one from Airtex. It’s made of the same stuff as the interior sidewalls, vinyl quilted top, and fiber insulation sandwiched between that and a quilted foil backing. And yes, it has to be installed before the firewall and engine mount. I’m pretty sure I’m going to use the Airtex cement that came with the headliner. Then it will have to get a bunch of holes punched in it for all the plumbing and wiring. The foam insulation from the carpet, the firewall and the interior side panels of the boot cowl made a real mess after 40 years. The stuff migrated and collected between the steel tubing and the fabric along the sides of the fuselage, causing the fabric and paint to deteriorate. Otoh, since it was so oily, it prevented any corrosion along the lower longerons. ;-)
PS: cleaning up the firewall was possibly the worst job I’ve done so far. Sticky, greasy awful mess. Then it took 3 tries to get epoxy primer to stick to it, there was so much oil residue. Looks nice now, tho!
 

Big Ed

N50247 - '79 Super D
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Guess I got lucky there. My firewall was bone dry on both sides. But that black foam residue, yeah, everywhere. I'll post a few pics on my project thread of what it looked like when I pulled up the carpet yesterday.