Official Stewart Systems Questions Thread

Bartman

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#1
Here you go folks, I'm making my way through the painting steps using the Stewart Systems process, happy to try to answer questions you might have. It's working out ok so far but we really won't know for sure until we see how the top coat turns out and then how it holds up for the next ten to twenty years. We'll still be here, right?

Let's start with the website;
http://www.stewartsystems.aero/default.aspx

YouTube channel
https://www.youtube.com/user/stewartsystems

Product support documents
http://www.stewartsystems.aero/support.aspx

Getting great results post
https://champcitabriadecathlonforum...tewart-systems-questions-thread.185/post-3059

Some of the youtube information isn't part of the official technique anymore although it's still pretty close. It will definitely give you an idea of what to expect and the level of effort involved in the process. Tech support has been fantastic so far.
 
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Bartman

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#3
Everything I've received has included a one year shelf life guarantee, provided it's unopened. The EkoFill which is their fill and UV protection layer need to be stirred to get the solids on the bottom back up and into suspension but it's gone on really well and has dried as quickly as it's supposed to. To what you said, buying the right amount is probably better than overdoing it and having the leftovers go bad on the shelf.
 

Bob Turner

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#4
We have no trouble with Ekofill, except for the stirring part. In only two weeks it will settle, making stirring a serious project. The glue gets lumpy, then decomposes. And not sure, but I think the finish paint can crystallize. Still, if you really get good at this process, I think it has merit. I love the way it does minor repairs, but am still in the Ceconite mode for entire surfaces - cost enters in, along with a personality that does not follow cookbooks well.
 

Bartman

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#5
Having never sprayed before, I feel like I'm cheating being able to wipe down the gun and run water through it for a few minutes to get it cleaned out. Without experience using the other systems it's hard to say which is which but so far it's been great to be free of offensive smells and fumes other than what the guy I'm working with is putting out!
 

Clifford Daly

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#6
Spent 110 bucks on a paint shaker and it is by far the best thing I’ve bought for my project.... put a can on and walk away for 10 minutes and it’s the greatest thing! I have many uses for it though with the amount of painting I do but if you plan on more projects then definitely make the investment!
 

Bartman

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#7
No shaking allowed with Stewart coatings! Only stirring, but not too aggressive. I think the issue is the paint, being water based, will get foamy.

I bought a bunch of wood stirring sticks to keep it mixed well as I go and use a paint mixer on a drill at slow speeds if it's been sitting for very long.
 

Clifford Daly

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#8
Interesting. It’s mixed on a shaker when they make it! I can’t imagine the bubbles being around for more than a few hours. Doing the heavy mixing the day before would eliminate that. But i guess a mixer works well since it’s not flammable.
 

Bruce

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#9
I've been surfing on re finishing and the Stewart system looks really good any comments or concerns? Also being new was this a total recover or did you freshen up what you had? I have been looking for information on how to remove old paint when fabric is good but paint didn't stick to fabrics. Trying to decide if I should just re furbish or replace the fabrics.
Bruce
 

Bartman

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#10
it's worked out well for me on my wings so far. the wings were recovered as part of the spar conversion so it's new fabric. if you have issues with the original paint not sticking to the fabric I'd guess you won't be able to repaint without also removing and replacing the fabric. I'm not an A&P/IA though so my opinion isn't worth much. Do you have large areas where the paint is missing?
Stewart Systems paint, EkoCrylic, is nice in that it can be put over other paints and it sticks well and looks really good but you've got to have a solid layer to start with.
 

Bartman

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#12
Another minor blunder, er, i mean, learning experience! Went to paint lift struts number left a couple of days ago and seemed to remember spraying white EkoPoly over green Zinc Phosphate primer without any problems so got all set up and started shooting. After a couple of fog coats it looked like the white wasn't going to cover the green so I sent out an SOS to Andy at Stewart Systems who said, 1. keep going, the white will cover it and 2. If you put down too many fog coats in a row it will start to look like orange peel. So I sprayed another coat and then improvised another fog coat too soon after the last one and they ran into each other and I lost the fine sandpaper surface finish that must be there before the glossy final coat. So it had to fully set up before I could sand it and today I sprayed primer to start over! :cry::cry::cry:

I don't know what I was thinking trying to spray white on a part that was originally white and only spot primed with green. Two more fog coats and I might have gotten away with a final gloss coat. It'll be nice now that it's been sanded again and the primer has evened out the base color.
 

Bob Turner

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#13
I did my Cub lift struts with rattle cans two years ago. White Rustoleum primer, and then old formula Schoolbus Yellow. That was two years ago - they still look great.
My personality and finicky paint do not match.
 

Bartman

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#14
Getting Great Results!

  • Read the instructions. The instructions and other documentation at the website are very specific and have a lot of really helpful information. If you're not sure, refer back to the printed instructions that are included with every order, follow up with the website documentation, and then either ask questions here or give the home office a call. There are details that are very important like not waiting long after the recommended EkoBond dry times to put the first EkoFill coats on so the fabric can't accumulate dust. Read the manual and note tidbits like this to make it all go according to plan.
  • Extral layers of EkoFill are ok if you were going light with the first three coats. Light shouldn't penetrate the fabric if the EkoFill is thick enough.
  • Control dust at every step. Waterborne coatings being what they are, each layer will accentuate dust specks that are trapped in the finish. They can be sanded out but try with each coat to get nothing stuck in the finish.
  • 320 grit sandpaper makes the work of roughing the surface go faster than the red scotch brite pads but stay away from rib stitching or rivets with the sandpaper, especially when scuffing/prepping the EkoFill coats. The sandpaper will knock the finish off very quickly compared to the scotch brite pads. Use the sandpaper in open areas and then get in close and around hard points like rib stitching with the scotch brite pads.
  • Try to keep temperature and humidity constant. Too much humidity is discouraged but too little is bad too. If you're heating a cold workshop in the winter when outside humidity is very low you'll want to wet the floor to put humidity into the air. It seems to help the EkoPoly top coat to flow better and it also helps to keep dust from kicking up when you're spraying.
  • Focus on using the "fog" coats to create texture, not to actually paint the aircraft. The color will slowly come up but the texture is the real key to the paint sticking and holding tight to vertical or sloped surfaces while you paint. Each "fog" coat should leave a rough texture like 1000 grit sandpaper. It looks satiny when the light bounces off of it, not glossy. If a "fog" coat looks glossy you're using too much paint per coat.
  • DON'T RUSH THE FOG COATS! Those teeny tiny droplets of paint that make up the rough surface of a good fog coat must be given enough time to set before the next coat goes on. Lightly touch the back of a knuckle to the surface of the paint, if paint comes off on your skin then the paint isn't ready for the next coat. If the paint is sticky but doesn't transfer to your finger then you're ready to go with the next coat. If you rush the "fog" coats, the teeny little droplets of paint will flow into each other and the result will almost immediately be "orange peel". Ask me how I know!! In my experience, with my shop temps in the low 70's and a bucket of water spread out on the floor, it takes about 30 minutes for a "fog" coat to be ready to be checked. Warmer temps will speed things up but don't forget that humidity is important too. TOP TIP***DON'T RUSH THE FOG COATS AND DON'T ATTEMPT TO BUILD COLOR BY MAKING YOUR FOG COATS HEAVIER THAN HOW IT IS EXPLAINED IN THE INSTRUCTIONS.
  • When it's time to lay down the final top coat don't be afraid to lay down some paint! Also don't be afraid to stop and look at the results you're getting. If there are spots where you don't have the high gloss effect that you'll come to love seeing, lay down some more paint and work up to the gloss. Be warned though, I ruined and had to redo my Citabria door because the gloss wasn't coming up and I kept adding paint. I gave up, the gloss developed as the paint flowed, but then I got "popping" (the painted surface appears effervescent from the moisture that is trying to get out from under the partially cured surface of the paint) because I added too much paint. The humidity was likely too low because the floor had dried a lot by the time I got to the top coat. If you're not getting the gloss and you're following the directions, open the flow a little more but make sure you have enough air pressure and flow to atomize the larger volume of paint. It takes time to get this just right and I would recommend dedicating some of that precious paint to test spraying at least a little bit to see what I'm talking about.
  • Don't mask with paper materials and, if you do, don't rip the paper when pulling it from the freshly painted parts. Ripping paper makes dust, dust mars the glossy finished surface. Ask me how I know!

That's about all I can think of at the moment. As I remember more points I'll add to the post above. Hope that helps.
 
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Bob Turner

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#15
My buddy has had fits. Finally decided to completely sand and re- spray one side of the fuselage. He started with dead smooth, from 400 sandpaper. Results were finally acceptable. Finally. He never gives up!