Paint Job for '04T
The good, the bad, and the "not so perfect"


The whole thing was really my fault... I'm old enough to know better but I was so eager to get this thing done, I failed to do the right research. It's also true that I tend to be a perfectionist and some things that bother me mean nothing to others Maybe in the end, things turned out OK but it's certainly been a "learning experience".

BeforePlanWhen I bought '04T, I knew the paint was less than perfect. I'd looked at another plane that had a magnificent exterior but the engine history was something of a concern. I figured no one ever died from a bad paint job and everything else was great, so '04T was my choice. The paint wasn't horrible but I could see aluminum in some areas and the several years it was tied down before I got a hangar didn't make it any better. Also, I thought the scheme looked like a clown! For years I've been procrastinating, especially since most of my friends were talking about a paint job costing 8-10K. Recently, however, my friend Ray said he knew a place that was a lot cheaper and that did a nice job. Actually, he told me about two places. I called the one and couldn't make contact so I called the other, "Smooth Landings" at Northumberland County, N79. For a paint scheme, I decided to use the same scheme as my friends' plane, '73W, but change the blue to a deep red. I took lots of photos and measurements of '73W and put them together with the computer. I made arrangements to fly down to N79 but the weather was marginal so Lin and I drove down. The owner is a personable young man named Brian Snyder. I was impressed with the guy and the shop and, I'm ashamed to say, I failed to check references or check out other alternatives. The price Brian gave me was attractive so, after some thought, we gave him the job. He was talking about starting the end of April but, since we were going away for two weeks early in April, I asked if there was some way he could start earlier so I wouldn't be without a plane for so long. He was good enough to rearrange his schedule and I took the plane down on March 28th. None of my friends were available so Brian flew me back. Nice service.

DuringWhen we returned from Europe, we made arrangements to have a look at the plane. It was, of course, all ripped apart and the paint stripped so It looked horrible but I was happy that he was doing what he's promised in terms of preparation. Sure is a bad experience to see your 'baby' that way, though! I actually visited it twice while it was being prepared.

'04T and '73WThere were several delays so it wasn't until May 11 that I was able to pick up the plane. It had been done a few days but I was out of town. Ron flew me down in '73W and I was delighted at what I saw. The plane looked great and it and '73W made a great pair. Brian said, however, he needed me to bring it back; he said he noticed some "tiger stripes" in the red on one of the wings. When he pointed it out, it was pretty obvious. Apparently it looked OK in the hangar but the sunlight really highlighted the problem. He said I should look the plane over when I got back home and he'd be glad to fix up any other problems. I figured, "Great, this guy really cares". When Ron and I flew home, he said I was walking away from him; apparently I'd picked up a couple of knots with the paint!

Well, the more I looked, the more issues I found. Most of my friends had the same reaction to the workmanship that I had but some people said I worry too much. I'll not write a lot of text on the subject because I don't want to be misunderstood. I will, however, attach some photos so you can judge for yourself. Brian took the plane back and fixed the tiger stripes and some, but not all, of the drips and sags. My biggest concern, however, was and still is the vinyl tape used for the gold stripes. Apparently he subcontracts this out but there were and still are a LOT of bubbles under the tape. When he took it back, he also had the lady do some work on one or two of the stripes but there wasn't much improvement. My concern is that with time, they'll expand and the tape will come loose. Brian said it was guaranteed for 10 years by the lady who did the taping. I asked for and he promised something in writing. Despite several follow up calls, I still have nothing in writing and, in the end, things between Brian and me became quite unpleasant.

From several feet away, the plane looks great. The drips and sags I can overlook but I'm still worried about the vinyl. If it starts coming off, you can be assured I'll post some pictures here. In the meantime, I try to be positive. The plane looks better than it did before and I didn't spend a ton of money (it was less than $5K). I guess I got what I paid for.

Here are some close-ups; you judge for yourself...