Re-painting Skins Part 2

I decided to get over how cold it’s been and just start re-painting the skins. Temperature in the garage was around 59 degrees by mid day and the recommended temperature on the Rustoleum Satin White is 70, but there was a little caveat at the end that said “lower temperatures may increase dry time.”, which to me means go ahead and use at any temperature πŸ™‚

Things started off really good and the horseshoes came out great, in fact so good once they’d dried they’re putting everything else to shame. I have no idea what I different to get them this way. They really do have a satin finish with little to no blemishes. What’s funny is when I started to paint them they almost orange pealed on me, or it looked at way on the first pass.

Not so good news on the skins though that prompted this whole repaint job. As soon as I started I got a big run on the back skin. My heart sank but I continued on with the other pieces, residing myself to having wait for it to dry, then sand and repaint tomorrow or the next day.

I think I’ve also figured out my dusty/rough paint problem I tried to describe a few days ago. I’m pretty sure it’s because I tried to paint everything together and got over-spray onto pieces – i.e. Dust. This time I took each piece in turn set it outside, painted then brought it back inside to dry. Makes sense right? At the time I thought I was saving time – big mistake. Do yourself a favor and paint everything separate.

The skirt and lower frame ring also turned out well, but will require several more coats. I’d forgotten to prime the ring last night, but quickly did it this morning.

Here’s the skirt. The paint is okay, but I’m not crazy about the ribs/strips and how they meet the base (I guess top in this photo) of the skirt.

By tonight they’d dried and I could see how they looked together – not bad and I’m sure once it’s the other way up I’ll forget all about the ribs.

Coming back to the big paint run I got on the skins. I decided late in the afternoon to try and fix it. It had been a few hours and things had dried a lot. But the run was so thick that it would have taken days to dry, so I took a soft paper towel with some acetone on it and lightly rubbed the run away. This is almost certainly a big no-no, but I really didn’t want to wait. I then sprayed over the area again thinking I may get lucky with the finish. I’m almost certainly going to sand it down, but at least I can do this tomorrow instead of waiting days for the run to dry through.

Now after seeing how well the horseshoes came out and figuring out the dusty-paint problem. I may go back and redo the skin panels.

Posted by Chris on December 30th, 2007 in Finish/Paint | No Comments

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Re-painting Skins

Another busy evening working on R2, but not a lot to show for it. Started off with prepping some stuff for painting tomorrow.

Remember about a month ago I’d posted pictures of my skins all done. Well I decided that I wasn’t happy with the result. The problem was the paint’s thin in places and felt rough to the touch. It could have been what I’ve dubbed ‘dusty paint’, or maybe it was simply that the paint thinned/settled while drying and the aluminum was coming through. What I mean by ‘dusty paint’ is that sometimes I find that the Satin Rustoleum sprays out almost like a fine powder or dust with very little solvent and dries rough. It looks okay from a distance, but to the touch it’s not good and picks up marks really easy. I’d agonized for almost month if I was going to repaint. I knew I need to, but kept on telling myself it wasn’t that bad.

I lightly sanded down the problem areas and then had to re-mask all the bits I didn’t want paint on. Luckily I hadn’t removed all the mask-tape on the back skin.

I’m going to start tomorrow with a fresh can of paint and hopefully I’ll not have the ‘dusty paint’ problem or worse the dread orange peal.

The bad news is the weather is cold, well cold for Northern California. Its 45-50 overnight and not gets much over 60 during the day. The Rusoleum primer is good from 50 degrees, but I’m not sure how well the Satin White will dry overnight. The good news is the forecast is rain which means the temperature should be a little higher due to cloud coverage πŸ™‚

I also tried to get the skirt ready tonight for the top coat as well. Finally finished up the Bondo work

The problem with Bondo, or for me at least, is that I end up putting on way to much while trying to fill the gaps, resulting in a lot of cleanup – and I’m tired of sanding the inside corners of all those strips, so I think it’s as good as it’s going to get for now.

I applied a coat of primer, sanded a little more followed by a final coat of primer (until I see what it looks like in the morning)

I also need to remember to hit the underside of the frame with primer/satin white too.

Lesson learned today – Don’t rush to remove masking tape until you’re 110% sure you’re happy with the finish.

Posted by Chris on December 28th, 2007 in Finish/Paint | No Comments

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Finished Prepping Skirt

I’m almost done with prepping the aluminum skirt.

With the olive paint and screws this pieces would looks more at home attached to the Nautilus or some Steampunk project don’t you think?

I’d bolted on the strips a few weeks ago and had given it a coat of primer, but I still needed to go back and file down down theΒ  strips a bit.

I’ve also filled some of the seams with Bondo. All that’s left is to give it another shot of primer then it’ll be ready for the white top coat.

Posted by Chris on December 11th, 2007 in Body, Finish/Paint | 2 Comments

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Skin Update

Three big milestones the last few nights. One, I finished gluing the skins together, two, I mounted the skins to the frame, and finally – I’ve almost finished painting the white parts including the skins. I can’t believe it!

Front skins were a little more tricky than the rear as I needed a lot more clips. I also had to go buy more of them as the rear skins were still drying.

Do yourself a favor and go to a 99c store and pick up 20 packs of these before you start anything. I estimate that I used around 60 clamps for skins in total. You maybe need a few bigger/stronger clamps just in case you get some spots that want to pull part, and a box or two of those black binder clips just in case.


These little clamps are probably useless for anything else you’ll work on in your life, but they’re perfect for the skins and very cheap. You could easily blow much more by going to a regular hardware store and stocking up on name brand clamps.

I’d noticed that very few builders have photos of how they glue the skins together. There’s plenty of before and after shots, but nothing during. Now I know why. It’s incredible messy and you’re in such a hurry in case the glue sets!

Once again I used the cheap 60 minute epoxy. I turns out that one pack was enough to do all of the skins and panels.

Before I applied the epoxy I cleaned the surfaces with Acetone, and double checked any tabs that I may have missed. It’s worth checking as once the skins are stuck together it’ll be really hard to get in to file them down.

Okay, here’s the obligatory after photo

I used Acetone again to clean up the excess epoxy that oozes out everywhere. I went back around again after an hour to clean up even more that came out. I pulled off each clamp one by one so I could get underneath.

It’s probably worth checking all the seems around the whole outside of the skins as I had some spots that small clamps wouldn’t hold together. In fact I missed a few places and now I have to live with it. Also, don’t forget to keep the skins in the same half circle as the frame. They will most likely de-laminate if you don’t keep them curved correctly.

Here’s a quick shot of the rear door outer skin with the epoxy on before I stuck the pieces together

By the time I’d got to the door I’d cut way back the amount of epoxy I was lathering on. It still set up fine and cleanup was a lot easier.

You’ll also notice that I cut out all of the the large panels at the last minute. I’d hoped to keep them in place but it was virtually impossible to get the skins to bond together without gaps otherwise.

While the skins were drying I tackled turning this box of bits into assembled skin panels

Clean up of the edges and tabs was pretty easy, but I had some trouble getting the door frame surrounds to stick to the inner/back panels. A few days ago I’d tried silicon, but some of them kept de-laminating.I know Victor and many others swear by silicon, and I’m sure I was doing something wrong.

I tried one door three times but the silicon would just not hold it together, three others I did at the same time worked great. Go figure. Cleaning up the silicon after it had dried was also slow going for me. And with the success and relatively easy cleanup of epoxy on the skins I opted to use it instead on the panels. It was messy but I could quickly remove the excess epoxy while it was still wet. Again I used my trusted friend “Acetone”.

Once the skins dried overnight I was able to clean up the remaining dried epoxy and get to attaching them to the frame. Test fit without any mounting blocks seemed okay, but where I’d cut out the rear door on the skin it wouldn’t sit flush to the frame, it flared out a lot. It looked like I may have to add some blocks or mount pointer on the lower half of the frame.

Fitting the skins to the frame took a little longer than I thought it would. I’m using Daniel’s mounting blocks and it look a while to figure out how I was going to measure and mark up where to drill the holes in the skins. The blocks are designed to fit the JAG frame and screw to three of the frame rings.

At first I thought I needed to attach the block to the frame first but I quickly realized that it would be hard to center, so I opted to mark a line on the inside of the skin where the ring was and attach the blocks to the skins first.

In the end I worked out the math and a little system and I only screwed up on one hole. I was amazed I didn’t get them all wrong.

Now I have one elongated hole and I’m not sure if I’m going to try and fix it or not. I’ll probably leave it and see how it looks painted up.

I then tried to drill holes in the frame rings to attach the blocks to, but the skins are so tight once the blocks are in place I only really needed to attach the lower one’s. They also pulled in the rear skins snug to the frame So I don’t think I need to add extra mounting blocks there as first though. Here’s a shot of the skins without the blocks attached to the frame and you can just about see in the bottom right of the photo where the skins don’t quite meet the frame

The next day when the epoxy was set on panels I set myself up to prep everything for painting. I went over the surfaces again to make sure there wasn’t any epoxy. I also taped off the panel surround on the skin so that the aluminum would not get painted. I really like the look of Victor’s R2.

I hope that by doing this doesn’t cause me a headache down the road.

I didn’t realize it until I was done, but it took me 4 hours last night to mask everything off.

Here’s the majority of the skins and panels layed out ready for painting.

And here they are with the first coat of self etching primer

and the gray rustoleum primer on top of that

Next up was the Rustoleum Satin White (#7791). The instructions say that you can add additional coats within 60 minutes, so I did. I must have put on at least 4 coats by the time I was done. The only catch was I could see little dust and hair particles in the paint. I was in two minds to just stop and wait the 24-48 hours for it to try and then wet sand and start again. But I decided to continue as I know that the my paint job will never be perfect and besides I’m gonna weather him eventually anyway.

Rustoleum Satin White 7791

I also went back and tried to add a few coats to some other parts. It was early evening and it was starting to get really cold. The paint came out really strange and it orange peeled instantly. I’m not sure if it was the cold that did it or just a bad can, but I’m glad it wasn’t on the skins. The horse shoe can easily be sanded down and re-painted later – much easier than the skins.

I tried to capture the orange peel look in this photo but it’s hard to capture. Click through for the larger version and you’ll probably see it better.

My wife is also sick of the paint smell in the house. Even though I paint outside I bring stuff in to dry to avoid dust. I tried to fix the fumes problem last night by duct taping the door between the laundry room and garage, and it worked. She didn’t complain once after.

Tomorrow I have to decide if I’m going to continue painting the skins or call it done and wait for them to dry properly.

I also have a possible event on Saturday, but I dont think the paint will have dried enough and give myself time to re-assemble everything. I know if I push it I’ll screw something up and I’ll need to start over on the paint.

Posted by Chris on November 29th, 2007 in Body, Finish/Paint | No Comments

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Holiday Weekend Update

I’ve had an incredible busy weekend working on R2. I’m getting close to re-assembling him with all the skins and parts bolted on and everything painted.

If you’re browsing the gallery for new photos you’ve probably spot a lot of new work over the weekend. I tend to upload photos quicker than I can blog them here πŸ™‚

Throughout the 4 day holiday weekend I’ve been slowly prepping and painting everything that I could, including the legs, feet, ankles etc. Every time there was some downtime I’d turn around pick something up of my paint table, take it outside and give it another coat. I must have applied 3 or 4 coats of the white by now. The paint job isn’t perfect but it’ll do for now, plus I’ll probably be weathering him at some point soon.

I also finished painting all the remaining blue pieces, mostly body detail parts like the octagon ports, power couplers and vents . Once the skins are done and fixed to the frame I’ll be in good shape to start mounting the parts.



I started to use a self etching primer on some of the latest alu parts. I’d been looking for a self etching primer locally for a while and I finally found some in stock at Kragen’s. The problem with the small local auto places is that they seem to only carry one can of some paints, and refuse to special order – so each time I looked they were out. Anyway, it got lucky this time and I picked up the Duplicolor primer (olive green top.) You can see the olive colored parts in the first photo.

I guess my new hypo blue formula is

Duplicolor Self Etching Primer – wait 30
Rustoleum White Primer – wait 30 (maybe apply 2nd coat after 15 mins)
Rustoleum Purple – wait 30-45
Duplicolor – wait 30-45
Rustoleum Clear Coat (maybe two coats)

The biggest thing I probably worked on was gluing the skins together. I’d flip flopped a few times on how how I was going to do this. I really like how Victor has left the inner skins unpainted to show off the panel detail. But having an aluminum frame makes it a lot harder to mount the skins separately, so I’d probably need to paint them in one go. I’d considered using silicon to bond things together, but from some tests I’d done with some of the doors panels, it delaminates at the edges too easily. Cleanup is also hard and it’s difficult to remove all the excess silicon. If you’ve ever tried to paint over silicon you’ll know how bad that can be. The door panels I’d glued together had small fish-eye marks once I painted them. I think I can work around it, but all the other panels will be epoxied I think.

After a bunch of emails back and forth with friends, and a phone call or two – In the end I opted to use a cheap home-brand 60 minute epoxy from Ace Hardware. It’s supposed to setup in 60 minute, hard to the touch/movable in 4 hours and sets fully in 24, but even after 2 hours it was still very soft. Which was good news as it allowed me plenty of time to clean up the excess that squished out. I only had enough clamps for one half of the skins so I tackled the back set first. I’m hoping to get to the front set tonight then on to mounting them on the frame.

I think in the end there was over 60 clamps, paper snaps and clothes pegs stuck to the frame.

This morning the skins had definitely stiffened up, and I’m glad that I’d made sure they were sitting in the correct curved shape I marked on the workbench before going to bed.

Talking of mounting the skins I’ve flip flopped on how best to do this too. Like anything to do with R2 building there always more than one way to go, and there is never a right or wrong answer. I have skin mounting systems from Daniel and Darren, both are very different with pros and cons to each. Darren’s quick snap mounts are made from plastic and allow quick and easy removal, where as Daniel’s are aluminum and require screws to hold everything together. Having experimented with both I’m opting to go with Daniel’s mounting blocks for now.

I also worked on getting the skirt finished this weekend. I didn’t quite finish it ready for painting, but I did get the strips mounted. It probably took close to 4 hours to drill and tap all the small holes.

I started off by marking up where the strips would go and drilling a series of holes.

I then clamped each strip one by one into place, center punched through where the strip needed to be drilled, tapped the hole, reattached to the skirt, repeat for the second hole. That’s a total of 48 holes and 24 taps needed. I also had to cut down each screw as they were too long!

The holes in the strips do not go all the way through, so tapping them was hard and didn’t leave much for the 4-40 screws to hold onto.

Each strip had to be tweaked and filed to get it to fit, and due to the construction of the skirt, some strips are too long and need filing down in length. I’m also going to have to bondo/fill in the gaps before painting.

I’m sure there was more done this weekend, but that seems to cover most of it for now.

Posted by Chris on November 26th, 2007 in Body, Feet, Finish/Paint, Legs | 1 Comment

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Paint Tests

The last couple of days I’ve been trying out different paint samples. Mostly focusing on the Krider method of layering the Rustoleum / Duplicolor Anodized and varying the amount or number of layers.

I used Rustoleum White Primer, Rustoleum Metallic Purple for the middle coat and Duplicolor Anodized Blue for the top coat.

First test came out too dark and not enough of the Purple sparkle came through due to putting on 2 coats of the final Anodized Blue. But it was nice and I was happy how easy it went on and how forgiving it was.

The spray can tops are there for reference. One on the left is the Duplicolor Anodized Blue and the right is the Rustoleum Metallic Cobalt Blue. Here’s a better photo showing the contrast of the Cobalt Blue and my first Purple/Blue mix –

Next test was a disaster. Victor told me to paint till the thing looked really wet, so I did. I waited 40 minutes then applied the top coat and then everything started to mix and swirl. I guess I put on way too much paint. But I’d rather learn the mistake on this than on R2. I decide to clear coat it anyway thinking at least some of it may look okay. Disaster is on the left. Click for a close up.

Next test I applied much lighter coats for both the purple and the blue and that’s the middle piece above next to the disaster on the left, and my original piece on the right. Here’s another close up indoors tonight.

I’m much happier with this. It’s a lot more shinny, not so blue believe it or not and in low light it’s very dark blue which I wanted.
More tests over the weekend.

Posted by Chris on January 11th, 2007 in Finish/Paint | No Comments

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R2 Blues

Spent the night researching and thinking about the R2 Blue I’ll use. I know I’ll never be 100% screen accurate as there’s no such thing due to all the lighting changes and various R2s used over the years. But I really do like the original purpley blue and would like to get as close to it or th the R2-D2 Hypothetical Blue (or Hypo Blue for short) without busting the bank.

Here’s a good example of how different paints were used on screen used R2’s

Custom paint is probably out of the question and there seems to be 3 current popular variations on the blue builders are using. Only one of which IMHO has a true rich purple undertone.

So in no particular order, here’s a rough list of what I could find people using today –

Calvin and PixelFiend are using Duplicolor Royal Blue (AutoZone), with a Rustoleum Black Primer and Duplicolor Clear Coat.

Ed/Ryan are using Rustoleum Cobalt Blue Metallic #7251 (Orchard) with a Rustoleum Clear Coat. I also used the Cobalt Blue on my X-wing helmet 4 years ago and have included samples in the comparison shot.

Victor uses a variation on the Krider Blue method

Rustoleum white primer, #1981
Rustoleum Metallic Purple, #7255 (some Ace Hardware stores)
Dupli-Color Anodized Blue, #MC201 (Kragen)
Rustoleum Crystal Clear Enamel, #7701

I spent 4 hours on Saturday driving around finding samples of each to do my own testing. The most difficult to find was the Duplicolor blue as all the Autozones locally only carried it in small 5oz cans, and then only had one at each store. When I asked if they could special order they said no, and that the ordering system is automated and to expect more in on Wednesday – but the issue is they will only drop off one 5oz can to replace the can i bought!

So before I blew thru almost $60 of paint I thought I’d try and pull together a few images of various samples I could find from fellow builders and comparisons to movie shots. The image is huge so please be patient with the download.

Various R2 Blues

The Krider Blue is certainly closest to the Hypo Blue, especially when looking at stills from the new movies, and in some photos the Duplicolor Royal Blue is close, but in others it’s way off and really doesn’t have the purple punch I’m looking for! Plus it might take me months to get a good supply.

I like the Cobalt Blue on my X-wing helmet, but it’s too dark and doesn’t have much of any purple in it.

I was hoping I could get close to the Original Trilogy R2 blue, but I don’t think I will be able, so I’m think I’m going to start my tests by copying Victor’s Krider method and if it’s easy, stick with that – but if it looks like it’s a pain move on to test the Duplicolor.

Posted by Chris on January 8th, 2007 in Finish/Paint | No Comments

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