The Black Magic’s fuselage is shown after
scraping it with a single-edge razor blade.
This is how the model looked after scraping
paint on the fuselage with a credit card.
The author applied a heavy guide coat after fiberglass repairs.
Building airplanes is often about
by Mike Riggs
In my January “RC Aerobatics” 201 column, I wrote about the virtues of waterborne paint. I wasn’t happ
with the results of painting my Black
Magic with Auto Air paint.
The biggest issue I had with
it was weight. Because it is a
semitransparent paint, achieving the
desired opaqueness took more than
I anticipated. The Auto Air paint is a
great product I will continue to use o
foamies and small parts, but the extr
weight on a two-meter airplane was
After the grim realization that the
Black Magic would weigh more than
11 pounds, I put it on a high shelf
where it couldn’t be seen. It was there
for nearly a year until this past fall
when I had to decide whether to finish
it or throw it away.
Finishing it meant doing something
about weight. To fly well, it needed
to go on a serious diet. The idea of
stripping the paint came up. My
flying friend, Jim Welch, who has
considerable experience finishing
models and full-scale aircraft,
suggested using Citristrip, which has a
pleasant orange smell and neutralizes
My goal was to strip off the
lacquer clear coat and Auto Air color
coats, leaving the epoxy primer and
fiberglass. Mastering the technique
before destroying the airplane was my
I initially used a credit card and
a Scotch-Brite scouring pad on the
rudder. It was difficult and messy.
I sprayed the rear section of the
fuselage with Citristrip. Big mistake!
After setting for roughly a half hour,
the stripper dried onto the surface.
Throwing the airplane away again
came to mind.
Now I had to remove the dried
Citristrip in addition to the clear and
color coats. My next brilliant idea
was to use stronger paint remover.
This worked too well! In some areas
balsawood. What a mess! Does a balsa
fuselage go in the regular or recycle
Disgusted, I abandoned the project
for roughly a week. Another telephone
consultation with Jim revealed that I
113 Model Aviation MARCH 2014
Read Mike Riggs’ column
from the January 2013 issue at