Paint Booth II!?

Russ Erb

Originally published December 1996

Yes, it's true. Project Police intelligence officers, using highly technical and classified techniques (i.e. engaging Chapter 1000 members in casual conversation), have detected the construction of Soviet missiles in Cuba (oops-wrong decade) Paint Booth II at the hangar of Bob Waldmiller and Norm Howell.

Paint Booth I had been constructed in Colorado Springs by Russ Erb for the painting of Bruce Wright's RANS S-10 and the Pedal Pitts that was displayed at the Edwards Open House and Fox Field Air Races. It was a fairly simple affair; basically an 8' x 8' x 16' box frame built of 2x4s, covered with plastic held in place with staples and duct tape. It was pretty high tech for its day, having a working door and locations for household heater filters for intake and exit air. Lighting was from four fluorescent shop lights set on the roof of the booth. A simple box fan at the inlet produced enough flow to inflate the walls of the booth and keep air moving through. It worked very well, except the heater filters only did a fair job of keeping the airborne paint droplets inside the booth. A large amount of paint still made it out to the exhaust fan, which was not explosion-proof.

Another problem the paint booth posed for Russ was what to do with it when he moved back to Edwards. About that time, Norm was visiting in Colorado Springs and recognized the paint booth for what it was. A deal was immediately struck to set up the paint booth in Norm's hangar upon Russ's return. The paint booth was delivered to Norm's, but was not set up due to more pressing commitments. It's really annoying how work gets in the way of the important stuff.

In the interim, in a recreation of the Chapter 1000 Standardized Work Table genesis, Bob and Norm once again were inspired by the spirit of Steve Austin, saying "We can rebuild it. We have the technology." Thus was born Paint Booth II. It is reported to be bigger and better than the original, and sturdier too. Report note use of drywall siding. An improved air handling system will be installed. Additionally, ports will be available for both compressed air for paint spraying and vacuum for vacuum bagging. Thus, the booth will also be usable as a slightly-above-room-temperature autoclave. When complete, the paint booth, like the rest of the hangar workshop, will be available to all Chapter 1000 members. Just make the appropriate arrangements first, and clean up after yourself, lest you suffer the wrath of Norm!

Lessons learned: Good lighting is important in a paint booth. It's very difficult to have too much. I have seen a professional paint booth that had lights not only in the ceiling but in the walls as well. There is one major disadvantage of just using fluorescent lighting. The spectrum of shop lights and other fluorescent bulbs is rather lacking in the red wavelengths. I noticed this while painting the Pedal Pitts. Inside the paint booth, the red paint looked unmistakably ORANGE! This can really mess up your mind when you're trying to determine if you've sprayed the right color! Bringing the parts out into sunlight or incandescent lighting showed the proper red color. Paint Booth II should be illuminated using fluorescent lights for brightness, supplemented by incandescent lights for proper color interpretation. (R1)

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Revised -- 19 May 1997