Thursday, December 8, 2016

Estes Long Tom #3016 Build, Part 9, Sustainer Paint Mask

On the forums, some builders do three or fours coats of primer / filler, sanding between coats. I don't think that's necessary and adds quite a bit of weight to the rocket.

After filling the wood grain with one application of CWF and sanding, I only need one wet coat of Duplicolor Primer /Filler. The picture shows how it looks after sanding. Most all the primer is sanded off. Any grain pores that remained are now leveled off with the primer.

Here's how the instructions lay out the masking.
Most all the rocket is gloss white. The low end of the sustainer and booster fins are black.

I used a 3/8" wide Scotch tape strip for the horizontal white band.
The end is slightly tapered so the squared end won't mask a small corner tick at the end of the wrap.
Note that the launch lug is below the mask. The lug was glued on lower than the instructions showed so it wouldn't have to be in the mask area.

3/8" to the right will be another tape wrap. The rest of the upper body is masked off.


  1. Chris, I agree with you about the primer and many coats used to fill balsa and spirals. I have tried it and it works but wow what a lot of work and sanding and it adds a lot of weight. My last few builds I started building old school with only balsa sealer and straight to top coat with old formula Krylon and no primer. The one thing I noticed is the weight of my rockets are much lighter and no damage occurs when landing. I have Estes new building manual and noticed in there instructions they say to finish with primer to fill balsa. I think this is a bad idea because it takes multiple coats of primer to get decent results. People can use wood filler, Balsa sealer from Sig, or water based balsa sealer from Deluxe Materials. Well any way nice build as always.

    1. Hi David,
      I agree, do what works for you. I used to use sanding sealer but that was four coats (minimum) with sanding in between. The CWF is just one application and the filler/primer takes care of the grain and seams. It's hard to get sanding sealer now and the price is ridiculous!
      I do use white undercoats so the follow up colors will be brighter.
      I tend to sand off most all of the primer/filler, that helps to keep the models lighter. Some builds I've seen online have multiple heavy primer coats.
      It's a compromise, I probably paint heavier than most. But, I'm a sport flyer. I don't build "bullet-proof" rockets. A strong, well finished model will look beeter and last through more flights.