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Old 10-10-2017, 07:39 AM
rvanstory's Avatar
rvanstory rvanstory is offline
Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: New Braunfels
Posts: 110

Thank you all for your advice and insights. Thought I'd share what I've learned so far from this post for the benefit of future readers considering the same issue.

I've never heard of "glass transition temperature" and didn't know what that was. So, with the issue of safety coming into question, thought I'd look deeper into the subject.

According to the mother ship (Van's), black on cabin top is not an issue structurally. Fiberglass top is made from same material and process as the cowl, which routinely sees very high temps from engine heat and does not suffer any loss of strength. The structure will not weaken due to the heat of dark paint. They pointed out that on Cirrus, it's an issue since the wing spars are carbon fiber. Carbon fiber IS affected by temp more than fiberglass. Support also said that the strength of cabin top would only be an issue if you flipped the plane over on it's top. It's not an issue in flight.

So, at this point it's the opinion of Van's that the issue is one of comfort only. (Which is still a major consideration.)

After stewing on this a few days, I am starting to lean away from "black" and am looking at more of a "charcoal gray". Might mitigate SOME of the heat (not all) while still giving me the high contrast look that is so appealing on the design.

Thank you all for your responses and insights!!! Very helpful!
Randy Vanstory
Building RV10
N783V - Reserved
Flying Mooney M20J
Emp Kit Completed, Section 29 done, Tail Cone Attached, QB Wings delivered and stored for now.
Dues Happily Paid 2018
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Old 10-10-2017, 07:57 AM
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Mel Mel is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Dallas area
Posts: 9,926

Good info Randy.
Thanks for sharing!!!
Mel Asberry..DAR since last century
A&P/EAA Tech Counselor/Flight Advisor
Specializing in Amateur-Built and Light-Sport Aircraft
North Texas (8TA5)
RV-6 Flying since 1993, 172hp O-320, 3-Blade Catto (since 2003)
Legend Cub purchased 12/2017
FRIEND of the RV-1
Eagle's Nest Mentor
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Old 10-10-2017, 09:37 AM
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Bill Boyd Bill Boyd is offline
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Landing field "12VA"
Posts: 1,075
Default Good to know

As part of my paint scheme I want to do dark grey around the windows and door columns to give that whole area a unified dark look in conjunction with tinted plexi. I wish I had saved a picture of what I'm talking about. I feel like the rest of the cabin should be lighter color unless you have real AC, not an ice chest and fan like I'll probably settle on.
Bill Boyd

Hop-Along Aerodrome (12VA)
RV-6A - N30YD - flying since '98
RV-10 - N130YD reserved - under construction

donating monthly to the VAF - thanks, Doug
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Old 10-10-2017, 11:21 AM
Canadian_JOY Canadian_JOY is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 1,673

Just a quick data point to confirm some of the information shared above...

The Glastar from Stoddard-Hamilton (prior to Glasair) was shipped with white gel coat. It used a vinyl-ester resin in a vacuum-bag layup process for the fuselage. Dark colours were not recommended for this aircraft as the transition temperature was something around 200 degrees.

The Sportsman from Glasair is a natural outgrowth/evolution of the Glastar. It is made using the same brand of vinyl-ester resin, however it's a different part number of resin. The change in part number changed the transition point from around 200 to around 300 degrees. Dark colours are not a problem for the Sportsman.

Even a minor change in resins can result in a major change in their properties. This is an area where one has to be very sure of the chemistry in use. I'm glad a definitive answer has been obtained from the manufacturer.
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Old 10-12-2017, 11:30 PM
paul330 paul330 is offline
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Mpumalanga, South Africa
Posts: 977

As I understand it, the cabin top is a structural member subject to being able to take the load in the event of a roll over. With that in mind, the UK LAA issued a Mandatory Mod requiring the paint to be of a pale colour to mitigate against any heat-related reduction in strength.
Mercy Air, White River FAWV
ZU-IIZ - "Zeus"
2018 Donation Made
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