To many–yours truly included–the Debonair’s trip to the paint shop couldn’t come soon enough. That old, funky, faded paint job had to go! I mean, you could see where previous owners tried to “rescue” it by actually spray-painting some touch-ups. Guess they went to Home Depot or Lowe’s and got some cans of spray paint. Looks good….Not!

Anyway, I flew the Deb to KD Aviation at the Stewart International Airport (KSWF) a week ago on a blustery day. Surface winds were gusting to 35 knots out of the west, so Stewart’s super-long runway 27 was a welcome sight. By the way, KD is located off taxiway L in case you want to fly in for a visit. It’s over in the cargo area where they store the snowplows.

KD stripped off the old paint in a jiffy. The stripper reeks of ammonia but the shop uses eco-friendly materials and procedures. That was hard to believe when I stepped into the shop–it took my breath away. After the stripper is applied, the old paint sort of shrivels up and then dries. The next day, the dried-out flakes of paint are brushed off (if they haven’t fallen off already) and swept off the floor into bags for disposal.

What’s left is what you see in the accompanying photo. Notice that the control surfaces have been removed during the pre-paint process.

So long, old paint. Note that the new engine access door is being tried on for size in this photo, and that the control surfaces are currently removed.

So long, old paint. Note that the new engine access door is being tried on for size in this photo, and that the control surfaces are currently removed.

And, as always it seems, a new issue emerged. The right flap actuator had damaged the nose ribs of the flap. This was damage that couldn’t be seen during a preflight inspection. Soooo, we shipped the flap to trusted airframe components supplier Aircraft Components by Williams Inc. (formerly known as Williams Airmotive).

Roy Williams heads up Aircraft Components, and he has helped us in the past with difficult-to-find airframe parts. In 2004, he stepped forward with a new stabilator for the AOPA sweepstakes plane that year–a 1965 Piper Twin Comanche. We called that project the “Win-A-Twin.” Remember? Williams’ stabilator was a beauty, and it saved our skin because the original stab was patched. Patching control surfaces is a no-no, especially in the Comanche and Twin Comanche, which have had issues (now resolved!) with tail flutter.

“Send both flaps,” Williams said of the Debonair. “And send the rudder too.” Thanks a million Roy. Williams is double-checking to make sure that any and all rudder Airworthiness Directives and Service Bulletins are complied with.

Anyone out there need control surfaces or other airframe parts for old airplanes? Then call Roy at 260-347-0807, or visit his website at And tell him I sent you.

As always, watch for more updates coming soon. And remember folks, this is a two-year project. The winner won’t be flying the Debonair away until the AOPA Summit in Palm Springs in 2014.

  • Tony BaldwinVoeks

    Love the updates. Please continue to provide us all with update info for this beautiful plane.

    Thank you.


    • thorne

      Will do. More airframe repairs are waiting in the wings!

  • tony

    looking good

  • Tony Hunt

    Love the updates of my plane. Keep them coming

  • mydeb

    Sorry Tony,

    That’s mydeb..

  • Clay Story

    What is the name of the stripper used and where is it available?

    • Chris Muncy

      I’d love to know this too.

      • Chris Landry

        Me too! Is it usable on fiberglass parts?

      • thorne

        Chris– The stripper is for aluminum only. It will destroy fiberglass.


  • thorne

    I am checking on the name of the product. But I can tell you that ammonia is most emphatically a part of the compound, which is applied with paint brushes. When I walked into the shop, the ammonia fumes wanted to knock me over! In spite of this, the compound is eco-friendly. Ammonia breaks down to nitrogen, which is harmless. As for using the stuff on fiberglass the answer is: NO! Ken Reese (the “K” in KD Aviation) says this stripper will destroy fiberglass. By the way the “D” in KD Aviation stands for Don Reese, Ken’s brother.

  • Bobby Nix

    Hello, and thanks for all the updates. Looks like a very beautiful plane in the works for some well blessed person. Sure do hope it will be me,selfishly speaking. When is the projected date and time for the awarding or naming the winner ?

    With Kindest Regards,
    Bobby( Bob ) Nix

  • Rick Simmons

    She looks good!!!! I appreciate everyone’s compliments on my baby!! I can’t wait for 2014 to arrive. I already have a nice cozy spot in the hanger for her

  • roger

    I am also among those eagerly awaiting the identification of a paint stripper that is effective and eco-friendly.

  • Windtee

    I saw the airframe at Sun ‘n Fun this year and it looks great! Looking forward to the completion of this fine restoration-project.

  • http://None Don Johnson

    So, it’s June 11. Has the stripper’s name been learned yet?

  • Mark Blackwell

    Come on guys get the negotiation for future free stripper and release the name of this product. A stripper that dries in the process of stripping YEAH! I and others who have not posted a comment follow these articles to help facilitate their own restoration projects. Thank you for finding interesting and useful information that takes time and connections that only AOPA has.

  • Rich Pineo

    I can’t wait to fly her home. Keep up the good work.

  • Mike K.

    Can’t wait to see which paint scheme is used !!

  • Ethan

    good job! This is the best hobby ever.