LEFT: Testers Dullcote. Although it can be applied by a brush, a better approach is to use an airbrush and spray a thin coat onto the panel. When applying Dullcote to a panel, it is best to spray an even thin coat.
It is unfortunate, that the final grey-coloured coat of paint on many reproduction panels does not conform to the same level of quality assurance that Gables or Smiths provide on an OEM item.
Some reproduction panels can easily be scratched and chipped, and after installing and removing a panel several times, or using it for a few months, the panel quickly can appear to look like a well-used item.
Quality assurance is a term frequently used to discuss the quality of an item. Many manufacturers of reproduction panels only apply one or two coats of paint which may or may not be applied over a primer. The strength and longevity of the paint depends upon whether a primer has been used, the thickness of the paint, the quality of the paint and the number of applications. Three thinly applied coats of grey-coloured paint over primer base is far better than one or two thick coats of paint without a primer.
The final paint finish should not be shiney but be non-reflective.
So how can you improve the durability of paint after it has been applied?
A product called Testers DullCote has been used in the modelling arena for many years. Modelers apply a layer of Dullcoat to their models prior to applying other painting effects which may be damaging to the underlying base coat. Dullcote dries to a clear matt texture that adds a layer of protection to the base coat of paint.
The application of Dullcote can be either by rattle spray can, airbrush or by a standard modeling brush. Whatever application method is chosen, always trial the product on a lesser item prior to applying to an expensive avionics panel.
If applied correctly, Dullcote will minimize the chance of a panel being scratched or blemished and provide a clear, durable, and flat texture that can easily be cleaned. Additionally, if Dullcoat is applied to an OEM annunciator, the application will enhance the appearance of the annunciator making it appear clearer than possibly what it is.
Gables and Smiths – Two manufacturers of OEM Boeing 737 avionics panels
Light Plate – The actual plate that contains the lighting array to backlight the cut-out sections on a panel
OEM – Original Equipment Manufacture aka real aircraft part
Panel – Used loosely to mean a avionics panel or module (for example Fire Suppression Panel or radio panel)