Specialized Aero / Tejas Aero Paint Review

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I signed an agreement to have Specialized Aero / Tejas Aero Services (FAA Accredited Part 145 Repair Station #7SLR322B) strip and paint the entire exterior, install a new interior, install all new glass and do an annual inspection on my 2916 TT 1980 Cessna T210N - the engine was previously rebuilt by Bill Cunningham at Powermaster Aircraft Engines and had only 146 hours on it. A deposit in the amount of $3,819.50 was sent to hold this position. The estimate for the paint was $18,000 - the interior estimate was $14,500 and the initial time estimate for the work was seven weeks.

On the agreed upon start date the plane was dropped off at the paint shop in San Marcos, Texas and another check in the amount of $17,807.59 was written covering 1/2 of the expected work with the rest due upon completion of the work. Over the next few weeks more checks were written to cover parts as they were ordered such as the new glass and new seat belts.

Seven weeks came and went with no more news about the plane... At fifteen weeks I was told it was scheduled to be in the paint booth. The story of "it's about to" seemed to be the stock answer when I would call or write to see when the plane might be ready. I was never once pushy regarding these delays. My thinking was if it takes a little longer for an excellent product well that will be ok.

Finally at the end of 27 weeks in the paint shop a friend that's an A&P and I drove a rental car from Dallas Texas to San Marcos, about a 4 1/2 hour drive to pick up the plane. What we saw when we walked up to the plane was rather disheartening. The paint on the exterior was covered with dust. There were numerous blowouts, cutouts, and runs in the paint in numerous places on the plane. Not just one or two things. Or seven or ten things. It was hard to find a place where any phase of the work was done correctly. The black paint had white specks in it that looked like overspray. In more than a few places bare metal was exposed. Exterior screws that were supposed to be replaced were painted over. The baggage door jambs were not painted and the original paint was still visible. There was orange peel on the underside of the flaps. The right side pilot step tread was missing. This step is a part that costs $610 to replace. The step was on the plane when they took it in and the process pictures I have from their hangar clearly show it. The pilot seat had a blob of glue on it and was the first thing you saw when you opened the door. The carpet had grease spots in the front and back. The seat frames were not painted underneath the seat and their movement was obstructed by the carpet. The fire extinguisher was missing. The right side aileron was actually physically obstructed and binding on the vent tube from the fuel tank.

This was an $18,000 paint job that took 27 weeks and an annual that said the plane was airworthy. The owner of the shop was brought out and three of us spent about twenty minutes putting at least three sheets of orange stickers over all of the points of failure before just giving up. The owner decided that the plane needed to be repainted and said he would do so. Thats not the end of it... Inspecting the invoice I was handed I was charged $1,500 for re-skinning an aileron - however I have a document from Specialized Aero saying that when they did the initial inspection of the airplane the ailerons were fine. Two spark plugs were replaced (neither the invoice or logbook entry said say which plugs) along with the plane's voltage regulator. Remember this is a 146 hour brand new engine with a JPI engine monitor and the plane is run exclusively lean of peak. If there was the slightest bit of trouble the JPI would have alarmed with any cylinders running rough and any deviation from 28 volts would have also resulted in a JPI alarm as well as the low voltage light illuminating in the top left of the panel. The owner of the shop did remove the charges for the plugs and the re-skinning of the aileron. We will get back to the voltage issues in just a bit. When I dropped the plane off I told the shop the A/C was not cooling and when you have the interior out can you run a sniffer over the A/C system and see if it will detect a leak. I instructed them not to do any repairs before consulting me as I would rather have a slow leak I recharge each spring than another point of possible failure inserted into the system. The shop went ahead anyway without my OK and replaced a $165.00 hose and charged me $1,400.00 in labor. (That's 20 hours to replace a hose when the interior of the 210 was already removed) The answer from the person that did the work was "I was not here when that was requested". It was the owner of the shop that I had made the request to be consulted before the plane was even delivered to Specialized Aero - another mechanic was standing there when I made this request. More on the A/C in a bit. If something as obvious as all four fuel sumps were not safety wired - what else was missed in the annual? There were other charges for wheel bearings and seat rollers. Turns out the problem with the seat was not rollers but the new carpet was obstructing the seat's travel.

Another distressing thing is there were numerous overnight shipping fees. For instance, the shipping for the voltage regulator from Zeftronics was $64.88. According to the Zeftronics website - they ship via USPS for free. Zeftronics is in Longview Texas only 356 miles away from Tejas Aero located in San Marcos Texas. The USPS could do that in a day. If the plane was not going to be delivered until 27 weeks later what was the rush charge me overnight shipping? There is an overnight charge of $56.95 to ship a small envelope of static wicks which are now covered with blotches of paint. In contrast to the shipping charge for static wicks the bulky BAS seatbelt harnesses only cost $16.00 to ship.

Chapter Two: We drive back to Dallas and start the wait for the re-do. Week after week went by and all I got was more excuses from Specialized Aero. Finally 11 weeks later (11 weeks is 4 more weeks than the initial estimate) and a total of 39 weeks since the plane was dropped off I was told the plane was ready. Again my A&P friend and I rent a car and start the drive to San Marcos. Again, disheartening but not surprised. The plane had been repainted but suffered from the exact same quality problems if not even worse this time. Again the same problems around the stripes where paint bled or was tape was lifted. Blowouts and cutouts again and even more runs this time. More white flecks of something embedded in the top surface where there is black paint. More exposed metal. The new abrasion boots on the tail are now covered with overspray - the charge for these with labor was $537.08. There is overspray on the nose wheel landing gear and the FAA required placards in the nose gear wheel well are there - but painted over in solid white. Remember the missing landing gear footstep tread on the co-pilot side? It's still missing. And worse, on the pilot side they did not even remove that tread and just painted around it and the original paint is still visible. Another problem is the adhesion of the paint around the nose wheel doors and cowl flaps. We were told "its really hard to paint around the engine". In the pictures below you will see that the paint on the nose wheel doors did not even make it past the 1.3 hour flight back to Dallas. It's back to bare metal. There are dozens of places where it looks like someone took a paintbrush and tried to fix areas where bare metal or worse the original paint still was. There are so many more problems with the paint than there is space to list them here - the pictures below will give you a good idea of the quality of the work performed.

The planes interior was dusty and had grease prints through out. The new carpet is coming apart where the seat rails come up from the floor. Numerous threads are exposed from the serging and bounding areas. There are tears in the the covering over the plastic parts where the attachment screws are. This was torn before even leaving the shop. Sheet metal screws were used to hold leather in on the seats at the hinge - the sharp points of the sheet metal screws were rubbing against new leather. Washers of different sizes were haphazardly used. Screws were and are still missing on the cover for the O2 bottle. Again it was hard to find one thing that was done right. The A/C vent vanes which were flaking were repainted and now that paint is coming off of those and they now are part black and part plastic chrome. The vent on the passenger side is in backwards. The compass which hangs from the windscreen was haphazardly mounted incorrectly and swings wildly when the plane is in motion. I was charged $112.00 dollars for swinging the compass. If it takes someone more than 15 minutes to swing a compass perhaps they might look into a different profession. How anyone was able to accurately determine the compass offsets with the compass incorrectly mounted is hard to fathom. The oil cooler screen is covered with debris.

Required placards are painted over. Others are just wrong. Where the oil dipstick and fuel strainer door is on the cowling it is placarded with "OIL FILL ACCESS". On a T210N the oil fill access door is on the top of the cowling. The external tip tanks actually hold 16.5 gallons and 16.25 is usable. I wasn't expecting placards to be done with a label maker. Notice the previous wing paint color is still visible when the cap is removed.

A brand new $58,000 Powermaster engine is now covered with paint spray, dust, and debris. This engine had 146 hours on it and looked showroom new. Now there is paint overspray on every surface. The new spinner has had the chrome buffed away by a power buffer. The bottom of the turbocharger is painted red and the top is pink due to overspray. A 62 hour old JPI-830 wiring harness install done by Flite Electronics is now covered in overspray and irreparable.

So far I have found two greater than two inch long scars in the new windscreen. The T210 has double pane side windows. There are fingerprints and fabric threads inside in between the panes of new glass. None of the windows are done correctly.

At one point I thought to myself that at least the new seat belts were installed correctly. Wrong. They are in backwards. There are no chart pockets. There is no way to close the doors - the original doors had straps above the arm rest used to pull the doors closed. Again this is not one or two things that are wrong, or even fifteen or twenty things that are wrong. There are dozens and dozens of things wrong.

After spending about two and one half hours on the ramp while the employees to try to rectify a few things we began to worry more and more about the airworthiness of the airplane so we removed the cowling to make sure everything was buttoned down in there. To our dismay the brand new engine is now covered with a layer of paint spray. We were told "thats just what happens when you paint a plane".

Towards the end of the afternoon the general manager was somewhat perplexed about what to do and retrieved the owner who had been most peculiarly absent during the delivery of the airplane and subsequent three hours we spent on the ramp going over the plane. He exclaimed this paint job is "an Oshkosh award winning paint job". I asked him if it would be ok if I posted pictures of this on the internet and he emphatically replied "Sure!". We went over a good number of problems with the owner of Specialized Aero and were told "a paint job won't make a plane look new". And we were told "it's really hard to paint over the rivets and that would be a $150,000 paint job".

Side Note: If you look at Specialized Aero's Facebook page it appears that at least nine aircraft came out of the paint shop while my plane was there. A few of them were jets. That might make one wonder why my plane kept getting pushed back?

Chapter Three: Being somewhat exasperated the owner asked me what I wanted to do. I said I would like the logbooks back and I'll take the plane back to Dallas and go over the airplane and the work in my hangar instead of the ramp and we can take it from there. Both my friend and I are having some serious concerns about the airworthiness of the airplane and were starting to wonder if we were going to have to get a ferry permit. That was not acceptable with the owner and he instructed one of his employees to get the tug and he pulled my plane into his hangar and pad-locked it away in what looked like a well practiced maneuver. The owner did offer to repaint the plane again. You can come to your own conclusion to whether that was a good idea after not having the use of my airplane for 39 weeks and give Specialized Aero a third chance at getting it right (remember the 11 week re-do attempt already) I could see I was getting no where with my wanting the logbooks so after about 30 minutes he reduced the amount due by a bit, I cut him a check and it still took another 40 minutes for Specialized Aero to locate the airplane's logbooks and hand them over to me. I still have not seen a final invoice after retrieving the plane on 8/31/17.

We taxied the plane over to the FBO's fuel pump where we noticed the plane's electrical system was not charging. Remember the new voltage regulator that set me back $339.00 plus $70.00 in labor and $64.68 in overnight shipping? After restarting the engine a few times the alternator kicked in and started charging the battery. Remember the A/C system I asked to not be meddled with? The A/C was putting out warm air - the outside temperature at that time was 83F. We did a long run up to make sure everything was good and departed the airport in total darkness. When it came time to raise the gear the powerpack made a cavitating squealing sound and at 2/3rds of the way up the landing gear breaker popped. That has never happened once since I have owned the airplane. We got the gear up and the rest of the flight we wondered if it was going to come down. (See the landing gear pictures below - switches covered in paint and tape) As expected the breaker popped again on the way down - luckily we were able to reset the breaker and the landing gear came down and locked.

About that annual inspection - I was handed over a signed off plane with:

Aileron binding / obstructed by fuel vent
LH aileron center mounting bolt loose
Two flap inspection panels visibly loose - screw missing
Compass hung incorrectly - swings wildly on its mount after $112 swing charge
O2 bottle cover loose - screws missing
A needlessly repaired electrical system not charging
Breaker panel not attached properly - loose and missing screws
No 337 for the new voltage regulator
Landing gear in an unknown condition - contact switches painted over and taped
All four wing fuel sumps were not safety wired
Missing Nose Gear Tunnel Top Cover in front wheel landing gear bay
Oil cooler fins are painted and covered with debris
Pilot side wing root reassembled incorrectly - sheet metal screws and square nuts used haphazardly instead of machine screws
Loose screws on spinner
Broken mic wire on rear intercom plug due to incorrectly fitted arm rest
A/C screen underneath fuselage is missing
A/C No longer working
Front seat's movement obstructed due to incorrectly installed carpet
Front and back seat belts in backwards
All FAA placards painted over under nose wheel gear
Annual signed 6/17 when the plane was delivered the last day of 8/17


Now I have a pretty big disaster on my hands. What was a pristine excellent condition T210N is now an abject unairworthy mess. I have less than zero confidence in the annual that was done by Specialized Aero. Now at my expense on top of all the other money and time wasted I have to get someone with jacks over to my hangar so we can swing the gear and see what went wrong there. After that's resolved I have to debug whatever was done to the electrical system to see why it's acting up. The annual needs to be redone by a qualified shop. And the worst part is the entire plane needs to be painted again and the interior needs to be redone - and brand new glass on the plane is visibly scratched.

Here is the first bill for having a shop located in Dallas go over the plane to make sure it is possibly airworthy.

If you would like to see the plane it is at the McKinney Texas airport. I can be reached day or night at bts2500@yahoo.com.

Below are over 400 hundred images and videos of defects taken on the ramp at Specialized Aero the day of delivery and the next day in McKinney Texas after bringing the plane home.

Clicking on an image will load a larger high definition version of the image in a new tab.


Exterior


Compound around rivet heads? Rivet heads burned from excessive compounding - paint removed
Blowout over rivets, improper taping - attempted correction with paintbrush Blowouts, improper taping, and compound splattering
Blowout, improper taping over rivets - attempted correction with paintbrush Paint scraped off trailing edge of stabilizer during elevator re-install - orange peel below
Orange peel on finish Painted over with a paintbrush
Compound left on finish All of these speckles are not on paint - they are in the paint
Overspray, compound around rivets - paint ground away
Overspray, compound around rivets - paint ground away Paint blowout over rivet, improper taping
Improper taping
Improper taping Compound around rivets
Compound in seam and around rivets - excessive buffing Paint cracking on seam
Improper taping
Improper taping
Improper taping
Painted over defect with a brush
Improper taping
Painted over landing gear footstep
Fuel sump not safety wired
Red overspray on landing gear tube Stainless steel screws painted over
Orange Peel Fuel sump painted and not safety wired
Fuel sump not safety wired Inside door handle improperly painted
Improper masking around lock
Nicks and missing paint on landing gear tube
Debris in and on oil cooler Landing gear well placards painted over
Overspray on landing gear linkage Paint separating, chipping away
Screws improperly painted
Painted over debris inside gills
Improperly painted screws
Paint coming off landing gear door
Paint coming off landing gear door, overspray Paint coming off inside landing gear door, overspray
Paint coming off inside wheel well
Paint coming off inside wheel well Temperature probe painted over
Fuel sump not safety wired Missing step on passenger side landing gear
Drips and runs Paint flaking off passenger door
Paint flaking off passenger door Aileron binding on fuel vent
Paint missing under flap Hinge painted over
Improper Taping
Overspray, buffing compound
Excessive buffing on spinner
Missing Paint
Paint blotch to repair defect Compound and over buffing
Rivets ground down Landing gear step painted over
Improper taping Compound in seams
Static port painted
Fuel sumps missing safety wire
Plane interior covered in dust
Flaking paint around landing and taxi lights
Paint missing Improperly painted screw
Paint overspray Placard painted over
Paint and debris in cooler
Screws left on carpet
Paint on seat articulation handle Screws improperly painted
Screws improperly painted
Temperature probes painted over
Fuel sump missing safety wire
Paint missing on inside landing gear door
Improper taping
Overspray
New static wicks covered in overspray Dabbling around red nav light
Debris in paint on leading edge Spinner gacked
Screen filled with debris Paint chipped off of hinge
Improper paint around fuel caps
Paint missing at seams
Antenna Painted
Screws improperly painted Landing light cover painted while assembled
Various scratches and blemishes
Paint coming off surface
Oil cooler filled with debris Paint chipping off of nose wheel door
Improperly painted screws A/C outlet screen missing / lost
Paint missing Improper taping
Screws loose on inspection panels
Improperly applied decal Improperly labeled access door
Paint coming off cowl flaps
Separation on top of wing Top of wing after one year

Landing Gear - Switches Painted Over and Tape Left On



Interior


Tears in new fabric
Partially painted door jamb
Carpet defective prevents seat from sliding Paint flaking off A/C duct
Scar on leather
Newly painted seat frame damaged Grease spots on new carpet
Door jamb paint chipped Screws in upholstery attach to nothing. Sharp metal screws used
Glue on seat
Poorly painted gear pump cover and vent
Grease on new carpet - carpet obstructs seat tracks
Grease on carpet Delivered with dust on yoke tube
Multiple tears in fabric Seatbelts in backwards
Improper holes for head rests
Grease on new carpet Bottom rear of seats - nothing holding flashing on
Giant gap left in front pillar

Brand New $58,000 Bill Cunningham Powermaster Engine After Sitting at Specialized Aero for 37 Weeks


This is what a Bill Cunningham Powermaster engine looks like before the Specialized Aero treatment



Windscreen


Multiple scratches on new glass - fingerprints and debris between panes

The Cleanup - Before


Pink Overspray
Caked on debris left from the stripping process More overspray - this overspray covers the entire top of engine
Cleaned cover 1/2 of top of engine cleaned
After 22 hours of cleaning top side is cleaned.