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  1. #1

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    Covering with tissue and silk?

    In one of the older r/c books I'm reading it mentions among others covering with tissue and covering with silk. Does anyone still do this? Also, are they referring to the common variety tissue and silk that you can get at craft stores and fabric stores respectively, or is there a special type of each that is preferred?

    Also what do you use to stick each to the frame? Would dope be enough? And finally I forget which it is but is butyrate or nitrate dope the fuel resistant one? Which dope is better for gluing?

  2. #2

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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    You mean there are other things you can cover a plane with besides Jap tissue, silkspan, silk and dope!!!???
    What is the monnocooter stuff anyways?. We only recently stopped using bannana oil did we not? LOL.

    I still cover most everything in the the old one of the above and dope method. It is what I learned 42 years ago, and works best for me. The tissue used is of a certain type and not available in craft stores. You can get it and silk from some of the better
    free flight suppliers like Peck Polymers. Silk is real expensive now days and the silray stuff Sig has is a good substitute, especially on bigger projects.

    Monokote is oky doky stuff, but it doesn't add to the structural integrity of aircraft, and doing a good job of it is an art unto itself.


    Willie
    Teach a kid to build and fly

  3. #3

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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    I forget about the second part of your query. Dope is used to atatch the covering to the frame. You dope the bare structure with 2 to 3 coats, sanded in between and then use the dope to adhere the covering to your base coats.
    Butaryte is the fuel proof one. You then seal the covering with thined dope, about 50/50, with a minimum of 3 coats and up to as many you want depending on how deep a finish you want, and how much weight you want to add.

    Also hi nitro content fuel will eventually attack butaryte .
    Willie
    Teach a kid to build and fly

  4. #4
    Moderator BMatthews's Avatar
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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    With the old style Jap tissue that is long gone now I used to use dope but the new stuff you can get from Peck Polymer is too crinkly for good working with dope. For a while I used to lightly mist the tissue to dampen the crinkly feel and use dope for adherring and that works great but it also shrinks more and puts a lot more strain on the structure. Now I use glue stick to glue the tissue directly to the framing. Wait for at least 4 hours for the glue stick to dry and then LIGHTLY mist with water. The barest minimum is fine and if you use to much you risk softening the glue stick and having the tissue lift. A super fine hair mister used to spay the model part held about 18 inches away will ensure that only the fine mist reaches the tissue and the heavy drops fall to the floor.

    If you use art store tissue then you're stuck with dry covering with the glue stick. The art store stuff falls apart when wet like toilet paper. You CAN use dope to stick dry tissue down but it's a thouroughly frustrating experience with the paper lifting up right to the last second before the dope dries. Go with the glue stick, it's a lot easier if you can't dampen the tissue or you want to go dry regardless.

    If you do get the Peck tissue and use it dampened and with dope to hold it on then remember to keep the parts already covered damp until both sides are covered or the tissue will shrink a warp into the surface.

    After you have a coat or two of clear on the tissue you can use colored tissue and thinner to stick the trim on. So light base colors and darker trim is the way to go. A light mist on the tissue before you stick it down with the thinner will make it lay better.

    Silk sutable for model covering is hard to get these days. The stuff you get at the fabric stores is much to heavy. The model stuff looks like veil material but is even lighter than that. The GOOD tissue is available from a few free flight online stores like Al Lidberg's, FAI model supply and Peck Polymer. The art store stuff is available everywhere and works decent enough.

    Nitrate is fine for electrics or other non glow applications and butyrate is what you want for glow. I've found that if you stick to less than 30% nitro and don't make a habit of spraying on the model then the finish can last for years. However around the nose the fuel will eventually get in through the pores or whatever in the dope and the wood becomes oil soaked. Nothing you can do about it. The same happens with Monokoted models around the nose as well.
    Witty saying to be plagarized shortly.....

  5. #5

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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    I still us silk and dope on many of my vintage models. Yes, I do have to cover most of my demo models with the plastic films to show that they can be covered but I still like working with the older stuff. On my sheeted models I start off with nitrate dope with sanding between coats. The nitrate does not shrink and cause the thin balsa surfaces to warp. I then use color butyrate dope for trim and for a light clear coat over everything to seal. I have found recently that the Lustrcoat clear spray will cover the dope finish very well and holds up to the 35%+ fuels I have been using quite well. As Bruce said good tissue is hard to find. During my travels if I find some in the older hobby shops I usually pick it up and save it for future projects. A good silk job will never wrinkle and will stay tight forever!!

    Bob Harris
    Early RC Models
    www.earlyrcmodels.com.om.

  6. #6
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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    Aircraft silk for models used to be expensive, until these guys became available:
    thai silks

    the 5mm or 6 i think is the same weight as the stuff sold by sig.. I dunno for sure, but long ago there was a thread somewhere on the rcu about it, equating which mm to the sig product- oh and mm does not stand for millimeter, it's something else. I havent tried it yet myself..
    Clint

    the preceeding may be false

  7. #7

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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    I still use Tissue, Silkspan and Silk, not exclusively but on my Free Flight models I do use the old stuff. About the only game in town for Jap. Tissue is Peck Polymers, I've used the crinkly stuff Bruce mentioned and had no problems with it. Good silk span getting hard to find and the stuff Sig sells is garbage. As noted good silk is also hard to find.

    I use Sig nirate dope to put all three on with. I've tried "other" nitrates, they're slimey, SIG is stickey - there is a difference. I give the wood two coat of 50-50 dope, after each is dry I put on a coat of uncut nitrate. This can be done at any time. It's the thinner that brings the sticky dope back to life. Just before I put the tissue on I give the wood one more coat of 50-50 dope. If I'm covering an uncamber wing I may go with one extra coat of uncut dope on the bottom.

    I put tissue on dry, silk and silkspan wet. On tissue I just tack the tissue down with SIG Thinner. The dope under the tissue is the glue. After the tissue is stuck down I'll lightly dampen the edge of the tissue around the leading and tailing edges with water (I do not mean drenched). The tissue goes limp and then I go over it again with thinner. You have to try it to see what I mean but when the tissue is wet it will really stick down - you'll see wood grain texture in the surface. I can cover compound surfaces if they are supported by wood underneath. I dope it as far as I can go with it flat and the wet about an 1/8" gradient down, then stick that down with thinner and keep moving. It may not completely go around the surface but the wrinkles are so small and fine they aren't noticeable.

    Silk and Silkspan I'm just flowing 50-50 through the weave/grain. I do very little trimming with different colors per say. That's Bruces job. I've been known to tone the colors, Black, Blue or Red and do sun bursts with an airbrush but that's about it. I get the toner from permanent markers, put three of the felt ink wicks in a 4 oz. Jar and fill it with thinner, then airbrush.

    After the model is covered and has about three 50-50 coats over the material, then I use some Butyrate or pull out my stash of clear Hobby Poxy for fuel proofing. Any fuel with more than 15% nitro will cut the finish to the wood if you don't.

    HTH - Steve B.

  8. #8
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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    I'm home now and have access to my pictures. Here's a sample of what you can do with tissue only. The only paint you see in this picture is the red on the prop blades and the MAAC decal. The model is a pre war old time rubber model called the Climber by Ed Lamb. I had about a 45 inch span. Sadly it got carried away in a BIG thermal early in it's life even after the DT sprung. Three other models were with it on its trip to Valhalla so I guess there was no helping it.

    Oh yeah. The little guy on the green gas tank in my avatar is tissue and dope with felt pen on the prop and on the tires and some black and silver paint on the dummy engine. The rest is all black and orange tissue. Two coats of super thin dope with the trim done as mentioned above using black tissue for the leterring on the upper wing. The orange trim on the fuselage sides is actually a cutout in the overall black, orange bonded on from behind using Balsarite (apply, let dry and then iron it in place.) with a bit of black overlayed to get the pinstripe effect.

    Oh, I forgot about Balsarite! I've only done one model with tissue using it but it worked GREAT. Apply the full strength Balsarite (not Balsaloc) to the outer edges of the frames, let dry and then iron on the tissue just like with Monokote. No fuss, no mess and best of all no lifting of the crinkly tissue in the dope that doesn't stick it down right away. There's lots of shrink so you only need to make sure there's no wrinkles or diagonal pull lines. Just lay on smoothly and tack slowly all around using low heat. The up the heat one notch and seall a bit harder. From there it's just like Monokote except that the overlaps need to have a little extra Balsarite painted on before the other peice goes on and set aside for about 5 minutes to dry.

    The Balsarite will work great with the cheap art store tissue as well.

    Once sealed just mist as per above to shrink and then you're ready for clear dope.
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    Witty saying to be plagarized shortly.....

  9. #9

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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    For those of you who have never seen Bruce's work, it's something to see. I'm bragging on you Bruce. I always like the little rubber job with the little Red Maple leaves.

    Regards - Steve B.

  10. #10
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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    Thanks Steve.

    You should post up a pic of your Texaco model for the troops! In fact I think it's high time for a 1/2A Texaco old timer thread.....

    Coming soon to a forum near you!
    Witty saying to be plagarized shortly.....

  11. #11
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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    Your questions were duely answered. I just thought I'd show you another example. This was my very first kit and covering job. The tissue came with the kit & I used Sig dope. One thing I didn't see mentioned was that when using dope, use it in a well ventilated room, and use a respirator. Now I know why they call it dope [&:] I basically followed the instructions in the kit and on the dope. I first tacked down the paper around the edges, let it dry, sprayed it with water, let that dry, then went over the paper with 3 thinned coats of dope. For me it was very easy and came out very nice IMHO BTW its a Dare Wright Flyer, electric. Also the dummy engine isn't blue its really gray, just came out that way in the pic.
    Joe
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    Lots o Planes & Helicopters. 5 more planes & 1 heli to build

  12. #12

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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    Bruce, you go first, you're the old guy here. I don't wanna hog bandwidth. I dare ya, Besides I already posted it in the show your 1/2a model thread.

    Regards - Steve B.

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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    Something I didn't see mentioned is that tissue and light silkspan have a "grain". If you lightly tear a corner of the tissue you will find that it tears straight one way and ragged the other. The direction that tears straight is the grain and should be applied span-wise. This provides additional structure strength along the span, and more puncture resistance along the chord.
    It seems that the heavier the silkspan the harder it is to read the grain (for me at least). Perhaps the heavier silkspan is multiple layers of the lighter silkspan with grains running non-parallel. Not sure of this.
    IMHO silk is not appropriate for 1/2A models because of the weight. Not just the silk, but it takes a lot of paint to fill it.

    George

    Forgot to mention: If you use both nitrate and butyrate on a plane, the nitrate should be used first. I have used it to prepare for final coats. Nitrate SHOULD NOT be used over butyrate...it won't stick.
    If you are working with glow models, I would suggest butyrate only. You can get non-shrinking butyrate for light structures. Again, just my opinion.

  14. #14
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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    I love covering with tissue, and I find it much easier than the plastic coverings. I don't have a lot of experience, but I thought I would add that one can use their inkjet printer to put logos direcly on the tissue. A coat of dope and the markings are sealed from water. Here's a photo of a little powerhouse I built, covering is domestic tissue.

    Derek
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    If it works fine the way it is....it\'s feature deficient.

  15. #15

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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    Once again guys, thank you so much for all the info and tips. So bottom line is this: Regular silk as sold in fabric stores (even if the thinnest they sell) is too heavy for 1/2A, and as for tissue while you can get away with using the craft store tissue you should really try to get the Jap tissue for best results?

    What is Silkspan exactly? I've read about it but it but nowhere does it tell you what exactly the stuff is. Is it basically man-made silk which is thinner than the run of the mill fabric store silk or is it something else?

    I assume that on larger models the craft store tissue and fabric store silk is ok? (by larger I mean in the .10-.25 engine size). I"m not really fond of anything over .30...I just think it's too big IMHO.

  16. #16
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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    SilkSPAN is a tough fiber paper. The common use for this material is teabags. Here again it's pretty much a specialty item these days. Silkspan is most easily applied wet to a pre-doped frame using thinner through the tissue to melt the underlying dope for creating the bond. It's a heavier covering than Jap or domestic tissue for the most part and takes more dope to fill the open weave compared to the other tissues.
    Witty saying to be plagarized shortly.....

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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    So if Silkspan is a heavier covering than domestic (I assume this means craft store tissue) tissue then it's definitely too heavy for 1/2A right?

  18. #18

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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    Neither medium is too heavy, I've used all three. A guy named Bob Benjamin has covered electrics with silk. Tissue and silkspan are better though for 1/2a, tissue is better for 1/4a.

    HTH - Steve B.

  19. #19

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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    Brodaks carries light, medium and heavy grades of silkspan. It's been the staple of control line coverings for years. Lightweight silkspan and dope work well on 1/2 A models.
    the "other" andrew
    I'm not older than dirt, but I can remember when it was patent pending

  20. #20
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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    Hi meowy,

    IΒ΄m new to RCU, but IΒ΄ve played with model airplanes for 40 years.

    One technique which is very useful for the slightly larger models is to double cover.
    You can dope on an extra layer of Jap onto the first, for instance around the nose to make it stronger & more durable. Watch the grain direction and put the grain cross-wise on the two layers.

    The modern ultra-thin Mylar films can be combined with tissue; first put on the film using UHU stick or spray adhesive or whatever. The film should be to be smooth & free from wrinkles. Then lay dry jap tissue on top and flow thin dope through the tissue, it will adhere onto the film and results in a covering that gives you the best of all worlds – you get the tightness of doped tissue which stiffens the structure, plus the mylar increases the strength & puncture resistance. On top of that the covering will be lighter than tissue alone, because it takes less dope to fill the pores of the tissue, the Mylar makes it airtight. If you like fancy multi-coloured covering jobs you can put on pieces of tissue with different colours edge-to-edge onto the Mylar backing, without overlap.

    A third version of double covering which I use on all gas powered models from Β½A & up is to put silk on top of Jap tissue. Cover with the tissue first. I use Esaki & nitrate dope. Put on enough coats of dope to fill the pores of the tissue and let dry thoroughly.
    Then lay the dry silk on top of the doped tissue and brush wall paper paste right through the silk onto the tissue. The wall paper paste leaves very little residue as it dries and adds very little weight. It should be a fairly thin slurry that brushes on easily.
    When dry, the covering is air-tight and only needs a couple of coats of dope. This will leave a very attractive finish with preserved weave structure, unless you add many more coats of dope to fill the weave, which isn’t necessary. Again, the end result is lighter than silk alone which needs lots of dope to fill the weave & make it airtight.
    The (modified)Twin Lizzie in the photo below is covered with this technique, the paint job airbrushed coloured dope. It has a wing span of 30”, 2-ch Cannon micro radio and a British DC Dart .036 cu.in. diesel. A.U.W. is 11 oz. The finish has lasted for 15 years.

    Best regards,
    Tomas Hultgren
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  21. #21
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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    A few added points or hints:

    Transparent covering color can be enhanced by adding Higgins Fade-proof ink to the dope.

    For wood parts, the ink can be dissolved in Denatured Alcohol to stain the wood prior to the first coats of dope (or a super-light colored finish on an all-wood electric?)

    Tissue trim is easy to cut out if you laminate it between a couple of sheets of newspaper, a sheet of waxed paper over that, and then your paper pattern drawn on typing paper. Pin the whole laminated mess down to a cutting board, and get a fresh X-acto blade. You can do work as fine as you like with this system.

    A friend of mine uses Japanese tissue over Polyspan, and says it is as close to bulletproof as you can get. He flies Free-flights, and used to get a lot of punctures due to vertical DT'ing over weeds. Not a problem anymore. He says it ends up very light due to the small amount of dope required.
    Larry Renger
    Think S.M.A.L.L., y\'all.

  22. #22
    DustOffUH1's Avatar
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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    This has become a very interesting and informative thread! I did some searching on silkspan, and found a couple of interesting articles. So I thought I'd pass them along.
    [link]http://webpages.charter.net/rcfu/HelpsHints/SSCover.html[/link]
    [link]http://rcgroups.com/links/index.php?sid=498277416&t=article&cat=201&id=3540[/link]

    BTW both articles stated that they use it for 1/2A on up
    Lots o Planes & Helicopters. 5 more planes & 1 heli to build

  23. #23

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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    The photo is of a Shark 15 CL model. The tail is covered with tissue, the fuselage with silk, the wings with Sig Super-Flite Plyspan. The black letters and numbers are cut from Spectra Art #5914-6 black art tissue. The red and blue is butyrate dope. The tail, fuselage and wing were covered before assembly. The tail was well doped with non-tautening dope ( Flex-All plasticizer from Dave Brown if you do not have non-tautening dope). The tissue was put down dry with thinner. This is how you keep from warping thin surfaces.

    The fuselage was covered with one piece of silk. the secret of silk is have a good dope base underneath, keep the silk sopping wet, be patient and demand perfection. If you do this silk is very easy. Silk goes around curves very well, the overlap on the silk is on top where it is hidden by the color dope.

    The Sig plyspan is like the old SGM silkspan. It is a little stiffer and a bit harder to stick down, but is quite strong. Finish on the wing is Sig Lite Coat clear. The tissue numbers and letters were put on with thinner after the second coat of dope on the wing. The tissue for the numbers does not run or fade. Good stuff!

    The airplane has suffered one crash, straight in on hard ground from @ 20 feet up under power. Destroyed the spinner and prop, but no other damage. The airplane, with TD 09 weighs 17 ozs.

    Jim
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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    Jim,
    That's a nice looking Shark 15.

    George

  25. #25

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    RE: Covering with tissue and silk?

    Thanks for all the info guys.


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