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Ironing on Balsa sheeting

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Old 03-10-2006, 04:54 PM
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Kahu
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Default Ironing on Balsa sheeting

I have read about a technique of ironing Balsa sheet onto built-up or foam wings. Applying white glue on the mating faces, let it dry completely, then iron it on as you would Monokote film. Sounds easy.

I would have thought 1/16" Balsa would be a good insulator preventing heat transfer to the glue, and wouldn't this technique be very likely to warp the wing.

Has anyone tried this?

Are there traps to watch out for?.

How well does it work?.
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Old 03-10-2006, 05:45 PM
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Default RE: Ironing on Balsa sheeting

It works well on a built-up wing and I did use it once on a .25 sized, foam wing design. I used carbon fiber spars and 1/32" sheeting. You paint wihte glue on both the foam and the wood and let both sides dry. Position it in place and iron down. With 1/16" balsa, you may have to get too hot for foam. I sheeted the leading and trailing edge and did fake cap strips. A couple of times I slipped off the cap strip and the iron easily melted the foam.

Caution, you are not melting the glue, you are activating it. You get one chance. There is no heating it up to reposition it. Once the glue is activated, it's stuck forever. Practice on scrap first.
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Old 03-10-2006, 06:22 PM
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Default RE: Ironing on Balsa sheeting

I used this technique on my Top Flite Spitfire wings. This is a built up wing with 1/16" balsa sheeting. I've not worked with foam, but if I were considering this technique on foam, I would definately perform a test on some scraps first.

Scott
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Old 03-11-2006, 11:06 AM
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Rodney
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Default RE: Ironing on Balsa sheeting

I never heard of this working on white glue, are you sure you are not using an aliphatic glue? I know it works on aliphatics such as Titebond and Elmers as I use it to put on cap strips. Yes, the wood is a pretty good insulator and it takes a hot iron and you have to work slow enough for the heat to penetrate thru the wood. Another thing, the first joint is quite strong, however, if you reheat to reposition an already heated joint, the second joint is much weaker than the original one is.
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Old 03-11-2006, 01:44 PM
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Default RE: Ironing on Balsa sheeting

To clarify, in my case, I was using Titebond alphatic resin.
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Old 03-12-2006, 12:50 AM
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Default RE: Ironing on Balsa sheeting

Good Luck sounds like your going to need it.
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Old 03-12-2006, 08:33 AM
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Default RE: Ironing on Balsa sheeting

I've used this technique with Titebond and 3/32" sheeting over foam and it worked well. The retired wing has survived many years in a hot attic without de-laminating, so I assume the bond is as permanent as anything can be in model aviation.

I used a household iron rather than my covering iron in order to heat a larger area at one time.

Be sure to do your work with the core supported by the foam shucks because it's very easy to iron in a warp otherwise.
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Old 03-12-2006, 02:41 PM
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Default RE: Ironing on Balsa sheeting

I have done it many times. It works great. I thin the glue down with water and paint it on and let it dry. Make sure your wing is straight when you iron it on. I leave it in the foam cradle when ironing the wood on. Some put dye in the glue so they can see it better. Either way, it works really well. I have some old planes that are built that way and the glue has yet to let go. Give it a shot, you will like it.
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