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Recovering a Super Stearman with fabric

Old 01-30-2011, 01:00 PM
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Mr_Grump
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Default Recovering a Super Stearman with fabric

Greetings All

I'm looking for some guidance on recovering a Great Planes Super Stearman in fabric. I've got a new kit and DLE-30 and want to recover it.

I've never used anything but film so don't really know where to start. Do I assemble the model then cover it or vise versa? Do you overlap seams with fabric?

Are there any good books on the subject?

Thanks a lot for your help....
Old 01-30-2011, 04:53 PM
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Default RE: Recovering a Super Stearman with fabric


ORIGINAL: Mr_Grump

Greetings All

I'm looking for some guidance on recovering a Great Planes Super Stearman in fabric. I've got a new kit and DLE-30 and want to recover it.

I've never used anything but film so don't really know where to start. Do I assemble the model then cover it or vise versa? Do you overlap seams with fabric?

Are there any good books on the subject?

Thanks a lot for your help....
Mr_Grump,

Very few modelers these days use fabric.
I think it is the best finish if genuine aircraft dope is also used.

If you have the patience, you can go to the thread "Skybolt hangar and clubhouse" and browse backward. You will find many postings of my work with the Super Skybolt including many pictures illustrating "fabric and dope covering".

Let me know if you browse these postings.

There are some sites describing the methods used but I find these sites complicating the work unnecessarily.

If you go to the thread I mentioned above and browse my postings you will find it is all very easy.

You do not have to look at all the postings ; just keep scrolling backward looking for posts with pictures.

Zor
Old 01-30-2011, 05:07 PM
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Gray Beard
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Default RE: Recovering a Super Stearman with fabric

Any of the TEX coverings will make you look like a pro. I use Solartex. It is a true fabric and goes on just like the plastic films only easier. The only thing needed after covering {and it's not really needed} is a clear coat. This just makes clean up easier and keeps the covering from getting stains from dirt or oil. Look it up on the Balsa USA web site. Good stuff!!!!!!!Comes in colors so you don't even need to paint. Goes around compound curves really easy. I put the plane after covering out in the hot sun{hard to do this time of year} and let it sag and wrinkle then shrink it up again. I do this a couple of times. I call it curing. After it has been cured like this you can leave your plane out in the hot sun for days on end without it ever wrinkling or bubbling like some plastic coverings. You can do a search here on RCU {if the search engine is working now} and just use the key word solartex and there will be pages telling you about it!!
Old 01-30-2011, 07:37 PM
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Default RE: Recovering a Super Stearman with fabric

It might be me, I don't think I'm that old...but covering with tissue, silk and nylon used to be basic aeromodelling practise, if you didn't know how it was done you simply didn't fly. Plastic and fabric heat shrink films were certainly around when I was learning, but dismissed because of the cost. If you belong to a club you need to find one of the 'old timers' and start asking questions, listening and understanding the answers, and start practising. There is no doubt that a proper fabric and dope finish will last longer, look better and be serviceable years from now, providing the model lasts, than any of the 'modern' (They've been around since the '60s, last century!) finishing films. And if you want to do scale, then it's something you really need to know, heck, you could even become a guru of sorts...
Evan, WB #12.
Old 01-30-2011, 09:18 PM
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Default RE: Recovering a Super Stearman with fabric

I am now painting a Super Aeromaster fuselage that I covered with Koverall. It was my first attempt at fabric covering and I found that in many ways it is easier than plastic heat shrink stuff. It requires more steps but none of them as difficult as covering with the plastics. Do a search for Koverall and you will find lots of advice on the subject. Some of it is conflicting so your best bet will be to pick out one mentor who has posted pictures of a good looking product and who writes instructions that are clear and concise. Do as he says and disregard all the conflicting stuff. I found getting the stuff on the plane and shrinking it was a piece of cake. I am now painting with latex but so far only have one coat on and it got too cold to do further steps. It looks great so far. Or you can do as Gray Beard says and go with one of the TEX coverings. I have not used any of those because of the expense but everything I read says they are great. Koverall is cheap and if you want to use dress lining, which is the same thing, it is even cheaper. I found that, like many other things I have tried, taking the first step was by far the hardest thing to do. After that, everything just kind of flowed.
Old 01-31-2011, 04:29 AM
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Default RE: Recovering a Super Stearman with fabric

As has already been stated, covering with fabrics, such as Solartex, is easier than with films. If you can use plastic film, you already have the skillset to cover using fabrics.

If it were me, I'd cover before assembling your model. Overlap the seams, as you would with film.

I'm in the process of covering a model in Solartex. I'm enjoying it very much.
Old 01-31-2011, 05:47 AM
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Default RE: Recovering a Super Stearman with fabric

Many many modelers today use fabric for the larger models. It's not necessary to use dope, there is a lighter method. Try http://www.stits.com for lots of FAQs and an instruction manual. Scroll to the bottom of the page don't stop at the full scale icons.
Old 01-31-2011, 06:01 AM
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Zor
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Default RE: Recovering a Super Stearman with fabric


ORIGINAL: pimmnz

It might be me, I don't think I'm that old...but covering with tissue, silk and nylon used to be basic aeromodelling practise, if you didn't know how it was done you simply didn't fly. Plastic and fabric heat shrink films were certainly around when I was learning, but dismissed because of the cost. If you belong to a club you need to find one of the 'old timers' and start asking questions, listening and understanding the answers, and start practising. There is no doubt that a proper fabric and dope finish will last longer, look better and be serviceable years from now, providing the model lasts, than any of the 'modern' (They've been around since the '60s, last century!) finishing films. And if you want to do scale, then it's something you really need to know, heck, you could even become a guru of sorts...
Evan, WB #12.
Comments for all readers,

Green text and underline above original but highlighted by Zor.

Polyester fabric, very light and very strong, is available atmost fabric stores in widths of 54 inches and cost about $3 or $4 a yard or meter.

Genuine aircraft dope (not the stuff sold by LHS) is availale for about $20.00 a quart and goes a long way meanng covers large areas.

A fabic and dope finish is vey strong, never wrinkle and keeps tightening for ever. I have models over 50 years old still as tight as a drum.

Combine the above with the use of good glue (not CA) and all joint filleted by double glue application and you have a model that will have minimum damage in the event of abnormal landings.

A bit more enjoyable work in leisure times and the results are well worth the effort.

You decide what you do and how you do the finish.

Zor


Old 01-31-2011, 10:23 AM
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Mr_Grump
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Default RE: Recovering a Super Stearman with fabric

Zor, Gray Beard, Chip, TomCrump, JollyPopper, Pimmnz

Thank you all for your input. I really appreciate your advice.

I believe only one person commented on if it's advisable to cover before or after assembly. I can see where a tight fit, i.e. the vertical fin or horizontal stabilizer, could be a problem after covering and painting. Maybe cover, assemble then paint?
Old 01-31-2011, 10:42 AM
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Gray Beard
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Default RE: Recovering a Super Stearman with fabric

The reason I didn't bother saying anything about the assemble or not assemble is everyone covers differently, there are several ways to do the same thing. It's up to the craftsman. I assemble my planes then cover. I also cover my control surfaces like the stab and elevators all in one piece. Others like to cover first then hinge. No real right or wrong way to do it. I also haven't etched my way of covering in stone, I can do different things with different planes. Some planes just call out to be glassed and painted so I may do that. It's a choice thing so only you can decide how you want to do things. I covered a lot of planes before I started covering using the one sheet. It's not really a better way, it just covers my hinge gaps and makes my planes easier to clean up after a day at the field. If I gave you step by step instructions on how I do things you may run into trouble or get way too many wrinkles. It may not be how you want to do things. There are some good basic covering videos here. I think Ken has one in the beginners forum. It's worth watching. TEX just makes it easier.
Gene
Old 01-31-2011, 12:41 PM
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Default RE: Recovering a Super Stearman with fabric

Thanks Gene

I see your point. Lots of ways to do it. I do like the sound of covering the hinge gaps though. I guess I'm just a little apprehensive about trying something different.

What about the airframe. What kind of prep work should I do on an ARF whose covering's been removed?

I like the original color scheme. TEX make it easy to replicate that?

Wish you lived in north alabama. I'd be knocking on your door... :-) My club is small and to my knowledge no one is covering with fabric.

Thanks

Lane
Old 01-31-2011, 02:05 PM
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Default RE: Recovering a Super Stearman with fabric

FAbric from the fabric shop already has been shrunk before you get it so they have taken one shrink away from you. The ladies don't like wrinkles! Butyrate colored dope is $19.35 a quart and colors are 24.20/Qt.
Old 01-31-2011, 02:19 PM
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Default RE: Recovering a Super Stearman with fabric


ORIGINAL: Mr_Grump

Thanks Gene

I see your point. Lots of ways to do it. I do like the sound of covering the hinge gaps though. I guess I'm just a little apprehensive about trying something different.

What about the airframe. What kind of prep work should I do on an ARF whose covering's been removed?

I like the original color scheme. TEX make it easy to replicate that?

Wish you lived in north alabama. I'd be knocking on your door... :-) My club is small and to my knowledge no one is covering with fabric.

Thanks

Lane
Covering doesn't really require anything special {but} some people like to use items like Balsarite, thin wood glue or any number of things to wipe on the air frame to make it stick better. I have used lacquer hair spray on planes that have been flown a lot and may have some oil in the wood. Things like that are usually not needed. Sand, blow off dust with a compressor or use a paint brush, tack cloth, about 99c at the hardware store then cover. You over lap the covering and it sticks to itself really well. It doesn't stick to dust very well. The tack cloth is worth it's weight in gold. If you have covering or glue from the old covering still on the wood use some Acetone to remove it. Try testing on a piece of scrap balsa and see how the covering sticks. With the TEX I almost never use a heat gun, just my iron turned up a bit and I keep it about 1/16 above the covering. If you have a lot of sag or wrinkles then the heat gun will pretty much shrink it all. Really nice stuff to work with, makes me look like I know what I'm doing. I like everything about it except the price.
Gene

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