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Stits Lite fabric covering, Pros and Cons

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Stits Lite fabric covering, Pros and Cons

Old 10-09-2014, 08:36 PM
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Leroy Gardner
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Default Stits Lite fabric covering, Pros and Cons

My next build is a 1/4 scale Balsa J3 Cub made in to a super cub. My last build had Solartex on it but I may want to use Stits this time around if I can get some opinions from others.Easy, hard or what ?

Leroy
Old 10-10-2014, 07:14 AM
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Propworn
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When you said you used solartex was it the colored iron on stuff similar to the plastic coverings except in fabric?

Dennis
Old 10-10-2014, 08:15 AM
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Leroy Gardner
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Solartex by all accounts is a wdely used fabric with a heat activated adhesive backing, it shrinks very nicely and conformes very well on corners. I used Natural Solartex which is to be painted. Stits is fabric also but does nt have an adhesive backing and requires the adhesie be painted on prior to ironing the fabric on which activates the adhesve creating the bond. It's done the same way on real planes with the same producs with a lighter weight fabric. My understanding is there is alot more work required useing the Stits product and in the end you end up with the same results.

True or false, ? Only those that have used both products would know the differences and any issues with them. I'm intrested in what others have to say. I had no problems with Solartex on my last plane, I'm just gathering information about Stits.

Leroy
Old 10-10-2014, 10:27 AM
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Leroy, I would suggest contacting Robert (acer) as he has used Stits on many of his builds, including his latest work of art...
Old 10-10-2014, 11:06 AM
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I have used Stits on several aircraft, both models as well as full sized. I find it very easy to install. The one really nice thing about the system is that everything needed for covering is available from the same source. If you are going to try to build your J3 to scale, Stits offers pinked finishing tape that will be perfectly scale for your model.

I apply the adhesive to the structure and then use a very thin mixture of adhesive and MEK to attach the fabric. It allows me to attach and re-attach until I get it right. Once the covering is in place, it is shrunk with an iron. You can get an unbelievable amount of wrinkles out of the fabric with just a little heat. Compound curves are not a problem.

I brush on the first coat of Poly-brush and spray a second coat over that. Then I spray two coats of silver Poly-spray - this gives uv protection as well as a really good base for top coats of color. You can spray more coats if you like, sanding in between, if you want to hide the fabric grain, but I don't. Once satisfied with the surface finish, then I usually spray two coats of color Poly-tone over the silver. You can spray a coat of clear Poly-tone over the final product if you want a very high gloss finish.
Old 10-10-2014, 11:56 AM
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I use the same process as Lone Star Charles, including the high-gloss clear. Its more work than Solartex but its as close to a scale fabric finish as you're going to get as it is essentially the same materials and steps that the full-size planes use. There are a lot of steps involved in painting with the Poly-Brush, Poly-Spray, Poly-Tone Color Coats, and Clear but at the same time its a very forgiving process. Easy to get bugs, dust, runs etc out of the finish and each coat melts into the previous coat which helps smooth things out hide problems and you can wet sand between coats, even the final color coat if you're spraying a clear top coat.

The paint is glow and gas proof but can be taken off with MEK (or acetone) and the covering can be de-adhered from the frame if need be with MEK as well without pulling up pieces of the underlying wood the way removing iron fabrics can do.
Old 10-10-2014, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Leroy Gardner
Solartex by all accounts is a wdely used fabric with a heat activated adhesive backing, it shrinks very nicely and conformes very well on corners. I used Natural Solartex which is to be painted. Stits is fabric also but does nt have an adhesive backing and requires the adhesie be painted on prior to ironing the fabric on which activates the adhesve creating the bond. It's done the same way on real planes with the same producs with a lighter weight fabric. My understanding is there is alot more work required useing the Stits product and in the end you end up with the same results.

True or false, ? Only those that have used both products would know the differences and any issues with them. I'm intrested in what others have to say. I had no problems with Solartex on my last plane, I'm just gathering information about Stits.

Leroy
The reason I asked is Solartex, Coverite and their derivatives come in finished colors as well and are iron and shrink applications. You have used the base product that requires finishing so you have the basic concept required to use the Stits System.

Is it more work? Yes.
Do you end up with the same result? Not even close.

The Stits will end up drum tight just like the full size. The hobby fabrics do not approach this stiffness and with the hobby fabrics the fabric can be stretched with a careless finger over an open bay. Stits you would have to really apply force to change the shrunk fabric. I have never had a glued edge release with the Stits I have seen several with the hobby fabrics.

You can set your iron at a temperature that allows you to perform the fabric around compound curves before using the Polytac to fix the fabric to the framework.

You can easily form and smooth out minor lumps and bumps with the iron without worrying about the fabric releasing.

Stits pinking tape is available in several differing widths that replicate scale sizes. The pinking tape stands out the best of all I have tried to show the detail. Rib stitching is very realistic with simple cut lengths laid in the Polytak.

If you use the Polytone colors from Stits you can readily scrub any stains or dirt from the finish without worrying about damaging the finish. I have on occasion used a bit of bleach without any adverse effects.

The Stits system is more work but the finish is much more realistic in my opinion.

I don’t know if you have had a chance to look through this but here it is anyway http://www.stits.com/instructions.html

I followed the full size instructions and booklet when I started using Stits and was very impressed with the results.

Dennis

Last edited by Propworn; 10-10-2014 at 12:53 PM.
Old 10-10-2014, 01:56 PM
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When I cover in cloth I use Stits, it's easy to use and it does a great job.

Bob
Old 10-10-2014, 03:31 PM
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I BEEN USING STITS FOR OVER 30yrs. GREAT STUFF. ALL MY BUILDS HAVE THIS COVERING. SEND FOR THE VIDEO. ALL YOUR ???? WILL BE ANSERED. BUSA SELLS THE POLY TAC CHEAPER.
Old 10-10-2014, 06:17 PM
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Solartex is a good product. I have a glow plane i covered with solartex in 1982 then sprayed it with rattle can appliance epoxy. Hundreds of flights and it still looks good today, My 1/3 scale cub is 20 plus years old and covered in non certified lightweight dacron cloth put down with dope and finished with automotive paint in rattle cans(it was built by a vp at lampson crane and he used their touch up paint they send out with new cranes) it looks good but is developing a few spots of ringworm as he put the paint on a bit thick. I cut the birdcage covering off and hysoled everything back together as the top of the fuse was coming apart and i patched it in with some coverall and dope. Then two coats of dope, a light sanding then rattle canned it with some of the original leftover paint. I sanded the areas with ring worm and hit them and they look pretty good too. I have done stitts and it is nice too. However, If you dont get too heavy handed, auto paint over solatrex or lightweight fabric will look good and hold up fine. Full scale aircraft finishes are designed to last 15-20 years sitting out in the sun. A model will never see that level of uv exposure and you are spending a lot on aviation grade material that you dont necessarily need to spend. Some guys get wood over the omg i put the full stitts system just like a full scale and thats fine. But i have seen a lot of fabric covered models with various coatings from house latex to automotive paint that have looked great and held up well. Either way be careful with that cub fuse when shrinking the fabric you can break it and either put a wing tube in it or put a turnbuckle across the top to tie the wings together as the fuse top is not very strong. Enjoy your cub. I dont think either way is a bad choice, you Also want to considerthat if you are sensitive to chemicals you may not want to suck down the stitts and or dope fumes to stick the fabric down.

Last edited by 2walla; 10-10-2014 at 06:21 PM.
Old 10-10-2014, 08:57 PM
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Leroy Gardner
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LoneStar, RBACONS, Propwom,Sensei and 2walla thats alot of information to digest. I understand the power of the shrink and yes the fuselage is a bit flimsey, wouldn't take much to screw that up, I plan to use automotive base coat/clear coat for the finish. Stits uses warter born Poly-tack, poly fill, mek and a host otther names of stuff I have never heard of let alone used. Back in the old days it was dope for everything, aetone was used to put inspection rings on. Much has changed over the years

Thanks to all who added their comments, I'm not afraid of a little work, for now it seams like a pain in the butt at this point, Solartex was a piece of cake and may have spoiled me but Stits is intresting.

Leroy
Old 10-12-2014, 05:36 AM
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It comes down to what kind of end result you want. If you'd be happy with the flat luster of Solartex and seams showing where the different pieces join, then use the colored Solartex. If you want to be able to fill and sand the seams smooth to hide them completely and do rib stitching and have the shiny luster of a painted full scale plane, then use a glue on fabric like Stits. They really are two different classes of finish. Solartex looks good from a few feet away but is obviously not the real thing when you get up close to it. Painted fabric done right will make your plane look completely authentic. So it's up to you how real you want to make this project and whether or not the investment is worth it.
Old 10-13-2014, 02:03 AM
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Originally Posted by jester_s1
It comes down to what kind of end result you want. If you'd be happy with the flat luster of Solartex and seams showing where the different pieces join, then use the colored Solartex. If you want to be able to fill and sand the seams smooth to hide them completely and do rib stitching and have the shiny luster of a painted full scale plane, then use a glue on fabric like Stits. They really are two different classes of finish. Solartex looks good from a few feet away but is obviously not the real thing when you get up close to it. Painted fabric done right will make your plane look completely authentic. So it's up to you how real you want to make this project and whether or not the investment is worth it.
While I do agree with you on the seams issue, I don't agree with a "flat luster", "not looking authentic", or "looking good from a few feet away". If you were to see some of the planes that I have built and covered using Solartex, then painted I think you would be a bit surprised...

Last edited by VincentJ; 10-15-2014 at 03:31 AM.
Old 10-13-2014, 03:54 AM
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Hello Leroy,

If you are going to use the Stits system then the airframe rigidity must be a prime consideration during the build, this includes changing or substituting some more structurally sound materials placed in areas that will resit scalloping or warping caused by a taunting covering system without adding to much weight. That said I have used Stits many times over the years and can only state what I know to be fact from my own experience. So here goes, It is a more expensive system to use then some of the others, It really stinks while using and requires allot of ventilation, and it will in fact ruin an airframe that has not been built to withstand a taunting covering system. The other side of the coin is it is very easy and forgiving to use, it will hold up looking great for decades, properly applied and top coat finished it is gas or fuel proof utilizing the Poly topcoat system or DuPont base coat clear coat system, but I am certain there are other good base coat clear coat systems out there, its all in what you are comfortable using. Here are just a few I have built and then covered in Stits and painted in either Poly tone or the DuPont BCCC. Some of these are covered in both 3/4 oz. fiberglass cloth applied with Minwax oil based urethane on the solid structures like turtle decks, forward decks and so on while the open bay areas are covered in the Stits. So you see it is very compatible with other application but you do need to build a solid platform to cover over first.


Bob
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Last edited by sensei; 10-20-2014 at 03:16 AM.
Old 10-13-2014, 06:37 AM
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VincentJ- I was referring to the look you get from the colored Solartex as it comes off the roll, not the much nicer appearance you get from painting a fabric covered airplane.

Sensei- Those planes look great. I see you did a couple of big aerobats with Stits. How does the weight compare on those with using Monokote or Ultracote? I'll be redoing my 50cc Extra next year, and if I can keep the weight about the same I'd definitely rather have the painted finish.
Old 10-13-2014, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by jester_s1
VincentJ- I was referring to the look you get from the colored Solartex as it comes off the roll, not the much nicer appearance you get from painting a fabric covered airplane.

Sensei- Those planes look great. I see you did a couple of big aerobats with Stits. How does the weight compare on those with using Monokote or Ultracote? I'll be redoing my 50cc Extra next year, and if I can keep the weight about the same I'd definitely rather have the painted finish.
The red 50cc double vision biplane I stripped and lightened the airframe prior to the covering and paint, the all up weight was 18 lbs. The Midwest Cap 232 I built from a kit, with covering and paint the all up was 17.5 lbs. The 40% Aeroworks Edge 540 named Obsession was a built from kit when aeroworks still made kits, and again I placed the airplane on a diet during my build so the all up on it was 37.5 lbs. My 40% Carden Edge 540 was built to the plans and given to me after a crash that broke the fuselage in 3 pieces and tore up one wing and the tail feathers pretty bad. Long story short is I rebuilt it with no lightening mods, covered and painted it in Stits and the all up was 47 lbs. with a 3W 200cc on the nose. Later down the road I built my 40% Carden Extra 260, I placed on a an extreme diet, covered in in MonoKote and the all up ready to fly weight was/still is 28 lbs. The truth is you cannot cover and paint an airplane as light as going with MonoKote. At least in my own experience. What I have learned over the last couple of decades is to lighten an airframe enough to allow for covering, paint and still perform well, or go with a full on diet for 3D performance, It is really up to you.

Bob

Last edited by sensei; 10-20-2014 at 03:19 AM.
Old 10-13-2014, 08:05 PM
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That's what I was looking at, the difference in weight between film versus painted fabric. I could see a better modeler than me knowing where to lighten things up to take advantage of the strength of the fabric and keeping it close to the same. The plane I'm going to be redoing is a Midwest Extra 300 kit, which is on the portly side already. I'm planning some lightening mods when I do it, but I won't have wiggle room for a heavier than average covering job.
Old 10-13-2014, 09:03 PM
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Leroy Gardner
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One of my concerns is the shrinking of the Stits fabric with the iron in relation to Solartex which I found to be very managable. I haven't used it enough to see if it stays taunt over time but so many agree about how great it is and have said it stays tight, what do I know, the last thing I want is to mess up the build by making a bad choice. That is the main reason I asked for others take on the two coverings. Mind you this is not a steel tube constructed air frame and to add weight just to use Stits is counter productive in my book. May be that it's best to stay with what has worked in the past, at least for the Cub airframe.

Leroy
Old 10-14-2014, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Leroy Gardner
One of my concerns is the shrinking of the Stits fabric with the iron in relation to Solartex which I found to be very managable. I haven't used it enough to see if it stays taunt over time but so many agree about how great it is and have said it stays tight, what do I know, the last thing I want is to mess up the build by making a bad choice. That is the main reason I asked for others take on the two coverings. Mind you this is not a steel tube constructed air frame and to add weight just to use Stits is counter productive in my book. May be that it's best to stay with what has worked in the past, at least for the Cub airframe.

Leroy
The best way to get a grasp on the application is to read the online instructions. These are quite condensed and the full instruction book is a better resource. Here is the note in the online instructions: [h=4]HEAT SHRINKING[/h]NEVER USE A HEAT GUN. You cannot control the shrink accurately unless you calibrate your iron. We have iron calibration thermometers available for your convenience. You can use a candy thermometer, coverite thermometer (not very accurate), or any thermometer that reads up to 400 degrees F. Our thermometer is marked to show 225 degrees F. will smooth the edges and the bumps from the glue. The other shrink rates are then listed on the thermometer. The fabric will begin to shrink at 225 degrees F. and can be shrunk incrementally all the way to 350 degrees F. It takes a strong model to take a 350 degree shrink.
Why not use a heat gun? You may go beyond the memory of the thread and get elongation instead. Some heat guns go beyond 500 degrees. In this case you would loosen the fabric instead of tightening it. Since a fabric covered wing or fuselage is really a monocoque construction, we're depending on the memory of the material for strength. After heat shrinking and before trimming, brush a little Poly-Brush along where you intend to trim. Let dry and trim. This will eliminate the "fuzzies" and unraveling.


The rest of the online FAQ that might answer most of your questions is here: http://www.stits.com/instructions.html


As to weight and size the smallest I ever covered was the .40 size Balsa USA Bristol M1 http://www.stits.com/documents/crew_bristol.html

Dennis Pratt
Old 10-17-2014, 10:27 AM
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Okey we covered Stits pretty well, what about Solartex. It was stated that it don't look real, what is real considering both products are fabric and both can be filled to give a smoother paint finish, same goes for the taping, pinked is still being used today, and then there is the false stitching. There are other systems also, Oratex, Ceconite, Stewart Systems and others that are all doing the same thing only with different products. So in the end what if anything is wrong with Solartex which in the end will be cheeper to use and faster to put on even if you fill it.

I don't buy the idea that it will stretch with a hard finger impression but some will. Most products once painted are not subject to that on the real planes and that is where some of this covering comes from, the noncertified is approved for ultra lites and any thing down and is lighter weight fabric, I think Solartex is in that class.

Any comments on that.

Leroy
Old 10-17-2014, 02:09 PM
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I have used Solartex natural and found the iron on adhesive was a bit lacking if one used any kind of paint that was solvent based. Water based paints did not soften or cause glue joints to release. In fact I had covered a Balsa USA Citabria Pro with Solartex before I bought into the Stits system. Attempted to paint the Solartex with Stits and most of the seams ended up lifting and releasing. Coverite was not any better the self adhesives just do not seem stand up to high solvent based paints in my opinion. Dry spraying building up layers by dusting is a poor finish at best. Sig Coverall without the self adhesive and using their brush on adhesive was the best hobby application I found to use. Still it never came close to the drum tightness and durability of the Stits covering and paint system.

That being said we are not going to be passengers in our models if you can get the look your after with any of these systems then by all means use what works for you. After all the whole idea of it being a hobby is that it’s enjoyable for you.

Dennis
Old 10-17-2014, 04:48 PM
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Solartex raw is fine in my book but it definitely needs added adhesive to work well, such as Sigs Stix-it. Solartex painted, as a finish is fine but one can not simulate the stitch and tapes as well simply because they are not under all the paint process which smooth's and hides some to a degree. I have used Solartex in both forms and for the applications it was good. But as a scale finish I would only use the raw. I have seen Solartex, both types, wrinkle and pull loose under certain circumstance's such as sitting in the sun.
As for the Stits fabric, it will shrink 10-12% which lends to very easy application's on some serious compound curves. It will, if applied snugly, crack and or break wood when shrinking if one shrinks it that far. I only shrink until taught. As for weight, Stits is a very light system, I would put it up against painted Solartex anytime.
Either way you go is a good system and both ways will yield excellent results. I have seen your work and you can do either without issue.
Old 10-18-2014, 07:34 PM
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Just to muddy the water a bit....

Nobody has mentioned Sig Koverall. It is similar to the Stitts in that it has no adhesive like Solartex. I've never put the Stitts and Koverall side by side but it sounds like the Stitts has a slightly tighter weave. It is slightly heavier but that may be made up in less "dope" being used to fill the weave. My opinion, yard for yard, Solartex will be heaver than Stitts or Koverall as you have glue on every square inch of the Solartex. Stitts or Koverall do not have any glue so you only add glue where it is needed.

Ken
Old 10-19-2014, 06:34 AM
  #24  
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Its my understanding that Stits fabric has an equal number of threads running in both directions so it has no "grain". You can use it running either way and get good even snrink. Sig Koverall and polyester dress lining both have more threads running horizontally than vertically. It thus has a "grain" and you must apply it with the grain running with the span of the wing of the wing to get good snrink. I have used both and I much prefer Stits for this reason.
Ron
Old 11-04-2014, 09:17 AM
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Hi Leroy,
I've almost finished constructing my 1/4 scale Balsa USA into a Super Cub. I decided before I started to build this that I was going to use Stits. I figured with all this work I want my covering to be as close to scale as possible. I have my rudder and vertical on the bench with the stits covering cut and the can of Poly Tak and MEK ready to go. I'm hoping to get started over the next or day or two.


I have used Super Coverite and Solartex in the past. Super Coverite was amazing to work with. Solartex is good too. I'm really excited about the Stits System.

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