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Old Fabric

Old 09-18-2016, 06:36 PM
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Default Old Fabric

Greetings all-

I've acquired a Ziroli 77" Stearman. It has 20 year old fabric on it, and has been painted. From a distance it looks great, however, up close you can see where touch up paint was used, or where paint has come off, or where monokote was applied as a patch.

I'm flying it the rest of the season, and would like to overhaul it this winter, to include a dummy engine, an Army or Navy paint scheme, and fix some other cosmetics.

First of all, I've recovered monokote/ultracote models, but never fabric. Does it come off the same way? I intend to use solar tex or the Balsa USA fabric to replace it all and then paint over top of it. What works best? Given, this is a 20 year old+ bird. Thanks for the ideas and opinions!

Old 09-19-2016, 02:10 AM
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Solartex is far easier to apply, than MK. It accepts paint well, too.

I've been using Natural Solartex and painting it with Rustoleum.
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Old 09-19-2016, 04:59 AM
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I would think the fabric would strip offor better than monokote.

Old 09-19-2016, 10:56 AM
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If the fabric is Solartex or 21st Century, then a heat gun should loosen the adhesive to allow removal. If the fabric is Stits Lite or some other polyester fabric that was put on with Poly Tak/Balsarite/SIG Stix It, wiping the seams down with MEK will dissolve the glue allowing the fabric to be removed, particularly if the paint is solvent-based.
Old 09-24-2016, 05:37 PM
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Wipe the painted area with Acetone and see if it comes off easily, if so then its doped. Acetone will loosen the eams and make it easier to remove and clean up the wood.
Old 09-25-2016, 04:29 AM
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MEK or acetone should work if the fabric is doped on. Acetone will evaporate quickly, while MEK won't. I'd choose the latter for this application.
Old 09-25-2016, 07:50 AM
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Just be careful with MEK. While it works great, and is preferred, it will be absorbed by the skin and is not that good for your health. Acetone does the same thing, however, it is far less toxic to the system since the body produces acetone on it's own and knows how to deal with it better. If you can find MEK substitute(hard to find) use that instead, I find it actually worked better, but for the life of me, I have no idea where the hell I found it.
Old 09-29-2016, 08:58 AM
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Our local Ace hardware store carries MEK substitute. I have no idea what it is or whether it is really less toxic, and have not tried it.

A heat gun will work on doped fabric. Make a cut in an open area, use the heat gun on whatever it is doped down to, and start pulling. Often a lot will pull off even without heat, then use the heat where it's stuck down better.

Interesting comment about acetone being less toxic because the body can handle it. Had not heard that before.

Old 09-29-2016, 01:32 PM
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Acetone is produced and disposed of in the human body through normal metabolic processes. It is normally present in blood and urine. People with diabetes produce it in larger amounts. Reproductive toxicity tests show that it has low potential to cause reproductive problems. Pregnant women, nursing mothers and children have higher levels of acetone.[SUP][15][/SUP] Ketogenic diets that increase acetone in the body are used to counter epileptic attacks in infants and children who suffer from recalcitrant refractory epilepsy.
I was surprised about it too.
Old 09-29-2016, 04:46 PM
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Interesting. I had never heard that.
Old 10-02-2016, 07:25 PM
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It's true that your skin will absorb MEK. A guy in my club refinishes full scale fabric covered planes. He told me once that sometimes the only way to get something to look right is to go at it with bare hands, rubbing the MEK where it needs to be and pressing the fabric down. On those days, his wife won't come near him because his whole body has that sickly sweet smell to it, even his breath. He said it can take more than a day to get back to normal. But the good news is he's been doing it for years and it hasn't killed him yet. So I doubt the amounts we'd encounter in hobby use would be worth worrying about.

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