My Wooden Airplane
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3/5/2015 - 3/12/2015

Cover Rudder

Well, here is another part of the project that took way longer than I thought it would. I'm used to using MonoKote to cover radio-controlled model airplanes, and thought this would be similar. In many ways it is similar, but there were enough differences to throw me off.

First, with MonoKote, the adhesive is already attached to the material. You activate it with heat. With this system, you have to apply the adhesive first, let it dry, then attach the fabric. The problem is, the fabric doesn't attach very well at this point. In fact, the procedure is to go over the glue joint with an iron to make the joint hold better (but still not permanent yet). Then, in order to make the joint permanent, you have to apply more glue over the joint and wipe it down and into the fabric so that it soaks through to the glue beneath it. It sounds easy, I know. It even looks easy on the videos. I just couldn't seem to get a good bond that way.

I figured out a better way was to apply the fabric to the joint while the first layer of glue was still wet. Then apply more glue over the top of that, and wipe it down and into the fabric to join with the glue beneath it. This works well, but the glue isn't at all sticky when it is wet, so the procedure is to glue a little bit, let it dry so that it holds, and move on. This obviously takes a little while longer than what they show in the videos.

Next, the fabric is shrunk drum tight with an iron, just like with MonoKote, but the fabric doesn't shrink nearly as much as MonoKote does. I actually had the first side of the rudder covered, but ended up ripping it off because I couldn't get it to shrink tightly enough.

Finally, there was the rib stitching. Again, something that is made to look extremely easy in the videos, but was difficult for me to get the hang of. I managed to get the rudder stitched, but ended up stitching three of the four ribs twice before I was happy with the results.

Now that most of the learning curve is over (hopefully), the rest of the covering job should proceed much more quickly. By the way, I decided to use the Stewart Systems covering system. One of the main features of this system is that it is water-based, so there is no noxious fumes to worry about. The other nice feature is that it is self-clamping (supposedly). Perhaps I can get that feature to work better with more practice.

Total Time: 32.5 hrs.