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Old 10-20-2007, 07:02 PM   #1
Cbman
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Default Best way to seal and paint balsa??

What is the best and lightest way to seal balsa before painting? The model instructions have me covering in film, but I would rather paint it instead. The wings are foam so no problem there, I'll spackle, sand and shoot them in acrylic. I just don't know how to seal the balsa to keep it from sucking up too much paint.

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Old 10-20-2007, 07:55 PM   #2
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Default Finishing Balsa?

Hello Chuck, Welcome to Wattflyer!
The two ways I know to finish balsa are;
(1) Sanding Sealer, sand smooth, clear dope, sand again, then Paint. For this I use Aero Gloss Model Aircraft Dope.
(2) Minwax Polycrylic, with acrylic paint finish.
A third way is an old Free Flight trick; Use 50/50 clear dope/thinner to attach Japanese tissue to the wood; This saves the weight of sanding sealer. Sand the tissue with very fine paper and apply one or two coats of thinned clear. When dry it will take a minimal amount of colored dope for a good finish. The color pigment adds a lot of the final weight, so the less used, the better.
I honestly can't say for sure which is lighter. There's a few weight comparisons for tissue + dope here;
http://www.wattflyer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10443
Hope this helps!
Ron
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Old 10-20-2007, 08:22 PM   #3
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Thanks, Ron. I'll probably go the Polycrylic and paint route since I have those available already. Will do a test piece first though, I'd hate to ruin it right off the bat. How does paint compare to covering as far as weight goes? I've never used shrink / iron-on coverings but would be willing to try if weight savings were worth it.

Chuck
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Old 10-20-2007, 11:17 PM   #4
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Default Paint vs Iron-On?

Hello Chuck, I don't have any weight figures for paint over balsa. The few that are on the weight table are for clear dope over tissue, silk or silkspan. Since even the Japanese tissue (lightest covering) ends up weighing more than the "Micro" iron-ons with just a few coats of clear dope, I'd have to say colored paint or dope would be even heavier.
My guess is a good primer (or sealer) undercoat with a (colored) paint finish is in the 7-10 gram per square foot range. This is about the same weight as the medium-to-heavy range for iron-ons.
So it comes down to what weight increase you're willing to accept for the desired finish. An airbrushed paint finish can be much more complex and attractive than an iron on. For some color schemes, like camo, airbrushing is perhaps better. With iron-on camo finishes, you end up with a lot of overlaps and double-covers. This may negate any weight saving over paint.
If you want to give the iron-ons a try, here's a few links;
Iron On Covering Tutorial
http://www.rc-airplane-advisor.com/h...-covering.html
Description of Types of Iron-On Coverings
http://www.wattflyer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18843
Ron
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Old 10-26-2007, 09:56 PM   #5
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Hey Ron

Does miniwax polycrylic works on foam? Can you mix the polycrylic with dyes or paint to get a deep color?

Thanks

John
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Old 10-26-2007, 10:07 PM   #6
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John boy,

Yes, Minwax Polycrylic does work on foam. You can try to mix water based stain or paint in it but I would try it on a scrap piece of foam first. Just make sure what ever you mix with it is water based and not oil. You can also apply the polycrylic directly to the foam and then top coat with paint after it is dry. Of course the more coats of both that you add, the more weight will also be added.

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Old 11-25-2007, 11:50 PM   #7
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hey guys diluted elmers white glue is cheap and works good for sealing foam and balsa before painting with latex. So it probably would take acrylic finishes also.Dilute the glue 50 50 with water.I only used one coat and got a pretty nice finish.
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Old 11-26-2007, 03:10 AM   #8
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Paint ends up on the heavy side, esp. the first few tries. Check into Airspan or Litespan covering material.

rcflyair
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Old 11-26-2007, 05:31 PM   #9
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Hey now,
Paint is heavy, tissue is light. On my free flight models or micro r/c I use nitrate dope, lighter than butrate and will accept other paints on top of it unlike butrate dope.
Usually I'll take some dope and mix in some baby powder and paint on one coat of this mix let it dry and sand it out smooth. The balsa will raise all kinds of little hairs and splinters you never knew were there. Now that the frame is really smooth I'll cover the open bays with tissue (or silk on larger models) and if I'm going to want colour on the light ones I also use tissue on the solid wood bits. Coloured tissue is much lighter than paint with pigment.

If I'm preping for paint I'll still use nitrate dope with baby powder, lay on one coat, let it dry, sand it almost all off, lay down a second coat, sand it almost all off, and then do one coat of thinned dope without the powder and wet sand with six hundred grit wet/dry paper.
This gives a mirror finish, no bumps, dents, or wood grain show through.

This method works very well with the WBPU as well, but the WBPU is much heavier than nitrate dope.

Oh yeah, nitrate dope will melt eps, pink or blue foam *f*a*s*t* so don't get it near foam till it dries.

On some models I'll even use the nitrate dope/baby powder sanding sealer underneath moneycote. You get a much smoother finish than you get with moneycote alone.

Yeah, I know, "but where can you get nitrate dope these days?"
I get mine from the local private airfield. Folks still use it on some light planes. Just be sure to pick up an equal amount of dope thinner, since the stuff for full size is thick enough that it works nicely as a glue...
For large models I thin it in half, for small models, two to one works well.
RobII

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Old 11-27-2007, 01:52 AM   #10
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I have heard of excellent results with Deft Clear Wood Finish. Many folks use it on the little indoor flying Stevens Aero planes.

http://www.woodcraft.com/family.aspx...e=details#tabs

Frank
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Old 11-27-2007, 06:28 PM   #11
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elfwreck u r an old time modeler dope and baby powder ,tissue and silk too cool.takes me back alotta years.Pre monocoat era.my 1st teenaged drunkin stupor smelling drying areo gloss.
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Old 11-30-2007, 06:07 PM   #12
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Hey now,
I'm not *that* old, I'll be fifty next summer.
I use moneycote in various forms as well as dope etc. But I enjoy working in the medium. I get a beautiful, light, tight, strong finish when I use silk and dope.
That, and there's this interesting buzz you get from the fumes
What should scare you is that I sometimes still use Ambroid, love that tolulene scent...

It's funny, I'll build a model that another guy has. He will moneycote it and I'll do the silk and dope thing. Mine comes out looking better new (and staying new looking longer), lighter, and far stronger than his.
Silk, after the dope has shrunk it, cuts down on wing flex better than any iron on covering. That, and I can get more intricate designs with paint than I could ever get by cut-n-paste moneycoting.

Sometimes the old ways are better than the new. Sometimes they get so old that when you bring them back everybody thinks they're new...
RobII

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These are things I keep in my den as paper weights!-Darwin Mayflower
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Old 12-01-2007, 06:44 AM   #13
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i know what u r sayin is all true but recently when i tore silk off my 35 year old control line Combat Cat I recovered it in transparent red covering.It has a Fox X36 hemi on it.lol So much compression it always gets the back of your fingers if u dont use a chicken stick.But boy does that motor roar.Ambroid LOL where do u get that .
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Old 12-06-2007, 05:51 PM   #14
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Hey now,
Ah, the Combat Cat. I used to really like those. I have a Flite Cat, Flite streak fuse with Combat Cat wing that I run an old Max-H .35 on crank case pressure. Pretty fast that one, but not as fast as my old Nemisis II with Super Tigre G0-21-.35 on pen bladder... Yeah, I still fly spin dizzies too.
I had an old .36X untill recently, blew out the conrod which took off the top of the cylinder, not much left to rebuild I always "Supre Tigre started" that one, flood it out and back flip it, worked every time.

I get Ambroid from a local old timers shop, "Hobbies Unlimited" in San Lorenzo CA. It's still around, you could ask your LHS to carry it.
Even if you never actually use it you could just dab a bit on a piece of paper while you build. That'll bring back memories (till the toluene kicks in and you can't remember anything). *Love* that smell...
RobII

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Old 12-27-2007, 11:55 PM   #15
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Elf I knew I liked you
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Old 12-27-2007, 11:56 PM   #16
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pen bladders what a pain
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