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Is my covering iron bad?

Old 05-14-2008, 03:10 AM
  #1  
adhoc
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Default Is my covering iron bad?

Just finished my Stevens Aero Stik 2.0 balsa build, which went great. But I'm totally new to covering, and my first attempts have been pretty bad; just can't get the covering to shrink up tight...

No doubt my inexperience with covering is part of the problem, but I just decided to try to check/calibrate the temperature on my iron, which is a Coverite Black Baron. The package says it is supposed to go from 150F to 410F. I used a cooking/candy thermometer, measured at various settings, gave it 5 to 10 minutes at each setting, was careful to hold the thermometer in good contact with the iron. Took the sock off. And I can't get more than 280F at the absolute clockwise setting (well past "High")!

For what it's worth, I'm using both Monokote and UltraCote (wanted to try both). So if I'm right about my iron, that would explain some things, since UltraCote doesn't even start shrinking until about 300F.

Any ideas, suggestions, things I should try? I'm half inclined to return this iron to Tower Hobbies...
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Old 05-14-2008, 03:33 AM
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Dorsal
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I learned to only use the iron for sticking the covering to the edges and shaping around corners and tips, then I use a heat gun to do the actual shrinking. After sticking the covering around the bottom and the top of the wing, shrink the bottom of the wing first, both sides, then the top, as doing the reverse may warp the wing. After that, I often use the iron again to press along the ribs and such to stick the covering down to them also.
BTW, I really prefer Monokote, but your iron does sound a little wimpy. To get a good reading, I found the only thing that really worked well was the Coverite Pocket Thermometer or a digital infrared thermometer .
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Old 05-14-2008, 03:48 AM
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Mike Freas
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In all my years of building and covering I have never checked the tempreture of my iron. Being that every covering has different heat requirnments and what your covering I just wing it(no pun intended). Start with a low temp and work your way up until your confortable with how long it takes for the glue to melt.

Now if your trying to shrink the covering with an iron it will take some time and it needs to be hot maybe higher then your iron will go.

If you cover the model right you should need to shrink all that much to get a very tight fit. I know your new and still learning but keep at it and you will get better. Do you have a covering video or a local expert that can show you some tricks?
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Old 05-14-2008, 04:03 AM
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Bub Steve
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Originally Posted by adhoc View Post
Just finished my Stevens Aero Stik 2.0 balsa build, which went great. But I'm totally new to covering, and my first attempts have been pretty bad; just can't get the covering to shrink up tight...

No doubt my inexperience with covering is part of the problem, but I just decided to try to check/calibrate the temperature on my iron, which is a Coverite Black Baron. The package says it is supposed to go from 150F to 410F. I used a cooking/candy thermometer, measured at various settings, gave it 5 to 10 minutes at each setting, was careful to hold the thermometer in good contact with the iron. Took the sock off. And I can't get more than 280F at the absolute clockwise setting (well past "High")!

For what it's worth, I'm using both Monokote and UltraCote (wanted to try both). So if I'm right about my iron, that would explain some things, since UltraCote doesn't even start shrinking until about 300F.

Any ideas, suggestions, things I should try? I'm half inclined to return this iron to Tower Hobbies...
adhoc:Iron sounds bad, She's gotta get a bit hotter but not much, I've been cover'in for 40+ years ( tissue,silk, foodwrap, and iron on) Never used a sock ( got-um),, Tab the four far edges taught ( not tight), finish work'in the outside like tire lugs,Then work ribs, tight'in the rest evenly, Like my bub Dorsal said "After sticking the covering around the bottom and the top of the wing, shrink the bottom of the wing first, both sides, then the top,"
Hope this helped, bub,steve
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Old 05-14-2008, 11:47 AM
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Sky Sharkster
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Default Covering Tips

Hi Andy,
I agree with all the tips posted so far. If your iron is only going up to 280 degrees, it's not working right. A heat gun is a big help but beware of overheating, especially on the lite films.
Here's a good photo tutorial from last year on RCG;
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=711624
And temperature suggestions for several popular films;
http://www.coverite.com/accys/covr2700.html
As Steve mentioned, the trick is to get the covering taut before you shrink it. Just "tack" it down at the corners, pulling it tight as you go. If it isn't coming out tight, lift up a tacked corner and pull it again, re-tack.
Then seal all the edges and cover the other side of the surface.
Also be careful mixing brands. Monokote takes a higher temp than any other film and the heat required to shrink it will melt lighter films. Ultracote is pretty tolerant of high-or-low settings but none of the other films are.
Good Luck!
Ron
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Old 05-14-2008, 12:12 PM
  #6  
pd1
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I agree with all the other posters on how to cover and shrink the film.

That said, I just bought a new Hobbico Iron and it had instructions on how to calibrate the thermostat.

I checked my old Monocoat iron, which I thought was bad, and I could adjust the thermostat on that and resurrected it.

I first rotated the temp knob counter clockwise to the lowest position. The lowest temp setting.
I then removed the knob from the stem.

Inside the stem was an adjusting screw.
I rotated the screw till I could hear a faint click while the temp knob was still on low.

Replaced knob and I had an adjustable iron.

On the dead Monocoat iron, I just kept increasing the center screw adjustment until I got the high temperature I was looking for.

I don't know if the Black Baron model has this function, but if it's not brand new I would pull the knob off and see if I could adjust it before throwing it out.

Hope this helps.
Paul
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Old 05-14-2008, 02:18 PM
  #7  
griffin
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Heat Gun!

I wouldn't know if my covering iron could shrink monokote, I just use the iron to tack it down and then go at it with the heat gun. Monokote is my least favorite covering and doubt I will every use it again. It takes a wicked amount of heat to get the wrinkles out and in difficult areas like wing tips it really makes me look bad. Ultracoat also needs a furnace of heat, but at least it will shrink around anything. Solarfilm is probably my favorite covering, and I bet even your wimpy iron could do a nice job with it. Still, get a heat gun and save a pile of time.

The only covering I don't always use a heat gun with is So-lite. Even then, I sometimes use the heat gun, though once in a while I pay the price and burn a hole.

-Steve
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Old 05-14-2008, 06:59 PM
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adhoc
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First, thanks to all of you for some great covering tips and links!

Originally Posted by pd1 View Post
. . .I checked my old Monocoat iron, which I thought was bad, and I could adjust the thermostat on that and resurrected it.

I first rotated the temp knob counter clockwise to the lowest position. The lowest temp setting.
I then removed the knob from the stem.

Inside the stem was an adjusting screw.
I rotated the screw till I could hear a faint click while the temp knob was still on low.

Replaced knob and I had an adjustable iron.

On the dead Monocoat iron, I just kept increasing the center screw adjustment until I got the high temperature I was looking for.

I don't know if the Black Baron model has this function, but if it's not brand new I would pull the knob off and see if I could adjust it before throwing it out.

Hope this helps.
Paul
Thanks Paul, you gave me the idea and hints to fix my iron...

Now, the box for the Black Baron notes, as one of its "Deluxe Features", the following... "The Black Baron Iron comes pre-set to deliver precise transitions from 150F to 410F. Unlike old-fashioned irons, you'll never have to open it up and experiment with set screw adjustments to get the heat you need."

Guess what? I had to open it up and experiment with set screw adjustments to get the heat I need.

My iron is new, and I guess I could have just returned it for repair or replacement, but I'm a tinkerer and figured I should be able to sort this out myself. Note that there were no instructions for calibration with the Black Baron at all; the only "directions" were a few very obvious notes on the side of the box...

To make a long story short, my iron was completely mis-calibrated out of the box, such that it wouldn't go higher than about 280F. Once I disassembled the darn thing, completely removed the tabbed washer that prevented the knob from turning past 360 degrees, completely reset the set screw inside the knob shaft, and recalibrated the whole iron, I could go up to at least 400F!

So much for (a) marketing hype, and (b) quality control. At least I'm back in business with my iron. I'm definitely getting a thermometer, but I'll try again with this iron before getting a heat gun...

Thanks again for all the help!
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Old 05-14-2008, 10:56 PM
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Oops, I just burned my sock! Brown/scorched all over! Yep, I think my Black Baron gets hot enough now...
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Old 05-15-2008, 06:50 AM
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Oh yeah, covering goes a lot better when you can shrink the covering...

Thanks again for the help everyone!!
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