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How to decide between painting and covering material for balsa trainer?

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How to decide between painting and covering material for balsa trainer?

Old 05-19-2016, 08:26 PM
  #1  
skyler
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Default How to decide between painting and covering material for balsa trainer?

I am building the mountain models balsa dandy, 47 inch wingspan, and the plans date back to 2002. They call for painting the fuselage and tail parts, and using covering material for the wings.

Have building techniques changed since 2002, perhaps there have been changes in covering material and paint technology? It seems painting balsa is no longer common.

What are the advantages of one vs the other?

If I paint, what type of paint should be used? Is it necessary to prime? How many coats?
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Old 05-19-2016, 08:43 PM
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Bald Paul
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Looks like a simple box fuselage. I would definitely use covering vs. paint. The last time I used paint was on some built up balsa wheel pants. You have to seal the balsa before painting, or it just soaks up paint like a sponge.

If you're applying iron-on covering to large areas of balsa, make several pin pricks in the balsa first to allow trapped air to have somewhere to go to help prevent bubbles. I use a Top Flite "Woodpecker" which makes the job easy.
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Old 05-19-2016, 08:47 PM
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skyler
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul View Post
Looks like a simple box fuselage. I would definitely use covering vs. paint. The last time I used paint was on some built up balsa wheel pants. You have to seal the balsa before painting, or it just soaks up paint like a sponge.

If you're applying iron-on covering to large areas of balsa, make several pin pricks in the balsa first to allow trapped air to have somewhere to go to help prevent bubbles. I use a Top Flite "Woodpecker" which makes the job easy.
yes, simple box fuselage. Is the reason for covering material instead of paint because of weight (is it lighter?) or is it easier to apply, or more durable?

When pricking the balsa before covering, it is not intuitive that that will help, as the air will still be trapped between the balsa and covering. Pricking the covering would let the air escape.

Last edited by skyler; 05-19-2016 at 09:45 PM.
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Old 05-20-2016, 01:06 AM
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Bald Paul
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Originally Posted by skyler View Post
yes, simple box fuselage. Is the reason for covering material instead of paint because of weight (is it lighter?) or is it easier to apply, or more durable?

When pricking the balsa before covering, it is not intuitive that that will help, as the air will still be trapped between the balsa and covering. Pricking the covering would let the air escape.
With a box fuse, you don't have a lot of complex curves to deal with, so IMHO, covering is easier to apply than sealing, sanding, re-sealing and sanding, and then applying several coats of paint. I think it took me longer to paint the wheel pants on that plane than it did to cover the entire rest of the plane with covering.

I can't give any accurate numbers on the weight of paint vs. covering. I'm certain there's a difference, but not that you would notice one way or the other.

It's not huge amount of air we're talking about here, if you apply the covering correctly. All I know is that if I forget to use the Woodpecker, I end up with tiny air bubbles trapped that I then have to prick with a pin to flatten out.
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Old 05-20-2016, 01:11 AM
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fhhuber
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Iron on covering is a convenience product. Fast and easy to apply.

Painting requires more preparation and a lot more time.

I was covering with tissue and using model aircraft "dope" for many years. There are cases where I might use them again but not many.
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Old 05-20-2016, 02:14 AM
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Another thing to consider is cost. Materials required to paint colors on a model can raise the cost pretty fast.
Clear dope, covering material(silk, silkspan), sandpaper, paint brushes, colored dope, masking tape, masking paper, and the list goes on and on.
If you are looking for a great finish and an old time look silk and dope is nice.
If you just want to quickly fly then Ultra cote or similar is good.
If you want something in between Sig Koverall or similar will give a good base for paint.

If you're into experimenting, Doculam ( document laminating film) can give nice results.
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Old 05-20-2016, 02:24 AM
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I've built this plane and a few other Mountain Model kits, very nice kits indeed.

I never painted, always covered, but you do want to make sure you use a lightweight covering...not regular Monokote or Ultracote. You want to use something like Solite (Solarfilm Lite) which Mountain Models sells.

http://www.mountainmodels.com/produc...roducts_id=315

Weight is a big deal to these planes to really get the best performance from them.
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Old 05-20-2016, 03:49 AM
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Yep. Use Solite or Microlite or other similar lightweight covering. Ultracote, Monocote etc. (the heavier coverings) run the risk of crushing the light framework of Mountain Models builds while shrinking. I have covered many Mountain Models kits with Coverite Microlite. One thing I found out is that room temperature plays a large part in ease of use. Covering in the summer can be tough. Even your body temperature can cause it to adhere, especially to itself. Going down in the cool basement makes things a lot easier.
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Old 05-20-2016, 04:54 AM
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Even your body temperature can cause it to adhere, especially to itself.
Boy if that isn't the truth lol, especially the dark blue Solite.

I loved the MM kits, still have a Switchback Senior that I need to finish...someday.
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Old 08-25-2021, 12:14 AM
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The Professor
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Default Creative effects.....

So, I am expecting to crash my first plane, despite using a simulator and the other good stuff, so I have already ordered the next one to lessen the disappointment.

So, the next plane is a Tiger Moth, and from what I have read, the early ones were fabric covered.

The film I have is very smooth and shiny, so I wonder if the following method would work to create the effect I will be looking for.

Apply film and shrink.

Gently abrade the surface with very fine wire wool
Apply an etch primer

Apply some spray mount adhesive and cover with a fine muslin cloth.

Then paint to suit....

Does this sounds feasible?
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Old 08-25-2021, 10:53 AM
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solentlife
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Honest answer ???

Here's my Tiggie in film ...



taking off :



in the air :



Yes she's shiny ... but she still looks the part and oozes that old world biplane character ...

Here's her in flight :

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Old 08-25-2021, 11:14 AM
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Abrading film .... I think it may be too thin to do this .... and any paint / lacquer will crack on it anyway as it reacts to ambient temperature.

You could go back to traditional methods :

Local Curtain / Drapery shop - buy plain lightest nylon 'silk' they have ... used to line dresses / net curtains on windows etc.



You use this to cover model .. with watered down PVA white glue to adhere it to frame ... once applied and glue dried - sanding of edges to get rid of any 'hairs' overlaps .... then apply a very thin coat of water / pva or if you can get it - Dope to fill the weave. The dope will tighten the covering - so take care not to warp the frame.

Once weave filled - then you can paint with anything you like !!

This is a foam model I used it on ...



painted (sprayed auto cans) ..




Here's a Tiger Moth I had back in the early 1980's (Veron Kit with 20 size Glow engine) ...



That was nylon and Humbrol model paints.
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Old 11-09-2021, 09:36 AM
  #13  
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I used document laminating film by 3M on many lightweight models. It is cheap and light light light.
Some guy sells it under another name, I can't remember his website.

It has the ability to be painted on the underside! The adhesive on the underside is aggressive and
will penetrate several (light) coats of paint. I prepainted entire aircraft with insignia/multicolor etc...

It is stiffer and has less shrinkage. I did not find that to be a problem.
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