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Scratch and Kit Built Aircraft Discuss and share your scratch built or kit built aircraft as well as building techniques, methods, mediums and resources.

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Old 07-24-2006, 12:17 PM   #1
Sky Sharkster
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Default Coloring and Tinting Canopies

I'm just about to finish up a "scratch" aerobatic design and in the process of tinting a canopy to match the covering color (purple). This is a fairly old method but I haven't seen it posted here, so for those who would like to try it, here goes;
Necessary Items- One oz. pack of Dye (I use RIT). One 3-1/2 to 4 quart pan (it will be unusable for food after the job) I bought a beat up one at a yard sale. Access to cold running water. One set of pliers, wood "stir sticks" (bamboo skewers), paper towels, clear plastic canopy, still in frame.
Cover the work area with newspaper. Boil 2 quarts of water, reduce heat to simmer, add 1/2 pack of dye, stir well with skewer, turn on running cold water. Using pliers, hold canopy by outside frame and begin dipping canopy into water. Do not leave in water more than 10 seconds at a time! It will begin to melt and distort the canopy. Just slosh it around, distribute the color evenly. Quickly move the canopy under the running water and rinse. At first it will look like it's not coloring the plastic but after a few cycles of dye and rinse the color will appear and start to darken. After a rinse, hold it up to the light and determine how dark you want it to be. Remember, there's no going back!
When it's as dark as you want it, rinse throughly and carefully dry with towels. Let the colored water cool before pouring it away, else it will dye the sink. You can also mix colors of dye, I've added a bit of black to yellow to get a "gold" color or darkened light colors with black dye.
That's it. have fun!
Ron
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Old 07-24-2006, 12:53 PM   #2
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Never heard of that. Can we see pictures?

Thanks for the tip.

Tom
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Old 07-24-2006, 01:01 PM   #3
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Default Dye-ing to see photos?

Hi Tom, sorry I don't have a digital camera, but the method works great. Forgot to mention it can be used to add light gray to canopies, just use 1/4 pack of black, to 2 quarts of water. Comes out much smoother and more evenly applied than painting.
P.S., got your package, will be P.M.ing soon, thanks!
Ron
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Old 07-24-2006, 03:33 PM   #4
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Sounds pretty neat Ron. I may be trying to make a canopy in the near future and I was wondering how to finish it. I was thinking about painting the inside but I like this method better. I may have to give it a try.

Tom
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Old 07-25-2006, 03:19 AM   #5
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Hopper,
I use spraypaint. Spread a lot of newspapers down on the basement floor, lay the canopy on it's back with inside facing up, let the paint mist down from 4 or 5 ft. up. Check it often. Sometimes it's neccessary to mask off the top side in case you have to turn it some.
But I'm kinda lazy. Sharkster's method surely does a better job.

It's easy to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say and then don't say it.
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Old 07-25-2006, 04:02 AM   #6
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Thanks Rib,

That sounds like a good way to paint one. I do like the smoked color though. Now I just need to find out how to make the canopy in the first place.

Tom
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Old 08-07-2006, 10:54 PM   #7
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As far as tinting goes, make sure your canopy is absolutely clean. Fingerprints, release agents or any other debris can leave spots or cause an uneven coloring.

A vacuum box is fairly easy to make and can be used to pull many shapes. PETG or VIVAK (trade name) works well for canopies and is relatively cheap when purchased in bulk.

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Old 08-07-2006, 11:41 PM   #8
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Default Vac-Forming and Tinting

Hi Andrew, welcome to Wattflyer! Thanks for the reminder to clean the canopy before tinting, I forgot that.
Do you have any links or articles on Vaccum-forming? Years back Mattel sold a small unit that worked for pilot busts, small canopies, simulated radials, etc. The Rubber Scale Free Flight flyers loved'em and I still see the unit occasionally on eBay, believe it's called "Vac-u-form".
Thanks,
Ron
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Old 08-08-2006, 03:51 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Sky Sharkster View Post
Hi Andrew, welcome to Wattflyer! .......Do you have any links or articles on Vaccum-forming?
Hi Ron --

Thank you for the welcome. There is a bit of discussion in RCU -- search on the keyword vacuum and author Bipe Flyer . There are pictures and explanations. The boxes are just that, boxes with vented tops and a hole for a vacuum hose. A good house vac or shop vac works well. I built one out of masonite with a pegboard top -- just keep your box volume to a minimum so it will evacuate quickly.

Industrial Plastic Supply can provide almost any type of material you might need. Many times they will have remnants in sizes suitable for modeler's needs at reduced prices. I've bought both PETG and HIPS (high impact polystyrene) from them.

andrew

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Old 08-08-2006, 05:12 AM   #10
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I remember an OLD article in RCM that showed how to make a DIY vacuform like Andrew described. If memory serves they even used a modified (tip over switch was disabled) electric space heater mounted above the box so you didn't have to risk the wrath of the misses by heating plastic in her oven.
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Old 08-20-2006, 11:35 PM   #11
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Here is one that I did with Rit dye. I think I read about it some years back in Model Airplane News. I will second the warning about too much heat. I ruined a canopy for a Four-Star 40. However I have one canopy that would not take any color, I just left it clear and got me one of those wild looking pilots http://www2.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...?&I=LXFVN6&P=0 .


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Old 09-05-2006, 02:08 PM   #12
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Default Photos of Ron's Mohawk

Hi All,

I got a chance to meet Ron out flying Sunday and snapped a couple photos of his tinted canopy. Great flying little airplane and a fantastic pilot!

This from Ron: "The name of that design is the Mohawk, it's dedicated to an old (1950's and 1960's) kit company called VECO that had a whole series of U-control and Free Flight kits, all had colorful Native American names like Chief, Brave, Apache, Comanche, the 1/2A was the Papoose(!)"

Great job Ron and a pleasure to finally meet you!

Franny - Oh, cool canopy too!


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Old 09-28-2006, 07:30 PM   #13
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Your method works well. May I add that if you put in a tea cup of vinigar it will work even better and help stabilize the color on the plastic.
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Old 09-29-2006, 02:17 AM   #14
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Default Tip For Dying

Hello Ron, Welcome to Wattflyer! Thanks for the tip on the vinegar, I've never heard that one. If it stabilizes the color that would be great, since they do fade slightly after long exposure to sunlight. I'll try it!
Thanks again,
Ron
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Old 09-29-2006, 03:31 AM   #15
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I have found on some types of plastic, I don't remember which one, adding vineger will also cause it to be a little darker when I was using RIT Dye. I always took a piece of flashing off the canopies and tried it first to find out how much heat the material could take. Hope this also helps...Ron

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