Day 36 - Covering a wing      Hours today: 18      Hours so far: 369

Covering a wing

Click on the pictures to enlarge.

The wing is actually really easy to cover - it's big, straight with no funny corners, and easy to glue. It's a good place to start if you are not sure of the techniques. First job is to use masking tape to create straight lines for when you paint the glue on - this is a picture of the top of the wing, you can see that the bottom has already been finished - always start on the side which will show least. The masking tape makes sure the glue goes where you want it to - note the template around the fuel filler. I will glue the fabric onto the tank around the filler hole. Also note that I have already glued some spare fabric onto the false ribs. This will give 2 thicknesses of fabric on the false ribs without having to apply tape on the outside of the wing.

Start by cutting out the holes for any large protrusions - smaller ones can be cut out later. The glue will be totally dry, so the fabric will not stick to it yet.

I then used a little MEK through the fabric to glue the trailing edge fabric in place - the dark patches show where I glued small patches all along the trailing edge to ensure a good fit - this way you can avoid wrinkles during the gluing.

Then glue along the ribs - again making sure the fabric is in the right place before applying a little MEK through the fabric. I rub the MEK into the fabric so that the glue comes through from underneath it. This is a picture of the top of the wing, but it shows that the fabric is glued neatly without serious wrinkles in it. Finally glue the leading edge. The glue lines should be smooth, the rest of the fabric can (and should) be baggy.

It's amazing the difference the iron makes - when the whole wing is finished, iron the fabric at the lowest setting (250 fahrenheit). You can also go over the glue joints at this temperature to get rid of imperfections or lumps. When the whole wing is ironed at 250, go over again at 300 and then 350 (following the Polyfiber instructions!).

With the wing ironed and trimmed, I then cleaned it with a clean cotton rag dipped in MEK to get rid of any oils on the fabric. Then mix up some Polybrush and some reducer (ratio 3:1) and apply a coat over the whole wing. The first coat should seal the fabric, so don't skip on the amount, but avoid runs...

The learning curve with covering is VERY steep! This second wing took much less time than the first, and the result is much better - I hope my plane still flies straight! Next page