Covering & Finishing — Tips for High-Vis Trim Schemes

Mar 28, 2012 12 Comments by

 It is really a great feeling to finish a model airplane you’ve built with your own two hands. An added benefit is that your model will be completely unique and won’t look like every other plane on the flightline. Yes it takes a little more effort, but the end result truly reflects your own tastes. To make a plane look really neat and tight, you should limit the amount of colors you use to cover it with and if it is a first attempt, limit yourself to a base color and up to two trim colors. For my Florio Flyer 60, I wanted a retro 70s style and I wanted it to be easy to see what the plane is doing from far away.

 

 Video showing how to apply the basic colors before adding trim

  

As can be seen, the top of the wing and the front of the plane is white. This keeps the plane bright and easy to see at altitude. Now since things on the underside of a plane are in shadow, I used a dark color for under the wing and stab. Dark Blue works great.

The dark color is also ideal for the checker board trim treatment of the rudder and the wing tips. To tie the entire scheme together, the medium color is used for the aft fuselage and the top of the stabilizer. A Band of dark blue is also used to seperate the white and medium teal color. But where to start?

 

A fun way to develop any scheme is to use some sheets of paper and doodle a bit with a pen to work out a guide. Check the web for photos of real planes too to get an idea. Straight lines are a lot easier to trim that curvy sweeping lines, so for your first try, keep it simple. I wanted the checker boards because they were very popular in the 70s and, when I was in the USAF, I was stationed at Grissom AFB in Indiana and all the planes based there had checker boards on their tails! It’s a salute to my military past memories! See, I told you, you can have unique schemes that reflect your own tastes!

 

 

To make the trim easier to cut, I simply used the width of my steel ruler straightedge as a guide. Here the checkerboards are square and equal and the strip of trim teal is twice the width of the ruler. To apply the trim, I used the end rib as a stright edge guide, and the first checker is applied even to the edge of the leading edge sheeting. Then the checkers are used to space the placement of the others.

 

A good way to minimize bubbles under the trim pieces, is to use MonoKote Trim Solvent to “float” the markings into place and let them set overnight before heat sealing them into place. I used Acetone solvent to clean the wing and I applied it to the underside of the markings so slightly soften the adhesive.

I then carefully ironed each piece into place, starting at one edge and working with a light touch to the opposite edge so not to trap any air under the piece. If you do get some bubbles, simple poke the bubble with a sharp hobby knife and iron the trim down with the covering iron. Since the rudder is the widest control surface, it shows bubbles and misalignments the most. So take your time and keep everything straight and bubble-free.

Proper Tools are always important. Sharp Sissors and hobby knife blades, and a good iron and heat gun make the job go smoothly.

 

So here you can see the finished scheme, the checker boards on the tail and the wing tips compliment each other and help bring the whole scheme together. I like it as it has that 1970s retro look. What do you think?

 

When it comes to decals and graphics, be sure to carry your theme colors through so everthing works together. My Flip Flop Fun Fly scheme was a natural so I had these vinyl decals made by my buddies at Red5 Designs.  (red5designs.com) They do excellent work and matched my covering colors perfectly!

 

 

Gerry Yarrish

About the author

Senior Technical Editor About Me: I have a lifelong passion for all things scale, and I love to design, build and fly scale RC airplanes. With 20 plus years as part of the Air Age family of magazines, I love producing Model Airplane News and Electric Flight.

12 Responses to “Covering & Finishing — Tips for High-Vis Trim Schemes”

  1. Bill Skoros says:

    Love the scheme! What I really want to see is a video on how to do wingtips! I always find them the hardest to cover with Monokote. I have Covering R/C Airplanes by Faye Stilley, but pictures are not enough.

  2. Anonymous says:

    . . . terrific tips, Gerry . . . please do let me know where you get the very large rubber bands you seem to be using to fasten the wing; I cannot find them anywhere . . . thank you, jjrs

    • Gerry Yarrish says:

      jjrs. I get my rubberbans (#64) from the local hobby shop. The box says they are Great Planes brand.
      GY

  3. victor chua says:

    where can i buy plan for florio 60 plane or complete laser cut balsa kit of florio 60 plane? thanks

  4. Cholly Holderried says:

    Why the strips around the edges? I’ve alway covered the bottom surfaces first, using the iron to heat and stretch the film aroung the
    edges. You then trim the bottom around the perimeter, a little past the
    center line and proceed, using the same method, to cover the top surface. Your way seems like a lot of extra work, I’ve been using
    my method for over forty years (Before ARFS) and produced some
    pretty good looking airplanes !!!

    • Gerry Yarrish says:

      Colly. I never said that the technique was better that the next. It is the way I have been doing it for about 40 years give or take. I got the tech tip from the guy who used to show the MonoKote material (demo the new material) at the WRAM and Toledo shows. Basically you produce far less wrinkles when you stretch material instead of trying to shrink it. Without the strip covering the outer edges, when you try to pull the material around, it needs to be cut in several places so you can overlap the material. I am sure your way works great for you. I also cover all bottom surfaces first. This way also eliminates you haveing to cut and iron the material to go into corners like aileron areas at the trailing edge and then since there is uncovered wood showing, having to add another piece over it.
      to each his own. thanks for your comments
      GY

      • Don says:

        I, too, have been using the method Cholly speaks of, but your method, Gerry, sounds like it may be easier (as less frustrating even if it adds a step and takes more time) than what I have been doing. I hope I never get too old to learn! I’m going to try it on the next plane I build.

  5. Joseph Benedetto says:

    instead of Monocote – which I find difficult to use on wingtips – try Coverite from Tower Hobbies. It stretches easily and conforms to curved surfaces better.

    • Gerry Yarrish says:

      I use equally MonoKote and Ultracover (Oracover) I like the feel of the oracover better than monoKote but all work well with the strip applied around the outer edges of surfaces being covered.

  6. Gerry Yarrish says:

    Hi Victor. the line of Florio planes from the 70s are now again available from Dan at http://www.greatflyerrc.com
    nice guy and good friends with Jim Florio.

  7. Thomas Hanche-Olsen says:

    Hi!
    Nice work. I am building one right now, and I see that you have tailmounted servos. Is the plane noseheavy with the AX 75? Dan Fedorko told me that it would balance near perfect with a .61 engine.

    • Gerry Yarrish says:

      Thomas. Hi thanks for the comment. Actually, with the servos in the tail and the .75 in the nose, the plane balances perfectly without any added ballast. Honest! This is one of only a few planes I’ve built that balanced perfectly.
      GY

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