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Fabric Covering Tips – Sopwith Camel Workshop Build-along — Part 20

Fabric Covering Tips – Sopwith Camel Workshop Build-along — Part 20

Now that the Sopwith Camel’s fuselage and the rest of the project has been all buttoned up, and the engine cowling’s magnetic attachment arrangement taken care off, we can how move on to the covering process of the project. For this model, I am using Scale Stits and Polytone paint and adhesive. The fabric is specially produced for RC airplanes and it is the same material (just lighter), that is used to cover full-size aircraft.

The first thing to do, is to remove all the hardware from the model and give it a good going over with sandpaper and make sure it is nice and smooth. Also I use a tack cloth to pick up any dust on the surfaces being covered.

RC Sopwith Camel Workshop Build-along -- RC Airplane Covering Tips

MEK and Poly Tak adhesive are used to attach the fabric to the airframe. MEK is a solvent that’s used to thin the glue as well as clean the brushes.

RC Sopwith Camel Workshop Build-along - RC Airplane Covering Tips

You also need a lot of sharp #11 X-Acto blades. They dull quickly.

RC Sopwith Camel Workshop Build-alone --  RC Airplane Covering Tips

I use bowls with ceramic surfaces for the glue and the MEK. This helps speed the process instead of dipping the brush in the small opening of the glue can.

RC Sopwith Camel Workshop Build-alone --  RC Airplane Covering Tips

I like to start with the tail surfaces and work my way up to larger parts like the fuselage and then the wings. Make sure you have a clean surface to work on.

RC Sopwith Camel Workshop Build-alone --  RC Airplane Covering Tips

I find that quality Sable hair brushes from the craft store work best and last a long time.

RC Sopwith Camel Workshop Build-alone --  RC Airplane Covering Tips

I covered the exact technique of applying Scale Stits fabric in MAN magazine and in my older Balsa USA Fokker Triplane posts. You basically apply the adhesive to the outer edges of the parts you are covering and then lay the cloth in place over it. Start gluing in the center of the part and when the adhesive dries, (in several seconds), start smoothing out the cloth and tack glue it to the outer edges while pulling it slightly to remove the wrinkles. Let the glue dry and move the opposite side of the part and tack the edges there. Continue around the part until it is sealed all along the outer edges.

RC Sopwith Camel Workshop Build-alone --  RC Airplane Covering Tips

Once the material is all glued in place, you can brush the MEK through the cloth to reactivate the adhesive if necessary to remove wrinkles and reposition the fabric.

RC Sopwith Camel Workshop Build-alone --  RC Airplane Covering Tips

Do one side of the part at a time and make sure it is wrinkle free before moving on to the other side. No heat is used at this point to remove wrinkles.

RC Sopwith Camel Workshop Build-alone --  RC Airplane Covering Tips

Once the parts are completely covered, set your covering iron to 225 degree F. and start shrinking the fabric from the center and work you way out to the edges.

RC Sopwith Camel Workshop Build-alone --  RC Airplane Covering Tips

The fuselage is done in the same way. I start on the bottom first so when the sides are covered the seams fall on the bottom surface and are out of sight.

RC Sopwith Camel Workshop Build-along --  RC Airplane Covering Tips

Where there is a large opening, like here at the tail skid post, I first treat the covering where the opening will be cut with a coating of glue and let it dry. This prevents the cloth from fraying when the cloth is cut, before it is applied to the fuselage.

RC Sopwith Camel Workshop Build-alone -- RC Airplane Covering Tips

The front section where the muffler will fit is simply covered over and cut open after the fabric has been applied and tightened into place.

RC Sopwith Camel Workshop Build-alone --  RC Airplane Covering Tips

Here the bottom is covered and the edges are glued and sealed down smooth.

RC Sopwith Camel Workshop Build-alone --  RC Airplane Covering Tips

The same techniques is done for the sides. Start at the tail and work forward applying glue and pulling the wrinkles out.

RC Sopwith Camel Workshop Build-alone --  RC Airplane Covering Tips

I cover over the bottom wing panel mounting faces and shrink the fabric tightly into place so it is wrinkle free when I cut along the panel edges.

RC Sopwith Camel Workshop Build-alone --  RC Airplane Covering Tips

Here you see the wing are and the aft edge of the balsa sheeting is cut through so the fabric can be glued down smoothly into place.

RC Sopwith Camel Workshop Build-alone --  RC Airplane Covering Tips

At the tail the pushrod exit slots are covered over until the cloth is smooth and tightly sealed into place.

RC Sopwith Camel Workshop Build-alone --  RC Airplane Covering Tips

The a small slit is cut in the center of the slots so the pushrod ends can be pushed out through the slots. The final slit length will be determined after the tail surfaces and control horns are in place and the linkages re installed.

RC Sopwith Camel Workshop Build-alone --  RC Airplane Covering Tips

Next the top of the fuselage is covered working from the aft former forward to the cockpit area.

RC Sopwith Camel Workshop Build-alone -- RC Airplane Covering Tips

The cloth is pull tight alone the outer edges and then glued with a 3/8 inch overlap to the sides.

RC Sopwith Camel Workshop Build-alone --  RC Airplane Covering Tips

That completes the fuselage and tail surfaces. Of course the surface takes still have to be added but that comes later when we seal and prepare the model for painting.

Part 21: http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2015/02/06/how-to-cover-wings-with-fabric-sopwith-camel-build-along-part-21/

Updated: February 12, 2016 — 12:53 PM

13 Comments

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  1. Gerry…I’m a Stits lover as well, and I’m about to move on to the fuselage of a project that was put on hold several months ago. I’m having difficulty getting regular MEK from the hardware store…all that available is something called “MEK Substitute.” Do you have any experience with this newer formula? The ingredients seem pretty close.

    1. Hey Jim. thanks for your comment. I have no experience with the substitute, but I would recommend going to the Stits Lite/Scale Stits website and use their “contact US” or just call and ask Chip Mull. the phone number is on the webpage.
      good luck.
      Gerry

    2. Hi Jim;
      There is not much difference between the two of them. MEK Sub is a little bit more environmentally safe. It is under lock and key in aviation and only painters use it. Prep All is a good brand to use also. MEK Sub will do a good job for your needs.
      Hope this helps.

      1. Big help…thanks Eugene.

        1. No problem Eugene. Be sure to check out my video how to also. I go over all the step of covering the aileron for my Sopwith Camel with Scale Stits!
          Cheers
          GY

  2. Excellence as always, Gerry. Do you cut the cloth to a perfect shape with overlaps prior to attaching, or do you cut a rough shape, glue it, and then trim it exactly to shape? Love the DR-1, Really love the Camel, and really enjoying watching it go together. Thanks again.

    1. Thank you Keith. Actually I cut it rough first, and for the wings I use cloth pins to hold it in place. I then apply adhesive (a few inches at a time) around the outer edges. I start at the root and then go to the tip and then centers of the LE and TE. Then I keep doing in between the glued areas until it is all sealed down. Once that is done, I apply more adhesive to the overhanging covering and then trim it to size, (about 1/4 to 3/8 inch wide), I then while the glue is still wet, press it into place. When it is dry, I use a covering iron to really seal it down. Only then do I heat the fabric to shrink it tight. I will add a new post showing this soon.
      GY

  3. Nice article, Gerry…..I have used these products in the past with very good results, however, please mention the health hazards of MEK to the “newbies”. It is highly toxic to the respiratory system and flammable as well.
    Vince Veltri

    1. Hey Vince. you are correct. I always use the material in a well ventilated area and I advise using “Invisible Gloves” Hand cream to protect the skin from the chemicals. Chip Mull at the Stits Lite website sells it. Works great!!!

  4. Hi Gerry,
    Very nice. Just want to mention that there is a latex based system called Stewarts that is really nice and you do not need any solvents. YouTube has a lot of videos on their system and it is for full scale aircraft. You can put the glue down, let it dry and even put the fabric on the next morning. It’s nice. Maybe try it in the future.

    Karl

  5. reminds me of when we would use SILKSPAN as our covering material.

  6. Man, my workbench looks just like yours! Great article, and intend to follow along.

    1. Hey Allen. There are two kinds of model builders, those with messy workbenches, and those who lie! :^)
      GY

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