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Jazz up your covering scheme!

Jazz up your covering scheme!

Here’s how to add a checkerboard design to an already existing color scheme. I used the E-flite Shoestring and UltraCote covering. Because we are using heat shrink covering, this technique can be applied to any balsa covered ARF you have. This is especially useful for club events, such as fun-flys, club 40 racing, or in this case, NMPRA (National Miniature Pylon Racing Association) EF1 racing, where the same plane is required for a contest.

I started by making a template of the area I wanted to enhance. In this case, I wanted to fill in the yellow area on the wing with an orange checkerboard. My templates were cut from card stock, and once I made my master template, I copied this onto two other templates and cut them out.

Jazz up your covering scheme!

I took one of the templates and created a new checkerboard design on it. In this case, I followed the left-hand curve by using one of the other templates and moved it over roughly an inch and a half to the right each time. Then, I used the right curved part of the template and started on the right side, moving it the same way in the opposite direction—this creates the checkerboard design.

Jazz up your covering scheme!

I used the template with the checkerboard design on it, and I followed all the lines going in one direction with a no. 11 hobby blade. This made strips so that I could transfer onto one of the other blank templates. After transferring that set of rows onto the second template, I taped up the first template (the one with the checkerboard design) with clear tape so I could then cut all of the other lines in order to create a second set of rows going in the opposite direction.

Jazz up your covering scheme!
Jazz up your covering scheme!

The second template will have all the rows in this direction, which will end up being our first cuts onto the orange UltraCote. Notice the numbers on the pattern pieces in order to keep them organized. The third template will have all the rows in the opposite direction, so that when they are combined onto the orange UltraCote they form a checkerboard design.

Jazz up your covering scheme!

I laid down a piece of glass that was large enough for the UltraCote piece that is needed to cover the design. I sprayed the glass with some window cleaner and then removed the backing off the covering and laid it down onto the wet piece of glass. I rubbed out all the air bubbles from underneath the UltraCote so that it stuck firmly to the piece of glass.

Jazz up your covering scheme!

Using the second template, I cut out all the rows going in one direction on the covering material, which you can see is already done in the photo. Then I used the third template to cut out all of the rows going in the opposite direction. This formed the checkerboard pattern.

Jazz up your covering scheme!

When all of the cuts were made, I started pulling out the opposite diamonds to form my checkerboard pattern. I made sure to hold down all the squares that surrounded the one I was pulling out in order to make sure that I had complete cuts through the UltraCote. I did not want to pull up any extra squares that shouldn’t have come up.

Jazz up your covering scheme!

Then, I pulled off a piece of multi-purpose sealing wrap to lay down over the checkerboard. I pressed down on all of the triangles so that they stuck to the sealing wrap. This allowed me to pull them up o the glass without disrupting the design.

Jazz up your covering scheme!

I then laid the checkerboard pattern design down on the wing and centered the whole thing.

Jazz up your covering scheme!

I set my heating iron to one of its lowest settings and lightly went around pressing it on each of the orange UltraCote triangles in order to stick them in place on the wing.

Jazz up your covering scheme!

Next, I adjusted my heating iron to a higher setting that allowed the pieces of the UltraCote covering to stick down firmly without shrinking them. After slowly peeling back the sealing wrap, I applied the heat iron to each of the orange checkerboard diamonds. Be sure to remove the sealing wrap slowly to avoid pulling up any of the checkerboard diamonds. When the sealing wrap was removed, I went back over the entire checkerboard with the iron to get a firm adhesion.

Jazz up your covering scheme!

Here I followed the line of the aileron and cut through all of the checkerboard diamonds that spanned over the opening. I then sealed down the excess covering for a clean finish on that control surface.

Jazz up your covering scheme!

To finish off the design, I used ⅛-inch trim tape around the outside of the checkerboard to give it a cleaner and more polished look.


Updated: August 14, 2015 — 10:52 AM
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Add a Comment
  1. Great article John,
    The sealing wrap you mention. Who makes it and where can I purchase it?
    Thanks Dennis

  2. You mentioned “multi-purpose sealing wrap” in the article. I’m not familiar with this product. Do you have a brand name for the wrap?

    1. It’s Glad “Press N’ Seal” plastic wrap. There is a YouTube video that demonstrates the whole process.

    2. press-n-seal wrap

  3. I ALWAYS get air bubbles when put another layer of Monokote on top of an existing one and often ripples in the adjacent areas to the overlay. I’ve asked others even more senior to me in the hobby (I’ve been building for 40 years) and they say it happens to them too. I don’t see anywhere in this story on how to avoid that, so to me this story is inadequate

    1. Use a lower temperature covering. They all have a temperature that sets the adhesive. Some lower than others. Hope this helps.

  4. Hi Cobra, I think that you are using too hot an iron setting. Anytime you are laying one layer on top of another, you need to find the absolute lowest setting that will cause the top layer to stick without shrinking, and in the first go around just enough to SEEM like it has stuck down, that is how you get the air bubbles out. Then increase the heat just a small amount and just rub the very edges of the top layer, checking after it has cooled a bit to see if it will peel up, if so increase the heat just a bit more. Lots of trial and error here.

  5. Cobra,

    Maybe you are using too much heat when applying the second layer of Monokote. The Monokote will stick at a temperature much lower than the temperature used to shrink it. The box that the Black Barron iron comes in gives a chart showing temperature ranges for applying various types of covering materials and states that for applying Monokote to wood, the temperature of the iron should be between 215 and 240 degrees. You might try an experiment with applying monokote to another layer of monokote using 215 degrees and seeing if you still have the same problem.

    1. Hi Bob, the name of the sealing wrap is Press N Seal. Cobra, you see in the article that I mention to use the lowest setting on your iron when first sealing the covering down, that is to prevent bubbles from appearing underneath the covering. You’ve also want to make sure that you work your iron in one direction or from the center out, to prevent bubbles from forming.

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