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.
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.
You also need a lot of sharp #11 X-Acto blades. They dull quickly.
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.
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.
I find that quality Sable hair brushes from the craft store work best and last a long time.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here the bottom is covered and the edges are glued and sealed down smooth.
The same techniques is done for the sides. Start at the tail and work forward applying glue and pulling the wrinkles out.
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.
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.
At the tail the pushrod exit slots are covered over until the cloth is smooth and tightly sealed into place.
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.
Next the top of the fuselage is covered working from the aft former forward to the cockpit area.
The cloth is pull tight alone the outer edges and then glued with a 3/8 inch overlap to the sides.
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.