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Painting Fabric Covered Models

Painting Fabric Covered Models

When it comes to producing a smooth paint job over fabric covered RC models, the best and quickest paint to use is Poly Tone and it’s various finishing and coating products. Available from F&M Enterprises, all the products are formulated to work with each other and they are extremely easy to use.

RC Workshop Build-Along -- Sopwith Camel Painting

I use a HVLP (High volume, low pressure) paint gun as it produces much less over-spray and provides a wide range of control for the amount of paint and air being mixed and applied to the model.

The first step is to apply  the Poly Brush sealer coat to the fabric covering. You can use a brush or spray it and it takes between 2 and 4 coats to provide a smooth base for your paint job. The more coats you use, the smoother your finish will be.

Next comes the Poly Spray Silver undercoat. It is very heavily pigmented with aluminum powder and needs to be completely mixed and reduced before spraying with the gun. it is best to use a wood dowel to mix up the settled pigment from the bottom of the can.

RC Workshop Build-Along -- Sopwith Camel Painting

Here’s the fuselage with two coats of silver applied. The tail surfaces and the wings are next.

RC Workshop Build-Along -- Sopwith Camel Painting

Here are the tail surfaces with silver undercoat, hung up to dry between coats.

RC Workshop Build-Along -- Sopwith Camel Painting

For the larger surfaces I shoot them with paint while horizontal blocked up on my work/paint table. I go over all the edges first and then apply paint to the rib tapes. I then fill in one coat with span-wise coats followed by chord-wise coats. I apply two coats of each color with about an hour drying time between each application.

RC Workshop Build-Along -- Sopwith Camel Painting

Here’s the light underside buff tan color applied to the wing panels.

RC Workshop Build-Along -- Sopwith Camel Painting

RC Workshop Build-Along -- Sopwith Camel Painting

Same technique goes for all the other surfaces, the stabilizer and elevators, rudder, fin and all four ailerons. Also the tan color is applied to the fuselage bottom surface.

RC Workshop Build-Along -- Sopwith Camel Painting

I let the first color dry over night and then I add the top surface color. In this case the vintage Sopwith brown color, which is I think more attractive than the olive green color you see so much used on Sopwith airplanes.

It is always important to have ventilation and here’s my “at hock” setup. It works great in keeping the over-spray and fumes from building up in my basement!

RC Workshop Build-Along -- Sopwith Camel Painting

RC Workshop Build-Along -- Sopwith Camel Painting

For the fin and rudder, I used Juneau white which is a slightly darker white, or a very light shade of gray. In fact, one of the reasons I love using the Poly Tone brand of paint is that it has a fantastic shelf life, if you seal the cans properly. I bought this white paint for a Stearman project I did back in 1996! 19 years ago!

So here it is, all the cloth covered surfaces have been sealed and painted. I think the brown is a striking color for the Camel and will be very attractive when the graphics and decals are applied

RC Workshop Build-Along -- Sopwith Camel Painting

Here are a could of photos of a Camel with the brown base color paint scheme.

RC Workshop Build-Along -- Sopwith Camel Painting

Complete Camel ready to fly.






Add a Comment
  1. Have you experienced any radio problems with the silver poly spray?

  2. Great job, and great aeroplane. Oh, in South Africa aeroplane is spelled like this…….not airplane.

  3. Great stuff..Thanks for posting.

  4. You failed to mention what safety precautions you took to protect your lungs. The fan is virtually useless and the last place to paint would be an enclosed basement. I know, you opened a window. Not a good example for new modelers.

  5. I think we should write him up for not posting a 10 paragraph disclaimer, MSDS safety sheet for each and every product he used in this article, white papers for every process, and a list of required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) along with at least five listings each of where to purchase them.

    Geez… what was he thinking? Modelers are idiots and need to be protected from themselves at all times!

  6. As one who also spray paints my models, I have to agree with what
    Bob Barth has to say about spay painting in a basement, not good to do that.

  7. Question: why use the aluminum filler/primer? Won’t regular automotive primer work as well? Thanks

    1. It’s a practice used for a long time now to protect the underlying fabric from the effects of ultraviolet radiation deteriorating the fabric. It’s usually used on full sized aircraft that are subjected to sitting out in the sun for long periods of time. Is it needed on a model? Probably not. Will it hurt? Probably not.

  8. @Art automotive filler primer does not have the flexibility needed with fabric, it will spiderweb crack in time

  9. Would this same process be used for epoxy covered fiberglass clothe?

  10. No sanding between coats? No mention of it.

  11. Your “subscribe and save” almost completely covers the article and is difficult, if not impossible to remove. Bad form!

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