Thread: Mini-HowTo For the Solite challenged...
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Old Jul 21, 2002, 11:54 PM
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Kamloops, BC, Canada
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For the Solite challenged...

Hi gang!

I keep noticing, in various threads, people having problems with Solite (Nelson Litefilm). Personally, I love it and have it go on quick and easy, but only with specific technique. Here's a copy of a post I made in a Wing-E thread so that all of you can see it in a thread of its own. Enjoy!

Yes, Solite and Litefilm are the one and the same. The only difference I've noticed is the instructions that come with them are slightly different.

I'll try to explain my technique with this stuff. Unfortunately the camera battery is dead so I can't take any pictures, but I'll take some at a later date for future reference.

Let's take my Wing-E and let's use one of the transparent blue sections for an example. I did the transparent blue first, but it really doesn't matter which one I talk about as they're all virtually identical. I make sure I have one straight edge of covering, and I use that for the inboard rib edge. That is, I use it for the edge that will fold down onto a mid-wing rib and where the white will overlap. I cut out enough for about an inch to two inches overhang. This may seem excessive, but I like having some to hang onto.

As you cut it (sharp/new #11 or razor blade) from the covering roll, it will naturally be on it's back. That is, the covering's shiny side will be down, backing up. Either tear a corner or use scotch tape to get the backing off, making sure the covering stays FLAT on your building board. If it lifts, even a little, it can double back on itself very easily. Peel the backing back using your free hand to flatten the covering. When it's all of, you're left with the bare covering sitting shiny side down just next to your wing. Roughly line up the straight edge with where it will be on the Wing-E rib. I don't mean to place the plane on top of the covering, but instead to put it next to it. It's as if you had peeled the covering off the wing and layed it shiny side down above the wing on the board. I hope that makes sense.

Grab the covering by the edge furthest away from the Wing-E and pull it down over the wing. Initially, it takes some getting used to to get the idea as to how much to lift it up without either sticking to itself or pulling right off the board. If, at any point during this transition, the entire chunk of covering leaves the board, consider yourself hooped. If you can salvage large pieces, do it, but otherwise the static cling takes hold. Pull the edge down over the wing until it's past the trailing edge of the wing the approximate inch or two for the overhang you cut. Don't worry about 100% perfect alignment, as you can still adjust it, even if this is over another layer of solite. Keeping things straight and only pulling on a corner to adjust the covering makes sliding it into position dead simple.

Iron down the straight edge, as that's the edge you're aligning, and at that point you can carefully lift the Wing-E from the board. Keep it flat and watch for the overhang to grab itself. Prevent that if you can, but if it does happen, it's not a biggie, as it's just the overhang. Pull the side opposite the straight edge taught and iron it down in the center, then work to either outside corner. Work your way along the leading and trailing edges, but do NOT try desperately to iron out wrinkles, as you'll likely just make them permanent fold lines. All of my tacking and ironing is done at a bare minumum of temperatures. My iron ranges from off to 1 to 4 for settings, with a variable knob for all settings in between. Solite likes "1" on my old tower iron. Don't worry about shrinking it with the iron, as that's where the heat gun comes in. Once all edges are tacked, worry about the spots where perhaps you had a wrinkle that made it to the edge. Using your heatgun sparingly work the wrinkle while pulling the overhang down to hold your tackline along the edge. Turn the wing over on the board, and trim the overhang. Iron all that stuff down as you see fit and you're ready to do the other side of the wing.

Note that I haven't yet shrunk the main mass of covering in between all the edges.

Cover the opposite side of the wing. Eg, if you just covered the bottom of the left wing, now cover the top of the left wing. Once you've covered the other side via the same technique and trimmed and ironed down the edges, you're ready to shrink.

Fire up the heatgun! Work quickly from end to end, and try to avoid the areas where different colors of covering come together. Do NOT hold the heatgun over one spot closer than 3 inches or longer than a few seconds, or you'll be swearing at me and patching a hole. The solite shrinks better than any other covering I've ever used, so rest assured even the most nasty wrinkles and excesses of covering will probably come out.

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