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Old Apr 10, 2015, 01:02 PM
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Solartex Covering

Hi folks,
Thinking about trying solartex covering. It seems to be really popular in the UK for larger vintage models. Wonder how it compares to products offered here in the states by Coverite? I have used the old super coverite iron on fabric on some scale ships but recall that it seemed really heavy.

Any shared experience with solartex, especially as it compares to other products, would be most appreciated.
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Old Apr 10, 2015, 01:48 PM
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Hi Pulse,
Yes it is popular here in the UK.
Easy to use and it gives a great finish - I've used it for years and have never been disappointed.

The information below is straight off the Solarfilm web site - www.solarfilm.co.uk
Hope it helps.

SOLARTEX
Iron on self adhesive fabric. A very strong covering material. Weight 85-98 g.s.m.

FEATURES
Very easy to apply. Much stronger than films but heavier. Has a matt surface which is already fuelproofed by a coat of resin. Easily cleaned with soapy water to remove dirt or oil. apply Clearcoat to make glossy or protect from soiling.

MODEL TYPE
Large models. Old timer and vintage models. Medium and large models with open frame construction. Scale models of fabric covered aircraft

APPLICATION
Iron on. Can be painted with Clearcoat.(to add gloss) and with Solarlac. Can be trimmedbuy ironing on pieces of Solartex. Solartrim does not stick properly to Solartex. Do NOT use varnish or polyurethane type fuelproofers or dope or car cellulose on Solartex.

SIZES
Rolls 2 metre and 10metre by 0.68m wide.

GENERAL
The strongest and toughest covering.

Dave.
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Old Apr 10, 2015, 04:10 PM
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I used it on my Antic Bipe project (click here) for the first time. It was a joy to use, easy, looks good, etc. I clear-coated part of the fuselage (here) to seal in the decals - the rest I left alone. Have to confess though, that project was several years ago and hasn't flown yet - so I don't know how well the fabric is going to hold up without painting.

My only previous fabric experience was with Coverite 21st Century fabric on a BUSA Taube. Looked great new - after a year or so it got horribly baggy like the glue let go everywhere (I used Balsarite on the perimeter of the wing and tail surfaces too). That was in the mid 90s so things might have changed, or I might have just not handled the material properly. Except for that the 21st Century stuff really looked good.
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Old Apr 11, 2015, 01:03 AM
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Don't have any doubts about using Solartex. It's dead easy to use and to get excellent results.
I covered my Majestic Major in Solartex, in 1988, and the covering is as good today as when I applied it.
The photo is a still from one of my videos. There's a 25-year interval between the two plane shots. The Solartex hasn't changed at all. Unfortunately, the same can't be said about the ol' man...
The bottom line is that, based on my limited experience, Solartex simply lasts "a lifetime"... The plane in the photos has been crashed several times
Not only did the covering remain undamaged, I think it also protected the rest of the airframe.
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Old Apr 11, 2015, 01:48 AM
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I have used Coverite on my large Blériot and Demoiselle and in my experience I feel that Coverite is more supple than Solartex but I had to start using Solartex since I could no longer find it here in modelshops. To me they are two different materials and not saying that Solartex is no good but if I have the choice for covering a pioneer airplane I go for Coverite. Another thing to mention is the 'antique' colour of both makes, Coverite is rather darkish beige where Solartex is lighter yellowish in colour so : what is the correct antique colour... ? Btw : is Coverite still for sale in Europe ?
ps : the colour on that pic is correct but that summer some years ago it was so dry here that all grass simply turned brown !
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Old Apr 11, 2015, 03:40 AM
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I have used solartex for years and its very good.

Very easy to apply and get round compound curves etc. Doesn't burn or overstretch.

I wouldn't use it for models below 60 inch span but anything larger is fine.

I seal the weave with a varnish applied with a sponge to give it a shine and make it easier to clean.
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Old Apr 11, 2015, 08:02 AM
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The bold face type makes it pretty clear: no polyurethane, no dope, no acrylic lacquer. That's a surprise to me. For color trim and fuel proofing, what are the options?

I'm old enough to have grown up with silk and dope, then coverite and dope, and now Koverall and dope/urethane. I had wanted to try solartex on a WWI bipe, but now I'm not so sure.

Jim
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Old Apr 11, 2015, 08:47 AM
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I used Linen Solartex on my J60. It's great to work with and quite easy to apply around curves. It's already fuel proofed so you only need to worry about proofing the wood under the covering (engine bay etc.) and around the seams. It stuck very well on the undercamber with no extra adhesive required.

I used black Solartex for the trim but the instructions on the Solarfilm website tell you how to apply a painted finish for colour trim etc.

For Linen Solartex, use a sock on your iron or the weave might strip some of the covering off the bottom of the iron.

Look under the Quick Instruction Links, Solartex Page 2 Instructions.

http://www.solarfilm.co.uk/default.aspx
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Old Apr 11, 2015, 11:07 AM
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My experience with Solartex

First of all I don't have first hand experience with Coverite. Some guys in our club have planes they covered with it that I quite like. A couple that come to mind are a Super Cub and Clipped Wing Cub that if memory serves are in the 80" wing span area. It looks more supple and has more of a satin painted visual feel to it than Solartex. For more modern airplanes I like it.

My experience is pretty much limited to Monokote (want to buy some unopened rolls - ), Ultracote (my favorite plastic film), and Solartex. I weigh my uncovered wings, fuse and tail now days, before and after covering, noting the weights. I can't compare apples to apples because I would have to have two identical builds covered with each. However, my somewhat educated guess is my Solartex covered builds weigh about 35-40% more with Solartex. So, on a 72" wingspan covered model that I have found to weigh about 8oz covered in Solar text might weigh about 5oz covered in Ultracote. On a 43oz completed air plane loaded and ready to fly I might have saved 3-3.5oz covering with Ultracote. Keep in mind this is using translucent covering in both instances, which is lighter than opaque.

I have used Solartex on a number of slope gliders. What I have found in comparing flying on the slope with identical Ridge Runner slope wings (see picture) where mine is covered in Solartex and a companion pilot's is covered in Ultracote. Mine will always fly slightly faster and higher covered in Solartex. This has been tested and proven with multiple wings. I can only attribute this to the fabric weave creating a better airflow along the wing. The gliders weigh nearly exactly the same and in fact I have built them both ways for myself and a friend so both were my builds.

Many foam formed slope gliders are covered with Solartex because it can practically be stretched around a tennis ball. It also covers well on foam with just a dusting of 3M 77 allowed to dry on the foam and then covered and ironed down. Many large scale areo tows are covered with Solartex. It is easy to cover, strong and looks authentic. It can be painted. I just looked a wonderful WWI scale fighter covered and painted by a club member. He just finished it and brought it to us to look at after breakfast this morning.

Balsa USA is the main US provider I believe. It is not particularly inexpensive. Shipping adds a fair amount to the cost and I wish it were available in hobby shops that can adsorb some shipping costs by the large size of their orders. I visited with the folks from Balsa USA at the Weak Signals Toledo show, where they have a booth, about sealing the covering. I never have! They told me not to seal it if I am building electric and don't plan to fly it where it will get dirty from landings and such, i.e. desert. I just use a lightly wet cloth with a tiny bit of dish soap to take of marks if necessary. If you are sealing it, they recommend clear Minwax Polycrylic available form a home building store. It is made with water and evaporates most of the weight off. I recommend if you plan to use gas you ask Balsa USA how they would protect for that.

Solartex is painted while in the making of the product. The weave is airtight so you do not need to seal it. The paint doesn't feel like it is sitting on the top of the covering like some.

Conclusion: I like the looks of many coverings. I just purchased but not tried several rolls of Hobby King transparent film (what a bargain cost wise)! If I am building with the goal to make a floater either as a full out glider or a competitive vintage/old timer I use Ultracote and sometimes Ultracote light. If my goal is to make a plane that I want strength in covering, looks "somewhat more" vintage, or I anticipate will be difficult to cover with compound/complex curves I will elect to use Solartex.

Pictured below: Ridge Runner (slope wing), RC-1, 84" wingspan, Yogi, Kloud King, 66" wingspan, A pair of Slope Monkeys.

I hope this helps. Cheers, Larry
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Last edited by LWeller; Apr 12, 2015 at 06:33 AM. Reason: Correction:my slope wing flies faster with Solartex-not Ultracote
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Old Apr 11, 2015, 11:19 AM
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To clear confusion above, I mean the Solartex covering weigh 35-40% more than Ultracote covering...NOT that the total plane weighs that much more. In this example the net weight difference might be 3-3.5 ounces. Sorry. :-(
L.
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Last edited by LWeller; Apr 11, 2015 at 11:23 AM. Reason: Not written clearly
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Old Apr 11, 2015, 11:19 AM
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The instructions on the Solartex website tell you not to use dope, varnish or polyurethane type fuelproofers or car cellulose on the covering.
Well, I've used all of these with no detrimental effects whatsoever.
My Junior 60, photographed in the recent J60 thread is covered in 'vintage yellow' Solartex, followed by two or three coats of dope. The sunburst was masked and sprayed with a car 'rattle can' then protected with two coats of polyurethane varnish. Done about ten years ago and still looks great.
The 'vintage' colours look especially good on 'old timer' models as they are translucent. In fact doping them increases the translucency to good effect.
On electric models I don't bother with the varnish, just doping the Solartex stops it from attracting dirt.
Graham
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Old Apr 11, 2015, 12:35 PM
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All of these were covered in Solartex and flew well.
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Old Apr 11, 2015, 01:05 PM
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You guys are great. The variety of information and experience that are being shared are most appreciated, and I hope others will benefit from this thread. It seems I have tapped into another treasure along with my recent "discovery" (don't laugh) of the Junior 60.

I am particularly encouraged by the reports of the solartex staying taught over time. I do wonder why they tell you not to dope it. Enjoy seeing the pictures of all the beautiful models too....
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Old Apr 12, 2015, 06:46 PM
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I have six models currently in flying condition that are Solartex covered. Two are gliders the others are electric powered vintage/sport.
I find Solartex easier to apply than any of the film coverings I've used but I've no experience of Coverite. It's also a lot easier to use than doped fabric & just as hard wearing. Although it shrinks tight enough it always remains a little more flexible than doped fabric (See comment on Veron Deacon). I've learned that it's best to use as low a temp as necessary during the initial cover phase, only increasing the temp for compound curves & the final shrink stage. Likewise adding decor using offcuts needs to be done with a low temp. I never use any extra adhesive (e.g. Balsaloc) even for overlaps or decor etc.

The oldest, a Junior 60, was built in 1986. Originaly glow powered & flown regularly until stored in the attic around 2004. I carried out a complete re-furb in 2012/3 including recovering again with Solartex & converting to electric power.

The Magnatilla was also originaly glow powered, built about 1990 then converted to electric in 2008. Still dressed the original Solartex outfit.

The Veron Robot built in 2003 for diesel then glow power until conversion to electric in 2006. Original Solartex still in good nick. Although the Robot's only 45" span Solartex has proved to be a completely suitable covering material.

Finaly the Veron Deacon, I started the build planning to use a Marown Snipe 1.5 diesel but completed it with an electric power combo.
This was the only model that has had any problems as a result of the Solartex. The wings are of light construction probably designed to be stiffened up by doped tissue or light silk/nylon. When it's shrunk tight Solartex remains more flexible than any of these materials. This has resulted in the Deacon wings being less rigid than I would have liked. I did attempt to solve the issue with a coat of dope but appart from some unsightly "blushing" this had little, if any, effect. Probably due to the model's overall light weight & slow speed the flexibility hasn't had any effect on the flying behaviour, in fact on occasion I've looped & rolled the model with no problem.

BTW all the models' trim & decoration are from Solartex scraps except for a little matching yellow acrylic paint around the nose of the Robot & "Jnr 60" on Junior's fuselage sides.
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Old Apr 12, 2015, 10:05 PM
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Each to his own. I once bought the stuff trying for fabric scale
Welll to begin with the stuff is Really Heavy .
Far worse: when on the model.. the fabric texture is out of scale .
The real life equivalent would be Sackcloth.
Find a real airplane covered in Heavy Burlap .. then the Solartex would be scale/apprpriate.
There are Many functionally superior coverings.. IMO solartex ain't one of them.
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