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Old Nov 18, 2002, 09:56 PM
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Top Flight Covering A Big Disappointment

I'm starting to re-cover my LT-25. I originally covered it with Hobby-Lobby Oracover blue and white. This was my first covering attempt and it came out half way descent. My next project, a Kwik-E, I used Hangar 9 Ultracote white and red. This was a better job and the covering is holding up very nicely. Then I did my E3D. Ultracote transparent blue, tranparent yellow and white left over from the Kwik-e job. I was very satisfied and it was easy to apply and required very little heat to cover.

Then I bought a roll of yellow Econocote, Top Flights answer to low temp covering and a roll of Monocote transparent red. One local hobby store didn't have the Ultracote in the yellow I wanted but had the transparent red and the other didn't have any Utracote transparent red. So I got lazy and bought the Top Flight stuff. BIG MISTAKE.

So I apply a some transparent red to the bottom of my LT and I have to apply a lot of heat to tack the seams. Then I come to shrink it. I get the large iron and put it on about 1/3 heat. No shrinking. I kept upping the temp and finally some shrinkage but I can't get some of the wrinkles out. The Oracover and Ultracote would have be done by now at half the heat. I tried the Econocote and it hardly wants to stick and then it doesn't shring well. So I gave up. I'm going to take this stuff back to the hobby store and even if they can't refund me I'm going to leave it with them.

Kelvin
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Old Nov 18, 2002, 10:16 PM
Been There! Done That!
boomerace's Avatar
Eugene, Oregon, United States
Joined Sep 2001
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Re: Top Flight Covering A Big Disappointment

Quote:
Originally posted by kelvin
I'm starting to re-cover my LT-25. I originally covered it with Hobby-Lobby Oracover blue and white. This was my first covering attempt and it came out half way descent. My next project, a Kwik-E, I used Hangar 9 Ultracote white and red. This was a better job and the covering is holding up very nicely. Then I did my E3D. Ultracote transparent blue, tranparent yellow and white left over from the Kwik-e job. I was very satisfied and it was easy to apply and required very little heat to cover.

Then I bought a roll of yellow Econocote, Top Flights answer to low temp covering and a roll of Monocote transparent red. One local hobby store didn't have the Ultracote in the yellow I wanted but had the transparent red and the other didn't have any Utracote transparent red. So I got lazy and bought the Top Flight stuff. BIG MISTAKE.

So I apply a some transparent red to the bottom of my LT and I have to apply a lot of heat to tack the seams. Then I come to shrink it. I get the large iron and put it on about 1/3 heat. No shrinking. I kept upping the temp and finally some shrinkage but I can't get some of the wrinkles out. The Oracover and Ultracote would have be done by now at half the heat. I tried the Econocote and it hardly wants to stick and then it doesn't shring well. So I gave up. I'm going to take this stuff back to the hobby store and even if they can't refund me I'm going to leave it with them.

Kelvin
I never had much luck getting econocote to shrink without using a heat gun but then no problem! I also found I have to use a little more heat than the instructions say to get it to stick properly but have used it on foam and was able to get a good job without getting the foam hot enough to soften it!
boomer
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Old Nov 18, 2002, 10:35 PM
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That is just how they differ, I doubt the hobby store would take it back. Monokote needs alot of heat and is harder to put on tight curves, but monokote is a lot more shiny than ultracote is. It is especially noticeable on large surfaces. Monokote is also a little stronger.
Ultracote and oracover are the same thing.

The only thing I would use Econokote on is over foam, which it works very well for. Other people use it on wood but its kinda "rubbery" and I just dont like it over open structure.
After tacking, to shrink you really should use a heat gun.

Send the leftover to me if your just gonna leave it
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Old Nov 18, 2002, 11:06 PM
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Kelvin,
I'm confused. You use the wrong technique and then blame the product? Why is that?

All plastic films are different and have their own quirks. That's what happened to you.

I was an early convert to monokote when it came out in the 60's, and I've used it ever since. I've used just about every other brand of covering over the years too.

Yes monokote is heavy (for small planes) and needs the proper techniques to work right, but it adds a tremendous amount of stiffness and strength to a wing.

I've heard reports of monokote shattering, but that's never happened to me. Or anyone in the 2 clubs I belong to. But I think its a real issue.

About shrinking ... BEFORE you start shrinking the part you are covering should already look shrunk. It shoud be tight with no wrinkles or sags. If not, you need to work on your technique. If you use heat to take those things (wrinkles) out, over time they will come back to haunt you. There is a Harry Higley book titled "Tom's Techniques" It will give you a wealth of information and covering tips.

Cue ... Econokote is very similar to the 60's vintage Monokote.


Tom
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Old Nov 18, 2002, 11:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by columbiarcdude

Cue ... Econokote is very similar to the 60's vintage Monokote.


Tom
Glad I wasnt building planes then, I hate that stuff for anything but foam

It does work great on foam though, just lacking color availability.
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Old Nov 18, 2002, 11:21 PM
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LOL ... since the alternative was silkspan/silk and dope ... it was a no brainer.

Tom
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Old Nov 18, 2002, 11:34 PM
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Eugene, Oregon, United States
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Quote:
Originally posted by columbiarcdude
LOL ... since the alternative was silkspan/silk and dope ... it was a no brainer.

Tom
Yea Tom,
But don't ya miss that nice high from doping a plane!? Middle of winter and I'm out on the back porch in 10 below weather dressed like an eskimo apply the stinkin" stuff! God I miss the good old days!
boomer
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Old Nov 18, 2002, 11:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by columbiarcdude
Kelvin,
I'm confused. You use the wrong technique and then blame the product? Why is that?

All plastic films are different and have their own quirks. That's what happened to you.


About shrinking ... BEFORE you start shrinking the part you are covering should already look shrunk. It shoud be tight with no wrinkles or sags.
Tom
I use the same technique as my three covering jobs. I tack the edges down in several points working may way around the surface trying to get the material stretched so there are minimal wrinkles.

Then I seal the edges all around leaving on end open for air to escape.

Then I apply the heat iron and the left over slack is taken out.

It's not possible to get every little wrinke out before shrinking. I get most of them out but slight wrinkles here and there.

With Monokote my trim iron isn't hot enough unless I leave it on a an area longer. I had to turn the heat up on my large iron well past half way and it still had a hard time shrinking. Guess I better get a blow torch.

Here is a link to my Kwik-E thread where I show it covered
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showt...E&pagenumber=6

Here is the link to my E3D page where I start covering it

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showt...&pagenumber=33

These came out well and straight forward. The first 10 minutes with Monokote was pure frustration. As far as I am concerned this product hasn't advanced much since the 60's.

This is a learning experience and you have to pay for your education.

If anyone want this stuff you can have it.

Kelvin
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Old Nov 19, 2002, 12:05 AM
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Monokote works fine, you just have to get used to it and practice. I dont like working with it as much as I do ultracote, but the end results looks much better as the surface is shinier than ultracote ever can be. The working temperatures for Monokote are as follows.

Attaching to Wood: 215 - 240 degrees F (activating the glue)
Partial Shrinkage: 230 - 270 degrees F
Maximum Shrinkage: 270 - 350 degrees F


Now those temps my iron is turned almost all the way up. You are using a covering iron and not a household one right? A trim iron is for only doing trim work or getting into hard to reach areas, not tacking monokote down on a main wing or the similar.

If you absolutely dont want it I will take it
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Last edited by Cue; Nov 19, 2002 at 12:08 AM.
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Old Nov 19, 2002, 07:44 AM
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I've heard a number of horror stories about the newest batches of Monokote. (Over the past 6 months or so.) People have said it's nearly impossible to apply, requires extremely high temps (even for Monokote), and you nearly have to melt it to get it to shrink. (Maybe that's why they're offering deals on the stuff? 7 feet for the price of 6. )

I too have heard of Monokote "shattering". Usually after it's been on a plane for 3 to 4 years or more.

In my book, Ultrakote sems to be the best at the moment. (Of the heavier stuff anyway.)
Dennis
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Old Nov 19, 2002, 08:48 AM
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Sorry about your disappointment with Top Flite (note the spelling) Monokote. As Cue and others have said, different iron-on coverings require different iron or heat gun temperatures and techniques, and it takes practice to get it right.

For the first plane I covered with Monokote, I used my mom's household iron. That plane is still flying today, with the original covering--now 23 years old--on the fuselage.

You might find some helpful tips here: http://www.monokote.com/monoinst1.html

Brian Nixon
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Old Nov 19, 2002, 09:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Brian Nixon
Sorry about your disappointment with Top Flite (note the spelling) Monokote. As Cue and others have said, different iron-on coverings require different iron or heat gun temperatures and techniques, and it takes practice to get it right.

For the first plane I covered with Monokote, I used my mom's household iron. That plane is still flying today, with the original covering--now 23 years old--on the fuselage.

You might find some helpful tips here: http://www.monokote.com/monoinst1.html

Brian Nixon
Thanks for everyone's contributions.

Those instructions are the same that come rolled with the covering. I do have a covering iron and one of the trim irons.
I don't see why they design this Monokote to use such high heats. Maybe because it feels thicker and heavier than the Ultracote. As for the Econocote I'm not going to bother with it either.

I think I will stick to Ultracote or Oracover from now on since it seems to be easier for me to use and so far both the Kwik-e and E3D have come in to the published weights using Ultracote.

Thanks

Kelvin
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Old Nov 19, 2002, 09:50 AM
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I haven't heard of a bad batch of Monokote but it sure sounds like it and is very possible. Good thing I use Nelson Lite Film on all my park flyers I haven't bought any real Monokote in over a year.

I read a thread here recently where folks talked about clubs and how the E-Zone was their club ... if this is true, lots people are missing human contact. For the last 15 years or so one of the groups I'm in has a building class. We do this in the winter. We purchase a complete airplane. Kit, glue, covering, engine, radio ... the works. Then we meet once a week and build the thing. There is usually 5 to 10 novice builders that take advantage of this. They do most of the building. More than once we've had world class scale competitors (It was Bob Underwood, former Technical Director of the AMA. He's a Top Gun, Scale Masters and multiple times was a member of the US FAI Scale Team) demonstrate how to detail a plane. The class is where we teach folks how to build, cover and setup a plane. Similar things can be done here at the E-Zone but posted photos and stuff is not as effective as being there in person face to face.

After the plane is built, we raffle it off.

I've learned lots of stuff here at the E-Zone and consider it a great resource. This is just an observation.

Boomer ... ahh yes the smell of dope drying ... talk about your toxic chemicals ... it's worse than the nitrocelulose glues we had to use back then.

Quote:
It's not possible to get every little wrinke out before shrinking. I get most of them out but slight wrinkles here and there.
Yes it is possible. I do it all the time. You're not using the proper technique. Someone needs to show you how to do it. If you lived closer I'd show you myself.

Or like I said before, get the Harry Higley book titled "Tom's Techniques" It will give you a wealth of information and covering tips.

Tom
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Old Nov 19, 2002, 10:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by columbiarcdude


Yes it is possible. I do it all the time. You're not using the proper technique. Someone needs to show you how to do it. If you lived closer I'd show you myself.

Or like I said before, get the Harry Higley book titled "Tom's Techniques" It will give you a wealth of information and covering tips.

Tom
I think I have his second book, it shows more advance techinques like covering a cowl with one piece of covering. I've tried to get his first book but no one has it locally.

I know I still have a lot to learn about covering and my techniqes are getting better but I figured if I was having so much trouble putting on Monokote on a flat fuselage surface with large lightening holes in it, putting Monokote on a wing whould be more difficult.

I know I can do a good job with the right material. Here is an example.

Thanks

Kelvin
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Old Nov 19, 2002, 11:40 AM
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I've used Monokote, Ultracoat, Econocoat, Oracover, Mica Film, Reynolds Wrap, and probably a few others. Thinking that one covering can be substituted for another is flawed logic. Each has its uses in a particular application. For example, Econocoat is a bear to work with but does a good job of covering foam as Boomer and Cue noted. Reynolds wrap is great on indoor models, but you'd be a fool to cover an E3D with it (now watch, someone is going to do just that to spite me).

From my experience and what I've read on the Ezone, it seems that Ultracoat/Oracover is the way to go on open frame parkflyer type models. The weight penalty of Monocoat and Econocoat do not justify the added strength and appearance. Which brings me to my next point. Does anyone have any confirmed data on strengths or puncture resistance of these different coverings? It would be interesting to have a strength-to-weight comparison for them. Of course, covering technique and amount of shrink will probably affect those numbers.

As for having to turn the iron all the way past half, well, they make that 100% point for a reason! Utracoat and Oracover are Low Temperature films, Monocoat and Econocoat are not, simple as that. If you've found that these materials do not suit you current needs, then great! You learned a valuable piece of information for yourself. But don't totally write them off as some project down the road may benefit from the color selection or nicer finish. Or you might want to cover a foam wing at some point that would benefit from Econocoat. If you do get to that point, a heat gun will help greatly in shrinking these higher temperature coverings.
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