Good fabric look covering for smaller planes? - RC Groups
Thread Tools
Jul 09, 2012, 01:32 AM
Registered User

Good fabric look covering for smaller planes?

Have a couple kits I plan on getting soon that I'd like to do a fabric look covering on (the 1/8 scale Jim Young Waco YMF and the 1/8 scale Tritle Super Cub) - I've used Solartex before years ago on a Sig Astro Hog but I know it's way to heavy for electric models of this size. What's a good alternative? I want an iron on heat shrink covering, as I have no desire to mess with tissue/silk and dope. I've heard polyspan may be a good choice, though requires the adhesive to be brushed to the frame? Is it possible to fake a fabric and paint finish by painting plastic covering?
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Jul 09, 2012, 04:43 AM
Registered User
DeeBee1's Avatar
The first time I used a covering that didn't have an adhesive backing I was quite apprehensive, but it's actually really easy to apply the adhesive to the frame (just brush a thin coat on with a bit of sponge and wait a few minutes for it to dry).

I was pleased with the results (I was using Litespan).
Jul 09, 2012, 09:16 AM
Registered User
rcav8r2's Avatar
+1 on what DeeBee1 said... Although I find the plastic coverings easier to work with, when I want that textured look, I'll use Litespan (the purest may not find it suitable as fabric covering, but I do ) I am not the most skilled when it comes to covering, but even I can get a wrinkle free covering job with Litespan.
Jul 09, 2012, 09:35 AM
Registered User
How about silk? I remember the name litespan but I dont remember what it is, can you refresh my memory?
Jul 09, 2012, 09:56 AM
Registered User
rcav8r2's Avatar
Originally Posted by edwin1
I remember the name litespan but I dont remember what it is, can you refresh my memory?
or (Won't allow link to page, but pick LiteSpan from product list on left....
Jul 09, 2012, 11:46 AM
Visitor from Reality
Might want to wander up to the vintage and old-timer forum - there's a lot of info on there concerning covering small models using Mylar or 'Doculam' (commercial name) and then applying tissue over the top of the clear plastic covering. I

t has been done successfully with clear water-based polyurethane varnishes - ie, non-smelly stuff as well as with 'dope' - though that stuff is stinky, needs stinky thinners and brush cleaners.

Litespan stuck on with 'Balsaloc' is not stinky, pretty light and doesn't shrink enough to distort small, light models. It doesn't shrink much, so is not too bright on complicated shapes of wings and so on - you have to plan ahead and often cover models in smaller, seperate pieces with Litespan. It also tends to puncture easy - hint - don't lean over your model with your sunglasses stuck in your hair, if applicable

Have covered a fair number of models in Litespan, several Andy Clancy Lazy Bees were the largest. There's a few tricks that apply to this stuff, let us know if you go that way.

Hope that helps

Jul 09, 2012, 11:50 AM
Registered User
LesUyeda's Avatar
"How about silk?"

Fantastic, look; nothing else even comes close to it, BUT, lots and lots of work and practice, and it ain't cheap anymore.

Jul 09, 2012, 12:47 PM
Registered User
Thanks for the tips - I'll look into the Litespan but hearing that it's easy to puncture worries me a bit! Is Litespan the same as Polyspan?
There are just some planes I think would look good with a more satin finish vs. the super glossiness of plastic film.
Jul 09, 2012, 01:45 PM
Registered User
rcav8r2's Avatar
Puncture resistance is a bit subjective, but I don't find it any less puncture resistant than light plastic covering or others similar to it.
I believe one side is satin, the other gloss. I always leave the satin side out, so I can't say how glossy the glossy side is.
Jul 09, 2012, 06:48 PM
B for Bruce
BMatthews's Avatar
If you apply a couple of coats of Balsarite to the edges of the frame and any overlapping joints as you go then once the Balsarite dries, it doesn't take long, it becomes an iron on adhesive.

So all you need to do is find a light fabric like silk or Rayon or Dacron which can be shrunk with moisture or some heat.

Yes brushing on the Balsarite around the edges of each covering area is another step. But it's not that big a deal.
Jul 09, 2012, 09:16 PM
AMA 937634
Stone1295's Avatar
I can't get Balsarite here so (flammable and can't be shipped via an airplane) so I'm using CoverLite and a glue stick.

The technique is to run a glue stick around the piece that you're working on that you want the film to tack to and then let it dry for a few minutes. After drying there will still be a bit of tack left so you can stretch your film around and have it hold in position while you grab your iron. Use your iron as normal and basically melt the glue into the fabric, stretching and pulling as you go.

I've been looking for alternatives to the glue stick and folks have mentioned hair spray but I haven't tried that yet.

Jul 10, 2012, 02:34 AM
Registered User
Anyone tried Doculam? Reading through a thread right now on it and it sounds killer, you just have to paint it since it's clear. Supposed to take paint well, even look like painted fabric when finished, and people have even put on tissue over the top. It's dirt cheap so maybe I'll just get a big (500'!!) roll and try it out.
Jul 10, 2012, 09:18 AM
Registered User
I got the best results when I painted Doculam with latex spray (Valspar) paint. You can paint it with other paints, but it will lift when masked, even with low-tack paint. The Valspar is the ONLY paint I've used that doesn't lift, and it does require several days (up to a week in humid NJ) to cure before it won't lift.

Another point to remember with Doculam is that it's very hard to patch. You'll have to clean the paint off the damaged area, then try to get the spray to match.

Good part about Valspar (and, I understand, other spray latex paints) is that you can get satin and gloss finishes. Satin looks much more realistic on scale ships.

Jul 14, 2012, 05:40 AM
Tally Ho Chaps!
Chompwat's Avatar
Originally Posted by Stone1295
I can't get Balsarite here so (flammable and can't be shipped via an airplane) so I'm using CoverLite and a glue stick.
Balsaloc does the same job and is water based.
Jul 14, 2012, 10:41 AM
Just call me crash for short
Quick61's Avatar
If your looking for a cloth type covering that is easy to use, take a look at Skyloft - The pdf there is the directions for using it. Nice product and a good bang for the buck... I use PolyC instead of dope, works great.


Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Article Matte Varnish: Making Shiny Plastic Covering Look More Like Fabric Covering Michael Heer The Builders Workshop 24 Nov 16, 2015 11:21 AM
Poll Does Paint or Vinyl look better on Fabric Covering Vapor Trails Painting and Finishing Tips 19 Oct 22, 2013 10:45 AM
Discussion Smaller ARFs Made From Balsa, Ply, & Covering roo_ster Electric Plane Talk 19 Jul 05, 2012 10:39 PM
Wanted I need a wing for the Great Planes fabric covered Cub ARF CubLover82 Aircraft - Fuel - Airplanes (FS/W) 2 Nov 04, 2010 05:40 PM
Discussion Fabric covering for small planes? Mr. Wiz Electric Plane Talk 5 Mar 12, 2009 04:21 PM