Reparing a Balsa Wing. Point me in the right direction! - RC Groups
Shop our Airplanes Products Drone Products Sales
Thread Tools
Apr 29, 2004, 04:21 PM
Hooper, full throttle!
Tommy D's Avatar

Reparing a Balsa Wing. Point me in the right direction!

This is a repost from the Beginners section. I thought perhaps more skilled modelers here might be better suited to help me.


I just picked up a Wattage Eindecker kit off Ebay. I wanted one for a ďspareĒ in the event I crashed my existing Eindecker. Ok, thatís not completely true I guess I just love Eindeckers!

Anyway both wings suffered damage in transit. Looking at the buyers record I think there going to tell me ďno insuranceÖ. no refundĒ. So how do I go about repairing this bird?

I have always loved the fellow whom stripped his Eindecker of the red and replaced it with more mellow < pale yellow? > Colors. As I have unknown damage under the covering I think itís best to strip both wings completely.

When I used to watch my dad build models back in the 60s the covering was pure tissue paper and dope. The paper ďstuckĒ to the balsa via the dope. Just what sticks this covering to the balsa? Does heat release a adhesive in the covering? It cant simply shrink to cover the part, or the fragile part would warp.

I tried doing a few searches and came up pretty empty handed. Any suggestions or finger pointing in the right direction would be welcomed!

Thanks Guys!

Tommy in NY
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Apr 29, 2004, 04:48 PM
Checking the wind
kansascloud's Avatar


Hi Tommy:

Well, it doesn't look too bad to me. It should be easy to repair and recover the whole wing and any other part that you want to fix up.

First of all, what type of covering do you think it has on it now? Does it seem like a tissue and dope or is it more like a plastic?

The plastic type materials are actually clear colored film. The color you see is the adhesive that holds it to the wood. It is heat sensitive. You iron it to the frame and sometimes stretch it out a little with a heat gun or hair dryer if you can't get it with just the iron.

Some guys still use tissue and dope, but it is almost a lost art. I was never very good at it myself. A great alternative if you want that look is Coverite. It looks like colored tissue paper but is actually a plastic film. It shrinks like the other films (with heat) but has no adhesive properties. You brush an adhesive to the frame called Balsalock. Let it dry and then add your film. All films come with instructions. There is also an excellent thread on e-zone that a member wrote on how to cover. I'm sure someone will know where it is and post a link for you.

It takes a little practice to get good at covering, but it really isn't that hard and it is rather rewarding work.

Good luck with your new airplane.

Last edited by kansascloud; Apr 29, 2004 at 04:51 PM. Reason: caneling e-mail notification
Apr 29, 2004, 04:56 PM
Registered User
Hi Tommy,

Luckily, the damage doesn't look too bad, and it will be easy to repair.

The modern heat-shrink films are backed with a heat-activated adhesive. When you touch it with a covering iron on the outside (non-adhesive) surface, it sticks the covering to the wood, or to other parts of the covering. Of course, you'll need to buy or borrow a covering iron (only about $20) and a new roll of covering material. Nelson solarfilm is the covering of choice for most of us, though any covering like Monokote will's just slightly heavier.

For the smaller tear in the wing panel on the right, I'd just patch it with a rectangular piece of covering slightly larger than the damaged area. First, I'd peel back the covering, just to make sure there isn't any damage to the balsa. Then position the patch, adhesive-side down, over the tear and run the iron around the edges, pressing down until it's secure. Then pass the iron over the center of the patch to shrink it.

To repair the more heavily damaged wing, cut away the covering to expose the balsa, but only to the first undamaged wing rib. Then, take all the busted rib fragments and glue them back together with CA. You'll be surprised at how well it goes back together.

Then cut a slightly oversize piece of covering to recover he wing. The trick is to pull it pretty taut, and stick it down to the leading and trailing edges first. Again, stick it down with the iron around the perimeter, then heat the center section. A heat gun works wonders for this last step, but it can be done with the iron.

There's an excellent thread that goes into way, way more detail, called "For the Solite challenged." You can find it with the search function.

Good luck!

Apr 29, 2004, 05:29 PM
Hooper, full throttle!
Tommy D's Avatar

Great Replies!


Thanks for the quick replies.

The covering is some form of plastic. Definitely not tissue. If you own a Wattage brand product Iím to assume it is in fact the same on all the models.

Considering the damage is worse then the photos show I had plans to strip both wings completely. Now considering when heat is added an adhesive sets up and joins the covering to the plane should I heat it to remove it? Again I wanted to strip the entire model <fuse is made of of balsa planks not a skeleton design> Kind of like getting a old bumper sticker off so to speak. Iím lucky as I have both an iron and a heat gun. I have to wonder just how much time and labor intensive it will be to get the old covering off.

If Robert Stinson is out there perhaps he could chime in. He re did the Wattage Eindecker and it looks GREAT!!!

As always thanks a lot guys!

Tommy in NY

P.S. Ill add a photo of Mr Stinsonís bird as Wattage SHOULD have done in the 1st place!
Apr 29, 2004, 08:04 PM
Ahhgh! Not ANOTHER new plane!
SoCalBobS's Avatar
The covering in my picture is simply cream colored monokote, the most common heat activated shrink/adhesive film. When I did it, there was only gloss finished cream monokote. Now there is a flat finish cream monokote, which would look better.

However, there is another covering I much prefer, especially for the Eindecker. It's called Solartex. It's heat activated shrink and adhesive, but it's a polyester cloth. It's translucent, so you can see the ribs under the skin. The attached picture shows it a little bit, sorry there aren't any better ones - I sold the plane!

If you are going to re-cover the plane, I HIGHLY recommend you reinforce the wing spar. There are many stories of this plane's wings folding in flight. I saw mine bend before I reinforced them...
Apr 29, 2004, 10:35 PM
Hooper, full throttle!
Tommy D's Avatar

Thanks Bob


Outstanding!!! The Eindecker in the photo looks great!

I have to ask you a question though. When you covered the Fuse, and the wings, did you cover OVER the existing Wattage factory coverings? Iím asking as I have little covering experience. Also can I ask whatís the best way to get the factory stuff off? Iím sure that might sound like a obvious question to you but please bear with me.

Regarding upgrading/reinforcing the wings am I to understand the factory assembly of the 2 wings is insufficient? If itís anything like the Slow Stick <in regard to wings folding> I can completely relate to that. Carbon Fiber and Brass tubes was the fix for the slow stick. However what would you suggest to remedy the wing on the Eindecker?

Thanks for the Lesson!

Tommy in NY

Thread Tools