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Jan 15, 2015, 09:45 AM
Registered User
Thread OP

Can you REMOVE fiberglass covering from an old plane?

Hello all!

Last summer I bought an old .40 Cub from a garage sale and have been saving it for a winter project. I figured it would be a quick recover, and I could get her in the air by spring. I pulled it out last night and got to removing the old covering, and I'm starting to think that it was glassed and painted (I've never felt with fiberglass before). It is very hard to pull away from the wood. Are there tips to make this process easy? Is it even possible or would I be better off just buying a new one? I guess that wouldn't be so bad, the price was still good for just the servos and FS 61 engine that came with it.

Any advise is appreciated!
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Jan 15, 2015, 09:59 AM
The Junk Man
I really doubt the Cub was fiberglassed with either epoxy or polyester resin. Some sort of shrink material was probably used. The covering might be hard to remove because of age but should come off if you keep at it.

If you have started removing it, a close-up photo would help.

Jan 15, 2015, 10:20 AM
Registered User
If it is really old, it could be silkspan & dope. Once you have a corner of covering lifted off the surface, try wicking dope thinner between the covering and structure and see if that helps. (just a guess, ymmv)
Jan 15, 2015, 10:31 AM
An itch?. Scratch build.
eflightray's Avatar
Also you could try a hot air gun to warm the covering up, just in case it is one of the early fabric iron on films.
Jan 15, 2015, 11:40 AM
Space Coast USA
hoppy's Avatar
Try this:
Jan 15, 2015, 01:29 PM
Registered User
Thread OP
Thanks for the replies

It is definitely some kind of fabric, I have some good photos that I will upload when I get home. I will try applying some heat tonight as well, I hope it's that easy. I have w bad feeling that it's not going to be though.

Thanks for that link hoppy, I'll keep that in mind. Probably won't work on full on covering though. Seems like it is a remnants remover.
Jan 15, 2015, 06:09 PM
Registered User
Thread OP
Here are some pictures. It must be fabric and dope, I took my sealing iron to it while the camera charged, it peeled right off! Along with the gorilla tape trick, I should be set!
Jan 15, 2015, 06:30 PM
B for Bruce
BMatthews's Avatar
I see that there is some fiberglass under it on the center section with what looks a bit like a filler on top of it to feather it out. Leave that and re-do the filler.
Jan 15, 2015, 06:34 PM
Registered User
Thread OP
should just sand away easy enough, no?
Jan 15, 2015, 06:36 PM
Registered User
Thread OP
I'm going to start hunting the forums for threads about removing covering, and recovering areas between control surfaces. The builder did not use ca hinges, so cutting them is not an option. If anyone here knows of a good process, I'm all ears!
Jan 15, 2015, 10:20 PM
Registered User
Originally Posted by Username14
should just sand away easy enough, no?
That center-section fiberglass is a structural reinforcement and needs to be there. I don't see a reason to remove it, just redo the filler feathering.

Plastic pin hinges can be cut, you might need a sturdier knife than an x-acto, though. If the hinges are metal, use a Dremel with a thin cutoff wheel. If you can't avoid cutting balsa in the process, cut the aileron leading edge stock rather than the wing - easier to fix that way.
Jan 16, 2015, 12:56 AM
Registered User
DGrant's Avatar
It looks like a heat gun would make short order of getting 99% of that covering off. I'm taking covering off of my SuperHots after 26 years, and I'm telling you it was stuck like no other. It lifts off in much bigger pieces using the heat-gun.. It will still sliver some, but the heat makes life easier.

As for the hinges.. I just cut some old Dubro hinges out of this same plane. I used an X-acto knife heated with a candle(the candle was handy at the time).. and it seemed to cut into the old epoxy like butter... whereas without heat the knife wouldn't even scratch it... and .... again using the heat-gun.. once the hinges have been worked and cut into a bit.. some "heat/pull/tug/heat/pull/tug" loosens them decently... I will be replacing the aileron/elevator/rudder material... so I wasn't too worried about busting an aileron... and knowing its probably easier and better to replace a control surface, and have everything properly covered then it would be to try and cover between/around/etc the surfaces and stabs..

As someone also stated, you can simply cut the hinge flush with the surface.. then install new ones next to it.

Restoration is sometimes slower then a full build, and can get tedious and tricky... so take your time with it.. that is the key. Good luck.
Jan 16, 2015, 07:47 PM
Registered User
kimchiyuk's Avatar
Originally Posted by DGrant

Restoration is sometimes slower then a full build, and can get tedious and tricky... so take your time with it.. that is the key. Good luck.
Isn't that the truth! I just completed the FULL restoration of a 23 year old Vailly Sport from Vailly Aviation. I definitely think it would have been quicker to start from a box of wood, but she looks like new and the effort was well worth it! Hopefully she's good for another 23 years!
Jan 17, 2015, 12:26 PM
Leroy G.
Leroy G's Avatar
"Man", when I see some of the work involved restoring an old plane makes building another one look like a better idea. I have never figured out how not to destroy the frame work removing some of this stuff.

Jan 22, 2015, 12:25 AM
Registered User
I bought a Goldberg Senior Falcon wrecked to the mid fuel tank compartment.... It was covered in silkspan(Even the fuse.) I peeld it and sanded it until it was bare wood then made repairs. The colors I got it in was Curtis Blue on the fuse and vertical stab, the rest was in lime green. It was an eyesore when I got it.

I re-doped it in white, used the transparent red Monocote on the wings and Horizontal stab. Then because it looked a little plain I added checkered decals to all the control surfaces. It was a thing of beauty when it was done.... It was a lot of work but I bought the wreck for $10 and I was in the Navy.(Lots of time and little to do.) so it was worth the effort. I used an O.S. FPS .90 for power.

I only have a pic of the wing, I did this in 1977.
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