For the Solite Challenged... Part II - RC Groups
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May 22, 2005, 06:07 PM
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cathode's Avatar

For the Solite Challenged... Part II

The ultimate thread for the education in the use of Solite/Nelson Litefilm, part II!

Part 1:
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May 24, 2005, 07:31 PM
Valid8r's Avatar
I'm experimenting a little before I try my first covering job on my SA Stella. I'm using So-Lite and a Coverite Trim Iron and my wifes scrapbooking hot air gun (used for rubber stamping - seems to work great for shrinking).

So I cut out a piece (aprox. 5"x5") of new film. I took a piece of scrap balsa from the left over balsa sheets from the kit (aprox 4"x4" with a hole in the middle). I placed the film on my kitchen counter and pulled back the clear plastic 'liner' leaving the film on the counter. Note: for some reason I thought these films had an adhesive on them but I realize now that the adhesive is just heat activated - nothing new to you guys, but wasn't clear to me. I then placed my 4" balsa piece on the film and carfully flipped it over so that the film was now on top of my balsa which was on the counter. I took my iron and just sort of touched the tip to the film that was on the 1/8" side of the balsa to tack the film to the balsa (setting on iron was approx. 90deg C. I then repeated that process every 1" or so around the perimeter. This left me with a piece of balsa, with a piece of So-Lite over the top of it with about a 1/2" of film overlapping all sides of the balsa. I wasn't too sure how much heat (time/temp/pressure?) to apply when I was tacking so I just winged it and watched to see if there was some 'holding power' to the tack. Not really knowing what to do next, I slid my iron tip around the balsa edges to seal the edge and then over the flat part of the balsa on top to try to stick the film to the balsa. Then I took my wifes heat gun and simply pointed it at the film and woila, it shrunk nicely. I had some wrinkles, but I wasn't really trying to get my tack's to be very tightly stretched or organized so I'm not surprised.

So then I tried to peel back the covering off of the balsa. It came off quite easily, without really lifting off any wood fibers. Is this normal.

What can you experts tell me about my first experiments?

I'm actually quite happy with my little experiment and will continue to practice 'til I get a nice smooth and tight finish.

Thanks in advance.

May 24, 2005, 07:57 PM
Registered User
RiBell's Avatar
Originally Posted by Valid8r
I'm actually quite happy with my little experiment and will continue to practice 'til I get a nice smooth and tight finish.
Sounds like a good plan
You might need a little more heat, for the attaching to the balsa. Not much mind you. Practice with a few more test pieces, then go for it. Remember you can aways take it off and do it over if needed.
May 29, 2005, 07:05 PM
Registered User
I have read the thread a few times before my first attempt at covering, but I still have a few questions. I hope everyone can help me out.
1) When tacking solite to the spar,leading, and trailing edges, is it tacked the entire length; or is it tacked every few inches down the length?
2) Are the wing ribs tacked as well?
3) Covering the rudder, elevator,etc.. I understand you tack the outside border first.
Do you tack the inside to the supporting structure to?
4) Covering areas that have been skinned. What is the best way? Tack the corners and shrink?
May 29, 2005, 10:09 PM
Too lazy to repair!
jperch's Avatar
Here is what I usually do:

1) Start by acking the corners. Pulling it fairly tight as you go. Then tack down every few inches, then seal it down all the way around the perimeter.

2) I don't usually tack down the ribs unless I need to cut a section out like for a repair. However, when you shrink down the covering, it will likely stick itself down to the ribs anyway. However, I would shrink it down before you tack it to the ribs.

3) I tack that down as part of shrinking. Just like the wings sections.

4) Start by tacking corners to hold it in place. Then either work from one side to teh other or from teh center out. Don't work too fast or you will get bubbles. Most likely you will get some bubbles anyway.

I hope that helps,
May 29, 2005, 10:48 PM
Registered User
Thanks Joe, that makes it more clear to me.
May 30, 2005, 05:06 PM
Suspended Account

Covering leading edge

Is it best to cover the entire wing then overlay the leading edge? How do you guys get perfectly straight edges such as the wing overing/leading edge interface?
Jun 05, 2005, 03:06 AM
Valid8r's Avatar
I'd like to add to Iammy1000's question as I have not seen this covered in the Part 1 or Part 2 thread (if so, please correct me).

If one wants to cover a wing with one color (say Red for this discussion), and then add a contrasting color (white) as a leading edge to say spar so as to get a white horizontal stripe across the front 1/3rd of the wing, how does one apply the white?

This is what I am thinking I will do, please correct if I'm wrong.
I would cut the white so I had about a 1/2" extra to overhang the leading edge.
I would then lay down the spar edge and tack it down along the spar.
I would then tack down the leading edge.
I would then iron on the entire white stripe (not shrink with a heat gun?).
I would then trim the leading edge.

Is this right? Is there a thread that talks about this?

Jun 05, 2005, 11:36 AM
Registered User

I have done this a few times, and what has worked very well is to cover the 1/3 and 2/3 sections of the wing seperately with two pieces film instead of trying to overlay a section of white over the red. Cover the section with the lighter color first, say white, and then overlay the darker color. Dark colors blead through lighter ones, like white and yellow. In your example, tack the white to the full width and length of the wing spar, the leading edge and center section rib or sheeting and the last ring rib or tip. Shrink this section with either iron or gun. Cut a straight line edge on the red to match the front edge of the wing spar (you can tack it in the middle of the spar, but it has only half the surface area to stick to) and tack the red all along the spar, trailing edge, center section and wing tip. Shrink this section. Watch when using the heat gun around areas tacked to ribs, which are narrow, that the covering doesn't shrink to much and pull the tack loose. Go over your tack areas a couple times with the iron before shinking to be sure they are secure.
Jun 05, 2005, 11:42 AM
Valid8r's Avatar
Keys - thanks for the advice, I would have thought that there wouldn't have been enough surface to 'grab' onto doing that way, but I guess it's no less than any other edge. Out of curiosity, what happens if you do overlay one layer of film with another (as I had originally proposed)?

Jun 05, 2005, 12:55 PM
Old School E-Flyer turned FVP
mcharles13's Avatar
i think in solite challenged 1 someone mentioned they were going to detail how they did the stripes on their pitts. especially around the nose area. i'm going to do a pitts eventually and would love to know how that's done please
Jun 05, 2005, 01:06 PM
Leave me alone!
Martin Hunter's Avatar
Mcardgage, that was me. I've still got to do that

Jun 05, 2005, 01:19 PM
Registered User

I'm covering an Areolock Pitts M12 now and sure would appreciate how to do strips that run along the side then up, over and around the front of the cowl.

Last edited by Keys Flyer; Jun 05, 2005 at 01:33 PM.
Jun 05, 2005, 01:32 PM
Registered User

I've done diagonal strips down the wing and tail useing the water/windex method discussed in part I. Workd very well. I did run the iron lightly over them after they dried completely just to make sure they stayed.

I would think that your method would probably work but as the pieces get larger, there is more chance for bubbles to occure. Also, trying to get the overlay film to stay flat, especially on the valleys between each rib, might present a problem. I will probably be finding out as I will be doing a one inch or so horizontal strip along the leading edge of the Pitts. I'm useing Solarfilm which is thicker and might be even more of a problem. Hope not!
Jul 03, 2005, 11:21 AM
Registered User
CrashingDutchman's Avatar
I am covering a Steelhead wing for a Slow Stick. The wing is made of light blue foam.

I have put one layer of white solite on the wing, but I still can see a little of the blue foam through it. Not really a problem, but could I put another layer on the first layer to make it look completely white?

Thanks in advance!


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