Using kite-quality ripstop nylon for covering - RC Groups
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Oct 01, 2002, 02:01 AM
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Using kite-quality ripstop nylon for covering?

I have acquied a couple of rolls of ripstop nylon, usually employed in the manufacture of kites. It is around 35gm/sq. metre. My question is, has anyone ever used this to cover medium-sized R/C planes? If so, I would be grateful for answers to the following questions - if anyone has them!

Can it be heat-shrunk?

Does it need sealing - nitrocellulose dope?

Which is the best glue to attach it to the airframe?

It is obviously very strong and I'd like to use it. Thanks for any help on this one.
Last edited by Bigfoot; Oct 01, 2002 at 07:22 AM.
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Oct 01, 2002, 08:23 AM
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vintage1's Avatar
Nylon doesn't normally get heatshrunk, but I never tried it.

What we used to do, was prepare the airframe by doping it once, then a light sand and a second coat of dope.

Then get ready for a bit of a tricky bit. we would soak the nylon in water, dope the airframe again, and then start stretching the nylon over the frame, and pinning it down, working from one end to another of e.g. a wing. Use more dope if the original dries out.

When the covering and dope is dry, don't remove the pins, but apply 2-3 coats of thinned dope to airproof the covering, and when dry, remove the pins, trim, and sand back any rough edges. If you have to re-dope it - e.g. for doing the other side, expect the odd bit to lift off. It pays to have largish areas to stick to, so that a small area of 'loose' dope won't cause the fabric to lift.

If the airframe is flimsy, don't dope one side without doing the other, and be careful not to pull a warp into it.

Nylon, like silk, adds huge strength and stiffness to a frame, but both need you to get a bit physical - although the dope does shrink it a bit, this only takes it from 'taut' to 'drum tight' - it won't get rid of wrinkles. You need patience and quite a bit of force to do e.g. wingtips...

Its possible that modern adhesives like cyano could be used to attach - which then wouldn't lift under doping. I haven't done a nylon wing for years.

Properly done, nylon or silk are fantastic.
Oct 12, 2002, 01:22 AM
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Joel K. Scholz's Avatar
I think you will have better luck with ripstop polyester. This is applied with Stix-It and will shrink around 10%. It paints easily and weights about 1/2 oz per sq. yard. It is sold in the US as Icarex. see It's only disadvantage over mylar coverings is that it does not add tensile strength, and is best used over open surfaces. Attached is my Scratch built Messerschmitt with Icarex covering.
Oct 12, 2002, 10:52 PM
Registered User
Very nice plane Joel...

I'm trying to figure out whats up with kites and RC... I've been into both since high school. I guess it's just an obsession with things that fly!

Oct 13, 2002, 01:02 PM
Veracitarian Muser
Not sure if this is close enough to "medium size", but I covered my 40" Clancy Lazy Bee with 0.5 oz./sq.ft. polyester Ripstop, and was very happy with the result.

I used Balsaloc to attach the Ripstop to the balsa, and used Welbond Contact Cement to afix Ripstop to Ripstop at the seams. There is no useful amount of shrink, but it does a fair job of stretching over curves (notice the "bad" side of the rudder).
Oct 13, 2002, 08:30 PM
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Joel K. Scholz's Avatar
Here is another simple way to use the icarex. First measure and sew a sleeve that will fit your wing snugly. A taperered wing is easiest. Pre paint the framework with stick it or balsalock then slide the wing on. attach with a hot iron. Aileron opening can then be cut away leaving enough material to overlap the edges. I simply paint one edge with SIG stick it and then seal as you would any covering.
Oct 13, 2002, 08:32 PM
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Joel K. Scholz's Avatar
The completed wing.
Oct 13, 2002, 10:46 PM
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Joel K. Scholz's Avatar
i forgot the picture.Here it is

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