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Jun 08, 2008, 10:21 AM
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Covering curved surfaces with film


I have covered several curved surfaces with solite with varying degrees of success. I know wingtips (for example) can be covered with perfectly smooth edges and no wrinkles. I'm trying to improve my techniques and results. I'm asking you to share your particular methods in some detail. Pulling/stretching film is where I need help. Let's say I want to cover a wing with one piece of material. I do the main part of one wing surface and now it is wingtip time. Do I pull the film over and tack it to the center and then work each half independently? These sorts of questions. Any advice greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Frank
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Jun 08, 2008, 05:02 PM
I'm a pilot, 100 yrs too late
Thermalin's Avatar
that's how I do it... top and bottom to the centerline running front to back. Have a few extra inches to have someting to pull on. I use an iron until the compound curve starts and then you get another half inch or so to lay flat, then I go to a heat gun and pull down as i go as. Once it's on I go over with the iron... SO-Lite is easier to apply wrinkle free than the other films due to it's "thinness" and takes much less heat.
Mike
Jun 08, 2008, 06:10 PM
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Yup. Either little bits, or heat and PULL. I use an iron rather than a gun, but the principle is the same.
Jun 09, 2008, 08:25 AM
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I find an iron makes it easier, warm the film, then tug and press round the shape. Careful not to pull too hard though

If you have a couple of small wrinkles, you can almost melt them out with a really hot iron.

I've always struggled doing wings in one piece, so I don't

I do the bottom surface first, then the top, overlapping the LE by about 1/4" so the seam faces "downwind". If you make a nice neat cut, you can't see the overlap.

One oddity I have noticed is how different colours of film react differently, shrink differently and stretch differently. I don't know if thats an illusion, but it feels like they handle differently.

And I wish Solarfilm didn't keep changing the colour tones slightly so when I buy more film to patch up or recover, its a very slightly different shade.
Jun 12, 2008, 07:44 AM
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One technique, that is particularly useful on curved wing tips, is to pre-shrink (not stretch) the film before you attach it. Takes a bit of practice and a good heat-resistant glove but works decently well.

Basically you grab the excess amount of film beyond the wing tip with the glove hand and apply heat to the film with a gun in the area you want to curve before you attach it to the wing tip. Apply heat long enough to have the film wrinkle up and shrink while you hold the excess film gently and guide it to the area and contour you want to cover. You want to stretch the film only enough to remove persistent gathers and to position it as it shrinks in different places. When the film has shrunk close to final shape and while still applying some heat, stretch the film slightly over the contour to get the final shape, hold it against the balsa and remove the heat. Keep holding the film until it sticks to the balsa and then tack it down more with an iron.

Alan

Don't try this technique for first time on a final product. It takes a bit of practice to apply the right amount of heat to the right places to shrink and remove wrinkles.
Jun 12, 2008, 10:00 AM
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I've found that it's easier to cover the tips before the main panels so that I can use the open structure to brace my fingers when I'm pulling the film. Having the main panels over lap the tips looks neater, too.
Jun 12, 2008, 11:25 AM
Zor
Zor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MCarlton
One oddity I have noticed is how different colours of film react differently, shrink differently and stretch differently. I don't know if thats an illusion, but it feels like they handle differently.

And I wish Solarfilm didn't keep changing the colour tones slightly so when I buy more film to patch up or recover, its a very slightly different shade.
It is not an illusion. The pigments in the glue affect the bonding as well. A friend has an airplane that has been peeling off in sequence by color.

The slighly different shade, to my understanding, is due to the slightly different thikness of the glue applied in a different production run.

Zor


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