Fabric educate me.

Discussion in 'Maintenance Bay' started by ron22, Jun 2, 2011.

  1. ron22

    ron22 Cleared for Takeoff

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    I have been looking at older low cost fabric planes. I know about getting a prebuy and pay now or pay later when buying a low cost plane. Plus I will most likely just look and not buy anything.
    My question is about the fabric. In reality what is the life of the fabric? Most the ones I have looked at were recovered in the 70’s with either polyfiber or ceconite. Of course everyone claims the plane has been hangered since it has been recovered. Is one better than the other? Or is it time to recover either way? Anything else I should know?
     
  2. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route

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    There are airplanes covered in cotton with good 40 year old cover jobs. There are newer airplanes with better covering systems where the covering is shot.

    If you're looking at something that was covered in the '70's, odds are it is ready for a recover. Also, it is probably time to take a good look at the internals of the wings. Something that was marginally OK to recover in 197X might be way below marginal after 30 something years of wear and tear.
     
  3. Tom-D

    Tom-D Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Polyfiber is Ceconite,

    There are basically two fabrics we see in use today, cotton/linen for the purest restorers and ceconite for the every day use aircraft. Ceconite comes in three grades which the numbers imply 101, 102, 103, is the weight of the fabric per yard. the faster the aircraft the heavier the fabric must be.

    The chemicals that are used become complicated, Dope has been around since the Wright bros used it, and is most often used on cotton, it is the lightest system we have(per yard).

    Ceconite is most often used with the three most common systems we see today.

    the first is Polyfiber invented and certified by Ray Stitz, he sold out and retired and it is now called "polyfiber" sold mostly by aircraft Aircraft Spruce Specialty. It is a ura type paint system and still requires a silver base to prevent UV rays to rot the fabric. and is usually finished with any of the Randolph paints. It is usually a 50 year system with proper care.

    This system stinks and will kill you during application if proper equipment isn't used.

    Second and the oldest of the ura based systems is "Airtech", It is the least known of the big three, but has been in the ag cropper industry since the mid 60s, it is chemical resistant, fire proof, and the glossiest of the big three.
    It goes on with their glue, uses ceconite as the fabric, but that is where any similarity ends, the base coat is a sandable primer with the UV protection built in, you spray all coats and sand with a power sander, wipe off all the dust and apply the top coat and it is dry to the touch in 30 minutes.

    This system stinks and will kill you during application if proper equipment isn't used.

    The last and newest is the Stewarts brothers water based ura system, it goes on using Ceconite or cotton and all products are water based that is they thin and clean up with water, are not harm full to you as you apply with out a breathing mask.

    when you try to identify the system applied to any aircraft the bast coat color is the key, Polyfiber is pink(stitz) or polyfiber blue. the Airtech is a yellowish primer, and the Stewarts is a black (ecofill)

    There should be a 337 on file for each time the aircraft was recovered and that should say what system was used. the exception to that rule is the systems are STCed, and the 337 may simply say STC # ________ was applied.

    All systems must comply with their instillation manual and mix and matching applications is not allowed. IOWs you can't apply the stewarts base coat and finish with polyfiber paints.
     
  4. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route

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    Tom,

    Aren't all of the modern fabrics really Dacron, with Polyfiber and Ceconite being two different brands of dacron which are manufactured at the weights you listed.

    On the coating systems, Polyfiber has two systems. The first is the vinyl based system which uses "polytone" as the finish coat. Polytone is vinyl based and uses MEK as a solvent. Aero-thane and Ranthane are urethane based finished coats which are more dangerous than polytone because of the catylist required.

    Ceconite brand fabric can be coated with Ranthane, dope, Air-tech, or Stewart's paint systems. Ranthane and Airtech are both urethane based (catalyzed) and are <relatively speaking> more dangerous compared to Dope (which is solvent based) and Stewarts, which is water based.

    From a health standpoint, Stewarts is probably the least dangerous, followed by Ceconite's dope option and Polytone. All of the urethane based systems are basically equally dangerous if you don't use appropriate personal protective equipment.
     
  5. Tom-D

    Tom-D Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Pretty much, but you still do not want the stewarts system droplets in your lungs wear a dust makes is all that is needed to prevent this.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2011
  6. Tom-D

    Tom-D Ejection Handle Pulled

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    There is 1 new system in the certification process, it is a single layer vinyl sheet that is heat shrunk and the color is formulated in to the layer. it is the brother to heat shrink tubing
     
  7. Skylane81E

    Skylane81E Final Approach

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    Hmm, kin to the shrink film used on RC planes?
     
  8. Tom-D

    Tom-D Ejection Handle Pulled

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    The problem being the repair of........
     
  9. Skylane81E

    Skylane81E Final Approach

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    if it's like monokote then repair is easy but ugly with TWO capital "Us"
     
  10. Chip_pilot

    Chip_pilot Pre-Flight

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    Heat Shrink? So if you fly in Arizona it just keeps squeezing until something pops? I think I like Ceconite better.
     
  11. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route

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    The dacron fabrics are heat shrunk too.
     
  12. Tom-D

    Tom-D Ejection Handle Pulled

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    but it requires heat in excess of 350 degree to tighten beyond the installed tightness.
     
  13. steingar

    steingar Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Thanks for the primer Tom. Always wondered about all that.
     
  14. Chip_pilot

    Chip_pilot Pre-Flight

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    Kyle. I know. It was tongue in cheek. I should have added a smiley to reflect the humorous intent. Here it is. Better late than never. :yikes:
     
  15. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route

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    On the subject of covering materials, I've googled around looking for the shrink film covering for airplanes (not models) mentioned earlier in this thread. I can't find anything.

    Can someone point me to the product?

    Thanks...
     
  16. tonycondon

    tonycondon Gastons CRO (Chief Dinner Reservation Officer)

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  17. ron22

    ron22 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Thanks for the info. So if it was covered in 70' it could still be good for a few years but get ready to revoer.
    On Poly-Fibers web site it talks about rejuvenating the fabric. Does this increass the life or just fix problems with age and still about a 50 year life.
     
  18. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Rejuvenating the fabric or the finish?

    UV kills Dacron eventually - inadequate silver (or other blocking) coat combined with time outside will degrade the fabric. But a lot depends on how well the cover job was done.
     
  19. ron22

    ron22 Cleared for Takeoff

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  20. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route

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    Rejuvenating restores old paint (somewhat) by adding back the plasticizer that has evaporated over time. It'll make the paint shinier and more flexible. Basically, it is a life extension program for older paint. The thing is, you have to rejuvenate the paint before it degrades beyond a certain point. Beyond that point, you're wasting $$, because the rejuvinator won't fix too-thin paint or fabric that has already seen too much UV exposure because of paint cracks or chips.
     
  21. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route

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    I looked at the website and did some more googling beyond that trying to answer these questions:

    1) Is it certified?

    2) Is it sold in the US?

    As far as I can tell, the answer is no to both questions. Not that you couldn't order directly from the European manufacturer and use it on an experimental, but putting it on my Champ, for instance, doesn't seem to be an option.
     
  22. Tom-D

    Tom-D Ejection Handle Pulled

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    You will not see any heat shrink sheet type product that is authorized to be used on production built aircraft. nothing has been certified yet.
     
  23. Tom-D

    Tom-D Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Your Champ came from the factory with cotton and dope, any other system used must be approved on a 337 as a STC or field approval. When you cover any aircraft or flight control that is a major repair, see FAR 43 "A" even if it has already been approved as a STC, But your not required to buy the STC each time.
     
  24. Tom-D

    Tom-D Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Rejuvenator was invented for dope, it works on the ura and vinyl systems not so good. any system it is used on must be re-polished to look good again. I did it once on a Aviat Husky and nearly got sued for making the aircraft look bad.

    but it will soften the old dope really well, and prolongs the life indefinitely.

    The aircraft covered in the 60-70 time frame will be a crap shoot on how much longer it may last, When applied correctly, and washed and waxed as it should have been, you may get 60-70 years of service from the ura systems, Just remember the Ceconite never fails, the paint does, and the first signs are a cracking of the brittle paint when you push your finger against it. the crack will form a circle around your finger.

    The most common type of paint failure is the peeling of large areas of the finish, this happens when the first coat of the system breaks it attachment to the ceconite.

    The dangers of a failing system is the entry of water into the interior of the aircraft which will allow corrosion of the steel tubes and or rot of the wood.
     
  25. ron22

    ron22 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Tom,

    What about Superflite Butyrate Dopeon Ceconite? They claim no fresh air breathing system required & it can be rejuvenated.
     
  26. gismo

    gismo Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I have nothing to add WRT fabric systems but I've gotta say that for some reason every time I see the topic of this thread I see "Fabricate me".
     
  27. Tom-D

    Tom-D Ejection Handle Pulled

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    that is the first system certified IAW the ceconite manual. ( not one of the big three any more)

    yes Re-J was developed for dope.
     
  28. d.grimm

    d.grimm Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Doing my first recover in 1975, the thing that would concern me the most is we didn't have epoxy primers for the metal parts. The fabric might be fine but the zinc chromate on the structure is not. I just sold a J3 that was covered in 1990 and hangared since, if it stays hangared it will be good for another 20 years. Epoxy primer on all metal parts and not in a corrosive environment.
    Dave
     
  29. Tom-D

    Tom-D Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I once salvaged a taylorcraft that had sat out of doors unattended for nearly 30 years, the cotton was shot, but the tubing was in perfict condition with linseed oil interiors, and zink on the outside.

    I cleaned the tubes witgh 1100 grit glass bead, had the entire fuselage and other metal pieces powder coated, rebuilt the engine and re-coered in ceconite and dope, it is still flying.