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Thread: Toxic nature of covering systems?

  1. #1

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    Toxic nature of covering systems?

    I am considering a kit project, and most of them are using one of the "glued, ironed, doped' type systems for their covering. I'm looking at some of the manuals for these systems and am a bit put-off by the apparently toxic nature of the chemicals involved. The precautions advised by the manuals are alarming. I'm not sure I want to put a new toxin-load on this 65 year-old body.

    For those of you with actual experience working with this systems,
    Two questions:

    Are these chemicals as toxic as the manuals make them appear?

    Which system is supplied with the Airdrome kit for the Dream Classic?


    Thanks in advance for any feedback.

  2. #2
    DaleB's Avatar
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    Old school fabric dope smells absolutely wonderful, and brings back memories of a happy childhood.

    That said, it's also possibly why I have this uncontrolled twitch and can't remember whether I had breakfast this morning. Not really, but you get the idea. There's a lot of very strong solvent vapors, so a lot of ventilation is a good idea. Another good idea is using Stewart Systems water-borne materials instead. Your wife and neighbors will thank you, unless they really enjoy getting a little high now and again.
    Measure twice, cut once...
    scratch head, shrug, shim to fit.

    Flying an RV-12. Building a Fisher Celebrity.

  3. #3
    Dana's Avatar
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    Old school butyrate dope / Ceconite: as Dale said, some of us love the smell. Toluene solvent, not really good for you but probably not the worst.

    Polyfiber (Stits): Smells nasty, MEK solvent. Dunno if it's worse than toluene but it just smells toxic. Requires fewer coats than dope.

    Stewart: waterborne, little smell, requires different techniques.

    Some people use acrylic latex house paint.

    Oratex: requires no paint at all, color is in the fabric, fast, lightweight, expensive.

    I don't know about the Dream Classic, but most kits don't include the finishing materials, you can use whatever you want.

  4. #4
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    Note that even with Ceconite you can't start with butyrate dope but Rand-O-Proof or the like (much as using PolyTak/PolyBrush). Read and follow the manufacturer's requirements for at least the first couple of steps in the process. Steve Wittman learned this the hard way. Stewart is indeed less noxious.

    All three of these have very nice instructional manuals that you should read.

    And if you think the made-for-aircraft dopes are potentially dangerous, you should really stay away from some of the polyurethanes that some are using for top coats. The problem with them is they DON'T smell bad enough and you're tempted to breathe toxic amounts rather than using the proper respirator.
    Last edited by FlyingRon; 10-23-2019 at 04:58 PM.

  5. #5
    Sam Buchanan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soarmaster View Post
    I am considering a kit project, and most of them are using one of the "glued, ironed, doped' type systems for their covering. I'm looking at some of the manuals for these systems and am a bit put-off by the apparently toxic nature of the chemicals involved. The precautions advised by the manuals are alarming. I'm not sure I want to put a new toxin-load on this 65 year-old body.

    For those of you with actual experience working with this systems,
    Two questions:

    Are these chemicals as toxic as the manuals make them appear?

    Which system is supplied with the Airdrome kit for the Dream Classic?


    Thanks in advance for any feedback.
    You still haven't called Robert Baslee at Airdrome yet, have you.

    When you do, Robert can explain how to finish his kit with non-toxic materials. Have your other questions ready as well.
    Sam Buchanan
    The RV Journal RV-6 build log
    Fokker D.VII semi-replica build log
    YouTube Channel

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Soarmaster View Post
    I'm not sure I want to put a new toxin-load on this 65 year-old body.

    For those of you with actual experience working with this systems,
    Two questions:

    Are these chemicals as toxic as the manuals make them appear?
    Yes, the chemicals used for Stits Poly are highly toxic, but if you use the proper breathing mask or a forced air respirator it can be very safe. For any urethane product you also want to protect you skin and eyes by wearing a body suit and eye goggles.

    There are several Airdrome planes that have been successfully covered with Latex house paint. I think if you search this site and others you can find plenty of info about this.

  7. #7
    Sam Buchanan's Avatar
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    Here are details on using acrylic (latex) paint for finishing my Airdrome Aeroplanes D.VII:

    http://fokkerd7.com/paint-1.html

    Name:  paint-19.jpg
Views: 1268
Size:  62.6 KB

    Latex paint has been a common finish material for ultralight and light experimental aircraft for nearly thirty years. I have found it to be flexible, durable, and easily applied without spray equipment or respirators. The cost is a tiny fraction of "certified" materials (Polyfiber).
    Last edited by Sam Buchanan; 10-25-2019 at 07:40 AM.
    Sam Buchanan
    The RV Journal RV-6 build log
    Fokker D.VII semi-replica build log
    YouTube Channel

  8. #8
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    One of our Fly Baby crew painted his plane with latex, and is very pleased with the results, even after ten years.

    http://www.bowersflybaby.com/tech/drew_paint.html



    However, it does still require that the fabric be attached using the conventional products.

    Ron Wanttaja

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Buchanan View Post
    Here are details on using acrylic (latex) paint for finishing my Airdrome Aeroplanes D.VII:

    http://fokkerd7.com/paint-1.html

    Name:  paint-19.jpg
Views: 1268
Size:  62.6 KB

    Latex paint has been a common finish material for ultralight and light experimental aircraft for nearly thirty years. I have found it to be flexible, durable, and easily applied without spray equipment or respirators. The cost is a tiny fraction of "certified" materials (Polyfiber).

    Thanks for the information Sam! I'm looking at the Stewart Systems website -- and I am suspecting that all these systems (ceconite, poly-fiber, and Stewart) are using the exact same 3 weights of polyester weave fabrics. There could be some way the fabric might be factory-prepped to favor their specific products, but I doubt it. Did you feel the need to use Stewart fabric in order to use their glue?

    I have ordered the Poly-fiber practice kit in order to experience their chemicals on a small scale. I'm thinking of ordering a small amount of Eko-bond and doing an equivalent test of the system you have used on your D-VII, but using some of the fabric from this kit. Do you think the poly-fabric will be an issue?

    Bob (soarmaster)

  10. #10
    Dana's Avatar
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    They all use the same fabric.

    Instead of Eko-bond, get some 3M Fastbond 30NF, which is the same thing, or close, but cheaper.

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