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Thread: Fabric Coveried Aircraft?

  1. #1

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    Fabric Coveried Aircraft?

    EAA Aircraft that requires fabric covering, what material s used and how is it applied?

    Actually this applies to restoration also.

    Jake Speed

  2. #2
    Sam Buchanan's Avatar
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    Here is the video library for Stewart Systems, one of the leading fabric vendors. These videos will answer your questions.

    https://www.youtube.com/user/stewartsystems/videos
    Sam Buchanan
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  3. #3
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    All fabrics these days are Polyethylene Terephthalate (aka Dacron), a polyester weave. There are a few different brands of this, most paired with their own products to apply and finish. It has entirely replaced cotton/dope in flying aircraft. The only thing you don't want to do is use the old cotton techniques for application and testing on dacron fabrics.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyingRon View Post
    All fabrics these days are Polyethylene Terephthalate (aka Dacron), a polyester weave. There are a few different brands of this, most paired with their own products to apply and finish. It has entirely replaced cotton/dope in flying aircraft. The only thing you don't want to do is use the old cotton techniques for application and testing on dacron fabrics.
    I’ve had the privilege of visiting the National Museum of Naval Aviation restoration shop several times in the past ten years. Every time I was there, they wanted to know if I knew where they could get some Grade A cotton fabric to use so that their (non-flying) restorations would be as authentic as possible. Unfortunately, I did / do not, but I have heard third hand that some limited amounts of Irish Linen might be available in the UK.


    BJC

  5. #5
    DaleB's Avatar
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    I've recently read the same thing -- there was a recent article about a Jenny restoration that mentioned buying a large amount of linen fabric with which to cover it, and put away enough to do it again in 20 years. I wouldn't, but then if you're OK with the breathtaking, eye-watering cost of what they were spending on that airplane, I guess an extra six figures or so to go with cotton over Dacron isn't a big deal.

    For the rest of us mere mortals... it's Dacron. I like the Stewart Systems products, and plan to use them if and when I ever get my current project ready for fabric. I've got a Poly-Fiber practice kit down in the basement on a shelf. Also perfectly viable, time tested and well proven over decades, just needs very good ventilation if you're going to use it. Aircraft Spruce will be delighted to sell you that kit for around $60, and it comes with a book detailing the process. There are also plenty of good videos put out by Stewart, EAA, and I think others.
    Measure twice, cut once...
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  6. #6
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    There are also nice covering workshops at the EAA (ok, Airventure) every year.

  7. #7
    DaleB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyingRon View Post
    There are also nice covering workshops at the EAA (ok, Airventure) every year.
    Absolutely. I attended one of those, it was WELL worth the time. Very informative, and you get some hands-on experience working with the materials.
    Measure twice, cut once...
    scratch head, shrug, shim to fit.

    Flying an RV-12. Building a Fisher Celebrity.

  8. #8
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    When Ken Hyde (The Wright Experience) recreated the Wright flyer for the 100th anniversary, they got the Wright family to provide them with a swatch of the original muslin they had and had that recreated. This wasn't just too look pretty, they actually flew that aircraft on several occasions. Alas, engine problems scuttled the official reenactment. The rain didn't help. The other cool thing was watching a B2 followed by Air Force One (and I mean that in the proper sense of the term, W was aboard) made a low pass over the runway at First Flight.

  9. #9
    dclaxon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyingRon View Post
    All fabrics these days are Polyethylene Terephthalate (aka Dacron), a polyester weave. There are a few different brands of this, most paired with their own products to apply and finish. It has entirely replaced cotton/dope in flying aircraft. The only thing you don't want to do is use the old cotton techniques for application and testing on dacron fabrics.

    Several years ago I was at a fabric covering forum (not the full workshop) at Oshkosh. I don't remember for sure, but I believe it was someone from Polyfiber doing the presentation, and he said there was only one mill making aircraft Dacron, and they were making it for both Ceconite and Polyfiber. They were both exactly the same stuff, except for the name printed down the edge. Of course, if you're doing a certificated aircraft you are required to use the chemicals that match what is printed on the cloth. And this is only a guess because I have never used Stewart, but I would guess it is also the same.
    Dave

  10. #10
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    I'd believe that, Poly-Fiber and Ceconite are even the same company now. Actually, what you have to do on a certificated aircraft is to use what YOUR manufacturer tells you, or follow an approved STC. It's not much different than anything else. Stewart's STC covers a variety of fabrics.
    Last edited by FlyingRon; 11-27-2019 at 08:04 AM.

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