Fabric

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On this page I am going to show you a detailed series of steps involved in the installation of the Ceconite fabric. As it is new to me and involves glue fabric and heat, this will be a big learning exercise 🙂

In preparation I have spoken and emailed with Bert Sparrow, a Fokker D7 builder, and just this morning with Robert. Also last night I met with Greig, a local aviator who has used Ceconite a lot. He offered me to help with the first panel which is great, but I am too inpatient, and want to have a try myself first (he doesn’t know that jet). Greig gave me a good few hints so I am just going to start with the easiest panel, the elevator, the moving part.

To start I made a list of action points I picked up from Bert and went through these with Robert. Clarified them a bit. So now I think I am ready to start this new “adventure”…..

Below is my list, which I might update while I go.


Steps in applying the fabric to the aluminium structure:

  1. Drill holes in ribs for rivets used for holding down the fabric where no glue is used. Debir and sand with fine sand paper.
  2. Cover all sharp edges and rivets with sticky medical tape.
  3. First stripe of glue about 1/2″ wide on outside perimeter, NOT GOING PAST TANGENT POINTS, let dry, press fabric into it and heat activate 225 degF. The reason you don’t go past the tangent point is so that the fabric doesn’t stick to that and “gets pulled inside” if you know what I mean, making a “dent” in the fabric.
  4. When all dry and done, shrink it a bit so its just tight.
  5. For the fabric from the other side, allow for a “180 deg” overlap, from tangent point to tangent point or may be just past that.
  6. Use sealer to glue fabric to fabric. For heavier areas, I assume the wing you can use glue.
  7. For the fabric to fabric “contact”, wet first side fabric with sealer/glue press second side into it, wet over the top and wipe of access with cloth.
  8. If you press it on it will pop up. This side can be heat activated when wet, after the sealer has been wiped off, at 225 degF. This way it won’t pop up all the time and gets finished quicker.
  9. Once all dry start shrinking.
  10. Shrinking in 3 stages: 200, then 225, then 250 degF, basically slowly going hotter and hotter.
  11. When all shrunk the panel can be finished.
  12. With the ribs, use reinforcing tape, then use soldering iron to make holes, use rivets with washers, and finally finishing tape with sealer. Use a little heat while sealer is wet and wiped of, to stick all bits down and make it look nice around washers.
  13. Always nicely cut the ends of the tape round, don’t cut straight.
  14. Then do the trailing edge, and finally the leading edge tape.
  15. Finishing tape on all leading and trailing edges wide enough to cover the end of the material and a bit more.
  16. Finally a light coat with the sealer.
  17. Robert uses latex paint to finish it off.

Prepare elevator ribs

OK here we go…….

I start preparing the ribs of the elevator. At a spacing of 4″ I drill a 1/8″ hole for the rivets that are going to hold down the fabric, as its only glued on the perimeter only.

I decided to drill before the fabric goes on so there is no swarf left inside the panel. I am going to use rivets with a thin small aluminium washer, so the spacing of the holes isn’t critical, but it will look “good” if they are in a nice line and equally spaced as they are visible once its all finished.

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Medical tape on elevator

A lot of preparations before the fabric can go on.

I am using medical tape to go over all (sharp) edges, and rivets to stop the fabric from cutting over time:

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Remember that you want as much as possible clear aluminium on the perimeter of the thing you are covering to put the glue on

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Next is fabric cutting time ! When there is one straight edge it is possible to use one piece of fabric like you see below. For anything else you probably want to get two pieces of fabric.

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Then its time for the glue

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Then wait til the glue is not wet anymore. It is still sticky to touch. And I think you could wait with the fabric till the next day or so.

Lay the frame over the fabric and pull it over the tubes, heating it with the iron.

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And all of that using a good old iron.

Bought us a new one for ironing the clothes:-)

Other “tools” I am using:

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Then you wait at least an hour to make sure the glue is dry before you start applying the sealer.

The sealer is basically the same as the glue but a bit weaker. It is used for sticking the second fabric side to the first one.

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One mistake I made with the second panel of the elevator, is that I didn’t wait for the glue to dry when I applied the sealer for attaching the second side of fabric. This made the first side of fabric to come lose.

So always let it dry long enough !! Do something else, I am sure there is plenty of other things you can de before you put the second side of fabric on.

And at the end of the day I had one panel done. YEAH !!!!   Happy with it 🙂

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Rudder

Today the rudder.

I decided to start putting a few bits of fabric around the light fitting in the top of the rudder. I am building this light into into the rudder (below left). This should make attaching the fabric a bit easier, and give the light a bit more “wall”.

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Also finished the other half of the back of the elevator today and prepared the front side of the elevator.

When I say finished, I mean putting the fabric on. Still tapes to put on and rivets with washers in the ribs.

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Finishing the rudder

Spend the morning gardening, getting things ready for Xmas family stuff….
So in the afternoon I finished the rudder. First a few tips I picked up from the Steward Systems YouTube video’s:

For the second side of fabric:
First apply sealer to the first fabric that’s glued to the perimeter tubes. Let it dry for an hour or so. The stick the second fabric side to it using the iron, and “shape the fabric around the curved tubes. And use a pencil to mark the place where it needs to be cut.

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Then apply some sealer to the bit that needs to be cut. Wipe it off and let it dry for 1/2 hr or so. Now it can be cut without creating lots of threads sticking out.

Then use the iron to reactivate the glue again and stick it to the frame.

Really happy with the result so far. The little bit of a bulge at the top of the rudder for the anti collision light is working out very good. Exactly what I envisaged.

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And finally for today the (self adhesive) reinforcing tape where the rivets go for keeping the fabric down……….

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Rivets into ribs

Today I am starting with the rivets into the ribs:

First I marked where the holes are in the ribs, plus a line 1/4″ away from the hole so I know where the 1/2″ reinforcing tape goes…

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Then with an soldering iron you push a hole into the tape and fabric.
Use a 1/2″ washer with the rivet.

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Then some 2″ finishing tape over the rivets

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And this is the result:

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Only thing left now is some finishing tape around the outside.

 

 

Also did the rivets on the elevator….

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Finishing tape

A long day ahead…. I have the day off.
Not that I am complaining, I am not.
Hopefully I get lots done.

I did in a way, did lots, but I have decided that as with everything on the plane, it takes time. You want to do the job as best as you can without making mistakes.
So I make a few (little mistakes) and fixed and learned:

When you put the finishing tape on I find it the easiest to wet the surface the tape goes on with the sealer first, especially with the finishing tape along the outside. Then wetting the tape so it stick nicely.
BUT remember to wipe of the excess sealer before it dries, as it makes a bit of a mess later on when ironing it.

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The sharper curves take a bit more time and its a bit harder to get it done without a few “dents” in the fabric…

Putting the panel into a vice or similar makes life very easy !

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At the end of the day I had the above panel completely finished. THE FIRST finished panel !!!!!!!

About an hour left on the rudder for tomorrow 🙂

And I started putting fabric on the front panel of the elevator. The bottom side is done. Other side probably goes on Wednesday when my Xmas holiday starts (won’t be a holiday… hoping to spend a lot of time on the fabric jobs).

With these glue jobs, you really want to have some drying time between things you do on a panel. So it really speeds up if you can work on a number of panels at the “same” time. Multitasking !!!

Rudder finished

I spoke with Robert again this morning. Thought I will get some more advice on the fabric with the wings. The Bleriot wings are so wide that the fabric doesn’t fit length wise, so I have to do strips of fabric across. Wrapping over one rib on one side and gluing on top of the previous strip on the other side.

Plus he also he told me, in stead of using washers at the bottom of the wing, at the hollow side on the front, to use a aluminium strip of 1/2″ wide to better support the fabric. I can see it will be better as the fabric will want to pull away from the ribs there…. Hmmmm that means more work, but ah well. I have some aluminium here I can cut them from.

Apart from some work as preparation for tomorrows Christmas day family lunch here at home, I managed to finish the rudder and finish the fabric on both sides of the front side of the elevator.

PLUS yesterday I got a piece of carpet to put on the work bench to make the perfect fabric work bench, big enough for the wings 🙂

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More elevator

More work on the elevator today, the front fixed part. Did the rivets into the ribs, the finishing tape over the rivets and finally the fishing tape around the whole panel for this. With this finishing tape around the panel I was thinking…

With previous curves, I had problems “ironing” the tape nicely, as you can probably see in photos from Mon 22 Dec.
This time I am pulling the tape around the edges, and by doing that, the edge of the tape automatically drops down towards the flat surface.

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At the same time you put sealer only on the middle of the tape, wipe it off and let dry. Also notice the marks I put in the centre on the tape. This is really helpful positioning the tape once the sealer in on.

Perfect shape

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Then when the glue is really dry, next morning in my case, by ironing the edge of the tape against the flat fabric, it nicely forms into the perfect shape, see left

Then all that’s left is put sealer on the bits that are left un-glue-ed, wipe it let dry and iron.

Yes whole elevator done !!!

The edges might look a bit messy, buts that just the reflection of the light !! Really happy 🙂

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Aluminium support strips

Started cutting 1/2″ strips of aluminium to support the fabric on the bottom side of the wing, as the fabric will be trying to pull away there.

Robert advised me to do this when I rang him a few days ago, for the last bit of advice on the fabric for the wings. This little detail as many others was not on the drawings.
The strips on the full ribs will be about 5″ longer, so yes in the end it will be nice 🙂
Just more work to do the preparations before starting with the fabric…….
Just in case you missed this earlier on while building the wings. This short bit of rib is my “invention”. The drawings only have a bottom rib tube on every second rib.
But this way the fabric will be better supported.

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Last sheet on bottom

Cut and glued the third and last sheet for the bottom of this wing today.

Wing is looking beautiful.
Massive !!!

Tomorrow I will rivet the fabric and shrink it.

Before I did cut this third sheet, I cut one sheet for top side and three sheets for other wing. All to do with off-cuts that I want to minimize and keep into one piece. I already have in mind where to use these: aileron and “seal” between aileron and wing……

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Awesome wing

Today I finished all rivets holding down the fabric on the bottom side of the right wing. Looking Awesome!!!

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Moved the right wing to the side, and starting the bottom of the left wing 🙂

Here you can clearly see the ribs were Robert normally doesn’t have a tube. He only uses to top tube there. I decided to have about 1/4 of the bottom rib tube at the front of the wing because the hollow feature of the wing would otherwise pull the fabric away…..

Now with this extra support of the front of the bottom rib tube, the fabric is beautifully supported!

You also see the aluminium strips Robert advised me to use at the front, for the same reason as the fabric is pulling away from the rib there at the front.

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Preparation, preparation, preparation

Finished the preparations on that second wing. Was thinking today, its all about preparation, preparation, preparation, a never ending story……

And then finally at 4pm I started with the fabric 🙂

Did 2/3 of the bottom wing today. It was a hot (31 degC) long day today, but very happy with progress. Next weekend all the fabric, except a bit on the fuselage should be finished !!!!!

Finished fabric bottom 2nd wing

Finished the fabric on the bottom of the second wing, tomorrow all the rivets to hold it down !!!

I decided that the glue on the aluminium works better when its nice and hot outside, like it was yesterday. Today it was a lot cooler, and when the glue has dried, its just not so sticky or maybe soft. In the end it works fine, you just need to use the iron more.

Top of the wing

Had the day off today (not working at my payed job 🙂 ). Have been taking the odd day off in the last month to get as much done as possible, to get ready in time for the things planned.

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Today I did the fabric on the top surface of the left wing. Went really well. Tomorrow the right wing…………..
Below, first piece of fabric in position, and the leading edge glued and a narrow strip on the fabric glued ready to stick it on.

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Lots of rivets

Yesterday I managed to do the fabric on the top for the other wing so that’s good. This morning I finished the edges and started on the rivets holding down the fabric. Oh I switched wings, just to let the yesterday’s wing completely dry.

Looks simple these rivets, but a lot of work really, back braking as you are bending over the wing all the time, but I did it 🙂

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After putting on the reinforcing tape and the rivets, I marked a 2″ wide strip around the rivets for the first layer of sealant, used for glue-ing down the finishing tape over the rivets.
I have learned that for fabric to fabric glue-ing, it works better to seal the surface you are gluing onto first.

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Pre gluing

Glad I pre-glued the 2″ strip around the wing rivets (see above). This works perfect.
I thought it was going to be a bit trickier, but just laying the 2″ finishing tape over the dry glue and applying glue on the tape, makes it stick immediately.
Just make sure you wipe of the excess glue after 5 minutes or so, other wise ironing will make a big mess as the glue on top will go soft again and stick to the iron.
The “very” curved front of the wing was a bit harder as the fabric is pulled down there. While applying the glue not all of the tape did stick down nicely, but by wiping with a cloth after 5 minutes in the direction of the leading edge with a bit of force, pulls all the fabric nicely down.
Looks GREAT.
Will give it the “iron” treatment tomorrow to finish that off, just pressing the last few little uneven things down.
Starting to like this cloth and glue business 🙂 It takes time but if all the preparations, down to the aluminium frame underneath are done well (or perfect ) you will have a great result.

More finishing tape

Glued all the finishing tape on the bottom of the wing over the rivets. All GOOD !

I did buy a new roll of Ceconite 102, 2″ wide finishing tape, as I didn’t have enough supplied with the kit. It looked a bit “stiffer” and noticed immediately that the glue doesn’t easily go through when I brushed it on. So for the new tape I apply some glue on the wing/rivets first, then apply glue to tape, let dry a bit (or not) and put in place. Works OK in the end but its just different. Good thing is that you hardly need to wipe the tape after you put it on.
So I wonder what tape I got with the kit…..

Was just reading about the different Ceconite types. There is:

  • Ceconite 101, stamped, the heavy weight fabric.
  • Ceconite 102, stamped, medium weight fabric.
  • Ceconite Light, unstamped, used for non certified ultra lights.

The last one must be the type supplied with the kit.

Tomorrow the final tape around the perimeter: Leading / trailing edge, wing tip and wing root.

Ironing tape

Phhh, ironed the tape on the rivets at the bottom of this wing.
Now doing the tape on leading and trailing edges. Got myself a new roll of Ceconite 102, 4″ wide tape for that. Positioned it and glued the centre to the tubes, ready for folding and glue-ing down the edges tomorrow

YES

YES I did it.

Both wings are done. Very happy with the result. I will hang the wings on the fuselage this coming weekend, so I can glue the leather patches covering the openings for the steel cables.

This will be an amazing stage. Hope there isn’t to much wind as that could stop me (unless I place it straight into the wind I suppose). At the same time I will be able to glue some fabric into the gab between the wing and the aileron, to finish it all of !

Ailerons almost done

Getting close to finishing the ailerons (right). So you might think that its almost done, but spend all of Sunday (see tomorrow) attaching them to the wings and not completely finished yet.

Below, Rutger is making a stand for the wings to go in. Worked out very well when all done 🙂

Its upside down here, and will have carpet in it when finished.

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Attaching aileron to wing

Big day today, attaching the ailerons to the wings. Covering the gab between wing and aileron, and marking the exact position for the bits of leather covering the holes were the cables come through the surface.

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I am very VERY pleased with it.

Below, now just covering the gab at the bottom and glue-ing on the leather, and some fabric over that, so they are nicely “hidden”.

But as with everything all of that takes time. Have to finish the other wing tomorrow. But yes looks very good, after ironing the glue-ed on bits of fabric !!!!!!!

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Finished wings

Yes FINISHED that second wing, did the leather “patches” with fabric over them. Also covered the aileron gab !! I think its going to fly, looks good 🙂


That was the last thing on fabric I think. Hope you learned something from it. Any questions, just ask 🙂


 

Ooops fuselage to do

Oops forgot I still had the fuselage to do. Not visible here is an opening for a second person as a TV recording is going to be made here at home for a documentary involving a two seater Bleriot. The documentary is done by Te Radar.

Tomorrow some strips of fabric, rivets and them paint !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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