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Covering a model airplane in Tissue

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After doing my Instructable on making a model building board I could not help whipping out one of my kits and putting it together. In this case it is the Guillows Lancer. Being that this is a small rubber band powered model that needs to be light to fly correctly there are only a few options for covering the model. One you could cover it with a plastic film like Nelson Lite film or even colored plastic wrap, or you can cover it with good old fashioned tissue. I decided to cover mine in tissue as it is cheap and does not require any special tools or materials. This type of model is often referred to as a stick and tissue model, so it fits.

Back in the day one would attach tissue to a model with model dope and then shrink it with water. I have used dope in the past and it is nasty stuff, it smells bad and I'm sure the correlation with the drug is quite fitting. So instead I am going to show you how to attach the tissue using glue sticks and use alcohol to shrink it. This method is not only less toxic then using dope it is also cheaper then dope and it is quicker in my opinion.
 
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dagob3 months ago

Now I know how to do it! Thank you very much!!! Excellent instructable!

Derpthetroll5 months ago
I like the colours on your flyboy they look very nice together. Apparently thinned white glue is also a good substitute for dope however I haven't tried it though.
Ohm (author)  Derpthetroll5 months ago
I have heard the same and you can brush it on which might be useful in some cases, at some point I will start building again and try the thinned glue method.
stabian4 years ago
I also noticed that when you use glue instead of dope to put the tissue on it doesn't stretch as well but this mostly would happen on a fighter plane or other with a round fuselage.
what exactly is dope?
Airplane dope is a lacquer. It was developed in the days when full-scale airplanes were made of fabric and wood. Dope shrinks when it dries, tightening the fabric. It also produces a lovely gloss finish. If you do it right, doped silk can look like polished metal. The first dope was made with cellulose nitrate, AKA guncotton. Modern dope is cellulose acetate butyrate, which doesn't burn quite as fast. Either will knock you sideways if you use it without plenty of ventilation, which is probably where the name "dope" came from.
davea9521 year ago
usahobby.com has kits. Also glue and dope.
vtstruct3 years ago
While it seems like a good idea to try something else to avoid traditional model airplane "dope" (lacquer) fumes by using a different adhesive, like a glue stick, the fumes from Krylon Crystal Clear spray which you used to finish the tissue are even worse! ...................................................................................................................................................... I tried it outside, and brought the model inside ten minutes later, and that stuff has a really choking odor, even after it has flashed off and dried to the touch. I'd rather use dope than that stuff, but would especially like it if something less toxic than either could be used for a finish. Especially since I have a family including a 4 year old who would have to put up with the fumes of anything I paint. Can't open windows in the winter, but that's the best time for an indoor hobby like model building. So, what to do? ......................................................................................................................................................... I've heard that water based acrylic "no-wax" floor finishes have been used for painting model coverings by some people, but not sure of what brand to use, or how to apply it. Anybody tried it? ......................................................................................................................................................... Also a note about UHU glue-stick. It is apparently water based (washable) and if it seems a little dry (old) you can wet the end with a little water I found and it goes on easier. But if you try to shrink the tissue with water mist, I found a few places where the glue let go on the model, since it got wet again and the tissue shrank. Same thing for steaming over a teapot (which shrinks less drastically than water spray). ..................................................................................................................................................... There are "permanent" glue sticks available (Borden makes one). I might try that. Wouldn't be surprised if it works better for water, but still can be removed if needed with alcohol. ............................................................................................................................................ Thanks for a generally helpful Instructable, and I think a little experimentation will solve the odor and glue sticking problems.
As a plastic modeler of over 49 years, various paints have been used. In the past 25 years, a lot of the older modelers use diluted down 'FUTURE' Floor Wax to give the model an over all even finish for decal placement and then they spray another coat to seal the decals in. The only problem I see with this is that if floor wax can eventually 'Yellow' over time, what happens to it in a diluted state over a long period of time on a model. I am old fashioned modeler, I have a home-made 2x2x3 paint booth for winter painting so I don't have to stop modeling or painting.

I use enamels, lacquers, airplane dope all year long when I'm building and it gets vented outside.
You can use clear matt spray coating used to spray over pencil or chalk drawings. Doesn't smell as bad.

And actually you don't need to do the two step shrink and then coat as this stuff must have alcahol as it re-wets and then shrinks it and gives it the lightly hardened coating. It is not a heavy coating. So it is light.
Here's what to do if you don't like Krylon:you can use a 50/50 mix of white glue and water and brush it on the tissue with a paintbrush.
im building a guillows p-40 warhawk
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Ohm (author)  DistantOverture2 years ago
Yeah you wouldn't want to use tissue on a plane that large, it is mainly used on small models because it is very light.
(removed by author or community request)
Silk is for larger heavier planes. Most stick and tissue planes are smaller say 13 inches to 30 inches. Silk and dope is heavy.
I've Built two sizes. What scale are you building? If you are building the giant scale,1000,.2000 series, it looks great covered with 1/32nd balsa! not so good with tissue. Self adhesive monocoat works good too. I too am building yet anoyher guillows 20" wingspan P-40. hope it comes out great. GOD bless you and yours
It's a 20" and I never got it completely built I'm at the covering stage and manage to lose one of tail surfaces plus I've been working on a rc L-19 birddog parkflyer which builds suprisingly like an oversize rb powered model (even came with tissue for covering )
Where do you get the plans to build this models?
Local hobby shop or online like towerhobbies.com
I did not like using the glue stick. Here is what works well for me.

Get some "Tacky Glue" thats what its called. Its commonly found in the fabric dept of stores. even wal-mart.

Its like a fast grabbing elmers glue. I put some on my finger and run it around the edge of the frame that I want to attach tissue to. Then i wash my finger quickly, add the tissue and pull it tight. Doesn't have to be super tight because shrinking it down with a spray coat of alcahol shrinks it for you.

You don't put it on every piece of exposed wood. just around the farthest most edges.
m7272001 year ago
I have been using plane dope for years. I must say i am very impressed with this method. My only question is how does it stand up to using glow fuel? I have a tiny cox glow engine and you know how messy they can be with spraying fuel all over :)
I have used this method and the dope method. While the crystal clear coat MIGHT be fuel proof (not sure), it is not a solid coat like you get with dope. i give the plane several light dustings and it is light weight and strong enough for rubber band or light electric, But not nears a solid enough coat for fuel. So the fuel would penetrate it. Also dope adds strength to the tissue which helps with a gas plane as they tend to fly faster.
Here's an idea to replace the environmental hazards associated with butyl and petroleum distillates.
I haven't tried it but here's my idea.
Spray the tissue first with laundry sizing, let it dry . Then spray it with white vinegar.
Then let it dry out in the sun or bake slightly in an oven.
The UV from the sun might be a catalyser to break down or polymerise the starch.
hogthrob1 year ago
When I was about 12 I got a plane like this for xmas and built a perfect crisp frame with it. I then came to applying the tissue to tyhe wings I doped the top half first and it made the wings curl up like a banana!!!

This instructable would have been useful then however it would have scared the crap out of me if I had seen a photgraph on my then 64k computer.
jlyvers7431 year ago
Thank you so much for posting this. I will be looking for your instructable that you wrote about in this, on building the Building Board. This really seems like a lost art. My father used to do these model for gas engines but never got around to teaching me. I am going to start with my sons and see where it takes us.
All your instructions are very clear and the photos are outstanding. It is really a top notch instructable. The guys at the hobbie store only wanted to sell me the latest greatest pre-assembled junk they had. LOL I feel like a kid again. You made a believer out of me. This can be done! Thank you.
ive building a guillowsspit fire mk-1, almost ready for the tissue paper, thanks for the post man!!
hey me too
yapoyo1 year ago
I used plastic wrap instead and shrunk it with a hairdryer.
yapoyo yapoyo1 year ago
by tha way i'm building a guillows spitfire.
biged2 years ago
We are covering a WWII Waco CG-4A Glider with fabric. *3'=8" wing (900sq feet) ANYONE HAVE EXPERIENCE WITH THIS? I will send pics latter.
dwgcon122 years ago
Hi, Im new to this blog. Two questions. First, you cover wings and stabilizers with equal amounts of tissue simeltaneously for upper and lower surfaces and shrink them at the the same time to prevent wrapping correct? Second, Im looking to get about a square yard each of high quality tissue in red and blue to finish a fairchild d 24 that I'm building. Any idea where I and get those colors and quantities online? Thanks for your help
I'm building a guillows rubber band powered piper super cub
joshrocks983 years ago
hey do they make colored srpay? i want a cup yellow and my tissue is white
scud13333 years ago
In the past what i used for glue was plain white glue mixed it with some water then took a small paintbrush and brushed some onto the balsa wood. I then laid the tissue on top and applied more water glue mix on top waited for it to dry, then sprayed some water on it and dried it with a hair dryer. It worked very well for me.
Ohm (author)  scud13333 years ago
That works good too, especially in tight places, I like the glue stick though for doing larger panels, both are good options.
pappa g3 years ago
hey, this christmas, save all the color tissue wrap, It DOES work as a covering for airplanes and it shrinks well! Just dont get the stuff that has a stencil or painted scene on it, hard if not impossible to get the 50/50 mix to flow thru and moisten it. Lots of free tissue and colors. GOD bless happy flying.
 did you get the red and yellow tissue with your kit? because mine came with gray and white tissue
Ohm (author)  annoyingfeatures4 years ago
No I bought it seperately, I actually used craft tissue, not ideal but it works, the gray and white tissue that comes with the kit is a bit unflattering. If you do use craft tissue make sure it is the kind that has color fast ink.
 i dont need to buy any, i was just wondering. but im covered because my dad has a collection of modle airplane tissue
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