How much does it cost to cover a small airplane?

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fly_boy_bc

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I have a chance to get a Fisher Koala 202 single seater that has not yet been covered. I have seen many videos and read many tutorials about HOW to cover a small airplane but what does it cost for materials? I want to try a low cost alternative paint system but how much does it cost to get it to "ready for paint"?

Gary
 

GrizzlyV6

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Gary, the answer is a little more involved than that. However, check out the heat shrink dacron from spruce. http://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalog/cmpages/peelply2.php
This stuff cost half what my superflight cost, but I wouldn't trade for anything else. Surely someone around here has used the dacron and can give you some feedback.
http://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalog/cmpages/peelply.php here's your tapes. Use the pinked tapes. The smooth tapes have been heat cut and you can feel the melted edge.

New iron from wally's about 10-15 bucks - DO NOT USE A HEAT GUN
The small close quarters iron - get a good one
Needles and thread
glue and mek
I would think you could cover that small plane for under 400 bucks using the experimental fabric. Don't discount the possibility of the eaa guys helping you and loaning you some stuff to work with. That will save you some loot for sure.
You're about to jump into a fun job.
 

Dan Thomas

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The materials to cover a Cub or Citabria, using Poly-Fiber, will cost around $5000.

Superflite will cost more and will crack after a few years. And it's heavy.

I don;t know what the new Stewart system would cost but am tempted to try it next time. I covered my Jodel 15 years ago using Poly-fiber fabric and Poly-brush as a base, then doing the rest using the exterior latex idea that some guys were trying at the time. Black latex as sunblock, white latex atop that, both wet-sanded smooth, then automotive urethane enamel with flexant in it. By the time it was done I could have gone Poly-Fiber all the way and had a nicer, lighter job that didn't start cracking immediately. Flexants are for plastic car parts, not fabric.

Sometime these economical ideas aren't very economical at all.

Dan
 

fly_boy_bc

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"I would think you could cover that small plane for under 400 bucks using the experimental fabric"

"This stuff cost half what my superflight cost"

"The materials to cover a Cub or Citabria, using Poly-Fiber, will cost around $5000."

From this I infer that it would be around $800 using Superflight And slightly less than $5000 for Poly Fiber (just because the Koala is a lot smaller than a Cub).

"You're about to jump into a fun job. "
Actually I agree...I have watched many videos of the process and it looks like a LOT of fun to me!

The Dacron is listed at $4.65/Yard what does Superflight cost per yard?

$400 bux sounds TOOO cheap. Can it really be done that cheaply? Even if it lasts HALF as long as traditional methods it's WELL worth it!

Does it last? Is it UV resistant? (On it's own?)

400 bux.....Really?:shock:
 

Dan Thomas

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"I would think you could cover that small plane for under 400 bucks using the experimental fabric"

"This stuff cost half what my superflight cost"

"The materials to cover a Cub or Citabria, using Poly-Fiber, will cost around $5000."

From this I infer that it would be around $800 using Superflight And slightly less than $5000 for Poly Fiber (just because the Koala is a lot smaller than a Cub).

"You're about to jump into a fun job. "
Actually I agree...I have watched many videos of the process and it looks like a LOT of fun to me!

The Dacron is listed at $4.65/Yard what does Superflight cost per yard?

$400 bux sounds TOOO cheap. Can it really be done that cheaply? Even if it lasts HALF as long as traditional methods it's WELL worth it!

Does it last? Is it UV resistant? (On it's own?)

400 bux.....Really?:shock:
$400 is probably for the fabric only. Glue to attach it, tapes, and all the finishes to seal it and topcoat it, will come to a lot more. There are also mixing cups, sandpaper (lots of it), masking tape, disposable gloves, thinners and cleaning stuff and a lot more stuff that is usually initially overlooked but is still necessary and costs money.

Fabric alone has no chance against the environment. UV, ozone, bird poop and other things will attack it.

Dan
 

fly_boy_bc

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$400 is probably for the fabric only. Glue to attach it, tapes, and all the finishes to seal it and topcoat it, will come to a lot more.
The way I understand it a $50 tub of glue should be enough and there are some finishing methods out there that are quite a bit less expensive than traditional dope. Since I am working on a 103 ultralight I will be putting on as little paint as possible. This will keep the weight down as well as the costs. I wonder who has tried any of the cheaper methods on this material or very similar?

Gary.
 

GrizzlyV6

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The materials to cover a Cub or Citabria, using Poly-Fiber, will cost around $5000.

Superflite will cost more and will crack after a few years. And it's heavy.

I don;t know what the new Stewart system would cost but am tempted to try it next time. I covered my Jodel 15 years ago using Poly-fiber fabric and Poly-brush as a base, then doing the rest using the exterior latex idea that some guys were trying at the time. Black latex as sunblock, white latex atop that, both wet-sanded smooth, then automotive urethane enamel with flexant in it. By the time it was done I could have gone Poly-Fiber all the way and had a nicer, lighter job that didn't start cracking immediately. Flexants are for plastic car parts, not fabric.

Sometime these economical ideas aren't very economical at all.

Dan
Dan, you're the first person I ever heard say anything about superflight cracking. Where did you get that info. Superflight has an excellent reputation as a fine product. Also, Gary is using a low cost alternative paint system. If you spent that much money on your product, you need to shop somewhere else. If you were to paint yourself, you could buy all the fabric and paint for that cub for less than 1800 bucks in superflight.

Gary wanted to know what it would cost to get ready to paint. 5000 bucks - hmmm?


Gary, get your calculator out and use it. Your airplane should take about 45 yds. to cover x 4.65 per yd.=
Superflight is 9.44 per yd. Mine took 50 yds.
These tapes are far less than what I paid also. See other links.
SURE SEAM FABRIC CEMENT from Aircraft Spruce this is a link for fabric glue. Spruce says it's good stuff, I don't know.
Even using superflight, I got all my fabric most of my tapes ( I still need a roll of 4") the glue and needles. Latex gloves can be purchased many places for cheap, almost negligible and both irons for less that 800 bucks and my plane reqiures more fabric. When I went shopping, I knew exactly how much the products were so there was no guessing what it was going to cost. This doesn't include primer or paint. Superflight has an indefinite shelf life.
Yes Gary, 400 bucks will get you real close to paint. Like I said, don't discount the fact that the eaa guys may be there to help you out with some tools and knowledge so you would save some money there. Add it up for yourself, you'll see. Just because it's for experiemental aircraft doesn't mean it's junk.


Jim
 
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Dan Thomas

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Dan, you're the first person I ever heard say anything about superflight cracking. Where did you get that info. Superflight has an excellent reputation as a fine product. Also, Gary is using a low cost alternative paint system. If you spent that much money on your product, you need to shop somewhere else. If you were to paint yourself, you could buy all the fabric and paint for that cub for less than 1800 bucks in superflight.

Gary wanted to know what it would cost to get ready to paint. 5000 bucks - hmmm?


Gary, get your calculator out and use it. Your airplane should take about 45 yds. to cover x 4.65 per yd.=
Superflight is 9.44 per yd. Mine took 50 yds.
These tapes are far less than what I paid also. See other links.
SURE SEAM FABRIC CEMENT from Aircraft Spruce this is a link for fabric glue. Spruce says it's good stuff, I don't know.
Even using superflight, I got all my fabric most of my tapes ( I still need a roll of 4") the glue and needles. Latex gloves can be purchased many places for cheap, almost negligible and both irons for less that 800 bucks and my plane reqiures more fabric. When I went shopping, I knew exactly how much the products were so there was no guessing what it was going to cost. This doesn't include primer or paint. Superflight has an indefinite shelf life.
Yes Gary, 400 bucks will get you real close to paint. Like I said, don't discount the fact that the eaa guys may be there to help you out with some tools and knowledge so you would save some money there. Add it up for yourself, you'll see. Just because it's for experiemental aircraft doesn't mean it's junk.


Jim
I recently recovered a Citabria in Poly-Fiber and it came to over $5K in materials.

We had another Citabria, a 1996 model, that the factory had covered in Superflite. All cracked by the time it was 10 years old.

Dan
 

buzzypeterson

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Sounds a little crazy but I was told 3M brand 30NF (fast bond) contact cement in the green color is the same as stewart systems, I have used it to cover and fly with... before flying I did some simple destructive tests to check the bond and was very impressed. On a Koala typically you don't rib stitch at least most people don't, it's a slow bird. So really you don't need many tapes. You would be amazed how nice of a finish you can get with exterior grade latex house paint rolled on with a little bit of floetrol brush stroke reducer added to it. I recomend doing a flat finish rather than trying to get gloss. I had a latex plane that was 10 years old when I decided to recover it to inspect underneath, fabric looked brand new and punch tested just fine! For antichafe tape just use hockey tape from walmart. Cover job will cost you fabric cost plus 34 bucks in glue and 15 bucks in hockey tape.
 

Tony

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My little bird is covered with Ceconite. Then they used auto paint. This was before the regs where issued against the use of auto paints on N numbered birds. My bird was finished in 1998. Today the finish is cracked. The Ceconite is in good shape but has a cracked finish.
Tony
 

buzzypeterson

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Yeah at 34 bucks a bottle that saved me a few bucks, although you will have to deal with a few "leroy's" when people come to see your project and shake their heads. I think it's a good substitute but next time I would use their ecofill to fill the weave and then maybe spray PPG over that. I'm actually not the worlds biggest supporter of latex... it's so much work to cover a plane and in my experience if you work extremely hard the best result is maybe a 7 out of 10 with latex. I can say though that it was perfectly safe for over a decade. It is easy to repair too. So if your doing a himax like my first plane it's not all that stupid, but it sure sucks to put that much work in and know your baby has to be measured on a different scale because of where you cut corners. A friend is covering his plane. built exclusively with money from collected cans, another friend had the 6500 dollar home built husky, low cost planes are doable it's just very frustrating when your not playing with the same deck of cards.
 

fly_boy_bc

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You would be amazed how nice of a finish you can get with exterior grade latex house paint rolled on with a little bit of floetrol brush stroke reducer added to it.

I'm actually not the worlds biggest supporter of latex... it's so much work to cover a plane and in my experience if you work extremely hard the best result is maybe a 7 out of 10 with latex.

So which of these incompatible statements is your actual opinion? 7/10 at best or Amazingly nice?
 
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TFF

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The lightest would be what the Polyfiber manual says. 2 coats of polybrush 2 coats of polytone silver instead of the 3 of polyspray silver plus 3 color coats. You will have a silver plane but if you are going 103 you have to be careful. On my rebuild, I am going to use a take on this, but mine is not 103. 3 coats of polybrush, 2 coats of polyspray, 2 coats of Silver polytone. It should give me enough silver for protection and enough topcoat to be weather proofed. My goal on the rebuild is too lose weight. If I hate the silver, I am only 1 coat of paint more than the standard coat requirements. I have bought about $400 worth of uncertified fabric and tapes and nicknacks and about $700 of polybrush and polyspray, and will need another $300-500 to finish. This is for a 1 seat biplane.
 

Dana

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I believe that Polyfiber says certain of their colors (not just silver, I think dark blue as well as one or two others) provide the same UV protection as the silver polyspray.

-Dana

But, Officer, a broadsword is hardly a concealed weapon!
 

bmcj

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I believe that Polyfiber says certain of their colors (not just silver, I think dark blue as well as one or two others) provide the same UV protection as the silver polyspray.
That must be a new formulation or a new practice. In all my conversations with Ray Stits, I don't believe he ever advocated relying on a color coat for UV protection, though he did have a UV protection additive that could be added to the color coats (probably the darker, more opaque colors). He only advocated the additive for super light aircraft where you needed to avoid every extra ounce, and even then, he said it did not measure up to the protection level that the silver polyspray does. The silver coat gets it's UV blocking ability from immersed aluminum powder... 100% blocking ability.

Of course Ray is well into his 80's and has since sold Polyfiber to Jon Goldenbaum (also a good guy), so any claims you hear now are those of the current owner and staff.
 
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slevair

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The bill for purchasing the materials from A.S. to cover and paint my small LSA in Poly Fiber was about $2000 in the winter of 2011/12.
 

proppastie

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You may be right (or very close to it) about the Ekobond adhesive. Check out the ingredients listings in these two MSDSs:

Ekobond --- www.westav.ca/pdf/EkoBond MSDS 2010.pdf
3M 30NF --- www.tapplastics.com/uploads/pdf/MSDS 3M Fastbond.pdf

The ingredients listed are identical. Impressive.

-DC
Old thread but still interesting....I recently looked up Dap Contact Cement and Poly Tak ....I am not a chemestry guy but they look similar. Maybe someone can add to that interpretation.
 

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proppastie

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Another question comes to mind....why not add aluminum powder to the second step of the process (Poly-Brush) (Seal Coat) and eliminate a step. Maybe the seal coat does not work as well if you do that???
 
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