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Covering Preparations

I used Poly Fiber products as that is what I had experience with. I will not go into a lot of detail here as the web is full of information about how to do this. The Poly Fiber Manual is indispensable and should be studied thoroughly. and the EAA web site is full of good stuff. There has been some really good work done with latex paints. I chose not to go that route but after seeing it first hand, I would consider it.

Check out WienerDogAero for more on latex painting.

Poly Fiber products are expensive and you need ventilation and some equipment. Latex is way less money, but takes a lot more time and effort. You have to decide which is right for you.

The Firefly kit calls for 28 yards of fabric. I ordered 30 and had about a yard left over. The extra 2 yards is not very expensive if you order it right away and it eliminates the worry of running out.

I had old fabric from another project and made up several test frames to practice on and did a shrink test at various temperatures. Calibrate your iron first!




Elevators were the smallest, most rectangular surfaces, so they were first.

Following the instructions from Kolb the fabric was glued to the leading edge first.


The Wrap Around

After glue on the leading edge is dry (only a few minutes) the fabric is wrapped around the trailing edge and overlapped back onto the leading edge.

The first one went kind of slow, but the second was much easier.

Cutting, trimming, folding, and gluing are all techniques that come with practice.

Not to worry, follow the Poly Fiber Manual, the iron will fix just about anything.

Calibrate your iron!



Ready to Shrink

Knowing how loose to apply the fabric is part experience, part luck, and part magic.

Well, maybe not magic, but if there is too much slack, you can't shrink it tightly enough. If there is not enough slack, when you shrink it, you either have to stop before you hit 350° F or you risk crushing the structure.



All Shrunk

On this elevator there should have been more slack. I had to quit shrinking at about 300° F.

A word about wrinkles and overlaps. Be Patient! Keep working on it at 225° F and they will all come out.

It takes time, but your patience will be rewarded.

This one is ready for the tapes.


Bending the Structure

If you don't have enough slack to start with, as you work your way up to 350° these light weight surfaces will start to deform.

Here you can see the trailing edges just starting to bow in. Not the end of the world but keep a close eye on this as you shrink the fabric. I worked my way up in 25° increments. This meant a lot more time ironing, but I could better control the results by going slow and paying attention.

Calibrate your iron!


Rib Stitching

The wings took the largest pieces of fabric (1 piece top and 1 bottom, each wing). This was done so if I did run out, I wouldn't have to buy a piece big enough to do a wing.

All Kolb aircraft are designed to have the fabric fastened to the wings with fabric rivets.

I don't have anything against rivets, but was very nervous about messing up one of Bryan's nice wings while drilling all of those 1/8" holes in the little round rib tubing. I like the look of fabric better and it will come off with a knife (not a drill) should it ever need to be recovered..

Since I had experience with rib stitching, I opted for that. It took a little practice to get the hang of it again, but it is easy to do especially on these small and simple wings.

Being cheap, I made my own needle from some welding rod. I kept a pair of pliers handy to reshape the needle as needed to work around any of the structure that caused problems.



Again, there is lots of information out there so no need for me to repeat it.

This picture is to show the wrinkles that happen when you lay a straight cut tape over a compound curve. I was worried that I maybe should have used bias cut tape.

No worries! Every tape laid down nicely with the application of a little heat from the iron.

It really is fun to watch the fabric pull up and lay down to form a nice wing shape.

I was having so much fun covering the wings, I forgot to take very many pictures.



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