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Author Topic: Tips for electrical tape trim  (Read 945 times)

Offline Miotch

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Tips for electrical tape trim
« on: May 24, 2023, 07:29:40 AM »
First of all, I'm not recommending this.  Second of all, I'm under no illusion it will hold up with much exposure to fuel.  But for multiple reasons, I decided to add some color using electrical tape.  If this is actually a good flyer and I decide not to hang it from a ceiling after a few flights, I'm probably going to strip it and recover using dope rather than the Polycrylic I experimented with.  But I figure I'm not the first to do this and won't be the last.  I've learned a lot about using electrical tape.

Preface: the white is SIG butyrate, which isn't the best surface to stick anything to.  I've put clear on the cowling and top wing, over the tape, mainly in an effort to help hold the tape in place.  I'll clear the rest of it after fixing a few things, but I will reiterate, I'm not going to pretend this is a solution to trim a plane you plan to keep in service.  For something quick and somewhat attractive, it can work.  For complex schemes, not so well.

First of all, clean the area you are going to put tape on.  No oils at all or you are wasting your time.

Second, don't try to stretch and curve any tape wider than 1/4".  You can do it, but it will shrink and revert in a day or two.  The inside corners will lift and bunch and the ends of the tape will shorten because it is going to want to revert back to it's original size.

Third, you will want to iron it.  Now don't think this will make it magically adhere, it won't.  And don't think you are going to make it shrink nicely around a corner.  It won't.  This isn't Monokote and won't adhere nor mold like it.  The heat is simply to soften the gum and must be immediately followed by pressing it down firmly.  It works best if you heat an inch or so at a time, then immediately press the tape down firmly and hold while it cools.  If you dip your finger in cold water before pressing on the tape, it seems to help the tape keep its shape.  I experimented and found that putting my old Monokote iron on about 1/3 heat (no idea what temperature that is because the label broke off the iron long ago).  If the tape curls, you have to much heat.  If the tape doesn't get warm, you don't have enough heat.  The heat is only an aid to help it stick when you press the tape down, it is not a substitute for firmly pressing the tape down. And use a clean iron.

And last, you are going to want to inspect 24 hours later and hit some spots with the iron and pressing down again.

I don't know if the clearcoat is going to make much difference yet.  I have already found that it does harden the tape once it is dry.  Maybe that will help it keeps its shape and stay on, maybe it won't.

In this case, I just wanted something prettier than plain white, without spending a lot more time masking and spraying, only to find the plane blows up into a pile of balsa it's first flight.  This is a scratch design full of compromises and guesses.  I guess it will fly, but I sometimes guess wrong.  Also, I have so many things I'm not pleased with from covering with Polycrylic that I kind of hope I do end up recovering it.  The Polycrylic is awesome on frame work, but I'm disappointed with it over open bays, and most of this plane is open bays.


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