to Silk a Model Aircraft Wing
As far as I'm concerned
the most beautiful model aircraft finish
is dyed silk finished with clear
don't know how long silk has been around but either it or tissue is the
oldest model airplane covering still in common use. There may be other
coverings in use from back when but if so they are very obscure.
Nowadays, silk is most often used to finish old-timers.
The only type silk I've used is
Habotai which is available in several colors and weights.
Silk has extremely high tear strength. Unfortunately, tearing isn't
how coverings are usually damaged so in a practical sense, silk is no more durable than any
other covering that would be appropriate for the same model.
Like any fabric or film stretched taut over open framework, doped silk is
not difficult to puncture. This can happen by dropping something on the wing,
laying the wing on something sharp or running the model through tall weeds
that whip over the wing and pop holes all over it.
If you try hard
enough you can probably invent all new ways to puncture your covering.
It's ok to be unhappy about it but it's not ok for you to cry unless you're
a girl and your wing got a bunch of holes punched in it when your pony died
and fell on it.
If you decide to apply this finish thinking it's going to be your silken masterpiece and
it must remain mint forever then you're probably going to be disappointed.
I just want to avoid patches until I get good photos of the finished model.
Actually I want to avoid patches forever, but that's like believing a
new car won't get dents.
By the way, I don't think I'd silk any model that is easily ground-looped.
I'm willing to apply patches but it's not an activity I seek out.
Silk is not a difficult finish
to apply and is actually very relaxing if you're patient and think each step
through. The fact is I was using silk to cover model airplanes before
I owned my first
X-Acto knife and I was able to apply it successfully.
The last wing I silked was my Carl Goldberg Falcon 56 circa 1976 or 1977.
Up to then every model I built was covered with silk, tissue or silkspan.
Even though Monokote was available at the time, I wasn't aware of its existence.
This wing is part of a project that I've put a lot of effort into. I wanted the
silk to be right without making excuses like, 'Well, it's good considering
how long it's been since the last time I silked a wing.'
I'm not convinced that dope is actually
fuel proof. Dope is claimed to be "hot
fuel proof" which isn't the same as fuel proof. Hot fuel proof
actually means exhaust proof. Exhaust contains mostly oil and
shouldn't contain anything more than trace quantities of alcohol or
nitromethane which are the ingredients that will break down a lot of
finishes. Oil is generally harmless as long as the model is sealed.
I don't remember any of my doped finishes being melted by fuel but then the models
I built when I was a kid were so
poorly built that a deteriorating finish would have fit right in. I
plan to make a test piece and see how fuel proof dope is. I'm going to
use it anyway because I don't plan to pour raw fuel on the wing.