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120. Gloom!

08/07/2014

It’s been a pretty depressing day today. In fact I’m not sure when we’ve come across such an intractable problem.

We’ve spent ten days sewing up the linen covering for all the flying surfaces, and got eight of them – all except the wings – covered. Seven of them have been doped, but only the first – the rudder – has worked successfully. The others are still too wrinkly to be acceptable.

The sewing shop is running very smoothly under the supervision of Theo. In fact he’s now developed a very successful way of sewing round corners, which is neater, more accurate and of course much, much faster than doing them by hand. We are most of the way through making the bags for the wings, and all the other pieces are complete.

It’s the doping shop (my responsibility) that’s causing the problem, and we can’t work out why. If you read the manufacturers website, they firmly recommend using butyrate dopes for natural fabrics and that’s what we’ve done most of so far. As I said in the previous post, we’d heard from several experts that nitrate dope was preferred for at least the initial, tautening, coats, and so we’d decided to switch over. We also gathered that we should only apply the absolute minimum quantity of water – apparently, although it shrinks the linen, it also makes it softer and saggier.

So this morning when the new dope arrived, we took one more aileron, made sure the covering was as flat as possible, applied a very few drops of water in a couple of areas that weren’t quite flat and applied the first coat of nitrate dope.

The result? No difference.

We only have one more aileron to experiment with and we certainly don’t feel confident about carrying on to dope the wings at this stage. We need first-hand assistance and advice before carrying on, which is very disappointing, since we had planned to have all the covering done by the end of this week. There are other things we can do in the meantime, and shall be working on getting some first-hand advice ASAP, but tonight there’s a cloud hanging over the workshop!

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