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128 Wing covering, round 2

11/08/2014

When I got to Theo’s, we had a difficult decision to make. The covering, as you will know from previous posts, was a somewhat stressful affair, and while we feel they are generally acceptable, there was one that gave us particular concern. In fact it was the last wing to be done, and the problem was – at least in part – down to the tape we’d used on the woodwork before covering. Everywhere else we’d used ½” cotton tape – the same as for ribstitching, and while it was laborious to apply, since it had to be stuck on with dope or cement, it did the job of preventing colour leaching through from the wood into the fabric. When we’d needed more, we’d spotted some special self-adhesive anti-chafing tape on the LAS website, and bought a couple of rolls on spec. It was an order of magnitude easier to apply, so we decided to go with it. We’d also been so pleased with the tautness of the fabric when it was glued onto the frame that we eschewed the use of water to tauten it (in line with one of the conflicting bits of advice we’d had).

Unfortunately this led to a less than satisfactory covering. Something in the self-adhesive tape gave a yellow tinge to the fabric where it came in contact, and the lack of water spraying led to unacceptable sagging and also creasing of the fabric, so we decided to bite the bullet and recover the wing. We had the materials to do it, so it was only a question of our time, and we felt there was enough of that available to allow us to do it without putting too much pressure on ourselves.

In fact the job’s gone very well, and within a day we’ve cut and sewn the fabric, applied the ½” tape to the structure, glued the bag to the wing and watered it ready for doping tomorrow morning. By now we’re getting pretty slick at all those parts of the operation and it’s only the actual doping itself that remains something of a black art. We’ll let you know how things go on.

The replacement wing covering before water shrinking. Its tighter than any of the other wings, and we're really hoping that finally we'll get a wing with absolutely no wrinkles. We applied water tonight and it looks simply stunning, and we just wish we could leave it like that...

The replacement wing covering before water shrinking. Its tighter than any of the other wings, and we’re really hoping that finally we’ll get a wing with absolutely no wrinkles. We applied water tonight and it looks simply stunning, and we just wish we could leave it like that…

In the meantime, I had something of an inspiration today, and Theo has awarded me the ‘Hero of the Day’ medal. You may remember that I’d found that making frayed-edge tape was simpler than I’d expected; a craft knife clamped in a Workmate acted as a slitter, and teasing the threads out was relatively straightforward with a little practice. This worked fine when I was cutting 2in and 3in tapes down to size. It’s less easy if you’re trying to make tapes from spare bits of fabric because it’s almost impossible to slit the fabric exactly down the line of the weave, and this makes teasing out the edge threads to leave a nice neat tape almost impossible.

But the solution is blindingly simple. Tear the fabric into strips about ¼” wider than the nominal width of the tape. It will always tear exactly along the line of the weave, leaving the edges nicely frayed to the correct width. Then iron the tape to get the edges to lie nice and flat, and job’s a good ‘un as they say!

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From → Building, Technical

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