/ Model Tips / Seamless
Applying Tissue for a Seamless
By Tom Hallman
My modeling life changed for the better when I was introduced to
Krylon spray and the blue UHU glue stick, found in office supply
stores. A longtime user of dope or white glue on the frame, I found
a number of hidden bonuses with the glue stick approach.
First, it is not necessary to pre-coat the frame
with dope or white glue before applying the glue stick. Just sand
the frame smooth, and apply a light coat of the UHU evenly. For
those interested in wing loading,
this saves a few grams. It may also be the reason that my tissue
has never lost it's hold in damp weather, since the glue is directly
on the balsa, and not on a thin coating of dope.
Secondly, the glue stick is odorless,
so gone are the days of saturating the house with the smell of dope.
Also, there is no rush with using the glue stick. Once it's on the
frame, you can walk away and come back hours or even days later
if you need to. The glue is easily reactivated through the tissue
with isopropyl rubbing alcohol.
I apply the tissue in the standard way, tugging
softly as I move down the fuselage for example, floating on some
alcohol through the tissue with a small brush. The alcohol is tissue
friendly, and doesn't break apart the fibers as quickly as water
would if you were using white glue. Still, you need to be gentle.
The glue stick allows you to lift and reposition the tissue as often
as you'd like, so again the pace is less hectic. For me this is
very important, because I like to think of the covering process
as a relaxing experience, and not one of 'spinning plates' as on
the old Ed Sullivan Show.
When overlapping the tissue on a frame, I float
some alcohol on the seam and softly rub it in with my finger. This
appears to melt the seam together, creating a soft and nearly invisible
Some have suggested additionally sealing the overlaps with dope,
etc. for fear of coming unglued in damp weather, but I haven't found
this to be a concern in the 12 years of using the UHU glue stick.
Generally I pre-shrink and pre-color my tissue on
a frame, using acrylic enamels and an air-brush. I also try to apply
any markings or numbers with an air-brush before I attach the tissue
to the model. This makes for a lighter and cleaner appearance. However,
occasionally markings are attached with colored tissue and a glue
stick, again using alcohol to reactivate and seal.
Finally, after the tissue is shrunk on the model's
frame with alcohol or water, I 'dust' the model with either Krylon
matte or crystal clear (gloss).
This seals the tissue and more importantly has proven to prevent
it's continual shrinkage, which often turns our beautiful, perfectly
trimmed models into pretzels.
I've had models 8-10 years old that are the same today as they were
when first completed. It's magic in a can, adding very little weight
to the model.
Post Script: I usually try to add some opacity to
the tissue, even if it's yellow tissue, as on the Cessna C-38.
I feel it helps keep the look consistent when you cover not
only the frame but also sheet balsa.
That look where the sheeted areas are far brighter
or a different texture etc than the framed areas always makes the
model look odd. So again, spraying the tissue yellow in this case,
with a bit of white added to the yellow, seems to make the surfaces
closer together in color.
But it's a fine line of course. You can go overboard
with the spray, and suddenly it's looking and weighing like a dope
job over silk instead of tissue. I like to come in somewhere between
Pres Bruning and Chris Parent.
Dave Rees is my mentor, so I often look to his approach, although
Dave goes a few steps closer to the lighter ships than I care to.