It happens to all of us. A small tear in an otherwise perfect Tissue Job, or there are small tears all over the place that could use some touch up. Never fear. Here is a relatively simple fix that works most of the time.
—Article by Jeff Nisley—
I have to admit that the word “Wrinkle” is a poor choice of words when you are talking about improving the condition of the tissue covering on your model aircraft.
I could use one of these right now.
A new”twist” to the method would be better. The best way I’ve come up with to describe this repair process is to think of it as using clear glue to “zipper” the tissue “fabric” back to its original position much in the same way that a zipper brings two sides of a jacket firmly together.
The idea that I am presenting here is not new to most experienced Aeromodelers.
Mike Basta introduced me to the idea of fixing small tears in tissue back when I was new to the hobby in 2016.
The new twist I’m talking about is to use Elmer’s Clear Glue instead of Mike’s recommendation of Duco Cement.
Unlike Duco cement, Elmer’s Clear Glue is the secret to a less noticeable repair job as you will see later.
Elmer’s Clear Glue is a relatively new product on the market so this is merely
an update to a great modeling technique that’s been around awhile.
Below is a new way to bring you a tutorial on a subject like this.
You will be following along using a Slide Show Format.
Please read the three statements—A, B, and C before you start.
So lets begin.
A. — Below is a slide show to move you through the repair process.
To navigate the slide show use the left and right arrows at the sides.
B. — Important—Use the “Esc” or “Escape” key on your keyboard
to exit the slide show to return to this page.
C. —Begin the slide show by clicking on the first photo of the Photo Gallery below—the Stab.
Notice the two holes in the fabric just below the brown stripe. Our job is to make them go away.
Here we see the tears close up. In a tear like this, the fabric is usually bent downward.
First step is to bend the sides of the tissue upward and out of the hole. Sometimes it seems that some of the “fabric” is missing. However, it’s probably folded under. This is where you must “unfold” it. Use the top blunt edge of the blade to do most of the work.
Notice that I was able to fold the tissue up and out of the hole. This is crucial.
Any smooth plastic bag material will do. You will know it when you see it. Authors note: This was cut off the end of a bag from Volare Products. I also keep this plastic in a “kit” of sorts for these repairs in a plastic case that I have purchased at a Dollar Tree Store. Look for a set of yellow screw drivers in a small black case that sells for a dollar. I take the screwdrivers out and use the case. To me, the case alone is worth a buck. In addition they’re great for holding modeling pins and other items as well.
Cut the plastic in pieces roughly 2” long by 1/2” wide, or cut bigger pieces if need be.
Next step is to apply Elmer’s Clear Glue to the tissue edges. Office Supply stores and Walmart carry the glue in the school supplies section, and it’s not expensive—averaging around $2.50 for a 5 oz bottle with Walmart coming in at $1.77.
The process here is to lay the plastic in the pool of glue and to pull upward on the strip to get the fibers to stand upward. They will then have a better chance of coming together when you place the strip on them again. You can do this several times. Try to get all of the paper on all sides to come together. If there is still a hole, carefully go back in with the knife blade to persuade the last bits of tissue to fill in the gap. Don’t worry if you have applied too much glue—as you can reduce the amount of glue each time between times you repeatedly pull on the paper sides by wiping the plastic strip clean. If the paper won’t pull upward, let the glue dry somewhat to make it more tacky—but don’t let it dry too much or take away too much glue as you want to be left with a nice pool with no bubbles under the strip. When satisfied, leave the strip in place to let dry for at least several hours. One last note: You don’t want to have the pool of glue too thick as you will find this out later.
If you were successful on the last step—this is how the repair should look at this stage. The tissue has been brought together and the the pools are nice and flat.
Remember when I talked about the use of Duco Cement. If I had used Duco, this is where I would have been forced to quit. The way this looks is exactly what some of the repairs that I have done in the past have looked like. Ugh! It’s repaired—but left with an unsightly shiny puddle of glue in its wake. Unfortunately your eye is drawn to this. And it ain’t pretty. Turn to the next slide to see what the remedy is to this…
Use a Q-tip with plain old water to clean up the repair by taking away some of the dried glue away from the outer edges. I say edges—because you don’t necessarily want to scrub away all of the glue, especially in the center, where the bonding is taking place. You want to be gentle and take your time for the glue to dissolve, but don’t over work it. It’s also important to employ a side-to-side motion, without pressing down. As you can see, this will wrinkle the tissue where you rub with the water. That’s OK. When finished, you will set aside your masterpiece to dry, and because typically wet tissue will shrink when it dries, the area in question should tighten back to where it was initially.
After drying, here we see the repair with most of the outlying puddle gone. The inner shiny appearance will go away with the final spray finish on the tissue, which I will talk about next.
Here is the coating I use for all my Tissue and Stick Model Aircraft. The can as pictured here has so many names on it that I don’t know exactly what to call it—so I settle on “Krylon Clear Spray — Flat Finish”. It also comes in Satin finish so it’s your choice whether to use Satin versus Flat. I like the Flat because I have found that the Satin shows up glue spills on the tissue whereas the Flat shows them far less. I also just like the appearance of the Flat as it is far more forgiving. This paint finish can be found most anywhere including HD, Lowes, and Ace Hardware, but my choice is Walmart because of its lower cost.
When first applied, the “Flat” coat will look like this. Make sure it is even, but don’t go overboard. Some modelers recommend several light “mist” coats—but for me one medium coat works well for me. I can see that I’ve gotten it even by observing the uniform shine of the coat that I’ve applied. I think one coat is enough—more coats just adds unnecessary weight. When spraying wings or stabs, coat one side at a time and let dry—preferably held in place on something perfectly flat like a sheet of glass.
If you look closely you can see where the two holes were repaired. The repaired area on the left is a bit discolored but the one on the top right is nearly invisible. It’s not a perfect world. What has happened here is that the former holes are now gone, and that the tissue in both holes is whole again, perfect now to do its intended job. I would say that is a Success!
The final slide in this show shows the repairs made on the stab from a greater distance. The next slide is the first one in the series (the start of the slide show) so you can compare the two. We’ve come full circle. Don’t think for a minute that you will ever be caught up with repairs in this hobby! Hopefully this tutorial as given you some techniques in your tool kit to deal with the inevitable crashes and minor mishaps that cannot be avoided. To exit this page—Remember that you must hit the “Escape” or “Esc” key on your keyboard to exit this Slide Show and return to the web page. Thanks for viewing, and Happy Aeromodeling! —Jeff Nisley—