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Removing tissue & paint for aircraft restoration.

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Removing tissue & paint for aircraft restoration.

Post  Oldenginerod on Tue Apr 15, 2014 1:56 am

I'd like to know if anyone has any hints in regards to removing old paint & tissue from a balsa model in order to recover & paint it.  When you tear the old tissue off it leaves a layer on the ribs and spars.  I wondered if paint stripper may soften the glue/dope to allow it to be pulled away clean from the balsa.  I have a couple of old C/L sports planes I'd like to rebuild and would probably use iron on film to cover the wings. (I've never used it before).  They're built fairly solid so they'd take some rough handling in the process.  Also, if I use paint stripper on the fuse & tail feathers, do i just need to wipe the stripper & paint off with a damp cloth?  Once dried, can I paint over it?  How do I deactivate any remaining stripper so it doesn't affect the new coating?   Huh... 

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Re: Removing tissue & paint for aircraft restoration.

Post  andrew on Tue Apr 15, 2014 8:09 am

If it were painted with typical nitrate and/or butyrate dope, then use acetone.  If the tissue is still in place, use a small brush to wet down a section, then a toothpick or tweezers to lift one end.  At that point, work your way down the rib or spar, dissolving the dope and lifting the tissue as you go.  The discoloration from the dope will likely remain and can be difficult to remove --- sanding will help some, both to lighten the dope and to smooth out any remaining covering.

I have not tried it, but I have read that some folks have had some success using clear packing tape stuck to the structure then pulled up to remove stubborn covering.
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Re: Removing tissue & paint for aircraft restoration.

Post  RknRusty on Tue Apr 15, 2014 8:42 am

andrew wrote:If it were painted with typical nitrate and/or butyrate dope, then use acetone.  If the tissue is still in place, use a small brush to wet down a section, then a toothpick or tweezers to lift one end.  At that point, work your way down the rib or spar, dissolving the dope and lifting the tissue as you go.  The discoloration from the dope will likely remain and can be difficult to remove --- sanding will help some, both to lighten the dope and to smooth out any remaining covering.

That's exactly how I did my old Shoestring. Acetone, elbow grease and patience. I stripped the whole plane; wings, fuselage and what was left of the broken tail. On the solid wood surfaces, it stripped all the way down to what I'm told is probably polyspan and some kind of hard white filler, which the acetone didn't phase. There were yellow stains remaining on the ribs, but I smoothed them with sandpaper and re-covered with red Monokote, which hid it completely.
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