View Full Version : fuselage covering

10-14-2004, 08:42 PM
I have an access area that I wanted to cover up and I started scraping back the paint to get down to silver and the paint is coming off in sheets. I kept scraping until most of the paint has come off the side of the fuselage along with the fabric taping.

The paint has to be some kind of hard enamel. It is cracked all over and cracks with little flexing. The paint and fabric tape will peel off easier than it seems they should.

My question is how much time would it take for the fuselage to be recovered and how much money. I would probably prep the frame and possibly shot the coats on the fabric myself. I just do not know if I want to try tackling the recover.

May possibly have it all done by someone, just depends on the cost.

Steve Pierce, Warren Bros., or someone close to me have an idea?

Also the fabric is in good shape would you try and rejuvenate?

Thanks for the input, Lance
P.S. I would be happy to call and discuss it with a pro. Leave a #

-12 Flyer
10-14-2004, 10:47 PM
Let me start off by saying that I am no expert...but I did sleep in a Holiday Inn last night...No, just kidding. Last weekend I participated in a Poly-Fiber seminar in Anchorage, where wee got hands on instruction on recovering an aircraft from start to finish. Brian, from Poly-Fiber came up and gave this class. During the two days, we completely covered a wing from bare framework to color coats. This was accelerated, and we did not let everything dry and cure properly, but we did learn the basics of how to do it. I was amazed at how easy it actually is. I plan to help my friend cover his PA-12 fuselage this winter. He took the class as well. As for any technical questions, call Brian at Poly-Fiber. (1-800-362-3490)or check out the website at www.polyfiber.com. Here are some of the things I learned during this workshop that readers might find interesting:
1) Poly Fiber and Ceconite are the same exact fabric. They are both from the same source, just get different stamps.
2) Ceconites New Super Seam and Poly's Poly Tak are the same glue, just different labels.
3) Poly-Fiber now owns the Randolph finishing products used for Ceconite.
4) About the only difference between Poly-Fiber and Ceconite is the finish coats. Ceconite uses dope, and Poly uses vinyl.
5) I automotive style paints or any urethane paint has been used the fabric can not be rejuvenated.

As far as man hours or $$ to recover yourself, I don't know as I have not actually done it yet. We have budgeted $3000 (We'll see if we can stick to that) for the fuse, and plan on about 25-30 hours. Being that this is our first time doing it, we may take longer to "do it right the first time' and spend more because of mistakes. Once again, Brian at Poly-Fiber is very knowledgeable about all aircraft coverings, especially Ceconite and Poly-Fiber, and is a great guy to work with. Hope this helps.

bob turner
10-15-2004, 09:17 PM
3000 dollars if you have a lot of prep work to do and are paying yourself wages. I believe you can still legally do the fuselage without an envelope, which should limit fabric costs to under $200. dope can still be had for under $50 per gal, and I cannot imagine using more than four or five gallons of dope and an equal amount of thinner on the fuselage. That's $700 max. You can do a stitched seam back by the rudder, then cover it with 4" tape, properly shrunk to make the stitches not show - that saves big bucks in fabric. Everywhere else, you just wrap the longeron or stringer, and glue it all together. Use aluminum for those celluloid inspection openings. Holds #4s lots longer! And don't forget the belly stringer-it aids in getting water out through the rear drain holes.

Steve Pierce
10-15-2004, 09:39 PM
The problem is if you uncover it where do you stop. I have never uncovered a fuselage and just put new fabric on. I have seen others use plastic scrapers and blow guns to remove the entire finish, reshrink, tape and spray. This was done on dope which didn't stick to the fabric. I would figure three days to cover and tape. Another 4 hours to spray silver, about four hours to wet sand, last coat of silver and then paint. It is never this easy but best I can figure with everything installed, repaired and ready to cover.

10-15-2004, 10:54 PM
I put some pictures of the fuselage fabric in my album. Bottom Guns Pics, located on 3rd page of Cub Drivers Albums[/url]

10-16-2004, 01:40 AM

10-16-2004, 10:35 AM
Im sure you could get a Alaskan cover job for alot less.
finally feeling like your old self again eh dig?? :o

10-16-2004, 04:28 PM
I would love to do a complete job, but it would be quit expensive for something that gets rode hard and put up wet.

My reasoning for partial work is that not all is in need of repair. The fabric is not bad, it just has terrible paint and some areas that need repair. The wings are in good shape, from what can be seen thru the inspection ports. The wing tips need to be replaced.

The frame looks OK from interior inspection, but I would like to strip the fabric to have a look.

The boot cowl is terrible, and needs replacing. I would like to install a greenhouse which it does not have.

I completely re-wired and rebuilt the panel two years ago. Also has new sliding windows.

The floor boards are ok.

I just do not want to spend the money for a complete rebuild, but I am not the type to do a halfway job either. That is why I still have not decided.

Thanks for the replys, keep them coming.


10-17-2004, 09:22 PM
You didn't tell us how long the cover has been on the aircraft,and how long its been in your area.Considering where you're located and what I've seen of airplanes coming from that part of the country, unless it was recovered within the last 6-8 years and a real good prime job done on the fuselage, your gonna find more than you think once you start into it.

10-17-2004, 10:22 PM
The "actual" airframe is a 1976.

Some parts of the plane have been recovered (ie. tail, wing tips.)

I will look in the logs again for some dates and repair facts. The logs are not very good and many things are missing or illegible.

The frame could use another chromate job but integrity of it looks good from what I can see.

I have pretty well decided to strip it and go from there. What I have not decided on is finding the time to do it myself or farming it out. My hesitation is that I know it is just going to keep snow balling. Naturally I want the least amount of down time. :)

10-17-2004, 10:28 PM

bob turner
10-18-2004, 04:19 PM
In the olden days, folks just shot chromate on the tubes and covered them. That's probably why there was so much rust damage. I have had success with catalyzed acrylic enamel over the chromate - it seems to resist the super seam cement. I had the opportunity to recover a fuselage I had previously done with epoxy color over dirtbag chromate, and found the fuselage tubes to be in perfect shape.

Whatever happened to that dope-proof paint we used to use? Looked like white house paint, but it wasn't. We brushed it on, and it seemed to protect the chromate from attack.

10-20-2004, 09:20 PM
Hey Diggler it just keeps getting better.

I was over optimistic. I started striping the fabric and so far have found 2 tubes rusted thru from the inside. It had some obvious surface rust from previous inspection but the holes were underneath, hidden by fabric.

My uncertainty of its history made me want to strip it, even though I did not want to tackle a big project, now there are some big decisions to be made.

I will post some more pics soon. Meanwhile, I need some advise on the airframe. If it is rusting from the inside out how do you tell how bad it is? Can it be Ultrasonically tested? Where do I go for tube replacement that is not 1000 miles away?

I know some of you will say buy a new airframe, and that may be, but I want to inform myself about all options.


Steve Pierce
10-20-2004, 10:22 PM
Strip it down, sandblast and use a punch and calibrated elbow. The corrosion I find is mostly from the surface inward. Cut over 10 feet of longeron out Sat due to pitts found from the outside. They were 6" to 12" apart and the size of a pencil lead. I will speculate that it was caused by dirt and debris sitting between the longeron and the fabric. The inside of the tubing was still oily. It was a 56 model. If your tubing is rusting from the inside out there are probaly cracks somewhere. The surface will usually look odd after blasting. Take a metal object and start rapping on the tubing listening to the ring it makes. Rust will ring different. Use a punch to push on pitted areas. You can replace quite a bit of tubing for $10,250. It all depends on your pocket book and skills.

10-20-2004, 10:33 PM

Bill Ingerson
10-20-2004, 11:58 PM
Hi Lance. I agree with Diggler on your recover. I picked up my PA-18 in California and just brought it home. After reading in this site for a year, I came to a conclusion that for my budget the best thing to do is buy a plane with a total rebuild in mind. Most everyone buys a plane for $50,000 and up and two years later, dump another $30,000 or more in it. Im going to take alot of pictures and post my project on our web site to help others. My plane is a 1953 and never left California. The fabric needs to come off. My cat jumped through the opening where the battery goes and fell through the bottom on the ground, time to recover. I will do the wings and tail feathers first. Found some rust at bottom of the tail feathers, might need to replace some of it. Some bad ribs, wing bows are shot. I had a flight school give me a quote of $20,000. to recover the wings and fuselage. I will do it my self, with the help of a experienced friend. Im looking forward to a total rebuild, I will replace almost everything and update somethings for added saftey. I also need a boot cowl and an engine. 0320 160 h.p should work fine. Atlee dodge makes a good stainless steel fire wall and boot cowl. This plane was in a dry climate, think what the wet ones must be like. I would if I were you go through the whole plane. This way you know what you have and it will be like new when you're done, plus you know your plane. It will take me aprox two years to finish mine. Go for it, you will be glad to see what you find, good or bad.

10-21-2004, 07:15 AM
I agree with Bill and Steve. Do the majority yourself--it will be a rewarding experience. Especially the covering!

I farmed out my fuselage rebuild. In addition to the damage we did on the infamous "swamp tour", there were a couple of tubes that were, should we say, questionable.

We put it on a jig and replaced over half the fuselage tubing and made it all absolutely straight. If there was any question whatsoever, we cut it out and put a new tube in. Fuselage, deck, birdcage, boot cowl and the pressure cowl components came in at a very reasonble cost and well below a new fuselage.

Not that there is anything wrong with a new fuselage. There are some superb aftermarket products available that offer many of the upgraded features you might want, including wider fuselages.

Phil Kite
10-21-2004, 11:02 AM
Sandblasting the tubing with #4 sand at about 80 psi with a small sandblaster is the best way to find bad tubing. You can have a tube that looks good on the outside, but when you hit it with the sand it will blow a hole. I had a PA-12 fuselage that was punch tested by several "experts" and when I sandblasted it it looked like a flute! If you take it to a commercial sandblasting firm that does trucks and heavy equipment they will pulverize all the C channels and window frames.

These projects are like a "Tar Baby" once you start, you get in deeper and deeper.

10-21-2004, 07:35 PM
I was to busy today take some pictures, sorry.

Steve, I will look more closely at the holes but it sure looks like rust from the inside.

What I have found so far was done quickly after work. I will spend more time on it when I can. I did tap on the lower longeron's with a nail set and hammer and have only found those two places with holes. My mechanic was out there and saw where one of the holes was and did not like what he saw. He wants to Condemn the airframe because one of the holes is about an inch away from the tube cluster that makes up the strut attach and gear attach point. He said that whole area could be rusted and would not think that repairing that area would be safe.


10-21-2004, 07:49 PM

Steve Pierce
10-21-2004, 10:29 PM
Like Diggler said you can repair anything but the cost is prohibitive. We rebuilt a Clipper frame that had tubes that had literally rusted away as the frame sat on a dirt floor hanger for years. No one makes replacement Clipper frames and the final cost was just under $7K. Replaced bottom of frame from baggage to the firewall including the gear/strut carrythru that the seat sits on, all the welded in sheet metal for doors and windows and the front spar carry-thru. You can cut a tube out of a cluster and look into the other tubes. Granted it helps to have a little experience.

10-21-2004, 10:33 PM
Bottom Gun.
Couple things you have to consider before going any farther.
1. Digglers right-- the best decision would be a new fuselage. Considering yours is a 76 model, a $10,000 investment now will net you at least $20,000 when you go to resell it. I don't think the same would apply to a 50's model, regardless of how nice you made it.

2. If you don't want to spend an extra $10,000 , you can do a lot of rebuilding with $1000 worth of tubing, if you are a good welder and you make a good jig before you start cutting.
It won't even be close if you think replacing a tube at a time won't make a pretzel out of it.

3. If you cut one tube and replace it, and make a 337 for it, it will devalue you're airplane. Anyone looking at it will think something is wrong with the fuselage. It doesn't matter if you have it Xrayed, eddy current, magnafluxed, sledge hammered or what, those paying top dollar will always be suspect.

If you have plans for long term use, you can get a lot done for a little money if you can do a lot of the work your self. Let someone else fight over the inheritence. otherwise, new fuselage is best bet. ( and I never take my own advice)

10-22-2004, 12:26 AM

10-22-2004, 02:16 AM
Ok TJ S2D etc...

Where is the line drawn between repair and replace? I am going through the same thought process with my J-5 fuselage. I can cut, grind, fit and have a friend that will tig weld it for me. I figure I will have 300 hours in it with the longerons, new turtle deck, all of the rotted trim ....the list goes on. I value my time at $12 an hour. So i figure $500 for the tubing so now im up to $4100 for the repair. So anyway, I have two choices. New fuselage from dakota airframe for 10,000 or about $4100 for the old one. I figure I can get at least $1000 for the old fuse so now the difference is about $5000. Either $5000 more for a brand new fuse or keep the 65 year old polished terd. I do enjoy building but if the day comes where you must sell your plane and you can say "hey its all brand new" it is an easy choice for the informed buyer.


p.s. anybody want a J-5 fuse and wings ? Or im looking for some J-5A paperwork.

10-22-2004, 07:40 AM
Tim: Sadly, you would probably never get enough out of a J-5 after you're all done restoring it to pay expenses and your time,(they don't qualify for the sportsmans license either so you won't get a price bump there) so you better be doing it for the love of the aircraft. Restore it to whatever extent you feel comfortable. Supercubs are a complete different animal when you consider some of the new everything ones are bringing in the 6 figures.

10-22-2004, 10:25 AM

Very true. If we could find a reasonably priced PA-18 or 11 project it would make more sense. Im still debating, no hurry. The J-5 would end up at 40k with new wings and fuse and rebuilt engine. No chance of me ever recovering my time in building it.


10-22-2004, 02:39 PM
Just turn it over to Perfection Aircraft. They should have it assembled in a couple months max.

10-22-2004, 02:46 PM
they had it for 10 years already;)

11-12-2004, 07:02 PM
I know I read about it before, but what is the opinion of the Univair fuselage? Is it a wise purchase?

I did a search and read thru a bunch, but never anything specifically disscussing the pros/cons of their fuselage.


11-13-2004, 11:07 AM
We bought a Univair frame a few years ago and I would say its as close to perfect as you can get. Really happy with it. It was 10250.00 at the time and came with both doors and was primed with Randolph epibond. A Airframes then was 10250 plus doors and 900.00 for powder coating. Only options we got were X brace the tail, ext baggage channels, front seat belt attach, increases gross weight tube. I then bought the 3rd seat stc and welded that mod in. If you buy a Airframes fuselage they already come with that stuff. I didnt know it at the time but the Univair fuselage has more tubes welded in and I posted some pictures in one of these forms. What I would do is figure out what mods you want and see what the shipping is and then make a decision. If I had to do it over I would buy a Univiar frame in a second.

Every thing is covered and painted white now except the fuselage. Got it done thru the tapes. Using Randolph nitrate and butyrate. Hope to have it flying this spring.

http://supercub.org/albums/cubs/DSC02223.thumb.jpg (http://supercub.org/albums/cubs/DSC02223.sized.jpg)

Cub junkie
11-13-2004, 06:52 PM
There is a Univair fuselage in my local area that looked like excellent workmanship. It seems like shipping would be much cheaper in the lower states compared to a fuselage being shipped from AK.

11-15-2004, 08:36 PM
I've read thru this string with interest. I am planning a complete rebuild of my 1950 SC next year. My plan is to tackle the wings and surfaces first then the fuselage. I'm contemplating a new fuselage also. I've rebuilt a wrecked Champ and know what it's like once you start cutting into old tubing. No telling what you'll find. Big thing for me is the time saved and not having to fool with jigs. Any suggestions or recommendations would also be appreciated.

12-21-2004, 03:19 PM
Giday Folks, from down under.

This is my first post to this forum. I have a 1980 Super Cub which is in need of a rebag. Can anyone advise regarding using envelopes for the fuse and wings and if they are available (from who). Pros and cons of using an envelope also appreciated.

I seem to be able to find suppliers for envelopes for all sorts of a/c but not the PA18.

Any advice appreciated.

Seasons greetings to you all



12-21-2004, 05:17 PM

I suggest you NOT waste your time or oney on envelopes for the PA-18. The size of the parts, i.e. wings and fuselage, are such that they can easily be covered with flat stock. Wings one piece each top and bottom. Fuselage three pieces - bottom, left side to center top and right side to center top. Both stabs, flaps and ailerons can be covered with one piece wrap around. Rudder and elevators have to be covered one side at a time.

If you were covering a plane that had larger wings or fuselage, I could understand using an envelope. But for a Cub, it is not NECESSARY. The envelopes I have seen didn't fit as well as you think you want (You DO want it to fit like a glove, don't you?). The seams are a pain to keep straight and are generally unsightly. You are also going to have to pay SOMEBODY to sew the envelope.

You CAN buy envelopes for the Cub, but I have to ask WHY???

John Scott

P.S. Welcome! Don't be afraid to use the serch feature at the top of the discussion page. LOTS of information here!

12-29-2004, 05:00 AM
Thanks John, that all makes sense... just needed the direction...


12-29-2004, 07:14 AM

12-29-2004, 10:40 AM
I am just finishing up recovering my PA-18 with Stits using the blanket method and am very happy with it. The only thing I would do different is to roll out the cloth to do the bottom of the fuselage first and cut to do the job. Since the fuselage is so narrow, the left over will do your alierons or flaps. I started on all my small parts first to get the feel of the process so when I got to the wings and fuselage it might look professional which it does. I ended up short on fabric because of a lot of waste, so cut the bottom first for the aileron or flap fabric. Palhal

01-09-2005, 02:03 AM
Giday again folk...

some more questions if you would be so kind to help....

I am in the process of planning the rebag of my 1980 Cub.

I understand there is a STC for larger fuel tanks. Can anyone provide some info on where to obtain more detail pls.

Secondly, I also understand there is a mod/STC for an metal belly behind the firewall back a yard or so. Any info on this also appreciated.

Comments on either mod (good or bad) appreciated...


01-09-2005, 08:36 AM
Hi Duggie, there is A LOT of info on this site about larger tanks, just type in fuel tanks in the search engine at the bottom of the home page and you'll get a ton info on most everything thats out there for fuel systems.

01-09-2005, 09:54 AM

There are basically two larger fuel tanks that are STC'd;

1) F. Atlee Dodge's 30.5 gal (US) tanks. You can contact Dodge here: http://www.fadodge.com/

2) Dakota Cub Aircraft's 23 gal (US) tanks. You can contact Dakota Cub here: http://www.dakotacub.com/

These are replacements for the original 18 gal wing tanks. There is also the Landes belly tank that is also an option for additional fuel capacity. Their website is here: http://www.airglas.com/light_aircraft/

As for the pros and cons of one tank over the other - best to do a search like R Johnson suggested becasue these have been kicked around at length. Hope that helps.

01-13-2005, 03:29 PM
OK, I posted some more pics of the cub.

The "holes in the fuselage" pics can now be seen. It does not matter now because a new fuselage is on the way. I just wanted ya'll to be able to see what I was asking questions about previously.

I also took some wing pics, mostly internal. Steve Pierce, Mark Warren I would like ya'll to check them out. I have discussed the wings with both of you and wanted you to be able to see what I have.


Warren Aircraft
01-13-2005, 05:59 PM
Just started to look over your pics. A new airframe was a good choice.
One thing I did notice is there is a splice in the spar. It is at the outboard compression strut. It is held together by the three bolts. It is not a legal splice. Was this addition a STC or field approval?
I will continue to look over the remaining pics for answers to your other questions.

01-13-2005, 08:18 PM
I see it now, thanks for the experienced eye!

Was the top and bottom opened up and that piece slide in there? If so can it go back to stock fairly easy?
Mark, I may try to call you tomorrow to discuss in further detail.

Anymore opinions on the pics ?


01-13-2005, 08:21 PM

Steve Pierce
01-13-2005, 08:36 PM
The spar splice shown inboard of the lift strut on pictures 63 and 65 is illigal according to the Piper Service Bulletin and everything I have ever read or seen. I would deffinately replace that spar. The spar extension on page 71 is a common mod I have seen before. I would check your paperwork. They spread the spar caps out where they start to bend to meet the wood bow and instal the plate. I think they cut a little bit off the front spar tip. I would decide if I wanted extended wings or not. If extended find out what the STC holder requires to modify the spars. If stock tips are wanted you will probably have to splice the spar at the tip. The problem is you will have to move inboard of the last compression strut to keep the splice plates from bowing the spars fore and aft when you install the compression struts. I have done them but you have to move it inboard. I used the tips of some old spars I had.

What do you want for the fuselage?

SuperCub MD
01-13-2005, 08:42 PM
I would doubt the splice on the right main spar with all the rivets is legal. Replacing the spars with new ones during recover isn't that big of deal. But all the steel parts are rusty....they should be removed, blasted and painted...there are some rib repairs, what do the leading and trailing edges look like....do you want to keep those tips.....these wings are going to need a lot of work.

01-13-2005, 08:54 PM
Steve, whatever is fair market for the fuselage, ya'll tell me. Maybe a trade for some labor hours?

Mark, I do not want the tips. one of them has had a very poor repair. I do not like them. You want them?

I figured on the painting of the parts, but it just keeps getting better.
The addage, "You get what you pay for" would apply here.


Steve Pierce
01-13-2005, 09:00 PM
They are all snow balls. Some get bigger than others. I would have to see the whole fuselage to determine what I would give for it.

01-13-2005, 09:56 PM