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How bad is this fabric?


Registered User
I am actively shopping around AK for a certified -18. The most recent one I went and looked at has some rough fabric on the tops of the wings, the bottom of the tail section, elevators and as a whole the fabric is a 4/10.

My question to the body is how many hours of flight can one reasonably expect from these wings? If kept outside with wing covers. Also are there any tricks for prolonging fabric life?


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My opinion, fabric is junk and I guarantee you are in for some surprises when the fabric does come off.
I don't know that I've ever had fabric removed from anything and not be a little surprised.
The question isn't hours of flight but rather months or years. What type of fabric is it? Do you care what it looks like? How little amount of money are you paying for it? It is clearly a negotiating item for reducing the purchase price. Look at the tubing just ahead of the tail post on the bottom longerons. Is there a pile of dirt sitting there? If yes, the tubing could be bad. If you don't care what it looks like, you could clean it up and throw some paint on it. The fabric, if it's dacron, it will last a long time. All of the current fabric processes of which that could be, are a form of dacron. Dacron is supposed to be a "lifetime" fabric. Finish on it prolongs it's life. Generally it's what is underneath which dictates redoing the covering. If it's still cotton or linen, it likely needs replacement.

You only asked about fabric. There are other places to look as well.
When was it covered and with what? There should be an FAA Form 337. Like Pete posted, it is a "lifetime" fabric but the finish and the structure underneath are not. Can you see light through the fabric from inside? If light doesn't penetrate the fabric it can look like hell and still last years.
Thanks for the insights. Trying to educate myself the best I can while navigating the -18 market.
looks like ringworm in that one picture, light gets to the fabric and rots it. push on it with your fingers and see if go through. looks like getting close to recover time
looks like ringworm in that one picture, light gets to the fabric and rots it. push on it with your fingers and see if go through. looks like getting close to recover time
Judging by the looks of the wing and that he doesn't appear to be concerned with how it looks, the ringworm can be covered with a piece of fabric and paint. Ringworm can be difficult to fix if you're looking for art gallery finishes. Recovering the whole wing is a major project and expense while patching is not.
A factual answer starts with a factual question. This thread is analogous to one throwing a bolt on the table and asking if it is airworthy. The OP states "rough fabric" and "fabric is 4/10"...based on what criterion? Two issues here; FABRIC airworthiness and FINISH airworthiness; it was never stated as to what materials the fabric and topcoat is. How can anyone wade in on an intelligent answer not knowing what they are dealing with? BTW, I would never patch ringworm. By definition the finish is embrittled (cause of ringworm) and the adhesion quality is questionable. Just alleviate the ringworm by taking down to bare fabric and build back up using the approved procedures in the system employed; my favorite being the old-fashioned Randolph process as it is so forgiving, (J3000 may be appropriate as well). This only after determining airworthiness of fabric by approved testing. I have tweaked several more years out of fabric that tested good but had embrittled Nitrate/Butyrate coating. Greg at Consolidated Aircraft Coatings is a wealth of knowledge in the two approved systems they support. I cannot speak to the other approved systems. A good ROT is, when in doubt, consult the manufacturer and have factual data to choose an appropriate course of action.
I'd be more concerned about the condition of the airframe and other components when looking at the surface rust in those photos.

how to test fabric, per poly fiber: