Fixing Small Tissue Tears on Model Aircraft—Using a new “Wrinkle” 2019
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.
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 here that now I was able to fold the tissue up and out of the hole. Sometimes you need to try to make bends in the tissue to get it to stay up and out of the hole. This is an important step as you will find out later.
This is the “tool” we are going to use. Any smooth plastic bag material will do. It needs to be a little stiff to not have a tendency to bend. This was cut off the end of a bag. After a while you will get a feel for the right thickness of plastic.
For most of the repairs you will be making, a good size for a strip would be roughly 3” long by 1” wide. Use a good pair of scissors to do this. Extra strips of various sizes will always come in handy. Keep them in a ziploc bag to keep them clean.
Next we are going to apply Elmer’s Clear Glue to the tissue edges. You don’t have to be real careful when this is done. Try not to get glue on the underside of the tissue. Office Supply stores and Walmart carry the glue in the school supplies section, and it’s not expensive.
The process here is now to lay the plastic strip in the pool of glue and to pull upward on the strip to get the tissue fibers to stand up. 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 edges of the tissue 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 or gaps. 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 tissue edges with the plastic strip then wiping the excess glue off. If the tissue edges won’t pull up, let the glue dry somewhat to make it more tacky—then try again. You are in effect zippering up the sides of the tissue hole so they meet in the middle and the hole goes away. Capillary action is at work here and practice makes perfect. When satisfied, leave the strip in place to let dry for at least several hours.
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.
Carefully pull off the strip after it has dried at least a couple hours. This is what the repair will look like. If we had used Duco Cement, this is where we would have to quit.
Using a Q-tip soaked with water and a side to side motion, gently scrub away some of the dried glue away from the outer edges. Leave the glue in the center, where the bonding is taking place.
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.
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.