Applying iron-on film, Part 3

I always like to cover the wings first, so I can get the most out of a roll of film.   Now that we have that out of the way it’s time to cover the fuselage.  I’m going to use my tried and true color scheme, and show you how it all goes together with a few easy pieces.  It can be made with sharp corners, rounded corners, wavy lines, darts, or any other variation.  In this case I’m covering a Q-Tee with a basic version of the pattern, with no curved lines or complicated templates.  We’ll just do it the easy way this time, then I’ll show you some advanced variations in another installment of this series.

First we have to mark the pattern on the fuselage.  The turtle deck will be white, and the nose and fuselage bottom will be blue.  I want the dividing line to be at the fuselage midpoint, so I marked a pencil line near the tail post to show the mid point between top and bottom.


The blue/white dividing line will be at the front of the front strut, and midway between top and bottom, as shown in the following photo.


Standard film application sequence is bottom, then sides, then top, but this is superseded by light, then dark.  So the first thing I need to apply is the white sides.


This piece overlaps the marks (which I made earlier) by 1/4″.  When the white is applied, draw the marks again, this time with a permanent marker.

Now it’s time to put the bottom on.


The same procedure is used on the fuselage as was used on the wing.  Tack it at the front, then the tail, then pull the edges out, then seal all the way around.  Pull it nice and smooth before you stick it, and then you won’t have to blow a bunch of wrinkles out later.  Trim it so it hangs over the edges about 3/16 to 1/4 inch, then iron it around the edge.


The next piece is the blue film that goes on the lower fuselage side, overlapping the white.  I’m going to do the fuselage side the easy way, in two pieces.  The other rule says to put film on the rear first, then the front.  So I’ll do the lower side in the rear, then the big piece of blue on the front.  Here’s the plane with the rear blue piece in place.

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Next, the blue film at the front of the fuselage side.  Make sure there is some extra film hanging over the front edges for stretching and pulling.  Then stretch it and pull it around the front edge of the cowl.


The edges are trimmed for a slight overlap on the opposite side


Then the edge is ironed down.


Here’s what it looks like when this piece is finished.

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The next part is the fuselage top.


As you can see, the front part was easy.  A small edge is left on at the front and back for ironing the film over the edge.  The sides are cut to a straight line that will land on a contour line to make it blend in.  In other words, try not to let the top piece overlap so much.  Just trim it even with the edge of the top so you can’t see the seam.

Notice that this turtle deck does not have a big compound curve in it, so it’s possible to cover it all in one piece without big wrinkles.  Some turtle decks are cone shaped and can be done in one piece, whereas others have a big hump in the middle and will create baggy spots when you try to put one piece of film on.  Such a plane will have to be covered with one piece of film on each side.

After the turtle deck film is tacked in the front it is pulled and tacked in the back.  Note the excessive film at the rear of this piece.  The arrow points to the rear of the turtle deck, and all of the baggy film aft of that point is excess.  This is because of the shape of the film on my roll.  I normally would be more economical than this.


The film is pulled to one side and tacked at the middle, then to the other side and tacked at the middle.


Then the film is pulled to the sides and tacked at the front and back.


Note that the film had to be trimmed around the struts, and then it was trimmed, folded and ironed into the corners.

Next step is to pull and iron the sides all the way along the turtle deck, being careful to leave the excess unattached for easy trimming.


Then the excess is trimmed.  This line will be visible, so it needs to be straight and even.


After trimming, the edges are all ironed down.



Then the front and back edges are trimmed, folded over, and ironed down neatly.



Here’s what it looks like after a quick once-over with the heat gun to even out the tension.


Most beginners want to start with the tail because it seems easy.  It is easy, but don’t start there.  Do the tail last, so you don’t cut up your new roll of film for small pieces, which sometimes makes it hard to fit all of the big pieces.

When you are ready to do the tail, mark all of the pieces to be cut out, then cut them out.  This will give you the best chance of getting everything to fit without opening a new roll.

First you need to mark the stabilizer for the edge of the film.  You want the edge to be concealed in the joint between the fuselage and the stabilizer, but don’t bury it far enough to cover the joint.  You want as much wood-to-wood contact as possible to hold the tail on, with the edge of the film in there just enough to keep it from getting snagged on grass, or getting oil blown into it.


Next step is to mark all of your other small pieces for cutting.






After everything fits as well as it’s going to, the pieces are cut and the tail is covered, bottom first, then top.

Take a look at Part 4 for some general tips and warnings.