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Covering FT floats

Arcfyre

Well-known member
#1
In preparation for my FT balsa cub kit which should hopefully arrive tomorrow, I decided to not only scratch build some FT floats, but to practice my covering skills as well, as I'm a totally rookie in that regard.

I've built a set of FT floats before, and I was happy with them while they lasted. Unfortunately, water and the regular foam board just don't mix, so I knew from the start that their days were numbered. Water eventually turns the paper covering to mush, and the holes for the skewers and landing gear wire wear out extra fast without the paper reinforcing it.

I decided therefore to remove all of the paper after the floats were assembled. This will allow me to apply an iron-on film directly to the foam, and hopefully get good adhesion.

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This is what the first pontoon looked like before I started. Disregard the doodles on the back. I left it on the kitchen table yesterday while I was at work and my 4 year old decorated it lol.

20200603_183618.jpg
I removed the paper, and then started applying the covering film to each side one by one. I tried to get about 1/4" overlap so that the seams would be waterproof.

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This is my first time ever working with this material, and I have to say the quality of the finish is pretty terrible. From 5 feet though, it looks pretty good. I'm glad I practiced on the floats and didn't jump right into covering the airplane.

Finished product:
20200603_212338.jpg

In the next few days I'll have to bend the wires and make the attachment brackets, but for now I'm happy with it. Definitely waterproof, and hopefully they last a bit longer than the first set.
 

Hai-Lee

Old and Bold RC PILOT
#2
They look quite good!
Just a few tidbits to remember. The iron on covering film will adhere well to the paper if left on,
As there is some degree of impact when first contacting the water the float bottom needs a degree of strength and rigidity. If the float bottom flexes or distorts too much the float could be ripped apart on landing attempt and it is possible ot have one float ripped off whilst the other remains fine the result is a waterborne attempt at a ground loop.

You can easily improve the surface strength of the float by laminating it with thin Balsa, plastic, or Fglass etc prior to covering. Pay attemtion to the keel line of the float as this needs ot be such that it will not split on impact.

Just a few thoughts for the future!

Have fun!
 

Arcfyre

Well-known member
#3
They look quite good!
Just a few tidbits to remember. The iron on covering film will adhere well to the paper if left on,
As there is some degree of impact when first contacting the water the float bottom needs a degree of strength and rigidity. If the float bottom flexes or distorts too much the float could be ripped apart on landing attempt and it is possible ot have one float ripped off whilst the other remains fine the result is a waterborne attempt at a ground loop.

You can easily improve the surface strength of the float by laminating it with thin Balsa, plastic, or Fglass etc prior to covering. Pay attemtion to the keel line of the float as this needs ot be such that it will not split on impact.

Just a few thoughts for the future!

Have fun!
The paper was removed mainly to prevent water from removing it for me. I suppose if I had a little more faith in my covering skills I could have left it on, as the covering will protect it from the water. I will have to be aware of the weaker structure and hopefully not destroy them on water landings.

I will see how they hold up. The main purpose of this project was to practice covering something, having a set of waterproof floats was just a bonus.