Ted's Aircraft Shop
Step 5. Covering the Wings, page 1
Step 5.   Covering the Wings

The satisfaction of assembling the wings is matched by the satisfaction of covering the wings with fabric.  Covering is a process with very specific steps.  Some people like it, as I do, and some do not.  I dislike painting, especially the ease with which a mistake is made and the need to wait for paint to dry.  Fabric covering is different.  Every step feels like a step forward.  I started with the wings suspended on my homemade “rotisserie”, wing holders that allow a wing to be suspended and rotated to any angle desired.  I had installed special wing bow brackets from the Super Cub (PA-18) that allowed the wing to be held through small holes in the fabric.  John Waltrowski made me a wing envelope with three sheets of Poly-Fiber fabric, long enough to cover the top and the bottom of the wing.  The seams are designed to fit directly over key ribs so the seams becomes invisible.  But I am getting ahead of myself. 

I used the Poly-Fiber fabric covering system.  There are several covering systems available that are FAA approved.  But the rules are that nothing can be changed with the selected system, except the final top coat of paint.  Poly-Fiber is a little more expensive, but I heard about its ease of use and resistance to cracking.  I get my supplies from Jim and Dondi Miller at Aircraft Technical Support at www.aircrafttechsupport.com. 


Before the fabric comes the felt covering of the leading edge. This step is often argued as to its merits, but I like the effect.  I cut a piece of felt to fit exactly over the leading edge from the root rib to the wing bow.  The felt is held down with Poly-Tak.  The felt smoothes the fabric over the leading edge and gives a nice appearance.  There is nothing worse than the fabric showing dents and imperfections from the leading edge. 

Next Page
Previous Page
Restoring a Piper Cub J-3
1.  Picking a  Project
2. Organizing and Planning
3. Overhauling the Engine
4. Assembling the Wings
5. Covering the Wings
6. Covering the Tail Surfaces
7. Repairing the Ailerons
8. Painting the Wings
9. Build Out of the Fuselage
10. Covering the Fuselage
11. Assembling and Rigging
12. Flight Testing