Did you know you can use doculam for covering your rc airplane? For many years, modelers who build from scratch or kits are required to cover their foam or balsa projects with some sort of material. Names like MonoKote, Solatrex, Coverite, and UltraKote are just a few of the many options. Most of these come in colors ready to iron on. I was introduced to another option which is very cost effective and gives me the most color flexibility of any other covering I have come across. It is durable, adheres well to balsa won’t break your bank. The name is “Doculam” but the generic name is PET Laminating film.
What is Doculam & Where to Get It?
Even though modelers use doculam for covering your rc airplane, it is really designed to be used for laminating paper. A light commercial laminator flattens and heats the Doculam and adheres it to the surface of whatever you want to bond. PET Laminating film (Doculam) is made of a base of polyester with a layer of polyethylene adhesive. It appears frosted before you apply it with heat and then once on it goes clear. This stuff works really well and so now I use doculam for covering my rc airplanes. I purchased a 1.5 mil thick 25″ X 500’roll for all of about 35 dollars. That’s 25 inches wide by 500 feet long people. That is a lot of covering for a great price. When you order on the website it says there is a 2 roll minimum BUT when I called, I was allowed to order 1 roll with a small up-charge. You can order PET Laminating Film (Doculam) Here.
The stuff is fairly easy to work with. It is not rubbery like some other coverings. I used a traditional hobby iron set around 275. I believe the website says to have your heat range between 240 – 275 degrees. The pictures here offer a fair representation of the process. Using a hobby iron, cover the bottom surfaces first and then apply the top and slightly overlap the edges onto the to covering of the underside. Our heat setting was a little about 220 degrees. During the covering process, it helps to have extra material hanging over the sides so you can pull and straighten out the material to prevent wrinkles. Tack down the 4 corners of the piece you are working on so that it will be tight and no wrinkles present. In the case of the pictures below, I starting at the inboard side of a wing paneling and worked toward the wingtip. Keep the iron moving slowly back and forth from the leading edge of the wing to the trailing edge the covering will lay nicely. If the iron is kept in one spot to long the covering will bubble. Not long enough and it won’t adhere…… If you are working with FOAM, pay extra attention to your temperature and do not let the iron lay to long in one spot. It will melt foam if you are not careful. After playing with it for a while you begin to get the feel I started on the smaller pieces first like the tail and ailerons before starting on the wing. The first few times I worked with it I did have some small bubbles. Using a hobby knife to slice a small opening and then ironing out the bubble does the trick.
I am working on my DC-3 right now and will be covering the wing panels with Doculam. If you plan to paint this material you will be extremely pleased IF you follow a couple simple rules. First, clean & degrease the parts after they are covered. Get an abrasive green pad and rough up the surface a little so the shine goes away. Clean it again using something like thinner or Acetone. Apply an automotive, high-build primer or whatever is your favorite and then after that you can apply any colors you like.
You Will Like It Too
My P-47 has been flown for 5 years and the paint is not peeling. As a matter of fact it looks the same as when I painted it. My P-51 has the same result. 4 years ago I painted it with a shiny silver and the paint has adhered extremely well with no chipping, flaking or cracking. Remember, the doculam for covering your rc airplane will only look as nice as what is underneath. Be sure to have your project sanded, cleaned and prepped properly before covering. I am confident you will be pleased with the results using doculam for covering your rc airplane. It will become one of your staple covering materials.