My Taylorcraft restoration project,  G-BREY
by Robert Lees

Fuselage Fabric

Interior Cabin Fabric
Exterior Fabric
Registration letters

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Interior cabin fabric:

fabric-cabin3.jpg (53154 bytes) fabric-cabin4.jpg (40527 bytes) fabric-cabin5.jpg (39321 bytes) fabric-cabin2.jpg (62458 bytes) fabric-cabin1.jpg (34253 bytes) Fabricking of the fuselage interior.  Quite difficult around the D windows and fiddly around the wooden skylight frame.
fus-interior-masked1.jpg (55273 bytes) Interior fabric during the "pink goo" stage of the Stits process. fabric-cabin6.jpg (35175 bytes) Aluminium frame is glued in, to be covered in fabric.  This frame will allow access to the wing tank fittings from inside the cabin.  Frame is inside the wing root area so that it will not be seen from inside the cabin. fabric-cabin12.jpg (44282 bytes) Fabric patch placed on the inside of the wing root.
fabric-cabin7.jpg (43712 bytes) The cabin interior fabric goes silver...
fabric-cabin8.jpg (37778 bytes) ...and a white undercoat is sprayed on the silver to act as a base for the red topcoat...
fabric-cabin9.jpg (39744 bytes) ...followed by a mist coat of the red top coat...
fabric-cabin10.jpg (33908 bytes) fabric-cabin11.jpg (55124 bytes) ...and three coats of the final colour, in this case, Poly-Fiber "Christen Eagle Red".  To improve gloss level, a small amount of high-temperature retarder is used, and all liquids were soaked for 24 hours in a cold room (my fridge).  These measures slow down the solvent evaporation rate, and improve the gloss level.
fabric-cabin13.jpg (36178 bytes) fabric-cabin14.jpg (49318 bytes) After removal of masking, the effect is quite pleasing.

Exterior fabric

The order for covering the fuselage is somewhat dictated by the need to join the two sides of the fin to the fabric that lies on top of the fuselage.  I received a lot of help and advice from many folk on this, but my own choice was dictated by the need to cover the top of the fuselage before the sides.
This was because, as can be seen from previous photos, I had painted my interior before covering the exterior, and if I covered the sides first, I would ruin the interior where I would need to attach the side fabric.
By attaching the top fabric before the sides, I would protect this finish.
Besides, someone I know has an Auster fuselage in the covering stage at the local airport, and the following sequence is approved by the CAA, so I could use this as a guide!
fus-fabric1.jpg (44986 bytes) I decided to do the bottom first (this had no bearing on the top/sides discussion).  This would give me a bit of practice without the end result being too visible.  First thing was to cut a bolt from the roll to somewhere approximating the shape and size needed.  Cheap plastic clamps help throughout this procedure.
The green label marked "Cable!" (bottom centre) is to remind me to install the elevator pulleys and elevator & rudder cables prior to closing up the fuselage.
stringer-block.jpg (23467 bytes) The existing aluminium section stringers were reused (these looked like they were from screen doors).  I blocked each attachment point with wood so that the split pin would not be taking all the fabric tension loads.
fus-fabric2.jpg (36014 bytes) fus-fabric3.jpg (31318 bytes) The fabric was carefully glued around the extremities, and also the important cut-outs.
fus-fabric4.jpg (53740 bytes) An important step...calibration of the iron, using heat-sink compound to ensure good contact between the iron plate & thermometer...
fus-fabric5.jpg (54537 bytes) ...and then heat taughtening in two stages in accordance with the Poly-Fiber manual (although a similar process is used in the Ceconite system).
fus-fabric6.jpg (57713 bytes) The finished result viewed the correct way up.  The fabric is wrapped a long way around the longerons.  This means that adhesive need not be applied too close to where the fabric departs the longeron on its way across the width of the fuselage....such gluing can "grab" the fabric in a dip and spoil the visual appearance.
fus-fabric7.jpg (52357 bytes)

fus-fabric16.jpg (43027 bytes)
Now for the top.  I decided to do the fin halves separate from the fuselage sides because this was the only way to ensure the top was complete before the sides.  The longitudinal seam at the base of the fin will be hidden by the horizontal stabiliser.  Having smaller pieces to handle was also useful!
I also made a fin alignment jig, to ensure that the fin remains vertical when taughtening the fabric.
The "pink goo" stripe is there because I considered stitching before the final heat taughtening, but this proved unnecessary.
fus-fabric8.jpg (42512 bytes) I heat-taughtened the fin sides to the first 250 degree stage and then started gluing the top fabric.
fus-fabric9.jpg (56375 bytes) After gluing the top fabric to within a foot or so of the fin, I marked out where I wanted the 2" glued overlap to come.  This is somewhat guesswork, but is generally dictated by where the minimum amount of compound curve lies.
fus-fabric10.jpg (41628 bytes) The fin fabric is then trimmed to size, and a pre-coat of adhesive brushed on to its underside (up to the pencil line) to aid adhesion.
fus-fabric11.jpg (39148 bytes) I have glued the top fabric to within a foot or so of the join.  The as-yet unshrunk top fabric is lined up with my fin fabric, and the join line pencilled in.  A brush-line of glue over the pencil line ensures that when cut, the top fabric will not unravel or feather.
fus-fabric12.jpg (23304 bytes) After trimming to my aft pencil line, the top fabric is glued to the fin fabric, and the last foot of gluing the top fabric to the upper longerons is finished off.
fus-fabric13.jpg (50072 bytes) The top fabric can now be heat-shrunk to the first 250 degree stage, after which the fin sides and then the top can be shrunk to the full 350 degrees.  A small amount of low-temperature ironing smoothed out the last remaining unevenness of the glued joint.
fus-fabric14.jpg (36532 bytes) fus-fabric15.jpg (43044 bytes) And here's the end result, a neat 2" overlap with the top fabric on top of the fin fabric.  This join will need to be taped with a 3" tape for security.  The upper fin rib will need stitching too, where I previously applied a strip of pink goo.

fredJrob2.jpg (60959 bytes) Fred Johnson and Dave Bland take valuable time out from some top-level ale-drinking to inspect progress.  Fred owns two Taylorcrafts in the States, one of which is undergoing restoration.  Both these chaps were in the UK as part of top-secret global investigations into Taylorcraft and Pitts construction methods.

fus-fabric18.jpg (38327 bytes) fus-fabric23.jpg (39209 bytes) Starboard side fabric laid out and gluing starts.  It can be seen how much slack that can remain during the gluing process.   This slack will all disappear with heat shrinking.
fus-fabric21.jpg (71381 bytes) Those little T-Pins, available from covering suppliers, are virtually useless I bent mine (with padded pliers) to get them through the fabric.  They leave quite a large hole, so only insert them where a covering tape will later go.
fus-fabric17.jpg (42834 bytes) fus-fabric25.jpg (53891 bytes) Around protrusions, a seam of Poly-Brush is applied to prevent the threads unravelling.
fus-fabric19.jpg (33167 bytes) fus-fabric20.jpg (53670 bytes) Gluing around the D window and the door aperture.  Note fabric goes under door catch.
fus-fabric24.jpg (31576 bytes) Here's where the side fabric joins the fin.
fus-fabric22.jpg (40031 bytes) The finished side.  Now for my Inspector to inspect the fuselage interior before closing the fuselage up on the fourth side.

fus-fabric32.jpg (54485 bytes) fus-fabric33.jpg (45070 bytes) fus-fabric34.jpg (28743 bytes) After my Inspector signs off the work to date, prep work commences for the fourth and last side of the fuselage.  A cleaning of the gluing surfaces using panel wipe, and then the laying up of the covering.
Pencil lines are used to mark where the final trimming of the fabric is to go, and as before, each cut line is pre-treated with a thin coat of adhesive prior to the cutting to prevent the edges unravelling.
fus-fabric26.jpg (33974 bytes) The aft end goes on well.  There is no need to try and keep the fabric taught, in fact I put effort into ensuring that it remained slack during the process.  But the forward end again looks like an old lady's baggy knickers...
fus-fabric27.jpg (40833 bytes) fus-fabric28.jpg (39774 bytes) fus-fabric29.jpg (38751 bytes) ...but with care, all edges are glued down and...
fus-fabric30.jpg (45924 bytes) fus-fabric31.jpg (39980 bytes) ...after taughtening with the iron, looks good!   But many hours are spent getting the seams smooth.  Time spent here will pay off in the final finish. Note the pencil lines still showing.  These will not bleed through the coatings. But do not use felt pens!
The pink colouring in the right hand photo is the pre-treatment of the steel fuselage frame showing the manual carefully!
fus-fabric35.jpg (52679 bytes) fus-fabric36.jpg (44880 bytes) "Pink Goo" Poly-Brush is liberally applied by brush.  The drips are in fact on the inside of the's quite important to brush each face when horizontal so that drips remain on the underside.
fus-fabric37.jpg (21911 bytes) The top rib of the fin gets rib stitched... fus-fabric38.jpg (21295 bytes) ...and then the reinforcing tape is soaked with Poly Brush.  Note that there is no cord visible connecting each stitch...this passes inside the fin...follow the manual!
fus-fabric44.jpg (21323 bytes) A finishing tape is applied and ironed smooth.
fus-fabric39.jpg (22826 bytes) Inspection rings are glued in (note the pencil ring showing where the Poly-Brush is to be applied for attaching the doily.... fus-fabric40.jpg (27739 bytes) ...and here are the doilies applied...exactly as per the manual. 
fus-fabric41.jpg (25192 bytes) I also put a ring on the underside near the aft end...I may never cut it out, but access back there might be useful in the future.
fus-fabric45.jpg (27635 bytes) The reinforcing gusset over the rear windows is installed as one piece, covering the aperture, so that later overspray will not get in to the painted interior.  It will be removed after all the painting is complete.
pencil-lines2.jpg (81370 bytes) pencil-lines3.jpg (24487 bytes) I made a little tool to help me mark the finishing tape pencil lines....
fus-fabric42.jpg (32782 bytes) ...and here's the fuselage side with reinforcing tape locations pencilled up and the first brush coat of pink goo applied.
fus-fabric43.jpg (30442 bytes) Applying the tapes is a lot easier using an old credit card to squeegee the pink goo through and provide a smooth finish.
fus-fabric46.jpg (32096 bytes) Applying a pre-coat of pink goo to the marked-out tape lines, in this case the tapes over the belly stringers.  This ensures proper adhesion of the tapes.
Each requires marking out, pre-treating with pink goo, and after allowing to dry, applying each tape using a liberal brush-coat of goo.  After a further drying period, tapes are subsequently brush-coated again with pink goo.  I can only re-emphasise how you must follow the Poly-Fiber manual exactly.
Note the squeegee residue from applying the longeron tapes...this irons out using a hot 350F iron now, before the first spray coat of pink goo is applied.

fus-fabric47.jpg (30368 bytes) fus-fabric48.jpg (33498 bytes) fus-fabric49.jpg (30267 bytes) A selection of views of the tapes all applied.  
In the centre photo, the tape between the forward stabiliser tube & lower tailbrace wire attachment point is there because the original fabric didn't have a tape, & the fabric cracked along that line.
Note that I have yet to make an aperture frame for access to the top elevator horn. These will be made soon, it is important that the fin fabric be taught before these are cut out.
fus-fabric50.jpg (33936 bytes) fus-fabric52.jpg (39886 bytes) fus-fabric51.jpg (41532 bytes) The last photo shows the underside of the tail (where the leaf springs bolt to) left open for ventilation. The long bolt & hex spacers are used to keep the tail off the ground.
Note the dollar-patch just forward of this bolt, this will become a drain hole ahead of the tailspring attachment bulkhead.

I make new aluminium frames for the elevator inspection panel.  These frames will be fabricked to the fuselage.

fus-fabric63.jpg (34911 bytes) fus-fabric53.jpg (28042 bytes) fus-fabric54.jpg (75843 bytes) The inside contour is marked out, and two holes drilled to form the interior curves.
I use wordworking bits to cut large diameter (up to 32mm) holes in aluminium, I relieve the flat cutting face so as to cut a circular disc from the material.
The line between the two is scored through, using a sharp implement.
fus-fabric55.jpg (36009 bytes) fus-fabric56.jpg (21755 bytes) The middle comes away, leaving the frame.   This is alodined and then pre-coated with pink goo to ensure proper adhesion of the fabric.

fus-fabric57.jpg (32486 bytes)
The frame is glued on.  Note the lines marked out for pre-coating and placing the fabric doily...

fus-fabric58.jpg (30844 bytes)
...and the doily duly placed.

fus-fabric59.jpg (36692 bytes)
No, it hasn't split...I've cut the diagonals with a knife...
fus-fabric60.jpg (32819 bytes)
...and then trimmed the loose bits...
fus-fabric61.jpg (35638 bytes)
...and folded these flaps inside the fin and glued them for additional security.
The white lined paper is used to prevent glue drips from falling on to the opposite side of the fin.
Helps with the photographic detail too!

The iron was used to re-taughten the fin fabric, it went ever so slightly slack on cutting the opening out.  But tightened right up again at 350 degrees F

fus-fabric62.jpg (57212 bytes) By the way, I keep my little 1/2" glue brushes in a tall thin sealed glass jar (in my case a soy-sauce bottle) with a little MEK in the bottom, this keeps the brush from drying out.
Photo also shows the ubiquitous Sharpie pen, invaluable for marking out aluminium.   But NEVER fabric.

I am now ready to start spraying the fuselage, and spraying of the Poly-Brush coats is not terribly exciting, and does not warrant the publication of photos.   Just before reaching this stage, I have been carrying out further ironing, smoothing, and cleaning processes to get the fabric as good as I can (you cannot heat-smooth enough).

fus-fabric64.jpg (32385 bytes) Masking off the interior prior to spraying the exterior..quite a job to mask off the complete interior that I had previously sprayed, this became a subject of debate as to whether it was a good idea to spray the interior first...too late to worry about now!
A selection of masking products used...cling film for the front fuselage, Kraft Paper for the interior, whatever came to hand.
The last job before spraying.
fus-fabric65.jpg (39485 bytes) fus-fabric66.jpg (31658 bytes) After spraying two coats of the pink goo (Poly-brush) as per the manual, I spray the first coat of silver.  Here's two views of the first coat, and it shows every imperfection in the previous sealing pink goo coats.   I had a few minor glitches, but now rectified.
fus-fabric70.jpg (43583 bytes) Here's a nice little stirrer that Aircraft Spruce do for mixing, and for stirring up the mud from the bottom of the gets right underneath the rim (as the bishop said to the actress)...
fus-fabric71.jpg (52934 bytes) ...(and the pouring lids are very useful too)...
fus-fabric69.jpg (63222 bytes) fus-fabric68.jpg (38972 bytes) ...but after stirring up the mud, I did what the manual says, and took the cans of paint to the local DIY centre and borrowed their paint shaker...but after you stir up the mud from the bottom, put the little metal lid clips back on...many places require them for security of the lid.
Filtering the silver is also important to keep the large chunks of aluminium from the fabric.  This filter here is so blocked that the last dregs will not strain through, this despite shaking in the local DIY place.
fus-fabric67.jpg (40305 bytes) Any sanding required (and I sanded each coat of silver) needs to be done wet.  Fresh water with a little washing-up liquid is the best, but requires proper rinsing and drying with paper towels to minimise residue.

fus-fabric72.jpg (38262 bytes) fus-fabric73.jpg (38219 bytes) The first coat of white Poly-Tone goes on.   Boy, this stuff is a pleasure to spray.  But bright lights are needed to see the white covering the silver.
I added 30 ml of BR-86-00 retarder per UK pint to the mix (in fact I added it to the aluminium Poly-spray too) to slow down the evaporative process.  This increases the gloss level.  The measures are exactly as per the Poly-Fiber manual.

If I think I need more gloss, I will refrigerate the next (and last) coat.
fus-fabric74.jpg (25138 bytes) fus-fabric75.jpg (30639 bytes) fus-fabric76.jpg (39171 bytes) After spraying the second full coat of white, I mask off for the red.  I am using exactly the same paint scheme as she originally had (see photo here) and using a lot of the original fabric to ensure the trim lines come out in the right place.
Green fine line polypropylene tape is used to get the curves.
fus-fabric77.jpg (42460 bytes) fus-fabric78.jpg (37209 bytes) After masking, a fine mist coat of red is applied, followed by the first full wet coat.
fus-fabric79.jpg (25090 bytes) After a second coat of red, the masking can be removed.
Whoever designed this trim scheme designed a clever scheme.   The horizontal paint line between the red on the top and the white on the sides extends forward from (and in line with) the stabilisers, and aft from the line of the door windows.  These two non-parallel lines meet at and blend into the broad vertical stripe.
The two pin stripes follow the longitudinal axis of the fuselage, and are not parallel to either of the lines joining the red top and white sides.
fus-fabric80.jpg (32682 bytes) fus-fabric81.jpg (42241 bytes) fus-fabric82.jpg (42212 bytes) ...and I can now cut out the fabric covering the two rear D windows.
fus-fabric83.jpg (39901 bytes) Belly is all white.

Registration letters:

fus-fabric85.jpg (37845 bytes) The registration marks I mask by hand because they are tapered and italic.  For general use, there are commercial outlets for spray masks.  I used a computer to get the letter shapes right & printed them onto A3 paper, which I then cut out and traced the lines on the fuselage.   The same green fine-line masking tape as before is used to get the curves.
The remainder of the fuselage is covered in plastic sheeting.  This is the proper automotive, statically-charged sheeting.  It sticks to the fabric, and all dust then sticks to it.  Excellent stuff.
fus-fabric86.jpg (51161 bytes) A spray mist-coat... fus-fabric87.jpg (41600 bytes) ...followed by a full wet coat...
fus-fabric88.jpg (34557 bytes) fus-fabric90.jpg (48356 bytes) ...and the masking is removed while the paint is still tacky to reveal the final effect.  The whole masking/painting job took about 8 hours for both sides.


fus-back-again2.jpg (39678 bytes) Some fettling of the D window trim pieces.

windshield1.jpg (22739 bytes) The windscreen attachment brackets get installed.  Because of the new wooden door frames, some minor fettling is required to get these brackets to align properly.  And I was so convinced that I had made the holes in exactly the same place as the original wood!  Here you can see I need to move the bracket inwards so that the outer face is flush with the outside of the red doorpost.  Note the stainless countersunk washers to spread the load.  The woodwork was rebated to permit these to lie flush, and the washer presses the painted fabric into the rebate for a neat finish.
windshield2.jpg (35416 bytes) I can now start to see how the windscreen fairings will need to be modified to align up correctly.  I will be making all new pieces here, because of the aluminium corrosion.
cabin1.jpg (53559 bytes) The pilot's eye view is improving...who needs instruments, anyway?  And I always wanted to be open cockpit, non-radio...
aerial1.jpg (62275 bytes) aerial2.jpg (39660 bytes) The whip antenna is serviced...including removing 1/2 lb of excess cable.  It is mounted on the wing root fitting so that the whole fuselage frame acts as the ground plane, no aluminium sheet required.  The whip sticks up over the wing band fairing.  Length of whip is approx 21".  I might put in a proper ground wire due to the paint on the frame.  An old ELT whip is used on one of our other Tcrafts, this works fine. Home

Fuselage structural work
Fuselage Fabric
Wing Structural work
Wing Fabric
Tailfeathers & Gear Legs
Doors Control Column & Panel
Final Assembly

Other restoration photos
Tools used