Tag Archives: alodine

LH Flap – Prep and Assembly

As I near the end of dealing with fitting skins to structure, my confidence was pretty high that this would go well for the flaps (and eventually the ailerons). I’ve learned important lessons about how to inspect skins for proper fabrication – especially bends.

As I discovered from the building the empennage, lengthwise bends (folds) of the skins must be very close to perfect or else entire structure will be pulled out of true alignment when preparing or attempting to close up the final assembly.

There has proven to be considerable lead time in the process of securing replacement parts and the earlier a problem is discovered, the better. Almost immediately after the main QB kit was delivered in February, I looked over the flap and aileron skins – very carefully – and determined that they’d likely be acceptable.

Outdoors metal preparation with Alumiprep 33, Alodine 1201 and then rattle-can primer is much more convenient and pleasant with the warm summer weather. I opted to use NAPA 7220 gray self-etching primer, as none of the surfaces would be exposed. I had the stuff on-hand, but find that I don’t like it as well as the Rust-Oleum product, if for no other reason than the performance of the spray can. The any-angle can from Rust-Oleum is superior, even though I paid considerably more for the 7220 primer. (As I’ve mentioned before, if I do another build, I may well forgo alodine and primer altogether. With my budget and facilities it has been a huge time sink and perhaps not worth the effort. Even at my tender young age, I’ll be pushing up daisies before corrosion would be an issue with an untreated airframe.)

Due to a shortcoming with the listed shipping quantity in the wing kit packing list (KPL), I received only enough 4.8 x 15mm rivets to assemble one flap. I also found that one-size-fits-all — didn’t. It turns out that the overall thickness of one parts stack-up was very slightly less than the recommended grip length of the 15mm rivets. Even though there was no mention of this issue in the assembly instructions, it became obvious that a 10mm length would be better.

I ordered more rivets – both 15mm and 10mm lengths – twice. Once from TAF USA and then from a supplier of Gesipa rivets in UK. TAF sent a big batch of 10 and 15mm rivets to me overnight. Bravo! Great support effort! Thank you!! But, the rivets were not to my liking. They are some alternate brand, different design, slightly larger diameter (didn’t fit) and not nearly as well finished as the Gesipa product. I ordered the real deal, but it took 2 weeks to get them in-hand.

Elevator – Prep and Prime

Spring weather is here with luxuriously warm sunshine. I was able to get all of the smaller elevator parts Alodined and primed. The main channel parts had been done while my paint booth was still set up, before the QB delivery.

Once again, I’ve demonstrated that shortcuts don’t pay off. This time, I tried to skip scuffing the parts. I degreased, rinsed, applied Alumiprep 33 and rinsed again. But, my brush application of Alodine didn’t produce any measure of satisfaction. The results were blotchy and left places that just seemed bare. So, I went back, scuffed every square millimeter of every part with my trusty (red) Scotch-Brite pad. Then more degreasing with diluted Extreme Simple Green Aircraft, rinsing, Alumiprep, another rinse, more Alodine and a final rinse. Better this time.

Brush application of Alodine simply does not compare with dipping, but as a base for priming, it seems fine for good paint adhesion. If I was going to leave the Alodine treated aluminum un-primed, I think I’d have to go with dipping to get a more uniform “golden” appearance. There’s also un-tinted Alodine. I haven’t tried it. It might be hard to tell how effective the application is, especially given the primitive conditions and minimalist process I’m using. Stick with what you know.

My shop is full of wings and fuselage and my paint booth is now the great outdoors. It works well. I can paint more and in less time. There’s the added bonuses of not having to wear a body suit, a respirator or mess about with the ventilation fan. Good old Rust‑Oleum Self-Etching Primer in a rattle can is easy and effective.

I suppose it may seem silly to devote so much discussion to this topic, but I have spent more time on metal preparation than anything else – by far. It’s been terrifically time consuming. I think perhaps a future me might skip Alodine and priming of any next project. It’s certainly proving to be a lot of work. For this build, I’ve already come this far. Plus, the QB wings and fuselage were Alodined at the factory. Possibly, the effort will add an extra bit of long-term value. It’s satisfying, in any event.

Rudder – Prep and Prime

Preparing the rudder parts during the last few days of December and on into the first week of January 2020, involved increasingly familiar processes.

Inside the shop, deburring of all edges and holes was done with my Avery Speed Deburr tool and Scotch-Brite C/P 7A wheel. Light scuffing with a fine (red) Scotch-Brite pad seems to help make subsequent chemical treatments more effective. Initial parts degreasing was done by wiping with a splash of acetone on a paper towel.

Outside the shop, degreasing continued with Extreme Simple Green Aircraft Cleaner, using a soft clean rag, followed by a water rinse from the garden hose. It’s winter on the Olympic Peninsula and my well water is very – VERY – cold. My hands, wearing only thin nitrile gloves, are almost frozen. A few minutes in the shop to dry the parts and then it’s back outside to apply Alumiprep 33 with a silicone basting brush and freezing hands, while hovering over a black plastic mortar tub. Rinse, dry and repeat – this time with Alodine 1201.

It’s cold and it takes until the afternoon to get the shop inside air temperature above 50 degrees F. It’s something of a hassle to run my paint booth vent fan, as there are some gaps that let cold air in. Without the venting, I quickly and lightly spray just a few parts per day – often only one side. Then I have to abandon the shop until the next morning. It took several days to prime all of the rudder parts.

For me, degreasing and chemical treatments take hours and hours – most of it outdoors. I’m trying to use absolutely minimal amounts of material, not make a mess, and get satisfactory results. I just can’t afford to make or deal with dipping tanks. I tried to save time by not etching with Alumiprep. Unfortunately, I’ve found that even with thorough degreasing, there were places where the Alodine instantly sheeted off un-etched aluminum surface. Those parts got re-scuffed, etched and then re-treated with Alodine. I’ve tried not scuffing and short-cutting other steps – only to find that results tend to reflect the level effort that I put in.

The parts quality of the TAF Sling 2 kit is frankly remarkable – excellent in IMO. I could probably get away with little to no deburring – certainly much less than I’ve been doing. Priming is truly in the realm of optional effort. I’m taking it slow and having fun doing it all.

Somewhere on the TAF website there is a recommendation to start your building journey by ordering only the empennage kit and putting it together over a weekend – just to see what you’re in for. Maybe someone could take the parts out of the box – rivet them together over a couple of days – and end up with serviceable tail feathers. I suppose it’s mechanically possible, but highly unlikely, even for an experienced kit builder – if they haven’t previously built the empennage for some model of a Sling aircraft.

I believe a significant limiting factor of how fast you can go – is missing information detail. There are certainly a few pitfalls that only careful consideration will allow you to avoid. It takes time to understand. Achieving correct part orientation, relaxed fit and knowing exactly where and where not to rivet – is very important. If you get ahead of yourself, it’s going to take considerably more time, effort and cost for rework. Be careful. Strive to get things right on the first go.