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stantonjtroy

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I'm building a couple of rockets that have balsa fins with a fairly large area. Weight is a concern. I've used several methods of sealing with great success but thought I'd try label paper this time. I'm wondering if those who have used this method could advise me on a couple of points. First, do you use the adhesive on the paper only or add more of something. Second, I know some paints can wrinkle paper so is there a primer I should use or avoid. Inquiring minds want to know. seriously, any info will be apriciated.
 

rstaff3

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I had tried laminating fins in various papers with various glues and never had much success until recently. I used 3M Super 77 to (supposedly) temporarily tack a template to balsa stock. I used too much and temporary became permanent. I also used some plain old computer paper and it worked well also. The fins were fairly small but there was no warping of the surface that I could detect. I ran thin CA along the edges.

I bet the sticker adhesive doesn't make as good a bond as the spray on glue. I've used sticker stock with good success on finished surfaces, but the grainy balsa may not provide a good surface for it.
 

luke strawwalker

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Here's what I do...

I cut out and sand my fins to the appropriate airfoil. I take regular printer paper and cut out large sections about double the size of the fin with at least an inch or two all the way around extra. I put a big drop of white glue on the lower half of the paper, spread it out thinly with a finger or old credit card, and press the fin down fimly onto the paper, and 'squirm' it around in a little circle a bit to smear the glue well between the paper and fin and squeeze the excess out around the edges. I align the leading edge with the middle of the paper, flip it over, and using the round end of a Sharpie marker, I burnish the paper firmly onto the fin, squeezing 90% or more of the glue out from between the paper and fin.

Flip it back over, smear another big drop of glue on the remaining upper half of the paper ('drop is a relative term-- for large fins you may have to smear a few lines of glue around into a uniform layer, and I'd DEFINITELY use a credit card or other squeegie to spread the glue evenly and thinly and uniformly)

Fold the fin over onto the top half of the paper AT THE LEADING EDGE. Keep the paper firmly but gently pulled taut as you fold the fin over onto it at the leading edge. Again use your round Sharpie end to burnish the paper down smoothly, firmly, and evenly, and squeeze the excess glue out around the tip, trailing, and root edges. The paper should be firmly adhered and wrapped over the leading edge, so burnish from the leading edge rearward and outward. Once the fins are done, sandwich between two sheets of wax paper and put a book or something flat and heavy on them overnight to dry.

Once dry, take a hobby knife with a new SHARP blade and trim off the excess paper back to about 1/4 inch or less from the edge, and then CAREFULLY 'shave' the remaining paper off the tip, trailing, and root edges. If you use a gentle 'shaving' motion, the paper will gently, crisply, and cleanly curl right off the edge of the balsa and leave a perfectly smooth and clean edge on the fin. Sometimes you'll get a few stray 'paper hairs' which are easily shaved off by drawing the fin TOWARDS yourself across a sheet of 240 grit sandpaper (or finer) with just a SLIGHT tilt towards you as you pull it gently across the paper. You can also take off any excess glue that didn't get shaved off at the same time by drawing the fin across the sandpaper with it standing at 90 degrees to the paper.

I have been using this method and I don't see the need for using the label paper because it does SUCH a terrific job! Folding the paper over the leading edge means that not only is there NO seams to come loose, but the airflow is working against solid uncut paper at the leading edge-- far better (to me anyway) than having the airflow ripping at the edge of paper glued to the balsa at this area, forming an easily seperated seam that would be difficult to glue back down (I've seen WAY too many peeling, curled labels in my time and they're nearly impossible to get to stay down again).

White glue works well for this, as white glue is best for gluing paper to anything else. You CAN CA the papered fins when you're done if you're so inclined, but it's not really necessary, unless you just want the maximum strength you can possibly get...

I haven't had ANY problems with warpage in doing it this way, either... or paint for that matter...

Good luck! OL JR :)
 

JAL3

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For what its worth, when I have used the label paper, I have never had a problem with too little adhesion. My problem has been the stuff sticking too much, usually in the wrong places. I tend to be fumble fingered.

That said, I cannot claim a lot of experience doing this. I think a total of 5 projects.

Good luck.
 

Gus

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Troy,

You don't need to add anything to the underside of the label paper. No extra sticky is necessary. As long as you apply several coats of clear coat or paint over the label paper after you have it in place, it will hold just fine.

If your fins have a rectangular or triangular shape, I suggest designing the label paper so it is a single piece which folds over the leading edge of the fin and has overlapping flaps on the trailing and outside edge of the fins. See the graphic below for a better explanation. Second photo is of the fins described on the finished rocket. All of the graphics on this rocket were done with label paper. Third pic is of the page of graphics for the entire rocket, all done on a single page of label paper. The only painting was the nosecone. Once the clear coat "shell" is applied you won't have to worry about the label paper coming off or peeling up. In the couple of cases I've had where the corner of a label started to come up because I didn't quite get it completely "shelled" with clear coat, I've just used a tiny spot of super glue gel to glue it back down.

Just be sure to test your clear coat with your graphics first. I've always had good luck with Rustoleum clear applied over HP inkjet graphics on any brand label paper.

Even if your fin is an oddball shape, such as the fins on the "Goodbye Kitty", if you apply several coats of clear coat the label paper designs will never peel off. Goodbye Kitty has flown ~25 times now with no evidence of peeling on either the body tube or fins.

My BerthaVostok was one of the first rockets I did with label paper fins about 6 years ago, and I've had to restick a couple of the corners with super glue gel, but other than that the fins and body have held up fine.

Steve

LabelPaperFins.jpg


SLV3.jpg


IndiaSLV3GraphicsPage.jpg
 
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Gus

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Short little photo essay of covering Fliskits Acme Spitfire fins.

Note how the label paper graphic is cut out, placed graphic side down, sticky side up.

Fin leading edge is then pressed onto graphic and fin is sequentially folded over onto label paper to make for crisp edges.

Makes for very nice graphics on fins.

DSCN1370.JPG


DSCN1362.JPG


DSCN1363.JPG


DSCN1364.JPG


DSCN1365.JPG
 
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Gus

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Continued.

Middle photo shows trimming a little extra label paper from the fin root edge with an X-acto.

DSCN1366.JPG


DSCN1367.JPG


DSCN1368.JPG
 
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NjCo

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Thanks. I kinda had the feeling that the adhesive on the lablel paper might be a little weak.
Label paper adhesive works just fine. I've used label paper on other non-rocket projects and the adhesive sticks to wood quite well for extended periods of time. I've used it on two rockets so far and I'm very happy with the results. Just be sure to run a narrow section of thin CA around the edge of the fin so that when you sand the edges of the fins the label paper doesn't pull up. With the edges permanently held in place the middle isn't going anywhere. The only thing you have to be careful of is sanding the surface of the paper. Before you do any sanding after you've applied the paper be sure to apply a couple of coats of primer. The first light coat will get sucked up by the paper so make sure you apply more primer than you usually would. Once the primer is in place you can go ahead with sanding the edges of the fins. I've used several different brands of primer and none seemed any different in relation to how they interacted with the paper.

I've used Super 77 in the past and while it's a great adhesive I think it's a bit of overkill for this application. It's just as messy as spray paint so the stuff gets everywhere which is a pain.

Adding label paper over fins is also very lightweight. I tested this out with an extra set of fins I had for my Big Daddy. One set I just added label paper with some CA around the edge and the other I left as is. They were the same weight out to a tenth of a gram. I'd be willing to bet that the method of applying paper to fins with glue would add substantially more weight and you have the added worry of potentially warping your fins and having rough bubbly paper if you don't do it right.

The label paper method also is a huge time saver. After cutting fins out of balsa stock I just put them right onto a sheet of label paper with the backing removed. I then cut them out with a razor knife and flip them over and repeat the process. Just be sure to firmly press across the surface of the fin to ensure good adhesion. I use a silk screen ink roller over the fin. After this I apply very thin CA to the edges and let it dry. I then apply a couple of light coats of primer and let that dry before sanding the edges of the fins. I can get a set of fins done in an afternoon. The old method I used involved multiple rounds of filling and sanding and took quite a bit longer.
 
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MarkII

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And I have a question, too: where in the heck do you find the whole sheet label material that you are all using? I have been looking for over a year now and I can't find the stuff. All I ever see are the kind that are already in address label sizes. I have checked in several Walmarts and at a couple of Staples and have come up empty. There's an Office Depot that is a couple of hours away, but I have to wait until I have some additional reason to go up that way in order to justify making the trip. I don't even know if I will find them there, either. I have done a number of paper laminations in the past couple of years, but never with adhesive label paper because I haven't been able to find the stuff in a size that I could use.

MarkII
 

Gus

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Do a Google Shopping or Amazon search for Avery 8165.

Office Depot and Office Max also each sell their own house brand of Full Sheet Inkjet Label paper.
 

stantonjtroy

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Thanks for the info. What brand do you use?

For what its worth, when I have used the label paper, I have never had a problem with too little adhesion. My problem has been the stuff sticking too much, usually in the wrong places. I tend to be fumble fingered.

That said, I cannot claim a lot of experience doing this. I think a total of 5 projects.

Good luck.
 

stantonjtroy

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Thanks Steve,
Great looking bird! I've used this method on body tubes before but was a little leary on fins due to the slipstream forces. I'm working on a Bomarc based on a BT-60 body tube. Wing is big, ramjets have weight behind the CG and I intend to fly it on a 24mm reloadable so weight is an issue. Traditional methods of balsa finishing on this wing would add appriciable weight overall. The Bomarc in particular requires respectable noseweight so I'm looking to save it where I can.

Troy,

You don't need to add anything to the underside of the label paper. No extra sticky is necessary. As long as you apply several coats of clear coat or paint over the label paper after you have it in place, it will hold just fine.


Steve
 

JAL3

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Thanks for the info. What brand do you use?
I can look it up for you after I go out to the shop later but I can't say for sure right now. I got it at a paper distributor not too far from my house and it was their house label. I seem to recall the guy saying that it was just relabeled Avery but cannot swear to that.

I think the branding on the box was Paper Plus but I'll check later.
 

stantonjtroy

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Thanks to all for your help. I have a stack of Avery label paper on hand so I think I'll go this route; For weight and time savings if nothing else. Additionally, Some carefull overlaping might render some convincing scale pannel lines. The whole thing will be sealed and painted and you all have convinced me the adhesive is more than sufficent. Thanks again.
 

JAL3

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Thanks to all for your help. I have a stack of Avery label paper on hand so I think I'll go this route; For weight and time savings if nothing else. Additionally, Some carefull overlaping might render some convincing scale pannel lines. The whole thing will be sealed and painted and you all have convinced me the adhesive is more than sufficent. Thanks again.
Good luck!
 

stantonjtroy

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Well tried it, as I feared the paper wrinkled like a prune under primer. Think I might have applied it too heavy, at least for what I'm doing. I'll peel it off tomorrow and have another go at it.
 

luke strawwalker

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Well tried it, as I feared the paper wrinkled like a prune under primer. Think I might have applied it too heavy, at least for what I'm doing. I'll peel it off tomorrow and have another go at it.
Maybe do a little experiment and coat the label with CA after you apply it (I'd do a test with scrap) and see how that works-- CA SHOULD seal the paper off so that the primer doesn't mess with it.

I've never had that problem AT ALL, but then again, I use the typing paper and white glue method... :)

Good luck and keep us apprised of your progress... I'd be interested to know what brand/type of primer you're using that would do this...

Later! OL JR :)
 

stantonjtroy

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I did seal the edges with CA But I still got wrinkles in the center, Like the paper swelled. After the primer (Duplicolor) dried I was able to burnish it down but after a few minutes it blistered again. Think I'll supliment with Super 77. I'm using label paper with a matt finish. Perhaps the gloss finish would work better.


I've never had that problem AT ALL, but then again, I use the typing paper and white glue method... :)

Good luck and keep us apprised of your progress... I'd be interested to know what brand/type of primer you're using that would do this...

Later! OL JR :)
 
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luke strawwalker

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I did seal the edges with CA But I still got wrinkles in the center, Like the paper swelled. After the primer (Duplicolor) dried I was able to burnish it down but after a few minutes it blistered again. Think I'll supliment with Super 77. I'm using label paper with a matt finish. Perhaps the gloss finish would work better.

I think so... sounds like the paper is soaking up the stuff and swelling or else the solvent in the primer is attacking the adhesive.

I'd do a few tests on 'scrap' material before I gave up... try using multiple thinner 'dusting' coats of primer that have tacked up thoroughly before a heavier 'flow out' coat of primer. That should hopefully 'seal' the paper.

The gloss finished stuff might work too-- if the gloss coat 'seals' the paper and isn't attacked by the primer solvent.

You might consider WM Colorplace Primer-- I have yet to see that stuff do anything "bad".

Good luck and keep us apprised... :) OL JR :)
 

Gus

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Troy,

I'm really surprised you had a problem and am suspicious it had something to do with the particular primer you used. I've used Rustoleum clear and colors without any wrinkling.

I've used Krylon colors (the old Krylon) without problems but Krylon clear made the colors run on printed graphics so I stopped using it.

I did fail to mention that white paper will become somewhat translucent with clear coat so I always apply the paper over either white tubes or paint brown tubes white before applying the paper. Any pencil marks on the tube will show through the label paper once clear coated. White paper applied directly on fins will show a hint of the grain underneath after clear coat.

Steve
 
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stantonjtroy

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Maybe I will go with a clear coat to seal before primer. Kind of a hindsight question but do you do any prep on the balsa before applying the paper? I had a similar problem when I used Matt finish label paper for the wraps on my Mercury Redstone. Switching to a gloss finish paper fixed that one.

Troy,

I'm really surprised you had a problem and am suspicious it had something to do with the particular primer you used. I've used Rustoleum clear and colors without any wrinkling.

I've used Krylon colors (the old Krylon) without problems but Krylon clear made the colors run on printed graphics so I stopped using it.

I did fail to mention that white paper will become somewhat translucent with clear coat so I always apply the paper over either white tubes or paint brown tubes white before applying the paper. Any pencil marks on the tube will show through the label paper once clear coated. White paper applied directly on fins will show a hint of the grain underneath after clear coat.

Steve
 

Gus

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...do you do any prep on the balsa before applying the paper?
Troy,

No prep. The Spitfire fins pics are a good example of my usual method. My concern with prepping the fins first is that the fins will be sealed but will soak in the paint leaving an uneven surface, trapping lots of air pockets beneath the label paper.

I don't know how you applied the Duplicolor but when I clear coat I use multiple very light coats. I keep applying coats every 15-30 minutes until I've convinced myself I have a good shell of clear paint over the areas likely to come apart if they weren't encased in hardened paint. Probably the least coats I ever do is 4 and the most has probably been more than 10.

My most recent build of this type was the SLV3 pictured above and I think it took 7 or 8 coats before I was satisfied. I don't really have any scientific way of telling if I have applied enough coats. I just kind of look at the edges where the paper overlaps and see if it looks adequately "shelled".
 
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NjCo

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Well tried it, as I feared the paper wrinkled like a prune under primer. Think I might have applied it too heavy, at least for what I'm doing. I'll peel it off tomorrow and have another go at it.
Hmmm, I've never seen that. I've used both Krylon and Rustoleum primer. Did you run CA around the edges? This holds the paper in place and prevents any give in any direction. The first coat of primer should be pretty light then let that dry. Then hit it another time or two until you get the level of coverage you're looking for.
 

MarkII

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Do a Google Shopping or Amazon search for Avery 8165.

Office Depot and Office Max also each sell their own house brand of Full Sheet Inkjet Label paper.
Thanks, Gus - that's exactly what I was looking for.

MarkII
 

tomar

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This has been a very interesting thread. I do have a question.

How does label paper over balsa or basswood stand up to Mach speeds if a good fillet of wood glue or epoxy is used?

I'm building a couple of Apogee Aspire kits, one stock and one for HPR motors. This kit will break Mach and go over a mile on hobby motors. I've been contemplating what I will use to laminate the fins and thought about using epoxy for fillets with tip-to-tip .73 oz fiberglass, but that feels like overkill. :D
 

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