Don McClave uses MonoKote and LustreKote to finish his Classic stunt planes, such as the Skylark above. In this article, Don describes his system for finishing the fuseage and rudder with LustreKote. Flying Lines photo.

Finishing with LustreKote

By Don McClave

Several people have asked me how to finish an airplane with Top Flite's LustreKote. While it's a pretty simple process, there is a technique associated with using the product.

LustreKote was developed for use on fuselages/vertical fins, etc. and is intended to be used in conjunction with MonoKote or other film products. It is not intended to be used on wings or other large surfaces -- it's heavy!

Begin by Monokoting the wing and horizontal stabilizer (I recommend MonoKote in part, because the LustreKote colors are an exact match). Be sure to leave a 1/16" gap between the fuselage and the edge of the covering so that the filets, when applied, can attach directly to the fuselage/flying surface joint.. Mask off the flying surfaces after they're covered to protect them.

The next step is preparing the fuselage/vertical stab. You're on your own here, but I prefer to use epoxy finishing resin and 3/4 oz. fiberglass microcloth as a base. If you use this technique, cover everything in sections, e.g the fuselage sides, top, bottom and sides of the vertical stabilizer separately. Simply cut a piece of cloth to the appropriate size and apply a thin coat of finishing resin to the area to be covered, lay the cloth in place and use a small epoxy spreader to smooth it over the resin. Continue until you've gotten one side done, let everything dry, trim the excess material and go on to the next side. After you're done covering, sand smooth with 120 grit paper (hint: a small finishing sander, available from most hardware stores, really helps here). Brush on one more coat of resin and sand when dry.

Mask the wing and horizontal stabilizer surfaces again so that about 1/4" of the film covering next to the fuselage joint is exposed. Apply epoxy-based filets to the wing and stab junctions. The filet material should overlap the film covering that you left exposed, thus creating a permanent fuelproof seal and preventing the covering from coming loose. When dry, sand the filets with sandpaper wrapped around a dowel to make a nice radius.

Clean the fuselage/vertical stabilizer and spray on a coat of Lusterkote primer. Here's how to do it. First, shake the spray can thoroughly. Second, place the can under a hot water tap for about 8-10 minutes to warm the paint so that it will flow smoothly. Shake again briefly to ensure an even temperature and spray on a very light mist coat. Put the spray can back under the water tap and let the paint you've just applied dry for 3-5 minutes. Now, carefully spray on a wet coat and let it dry for 48 hours. When thoroughly dry, sand lightly with 320 grit paper.

Clean the surface again and apply the base coat of color, using the procedure described in the preceding paragraph. Let dry for 48 hours or so, sand lightly and clean the surface again.

Apply trim colors and let dry (hint: you can also elect to use strips of Trimkote for trim details such as stripes. Just don't try this over compound curves). Sand lightly with 400 grit paper, feather edges of trim paint and you're ready for the final step (if you used Trimkote, don't sand that part).

The final step is spraying on a coat of clear Lusterkote to bring out the shine and seal the Trimkote, if you used any. If you want a flat finish, use flat Lusterkote clear instead. Let dry for a week and you're ready to go flying.

I've found that Lemon Pledge furniture wax is an awfully good product for keeping Monokote/Lusterkote finishes shining for years. It comes in spray cans, as well as saturated wipes that a packaged in airtight containers. Either will work well.

I hope this is helpful; please feel free to call me at home on weekends if you have questions.

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This page was upated July 17, 2007