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Thread: Oratex covering?

  1. #1
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    Default Oratex covering?

    Does anyone have experience or opinions about the Oratex covering technology?

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    Senior Member Cubrath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oratex covering?

    I have not personally worked with it but have seen an airplane covered with it. The one thing I did not like about it was the light color was somewhat translucent. It had that model airplane look to me. Of course the big advantage is that there is no paint to spray and it is lighter than traditional fabric.

    MR

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    Senior Member ceslaw's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oratex covering?

    You will find a lengthy discussion of Oratex over at SuperCub.org in the "experimental" forum.

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    Default Re: Oratex covering?

    Mark,
    I have been following and researching Oratex for perhaps a year.
    I have finished my EX wings and am just getting started on the fuselage. I am seriously considering covering with Oratex.
    I have never covered an aircraft before so my decision factors in learning curves for a newbie and equipment purchase. A person experienced in Poly Fiber or another system would perhaps decide differently. I took an EAA workshop on fabric covering which focused on the Poly Fiber system - in fact the instructor is a PF tech rep, and it was very informative.
    I think the Carbon Cub is particularly good choice for Oratex because of the weight savings. That kind of weight subtracted from a highly engineered airframe with weight reduction having been a top design priority from the get go, is really huge.
    I think the Oratex glue and fabric are stronger than Poly Fiber, based on reading and a bit of practical experience at the workshop.
    I think the Oratex is easier to repair.
    The Oratex materials are definitely less toxic.
    The relative translucency and lack of glossiness seem to be real. But neither is a performance issue. PF makes a big deal suggesting to not keep adding color coats seeking a more attractive finish, in order to keep the weight down. Also to paraphrase from the PF manual - "you can choose glossy or easy to repair". The Poly Tone is semi gloss and my point here is that Oratex fits into this same continuum. It's just located down at the functional end (ie not glossy, light and easy to repair)
    Light weight paint jobs out of the CCrafters factory also make appearance compromises with the dual tone silver versions.
    I decided to purchase this plane based on it's flight performance, so choosing a high performance covering seems in alignment with those goals and appropriate to me, as opposed to cover emphasizing appearance as a priority.
    The Oratex is relatively unproven and that bothers me a bit - especially for my very expensive plane. However the PF rep repeatedly emphasized to follow the precise processes in order to meet the STC requirements, and that with mods the results are uncertain. He also said he has no knowledge of the abbreviated process used at CCrafters to achieve a lighter weight cover (I just asked the one guy and did not extensively research the point). I don't mean to imply that the factory CC cover is substandard. But it's not STC'd and it does not have long periods of proven service. Oratex is STC'd in Europe for some certified designs at this time. Both ways might be considered a bit of an experiment, depending on how one analyzes.
    Beyond the weight, probably my biggest attraction is that I think I can apply Oratex in much less time.
    Oratex materials cost more but I' not sure exactly how much. I'm going to pursue a firm quote within a week or so. At this point I'm willing to trade dollars for fewer hours covering.
    I hope these ideas are helpful.
    Let me know if you decide to go with it!
    Chris

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    Default Re: Oratex covering?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris View Post
    Mark,
    I have been following and researching Oratex for perhaps a year.
    I have finished my EX wings and am just getting started on the fuselage. I am seriously considering covering with Oratex.
    I have never covered an aircraft before so my decision factors in learning curves for a newbie and equipment purchase. A person experienced in Poly Fiber or another system would perhaps decide differently. I took an EAA workshop on fabric covering which focused on the Poly Fiber system - in fact the instructor is a PF tech rep, and it was very informative.
    I think the Carbon Cub is particularly good choice for Oratex because of the weight savings. That kind of weight subtracted from a highly engineered airframe with weight reduction having been a top design priority from the get go, is really huge.
    I think the Oratex glue and fabric are stronger than Poly Fiber, based on reading and a bit of practical experience at the workshop.
    I think the Oratex is easier to repair.
    The Oratex materials are definitely less toxic.
    The relative translucency and lack of glossiness seem to be real. But neither is a performance issue. PF makes a big deal suggesting to not keep adding color coats seeking a more attractive finish, in order to keep the weight down. Also to paraphrase from the PF manual - "you can choose glossy or easy to repair". The Poly Tone is semi gloss and my point here is that Oratex fits into this same continuum. It's just located down at the functional end (ie not glossy, light and easy to repair)
    Light weight paint jobs out of the CCrafters factory also make appearance compromises with the dual tone silver versions.
    I decided to purchase this plane based on it's flight performance, so choosing a high performance covering seems in alignment with those goals and appropriate to me, as opposed to cover emphasizing appearance as a priority.
    The Oratex is relatively unproven and that bothers me a bit - especially for my very expensive plane. However the PF rep repeatedly emphasized to follow the precise processes in order to meet the STC requirements, and that with mods the results are uncertain. He also said he has no knowledge of the abbreviated process used at CCrafters to achieve a lighter weight cover (I just asked the one guy and did not extensively research the point). I don't mean to imply that the factory CC cover is substandard. But it's not STC'd and it does not have long periods of proven service. Oratex is STC'd in Europe for some certified designs at this time. Both ways might be considered a bit of an experiment, depending on how one analyzes.
    Beyond the weight, probably my biggest attraction is that I think I can apply Oratex in much less time.
    Oratex materials cost more but I' not sure exactly how much. I'm going to pursue a firm quote within a week or so. At this point I'm willing to trade dollars for fewer hours covering.
    I hope these ideas are helpful.
    Let me know if you decide to go with it!
    Chris
    Chris,

    I am just starting my wings, so this whole topic is a little ways off for me, but I made the exact same analysis that you did.

    I was not sensitive to the semi-gloss surface as I would do the light weight Poly Tone silver paint anyway. I loved the light weight and much shorter cover time. I thought that the price was well worth the advantages.

    However, I was talking to Randy Lervold about a different topic and asked his opinion of Oratex and he very politely brought a couple of other considerations to my attention:

    1. There can be "tag ends" of material on the plane; given the nature of the application I can see how this would happen unless great care was taken during installation, but I don't know if it is inevitable; these might be a little difficult to repair attractively if you can't get to the inside surface to push against an iron; this would be a deal breaker for me;

    2. For a few years, at least until Oratex becomes more widely accepted as a covering material, it would probably decrease the resale value of the airplane.

    I haven't made up my mind yet, but right now I am inclined to use the standard Poly Fiber system.

    However, given how tough Oratex 6000 is, it might be just the ticket for lining the baggage compartment, especially if you want to go with the Extended Baggage option. Oratex is .5 oz/sq. ft vs 4.8 oz/sq. ft. for .02 aluminum sheet. I don't know the actual square footage, but if there were, for example, 20 square feet of baggage compartment walls (I would use the standard floor) that would save 5 lbs, which would be like getting the Extended baggage "for free" in terms of weight.

    Mark

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    Default Re: Oratex covering?

    I have had the same thoughts about using this tough stuff to exploit wasted space. A couple of light duty storage areas out of Oratex would add very little weight to the plane. Seems the area behind the fuselage baggage space could be used - either with or without the extended baggage.

    I am not sure what is meant by 'tag ends'. The Oratex needs to have all seams made over solid structure. Poly Fiber is the same. One is not supposed to join/overlap fabric to fabric without structure beneath. Also the width of the fabrics and estimates about total yardage needed are the same. Seems that all the seams would end up in the same places. CubCrafters does use a sewn envelope though - maybe that is the issue. I don't know if Oratex can be sewn, but I do not think application without sewing is a problem.

  7. #7
    Senior Member stede52's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oratex covering?

    Actually with polyfiber you don't need it sewn joint, I don't know about oratex, to attach the fabric together like Cubcrafter does, it does make it a bit easier for the builder. I've built a number of planes without that area sewn, it just a matter of using a 1.5" overlap and 3" tape over it all. I know Doug Keller in Portland will be using Oratex on a cub he's building for someone, but I'm not sure how far along he is. They are also using oratex on the Double Ender aircraft down there.
    Steve Dentz
    N419LD
    Carnation, WA

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    Default Re: Oratex covering?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris View Post
    I have had the same thoughts about using this tough stuff to exploit wasted space. A couple of light duty storage areas out of Oratex would add very little weight to the plane. Seems the area behind the fuselage baggage space could be used - either with or without the extended baggage.

    I am not sure what is meant by 'tag ends'. The Oratex needs to have all seams made over solid structure. Poly Fiber is the same. One is not supposed to join/overlap fabric to fabric without structure beneath. Also the width of the fabrics and estimates about total yardage needed are the same. Seems that all the seams would end up in the same places. CubCrafters does use a sewn envelope though - maybe that is the issue. I don't know if Oratex can be sewn, but I do not think application without sewing is a problem.
    Chris,
    What I believe is meant by "tag ends" is caused by the fact that the Oratex edges never get painted, so they are very distinct. Think of the tapes that cover the wing stitching. There is a raw edge just sitting there. With the Poly system the edges are covered by the Poly Brush and Poly spray (I assume, but you have taken the course so you would know more about this than I) and then are painted, so they kind of "melt in".
    I can imagine that if the builder missed a spot with glue or heat on one of these edges that it would be quite obvious, especially if it were on a corner. Of course that should never happen because all builders are perfectionists .
    Mark

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    Default Re: Oratex covering?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris View Post
    Mark,
    I have been following and researching Oratex for perhaps a year.
    I have finished my EX wings and am just getting started on the fuselage. I am seriously considering covering with Oratex.
    I have never covered an aircraft before so my decision factors in learning curves for a newbie and equipment purchase. A person experienced in Poly Fiber or another system would perhaps decide differently. I took an EAA workshop on fabric covering which focused on the Poly Fiber system - in fact the instructor is a PF tech rep, and it was very informative.
    I think the Carbon Cub is particularly good choice for Oratex because of the weight savings. That kind of weight subtracted from a highly engineered airframe with weight reduction having been a top design priority from the get go, is really huge.
    I think the Oratex glue and fabric are stronger than Poly Fiber, based on reading and a bit of practical experience at the workshop.
    I think the Oratex is easier to repair.
    The Oratex materials are definitely less toxic.
    The relative translucency and lack of glossiness seem to be real. But neither is a performance issue. PF makes a big deal suggesting to not keep adding color coats seeking a more attractive finish, in order to keep the weight down. Also to paraphrase from the PF manual - "you can choose glossy or easy to repair". The Poly Tone is semi gloss and my point here is that Oratex fits into this same continuum. It's just located down at the functional end (ie not glossy, light and easy to repair)
    Light weight paint jobs out of the CCrafters factory also make appearance compromises with the dual tone silver versions.
    I decided to purchase this plane based on it's flight performance, so choosing a high performance covering seems in alignment with those goals and appropriate to me, as opposed to cover emphasizing appearance as a priority.
    The Oratex is relatively unproven and that bothers me a bit - especially for my very expensive plane. However the PF rep repeatedly emphasized to follow the precise processes in order to meet the STC requirements, and that with mods the results are uncertain. He also said he has no knowledge of the abbreviated process used at CCrafters to achieve a lighter weight cover (I just asked the one guy and did not extensively research the point). I don't mean to imply that the factory CC cover is substandard. But it's not STC'd and it does not have long periods of proven service. Oratex is STC'd in Europe for some certified designs at this time. Both ways might be considered a bit of an experiment, depending on how one analyzes.
    Beyond the weight, probably my biggest attraction is that I think I can apply Oratex in much less time.
    Oratex materials cost more but I' not sure exactly how much. I'm going to pursue a firm quote within a week or so. At this point I'm willing to trade dollars for fewer hours covering.
    I hope these ideas are helpful.
    Let me know if you decide to go with it!
    Chris

    what was your decision about Oratex

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Oratex covering?

    Ibell,
    I decided to go with a traditional covering material. I will be using the CubCrafters modified PolyFiber system and painting with PPG.
    Ultimately I felt the advantages were not worth the costs for me. The Oratex materials were priced at $8-9000. I was not really interested in learning a new system. I began to question how much weight is really saved. There are some manufacturers using it and have basis for comparing two similar aircraft with different fabric. I also became more concerned about appearance compromises on this really expensive airplane.

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