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From: highflyer <>
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Re: Wing covering material
Date: Wed, 09 Dec 1998 09:19:24 -0600

J Kahn wrote:
> > Isn't nitrate dope a nitrocellulose product and wasn't its extreme
> > flammability a primary motivation for the development of buterate dope?
> > --
> > Bruce A. Frank, Editor               "Ford 3.8/4.2L Engine and V-6 STOL
> Nitrate dope is also why the Hindenberg went
> up so fast, not hydrogen.  The airship's covering,
> nitrate dope with aluminum powder in it, was basically
> explosive fabric. Which is why, in the famous picture,
> there is so much bright flame.  The  hydrogen
> component of the flame is more or less invisible.
> John Kahn

I was recovering an airplane once, many years ago using nitrate dope.
I had two or three brushcoats of dope on the fuselage.

somehow, it got heated to the ignition point.  ALL of the fabric was
gone from the fuselage in less than ten seconds!  The fabric burned
off so fast the tubing didn't even get hot to the touch.

It really made me think about people who smoke cigarettes in their
airplanes! :-)


From: highflyer <>
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Re: Wing covering material
Date: Thu, 10 Dec 1998 09:17:54 -0600

O-ring Seals wrote:
> Nope, the Ceconite process still uses nitrate dope and cement.  It is
> flamable.  I would not have my Cruisemaster, due to an arson fire, if
> it had not been covered with Stitts.
> O-ring

Right.  I didn't mention it in the little post I made about the
fuselage that caught fire in my shop and all the fabric burned off
in ten seconds.

That cover was Ceconite!  It required the ceconite process and the
first brush coats of dope, up through applying the reinforcing tapes,
are all Nitrate dope in that process.

Interestingly, the polyester fabric used with the ceconite process
did NOT burn.  The dope film burned like crazy and, as it did, the
polyester MELTED.  I had to chisel some of the puddles of molten
and resolidifies polyester off of the framework and floorboards.

Interestingly, none of the wood in the fuselage was even seriously
scorched.  The smoke marks wiped off!  The fire burned by so rapidly
that little damage was done.

I can still visualize somebody accidentally dropping a cigarette
in a ceconite covered aircraft and having it drop through one of the
holes in the floorboards.

Ten seconds and  you would be flying an airplane with NO COVERING.
What a horrible thought!

The only real solution is to NEVER smoke near ANY airplane!


From: "Bruce A. Frank" <"BAFRANK"@\"Spam Block\">
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Re: Wing covering material
Date: 10 Dec 1998 19:44:27 GMT

Back in PA I had an FAA designated inspector relate a story to me about
a fire in a nitrate doped plane. The plane was finished in buterate over
the requisite nitrate. A wire shorted in one of the wings and started a
fire. Smoke poured into the cockpit and the fire flashed through the
cockpit from one wing to the other. The pilot was able to open a window
so he could breath and safely landed the plane. The pilot was singed and
suffered from a mild case of smoke inhalation but there was only one
quarter size hole in one wing. The rest of the finish was otherwise
intact. Obviously the plane had to be recovered.

I have a friend whose family business, when he was a kid, was aircraft
repair and refinishing. He tells a story of his father having crawled
into the tail of a nitrate doped craft to make a  repair. Something
happened, a wire shorted probably, and the fabric caught fire. His
father, scrambling for all he was worth, dove through the door just the
whole plane burst into flame. He said total time from ignition 'til
total fuselage and wing involvement was less than 10 seconds. Poly-Fiber
is looking better every day.

Bruce A. Frank, Editor               "Ford 3.8/4.2L Engine and V-6 STOL              Homebuilt Aircraft Newsletter"
                                 | Publishing interesting material|
                                 | on all aspects of alternative  |
                                 | engines and homebuilt aircraft.|
               \(-o-)/        AIRCRAFT PROJECTS CO.
                \___/           Manufacturing parts & pieces
                /   \           for homebuilt aircraft,
               0     0          TIG welding

While trying to find the time to finish mine.

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