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Oratex Fabric Covering / Oracover

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  • Oratex Fabric Covering / Oracover

    Reposted from Back Country Pilot forum:
    Oracover is a "one-step" fabric covering which comes as a finished coloured product (no base coat, silver, or paint -unless you want details) some are now using as an alternative to conventional methods. I thought this might be useful here.

    I had a chance to visit my friend who's using the Oratex on his Bearhawk,

    The application process looks to be very easy, you apply the structural adhesive "glue" product as you need it, let it set, the apply the fabric using heat from a gun or iron to activate the glue. If you need to change a panel or make a mistake, the glue can be head activated over again. It takes well over 250*C to activate, so no worries about ambient heat softening the glue outdoors. For a first-timer covering job, the quality looked fantastic.

    The material doesn't feel the same as a typical Ceconite installation, it's a springy sort of fabric with slightly more texture, and certainly a lighter product when finished. The edges of tapes visually stand out *ever* so slightly more than a painted Ceconite covering, I suppose because the lines are sharper. Some might prefer this look. It comes in three weights, the lightest was very flimsy and I'd suggest it's not for "real" aircraft exteriors. It's probably aimed at Ultralights, but should work well for an interior fabric. The fabric is two sided, so you need to get it right-way-up, one has a rougher surface for the structural adhesive to adhere to.

    It did not appear to be as "translucent" as described by some. Under indoor lighting it looked just like regular fabric covering, not see-through at all. Outside in direct sunlight the medium weight fabric might be *slightly* see through. It's certainly not like the material used on Ultralights in that respect, I seem to recall someone drew that comparison.

    Anyway enough words from me, pictures (this is a Bearhawk):

    Rudder, note the rib-stitching tapes as with Ceconite - same materials used there:

    Interior door skin (lightest weight) in blue:

    Elevator, my friend's plane will be white with blue trim:

    Horisontal stabiliser, with rib stitching and tapes complete:

  • #2
    Jonathan - who is using the Oratex on their Bearhawk? Maybe they can offer some advice. I have some ordered for my LSA. I am nervous about it since it is new to me. Mark


    • Battson
      Battson commented
      Editing a comment
      Lars is using the Oracover (Oratex). I think the name must vary depending on Europe or North America.

  • #3
    I've used this in the model airplane world. This may be a full scale variant of the model stuff, no idea. Anyway, the issue when covering models is the material tends to sag when exposed to warmer temps. How is the stability of this product, once it's shrunk does it stay shrunk?
    Dave Bottita The Desert Bearhawk
    Project Plans #1299
    N1208 reserved


    • #4
      I have also wondered if it would sag and wrinkle like the RC version in the sun. I wonder...can you just shoot some 409 on the side, wipe it off with a paper towel and iron on a patch when the inevitable happens? Wow, I just got a visual of my future bird looking like my old Avistar and Escapade...
      Scratch-building 4-place #1231
      Almost Wyoming region of Nebraska


      • Battson
        Battson commented
        Editing a comment
        This stuff is designed and tested for real aircraft, I strongly doubt it performs any differently to other covering systems.

    • #5

      I know the distributer up here in AK. Name is Lars and here is a straight shooter. From talking to Lars he is very excited about this product and hope it takes off here in the US.



      • #6
        Jonathan, Any update from your friend who is putting Oratex on his BH? I'm seriously considering using it on mine when the time comes.


        Kit Building a 4-place
        Plans # 850


        • Battson
          Battson commented
          Editing a comment
          He is disassembling his air-frame to begin with the major covering stage this week, so we will get the full rundown soon. I will try to fly up to lend a hand one weekend, so I can give a first-hand comparison between the Oracover and Polyfiber systems.

      • #7
        Great! Thanks.


        • #8
          Are there any updates on Oratex? I am considering this option as well.


          • #9
            Originally posted by Scott View Post
            Are there any updates on Oratex? I am considering this option as well.
            This plane is flying and has been for a year or so. You can see video of it on the Oratex Youtube channel.

            The finish on white Oratex is semi-translucent; in very bright sunlight you can *just* percieve the underlying tube through the covering. This only happens where the tube touches the fabric though, you can't see right through. Some traditionalists don't enjoy this microlight-esk effect. Darker colours would avoid this visual effect...


            • #10
              I have found that even the darker colours are somewhat translucent. Enough that I have chosen Ceconite and Endura for my 4pl.


              Maule M5-235C C-GJFK
              4 Seat Bearhawk #1078 (Scratch building)
              RV-8 C-GURV (Sold)


              • #11
                Thanks for the updates, I sure like the concept of Oratex, especially for the O-360 on the 4 place. It seems like any weight savings in the tail could pay off when it comes to aft CG issues. I'm still mulling over my engine choice, and fabric options as I complete the frame. Does anybody have any complaints with Oratex, glue, durability, or color fading? I get nervous buying new technologies and want to cover all bases here.


                • #12
                  The very nice supercub at the Oratex Oshkosh booth had multiple areas of adhesion problems.


                  • #13
                    Nothing has come loose on mine after 3 years. But I will say the red color has faded a little. And my LSA with the Oratex stays inside except during the shows it attends. The color fading doesn't particularly bother me however. Mark


                    • #14
                      How &/or where can I learn how to install the Oratex? I'm getting close to putting on the fabric.


                      • #15
                        I saw the plane built by the late forum member "Fellman" recently, which is covered with Oratex. It now has perhaps 150 to 200 hours on it.

                        Many of the Oratex tapes had come loose on the tail wings and undercarriage, mostly where the pinked edges were. The glue underneath the tape had collected grass and grit blown by the prop, and the tapes will be difficult to stick back down.


                        • Mark Goldberg
                          Mark Goldberg commented
                          Editing a comment
                          One thing I tell people who ask me about Oratex is to NOT use pinked edge tapes. Use straight tapes. Without the stuff sprayed on top to help stick it down - the pinked edges do tend to come up. Some of them. not even close to most. But for sure straight tapes are the way to go. Mark