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ABS VS. FIBERGLASS

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ABS plastic vs. Fiberglass

Our customers frequently ask us, “Should I buy ABS plastic or fiberglass?”

“Which one is better?”

“What is the difference between the two?”

We hope this guide will help you answer those questions.

COST: We all know that owning an airplane can be pretty expensive! If you are looking to save a little money, keep in mind that ABS plastic parts are 20% to 40% less expensive than fiberglass parts. (Fiberglass parts are more expensive due to the material base cost and the extra labor involved in their construction.)

SERVICE LIFE: The service life of any part is difficult to determine due to a number of factors, such as the way the part was installed, the environment in which an aircraft is kept, how it is stored, etc.

A fiberglass part will have a longer service life in most situations, but remember that Cessna and Piper originally supplied most of these parts in ABS plastic. These plastic parts had an average service life of 15 to 20 years!ABS plastic parts, when properly fitted, not over-stressed, and painted with professional paints, will last longer than the average aircraft owner will even own their airplane.

DURABILITY: Again, fiberglass is somewhat more durable than ABS plastic. But how durable do you need the part to be? If ABS plastic is properly installed and painted, it’s durability can be extended, and can be well worth the added savings to an aircraft owner.

DAMAGE TRANSFERS: One thing that was considered by design engineers for the tips of light aircraft was the fact that a very light ground impact on your hanger door or other ground obstructions to the tips could transfer to extensive sheet metal, rib or subspar damage. If the tips were made in the stronger fiberglass these damages could result in a more costly and timely repair. If you are unfortunate enough to make this mistake, a plastic part is more likely to fracture and not transfer to the more expensive sheet metal.

ARE THEY REPAIRABLE?: Both ABS and fiberglass are repairable. A fiberglass part can sustain a little more damage and still be considered “Repairable,” but again, consider the costs. Will it cost more to repair the fiberglass part than it will to replace it with a NEW, less expensive, ABS plastic part?

INSTALLATION: There is no difference in installation time and technique between these two materials.

PAINTING: Both ABS plastic and fiberglass parts require painting for “Finish out” and UV stabilization. An ABS plastic part’s life is greatly extended by fitting, sanding, and professionally priming and painting the part.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

For a lower cost: USE ABS PLASTICSFor a regular service life: USE ABS PLASTICSFor extended service life: USE FIBERGLASSFor standard durability: USE ABS PLASTICSFor extreme conditions: USE FIBERGLASSFor flight schools: USE ABS PLASTICSHangared aircraft: USE ABS PLASTICSSelling the plane: USE ABS PLASTICSExtreme heat or cold: USE FIBERGLASS

For quick, cost effective replacement: USE ABS PLASTICS


INSTALLATION HARDWARE INFORMATION

Aircraft quality hardware is required in the FAR’s for installation of parts on Type Certified Aircraft.We do not specify the exact rivet or screw sizes for these installations. Screw and rivet sizes or grip lengths should be determined per individual application. A licensed A&P installer will know how to assist you in determining the accepted [...]

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How to find screw holes when installing tips and fairings

Here is a .pdf to explain an old method to find holes in overlapping materials. This works great for strut fairings, wingtips, elevator tips, vertical fins and many other airplane related part installs.Click Here for printable PDF

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PAINTING EXTERIOR ABS PRODUCTS

Exterior ABS plastics must be painted for UV protectionPrior to painting: Determine that you have the correct part before proceedingNOTE: Painting comes last, not first. STEP 1. Pre-fit the product.STEP 2. Locate the holes and final fit the product.STEP 3. After pre-fitting and test installing, the part should be removed and painted before [...]

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Evolution of the Cessna 150

DESIGN EVOLUTION OF THE CESSNA 150A visual reference to the external changes made to the Cessna 150.

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The story behind the Hoerner wing tip design

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Same Day Shipping Expectations

 All products with a Product Number that ends in a -80A  Have normally been available for same day shipping if your order was placed by noon that day. However due to excessive order loads ...same day shipping should not be expected. We are working hard to re-establish a same day shipping status.We do not guarantee shipping will [...]

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"Pro-Split" strut fairings Cessna 150/152/172/175/180/182

The Cessna 150/152/172/175/180/182 "PRO-Split" brand of lift strut fairings have been released and deliveries have started to our customers.This is an FAA approved fairing design for easier and faster install of replacement lift strut fairings. ASK for the  "PRO-Split" brand from us in the future...

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