Maintaining any cloth-covered classic aircraft, such as the still
appealing Stinson 108 series, means repeating the covering renewal every
Bob and Pat Pustell found a solution far more permanent and lower in
maintenance demands: they found a “metalized” Stinson 108–a 1947
model converted when only three years old.
With co-pilot Joe Dixon, Bob flew his “tin” Stinson to EAA
AirVenture this year from West Ossipee, New Hampshire.
The venerable Stinson still holds strong appeal among fans of classic
aircraft, emerging amid an expected boom in aircraft sales following the
return home of thousand of pilots after World War II.
The strength of post war aircraft sales, however, failed to materialize—but
not before hundreds were built.
Originally covered with cotton fabric, the Stinson 108 posed the same
maintenance problem of all fabric-covered planes of those days.
owners opted for the solution used on this example, modifying the plane
to a metal covering.
The metalized Stinson owned by the Pustells is an example of the
application of this solution, applied by Ruleto Ind. Inc, of Hawthorne,
The conversion added only about 30 pounds of weight compared to the
original cotton covering, according to Bob. He was not sure of the cost
of the metallization, but recalled it was usually figured at about 50
percent more than the cost of a standard fabric covering.
The Stinson was not the only fabric plane owners chose to metalize, but
by the late 1950s, new synthetic fabrics started to show up as
recovering options, reducing the incentive to undertake the conversion.
Properly applied, these fabrics last so long that metalizing fabric
planes fell by the wayside as the new fabric technology proved to solve
the problem of frequent recovering.
As Bob also pointed out, some of the metalized planes have been
converted back to fabric to restore them to their original configuration
for historical accuracy.
But Bob’s airplane is a beautiful example of a solution that fell into
disuse but deserves to be remembered.