Have you ever heard of Cyanoacrylates? I have now, because I googled “superglue” so I could write something smart to pretend I’m knowledgable. Like something about its history, e.g. the fact that it was used to close battle wounds in the Vietnam War. I always thought that that was one of its first main uses, but it turns out that the stuff had actually been discovered in 1942 and been around since the 1950s. It’s magical stuff! Last Christmas, when we visited the emergency room to treat a laceration on the head of one of my kids, they also glued it shut with superglue. That glue surely lives up to its name!

And duct tape … Would aviation even be possible without it? No wonder it’s a common subject in our comic strip! Wanting to sound smart, I also googled it and discovered quite a few things. For example that, on Wikipedia, the first sentence says it’s also known as “duck tape”. Hah! I chuckled to myself, reading that. People are so dumb! Does anybody older than six actually make that mistake? But as I read on, it seems that the name doesn’t simply come from a hearing mistake, but that the original duct tape used a “duck cloth” backing. Duck cloth is finely woven cotton fabric and derives its name from the Dutch word “doek” (linen canvas). The word “duck tape” predates “duct tape” by over 60 years.

Well, I’ll never make fun of anyone saying “duck tape” ever again! It’s always humbling to see the Dunning-Kruger effect in action in oneself.

And I learned even more: I always used “gaffer tape” and “duct tape” interchangeably. Apparently they’re two different things! Gaffer tape is designed to be removable without leaving any stains and used mainly for temporary taping down cables on stages etc.

I guess I better stop learning now before my head explodes …

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10 comments on “Superglue
  1. Karel A.J. ADAMS says:

    * cyanocrylate glue: long ago, when smoking was still allowed in pubs, I knew a gang of youngsters who would glue the ashtrays to the tables… I think hot air was the only solution.

    * duct tape (sic!): indeed an engineer’s “passe-partout”. See for a magnificent illustration.

  2. Rwill says:

    There is one thing duct tape should not be used for, ironically enough; ducts. In particular heat ducts, the heat breaks it and it’s adhesive down and it will no longer seal. Foil tape is recommended for that use.

    One of my favorite duct tape “stories” is in Jack Campbell’s Lost fleet series humanities first contact with an alien species is facilitated by the use of duct tape to help repair their ship. So the aliens initiated a second contact to get more duct tape.

  3. JP Kalishek says:

    back in my FOB days I was also a dirt track racing driver then photographer. One lazy Saturday, one of the FOB’s 172s came taxiing up with a wing a bit pranged by a vulture strike. (it had been sold to a contractor who ran pipeline inspection flights)
    The bird hit just in from the tip screw line and stove in the leading edge for nearly 3 feet/1 meter. The pilot borrowed our pilot car to run to the hardware to get duck tape (and it was Duck Tape brand)and was soon trying to patch it enough to keep the tip connected and be able to get to his home strip (A short hop)before someone he’d rather not deal with saw what was up . . . but he wasn’t very skilled with the tape. So, I grabbed the roll and started running big long strips and then adding shorter ones at angles to it, and got it aerodynamic enough to keep it in place.
    He quipped “You look like you’ve done this before!” I replied “I have, but usually the wing is the opposite side up, and mostly square. I help friends with Sprint Cars from time to time.”
    Got him out before the faa dude got off his lunch break.
    I used nearly half the roll.
    Start at the top, longitudinally from just behind the damage, and go line by line to the center of the leading edge, then on the bottom same way, up to the edge, then one along the centerline of the edge, this keeps the seam edges from peeling up, then the short ones from the deepest portion of the damage out each way, all overlapping about half the width of the roll.
    I’d say it got him out of my hair, but I was bald by then.

  4. Giuseppe says:

    It’s one of the two most necessary tools in any toolbox!
    Duct tape for things that move but they should not. WD-40 for things that Don’t move but they should!

  5. M Mitchell Marmel says:

    Wouldn’t chickens use duck tape instead?

  6. Frank E. Merrill says:

    I remember reading a story several years ago about a bush pilot whose fabric-covered aircraft got mauled by a bear, stranding the pilot with an un-flyable craft. He contacted another pilot, who brought in a case of duct tape and helped wrap the fuselage, wings, and tail surfaces enough to fly out. Between the tape and WD-40 I can pretty much fix anything!

  7. Wade Moeller says:

    Baking soda instantly cures super glue and gives it a touch of body. Makes for a quick & light filler/joint.

    Talcum Powder and super glue make a paste/putty and can be used to fill in largish cracks.

    Both of those should be found within arms reach of a GA mechanic at all times.

  8. JL says:

    “Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped”

  9. Ray says:

    Love that last comment JL. Gonna have to borrow that one…

  10. eekee says:

    I think I need to bookmark this page as a reference — I never knew half those things about… duck tape! 🙂

    Hmm… maybe I’ll start calling it “doek tape” online in the sorts of places people take their own opinions too seriously. :3

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