Building 4 Star 60 Day 27: Visitors & Covering

Top trailing edge covered

Tuesday was all about covering and a special visitor.  Stephanie stopped by to check out what I’ve been up to.  Even though she has been seeing the pictures/posts along the way I believe she gained a better appreciation of what’s involved and how the plane looks (especially the size of the aircraft).  Stephanie also helped me decide on the color scheme.  Settled on going orange on the bottom and yellow on top.  This will follow for the whole plane.

After checking out what I’ve been working on Steph and Peter headed upstairs to chat with while I was left to my own devices.   This evening I got the rest of the trailing edge covered (top & bottom, pic at the top and bottom respectively).  Covering is slow and steady work.

Steph came and checked my progress before leaving and later John stopped by to check things out as well as drop off some hardware.

Once I finished covering the trailing edge we had a gab session before I headed out.  This post is short and sweet and will be the last one until the new year.

Bottom Trailing Edge Covered
Bottom Trailing Edge Covered

Building 4 Star 60 Day 26: Wing Bolt Holes & Covering Wing

Top Right Wing Trailing Edge Covering

Yesterday I worked on my plane for about 2 hours (as is about the typical session length).

When I first arrived Peter filled me in on his 2hr morning session.  He got the wholes for the wing screw down bolts made.  He glued the two laser cut 1/16″ plywood wing hold down plates to the bottom of the wing, flush with the wing trailing edge and centred on the wing joint.  Once he glued the plate he used a block that is flat and square to drill a guide whole.  In order to do this he marked the spot on the block that needed to be drilled through in order to get the wholes through the plate (one at a time) in the correct spot.  Because this sets square onto the bottom of the aircraft the block ensures the drill wholes will be such that they line up square/flush with the wing hold down blocks.

Even though I wasn’t there for this Peter went through it all in detail with me.  Next he marked the wholes on the wing hold down blocks and used a threaded ‘hand turning bit’ to screw into the blocks so that we have threaded holes.  Once the holes were made he put some thin CA into both wholes and left it to dry as it provides a coat and strengthens the wood.  Once dry he used the tool to screw into the holes again to ensure no glue is blocking the thread.  He also sanded away the filler stuff, I just realised from the last post pictures to these! 😛

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Building 4 Star 60 Day 25: Fairing Blocks, Covering Wing Tip, Patching, & Sealing

Glued Balsa Tail Fairing Blocks

Had another great building session with Peter today.  I started with covering the other wing tip in green, which again took a lot of time and due diligence!  I was able to do this one by myself as I remembered what I learned from working with Peter & John while covering the other tip, bottom of this post.

Afterwords I glued the balsa tail fairing blocks into place.  In order to do this I cut two 3″ lengths of 1/2″ balsa triangle stock to serve as tail fairing blocks.  I then marked one for each side of the fin.  Peter showed me on the first one how to angle the back so it tapers from front to back.  You mark a line for the max you can go for your tapper as well as marking where F6 (Former) rounds against the block as you then sand to achieve the desired taper at the back and to get it to be ‘aerodynamic’ with F6, as you don’t want it to be squared up above creating unnecessary resistance.  The reason for these two blocks is that in the design the fin is not sturdy enough without them and can cause the fin to flutter or break off during flight.  These two fairing blocks provide additional support to the fin to help prevent side to side movement.

Patched Imperfections on Top
Patched Imperfections on Top

After that was completed we poured some glue into a small container and mixed in another compound with the glue in the original container.  The compound makes the glue thicker, so you keep adding and stirring until you get the consistency you are looking for.  We then went over the sheeting on the wing and found any little whole, indent, ding, ‘non-smooth surface’ we could find and filled it with the mixture.  We then left it to dry.  The beauty of this mixture is that it is easy to sand, so next time I’ll sand for a smooth finish.

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Building 4 Star 60 Day 24: Incidence Angle, Fin Glued & Covering

Fin Glued to Stabilizer (From Back)

Yesterday Peter and I put in another solid 2 hrs working on the plane.  John came over as well to check out how things were going.  I am getting a bit ahead of myself though as Peter checked to see if the angle of incidence on the wing was correct and in his email, I quote Peter, “You have built a great wing and fuselage. The wing and the fuse mates up properly and the incidence measurement is right on. John came over and installed the hinges on the elevator and we attached the elevator to the horizontal stabilizer.  Another great fit.”

So that made me very happy to know that my hard work and attention to detail is paying off!  Another thank-you to John for covering the rest of the elevators so that he could hinge them to the stabilizer.

Rigged to Check Angle of Incidence
Rigged to Check Angle of Incidence

Prior to getting to work I checked the angle of incidence for my self, so that I could learn how it goes.  In the picture above you can see that in order to get everything lined up right you need to have a starting point, which is ensuring that the stabilizer (back at the tail where you see the level) is level.  John has told me stories about planes that do not have a level stabilizer flying very well but the idea is to have the stab level!  You then ensure the angle of incidence for the wing is correct (I can’t remember specifically what it was for this aircraft, but I want to say 2°).

Checking the Incidence Angle
Checking the Incidence Angle

Next what I did was glue the fin into place.  Though you can’t see in the picture when you put the fin in there is a longer ‘stick’ that slides down into the fuselage and between the ‘stick of the fin’ and the fuse lies the piece of metal that connects the two elevators.  You need to ensure that when the fin is in place the elevators are able to move up and down unhindered by the fin being in place.  In my case it worked out nicely, but if for some reason there was to much friction you would need to sand a little groove out of the ‘fin stick’ where the rubbing is occurring.

Once I ensured the fin was straight (held by Peter) I traced the edge of the fin so I would know where glue needs to be applied.  I then placed tape along both sides (also two pieces of tape along the bottom of the sides of the fin) as would prefer to minimize the amount of glue that gets on the stabilizer to make it easier to clean up prior to covering.  Then I place glue between the two pieces of tape on the stabilizer and along the left and right sides of the ‘stick’ as well as the bottom, those are the three points of contact within the fuselage.  I then put the fin into place and used the ‘triangles’ to how the fin vertical and centered properly on the stab.  Also placed a pin up at the front to hold it centered.  You can also see in the pic below where we used filler to fill in where a piece of the stab sheeting got banged.  You can see this from the back view in the featured image at the top of this post.

Fin Glued to Stabilizer (From Front)
Fin Glued to Stabilizer (From Front)

My last task for the day was covering the wing tip.  Out of the two hour building session this took over an 1h in 15mins of it!  I greatly appreciate the tips from John in how to cover.  In order to accomplish this I first cut a piece of green covering that left excess on both ends as well as top and bottom.  You then start in the middle, apply heat, and work your way out to the edge, top and bottom as well as back to front to remove any bubbles or creases (as best you can) from the surface.  You need to cut the covering at the trailing edge along the same line as if the top and bottom edge kept going.  You then fold that over and iron it to the trailing edge.

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Building 4 Star 60 Day 23: Sheeting Wing & Covering

Wing Topside Sheeting Done

Had a great building session with Peter last night making further progress on the wing and started the covering process.

In the picture above you can see how Peter cleaned up the sheeting so everything looks nice and smooth giving a better/easier finish.  When gluing the fillers he mixed a special substance in with the glue that makes the glue easier to sand .  I then marked and cut out the two wholes you see.  This is where the wires for the servos in the wing come up through, connect to a y-harness and then connect that to the receiver; which, will be contained within the fuselage.

Once that was done we flipped the wing.  Priot to sheeting the bottom we ran a piece of string through the tubes from the servo box up through the whole to allow us to run the wires when the time comes.  Then going through a similar process as when we sheeted the top I measured out and sanded the two pieces you see pinned in the pic below.  Once I got the desired fit I glued them into place.

Sheeting Wing Underside
Sheeting Wing Underside

Here’s where we did something a little different.  You’ll notice the leading edge piece that needs to be shaped isn’t installed.  Due to the fight we had with it last time we decided to soak it in warm water and then mould the piece around the wing at the end, held in place with elastics near the ribs for support, and let it dry so that the sheet is closely formed to what is required upon install.  Once the sheet dries we should be able to more accurately figure out where the slots need to be cut and glue it into place with, hopefully, greater ease.

Moulding Bottom Leading Edge Sheet
Moulding Bottom Leading Edge Sheet

To end the day I learned the basics of covering.  When covering surfaces (i.e. elevators & stabilizer seen below) it is best to do all the edges first and then take a break.  The theory being you are taking the same actions with the iron in all cases instead of switching between edges and sheeting the main surface, which will come next.

I decided to do my control surfaces (minus rudder) in green so you can see the edges of my elevators completed.  When covering you need to heat it up in the centre first and then work your way out to ensure you don’t get any bubbles.  Then when going over the edge ensure you start flat on the top, roll over until the iron is flat on the side and then pull down.  When rounding at the corners need to cut the covering in a straight line along the angle(s) to the ‘curve’ / change in direction of the wood surface.

I also did the back edge of the stabilizer, which in my design is orange.

Elevator Ends Covered
Elevator Ends Covered
Stabilizer Trailing Edge Covered
Stabilizer Trailing Edge Covered

In the picture below you can already start to see what the final look is going to be like with the contrast between the orange stabilizer and green elevator.  This will be most noticeable on the ground as in the air green turns to black.

Idea of Elevator/Stabilzer Look
Idea of Elevator/Stabilzer Look

Favicon & Landing Page Image

I am no graphics artists; however, I had an idea in my head as to what I wanted for my site icon and image on the landing page of my site.  So I got Stephanie to take a picture of me in the shirt I wanted to wear striking a couple different poses.

The idea was to have something which ties them together which is the ‘thinking’ pose I’ve struck.  I use me looking off to the one side for my favicon and to the other for the image on the landing page of my site with the idea of the things around me representing bits and pieces of what I enjoy doing (hobbies and otherwise).

This is another step forward in getting the landing page of my site completed to finish off the overall look.

It was fun to tinker with, but made me realize that graphics are not quite my forte! Lol.

 

Building 4 Star 60 Day 22: Wing Sheeting & Deck

Wing Sheeting

Yesterday was a bitter sweet two hour building session at Peters.  It started with gathering the sheeting for the wing and determining which pieces for which section.  I then measured where they have to go and determined I needed to cut them in 14.5″ sections to give a little overlap on each end for potential corrections; which, as it turned out, I definitely needed!

The type of wood used for each section was a little different with the pieces being used for the trailing edge that required the most forming to be softer wood than that of the other sections.  We started with the leading edge, softer piece as this is the most tricky since you have to cut slots into the trailing edge sheets.  We tried to figure out where they had to go and cut them prior to wetting the wood and then forming it into place.  This lead to our measurements being off and thus have a wider gap then I should of that will need to be filled along with where the leading edges meet they are not perfectly aligned causing a gap that will need to be filled.  Also the sheet ended up being to long, once wet, and so we had to ‘hack it’ to get it to lay properly.  Peter said he’ll clean that up once things dry.  We now know for the other, bottom, side we need to wet the wood prior to measuring and cutting anything!  You can see this along with where the dowels were glued into place in the picture at the top.  The dowels went into the wholes I previously drilled with the ‘rig’ and slip into two wholes in the fuselage when placing the wing on.

Shaping Balsa Top Deck
Shaping Balsa Top Deck

Lastly for the day we molded the top deck.  In order to do this we used elastics to hold the laser cut balsa top deck in place.  Prior to putting it on Peter ran warm water over the surface of the top deck, under a sink, to make it easier to bend into shape and to prevent it from cracking.  Once that was done we slid the elastics, essentially one per former, over the fuselage and then worked the deck underneath until we had it all the way on.

Unfortunately throughout this process we broke one of the T’s and will have to glue back in place before attaching the deck.

That concluded another building session that wasn’t without it’s issues.  One comical moment that sticks out to me is how one of Peter’s favorite sayings is “That’s not a problem”, in that we can find a fix for it, but this time when a piece for the sheeting was over sanded he let out a “That’s a problem”, and we had to start that piece over again! Struck me funny, lol.

Building 4 Star 60 Day 21: Dowel Holes, T1 Reinforced, Switch & Stabilizer

Prepped for Dowels

Yesterday we had a productive 2 hr building session.  I love seeing my project slowly come together and take on more and more of a ‘total plane’ look/shape.

The evening started with checking out the ‘rig’ Peter created for drilling the holes for the dowels into the dowel support blocks.  Because every planes wing is different you need to create this for each one!  you can see the hole setup in the pic at the top of the post.  The devices gripping the wings and actually slotted to hold the edges is set to ensure that the wing maintains the correct angle (if the angle is wrong the dowel holes will be off).  These dowels are what will slip into the fuselage to hold the front of the wing while the back will be bolted on.  Pinned to the front is the template for where the holes need to be made in order to match up properly with the fuselage.  Then placing the drill bit into the device guiding it straight drilled into the support blocks providing a guide hole.

Drilling Dowel Hole
Drilling Dowel Hole

Here I went off plans and based on more experienced builders in the club.  I’m going to place a hatch cover to provide easier access to the fuel tank.  In order to do this need to reinforce T1 to provide support and a place for my hatch cover to screw into.  I took a rectangular piece of scrap balsa wood and then figured out what width it needed to be, cut it and then traced the arch of the T1 piece followed by cutting it out and then sanding to get close to the same shape as T1.  I didn’t want to sand perfect as will finish sanding once the glue dries so it is the same shape as T1.

Reinforced T1
Reinforced T1
Reinforced T1 for Hatch Mount
Reinforced T1 for Hatch Mount

I cut the hole for the switch for turning the plane on/off.  For this I had to measure on the inside to see where I wanted the switch to be (between the edges of the doubler slot,  to thick to go through the doubler as well) and then translate it to the outside where I did the work.  I used the one piece as a stencil to mark the shape with a pencil.  I did my best to make sure the hole was level so the switch won’t look all cockeyed once installed.

Then using a tiny drill bit I drilled a little hole in the four corners before going up to a bigger drill bit and drilling within the pencil lines to start opening up the hole.  After that Peter used a tool to remove more followed by me finishing it off by sanding (not with sand paper! lol).  You can see the switch placed in the slot in the pic below.  Will need to remove for covering.

On/Off Switch Slot Made
On/Off Switch Slot Made

The last task of the evening was getting the stabilizer attached to the fuselage.  First marked the center of the tail (where the stabilizer will sit) followed by centering the stabilizer on the back of the fuselage and penciled the lines to mark where glue needed to be applied.  Then taped both the sides of the fuselage and next to the pencil marks on the stabilizer to ensure no excess glue gets stuck to those surfaces that will be covered.

Once that was done place glue on the stablizer and then set it on the fuselage, centered it both front and back using the pencil marks on the back and the center of the one ‘stick’ of wood for centering the front.  We then clamped into place (used a block of wood so not right on the stabilizer) and once happy placed weight to hold in place.

Stablilizer Glued
Stablilizer Glued

This concluded another building session and next time I should be able to get a nice picture to really show the plane taking shape!

Building 4 Star 60 Day 20: Servos, Push Rods and Wing Cleanup

Joined wing clean up Angle view

Had a productive 2hr building session at Peters today.  Started with a trial fit of the push rods for controlling the elevator and rudder of the plane.  Needed to sand the one opening (making sure it’s not the side of the plane being sanded) in order to get the rod to fit.

Elevator & Rudder Push Rods
Elevator & Rudder Push Rods

We also continued working on the wing.  Since the glue was dried from the last session and now the left and right wings are joined.  I removed any excess glue that I could including sanding the glue away from along where the main spars from both wings meet to ensure a smoother finish when it comes time to cover.  Since it’s not a perfectly flush match I used scrap wood to fill the gaps, specifically for the little gap between the rear spars and the trailing edge.

The trailing edge took a little more tweaking due to a clump of glue I had to compensate for by cutting out a section in the filling piece of wood.  You can see another angle of the shims in the top, featured, photo.

Joined wing clean up
Joined wing clean up

Below you can see the servos I assembled and screwed into the servo tray.  Afterwords I glued the servo tray into the slot in the doubler of the fuselage.  In order to know where it needed to be for balancing we visited John to see where his was and determined its 2.5 inches from the front.  He uses the same engine.

The fuselage is upside down and front to the right.  Since I’m using a 4 stroke engine (Saito 100) the servo for controlling the throttle is on the left side of the plane, pilots perspective or bottom servo in the picture.  The others are for the rudder and elevator, don’t have the plans on me so not sure which is which at the moment.

Throttle & Tail Servos
Throttle & Tail Servos

That concluded another fun building session and love seeing the progress we’re making!

Building 4 Star 60 Day 19: Joining Wings & Top Deck Formers

Joining the wings (Full length)

Today was a quick building session as we got done what we could and then have to wait until the glue dries.

Peter already had the table prepped with the left and wing panels and a device to hold the required angle while the two halves are glued together.  We also used a level to ensure the leading edge is level across both wings, seen in the pic above.

I first placed glue on the left end of the dihedral brace followed by sliding it into place in the left wing panel.  I then placed glue over the outside of the two ribs that will be together when joined.  After placing glue on the right end of the dihedral brace Peter and I carefully worked the brace into the right panel.  We then clamped the two wings (angled W1 ribs) together making sure they were aligned as well as we could get it and left it to dry for the night after wiping away the excess glue.  Worth noting is that for the glue applied to the side of the ribs we mixed in a thickener to ensure the glue fills in any gaps from imperfections or unexpected warping of the rib helping to ensure a solid bond.

Joining the wings
Joining the wings

The last task for the night envolved turning our attention back to the fuselage where we glued the balsa top deck formers T-1, T-2, & T-3 into place.

Top deck formers T-1, T-2, & T-3 glued
Top deck formers T-1, T-2, & T-3 glued