Category Archives: Hobbies

Building 4 Star 60 Day 8: Fuse Top and Bottom Front

Today’s building session was all about the bottom and a little time to sand the fibreglass wrap over the metal wire and wood for the one side where the elevator connected.

Once fibreglass was sanded down I turned my attention to the fuselage.  We started work on the table by looking at the landing gear plate, which Peter had already made as the one that came with the kit was to small to fit while Peters fit nice and snug!

Did a trial fit of the fuse top and bottom front.  Also found the basswood wing hold-down blocks which I figured out how they fit (paying attention to the one angled side) and then marked the two sides on each that required glue along with which was left/right.  Next I mixed the glue and  since I had already sanded the fuselage top once confident in its fit we applied glue and clamped everything into place.

The next step was to flip it over and glue in the wing hold-down blocks and clamped them into place as well.  You can see the two clamps holding these two pieces in place to the left of the curve for the wing in the pic below.

Fuselage Top and Bottom Front Installed
Fuselage Top and Bottom Front Installed

The last step for the day was gluing the fuse bottom front curved piece into place.  I Believe normally you’d wet it and then clamp it into place to allow the wood to dry and take on the curve.  Instead we worked the wood and glued it into place (after sanding and trial fitting) clamping along the way.   The very front was being stubborn and had to rig up some wood and use a spray bottle to wet the wood before applying some more glue and rigging up other pieces of wood we placed bottom and top, held in place with elastics (and little dab of glue of the top block) to allow the clamp to take hold and apply pressure in the right place.

At that point it was to risky to do anything else.  Originally we thought we’d start on the wing but didn’t want to risk bumping the fuselage.  Hoping to do a little more on the fuselage and start the wing tomorrow.

Building 4 Star 60 Day 7: Comradery

Todays session was a different one.  Since the next couple steps were straight forward Peter placed the first layer of fibreglass over the wire/elevators.  He also glued the fuselage bottom, which I’d already sanded, to the fuselage and clamped it since it was straight forward and keeps us moving forward.  You can see the outcomes in the first and second pictures respectively.

First layer of fiberglass to elevator 'connector'
First layer of fiberglass to elevator ‘connector’
Fuselage bottom added
Fuselage bottom added

We went over everything and while going over the fuselage I noticed one of the formers, near the nose, is still not sticking in place and needs to be glued again.  This definitely enforces that you need to check over and recheck everything.  Not sure why certain pieces are being so stubborn!

Since the next major thing we’ll be tackling is building the wing Peter thought it’d be good for me to see some wings in various stage of construction so we went to Marc’s.  One was an LT40 wing, bare wood, and is close to what I’ll be building.  It was great to chat, hear some stories (he engineered/designed plans for a warbird and built it himself!), see his collection, what he’s working on, and various other aspects of the hobby.  He has planes he built and ARFs along with projects lined up to build.  The sentiment seems to be if you find something you might use at a good price then get it.  Especially kits as you never know when they might be discontinued (or might already be if it’s from another hobbyist).

Something that stuck out to me today that went something like if you’re only doing this because you like flying the planes then you’ll likely get board and not stick around in the hobby (winters are long and you’re not doing anything in the hobby) but if you enjoy building, modding, tinkering, and the like then it provides you with a stronger interest, or something like that.  Apparently some people just buy ARFs, crash at some point, and then think the planes garbage so someone else takes it, rebuilds it and is flying it in no time.  So far I’m really enjoying building.  Can’t say for sure if it’s the building aspect, comradery with Peter or likely both, but I am really enjoying learning to build and how you see all this wood take shape and by your hands becoming a plane!  I do agree with Marc though it is therapeutic… a great way to take your mind of things and just relax.

I got an idea as to how I might be able to organize to fit another plane in my apartment… and hopefully more as time goes!  He uses metal verticals that you hook the shelf brackets too at the night you require and can adjust them as needed based on the plane being stored.  Instead of resting shelves on them you use round protective foam over the brackets and then rest the plane body and wings on them.  Not sure if my landlord would appreciate all the wholes/anchors in the wall so perhaps can build up shelving similarly and just anchor to the wall?

Building 4 Star 60 Day 6: Connect Elevators & Fuselage Side

Today was another great building session and things are really starting to come together.  Dare I say it, its the first day it’s really starting to look like a plane!

Taking the weights and supports off from last building session we see that the formers are now attached to the one side.

Formers on right side dried
Formers on right side dried

Worked on the elevators some more today.  We angled the leading edge and sanded it.  Doing it enough to give us approximately the range of motion our elevators will need.  Once we get closer to finishing them we’ll ensure theirs enough movement as specified, I believe it’s an inch of throw.  I marked the centre of the trailing edge for both and then Peter  and I both rounded one of them.  I then sanded the metal wire before we  mixed glue and then glued the wire in to place (after ensuring its fit and be recessed below the leading edges.

After that we laid wax paper and folded it over the stabilizer.  We placed pins around to ensure it couldn’t move on us along with some other things, as seen in the pick below, and then clamped the things so the elevators stay snugged up to the trailing edge of the stabilizer while the glue dries.

Connected elevators with metal wire
Connected elevators with metal wire

As seen in the pic above we placed a piece of wood between the wire and stabilizer to ensure it remains snug and doesn’t rise above the edge of the elevators as it should be recessed.

The last task for the day was to attach the left side of the fuselage to the formers.  This turned out to be a tricky task.  We startedwih a dry fit and discovered the firewall did not want to fit so Peter did a little sanding of the two ‘tabs’.  We mixed glue similar to last time and applied it to the edges of the formers.  We then lined of the side of the fuselage and fitted it into place.  This side was stubborn and you could see it taking on the desired curged shape.

Fuselage with both sides attached to formers
Fuselage with both sides attached to formers

While we were wrapping up for the night Peter asked what colour I’d like to make the aircraft.  I’m not sure yet and we might go take a look at Johns sometime.  Right now I’m leaning towards yellow on orange.  I digress as we’re not their yet!

After the side track we went back into the shop to check things and realized a couple things.  First off the firewall wasn’t staying together properly and we missed the bottom clamp (yes I know that’s technically the top of the plane as it’s resting upside down).  We rejigged some of our clamps, applied a little more glue in places, and added the missing clamp before being satisfied to call it a night.

Building 4 Star 60 Day 5: Elevators and Fuselage Formers

Today I started working with working on connecting the two elevators with with wire.  This involved first marking the centre of the edge and then using the plans to line up where the wire needed to be inserted and mark it.  Then drilled a whole 1/8th in diameter an inch into the elevator.  Then grooved out a line using the drill bit from the whole we made to the inside edge about an eighth of an inch deep and had to groove it down deeper still to make sure the wire is flush and not sticking up past the edge of the elevator.  This was repeated on the other elevator as well.  Will need to sand the metal piece before gluing into place to securely connect the two elevators.


Once that was done for the night I sanded the edges of the right side of the plane as well as the edges of formers F1-F6.  After laying the right side of the plane down on the table, inside up, we placed the formers into their proper locations to ensure they fit and used solid 90 degree objects as weights to ensure they are vertical.  The firewall was a bit to big and required some light sanding to make it fit.  This is after ensuring their was no excess glue from where we glued the fuselage doubler.

The next step was to glue the formers into place.  For this we had to mix yet a different kind of glue.  I still don’t have this part memorized.  It takes a long time to set making it great for this as creates a stronger bond but also means to ensure we don’t warp/twist the fuselage we can only do one side at a time.  Then you let it dry before continuing on.  Some people do multiple sides at once and hold it together with elastic bands but I’d rather just take the extra time.

Once glued into place we used clamps to keep the formers in place and vertical against the 90 degree objects.   We then rigged it up to place weights on top to ensure the glued areas are firmly pressed together.

Formers glued to right side of fuselage
Formers glued to right side of fuselage

This concluded another building session and planning to get in another tomorrow!

Building 4 Star 60 Day 4: A little bit of everything

Today was another great day of building.  I lucked out today with some extra assistance to keep things moving along.  John cut the find down to size and sanded the edges for me.  Even sanded the sheeting.  Apparently this is one of the reasons why we don’t use the 1/16th that comes with as wouldn’t be able to sand.  We don’t do all the final touches on anything until ready to install due to hangar rash, that is the potential for bumps and what not while around the workshop.  We’ll want to make sure that sheeting surfaces are sanded smooth, excess glue gone, etc. Before applying the covering to prevent wrinkles, bumps etc. in the covering.

I marked the centre on the trailing edge followed by where the hinges have to go using the plans.  After practicing with scrap wood I made the slots for the hinges.  The other thing I had to do was start rounding the leading edge for aerodynamics.  This involved again first marking the centre, marking with a pencil so far from the edge on both sides as to how far to sand for starting the rounding, and then sanding the side edges at a 45 degree angle up to the line to get the rounding effect.

Sheeting cut, fin sanded, hinges marked
Sheeting cut, fin sanded, hinges marked

I repeated this process for the stabilizer as well, using the plans to mark where the hinges had to go, the centre position, and making the slots for the hinges.  Here I started rounding the leading edges using the same technique.

Peter showed me with the fin how to use sandpaper to finish the rounding effect using a finger on each side to apply pressure while moving the sand paper left to right over the edge as well as up and down the length of the edge focusing on one side or the other as needed to even it out.  You use the marked centre line as your guide since without it you’d have a hard time knowing what was the centre once you’ve started sanding.

Stabilizer hinge centres
Stabilizer hinge centres

On the stabilizer I marked the centre lines on all three sides (not the flat top as no hinge goes here and it won’t be rounded, actually want it to be flat and level for connecting to the body of the plane later).  Where you see the pencil marks that is the centre of my hinges, 6 total – 3 per half.  These markings with the long line is to help find hinge placements once covering is applied first to the edge so we can cut out the hinge location before covering the rest and putting the hinge in (dido for the fin).

Here’s a closeup of the edge where two hinges are marked and cut.  The cut into the wood for the hinge is very hard to notice which is where the markers are very helpful.

Stabilizer hinge placement cuts
Stabilizer hinge placement cuts

To continue prepping the fuselage today I glued the fuselage doublers to the corresponding fuselage side as we labeled yesterday.  We first traced them to guide us where we need to place it and to know where we can’t allow excess glue to remain.  I used a different kind of glue, titebond wood glue, for this as slower to set so absorbs in and creates a stronger bond.  As I glued each one we weighted it down to hold it in place and ensure contact is maintained throughout the drying process.  We had to ensure we wiped away excess glue from the slots and other areas where future pierces will go.

Weighted down glued doublers and tail wheel mount
Weighted down glued doublers & tail wheel mount

Another big thanks to John and Peter for the work they did on the firewall starting with marking the centre and where the engine lies on the firewall.  Peter explained to me how they used Johns Saito 100 4 stroke engine (same engine I’ll be buying for mine) to mark out where the holes have to go to on the engine mounts (they already drilled them for me) and made the small wholes where they’ll be attached to the firewall.  They also already had the whole drilled for where the fuel lines will pass through the firewall to the tank.  Today I drilled out the 4 tiny wholes to their proper size, 1/16th I believe it was and special tool was used to determine the size of bit required.  I then placed Vaseline into the blind nuts to prevent glue from getting in as glue was applied around the four holes and then the nuts were pushed into place.

Firewall, four small wholes are where the engine mount goes
Firewall, four small wholes are where the engine mount goes

 The last thing I did for the day was glue the tail wheel mount to the back of the fuselage bottom plate.  You can see the round weight over the top holding it down at the right of the pic with the weighted down glued doublers.

Building 4 Star 60 Day 3: Fuselage + Stabilizer

This morning I was up early, odd for a weekend, and off to Peters for what turned out to be a 2.5hr building session which flew by!  No pun intended, lol.

Forgot to take a picture of this step but I glued the sheeting to the fin I built and prepped last day and basically looks the same as the sheeting pic but just one of them.  Peter did finish off the fin after the glue dried by gluing the trailing edge for me so we were ready for sheeting today, thank you.  While John was tracing out the fuselage pieces to make templates, as he needs to build one from scratch, I worked one the stabilizer.

Since the glue had dried for the stabilizer I pinned through the sheeting approximately an inch from the frame edges and then used a ruler and pencil to make guide lines for cutting the bulk of the excess off with the bandsaw.  For some of the angles had to get creative and learn that I don’t have to cut along the line the first time but can cut further away and work my way in.

Once I had the general outline cut out I used an exacto knife to cut away more of the excess getting me relatively close.  Using a hand sander I sanded away what was left of the sheeting overhanging the edges of the framework, making a heck of a mess!  John kindly demonstrated how to more efficiently sand as it was looking like I was going to be their for days!

While sanding have to make sure the top and bottom ‘overhang’ are getting sanded by just sanding one at a time when necessary and/or angling the sander appropriately to not over sand parts.  Once smooth with the framework edges and the burning from the laser cut pretty much gone you’re done.  I ended up with the following and will have to round the leading edges later:

Stabilizer + Fuselage doublers
Stabilizer + Fuselage doublers

To wrap up the session I started assembling the fuselage by gluing the fuselage front to its side.  Before any gluing took place we spent a good chunk of time eyeing the pieces and the plans to see how everything was going together, including what will likely need to be glued next which is the doublers pictured above (their are 2 stacked on top of each other) and how they’ll fit on the inside of the fuselage side.  Good thing we double and tripple checked as we had the top and bottom of the fuselage side mixed up!  We also made sure we understood where excess spacing was allowed for the top and bottom plates to fit along with other pieces.

Once we had it all figured out as to how the sides will come up, doublers eventually fit in, and front pieces fit in I sanded where the front fuselage joins the side fuselage pieces, glued and placed them together followed by placing weights over wax paper to keep everything in place to dry as seen below.

Fuselage Sides / Front
Fuselage Sides / Front

That concluded another day of building and planning to get in another session tomorrow!  I’m still really enjoying building; however, if I was to make an adjustment for next time it would be to wear some sort of face mask when doing large quantities of sanding (i.e. as I mentioned for the stabilizer above).  Peter mentioned their won’t be much more sanding left now.

Building 4 Star 60 Day 2: The fin starts

Today I got over for another great building session with Peter.  Peter kindly had the sheeting for the (tail) stabilizer of my plane glued together.  We marked out one side of the sheeting tracing the framework with a pencil to know where the stabilizer framework had to go on the sheeting and then flipped over the framework.  I placed glue along the entire surface that was coming in contact with the sheeting while Peter spread it.  I then flipped over the framework, placed it on the sheeting, wiggled for good glue disbursement and then temporarily pinned in place while I glued the other side.  I removed the pins and placed the other set of sheeting onto the tail.  Peter then placed weights to hold everything snuggly together while it dries.

Sheeting glued and wrighted
Glued sheeting to both sides of the stabilizer I did on day 1.

The next step was buidling the fin.  Found it on the plans, pinned it in place followed by pinning wax paper over it.  The next step was to find the pieces and line them up on the plans followed by gluing and pining.  I then measured, cut, and sanded the rectangular ‘centre pieces’, need to remeber what their called and will update, until they fit snuggly but not to tight such that they are pushing out / warping the pieces already glued and pinned.

After completing this phase I had what’s below.  The long piece, trailing edge, is not attached yet however the bottom part has been sanded to give the desired angle and will be cut at the top when the time comes.

Fin framework glued and pinned
Tail fin framework glued and pinned.

The last part for the day was to prep the sheeting for the fin.  You always want to go oversized to ensure you cover everything and then can (what I imagine and will learn how) cut it down to size.   This time Peter and I did it together.  Peter tapped the back side using special tape (leaves no residue) and then folded the pieces back so I could run glue down between, top to bottom.  Then we layed them down flat, on glass, and wrighted them down while the pieces dry together.

Fin sheeting taped and glued
Fin sheeting taped and glued

That wrapped up another fun building session!  I’m definitely learning little by little.

Update 10/22/2016: I couldn’t remember the name for the ‘centre pieces’, it’s ribs

Building 4 Star 60 Day 1: The tail starts

Yesterday I bought a Sig 4 Star 60 kit off John from our club.  I’ve been so excited and nervous about building I wanted to get a start on it ASAP so I called up Peter today, as he’s teaching me, and got over to his place after supper.

We opened the box, seen in the image, and went through everything.  Noticed that for the plans we had two 2 of 2 pages and we were missing page 1 of 2 of the plans!  Thankfully a quick trip to Johns and he was able to provide us with the missing plan.

Starting the Tail
Starting the Tail

I got a start on the tail this evening after an intro into learning how to read the plans which includes how to tell the different tyes of woods and the way the grains are going. The grain direction is important as it provides strength.

They do recommendtwo copies of the plan as then you have one you keep in good condition and another you place on the table for working on. We cover it with wax paper to keep the glue off but still poking pin wholes through it.

I punched out the required pieces and then sanded any edge that will be glued to remove the ‘burn’ marks from the laser cutting and the rough parts from where a piece is punched out.

Once that’s done made sure everything was lining up properly and glued the framework together and pinned to make sure it’s held tight.  This didn’t include the 6 pieces for support.

The 6 pieces were done from biggest to smallest (this allows for if you cut to small you can use it for a smaller one).  Theirs one piece of wood that’s the appropriate width and then I measured and cut (using a bandsaw) each piece.  Before cutting the next I’d sand the end down until their was a snug fit.  Don’t want it to big or else it’ll push out the frame and cause warping/twisting of the frame.

Once I got them all fitting together properly going by Peters markings as to where the overlay stopped I placed glue on the surfaces that would be contacting the ‘main’ (top and bottom) pieces.

Throughout this process we’d pin the wood down to the table to ensure everything was snug and flat.

That sums up today’s building process as left the glue to dry.  I was uncertain how I’d like building but if today was any indication I’m going to love it as I really enjoyed this build session.  I know I just started, so will have to see how good my patience and ability to learn construction skills really are!

Rarity… Five flights!

It’s been a few weeks since I have been out flying.  The evenings are way to short for me to get out during the week, even if I could get off early, so I’m limited to the weekends now.

Yesterday was the best looking day weather wise we’d had in a while and I was around on the weekend so I took advantage of it and went out flying with the guys.  I got out to the field for 1PM, probably my earliest ever.

When I arrived Peter was still mowing the field and afterwords I helped put the windsock back up.  Apparently some people were whining about the windsock on the field and that they would crash into the pole/sock.  To me that means they do not have control of the aircraft and should be working on that, not us moving the windsock!  The windsock to me worked as an excellent marker when flying at that end of the field so you didn’t get to close to the treeline and also for where you have to make your turn in when coming for a landing from the South.

Got all set up and got in a solid flight… felt great to get up in the air again.  On my second time up had to cut it a little short as the rain started to fall, and getting the electronics wet (especially the transmitter) is not a good idea, so I landed the plane and put the transmitter back in the case.  It wasn’t long before it started to pour and the four of us that were out at the field huddled under the canopy with the picnic table to wait out the weather.  We figured it’d pass, so we didn’t pack up, and it did after about 15 minutes.

After that I got in another 3 flights to make up my five flights.  Was an awesome day of flying!  The winds were pretty strong, blowing from the West and oscillating between a true crosswind or coming a bit from the North or South.  It tended to be bumpy up in the air.  I made a few take offs and landings going each direction.

My landings going South to North need work.  Twice when coming in I was off center a bit and perhaps a little to far down the runway when I touched down as I tend to head right for the tall grass.  The first time I managed to get the plane to come to a stop and steer it enough away such that I didn’t run into the tall grass.  The second time I must have come in hotter (and perhaps didn’t risk turning the plane sharp enough) as I was unable to stop in time running well into the tall grass.  This can be risky as your prop can get tangled in the long grass and the burs as well as harder stalks (especially this time of year) can puncture the covering on the wings.

I burned through quite a bit of fuel Saturday, or so I thought, until when cleaning up I realized their was a leak in my tank around the opening, where the lines come up was loose causing fuel to run out of the tank and collect in the bottom of the plane.  I had to remove the tank and use paper towel to dry it out as much as possible.  Then today I brought it over to Peters so he can dry it out better under a heat lamp and kindly repair the tank for me.

Sadly summer is quickly coming to an end and flying season will be over.  Next Saturday, weather permitting, is going to be the club wind up and likely the last time out for the season.  Then they will be moving to indoor flying, which I don’t have a plane for, and building.  I’m excited for the building as in about a months time I am going to start building my first plane!  Peter has graciously offered to teach me the building aspect and volunteered his workshop for my first build!  I’m excited to learn, plan to blog about my progress/experience, and ‘graduate’ up to my next plane, which is the Sig Four-Star 60.

A Fabulous Three Night Week of Flying!

Last week was a fabulous week of flying!  It made up for not getting out for about a week prior.  Last week was the first time in what seems like a very long time that I got out flying back-to-back nights.  I went out Monday, Tuesday, and Friday!  It was a week packed with excitement at the airfield.  Each night I got in three flights, which was really good considering the days are getting much shorter, flying time wraps up about 730PM now.

My nights consisted of flying basically however I saw fit, basically flying whatever patterns I was feeling.  Their was some pretty windy evenings up in the air which provides quite a workout.  I’m always practicing something though and as I’ve probably mentioned before if your not working on improving something then you’re doing something wrong.  Over these three evenings of flight certain events stick out in my mind.

I needed to readjust where I fly as I was flying in to close so I need to remember to go farther out across from where we stand to ensure that when I’m making my turns to come around I am coming approximately down the runway.   Essentially I need to be flying all my patterns such that the closest I get to myself is approximately the middle of the runway to make it easier to keep my eye on the plane and save me from having to crank my neck.

I believe it was Tuesday I had the malfunction where while flying going South over the runway, getting quite far to the right, my engine cut out.  Their was no way I could turn the plane around to land where I’d have enough runway as I’d of had to turn the plane to sharply and with no power I’d of likely tip stalled and essentially ‘fall from the sky’.  I did the next best thing which was bring her down in the direction she was going.  I ran out of runway prior to touching down so the plane went right into the tall grass at the end.  Thankfully the plane never had much airspeed and after inspecting the plane (especially the underside of the wing) no damage had occurred.

The heart stopping moment of the week happened Friday on my last flight of the night.  I was flying patterns as usual, figure eights, boxes, some randomness and fly-bys at various heights.  My mistake came on my landing attempt going South to North, or so I was suppose to be.  When coming in didn’t line up correctly causing me to go more across the runway and though the engine was fully cut I was running out of room to land as the plane wasn’t descending fast enough.  I realized that staying the course would ‘land’ me in the tall grass so I thumbed the throttle to full and applied full up elevator simultaneously causing the plane to rise and pull up over the tall grass, barely, lol.  Looping back around I was then able to successfully come in for a landing.

I have been loving my Saito .62 engine (pairs perfectly with my Kadet LT 40) and thankfully, as Dwayne mentioned, the engine decided it wanted to perform as that was a moment where if it decided “No I don’t want to” I would have been hooped.

Out of this I learned that when low to the ground you want to steer the plane using the rudder as using the ailerons, especially if your speed is low, could lead to a tip stall or just flat out hitting your wing on the ground.  In the aforementioned saved landing what I should have done on approach is applied rudder in the direction I needed to steer the plane in order to get it back on course and pointing down the middle of the runway.

I dragged my hiney in getting this post written up, but now I have caught up in chronicling the adventures of an R/C Airplane hobbyist.