Building 4 Star 60 Day 33: Tail Wheel & Invasion Stripes

Invasion Stripes Added

Last Tuesday I got to work on my plane again and been so busy since I’m only now getting around to blogging about it.

The first thing we did was install the wire for the tail wheel.  This involved first bending the tip of the wire into a 90 degree angle and ‘sanding’ the wire to rough it up a bit which allows the glue to stick better to hold the wire into place.  Then needed to drill a hole into the button of the rudder for where the end of the wire (the part bent up at an angle) will slide into.  This provides a sturdier fit into the rudder, since this wire steers the tail through the wheel/rudder connection.

The remaining part of the wire that goes along the bottom of the rudder needs to be recessed into the rudder itself so that it is flush.  In order to accomplish this I first lined up the wire and traced two guide lines along the bottom.  Using the guide lines I drilled tiny wholes along its length to carve out a groove.   I then alternated between using a drill bit to run along its length a tiny file to sand out the inside.  I alternated and repeated until upon one of my checks the wire sat down into the rudder to my satisfaction.  Note that we used the plans to figure out how far back the wire needed to go and also need to ensure that not to much sticks out at the leading edge that would interfere with rudder movement.

Once that was done and glued into place we then cut a piece out of a fiberglass sheet such that it would wrap around about 2 inches on each side.  I then brushed glue over the fiber glass, ensuring to role any air pockets out of the fiberglass over the wire and down the sides.  Once this was done it was left to dry.

The fiberglass provides additional support / reinforcement to the tail wheel assembly.

Tail Wheel Wire Installed
Tail Wheel Wire Installed

Next I went back to working on the wing and installed the invasion stripes on the bottom of each wing panel, seen in the feature picture at the top.  Placing covering over top of covering can lead to an excessive amount of air bubbles forming as air gets trapped between the two layers.  In order to help mitigate this issue I used the Top Flite Woodpecker Perforating Tool:

Top Flite Woodpecker Perforating Tool
Top Flite Woodpecker Perforating Tool

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Building 4 Star 60 Day 32: Hinged Ailerons + Tail Touch Ups

L Hatch Cover Installed

Saturday I got over to Peter’s for another building session.  We started by going over what Peter had done.  In order to not ‘waste’ my time on some of the easy but tedious stuff Peter will do some of it for me when he has a chance so that those things don’t hold us up in the project.  He then goes over how he did it so that I still gain some exposure to the task.

One of those things was attaching the hatch covers to the bottom of the wing, seen at the top and bottom of this post, and the other was running the leads from the servos out the two wholes in the top of the wing.  He used the previously run string to pull the wires through, since covering is now applied.  By tying the string around one end of the wire (ensuring you go along the connector and between two of the wires so the string doesn’t slip off while being pulled).  You then slowly pull the string through, working the string and lead back and forth if it catches, until you are up and through the hole.  Repeat for the other servo.

You can then connect the leads to a receiver to test the servos with your transmitter.

Testing Servos in Ailerons
Testing Servos in Wing

Hinging 101

Hinges are used to connect control surfaces (i.e. ailerons, rudder, elevator) to a main part of the aircraft (i.e wing, fin, stabilizer).  How I learned to do this is as follows and I will be using the context of installing the ailerons.

First I use a motorized hinge slotting tool (i.e. Great Planes Slot Machine, Fig. 1) to make the hinge slots into the trailing edge of the plane and ailerons.  This was done, and matched up, prior to covering.  Then once covered you can use the back of a scalpel to gently poke around about where the hinge slots should be.  Once you’ve poked through and found the slot you cut along its length exposing the slot.

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Building 4 Star 60 Day 31: Ailerons & Servo Hatches Covered

Ailerons Covered

Tuesday I was able to get in some more covering and visiting.  I started by covering the ailerons, which as you can see from the pic above I did in green.  Kevin stopped by for a visit to see how things were going and a bit of a chat.  It is nice to see guys interested in what’s going on and my progress, even if it is a bit nerve racking at times but we all need to start somewhere, lol.

I also covered the servo hatch covers, seen below.  Which was done the same colour as the bottom of the wing so that they match and blends into the rest of the wing.

In order to more easily cover the hatch covers I detached the servos.  The overall covering was pretty straight forward though a little awkward due to the small surface area.  John taught me the proper way to cut the covering away from the opening where the servo arm goes through.  Because you want to have covering over the edges of the opening to protect the wood you cut down the centre of the opening (length wise) and then two cuts into the ‘corners’ of the rounded ends.  From there you fold the covering pieces over and iron it down to the edge and back side of the cover.

Hatch Covers Covered
Servo Hatch Covers Covered

An ‘oopsie’ was discovered in this process where one of the blocks wasn’t glued to the hatch cover and thus fell off.  Good thing this was discovered now, by John, so it could be glued and clamped so that it is properly attached.

Building 4 Star 60 Day 30: Left/Center Top Wing Covered + Ailerons

Saturday was another great building session.  John stopped by for a visit to check out how things were coming along and contrary to the ‘hack’ job he voices I believe he thinks I’m doing a pretty decent job :).

Thanks to Peter for trimming off the excess of the top left covering I didn’t have a chance to finish last time as well as along the leading edge and sealing that down.  Both Peter & I learned something new yesterday from John, which is how to cut a pretty straight/clean edge.  After covering the top of the left panel, sealed all around the edges and using the blow drier to shrink of the center need to fold some over the leading edge to prevent wind from getting under and peeling it off.

Once adhered the time came for the trim trick demonstrated by John.  Depending on where you want the line you allow the side of the blade to rest against the ‘natural’ curve at the desired angle and follow it along the length of the wing while you are making your cut.  Ideally you want to do the entire cut from the same position as changing position can alter the cut reducing the visual straightness (for lack of a better word) of the line.   This also ensure that it is cut to the same length throughout. Once cut you then use the iron to roll over the top of the leading edge onto what remains after the cut to adhere to to the wing.

The last part was cutting a piece for the center of the wing.  Had to mark the wholes for the dowels, which I then cut out, and once fitting the covering over with the dowels through marked the two square wholes where the cables will come out.  I then applied the covering to the sheeting on the wing keeping the iron level (sides to the bottom/top) and working from the center out to the left, followed by center out to the right and vise versa.   Always want to start in the center so you work any air bubbles, wrinkles or other imperfections out to the edge in hopes they disappear :).  Once done I found the two square holes, generally marked via the string previously pulled through the marking wholes.  I made sure the covering was adhered firmly around the edge prior to cutting out the covering to expose the holes.  We still have the string coming out, don’t want to loose it, as the string will act as our guide when running the wires for the servo in each wing panel.

I did my best to line up the bottom edge of the L panel yellow covering to look similar to the R as well as the center to be lined up with the L & R wing panel.

To wind up the evening you can see I started covering the ailerons, just the tips so far, which will be done fully in green.  Before starting that next time I am going to go over the wing to make sure it’s done as best I can get it.

The aircraft is really starting to come together and will be starting to cover the tail soon and working on the fuselage.  As a fun aside I need to find my pilot, which can be about 2-2.5″ tall with a fairly wide base as will want to glue and screw into place.

Top Left Wing Panel and Aileron Tips Covered
Top Left Wing Panel and Aileron Tips Covered

Building 4 Star 60 Day 29: Wing Servo Hatches Exposed + Top Covering

Top Right Wing Panel

Tuesday I was able to work on my plane for a couple hours.

Prior to covering the top of the wing I needed to cut the covering that was over the servo hatches.  After cutting the covering into an ‘X’, corner to corner, I turned the wing back around and ensured that the covering is firmly adhered around the opening.  I then folded the cut pieces over, one per side, and performing little cuts where necessary to get the desired fold.   Then using a tiny iron I adhered the covering to the side of the wood before flipping over and adhering the leftovers to the inside wood (provides better attachment then cutting the excess short) and then only trimming where little bits stuck up higher than the ‘height’ of the wing so as not to affect when covering the top.

This can be seen in the image below:

Servo Hatch Holes Cut
Servo Hatch Holes Cut

Once that was done I covered the top of one half of the wing (seen in the featured image at the top).  I ran out of time as I was getting tired and hungry so I will have to perform the finishing touches next time prior to starting the other wing panel.  The touch ups include making sure there are no sagging parts, trimming the excess along the edges, etc.

As a note, this time prior to even starting to cover the top I used the woodpecker over the entire exposed sheeting where the two wing panels are connected.

Building 4 Star 60 Day 28: Covering Bottom of Wing

Bottom of Wing Covered

Saturday was the first building session of the new year after Christmas holidays.  John stopped by and showed me more about covering.  He also brought his woodpecker over which is a device used for making tiny wholes in the surface when you are covering.  In my case I used it when covering the wood sheeting where the wings connect.  You can also use it when putting covering over top of covering.

The idea behind the woodpecker is that the tiny wholes it makes allows for air to escape instead of getting trapped between the covering you are applying and the surface you are covering which would create air bubbles and creases that can be a royal pain to get out.

This session I covered the entire bottom of the wing using safety orange.  Peter and John weren’t kidding when they stated that covering takes a long time in order to do it right and get a decent look.  One definitely needs to strike a balance between perfect and good enough or else you’ll never get done! Lol.

With covering the bottom (and eventually I will do similar for the top) of the wing I did it in 3 pieces.  The left wing, right wing and centre piece.  Once measured and cut I started by pinning into place and ironing down parts of the edges to adhere some of the covering initially.  I then worked on ironing the rest of the perimeter starting in the middle and working my way to the outside alternating between the top edge and the bottom edge.  The bottom or trailing edge piece overlaps the green I did for the trailing edge and you need to make sure not to overheat it or else you risk the underlying covering (green) coming off.

Once I got the edges done (as well as what overlaps onto the centre sheeting) you use a ‘special’ blow dryer to heat up the covering.  You need to ensure you keep the blow dryer at a safe distance from the covering (approx. 3″ I believe) and constantly moving or else you risk burning a whole through the covering.  Then you need to start all over again.

Felt good to be back working on the plane and I’m looking forward to tonight’s session as well.

Me With Wing Demonstrating Wingspan (I'm 6ft)
Me With Wing Demonstrating Wingspan (I’m 6ft)

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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