Building Seamaster Day 45: Fiber-glassing floats

Rotary Cutter used for cutting fiberglass

On January 13th the fiber-glassing process started with the wing tip floats. This is my first experience working with fiber-glass.

Peter has a big sheet of the stuff. The first step was to cut out the pieces for covering the floats by creating the least amount of waste possible, it’s expensive stuff!

The pieces need to be over-sized so you have enough to work with. Looking at the image below, from left to right, the pieces are:

  • Two for the back concave curve of the floats
  • Then the pieces for the sides
  • Then pieces for the top & bottom of the floats
Preparing Fibre Glass For Floats
Preparing Fibre Glass For Floats

Once you have all the pieces for the day ready you mix up a batch of epoxy and stir it well to ensure the chemical reaction is complete.

After picking a starting point you lay a piece of fiber-glass across the appropriate float surface and brush the glue on ensuring to cover the entire surface area prior to moving on to the next piece.

Once all pieces are glued on you hang them to dry, not worrying about any excess, as seen in the pictures below.

Initial Fibre Glass of Float Tip
Initial Fiber Glass of Float Tip
Initial Fibre Glass of Other Float Tip
Initial Fiber Glass of Other Float Tip

Building Seamater Day 44: Gluing Hinges / Control Surfaces

On Dec. 18th I could really start to see things coming together as I worked on putting the bondages for all the control surfaces into place.

The first step was to ensure the hinges fit into the slots off the main surfaces (wing for ailerons and fin & stabilizer for the rudder & elevator respectively). Once confident of that and also checked with placement of the corresponding control surface attached as well along with their range of motion it was time to mix up a batch of glue.

Gluing in Hinges
Gluing in Hinges

Prior to gluing the hinges into the slots I prepped them by spreading Vaseline onto the hinge joints to ensure no glue gets into the join, which would prevent the hinges from working properly, don’t want that! I then applied glue into the slots as best I could as well as onto the hinge and then placed them into the slots.

Gluing in Hinges
Gluing in Hinges

Once that was done I applied glue to the other end of the hinges, seen above. I kept the container below to try and avoid making a mess from excess glue dripping from the hinge as I applied the glue. Before connecting the control surface I did my best to run glue into the slots on the ailerons, elevator & rudder pushing it in with the stick / using gravity to let it seep into the slots.

I then slid the control surface onto the hinge and confirmed all hinges were in place, movement was there and then left them to sit and dry. This concluded another building session and you can see the result below.

Note: I did one control surface at a time, applying glue to the hinges and connecting using the process above prior to moving on to the next control surface.

Been on a hiatus over Christmas which has allowed me to catch up on my blog posts. I am now all caught up and am hoping to get back to building this week! With luck I won’t get this far behind again, lol. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment and let me know you are out there 🙂

Seamaster with Wing & Control Surfaces
Seamaster with Wing & Control Surfaces

Building Seamater Day 42 & 43: Covering Rudder & Elevator

Elevator & Rudder Outer Edges Covered

On Nov. 27th I started the process of covering the elevator and rudder for my Seamaster. This day consisted of covering the ends and trailing edges of the two control surfaces. This is done first in order to ensure the edges are properly covered and ensure there is no exposed balsa in the end.

In the next session on Dec. 5th I finished covering by cutting two rectangular pieces, one big enough to wrap around the elevator and the other around the rudder. The key here is to make sure it is big enough to cover the widest/longest part (the leading edge in this case) with enough to wrap around the surfaces beyond the trailing edge.

The covering process is similar for both. Starting with wrapping the covering around with the leading edge aligned somewhere in the middle you tack/iron down the covering to the leading edge.

Next you pick a side and iron the covering around the leading edge and to the side of the control surface making sure to work your way from the centre out to the three remaining edges. When ironing at the edges make sure it’s securily ironed at the edge itself and be careful not to have the excess covering touch (cut excess as you see fit). Once done the one side you can trim the excess covering along the edges before proceeding.

Next, flip the elevator or rudder over and repeat on the other side. Starting with rolling the iron over the leading edge and continuing to iron the covering to the other side of the surface starting at the centre of the leading edge out into the middle of the side and working your way out to the three remaining edges. Then trim excess covering. This process left me with covered control surfaces.

Elevator & Rudder Covered
Elevator & Rudder Covered

Building Seamaster Day 41: Covering Fin

Covered Fin Side Profile

On Nov. 26th I covered the fin of my aircraft. This entailed cutting to pieces with some excess for each side of the fin. I ensured a straight edge was used along the bottom and top. I ironed along the top edge first and then worked my way across the surface and folded the one side around the front.

I incurred a few more wrinkles then I would have liked, but pick my battles I must, lol. You can still see bits of balsa sticking out at the bottom, but this will be covered when doing the top of the fuselage as it will be cut around the fin and will go up a bit as well as down each side, tapering off.

I do apologize that my last few posts haven’t been ‘as good’ as past ones but I have been playing catch-up while I’ve had some down time.

Please feel free to leave a comment to let me know you’re out there and even start a dialogue 🙂

Covered Fin Front Profile
Covered Fin: Front Profile

Building Seamaster Day 40: Covering Stab Top

Top of Stab Covered

On Nov 24th I finished covering the top of the stabilizer. Since I already had the center piece with the convex curve completed it was a matter of cutting two pieces of caution yellow covering (over-sized) for each part.

The process was completed similarly to the bottom in that I started by ironing down the straight edge along the middle of the stab and then working my way around the edges, as well as rounding the covering around the shaped leading edge. I then cut the excess off of the trailing edge and cleaned up any of the other edges as necessary.

Once that was done I used the heat gun to shrink the covering, making sure now to spend to much time in one spot and to keep moving with the air blowing towards the center. I needed to make sure that I didn’t heat up the glue of the covering creating the seal around the edges as well as making sure I didn’t heat a hole through the yellow covering or the orange covering that was previously applied. Hence, keep moving and checking to make sure surfaces are not getting to hot, pausing as necessary.

You can see the completed look in the pictures at the top and bottom of the post.

Top of Stab Covered
Top of Stab Covered

Building Seamaster Day 39: Covering Stab Bottom

Bottom of Stabilizer Covered

On Nov. 20th I focused on covering the bottom of the stabilizer.  You can see the stop point for the day with the bottom of the stabilizer covered in the featured image above.

Trimmed and Ready
Trimmed and Ready

Above you can see the top of the stabilizer (bottom of the covering) I ironed in place.  Below you can see the bottom of the stabilizer (one side) covered).

The first step was to measure it all out and cut a piece of fabric over-sized with a straight edge I could put the the inside along the triangle block to have a cleaner finish.  I then worked the covering around the leading edge (which was previously sanded to be rounded).  You can see me doing this in the picture at the bottom of the post.  I made sure to iron from the inside out towards the leading edge and rounding out around the edge to get a smooth finish.

Once that was done I tacked the edges to the bottom of the stabilizer and worked my way around the outside ironing the covering to the balsa of the stab, ensuring I pulled the covering tight as necessary.  This left me with the finish below.

To Be Shrunk
To Be Shrunk

Not quite done yet, now that I had the edges of the covering sealed (ironed to balsa) I used the heat gun to shrink the covering.  This was done by starting at one of the ends and ensuring I’m always blowing towards the center (away from the covering stuck to the balsa already) and constantly moving and working my way around.  You do not want to stay in one place to long or else you will burn a hole through the covering and have to start over.  This provided the ‘crisp’ finish you see in the image at the top of the post.

Ironing Covering On
Ironing Covering On

Building Seamaster Day 37 & 38: Tail Covering Started

Covered control wire guide and stab trailing edge

On Nov 17th I finished covering the wing and started covering the tail of the aircraft.  You can see in the image below that I covered the seems (joints) along where the triangle stock is in place helping support the stab to the fin.  I do the seems first to help keep fuel, etc. from getting in and eating away at the glue, damaging the wood, etc.  I also try and do it strategically to limit the places where air can get under the covering and peel it away.

Covering Joints & Trailing Edges
Covering Joints & Trailing Edges

Once the joints were covered I wrap the excess around the leading edge, see aforementioned point about air movement and then trim it from the trailing edge since this has already been covered.

Covering Joints, Fin to Stab
Covering Joints (Fin to Stab)

You can see the in feature image of the post that I have started covering the stabilizer.  I focused on the convex curves this day (Nov. 18th).  This is slow meticulous work as it involves a lot of tiny cuts of the covering along the curves so that you can get it all covered and limit (in an ideal world eliminate, lol) the wrinkling of the covering.  I did the outer edges in orange to match the bottom and I did the convex curve on the top of the stab (which will be for the control wire to fasten to and flow over for controlling the elevator) in yellow to match the top.  Top and bottom of the stabilizer are going to match the top/bottom of the wing.

Top Left Wing Panel Covered
Top Left Wing Panel Covered

Building Seamaster Day 35 & 36: Bottom Completed, Started Cover Wing Top

Top Right Wing Panel Covered

On Nov. 6th I finished covering the bottom of the wing by cutting two pieces to fit down the center, seen below.  The first wraps around the leading edge of the wing and goes down to the edge protrusion and the other goes from bottom of the protrusion to the trailing edge where it was trimmed off to be flush with the edge.  This completed covering of the bottom of the wing.

Bottom Centre of Wing Covered
Bottom Center of Wing Covered

After that, I started work on the top of the wing by doing the piece going down the center, seen below.  I also got the covering for each wing panel cut this day as well.

Top Centre of Wing Covered
Top Center of Wing Covered

The next time, Nov 7th, I spent a couple hours covering the top left panel of the wing, seen at the top of this post.  In order to do this I followed a very similar process to what I did for the bottom.  The only difference comes to when wrapping around the wing tip I cannot fold it over onto the wood.  Instead I did cuts accordingly and ironed it to the very thing wing tip outer edge.  I then did my best to cut the covering along the edge as neatly as possible.

My one concern is how everything is wiring up as I have run nothing prior to covering and am  taking Peters word that it is going according to plan since I have had nothing ‘official’ to look at and follow along the way.  My best guess is that the servo is going to mount into the bottom of the wing somehow and the push rods are going to go along the outside of the wing for controlling the ailerons.  Perhaps this is to help ensure no water gets in and a better seal between the wing and fuselage?

Building Seamaster Day 33 & 34: Covering Wing Bottom

Bottom Right Wing Panel Covered

On Oct. 27th I continued work on the wing and it took me 2 hrs to get the covering of one panel done, seen below and I completed the other half on the 28th seen in the image above.

Bottom Left Wing Panel Covered
Bottom Left Wing Panel Covered

The first steps are to get the piece of covering sealed all around the edges.  This includes rolled around the leading edge a bit to prevent wind from getting underneath and pulling it back along with tacking it along the trailing edge and to the center sheeting.  This wing provides an additional challenge due to the wing tip design.

When cutting I need to ensure I had a good additional 5 inches past the outer edge to both hold as well as to fold over the wing tip.  After tacking the covering to the outer rib it was pulled around the edge of the wing tip and cuts were made to allow the covering to fold around the edge with the least amount of wrinkling and ironed to the edge.  The folded pieces were ironed to the other side of the wing tip, seen below, to provide additional strength for the covering in hopes it will not peel off in the wind!

Folding over wing tip for support
Folding over wing tip for support

Once that was done it was time for the heat gun.  Started by shrinking some of the covering in the open space of the wing tip (between outer rib and the ‘fold over’.  I then worked my way around the main wing panel ensuring the heat gun is always pointed toward the center of the wing panel as I work my way around.  This is because you do not want to hit the holding edges with direct heat causing the covering to let go as then you’ll have problems and need to start over.

Essentially at this point I keep working my way around and around, ensuring I do not stay in any one place to long at the risk of burning a hole through the covering.  I keep checking from various angles so I can see where there are ripples/slack in the covering that still needs to be shrunk with the heat gun.  This process was repeated on Nov. 4th to do the bottom wing panel on the other side.

Using heat gun to shrink covering over wing.
Using heat gun to shrink covering over wing.

Tracking Ideas & Back-end Considerations

I’ve been doing more thinking on this and would like to actually get something off the ground this winter.  Perhaps by scheduling an hour or two every week dedicated to working on it.  First off, I have some things I need to explore as I’ve been reconsidering implementation.

The 3 areas I plan to focus on tracking to start are:

  • Books (read / want to read)
  • Quilts (for the wife)
  • Puzzles
  • R/C Plane Projects

I have already laid out the foundation for the first two, so going to focus on Puzzles first.  The key things to track would be:

  • Brand
  • Title
  • Size / Dimensions
  • Pieces
  • Picture (of the completed puzzle)
  • Date Completed (Time would be nice, but not sure we will have that data, at least for past puzzles)

For R/C Planes it is going to work like an inventory/ building project tracker.  For this I’ll want to track the following:

  • Manufacturer
  • Type: Kit, ARF, RTF
  • Name
  • Wingspan
  • Engine
  • Acquisition date
  • Year of purchase & completion date

I will want the ability to tie images with entries as well, except for in the case of books perhaps.

I am considering trying Firebase for the back-end instead of my original plan of using AWS to learn something new and provide a comparison since I’ve already done an iOS app,  Healthy Environments, for work using AWS.  As far as graphics go the app itself will be minimalist as this would not be my strong suit, but maybe I’ll find some inner creativity!

And a better name for the app 🙂