Woot, woot! Wednesday this past week I got to start another build. This time around I am building a Seamaster. This build has taken some time to get started with all the major life changes that happened over this winter and some hiccups in the creation of the kit itself. This kit is no longer manufactured so someone Peter knows out of Winnipeg cut the kit for me, so a big thank-you to him! I got to see the pieces for the first time Wednesday.
Peter put together a manual for constructing the kit, which I am reading through to get a general understanding of the overall process and also in being a guinea pig on the thoroughness / ease of use of the manual. 😉
This will be my first seaplane and I’m excited to experiencing taking off / landing and flying over water. I’m getting ahead of myself though as I need to build the aircraft first! To start I read through the introduction of the manual Peter wrote up along with the first bit on the fuselage. I then laid out the plans on the table, covered it, and pinned it all in place. I found the 6 pieces making up each side of the fuselage and laid them out.
You can see the front portion laid out in the image at the top of the post and the back portion of the fuselage sides in the image at the bottom of the post. Due to the kits being laser cut the first step is always to do lots of sanding! Which is what I did most of this day, was sanding all the edges to get rid of the ‘laser burns’ and give a better edge for the glue hold and allow the pieces to stick together (as shown in the top 3 pieces).
That sums up the first day of this build and am looking forward to Day 2! I hope others will be interested to follow along on yet another build by yours truly 🙂
After yesterdays session you can really get a sense of what my aircraft will look like (without the wing anyways). I started my day with covering the hatch cover. I wanted to break up all the white on the fuselage and since Peter and I had the same idea for what color should be used I went with green. Before covering I had to make sure that there was clearing for the throttle linkage which involved sanding down the one side. Once that was done I covered the surface and folded over the edges like I have done previously. This also means that for the front it involved doing a bunch of small cuts to get the covering folded over the curved edge decently.
John came over to check things out and while he was there we bound my transmitter to the receiver. I haven’t installed that yet as John’s going to bring over some velcro for that task; however I know where it is going to go and already hot glued some tubing to the side of the fuselage to run the longer wire at a 90 degree angle to the other for reception. I set up a new model in my transmitter (named it 4Star60) and the various leads were hooked into the correct places on the receiver. We were not able to get the desired effect for the throttle after doing endpoint adjustments on the throttle control arm and in the transmitter itself so will have to look at that again. We were able to adjust the servos (mechanical adjustments) and the linkage near the control horn to get us satisfied with the movement of the rudder and elevator for this first crack at it. John had to go and then Peter and I hooked up the wing to test the ailerons. I had to reverse RAL so that when pushing the joystick left the plane would bank left (as was reversed originally).
Tuesday was on the shorter side (1.5hrs) but accomplished the two goals that were set out for the evening, cutting the canopy and securing the pilot in place.
The first task was to cut the canopy. This may sound like a simple task, but the thing to remember is that I only have one and if I screw up we have to order a new one. That said I took my time. It initially was curved such that it was flat with the ground all the way across and had an edge/lip all the way around. This would make it easier from a manufactures perspective as they just put it on the mold and walla! Every plane is a little different in how the top deck curves, etc. so this allows you to cut it to your aircraft. Peter mentioned some come with the canopy cut to size, but guessing there is more precision in the top deck and where it needs to sit?
I had John’s canopy to use as a guide to get me started, but even then if I’d of cut it exactly like his it wouldn’t have fit my aircraft. First I lined up the front ‘band’ you can sorta see in the pic with John’s and marked where the back of his canopy was with a pen that I could clean off. I then cut out the enclosed part of the back and worked my way towards the pen mark taking out chunks, or as John likes to say hack-choo. There was a process finding the right tool to cut the molded plastic as Peter had no suggestions and I don’t know what others use (please comment and let us know!). What I ended up finding worked best for me were metal cutters with the straight blades, not the funkily curved ones (sorry I’m no Tim the Tool Man Taylor 🙂 ).
Seeing everything coming together and how far I have come since day 1 when this project began has been really rewarding. I believe I have learned a lot throughout the process and still have so much to learn! It has been a lot of fun seeing the aircraft take shape.
I started the day by continuing where I left off with covering the front side of the fuselage. I had to continue with making the little cuts and folding over and along the front edge. I then folder wider pieces over the edge where the fuel tank is. Lastly to get the finished look below I cut off the excess that runs along the top deck.
Today the engine got installed. We all ready had the engine mounts in place and prepped. Using the appropriate screws and locking nuts I screwed the engine into place while Peter held the nut with a wrench. I also used a screwdriver to pry open the clamp for the throttle push rod and got it onto the linkage (right side looking at the picture below) so will be able to have throttle control. This also means that while placing the engine before bolting down need to make sure the wire is connected. I find the picture below really start showing the progress made on the plane! It also shows two glaring things that still need to be done, one is installing the canopy which I’m hoping to do Tuesday, and the other is covering and installing the hatch for the fuel tank.
It was great to get back working on my plane again. The time flew by as I think this was the longest I have worked in one session in a long time at about 2.5hrs.
During this time I finished covering one side of the fuselage. From the pilots perspective this was the front left side, as seen in the featured image at the top. Due to all the curves you have to deal with when covering this area it is a slow and detailed oriented process.
It starts first measuring out the piece of covering with some excess all around. Then you line it up to where you want it, about a quarter inch overlay with the back piece. I then tacked it down in a few places starting top middle and worked my way along the top edge, pulling tight to do some on the side and looking through the covering you can see where the outline for the wing to sit in resides to tack some along there as well.
Today, after quite a hiatus do to not feeling well and timing, it was great to get back to working on my plane this afternoon. The theme of the day was covering, lol.
I started by continuing where I left off and covering the fuselage bottom front, seen below. For this piece I made sure that I left about a quarter inch to wrap around onto both sides of the fuselage and enough excess at the front to get a little ways past where the “cut out arch” is. The main surface ironed down smoothly, I tacked it up at the top near the landing gear plate, pulled the covering tight and then tacked it down near the top of the arch. Then starting at the landing gear plate end I worked from the center of the fuse bottom out to the one edge and then the other working in this fashion towards the front.
In order to properly iron the edges over the side I needed to make a couple cuts along where the arch starts working my way towards the front to allow me to iron over the edge and onto the side of the fuselage. I also made a cut near the front to allow me to iron the covering along the edge past the bottom of the arch a little ways and again over onto the side. This was then repeated on the other side.
Next the bulk of the covering which was over the open space of the arch was cut away except for a tiny bit of excess. This excess was then cut about every centimeter or so (there was no exact measuring here), but frequent cuts were required in order to iron the covering over the edge to cover the ‘thickness’ of the sheeting to prevent wind from getting under the covering.
Tuesday’s building session involved finishing up covering the turtle deck, top view in the image above, side view below. With the convex curves and having to extend back around the tail makes for one of the trickier pieces of covering I had to do.m Last session I had already cut out the piece, ironed it to the top stringer and cut for the slots necessary to get around the stabilizer and fin. I did need to make further adjustments throughout the process.
To start this I pulled the covering tight along one side of the turtle deck and ironed the covering to the side of the fuselage (ensuring there is about a quarter inch onto the side) starting in the middle and working my way towards the tail, then going back to the middle and working my way towards the nose. Once that was done I ironed the covering half way around headrest. Rotating the plane around I did the same to the other side. I also ironed the covering down around the tail and ensured the perimeter of the entire area being covered was sealed (ironed down) so that it didn’t pull off once I started using the heat gun.
Using the heat gun I worked my way around the turtle deck making sure not to stay in one spot to long or get to close to the covering as both scenarios can lead to burning a hole through the covering, which would mean starting all over again. I also made sure to point the heat gone away from the edges towards the middle. This means you need to be constantly moving and adjusting where the nozzle of the gun is pointing. The reason you do not want to apply hot air down onto the edges you previously sealed is that the heat will cause the glue to give way breaking the seam. I continued this process until I was satisfied with the tautness of the covering and removed any wrinkles or sags out of the turtle deck.
John was over visiting so he cleaned up and got more wrinkles out of the covering down around the tail area as right from the start that shrunk into a mess of creases big and small! Thankfully I was able to work quite a bit of it out; with first the heat gun followed by using the iron again.
Afterwords I covered the landing gear plate with one piece measured to be big enough for some overhang on the sides and to cover down over the lip and onto the bottom of the fuselage a bit, seen in the pic below, as well as down over the lip into where the wing sits (2nd pic below). This is to ensure there is no unnecessarily exposed wood, protecting the planes structure from leaking fuel, etc. This was an awkward place to cover and I did the right side better than the left. Need to take the piece and angle up when folding over to allow for a tighter corner (with no wrinkles). I still need to cut the covering where the holes were are for the landing gear and wing bolts respectively.
Today was a great building session and two Johns along with one other club member who stopped by for a visit today. Peter’s place was a beehive of activity! Through it all I chatted some, they conversed lots, and I kept working away to put in another 2 hrs on my plane. Today was about starting the process of covering the fuselage.
The first thing I did was measure the length of the bottom of the fuselage with about an extra inch at the front and about the same for the back which will cover over top of the existing piece. You want the front piece covering the back, which is why I started at the back and am working my way to the front of the aircraft. This allows the wind to roll over the aircraft without hooking and getting underneath the covering to peel it back.
You can see the bottom covered in the top picture. In this case I cut the piece tapered rather than trying to cut this on the aircraft, which I cannot imagine would have been easy or very ascetically pleasing. I wanted about a half inch to wrap around the sides. In ordered to get this tapered cut I did the following:
Measured the width of the bottom at its widest point plus some (9″ total)
Measured the length of the bottom plus an inch to overlay at the narrowest and excess at the top (24″ total)
Cut out a piece that was 9″ x 24″
Measured the width at the narrowest part (where it will be overlapping previous covering at the tail)
Marked the center of the covering that I cut out
Marked each side of center the width of the smaller part plus wrap around
On Saturday I got to work on my plane again and made some more progress on covering and installation of the fuel tank. One of the discussion Peter & I had in a previous session was what I’d like to do with the cockpit, use covering or paint it. I decided to go with painting it as I felt under the heat of summer with no airflow under the canopy that covering would wrinkle and be a waste, so Peter stained the cockpit green, seen at the top.
I continued where I left off last session by completing the covering of the fin in white. I was able to utilize the knowledge I learned from John in my last session about covering. I was impressed with the result. I didn’t quite get it right the first time so had to switch around the covering and start again (as the glue along the one edge was no longer good after pulling up the heated covering). Throughout the process I had to make some incisions at the top and bottom to allow the covering to come around properly, which includes removing excess when I could.
Tuesday was an excellent covering session and nice to get in back to back days working on my plane. Covering is definitely a time consuming task and the tail with all its intricacies took a lot of concentration and patience. Throughout the process I learned how to do things better, namely so that I do not get the wrinkles when rounding corners causing a jagged/rough looking edge with wrinkles in the fabric.
I started with covering the bottom of the stabilizer in orange and the top yellow to match the colour scheme of the wing (picture below and above, respectively). Measuring the surface at its widest point and longest point to cut a piece at those dimensions plus three inches to have play and room to grab. For each piece the process I went through was (see bottom of article for better approach):
Woodpecker the surface
Line the piece up at the fuselage
Tack it down starting at the centre and working my way out
Start up by the fuselage and apply heat from trailing edge to leading edge (width of iron)
Repeat moving down the stabilizer
Ensure all edges are fully ironed down
Cut excess from trailing edge and tip
Fold leading edge (as have excess) around the entire edge, pull tight & iron it down
This is where the wrinkles really come in!
Trim excess from trailing edge
Doesn’t necessarily look pretty as the wrinkles cause the blade to catch preventing a clean line and instead you get a jagged rough line