Well just like previous years, it looks like I got a way from posting as the summer went on last year, and now I am starting up again as we head towards spring. I don’t lose interest in RC planes or flying, but between work, holidays, and family activities, I find little time left for posting in the fall and winter. I have been putting time in here or there working on various RC project and will post more details (with pictures) soon. For now, I just wanted to at least get one post up to ensure that my site is still working!
I made some limited progress on the left wing panel today. I sheeted the upper surfaces and started sheeting the lower. In order to create a “ledge” for the leading edge sheeting to glue to, I cut a thin strip of scrap 1/16 sheeting and glued them to the inside of the leading edge between the ribs.
I plan to use nylon wing bolts to hold the wings in place instead of the stock J-Hooks and rubber bands, so I added a backer made out of some scrap 1/8″ plywood and a 1/4-20 blind nut inside of the root wing rib before adding the lower sheeting.
I did get a little bit of the “starved horse” look between the ribs of the upper sheeting, but other than that I am happy with the results so far. I hope to finish up the left panel in the morning and get the right panel started. It should go a lot faster than the left, as I spend a lot of time fussing about with the wing bolt mod.
Been away on vacation in Canada for the past week, so not much progress on my SSE build. Still off for the rest of the week, so I did get to spend the day at the field today. What a beautiful day for flying! I got in a bunch of flights with Stella and I am liking her more and more! Rain is predicted for the rest of the week, so I’ll be back working on the SSE.
I have been making some (slow) progress on my Sig Somethin Extra build. So far, I have the left wing ribs, spars, and shear webs glued. Need to add the LE and TE sheeting before unpinning it from the board.
To keep the ribs square during assembly, I have been making use of 1-2-3 blocks. Normally used by machinists, they are square and flat and heavy enough (relative to the light balsa and ply parts) to stay where you put them. At $17 a pair, they are quite affordable and have a multitude of uses for fixturing during assembly.
I successfully maidened Stella today! Wow, she is a great flier. A few clicks of up and few clicks of right aileron trim and she was rock solid in the air.
Definitely a bit more responsive than what I am used to, but once I got my nerves under control, I was able to bore some clean holes through the sky with confidence. I got three solid flights in with no problems – needless to say, all flights were at low rates with a a fair amount of expo dialed in. I kept it simple, just trying to get confidence and get a feel for the plane, but I can tell she will be a favorite flyer.
I was a bit nervous about weight (all in with batteries, she is a touch over 18 oz about 2 oz over target weigh), but she seems to fly just fine. She literally leaps off the ground and slows down to a craw for landing. I always find landing on grass a bit tough with these small planes, I did nose over on two out of three flights, but at very low speed with no damage detectable.
Two very non-flying related issues did pop up though. One was the inevitable wrinkling of the darker colored Solite in the sun. Nothing major and most of it tightened up once I got her home, but a little tweaking with the trim iron to tighten up a few spots will probably be in order. The second was the prop from the other plane I was flying today poked a small hole in the turtle deck covering during the car ride home. Easy enough to patch, but hanger rash on a new plane is always a bummer.
It’s been a some time since I have posted. While I’ve been busy with my builds, I have also been busy moving to my blog into its new home. While I was very happy with the free WordPress.com site that had been hosting my blog, I wanted my site to have its own domain name http://alsrcsite.com. WordPress.com charges you an annual fee if you have your own domain name, so I moved onto a free hosting site hosted by www.000webhost.com. So far, I have been quite impressed with the features and performance of this free site, more than adequate for personal use like this. I guess you can get something for nothing!
With Stella almost done, it’s time to start in on my next project. I snagged this Sig Somethin’ Extra (SSE) of the classified on one of the RC forum sites a short time back. I have been looking for one of these for a while, and this one came along at the right price. Of course, I plan to convert this to electric power. I also may end up adding a full cowl to the nose (in place of the stock open design). Not sure about that yet.
Not much progress yet. So far, just looking over the plans and sorting parts.
I finally finished with the covering and have started final assembly.
Covering the wheel pants where a a real challenge, but I ended up with a reasonably good result. This gave me confidence to try something “fancy” though (and of course that’s where things went wrong!). I wanted the top of the plastic cowl to match the blue from the top of the fuselage, and thought I could get away with a piece of blue SoLite covering to do the trick. I should have known better, but I after a bit of research, I convinced myself that it was possible and worth the try. Using and iron with a very low heat setting, I was able to attach covering to the back of the cowl. I then thought I could carefully shrink it down with quick little shots from my heat gun … which of course resulted in a distorted cowl.
Oh well … chalk it up to a learning experience. A new cowl (setting me a back a whopping $6.00) is on its way. This one will be left white (with maybe a press on sticker or two for trim). I know that this one is still useable, but, after all this work, I’d hate to have this one big flaw staring at me!
The rest of the assembly is going fairly smoothly. The horizontal and vertical stabs have been squared up and (re)glued, the control surfaces have been hinged and installed, and the servos and servo linkages installed, and the tail wheel installed.
Even though the Stella is not a high-speed plane, I always worry about flutter from hinge gaps. The aileron hinge gap ended up being on the high side of acceptable, so I decided to add in a strip of SoLite along the bottom to seal off the gap. The process is easy, just hold the aileron in its max deflected position (using a bit of tape to hold it there in this case) and fold in a strip of covering (half on the wing TE – half on the aileron LE) with a nice tight crease along the hinge line.
I also have the motor mounted and have given a trial run of all of the control surfaces. Since the motor mount is clearly visible through the wide cowl opening, I decided to dress it up a little by brushing on a quick coat of red acrylic paint.
Left to do:
- Mount the receiver and ESC
- Add Velcro straps for the battery
- Glue down the canopy
- Mount wing and landing gear
- Install the replacement cowl
- Add some final trim to dress it up just a bit
- Check a trim balance
- Trim out the control surfaces
- GO FLY!!!
I did get the wing covered this weekend, but then discovered that the horizontal and vertical stabs (which were glued in to the fuse some time back!) were out of square. I am kicking myself for not checking it when I assembled them to the fuselage, that was just plane dumb! All the laser cut parts slip together with such precision, that I just assumed that everything would key together square. Wrong!
The misalignment became very apparent once trial fit the covered wing to the fuselage and it became obvious that the horizontal stab was not at all parallel to the wings. The vertical stab was also off, but not by as much. So, out with the razor blades and Xacto knifes to carefully cut the horizontal stab free, which I did with minimal damage (other than the covering on the stab). The vertical stab, would require major surgery to remove, so I settled for loosening it up enough to shim it as close to true as possible (not perfect, but close).
I’ve got the stabs recovered and ready to be reassembled, but decided to put it aside for now. I want to look at with fresh eyes before committing to glue (again!).
I also started covering the ailerons. I got one partially covered, but I was not all happy with how it was coming out when the “dinner bell” rang, so I ripped off the covering and decided to call it quits.