Category Archives: SSE

Sig Somethin Extra build

SSE – Just About Done

My SSE project is just about done. All I have left to do is final assembly of the main landing gear and final installation of the electronics (receiver, EEC, BEC). I also need to order a set of batteries so I can do a final balance.

I polished up the main gear bracket and clear coated it yesterday. I was unhappy with the look of the clear coat though, as the polished aluminum seemed to lose much of its luster under it. The only reason for the clear coat was to protect the shine, so I stripped it off with a bit of acetone and buffed the aluminum back out again. This time, I put on a simple coat of carnauba wax to protect the aluminum finish.

I also painted the wheel pants white. I was happy with how they came out, until I came back to check on them and found a hair settled into the paint on one. I will see how it looks after the paint fully dries, but I am likely to do a little light sanding and add one more coat of paint to both before final assembly.

I have not been out flying yet this season and I want to get some stick time on some of my old standby birds before trying a maiden on the SSE, so for now, I will move onto my next build.

SSE – Getting Close!

I made some good progress on the SSE. The last bit of covering has been finished, and the blue trim has been added. I am real happy with the color scheme, but the covering job itself I only give a barely passing grade to. Several dust specks are trapped under the covering, some minor wrinkles here and there, some scratches and rash, some dents in the balsa, and lots of places where (despite my best efforts) more wood grain is showing than I had hoped for. Oh well, I continue to learn and I am confident my next covering job will be better!


I finished off the cockpit with some black electrical tape for combing. I opted to forgo adding a pilot, mainly because I did not have one handy. The canopy was trimmed and installed. It’s not perfect, it was a little scratched to begin with, and I glued it on slightly off center. I intentionally left the back of the canopy a little long so I could trim to a clean fit. I trimmed close with a cutoff wheel on my Dremel and hand sanded the rest. While I got a nice clean fit, some of the sanding dust sneaked its way under the canopy, so short of cutting the whole thing apart, there is no way to get it out!

The motor has been installed. All servos have been installed, all control surfaces are hinged and installed, and the control horns installed. The kit supplied control horns install with #2 pan head screws. The sharp points of the screws stick up past the control horn backing plate, so I carefully ground them down with the Dremel.

20140427_192518640_iOS 20140427_192543806_iOS

The stab braces, which I assembled and polished some time back, were painted with clear and installed.


I am replacing the kit provided tail wheel assembly with a Sullivan Products one as it’s a bit more rugged. I installed the required t-nuts to attach the mounting bracket during fuselage construction, but I need to file a small notch in the bracket to clear the stab braces. Instead of a wheel collet, I decided to try silver soldering a pair of #2 washers to retain the tail wheel to the axle (the kit instructions recommend this as an option). This was the first time I tried this, but it turned out to be quite easy (no pictures of the intermediate steps though).


So, what’s left:

  • Paint the wheel pants
  • Final polish and clear cote the aluminum landing gear
  • Landing gear installation
  • Pushrod installation
  • ESC and BEC Installation
  • Receiver installation
  • Set control throws
  • Balance
  • Fly!

Back at the start of this adventure, I really agonized over the motor selection. After going back and forth on RCGroups (, I ended up going with a 6S configuration and motor that will let me pull about 900 watts with an 11×7 prop, or around 1000 watts with a 12×6. Overall, this might be a bit more than I need, but how often do you hear complaints about having too much power?

The down side, though, is that I am coming in a bit heavy. Without the battery, I am pushing 4 lbs. A 6S battery will likely add another 20 oz or so, so all up flying weight is likely to be around 5.25+ lbs. About 1/2 a pound over Sig’s target weight. I’ll have at least 160 watts per pound (good), and a wing loading of 19.7 oz/sq. ft. and a wing cube loading of 9.5. On the high side of acceptable for a sport plane, and I don’t plan to fly3D, so I am guessing I will be OK.

I haven’t bought my batteries yet, but mockups with some weights are showing me a bit nose heavy – which would be a first for me! I am fairly certain that I will be able to get the balance right by adjusting the battery pack location, but worse case, I’m sure that any weight I might need to add to the tail would be trivial.

SSE Covering ALMOST Done

Not too much new progress. I got the right wing panel and the right aileron covered. One more aileron to go and I will be done with covering. Why leave just one aileron? Well, I found myself rushing with the right one, and predictably I am less than satisfies with the results. I have just enough red covering material for the remaining aileron, so I can’t recover the right one (and I have nothing left for mistakes on the left one), so I decided to call it quits for today.


SSE Covering Continues

I haven’t had much build time lately, but was able to get back into the workshop this weekend. I am close to being done with covering the SSE. I have to say that covering continues to be my least favorite part of building.

I covered the rear half of the fuselage bottom and sides with white Monokote and all went well, but the turtle deck turned out to be a bit of a problem. It took me three tries to get it right, and in the process of ripping off the covering on the first two tries, I ended up denting and dinging up the balsa at the top of the fuselage sides. It’s hard to see in the picture, but unfortunately is quite noticeable in person. I’ll add some blue accent trim later, hopeful that will hide the dents some.

What looks like wrinkles in the picture below are actually reflections.

20140406_145518518_iOS 20140406_145326771_iOS

The rest of the fuselage and empennage covering went fairly smoothly. Despite my best efforts to vacuum and clean every surface (including the use of a tack cloth), I did end up getting a few dust specks under the covering. Ugh!!

20140406_201316833_iOS 20140406_203311457_iOS


I got one wing done before deciding to call it quits for the day. So I’m down to one wing and the ailerons left to go.


SSE – Covering Beings

Got a few hours of building time this weekend and I started covering the SSE. I really dread covering, so I tend to put it off and find other things to do. I am at the point on the SSE where I ran out of other things, so covering begins.

This will be my third covering job and my first time working with Monokte as opposed to AeroLITE (Stevens Aero branded version of Solite) which I used on Stella and my SA RV-4. I had two rolls of Monokote  (one white and one red) lying around that I was intending to use on my SIG LT-40 (I lost interest in that project once I got past the trainer stage of flying and never did get the plane covered).

I’ve read all the flame wars of Ultacote vs. Monokote and bought the Monokote on the advice of a friend who was helping to get started in RC. So far, I am finding Monokote to actually be a bit easier to work with than AeroLITE. Mainly, this is because it is a bit thicker making it easier to handle and less prone to burn-through when shrinking. It also does not fold over and stick to itself the way AeroLITE does. It clearly is a lot heavier than AeroLITE and would not be appropriate on a small park flyer. I have not tired any compound curves yet, which most seem to claim is Monokote’s biggest weakness (at leas as claimed by the Ultracote crowd!).

So far, I have the rudder and elevator covered in red and the rear half of the fuse bottom in white.

20140315_203003349_iOS 20140316_231925961_iOS

I’m giving my covering job a passing grade so far, but barely. Most of my problems are related to surface prep. I spent way too much time sanding and filling (see my Lessons Learned post), but as you can see, it really did not pay off. Simply put, I need to develop a lighter touch when working with balsa during the construction phase. This includes not only a lighter touch when sanding, but also more care in handling the pieces prior to covering.

I tend to be a bit too critical of my own work, but I also look at every project for learning opportunities and for things I can do better next time!

SSE Lessons Learned

I continue to plod slowly long on my SSE build. I have the basic construction completed and I am just about ready to start covering and final assembly. While I still have not learned how to get my builds done as quickly as a lot of the other guys I see posting on RC sites, I have learned quite a few lessons along the way.

Lesson 1: Be Selective with Kit Supplied Balsa

The 1/16″ sheeting supplied with the kit for the wing D-Tubes (the sheeted portion of the wing ahead of the spar) turned out to be a bit marginal, with a large knot running through several sheets in the same place. I ignored this and used them anyway, only to find that those knots caused a large local dimple to form between the wing ribs. Note this was not a “starved horse” kind of sagging you sometimes can get between the ribs, but more of a dimple localized around the knot. Being the fussy builder that I am, I decided to fill the dimple with a bit of balsa filler. This worked great on one wing panel, but not so good on the second, leading to Lesson 2.

Lesson 2: Know When To Stop Fussing

When fussing with the dimple on the second wing panel, I kept filling and sanding and filling and sanding trying to get the surface to blend smooth. All this filling and sanding lead me to sand the surrounding sheeting too thin, and I ended up poking a hole through the balsa. Ughh! I originally tried to patch just the local area, but this lead to another cycle of fussing. So in the end, I gave up and just carefully cut the sheeting off the outer two bays and replaced it with new wood.

20131005_180252658_iOS20140126_214057705_iOS 1

20140201_201341111_iOS 120140201_201444285_iOS 1

The final product is acceptable, but I do have a but of starved horse look between the ribs. This is a result of too much sanding trying to get the surface smooth. which leads to Lesson 3.

Lesson 3: Less Is More When Sanding

When it comes to sanding, always remember that less is more. You can always go back later and take another swipe or two, when you’re really convinced that you need it, but you can’t put back material (at least not easily). Even though I was careful to use a long flat bar, too much sanding leads to thinning of material directly over the ribs producing a wavy look in my wings.

I also ran into a problem when sanding out the fuselage hatch. When blending the front of the hatch smooth, I was not paying enough attention to the “other end” of the sanding bar, which in turn lead to a nasty groove being cut near the back of the hatch from the back corner of the sanding bar. This lead to another cycle of filling, sanding, and fussing (see Lesson 2), which again resulted in material being sanded too thin. In this case, I plated on some 1/16″ balsa scraps to build material back up, and then blended it smooth. You can see below that I misted on a very light coat of gray primer to help guide my sanding (i.e.; the primer is left behind in low spots).

20131222_201115209_iOS20140104_221000639_iOS 1


Once again, what I ended up with a less than perfect, but hopefully acceptable (we’ll see after the covering is applied). Which leads to the most important lesson learned yet …

Lesson 4: Any Mistake Can Be Fixed

A good friend who helped me to get started in RC once told me: “Don’t worry if you make a mistake, any mistake can be fixed”. I repeat that mantra to myself all the time while I am building, especially when things start to go bad. Mistakes are part of the building process. We all make them, even the best builders out there. Mistakes can be fixed and they can be a learning opportunities for the future. Sometimes they cost us some money (if a new part or material needs to purchased), but mostly they just impact time (and maybe a little pride) and it is part of the overall experience. Remember that this is a hobby and we do this for fun, so don’t fret if something goes wrong, just fix it!

SSE – Some Progress On the Left Wing Panel

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.

2013-08-01T18-02-03_0 2013-08-01T18-02-03_2

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.

SSE Wing Construction

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.

2013-07-20T19-49-35_1 2013-07-21T13-40-57_0

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.

New Build – SSE (Sig Somethin’ Extra)

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.