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View Full Version : Lawn Darted my Super Decathlon ... again


Gnascher
08-23-2007, 12:27 PM
Looks like I'm grounded for a while. :{

I went out this morning ... beautiful perfect flying conditions. I was about halfway through my first battery, and working on doing low circuits around the field.

I honestly don't remember what I was doing just prior to the crash (something stupid I guess), but I ended up nosing it in hard at a relatively steep angle about 50 yards away from myself. It was in tall grass, but the sickening CRUNCH :blah: I heard, and the parts I saw fly above the grass told me I wouldn't be flying my second battery today.

I got to the plane and found the landing gear and mount had been torn out, the firewall is broken in several pieces, the cowl shattered like an egg, and several of the forward fuselage formers and gussets are broken up. Probably beyond my level of skill to repair. It seems as though all the running gear, electronics and Lipo survived the encounter though.

OhYesRC.com has the fuselage, cowl and empannage ... shipped to my door it'd all go for around $60. Now I find myself in a dilemma. I've been eying the mountainmodels J-3 cub kit for $88 to build over the winter. Now I need to decide if I should spend the money to put the Decathlon back in the air, or just go ahead and get the Cub kit.

Decisions, decisions...

Wolfsbane
08-23-2007, 01:22 PM
Everything can be repaired.... just need a bigger roll of ducttape :Q

Seriously though, I'd repair the Dec now and get the kit as well.
Balsa models crashing are a horrible sight ;)

Gnascher
08-23-2007, 01:31 PM
Everything can be repaired.... just need a bigger roll of ducttape :Q

Seriously though, I'd repair the Dec now and get the kit as well.
Balsa models crashing are a horrible sight ;)

Indeed ... no 5-min epoxy and duct tape here. This is the Ultrafly Super Decathlon, not the PZ one. It's a balsa model.

It'd take some serious parts fabrication to do the repair on the Decathlon. I may get the J-3 kit and build that, and repair the Decathlon after that. I've not done the kind of building yet that the Decathlon will require, and I think building the J-3 kit may prepare me for that I need to do to repair/rebuild the SD.

Grasshopper
08-23-2007, 02:56 PM
That's too bad Gnascher. Hope too see it back in one piece soon.

Gnascher
08-23-2007, 03:00 PM
That's too bad Gnascher. Hope too see it back in one piece soon.

Thanks 'hopper. I hope to have something in the air again soon. I've enjoyed the Super Decathlon way to much to not rebuild/repair it at some point. It's really a great plane. I feel like a total heel for crashing it.

I'm off to Chicago until Monday night, so I'll chew this over until I get home and make my decision on which way to go then.

Gnascher
08-23-2007, 05:01 PM
I've had a couple of requests to display the morbid details.

Not for the squeemish. ;-)

Excuse the quality, my phone-cam is all I have at my disposal at the moment.

Biplane Murphy
08-23-2007, 05:35 PM
Dang...Gnasher......you should get another one or rebuild..Since you really
love the plane....

Gnascher
08-23-2007, 05:36 PM
Dang...Gnasher......you should get another one or rebuild..Since you really
love the plane....

Looks like I may get together with pd1 next week and see what we can do. There was never a question of IF I'd get this plane back in the air ... just when and exactly how.

Gnascher
08-28-2007, 10:37 PM
I got together with PD1 at his home today, and we began the process of getting the Super Decathlon airworthy again.

We cut away the covering, and tore down all the damaged pieces.

The firewall was shot, so a new one was fabricated. The motor mount was salvageable, so that has been glued back in place.

The landing gear mount and forward bulkhead have been put back in position. Now there's just a little bit of structural work and covering repair left to do.

PD1's a very knowledgeable and skillful builder, without his help, I'm not sure that I'd have gotten this plane back together. He's done all the work, and I'm sure I just slowed him down by talking his ear off. Can't wait to meet up with him later this week and re-maiden this venerable bird!

Saucerguy2
08-28-2007, 10:48 PM
I'm glad he's squaring you away, I've repaired, much, much worse then that by very far, some of it get's glued together, the rest as you say, get's fabricated, I've even just chopped the entire nose section off and made a new one from scratch.

I have a tiger 400 that met a very horrible fate last year, there is absolutely nothing left from the nose to the rear wing saddle, the entire front of the fuse shattered into a million pieces, that's a worse case scenereo, I can still rebuild it and get it flying again. I probably won't, I may recycle the wing into some quick and dirty creation down the road, but that's about it, I'm bored with the plane so it would only collect dust.

Any of you guys that think your planes are beyond repair, post photo's in these threads, chances are they can be fixed, and if you opt to throw them out, at least see if anybody here want's them.

Gnascher
08-28-2007, 11:08 PM
Any of you guys that think your planes are beyond repair, post photo's in these threads, chances are they can be fixed, and if you opt to throw them out, at least see if anybody here want's them.

You're absolutely right about that. Also, before you make any decisions, put the plane on a shelf for a few days than look at it again after the emotion of the crash has worn off. The damage always looks a lot worse when it's fresh than it does a few days later.

On mine, I'd essentially torn off the entire bottom half of the fuselage forward of the battery hatch, and damaged everything forward of the windshield to some degree or another. It looked like a big gaping wound.

But the fact is there's not much in there to begin with, and all it's taken is a few new pieces of balsa, and a nice, smart guy who knew where to put 'em. When I left PD1's place, the plane wasn't ready for flight just yet, but you could easily see that it wasn't far away ... and that was after only 2 hour's work or so ... it'd have been less if we weren't chatting about all the other cool planes in his shop.

Saucerguy2
08-28-2007, 11:15 PM
I started a new thread in those regards, perhaps we'll have a new plane recycling movement. It sounds like, without the chit chat, it would be ready to fly again within the 2 hour time frame.

Gnascher
08-28-2007, 11:20 PM
I started a new thread in those regards, perhaps we'll have a new plane recycling movement. It sounds like, without the chit chat, it would be ready to fly again within the 2 hour time frame.

I saw that ... good idea. I'll post some before and after photos when I get the plane back in the air.

pd1
08-29-2007, 01:31 AM
Where's the covering material?

You really didn't slow me down, we did have to wait for glue to dry.

Gnascher
08-29-2007, 01:33 AM
Where's the covering material?

You really didn't slow me down, we did have to wait for glue to dry.

You're an artist. It looks great.

Thanks!

Biplane Murphy
08-29-2007, 01:39 AM
Nice repair pd1!!!.......Glad to see the beloved Super Decathalon will be tearing up the sky again soon.:)

Saucerguy2
08-29-2007, 04:27 AM
It looks flawless, hard to believe it's the same plane, very good job PD1. !!!

pd1
08-29-2007, 02:49 PM
Almost ready to go.

Covering I had on hand didn't match exactly.
Hopefully it will be OK.

You can pick it up on your way home from work today if you want.

Paul

Gnascher
08-29-2007, 02:58 PM
Almost ready to go.

Covering I had on hand didn't match exactly.
Hopefully it will be OK.

You can pick it up on your way home from work today if you want.

Paul

Wow! Great! I didn't figure you'd do the covering too ... looks fantastic.

Biplane Murphy
08-29-2007, 03:12 PM
Looks brand new again....nice work pd1!!!

Gnascher
08-31-2007, 11:29 PM
The Super D flies once again.

I got out for one battery between the rain showers this evening. The motor sounds like crap, but it's still making power (new one on the way). The plane flew great ... I didn't even need to significantly re-trim.

I think I'll install my old Frio-9 motor and put a few batteries through it tomorrow.

pd1
08-31-2007, 11:43 PM
Gnasher, We going flying tomorrow?

Paul

Biplane Murphy
09-01-2007, 12:20 AM
WooHoo!!!
Gnasher is back in the air.:)
Nice job pd1.:tc:

Gnascher
09-01-2007, 12:49 AM
Gnasher, We going flying tomorrow?

Paul
PM sent.

Gnascher
09-01-2007, 12:54 AM
WooHoo!!!
Gnasher is back in the air.:)
Nice job pd1.:tc:

Indeed, quite happy about that. I swapped out my motor for my old Frio-9 and we'll see how that goes tomorrow.

spitfire
09-01-2007, 04:03 PM
nice!, pd1

Bill G
09-02-2007, 06:03 PM
Everything can be repaired.... just need a bigger roll of ducttape :Q

True, but I tend to lose interest in them when they look like that.:eek:

Biplane Murphy
09-05-2007, 02:24 AM
Hey Gnasher.... so did I see in another thread that you got the Decathalon to Flat spin?.... Details please.:)

Gnascher
09-05-2007, 02:52 AM
Hey Gnasher.... so did I see in another thread that you got the Decathalon to Flat spin?.... Details please.:)

Yes, but not on purpose ... and I probably haven't the skill yet to reproduce it.

Basically, it was happening when I was having some trouble looping the plane. It was snapping out at the top of a loop, and it would typically enter a spin, then drop the nose, spiral a couple times then pull out.

I retrimmed my CG and reduced the elevator throws. It loops nice now. ;)

Biplane Murphy
09-05-2007, 02:57 AM
Yes, but not on purpose ... and I probably haven't the skill yet to reproduce it.

Basically, it was happening when I was having some trouble looping the plane. It was snapping out at the top of a loop, and it would typically enter a spin, then drop the nose, spiral a couple times then pull out.

I retrimmed my CG and reduced the elevator throws. It loops nice now. ;)

Ah....the Elevator induced snap out of the loop...my combat planes do that with too much elevator as well.:).... you just got the bonus of a flat spin added on..:Q

Gnascher
09-10-2007, 02:07 AM
Well ... seems I was due for a run of bad luck.

PD1 and I got together at his club field last Tuesday. I had been having some motor problems, so PD1 loaned me one for the occasion ... it'd probably fly a B-52 on one prop if it had to.

The wind was blowing pretty good, and at a slight angle to the runway. Inexplicably, I decided to do a ROG. The plane lifted off the runway at about 1/2 to 3/4 throttle in about 5 feet and pretty much started heading for the clouds and drifting towards the pit area (fortunately we were the only people there). I panicked and dumb-thumbed the thing STRAIGHT into the ground ... the truest example of lawn-dart there could be. The flight lasted all of about 6 seconds.

PD1's earlier repairs actually held up pretty good. The motor mount punched cleanly back through the firewall, which probably saved the motor. However, the damage moved further back on the fuselage, and this time the wing support structures are what gave-way.

Amazingly, the ever-generous PD1 loaned me one of his planes, and I managed to demonstrate that I don't crash EVERY time I fly. :)

We went back to PD1's workshop and patched the decathlon back together. The repairs were actually fairly simple this time ... double up the firewall to patch the hole. Then re-align the structure around the cockpit and wing saddle. We decided to use a piece of balsa sheet to cover the window openings and strengthen the whole area up. I left PD1's place with an airworthy (but powerless) plane again. All I had to do was re-cover the repair area.

I used some chrome-colored econocote to simulate the windows ... I think it came out pretty good.(photos below)

I installed a 2409-18T motor that I got from Jeff at heads_up_rc and flew this morning. The plane flew great, and I used up three batteries. I had several good ROGs, as well as some nice landings. The new motor is a nice jump from the Frio-10. The power hasn't gone to the silly end of things, but it is certainly plenty. There is definitely some vertical capability, and the thing practically jumps off the ground when you firewall the throttle.

As a side project, I also fabricated a new tailwheel assembly. The bracket is off the shelf, but I did the wire bending myself. My stock tailwheel wire broke just before my ill fated flight with PD1. The new one is much better on rough surfaces, and actually seems to have enhanced ground handling overall.

The photos below make it look like the cowl isn't matching up with the body-line. This is just a photographic oddity, it doesn't look that mis-matched in real life.

spitfire
09-10-2007, 05:13 PM
wow... you crashed again (LOL!:Q)... looks nice now... again:tc:

Gnascher
09-10-2007, 05:36 PM
wow... you crashed again (LOL!:Q)... looks nice now... again:tc:

Indeed sir ... quite the run of bad luck I'm afraid.

All summer long with no major oopsies ... then two nasty ones so close together. Go figure.

Yesterday's flying session did a lot to reboost my confidence level again. I'll try and fly some tonight after work, and tomorrow morning too. We'll see if we keep her in one piece.

Saucerguy2
09-11-2007, 12:28 AM
I think you crashed on purpose so you can check out PD1's planes at his shop more. :) I was tempted to start giving you tips along how to make a collapsable, shock absorbing stick mount to allow you to nose it into the dirt minimizing potential damage until I read you got it back in the air again.

Gnascher
09-11-2007, 01:21 AM
I think you crashed on purpose so you can check out PD1's planes at his shop more. :) I was tempted to start giving you tips along how to make a collapsable, shock absorbing stick mount to allow you to nose it into the dirt minimizing potential damage until I read you got it back in the air again.

What do I need that for ... I'm NOT going to crash it again. ;-) I've had my dose of bad luck for a while ... all good from here out.

Actually, the stick mount idea isn't half bad. Maybe next time I need to rebuild the front end.

Saucerguy2
09-11-2007, 01:36 AM
If you go with the stick mount, look me up, I have incorporated a shock absorbing system in the past that works really well, I'm going to put it into the next trainer I build.

pd1
09-12-2007, 01:17 PM
Gnasher went flying again, yesterday.
It was a low overcast, poor visibility but dead calm.
We had a number of flights, all successful.

NO crashes. Great day.

By the way he flies the plane just fine, even doing loops and rolls, in and out of the mist.


Paul

Gnascher
09-12-2007, 01:42 PM
Gnasher went flying again, yesterday.
It was a low overcast, poor visibility but dead calm.
We had a number of flights, all successful.

NO crashes. Great day.

By the way he flies the plane just fine, even doing loops and rolls, in and out of the mist.


Paul

Between the unleashed dogs coming to greet us and threatening to defile our planes, and the dismal visibility, we did manage to have quite a bit of fun.

Paul flew two of his venerable "un-named" scratch-built planes in his signature smooth ballet style that's hardly ever in a normal attitude and rarely more than 50 yards away. Anybody who hasn't seen him fly should take the opportunity if they get the chance.

I flew three batteries through my battle-hardened Decathlon and managed to do no more damage than a slightly bent landing gear strut from a crossed up landing. If Paul's flying style can be likened to ballet, mine's a little more like slam-dancing ... but I get the job done.

I got some nice pointers from Paul and I'm going to concentrate on smoothing out my style a bit. I'm beyond the point of "survival" flying now so I think this is a good goal to concentrate on.

Paul even took the sticks on the Decathlon for a while and described it as a "nice flyer" but perhaps a little lacking in elevator authority. I think I'll take his recommendation to increase the size of the elevator a bit and see how that feels.

CustomCougar
09-14-2007, 04:33 AM
If you go with the stick mount, look me up, I have incorporated a shock absorbing system in the past that works really well, I'm going to put it into the next trainer I build.

Saucer Guy, I'd be interested in seeing your shock absorbing stick mount system.

'cougar

Saucerguy2
09-14-2007, 04:48 AM
The stick floats through the former and the firewall, give it a slight gap so it can move freely through it. The block shown in the photo get's pressed against the firewall from the tension on the rubber band, this keeps it in place and prevents it from pulling all the way forward. There is a dowl the rubber band attaches to on the stick, this will give in the case of a severe impact, along the forward end, any place will do, it just depends upon how big of a rubber band you use.

Gnascher
09-14-2007, 01:25 PM
SaucerGuy - That looks like a decent way to go. One thought occurs to me though. In a completed airplane, the area behind the firewall is often inaccessible, and rubber bands are prone to dry-rot. It'd be pretty difficult to periodically inspect and replace the rubber band if necessary.

How about replacing the rubber band with a spring? There's all sorts of shapes and sizes available at a well-stocked hardware store.

Saucerguy2
09-14-2007, 01:44 PM
The strength of the spring correlates to it's weight, making the rubber band(s) optimal. You will be setting up an access panel to adjust, set, and inspect it from time to time, just as you do with the battery pack and gear area.

CustomCougar
09-17-2007, 02:45 AM
Thanks Saucerguy! Looks like a good setup.