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Old 11-21-2007, 10:28 PM   #1
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Default Scratchbuilding Tips, Tricks, & I Wish I Knew That Thread

(Mods: Merge if this is a repeated thread please)


Here is something I just learned. I am building a balsa tail for my PEC and I wanted it to be light and strong. Sometimes this can be a difficult combination but I thought I would give it a try.

I found some 12" x 24" sheets of 1/32" basswood at Michael's craft store and I decided to glue the sheets together with some 30 minute epoxy. I cut the pieces to shape and then spread the epoxy in a thin even coat about 3 mils thick. I then put the two pieces together and weighted it down. Once it cured, I could not believe how stiff it made the two sheets. Now I simply have to cut out the lightning holes and this horizontal will be light and strong. I am sold on this method.

Pics below.

Anyone care to share their tips or ideas?

Frank
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Old 11-21-2007, 10:42 PM   #2
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This should be an interesting thread. I'll be watching. I can't think of anything to add at the moment but I'm sure some stuff will come to mind eventually.

I lik your idea Frank. Should hold up very well.

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Old 11-22-2007, 01:40 AM   #3
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Default Starting From Scratch?

Hi Frank, Good idea for a thread!
The laminations are a great idea. I've made balsa "ply" with 3 layers of 1/32" balsa (middle piece-grain opposite) for bulkheads that needed a bit more strength, like around the wing saddle. Generally I use Titebond wood glue and either clamps or weights to hold it while the piece dries.
My tip for starting a scratch build is to make your plans as complete as possible. Whether using enlarged kit plans, plans from a magazine source or a true "Home" design, figure out where, why and how EVERYTHING will fit. After the basic structure of (say) the fuselage is drawn, lay in place your motor, battery, servos, ESC and work out where the hatches, servo tray, velcro mounts, pushrods, etc., will go. After getting the placements worked out on the side view, double-check on the top view.
Now's the time the holes for the ESC wires will "jump" out in the right place on the firewall and doublers will seem more obvious. "If I make this a little longer, I can eliminate that." "If I make this hatch a little shorter it will clear the landing gear doubler." "The servo arm will snag this stringer unless I lower the servo tray." You get the idea.
It's terrible to have to chop away at your hard work to retro-fit a piece, when, with a little planning it could all fit neatly and accurately the first time. Workmanship IS important, even on a piece nobody will ever see.
Save the suprises for flying!
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Old 11-22-2007, 05:37 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Murocflyer View Post
(Mods: Merge if this is a repeated thread please)


Here is something I just learned. I am building a balsa tail for my PEC and I wanted it to be light and strong. Sometimes this can be a difficult combination but I thought I would give it a try.

I found some 12" x 24" sheets of 1/32" basswood at Michael's craft store and I decided to glue the sheets together with some 30 minute epoxy. I cut the pieces to shape and then spread the epoxy in a thin even coat about 3 mils thick. I then put the two pieces together and weighted it down. Once it cured, I could not believe how stiff it made the two sheets. Now I simply have to cut out the lightning holes and this horizontal will be light and strong. I am sold on this method.

Pics below.

Anyone care to share their tips or ideas?

Frank
Sounds good Frank. My only concern would be weight. How does the weight compare to say, laminated balsa? It will take a bit of weight in the nose to offset small weight gains in the tail.

I like the idea for the thread.

Jim
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Old 11-23-2007, 06:59 PM   #5
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Hey now,
For flat laminations I like to use two layers of balsa and this nifty carbon viel I got from a Russian guy a few years back. It's thin, like .5ox glass cloth. I lay it up with Tap Plastics marine epoxy. I lay out some epoxy, scrape it almost all off, lay in the carbon and top piece of balsa, weight it down between plastic sheets (plastic wrap does fine) and let it sit over night. As strong as G-10 glass, almost as light as balsa without the carbon/epoxy mix. Lighter than bass layers and often lighter than triple layer balsa. Much, much stiffer too.

When I cut parts from plans, I trace them with tracing paper and use Phillip's 66 spray glue to hold the paper to the wood or foam. The glue is used for holding T-shirts to silk screen plattens so it holds nicely but peels off very easy leaving little or no residue.
If I'm cutting wing ribs or fuse sides I'll layer two or more pieces of wood underneath that so I only have to cut the part once and get as many pieces as I need.

This way I get clean replicas and don't hack up my plans so I can easily store them and use them again or trade them to friends.

On scaleish foamies I found a way to strengthen and add to the look of the model by cutting bond (printer) paper to the size of the metal panels on the full size and attatching them with white glue or alphetic resin (titebond) cut in half with water. The overlap makes very scale looking panel lines and the glue and paper make the foam very tough.

I like this a lot better than using the wbpu and light glass cloth, cheaper too. Oh yeah, wall paper paste works nicely for the glue and I use that on foam wings with big pieces of paper for my non-scale stuff. Often stronger than glass/epoxy. It's a lot cheaper too, you can often find foam and wall paper paste in construction dumpsters...

That's enough for now, I don't want to hog the thread.
RobII

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Old 11-25-2007, 05:11 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Rabbitcreekok View Post
Sounds good Frank. My only concern would be weight. How does the weight compare to say, laminated balsa? It will take a bit of weight in the nose to offset small weight gains in the tail.

I like the idea for the thread.
Jim,

You are correct on the weight, as I sure it is a little heavier than built up balsa sticks, but I know the strength to weight ratio must be very high in this application. Plus it is only about .070" thick. I probably wouldn't normally use it for making the empennage assembly using this method, but I actually need the weight to balance out the weight of my camera that is going to be up in the nose of my PEC. At least I have no doubts of the strength of the fin an horizontal of my new PEC. I know there is also a lot of other places where thin and strong can play a role in RC building.

Let's keep the good ideas coming and thanks for the ideas so far. I won't comment on each one to avoid clutter, but I appreciate the inputs as I can always use goos ideas on my future projects.

Frank
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Old 11-26-2007, 02:40 PM   #7
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Heres a tip for both foam and wood.
Since more then likely you will need to repair your plane (face it trees and the round have it in for them) and making a new part can be more difficult if you don't have the plans anylonger, so I try to make templates of all the major and some minor parts...this way I just quickly trace,cut and glue. Bingo Bango Bongo all fixed...its just that simple! HEHEHE
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Old 11-26-2007, 05:05 PM   #8
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What I need to know.

Who has come up with a proven method to avoid gaps in your balsa joints?

Thanks!

Frank
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Old 11-26-2007, 05:10 PM   #9
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Hey now,
So a few years back for a totally different hobby I built a light table; basically a box with a light bulb inside and frosted glass for the top.
Now when I want to do a fancy moneycote covering I lay out the pattern on the light table and then lay a second piece of glass over the pattern. Now I can cut out the moneycote with sharp X-acto blades (or better razor blades) and use a trim iron to seal the pieces together. I over lay them a 1/4" for a good seam.

To get the other side to match I lay the first side out under the glass and use it for the pattern. From there it's as easy as covering with a single piece of moneycote. It's a lot lighter than just layering whole pieces on top of each other. Not much more work either.

This method works great for those half melted checker board sun bursts that look so cool...
RobII

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Old 11-29-2007, 01:09 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Murocflyer View Post
What I need to know.

Who has come up with a proven method to avoid gaps in your balsa joints?

Thanks!

Frank
the most useful tools in my shop are sanding blocks - the alloy ones from Tower Hobbies have been the best I've found so far - in lengths from 6" to a monster 36" that comes out occasionally, but is still worth its place in the toolbox. Next come metal straight edges - everything from a 12" rule that's so old its markings have all but vanished, but its still handy for making short cuts in sheet, to a 48" heavy duty steel job that is the best tool I've used for cutting strip wood off balsa sheets.

A good supply of #11 knife blades is essential - I have a sharpening stone for touch-ups, but they don't last long even so. Naturally, it's possible to buy bulk packs of "Numba Ereven" blades for less than a dozen 'real' X-Acto" blades, but you can soon get fed up of blunt knife blades.

Cutting strips - as I mostly build RC these days and the bulk of my stripwood is spruce rather than balsa, my preference is a 'razor saw' - X-Acto do the best again, for a change . Use the one with the shallowest blade and practice making cuts with the blade vertical. I've tried cutting jigs various over the years, can usually do it better 'by eye' and don't have to go looking for the jug (tidying up is not really in my genes )

Anything involving joining sheet or stripping sticks off a sheet - the first cut is always to straighten up one edge of the balsa sheet. They seldom are straight. If it's a real tiny discrepancy, that long sanding block can sometimes be a better bet.

Hope that helps

THis needs to be a sticky!

Regards

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Old 11-29-2007, 01:40 AM   #11
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I have found that Reynolds parchment paper works so much better than regular wax paper. It can be found at any Wal-Mart store and CA has a very hard time sticking to it. So the next time you are building over plans, forge the wax paper and try parchment paper. You will be very pleased with the results!

Frank

PS Great tips Dereck! Thanks! I guess you can add practice helps keeps gaps out of the joints also I suspect.
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Old 11-30-2007, 05:54 PM   #12
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Hey now,
I hadn't though of parchement paper, cool enough to try
On the X-acto razor saw, I hate those things. After the third time the blade came loose and turned during a cut ruining the piece I switched to Zona saws. No more expensive, better cut, and the blde never comes loose.

The only thing I like from X-acto is their thin handle for the #11 blades, the one with the tightening screw at the back end so I don't loosen it during cuts. As soon as I find something better I'm getting rid of those too.

Sanding blocks; I was given a few of those Tower branded metal sanding blocks, they are nice. However I don't know as they're better than my custom cut wood blocks. I can even run them through the router table and make all kinds of nifty shapes. Either way, sanding, fitting, and sanding some more does help get those joints nice and tight.

What is it? Measure twice, cut once. Then sand and fit, resand and refit till it's right.
Nothing flys as well as a tight fitting true airframe.
RobII

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Old 12-01-2007, 03:36 PM   #13
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Good point. Zona tools are THE tools to buy.

I'm surprised no one has brought this up yet. When either Scratchbuilding or building from a kit, save the extra pieces of balsa that you cut off or that is extra in the kit that the LASER cut pieces come from. You never know when you are going to need them or can use them. I always find myself needing a small piece of balsa for some mod or repair. I keep a few quart size ziplocs handy for the balsa pieces and if you just cut the top off the plastic bag from your LASER kit, the balsa remnants can be stored neatly back in their original bag.

Frank
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Old 12-01-2007, 03:46 PM   #14
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Maybe this doesn't belong here, but I saw something similar and that is what gave me the idea:

I drink Crystal Light, and always keep the little plastic tubs the mix comes in for mixing epoxy. Nice and small, I always have a supply of them.

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Old 12-03-2007, 01:48 AM   #15
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You bet Kev, nice put.

Just like the spare balsa parts mentioned above, you should also save scrap pieces of covering to use for touch ups or repairing rips in the covering. This saves cutting off pieces of you roll and wasting some. As you know, you should cut off straight cuts off the roll rather than squares or rectangles and such.

Frank
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Old 12-03-2007, 04:42 AM   #16
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Default Covering Tips?

Hi Frank, good tip about the covering scraps. Speaking of that, when I cover a large solid section like a wing, I save the clear backing sheet and leave it on the workbench while I'm covering the rest of the plane. Whenever there's a fair-sized scrap of material left over without the backing, I press it onto the backing sheet, static "cling" makes it stick pretty well. Now when I get to the fuselage or other section that requires small pieces, I look on my "scrap" sheet (the backing sheet) and usually I find a workable piece. As you say, it saves cutting a whole new section off the roll!
The backing sheet has other uses, it can be used in place of cling wrap to protect plans while building and wrapped around epoxy joints to smooth them out while the epoxy hardens.
If you're using figerglass/epoxy/cloth or resin, you can wrap it with the backing sheet, almost nothing will stick to it. When it's dry (and smooth) just peel the wrap off.
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Old 12-06-2007, 05:39 PM   #17
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Hey now,
This reminds me; when I buy a new/different colour of moneycote I cut off a small piece and iron it to some scrap wood, listing the brand ans colour name on the back.
Over time I've collected a bunch of these paint chips so I can see just how well various combinations look before I buy a new roll.
A few years back I went out and bought one of each colour in ultracote eventually getting them all.

I did this because just looking at them on the roll in the store wasn't helping me much. Now I can lay them out on the model and really see what they'll look like when done.
RobII

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Old 12-07-2007, 01:15 AM   #18
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I don't know if this is a new idea or not but it works well for me. I went to the dollar store and bought 3 small pet food bowls with rubber bottoms. I put the wheels of my planes in the bowls to keep the plane from rolling around while I'm working on it. Just a small tid-bit.

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Old 12-07-2007, 01:51 AM   #19
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Default tried of try'in to cram probes in my deans

I got tried of try'in to cram probes in my deans an took a FEMALE dean conn, and filed the solder tabs a bit and stuck the probe pins in the slots ( this makes for quick chang'in back an forth) , ya'll's bub, stevecooper


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Old 12-11-2007, 01:34 AM   #20
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Default Forget those Z-bends

Give up Z-Bends that have to be hooked into your control arm outside of the plane.

Say hello to snake bends that can be installed while they are inside your plane simply by rotating them.

Frank
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Old 12-11-2007, 02:52 AM   #21
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I use all kinds of "...kotes" and sometimes the ID of the material isn't obvious.
So I write that on the -inside- of the paper roller.
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Old 12-11-2007, 05:58 PM   #22
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Hey now,
I thought of a few more over the weekend.

If I'm building a wing that has a constant cord, and I'm planning on building a bunch of them I'll make a matched pair of template ribs from sheet brass. Cut them out with a scroll saw, band saw or even jeweler's saw, drill holes through them and add a set of bolts. I can then stack a bunch of wood between them and cut out matching ribs of any number exactly the same. It's worth the time it takes to set it up *if* you're going to use that airfoil a lot.
I used to fly "fast" combat ukies and would often need to build six planes the night before a contest. This method made that possible.

I personally think that leaving the motor out in the air looks bad, so I like to add cowls to my models. Sure, I could build them up from balsa, but I really like to use old plastic containers for this. Round bottles of various sizes work well for round engines, sure, but what about inline?

Other shapes of bottles work too. Old motor oil containers look good (bottle mouth for the motor shaft), sometimes I'll go so far as to make a plug from wood or even foam, back it up with more scrap material, and shove it in a pop bottle and shrink it down with a heat gun. I've even done turtle decks this way (this afternoon I'm doing just that). Takes a big pop bottle though...

I also make control horns from old circuit boards, g-10 glass is *strong* stuff and cuts fast with a jewelers saw. Old cds work fine too.

Oh yeah, don't waste your bread on an X-acto jewelers saw, buy a "General" they're much better. Same with blades. Get them from a jewelers supply store, better quality and cheaper too. May as well make a cutting board for it while you're at it. A 1/2" by 2" by 12" board with a "V" cut in one end. Clamp the butt end to your work table with the "V" end hanging over open air, lay the piece over the "V" and cut, that way it's supported on both sides and you'll break less blades (you break a *lot* of blades with a jewelers saw!)
These saws are no good for big cuts, but for tight cuts, inside cuts, and other detail bits they are the best tool ever!

Oh and another nifty bit. For a quick and dirty symetrical wing:
Using FFF or depron foam, cut the wing shape out span wise and lay a center line for the leading edge. Trim the far edges to the trailing edge shape, thin these trailing edges to half thickness, lay in a spar the height of the airfoil thickness (less the foam thickness) and fold it over the spar gluing the trailing edges together. I can build a wing like this in ten minutes! Works great for our combat models (I kinda go through those:p).

I guess that's enough for one post eh? I'll try and come up with more later on...
RobII

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Old 12-11-2007, 11:59 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Murocflyer View Post
Give up Z-Bends that have to be hooked into your control arm outside of the plane.

Say hello to snake bends that can be installed while they are inside your plane simply by rotating them.

Frank
Please show more as my old nogg''in box can't fig'ger out the pixs, Sounds like a great idea! I just can't grasp it, thanks your bub, stevecooper

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Old 12-12-2007, 12:11 AM   #24
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it's a Z bend, that has the last leg of the Z perpendicular to the main wire

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Old 12-12-2007, 12:15 AM   #25
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Gee Fred, that clears it all up....NOT.....LOL

Perhaps Frank should provide a video outlining how they are made and how they work? (Merry Christmas!)

- Kev
AMA 873921
RC Dusters Flying Club, AMA 3875, Sandwich, IL

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