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Author Topic: Lil Gem racer  (Read 1322 times)
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bgrove
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« on: October 04, 2017, 03:16:24 PM »

I've started to build a "Lil Gem" racer.  After my last build this was the simplest plans I had on hand, plus I love racers, so here I go.

It seems that there are many different planes of this design.  Ole Tiger, Miller's Lil Gem, Huh  I'll do some research as I build to figure out how I want to finish it out.

My goal for this build is to build LIGHT!!  My tendency is to brace/support and over build for strength and my planes are always quite heavy.  So far so good.  What I've built is lighter than anything I've previously done, so I just have to keep it simple.

I did a cracked rib approach on the wings - that's nice and quick!!
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FLYACE1946
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« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2017, 06:25:12 PM »

Have you been inspired after watching the flights mkelly is getting with his model named the Little Gem? Look for him here under the title what did you do today working with model airplanes
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MKelly
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« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2017, 10:45:14 PM »

BGrove,

Good subject!  I'm still trimming my Little Gem http://www.hippocketaeronautics.com/hpa_forum/index.php?topic=22063.0 from the Shorty's Basement short kit.  Plan is very similar to the Mooney plan.  This model has lots of wing area for a peanut - mine came out over 20 grams but floats along like a balloon.

The Society of Air Racing Historians group on Facebook has a lot of great pictures of Little Gem through the years - there were several wing and cowl configurations and a number of nice color schemes as the plane changed hands and owners tried to coax more performance out of the airframe.  If you like racers that group is well worth joining.

Two comments based on my recent experiences:  first, make the landing gear and wheel pants as solid as you possibly can.  I used very thin wire and light balsa, and have had to repair the pants after most flying sessions as they catch in the grass and pop loose where the wire and strut join the wheel pant.  Second, consider enlarging the stab a bit - I had some stability problems in early trimming that would have been mitigated by a bit more stab area.  Looking at your pics it appears you've already sketched in an enlargement over the plan.

Your framework looks good - probably will come out lighter than mine with the cracked rib wing.

Good luck with the build,

Mike
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bgrove
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« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2017, 02:26:23 PM »

Mike, WOW.  I just looked at your build and I'm humbled.  Thanks for all the great photos.  I know I'm going to be going back and referring to them often.  Not just for details, but for inspiration.  Your work is stunning.  I might have to try one of those laser cut kits someday.   Also, thanks for the link to other Little Gem planes. 

My fuselage came together well.  It's fairly straight compared to my usual and seems strong and light.  I started to cut some turtle deck formers so that will be next.
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MKelly
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« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2017, 03:49:35 PM »

No need to be humbled, your framework looks great!  Look forward to following yours as it comes together.

Cheers,

Mike
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bgrove
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« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2017, 03:52:39 PM »

I got the wheel pants put together and trimmed and sanded to shape.  I'm thinking of using the wheels in the photo.  They aren't the lightest (although I think they are called ultra light or something close to that).  Another idea is that I will cut one in half and only use 1/2 wheel per pant.  It will be a non-functioning wheel, but cut weight.

I'm also starting to work on the front.  I didn't have any 1/32 sheet on hand, so I spent time sanding down a 1/16th sheet !!!  It worked, but not perfect and lots of effort.  I'm also starting the under nose area.  I've been looking at Mike's build and trying to figure out what I'll do.  Don't ask about the hole in the bottom sheeting - for some reason I thought I need it - ops.  I do need to work on the landing gear as well.  I have the wire bent and just need to figure out my install/mount.
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bgrove
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« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2017, 02:47:22 PM »

Old school landing gear attachment with thread  Smiley  I'm pleased with the mounting.  Also a couple of shots showing how much I enlarged the rudder and elevator.
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flydean1
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« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2017, 04:55:08 PM »

Walt Mooney designs are proven fliers un-modified.  Just sayin'.
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MKelly
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« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2017, 05:49:32 PM »

Walt Mooney designs are proven fliers un-modified.  Just sayin'.

True, but given my recent experience trying to trim the Little Gem I'd say the extra stab area is probably a good thing.  Fuselage is looking good!

Cheers,

Mike
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bgrove
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« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2017, 01:38:27 PM »

Work on the plane has been slow but steady.

Once I cut the front round former and mounted it, I realized I needed to add filler all around to taper from the circle to the fuselage.  That took some time, but turned out OK.

I also got the wing to fuselage curve installed and it will work will.  Very simple.  I also have cut a big stack of wood that will ultimately become the cheek cowls and I've laminated a stack of wood for the spinner.

It doesn't look like I need to vacuum form a canopy for this plane - instead just use a flat sheet curved around.  Am I seeing that correctly? or are there more curves to it?
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MKelly
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« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2017, 02:59:54 PM »

Looks good!  Regarding the canopy, you are correct, it can be cut from flat sheet and wrapped around.
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bgrove
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« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2017, 02:26:28 PM »

What is the best method to fit cheek cowls to the fuselage?  I've always struggled with this.  Here are some shots of my cheek cowls in progress.  They started at 7 grams total, they are now at 4 grams, I'm hoping they come down to 2 grams once completed.

I'm also close to starting to cover the plane  Smiley 
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MKelly
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« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2017, 04:05:25 PM »

I don't know about "best method", but here's what I did:

1 - mark the cheek locations on the side of the fuselage

2 - align the cheeks to the marks, making sure the front inlet is perpendicular to the fuselage centerline and the top/bottom of the cheeks are level and even with each other

3 - using a compass or divider, trace the fuselage side profile onto the top and bottom of the cheeks

4 - carefully carve towards the profile lines, fit-checking often and always checking to make sure the cowls are still aligned per step 2.  It helps to hollow out the top and bottom edges of the cheeks so you have a thinner line of material to match up  against the fuselage - the mating surfaces will have to be angled to meet smoothly with the rounded fuselage.

5- once it's getting close, sand to final fit.

Tedious, but that's how I did it.  Other folks may have better ideas that could save you some time.

Cheers,

Mike
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rgroener
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« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2017, 01:27:04 AM »

bgrove, nice build. I like race planes!
I never built a plane with that big cheeks. Or at leas I never had do fit cheeks to a curved fuselage. I think I would just start sanding the shape to the cheeks. You could also make a sanding block with the right curvature first. The biggest Problem then would be, the sand it exactly  rectangular.

Roman

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bgrove
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« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2017, 03:40:06 PM »

Mike:

Thanks for the tip Mike.  It worked great.  I'll post some shots of the fit soon.  I have to do some adjustments to make them the same size, but both fit great.

I've been working slow and steady, but just haven't taken any photos along the way.

Here are shots of the wings and tail surfaces covered.  I had some issues with the silver tissue.  I apply it slightly wet and during drying it pulled free in two places.  That caused the wing to warp.  I've reattached the tissue and pinned it down to dry.  It's very close to straight now.

My plan is to paint the spinner, cowls and wheel pants a matching silver.  The Fuselage will be a blue.  I have a photo of a real Little Gem that I'm using as 'inspiration' for the colors.  I don't think I will ever be able to build a plane without making my own modifications - it's just not in me.

And one shot of my wheel cut in half for use with the wheels pants.
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bgrove
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« Reply #15 on: October 27, 2017, 01:07:40 PM »

Here are a couple of shots of a cheek cowls fit showing how Mike's 'divider' method was very effective at matching the curves!!  Thanks again Mike.
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bgrove
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« Reply #16 on: October 30, 2017, 02:05:59 PM »

I have the fuselage fully covered.  I'm super happy with how it turned out.  I put the tissue on slightly wet using Uhu Blue glue stick - this is the first time I've used wet tissue consistently - and wow - it really turned out nice.  Super smooth with almost no issues and I haven't even done a full fuselage shrinking yet.  I'm hoping that just some small area wetting will smooth out the couple of places that still need help.  I also learned from my last build with the checkered tissue to put it on shiny side in - otherwise it is very difficult to shrink.
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bgrove
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« Reply #17 on: October 31, 2017, 02:19:28 PM »

The wings are mounted!!  It's really looking like an airplane now. 

I'm spray painting the wheel pants, spinner, chin scope and cheek cowls silver, however, I'm having issues with the paint not drying Huh  After a full day it's still a bit tacky.  I've sanded them down a bit and hopefully they will dry.   I'm waiting on the cowls until I get them to final shape now that the wings are mounted.
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bgrove
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« Reply #18 on: November 01, 2017, 03:44:04 PM »

A couple of quick shots I took before the kids started showing up last night for Halloween.

Spinner and cheek cowls set in place. 
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bgrove
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« Reply #19 on: November 05, 2017, 12:42:46 PM »

I had a bit of a set back.  Due to my beloved cats (not so much anymore) I lost a wheel pant!!!  Angry   So, I had to make two new ones.  I know I couldn't match the existing one and had to start over.  The two pants started at a total assembled weight (before shaping) at 5 grams.  They are now 2 grams total.  I'll have to weight them again after painting to see how much weight is added in that step.

Everything else is proceeding nicely.  Spinner and chin scope painted.  I made a tail wheel and arm.  I'm close to cutting plastic for the windshield.
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bgrove
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« Reply #20 on: November 09, 2017, 01:14:56 PM »

Last night I did a full plane shrinking with a 20:1 easy dope mixture.  With the silver tissue you need to use a brush, otherwise it dries uneven.  Also, I had noticed that my stabilizer wasn't quite level, so during the drying time I placed the paint brush on the stab tip as weight.  It Worked!! Smiley  The stabilizer is now almost perfectly level with the wings.  I probably should have just built it straight to start - maybe next time.

I also cut out some tissue numbers and I have applied them to the wing tip.  On the bottom, I used the blue and silver to create a drop shadow.  Either color alone wasn't standing out enough.
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bgrove
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« Reply #21 on: November 11, 2017, 11:29:33 AM »

A couple of quick shots of the fuselage number on and the plane getting its final coat of easy dope.  I'm still adding the weight to the stab while drying to keep it true.

I have the wheel pants about ready to attach so hopefully I'll do that today.  
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bgrove
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« Reply #22 on: November 14, 2017, 01:54:12 PM »

I mounted the wheel pants and made/covered the landing gear fairings. 
Cheek cowls and chin scope attached. 
I have the tail wheel made, but I'll attach it last, otherwise, I know I'll break it off while doing something else. 

Next step is to attach the wind shield.  I have the plastic cut and the canopy top in place.  I've review MKelly's build several times which has been very helpful.  Especially the wind shield template he sent!!!  My plan is to attach the wind shield and then trim it with a thin band of tissue around the edges (vs trying to trim the canopy first and then attach it).  I'm always nervous about this step and getting glue all over the canopy and plane.  I use Formula 56 which works great, but it takes a day to dry, so I have to figure out how to hold things in place and not make a mess.
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FLYACE1946
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« Reply #23 on: November 14, 2017, 02:15:29 PM »

This build looks very nice. Great Job
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bgrove
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« Reply #24 on: November 20, 2017, 03:25:39 PM »

I have the canopy almost attached.  I have just one more corner to glue and anchor while it dries.  I found I had to work in sections and get creative to hold the bent plastic in place.  I did try to heat and curve my first wind screen, but it got too hot and front lower edge scalloped.  I had to trash it.  Next, I'll add tissue trim as the canopy frame and to hide the glue  Smiley

I also got the spinner attached and the front tip doesn't wobble when spinning !!!!  I always feel good about that.  My slots for prop where a little larger than usual, so I used some thin double stick foam tape as filler.  It really worked well and allowed me to adjust the position, then lock it down with a bit of CA.

I'm almost done with the Little Gem and I should be ready to move to my next build for the winter cook up while the turkey cooks.
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