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Author Topic: VMC Spitfire RC Conversion  (Read 1639 times)
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chrislgl
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« on: June 14, 2018, 07:07:36 AM »

After the success of my VMC Sopwith Camel RC conversion which is providing me with lots of flying fun, thoughts turned to trying a WW2 warbird, in this case Andrew Darby’s excellent Spitfire.

I planned to use the same motor and RC set up as used in the Camel, so that it would be able to fly outdoors in winds up to 7-8mph. This comprises of; an Orange micro (Lemon also do a similar ultra-micro version) receiver with a 6amp ESC and 2 EMAX 2.5g micro servos. The motor is a BL A1504 2900KV fitted with GWS 4x2.5 prop powered by a 2C 300mAh Nano-Tech lipo.

I spent some time on my PC using CAD to draw the parts that would have to be modified to carry out the conversion. This turned out to be a bit of a challenge, as there is less room in the Spitfire fuselage than in the Camel, probably due to the fact the Camel is about 1:20th scale and the Spitfire 1:24th.

But it seemed that it would fit, so the files were sent off to VMC to have the wood laser cut. The picture shows the 1/16th balsa sheet along with the 1/16th and 1/32nd plywood parts.

Should the conversion work and it flies okay VMC plan to offer the conversion sheets and plan for sale as an addition to the standard kit.

The keel former needed a few changes to allow for the plywood motor, the construction of a battery-hatch and clearance at the rear to allow for elevator movement. Apart from the addition of a plywood motor mount, the nose block formers and those from F1 to F5 needed to be modified and additional formers produced to make the battery hatch. The side keels were also modified as was F13 to allow for the push rods for rudder and elevator control.

Using the supplied construction book I started buy building the fuselage, using the modified keel, side keel and formers as required. There are some building differences to note from the standard model:
  • The addition of the plywood motor mount.
  • Fit former RCF5B after the side keel is fitted.

I stuck RCF5B into place after the side keel and the rest of the formers were stuck into position, making sure that they at right angles to the keel former.

I then stuck some clear adhesive tape to the top of the side keel between formers RCF4 and F6 and also to the rear of RCF4 and the front of F6 to prevent the battery hatch assembly sticking to those parts. I then dry assembled the parts that make the battery hatch and checked that it fitted okay. They were the stuck together is situ to ensure a good fit.

That's as far as I have got, but I hope to make more progress over the next few days.
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chrislgl
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« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2018, 03:52:28 AM »

I spent some time carefully adding the stringers, much as instructed in the manual with the exception of the battery hatch area.

I then used 1/16th sheet to plank (infill?) the area between the stringers around the nose and deck area in front of the cockpit opening (rather than use paper) as this will add extra strength to the nose and create the battery holder/hatch.
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Jack Plane
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« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2018, 06:42:04 AM »

An interesting project to follow (having built the VMC Spit for rubber).

Are you going to do it wheels up?

Jon
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chrislgl
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« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2018, 09:00:10 AM »

Hi Jon,

Yes it will be finished and flown 'wheels up' as I don't think planes with retracting undercarriage 'look' right flying around with UC lowered. The ribs and sub ribs that carry the undercarriage have been upgraded to 1/16th plywood, partly so that those who want to fly with UC down can do so, but also it reinforces the wing joint at the dihedral break. I plan to add shear webbing to the main spars because with the RC gear and battery installed the wing loading will be higher than it would be as a rubber model. I did that on my VMC Camel and despite pulling some pretty sharp loops and stall turns the wings have stayed in one piece - so far!

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« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2018, 07:42:21 PM »

It should make an interesting model. I remember the original review of Andrew's models in aeromodeller included an RC electric version of the Spitfire and it apparently flew well.

Will you be using ailerons? It may be more complicated but would be worth it.

John
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chrislgl
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« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2018, 10:04:12 AM »

Hi John,

I will not be using ailerons. The reason is that I am using a 2c 300mAh battery, the bec voltage from the ESC is 5 volts and I have not found a linear servo - like those used by eflite/parkzone models and others that can be used at that voltage (unless you can point me to one that does). Most (if not all) specify a maximum voltage of 4 volts including the Spektrum micro linear servos. Lack of space (and extra weight) precludes using a third servo and torque rods to operate the ailerons.

I have previously used the brushed motors, receiver brick, and linear servos from the Parkzone type micro models in similar sized scratch built and kit models (which is what was used in the conversion in Aeromodeller), but got fed up with having the retrieve models as they could struggle to make headway against even a light wind (flat calm flying conditions being rare in my part of the world) and often got blown into the next boggy field. Which is why I tried the set up mentioned first in a DPC Sopwith Triplane and latterly with the VMC Sopwith Camel. I can fly in modest winds knowing that if get downwind I will have power enough to get back to the flying strip. The models fly well with just rudder elevator (despite the limited dihedral on the lower wing on the Camel) and because I can fly at mostly half throttle at a scale looking speed I can get flights of 10 minutes or so. So I hope the same will be true of the Spitfire.
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chrislgl
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« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2018, 10:26:43 AM »

Having left the fuselage to fully set overnight, I removed it from the board. I cut away the vertical keel joiner situated just behind the motor mount. As the motor is a really tight fit in the nose, I decided to fit the motor into position before adding the right-hand side of the plywood motor mount. This was quite fiddly, as I had to get the M3 screw through the top left motor mounting bracket hole and through the plywood motor mount and fit the nylock nut to rear. After a little while I succeeded and then the right-hand side of the plywood motor mount was stuck into position after first fitting the top right screw and nut and then the bottom one.
It is worth noting to make sure to orientate the motor so that the wires and plug will fit through the slot in the left-hand plywood mount.

When building these small models, it worth remembering that when they are finished, access to components is limited (if not near impossible), so it is a good idea to check that everything works at each stage, at this point I checked that the motor works and runs in the correct direction!

I then placed the ESC and receiver into the nose area behind the motor and below the side keel, to check for fit. The servos were mounted onto the plywood servo plate so that the servo is ‘upside down’ and the control arms face inwards and are trimmed so that they don’t touch when centred.

Note: that the servo mounting tabs sit on top side of the servo mounting plate.

The rudder servo is sited on the left side and the elevator on the right. The pushrods will cross over to exit on the opposites sides at the tail. I connected the servos and ESC and checked that everything worked as intended.

I made up the 1mm carbon pushrods with wire ‘Z’ bends attached by shrink tube and CA to one end and fitted them to the servos. The elevator pushrod is located through the gap between the left-hind side keel and the stringer above it and behind RCF13 whilst at the same time locating the servo mounting plate into the space between F6 and F7 and below the Left-hand side keel. I didn’t stick in place at this point (to allow for any adjustment). I then added the rest of the right-hand side formers (except RCF5B) and then the side keel making sure that the rudder pushrod was located above it. I then stuck former RCF5B into place. Then the parts that make up the battery holder/hatch were added.

I cut a piece of 1/16th sheet to fit between RCF4 and RCF5B and stuck to the underside of the side keels and above the receiver and ESC. Another narrower piece (about 1cm wide) was made to fit on the other side of RCF5B and again stuck to the underside of the side keels. These pieces will form the battery compartment floor.

I checked the operation of all components before sticking the servo tray into position on the underside of the side keels.

I then added the stringers, apart from the top two stringers on the battery hatch. Before adding those I used a sharp knife to cut away the vertical keel joiner situated RCF5B and F6 and also through the top keel between the formers RCF4 and RCF4A and again between RC6A and F6 to allow for the removal of the battery hatch. I then added the top two stringers to the hatch. I removed the hatch and the clear tape from the formers, before sticking it back in with a few small of spots of paper glue (which should make it easy to remove later) – just to hold in place while I planked the fuselage nose. Finally I added the two F14 pieces at the corners of the cockpit opening.

At the rear of the fuselage where the keel has been modified to allow for elevator movement the K4 parts that form the tail plane mounting seat were slightly shortened to allow for the elevator to move, I then added a short piece of 1/16th sq stringer at the end of K4 following the angle of the keel as shown in the 5th photograph.


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OZPAF
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« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2018, 08:58:06 PM »

I guess it is a bit tight for even using the smallest rotary servos in the wing and weight and extra current consumption would be important factors, even if a rudder servo was not used.

I have only tried a MPX Fox at this size using 3 servos( 2 wing mtd aileron and elevator), a 300mah 3s battery and a 10g 1811 on a 4.7x2.4. It weighed around 130g and was quite fast, which is probably not what you are after.

Good luck - it's coming on well.

John

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chrislgl
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« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2018, 06:23:36 AM »

Hi John,
The wings are not deep enough to take a rotary servo as you surmised, and I am aiming for a all up flying weight of around 80-85grms (that's what I calculated it should be) which would give it a wing loading of around 22.8g/dm2 (7.52oz/sq ft) which seems reasonable. The wing area being 350 cm sq (54 inches sq). The fuselage is just wide enough to get two 2.5 grm rotary servos in side by side near to the c of g. I have planned (hope!) that with the motor and the position of the battery the model won't require much if any nose weight to get it to the correct c of g. But time will tell!
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chrislgl
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« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2018, 06:31:08 AM »

I added the nose block former RCF1 and formers RCNB2 to RCNB5 as shown on the conversion plan.

I cut a paper disc 25mm in diameter with a small hole at the centre and stuck it with paper glue to the front of RCNB2 with the motor shaft coming through the hole.

This I used as a guide when I sanded the fuselage nose planking and nose block to shape which hopefully will ensure that the nose shape will align and match the spinner assembly.

Once I had finished sanding the fuselage, I removed the battery holder/hatch and at the rear of it cut a slot in the end formers (as shown in the photographs) to allow space for the battery connector and wire. I also removed some of the material from the middle former to allow more space for the battery. The battery holder/hatch is nice and rigid thanks to the planking and should (I hope) hold the battery nicely in place.
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« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2018, 07:40:59 AM »

Are you using magnets to hold the hatch in place? Nice work. I'm sure it will fly well at your projected wing loading of 7.52oz/ft2 as the Fox was 10oz/ft2. Your Spitfire will have a much better airfoil than the Fox.

John
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chrislgl
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« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2018, 03:28:52 AM »

Hi John,

I am planning to use magnets to hold the hatch in place, along with the exhaust stacks, which will be attached to the hatch and will provide side to side location whilst the magnets will hold in down.
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chrislgl
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« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2018, 03:31:59 AM »

I have now built the tail plane/elevators and fin/rudder. Using the supplied conversion plan and parts, I pinned down the tail plane trailing edge (RCT4) first and then I trial fitted the rest of the tail plane parts. The 1/16th sq balsa ribs were also cut to length.

Then I stuck the tail plane parts together and pinning them down as I went to make sure it dried flat. Once dry I attached a piece of clear adhesive tape along the rear edge of the trailing edge. I do this so that when I build the elevator I can butt the leading edge of the elevator (RCE6) to the tail plane and build it in situ without it getting stuck to the tail plane. This ensures an accurate fit. The elevator uses a plywood joining piece to which the elevator control horn will be mounted. I completed the elevator construction, again pinning it down while the glue fully sets.

The fin was constructed in a similar way. Again, I stuck adhesive tape along the top and trailing edge of the fin so that I could build the rudder in situ, starting from the rudder post/leading edge (RCR3) and fin top (RCR4).
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chrislgl
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« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2018, 04:36:16 AM »

The centre section or the wing has been built, the only difference from the standard kit being the use of plywood ribs RCR2 and RCR2A in place of the balsa items. I choose to use plywood to provide extra strength should the undercarriage be fitted as well as giving extra strength to the dihedral break/join area. I am building it to fly ‘wheels up’.

The outer wing panels were built. Using the ribs as a guide I made up and stuck the leading edge, tip and trailing edge pieces together. I then made two ‘washout’ jigs (one for each wing), which is a triangular piece of balsa, its length being equal to the chord of the wing at the position of R8, and at one end it is 1mm high and at the other 0mm. A piece of clear adhesive tape is placed on the top to stop it getting stuck to the wing during construction.

The jig was then placed under rib R8 along with the lower front and rear spars. The wing was built as per plan/instructions apart from parts W6 and W7 which I replaced with 1/16th sheet shear webbing stuck to the front of the upper and lower spars, I then added more shear webbing to the front of the upper  and lower spars from R5 to R8.

Both panels have been built and will be left to dry fully and with the addition of the shear webbing with the washout jig in place the wing should be stiff and retain the desired washout. I will be using the jigs to check this when I get to the covering stage.
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« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2018, 05:12:15 AM »

Rapid progress there Chris. The wings will be strong.

John
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chrislgl
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« Reply #15 on: June 22, 2018, 03:55:44 AM »

After letting the outer wing panels fully dry, I set about joining them to the centre section. I made up a couple of jigs to hold the wings at the correct dihedral and after making sure that everything was lined up correctly I used two-part epoxy to stick the outer wing panels to the centre section, which should create a nice strong joint.
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« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2018, 05:27:35 AM »

Next I tackled the wing root fillets. I never have been a fan of using paper fillets partly due to the fact for me they never seem to go one without creases or unwanted dips or hollows etc. It is also worth noting that I have often found that paper parts/fillets etc. are often heavier than using balsa.

In addition, I have found that if even if I have succeeded in get the paper parts shaped and fitted okay I have then found when I am covering with tissue they seem to either distort when the tissue is shrunk or when the model is doped. So I much prefer if possible to use balsa.

What I use is very light 1/32nd balsa which I then sand to reduce its thickness by approximately 50%. I have found that a Permagrit sanding block to be good for this job as it helps produce a consistent thickness over the small area required.

I dry assembled the wing to the fuselage and held it together with masking tape. I then used masking tape to hold on the fillet part WF to the fuselage and wing trailing edge. I also put some masking tape over the top of the wing area where the root fillet will fit.

I used the paper pattern shown on the plan to cut out two root fillets from the thinned balsa sheet. These were then left to soak in water overnight.

I then carefully located and shaped the root fillet pieces into using masking tape and scrap balsa pieces to hold it in place as required. These were left to dry overnight.

As you can see from the photographs the fillet held its shape perfectly and out of interest I weighed the balsa and paper fillets and as you can see the balsa version is 40% lighter (although the actual weight difference is minimal!).

These will be fitted after the fuselage and wing has been covered. Although it will soon be unavailable (unfortunately) I have decided to use Litespan to cover the model as I have this in stock. But I am sure that Esaki tissue would do just as well.



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« Reply #17 on: June 23, 2018, 06:09:30 AM »

Nice work Chris - really good looking fairings. Moulding them into shape in situ while very damp and pliable seems a good way to go.

John
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« Reply #18 on: July 04, 2018, 05:27:38 AM »

With all the fine weather we have been enjoying I have been busy flying rather than building so there has been a slight delay in the covering of the model. But I have managed to get some building time in.

Before I started I carefully cut the slots in the tail plane, elevator, fin and rudder to take the mylar hinges. I did this by first measuring and marking on the edges where I wanted to cut the slot (to make sure that I cut the slot in the middle of the edge). The surfaces of the tailing and leading edges have laser etched guides as to where the hinges should be located. So using these as a guide I used a sharp scalpel blade (i.e. new) to cut the slots. Now cutting slots into the edge of 1/16th (1.6mm) balsa may sound difficult, but I have found that by marking the centre and by using the aforesaid sharp knife it is quite easy if you are careful. I much prefer this method of making hinged moving surfaces on small models rather than using sticky tape on the surface.

Once done and checked using cut down hinges (4mm wide) I started covering the tail plane/elevator and then the fin rudder using as I mentioned before Litespan, dark green on the top and white on the undersides. This will hopefully reduce the amount of paint that has to be applied to get the desired effect that I am after.

I then moved onto the wings, the original instructions say to cover all the wing surfaces, but I decided to leave the underside centre section uncovered so that I can cover it once the wing is attached to the fuselage.

When heat shrinking the Litespan on the upper surfaces of the outer wing panels I used the washout jigs used when building them to make sure that the built in washout remained as desired. I then shrank the under surfaces and used the jigs to check that the washout was the same on both wings. I am glad and relieved to say that they did!

The fuselage cockpit was painted and a floor added to which a 1:24th scale Dave Banks pilot will be stuck. I also added a paper copy of the instrument panel. The fuselage was then covered apart from underside areas which will be covered by white Litespan after the wing has been attached.

I then stuck the wing to the fuselage, making sure that it was square and centred to the fuselage. This was made easier by leaving the underside of the centre section uncovered as I could see when the central rib lined up with the fuselage keel before sticking in place. I then added the fillet pieces ‘WF’ to the rear of the wing and along the side of the fuselage as shown.

I then added the wing root fairings that I made earlier, I am really pleased with how these turned out and they fitted really well. I then covered them and added a small piece of covering to the front of the wing root.
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« Reply #19 on: July 04, 2018, 08:56:00 PM »

Very neat work Chris. I'm enjoying your clear detailed approach. I like your idea of leaving the wing centre u/s covering off for alignment.

John
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« Reply #20 on: July 05, 2018, 02:47:07 AM »


Very neat work Chris. I'm enjoying your clear detailed approach.


I second that!  Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: July 10, 2018, 05:12:27 AM »

The tail plane and elevator was assembled using the 4mm wide mylar hinges. After make sure that they fitted and lined up okay, I stuck the hinges into the tail plane using a drop of CA. I then carefully slid the elevator onto the hinges and after making sure (again) that it all lined up and that the elevator was free to move without catching on the tail plane I used a drop of CA on each hinge to secure the elevator. After each hinge had a drop of glue applied I moved the elevator for a few minutes to ensure that the glue did not stick the two parts together! I repeated the same process for the fin and rudder assembly.

The fuselage and wing assembly was placed on the building board and using scrap balsa and set squares it was jigged so that it was perpendicular and level to the board. I then placed the tail plane/elevator assembly on the rear of the fuselage and again jigged so that it was all square and in line with the wings. When I was happy I stuck the tail plane to the fuselage and left it to dry.

I then stuck the fin/rudder assembly in place making sure that it was aligned to the centre line of the fuselage and at 900 to the tail plane.

Once dry I added the fillet pieces made from laminating parts F15 and F16 together and shaping them to the profile at the rear before sticking in place and then covering them.

I should have mentioned before that I added some extra 16th sq balsa strip to the underside of the wings and centre sections where the oil cooler and radiator will be stuck. As I have opted to build the plane without undercarriage I thought that it would be asking a lot for the oil cooler and radiator to stay in place if there were just stuck to the covering.

The other change I made was to make the centre section fuselage to wing fairing out of some scrap balsa using the outline shown on the plan as a guide, rather than use the paper pattern ‘V’ as suggested in the instructions.

I then covered the underside centre section. The oil cooler and radiator and air inlet pieces were made up, shaped and then covered before being stuck into their correct positions.

Painting next!
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« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2018, 08:52:56 AM »

Sorry the delay with the build, but I have been away. My trip included attending the Flying Legends air show at Duxford which was fantastic. If you have never been it is worth the money and time to see an amazing line up of aircraft being put through their paces.

Back to the build!

I spent some time carefully masking off the upper flying surfaces and then gave the underside a light coat of Humbrol acrylic Beige Green 90 (rattle can), and once fully dry I masked the undersides so that I could give the top surfaces a coat of Dark Green 163.

Once again this was allowed to fully dry for a couple of days. I then used ‘Blue Tac’ to create the masks for the camouflage dark brown 29 to be applied to the upper surfaces. I do this by rolling the ‘Blue Tac’ into long sausages which I then lay onto the surface in the positions required and then gently pressed into place. I then used thick paper towel to infill the areas not to be sprayed by sticking it to the ‘Blue Tac’ sausages making sure that there are no gaps. I should mention that I had left the underside masking used when spraying the dark green in place. I then sprayed the Dark Brown 29 to create the camouflage effect.

The masking was carefully removed, and I was happy with the result. I have over the years used the ‘Blue Tac’ method to create the same effect on models large and small and have found that ‘own brand’ or pound shop blue or white 'tac' type products work just as well as the original ‘Blue Tac’ and are can be a lot cheaper – important if doing a large model as you can use quite a lot, and it is binned once used!

I then made up the spinner base, this is made from the supplied 1/32nd plywood disc ‘RCSP1’from the conversion kit, laminated with the 1/16th balsa part ‘SP1’. I then trial fitted the spinner base onto the prop adaptor with the propeller. I marked the position of the propeller blades so that I could remove some of the balsa to allow the blades to clear the base and allow the propeller to sit squarely on the base.

I then carefully cut out the supplied spinner and then marked the position on the propeller blades and gradually cut the slots to clear the blades until the spinner fitted over the spinner base. I painted the spinner with the Beige Green colour used on the under surfaces. I mounted the propeller onto the shaft and tightened it securely before sticking the spinner to the base using Super 'Phatic glue, which will (from past experience) allow me to remove it should the need arise, but also hold it firmly in place in flight.
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OZPAF
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« Reply #23 on: July 26, 2018, 07:48:33 PM »

Blue Tac paint masking - that's very innovative! Just the shot for free hand camo schemes I would imagine.

I also like your use of Superpatic to hold the spinner on.

It's close to the maiden now.

good luck.

John

PS I was just looking back to check on your motor installation and noted the use of a servo plug for the motor/esc connection. That's neat and obviously capable of taking the current.
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chrislgl
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« Reply #24 on: August 01, 2018, 04:41:56 AM »

Hi John,
Thank you for your comments. I have found that the servo plug can be used with motors/esc up to 6 amps without problem.

Back to the build.

Next I added the plywood control horns to the rudder and elevators. I used epoxy glue to stick them firmly in place. Once they were fully set I connected the battery with the TX switched on to ensure the servos were centred, I then inserted the short ‘Z’ wires into the control horns and using heat shrink tubing attached them to the carbon push rods. Making sure that the control surfaces were straight/level I wicked a drop of thin cyno into each tube to secure the wire to the carbon rod.

I made up shaped and painted the exhaust stacks. These were then attached to the battery hatch. These in conjunction with the magnets will hold the hatch in place.
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