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  1. #1

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    Rebuild of a BalsaNOVA

    I hate to waste anything useable, especially a wrecked model airplane with a good reputation. The BalsaNOVA is one of those airplanes. When I was offered a wrecked one, I eagerly accepted. Luckily, the owner had retrieved all of the pieces from the debris field so there was something to go by during the rebuild as there are no plans for this ARF. Though it was just a botched landing that wrecked the airplane, the damage was pretty severe. The fuse was in pieces up past the canopy and even the aft section was badly cracked and splintered beneath the covering. The wing center section and both wing tips were badly damaged. The only part left unscathed was the rudder and stabilizer. What a mess but I have rebuilt worst cases so I started in.
    My incentive was that I had read that the BalsNOVA is a great flying airplane and a great engine match was the Super Tigre 2300 of which I had one.
    The first order of business was to clean up and lay out the parts. I began with the fuselage. Rough drawings were made depicting measurements and angles that would be transfered to new wood. Soon I had nose section parts that could be assembled and married to the aft section of the fuselage. To get accurate alignment of the firewall with respect to the flying surfaces, a digital angle metered was used. With bracing, clamps, and glue, the fuse was readily put back together. Detail of fuel tank, engine mounting and radio installation completed the effort prior to recovering.
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  2. #2

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    RE: Rebuild of a BalsaNOVA

    The next step in the process was to rebuild the wing. It sustained major damage during the crash on both wingtips and the center section. It was all repairable. Again measurements were taken accurately to reconstruct the tips. New spars, leading and trailing edges were scarfed in according to the original measurements. Again new wood, time and patience did the trick. The center section was a little more challenging. A change was made for wing mounting from two dowels keying into the fuse and two bolts holding the wing on to stronger method of four bolts holding the wing in place - two in front and two in back. This alone gives the wing section of the fuselage greater strength.
    With reconstruction finished the airframe was recovered as necessary and final installation of radio, engine and other equipment was done. The balance point was set at the forward recommended position.
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  3. #3

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    RE: Rebuild of a BalsaNOVA

    The goal in any rebuild is to have a flyable airplane that is as good or better than the original. A couple of changes were made that have made it a better airplane from my point of view.
    The original forward nose section was of a very weak design and was easily damaged with any stress. I replaced the forward nose section with a 1/8" light ply "box" with a 1/4" firewall. On that was laminated 3/32" balsa to fair into the original sides. Attention was given to the landing gear mount area. Again the original design was destined to failure at the first sign of stress. With the addition of plywood and gussets to spread the stress load, a much stonger landing gear mount was created with negligible wait gain. Mentioned earlier was the change to a four bolt wing mount which aids in strengthening the fuselage wing section on the weak area of this fuselage.
    With the rebuild completed, it was time to fire up the new out of the box Super Tigre 2300. A couple of tanks of fuel were run through the engine and needle valves were set. At the flying field, last minute checks were performed. It was time to fly. With the engine a little rich, it went straight down the runway. Once in the air, it was noticeably nose heavy but manageable with trim. A turn to the left was also corrected with trim. First flight time was about five minutes and landing was set up. Landing the BalsaNOVA was so easy with a nice flair and kiss onto the runway.
    I decided to take it home and make balance and trim corrections. When I got back to my shop, I turned on the transmitter to accomplish adjustments to the aileron trim. About 10 seconds later while moving the aileron stick. it flopped over to one side. The centering mechanism had broken inside the transmitter! Had the test flight been any longer, the BalsNOVA may have been a wreck again. Sometimes luck works with me. The transmitter was sent in for repair, the changes were made to the airplane and two more flights have taken place. Even after adding weight to the tail, it remains a bit nose heavy. Also, I found a slightly warped right side stabilizer perhaps accounting for the needed roll trim correction. Even so, I find the BalsaNOVA to be GREAT flying airplane. Knife edge pulls to the canopy a bit contributed to the nose heavy condition, but that will be corrected. It lands beautifully. Did three T&G's and each one was with a controlled flair and bounce free.
    Further trimming will take place to make this a most pleasureable airplane to fly.
    What a shame it would have been to put this airplane in the trash barrel after the crash.
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  4. #4
    KitBuilder's Avatar
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    RE: Rebuild of a BalsaNOVA

    Nice repairs
    Mike -
    I was born a pilot... 100 years to late.

  5. #5
    KitBuilder's Avatar
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    RE: Rebuild of a BalsaNOVA

    Nice repairs
    Mike -
    I was born a pilot... 100 years to late.

  6. #6

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    RE: Rebuild of a BalsaNOVA

    Thanks, Kitsbuilder. I appreciate the compliment.

  7. #7

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    RE: Rebuild of a BalsaNOVA

    Today I put the 4th and 5th flight on the BalsaNOVA. Couldn't hold my excitement over how this airplane flies, so I am here to say there are great rewards in bringing this crashed airplane back from the trash barrel. I can't think of another airplane I have had in 50+ years of R/C flying that has been such a joy to fly. All the effort in rebuilding has been worth every hour.
    So far, flying has been general sport type manuevers to get things trimmed out. With the ST 2300 and 18-6 wood prop, it has unlimited vertical although not rocket like. It is smoooooth and it is noticed by those at the field. My biggest surprise in flying the BalsaNOVA is how it lands. I keep a little power on final and just over the the threshhold I throttle back to idle and begin to flair. It holds a nice three point attitude and gently kisses the runway and rolls out. EVERY landing so far has been like that.
    I guess you can tell I am happy with the former wreck. I hope all of you have had similar experiences in rebuilding a crashed airplane.

  8. #8

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    RE: Rebuild of a BalsaNOVA

    Good job bringing her back to life. Like you said, it would have been a shame for it to end up in the trash bin.

  9. #9
    PointMagu's Avatar
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    I have a dinged-wing,(at the tip), cowling, landing gear and an MVVS 40 with pipe left from 1st ARF BalsaNova. I have 2 sets of plans and a brand new KIT still waiting to be built. The ARF differs slightly from the kit in the cowling/landing gear area.
    I wanted to big version but missed out when Morris went south. I did managed to acquire another MVVS 40, minus pipe. The Czech engines run circles around nitro jobs in the same displacement class. -0- NITRO, Woo-HOO!
    Ah yes, snakes in the cockpit....


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