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first time kit builder.... have a few ?'s

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first time kit builder.... have a few ?'s

Old 04-27-2008, 10:29 AM
  #1  
firestone1121
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Default first time kit builder.... have a few ?'s

hey everyone i am about to begin my FIRST kit and am a little confused on how the sheeting process is done. Forgive me for sounding completely illiterate to kit building and i figured id get the help here as i am a little embarassed to ask at our club. When its time to sheet the wings and fuse, how does the balsa become so curvy? do most kits come with sheeting pre bent? or is that for the modeler to do. for example i will be buying the top flite p47 gold edition kit and was looking at the manual pictures. i will be doing the razorback version and in the rear where the tail, vert stab, and fuse all meet it looks VERY tight, crisp, and well- hard to do! what im saying i guess is how do you sheet balsa? how is it "bent" into shape and how is sheeting accurately glued or secured in place? im thinking the sheeting process is going to be the hardest part of the build. Sorry for the stupid questions im not what you would call a woodworker- i can build one hell of a race engine tho! im more of a motor head than craftsman, but with a little help im sure i can tackle this. building ARF's is fun to a point......once you build *ahem* ASSEMBLE 4 or 5 arfs its not as rewarding. im ready for the next step but need all of your expert advice. Everybody here really knows their stuff and i love this place for that reason...... thanks in advance!

Cory
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Old 04-27-2008, 11:47 AM
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Default RE: first time kit builder.... have a few ?'s

While i'm no expert I do have a few kits under my belt. First I think most would agree that a top-flite P-47 is probably more complex than you want for your first build. Buy a four star kit or something similar and build that first. As far as sheeting goes, the sheeting is bent around curved surfaces after you wet it down, then held in place while it dries(ace wraps work great) then when the balsa dries it will hold its new shape. Takes some practice as far as how much water,how far it will bend wihout cracking etc. Hope this helps some. Steve
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Old 04-27-2008, 12:14 PM
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Default RE: first time kit builder.... have a few ?'s

I'm a brand new kit builder too, so there will be much more helpful posts by the great ppl in here who have helped me so much. But as far as my experience so far as a beginner kit builder, the sheeting process was indeed the hardest part. I wet down the thin balsa sheets to bend. It seemed to bend really easily. The leading edge sheeting was by far the most frustrating, as you can see documented with pics in my thread "Brand New Kit builder-The Wonder Build". I used yellow glue throughout the build because it's so much stronger than CA, but it is also a lot slower so I used dollar store clamps to hold the sheeting in place.

One helpful method I've found, is using both CA and yellow glue on the same piece. For instance, use CA at intermittant places, and yellow glue between, so it glues down fast, but also has the yellow glue bonding it solid.

THe BIGGEST tip I can say, as a beginner, is to make sure the ribs fit perfectly and evenly onto the wing spar, by sanding the notches in the ribs that fit unevenly and don't fit right down onto the spar perfectly, ,so that the sheeting goes down flatter and easier. I didn't do this important step, and I struggled all the way through sheeting, using T-pins and clamps to hold it down. In the end I still had a big gap on the top side leading edge, which I filled with wood glue and sanded down. That worked nicely.
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Old 04-27-2008, 12:24 PM
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Default RE: first time kit builder.... have a few ?'s

thanks steve i appreciate it. i was kinda thinkin the p47 would be tough too, i was considering the GP ultra sport too, its cheaper and looks easier to build. i dont want to "jump" into the p47 but figured id start a tougher build as it will truly help in the long run- kinda the all-or-nothing-approach lol. its just instinct for me to build the toughest thing. my first arf was a H9 Showtime followed by the Sundowner even tho it was said(and they were right ) that they were NOT for beginners- however i did manage! lol i really think i can do the p47- my hearts really not into building a trainer tho- dont think ill be as enthused with the ultra sport either. i know i NEED to build something less complex but REALLLLLY am psyched about the p47- think it will be a good learning experience.
Cory
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Old 04-27-2008, 12:33 PM
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Default RE: first time kit builder.... have a few ?'s

thanks GrrlsFly!, its nice to hear from a first time builder as well, heres another dumb question- is there a glossary or index online somewhere of the different names of the construction process. for example- ribs, spars?, i know LE and TE's , formers? stringers? is there anything about the different parts on airplanes? i can name ANY part under a hood but when it comes to airplanes, terminology sucks with me! please dont think im a retard and think im not ready, i just need some nudging here- thanks everyone

Cory
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Old 04-27-2008, 12:40 PM
  #6  
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Default RE: first time kit builder.... have a few ?'s

also, on most kit building they direct you to pin pieces to the plans. how do you pin pieces down such as the elevator ribs? to the plans if they stand upright? do you pin directly thru the balsa? seems silly i know but given balsas brittle anyway is that what you do? (as everyone reads this you put your face in your hands and shake your head lol) am i asking these questions in the right place or does this topic belong in the beginners section? sorry for wasting your time!

Cory
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Old 04-27-2008, 12:44 PM
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Default RE: first time kit builder.... have a few ?'s

Any good set of instructions will show you a picture of the parts as it instructs you to make us them in the build process. Also, the plans themselves should be clearly labeled and by virtue of multiple views, you should be able to determine the names of the various parts, as well as their proper placement.

For what it's worth, I think the Ultra Sport would be a better choice for your first build.
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Old 04-27-2008, 01:02 PM
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Default RE: first time kit builder.... have a few ?'s

lol nice sig! she got it right tho! thats why shes the EX! Thanks for the advice man!

Cory
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Old 04-27-2008, 01:03 PM
  #9  
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Default RE: first time kit builder.... have a few ?'s

Firestone:
Try http://www.airfieldmodels.com/ Paul will take you thru more than you ever knew existed. The How To section will walk you right thru each step and the skills you need to develop. He even has a section of tools, materials, adhesives, covering, everything.
Much of it is done following his build of a "Rustic" his own design. When you finish reading it, you will either be inspired to do great things, or you will quit sport knowing you could never come close to this guy.
I found it to be wonderfully written and actually entertaining. Once started, I could'nt ever get back to the PC and read more soon enough.
Good luck and welcome to building.
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Old 04-27-2008, 01:07 PM
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Default RE: first time kit builder.... have a few ?'s

Cory:
The wetting of the sheeting will help the wood to bend. A cap full of amonia added to the water will allow it to bend more easily [)] .
I have built and flown the Top Flite P 47, also in the razor back version. I have built many, many kits and scratch built scores more. I have alot of experience so I don't recall if it is a beginner's build or not. As I recall, Top Flight kits go together reasonably well so a first time builder should be able to manage.
More importantly, it is one of the better flying scale planes available. While it is well behaved, it is NOT a trainer, nor does it fly like one.
It will go where you point it and stay there until you point it elsewhere. It requires a higher level of skill to fly it.
By a higher level of skill I mean one should be capable of handling a low wing, tail draggin plane. If you add items like a pilot, (who flies without a pilot & cockpit?), scale engine, (looks really cool [8D] ) retracts and the ordinance package your Jug will be a heavier ship. Heavier ships can not be slowed as much and are less forgiving than lighter ones, all else being equal.
My point is that it's OK to build it and detail it to the level you want to but it would be a wise and PRUDENT move to build your skill level to the point where your first flight with the Jug will be a positive experience with no surprises. [X(]
How to prepare? Be able to fly a low wing plane, preferably a tail dragger, and do all required school maneuvers. This means take off, level flight, turns and landing,and your basic "school" maneuvers, loop, roll & spin. You should be able to do this in either a left and right hand pattern and in any wind condition you will encouner and still decide to fly.
In doing this your reactions should be automatic. If you have to think about what to do , you are in a catch up position. That usually proves to be fatal.[sm=angry.gif]
To get to this level you must put in "stick time", the more the better. [sm=thumbs_up.gif]
When you can do the above, add some weight to the plane you have been flying. Add it on the planes CG and make sure it does not move around, changing your planes balance point. [X(] Start slow, add 4 ounces at a time. take a few flights and become familiar with the new flight charactistics. When you are, add 4 more ounces, take several more flights . Add 4 more ounces etc. What you will experience is the "feel" of a scale ship. Scale ships generally are heavier because of the detail the builder puts in. Your plane will tend to require more attention in turns. This is a good point to mention use of rudder in making a turn. Full size planes use rudder for turning and ailerons for keeping the wings level during the turns. This method allows you to make flatter turns without losing altitude. It also looks prototipical to do this.
The above is a long answer. I learned it the hard way. (runways are VERY hard [:@] ) There is nothing more disheartning than having your pride and joy stall , snap and roll in to its demise.[sm=disappointed.gif]
Take it a step at a time and it is a very managable thing. While you are building your stick time up, you can build the Jug WITH the detail you want. More importantly, when the ship is ready to flight test, you will be also.
Here's wishing you a 5 mph wind straight down the long runway. Happy landings, Tony. )
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Old 04-27-2008, 01:38 PM
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Default RE: first time kit builder.... have a few ?'s

i heard of people using windex? to wet their wings in pure form. wasnt sure whats practiced and/or whats acceptable. Thank you kindly for all the generous and wise feedback. the airfield models site just opened up a whole new can of worms for me but in a good way- ill be on that for the next few hours. What are fairings and fillets? the site has a superb glossary but i cannot visualize what they are. As far as the p47 goes- the other reason im pretty sure i can achieve it is because i have heard great things about it with the selig airfoils and the stability of this aircraft than most warbirds. im currently assembling my 3rd tail dragger- while it is very different than trikes, im used to it by now, and from flying my Sundowner F1 it has a much higher wing loading and VERY hot approach and landing speed- ive been flying and assembling planes of all types- trainer, pattern, sport, racing- now im really stoked about my first warbird- and i want to kit it, once again thanks for your input- it really helps

Cory
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Old 04-27-2008, 02:31 PM
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Default RE: first time kit builder.... have a few ?'s

The "orginal" windex is amonia based. Water with a cap of amonia as suggested above works just as well and maybe better. No staining of the wood blue either.

Tips from mistakes I've made.

Protect your plans. A sheet of cheap painters tarp (thin plastic sheeting) works well. One tarp will keep you in business for a number of builds. After you are finished, keep your plans in case you need to fab some replacement parts.

Pins are not to be pushed through the edge of the sheeting into a rib or former. It usually splits both. Pins have a place in building, IE locating pars on the plan and holding parts to the build board. Just don't push them through the wood. When removing the pins, give them a half turn to break the glue before pulling. This will prevent damage to the wood. When sheeting, say the LE of a wing, make sure the pins below the sheeting are removed. Getting the wing off the building board is a real pain other wise.

Use the right adheasive. CA is wonderful in very small amounts. Use a capilary tube and don't squeeze the bottle. Just a dab will do ya. A little more caused greif. Don't use CA where sanding will be required as the stuff hardens like steel and is al but impossible to sand. The balsa around the CA will be sanded away leaving a ridge of CA. Use white glue or the yellow carpenters glue for this.

There are a couple theads from a few months back about which tools you need to build and also on different building boards to use. The right tools make it possible to do some task, not just eaiser. Which ever build board you use, it has to be flat and not flexable. What ever curve is in your board, will end up in your plane.

Take a look also for the covering video set before you start. There is also a thread or two on detailing which are great. Last, go to the AMA site and look for club web sites. Some have some great building tip and techniques. It takes some searching, but it will be well worth it.

Last, I'll second the 4* kit for a first build. I is an easy build that will introduce you to a number of different chalenges. The instructions are very good. Whether you use this kit or another, read the instructions through at least twice before starting the kit. Only do the steps spelled out in a step, no more. Even if it looks like you should logicly do something more at that time, don't. A kit like the 4* has been refined so you don't have to read between the lines.

Last, start a build thread when you start your kit, which ever one you decide on and post your progress and as questions. It will make getting the right answer to a question more likely if the responder can see where you've been and done so far.

Have fun building.

Don
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Old 04-27-2008, 10:50 PM
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Default RE: first time kit builder.... have a few ?'s

Hi Cory,

If you haven't frequented [link]http://www.rcscalebuilder.com/default.asp[/link], I would suggest it. I am in your very situation though I haven't purchased my plane yet. There is a wealth of information and ideas in the forums. Also, if you ask for help there you will get it! Another site I'd recommend as well [link]http://www.rcwarbirds.com/[/link], I hope these are of some help to you and good luck with your build.

Good luck and be well,
Steve
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Old 04-28-2008, 06:40 AM
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Default RE: first time kit builder.... have a few ?'s

TopFlite makes a great kit. They take time and patience to build. Quite honestly, I wouldn't pick one as a first kit. That being said, the experience will teach you an awful lot more then building say an Ultra Sport. The real advantage to starting with a simpler plane is that you'll learn the parts, figure out what tools you need and have something when you're done that flys reasonably well.

However, if you go with the P-47, you'll find the TopFlite instructions offer a LOT of tips to help you through, particularly on things like sheeting. They tell you how big to make the 'skins' (larger pieces of sheeting glued together then cut before application), give templates for the actual part prior to bending etc. And if you screw up a piece, head to the hobby shop of a few planks of balsa.

And one thing more. The real trick to this hobby is that you keep getting better. So if you finish your plane and it's not the greatest, don't worry. The next one will be better. And you might even build a second version of the same plane. Not only have I done that but I know some folks who compete in the Scale Masters and guess what they build the first one to iron out any problems, finish it without all the scale details, fly it to learn the habits of the plane and then build the 'real' one with all the bells and whistles.

Enjoy building, take pride in your work and improve with every plane. Good luck.
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Old 04-28-2008, 02:38 PM
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Default RE: first time kit builder.... have a few ?'s

IFYOU GET THIS THING INTO THE AIR IN ONE PIECE YOU ARE TO BE COMMENDED AND YOU WILL BE MUCH SMARTER FOR DOING IT, YOUR NEW KNOWLEDGE WILL HELP YOU REPAIR ARFS AS WELL SO KEEP IT UP. THERE IS NO WAY TO GET THIRTY YEARS OF EXPERIENCE ON A FIRST BUILD. GOOD LUCK.
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Old 04-28-2008, 04:51 PM
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Default RE: first time kit builder.... have a few ?'s

Cory,

I've done a lot off sheeting in my many years of kit/scratch building. Here's what works well for me.

Apply the water/ammonia mix to the outside of the sheet only. As the mixture soaks into the wood, the wood will bend naturally on it's own. This elliminates a lot of the stress put on the piece when you do the final bending. Don't rush. I usually let the sheet dry in the warped configuration, and then re-wet for the final installation. If you rush, you might crack the wood sheeting. I only use yellow carpenter's glue. It soaks into the wood and allows time for positioning. Most of the glue is water and when it evaporates, the weight is almost nothing.

Clamping is a problem with straight pins unless you use a "plate" applied on top of the sheeting. I use a thin, small piece of balsa or card stock like a business card. This plate will allow the pressure from the pin to be distributed over an area much larger that the pin shaft and ensure a good bond to the sub structure.

I cut paper templates for the critical ares such as the tail cone, wing tip, etc. Then transfer the pattern to the sheet and cut before you wet it.

Regarding Windex. I use it and it works well. The only problem (other than the blue color) is that it will evaporate too quickly in warm weather.

Good luck.

Paul
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Old 04-28-2008, 06:52 PM
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Default RE: first time kit builder.... have a few ?'s

WOW thanks guys(and gals)
I really appreciate the feedback i will most definitely take all the advice and build on that. What does everybody use for building? i have a resin table thats severely warped- it wont be sufficient, i was thinking of measuring the table and laying a section of formica or reinforced plywood or even get a custom cut thick plate of table glass down- not sure if either would contour to the warpage though. i really dont want to buy a new table, rather id like to modify what i have now and save some $$$$. any thoughts? once again THANK YOU for your help!
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Old 04-28-2008, 08:03 PM
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Default RE: first time kit builder.... have a few ?'s

You might try some elmers ultimate glue, it is slower and expands making strong tough bond..It doesn't look pretty and I try not to get it on outsdie surfaces..I really like the stuff for things like sheeting, practice with some to see how it expands. I think you might like it.
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Old 04-29-2008, 11:33 AM
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Default RE: first time kit builder.... have a few ?'s

Cory: A quick and inxpensive (relatively) building table can be fabricated from a hollow core door supported by a frame of 2x3's.
On top of this you might put some large ceiling tiles. If you go to an outlet store you can pick up "seconds". This is a door with a blemish or scratch that detracts from the finished quality. These imperfections will not impact it's use as a building table. I bought one with a deep scratch for $5. I positioned the scratch on the underside.
Happy landings, Tony.
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Old 04-29-2008, 11:59 AM
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Default RE: first time kit builder.... have a few ?'s

I think the kit building forum is the right place for this thread. You are getting ready to build a kit.

I bought about a dozen of these to hold parts upright over the plans:
http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...?&I=LXM406&P=0
The slots are cut to fit 1/16, 3/32, and 1/8 parts which covers the most common wing ribs. I'm sure there are some really big kits with thicker ribs but they are totally out of my league.
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