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  1. #1
    handglider's Avatar
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    Black Magic VF3 Build Thread

    Hello Everybody,

    I've got a few questions for you all - Do you like to build your own airplanes? Do you want to fly one of the most "state-of-the-art" 2m FAI pattern ships? Do you take pride in your own craftsmanship? Are you concerned about customer service and quick replacement parts? Do you feel your building skills might not be up to snuff and your looking for a confidence building project? Are you tired of paying just way to much? Maybe you just want to build the best new Pattern Ship for 2007?

    Look no further, the Black Magic VF3 is ready and it's for YOU!

    By now it's almost old news, Mike Hester's Black Magic VF3 is here and it's for real. He created this new design with a total focus on the new FAI schedules and put it all together in a complete laser and cnc cut kit. Yes it shares the same basic look and outlines of the V2, but totally refined and improved in both flying and building qualities. This new design has improved stability in gusty wind conditions, excellent rolling abilities and a powerful rudder. A high profile fuselage with a whole lot of side area makes this plane stand apart from the typical design. All that with very very low, almost zero mixes.

    Arch Stafford started testing the prototype VF3x a couple months before Nats and only took delivery on his personal plane the weekend before Nats. With less than 30 flights on his primary ship he took a solid 2nd in Masters at the 2007 Nats winning 5 out of 6 prelim rounds and was just edged out during the finals. Mike and Arch also feel that this plane may be the ideal weapon for all classes from sportsman's on up to FAI, it's just that good. I've never seen TRUE 6 sided knife edge loops ever done before, this plane makes it look too easy.

    Mike is currently shipping kits, from a low-cost basic package to a full blown, sheeted, carbon, all options kit. All with very reasonable pricing, check his website for more info at http://www.customairframes.com/.

    One other thing, yes even a "Caveman could build a Black Magic" (sorry I just had to steal that)

    Also for more background check these other links on RCU.

    Coming this summer: Black Magic VF3 - http://www.rcuniverse.com/forum/m_5663815/tm.htm

    Black Magic VF3 E build thread! - http://www.rcuniverse.com/forum/m_6156814/tm.htm

    Black Magic v2 builder's thread! *Updated* - http://www.rcuniverse.com/forum/m_3640864/tm.htm

    Why am I doing this thread?

    I guess most of the RCU Pattern regulars know me by now. I am a good friend of Mikes, live about 20 mins. from his shop and I like to BUILD my own planes. In the past year I have built or building four V2s, two vf3s, and painted a number of Black Magics. I spent most of the last year improving my shop and equipment, that included purchasing a professional vinyl cutter, spray guns, air brushes, etc etc... I've also built a number of fixture jigs and I think I was one of the first guys to use lasers in the building process. I have tried to push my own abilities and knowledge in the shop. Many of you have seen some of the results of my work at this years Nats.

    I really enjoy working in the shop, so much so that it actually interferes with my practice time. Talking about finding a balance, sometimes it's tough, but I think building is my personal therapy, or maybe I am just crazy like that. You guys that know me might understand, I can get a lot of enjoyment from just sanding a piece of balsa wood.

    So let's build a Black Magic VF3. We are going to start with the fuselage.

    So grab a VF3 kit, clear off the bench and let's get started.

    I hope you all enjoy the process,

    Dean Funk
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  2. #2
    handglider's Avatar
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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread

    Okay let's get started on the fuse.

    Layout the formers, firewall parts and fuse sides. Take a quick inventory on the parts needed to complete the basic crutch.

    In the new kits Mike is including the stringers. But here I am striping 8 1/4" sq. stringers from a plank of 1/4 contest wood. I use a basic balsa stripper, the technique here is to select a piece of wood that has straight grain. if there is a big curve in the grain or if the wood is warped you will not get the required result, a straight stinger. Make long smooth cuts, use a sharp blade and cut all the way through on one pass.

    These stingers I've cut here are about 4 grams each.

    Yes it's very important to weigh every peice of wood and every drop of glue. Make a check sheet and record your weights.
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  3. #3
    handglider's Avatar
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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread

    When using the balsa stripper adjust it to make perfect 1/4 square stingers. Use one of the formers to test the stingers in the notch. Tab the former into the fuse side and check the fit. Small adjustments to the stripper can make a huge difference in fit. If anything you want the stinger to be just a bit too big than small.

  4. #4
    handglider's Avatar
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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread

    Next using the 45° miter box and razor saw, cut 45's on one end of each stinger, using a 72" straight edge as a guide, butt glue 2 stingers together to form a 72" stinger.

    When selecting the stingers to glue together, select good pairs and glue the straighter ends together.

    once you have 4 sets of stringers set that aside and let's put the firewall together.
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  5. #5
    handglider's Avatar
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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread

    Okay, let's layup the firewall.

    I like to add some .030 carbon plate to the firewall, it looks super cool, adds little weight and just makes the final product look more professional. I get my carbon plate from CST - http://www.cstsales.com/carbon_plate.html

    What I do is prep the firewall ply and balsa pieces with some 150 grit sandpaper. Cut a piece of the carbon plate about an inch bigger than the firewall. Rough up one side of the carbon plate with 150 grit and cover the other side with masking tape or a product like Sticky Mikeys frisket material. You can get it here and it's handy stuff - http://www.dixieart.com/Accessories.html

    At this point you need to identify what is the front of the firewall, the plywood donut is shifted to the left while viewing the firewall from the rear. The balsa firewall doubler goes behind the firewall, with the carbon plate in front.

    Once everything is prepped, I mix up a small batch of West Systems epoxy with either the 206 or 205 hardener - http://www.cstsales.com/west_system_epoxy.html . I coat the front of the ply firewall and place it on top of the prepped side of the carbon plate, I then coat the backside of the ply firewall and place the balsa doubler in place - I then run a bead of epoxy around the edge of the ply donut and slide that into place. Wipe any excess epoxy away.

    I lay a piece of wax paper onto of the stack and put 150-200 lbs of weight ontop while it cures overnight.
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  6. #6
    handglider's Avatar
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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread

    Here is the finished firewall. I left the carbon plate covering the stringer slots, this makes for a cleaner look. Shaping the carbon is easy with 150 grit paper on a block. At 65 grams this works just fine.... next step is to mark and drill holes for the blind nuts. I lost .2 gram after trimming the carbon from the firewall, using 200 lbs in the press helps put the squeeze on.
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  7. #7
    handglider's Avatar
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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread

    Now let's glue the fuse fore/aft sections together. The aft fuse sections are identical and the fore sections have the right thurst built into their respective lengths. what I do is fit one side together and strap a piece of 2" wide masking tape pulling the two pieces together tightly. Flip the fuse side over and tape it to the edge of a 72" straight edge. position the tape so that it pulls the sections towards the center.

    I have starting using Mercury Adhesives CA for this build and I do recommend these products. These CAs are different and better than any other CA products that I have used in the past. This stuff rocks.

    I just hit the seam with thin ca and yer done, then block sand the sides flat across the seem with a large block just enough to make a flat surface for the doubler.

    these pictures say it all.
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  8. #8

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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread

    Phenominal thread!!!!!

    I will be hanging on your every word.

  9. #9

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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread

    Nice fuse jig....
    Does it come bundled with the kit ?[8D]
    \"Give me balsa and a cutter, and I will cut a little too much\"

  10. #10
    handglider's Avatar
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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread

    Anthony and Martinoto,

    Thanks!

    I will outline the construction of my fixture jig shortly, and sorry it doesn't come with the kit. If you would like to build one of these the cost is less than 20 bucks for the materials and I could cut the stations and tail blocks for you at a reasonable price.

    I would also recomend Pete Cosky's jig at http://petesrc.home.comcast.net/ Mike uses Pete's jig and will be outlining that on the electric thread.

    stay tuned we are about to get the fuse in the jig

  11. #11
    MHester's Avatar
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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread

    I'll also demonstrate how to build this plane on a flat table with a straight line drawn on it. That's what the plane was designed for.

    But I'll be the first to admit, I love my jig!

    -Mike
    Thanks to my sponsors over the years!

  12. #12
    handglider's Avatar
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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread

    Okay...

    Let's mark up and drill the firewall for the Hyde mount - Mike designed this plane around the Hyde AR-80 mount and strongly suggests "no substitutes". But any mount can be installed as long as you can fit it within the 6 3/8" between the firewall to spinner back plate. I learned this the hard way when on my first VF3 build I tried to install the high dollar Hyde ARIA-S mount which is about 6 5/8", yea that won't work...

    The first photo is of the firewall from the plans indicating the proper position for the mount's center line. I created a template from the actual mount, taped it to the firewall and drill for 6/32 blind nuts. Just double check everything before drilling. There is critical alignment between the engine mounting position, cowl, and chin, there is a lot going on here so just take your time. When we mount the cowling you will see how that all fits together.

    Don't worry if you mess up the position it's easy enough to plug the bad holes with dowels and epoxy and re drill, so don't stress to much.

    Once done tap in 6/32 blind mounting nuts - I like using the T-nuts you can get from Lowes or Home Depot - they have a larger mounting flange than the usual hobby shop variety.
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  13. #13
    handglider's Avatar
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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread

    Now lets glue on the stringers to the fuse sides you just made.

    First you want to identify the left and right fuse sides, note that the right fuse side is shorter in length due to the right thrust. Mark each fuse side on the inside with a "R or L" just so you don't glue the stringers on the outside, you want to glue the stringers in place on the "INSIDE" of the fuse sides. Position the stringers so the spliced section is between f6 and f7. What I also do is tab in the formers into the fuse sides to act as a positioning guide for the stringers. The upper stringer extends all the way from the tail post to the firewall, the lower stringer gets cut at f2 and angles up to the firewall, again use the firewall as a positing guide for that lower section of stringer.


    I tack glue the stringers in place around the formers, than remover the formers and wick thin ca to complete the gluing step.
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  14. #14
    handglider's Avatar
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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread

    Let's install the fuse doublers.

    Test fit the 3 forward doublers and prep sand and fit into the fuse sides. Test fit the rear doublers for the Stab tube and forward stab adjuster. On the stab adjuster doubler mark and drill a 1/8" hole for the adjuster wire. I use the stab root plywood plate to position the stab adjuster doubler. Note here that the hole through the stab root plate is offset and the hole is above center. Cut and fit the 1/8 balsa vertical grain doublers that extend form f2 to the firewall, leave a 1/8 gap at the bottom for the flooring and fit it to the rear of the firewall.

    Once everything is fitted I mix a small batch of West Systems epoxy and spread a thin layer with an epoxy brush, I usually cut the bristles of the epoxy brush down to about 1/4", you will be able to spread a neater thinner coat of epoxy that way. I actually position the stab adj. doubler with the wire and tube in position as I lay it in position with epoxy. Work you way up the fuse epoxying the forward doublers in position, use the formers again here as positioning guides to get a tight fit. Do both sides and lay both sides up together with weight. I cut small planks of MDF or partical board and stack my weights across both sides. Again use all the weight you have on hand, also wipe away excess epoxy. Let this cure overnight.
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  15. #15
    handglider's Avatar
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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread

    Let's finish up the fuse sides...

    Okay once cured drill out the stab adjuster rod holes through the blasa fuse sides with an 1/8" bit - we are currently using the Gator style stab adjusters.

    Cut 6 1/4 x 1" strips of .007 carbon I get my carbon lams here - http://www.cstsales.com/carbon_Laminates_36.html CA these across the 6 splices in the 1/4" balsa stringers. Use Mercury's High Performance CA M100XF - this stuff is designed to be used with composites. Fit and trim the 1/8" blasa fuse side splice doublers and glue in place - I use med or thick ca and again Mercury products really work well.

    Once you have the carbon strips and balsa doublers glue in place you can trial fit the entire fuse - you can see at this point a jig is not really necessary. There is a slight inward bow between f2 and the firewall but the rest of the fuse is a straight taper.

    The final step is to true the edges of the fuse sides. Which is done by edge sanding with a large block sander. What you want to do here is to sand the stingers flat to the fuse edges. Do this by just sanding the stingers down until you start sanding off the laser burn off the balsa fuse side, when done you should have trued sides.

    At this point your ready for the jig.
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  16. #16
    handglider's Avatar
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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread

    WOW -

    I started this thread about 24 hours ago and we have 500 hits. I hope you guys are enjoying this effort and are thinking about your builds.

    I logged less than 3 hours to get to this point in the build, with one overnight cure. You all can see that the VF3 builds fairly quickly and easy. The fuse sides and firewall are a few of the most critical parts of the build, once we get the fuse glued together in the jig the rest moves really quick. If your ready to jump ahead at this point you can follow Mike's work on the electric VF3 thread where he sheets the turtle deck and belly. I will outline how I do the sheeting next and setting up a fixture jig.

    But from this point on you get the most building satisfaction from your efforts, this plane builds fast and BIG.

    Thanks to everybody and please stay tuned, I'll post more tonight.


    cheers all!


  17. #17
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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread

    Dang Dean, I should hire you as my PR guy LOL

    Fantastic stuff so far. I'll chime in from time to time if there's alternative ways to do something.

    And yes, all of the kits are in the process of shipping as we speak. It's really time consuming and even harder when your van is in the shop for yet more transmission work....my apologies for all of the delays, but this one was quite ambitious for us and I have faith that the end result is definitely worth the extra trouble. Once we have this first wave shipped, we'll have plenty of stock built up.

    Now if I could just find time to build one for myself!

    -Mike
    Thanks to my sponsors over the years!

  18. #18
    handglider's Avatar
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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread

    Thanks Mike!

    The work that I have been doing over the last couple years, building and finishing Black Magics has been a true labor of love for me. I only do this because I am passionate about the experience and the result. I appreciate all of the positive feedback I have received for my efforts.

  19. #19
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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread

    Nice work Dean. Please don't show too many pics of your shop....it's discouraging to then have to go out into mine[:@]


    -mark
    NSRCA 3656
    www.NSRCA.us
    www.insightrc.com

  20. #20
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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread

    Thanks Mark!

    It was great meeting you at Nats this year. Nice work with your Pentathlon, and congrats on your's and Chuck's finish at Nats.

    aw shucks, my shop is a dump right now....
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  21. #21
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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread


    Okay guys next we are going to sheet the turtle deck and belly cores.

    Using nice and lite 12 gram 1/16x4x36 and 18 gram 1/16x4x48 contest wood, assemble the sheeting panels per Mike's plans. First true the edges by triming with a #11 blade. If your careful and hold the blade at a 90° to the sheeting your ready to go, if not you can make a 90° edge sander from home depot shelving material and stick on sandpaper and sand those edges true. It's not really necessary if your careful with the blade.

    Using blue painters masking tape, put together the panels per Mike's drawing. I tape across the seems with small bits of tape to pull it together, then run a long strip of tape along the entire seem. then using white Elemer's glue and a glue syringe run a tiny bead of glue inside the seem. What I do here is to open the seem up by running the seem along the edge of your workbench and folding one side of the panel down. Once you apply the glue, lay the panel flat, wipe away excess glue with a damp towel, lay a piece wax paper on top of the balsa panel and place a large flat surface on top of the stack, I use a piece of MDF board trimmed to size. I then generally place about 50 - 100 lbs on top of the stack just to keep it flat. Let this dray overnight.

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  22. #22
    handglider's Avatar
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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread


    Now prep the cores by lightly sanding any ridges flat and removing any melted foam bits. Just try your best to make the surface smooth without distorting the shape. No big deal here, just take your time with 150 grit paper. Towards the aft sections of the cores there might be slight ridges, there is a lot of taper to these cores and that is to be expected.

    Prep the sheeting by lightly block sanding the sheeting flat, you just want to level the wood across the seems, mostly on the outside, I usually run the side that I taped to the outside as it may be flatter across the seem and cleaner. I run the side I glued against the core. Next take a can of hair spray, I use the cheap 99 cent White Rain brand. Spray the side of the sheeting you are gluing, do a solid coat maybe even two coats. When dry your ready to spread the laminating glue.

    I use West Systems epoxy to laminate the sheeting to the cores, Mike talks about using elmer's ultimate polyurethane glue for the sheeting in his electric thread. I haven't used the polyurethane glue yet, it may have an advantage as you can spread it a bit thinner and it expands as it cures.

    What I did here was to mix a 18 gram batch for the turtle deck and a 22 gram batch for the lower belly sheeting. Using a business card spread out a thin layer across the sheeting. Leaving a slight thicker bead around the edges. If your sheeting is stiff, you can do the water/ammonia trick on the outside surface of the wood to make it more flexible. Slide the sheeting wood into the shuck and position the core with the inner chuck into the outer shuck. At this point you need to make sure you have full contact around all the edges and that the shucks are tight around the crowns. Using weights, poster board, large levels etc. just position things so there are no gaps.

    The large 48" belly can be a beast, I made a jig out of particle board that holds the shucks together tight, these photo's show my methods, experiment with what you have on hand. Using slow set epoxy helps give you the time to make adjustments if needed. I've got 150 lbs on that belly core, it came out nice and true. And the edges where sealed and attached well.

    What is cool about building these planes is there are many methods, lots of different ways to do the same thing.
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  23. #23
    handglider's Avatar
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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread

    Let's talk about assembling the fuse.

    You have a number of options, Mike designed the fuse to be built flat on the work bench with just a straight line down the middle. Use a 72" straight edge and a sharpie. Tape the straight edge down to the workbench and run a line the length of the edge.

    The picture of the fuse here show the fuse held together by tape. There is a slight inward bow between f2 and the firewall. All this can be accomplished with masking tape.

    To assemble the fuse you need to install all formers the front flooring between f2 and the firewall and the landing gear block at the same time. Use CA for the balsa formers and slow setting epoxy for the firewall, the front lower flooring, the landing gear block, f2 and the tail former f9.

    If using this simple method I would place weights on top of the fuse to hold everything in place while the epoxy cures. It would also be important to make sure your fuse sides are very flat. And since we are using only top quality contest wood that should be a problem.
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  24. #24
    handglider's Avatar
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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread

    Another method is to use an adjustable jig like Pete Cosky's. I own one of Pete's jigs, they are inexpensive and work well. I framed up a number of V2.2 using his jig. These photo's are actually off the two V2 fuses I built for Pete. If you want a great all purpose jig that will cover everything for a 40 sized trainer/sport plane up to a 40% ( the jig is built on a standard 96" door frame) this is a great option. You need to ask Pete for two extra stations when you order it. the black magic needs 10 stations in the jig.

    Pete is a great guy as well and a real asset to our sport. Pete's website - http://petesrc.home.comcast.net/
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  25. #25
    handglider's Avatar
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    RE: Black Magic VF3 Build Thread

    The method I am using for the VF3 is the fixture style jig. Which can be made for less the $20 in materials. It takes about the same amount of time to assemble the jig as it does to assemble Pete's jig. But you need a table saw and maybe a table router to make the stations.

    As with anything there are a number of pros and cons regarding the fixture style jig.

    First the cons:

    1. The jig is purpose built and will only work on one fuse design.

    2. You need a table saw to make the stations.

    3. it's a lot of work if your only building one or two fuses.


    The advantages:

    1. Once the jig is built there is no jig adjustment and alignment time - (which could be almost an hour of time to adjust all 20 station arms and to make sure your datum and right thrust is correct.)

    2. You are building right on top of a hard datum line.

    3. Your thrust angle is built into the jig.

    4. If your building more than one fuse, you are assured that you will have perfectly matched fuse crutches.

    5. You can easily align wing and stab tubes in the jig.

    6. Once your fuse has cured it easly slides straight out of the jig and your ready to build your #2 fuse in about a New York minute.



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