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  1. #1

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    Scratch building models for museums

    I am an exhibit designer and may have a project coming up that will require building aircraft models around 1/24 scale. One could be a interwar biplane trainer. This plane resembles a typical WWI structure with a boxy fuselage and (I believe) fabric covered surfaces.

    My question concerns durability. This project will be in a public space that strictly speaking is not a museum. The models will be suspended from the ceiling. While there is not a huge number of kids or other mischief makers passing through, there is no direct supervision and I am concerned about vandalism. So I am requesting input on materials.

    My profile indicates I'm a beginner, I do have model making experience. I just haven't done anything for RC. So I can converse reasonably intelligently in regards to methods and materials. I am concerned that a typical tissue or silkspan over balsa type construction will be too fragile. Could I substitute basswood for balsa for the internal framework and use another material for the fabric? Maybe styrene?


    Scale might be anywhere from 1/24 to 1/12. Your input would be appreciated.

  2. #2

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    I don't think Styrene is going to give you the appearance of fabric unless you were to vacuum form the skins to shape. If you were to do that you might as well forget wood all together and just build the entire thing from plastic. There are a number of fabric coverings available for RC which are MUCH more durable than tissue or silkspan such as Sig Koverall among others. Generally these heavier coverings would not be used on a small balsa model as they would have a tendency to warp the light structure. However, in your case where weight is of no concern and you can use hardwood for the framework these coverings would work fine for you. Much like the fabric used on full size aircraft they are durable enough that it would take more than a poke with a finger to puncture them. However, if somebody is intentionally trying to damage the model then I don't think any material is going to stop them. Sounds like a very interesting project, best of luck with it!

    Chad Veich
    www.cwveichmodels.com
    Scale Model Design & Construction

  3. #3

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    Plastic iron-on films would be the 'ticket' so to speak. Get clear, white or one of the 'flat' colored ones and paint after applying. I have used Coverite products in the past and liked them very much but am strictly a polyester fabric or silk kind of guy, now. Silk over tissue would be robust but you would have to make a significant purchase in nitrate (to seal weave if need be) and butyrate dopes plus thinners. Hard balsa, cedar and/or bass with sheet brass and music wire would make great construction materials. There are some paper models in 1/24 scale that might be promising. Since they are lightweight mass inertia isn't a problem as much as you'd think considering vandalism. I build some 'oddball' types so have to make just about everything myself. Good luck!

  4. #4

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    Thank you for the responses. It turns out that the plane I was planning, the Consolidated PT-1, is available in kit form in 1/12 scale. Could I use the heavier covering safely with that?

  5. #5

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    I have one of those R-N kits in my stash if that's the one you have! The wood is very nice for a flying model. If that is the kit you have then you might copy the plans, buy some hard balsa and bass wood then cut a 'new' kit and sell (or keep) your current one. It could be done but if you have the R-N kit, its balsa might be a little too soft to use those heavy plastic films. You might use Polyspan or similar with better results but even those can easily warp contest grade balsa as found in a good quality free flight type kit.

  6. #6

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    I just have the plan, not the kit. I was thinking of doing exactly what you wrote- build to plans using harder wood. Does the kit supply precut wood or just sheets of balsa from which to cut your own parts?

  7. #7

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    The kits come with music wire, sticks, blocks, printed wood sheets, tissue, rubber, hardwood wheels if needed, clear acetate if needed, prop and rubber . I fairly forgot what nice little kits they are! I have the PT-1, Leveque, AVRO, Curtiss and Beachey. The Beachey has a great 3-view with all kind of details! You could just about build a full scale version using these if so inclined!

  8. #8

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    I'm unclear on exactly what "printed balsa sheets" mean.

  9. #9

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    Apologies... the parts are printed onto sheet balsa. All that's required is to take an X-acto knife and cut 'em out!


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