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New scratch builder

Old 08-16-2006, 03:15 PM
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RVM
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Default New scratch builder

I've always wanted to scratch build a plane from plans, and now I think I finally will. I'm planning a winter build, and, as always, I'm starting my research very early. I am hoping to start on the plane by Thanksgiving, and finish, well, whenever. I'm in no hurry. [8D]

The first part of my research is simple - acquire information! To get such information, one must first ask questions, and my first question is this:

If you could only give one morsel of advice to a new scratch builder, what would it be?
Old 08-16-2006, 03:46 PM
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Jim_McIntyre
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Default RE: New scratch builder

"Ask questions"...

Enjoy! A very rewarding experience and it sounds like you have the right attitude. Take your time and enjoy the build. Start with something proven. Since you indicated you're starting with plans, that would be plans-building, not scratch building which typically starts with 3-views and a piece of paper (nit-picking here). Pick something that has been successfuly built and find someon who has built it who can give you some pointers. Not all plans a good, most good plans are not perfect....
Old 08-16-2006, 03:59 PM
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Default RE: New scratch builder

What plane are you thinking of?

Advice would be to build light. It is easy to build a heavy plane, so you must be constantly aware of weight. Don't ever say "this is only a bit heavier, maybe an ounce or two". Doing that will quickly get you a heavy plane that flies like c**p.


Mark
Old 08-16-2006, 04:00 PM
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meaden
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Default RE: New scratch builder

Measure once, cut twice...

No, measure three or four times then cut twice. Then cut it two more times till it fits.

I usually build a "kit" from the plans first. Cut parts, stock wood, hardware, engine, all the stuff I'll need. Then go at putting it together...seems to go a little faster.
Old 08-16-2006, 04:03 PM
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Gremlin Castle
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Default RE: New scratch builder

Pick an airplane of the type and size that you like to fly and start from there. The remaining model magazines and their web sites are a good place to look. The advantage of the magazine supplied plans is that most of them supply the construction article that was in the magazine when the plans were published.

Be carefull of any older plans that require such things as foam wing cores, special canopies or cowls and the like as it will be likely that the original supplier will be long gone.
Model Airplane News has a good system on their plans in that they rate them by level of difficulty with 1 being the easiest and so on.

There are many tools that are nice for scratch/plans building but in the end a couple of good knives, a coping saw, a decent straight edge, some sanding blocks, tee pins and a building surface will get the job done. The rest just makes building easier.

Good luck and congratulations on deciding to build for yourself, it's one of the greatest parts of the hobby.
ORIGINAL: RVM

I've always wanted to scratch build a plane from plans, and now I think I finally will. I'm planning a winter build, and, as always, I'm starting my research very early. I am hoping to start on the plane by Thanksgiving, and finish, well, whenever. I'm in no hurry. [8D]

The first part of my research is simple - acquire information! To get such information, one must first ask questions, and my first question is this:

If you could only give one morsel of advice to a new scratch builder, what would it be?
Old 08-16-2006, 04:29 PM
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Jim_McIntyre
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Default RE: New scratch builder

ORIGINAL: Gremlin Castle
There are many tools that are nice for scratch/plans building...
Bandsaw, scrollsaw, Dremel, #11 Xacto and sandpaper. [8D]
Old 08-16-2006, 04:49 PM
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Default RE: New scratch builder

smal disc sander is nice for final shaping of parts
Old 08-16-2006, 05:29 PM
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Jigley3
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Default RE: New scratch builder

What has been your kit building experience? Has it been in the area of laser cut, light ply, just add glue and shake till done? If so, you may find a good place to develop some scratch building skills would be with a kit that is described as a” Builder’s kit”.
The up side is it would likely a proven design with good building instructions etc and you will get a sense of the scratch building fundamentals.

You can learn a great deal about scratch building from the Sr. Kadet .
That plane not only can help teach a person to fly, but it also will teach fundamental building and design skills. If you are long past the trainer stage the Sr. is infinitely
bashable so you can experiment with your own creative juices. Bert!
Old 08-16-2006, 06:17 PM
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Default RE: New scratch builder

One morsel? LEarn all there is to know then start....

OK, seriously. Stick with something REALLY easy. Learn how to pick balsa for lighter weight unless harder parts are required for special purposes. Think ahead and do the next three steps in your mind and when it all fits like a slick Chess move then do the first task of the three things then think three steps ahead again.

BUt best of all?..... DO NOT BUILD TWO LEFT SIDES! Most of us have done it and it's truly annoying... unless we wanted to build a second model.... may as well do that now since I got's this extra side..... stupid idiot.......


.... or so I've heard....
Old 08-16-2006, 07:38 PM
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Jim_McIntyre
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Default RE: New scratch builder

ORIGINAL: BMatthews
DO NOT BUILD TWO LEFT SIDES!
LOL! ... or two left wings ... hmmnnn... maybe a biplane?
Old 08-16-2006, 11:16 PM
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Default RE: New scratch builder

Jim McIntyre:
I've been told I ask too many questions, but I don't believe that. The main reason I want to plan-build is because I'm something of a perfectionist. I become really irritated if my work is not perfect, or as close to perfect as is humanly possible. I am envious of the gorgeous models I've seen and I want to emulate those who crafted them.

mmattockx:
I am considering the Hostetler Extra 300XS 27%. If I get the plans and it looks like something I am not ready for, I am going to look around either the AMA directory or some of the websites with free plans for a smaller plane to practice with. I'm just not sure if I'll be able to tell just by looking if it will be something within my ability to build.

I am very weight-conscious of my building and equipment. I don't think in terms of "oh, this only adds an ounce," rather, I think in terms of "what can I do to save 5 grams with this part?" Now, whether my ability, experience or tools are sufficient to accomplish this is a different story; regardless, I do my best. In fact, one of the big reasons this Extra is so appealing is the fact that it's a good 2-3lbs lighter than other planes in its class, even with an electric setup, which is what I am strongly considering using instead of a 40cc or 50cc gasser.

meaden:
I learned the hard way to measure 2 or 3 times for every cut. I've learned that lesson many times, in fact! [sm=tired.gif]

Gremlin Castle:
I talked to Mr. Hostetler today and supplied with the kit is what he called a "...very detailed photo book..." which shows construction steps and some of the more complex bits of construction. While I have found very little information concerning his Extra 300XS, I have found a great many reviews and build threads of his other planes. I haven't seen a negative comment, yet.

I am not at all interested in working with foam. Regarding canopies and whatnot, Fiberglass Specialities has all these parts available.

Jigley3:
Between the ages of about 11-15 I built a bunch of wooden models, 3 or 4 of which were R/C planes. I built an Eagle II for my trainer (the wood was cut from plans by my instructor, and I put it together), then all but the very last bits of a Goldberg Super Chipmunk. Recently I've built a BTE Flyin' King, which I did make a few errors on, but not because I didn't know better, but rather because I was not paying attention. I have received quite a few compliments on my Flyin' King. I'm currently working on another Goldberg Super Chipmunk. It is coming together really well.

I have other building experience as well. I remember when I was in 7th grade I was in some silly gifted class called "Spirit" and we were participating in a competition called Odyssey of the Mind. The goal was to create a balsa structure using 1/8" sticks that could support as much weight as possible without exceeding 10 grams (I think it was 10 grams). I designed and built a structure (very simply really) that was 10% under the weight limit and supported something like 195lbs. I've always been good with my hands and with building things. I really enjoy it.

BMatthews:
I've never, ever, built two sides of anything unless it was intentional!



I am most concerned about perfect measuring. Sometimes I'll measure something 3 or 4 times, cut it, fit it, and it will be short. I've gotten in the habit of cutting parts a little bit larger and sanding them to fit, which, I am told, is not a bad habit to have.

What I'd really like to know is how to perfectly shape parts. On the Hostetler Extra 300XS, the fuse appears to be pretty simple - trusswork for most of it with some plywood doublers. The tail section and wing seem like they might be a bit more difficult.

I've been looking through this particular forum for ideas and methods used in scratch and plan building. I just want to know the best way to accomplish any given task.


Old 08-16-2006, 11:33 PM
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Default RE: New scratch builder

RVM,

You may find the Hostetler plans a bit much, as Wendell tends to do things for the more experienced builders. However, you do have decent kit building experience and the right attitude (it MUST be perfect and light). Mostly, its the willingness to dive in and get dirty that is needed, and you have that already. As mentioned in here, it helps to cut your own "kit" of parts on a scratch building project like this, then build it as you would any other kit. You are at least building a monoplane, which is inherently simpler than a bipe. For shaping pieces, especially sheet pieces like ribs and formers, a disc sander is an invaluable tool. It leaves perfectly true, square edges that greatly ease the problems of achieving good fit and finish. Also, I would say a scroll saw is extremely useful. Some will say a bandsaw instead, but I found my scroll saw got so much more use that I sold the band saw. Both is best, but the scroll saw is more versatile if you only have one.

The Extra is a great design and should make an excellent project if you take it step by step and think ahead. Enjoy!


Mark
Old 08-17-2006, 01:39 AM
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RVM
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Default RE: New scratch builder

Thanks for the great advice!

What about the Hostetler plans is particularly complicated or difficult? I don't mind recutting, but wood can get expensive with too many mistakes.

Diving in and getting dirty is how I've learned most of what I know about most everything I know about, for better or worse. I may go ahead and order the Hostetler plans so I can start studying them and get an idea of how I intend to build the plane. In the meantime, I think I will look for a small plane to build from free plans so I can familiarize myself with new methods of building as well as with new tools. Speaking of tools, and specifically concerning a scroll saw and disc sander, do you have any specific recommendations as far as brand and model are concerned? I don't want to spend a ton, but I also believe you generally get what you pay for. Any help here is especially appreciated, as I don't know a whole lot about power tools. I'm not sure I even know exactly what a bandsaw is! [X(]


ORIGINAL: mmattockx

RVM,

You may find the Hostetler plans a bit much, as Wendell tends to do things for the more experienced builders. However, you do have decent kit building experience and the right attitude (it MUST be perfect and light). Mostly, its the willingness to dive in and get dirty that is needed, and you have that already. As mentioned in here, it helps to cut your own "kit" of parts on a scratch building project like this, then build it as you would any other kit. You are at least building a monoplane, which is inherently simpler than a bipe. For shaping pieces, especially sheet pieces like ribs and formers, a disc sander is an invaluable tool. It leaves perfectly true, square edges that greatly ease the problems of achieving good fit and finish. Also, I would say a scroll saw is extremely useful. Some will say a bandsaw instead, but I found my scroll saw got so much more use that I sold the band saw. Both is best, but the scroll saw is more versatile if you only have one.

The Extra is a great design and should make an excellent project if you take it step by step and think ahead. Enjoy!


Mark
Old 08-17-2006, 09:23 AM
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Gremlin Castle
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Default RE: New scratch builder

I think that you would like Hostetlers stuff. Wendel is very good at clarifying any grey areas on his plans.
He does leave some areas to the builders discretion which to me is a better situation than putting some poorly thought out idea on the plans just for the sake of having something on the paper.

I am getting ready to start a 126" Stinson SR-19 using his plans.

My comment on the cowls and canopies was slanted toward some of the 30 plus year old scale and sport models that probably never saw 50 planes actually completed.

Fiberglass Specialties is a great source for the stuff made in the last fifteen years or so.

Old 08-17-2006, 09:56 AM
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Default RE: New scratch builder


ORIGINAL: RVM

Thanks for the great advice!

What about the Hostetler plans is particularly complicated or difficult? I don't mind recutting, but wood can get expensive with too many mistakes.

Speaking of tools, and specifically concerning a scroll saw and disc sander, do you have any specific recommendations as far as brand and model are concerned? I don't want to spend a ton, but I also believe you generally get what you pay for.
They are not really difficult, but he often uses built up constructions (as you mention, a truss fuse side for instance) instead of a lite ply sheet with holes cut into it. I prefer the built up style myself (lighter, stronger, more efficient structures), but people expecting a Goldberg style lite ply box are often overwhelmed by the cutting and fitting required. You sound like that won't bother you, so you should be OK. And you can always ask questions if you are unsure of anything.

I have fairly cheap Chinese no-name stuff for both my sander and scroll saw. I figure if I ever wear them out, then I can justify spending more on a higher-end machine. It hasn't happened yet... The sander is a combination 4" belt x 6" disc machine (very nice to have both) that was $100 on sale at a local chain store (Canadian Tire, if you know it) and the scroll saw is a House of Tools house brand 16" unit that was less than $200 I think (it's been a few years). The only thing I really recommend for the scroll saw is to get one with variable speed control. I have it and find it is essential for getting good cuts in thin materials like we use. The really cheap units don't have it and I am glad I avoided them. I forgot to mention one other tool that is very helpful and greatly increases the quality of your work - a drill press. You don't need a monster one unless you plan on doing heavier work or metal work and even a basic bench unit will help a lot for keeping holes centered and true. The only thing to note is if you want to do any metal work with it, you need one with a much wider speed range and slower rpm settings than for wood work.


Mark
Old 08-17-2006, 11:41 AM
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Default RE: New scratch builder

PATIENCE and always ask for something you dont know how can be done, dont improvise if you are not sure
good luck
Old 08-17-2006, 01:30 PM
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RVM
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Default RE: New scratch builder

Funny you should mention the built-up fuselage. I've seriously considered tossing the back half of the lite ply fuselage sides on my Chipmunk and building it up with trusses and adding some formers so I could retain the shape of the full scale, which is elliptical. I prefer built-up parts for the same reasons you mentioned.

I had thought about buying either a Proxxon or Microlux drill press some time ago. I may go ahead and get it. I won't be drilling metals with it, but it should be fine for wood. I'll look around online for a scroll saw and disc sander. I might even go to Sears and see what they have.

ORIGINAL: mmattockx

They are not really difficult, but he often uses built up constructions (as you mention, a truss fuse side for instance) instead of a lite ply sheet with holes cut into it. I prefer the built up style myself (lighter, stronger, more efficient structures), but people expecting a Goldberg style lite ply box are often overwhelmed by the cutting and fitting required. You sound like that won't bother you, so you should be OK. And you can always ask questions if you are unsure of anything.

I have fairly cheap Chinese no-name stuff for both my sander and scroll saw. I figure if I ever wear them out, then I can justify spending more on a higher-end machine. It hasn't happened yet... The sander is a combination 4" belt x 6" disc machine (very nice to have both) that was $100 on sale at a local chain store (Canadian Tire, if you know it) and the scroll saw is a House of Tools house brand 16" unit that was less than $200 I think (it's been a few years). The only thing I really recommend for the scroll saw is to get one with variable speed control. I have it and find it is essential for getting good cuts in thin materials like we use. The really cheap units don't have it and I am glad I avoided them. I forgot to mention one other tool that is very helpful and greatly increases the quality of your work - a drill press. You don't need a monster one unless you plan on doing heavier work or metal work and even a basic bench unit will help a lot for keeping holes centered and true. The only thing to note is if you want to do any metal work with it, you need one with a much wider speed range and slower rpm settings than for wood work.


Mark
Old 08-17-2006, 03:55 PM
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Default RE: New scratch builder

Sears has almost anything you could ask for as far as model building goes. My recommendations on tools are as follows:
Band saw.......Stick with a two wheel for simplicity and longer blade life. A 9" would work well. If you get one of these, get an extra fine tooth blade for the balsa
Scroll saw......I would recommend a 16" one of these. As already mentioned, variable speeds are a must. Try to get one with universal blade mountings. That way, you can used either pinned or nonpinned blades
Sander..........I think Sears has a couple of different sizes and types of belt/disc sanders. I have a 36"X3" belt with a 5" disc that is great for model use. I believe Sears also carries a version with a 1" wide sanding belt.
Dremel Tool..A MUST HAVE
Drill Press.....A multi-speed benchtop unit would be ideal, especially if you can get one with a <300-2000< RPM range. For hobby use, a 1/2 chuck isn't needed, so look for a model with a 1/4 to 3/8" chuck. A less expensive alternative would be a Dremel drill press unit or a Craftsman drill press stand. These units are for mounting your Dremel or corded electric drill into to use them as a drill press.
Old 08-17-2006, 04:05 PM
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RVM
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Default RE: New scratch builder

I have a Dremel Tool, but believe it or not I rarely find myself using it. When I bought it I thought of thousands of things I could use it for, and then when it came down to using it I would just do most of it by hand. Go figure. Are there any bits that have proven particularly useful? I'm about to buy a highspeed cutting wheel for it so I can cut my carbon fiber pushrods, but other than that and using the cutoff wheel it doesn't get used much.

What exactly is a bandsaw? [&:]


ORIGINAL: Hydro Junkie

Sears has almost anything you could ask for as far as model building goes. My recommendations on tools are as follows:
Band saw.......Stick with a two wheel for simplicity and longer blade life. A 9" would work well. If you get one of these, get an extra fine tooth blade for the balsa
Scroll saw......I would recommend a 16" one of these. As already mentioned, variable speeds are a must. Try to get one with universal blade mountings. That way, you can used either pinned or nonpinned blades
Sander..........I think Sears has a couple of different sizes and types of belt/disc sanders. I have a 36"X3" belt with a 5" disc that is great for model use. I believe Sears also carries a version with a 1" wide sanding belt.
Dremel Tool..A MUST HAVE
Drill Press.....A multi-speed benchtop unit would be ideal, especially if you can get one with a <300-2000< RPM range. For hobby use, a 1/2 chuck isn't needed, so look for a model with a 1/4 to 3/8" chuck. A less expensive alternative would be a Dremel drill press unit or a Craftsman drill press stand. These units are for mounting your Dremel or corded electric drill into to use them as a drill press.
Old 08-17-2006, 04:15 PM
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Default RE: New scratch builder


ORIGINAL: RVM

What exactly is a bandsaw? [&:]
a bandsaw:

http://www.houseoftools.com/product.htm?pid=16337


and a scroll saw similar to mine:

http://www.houseoftools.com/product.htm?pid=16152



Mark

Old 08-17-2006, 04:17 PM
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RVM
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Default RE: New scratch builder

What is the functional difference between the two? What you showed me as a bandsaw I always thought was just a big scroll saw. A friend of mine had a father who did a lot of furniture making and he used one all the time to cut curved pieces from hardwood. Is the scroll saw just for cutting smaller parts?


ORIGINAL: mmattockx

a bandsaw:

http://www.houseoftools.com/product.htm?pid=16337


and a scroll saw similar to mine:

http://www.houseoftools.com/product.htm?pid=16152



Mark

Old 08-17-2006, 04:42 PM
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RVM
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Default RE: New scratch builder

I just ordered the plans for the 27% Extra 300XS. I am excited. A few days ago I found a thread with some build pictures of the plane here, so I looked at it again today and my decision was made for me. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

The entire plane looks like it comes together easily. I don't see any weird shapes or angles. In fact, the hardest part appears to be cutting the ribs and shaping the leading edges.
Old 08-17-2006, 04:46 PM
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Default RE: New scratch builder

The bandsaw has a continuous blade that runs around two wheels in a loop, the scroll saw has a straight blade that moves up and down, like a jig saw or reciprocating saw. The bandsaw cuts faster and will do thicker work, but I found mine to be less precise for small/light pieces (that may have been me, though). The scroll saw can use very fine blades that allow small radius cuts and very fine detail to be cut, but it is slower to cut. The biggest difference is that you can remove the scroll saw blade and put it through a hole in your piece, then cut interior holes with it (think lightening holes in formers, ribs, etc.). This is impossible with the bandsaw. I have also seen where people made a table that they mounted a standard jig saw upsidedown with the blade sticking up through the table top and used this for cutting interior and extrior holes. I haven't tried it, but it should work well and you don't need to remove the blade for each cut (which gets to be a nuisance with a lot of cuts to make).


Mark
Old 08-18-2006, 10:25 AM
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Default RE: New scratch builder

Sounds like you have been give some super good advice from the guys. however none has mentioned that you should seek out out some of the local builders/flyers in your area. there are a lot of them there. most of them will be willing to help you, plus it gives you another reason to spend some good time with folks at the flying field. dick
Old 08-18-2006, 11:01 AM
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Default RE: New scratch builder

Oh darn, I was about to suggest that.

All kidding aside, my thought was to give some options on tools before sending him to a club. To me, it sounded like he has little background in power tools, hense the Sears recommendation. What might not be a bad idea would be to have him take an experienced builder with him to Sears/Home Depot/Lowes so the experienced builder can go over the pros and cons of each tool, saving time(from having clerks trying to convince you to buy something you don't really need) and money on what he will and won't need to buy in the initial purchases. What do you all think?

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