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Design for a mobile workshop

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Design for a mobile workshop

Old 01-17-2008, 06:54 AM
  #1  
yojoelay
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Default Design for a mobile workshop

Hi,

I spend a LOT of time travelling (by air) and living out of (mostly bad) hotels in my work. It recently occured to me that evenings in hotels rooms are actually wasted building time. So, I'd like to create a mobile workshop that can travel wherever I go and I'm looking for any and all suggestions.

The models I'm planning to build next include a .15-sized Fairchild Ranger from old Model Airplane News plans and a .75 sized Extra from some Airborne plans. Obviously I won't be able to build an entire model on the road but parts could be cut out, small assemblies built and covered, and if I stepped outside light sanding is possible as well. Big assemblies like fuselages can then be built at home.

There are a few obvious limitations:
- Because of the tools involved the mobile workshop will have to go as checked luggage (most travel is by plane)
- Most power tools would be out of the question because of the noise and dust they create
- I might be able to get away with carrying balsa on as hand luggage but this could mean checking my laptop instead as we are often limited to one carry on bag. I believe our carry-on restrictions are similar to those in the US.

Qantas require the length+width+depth of a carry on bag to be less than 45 inches and 54 inches for a checked bag. Weight limits are 9 lbs for a carry-on and 41 lbs for checked bags. They specifically mention pool cues as dangerous goods, so a dowel or motor mount would need to go as checked luggage. Getting a bag labelled 'fragile' isn't a problem and they seem to do a good job of handling them. Their website doesn't say anything about adhesives in your checked luggage but I'll check with them the next time I'm in an airport (tomorrow morning!).

So I guess my mobile workshop should have:
- basic tools like a knife, razor saw, pins, ruler, square, etc
- a small building board - maybe even big enough to assemble a small wing half or a fuselage side
- a few sheets of balsa
- a small cutting board
- space for plans, maybe some covering and a sealing iron
- a small sanding block - maybe one with different grades of paper on each side
- adhesives (I prefer aliphatic resin, and since epoxy is usually used for gluing major parts together it can likely stay at home)
- most importantly, room to carry whatever gets built on the road back home in one piece.

Anyways, please post any suggestions on how this might be done.

Many thanks,

Joel
Old 01-17-2008, 10:58 AM
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Default RE: Design for a mobile workshop

About ten years ago (or more) was a fellow reporting in to some Railroad model magazine on similar circumstances. His point was not so much as what to through into the modified suitcase, but how to make un-folding legs to create a table, and how to create fold down sides to the suitcase. For he wanted a flat surface that could be used when sitting off the end of the bed in some lonely desolated hotel room. I keep thinking his suitcase resembled those of the old traveling salesman (pitchman) we would see on 1930's B&W movies.

You may need to contact someone in the railroad end for further inspirations.


Wm.
Old 01-17-2008, 02:07 PM
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yojoelay
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Default RE: Design for a mobile workshop

The hotels are a bit desolate but by and large they have a desk in them that I could set up on. I work in mining so it could be decorated with mining supplier stickers - sort of the done thing in this industry.

Thanks,

Joel
Old 06-10-2008, 03:30 AM
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yojoelay
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Default RE: Design for a mobile workshop

Well, my first road warrior scratch build is now underway.

There was a few spare moments before heading off on this work trip so I grabbed a box and threw in some wood, plans, a cutting board and a knife. Despite Fragile stickers the Qantas baggage handlers were not kind to the box, it actually sustained more damage on a 900km flight then it did on the 17,000km from the US to Australia. Despite their rough treatment balsa wasn't damaged and last night I cut out the ribs and a few bulkheads for my .15 sized M.A.N. Fairchild Ranger.

It was without a doubt one of the most pleasant evenings I've ever spent in a backwater motel and I can't believe I didn't do it sooner.

The box was only 36" long so my 48" boards had to be cut down to fit in the box. I had hoped to take the box as carry-on but it was too large and wound up going as checked baggage. I'll keep an eye out for a longer box, and failing that I'll buy shorter sheets next time.

Lighting was an issue and it would be nice to have a small, portable desk lamp next time. This place has one light on the ceiling and it's almost impossible to work without casting a shadow. I decided not to bring sandpaper along but might do so next trip as I could likely sand outside my door - the parking lot here is mud and gravel.

Pictures of the ribs and bulkheads are attached for posterity. I have a small piece of building board at home that could likely come on the road, so cutting the sticks and assembling the tail feathers will happen on the trip next week.

Joel
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Old 06-10-2008, 11:33 AM
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Default RE: Design for a mobile workshop

I would look for the biggest hard shell suitcase I can find to carry my building supplies and make a small rack to fit into it to carry balsa on edge in padded slots. Maybe even mount some plastic containers inside to hold the small miscellaneous pieces that have been cut out and your scrap pieces. Airlines seem to have a policy of beating the crap out of anything that looks at all delicate, so armour it as well as you can and anchor the pieces inside to prevent damage from bouncing around.

I recall years ago seeing a small blurb in a magazine about a classical concert musician who built peanut scale rubber powered models while on the road. He had a nicely outfitted case much like a fishing tackle box or big sewing kit that he carried his supplies in while on the road. You need the same thing, only bigger. It should be very possible to build almost a complete kit of parts while on the road except for the fuse pieces. The tail feathers, ribs, small frames and hatches, etc. Great way to stay productive while you are stuck on the road.

Mark
Old 06-10-2008, 12:56 PM
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Default RE: Design for a mobile workshop

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Old 06-16-2008, 07:06 AM
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yojoelay
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Default RE: Design for a mobile workshop

On my flight home Friday the airline lost the box (which they kicked the life out of on the departing leg of the trip) with the parts in it. What a laugh - there has been no sign of it since. Thankfully the plans were in another bag so I'll cut new ribs and formers tomorrow.

In the meantime I'm working it out as I go. I found that 48" x 4" sheets cut in half fit in my hard case bag with some careful packing. The hardware store sells MDF shelves measuring about 8" by 48"; one shelf cut in half with some tack-board material glued flat to it would fit in the bag and should be large enough to pin a rudder, stab or maybe part of a fuselage side. A night-kit bag for tools and a small bottle of glue should have me building without the need for another bag / box. If there is enough time I'll pass by the hardware store this weekend and pick up one of those shelves.

Joel
Old 06-20-2008, 11:26 AM
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Default RE: Design for a mobile workshop

AMA requires your name and address to be on every plane you fly. Why not follow through and just cut your name off an envelope and put it onthe box with 'clear package tape'? If it gets found, it might still come home with your tools.
Old 06-20-2008, 04:05 PM
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yojoelay
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Default RE: Design for a mobile workshop

Qantas found the box! They haven't dropped it off yet, apparently they found it earlier this week but couldn't contact me because I my phone was out of range. Anyways, my name was on it but I think you're right Yuu, I should make it more prominent.

I'm home for the weekend now and off to the hardware store to try and get a building board, then the LHS for a stock up on supplies.

All the best,

Joel
Old 06-23-2008, 06:54 AM
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yojoelay
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Default RE: Design for a mobile workshop

My first road warrior scratch build is well and truly underway. Pictured below is the back half of the fuselage for the old M.A.N Fairchild 24 Ranger. The original design is rudder only, so setting up ailerons and reducing the dihedral somewhat (the model is designed to be rudder only) is appealing. I'm also replacing the foreward 1/8" lite ply fuselage sides with 3/16" balsa, made up of a 1/8" sheet laminated with a 1/16" sheet.

The hardware store had the MDF shelves I wanted but their offcuts pile had some nice pieces which the guy cut to size and sold to me for $1. It all fit in my bag quite nicely and didn't take up a lot of space. I used an old night kit to carry my tools, which worked well because they glue (Aquahere) bottle leaked a bit - probably due to the pressure change in the aircraft on the away out.

The building board is fairly small - about 28" * 12" to fit in my bag, so I'm doing some building, letting it dry and moving on. This is pretty much how I build at home - slowly. The 15-sized Fairchild is likely a good pick for this.

The next big issue is transporting the parts home in one piece. I brought along a good sized cutting mat, and the plan is to sandwich completed flat parts between the building board and the cutting mat to protect them. When the floats are done I'm going to try and take them carry on or put them into my box with some newspaper to protect them. I'm flying out of a little country airport and the guys running the desk seem pretty easy going so I'll talk to them when that time comes.

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Old 06-23-2008, 07:08 AM
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Default RE: Design for a mobile workshop

You might try to find some "bubble-wrap" to help protect the parts while packed for travel.
Old 06-23-2008, 07:25 AM
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yojoelay
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Default RE: Design for a mobile workshop

Great idea - should have thought of that. There is a big roll of it in my office back home. I'll grab some next time I'm in / keep an eye out for some old stuff at this client site. I'm here for the rest of the week so I'm sure I'll come accross some sooner or later.
Old 06-26-2008, 06:57 AM
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Default RE: Design for a mobile workshop

This week has been a great success, both with the client and on the portable building board.

This week I've managed to build the fuselage sides, re-build a the main formers and get the horizontal stab roughed out. My building board is small but flat, and the only limitation really has been the number of pins I brought along. Time to by some proper T-pins anyways, I've built two models now with some cheap sewing pins and they're all bent up now. I meant to pick some up at the shop but got talking with the owner and forgot about them. Next trip.

I'm really proud of my built up formers. The plan shows 1/8" ply formers but I initially cut them out of 1/4" balsa. They were going to need drilling and more cutting, and in the end it just looked easier to whip up some built up ones. They may need some ply depending on how the wing gets attached - the plans show elastics but I'd really like to use nylon bolts. I think final fuselage assembly will have to happen at home when time permits.

So, the next big step is to get the whole lot home in one piece. I'll pick up something to provide padding tomorrow at the mine. I'm planning to put the fuselage sides in the box - they're too long to fit into my bag. If the friendly ticket agent lets me carry it on I'll be really happy but it's likely to go in the hold. The formers and stab can go in the hardcase bag so they'll be fine. The rudder and elevator are the only remaining flat parts, they'll get put together next week.

Next week I will bring extra bag for clothes so that the wing and floats can be assembled and then transported home in my hard case bag. If I build the wing in three pieces and leave the tips off it should just fit. I still haven't decided if I want to go with ailerons or stick to the rudder only design but I am leaning towards rudder only. This model as it is supposed to be a simple design with floats and the overall aim here is to build as much of it on the road. The motor is going to be an O.S. 15LA or a Thunder Tiger. I need to write that down otherwise I'll go out any buy a 30-sized Saito and there goes the whole simiplicity concept. I've got a few standard servos lying around which should fit. If it flies nicely I can always build another with whizzy servos, a four stroke and more focus on the scale details as well.

I also found a really nice colour scheme - check this out:

http://www.airbum.com/pireps/PirepFairchild24.html

Still haven't figured out how I'll actually get it covered yet - maybe by that time I'll have a bigger bag.

All the best,

Joel

P.S. - sorry no pictures I can't get them to download from my phone.



Old 06-26-2008, 10:59 PM
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Default RE: Design for a mobile workshop

Have you thought of trying a rifle or shotgun hardcase. Your local sporting store should have them and you could put 36" stick of balsa no problem. plus they come loaded with foam.
Old 06-27-2008, 06:44 AM
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yojoelay
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Default RE: Design for a mobile workshop

I'd thought of that and it would be perfect but I'd have to go through the airport carrying a gun case. Frankly I wasn't up for explaining to everyone that it wasn't carrying a gun. Not so bad when you're out in the country, but I fly in and out of Brisbane and run into colleagues all the time. OK - this may sound a bit precious, but I'd rather admit to packing a model airplane then a firearm.

Anyways, there is a gun shop relatively near by and if time allows I'll drop by over the weekend. There is also music shop just a few blocks from them, should be able to hit both.

In the meantime the fuselage sides made it back in pristine condition. The airport staff wouldn't let me take it as carry on (no surprise really) but they did take very good care of the box along the way.

I'm off for the weekend and hoping to get some flying in.

All the best,

Joel
Old 07-01-2008, 07:14 PM
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Default RE: Design for a mobile workshop

I have just a few suggestions. A coping saw with a few blades would help. I would add a steel ruler if you can a 24" one would help as a straight edge and measuring stick. A small tape measure and some block layers string and a piece of coloured chaulk. The string can be used to line up pieces and strike lines with the chaulk on the string to help keep things square. A 30-60-90 and a 45 degree drafting triangles. I'm kinda stumped on drilling holes. I thought some kind of pin type vise and a few common bits. These should help. And the gun case is a damn good idea. You could even put built up wings and such in one. I shoot .22 small bore competition and I have seen some very good cases that would be perfect for you. Just be prepared to open them up a lot in an airport. It seems you are having a blast. Keep up the good work, I think it's a great idea.

Mark Shuman
Old 07-03-2008, 07:28 AM
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Hi all,

A couple of pictures below. The night kit carries clampe in 3 sizes. pins (wrapped in Qantas tape), a small sanding block, razor plane, balsa stripper, razor saw and mitre box, knife and blades, scissors and a pen. I don't have a picture of the building board because the first half of the wing is drying on it. The bench is a bit low (I prefer to stand) so it's not exactly ideal - deal with it I guess. Also, the box which has now made a couple of trips back and forth.

I'm getting to know the staff here and they don't seem to have any issues with the build. I don't have a picture of it, but my light is a small flourescent (spelling?) that is taped to the wall. I was taking it down each day but forgot this week - nobody seemed to mind so now I'm just leaving it up. Since I'm back next week I asked if it was possible to leave some stuff here over the weekend - they said no problem so once this write up is done I'll take it over for storage. That solves the transport problem temporarily but the week after next I'm in a different motel.

I have a small tape measure at home that would fit in the case nicely, I've never used a string line before but it makes sense. I'm dealing with issues as I go and hadn't thought about drilling holes yet. At this stage I was planning to finish the major assemblies at home in my workshop - which really isn't any better stocked than the mobile workshop is (but I'm working on it). I'm going to have to re-think that though as the project I'm on has just recieved a 3-month extension. I don't have a drill press, so I suppose I'd just throw my drill in the bag and go for it. I'll order the motor and some radio gear over the next few weeks.

Anyways, next week should see finishing the wing and having another crack at the floats. My formers didn't line up well for the floats and they look horrible. Back to the drawing board.

All the best,

Joel
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Old 07-03-2008, 07:46 AM
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yojoelay
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Default RE: Design for a mobile workshop

One more thing - I am having a blast. Working on the road is tough, this is really keeping me going.

Just got back from giving the wing and float to the motel staff for the weekend - not even a blink.

Joel
Old 07-14-2008, 01:08 PM
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Default RE: Design for a mobile workshop

I don't know about motel room model airplane building but my cousin and I freshened the bottom end in a small block chevy in a super 8 one time.. Pulled it out of the race car and rolled it up to the door onto a piece of old carpet and slid it into the room..
Old 07-17-2008, 03:53 AM
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I can believe it, sometimes this place sounds like the neighbors are emptying all the furniture out of their rooms in the middle of the night so building a model airplane and leaving some balsa dust behind is likely pretty tame.

Last week I finished the wing halves then got notice mid-thursday that they didn't need me on Friday so it was a sprint back to the hotel to pack and come home. I packed most of my clothes in a separate bag and then packed the wings lightly with clothes in the hardcase bag. One wing half took a small knock in the balsa trailing edge sheeting but it is easily repairable. Other than that they got home just fine.

This week I tackled the tail feathers. The rudder came together nicely, it is now sanded, hinged and ready for covering. The stab just came off the building board and it also looks good - sanding and hinging tonight, then wheel pants and the wing center section. I'll have another try at the floats later, first attempt was a pretty dismal failure.

I was going to do the final assembly of the fuselage halves and all the covering at home but with this extension it looks like it's hapenning on the road. Next week I'm on holidays (going to a nice resort - will have better things to do than build airplanes) but after that I hope to start covering.

The best thing about building a model airplane in a motel is that someone else sweeps my workshop every day.

All the best,

Joel

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