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Balsa USA Smoothie Build

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Balsa USA Smoothie Build

Old 05-14-2010, 05:52 PM
  #1  
jsryer
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Default Balsa USA Smoothie Build

Well, I was looking at web sites trying to find some new project to work on (not that I don't have enough already) and ended up on Balsa USA's site once again. Last year when BUSA brought back the Smoothie I liked it's lines and almost bought one, but I really didn't feel like building a kit. Well, I finally pulled the trigger and bought one last week.

Two days ago, after I got home from work, the UPS driver pulls up and delivers a plain white box marked Balsa USA and Fragile on the sides and Smoothie on one end. Sweet...

I've decided to do a build thread on this little baby, for a couple reasons.
1) I haven't seen any done yet (maybe I haven't looked hard enough).
2) This is the bigger reason. I hope it keeps me motivated to finish the plane in a timely fashion. Last year I built a Sig Wonder and that took like 2-3 weeks which wasn't bad, but the kit I built before that was a Sig King Kobra and that took me around 8 years to finish just because I never felt like shaping the wing tips.

On to the build thread.

Well what can I say? The kit is boxed like a kit. All the wood seems to be pretty good quality. The parts pack seems to be adequate for what's there (which really isn't much), although I don't know how much of it I'll end up using. After glancing through the instructions, I think they may be a little lacking from other kits that I've built, but BUSA does expect the builder to have a couple/few builds under their belt so some detail is just skimmed over. The only bummer is that I didn't get the 2 page typed instructions that were supposed to come with the kit. I would have liked to check them out, but it's not necessary.

I decided that I would just follow along with the instruction book for the build and since I'm using the dining room table for my build I don't have the room to jump around and build more than one main part at a time anyway.

The instructions start with the wing...

Both wing halves build on the same wing plan, so I used wax paper to protect the plans from being glued to the wing. The wing is symmetrical, but checking the ribs I found that the leading edge and the spar cutouts didn't match up if I had one flipped over. So if you build this plane check the orientation of your ribs, or your leading edge will be wavy. Other than that, the wing build is pretty standard, and the only other hiccup I ran into is I can't sheet the center of the wing at this moment. The instructions don't tell which 3/16" balsa sheeting to use so I thought it prudent to hold off and get the sheeting done on the fuse and if there is any sheeting left over, use that for the wing (I hope I wasn't shorted some balsa). I installed sheer webbing between all but the last two ribs on each side of the wing. When I was half way through gluing them in it dawned on me that I should have waited until I had the wing sheeting installed. This would have made it easier to glue the wing sheeting to the ribs and I would have liked to know how ridged the wing would be without the sheer webs. I hate the thought of adding unneeded weight even id it is just balsa. I guess the last note on the wing is that I built it with 3/8" dihedral. The instructions say to use 0-1" dihedral, I like the looks of a wing with some dihedral and I thought 3/8" looked good.

If you look at the pictures of the wing, you can see the ribs are solid (the holes were drilled to get aileron wires through the wing). The fuse is also solid. No material has been removed for the purpose of removing weight, so the plane will be solid, but heavy.

OK, I guess that's it for now. I need to eat, then it's time to start the fuse.

Take care, Jerry
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Old 05-16-2010, 10:03 PM
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jsryer
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build

Well, I have been working late on the plane and haven't really had time to update this thread, but I'll just update some of my progress.

The Fuselage

My biggest complaint so far is the plans don't quite match the plane. If you trim the aft end of the plane to the plans, the plane will be about 1/2" short. Then you will also have to make some minor mods to the fuse to get back on track. I noticed the plans didn't match the picture and I did a quick check to make sure the cut was going to be OK, but I must have just seen what I wanted to see (that being the plans being right) and I cut the fuse to the plans. [:@] I forgot to take a pic of the mod that was needed to clean the fuse up, but all I had to do was extend the shoulder for the horizontal stab forward a bit. Then I also had to notch the vertical stab so it would line up properly.

The engine I'm putting in the plane is a Magnum 52 four stroke. Because the engine needs to be mounted farther away from the firewall due to the rear carb, I had to cut out a new firewall. Unfortunately, I had to move the firewall back far enough that I can't use an 8oz fuel tank. Had I realized before the firewall was in place, I would have left room for an 8oz tank and built up the front of the plane to lengthen the nose. I got a 200cc (6.8oz) on the way, hopefully that will give me the flight time that I'm looking for.

Mounting the wing to the fuse is pretty standard. It was getting late and getting the wing in place was my goal for the day, so I was rushing a little trying to get done. My first hole in the wing mounting block wasn't even close to the right angle for the bolt head to rest flat on the wing. [sm=crying.gif] So, I had to drill it out, plug it, then re-drill the hole the way it should have been done the first time.

OK, That's about it for now. Take care, Jerry
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Old 05-17-2010, 07:52 PM
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build

OK, continuing with the fuse build.

I decided to mount the engine inverted because I wanted to keep the lines as clean as possible. The motor mount I chose wasn't the best choice, but it was the only one I could find (and I was determined not to make a trip to the LHS just for a motor mount). The location of the spinner was about 1/8" low with this mount, but I didn't think this would be a problem because the nose of the craft is all hand shaped balsa. I was wrong... Once the nose is built up the location of the nose cone (centered) is important to keep the nose together (the pics below show my centered guide lines). Two of the mounting holes for the mount were as close to the edge of the firewall as I was comfortable putting them, so the next best thing would have been to trim the mount and relocate the holes in the mount. Murphy's Law kicked in... I couldn't move the holes in the mount because mount was raised between the holes, so the only area that made contact with the firewall was directly around the mounting holes themselves. After come contemplation, I resigned myself to turning the engine to the upright position. I misplaced my pencil and while looking for it in a spot I must have checked 5 times or more, there was another engine mount. This one was made perfect for my application. I just had to slot the holes in the firewall a little and presto, the engine could be mounted inverted.

I tried my best to use the bottom balsa block that is shaped to resemble an air scoop, but by the time it was cutout enough to get the engine in place just going in from the bottom, there wasn't enough of it left to matter. I ended up using some 1/4" balsa that I had laying around.

The sides of the engine compartment are supposed to get a 1/4" balsa doublers, but my engine/mount combination only left enough room for 1/8" doublers. I used some 1/8" balsa that I had and then the I added more 1/8" balsa in the front of the mount because it's needed for the proper shaping.

I tacked the front of the top block in place with thick CA to support it's length and to support the sides of the engine compartment while sanding. I rough cut angle in the top block with a hand held jig saw, then I sat down and watched Robin Hood Men in Tights and sanded... and sanded... and sanded.

Once I got the rough sanding of the nose section completed, I cut out and sanded the cockpit area.

That'll do it for now... Jerry
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Old 05-22-2010, 08:14 AM
  #4  
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build

I have the same kit that is next in line for the small build table
in my shop, I'll be following you build Jerry, keep it coming.
Plan is to power it with a Super Tiger 51 with a "Tounge Muffler"
ala control line type if noise & pressure are acceptable.

Bill D.
Old 05-22-2010, 02:33 PM
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jsryer
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build

I had the day off work yesterday (Friday) and it was my intention to use it as a building day. As luck would have it, when I got a drink of water at around 10am, the kitchen faucet broke, not letting me turn off the water. So, my day was spent changing out a sink, faucet, garbage disposal and drain pluming, because nothing ever matches up.

As for the Smoothie build, I've really just been doing a little sanding. I found a low spot in the side of my turtle deck. Evidently I was a little aggressive with my sanding and my reward was adding some spackling to fill a low spot. I also skipped forward in the plans a little and sanded down the tail filler blocks.

I like to build my kits so that end up going together like an ARF after all the components are covered. So, I used scrap balsa and tacked spacers where the horizontal and vertical stabs would be (that way I can shape them and not worry about nicking the stabs), and then tack glued the blocks in place for shaping. I also used this time to fill around my pushrod exits as needed.

My covering and fuel arrived yesterday. Unfortunately, the smaller 200cc tank still wouldn't fit in the required space. I had to cut out the former right in front of the wing so that the tank could slide through (like many planes out there) and I'll reinforce the former later.

I didn't get near as much done as I wanted to this weekend, but things are coming around pretty good. I guess that's it for now... Jerry
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Old 05-29-2010, 09:02 AM
  #6  
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build

Yes, I have actually been working on the Smoothie, but just not as much as I would like to. I've been getting the living room and dining room ready to paint, so work on the build has almost (but not quite) come to a stop.

The Smoothie really doesn't take a four stroke very well. With the narrow fuse, running the throttle pushrod past the fuel tank is a real pain. I pulled the engine and mounted it right side up, which was no better because then the throttle arm was way too high above the fuselage. I even contemplated scrapping the four stroke all together and just putting in a Tower .46, but with the servos already in place and no room for an 8oz fuel tank, that didn't seem like a very good option. So, the four stroke was removed and reinstalled inverted the way I originally planed. Then I had to cut more of the former just in front of the wing out, and got everything situated, but the fuel tank is sitting almost 1/2" higher than I would have liked.

I got the center wing sheeting in place, it just needs to be trimmed to look nice, and as I mentioned earlier, the servos in the fuse are mounted. I still need to install the servo mounts in the wing, sheet the bottom of the fuse and work on the tail section. It doesn't sound like much, but I don't know how soon I can get it done. Hopefully within 2 weeks I'll be ready for covering. Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be anything done that warranted pictures, so I didn't take any.

Good flying, Jerry
Old 06-01-2010, 09:28 PM
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build

Yesterday, Memorial Day, after cleaning up from a weekend of painting the inside of my house (8hrs on Sat and 10hrs on Sun), I was able to do a little work on the Smoothie.

I got the servo mounts installed in the wing, trimmed the balsa sheeting in the center of the wing to give it an old timey look, sheeted the bottom of the fuselage, and built up the horizontal stab and elevator sections. Following the instructions, everything went very smooth with no anomalies. One thing I wanted to do, but forgot in the fervor of sheeting the fuse, was to put a removable hatch in the last 3"-4" of the tail so I could add weight easily to balance the plane if necessary. I might cut a hatch out, but at this point in time I doubt it... Hopefully it will balance OK.

The pictures show the wing in the final stages (no ailerons yet), the horizontal stab with the elevator, the fuse with the engine partially installed and all the parts to date. I still need to cut hinge slots, shape the edges of the horizontal and vertical stabs, shape the flight control surfaces and install the landing gear. After some filling and a final sanding, I think it will be ready for covering... unless I missed something.

While I was mowing the lawn this evening, the UPS man dropped off a couple packages for me. The final 2 pictures show my newest ARFs. They are ARFs from The Wings Maker and cost me a total of $187 shipped to my door... Not too bad... It was like Christmas. [sm=thumbup.gif] But those are for another day.

OK, take care and good flying, Jerry
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Old 06-01-2010, 10:55 PM
  #8  
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build

Looks good, thanks for doing this build thread. I have the plans for the smoothie, I got them before they redid the kit, I will try to build it pretty soon.

Jon
Old 06-04-2010, 09:03 PM
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build

OK, I got a little more work done on the tail section tonight... First I rounded the leading edges of the horizontal and vertical stabs. I didn't care too much for the squared look of the rudder, so I rounded the top aft portion of the rudder to match the vertical stab and the bottom of the rudder. Then I beveled the leading edges of the rudder and elevator and rounded the trailing edges. Once that was done I mounted a tail wheel bracket and bent up the tail wheel wire (I'm not using any of the supplied landing gear). I drilled pilot holes for the main gear, which came off a Stinger 40. Then I assembled the tail section for some pics. Everything that was done was pretty standard to building a kit and no problems were encountered. The tail section is only being held together by the hinges because I want to get it covered before final assembly. Things are comming together pretty good... I can't wait to sat it's ready for covering.

Take care, Jerry
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Old 06-06-2010, 04:15 PM
  #10  
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build

I've been putting some cosmetic touches to the Smoothie... I didn't like the look of the wing in it's saddle, the fuse just stopped and didn't flow into the bottom of the wing. I ended up adding a small fairing made out of 3/32" balsa and some spackle. I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out, I got what I was looking for.

After that was done, (being happy with the way the vertical stab turned out) I shaped the ailerons and elevator. To get an "Old Timey" look, I rounded all the sharp corners on the ailerons and elevator. Once again, I'm very happy with the look that was achieved. After the shaping, I installed and removed the control horns, and filled the nicks that I put in the fuse and wing.

I didn't like the look of the main gear that I was going to use once it was installed on the plane (it's a little tall), so I ordered a new set. Hopefully the new gear will be satisfactory.

It looks like I'm pretty much done, except for the covering. I'll give the plane a once over, fill any new nicks, give it it's last sanding, fuel proof the required areas and cover it. I have some fairly large areas of spackle and I've read somewhere that covering doesn't stick to it well, so those areas will get a coat of Krylon white primer. I did an experiment and covering sticks to that better than cleaned balsa.

I guess that's all for now... Take care, Jerry
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Old 06-07-2010, 03:29 PM
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build

Check your balance at this point before covering-You may be nose heavy and need to think about servo, battery,ect... placement. Just a thought
Old 06-08-2010, 05:51 PM
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build

Frenchie, my servos are pretty much locked in place because my tank extends into the area above the wing's LE. I normally don't put too much stock into balancing a plane before it's covered, but you are right, it's good to check just in case the balance is grossly off. I definitely believe in options though... Right now I am able to use a small 700mA AAA pack or a larger 1200mA AA pack. the AAA pack will fit in 4 various accessible places in the fuse (2 fore and 2 aft of the CG) and the AA pack should fit in 3 places. I threw it up on my balancer, and unfortunately, it looks like the plane may be a little tail heavy once it's covered, which wasn't what I was expecting (it balanced 1/2" in front of the recommended CG point, but no prop, no spinner and no covering). I have more options for a nose heavy plane, but I only have the battery pack and adding weight to the nose to combat a tail heavy plane. I'm going to use ToughLon covering which is kind of heavy to boot (I'm boycotting MonoKote), so I think I'll just have to wait and see where it balances and hope for the best.

Thanks for your input and good flying, Jerry
Old 06-15-2010, 11:10 AM
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build

I know what your saying about putting stock into a pre-Balance-BUT I would put the prop and spinner and everything else on (include battery) Everythingjust to get an idea. It's a small plane and not much room to work. By doing this you will have a good picture of the finish. Hopefully it comes out with a slight nose heavy attitude before cover. Good luck and please post results. It is a sweet flying little machine.
Mark
PS-I believe a 1/2" ahead of the GC makes it nose heavy????? Flip it upside down of coarse, put the prop and spinner on and check again-You should be at the front edge of the spar to be in really good shape.
Old 06-15-2010, 01:34 PM
  #14  
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build

Looking good. Can't wait to see the finished product.
Old 06-15-2010, 07:54 PM
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build

I've been working diligently on my Smoothie since the last time I updated this thread. I wanted to keep a nostalgic look to the plane, so I selected cream and pearl bronze as the main colors for the covering. All the parts have been covered and it's pretty much ready for final assembly. I just have to wait for the wheel pants to dry and to flatten the landing gear to get the nose closer to the ground. Oh... I want to cover the black paint in the engine compartment with a coat of polyurethane and fuel proof the fuel tank area just in case the tank leaks at some point. I wanted to go with an open cockpit, but I had already trimmed the canopy, so I didn't have enough material to get the position of the windshield right, so I'm just going with an enclosed cockpit for now (I need to email BUSA to see if they will sell me a canopy). If I ever go with an open cockpit, I'll finish the dash and put in a seat outline, but I don't see the point right now considering I painted the canopy with smoke paint. I covered the bottom of the plane in black and yellow... I'm not very happy with it. I was going to recover the bottom in cream and black before I started on the top side, but I let one of my flying buddies talk me out of it.

Anyway, that's about it, I got some pics of my progress down below and hopefully I'll have it up in the air in a couple weeks. Take care, Jerry
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Old 06-16-2010, 11:20 AM
  #16  
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build

I like the colors in the picture-nice job. What is the color of the bottom of the wing?
Old 06-20-2010, 12:23 AM
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build

nice work!
Old 06-20-2010, 03:35 PM
  #18  
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build

Well, the Smoothie is finally done... almost anyways, all I need to do is adjust the CG a little. I didn't put the wheel pants on it because the paint orange peeled on me and I don't feel like sanding them down to repaint them. They were just plastic pants and they wouldn't have held up to the grass I fly off of, so it's no big deal. The CG is right at the forward limit of the recommended spot, so I'm going to get it right on or on the aft side of recommended. It should be pretty easy, because I installed the battery pack as far forward as I could get it. My scale is a 50lb scale it isn't very accurate on the low end, so I have no idea of it's actual weight. It read 4lbs on the scale, which is the same as it reads with a 5lb weight hanging off it. So, I'll just say it's a 5-5.5 pound plane with an empty tank.

The covering is ToughLon Pearl Bronze and Cream on the top and Monokote Black and yellow on the bottom, the pin striping is Great Planes 1/4" black. The Monokote was leftover covering that I had, but if I had it to do over again, I would buy something else like black and white checkers for the bottom. Oh well, I'll just have to live with the balk and yellow.

OK, that's about it. All in all, I'm very happy with the way things turned out and weather permitting I'll be flying the Smoothie next weekend. I'll be sure to let everyone know how it goes.

Take care, Jerry
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Old 06-29-2010, 12:46 PM
  #19  
skyraider71
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build

Very cool plane, and great color scheme! I've been thinking about building a Smoothie for awhile, It has
great lines, and is a convenient size
Old 06-29-2010, 02:34 PM
  #20  
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build


I'll be sure to let everyone know how it goes.

Take care, Jerry

[/quote]

Jerry-how did it go-do you like the 4 stroke?????????
Old 06-29-2010, 06:31 PM
  #21  
jsryer
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build

Skyraider, thanks for the comments. Actually, I'd like to thank everyone who left me the positive comments on this build. I'm sure I could have done a better job with my write-ups, but I'm not a pro and I really used the forum to keep myself motivated with the build.

I have to agree with you and everyone else who think the Smoothie has great lines. I really like the nostalgic look of the bird. I think upper wing struts would really look awesome, but I didn't think of it until after I had the wing covered and I wasn't about to open up the wing to add the needed mounting blocks. I would have liked to go with an open cockpit, but I trimmed the canopy before I thought about just going with a windshield. If you like the look of the Ryan STA, I think that with a minimal amount of work you could have a close clone.
Old 06-29-2010, 06:47 PM
  #22  
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build

Frenchie, This past weekend just didn't workout well... I ended up having to work Saturday morning, which is normally my flying time, I charged everything up, including my video camera, for Sunday evening (which is my alt time), but we had 20+mph winds with gusts over 35mph, so that ended up being a bust too. On a positive note, I did get to run my ASP FS180AR Sunday night, what a brute this engine is. It's not quite broken in yet, but I leaned it out to see what it would do... I got over 15.5lbs of thrust (for 2 min) on my bench with a MA 16x8 prop and it still had had more to give. I'm extremely happy with this little gem (pics below). I need to run another tank through it yet and time it's fuel consumption, then it's ready to be mounted in it's plane. Oops, I'm getting off the subject... Back to the Smoothie... The forecast for this weekend is looking good at this moment, so with any luck the smoothie will be up in the air Saturday morning buzzing around SW Ohio.

Take care and good flying, Jerry
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Old 06-30-2010, 05:49 AM
  #23  
skyraider71
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build

Good luck with the maiden.
BTW, If I build the smoothie I will build it with the chin fairing "inline engine" style cowl, I think it gives it that golden-age racer look.
Old 07-04-2010, 12:58 PM
  #24  
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build

Yesterday was a pretty successful day for flying the smoothie. I warmed up by taking my clipped wing Cub up, then gassed up the Smoothie for it's maiden. I fired up the Magnum .52 four stroke (leaving it a little rich because it's still in the break in phase), and taxied out for take-off. Roll out was fine, but when it left the ground it felt like I was flying a brick. I got the trims set for level flight and the plane still felt awful sluggish, so I landed to adjust the tune a bit. I came in, maybe a little too fast, and after landing the plane started to ground loop. I rode it out as best as I could, but the prop struck the ground and stalled the engine, so I had to go for a walk. After retrieving the plane. I fired it back up and leaned the engine 4 clicks... boy did the engine respond to that. I taxied it out for take-off again. Right before liftoff, the plane started getting squirrelly, then started to ground loop again. I rode it out and got the plane in the air, and it was like a totally different plane now with the engine tuned a bit better. Speed with the four stroke is good and it will get a little better once I lean the engine out some more, large loops are nice and straight and small loops don't even hint at a tip stall. Stall turns need to be started a little earlier than my other planes to compensate for the longer tail moment and the small rudder. Rolls aren't very axial and I need to use a little more elevator than I'm used to, with a little more time on this bird I think I'll get that worked out. Unfortunately, on my third flight with this plane, the landing gear got ripped off during landing from a ground loop. I was fighting a ground loop on just about every take-off and landing, so to try to fix this I'm going to put a shorter set of main gear on the Smoothie (installed closer to the CG) and the gear will be 2 piece gear that will let me adjust a little toe-in if necessary. We shot a video of the maiden flight which I will post as soon as I get it converted. The pics below are the 3 planes I took out flying with me. A Wings Maker Clipped Wing Cub, a World Models Ultimate Bipe, and the Smoothie. All are flying with a Magnum 52 four stroke. Take care, Jerry
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Old 07-10-2010, 11:42 AM
  #25  
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Default RE: Balsa USA Smoothie Build

Alright, I just got back from flying, and the Smoothie performed great. My changes to the landing gear got rid of the ground loop tendencies, so I'm very happy with the plane now. I ended up using shorter main gear, added a little toe-in and raised the tail to give the Smoothie a straighter stance. The plane doesn't have any bad tendencies and feels like a trainer up in the air; it actually "feels" slower than it actually is and the lower rpm of the four stroke adds to this effect. I thought I was just putting around until another plane was up in the air with me and I was actually faster that it. So, the speed is comparable to any other 45 sized sport plane. I don't know if I ever mentioned that I ended up ordering a 248cc (just over 8oz) tank from China... With a little more cutting I got it to fit in the space available. I don't know what my actual flight time is with this tank, but after a long flight, I had ~1oz of fuel left, so it's a good fit for this engine/plane combo. Hopefully I will have the video of last week's maiden posted soon. Take care, Jerry

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