Tuesday, 8 August 2017

FOKA 4 1/4 Scale Glider

Something different for a change.

I have always fancied a scale glider. Not necessarily a hanger queen with rivets that I need to count, but something that looks the part and can be flown without too much worry that something may fall off on landing. i.e. a decent stand off scale model.

No plans for this model are available, so working from a 3 view downloaded off the internet, I started work on the plan.

Its a case of design it then add constructional information and changes to the design as I progress, adding detail in case someone else wants to build one. However, due to some CAD issues (not my error), its unlikely that I will release this plan.

Quite a lot of work getting this far and it also helps add some motivation to get it finished

The easy bits were the fin and tailplane and these were built first while the laser cut parts were finalised before being sent to Belair for cutting.

Construction of te fin and tailplane is very traditional balsa and spruce with the balsa sheeted areas covered in light glass cloth but Eze-Kote used instead of epoxy. The elevator and rudder are covered in Solartex.

Fuselage construction is basically 4 of 6mm square spruce longerons and a mix of birch and lite ply formers. The majority of the loads are carried on the former that supports the LE and the main former that supports the wing. Where there are transitions in the longerons, the load is pass to an adjacent part of the structure so - hopefully - there are no sudden discontinuities

An almost full length deck is used to add stiffness and also ensure that the fuselage remains exactly straight.

Construction was quite straightforward except that the CAD software had miscalculated the width of the deck (not allowed for the side longerons. This meant that these had to be laminated from 2 of 6x3mm with the deck sandwiched between. Not too onerous to correct.

The controls for the rudder and elevator are internal and cannot be accessed once the fuselage has been built so the next job is to fit the fin and tailplane:

A simple foam block jig holds the fuselage steady while incidence is measured. The tailplane will be placed at +1 deg and the wing at +2.5 deg. I use a smartphone clinometer app (bubble level) to ensure that the tailplane is set correctly. Triangulated using thread to the former behind the cockpit to make sure its not twisted.

The tailplane needed a small platform from hard balsa to seat the cambered section. This meant the tailplane was lifter about 5mm higher than the scale position.

When dry, the fin was glued into place. This needed a hole drilled in the top longeron (this has 6mm spruce doublers each side to make a wide enough platform for the tailplane and fin to sit on securely).

The fin also has a 6mm dowelling peg to give it a bit more stiffness.

While all this was going on, I started work on the wing. This wing will be in 3 pieces. It will have a composite carbon/spruce/balsa main spar with a spruce rear spar.

The root cross section looks like this:

The Carbon tube tapers from 10mm (0.5mm wall thickness) at the root to 7mm at the tip in equally spaced step (10 > 8 > 7). This is supported at the root area by a soft 12mm balsa 'web' (grain vertical) epoxied to the carbon then a 12x3mm spruce top and bottom cap. This will taper to 6x3 at about 80% wingspan. The Joiner is a 9mm carbon rod. Te rear spar is 6x3 which delimits the ailerons and the spoilers with additional support in the root. The main dihedral brace is 6mm marine ply which tapers slightly to fit with the sweep forward of the main spar.

The centre section is about 600mm wide, the outer panels one piece..

The wing mounting bolt sits in a full depth birch block recessed to take a M5 steel cap bolt

Just spotted that I have lost the rear spar at the root on this diagram

Assembly is simple but slow as all the balsa blocks have to be cut and filed to shape. Drilling causes the soft balsa wood to split.

The root rib as 12mm balsa with ply sides. The wing joining block just behind the main spar is beech and is recessed to carry a M5 steel bolt

The wing centre temporarily pegged into place whil the tailplane was aligned.

More to come

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

A simple way of Calculating a Tuned Pipe Length

I managed to acquire a brand new in box OS61VR.

There is very little information on this engine on the OS archive, in fact I cant find any reference to it. I have a choice of a number of tuned pipes I can use  - one came with it, but it looked rather small compared with the other 60 sized pipes I have so it may be the wrong pipe. The supplied header also appears to have been used as a hammer - it was very badly creased so I ordered a new one from Just Engines.

They also had no information on this engine.

It  has a large inlet and exhaust port. This suggests that the engine will be rather powerful and probably very thirsty as well.

Now, forgive me if I am teaching you to suck eggs here, but I need to set the pipe length and this can be calculated using the following formula.

Pipe length (in inches) = Exhaust Timing (in degrees) * 1650 / Desired RPM.

I am hoping to get 12000 rpm on a 12x8 prop (in the absence of any other information).

The exhaust timing is calculated by placing the engine at TDC, turn the crank (in the direction of rotation) and look for the piston crown just appearing through the exhaust port (at the top). Note the angle on the timing disc. Continue to rotate through BDC until the piston crown disappears again on the compression stroke - i.e. you have timed the exhaust open window.

I made up a simple timing disk and attached a pointer using a jubilee clip as shown.


Using this technique, I measured this engine to have an exhaust open timing of 145 degrees.

Substituting the numbers above,

Pipe length = 145 * 1650 /12000 = 19.9375". The pipe length is measured from the centre of the piston crown to the baffle in the pipe where the diverging and converging cones meet.

There becomes a point where the exhaust timing becomes too long for a tuned pipe to become effective. A longer exhaust open time will give the user an easier handling engine but the benefits of the tuned pipe diminish - reducing to zero when the timing increases towards about 175 degrees.

Monday, 3 April 2017


This is a short post  that links the downloads that I have made available.

Mystic 40

Mystic 40 plan and and cut parts layout

Kwik Fli 3 for a 40

Kwik Fli 3-40 plans and cut parts layout 

Kwik Fli 4 for a 40

Glass Slipper Slope Soarer

DH87B for Indoor Scale

I have been asked to take part in the indoor Scale Nationals at the end of March 2017. Probably being rather overambitious but I have taken up the challenge and will try and build a 1/14 scale DH 87B Hornet Moth.

G-AELO is the target aircraft that I am going to try and replicate,

(image Wikipedia)

I started work on the plans in 2015 - it was originally intended as a Free Flight Scale model at 1/12 scale (31" span) - something I may attempt to start and complete again in the future.

I have simply scaled down the original CAD drawing I produced and I am using this as the primary source for the airframe structural layout. As the CAD drawing is currently incomplete, it is likely that I will have to rework substantial parts of the model. Hopefully not too much rework though.

G-AELO is also one of the featured aircraft in the book "De Havilland Moths in Detail" by Stuart McKay.

This will simplify getting the supporting documentation needed for the competition. By the way, the book is an excellent read, a great deal of information provided in a manner that is very interesting with some superb photography to support the text.  Makes you feel part of the story. Highly recommended.

This is the plan that I am currently working to. It's traditional Stick and Tissue construction but with micro RC gear fitted. The Scale Maestro Danny Fenton is also giving me lots of guidance and for that I am exceedingly grateful.

The plan was tile printed from PDF and the A4 sheets taped up then trimmed. A very low cost way of producing a plan

There is not much actual build information on the plan, its really just a parts placement plan so ideas will be tried (and many rejected) as the model is being built. I'll also be trying out some new ideas as well

A couple of evenings in the shed and one side is almost completed. The cling film is to protect the airframe - not the plan.

The second side is built directly on top of this side (separated by cling film) and then joined together using cross members with measurements taken directly from the plan. That curved top elevation will be fun to achieve.

The fuselage sideas are jigged upright and then a few selected spacers added. The whole lot is then weighed down carefully and the glue allowed to dry thoroughly. The taper behind the wing is straight and very simple to achieve. The taper in front of the wing is curved and different top and bottom and far more challenging.

Very fragile in this state, I cant imagine how many spacers I have to secure. Glue is weight and is kept to a minimum, sometimes a little more is required.

The front fuselage spacers added and work started on the fin.

I used a laser dye transfer method. I am trying to get the appearance of a scale structure. The method is quite simple, laser print the shape with ribs etc. Flip the print face down on the balsa with the grain running in the correct direction and then rub a little cellulose thinners through and the image is magically transferred onto the wood.

This has a 1/32 balsa core hollowed out around the 1/32 doublers in the fin area then a significant amount of wood is removed from the rudder, leaving mainly an outline and the 1/32 square ribs. The whole lot is then sanded down to a streamline.

It sits in the top of the fuselage with the small tongue located in a slot in a 1/32 fill sheet. Weight of the fin and rudder is 1.44gms

The nose block was manufactured from 1/2" very light sheet balsa. A suitable sized washer - the same diameter as the spinner was tacked into place and gave me something to sand to.

Its not quite the correct shape yet, but its not a million miles out either

And this is what it looks like. The 3 curved upper front deck formers are slightly too high and need to be reduced by a couple of mm.

The cockpit was fabricated and installed before the fuselage could be covered.

I was really quite pleased with that console as a first attempt

Cant claim any credit for the pilot. He is actually slightly too small in scale and I did have to provide legs and paint him (now known as Cedric).

And installed..

Wing construction is fairly traditional for indoor models, comprising of wing ribs created by wrapping a preformed (sliced strip) for the top and bottom over internal spars. I a not entirely happy with this method of construction. While it is undoubtedly very light (the wing panels weighed 8 grams each), I found it rather too fragile for my ham fistedness.

Ailerons were built with the wing then separated when ready for covering then hinging

A sort of bare bones shot.

The flight radio gear was procured from Micron UK, comprising of a micro Rx and servos and a park-fly motor, gearbox and prop.

Carbon push-rods used for the aileron linkages out to traditional bell-cranks. Horns fabricated from 1/32 plywood.

I found covering very difficult. Any construction errors were magnified by the resulting creases and it took many attempts to get it to a state that I was half happy with.

 The model was covered in red and silver Esaki Jap tissue. The orange roof panels were from Orange cellophane from a brand of Jaffa Cakes.

Windows frames cut from a very thin baking tray and glazing from the base of a cake tray.

Tailplane and rudder

Interplane struts are located using a bent pin through a small loop in the correct place

Lettering and logos were produced in Photoshop then transferred back into CAD to make sure that the size was correct then printed onto transfer paper then finally sprayed with car lacquer to make them waterproof, before they ere placed in water to separate them from the backing

When finally finished, it looked like this

A very interesting project. I am not entirely happy with the wings as they have bowed slightly and may redo them but I think its not a bad representation of the original.