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Old Mar 08, 2015, 07:43 PM
Since 1952
Harry D's Avatar
Canada, AB, Edmonton
Joined Oct 2004
1,411 Posts
Build Log
Gilliam/Hunter Starduster for AMPLAN buildoff

Here are a few notes on my second AMPLAN entry, the Starduster by Paul Gilliam and Bob Hunter. Itís a little late getting started, but until now I wasnít sure if I would even be building the model. Iíve spent the last several months, off and on, trying to make sense of what I regard as a rather poorly done and confusing plan, but Iíll say no more about that. Iíve finally finished redesigning and redrawing it, and think I now have a plan I can build from. Having spent all that time, Iím determined that Iím going to build the Starduster, and starting this log will hopefully serve as some kind of commitment by me to actually do that.

I think I have a good chance of finishing by the end of March buildoff deadline, unless anything unexpected comes up to steal my time. I now have an accurate, workable CAD plan to build from, and all necessary laser cutfiles ready to go. So, on with it!

The Gilliam/Hunter Starduster is a bit strange in some ways. Itís a model I just knew I had to build the instant I saw it on the cover of the November 1960 Flying Models. There had been a single-page, reduced-size plan in the previous issue (September 1960) , but no accompanying article or any other mention of it and nothing in any Flying Models issues from around that time. When I decided to build it, I spent hours searching the Internet and other sources for any information or pictures that might exist, but drew a TOTAL blank. Nothing at all.

I have a feeling that the picture of the model in that FM issue is the only one in existence, and that the model may well be the only one ever built. If anyone has any other information, I'd love to hear about it.

Incidentally, the plan uses the name ďStardusterĒ but it is shown on the model as ďStardustĒ. Maybe the builder didnít have any more E and R letters. Anyway, Iíll call it Starduster. Please note that this model is not to be confused with several other completely different ones of the same name that are out there.

OK, on to the model itself. It was designed in the late 1950s by Paul Gilliam and Bob Hunter, both very well known and successful competitive modelers of their time. Paul is best known for his Civy Boy design (and its several offshoots), which the Starduster is clearly based on. Bob also had some very successful and well-known designs, the Satellite being the best known. Lots of information on those two models is available, and makes interesting reading. With a heritage like that, how could the Starduster be anything but a success?

Attached below is all the information Iíve been able to find about the Starduster. Iíve also added an article from the May 1950 MAN that I came across only yesterday, and that got me thinking. Itís another design by Paul Gilliam, and looks like it could well have been a direct ancestor of his Starduster; it seems to have much the same layout, design philosophy, and objectives. Itís called, of all things, the Civy Hearse. Why, you ask? Well, because, said Paul, itís a PAAload model, so (drumroll, please) itís carrying dead weight! Oh dear.

Back on track, next post.

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Old Mar 08, 2015, 08:00 PM
The dog ate my clearance
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That's a good-looking model, I'll be following!
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Old Mar 09, 2015, 05:15 AM
I like real wooden aeroplanes!
Sundancer's Avatar
South-west France
Joined Sep 2007
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Another unusual and interesting subject Harry, you do seem to find them! I've added a link to this build thread to the AMPLAN thread Post #1.
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Old Mar 09, 2015, 08:09 AM
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Napa, CA
Joined May 2007
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As beautiful as you build Harry, this is one I'll be following for sure. I have a 74" Civy-Boy short kit that I need to build (one of these days), so I'll be really interested in this one, especially the stab configuration you come up with.
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Old Mar 09, 2015, 10:16 AM
Since 1952
Harry D's Avatar
Canada, AB, Edmonton
Joined Oct 2004
1,411 Posts
Thanks, guys. It's an interesting model, and I'm convinced it will fly very nicely.

I had to do some fairly extensive modifications to the original plan, to adapt it to RC and electric, and also to ďimproveĒ some structural design features that I couldnít figure out or didnít like. Attached below is what I ended up with for a building plan, and an outline ď2-viewĒ of the model as modified.

The Starduster appears to be basically similar to many of the free flight duration models of that era, with perhaps some characteristics of the PAAload style. One obvious ďspecial featureĒ is the huge horizontal stabilizer - 46% of the wing area. This, plus the long tail moment (fuselage length) allows the CG to be moved quite far back - the plan shows 82% of the wing chord. The designers say that the large, lifting stab contributes significantly to the available lift. That seems to make sense, as the stab is so large that the model could almost be considered a tandem wing design.

The wing airfoil is NACA 6408, a thinned version of the 6409 that was very popular at the time. So the Starduster will probably fly a little faster than it would have with the 6409.

The main modifications I made were:

- Converted to RC and electric, as usual.

- Modified the nose arrangement. The original had an engine hanging off the front of the fuselage, without a nose of any kind. I added just enough nose length to hold a lipo and some radio gear, and hopefully help put the CG in about the right location.

- Increased vertical stab (fin/rudder) area. In common with many free flight power models of the time, the original area looks ridiculously small to me. I always seem to end up increasing the fin area for RC adaptations, and did that here. Sizing by the TLAR method.

- Moved landing gear back a bit, so the wheel center was at the wing leading edge.

- Changed to wing bolts instead of rubber bands, as always.

- Lofted a set of fuselage formers, instead of trying the indicated method of somehow using cut-and-fit balsa sticks, done ďin the airĒ, to shape the rear fuselage.

- The plan shows the fuselage sides as being a 1/8Ē balsa stick frame covered by 3/32Ē balsa sheet. I couldnít see that setup being strong enough (for that big horizontal stab, in particular) so substituted 1/64Ē ply for the 1/8Ē stick frame.

- Changed to conventional wing and stab ribs, instead of the ďsliced ribĒ construction shown. I have used the sliced rib method in the past and it kind of works, but I donít like it for several reasons. I kept the same close rib spacing and smooth wing top airfoil surface (no surface mounted spars).

- Used laminated tips, instead of sheet balsa.

- The original polyhedral wing has an 8Ē wide flat center section. I couldnít see the benefit of that, and it meant an extra dihedral break to build and cover. So I made the wing with normal polyhedral (no flat center piece), keeping the total tip height the same as on the plan.

End of long-winded introductory waffle.

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Old Mar 09, 2015, 03:26 PM
Since 1952
Harry D's Avatar
Canada, AB, Edmonton
Joined Oct 2004
1,411 Posts
Not a good start. How can this happen?

I finished off my CAD plan a couple of weeks ago and thought I would sneak in a bit of preliminary work before really getting into the build. I had decided to make the fuselage sides of laminated 1/64Ē ply and 3/32Ē balsa [Photo 1], using white glue (Weldbond) as the adhesive. So I put a thin layer of glue on each of the surfaces, and clamped the assemblies between two flat pieces of 1/2Ē plywood [2] . I knew these would take a while to dry, so I left them alone for a week or so while I went and did other things.

When I removed the clamps at the end of that time, I was surprised to see that both glued-up pieces had taken on a rather extreme bowed shape [3]. How could that happen? OK, I thought, maybe thereís still some moisture present. So I clamped both pieces together, with concave surfaces facing each other, and a dozen or so spring clamps along their length. Now they were being held flat again, but this time with most of the surface being exposed to the air for (presumably) better drying.

I left them like that for another week or so, then removed the clamps expecting to see some flat sides. No way! A bit less bowed, but still completely unusable [4].

So how can this happen? I hardly ever use water based glues in my modeling (other than for tip laminations), and wouldnít know if this sort of thing is to be expected. Iím really curious to know how two flat sheets of wood, glued then clamped together, completely flat, for two weeks, can end up so bowed? Any insights?

Itís an academic question, really, because Iíve trashed that set and glued up another one, using epoxy instead of white glue. Absolutely no problems that time. Overnight cure, and they came out perfectly flat. So Iíve learned a lesson. Stay off the white glue!
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Old Mar 09, 2015, 06:37 PM
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Ajax, Ontario, Canada
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So, with the greatest respect Harry .... you're not building a Stardust, more an original model based upon same that differs both structurally and aerodynamically from what worked very well for it's intended purpose from the joint experience of two top gas flyers of the day?
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Old Mar 09, 2015, 08:32 PM
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Holland, Michigan
Joined Dec 2006
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That's warp is disappointing. I'm a white glue fan but typically I Epoxy larger 1/64" parts to formers and such because of the potential warp problem. I suspect if you ran the grain 90 degrees to the balsa it may have worked. I have found white glue is fine if I treat both sides of the balsa with the ply...even then I try to oppose the grain....a moot point now. :-)

I recognize this plane from when I was a kid working in a hobby shop. It was way beyond my skill level then and for that matter, the original wing build still is. I have no interest in inflicting needless pain on myself by slicing out ribs.

I am looking forward to how you build your wing with no surface spars. Actually I'm looking forward to the build for a lot of reasons, foremost it is a really nice looking plane. Larry
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Old Mar 09, 2015, 08:37 PM
Since 1952
Harry D's Avatar
Canada, AB, Edmonton
Joined Oct 2004
1,411 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Applehoney View Post
So, with the greatest respect Harry .... you're not building a Stardust, more an original model based upon same that differs both structurally and aerodynamically from what worked very well for it's intended purpose from the joint experience of two top gas flyers of the day?
Yes and no, Jim.

Aerodynamically the only changes I made are those necessary (in my opinion, based on several decades of RC experience) for a good flying, practical RC adaptation. And I'm definitely not going to get into the RC vs FF thing here.

Structurally it is a fair bit different, for three main reasons. First, Iíve incorporated changes that, again based on my experience, are desirable in an RC version. Second, Iíve included a few that simply make the model easier and more enjoyable to build. Finally, I honestly donít know what happened with that particular plan, because it would, to put it bluntly, be a nightmare to build as shown. Try building it yourself, exactly as drawn, if you donít believe me.

Iím not one of those authenticity nuts who believes that nothing should be changed from an original design. All Iím looking for in an oldtimer is a good flying, attractive, recognizable model that I can enjoy and have fun with. I donít believe, like some guys apparently do, that if something wasnít being done in the nineteen fifties (or some other chosen time period) then it canít be any good. Nor do I think that ANY model design, by ANYBODY, is so perfect and sacrosanct that it should be regarded as untouchable.

Do you think I should name my version something else, because it's not exactly to the original plan? Maybe I should. Stardusty, perhaps? But where does one draw the line? How many grains of sand does it take to make a heap? We could argue forever about when a modified model can no longer be considered the same design. Iím not going to do that because I simply donít care. This is a hobby, itís supposed to be fun, and it seems to me that everybody should just relax and enjoy it in their own chosen way.

Thank you for your interest.
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Old Mar 09, 2015, 10:04 PM
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Ajax, Ontario, Canada
Joined Oct 2004
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Harry, no disrespect was intended - you're building a version to be flown in a far different manner than the original F/F and I appreciate that requires amended structure and, in some cases, dimensions.

I agree that the fuselage structure is not the easiest to build - Gilliam went kind of overboard on that (I can't see Hunter too much there) but it's a model I always liked the look of. Had it been published a few years earlier I would happily have built it 'as so' for Nostalgia Gas .. with a good K&B or Johnson up front.

Enjoy!
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Old Mar 11, 2015, 08:31 PM
Since 1952
Harry D's Avatar
Canada, AB, Edmonton
Joined Oct 2004
1,411 Posts
Fuselage progress

Thanks for the advice on using white glue, Larry. Iíll bear that in mind if I try it again for this sort of thing. I havenít been using white glue much lately, because I found that CA and epoxy, between them, usually worked better for me. But I like to try different ways of doing things, even if they sometimes donít work out (like this time) and Iíll give it a go again when a likely application comes up.

Anyway, after getting that bowing problem resolved, I had a fairly productive couple of days and got the basic Starduster fuselage structure put together. Now I need to build the wing and tail surfaces before I can go any further with it.

So, wing construction starting tomorrow. I have spar, LE, and TE material cut to needed dimensions. I glued up the tip laminations a couple of days ago before starting on the fuselage, because those take a while to dry properly, and they should be ready to go by now. Laser cutfiles for the ribs are available from my CAD plan tracing, so building the flying surfaces shouldnít take too long.

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Old Mar 11, 2015, 10:51 PM
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Napa, CA
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OK Harry, what was (or is) your line of work? I ask because of the Fantastic craftsmanship you put into your planes....Good God you're good!!
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Old Mar 12, 2015, 04:12 AM
I like real wooden aeroplanes!
Sundancer's Avatar
South-west France
Joined Sep 2007
5,412 Posts
What he said! And I can now see what you mean about the fuselage and the need for a bit of rationalisation to make it practically buildable! It almost seems as if the original was designed on the "let's just see how difficult we can make it" principal.
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Old Mar 12, 2015, 08:41 AM
I'd rather be flying.....
JeffMac's Avatar
United States, IA, Story City
Joined Oct 2013
733 Posts
Coming along quickly Harry !

The fuse design and shape is pleasing but complicated - I like your approach !

Best Regards,

Jeff
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Old Mar 12, 2015, 11:16 AM
The dog ate my clearance
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tri-pacer View Post
OK Harry, what was (or is) your line of work? I ask because of the Fantastic craftsmanship you put into your planes....Good God you're good!!
Agreed. I wouldn't have the courage to tackle a fuselage like that.
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