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Old Jan 27, 2013, 11:26 AM
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United States, VA, Winchester
Joined Apr 2003
92 Posts
Build Log
Mountain Models SpookE Micro

Greetings All,

I picked up this fine kit at the 2012 Neat Fair and had hoped to start this thread much earlier, but selling the house and moving into the newly built one kind of disrupted those plans. I've finally gotten the workshop up and running and enough 'house' projects out of the way that I can get back to doing what we all love best--building neat airplanes.

The original Spook that was the inspiration for the Mountain Models kit was a 1940 design kitted by Model Craft. Plans for a couple of versions can be found in the Vintage & Old Timer Design forum of RC Groups. As far as I can tell, the SpookE is true to the look and feel of the original.

The kit is very well packaged as can be seen in the photos below. All the parts are neatly arranged and carefully taped to a stiff section of corrugated board with low tack blue painters tape to keep everything in place and safe inside the poly bag packaging. The kit contains virtually everything you need except the usual tools, adhesives, covering and radio gear. The quality of the balsa is top notch and seems to be density matched to the intended use. Laser cutting is clean and precise, and the plans and instructions along with the included hardware and wheels represents a nice value. The plans show all the pertinent details and the instruction manual is clear and understandable, as can be seen in the photo showing the fuselage construction. Building starts with the wing in the next post.
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Old Jan 27, 2013, 12:38 PM
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Building the SpookE wing

Building the wing starts with assembling the front and rear spars from the several pieces needed to form the gull wing shape. The balsa spars are reinforced with 1/32" ply stiffeners. I used thin CA on the balsa spar parts and medium CA to attach the ply stiffeners. The parts fit together with interlocking tabs an matching slots, so there is no need to build over a plan sheet. Just be careful to put a piece of wax paper or poly sheeting under the pieces and make sure the parts are aligned before applying the glue.

The trailing edge is assembled next and, again, is made up of balsa pieces with plywood reinforcement. I used aliphatic resin (yellow glue) to glue these parts so I could make sure I had some time to adjust the fit if needed. The ply reinforcements are glued to the outer trailing edges first and then to the inner parts of the gull trailing edge parts. The building directions are clear on the orientation of all the various parts and tips for assembling them correctly and straight.

The leading edges are assembled in two halves. The lower parts of tab into slots in the front parts and after they are glued together, the lower part of each alignment slot is trimmed away.

The assembled spars and trailing edge are joined with the three center section ribs. It's important to make sure all the parts are fully fit together and that they sit flat on you work surface with the spars and training edges properly aligned when view from the front and rear. Once you're sure of the alignment you can tack glue the parts together. I temporarily put the outboard ribs, W17 in place to help with the alignment. The directions recommend just tack gluing everything together until most of the wing parts are assembled, and then going back and thoroughly gluing each joint.

In the next post, I'll finish up the assembly of the wing. It's been a while since I started a build thread, and I need to remember how to add comments to the photos and generally manage how the posts work. Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most!
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Old Jan 27, 2013, 08:30 PM
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Finishing the wing

I'm fed and watered and ready to get back to the next installment on the SpookE wing.

The leading edges and the ribs in the 'gull' portion of the wing are installed next. The leading edges are first glued to the front of the W3 piece previously glued to the three center ribs.

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Description: The leading edge halves attached to the center ribs.

The two ribs in each side of the gull sections of the wing are installed next.
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Description: The gull section ribs are inserted and tack glued with this section of the wing supported on the edge of the workbench.

The outer panels are supported on the bench and the 3 remaining full ribs are added. Be especially careful with the ribs nearest the tips--handle them carefully and make sure they are properly seated before gluing. I found it helpful to glue the wing tip parts together and test the fit before gluing the tip ribs in place.
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Description: Full ribs added in the outer portion of the wing.  Note the tape holding the panel flat on the bench.  Be careful not to bump the part of the wing off the bench!

The two parts of each wing tip are assembled next.
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Description: Wing tip parts glued together.

The tip sections are attached to the upper sides of the wing.
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Description: Half ribs and wing tip sections added.

All that remains is to make sure each joint is glued where it was previously tacked. Once this is done and the wing is completely dry, the leading edges can be carefully shaped and the entire wing sanded smooth.
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Description: The completed wing ready for covering.

Next post, I'll start on the the fuselage.
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Old Jan 27, 2013, 09:18 PM
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Starting the fuselage

The fuselage assembly is the next part to tackle. The laser cut sheet for the main parts was one of the nicest contest grade pieces of balsa I've seen in a long time. Holding it up to the light revealed consistent density throughout with no hard streaks or sections anywhere. I wish all balsa we use was as good as this piece!

Once the cabin posts are glued in each side (make sure you have a right and a left), parts F1, F2, and F3 and the plywood motor mount F4 are assembled dry and fit into the matching slots in one side of the fuselage. No glue is applied until the rest of the forward formers and the second side are fitted together.

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Description: The two fuselage sides have separate small pieces that are glued in place in the cabin sides.  The center crutch F1 is fitted with the F2 and F3 formers and the F4 plywood motor mount.  No glue is used on this assembly until later after more formers and t

The front and rear plywood landing gear plates, F6 and F7, are fitted next without gluing. In my kit, the rear plywood former was labeled F5, while the directions have it labeled F7. Must be an early editing error, but as I could find no other part with either F5 or F7 on it, it was not really confusing.

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Description: Plywood former F7 seems to have been labeled F5.

I did find it helfpul to slightly bevel the rear side of the top tabs on each former to make it easier to insert in the slots in the F4 motor mount plate. The formers fit in at an angle, and while the slots in the motor mount were wider than the thickness of the formers, I found it a bit difficult to insert them and didn't want to risk damaging the sides by using too much pressure.

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Description: F6 and F7 are positioned but not glued.

Once all the parts are fitted into the first side, the remaining side can be carefully placed, the joints double checked for correct, snug fit, and then thin CA is applied to lock all the joints together.

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Description: The remaining side is fitted in place and all joints glued.

This is turning out to be a really fun build. I was a bit worried that the gull wing would be challenging, but the design is so well thought out and the directions so clear, that it was much easier than I anticipated.

Time to call it quits for this evening. Next time, I'll finish the fuselage construction.
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 12:01 PM
Learning how to glide.
United States, RI, Smithfield
Joined Aug 2012
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Thank you for doing this. I really liked this model when I saw it in one of Mountain Models' ads and thought it would be a cool kit to build, but was a bit apprehensive about the difficulty of the wing shape.
I haven't really built any kits yet, just practicing now on a Guillow Lancer for/with my young daughter. This build blog gives me some insight - I really appreciate the details you are providing.

Maybe I will build one in the near future after all. I am sure i will come back to this as a resource once I do.
Thank you.
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 09:11 PM
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You're welcome Mark. If you finish the Guillow Lancer successfully, you should be able to handle the SpookE without too much trouble. It's like putting a jigsaw puzzle together where you know exactly how each piece fits ahead of time.

I'll try to point out areas and possible solutions where a novice builder might need a bit of advice.

--Ron
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 10:20 PM
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Completing the fuselage

The two parts shown here form the front of the windscreen on the fuselage. They are glued together with medium or thick CA so you can have a bit of time to make sure they are perfectly lined up before the glue sets. Note that the balsa part goes in front and the middle part is left on until the glue sets-- then the middle is trimmed away.

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Description:
Windscreen parts to be joined.

There are two 3/32" doublers glued inside the fuselage front on the top of the motor plate and two doublers added below to strengthen the nose and allow a bit of shaping later on.

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3/32" balsa doublers on the bottom side.

Once the doublers are in place, the windscreen assembly and the laser cut sheeting on the top of the nose and cabin area is added. Make sure the sheeting is well seated before applying thin CA. If you are a novice builder, sometimes it's hard to control the application of thin CA. Some brands have optional applicator tips or small diameter teflon tubing that can be attached to the tip of the glue bottle to aid in applying a more precise amount. I sometimes put a few drops of thin CA on a piece of waxed paper and use a piece of fine wire dipped in the puddle to apply a small amount of glue to tack a part in place. This works great when installing pieces like the sheets that form the top and bottom of the SpookE fuselage. Once the parts are tacked and checked for proper alignment, you can go back and add sufficient CA to wick into all the joints. The thin CA really flows nicely and capillary action takes it quite a long way. It also fires off quickly, gets hot, and gives off noxious fumes, so if you're sensitive, be sure to work in a well ventilated area.

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Description:
Wind screen and sheeting on top of nose and cabin.

This next step gave me a bit of trouble, and in hind sight, I would do it differently than the instructions say to. The plywood former that acts as a stop for the landing gear wire is supposed to slide in between the F6 and F7 plywood formers installed earlier. Thin CA is then dropped in the slot and would flow in by capillary action to join the pieces together. The problem I had is that the landing gear plate would not slide more than halfway into the gap between F6 and F7. Perhaps I got some glue in between then when I installed them. I wound up having to sand the edges of the gear plate to get it to fit without using so much force that I was afraid I would break the balsa sides.

What I think I will do when I build another SpookE, is to carefully align and glue the gear plate between F6 and F7 BEFORE assembling the front of the fuselage, This should avoid any difficulty inserting the gear plate later as the instructions say. Just a thought.

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Description:
I had to sand the edges of the plywood
gear plate in order to easily insert it all
the way into the gap between F6 and F7.

The laser cut sheeting on the underside of the nose is attached next. I fitted each piece one at a time and tack glued it where it meets the plywood formers first. It was then a simple matter of holding the sheet down while gluing a bit at a time until it was done.

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Sheeting on the bottom of the nose.

The rear former and the stabilizer mounting saddle are fitted together and then carefully fit to the notches in the rear of the fuselage sides. When everything is snug, you can tack it in place, check the alignment and glue it securely. Go easy on the CA in the tail area to keep it light.

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Description:
Rear former and stab saddle dry fit together
prior to inserting between sides. Note the pen
pointing to the small holes for the pushrod--they
should be toward the BOTTOM of the fuselage.

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Description:
Former, saddle, and rear of sides glued together.
Make sure the sides are aligned properly before
applying the glue.

The fuselage is completed by fitting and gluing the top and bottom laser cut sheet parts to the rear. Fit these with care to avoid distorting or breaking the delicate sheet parts. I found I needed to trim a few thousandths off the tabs at the front of the top sheet so it would fit without forcing the tabs into the matcing slots in the sides. A gentle touch is needed here.

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Description:
Top rear sheet--front tabs were slightly trimmed
to avoid forcing them into the slots.

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Description:
Attaching the bottom sheet completes the
fuselage structure.

All that remains to ready the fuselage for covering is the sanding and shaping which I'll address in more detail later.

Next up will be the tail feathers and the assembly of the dummy cylinder head.
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Old Jan 29, 2013, 07:20 AM
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Joined Apr 2002
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Hi Monofoil Man

Nice tip about the gear plate! I'm building a SpookE at the moment so am watching your thread with interest. Still working on the wing, but am so far very impressed with the kit and the ease in which it is going together.

Cheers!
Gary
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Old Jan 29, 2013, 10:40 AM
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Gary,

I hope you're having as much fun with it as I am!

I was thinking about the gear plate after I posted last night and I came up with another possibility that would work. If one were to dry fit the gear plate (F17) between the formers when they are first being installed, this would eliminate any problems trying to slide it in later. Also, if one were to make a couple of holes near the middle of the F6 and F7 formers, the thin CA could be dropped into the holes to spread out and fix the gear plate more easily than dropping glue in the opening where the gear wire will go. I should contact MM and suggest that as a possible modification to think about.

--Ron
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Old Jan 29, 2013, 06:48 PM
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Tail feathers and dummy cylinder head

The stabilizer, elevator, fin, rudder and sub-rudder are next on the list to assemble. These are really a snap and go together fast due to the interlocking nature of the parts. I assembled them all in a matter of minutes on a sheet of waxed paper laid over the workbench surface.

Since wood is a dynamic material that changes dimensions with changes in temperature and especially humidity, I was concerned that, in the dryness that comes with the winter months, the balsa parts might have shrunk a bit making it tricky to fit the parts together. Fortunately, this was not the case, and while the parts were easily pressed together, I would recommend taking a bit of extra care to avoid breaking off some of the intricate tabs on a few of the parts, especially where the grain of the wood is oriented as it is on the pointed tabs of the center part of the stabilizer and elevator. Rather than just pushing it in, it helps to just get it started and then lay a piece of scrap sheet over the joint and gently apply pressure to seat the parts together. Once this is done for all the parts, a drop of thin CA on each joint will lock the parts together permanently. Simple and effective.

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Description:
Parts of the tail group, some have been fit together
and are ready for a drop of CA on each joint.

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Description:
Close up of the fin, rudder and sub-rudder showing
the interlocking nature of the parts that make it easy
to assemble without laying them on a plan sheet.

A nice touch on this model is the dummy cylinder that makes it look like there is a small glow or ignition motor providing the power. The laser cut parts are labeled individually and I laid them all out in groups according to their numbers prior to beginning the assembly. A short piece of 1/32" wire cut from the supplied length provides a guide to align each piece as it is glued and also simulates a glow plug attachment point. If you were to attach a short length of wire to the tip and run the other end through a small hole in the nose sheeting, it could give the appearance of the high tension spark plug wire of an old time ignition set-up.

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Description:
All the cylinder parts laid out in groups with the
plan nearby as a reference to the assembly
order, which is also in the directions.

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Description:
Midway through the cylinder assembly. Glue is
applied to each part which is them slid down on
the length of wire, keeping everything aligned.

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Description:
The completed dummy cylinder head awaiting
a coat of paint. I plan to do the lower part black
and the upper part silver like the head of an old
Cox Baby Bee or K&B Tornado glow engine.

Time to go sand all the various assemblies in preparation for applying the covering.

Until next time!
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 12:11 PM
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Joined Mar 2001
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monofoil Man View Post
If one were to dry fit the gear plate (F17) between the formers when they are first being installed, this would eliminate any problems trying to slide it in later. Also, if one were to make a couple of holes near the middle of the F6 and F7 formers, the thin CA could be dropped into the holes to spread out and fix the gear plate more easily than dropping glue in the opening where the gear wire will go.
Ron,

I'll take a look at doing something like that. I have a couple other ideas as well. So, after I manage to get caught up on production, I'll try out a couple ideas. After all, I need to build up another one (or 2) to properly cover in a nice Esaki.

Brian
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 03:17 PM
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Brian,

It's darn near impossible to get everything perfect on a new design, and this is such a minor detail that it's no problem at all to anyone with a bit of building experience.

Concentrate on taking care of your back and don't worry too much about production--all us fans of Mountain Models certainly understand.

I'm wrestling with trying to decide how to finish the SpookE. I've thought about using Esaki--I really like the look of a traditional tissue and dope finish and I have struggled with trying to apply Solite and it's various incarnations before. It definitely takes a bit of a different approach than other covering films due to it's fragile nature, static cling and thinness. I'm also not a big fan of the translucency of many of the colors.

I've also considered coloring the 'bones' black with a marker and covering with Doculam to give a spooky look. I did this with another model a while back and it looks neat and is light to boot.

My last option still under consideration is using Light Tex. I know the recommendation is avoid heavier films, but this one is not too bad in the weight department, and is really opaque and easy to work with. It goes on at lower temps and shrinkage is easily controlled so as not to warp delicate surfaces. After completing the structure of the SpookE, I was impressed with it's strength and rigidity and I feel like it will handle this covering with no ill effects. Based on my experiences trying some of the foam micro models with a heavier single cell 240 mAh battery, I suspect that the SpookE wouldn't suffer that much with a 0.2 ounce or so increase in weight. It has much more wing area than the foamies and will PROBABLY be OK. If I decide to try this option, we'll see how it works and if it degrades performance too much, I could always strip it and recover it with one of the other options I mentioned.

--Ron
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Old Feb 01, 2013, 10:17 PM
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Spektrum 6400 mounting

While I was trying to decide how I want to cover the model, I got to thinking about how the receiver was to be mounted inside the fuselage. In most applications, the little combination receiver, speed control, and servo brick is either mounted with foam tape or spots of hot glue. These are the recommendations in the Spektrum 6400 manual. I've also heard of some modelers using silicone RTV to glue the receiver in but the fact that RTV has an acetic acid odor makes me worry that using it may cause corrosion or other electronic problems. I'm also not a big fan of foam tape or putting hot glue on the electronics.

Recently I saw a review of a micro model that had a molded plastic clip that allows the receiver to be snapped in and out. I thought this was a neat idea, and set about making such a mount out of balsa and plywood scraps. The base is just a piece of 1/16" balsa with a notch cut in the rear to clear one of the surface mount components on the back of the circuit board. the front of the receiver is captured by a small rectangle of 1/16" ply topped by a piece of 1/32" ply that overhangs the lower piece enough to catch the circuit board between the two servos. The rear of the circuit board is held in place in a similar manner, except that the top piece of 1/32" ply is retained with a small screw that allows removal of the receiver. The sides of the receiver are flush against the sides of the fuselage preventing lateral movement once the mount is glued to the floor of the fuselage in the proper location.

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Description: Balsa/ply mount for the receiver
Balsa and ply receiver mount with cutout for
a component on the bottom of the board.

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Description: Spektrum 6400 on the mount
Spektrum 6400 held by plywood rectangles that
overhang the circuit board in clear areas. The
small screw allows removal of the receiver.

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Description: Spektrum 6400 on the mount test fit into the fuselage.
The receiver on the mount, temporarily set in place
to check the fit and clearances.

It may be silly of me, but I just don't particularly like to permanently glue electronics in place in my models. This little mounting device didn't take much time to fabricate and it gives me the option of being able to remove the radio without risking damage.

Well, that was one hurdle cleared. Now I guess I'm back to the struggle making a decision about a covering method.
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Old Feb 02, 2013, 09:04 PM
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Covering decision

Well, it's too dang cold to cover with dope and tissue (I would be banished if I tried to do it inside), I don't have a black marker to color the airframe for Doculam covering, and I only have colors I can't stand in Solite, so for better or worse, I've decided to cover SpookE in Light Tex. Red with black and white trim. Hope to have the first photos tomorrow.

-Ron
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 09:59 PM
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Covering and radio installation

Well dang! I had almost finished this post and the power fluctuated just long enough to shut down the computer and lose all I had done. I hate it when that happens.

Covering presented no problems other than those that always seem to happen when working on small models. I sometimes wish I had three hands. The tail parts were covered first, then the fuselage. The black trim was cut using a cardboard pattern. After ironing the black trim, white stripes cut from a sheet of sign vinyl were applied. I like the vinyl because it conforms to curves more easily than the polyester trim stripes you can find at the hobby shop. I believe the striping tape you get at automotive parts stores is also vinyl but I'm not sure.

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Description: Covered parts minus the wing.
All the main parts except the wing are covered and ready for assembly.

The landing gear was tackled next. The 1/32" wire was bent to shape over the plan first. The hole in the wheel hub is metric and too large for the wire, so it's drilled out with a 1/16" drill bit and 1/8" lengths of aluminum tubing are cut and pressed into the holes. I put a drop of thin CA on each to make sure it was secure. The instructions call for bending up the wire to retain the wheels, but I was not sure I could do this without screwing it up, so I opted to cut short pieces of the remaining aluminum tube to glue on the axle as a retainer. The photo shows a piece of paper placed over the axle to deep the CA from getting to the wheel and gluing it to the axle. Once the gear assembly is complete it's a simple matter of inserting it in the slot on the bottom of the fuselage, inserting the plywood keeper, and putting a few drops of thin CA in the slot to lock everything in place.

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Description: landing gear parts.
The parts needed to assemble the landing gear.

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Description: Wheels hubs drilled and bearings installed.
The wheel hubs are drilled and short pieces of
aluminum are glued in for bearings.

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Description: Short aluminum retainers glued on. Paper keeps glue from reaching wheel.
I chose to glue short pieces of aluminum tubing
on the axles to retain the wheels. The paper keeps
the glue from reaching the wheel.

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Description: Landing gear installed.
Landing gear and plywood keeper glued in place.

The wing dowels were cut according to the plans, the ends were sanded, and then painted black and glued in place in the fuselage.

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Description: Wing dowels installed.
Wing dowels installed.

The push rods were installed next after locating the slots in the rear where they exit the fuselage and trimming away the covering. Getting the pushrods through the slots and holes was somewhat difficult since the covering prevented access where it would help to guide the wires. If I had thought about it, I might have left the bottom rear of the fuselage open until the pushrods were inserted. An alternative might be to install some thin teflon tubing as a guide for the .020" wire pushrods.

After the pushrods were threaded through, the ends that attach to the servos were bent with modified Z bends according to the plans, the rod ends were slipped into the servo arms and the receiver/servo block was installed into the fuselage with the previously made mount. Study the plans to make sure you understand the routing of the pushrods so they match up with the appropriate servo for the surface you need to control.

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Description:
Pushrods inserted, Z bends made and put into
servo arms prior to placing the brick in the fuselage.

Next the elevator and stab were hinged together using a srip of clear tape. The fin and rudder were joined in a similar fashion. The plywood control horns were painted black and glued in the slots in the elevator and rudder after trimming away the covering and testing the fit.

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Description:
Moveable surfaces hinged with clear tape and
control horns are installed.

Now it was time to set and glue the horizontal and vertical stabilizers. The covering had been trimmed away where the parts needed to be glued. The horizontal stab is slipped into the fuselage and the fin is set in making sure the tabs on the bottom of the fin go through the alignment slots in the stab and stab saddle. Once everything is in place checked to make sure the stab and fin were square with each other and the fuselage, a few drops of thin CA were applied to fix the stab in place. The fin was removed so glue could be applied to the tabs and then it was re-inserted and CA was used to secure it to the top of the fuselage.

The dummy cylinder had been painted previously and was now glued in place in the nose. The small mounting protrusions on the geared electric motor were trimmed off and the motor was glued to the motor mount with medium CA. The cable form the motor was run through the fuselage and plugged into the ESC port on the receiver brick.

The control horns still need to be joined to the pushrod ends and that will be done in the next post along with setting up the radio system and covering the wing.

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Description:
Dummy cylinder installed.

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Description:
Horizontal and vertical stabilizers are installed.

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Description:
The electric motor has been installed and the
uncovered wing placed on the fuselage to get an
idea of how cool it will look when finished.

Until next time, be safe.
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