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Old Apr 26, 2013, 08:56 PM
East Coast Builder
Skytrek's Avatar
United States, VA, Suffolk
Joined Sep 2009
137 Posts
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Tricks of the trade for (Building Woodies)

I'm getting ready to embark on my first real sailplane build and thought I would ask about the tricks of the trade. Seems all retailers have some sort of instructions with their planes, some very detailed and others,,,not so much.

However, after speaking to a few guys who have years of experience it became obvious that tricks of the trade were usually the difference between a good build and an competition winning beauty.

Here's a few I've heard of but would think everyone's input would be put to good use by all.

Want your covering to stick and add a little strength use (Balsarite).
Keep CG in the forefront of you mind during the build, any additional weight up front will have to be offset in the rear.
Start with a build board or at the vary least a level workbench.
Sandpaper glued to a Popsicle Stick works great for those tight places.
Using a paper cutter is great for cutting carbon caps.

I would really appreciate any ideas that would help take my build to the next level...
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Old Apr 26, 2013, 11:10 PM
life long racing nut & modeler
granada don's Avatar
Granada Hills Ca.
Joined Nov 2009
1,875 Posts
Hi Sky

What are you going to build, are you a RC flyer now

It is very helpfull to join a glider flying club and the members can give you pointers in person and make new friends, plus help you learn to thermal your new plane.

Start a building notebook as you will not remember all the tips & pointers people give you, make chapters for each part of the plane - fuse - wing - tail - rc stuff install - balsa prep & paint etc. Use photo's too

I have pages & pages of notes for each project i do and keep them for future use

And start a build thread here on the forum , to get help by asking questions BEFORE you glue things together so your plane gets built right

Keep all the weight towards the CG - wing and fuse and light tail feathers too

A level building board should be very FLAT most important, also a straight alum 36" rule from the hardware store is very helpfull in keeping the spars straight when pinning them down the building board. Then your wing will be straight from the start

Make sure your board is able to take pins to hold the wood for gluing.

Have fun, G Don
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Old Apr 27, 2013, 12:47 AM
ahh crap! crunch..
atmosteve's Avatar
Australia, QLD, Fraser Island
Joined Nov 2007
3,870 Posts
Great that G Don broke the ice!

Sky, you are right, there are so many building tricks that you would be hard pressed to fit them into one volume. Let me contribute by putting your second point around the other way please! Any additional weight behind the planned or estimated CG point will need to be paid for in the nose almost exponentially!!

Cheers
Steve.
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Old Apr 27, 2013, 12:52 AM
ahh crap! crunch..
atmosteve's Avatar
Australia, QLD, Fraser Island
Joined Nov 2007
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I 'spose folks like Captain Canardly might not agree with with my CG rectification attempt! But I won't try go there yet.
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Old Apr 27, 2013, 05:14 AM
Balsa addiction since age 3
ScottSails's Avatar
Upstate NY
Joined May 2005
1,223 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by atmosteve View Post
I 'spose folks like Captain Canardly might not agree with with my CG rectification attempt! But I won't try go there yet.
3 to 1 ratio might be more accurate and easier to figure vs exponentially for most planes

The key is to build and see what works for you. I can easily share that the best plane in my hands will still be beat by a gentleman I fly with using a flying brick. In other words, skill and ability to find thermals (and work them) is every bit or more important than the plane. You have to have a plane that meets the task but then it becomes the pilot. Now that being said, I am not a competition pilot
Scott
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Old Apr 27, 2013, 05:02 PM
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Joined Oct 2004
567 Posts
Build the required washout into the wing , trying to force it in during the covering stage is a bad bet.
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Old Apr 27, 2013, 05:44 PM
Balsa breaks better
Thermaler's Avatar
Buchanan Mi
Joined Apr 2005
2,067 Posts
Welcome to the relaxing world of building. If you have put an ARF or two together and felt good your are going to get that feeling 110 fold when done taking a pile of nothing and turning it into something.
Check your measurement two or three times then cut. You will still make a "short cut" but not as often.
Tight fitting joints mean less glue (weight) and more strength. If you have to, cut some scrap to fill gaps between the ribs and spar or whatever joint is not tight. If it is a critical joint like the wing joiner box or shear webs, cut a new piece.
The guys are right, keep the tail end light. Most builds tend to be tail heavy even if only by a tad.
When balancing the model start with the biggest battery you can fit in the space available. Better useful weight than dead weight.
No slop in the linkage. I would not use plastic push rods, they tend to change length with the temperature.

Joe
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Old Apr 27, 2013, 06:14 PM
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United States, OR, Corvallis
Joined Jan 2010
931 Posts
Building sorta stuff.....

I'll reiterate and add to whatever everyone else has said, it's all good advice so far.

Here's my thoughts:
1) Fiberglass the fusalage from the tip of the nose to a little past where the leading edge of the wing will sit, do this while building before covering and not after a bad landing(Ie-lawn dart crash). Since this is all added weight in front of the CG, you'll be adding structural integrity and nose balancing weight with this process. Put 3 layers of cloth on the nose, and taper down to 2 layers to mid way, to 1 layer all the way back to where you stop just a little past the leading edge area.
2) Take the time to put triangle stock on the inside corners of your fusalage and REALLY round the corners. Then round them some more. You'll be aerodynamically cleaner and you'll be getting rid of all or more of the weight you added with the triangle stock on the inside.
3) Make a bunch of sanding blocks, sanding dowels, notch sanding tools from hardwood the same size as your top and bottom spars or turbulators, etc. It will be time very well spent.
4)Yes, Post a "Build-Log" with pictures and ask questions, people that hang out here on the "Thermal" forum are pretty helpful and give good advice.
5) If Don Stackhouse, Ray Hayes or Mark Miller puts their 2 Cents in, lock your eyes onto it and burn it into your brain. Countless others have great info also.
6) Get penetration with clean aerodynamics before ballast, such as keep your switches, antenna wires inside(if using a 72MHz system), if using dowels and rubber bands for wing mounting, turn them 90 degs so they are longitudinal and INSIDE the fuselage and not sticking sideways outside the fuselage. Try to leave the air cleaner than your glider found it. Make your glider into a "Sky-comb" that smooths the air our and tidy's it up and removes turbulence as it passes through. Of course that's ridiculous but that's the best approach.
7) Keep the tail end light.
8) Keep your trailing edges sharp.
9) Airfoil your cross sections of your vert and horiz stabs.
10) Don't use pre-made "hinges" for your articulating control surfaces, make your hinges with covering material (or tape), aerodynamically it pays off with gliders.

I'm sure there's more, but if you do the "build log", you'll get loads of good advice.

Adios - Paul
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Old Apr 27, 2013, 08:07 PM
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LVsoaring's Avatar
United States, OK, Moore
Joined Jan 2006
2,542 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skytrek View Post
I'm getting ready to embark on my first real sailplane build and thought I would ask about the tricks of the trade. Seems all retailers have some sort of instructions with their planes, some very detailed and others,,,not so much.

However, after speaking to a few guys who have years of experience it became obvious that tricks of the trade were usually the difference between a good build and an competition winning beauty.

Here's a few I've heard of but would think everyone's input would be put to good use by all.

Want your covering to stick and add a little strength use (Balsarite).
Keep CG in the forefront of you mind during the build, any additional weight up front will have to be offset in the rear.
Start with a build board or at the vary least a level workbench.
Sandpaper glued to a Popsicle Stick works great for those tight places.
Using a paper cutter is great for cutting carbon caps.

I would really appreciate any ideas that would help take my build to the next level...

You're technically correct, but the lesson here has that backwards..... any added weight in the tail will require much more in the nose to counter it.

Careful with popsicle sticks and tongue depressors.... they are rarely flat, so you could inadvertently sand something slightly concave or convex. And as I like to say, that which has been sanded cannot be unsanded.

My biggest advice is work slowly and methodically, and if you have a question about ANYTHING, stop and ask here. There is no bunch of guys (and a few gals) happier to help you get started on the right foot than we sailplaners.
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Old Apr 27, 2013, 11:00 PM
Registered User
Joined Jun 2004
220 Posts
Best things for me that ought to be good for all:

1. Get a building/flying coach who is familiar with the plane you want.

2. Be nice to said coach and respect her/his advice.

3. Ask lots of questions; maybe make a few journal notes for future reference.

4. If you select a good plane to start with, making a lot of modifications and other changes to the basics is probably not needed. Just get the build completed and enjoy it. Save the more complex mods for another build.

5. Appropriately celebrate after the first thermal and appropriately thank the coach.

6. After a few more builds, you be the coach for someone like yourself.
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Old Apr 28, 2013, 04:56 PM
East Coast Builder
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United States, VA, Suffolk
Joined Sep 2009
137 Posts
Thanks to all for the great advice and more is always welcome!

There are many items here I had not considered and glad I asked before I started.

The bird I'm building is the (Oculus) from MM glider Tech. My research indicates this is a quality Sailplane and scores well in competition. Others have compared it to the AVA and Bubble Dancer and the build is straight forward. I'll be doing two fuses one standard and one electric. I'll be reaching out for help that's for sure and I appreciate all advice.
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Old Apr 28, 2013, 05:06 PM
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Lindenwold, NJ, USA
Joined Dec 2000
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Use thin CA sparingly. It soaks into the wood and adds weight.
Titebond is lighter only if you clean up the excess glue that seeps out of glued joint. If you use a toothpick or swizzle stick to remove most of the glue from the joint surfaces, wood glue dries very fast. You want to get a smooth layer of wood glue on the entire contact surface - no drops.
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Old Apr 28, 2013, 05:35 PM
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Why glue sandpaper to a popsicle stick when you can use an emery board?
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Old Apr 28, 2013, 07:02 PM
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Don Stackhouse's Avatar
United States, OH, Bradford
Joined Jun 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Gallagher View Post
Use thin CA sparingly. It soaks into the wood and adds weight....
I have found that medium CA builds lighter than thin CA, because it does not soak in as deep. It also gives you time to wipe off any excess before it sets up. Keep a box of tissues handy when building and immediately wipe off any squeezeout, before it sets.

On wide wooden joints (such as gluing on doublers), avoid water-based glues like Titebond. The moisture in the glue will cause the wood on that side of each piece to swell, and the edges of the pieces will curl away from the joint. A non-water-based glue like thick CA or epoxy will not do this.

If you must use water-based glue, wet the outside surfaces of the wood pieces to counteract the swelling caused by the glue, so the wood stays flat.
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