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Old Aug 31, 2009, 08:14 PM
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United States, KY, La Grange
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Build Log
Tritle L-4 build along thread - the slow way

Well, here goes. The box arrived today, and it's time to get cracking on the Pat Tritle version of the L-4 Grasshopper. This thread will document the build (in a bit slower fashion than Pat's original build) and hopefully provide some clarification, additional pictures and gather suggestions and ideas from you. Please feel free to hijack the thread, just try to keep it close to topic.

A small bit about me; I'm into old wood sailboats, classic Porsches, and model anything. My first passion was RC sailplanes, and after too many years away, I started flying again 4 years ago. I recently moved to Louisville, KY where I wound up in one of the best RC Sailplane clubs on the planet and have enjoyed flying sailplanes and CD'ing a monthly 2-channel contest. My neighbor flies a T-28 Trojan out in front of our houses (we live in a development with LOTS of room between houses), and he got me hooked on flying something with an engine. I bought a hopped-up foamie F6F Hellcat to play with, but I'm a builder at heart and need to do something in scale so here we are.

Pat's short kits came well recommended, and after looking through the bits tonight, I can't agree more and can't wait to get started. This will be my first 'scale' build, and although I'm not going after any Top Gun awards, I would like to make it as nicely accurate as possible while keeping with the low-wing loading nature that Pat intended. I really wanted to achieve that realistic flight charateristics shown in Pat's video of the plane.

I'm also entertaining unique versions of the L-4 such as the Navy NE-1, but I'm having trouble finding good color pics of anything but the usual drab Army version. I have found a few civilian conversions, but an all white L-4 with a wild graphic on the side just doesn't look right to me. So, any ideas out there are welcome! Callie can do any graphics needed, right?

So far, here are some pics of where we are starting, and what we have to start with beginning with my work bench area.

By the way, did I mention this was going to be a bit slower than Pat's build? I travel a lot with my job, and two kids keep me pretty busy, but I will do my best to keep at this and keep everyone entertained.

Dion
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Old Aug 31, 2009, 09:58 PM
I eat glue
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Was out flying mine last night!
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Old Sep 01, 2009, 04:21 AM
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Dion ,

Looking forward to your build . Nice choice BTW ! Nothing wrong with a "slow build"

Cheers ,
-John
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Old Sep 01, 2009, 07:16 AM
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Thanks John.

I cut some of the strip wood last night, but came up short on a couple of thicknesses and need to pay a visit to the local hobby shop tonight on the way home.

It's ironic that I have $120 worth of bass, balsa, ply and spruce sitting in a box that I ordered for a Genie build, and none of it was 3/16" x 36"......I can't even rob one build to start another.

Dion
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Old Sep 01, 2009, 07:17 AM
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Jeez !!, my workbench hasn't looked like that for 30 years. Good luck on the build. I know you will find Pat's designs everything you imagined.
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Old Sep 01, 2009, 12:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by old navy
Jeez !!, my workbench hasn't looked like that for 30 years. Good luck on the build. I know you will find Pat's designs everything you imagined.
That's the advantage of moving into a new house and starting from scratch. The pic was also taken prior to my Sagitta 900 build in the Spring, so the bench is a little more 'seasoned' now, but I am trying to keep it clean.

On another note, I was doing a little resaerch this morning and have decided against the NE-1 version. I finally found more history on the NE-1/NE-2 and realized that none of them really ever came in two shades of blue, rather the typical multi-shades of grey or trainer yellow. I don't want the L-4 flying around looking like a battleship. So I guess I'm sticking with Army colors.

Dion
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Old Sep 01, 2009, 07:42 PM
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Some more slooooow progress tonight.

I started by stripping all of the wood into the required widths. See the nice pile of HO scale lumber? My railroading Father would love to get his hands on this....

I did the one thing that I always hate to do at this point in the build, I cut the plans up. I don't have a 4x4 building surface, so the plans get cut up into the subsections that get built. I used to take the plans to Kinkos to get copies made, then cut the copies up, but I found that I'd always pull out the cut up pieces to make more parts, repairs, etc. so why waste the money? Besides, I can get another set of plans for almost the same cost as copies.

My preferred building surface is a 5/8" sheet of drywall. I like it because it's flat, realtively easy to push pins into, and I can pick it up off of my workbench and move it around if needed without fear of the surface being warped or disturbed. I got the current 4'x8' building boards at the local Home Depot scrap pile for $2, and after cutting into different sizes the set of boards have lasted through 4 builds and probably have 4-6 more builds left in them. To finish this off, I mist coat 3M77 on the surface and tack the plans down directly to it then cover the whole surface area with Saran Wrap stretched and taped at the edges. In the pic, I have both wing halves butted up against each other on the same board.

I also managed to glue the multiple pieces that make up the front and rear spars. As you can see in the pic, I used a spacer to make sure the joint is prefect on each spar when it comes time to glue that rib in place. Then I weighted all of the joints down with lead filled sandwhich bags to make sure they stay flat while curring. By the way, I use Titebond III for most of my building now. I figured if it's good enough to repair the mast on my classic sailboat, it's good enough for my airplanes.

Dion
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Old Sep 01, 2009, 07:56 PM
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Dion,

Nice job. I like the 'spacer' trick. Know how to do it but have to remember to think of it when I need it.

I like to cut up plans too. I always made two copies, one goes on the wall and the other is cut up and used for building. I keep the one that goes on the wall in case I ever want to build the thing again. The cut up pieces get thrown away when done.

charlie
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Old Sep 02, 2009, 05:50 PM
I eat glue
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That's what I did too when glueing up my L-4 spar. Think I'll go fly er again tonight.
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Old Sep 02, 2009, 09:57 PM
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Not too much more progress. I had a work dinner to attend tonight, but the way these lazer cut parts go together is amazing. It reminds me of snap together plastic models, accept these parts actually fit. The rib/spar connection is so tight I was wondering if I needed glue?

The wing is also pretty much self aligning at this point as well. I've since pinned it down to the plans to do the ailerons, LE and TE, but it lines up perfectly to the drawings.

No surprises, nothing at all. I love this kit.

Dion
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Old Sep 03, 2009, 08:51 PM
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The wings are almost done at this point. I need to pick up some foam board tomorrow and bend the tips, but after that all we have left to do is install the servo trays and we are all set with the wings.

I installed the aluminum receiver tubes tonight as well. Of course I roughed up the aluminum and installed them with medium CA and made a nice little fillet all the way around as well. They should be good and tight for a long time.

Dion
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Old Sep 03, 2009, 08:56 PM
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Yes, isn`t lazer cutting nice? Much better than the old crappy die cut kits I got when I was a kid, half the time they didn`t cut all the way thru and you had to cut out nearly all the parts anyway.
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Old Sep 04, 2009, 01:51 PM
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More wing finishing shots. I'm off work today, so I'm having fun lounging around building airplanes (and cutting the grass shortly!)

Making the wing tip bows was fun. Can't wait to get going on the tail.


Dion
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Old Sep 04, 2009, 01:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Parson
Yes, isn`t lazer cutting nice? Much better than the old crappy die cut kits I got when I was a kid, half the time they didn`t cut all the way thru and you had to cut out nearly all the parts anyway.
Yes, up to this point I've only dealt with short kits of the wing rib and spar variety, nothing this extensive. I find myself double checking everything expecting to make adjustments, and there just aren't any to make!

Dion
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Old Sep 05, 2009, 07:44 AM
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Well, yesterday my lawn tractor decided to snap one of it's blade spindles, so I spent the afternoon removing,welding, and reinstalling that. Not much more done on the L-4. I did manage to remove the wing plans from the board and get the fuse plans laid out. Hopefull I'll find time to start on that today.

I've been so used to building high strength sailplane wings over the past few years that this L-4 wing has me shaking my head. I know once the covering is on, the wing will stiffen up and be perfectly fine, but I'm used to multi-composit, wrapped, curred, etc. spars that I can stand on top of.

In case anyone is interested, I weighed each wing half this morning. I still need to do finish sanding, but each wing came in at exactly 7/8 oz. I have no idea what that compares to, but it didn't feel like I overbuilt anything during this process!

Anybody else watching out there?

Dion
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