Balsa Al's blog View Details
Posted by Balsa Al | Oct 13, 2020 @ 11:31 AM | 1,825 Views
First kit from Dare. Really impressed with the quality of the Balsa, hardware pack, and the plans & instructions (Pat Tritle design.)

Pat's build log for the prototype is here.

The kit comes with plans, instructions, and materials to build the [email protected] 150 in either trike gear or tail dragger. I have access to grass fields, so being able to build a tail dragger version is a big plus.

Following instructions in order, I started with the horizontal stabilizer and elevator assembly. Note the shims that raise the leading edge and trailing edges to help create an airfoil shape after sanding and shaping is complete.
Posted by Balsa Al | Feb 11, 2018 @ 03:43 PM | 3,818 Views
My first build from plans, cutting and shaping the wood myself. Ted Davey design, 40 inch wing span. I built the aileron variant, with some other changes.

I like the bowed laminated technique for making curved shapes with minimum weight, so I built open form stabilizers, rudder, and elevator. Pat Tritle has detailed instructions on his site and I have followed them while making some of his designs kitted by Dumas.

I also came across an item from the tips column in MAN that I tried for the first time and it has worked well. I replaced small wood gussets with larger cardstock ones, and added additional gussets in the frame. This made the fuselage solid enough that I did not follow the plan and use full sheets on the bottom and sides. I only sheeted the front section, leaving the back 2/3's of the fuse as open frame.

I also switched the formers and ribs from 1/8" balsa to 1/16" basswood. I did this partly to see if I could save weight while maintaining structural integrity, but also because I had more basswood sheets on-hand.

The plan was designed for a brushed in-runner can motor with NiMh batteries. I built a motor mount to work with a 28mm brushless outrunner and a 3S LiPo battery. Even with the lightening of the tail surfaces and rear fuselage, the battery needs to be in the nose section to balance along the front edge of the spar.

I like the look of a full cowl, so I added a reinforced balsa sheet cowl shaped to fit the open motor area. It is held...Continue Reading
Posted by Balsa Al | Nov 08, 2017 @ 03:21 PM | 3,624 Views
Name: 38249711381_fe1419f93a_k.jpg
Views: 40
Size: 831.8 KB
This one I built in honor of my father, Vernon. He tells a good story about traveling in Europe (Greece?) on a C-47 military transport during the Korean War. The officers were taking all of the passenger seats, returning home with trophy saddles in the adjacent seat. This left no regular seats for my father, who was trying to get back to his unit before his leave ran out. He gladly took the jump seat instead of being AWOL.

Name: DC-3 Dad.jpg
Views: 42
Size: 31.6 KB
Description: My father, Vernon, at the controls of a DC-3 in Northeast Airlines livery. This was at an utralight fly-in in Greenland, New Hampshire. The DC-3 was the largest ultralight there. :)

This is the GWS C-47 Skytrain kit, released around 2003. It is formed from traditional styrofoam - light weight but easily dented, broken, scratched, and dimpled. I did my first fiberglass work to help prevent styrofoam pitfalls, using water-based poly instead of epoxy resin. I was very pleased with the finish this created. Minimal weight, a good surface for paint, and added strength. I will definitely glass again.

I wasn't interested in a show piece and frankly didn't want to spend the time to do a really good job. I wanted something that resembled the Northeast AIrlines DC-3 that we saw at the ultralight fly-in.

...Continue Reading
Posted by Balsa Al | Apr 30, 2017 @ 11:58 AM | 4,907 Views
Name: 34338047815_8cc24d2f74_k.jpg
Views: 58
Size: 792.1 KB
Description: Herr Air Boss
I really enjoy the Herr series of kits available at Sig Manufacturing. I built the Herr Star Cruiser last year and flew it all summer off grass and water. It is a bit large for the local softball field closest to home so I only take it to larger fields. I wanted a smaller plane for some relaxing flying at the local ball field.

I built the Air Boss at then end of this winter to have another small field plane that can do touch-and-go's from the infield. I have a pico GWS Tiger Moth that also works well, but it is time for an upgrade from the original brushed motor. And frankly I'd rather build than repair.

Name: 33496782894_23978bca73_k.jpg
Views: 52
Size: 669.0 KB
Description: Herr Air Boss on maiden day
The build is fairly stock except for the addition of some short strip LED's in the wing and ply reinforcement of the front gear.

I used a 12A esc, 800mAh 2S battery, and a 1300 kv motor with a 5x5 prop. The plane balances on the spar with the battery and ESC tucked a little behind the firewall.

On take off from short grass, ROG was at about 75% throttle. There was a slight roll left and so I went with it and circled up to altitude. Mild gusts caused enough jinking that I could not do any trimming, but it seemed close anyway.

Some circuits, figure eights, and then down before the wind caused too much trouble. Sure enough there was a gust that dropped the plane as I was turning into the wind for the landing approach. A hard touch down in the grass, but surprisingly no damage to the gear.

Looking forward to some calmer weather to enjoy this plane.

And I have the 48" wing span Herr Cub and the 40" Cherokee on deck.
Posted by Balsa Al | Feb 05, 2017 @ 06:15 PM | 5,637 Views
Build photos that show mods to make this free flight glider into an RC float plane....Continue Reading
Posted by Balsa Al | Jan 26, 2017 @ 01:12 PM | 5,335 Views
"Cut a step in that flat bottom, rig some pontoon floats for the wings, fashion a pylon motor mount, and you got yourself a water plane." Well, at least that's how it appeared to me.

Name: Naked - Side View.jpg
Views: 75
Size: 417.6 KB
Description: Pylon motor, step, and working control surfaces turns a glider into a float plane.

I don’t remember if I picked up this glider kit with this mod already in mind, or if I envisioned it after I got the kit. Skipping ahead to the end - it works!

Name: Dumas Waco Glider Box.jpg
Views: 317
Size: 278.9 KB
Description: Starting with the Dumas Waco CG-4A glider kit. A WWII era glider used by the allied invasion forces.

I really enjoy float planes and flying boats. Most of my balsa builds have been either water planes from the start, or had floats fitted to them sooner or later.
When I looked over the Dumas kit for the Waco glider, I saw how the design could be adapted for water. Cut a step in the flat bottom, rig some pontoon floats for the wings, fashion a pylon motor mount and you got a water plane.

...Continue Reading
Posted by Balsa Al | Jul 06, 2016 @ 07:20 PM | 5,410 Views
This is what happens when you don't have enough hangar space. Planes get too cozy.
Posted by Balsa Al | Mar 26, 2016 @ 03:38 PM | 6,288 Views
I used Hangar 9 ParkLite White and Hobby King's Golden Yellow coverings.

I had a great maiden flight on one of the early warm days here in New England at the end of Winter. Wind was constant at 4 to 7 mph. It will maintain level flight at under half throttle and can loop from level flight.

I ran an 800 mAh 2S right behind the firewall. AUW is 17 oz, which is the target for the fuel version. Prop is a 7x5. I would guess I am pulling about 80-90 watts max with this set up. The 12A speed controller is barely warm after the flights.

I think a 1000 mAh battery would be ideal - the CG would still be right and the flight time would go from the 9 minutes I get now to 11 or so. The extra nose weight would give it a little more authority in the wind....Continue Reading
Posted by Balsa Al | Feb 28, 2016 @ 08:55 PM | 6,044 Views
Designed in 1998 by Tom Herr, the Star-Cruiser is 40” WS, 17 oz high-wing trainer designed for small ½-A fuel engines. Control is Rudder-Elevator-Throttle with a steerable nose wheel on the tricycle landing gear. The Herr Engineering kits are available from Sig Manufacturing.

I plan on making this an electric conversion, with an outrunner around 125 watts. I happen to have a scavenged 1300 Kv from one of the Hitec Weekender warplane series with a 12A ESC that should be close enough.

The kit includes quality laser cut balsa plus control horns, rods, clevises, pre-formed landing gear, screws, decals, complete nose gear steering parts, 2 sheets of full sized plans, and numbered build instructions. I decided to do the build log so there would be a photo record for each of the significant steps.