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Mar 06, 2010, 01:16 AM
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Build Log

Ivan's Short Solent From a Greenhorn

Well after weeks of debating documenting my folly for all the experienced builders out there to get a chuckle over, Iíve decided to go ahead with a build thread. ☺

Iíve been flying RC Heliís for a couple years now off and on and lately, have found my thoughts drifting to the fixed wing variety more and more. The problem I found is that I kept thinking I wanted to try to build something rather than just buy any of the number of RTF variants out there.

Why was that a problem you ask? Well, it all came down to a few small, teeny, tiny, itty, bitty, little, generally unimportant details:

1. I didnít know how to fly fixed wing
2. I didnít own any fixed wing nor did I know anyone who did
3. I hadnít ever built anything with balsa previously
4. I had never built anything from simple plans, let alone Ivan complexity

So, those minor details aside I set about trying to figure out what my first victim would be. Having some general wood working skill and the determination (read: stubborn sense of I can do anything) that I felt would carry me through, I started looking.

I had always loved water planes so many hours on my favorite search engine later and I found some references/build threads that left me hungering for my first balsa order.

A short time later I was on Ivanís website and knew as soon as I saw the Short Solent I knew it was the plane I was going to mercilessly destroÖÖerÖ.build with loving care. After I donít know how many nights of studying build threads to learn all I could about how to build and shape with balsa, I bit the bullet and ordered my plans from Ivan.

Ivan was quite prompt and Iím sure like so many others before me I was left looking at the enormity of just how silly of a decision I had made. No problem I thought, worst-case scenario is that my daughter will end up with a very expensive Barbie jumbo jet to complete her set. ☺

Iím still reminded of LukeZís prophetic comments of, ďBut if I can pull this off, my hope would be that other relative novices such as myself would be inspired by my heartwarming tale to take on for themselves similar challenges.Ē There you go bud, as it was your build thread that sealed the deal for me.

So, after much reading and studying here I feel I am still supremely qualified to state without reservation that I have no idea how Iím going to do it.

That being said, Iím hoping itís be kind to noobs month as Iím sure Iíll need all the help I can get. Iíve ordered a new search button as Iíve worn the current one on the site out.

I've got a mountain of balsa and three bottles of CA (as two of them are glued to my arm).

Away we goÖ.
Last edited by AdrianNKY; Mar 12, 2010 at 04:13 PM.
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Mar 06, 2010, 01:18 AM
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Whew! No blood yet.... :-)

Unpacking the plans and attempting a few cuts I was still left with the, ďhuh?Ē look on my face. ☺

I used a very scientific method to help find the starting point in that the first page I opened luckily was the side view of the fuse. Ok, when working with CA glue for the first time and the bottles states 25 seconds on the bonding time, that is being generous. I had never used CA before and boy was that a treat. Did manage to make progress on the sides.

Both sides mostly done and on to check for symmetry

Rough check looks good. Only two sticks glued to myself so I guess it was a good night and I was off to bed.
Mar 06, 2010, 11:14 AM
Two left thumbs
I'm sure Luke will be delighted to stick a new pin in his chart of Ivan's plans builders somewhere besides the Northwest! I predict that you'll have plenty of help, and will succeed! What bodies of water do you have nearby?

Mar 06, 2010, 01:03 PM
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paulbw's Avatar
Welcome to the brotherhood of Short Brothers flying boat constructors, Ivan style! I'll be following along with your progress too. Geoff, leave some popcorn for me!
Paul W.
Mar 06, 2010, 01:50 PM
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LukeZ's Avatar
Hey Adrian, glad to see you started a thread for your build, I know it will be a good one. I do apologize for having inspired you to begin this project as you of course are only just now realizing the heartache and agony it will involve.

I don't think you'd told me before that you were even new to CA, but you seem to be doing amazingly well nonetheless!


PS: I've added to the master list a link to your thread - you don't get a pin in the map until the beastie flies!
Mar 06, 2010, 03:01 PM
Two left thumbs
Originally Posted by paulbw
Geoff, leave some popcorn for me!
Paul W.
In another year, Paul, I'll be able to walk over to the adjoining property and filch some popcorn fresh off the stalk!

Mar 07, 2010, 08:47 PM
Registered User


Thanks for the responses guys, it's appreciated. :-)

Geoffinpdx: Well, being that I'm in Northern Kentucky (just south of Cincinnati) we have ponds of all sizes no more than a mile apart. Pretty sure it's a state law or something. :-P

I do have this one a few blocks away from the house which I fly my Heli's at sometimes. Very large and should provide a hassle free crashing environment.
This picture shows about 40% of the pond. It really is huge.

Luke: Ha! Yes, never used CA prior to this either. To be fair I should clarify that I do have some general woodworking skill as evidenced by the table saw in many of my photos. I've built several pieces of furniture, just never did anything with Balsa. Or built a plane.

It's been fun thus far. Other than the occasional piece of wood glued to myself I'm doing ok. I did manage to drip a few drops on my bench one night and then glue my arm there. Ripped it up before it dried but did lose a bit of the first layer. LOL!

Paulbw: Thanks for the welcome bud. I've learned a ton already and am having a wonderful time building this beautiful aircraft. I'm hooked and have already started my, "I want to build" list which includes both Ivan's T-Otter and the KZ-IV. Although, I did pick a heck of a plane to cut my teeth on.
Last edited by AdrianNKY; Mar 08, 2010 at 09:13 AM.
Mar 07, 2010, 09:32 PM
Registered User
You know I was just thinking about something. Although I'm in NKY I've only lived here for the last 5 years. I'm a native California boy who moved here due to my job.

I used to live in Santa Cruz, CA and my parents lived in El Dorado Hills, CA (just north of Sacramento)

Why do I mention this? Well because I would always go by the general area in which one of the existing Short Solents is on display and I never even knew it was there. Such a waste as I would have loved to be able to see it while I was living there.

Might move back that way in a couple years so maybe then hopefully. :-)
Mar 08, 2010, 10:08 AM
Registered User


Realized after getting the plans and laying them out I was going to have to move to a different workbench. The one I normally used was about 4 1/2 feet or so across and looking at the Fuse and then the wing layout I knew I'd need more space. :-)

I recall looking at the wing layout at first thinking it just went on, and on, and on. Can't imagine looking at the 100" version.

Backing up a tad, I wasn't sure initially how to mate the top fuse rails as they were three pieces. Eventually just cut them, rough sanded, glued then held with clothspins. This seemed to work ok at the time. I did later do this piece again after pre-curving the front section which is the nose. You can see them both (the first attempt before curving) on the back of the bench here

After studying Lukes thread I can fully appreciate what he went through when trying to join the two sides together. Eventually I used string to tie two pieces of 1x1 to each side which held them up just about perfectly. Then I went on to glue the cross pieces which worked out fine as they didn't have the weight or pressure from the sides. I ended up only breaking one off I think after I put my arm across it by accident. Not the most elegant solution but it worked well I must say.

Once the sides were joined, I started working on the aft end and trying to get the point to line up with the rest of the fuse

Not to shabby for a first time.

With the aft end of the upper deck ready to go it was time for the formers on the underside. So...out comes the carbon paper and tracing would commnece. The great part about using carbon paper and tracing that is generally, you don't end up gluing any sticks to yourself. I found this aspect of it quite enjoyable.

First former going on. Slight dip which I had to compensate for but turned out ok.

Got the rest of the formers glued on and managed to not glue anything other than what was intended. Worked out nicely. Might be getting the hang of using CA glue. :-)

Pre-sanded, but you get the idea. Looks all crooked in this picture but it's straight. Just weird angle on the shot.

Was starting to get the hang of working with balsa. Unlike working with hardwoods and power tools, if I generally follow the rules of thumb below it turns out ok:

1. Cut slow and let the saw do the work (duh right?)
2. Pre-bending with water or windex is your friend.
3. Don't hold onto one piece if you need to apply pressure somewhere else, it will break. :-)
4. Same as cutting, let the sandpaper do it's job. The end result is much nicer than if you try to muscle it.

Oh well, off to organize more pics.

Mar 08, 2010, 10:42 AM
Registered User
owlsabie's Avatar
Looking really good there! And, it looks huge! I must confess to loving flying boats, there is just something really gracefull about them

As for working with ca- well, I've come to the conclusion that if I don't regularly get stuck to the airframe/ table/ cat / cigarette or coffee cup then I need to clean the nozzle

I will be hiding in the background enjoying your build- good luck

Mar 08, 2010, 12:47 PM
What's 3D?
trumps's Avatar
i'm with owl, looking learning and loving it!

Mar 08, 2010, 07:46 PM
Arc, spark and smoke...
desmobob's Avatar
Originally Posted by AdrianNKY
Well after weeks of debating documenting my folly for all the experienced builders out there to get a chuckle over, Iíve decided to go ahead with a build thread. ☺

Do you realize how many modelers would like to build the Solent, but don't have the cajones/time/confidence/etc.?

You will become an inspiration to many, I'm sure!

Best of luck with your build. We're all pulling for you!

Good flying,
Mar 08, 2010, 09:48 PM
Two left thumbs
Man, you're really whizzing along on this! You must have a job that affords plenty of play time!

Really neat that you have such a fine pond from which to fly. I'll be living in Muncie, IN next year, and have a small pond on the property we've bought, but it's not big enough to fly much out of. There is, however, a big reservoir two miles away.

BTW, ca glue is pretty brittle, so I'd be inclined to use real glue in high stress areas. I see you've got a small bottle of it left over from your furniture building.

Mar 09, 2010, 07:54 PM
Registered User
Originally Posted by Geoffinpdx
Man, you're really whizzing along on this! You must have a job that affords plenty of play time!

I'll be living in Muncie, IN next year, and have a small pond on the property we've bought, but it's not big enough to fly much out of.
HA! Thanks! Job doesn't really afford the time but the family does. They are very cool about this sort of thing. Plus, the fact that I don't sleep always helps.

In all honesty though, I was a bit ahead of this in the build but have slowed down dramatically as the complexity level increases. Still learning as I go and have spent hours and hours on here doing searches. :-)

Muncie isn't that far really. Heck, I drive up to Indianapolis at least once every couple weeks for work as we have a small office up there.

Desmobob: Thanks for the nice words but I'm probably only able to get this far as others have paved and most importantly, documented the way before. :-)

Lack of experience plays a big role in why I have to sit there staring at the prints for long periods of time trying to interpret what Ivans intent was. I'm sure to seasoned builders most of it would just make sense but, I've no complaints here. Fact is, I'm really enjoying learning and watching it grow and in truth I even find the occasional stick glued to some part of my body comical.

More pics shortly and thanks to everyone else for the comments. :-)
Mar 09, 2010, 08:33 PM
What's 3D?
trumps's Avatar
Damn that is a nice looking pond, absolutely perfect for you! Heck, if i had one like that locally every plane i flew would have a set of canoes hanging off of it instead of just my lonely little YMF. you are a lucky man for sure


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