Joe Wagner Dakota - RC Groups
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Nov 22, 2011, 04:25 PM
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Build Log

Joe Wagner Dakota

The little all wood Dakota free flight designed by Joe Wagner for the Veco Company in 1949 has become a classic and is a special design that has endeared itself with many modelers over the years. Designed as a small field free flight first for the new Ok Cub .049, it would make a powered tight circling assent to the left and then when powerless begin a flat right hand glide back to Earth. Flights are relatively brief by design (biplane) but still provide a thrill. Later, many modelers found the Cox Pee Wee .020 well suited for this airplane. Others often used the larger, heavier Cox .049 but this engine was almost too powerful for the 9-10 ounce free flight.

I was probably 9 years old when my best friend's dad built a Dakota for my friend. My friend and I were die hard airplane enthusiast building and flying anything we could get our hands on or often designing free flights ourselves. When first laying eyes on the Dakota I fell in love with the lines of the little biplane...though it seemed bigger then.

Cautiously we would carry my friend's Dakota, a can of fuel and a battery down the wooded hill behind his house to where the treeline opened onto a large field. Today it is built up with homes but back then it was a remote part of the city park. A few flips of the prop or maybe winding it up in the starting spring, I don't remember any more, and the Cox .049 came to life. I can remember how this little biplane would make a nice tight circling assent until out of fuel and then begin a gentle but relatively brisk smooth circling glide landing nearby where we had set it free a few minutes earlier.

Last spring when I discovered the RC Groups Vintage Plans site I ran across the Dakota plans and knew I had to build one...if for no other reason just to look at. This is the build of my Dakota - powered by electric and controlled by radio. It goes together rather quickly as there is not much to it. I cut out the wings and assembled them a while ago, before I thought of doing a build thread. Then I got side tracked by another unusual vintage airplane plan and built a Yogi. This was the subject of a build thread I made a month or so ago. When that project was finished I returned to the Dakota and so it begins.
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Nov 22, 2011, 04:41 PM
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Dakota Wings...Unusual

The wings are all balsa with an open rib structure to maintain shape. This is a design where the trailing edge becomes the leading edge, i.e. trailing edge stock can be used to create the shape of the leading edge. I often tend to modify things to suit my ability and tools. With the Dakota the final appearance is true to the plans however some liberty was taken with basic construction methods.

The plan for the ribs calls for a tab on top of the rib to lock into tab holes cut in the top of the 1/16 balsa wing skin. My experience with tab construction is unless done perfectly they usually end up eye sores that require a least some patching with a light weight filler. Modern adhesives generally make these tabs unnecessary although they can be useful, even necessary, in certain circumstances. I notched a 1/4 x 3/16 strip of wood for the ribs and then glued that to the edge of the trailing edge stock used for the leading edge. Pretty confusing, I know but the pictures make it easier to see what I did. This piece is a 1/16 shorter than the edge of the stock it is glued to. This makes a 1/4 wide shelf for the wing skin to be butt glued to both the trailing edge and the shelf itself adding a lot of strength to the wing skin join and allowing the skin to make a very uniform curvature following the rib's airfoil shape .

The wing ribs are first cut with a 1/4 allowance on the bottom edge of the ribs. The reason for this is that the extra wood adds strength to the rib to prevent the wing warping while the glue dries. I use white glue for much of my work because I like the working time and the sand-ability of the white glue compared to CA. When the ribs were glued and aligned I used small sand bags to distribute weight evenly across the wing skin while it dried. After the wings dried for a day I carefully trimmed off the rib excess so the ribs runs a straight line across the bottom of the wing as you see in the photographs.

Duplicate parts are cut in pairs for consistency whenever possible. In this case I matched the wood from the same sheet of balsa for a set of top wings and another similar weight balsa sheet for the bottom set. It is important to me that I spend some time selecting the best hardness and grain balsa for each part of the model to balance good strength with light weight. I thought the wings might give me a little trouble building yet all the parts went together easily and dried straight and true. The curve of the airfoil is right on plan.
Nov 22, 2011, 05:34 PM
SB-28 UK Display Pilot
GeeW's Avatar
I have been looking at this plan for a while so I'm watching closely.
Nov 22, 2011, 05:49 PM
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ColinNZ's Avatar
Is this a Dakota
Nov 22, 2011, 05:50 PM
If the winds blowin, I'm goin!
CashRC's Avatar
iI've got a Dumas kit in the box so I really want to see how this works out..
Nov 22, 2011, 06:42 PM
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ColinNZ, Yes, that is a Dakota although the wing tips are modified at the leading edge. I have not seen that picture before and I have scoured the Internet for Dakota pictures.

Here is a link where you can see a number of them, including a very cool tattoo in the last picture when you scroll to the bottom of the page: I wonder what my wife would say????

CashRC, I thought BJMR Models quit selling the Dakota kit but when I just checked their site I found it...I didn't go to check out so can't confirm that it is still available. I'm not really familiar with Dumas but went to Tower Hobbies and don't see it listed under the Dumas brand kits. In my research I ran across their name as having kitted the plane at one time. The Veco Company kitted Joe's design for twenty-five years. It was the longest selling free flight kit on record.

You may want to set a few evenings aside after reviewing this build. It goes together quickly. Even if you never fly it its size makes it a great hanger queen. Larry
Nov 22, 2011, 08:02 PM
Two left thumbs
Buzz down here to Muncie and you can see the original Dakota in the AMA museum.

Nov 22, 2011, 09:41 PM
Culper Junior
The December 1978 issue of Model Aviation has a 25% larger Dakota called ( I think) the Northwest Dakota. Sheet fuse and tail with built up wings. The larger size might make a nicer flier. It is listed as plan #242 for $9. Here's a link to the plans page. Click on 'Dakota' for a picture.......
Nov 22, 2011, 11:53 PM
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E-Challenged's Avatar
I built a Tom Hunt ModelAirTech "Stickota" in my early electric flying days. It had a Speed 400 6 volt in a Mini-Olympus gearbox. I had quite a struggle getting it to fly well as a 3 channel sport model but finally tamed it with changes in wing incidence, etc. It was eaten by a large gas powered aerobatic model at the old El Toro MCAS flying field.

Many years ago I built the original Dakota powered by a McCoy .049 "red head diesel. It flew in a nice spiral climb to the left and right circle descent.
Nov 23, 2011, 12:36 AM
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Norm Furutani's Avatar
Here's my Dakota! From a BMJR kit, powered by a Cox product motor (.049). No timer, no DT, no R/C!

Nice flying field (Tangent, OR), my trusty Honda chase bike, my Honey taking the pic, couldn't have been a nicer day!

- Norm
Nov 23, 2011, 12:42 AM
OCD: Old, Cranky and Disgusted
challenger_i's Avatar
Shades of Boyhood.....

I built several Dumas Dakotas, in the mid seventies. It was about the time Dumas decided to get out of airplanes, and I picked up 10 Dakota kits at deeply discounted ($3.00 each!) prices. Had scads of fun!

As regards using the Cox .049, my best flights were using the Top Flite Nylon 6x3, mounted backwards.

Even worked up the courage to install an Ace pulse unit in one. Now THAT was a bit of a wasp!

With the advent of micro radio gear, and hot electric power systems, I have been debating building a couple of Dakotas for 3 channel.

E-Challenged: Please share your tricks with the Stikota! I have that plan, in S400, and S600, and have wanted to try it, but had heard she was a beast.
Nov 23, 2011, 02:17 AM
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Norm Furutani's Avatar
Originally Posted by challenger_i
Shades of Boyhood.....


As regards using the Cox .049, my best flights were using the Top Flite Nylon 6x3, mounted backwards.

Good tip. The Cox .049 is a bit too much. I use a 7-4 prop to slow things down, otherwise it's run and duck!

- Norm
Nov 23, 2011, 11:57 AM
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Hmmm, just as I suspected....there is a Dakota subculture alive and well. Larry
Nov 23, 2011, 12:17 PM
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Parts and Plans

I like to cut out all or most of my parts and match them to the plans before I begin. Now I have a complete kit and can spend my time fitting and gluing, which is way more fun than cutting and sanding parts to shape, for me anyway. There are two fuselage skins, one on top of the other laying on the plan. As I said before I like to cut a pair of parts together and do that by using just enough small bits of double stick tape to hold the parts together while I cut. If the tape is used sparingly it is pretty easy to gently separate the parts once cut. If the tape is aggressive, slip a standard dinner knife between the parts and patiently let the stress on the tape weaken the bond.

The plan calls for 3/32 wing struts. I chose to make a built up ply strut of 1/32 balsa glued to each side of a 1/32 aircraft ply center piece. The grain of the balsa on one side of the strut is angled diagonally forward while the grain on the other side diagonally toward the back. The plywood is cut with vertical grain pattern. There are two of these stacked on the plan ready for sanding. I began by sandwiching the rectangular wood parts together with a thin wipe of epoxy. When cured I taped the two rectangles together and cut to shape on the jig saw. When sanded to an airfoil shape they are light and very stiff.

At the bottom of this plan, you can see it says, "See addendum page for electric-power modifications." I have never run across any reference to this remark on the plan. I guessed the rough weight and worked out the motor and battery size from there but where to place stuff was dealt with as I went along.
Nov 23, 2011, 12:30 PM
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E-Challenged's Avatar
Challenger, Can't remember much about Stickota mods but remember Tom admitting that he had not built and tested a prototype ( Whaaaat???). I think that all I did was reduce incidence and added enough washers for down and right thrust until I could get Stickota to fly level and stably at 1/2 throttle. Very short nose, mount everything as far forward as practical to minimize need for nose-ballast, Don't fly tail heavy.

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