Sewn hinges - RC Groups
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Mar 05, 2012, 07:01 AM
Registered User

Sewn hinges

I'm planning on using sewn hinges to secure the rudder and elevator on my latest model .... BUT, I've never used this technique before.

So, are there any good tips that you can give me, or pitfalls to beware?

I may consider using strap hinges, 'cos they look nice. Still, it won't harm to learn about the sewn hinge.

FYI, the project is an Edwardian-style light aircraft ... a bit Blackburn-like. Span is about 80", with power supplied by a Saito .45. The model will be 3-channel, covered in doped nylon. Lots of wires. Calm evenings and early mornings will be its natural habitat.

The slightly unusual aspect is that I have set myself the task of using NO balsa in the construction; and the minimum of off-the-shelf components.

Most of the materials have been rescued from a skip, up the road. They were building a house and chucked out oodles of nice pine skirting boards. Besides this pine, I have so far used a little thin ply, some hardwood scrap and some steel from a biscuit-tin.

You know what? ... it's looking pretty good, too. I have the basic fuselage framed up, along with the tailplane. Wing ribs and spars are fabricated. The undercarriage still requires a good dose of thinking about.
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Mar 05, 2012, 11:32 AM
Sticks, Tissue & old Diesels
brokenenglish's Avatar
I've used sewn hinges, and other types, for years, mostly on vintage control liners. Firstly, the obvious things like you need the right thread. The best I've found is the old Keil Kraft dacron lines, included in, and sold for, their beginners' C/L kits (Champ, etc.).
Then, while you're actually doing the work, use clothes pegs, across each end of the hinge, with thin ply packing pieces as "load spreaders", to prevent the clothes pegs from embossing the balsa. Aim to get the stitching at about 45° to the hinge line. To do this, you need to mark out the stitch holes in the wood, about 1/8" back from the hinge line (a bit more if the wood is soft, or you can use soft sheet surfaces, with a hard strip butt joined on to obtain a stronger base for the thread). Then remove the clothes pegs and drill the holes, with the finest drill you have, obviously (maybe 1/32"). Don't drill the holes opposite each other, but opposite the opposite space as it were, so that the stitches are at 45° to the hinge line (they should have been marked out like that of course!). Finally, assemble the two surfaces again with the clothes pegs, and stitch the entire hinge length in one direction, so that you end up with a lot of parallel stitches, and then return in the other direction, to complete the stitching (i.e. you add the other line of parallel stitches, to create the complete herring bone. It's a lot easier to do than to describe.
Next week we'll cover darning socks!
Last edited by brokenenglish; Mar 05, 2012 at 12:57 PM.
Mar 05, 2012, 11:33 AM
Registered User
E-Challenged's Avatar
Sewn hinges are fairly easy to do. I cover the tail surfaces and simply take needle and carpet thread and sew them together in a figure 8 pattern as neatly as I can. Pull the loops snug , align the surfaces and apply glue to the thread along the top and bottom, away from hinge area. If you can find stout thread that somewhat matches to covering it won't stand out as much as black or brown carpet thread.
Mar 05, 2012, 12:57 PM
SB-28 UK Display Pilot
GeeW's Avatar
In addition to what E-Challenged said.....I tape the control surface on using masking tape both sides just to keep it easy to hold before I start.
When you finish......
Do NOT USE THIN CYANO to secure. Thick works well.
No don't ask!
I often use white thread and 'borrow' my wifes felt tip pens to achieve a better colour match to the covering.
Mar 05, 2012, 01:20 PM
Registered User
Thanks, chaps.

It sounds fairly straightforward. Think I'll practise on some oddments, first.
Mar 05, 2012, 01:38 PM
OCD: Old, Cranky and Disgusted
challenger_i's Avatar
For something as large as your Edwardian, it may be prudent to use kevlar kite thread.

Where's the pics?!
Mar 05, 2012, 05:28 PM
Registered User
williame3590's Avatar
Have never sewn hinges but I like to sewn on the landing gear fairings.

Mar 05, 2012, 06:16 PM
Who let the dogs out?
Phil_G's Avatar
I made a tool to help with sewn hinges - its very simple, just a length of Veroboard. A couple of locators are soldered in, which sit between say the rudder & fin, then with a pin pierce every alternate hole to give the zigzag pattern. If its a big model, just move out a row. It helps if the first and last pin are done first, and left in place until all have been pierced. Once its all pierced, remove the tool & stitch up. Easy Peasy
For a Herringbone pattern, just go end to end once. For Zigzag, come back down again through the same holes.
Last edited by Phil_G; Mar 06, 2012 at 06:07 AM.
Mar 05, 2012, 09:49 PM
First to go over 106K feet
Crist Rigotti's Avatar
Originally Posted by phil_g
I made a tool to help with sewn hinges - its very simple, just a length of Veroboard. A couple of locators are soldered in, which sit between say the rudder & fin, then with a pin pierce every alternate hole to give the zigzag pattern. If its a big model, just move out a row. It helps if the first and last pin are done first, and left in place until all have been pierced.
Very clever jig!
Mar 06, 2012, 01:09 AM
Registered User
TLyttle's Avatar
Been using sewn hinges off and on for 60 years now, never lost a model to hinge failure. I also use ripstop nylon for zigzag hinges, same results. Can't say the same thing about nylon pin hinges, "Monokote" iron-on, and a few other commercial products. Best of all, they are really cheap! I have used everything from button thread, to sail thread, some are just lumpier than others...
Mar 06, 2012, 02:13 AM
Registered User
Hm, I may have a bit of VeroBoard kicking around.

Am I right in thinking that both the LE of the elevator and the TE of the stab must be rounded, in order for these hinges to function properly? I've read that, somewhere.
Mar 06, 2012, 06:02 AM
Who let the dogs out?
Phil_G's Avatar
No, not necessarily. If they're left square, the hinge pivots one one edge in one direction and the other edge in the other direction, which works fine - but I always 'round' mine. Just seems nicer that way
Mar 09, 2012, 12:00 AM
OCD: Old, Cranky and Disgusted
challenger_i's Avatar
Very sweet, indeed! Going to be a shame to cover up all that excellent workmanship!

Originally Posted by bogbeagle
Details of fuselage, wing ribs and elevator half. Fuselage LOA will be 55".
Sep 15, 2012, 10:27 AM
Registered User
Well, I hit a snag with the undercarriage, so I set this project aside for a few months.

However, I've overcome that snag, now ... so the build continues.

Here is one of my wing panels. It's incomplete, of course. It needs the attachments for the landing and flying wires, then a bit of tidying with a plane and abrasive. Wing-tips are laminated. Oh, yeah, I'll need to fit a few drag braces, I think.

The half-span is 37" or thereabouts.

Everything you see used to be a floor-board. I'm really pleased with it, so far.

It's lucky that I quit the build for a while ... because my friend has donated his Enya .40 4C diesel to the project. I'll use that instead of the Saito .45 that I had originally planned.

The covering will be doped nylon; linen-coloured, with some black or red trim.

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