The Original 1/7 Scale 1905 Wright Flyer w/ Wing Warping Build Log - RC Groups
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May 29, 2012, 11:07 PM
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Build Log

The Original 1/7 Scale 1905 Wright Flyer w/ Wing Warping Build Log

BUILD: 1/7 Scale 1905 Wright Flyer
AVIATOR: GravyBones
DURATION: May 16, 2012 - ?

OVERVIEW: This forum thread will provide video, picture and literature information on my experience building a 1905 Wright Flyer concluding with flying results. This is a very complete and thorough documentary on my build with attention to detail. There are over 200 photos and will likely be about 400 photos in completion. Videos are coming. This Build will carry you through the entire build with details and tips and tricks to yield a honorable aircraft. All aspects of aviation are addressed without time constraints. Materials, power and electronics are chosen from research provided by personnel only.

CHALLENGE: I believe we all can participate in this build by chiming in and offering up your recommendations and experience on each phase of the build. At the end of the build and flying results, there will be a plane offered free to the person who offers the most applicable assistance during this build. This build will be a culmination of experience offered from only members here on

This will truly be an members' joint effort and test in collaboration efforts of its valuable members. At the end I will calculate the collective experience of all who participated for a grand total figure on experience involved.

I am new to the RC hobby, but have excellent hands-on experience in building just about anything. I will count on you all to participate and welcome this venture and hope that we all benefit from a more unified community.

Here's the top of a crate for one of their motors. It's amazing just to touch this. They actually had their hands on it.
You just have to have the passion....or else you just don't get it:

ACQUISITION PHASE: I acquired the following items first before my build and these materials all worked out perfectly resulting in a fully functioning aircraft.

(2) Hitec HS85MG servos wing-warping (You can get small, like HS65BB or MG)

(2) Hitec HS65MG servos (You can get little 9 gram pico servos)

(2) Castle Creations Thunderbird 36 Amp ESC with 2 Amp BEC

(2) Electric Motors 1030KV I'm using electric motors, not chain drive. Too small and too finicky. I don't want to take away from the regular usability of flying this aircraft as much as I want just to have a constant maintenance chain drive mini drivetrain.

(2) Motor Mounts

MORE ITEMS POSTED THROUGHOUT THIS POST in case I am no longer able to edit this original post. Look for brown text.


Depron Test Foam Sheets
Weldon Glue
Scotch Tape
Craft Wood Sticks
Wax Paper
CA Glue
Brown Paint
Rag for Staining
Disposable Gloves
Scrap Cardboard
Radio tuned to NPR and a friendly Dog (this is essential for me)
A brother/sister to help

The directions and literature nicely placed on top for advance reading before you go digging around in the box at everything.

The Depron wings are nicely wrapped and separated.

The foam parts which are the wings. Very rigid depron foam. These will be heat form shaped later.

The foam packet and hardware with it.

Here is the plywood laser cut parts that form the frame of the aircraft. All nice sturdy plywood. No balsa.


Here are the motors I will use. You have to be careful to get a motor that is not too heavy or you will find that you are balancing the Center of Gravity (CG) with more battery in the canard if the motors are too heavy. You will already be flying a 3S 3300 LiPo.


Castle Creations 36 ESC with BEC


2 of each - HS 85 MG and HS 65 MG


APC 10x3.8 SF CR Set


3S 3300MAh 25 C LiPo




Step 1: Preparation for stain

I decided to stain the wood frame to enhance the authentic look. I am not painting this silver as authenticity is not that important to me if the original constructors (the Wright Brothers) made a less appealing decision, like paint the wood on the aircraft silver to disguise the type of wood they were using to deceive competitors. I do not want a silver Wright Flyer, but rather one that has the appeal of the original aircraft with disregard to the human greedy nature of trying to copy someone else's work. I choose to ignore that part of mankind and its behaviors for this build. The only reason it was painted silver was because of the presence of copycats which to me will gain no respect for this build. So wood and natural color scheme it is. I just hope after all of this I don't wreck it to smitherines.

To decide on a stain, I ran a corner of what will be scrap plywood from one of the laser cut boards in the kit. Here is a picture or me making the stain test plank.

Here is a shot of all the materials that will be stained. I chose Minwax English Chestnut #233 for the perfect aged look.

I need to stain both sides so they should not touch anything while drying. The most economical way I knew of was an old sign shop method of putting regular old staples in cheap scrap cardboard and resting the stained boards on the staples. Mark the cardboard where the stained boards will land so you know where the staple are placed. Then staple around and turn the board over. Don't use too many staples just enough to support the plywood.

Now here is a shot of the unstained plywood aircraft parts resting on the staples to test the placement and function of my suspension system of the boards.

The gap showing the boards are suspended is below.

Below is my setup to get staining. Don't need much here, just the smallest $4.00 can of stain you can get, a rag, a stir stick and maybe gloves to stay clean. You can also put your hand down in a Kroger plastic bag to keep the stain off of them. Use a cloth rag, not paper towels, they break apart and leave dingleberries on the stain job.

Step 2: The Staining

Here are the boards stained, both sides are done and they are all drying now. Stain them on both sides and rub the stain gently in the direction of the grain. Let stand for 10 minutes and wipe off. I really didn't have to wipe it off as the gentle rubbing evened out the coat as I went. Also stir the stain after every 3-4 dips in it with the cloth to get the pigment even. Just dip the rag gently in the stain and then rub gently. I didn't have to do the edges of all the pieces as the laser has burnt them about the same color. Keep this laser burn color in mind if you go for a lighter color stain as the color on the edges will be dark.

Now it's off to post this progress while it dries overnight if not for two days. I like to take my time and make sure the stain is fully dried. It takes a while for a good stain job. I usually let stain set for 4 days or more. But I think this thin penetration will only need 1-2 days. They will be tested with the finger press technique. If it tacks against my finger any while pressing gently, they will set longer. I did this in a non-living space as the smell from stain gets to me. If you haven't stained before, you will see. It would be unfortunate if you found this out after you stained them and then had to move them. They really should just sit for a long time before movement.

The other boards. I noticed the grain on plywood of this thinness isn't quite natural and the stain took to it quite unexpectedly. But once the parts are separated you'll never notice.

Step 3: Parts Segregation and Grouping

Information occurs later in this post. I am now waiting for the stain to dry. Will not rush this job.
Last edited by GravyBones; Jan 31, 2013 at 07:30 PM.
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May 29, 2012, 11:07 PM
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The airframe wood is taking on a nice tone as the stain dries. This particular plywood almost has a burl wood look to it.
May 29, 2012, 11:08 PM
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I checked the wood this morning. It is pretty dry. I'll see what it like after work today around 5:30pm
May 29, 2012, 11:09 PM
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I put an oscillating fan on the stained wood at lunch time. I am starting to separate and organize the parts now. Look for more in a bit. I'll probably have to let them dry once separated as I suspect that the edges have some stain that didn't get aired out because they were still in the original board that was laser cut.
May 29, 2012, 11:10 PM
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Step 3: Parts Segregation and Organization

I use a technique to separate the thicker plywood laser cut parts as shown below. Make sure you have a fresh sharp utility knife for this. The Xacto blades are just not sturdy enough to make the gentle plunge through the small uncut retainer points in your parts boards. If the laser cut the entire perimeter of the part in the plywood, it would simply fall through and also make it difficult for the laser cutting to secure the parts it has already cut when cutting new parts in the same board. Given this, you have to gently plunge a utility knife through these points around the edge there is between 1-6 anchor points that retain any given part. At first they are hard to see, but after you do a few they are easily spotted. Look for a small burn spray from the laser or a little bridge of wood across the kerf gap which is the uncut wood. The pic shows placement of the blade over an uncut anchor point in a part. I simple push gently until you here a click and feel the cut occur. If right handed, systematically go up to down from the left side and then move to the right some and go up to down cutting your points. That way your cutting hand is not over cut parts, but uncut parts instead so you can't disturb cut parts somehow. when the whole sheet is cut, make sure you don't force part removal. Go gently and make sure all the points are cut on any particular part you are working on and twist or pull very gently to remove it, sometimes rotating it.

Now lay all of the parts aside grouped in lie shape. Pick a spot where they are likely to be able to remain during your build so you are not shuffling them around getting them dusty and dirty and it makes it easier to locate like shaped parts when building. When all of your parts are organized let them dry for a day so the edges have a chance to dry well since they were not exposed to the air when you first stained them in place in the uncut board. Only the surfaces dried. Give the edges a day to be exposed to the air and dry as well. They will be gooey if not. Also you will glue the wings next, so while they dry overnight, you can let the stained plywood edges dry at the same time.

STEP 4: Wing Joining

This is a crucial process to get the wings flat and straight and clean and tight together. Your wings come in 2-piecesso you'll have to glue both sides together of the top wing and then glue both sides together of the bottom wing. Let's do the top wing first. Since I foresee that I will be building aircraft as I find it as enjoyable as flying, I went to the local home store and bought a $9.00 white laminate shelf that is 24" x 48" x 3/4" and it is sturdy and holds it flat shape. Even if you have an uneven table, this board placed on top will provide a nice wing building platform. My brother has a large Stinson, GIANT SCALE, that we will probably be building and so I might have to get an 8 foot shelf for its wings and fuselage. But for now the 2' x 4' suffices.

Here is my flatboard. It is laminated in a material that you can wipe off too and is water proof.

Here is a pic of the materials used for joining. Wax Paper to keep the glue from sticking to the flat board, Weldon glue, or other Depron safe glue, and Scotch tape that I will use to tension the wings together to dry. The Weldon is a white glue.

Pic Coming Soon

Place a bead of Weldon, or depron safe, glue on the edge of the both sides of the wing and smear it with a craft stick to even it out. Be careful not to glop it on. Collect any excess with a towel with rubbing alcohol on it. I usually scrape gently the craft stick along both points of the edges to ensure no glue oozes out over the edge. By the time you get the glue smeared it will have set enough time to press the two halves together. Notice the wax paper underneath. This is amazing at preventing the glue from sticking underneath. Your wing will come right off of it when dry. Make sure you put wax paper down or don't start this job.

Soon I'll post a pic of both wings glued together with the scotch tape applied across the seams under alot of tension. Make sure you double back the on end of the tape on itself so it forms a little pull tab and doesn't stick to the wing. This way it will be easy to remove later without scraping at the wing to lift the edge of the tape up so you can gently pull it off. When pulling the tape off, you pull back 180 degrees to the surface so you are not lifting up on the tape but pulling it back in the direction of removal. This way the tape doesn't lift or tear the foam.

Now I just placed some boards near the seams across both wings with some light weight to hold everything down tight against my building flatboard. I called it a night and let them dry with the stained part edges. Notice the tape tabs on the left side of the picture directly below.

That's it for now. Stay tuned for wing warping. Yikes this could be dreadful or fantastic. I am excited to figure that process out using whatever ingenuity I may have. The directions with the kit are text based with a few pics, inviting me to think and conquer the task at hand.

I am going to get extra Depron foam to do some test heating/forming of the Depron before I try it on the real wings. The bottom wing has holes precut in them.
Last edited by GravyBones; May 30, 2012 at 12:33 PM.
May 29, 2012, 11:10 PM
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I would try the real deal (chain drive, only fabric) on a full scale, but it is a bit much to keep that maintained on this small a scale plus have the aircraft be a regular flyer without tuning all the time. I do plan on spray mounting some sort of fabric on the Depron wings to cover them up. Must be very light though. Do you have any recommendations for a thin fabric that maybe has a linen look? I will use Spray 77 mount and maybe something else at the seams. Let me know if something comes to mind. I predict a trip to the fabric store soon. I'll just join my wife for the trip.
May 29, 2012, 11:11 PM
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I checked this morning and all is well. I took the tape off of the wings so all material is removed that will not be part of the aircraft. You don't want to let tape sit too long if it is not going to be permanent. Off to work now. Will keep this build Log updated for what's next.
May 29, 2012, 11:12 PM
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The stained edges are now dry.
May 29, 2012, 11:12 PM
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I have to figure out how to wire up the 36 A esc/ becs to work on one receiver. I should be controlling the servos and motor spec from one esc.
May 29, 2012, 11:13 PM
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I started the sleigh, which has evolved into a fuselage with subsequent aircraft. The joints are nice for the front canard riser to forward airframe center cages. They are kind of like a V cut with a ball of wood on the end to prevent the joint for slipping apart. A joiner plate gets glued over the joint for extra stability.
May 29, 2012, 11:14 PM
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I am going to do the Depron wing forming tonight and will post up the process I underwent. Will test on sample foam first. I understand it will take about 45 minutes per wing to do it slow and easy.
May 29, 2012, 11:15 PM
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While I am nervous about the wing warping, I am going to start the fuseage, sorry I mean sleigh mainframe as I don't need the wings complete until I get the bottom of the frame done. It's a little more predictable given my experience with Depron forming which is nil.

Step 5 : Sleigh Mainframe

Here is a pic of joining the front runner with the vertical canard strut. The v joint with ball tip is very ingenious in its design for stability. As added measure of support there are joiner cover plates (doublers) that get glued on what would be the outer side of the frame, both left and right side. This makes the joint less visible having a cover plate (doubler) on the outer side of the actual joint. The side of the mainframe toward the center are bare. The glue joint is weighted while drying. Do both sides at once. I did one then put wax paper on top of it and then glued the other side so that the two side are identical in angle.

Next I continued and glued the mainframe to the front runner and canard support that I just glued. Again, I placed the second side I glued on top of the other with some wax paper between them. This way, again both sides are identical. If you see a black rectangle in these photos, it is my iPhone to give you scale of the scene in the pictures.

Before gluing the frame spreaders in place, I have to make sure that the entire frame is true to square, 90 degrees upright and that one side is not shifted in front of the other or skewed front and aft. I used simple tape, a ruler and 3 squares for this.

I first laid the ruler down so I could make sure that when gluing one side at a time, I could make the gluing side bottom rail straight. The plywood you get in kits is most always warped a little or curved. So I paid the ruler down flat and taped on side of the sleight bottom rail to the ruler to get it straight. Now I had to make sure the two halves left and right do not come apart and cause the frame spreaders to fall out of their slots. So I use a compression technique by taping the left and right side to each other across the gap. Look at the words I wrote on the green tape to see what piece of tape performs what job.

The next thing I need to do is make sure the sides of the mainframe sleigh are 90 degrees upright so I set my angle finders true to a 90 angle ruler I have and then tape both sides, left and right, to each 90 degree upright of the mainframe.Now I need to check that the left side isn't slightly in front of the right side and visa versa. I secure the entire left side down to the build table with tape in 3 spots and then I place my 90 degree angle inside the sleigh to check if the spreaders are perpendicular to the mainframe sidewalls. I just grab the front of the forward runner and slide it forward or backward until the frame spreaders are at 90 degrees to the mainframe. The other un-taped side will not move. It was easy to systematically get the 4 axis true this way. Once the sides were correct, I taped the loose side down to the build table. Now just go around and wick the frame spreaders on the side with the ruler only with thin CA glue. Now move the ruler to the other side and tape that bottom rail straight and check all other axis for trueness. Glue it up with thin CA glue.

Here are the pics of the secured sleigh mainframe before and after gluing. The same pics since this does not move at all.

I will let this set for an hour so the thin CA is fully cured. Under everything is wax paper.










May 29, 2012, 11:16 PM
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I'm going to install the forward canard struts and lower vertical risers for the wings. Then I can't procrastinate heat forming the depron wings.
May 29, 2012, 11:17 PM
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Back to the Build Log.

Step 6: Canard Forward Runner & Supports

I now am building the canard's forward runners and vertical supports. This is easy as it just bolts on. Make sure all parts are smooth and pay attention to the order of stacking the support beams on any particular bolts. Also make sure you are using the proper length bolt as per directions. Measure the bolt's total length, not just the threaded shaft, to match it to the direction's bolt length.

Here are a few shots of the canard bolted in. Remember to just snug the bolts up for now. I will tighten them later.


Step 7: Get the foam ready.

First I painted the canards and rudders with primer an almond flat paint. I just used common brand spray cans for this. You have to spray the paint about 15" inches away from the foam as it contains chemicals that will degrade the foam. The spray at this distance has mostly dried by the time it gets onto the foam so there is no breakdown of foam when painting. Be careful and follow this direction to keep your foam pristine.

Here is the paint I used for primer and final color coat. The final look really is much alike old muslin, which was originally used on the Wright Flyer, as I understand it to be. I noticed after this was fully dried, It appears as if the surface of the paint job will need a thin coat of flat top coat to withstand handling. Without it, flat paint will show a mark even if you just look at it. Recommended is Krylon's High Heat Almond as it has the perfect natural look when painted just right. It is also a very light weight paint.

The kit provides carbon rods to enhance the consistency of the chord length of the wings and canard panels. The wings are so long you'll have to glue the carbon rods together to make a full wing length leading and trailing edge supports. These rods insert into an aluminum joiner and then glued with thick CA, is what I used. I had to sand the rods to fit in the aluminum joiner as this is a fit that just wouldn't go without sanding first whether they are painted or not. When dry I painted the rods almond color so that they won't show through as a dark color when fastened to the wings. Here are the canard panes and rods glued and painted.

And the rudder, rods and canards.



So the canards have a carbon rod glued to its leading edge, nice touch that the kit offers this and adds this extra support. Remember that this will be an everyday flyer, not a ceiling queen to always be on display.

Step 8: Forming the Wings

What I did was tape the carbon rods on the leading and trailing edges of both wings before forming. The tape and rod will be removed after forming as the heat will wrinkle the tape. There will be 4 rods taped. Both leading edges and both trailing edges. The reason for this rod placement is that the bending will be uniform across the whole front and rear edge with the rod holding it and to help maintain a stable mean chord length. I was kind of thinking to not do this so that the wing would actually have a pillowed looked when formed around the ribs, but I decided to use the rods during bending. Maybe I would get another set of foam and make wings and try it without the rods and see how it looks and flies. My thinking is that it wold look more authentic, but in reality is may be unusable.

The rods were placed on the bottom of the edges so that when the ribs are rubber-banded to the underside of the wing, the chording will be butt up against the carbon rod and be a nice solid contact, not smashed foam. The ribs will be rubber banded under the the wing. Use all the ribs which are just laying loose for now to help form the wing. I used a monokote heat gun to slowly heat the underside of the wing and let the rubber-bands draw the wing into the rib curve airfoil shape as it gets heated up. It takes about 1 hour per wing to make sure to do it slowly and give the foam a chance to heat up slowly and thoroughly. I worked in just a 2 rib section at a time. and move along as the foam curved. An extra tip is that when you think the foam is mostly heated up on the curved leading edge and curved pretty much all the way, to briefly heat the top side of the wing near the leading edge, I noticed it allowed the leading edge to bend up against the rib quite nicely. Let's get to pics. I placed the tape all along the bottom side first, then turned the wing over and pressed the rod down at the bottom of the edge and then folded the tape over and placed it on the top of the wing. This allows the rod to be placed at the bottom of the edge easily.

The tape on the bottom....

Here is the wing turned over while I pressure bent the rod to force it down against the tape and at the bottom edge fo the wing so it wil be against the ribs for maximum cording strength.

When taping over the rod and on the top of the wing, I cut the tape near the center joiner for the carbon rods because it was a larger diameter and creates problems with wrinkling without this cut.

Here's the rods at the bottom of the edge, taped in.


Here's the wing with ribs banded to the underside and evenly spaced out. I placed ribs over the holes where the wings will be once installed over the vertical struts. Use the holes in the bottom wing to know where these are, then transfer the holes to the top wing my marking through the holes onto the top wing with a slight pencil mark.

Wing unbent...

The foam is slightly curved just from banding. Now apply the heat and this is what you get.

Another shot from the side....

Partly bent...

Fully bent wing cooling off....

Almost ready for primer paint and color paint and top coat. I have to dust paint the rods again and then I think I will tape down the center of the wings where the seam is in the foam that is glued. before painting just o give extra strength as this will fly alot and every little bit helps and now is the time to do it.

Stay tuned for painting. I have a little something special planned for a fabric look. Not sure how it looks yet until I get it painted. But I think I will add stitching.
Last edited by GravyBones; May 30, 2012 at 12:34 PM.
May 29, 2012, 11:18 PM
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Another Note: Remember that the Wright Flyer wing's leading edge is the longest part. The curve is in the rear/trailing edge.
Last edited by GravyBones; Jul 25, 2012 at 10:11 PM.

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