Building & Shop Space Temperature Swings - RC Groups
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Oct 08, 2012, 06:14 PM
Brian, Southern Oregon
DocMac's Avatar

Building & Shop Space Temperature Swings

Hello all. I am thinking of building an out-building on my property for the purpose of having some shop space. This would be an unheated and uncooled space the majority of the time. I might use a small propane space heater during the winter. I would devote an area to my RC glider hobby. So, my question is, can I build planes in such a space, as well as store planes in such a shop without damaging them?

Our winters can get down to 0 degrees at the coldest. Our summers can top out at 105. I am unfamiliar with what balsa wood can take in the way of temperature and humidity fluctuations before warpage occurs. As owner of many guitars over the years, I can tell you that spruce, mahogany, and rosewood can definitely expand and contract to the point of damaging an instrument beyond repair. I don't want to find planes with twisted wings. Any feedback on this subject would be appreciated.

Where do you store/build your planes?

Thank you.
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Oct 08, 2012, 06:21 PM
Duane, LSF IV
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Note that propane heaters put a lot of humidity into the air, which is bad for wood warping, not to mention tool rusting.
Oct 08, 2012, 06:37 PM
Brian, Southern Oregon
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Whoa! That's good to know.
Oct 08, 2012, 09:31 PM
Registered User
You could use a kerosene heater that vents to the outside. Maybe they make propane heaters like that sometimes also?

Even if you're not putting in heating and cooling, you might consider making it well insulated, as that will cut down on the temperature swings.
Oct 09, 2012, 11:27 AM
Brian, Southern Oregon
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Lincoln and Wazmo, I appreciate your comments. I will heat my space, but not cool it. I will only heat it when I'm in it. I will insulate it.

I'd really like to hear from those of you who keep your planes in the garage, an out-building, or a shed. Especially those of you who do not live in temperate or dry areas. Have your planes suffered any damage?
Last edited by DocMac; Oct 09, 2012 at 12:28 PM.
Oct 09, 2012, 01:38 PM
Registered User
I have had some planes in garages. Haven't noticed anything yet. I think it depends partly on the particular garage and especially the ventilation. Also the critters! I had a balsa free flight model under construction get gnawed on by mice. I've had papers ruined by mice excrement, and a dacron sailboat sail in a shed heavily damaged (as in large holes) by what I think was squirrel urine. Make sure there are no holes large enough for mice and squirrels. And that's quite small. Make sure the floor can't get damp. You might want to make it wood with insulation, as a concrete slab can be cold and cause condensation when the weather is damp. Dehumidifiers can help with this, but they are power hogs. On the other hand, if your insulation is good enough, and the slab is in good thermal contact with the ground, it may keep the temperature in the outbuilding reasonably warm or at least above freezing. Maybe circulate air from shed under floor and across slab in winter?
Oct 09, 2012, 02:46 PM
Registered User
kilwein's Avatar
I store my stuff in a trailer and supplies-planes in the garage, not insulated.
Temps of -15F to 110+.
I have a natural gas heater vented to outside in garage which I use when working in the cold and no issues so far.
30+ years and going. Lots of woodies and now some moldies.
Only problem I had one time is dame mouse got into a wing on a 29% and had it's way with the ribs. Balsa and CA flavored.
Oct 10, 2012, 10:48 PM
Registered User
I am here in Sacramento,Ca. My hobby shop is my garage since last May. The walls and ceiling is insulated. All my planes are stored in there (25). No problems yet.
Oct 10, 2012, 11:47 PM
AMA 7224
Leadchucker's Avatar
Originally Posted by DocMac
....I'd really like to hear from those of you who keep your planes in the garage, an out-building, or a shed. Especially those of you who do not live in temperate or dry areas. Have your planes suffered any damage?
My "shop" is actuallly one half of a pole barn that had a wood shop built inside it in the mid 1950s. No heat, no cooling, no insulation but does have a timber floor and stud walls and rafters with plasterboard. It could be 0*F in winter or 100*F in summer. All my aircraft are hanging from the ceiling all the time except when going flying.
Rust can be a problem so I paint music wire landing gear parts as needed but other than that they are fine. I do have a room in the house to build in the winter but major cutting or sanding is dome in the shop if not too cold.
Latest blog entry: Mo' Toys
Oct 12, 2012, 10:33 AM
Registered User
remember that certain electronic components like batteries and LCD screens can be damaged by freezing. I am careful to remove receiver batteries from my planes which I store in my garage loft during the winter, and keep my electronics (as well as my hi-starts) in climate-controlled areas always. Storing planes in high heat can make the covering loosen up a bit but a minute or two with the heat gun fixes that right up. I have never had problems with permanent damage like warping/splitting etc; remember that guitars are under great tension, and that the hide glue often used in their construction has very poor resistance to heat.
Oct 12, 2012, 10:46 AM
Kurt Zimmerman ≡LSF 4461≡
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Years ago I knew a fellow modeler who did his building in a utility shed. It was big enough for him to build a Bud Nosen P51, giant scale. He had a small wood burning stove in the corner. I don't ever recall him having an issue with any of his aircraft, which was also stored in the same shed.

Oct 12, 2012, 11:46 AM
Registered User
Apart from temps as high as the OP is reporting I have done this. My RV will range from freezing to about 90 f at the highest. I dont work much with balsa but do a lot of composite work. I fight with keeping moisture away from my fabrics. I will even go the the point of using my hotbox [for curing parts] to dry all fabrics well before doing a lay-up.

Its gets real annoying when I start to weigh the cost between keeping my rv warm or rapid warming/heating when/if Im working in there.

I think you best bet is to insulate well and also be sure to make use of a vapour barrier through out all the walls and ceiling. Heating a shop up fast can cause trouble with condensation otherwise.

Honest, I was you I would except the fact that you can build in there will good results and a bit of extra effort but if it was me, I doubt I would store my models in there.Maybe keep the most part of your models in the house, Keep your most active models in the shed when you know/have a better idea of your plans.

My 2 cents
Oct 12, 2012, 12:47 PM
Hope to get out of life alive
kenh3497's Avatar
If you use a concrete slab, use a vapor barrier under the concrete as moisture (water vapor) will move through concrete. A plus would be to put a thermal break under the slab in the form of sheet (foam) insulation. If possible some foam installed vertical about two feet deep around the perimeter of your slab will keep that area warmer. If you do this then the foam under the slab may not be needed. You will have Mother Nature trying to keep your building warm from the natural heat in the ground. If you are digging a footing below your frost line, I would absolutely insulate the perimeter. The ground will stay about 50 degrees or so helping with heat in the winter and cooling in the summer.

Last edited by kenh3497; Oct 12, 2012 at 12:53 PM.

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