F-20 update - RC Groups
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Nov 11, 2012, 12:09 AM
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F-20 update

I finally go tot maiden my long-brewing Higgins F-20, and it was GREAT!

I bought the kit from John back in 2007, I think? A long tome ago, in any case. I had quickly sheeted the wings and made a laminated tail (1/16" balsa, 90-degree 1/64th ply, 1/16" balsa, glassed) and then, as my projects often do, it started to gather dust. Oh, glued on bass tips and oak LEs to pretend I was making real progress. I sanded out the LEs up on my rooftop deck when I lived in Pacific Heights, enjoying the views and drinking a beer to "keep the dust down".

Then life began to get in the way. Without going into too much detail 2008 worked it's magic on our lives much as it did to a bunch of other people.... We moved out of Pac Hts and found an apartment that wasn't bad- I did get a building room out of it.

I got tired of just looking at that forlorn Higgins F-20. I sat down one night and opened up the fuselage cut enough to slide the wing in, and I think that set the hook. Suddenly it began to feel like it had some "life". I placed the fuse/wing on my bench where I saw it every morning on my way to work. Hmm. Wouldn't take to long to cut out the tail slit, would it? I dug out the dremel and a cutoff wheel- sssszing. Now the tail was in it. I could feel some sort of momentum building. It felt like it was downhill to the finish.

I scheduled a week off from work, and took the wife to her job on Monday morning. I picked up a coffee from 7-11 and sat down at the bench. Let's cut out those ailerons- er, hey did I get that wrong? Let me tell you, I hate cutting out ailerons. hate it. Fortunately you can straighten out one of these slip-ups pretty easily with a dam of blue masking tape and epoxy mixed with cab-o-sil surprisingly easily.

Got the ailerons cut out, the sub-TEs closed out, the elevator cut and hinged, Brodak elevator horn, 4/40 torque rods...let's talk about torque rods>>

You can install torque rods in some amazingly cramped spots. I cut out troughs for the rods and opened them up slightly, slid the wing in and dry-fitted everything...yep, yep, yep, it all fits. Glued the wing in, slid the torque rods in by sliding them in, and rotating them 90 degrees
they drop into place. I was careful to not get any epoxy in the torque rods, and used some strips of 4-oz cloth to blend the fuse/wing joint.

How to hook up your pushrods? I bought a laproscopy tool, which is essentially a really long pair of small pliers. I spread out the aileron pushrod clevises, put a little block of balsa in each to keep them open, and dropped them in and hooked them up. Reach in, remove the block, close the clevis with the laproscopy tool- surprisingly easy.

By now I was really moving fast. Time to prime. I used OSH grey primer, as I wanted to paint this thing in a semi-scale pattern. Man- 1/32nd ply soak up spray can primer like a sponge. Next time I'm going to find a grey primer I can brush on and build up quickly. The weather was super foggy and It didn't do me any favors when it came time to spray on the Rustoleum gloss grey. I got a few areas of matte finish, but, eh, I'll repaint it next year when the weather is warmer.

So- I finally got a good windy day today, and brought it out. The wind was good, the plane was charged, let's launch it. And it flew fantastic. It needed a touch of up trim from neutral, a little on the roll, and it was flying hands off. I did a few pumps, rolled, it looped it, and point-rolled it. Landings were fast, but zero drama. A little up right before touch down and I got a nice 20' slide across the LZ.

So I guess the moral of the story is- build it. Stop hesitating. Get into the shop, sit down and build it.
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Nov 12, 2012, 02:27 AM
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SethPenery's Avatar
Nice Tony Congrats on the maiden, and a nice little read before bed time to set the tone for flyin dreams. Building for me is a challenge to keep my focus. I get so anal about the details and makin sh## Perfect knowing people will be looking at it on the hill that it takes the fun out of it. And yes cutting ailerons is kryptonite for me as well. I have been cleaning up my garage over the last few weeks getting ready to start building some new Higgins stuff, I probably will not do build threads but will post pics in my profile. Keep building dude, let's fly soon.


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