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May 17, 2015, 03:51 PM
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Build Log

1958 Piper Tri-Pacer 501/8" electric 1/7 scale

I was delighted to have my new 1958 PiperTri-Pacer as the feature construction article in the July 2015 Model Airplane News. (I can't get rid of the grin).

I thought I would augment the article with more construction pictures detailing some of the fiddly bits, as there are a couple.

I should explain here that the plans ( X0715A ) must be purchased from There are 4 large sheets showing full size parts. If you cut your own parts, the windshield and cowl are from, or, the complete laser cut parts, and plastic is available at The white "swooshes" , and the N numbers on the fuselage are from

The model is typical balsa, lite ply open construction covered with your favorite film or fabric. The original is all fabric covered so I used Solartex. The scale aileron horns, nose gear, and enclosed elevator control arm are "fiddly bits" that can be substituted for conventional external pushrods and control horns and a simplified commercial nose gear.

Start construction with the tail feathers. Fin, rudder, stabillizer, and elevators are conventional outline parts and stick assemblies. Sand the outside edges half round. These parts were constructed flat with welded round tubing, fabric covered, on the original.

Somehow the pictures got out of sync
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May 17, 2015, 06:07 PM
I eat glue
I like it!
May 18, 2015, 06:46 AM
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Dennis Sumner's Avatar
Congrats on the article ( and grin). I read the article as I like to model GA aircraft too. May have to add a Tri Pacer to my hanger.

Latest blog entry: RC Throw Gauge
May 19, 2015, 10:51 PM
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Bend the wire elevator joiner, and make the brass tube pushrod arm. Solder both together at the angle shown on the plan detail. Epoxy the elevator halves and the joiner together. Set aside for now.

Prepair for the fuselage by assembling formers F-1B & F-1BB, F-2B L&R,F-2T L&R,and F-3T L&R. Now build the fuselage side frames. Make a left and right. Pay attention to the rear longerons and shape as indicated on the plans. There is a 1/8 stick shim that is tack glued across the cabin top that is only to keep the top level and will be removed later.

Pin the two side frames TOP DOWN over the fuselage top view. Insert formers F-2B, F-3B and F-4B top down and square to the sides. This section must be aligned and square.

Add the firewall formers F-1B and BB and the 1/8 sq shim to the front 1/8 sq extensions. make sure they are centered and square.

Now bring the tail together adding spacers top and bottom as you go. The tail pieces TT, TF, and TB should interlock with the prepaired longerons making a strong square tail section. Install both landing gear doublers, and the bottom 1/8 stringers.

Remove the structure from the board.
May 21, 2015, 11:35 PM
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Turn the fuselage upright and install the top formers. F-1T thru F-4T are parallel to the matching lower formers. Formers F-5 and F-6 are vertical. Finish adding the top stringers.

Insert the battery floor installing each side separately.

Bend the three landing gear wire legs to shape, and bind and epoxy them into their hardwood blocks. Insert the hinge pin strut hold on and epoxy all into their doubler slots. Align the wire ends, bind and solder, leaving the axel extended.

Assemble the forward wing hold down section stacking formers CS5,4,3,2,parallel to F-2T Sand to the shape of the wing center section later.
May 24, 2015, 04:11 PM
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(I removed the landing gear assembly to make fuselage handling easier)

Install the instrument panel base and the 1/8 stringers. Sheet the bottom with 1/16 balsa noting the inset. Continue around sheeting the sides and top. The "hump" is 1/4 sheet sanded to shape.

Assemble and epoxy the plywood cowl former in place. Add the alignment pins and magnets, check for proper fit.

Epoxy the hardwood nose gear strut to the lite-ply NG-2 part. Drill a verticle hole centering on the hole in NG-2 to accept a 1/8-id brass tube. Insert the tube, place a 1/8- id washer over the bottom, epoxy in place, trim the tube, and file smooth top and bottom. Assemble and epoxy the 1/8 ply motor mount parts into their slots iin the firewall.

If you want you can construct the nose gear now. Detailed instructions are on the plans. This is one of the fiddly bits, and will test your soldering skills, but I think it is worth the effort.
May 24, 2015, 07:54 PM
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Thanks for doing this thread. I'm a big Tri Pacer fan and other than your smaller version, there isn't much out there. When I saw the article in MAN, I flipped out! I already have the plans and I see that Manzano has posted the short kit. This will be a winter build for me. So please continue on!

May 24, 2015, 09:10 PM
I eat glue
If I do this, it will be converted to a Colt. That was what I had my first airplane ride in when I was a kid, and was the last plane I flew myself.
May 24, 2015, 10:59 PM
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Thanks guys, I was beginning to think no one was watching.

Should not be a big problem to convert to a Colt. They were all Short Wing Pipers. Was your Colt 135hp? My tri-Pacers were 150 and 160. I really could not notice any difference in the air.

B. Bradley
May 24, 2015, 11:10 PM
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Silly me, the Colt was 108 hp
May 25, 2015, 08:02 AM
tlh101's Avatar
We're watching. I watch all the Tri Pacer build threads. I am working on a 1/4 scale Vince Miller designed Tri Pacer for electric power.
May 25, 2015, 03:55 PM
I eat glue
Yep, had an O-235 in it. She was fun to fly though. I love rag and tube.
May 25, 2015, 07:02 PM
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With the landing gear back in place, it's time to attack the tail feathers.

Fit the vertical fin's forward tab into the slot in F-6. Use F-10 as a spacer but do not glue yet. Tack glue the 1/4 balsa F-7's in place, and shape. Insert the stabilizer and check for alignment. Shim or sand as necessary for 90 degrees. to the fin. When you are happy with the alignment, slide the stabilizer out.

For demonstration purposes I have temporarily hinged the stabilizer and elevators together. move the elevators full down to have the brass pushrod arm in a forward position. Insert the stabilizer in the F-7 slots with the pushrod in the center gap where F-10 will eventually be, sliding forward and lifting the elevators at the same time the pushrod arm will drop down into the top slot as the stabilizer reaches full forward position. The elevators will be level, and the arm visible in the side opening. This was just a demonstration.

Permanently hinge the stab and elevators, and cover. Cover the rudder now too.

Now, cover the fuselage starting with the rear top. The rear top is covered in two halves with the seam down the top center stringer, up the front of the fin, across the top and down the rear fin post. This will result in the Piper no seam fabric fillet from fuselage to fin.

Re insert the now covered and hinged stab/elevator as before. The close-up photo (inverted)shows the brass arm with the pushrod clevis attached. Fit F-10 and glue. Hinge the covered rudder in place. Glue the rudder horn in the slot. The rudder is operated by pull-pull cords, and can be installed later.

Finish covering the fuselage.
May 27, 2015, 06:25 PM
I eat glue
Me like!!
I just looooooooooooooooooooooooooove rag and tube airplanes.
May 27, 2015, 06:45 PM
Or current resident
glewis's Avatar
Watching here too!
Nice job on the fillet.
I love this airplane and hope to build a model about this size someday.

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