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Jun 24, 2019, 06:06 PM
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Build Log

EAR 2019 - SE5a, 16" Rubber FF, from VMC Steve Webb kit...


This, to herald the arrival of the SE5a kit, ordered a week or so ago. The box ...



... and its contents ...



I've not yet delved fully into it, but it certainly inspires confidence, the wood seems to be high quality, very well cut, and the pretty detailed instructions, along with two very clear full-size plan sheets are reassuring. If I was to be very, very 'niggly', I'd suggest that the term 'decals' does not apply to the RAF roundels, as they are but paper, to be cut out and stuck on. No 'biggy'; I shall probably create my own water-slide transfers (decals...) instead, as I have what it takes for that.
I'll follow the sequence in the instructions, and so start with the wing centre section, but it won't be a 'lightning' build, as I've a couple of other 'planes to continue, and (light...) gardening to attend to. So, further posts and photos will follow at their own pace...

To be continued...
Last edited by Dad3353; Sep 08, 2019 at 04:49 PM. Reason: They're off..!
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Aug 14, 2019, 07:28 PM
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Oh dear, what have I done..?


Waiting for a few spares to come for other ongoing projects, so I did a bit of tidying and thought to put the SE5a onto its own, small, board. Read the first instructions again and decided to get the first part started: the upper wing centre section. This, to ease my way into this 'other world' of tiny 'planes that I built when a youngster. Let's see now... Hmm... Identify from the plans which parts I need. OK, I've found 'em, three cross pieces, four ribs, two gussets and a bit of 'light' 1.6 strip. This is my first laser-cut kit, and herein start the issues. The pieces are held in place in their sheets by tiny 'tabs', which I'll have to cut. My n11 blades are far too coarse for this; luckily I have a pack of scalpel blades and holder to try. Yes, the blades are fine enough, but my sausage fingers and aged fit-for-a-mole eyes inspire me not at all. I manage to cut the pieces all away without losing any blood, but I'll have to be extremely wary of this instrument, as I'll certainly not feel a thing if I slip with it, or pick it up by the wrong end, it's so sharp. Never mind, I'll just take it slowly; here's the pieces, now cut away ...



Back to the instructions again... A dry run is required, so as to fully understand what goes where, here's as far as I've got this evening...



I'll have to leave it like that; my eyes won't take any more. How in this world I managed to construct the original KK kit, with its die-cut parts, with surely no more than an old razor blade, escapes me. It throws into dark perspective the losses suffered over the decades (OK, with valuable gains, too, but still...). To use a well-known expression from a popular TV quiz show: 'I've started, so I'll finish...' but it's going to be a lot longer a task than I'd bargained for. Steady as she goes, then; hoping to not have to sneeze whilst at the bench, for fear of losing any parts before me. Maybe I should have plumped for a 3-piece chuck glider after all..!
Aug 15, 2019, 06:00 AM
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Crikey Douglas, how have you ever managed without using the scalpal????? I have used nothing else for balsa and thin ply for forty years now, and buy my No 10A and No 11 Swann Morton blades by the box! To get best use out of them I have four handles, numbered 1 to 4 (nothing if not logical!)for the 10A blades, No. 1 always has the newest blade which is used for delicate cutting - 1/32 and 1/16 balsa etc.; when a new blade is inserted in this it's existing blade goes into the No. 2 handle, the blade from that into No. 3 etc and the one from No. 4 is discarded. Thus No 4 is used for the roughest jobs - ply, light ply etc. 3 and 2 for progressively lighter more precise work. Then I have two more handles 5 and 6 which house No 11 blades for covering trimming and other ultra-light jobs and where a finer blade is required, blade changes for which are treated in the same way. Then I have one larger sized SM handle which carries the thicker heavy duty blade for really tough jobs. I have tried all sorts of other knives over the years but never found anything to match the sharpness and precision of the SM scalpals, I couldn't work without them.

As for blood letting, well yes I have had the odd nick, but I reckon that working with thicker, blunter, blades is a surer way of cutting yourself. The worst cut I have ever had (aside from sticking my hand into an Oliver Tiger's prop that is!) was inflicted by an Xacto knife back in the early 1950's when carving the cowling of a Skyleada Auster C/L model I managed to remove the end of my left index finger. Fortunately my ever sympathetic woodworking expert father was on hand, he simply poured iodine over the finger (and yes, it DID hurt!), slapped the detached end back on and bandaged it. After a day or two it had grafted itself back on, but sixty-odd years later I can still see the scar!
Aug 15, 2019, 06:27 AM
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Maybe in another sixty years or so I'll have got used to this microscopic universe, have acquired surgical skills and grafted on a set of ten-year-old's fingers and thumbs..!
Aug 15, 2019, 06:35 AM
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Age has got nothing to do with it Douglas - note that I was but a sprog of 11 or so when the finger end amputation took place! With care elderly craftiness (and a good bench magnifier!) can be an effective substitute for youthful reactions, eyesight and dexterity! Must be so 'cos the models I build now are a bl88dy sight better built then those I built in the 1950's.
Aug 15, 2019, 07:59 AM
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I'll take this as encouragement and get sticking bits of wood together this afternoon.
Aug 15, 2019, 01:08 PM
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Here's the centre section glued up and clamped...



No, no lump hammer, but a return of the Lego bricks..!

As mentioned, this is my first laser-cut kit, and I find one very major difference compared to either hand-cut parts, or even die-stamped: the almost total absence of fitting or fettling required. Despite the sub-miniature nature of these bits, they fit together absolutely square and firm, which makes the build process so much more comfortable and rapid, giving confidence as it proceeds. I'm impressed with this little kit (although there's still time to hit a snag or two, of course..!) One little niggle, just the same... In cutting out the ribs and stuff for the Build so far, a few other parts have detached themselves spontaneously from their sprigs. I'll have to be extra careful to keep track of 'em, or I'll end up with a kit box full of disparate balsa and no idea which part is which. I'll maybe mark them, although some are tiny...

Now that the centre section glue has dried, it's been removed and put safely aside, leaving room for the upper wing outer panels. First one, then the other, are dry-fitted, then glued up ...



Again, no lump hammer, but enough mass to help the parts, already an excellent fit, to bed down straight, level and true. I'll spend this evening (after dinner...) reading the instructions for the next step, in preparation. S'looking good so far, and no open wounds as yet (but sore eyes...)..!
Last edited by Dad3353; Mar 24, 2020 at 05:39 PM.
Aug 15, 2019, 07:04 PM
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This is going rather well, really..! Dinner over (the washing-up will wait...), the upper wing panels were lifted from the board. The lower wing panels are very similar in their construction, so I cut away the parts, pinned 'em to the plan and now they are glued up and setting in their turn. This leaves space for dry-fitting the upper wing in its entirety, so I took the hint and glued it all up...



By surely more than a coincidence, the dihedral gauges are exactly the right height for chocking up the wing-tips..! I had wondered why there were two of 'em; now I know.
Yes, those are miniature clothes pegs; I knew they would come in handy one day..!
S'all for this evening, I hadn't seen the time go by. I'll turn the page tomorrow and see what the next step will be. Probably joining the lower wings, I expect. G'night, all...
Aug 15, 2019, 10:07 PM
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There will need to be something between the lower wings (the fuselage?) Douglas so their span is the same as the top wing - the SE5A is an equal span biplane. Just saying! All SE5As are brilliant flyers, dihedral, tail area etc are just perfect. This was my much loved RET indoor one, all hand cut foam, 26" span and 120 grams, sadly referred to in the past tense now!
Aug 16, 2019, 09:51 AM
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Good Stuff, Georges, and nicely detailed. I hope that mine comes out almost as good..! A propos, I'm already starting to think about covering, and am tempted, despite the tiny proportions, to film with my laminating film, then tissue. I'm not sure how minutious I can be, and how much stress the structure can handle. I'd be hoping that this procedure, which has worked very well on my previous attempts, can 'beef up' the 'plane, to cope with future handling and flying 'incidents'. I wouldn't want the end result to be so fragile as to not be able to toss her into the air on occasions. Thoughts..?
Aug 16, 2019, 01:06 PM
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I'd be inclined to go with the laminating film, miss off the tissue and just use a light dusting of paint, either air-brushed or failing that from rattle cans. Not as light perhaps as just tissue but more durable and less likely to place undue strain on the structure. But I'm no expert on finishing rubber powered models!
Aug 16, 2019, 02:58 PM
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Hmm... Food for thought, once again. I've not been convinced by the adherence of the acrylic paint I use (air-brushed...) directly onto the film I use, although I have read that other folks have no such issues, and I think I would, in any case, prefer the texture given by a tissue coating. I could compromise, and use coloured tissue, of which I have several shades, and skip the painting, which would economise a little weight.
As for experience with rubber models: I managed The Littl'Un's Topaz, using the coloured tissue that came in the box, but the model before then was my original KK SE5a, doubtless tissue-pasted on, and goodness knows how I could have doped it, if even I did. I remember flying it, but have no further recollection of the build; this current construction has not wakened those firmly-locked-in-time souvenirs. There's still time to decide upon the finish; I first have to get these jigs done, and build the fuselage.
The second pair of jigs is next, once the first are off the board, then it's the turn of the tailplane anf fin...
Aug 16, 2019, 06:25 PM
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Today's progress...
It's the turn of the lower wings to be 'dihedralised'...



... a somewhat fiddly operation, but it seems to have gone off rather well, just the same.

Once off the board, I concentrate of the jigs that will be required for setting up the cabane, and also the wing alignment, later...



Not, in themselves, difficult, but the flightworthiness of the 'plane will be in large part governed by the exactitude of these rigging guides, so attention is required.

When the jigs are ready, I reach for the second sheet of plans, to build, firstly the tailplane, then the tailfin (presently pinned down and setting...)...



Next up will be the fuselage, so I've called a halt for this evening, and will relax by reading through the next pages of instructions. Always a Good Idea, I find, as it's not always the first read-through that makes pefect sense. It's all well-enough written, although the use of different terms for the wood quality during the course of the booklet needs interpretation, as it's 'medium' and 'hard' engraved on the sheets of balsa, but 'light' and 'stiff' are terms used in the booklet. No big deal, and it makes one think each time, which is a Good Thing, I suppose.
More tomorrow, then; back to my reading...
Aug 17, 2019, 05:20 AM
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I sense you are enjoying this one Douglas, a pleasant change of pace from "heavy metal" like the Aeromaster and Cub re-furb. Sometimes I find that I just need to stop and build something basic and straightforward, sort of re-charges the building batteries when life is getting too complicated. I've done a few of these "back to basics" builds over the last two or three years - Vic Smeed's Merbaby rubber powered, a Frog Fairy F/F glider, the Dreamer biplane catapult glider and the Metro gnome all-sheet single channel model. The Merbaby and Fairy were given to my young friend Pierre-Olivier but the Dreamer and Metro Gnome get flown a lot as they are usually chucked in the car every outing with the more serious models. I have to say that now it is trimmed I only fly the Dreamer when Pierre-Olivier is there to chase it for me as it flys just a bit TOO well from a full twang, but I have so far had thirty flights with the Metro Gnome, recently re-motored with an 18 mm motor in place of the 22 mm one which I pinched to replace the one in the Lulu after a "shaft bending arrival", a total of three and a half hours of airtime, with both the propo Tx and (when I feel in need of mental stimulation) single button Tx. The amazement of my French friends that it actually flys without an elevator being ample reward for the two days work on building it.
Aug 17, 2019, 12:57 PM
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... and long may it continue, Georges..! I understand the mobility evolution; the last bloke to see me run is not young, and I can swim just as far as the water is deep..! Nice 'planes...
The SE5a fuselage is now cut away from the sprues, but the parts need preparation before assembly, which consists of gluing reinforcing strips to the formers, and to the fuselage flanks where the cabane posts will be mounted. Here's those parts under press...



... they'll stay that way for a while, this evening, I think. There's no rush, and the next steps (assembling the fuselage formers to the flanks...) require that all the pieces are able to be handled properly. Meanwhile I'll read the booklet through again..!
Last edited by Dad3353; Aug 17, 2019 at 05:43 PM.


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