What's New on the Building Board

May 13th, 2017

Finishing up a preliminary scale drawing for the Pacific Standard C-1 racer, soon to be a No-Cal plan. LOTS of wing area on this one, and a very simple structure. Looking forward to it.

March 25th, 2017

Hmmm . . .

I wonder if this will fly . . .

October 17th, 2016

The tentative plan to order up some black Esaki for an FK55 flight test No-Cal in the markings shown in the last post has come to an abrupt halt, because while I was searching for a tiny lost nose landing gear leg for a 1/200 scale F-117 model, I stumbled across this in an old box ---->

It's 'DEEP BLACK' fabric dye, and if it can indeed turn white Esaki 'DEEP BLACK', the all-black FK-55 No-Cal is ON.

Concurrent with the Westland Whirlwind No-Cal, of course.

Stay tuned!

October 8th, 2016

The flight test FK-55 had several color schemes during its short life, ranging from an all-silver roll-out scheme seen in pictures of engine run-ups, to a dark fuselage with a white prototype 'P' on the fuselage, to a late scheme with dark upper surfaces and light undersurfaces (in one reference, O.D. on top, and light blue on the bottom). However, there was a much more interesting scheme that appeared on the official FK-55 display model that was exhibited at the 1936 Paris Air Salon - all-black with dutch insignia. This is a picture of the very model that was displayed at the 1936 Paris Air Salon.

Here's my version of that model's scheme. Note the difference in the canopy ouline and shape between the black model of the FK-55 above, and the all-silver version in the last post. I think I might just have to order myself a couple sheets of black Esaki tissue!

October 8th, 2016

The Koolhoven FK-55 flight-test version (not the 1936 Paris Air Salon prototype) joins my No-Cal build list. This aircraft was intended to have retractable gear, but for test flying, it had fixed gear. The FK-55 flight-test aircraft flew once before the aircraft was shelved.

October 6th, 2016

Blackburn Skua L2925 flown by Lt. William Lucy. Lt. Lucy was the Fleet Air Arms first ACE, with seven victories (with a Skua!), and the Distinguished Service Order for leading his Skua squadron in the sinking of the Konigsberg. Lt. Lucy was killed in a battle with an He-111 in May 1940. His achievements flying the Skua are a tribute to the character of British pilots that had to go into battle using obsolete aircraft.

October 2nd, 2016

The Blackburn Skua joins the No-Cal building queue. I've been wanting to do a Skua for a long time, and finally got a great reference for it. Here it is in target tow markings. Also coming is the color scheme for Lt. Lucy, who became the Fleet Air Arm's first ACE flying Skua L2925.

August 18th, 2016

It begins.


May 2nd, 2016

Luscombe Model 10 No-Cal Final Assembly.

Now that all the parts are covered, we can start the final assembly of this little cutie. The first step is either installing the stabilizer, or attaching the motor tube to the fuselage. If the stabilizer shape allows you to simply slide it into the stab slot, then I attach the motor tube first. If the stabilizer shape requires special attention, I install the stab first. The outer chord of the stabilizer on the Luscombe Model 10 is too big to allow it to simply slide into the stabilizer slot, so we'll install the stabilizer first.

First cut the rudder off the covered fuselage by cutting betweeen the two vertical rudder posts - you'll end up with two parts that look like this . . .

. . . then slide the stabilizer into the stab slot. Glue the rudder back on, trapping the stab in the slot, but DO NOT glue the stab in place yet.

When the glue is dry, place the fuselage on a flat surface with the stabilizer hanging over the edge. Place the motor tube (or motor stick as the case may be) in the proper location on the fuselage, and make a small mark above and below the motor tube on each upright. Apply glue to each upright between the marks, align the motor tube between the marks, and set into the glue. Use small weights to hold the motor tube flat on the fuselage until it dries, as shown here . . .

When the motor tube/fuselage assembly is dry, the stabilizer can be fixed in place. For this model, only the leading edge of the stabilizer is permanently glued. The rear is left free so that the stabilizer incidence can be adjusted for glide-testing. Prop the fuselage up vertically by placing identical objects with vertical sides on each side of the fuselage. I have used bottles, cans, jars, pieces of square-cut wood or metal - anything that you have two of which are identical so that the fuselage is perfectly vertical.

Slide the front center point of the stabilizer out of the slot, apply a dab of glue, and slide it back in, making sure that the stabilizer centerline is aligned with the fuselage centerline. Prop both sides of the stabilizer up with identical blocks so the stabilizer is held perpendicular to the fuselage while the glue dries. If you use C/A, make sure the rear of the stabilizer is in the middle of the slot at the back so that the C/A does not wick along the top or bottom of the stabilizer and glue it to top or bottom pieces of the slot.

Time to attach the wing. Press the wing into the wing slot, and prop up the fuselage vertically with your favorite items. I used four identical thinner cans this time. With the fuselage straight, carefully tilt the wing until two identical objects placed under the tips give the wing identical dihedral on both sides. When everything is perfectly aligned, I use C/A along the wing root to fix the wing in place. It dries quickly, and won't warp this critical joint like some other adhesives. Here's a top view of the wing being attached to the fuselage.

When the wing is dry, glue the piece of the bottom of the fuselage that fits under the wing root in place, and the wing installation is complete.

Now we're ready for the last step, glueing the landing gear in place.

From the diagram you can see that the front and rear uprights of the landing gear create a saddle for the piece of 1/16" sq. balsa strip glued to the landing gear wing rib.

This gives positive alignment both fore and aft on the wing and in the side view.
Before glueing the landing gear to the wing ribs, I set up vertically-sided aluminum blocks and small drafting triangles to keep the landing gear straight while the glue dried.

I used Testor's wood glue (green tube) to avoid getting C/A on the wing tissue and to give me time to properly align the landing gear before the glue dried.

Once the glue is dry, we're done! What a spiffy little sport plane!

April 21st, 2016

Covering the Luscombe Model 10 No-Cal.

Since I don't have enough hands to both cover the model and take pictures at the same, a simple overview of the covering process will have to suffice. Since the tissue has already been decorated, it's now just a matter of adhering the tissue to the structure. Here's the steps I take when covering:

1) Apply adhesive to the structure.

When I first started building No-Cals, I used butyrate dope and thinner for an adhesive. Then a newsletter suggested using a glue-stick, which I tried once. I immediately switched to a glue pen, the liquid from the pen being much easier to spread than the sticky glue from a glue stick. Then I learned the trick of using spray adhesive, and I have been using it ever since.

Here's how I do it:

1) Spread newspaper out on the floor (use LOTS of newspaper - you don't want adhesive overspray on your floor).

2) Lay the piece of structure on the newspaper. If it is a particularly light-weight piece of structure, use a very small piece of adhesive tape to hold it in place.

3) Shake the can of adhesive well, and spray a LIGHT even coat of adhesive on the structure.

4) Move the piece of structure onto a clean piece of paper on the ironing board, close to where you do the ironing.

5) Turn the piece of decorated tissue upside down and iron flat. Note the location of any alignment marks on the tissue, and using those alignment marks,

6) Press the structure onto the upside-down piece of tissue. Your structure is now covered. At this point, I move the structure to a harder flat surface and press again to make sure the tissue is adhered to all parts of the structure.

BUT! You say . . . What about the wing? It's not flat! I can't press it down flat!

True enough. Not only is it not flat (the dihedral has already been set), but it also has a curved upper surface, which makes things even more interesting.

Here's how I handle it.

a) First, trim the decorated wing tissue parallel with the root rib centerline so that there will be about 1/8 inch overlap of the root rib. This will help minimize tissue wrinkling at the leading and trailing edges of the root rib. If you like, small diagonal cuts can be made in the tissue at the root rib centerline to further minimize tissue wrinkling.

b) Now place the wing structure on the newspaper, and

c) Tape a piece of newspaper over one of the wing halves so that only one half is exposed to the spray adhesive.

d) Apply spray adhesive to the exposed half, and then

e) Move the wing to the ironing board and place on a piece of clean paper, so as not to get adhesive on the ironing board fabric.

f) Place the decorated wing tissue UPSIDE DOWN on the ironing board.

g) Iron the tissue flat again.

h) Align the tissue with the root rib center line aligned with a straight side of the ironing board like this . . .

i) Iron the tissue flat again.

j) Turn the wing structure upside down and line the wing leading edge up with the leading edge alignment marks on the tissue, press the leading edge into place, and then gently roll the wing onto the tissue, pushing down lightly on the inside of the ribs as you roll it.

k) Turn the structure over, and gently press the tissue down on the leading and trailing edges to assure a good bond. Run the wingtip between a finger and thumb to do the same. Do likewise with the root rib and each wing rib, and then set it aside to dry.

l) When dry, trim the excess tissue with a razor blade, and you're done!

Here's a shot of all the covered parts ready for assembly . . .

Next up: Assembling the parts.

March 8th, 2016

The Luscombe Model 10 No-Cal build continues with . . .

7) Decorating the tissue.

Using the stabilizer as an example, iron the stab tissue flat again, and using small pieces of tape, tape the ironed-flat piece of tissue over the plan drawing so the markings and panel lines can be traced onto the tissue. The silver paint will be so thin, you'll be able to see right through it to trace the markings.

At this point, you will quickly discover just how effective the iron is at shrinking the tissue. If you tape the tissue down directly after ironing it, within less than a minute or two, the tissue will be loose. That is because the tissue has absorbed enough moisture right out of the air to expand. Ignore this looseness as best you can, being carefull not to tear the tissue as you apply the markings. The looseness will make the markings less precise, but when it is applied to the structure, nobody will ever notice.

8) Time to apply the markings. I use straight edges and drafting triangles to keep the lines straight. Here I've shown the markings applied to the stabilizer tissue. To allow for some placement error, always extend any line that goes to the edge of the structure well past the edge of the structure so that when the tissue is trimmed, the marking line won't stop before it reaches the edge of the structure.

Don't Forget to add alignment reference markings so that the tissue can be properly aligned with the structure when covering!

In this picture, I've circled the alignment marks in red. They represent the front of the leading edge of the stabilizer. I also add a centerline in the middle of the stabilizer (it will be hidden by the fuselage structure after assembly).

I usually color in solid markings on a model after I've covered the parts, but the red trim lines on the fuselage would be much easier to apply and fill in before covering the structure. After spraying the tissue, I pulled the Tamiya Yellow (masking) tape off, ironed the tissue again, and taped it down onto the drafting board so I could get the red trim lines as straight as possible. Using a straight edge and a red fine-tip felt pen, the red trim was carefully applied. Here's the result . . .

Panel lines and control surfaces were added to the rest of the pieces of tissue in the same manner as the stabilizer and fuselage - iron the silver-painted tissue, tape it over the plan, and trace the panel lines and markings onto the tissue, including the 'N' numbers on the wing and tail, and the tiny 'EXPERIMENTAL' on the fuselage under the canopy (not yet added when this picture was taken).

Next up: Covering the structure.

March 5th, 2016

My Luscombe Model 10 No-Cal project continues with . . .

6) Coloring the tissue

Unless you've got some of that very old and ultra-rare silver Japanese tissue (and no, I don't mean white tissue that's been painted silver on one side, I mean actual SILVER-dyed Japanese tissue), representing a polished aluminum color scheme is neither easy nor light weight. The easiest and lightest-weight approach is to just cover the model with white Japanese tissue and pretend it's silver. Other methods include dying the tissue, or painting it. I've done both.

A long time ago, I air-brushed a No-Cal Bell XFL-1 Airabonita with heavily-thinned silver paint, which resulted in a very gratifying shiny metallic translucent finish that was actually a good representation of polished aluminum that didn't add too much weight. This is the approach I decided to take on my Luscombe Model 10 No-Cal.

A quick check of my paint stocks however, revealed that sadly, the bottle of paint I had used, my treasured bottle of FLOQUIL #110101 BRIGHT SILVER (on right side of picture), was all dried up. Worse, I found it was no longer even being made. With the knowledgable assistance of Emil, the proprietor of SKYWAY Hobby shop, I decided to try MODEL MASTER SILVER CHROME TRIM (left side of picture) as a replacement.

As a test, I thinned it about 5 to 6 parts thinner to one part paint, and air-brushed a VERY light, even coating on a piece of ironed tissue and let it dry.

This produced a very satisfactory translucent metallic color, but a test coloring with the red felt-tip pens showed that they didn't work well over the silver paint. The red color was rather flat, and the paint rubbed onto the pen's tip, diminishing it's effectiveness. I would need to mask the tissue off to keep the silver paint off the areas where the red felt-tip pens would be used. This involved masking off parts of the fuselage, tail, and wheel pants with a tape that would not tear the tissue.

I tried the relatively low-tack Tamiya Yellow Tape, but while it works fantastically on plastic models, it didn't do quite as well as I'd hoped, pulling a small amount of the fibers off the top of the tissue when I was finished. This was not enough to affect the tissue while covering or decorating, but I would recommend leaving it on only long enough to do the painting, and then immediately removing it. Another option is to use Friskit Paper, which is a low-tack masking material. I'll try that next time.

To mask off the tissue where the red coloring would be, I stuck a piece of Tamiya Yellow Tape to a clean hard surface, cut out paper patterns of the markings from the plan, traced them onto the tape, and cut them out. Here are the two nose designs cut from the tape. ------>

The next step was to trace the locations of the fuselage markings onto the tissue. A piece of tissue was ironed flat, taped down over the fuselage plan, and the marking outlines traced in the appropriate color ink. In this case, all the red trim designs were outlined in red, and the canopy outline was outlined in black, like this . . .

Until quite recently, I used Koh-i-noor drafting pens and india ink to apply my markings. Now there are a variety of fine-tip felt pens in many different widths that make the task easier for those without a drawer full of drafting implements. Here are the pens I used on this project. ----->

Tape masks for the canopy, nose scallops, nose logo, fuselage stripes, tail stripes, wheel pant stripes, and logos, have been applied to the tissue . . .

With the fuselage and wheel pants tissue masked off, all the tissue pieces are ready for painting.

The silver paint was thinned so that it produced a barely visible silver sheen on the tissue. I didn't measure it, but I believe it was about 5 to 6 parts thinner to one part paint. The thinner evaporates while air-brushing, and this produces a very nice even metallic effect, very like polished aluminum, while still leaving the tissue translucent enough to trace the markings onto it, and not adding too much weight.

Next post: applying the rest of the markings, and covering the structure.

March 3rd, 2016

I've posted a picture of the finished Luscombe Model 10 No-Cal, and now it's time to get back to the construction sequence that got it there. The last couple of construction posts showed the finished structure, and the color scheme. Now it's time to cover the structure.

The first step is to shrink the tissue. I do not attach the tissue to a frame to shrink it, because no matter how tight the shrunk tissue is on the frame, the mere fact that it's tight, means it hasn't shrunk as far as it can, and if the tissue can shrink even a tiny bit more, it's going to warp a fragile No-Cal structure on the first hot, low-humidity day it sees.

Here's How I do it.

1) I start by making a screen to lay the tissue on so it can be thoroughly wetted through. I made a 1" x 2" frame bigger than a standard 18" x 24" sheet of tissue, and stapled some plastic screen door screen to it (use plastic screen so it doesn't rust and leave rust spots on your tissue).

2) Turn the frame over so the screen is on the bottom. Take a piece of Japanese tissue and lay it DULL SIDE UP on the screen inside the frame. Now carefully hose/pour water on it until the tissue is completely soaked through. I emphasize carefully - you do not want to introduce creases into the tissue, because they will dry there, and will not completely iron out. If you do this outside, choose a spot completely sheltered from the slightest waft of a breeze so that the tissue does not lift or blow while being wetted, and so become creased.

3) Let the tissue dry completely. When dry, it will be all wrinkled with a pebbled look, but this is how you will be sure that it has shrunk as much as it possibly can.

4) Cut a piece of tissue larger than the part to be covered, in this case, the Luscombe 10's stabilizer.

5) Iron the tissue flat.

Say what? You've never heard of an iron?

This ------------------>

. . . is an iron. They (at one time, before permanent press clothing), were used to iron (flatten) the wrinkles out of freshly washed and dried clothes.

This particular iron is a DRY iron (as opposed to a steam iron, which can apply steam to the clothing article as you iron it.) You do NOT want to apply steam to the tissue as you are ironing it. If all you have is a steam iron, read the directions to make sure it is safe to use without water, or if it has a 'DRY' setting.

To iron the tissue flat (for a right-handed person) hold the iron in your right hand.

With a thumb and a finger of your left hand, spread the right-hand side of the tissue out flat, and slide the iron onto the tissue between your thumb and finger. Move the iron from side to side, then with the iron holding down the right side of the tissue, use your left hand to pull the tissue out straight to the left, and, moving the iron back and forth across the tissue, work the iron over to the left side of the tissue. Using this technique will prevent you from ironing new creases into the tissue. With the tissue flat, iron back and forth a few times, and you now have a flat piece of tissue with a pebbled look.

DO NOT repeat NOT leave the iron laying flat on the ironing board as shown here, which I did just to take the picture.

Repeat this process with a piece of tissue for each piece of structure of your No-Cal. For the Luscombe Model 10 (tissue pieces cut out, but not yet ironed in the picture here). I cut out and ironed individual pieces of tissue for the stab, fuselage, each wing half, both landing gear legs, and enough tissue to cover both sides of the wheel pants. Do NOT try to iron an entire sheet of tissue at once.

Next up: Coloring the tissue to replicate the natural metal color scheme.

February 29th, 2016

My Luscombe Model 10 No-Cal - they don't come any cuter than this!
I'll be adding more construction pictures later, but it's so cute I couldn't wait to get this posted. I've already test-glided it, and it glides as pretty as you please both without and with a flying prop. Looking forward to better weather and the first powered test flights!

March 1st Update: all-up weight balanced for test glides, with flying prop, but without rubber: 4.74 grams! Considering that it has landing gear, it was built with 1/16 square and sheet throughout (instead of smaller, lighter wood sizes), and has a (VERY light) airbrushed silver color scheme, not bad at all! It will weigh slightly more when balanced for the rubber motor, because there are several inches of un-balanced rubber behind the center of gravity due to the short nose.

February 20th, 2016

The Luscombe Model 10 No-Cal color scheme - polished aluminum with red trim. Now I could just cover it with white tissue and pretend it's polished aluminum, but this is one that I want to look shiny just like the real thing. Long ago I covered a Bell XFL-1 Airabonita with airbrushed silver tissue, and it came out looking pretty neat, so I'm going to do it again on my little Luscombe 10.

February 16th, 2016

Valentine's Day weekend is the Northwest Scale Modeler (NWSM) club's big annual model show at the Museum of Flight. This weekend, we had 1,758 models on display Saturday and Sunday.

I attended and brought most of both my Dad's and my collections, which managed to fill up eight tables. There were some truly outstanding models there (besides ours).

The dislay in the picture is two tables wide (left to right) and four tables long (bottom to top). Dad's models are dislayed on the four right-hand tables, and my models are on the four left-hand tables. Dad's were arranged in chronologivcal order from the 1930's to the 1980's, and showed the progression of model airplanes from the days of solid balsa models built from magazine 3-views, right up to modern-day plastic injection molded kits of the 1980's.

One of the favorites of Dad's display (besides the very rare un-built solid balsa model kits that people was oohed and aahed over) was his Big Gee-Bee 'Z' that he built from a Cleveland Model Supply kit in the 1940's. It's a built-up stick and tissue model finished in dope, and for a model that is nearly 70 years old, with cracked and split tissue, it's still pretty awesome! All the small lettering was done by hand, and still looks good!

My favorite model (besides our stuff ) was a fully lighted two to three foot long resin model of an Imperial Star Destroyer. The builder achieved this by drilling over 4,000 holes, inserting fiber-optic line, and attaching it to LEDs on the inside.

February 16th, 2016

Luscombe Model 10 No-Cal structure complete. What a slick little plane!

February 15th, 2016

Building the Luscombe Model 10 No-Cal wing.

I've never liked wingtips that taper down to the bottom surface of the wing as shown in A, because when the wingtip rises, as in B, it lifts more than the rest of the wing, which is the opposite of what you want. That is why I raise the wingtip to be level with the top of the wing as in C whenever I can.
A second advantage of raising the wingtip, is it makes it easier to cover the wing with one piece of tissue, instead of having to cover the wingtip with a separate piece of tissue.

With the Luscombe Model 10, there is a third advantage - if you line up the tip ribs with the wing ribs, the planform of the wingtip with its curved forward trailing edge gives it the added advantage of automatic wash-out. You can see this here - with the ribs lined up, the trailing edge of each tip gets higher as the ribs get closer to the wingtip.

To get the wingtip ribs lined up, shims of the proper thickness for each location are pinned to the plan like this:

The shim thickness of each shim is shown on the shim.
On with the building! Here I've pinned the laminated trailing edge in place over its shims, and likewise pinned the leading edge from its break to the tip over its shims.

Adding the wing ribs. Note that BOTH the root rib and the landing gear rib are set to the same angle using an angle jig.

An easy way to get the wingtip lined up with the last tip rib - cut it from sheet with the grain running spanwise, and it will be easy to glue to the tip rib with the proper airfoil curvature.

Lightening holes were made by sharpening the ends of brass tubing and twisting it into the wood.

Here's a good shot showing the tip washout produced by shimming the tip so the ribs line up.

The nearly finished wing. After the glue dried, one wing half was pinned down, the other tip raised two inches, and the root ribs glued together. A careful sanding, and the wing is finished.

February 9th, 2016

More progress on the Luscombe Model 10 No-Cal.

Ready to start the wing - here's the - root ribs, landing gear ribs, sliced ribs, a couple of wingtips, and the root rib and landing gear rib angle gages (the same - just made two so I could glue both ribs at the same time).

February 3rd, 2016

My Luscombe Model 10 No-Cal progresses again.

Just-completed structure for the stabilizer, landing gear legs, and wheelpant/wheel bits (of the non-rolling variety) join the previously-finished fuselage structure.

January 26th, 2016

I've added a build article for my scratch-built Whittle W1 turbojet engine and a link has been added to my Plastic Modeling Page.

December 8, 2015

1/72 scale Whittle W.1 jet engine museum project finished! And just in time, too. Here it is next to my Gloster Whittle prototype in its all-silver roll-out color scheme just before installation in the display case.

Here's the engine itself . . .

I hope to have a build article for the engine added to my plastic modeling page within the next couple of weeks.

The theme of the museum display, which will be on exhibit for the next three months, is 'X-Planes', and members of the NWSM club have put together a very impressive display of just over 50 models for the two display cases and several that hang from the ceiling.

October 31, 2015

Museum project - need to make a 1/72 scale Whittle W1 engine for a Museum display by December 1st. Completed engine will be approximately 2.69 inches long including exhaust pipe. Got a working drawing done. Hope I can finish it!

October 7, 2015

Another new twin-engine No-cal project. Long nose, slender fuselage - what's not to like?

Getting lots of drawing done lately, so I need to catch up on building the stuff.

September 27, 2015

Why yes. Yes I am going to do a No-Cal Grumman Skyrocket.

Annnnd another No-Cal twin project . . . WOW! Is that what I think it is ?

What. You've never seen one before?

Okay. Here's another one you may not have seen. The Luscomb Model 10 scale drawing has been turned into a preliminary No-Cal plan, and I finally got the fuselage structure finished.

Hopefully I can get the rest done in the near future.

July 29, 2015

Laminated parts can be made with nothing more than balsa strip, 50/50 white glue/water, and sewing pins. And without turning on the stove during 90 degree weather.
I used a simple home-made balsa stripper to make lamination strips, then soaked them in hot water. Mini clothes pins keep buoyant balsa from popping out of water while it soaks.

Here's the canopy outline of my new Luscombe Model 10 No-Cal.

And the outlines for the Luscombe Model 10 tail fillet and the tail trailing edge . . .

July 15, 2015

It took three increases in tail size to get there, but with the final increased tail size, the Mini Moni No-Cal has successfully completed glide tests. Powered flight tests awaiting availability of a suitable indoor venue, or a convenient early morning or late evening period of dead air.

July 11, 2015

The No-Cal Mini Moni is done. Test glides indicate that the tail surfaces are too small, so I'll be making a set with more area.

July 11, 2015

Finished covering the structure for the Mini Moni No-Cal . . .

July 10, 2015

Here's the structure for the Mini Moni No-Cal I'm working on . . .

June 03, 2015

Why yes. Yes I am going to do a No-Cal Westland Whirlwind.

May 21, 2015

. . . Just finishing up the scale drawing for a No-Cal model of a Luscombe Model 10. It's a real cutie! More to follow.

April 4, 2015

. . . a No-Cal Mini Moni homebuilt. Here's a color profile.

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