Saturday, May 31, 2008


The fuselage is almost done!

Here is the nearly finished fuselage ready for the seams to be taped. The instructions say that the fuselage is a bit flimsy until the joints are taped, but I'm actually quite impressed with how stiff it actually is. Sure it'll flex if I get a bit western with it, but I've yet to see a foamy that doesn't flex this much and then some. This is shaping up to be an extremely rigid airframe especially for a low cost, high durability design. It definitely beats the heck out of anything foam. Perhaps not quite as light, but far, far more durable.

Sitting in front of the fuselage is the canopy, which I've colored silver by applying some scraps of silver sign vinyl that I had laying around. I think it'll give it a nice "reflective glass" look in the air. The instructions say to attach the canopy before taping the joints, but I think I'm going to wait until afterwards. Not only does this give me the opportunity to tape the joints where they run underneath the canopy, but I can then tape the joints on the canopy itself more carefully, hopefully giving the appearance of actual cockpit bracing. I know, it's not a scale plane, but I'm silly about details like that.

I did however encounter my first "problem" with the design/plans/templates today. It seems that my nose upper cowl, buy the kit and then you'll know what that is, LOL, didn't fit quite right. There was an angled section at the rear of it that needed to be cut straight across instead of beveled. It was an easy fix, and didn't even require making a new part. Simply test fit it and it's easy to see where the existing part needs to be cut. One straight slice across the rear of the cowl piece and voila! Fits like a glove. If you mess up a little bit on the cutting don't sweat it, when you tape the joints it'll all be covered up anyway.

Other than that however, my plane has gone together exactly according to Morgan's plans. Especially if someone has built a Mugi Evo before, they should have no problems assembling the Tea Racer from what I've seen so far. The radio installation will be a little more complex on this model I think, but a lot of that is my own fault. I'll be installing "old school" torque tube aileron linkages with a single aileron servo on this plane. This will require me to use balsa strip for my ailerons instead of the Coroplast ailerons specified in the plans as I'll be requiring a bit more stiffness than Coroplast can afford. I might be able to get away with a double layer lamination of 2mm Coro, but I think balsa will be easier and I have no question about the stiffness. It will also require me to do a little more planning in order for the bearing tubes and aileron linkages to come out in the right places, but I think the advantages will be worth it. If a person wanted to keep it simple, dual aileron servos in a flaperon configuration would definitely be the way to go. I'm going for a cleaner look however, with no visible aileron linkages on the exterior of the wing, as well as a bit of weight savings only running one servo instead of two. Aerodynamically, the single servo setup is also a bit cleaner, with no exposed linkages to create drag.

Another reason for the single servo setup, is that I'm seriously considering retractable landing gear on this aircraft and that setup will add back all of the weight and then some that I'm saving by eliminating an aileron servo. I've never had a plane with retracts, I've always wanted one, and this design is simply BEGGING for them. Of course this complicates the build even more, but I glean just as much pleasure from building planes as I do from flying them. If you're in a hurry to get in the air, then I say hand launch, belly land, and enjoy your Tea Racer. When you build little airplanes for fun, the sky is literally . . . . . The limit.

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