Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tea Racer Racing Toward The Flight Line

In just a few short building sessions, the Tea Racer is starting to take some serious shape. It's almost recognizable as an airplane now, rather than a pile of Coroplast scraps like it was in my last photos. So far the most tedious and time consuming part of the build was cutting the "kit" from the various paper templates that Morgan provided me with. Other than that this thing has been virtually flying together.

I've built a few planes from paper template style plans, and although I haven't found a particularly good method of doing so yet, I think I performed one of my best efforts on this one. I found that taping the various pages of plans down on top of the sheet of Coroplast, then cutting the plans and the material at the same time with a fresh Olfa blade worked pretty good. I also employed the help of my trusty metal straightedge of course. If you can cut a perfectly straight line free hand then more power to you, but I drink far too much coffee for that feat. I long ago gave up measuring each individual piece for the Mugi Evo kit and cut myself some aluminum templates that cut build time about in half. I think a set of templates for this plane would have a similar effect on total build time, but the templates themselves would be considerably harder to make.

If you peer through the smoke from my trippy hippy incense burner, you can see the Tea Racer fuselage beginning to look like . . . well . . . . a fuselage. That's it pinned between the two gel cell batteries as the glue finishes drying overnight. Morgan suggests a large mug of Yorkshire Tea in the build instructions, but I've never quite been able to acquire a taste for tea, so I substitute incense instead. I find that burning incense while I build airplanes helps me acquire a true Zen oneness with the aircraft that I'm constructing.

OK, that's bullshit, actually it just helps cover up the stench from the contact cement.

Here's a little more of a closeup shot of the fuselage. The only deviation that I've made so far from Morgan's plans was to fit and mark the mid upper cowling before fitting and gluing the rear lower cowl. The instructions don't make mention of this, but I decided to do so anyway because I don't have that much faith in my Coroplast cutting skills to believe that everything would just magically fit. Turns out, that had I just lined everything up the way Morgan said to, it would've fit just fine, but having never built a Tea Racer before I figured it a good idea to be sure.

Another beautiful thing about the Tea Racer design is that as long as everything is straight, the edges of the various pieces don't exactly have to line up perfectly. Of course if the fuselage is built with a warp or a twist in it flight performance will suffer, but if there's a gap between some of the fuselage pieces, it'll get covered up later as all of the seams in the fuselage are taped at the end of the assembly process. This taping over of all of the joints is said to drastically stiffen the fuselage structure, and I see no reason why it wouldn't do just that. I actually intend to double tape mine, but sealing the joints with black vinyl stripe tape, then covering the flat sections with black sign vinyl. by using black Coroplast I've assured that any exposed edges won't look funny, but the vinyl over the top of the exposed surfaces will not only strengthen the airframe but give the outside a nice, shiny, painted metal look instead of the dull sheen of the Coroplast itself. Obviously the color scheme for this model is black and yellow, but the rest is a surprise. Stay tuned.

OK, that's bullshit, I haven't figured out what the rest of the color scheme is going to be yet, but I'll come up with something you can bet.

Next time: Finished fuselage, now what the hell am I going to do with the wings?


Anonymous said...

I think this post is great. your building board looks well organised. did your tea racer fly well? I have just spent an evening cutting out two sets of parts as I always try to think positively. Moran has done a great job of these plans and ive had great fun with the mugi! it has been everything from bungee, slope, speed 400, mega motor and night flying. Regards Malcolm, sunny suffolk

Justin said...

My building board well organized? Are you mad? LOL. Obviously you haven't seen it lately, LOL.

If you check back here, be sure and read the more recent Tea Racer posts. I have flown it, however it has issues that I haven't been able to nail down. I'm thinking either wing incidence, or possibly thrust angle, but it has an extreme tendency to porpoise, especially under power. I can tell that it WILL fly well though, once I get the kinks wrung out. The glide ratio is phenomenal and it's extremely maneuverable. And FAST! Did I mention that it's freaking FAST? Unfortunately an extremely busy summer hasn't left a lot of time for flying. :(