Stella – Final Assembly Begins

I finally finished with the covering and have started final assembly.

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Covering the wheel pants where a a real challenge, but I ended up with a reasonably good result. This gave me confidence to try something “fancy” though (and of course that’s where things went wrong!). I wanted the top of the plastic cowl to match the blue from the top of the fuselage, and thought I could get away with a piece of blue SoLite covering to do the trick. I should have known better, but I after a bit of research, I convinced myself that it was possible and worth the try. Using and iron with a very low heat setting, I was able to attach covering to the back of the cowl.  I then thought I could carefully shrink it down with quick little shots from my heat gun … which of course resulted in a distorted cowl.

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Oh well … chalk it up to a learning experience. A new cowl (setting me a back a whopping $6.00) is on its way. This one will be left white (with maybe a press on sticker or two for trim). I know that this one is still useable, but, after all this work, I’d hate to have this one big flaw staring at me!

The rest of the assembly is going fairly smoothly. The horizontal and vertical stabs have been squared up and (re)glued, the control surfaces have been hinged and installed, and the servos and servo linkages installed, and the tail wheel installed.

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Even though the Stella is not a high-speed plane, I always worry about flutter from hinge gaps. The aileron hinge gap ended up being on the high side of acceptable, so I decided to add in a strip of SoLite along the bottom to seal off the gap. The process is easy, just hold the aileron in its max deflected position (using a bit of tape to hold it there in this case) and fold in a strip of covering (half on the wing TE – half on the aileron LE) with a nice tight crease along the hinge line.

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I also have the motor mounted and have given a trial run of all of the control surfaces. Since the motor mount is clearly visible through the wide cowl opening, I decided to dress it up a little by brushing on a quick coat of red acrylic paint.

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Left to do:

  • Mount the receiver and ESC
  • Add Velcro straps for the battery
  • Glue down the canopy
  • Mount wing and landing gear
  • Install the replacement cowl
  • Add some final trim to dress it up just a bit
  • Check a trim balance
  • Trim out the control surfaces
  • GO FLY!!!
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