This page was updated on 7th August 2004.
This is John's current (2003/4) building project. He bought the kit early June 2003 soon after we returned from our adventure to the American NorthWest. It is definitely a builder's model as you can see from this drawing taken from the plans. The Flair Puppeteer is a very popular kit and should be very easy to fly. You'll find more information and testimonials on Flair's web-site.
I'm going to power the Puppeteer with an OS 46LA engine. I want to use the standard silencer and have it entirely inside the Puppeteer spun-aluminium cowl. I've made an exhaust manifold adaptor that tips the silencer towards the engine thrust centre-line and modified the Puppeteer firewall to accomodate the rear of the silencer. The exhaust will now exit cleanly underneath the wing below the fuselage. The pictures tell the story.
Fuselage construction is the first item mentioned on the Puppeteer plans/instructions and so that is what I'm making first. The quality of kit components is excellent and the die-cut lite-ply pieces go together very accurately. Here's a couple of pictures of the fuselage under construction. The front section is built from lite-ply and the rear section (from ¼" square balsa) was built seperately and then added to the front section. I've made a box alongside the fuel tank box to take the battery and receiver.
I've now finished the fuselage. (10th August 2003). The only potentially difficult item was sheeting the front of the fuselage. I soaked the sheets in water and let them dry out while deformed into a curve. The resulting curved sheets then attached readily to the framework.
(16/04/2004) There's a potential problem with the cabane strut mounting that I found when setting up the wings. You can see the struts, aluminium brackets in the photograph opposite. They're screwed to wooden bearers that run across the fuselage. I had to bend the struts to get the wings level. Unfortunately one of the screws pulled out and a bearer came adrift from the fuselage frame. That meant cutting into the fuselage sheeting and using epoxy to glue the bearers more securely. I also pinned the joints with pieces of cocktail stick and used a long thin woodscrew to join the front bearer to the upper engine bearer. I was annoyed with myself, but I suppose it was better to find the weakness now, rather than in flight!
Look out for the drinking straw mounted inside the fuselage in the detail picture below. I often use drinking straws joined together to make a convenient and lightweight conduit for the radio control receiver aerial. You can see it exiting at the rear top-right of the fuselage in the upper picture.
21st August 2003. I've just finished the tailplane and rudder/fin structures and have mounted the engine cowl. Look for the cooling slot behind the cowl on the right-hand side. This is directly behind the engine cylinder head.
Here's a picture of the complete fuselage and a closeup showing how the OS silencer fits neatly inside the engine cowl.
The wings are next. I've got two pairs of these to make! I'll make the lower wings first, then fit the undercarriage and finally make the upper wings. I've bought a couple of micro servos to fit one in each (lower) wing rather than make up a bell crank mechanism for a single servo. The two micro servos scarcely weigh more than one standard Futaba 148 servo.
29th August 2003. I have almost finished my first wing panel (out of four) and have been thinking about how to reduce the assembly time at the flying field.
I have decided against copying the idea of splitting the fuselage behind the wing (click
to visit Jonathan Mead's website) and have come up with a quick release clip to replace the 6BA screws that hold the interplane struts to their brackets on the wings. The pictures show a slot cut near one end of a mounting shaft into which a springy steel wire engages.
15th April 2004. It's been quite a while since the last up-date. I've now finished all the wing panels and have installed the radio equipment. I took a break from building the Puppeteer to make the Model Aero club trainer aircraft. You can take a look at that here if you want. Building the wings was pretty straightforward, but time-consuming. Here's a couple of pictures showing the wing construction, and how I used separate mini-servos for the ailerons instead of the recommended bell-crank system. I will use my Futaba FF6 computer radio to set up the desired aileron throw offsets (more "up" than "down").
I've also finished the undercarriage.
I've decided to use wheels that I have to hand and have elected to make a sprung (non-scale) undercarriage, complete with tailwheel to help ground handling on our grass strip.
Here's a picture showing the undercarriage. The block of wood to the rear is removed when the lower wing is in place. It all compresses nicely when taking the weight of theaircraft.
23rd April 2004(St George's Day!). Well here she is, complete at last. Now She's been photographed I can take her to bits again, sand her smooth and start the covering. I'm going to use cub-yellow Profilm bought at last year's model show.
Flair have provided an unpainted plastic pilot's head to complete the model. They call him "Bertie".
Here's a picure of Bertie looking suitably terrified at the prospect of flying under my command!
(7th August) Here she is finished at last! I covered her in Cadmium yellow Profilm. It's really easy to apply. Unlike the (much cheaper) solarfilm products the glue and pigment layers are separate in Profilm which makes it much less messy to glue film-to-film. It tolerates a hotter iron too. I'm quite pleased with the result and am looking forward to the maiden flight any day now. I've used the computer radio (Futaba FF6) to set up the recommende aileron differential of 5/8" up and 3/8" down.