Bill's Project Notebook


It has been more than three and a half years since I last worked on Questor, but tonight, the project has officially resumed. Progress will not be as rapid or steady as it was initially, but I am getting back into a groove with it. The project nearly came to an abrupt end tonight, but fortunately, I narrowly missed severing a critical artery in the frame.

Tonight I trimmed off a bit of fat from the tail section. There was some excess balsa wood from the tail block I had added, where the wires run out from the fuselage boom to the connector which connects to the stabilizer. In the process of cutting off this excess, a razor knife suddenly broke through the wood and embedded itself much deeper into the side than I ever intended it to go, and I thought for sure I severed the wires, internally, in the process. But I quickly wired up a battery, like preparing one of those zapper machines in an emergency room, and plugged it in and the lights came on! Had the lights not come on, this project would have been over in that moment, for I would have been much too frustrated to continue, and it would have been impossible to recover from where I nearly severed the wires.

But aside from trimming off some of the excess balsa wood, tonight was primarily a planning exercise, trying to determine what my next steps should be, and what tools, materials and supplies I may need to carry them out. I am missing some of the things that I need, but I have a preliminary plan of action.

I figured out a most simple solution for getting the fin to lock into place during assembly, and I have just the part I need to make it work. The problem is, I would really like to have two of these parts - a right one and a left one - but as it is, I have only one, and it appears the part is no longer made or available, as I made a gallant effort to find it online. If this piece somehow gets broken over time, I will not have a replacement. It is basically a small nylon hatch latch, presumably made by Carl Goldberg, but I'm getting the impression that Carl Goldberg no longer exists. This really sucks.

Nevertheless, I am proceeding with the idea, and I will simply have to come up with a new fastener in the future if ever I need one.

I have also made a determination that a mistake I made during the Attachments stage needs to be corrected, as I cannot proceed until this is taken care of. The tail section is sitting nearly 1/8 of an inch forward of where it should be due to where the electrical connector on the fuselage boom got attached. This is causing the stabilizer to not sit fully flush with the retaining bolts, and over time will likely cause the connector to break free due to the stresses placed upon it. I also cannot mark any lines or drill any holes until I get this lined up where it needs to be.

Also, the wonderfully perfect fit of the fin into the horizontal stabilizer will need to be loosened up a bit to allow for sealing and/or painting. As it is, the tolerances are too close and will prevent assembly once painted. As you can probably tell, I am focusing on the tail section right now. I need to reinforce the stabilizer mount, to give the nylon bolts a deeper seat as well as to strengthen the seat around the area where I just removed the excess balsa. But I realized that flexing the boom sticks, as I will need to do to ensure proper alignment for connection to the fuselage, affects the width of the slot where the tail fin tab inserts. So, there's a couple of things I need to do somewhat in parallel.

I am going to create a better jig - something to semi-permanently attach to the fuselage to flex the booms close to where they need to be, so I can work on the tail end while it is in proper configuration. I am also going to finish the horizontal stabilizer - and I mean completely finish it - before I complete the tail end of the boom and the fin. This is because the stabilizer will define and provide the seat upon which the fin will rest, and I need to have exact tolerances, and for that I need all the sealer, paint, monokote or whatever is going on the stabilizer around where the fin seats down on top of it. It needs to be snug. But there is a bit of work to do on the horizontal stabilizer, as it has become warped over the past couple of years, being exposed to temperature and humidity changes. It is tweaked exactly opposite of the way I wish it was tweaked, but I should be able to straighten it out.

As for the fuselage, there is still quite a bit of thinking work to be done there, but I have a pretty good idea what needs to happen. I need to decide how I am going to implement a servo tray, as the ready-made one I was thinking of using is too long and would require some modification to make it work, plus it adds more weight than I am happy with, and includes what I feel is a bunch of unncessary mounting hardware. So, I will probably make a simple, lightweight tray out of light plywood. I've never had any servo problems as a result of doing that in the past, so I'm sticking with what works (and what is simplest and lightest). I hope to get the tail and fuselage completed (i.e. ready for finishing) by the end of the summer. I am eager to begin working on the wing.

Which reminds me, I recently got a set of plans copied for my Stick 30 model, upon which Questor is based, so I have a clean set of plans for when it comes time to start building the wing. The wing will contain internal lighting, but like the tail boom and horizontal stabilizer, will contain a couple of electrical contact points that I can open up in the future to apply external lighting in the event the internal lighting somehow fails (or maybe just because I feel like it). I will also add a couple small plates in the wing structure where I can attach an external lighting component.

Questor is back, and it will fly one day! But it will take a while. My plan is to take it out for its maiden flight this time next year. Let's see if it works out this time. Stay tuned!

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