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Repairing Rustik

March 01, 2016

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Airfield Models ( Rustik

This is the second part of an article detailing the repair of Rustik due to damage from a screen blowing out of a window and through the plane.

The problem is to somehow patch the hole in Rustik's stabilizer.  I contemplated a variety of methods to pull the skin back into position including putting a second hole in the stabilizer as an air inlet and then using a vacuum to pull the skin.

I didn't think that idea would work and that it was more likely to cause more damage not to mention having another hole that didn't previously exist.

I decided the best thing to do was to cut away the damaged area and replace it with new sheet.  It's the most obvious answer, but the answer I didn't want.


Making a Hole

The bulk of the material has been removed from the hole. The first thing I did was use a hobby knife to cut away the bulk of the damaged wood.

A circle seemed like the most complimentary shape.  I know I can cut a perfectly round plug, but I wasn't sure how to cut a perfectly round hole.  For example, a hole saw is much too coarse for balsa and would shred it.

A cutter in a compass could be made to work but the blade sometimes wanders.  That's ok when the compass is used to cut masks because if the mask is damaged a new one can be cut.

In this case a wandering blade will require the hole to be cut even larger... and larger... and larger.  Sort of like trying to level a table by cutting the legs.

I decided to use my router carefully.

The fuselage is jigged to the building board to stabilize it. The last thing I need is to try to route a moving target.

My initial plan was to have a friend hold the fuselage while I did the routing.  I decided it would be better to secure the fuselage to the building board.

I removed the main landing gear but left the tail wheel assembly because it doesn't come off.

Uprights from my magnetic building system are used to secure the fuselage.

A couple of hold downs secure the fuselage so it can't move while using a router on the stabilizer.

Two of the upright fixtures shown here are to prevent the fuselage  from sliding back ad forth.  The other two hold it down.  Note the clamp blocks.

Sponge shelf lining (available at Wal-Mart) is placed under the fuselage to protect the antenna exit which is a balsa stick that is routed and shaped.

I really like this shelf liner material.  It is thin and won't slip (when it's clean) and provides excellent padding for components.

My models have far less hangar rash than they used to.  I bought several rolls of the stuff and have cut it into various sizes.  For example, I have a piece under my table saw which used to slide all over my work bench.

Sawdust sticks the shelf liner which makes it lose its stickiness, but it can be rinsed or washed and works as good as new.

A garnite bit will make a cleaner hole than a router bit or sanding drum. Rather than use a router bit or sanding drum, I chose to use a garnite bit which is larger and finer.
A nearly perfect circle can be routed with patience. The hole after carefully routing to the line.  The ribs are also routed flat.

I vacuumed balsa dust from inside the stabilizer in preparation for plugging the hole.



Repairing Rustik
Plugging a Hole

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Copyright 2004 Paul K. Johnson