DON'T TRASH THAT CRASH!
Model Airplane News|July 2021
Pro tips for light, strong aircraft repairs
JOHN SLEZELLIS

Over the years, I’ve seen many giant-scale modelers suffer some sort of a failure that ended with a damaged aircraft. I have experienced a few situations myself.

While flying my Hangar 9 30cc DHC-2 Beaver, I experienced a rough takeoff when a wheel collar loosened, causing the wheel to come off. The landing-gear leg hit the ground, and the model nosed over and suffered a prop strike. With the force of the impact, the end result was a broken tailwheel mount and a broken fiberglass landing-gear fairing. Here’s how I fixed my model.

INSPECTION BASICS

After an accident, it is important to examine your model to ensure that further damage doesn’t exist. With the Beaver’s nose over, the obvious damage was a broken propeller, a broken landing-gear fairing, and a damaged tailwheel mount.

The first order of business is to remove the cowl, the main landing gear, and the tailwheel assembly. Because my tailwheel mount, certain stringers, and balsa sheeting were damaged, I also removed some covering around the area using a sharp hobby knife. When removing the UltraCote covering, be careful to cut through only the covering and not damage the wood underneath. It is helpful to keep all the items you removed (like the stringers and balsa sheeting fragments) in small plastic bags and separate from the aircraft to avoid confusion with component replacement during the repair.

At this time, I also removed the broken landing-gear fairing, which had been secured to the fuselage with a silicone-based adhesive. Using a sharp hobby knife, I peeled the adhesive away from the landing-gear fairing.

After removing all components in need of repair, inspect all visible glue joints within the engine box, internal formers, stringers, and so forth. Make a list of things to fix to guarantee that nothing gets overlooked or forgotten. I also looked at the engine crankshaft to make sure that there was no damage caused by the propeller hitting the ground. Using a wood propeller is a good thing as the majority of the impact force is absorbed when the prop breaks.

WOOD REPAIRS

Depending on the amount of damage sustained, you might have to carefully remove damaged items from the aircraft and replace them. Though some models are over-engineered, it is important to repair models while minimizing the additional weight being added to the aircraft. Repair only what’s necessary, and keep doublers, additional reinforcement of components, and so forth to an absolute minimum. Replicate what the manufacturer has done, and if a joiner is needed, it’s wise to incorporate lightning holes.

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