Building and early ARF from the USA

Hi fellow LMMAC members.

In June 2010, Leonie and I had the opportunity to work on my second plane build, Comet II, produced by Lanier and imported from the US. We commenced work on this project in June 2010. Prior to this I had assembled my first ARF trainer on our dining room table and lounge room floor, sound familiar?

It was a love project for us as this plane was already started back in 1985, by Ken Crossley, Leonie’s Dad.

Ken had a number of plane projects on the go, built up from RCM plans in the magazines and also included Airocobra and Sabre balsa construction models for nitro 10 and 20 2c engines.

The Lanier Comet II, an early ARF kit, construction is minimal plywood frame and engine supports as no balsa used. ABS plastic outer shell for fuselage, canopy, wing and elevator tips with foam core for wing, rudder and elevator stabilisers.

OS 60 2c engine was sitting new in box and had not been fitted but had been test run, oiled and stored by Ken. This engine is oversize but sure gets along. Electronics consisted of Dick Smith Sports series 4-channel APT-4, 29 MHz AM transmitter, complete with APS-31 servo set. All in good condition even though now out-dated and no longer approved for RC flying.

All the parts, ready to go.

All the parts, ready to go.

In June 2010 the Comet II was laid out on large table to be sorted. All items noted and list made out for new parts required. Plane photographed during assembly. We used Hitech 311 servo’s, 4 cell NiCad RX battery with switch, new fuel tank with tubing, Assan 2.4ghz Rx module.

With the plane itself we had to remove the “Early days” adhesive covering, from the wing and tail surfaces which was difficult due to adhesive residue on foam surfaces. Then used Selleys Quick fix micro balloon filler on foam surfaces before covering with Solar Film, which was recommended as lower temperature application for covering foam cores.   The plywood engine bearers when drilled separated, and had to be clamped while CA applied to re-bond the layers. Four aluminium plates, 2mm thickness were cut, drilled and taped to sandwich the bearers as the engine was bolted into position. A suitable replacement fuel tank was sourced and fitted after some reshaping of the plywood bearers which form the engine supports plus extend backward to the servo box section. Plywood sections, we coated with Bondcrete PVA by brush or pouring and tilting fuselage to run down the rear tail support rails. Epoxy was also used to re-bond some of the ply sections to the ABS plastic outer shell where needed.  Carbon fibre rods were used to support the rubber bands for attachment of the wing. When the wing is fitted, a one piece Canopy with a front section to cover up to the engine firewall is screwed into position and certainly looks the 50’s style. It is fiddly to fit and remove but so are the wings on my Ultimate 120 biplane. Tricycle undercarriage had been fitted previously but I carried out further modifications to the front steer system to clear the new fuel tank.

As I was now using Hitech 311 servo’s with smaller footprint than the Dick Smith originals I had to make up a new servo tray and glue into position with new support rails.

New covering on the wings.

New covering on the wings.

At this point Leonie and I set about to design and recover the foam cores which proved difficult as our first use of Solar Film or any shrink fit covering. We kept to original colours of red and white but a different pattern. When completed we were happy so I then set about installing linkages to front steer wheel, rudder, elevator. Control surfaces were then fitted including a replacement rudder manufactured by an RC Buddy, as the original was not with the kit. Fitting the aileron servo into the foam core was tedious as once cut out I had to make a plywood support section to support servo.

Nylon flat sheet hinges had already been fitted to main wing using Silastic to hold in position for control surfaces.  I used same to fit ailerons and used nylon hinges when fitting new rudder.

The OS 60 engine was positioned and fitted with new fuel tank which was a tight fit but removable.

Throttle linkage then installed. CG check carried out with lead weights fitted to balance.

Full check of plane controls carried out, once set up on my JR PCM9X11, so then to test the engine.  It had been sitting in a box for about 15 years. Primed and fitted glow stick. Electric starter for about one second and the OS 60 was again back in action and so smooth. Obviously Ken had run the engine in on a test rig.

During this build I had progress checks carried out by experienced model builders who also gave me valuable advice and guidance.

The Comet II was completed 23 Feb 2011 and we organised a family group to travel to the Rebel field for test flight for the 28 Feb 2011 in memory of Ken Crossly on his birthday. We decided it would be an occasion to celebrate our memories of Ken, with the maiden flight of one of his models and give him a smile on his face as we were sure he was watching from above.

Simply started engine took off and flew the circuits without any trim required, amazing stuff.

I have not flown this plane since, but now February is close so maybe the 28 Feb for another get together.

Completing this project was a constant reminder of the enjoyment and satisfaction that Ken achieved with his model building. I regret not getting involved with his RC Planes when I had the chance but that’s life.

Ross Gleghorn, Bronze wing (believe it or not)