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Building the Great Planes Fundango

Old 06-18-2013, 11:06 PM
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Default Building the Great Planes Fundango

Hello everyone!

I thought I would share my experience of constructing and flying the Great Planes Fundango. This is my first attempt at building any sort of kit aircraft. My only previous flying was done with a RTF heli and an eRC Micro Stik foam plane (great fun on zero wind days). I finished the build a few weeks ago and have since logged a few flights. It flies like a dream with the Park 480 outrunner, although this wasn't the first motor I used with it (more on that later...) I thought I would also take this opportunity to point out a few things I noticed in the manual that might be best to avoid doing. If there's anyone thinking of building this plane hopefully they can avoid the mistakes I made and have a much smoother and quicker build! But first things first, a sneak peak at the finished model:

The kit arrives!

Unfortunately, the main wing web/spar that came with my kit arrived bent.

I'm not sure how frequently this happens but there's no working around a bent spar. The wing reinforcements that you add to the wing throughout the build are only designed to keep a straight wing straight and you simply can't complete the build without a straight main spar. I ordered the kit through Tower Hobbies but ordered a new main spar directly through Great Planes. They were very prompt and easy to work with and supplied the replacement part and shipped it free of charge.

Ailerons: Because I had to wait for the replacement spar to arrive I couldn't start work on the main wing first as directed in the manual, so I started working on the ailerons, which is probably the easiest place to start anyway, at least for me. Just make sure the balsa pieces you cut are as straight as possible, and if they have slight bend in them just position them so that the bends remain in the horizontal plane when the aileron is resting flat on the table. This way the cross braces and the other balsa pieces that make up the outer structure of the aileron will pull the piece straight once it's all glued together. If you construct it so that the bend is pointing vertically when the piece is resting horizontally, the entire aileron will be bent even after the remaining pieces are glued to the curved piece (this is what I did and I had to make a replacement aileron )

Tail surfaces: The fin was next. The only tricky part here was "laminating" the thin balsa strips to get them to curve without breaking. The manual says to use either water or alcohol but I recommend using the rubbing alcohol as it seemed to evaporate more quickly off the balsa, allowing you to glue the pieces more quickly.

The wing: After I had finished the stab and elevator the replacement main web arrived so I began construction on the wing. I followed most of the instructions in the manual for this except where it says to drill a 5/16” hole through the front of the leading edge for the fuselage. There is not much room for error here if you were to drill this big of a hole in that thin of a piece of balsa. What I did is drilled a 1/8” pilot hole in the leading edge as instructed but then sanded it the rest of the way until I could slide the fuselage in and out with not too much force. I just didn’t want to risk cracking the leading edge by drilling a large hole after having spent all the time up to that point building the wing (not to mention having to wait another week for a replacement leading edge…).

Landing gear: The steel wire for the landing gear is very hard to bend and cut. I wasn’t able to bend it in perfect 90 degree angles as seen in the pictures in the manual. As a result I needed to glue some balsa spacers to the fuselage to be able to get the wire attached securely with the string.

Motor mount: Do not use the recommended power system for this kit! The kit was first released in the early 2000s before lipo batteries and brushless motors were available. The instructions still tell you to complete it with a geared brushed motor and NiMH batteries. I’m not sure if you can even order the power system they recommend nowadays, but don’t bother. I ended up using an eRC 400-size brushless outrunner motor with a 9 x 5 prop. This is a fairly small motor but despite this it was still too big to fit on the motor mount supplied with the kit. The included motor mount seemed too thin and flimsy and was designed to mount a motor and gearbox with a thrust vector outside of the centerline of the fuselage. I just got some plywood from Menards and cut a roughly square piece to make the mount and cut 3 triangle support mounts. I then beveled the triangle supports so that they would mount better to the round fuselage rod. I still used the wooden dowel to mount it to the fuselage but I mounted it so that the thrust will be centered with the plane. I used blue Loctite on all the motor mount bolts and center screw. Keep in mind that with the motor and prop centered lower in the plane, you can’t really use a 10 inch prop if you are also using landing gear as you won’t have the ground clearance without making the landing gear taller than instructed. I also skipped the step where they tell you to sand the front of the fiberglass rod to conform to a thrust angle. I later switched to a Park 480 outrunner and 9 x 7 prop because the insulation on one of the lead wires on the eRC motor was melted after being mounted too close to the battery, opps!

Mounting receiver/battery: I used a Spektrum AR400 receiver which is quite small however I wasn’t able to fit it inside the wing behind the servo bay. I know others have had success mounting it in the bay just forward of the servo bay, but I didn’t want to cut anymore covering and didn’t mind it mounted to the wing as it’s so small anyway. If you are going to mount it to the wing, I would use something other than a rubber band, which is what the manual says to do. I used some spare Velcro I had leftover from my old heli. In fact I used this Velcro to mount not only the receiver but the ESC and battery as well.

Servo pushrods: When it comes to cutting the 10” pushrod wire the manual says to cut it into “four 1-1/2” pieces and two 3” pieces.” For this to work you would need a 12” wire. You don’t need anywhere near this much to finish the pushrods though. Just cut the aluminum tube per the instructions and then cut the smaller wire to the lengths needed to reach the servo and control horns when the wires are inserted ” into the aluminum tube.
Battery hook: I used string soaked in thin CA to secure the battery hook to the fuselage tube. It seems using the drill bit size suggested for this hook makes too big of a hole needed for the hook. My hook had too loose of a fit so I secured it with CA-soaked string.

Mounting servos: The Hitec HS-81 servos I used for this build were slightly to long to fit in the servo bay, so I used my hobby knife to cut away a bit of the balsa top spar and servo support to get them to fit. Because I had now shortened the width of the balsa beams that I would have drilled through I decided against drilling through them now for fear that they were weakened from making them thinner. So to mount the servos I covered the inside walls of the servo bay with monokote and then glued the servos to the monokote. This way I should be able to remove the servos from the bay in the future without damaging the plane.

Order of drilling, covering, mounting: The manual has you glue the fuselage to the wing before you drill the holes for the landing gear and battery hook. I would recommend marking and drilling the holes first before mounting the wing because your drill will probably not have the clearance needed to drill without hitting the wing. Regardless, I found it easy to drill the holes while the fuselage was secured to the work table with duct tape. This prevented the rod from moving around during drilling. The manual then states to mount the landing gear before you cover the model. I covered it first before mounting the gear as I wouldn’t have the clearance needed to bond the leading edge with the front landing gear in the way.

Test flights: At the time of this post I’ve logged 2 flights on the eRC motor and 2 on the Park 480. The first flight went well despite some wind. I had some trouble getting the plane to track straight initially at low speeds, so I made some adjustments to the landing gear. Since you can’t turn the plane while it’s on the ground they recommend you get the model up to speed quickly as opposed to a long rolling take-off. Once in the air the plane is very stable even at low speeds. It will stay in the air at 1/3 stick of throttle with either motor and when it stalls the nose drops first and you quickly regain airspeed. I’m getting better at landing it after the first two landings I scuffed the prop a bit even with it power cut. The best approach might be to 3-point it to keep the nose raised at touchdown. I didn’t try any aerobatics until the later flights. I found it harder to retain airspeed with the eRC motor while doing loops and rolls. The difference the Park 480 makes is night and day. I felt no need to give it any more than stick of throttle on the first flight with the 480. This is a very nice cruising speed with this motor and is more representative of park flyer speeds. On the most recent flight I pushed it close to full throttle for short periods and it quickly reached the confines of the flying field! I’ve yet to try it on high-rates but will report back once I do. I’m very pleased with how it flies and am glad I made the somewhat forced upgrade to the 480. The video below shows the first flight with the 480 motor, all of which took place at stick of throttle or less.

Thanks for reading! More pictures and videos to follow…

Some random pics:

Last edited by Pilotwings24; 06-19-2013 at 04:04 PM.
Pilotwings24 is offline  
Old 07-20-2013, 11:16 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: NY, USA
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How about a progress report?
AEAJR is offline  
Old 07-28-2013, 09:02 PM
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Winston Salem, NC
Posts: 212

Thanks for the info. I have one I'm going to build this winter.
MWShelton is offline  
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