Sunday, May 31, 2009


May 31, 2009

Today I had a very productive day sanding. Using both the belt sander and the palm sander and 80 grit/60 grit sandpaper (respectively), I knocked out just about all the major sanding of the components. There is still a few parts left to sand, but the bulk of it is complete. I also discovered that I missed cutting out a part that supports the propeller shaft, but it's a hidden piece that doesn't need much sanding.

I glued the nose bowl pieces together using Gorilla glue, and I'll start sanding that into shape tomorrow.

I was able to get some of the more complex curves and sanding completed too, which eliminates the need to go to base to use the wood shop's equipment. There are a few tricky bevels left to sand, but I have been successfully using the belt sander on it's side as a table sander. The windshield supports, the landing gear doors, and the fuselage doublers/supports all have bevels or complex curves, and I was able to use the sander quite easily on these.

I've got an idea to use a aluminum model airplane spinner for a giant scale P-51 instead of trying to shape one, paint it, etc. This will save quite a bit of time with sanding; however, the trade-off is that it's a little more expensive, but way more durable. Since this is essentially a larger scale model airplane, I think it will work very well. I can have them special cut the spinner to fit the PVC blades too. I'll still have some wood inside of the spinner, but this way it will be flawless in appearance and therefore adding to the visual appeal. Check out the spinner here (

Tomorrow the plan is to go back over everything with filler (where applicable) and hit it with the 120 grit sand paper, and to also route out the fuselage "Dado" cuts using the Dremel with a router bit. Immediately after this, I will start the fuselage bending process. This involves a iron with a steam function, buckets of water, and lots of wet rags. This is one of the longer processes in this build (aside from the spinner) so once that is done, it should be all down hill from there.

Tomorrow I also conclude the Tail choice. so far I have only had one suggestion, which is the stubby tail.

Lastly, once I get my paycheck situation squared away, the sheetmetal, pedal, and decal kits will be ordered (with a rush) and hopefully they will be in sooner than later.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Virginia Regional Festival of Flight

May 30, 2009

As stated in my previous blog, no work was going to be conducted today as I was attending the EAA Fly-in in Suffolk. Boy, am I glad that I did! Aside from the over 300+ planes, THERE WAS A P-51 PEDAL PLANE!

This will become invaluable in regards to references, as seeing it up close and personal answered some questions that I was having! While this P-51 does not have the propellers and pulley system in it, it's the same plane and plans as mine. There is another P-51 pedal plane plan out there for a folding wing version, which is why I mention that. (I'm adopting the throttle quadrant from that other P-51 plan) There are a few other deviations from the plans in this example seen today that I've noticed, but overall In my humble opinion this is a beautiful example of what the plane should look like.

Some of the pieces that I had cut out seemed out of place, and the plans and construction instructions were rather convoluted as to their specific locations, so actually seeing where they go made everything come together and made sense! As I was getting my research pictures together, an older gentleman was admiring the plane as well, and it turns out he is building one and is experiencing the same questions regarding parts, so it was good to know I'm not the only one out there!

I put some arrows pointing to some of the confusing parts of the plans regarding placement of parts.

The Yellow Arrow: 3/4" Pine former
The Blue Arrows: 2 of the 4 pain in the butt pieces
The Red Arrows: A British RAF formation flying team
Ok, They are fillets that the red arrows are pointing out

The other two's P.I.T.A. to cut piece locations

This older gent and I tried to find the builder, only to find out it was multiple people, and not one was present at the event! Turns out that this specific pedal plane will be raffled off at next years EAA Festival of Flight (2010).

Some of the body doubler's can be seen in these pictures, and some of the other parts as well. One of the best ideas that I got from this plane is the addition of padded seats, I think that would add to the appeal of the occupant as it would make it more comfortable than the hard ply. Also, I'll do my best to screw the molding on symmetrically, which is my only critique of this beautiful plane.

All in all, this was a great fly-in, especially compared to last years mess. They really did a good job this year after revising the awful layout from last year. I also ran into a co-worker that i think very fondly of, and it was great to see him and meet his family! I also saw my Check examiner for my Instrument Check ride, and she somehow remembered me! She's had thousands of check rides, and she remembered me? I'm hoping that is a good thing!

My buddy Rudy mentioned too that this pedal plane was photographed with DD2, which did fly in for a brief appearance. That is making me all the more antsy to get this completed!

I will continue sanding tomorrow with a new found vigor and sense of direction. Monday I will pause construction again to facilitate the instillation of a hot water heater and for the pest control folks to spray my house for the current Earwig infestation.

As I have stated before, one of my goals in creating this blog is to clear up some of the build, as I've now read and hear of other testimonies that the directions and plans are not always clear. Hopefully this will help others out for future builds. It should be known that the instructions are text-only, no pictures to help you along with the process. While there is a non-associated 4 page picture diagram, it still leaves some question at times (in my opinion). I cannot stress that fact enough. Pictures would be VERY helpful in the 24 page construction instructions.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Which Tail Should I Choose?

May 29, 2009 (part II)

So here is the question:
In your opinion, which tail is better; the one on the left, or the one on the right?

I'm going to run the poll throughout the weekend and based upon your vote, I'll use which ever wins. The poll starts now (29May09) and will run until Monday Morning (01Jun09). You can leave a comment on here, facebook, or email me (

I will say this, the only difference between the two is the height, otherwise, they are the same.

As stated before, I like the one on the right. It looks more like a P-51 tail. I think the shorter tail goes better with the stubby wing and elevator, but it does not look like a P-51 tail to me.

Here is a layout of what I conquored...err.... completed today, including the nose bowls. I will be taking a lot of these parts next Monday down to NAS Norfolk to the woodshop to sand the angles in. I sometimes forget that it's available, and they have quite a substantial amount of power tools and equipment available. I'll post the next update onces something more exciting than sanding happens! It will likely be another 10-20 hours of sanding before any more building happens, but stay tuned!

Headway and setbacks

May 29, 2009

After duty this morning, I got to working on the project. Unfortunately, a snafu with my paycheck is going to possibly delay the purchase of the hardware kit, sheet metal kit, and the spinner/decals kits. I'm going to press on regardless and see what I can finish.

Today, I finished cutting out all of the plywood parts, started the 3/4" pine parts, and did some sanding. I started off with the palm sander with 60 grit paper on the empennage. This did a wonderful (remarkable!) job on smoothing out the plywood, but not without issues. The filler that I applied yesterday came out well on most of the parts, but some of them became obvious that it would not work for aesthetics. The rudder, for example, needs to be redone. This is good because it will allow me to contrast and compare the two different rudders. Also, the filler on the fuse made it clear that it was not going to work as well, but I was out of wood. I'm also questioning if I will redo the wings, but I think I can get the bad side on the bottom to hide the knots, filler, and blemishes.

One thing that I have not read anywhere on the plans, instructions, or on Allister's P-51's website; is that you can in fact use one sheet of ply for all the parts. If you are careful in both the selection of the wood, and cutting out the parts and making best use of the wood, it can be done. So off to Home Depot again to get another sheet of plywood.

My highly illegal way of getting that full sheet of plywood back to my house. So with a camera at the ready, I got another sheet!

Yes, I really drove home like this! I passed 4 cops even, maybe it's not illegal? Either way, not one of my smartest plans. I could not safely secure it to my roof.

I also picked up a 3/4" sheet of pine for some of those parts, and some dowels as prescribed on the plans. Since I decided to buy the spinner kit, that cuts back on the size of sheet I needed. $18 more can be added to the total of the project. I actually got help this time by a very patient young man with a European accent. I wanted to ask him if he was from New Jersey, but I went about my business instead.

I got crafty and brought a clock radio along with a power strip out to my shed. The previous owner was in the process of wiring the shed, but never finished. I planned on getting around to it until I discovered the the shed leaks when it rains. That tin roof is crap! So I run a 100' long extension cord from my utility room to the shed, and to that is a 3 outlet strip. Unfortunately, all I could get was 94.9 The Point on it, and they were playing fruity music. I'm sure that had my neighbors scratching their heads!

My sauna (aka "shed") made it difficult to trace the patterns on the wood as my sweat was soaking the plans. You can see how bad I'm sweating in the pictures. As stated yesterday, I did not want to cut up the plans, but I found that a broad-tipped Sharpie marker would seep through the plans and onto the wood. After that, I could remove the plans and use a straight edge and a pencil/marker and go back over the lines.

After about 4 hours of tracing, cutting, routing, and some sanding, I called it a day. Weather is moving in and I was drenched with sweat. I plan on sanding for the next few days, so I most likely will not post an update for a few days.

One last note, Norm Abrams would be proud that I'm wearing safety glasses when I cut/route/sand!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Build Begins!

May 28, 2009
The cutting and filling begins.......

One thing I forgot to mention is I decided to start building this plane BEFORE I build a real plane. This way, I'll be more familiar with working with wood, power tools, etc. While composite construction is VERY different, the attention to detail is similar.

Originally, I was going to buy the plywood kit from Aviation Products, Inc. and assemble it as fast as I could. The problem was it was going to cost me (with the other kits) damn near $450 shipped for everything, and while my daughter's laughter and smiles from "flying" this thing is worth the cost, I simply don't have that kind of cash lying around. Plan B, build it from scratch!

Recently, my power tools arsenal had grown since I am preparing my house to be rented out while I'm in flight school in Pensacola. I bought a scroll saw, belt sander, and a circular sander a week or so ago to finish some of the house issues that i put off, neglected, or didn't have the tools for. I won't include those cost in this, but I did have this project in mind on purchase!

This afternoon I ventured out to Home Depot in Hampton (the most unhelpful and unfriendly hardware store I have ever been to!) and picked up $75 worth of material to build this beast. Ouch, luckily I get paid tomorrow! I bought the following:
  • 3/8" Sheet of Plywood - $10
  • Wiss Tin Snips - $19
  • 20"x10' roll of aluminum (for the panels, cowls, etc) - $14
  • Gorilla Glue (the best stuff on earth!) - $8
  • Routing bit for my Dremel Tool - $9
  • Router attachment for Dremel - $15
  • Diginity - priceless
I was actually going to buy two pieces of plywood and make at least enough parts for two planes (I want to keep on at her grandparents house in Virginia Beach) and one for Florida. The other one is either going to be Dago Red or Miss America...I'm leaning towards giving my daughter a complex and going Miss America. The reason I didn't buy two pieces was a logistics issue. I should have taken a photo of the plywood hanging out the back of my Jeep at an angle with a bungee cord around it, it looked ridiculous, but I made it the 4 miles home!

One of the unique things about these plans is you can build the standard P-51D tail, or the later F-51 tail (or Apache, Cavalier, etc tail. It's a taller vertical fin). PAUL I has the F-51 tail, so the plans offer that one. I think the taller tail would actually be more appealing on this, but I'm going to do a contrast and compare by building BOTH tails.

The first thing I did was trace the rudder on a sheet of printer paper for a template. I want to build another one, so I do not want to cut up the plans. I initially had an issue when cutting the wood as the template was moving around. I tried using tape and gorilla glue, but clearly I needed to trace the part out on the wood to do it safely. I found that a felt-tipped Blue Sharpie would transfer through the paper, so I used that when I cut out the parts. The parts were cut using both the Dremel and the Scroll saw.

As a storm was coming in and my shed (which has no power) was getting darker, I called it a night, but not after cutting out the majority of the big components. The plywood that Home Depot had was crappy at best, but I bought the one that had the least amounts of blemishes, knots, dings, etc. After cutting out the parts, I used some Elmer's Wood Filler on parts that needed filling to cover up blemishes. Tomorrow after duty I will sand those down and finish cutting out the parts and using wood filler as necessary.

Notice the 12" straight edge (aka "ruler") to note the size. The filler is clearly visible on the parts. The Blue lines across the fuselage will be for the routing to accommodate the formers, dowels, and some sanding. The air scoop is cut AFTER bending the fuse (which I'll do Saturday) . A lot of sanding is needed at this point, but I can almost hear the "Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat... yeeeeeeeoooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhnnnnnnnnn!!!!! Machine gun and Merlin engine noises that Jocelyn will make as she does ground loops in the driveway!

I am anticipating a 3 week delay while awaiting the metal parts from Aviation Products. This may cause the plane to not be completed before the move, but I will do my best to have everything else completed before the anticipated leave date (July 5th, but it may be pushed back a few days). I do not have welding equipment available to scratch build the metal pieces, so I will just fork over the money for that, and I've decided to go ahead and purchase the sheet metal kit as a back-up to what I'll do. I could not verify the thickness of the aluminum that I purchased today, and I don't want to compromise this project with a bad component.

Realistically, this is a 200 hour build to make it right, and build it correctly. The bulk of this will be all the sanding that is required, and that "fun" starts tomorrow and will not stop until the final coat of paint goes on. Truthfully, completing this project in 5 weeks is possible, but not probable. Where there is a will, there is a way!

This weekend is also the EAA Fly-in at Suffolk (SFQ). DD2 should be there, and I hope to take some more pics! Hopefully the plane will be built up and final sanding completed by next weekend. The Hardware kit, Spinner, and MAYBE the Sheet metal kit will be ordered tomorrow, as well as the Decal set for Paul I (I need the Stars and Bars, windshield, and some of the decals for the cockpit). I will also start the dummy throttle quadrant this week as well.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The plans are here!

May 26, 2009

The plans are here!

The plans were on back order for a couple of days. I ended up ordering the plans through Cherry Tree Toys, but only because Aviation Products, Inc. does not have a way to pay online. I'm on a time crunch with this plane if I want to have it completed before the big move. Why the rush? I briefly mentioned that I have a specific paint scheme in mind. That scheme is the paint scheme of Jerry Yagen's "Double Trouble Too." That specific plane used to be based in Nashua, NH when the former owner and former Mayor of Nashua based it there.

So it would look like this:
Double Trouble Too - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Double Trouble Too Pedal Plane

You can buy the decal kits for these three mustangs;

Glamorous Glen III - - - - Paul I - - - - - - Old Crow

While those are nice, and the finished P-51 looks great, I want to do something more original. I want to do Double Trouble Too!
I leave the area in July, and I want to get a few pictures of the pedal plane with the real bird. I have asked the Virginia Military Museum in Virginia Beach for permission to do this, and they enthusiastically agreed! I will buy the components required tomorrow. I need to buy some tools too, so this will add to the total cost.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

P-51 Pedal Plane Build

May 20, 2009

A Pedal Plane for Jocelyn.....Ok, it's more for my enjoyment but for her to enjoy!

A few years ago while walking around the NAS Oceana Airshow in 2003, my girlfriend at the time and I came upon a children section that had a few different types of airplane toys, and one of the toys that the kids were playing with was these unique pedal planes! The Christian Eagle one is most appealing, as is the Taylorcraft and Cub, (not on the website, but I've seen the pics! Beautiful!) but I want a Warbird. Being the giant airplane geek that I am, I decided then that I would build one for my child when the time comes!

That time is here! My daughter is expected on September 19th, and while I was rooting for a boy on the first try, I'm sure my daughter will get a kick out of this plane once she is old enough! Reality is I could wait until she is 3-7 (the recommended age) but I have a special paint scheme in mind and I want to have this plane completed before my move in July. I have the house about ready, so why not!!??

I must confess, I actually first learned of these pedal planes when I was in my teens. I remember thinking how I wish I had one when I was a kid. I thought that too about Power Wheels. I decided that I would wait until after I finished college to start this project, since being active duty Navy, married with a kid on the way, and 28 is enough to balance at once.

Onward to the project!

I wanted to catalog the build on a web page, so I decided Blogger might be the best route. I found a VERY informative builder website here and found it informative and comprehensive, but even with the directions and these references, I sometimes found myself scratching my head at these instructions and plans. I decided to catalog the build, explain some parts of the build that seemed vague to me, and hopeful help out others that might have had the same questions. Another good site that covers some of the build (pictures are a little small) can be found here.
After viewing his web page, I decided that if he could do it with little woodworking skills, so could I!

The P-51 Pedal Plan plans, and a variety of other planes, are available from Aviation Products, Inc. of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. You can also purchase various hardware kits are available direct from them as well, which would cut the build down in time, but not expense. You can also find these plans from Other sources as well, including Cherry Tree Toys, EAA, and Aircraft Spruce. The plans are around $22. depending on the retailer you purchase them from. I purchase the plans today, so hopefully they will arrive soon! Stay tuned!