Saturday, July 25, 2009

Final Thoughts

I want to start off by saying that this plane was a labor of love. I built it from start to finish in under 3 weeks. While I'm sure that this is not a record for the build, it went together much faster than most of the other builders that have websites following the build. I was fortunate that I was on a summer job for the Navy prior to an assignment and had ample time to get this plane completed expeditiously.

This was in hindsight not an easy build, but it should be something a novice could do. I have build numerous model airplanes, and while I felt that the instructions may have been adequate, I went off the pictures, and basic knowledge and understanding from other builders, as well as the 4 drawings supplied with the plans.

Here are some pointers that I offer, in absolutely no order.

  • When painting the parts, I do not think it was cost effective to use spray paint. I went through 6 cans of chrome at $7 a pop, before landing on a single can of chrome brush-on paint. using a cheap roller, you can almost make panel lines using a smaller roller, making it appear more scale. Even if you do one of the other paint schemes with a set of stock decals, this is a good tip.
  • If you have all the tools for this job, you can come in WAY under what I spent to finish this project. I think the total cost came in just under $800. I was not careful in planning the paint, and I ended up with a lot of extra paint. Paint is expensive folks!
  • Keep your reciepts. When you buy too much, or break something, most hardware stores have a great return policy. I recouped some of that $800 this way.
  • Use birch plywood if possible. It may need to be special ordered. It is a denser wood that is less likely to spinter. This is also the kind of ply that is offered through the websight if you elect to get the precut peices.
  • If you don't have a drill press or lathe, I really have to recommend going with the Zinger aluminum spinner and cutting it with some Wiss snips. It saves A LOT of time. I've read that the spinner was the most labor intensive portion of the build. I had mine cut and fine tuned in about an hour all together. Its fairly intuitive to attach everything, and with a Dremel tool, cutting the indents for the prop was a cinch.
  • Bondo. I know it's a kids toy, but this covered a lot of blemmishes much better than the wood filler.
  • Gorilla glue, if used, fills in a lot of cracks, but don't use it for a filler intentionally.
  • Mistakes will likely happen along the way. I made a few. Some I caught before it was too late for the glue, but others I was not as lucky.
  • Use 5 minute epoxy on the friction pulley and metal pedals. I tried regular glue, and it became impossible to cure. Also, do not leave the rubber band that goes from that pulley to drive the propeller on, as the tension will make it impossible for any glue to cure.
  • Make a seat out of foam. At least a cushion for the butt. Enough said.
  • Sanding is much easier if you use a palm sander. While you could hand sand, that would add hours to the build
  • Build this outside in a shed or barn. If you have a detached garage, that would be good too. The saw dust in my shed was in places at leats 1/4" after a day of sanding.
  • If you order parts from Aviation Products, Inc., remember; it's first come, first serve. I got lucky becuase he had one P-51 parts kit left on his shelf. It can take a few weeks for him to fabricate things, so if you are in a time crunch like I was, you may not get as lucky as I was! Thanks again Gary for your help!
I write this from Pensacola, Florida; where I am awaiting classing up fro flight training for the Navy. I am 900 miles away from the pedal plane for now, which is sitting in storage. I am already planning on building another when the time permits, albeit at a slower pace. I very much enjoyed the build, and I will enjoy watching my daughter pedal around in her very own P-51, engaging in mock combat manuvers while I watch her in envy and enjoy her fun vicariously. Her smile should say it all, and have made this build all the while! Thanks for checking out my build!

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