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Airspeed Courier - Tim Hooper's 1930's Classic Mini Airliner

Designed in Britian - Built in France!

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Terry Walters08/01/2012 20:32:42
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Hi all,
 
Like a number of other forumites I follow Tim's creative journeys through the annals of aviation history and the fantasies of his mind!
 
Last year I was taken with his scratch build of the Airspeed Courier and its subsequent maiden flight. I really like the 1920s and 30s period of aviation in the UK and so when the design was made available as a plan/CNC/woodpack I could not resist it and also this is my first actual blow by blow blog.
 
I decided to do the blog because I have learnt so much from this forum and other modellers sharing their builds together with their successes, failures, tips etc that I thought it was about time I paid back some of the investment others have made in me. I hope that someone out there benefits from the build as well as me!

The history of this aeroplane was well documented by Tim in his blog so if you want to know more on that score just search the forum for Airspeed Courier and you'll find his original blog which is still live. Other current builders also contribute to that thread.
 
I bought the two part plan, CNC cut parts and woodpack. Others will build straight from the plan. Living in a remote area of France it is much more practical to buy the 'full works' because getting the right stuff can be so time and money consuming. I bought the 'makings' a few months ago but this had to wait until I finished my 58" DB Tiger Moth - that's just had a last minute power train change and larger lipos are on the way - maiden soon!   I'll unveil the Tiger on another blog shortly.
 
To be different to Tim's civilian example I have decided to do an RAF version - two photos are available of K4047. This is the pre-war scheme. Probably silver all over?
 
 
The one below is the wartime scheme. I believe it to be dk earth/dk green with, possibly, a yellow horizontal stripe. It's not a good photo but it does seem to be very dark underneath. Also the panels immediately behind the cowl are either metal or yellow or other light colour. Any info appreciated.
 
 
The eagle eyed amongst you will notice the different cowlings both of which are different to that sported by Tim's prototype which represented an early version. There are other engine/cowl variants as well.
 
I think I will do the full cowl camouflaged scheme as it will mean less work on the radial engine and exhaust and will be my first 'warbird'!

Edited By Terry Walters on 08/01/2012 20:36:27

Tim Hooper08/01/2012 20:45:29
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Watching avidly!

tim
Terry Walters08/01/2012 20:56:05
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So what do the 'box' contents look like?
 

Nicely cut CNC pack - all in what seems to be good quality wood. The wood pack is of similar quality. Quite a bit of sawdust filled the cut lines so I thought at first that the cutting had been defective! A quick once over with the Dyson sorted that and the parts were easily removed.
 
It is important to identify the parts as you cut them - the accompanying chart gives most (but not all) of the part references.
 
 
Some of the parts are a little smaller than the plan but this should not present any real problems if allowance is made for this in construction. Here is an example - F1 has been cut on the chamfer line rather than the original size.
 
 
The complete cut parts look like this - there are 29 ribs!
 

Actually started building today too! For the first time I have disowned my cork faced MDF building boards and built on plaster board! What a delight!! If you haven't tried it before try it - you are in for a treat. My only problem is that I don't have an off-cut big enough to build the wing (it's built in one piece!) so off to the Bricolage (DIY to you) this week.
 
Here's the tailplane and elevator:
 

And the rudder/fin:
 

Some of the cut parts that should be parallel aren't quite so but again they don't present a problem they are no worse than my usual cutting!

We are off and runnning!
 
Terry
 
Terry Walters08/01/2012 20:57:49
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Hi Tim - nice to know you are there! Will have to finish it now won't I? Just hope I do your work the justice it deserves.
 
Terry
Pete B - Moderator08/01/2012 23:31:53
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Subscribed, Terry.
 
Tim will provide the expertise if you have any problems -just ring me for sympathy. Mind you, don't expect too much, you get five minutes of 'There, there' - and then it's 'Pull yourself together!'

Pete
Terry Walters09/01/2012 19:05:00
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1829 forum posts
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Well not much done today due to SWMBO wishes to have the satellite dish for french tv finally erected (only had the kit waiting for about 2/3 months!) coinciding with just the right weather to do it! So no contest then!
 
However, this pm the fuse has been started! I would rather have done the mainplane but still don't have a sufficiently long piece of plasterboard!
 
First tho' I did the dreaded cutting up of the plan sheets to put the 'missing ends' on the plan drawing of the fuse views. I hate cutting up a perfectly lovely drawing but you have to be practical - I did cheat a bit and copy the 'end' that would go into my printer copier and fit on an A4 sheet! Sorry MHS!
 

The lower sides are not actually built over the plan but the plan is essential for reference and measurement. Again it was noted that the CNC cut balsa full length lower sides are very slightly under height . This shouldn't have any noticeable effect so long as the rest of the fuse is built to fit. The height could be made up in the roof line but I don't think that will be necessary.
 
After glueing the wing seat side doublers in place the 'top' full length longerons were added followed by the triangular section lower rear longerons and the lower square forward longerons. The lower rear triangular section will require significant trimming when the rear sides of the fuse are drawn together. As usual F2 and F3 are glued at 90 degrees to one side before the two sides are later mated.
 
 
My Flair Puppeteer which I bought thro' the RCME classifieds arrived today! Even more reason to crack on with the Courier!
 
Terry
Terry Walters11/01/2012 20:37:14
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Not much time to do too much work but the fuse halves have been joined - everyone does this their own way and with whatever is to hand - I'm no different! Using aliphatic glue and with very careful precision to ensure 90 degree joints the second side was offered up and glued into place. It was important to ensure the lower fuse was perfectly aligned so the glue bottle holds the front edges of the side exactly level and the 12v gel battery's side face holds both of the horizontal top edges of the lower side in parallel. The lipo lies on top to provide some down force. It's not pretty or leading edge (no pun intended) technology but it worked a treat.
 
 
After this had set overnight the two sides were drawn together at the rear. In order to do this the bottom triangular longerons need to be chamfered to meet. Note: the fuse end finishing piece which is CNC cut needs to be about twice the supplied thickness but it will be easy to shape some scrap to make this. It doesn't need to be fixed until much later on anyway,
 
At the same time F4 the rearmost former is fitted. When siting this former and working with the shell over the plan you need to angle the former so as to be vertical (90degs to the top edge) when the fuse is sitting level - if you hold the bottom rear edges on the plan to site it then when the fuse is lowered back to sit onto F2 and F3 you will find F4 is not in the right place and at the wrong angle. I know! I used scrap balsa to protect the side faces of the lite-ply from the clamp jaws.
 

Finally for know I epoxied the wing retaining seat ply cross piece immediately forward of the lower end of F3. At this point I was glad that I had realised earlier that the suppleid triangular support strips to support the battery/servo tray and the wing seat were too wide and had trimmed them. If I had not done so the wing seat would have been so low as to foul the wing and prevent it seating correctly - so builders beware - here be dragons!
 

Due to my nervousness about the security of the front edge of the battery tray I also added an extra triangular section support on the front of F2 and sited below the tray.


More tomorrow I hope - getting impatient now - lots to do! Still need a bigger bit of plaster board for the wing construction!
 
Terry
 
Tim Hooper11/01/2012 22:39:17
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Excellent Terry! You should be doing build threads for a living!

It's interesting for me to see how this project is built from the kit - I've just had to refer back to the plans to check on a few things! Remember, It's well over a year since I built mine....still flying beautifully BTW!

You're doing a really good job on this Terry.

tim
Terry Walters12/01/2012 08:20:53
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Thanks Tim - think I'm spending more time writing it up than actually doing it!
 
Terry
Terry Walters12/01/2012 21:12:55
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A bit more today:
 
Firstly the rear ends were chamfered and brought together with Gorilla glue. Then trimmed to the plan profile The top longerons did not need chamfering and to do so would've drawn the the top of the sides in too much.
 

The top longerons were reinforced with a small wedge to keep them in position.
 
Then attention was turned to the front end and although F1 is smaller than the plan profile I decided to use it rather than trying to cut a perfect circle from ply. The engine mount holes were marked out:
 

 

 
Then off to the outside workshop to use the pillar drill for accuracy:
Terry Walters12/01/2012 21:46:17
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In order to draw the front fuse sides together there's a need for lots of small cuts into the longerons to allow sufficent movement. For the first time in building I used a fine scalpel saw blade from Hannants. There are several blades in a set of various sizes. The short and more rigid blade was best for purpose:
 
 
So the longerons ended up like this:
 
 
After spraying the sides in front of F2 over a period of about an hour the sides were packed with protective balsa and brought gently together and Gorilla glued. It is important to remember two things here.
 
Firstly that the right side needs to be cut 2mm shorter than the left to allow for the thrust line to be offset to the right.
 
Secondly F1 needs to be set at an angle of 85 degrees to the top line of the bottom side panels. This is because the top line of these panels are at an angle of 5 degrees to the horizontal thrust line.
 
Here is the template made from scrap ply for rigidity.
 

 
 
 
In the above you can see the use of the template I made. In order to be able to do everything the assembly is inverted and F1 floats off the end of the building board. I needed also to pack the fuse up evenly off the board to get enough clearance.
 

The above shows the effect of the offset of 5 degrees when the assembly is rotated right way up F1 is vertical.
 

Whilst waiting for everything to harden I chamfered to false top longerons to profile. These fit on top of the already fitted top longerons and are angled inwards to allow for the top side panels to be fitted at the right angle to allow narrowing of the fuse towards the top. The photo below shows how the false longerons are fitted to provide the rebate intto which the top panels are set.
 


Here's how the bottom fuse assembly looks at this stage:
 
I think I'll put a mast on it and go sailing!
 
The cruise will have to wait as another CNC problem awaits. The top of F3 has soon to be fitted but you can see it's undersize:
 
 
Here it is compared to the plan drawing:
 

Only one of us needs to lose any sleep over this so leave it to me. It will have to be recut I think. No-one said it would be easy - anyway that wouldn't be fun would it!
 
Terry

Terry Walters15/01/2012 21:03:59
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1829 forum posts
1068 photos
After sticking the motor mount back onto my VMAR RF4 and repairing a bit of wing seat damage caused in the same early arrival. I then tried Gorilla Glue on the large crack in the wing of my foam Me 109 which hasn't flown since its maiden (Spring 2011 I think!) ended in an extended downward part of a loop with too much sky above it and not enough below it. Finally I got back on the Courier.

Firstly I cut a new F3 top section to replace that which was cut too small in the CNC process. That will be fitted later.

Then onto the bottom front of the fuse. I have been pondering on this because there didn't seem to me to be enough room for the motor/wires using the soft balsa block supplied. I considered making some sub formers and planking over them but I decided to continue as per the plan. The balsa supplied is not quite wide enough to do the job in one piece so I decided to use two large outer pieces cut on the angle at each end to meet F1 and F2 correctly. these would chamfered to meet at the forward end and a central triangular piece would fill the remaining aperture.
 
The first piece was excavated on the internal face to provide depth for the motor and wires, shaped to meet F1 and then fitted to the fuse.
 

 
Then the second major segment was prepared the same way and fixed in position.

 
Then the remaining section was infilled and after the glue had set the blocks were planed to rough shape and then sanded to near section profile to be finally finished later.
 
 
 
There followed a trial fitting of the motor - Phew it fits! That's relief! Tim was right!
 

In order to prepare for the next stage - planking and hatch making I needed to cut and join 1/16th sheets material to the right size. Checking the wood pack - no 1/16th sheet except a narrow strip intended for cuttting to provide cross grain sheeting for the bottom rear fuse! Supplied strip was 3/32nd. Further examination of the balsa pack material also revealed no more 1/8th square as required for the planking - it looks like 3/16ths hs been supplied instead.
 
So back to the private stocks for the hatch bottom sheet! Two strips were cut to size and joined along the long edge. This will be the base for the hatch and will be placed above sellotape to facilitate later removal when the completed hatch is cut free.
 

Kind of looking forward to my first 'planking' session and the complexity of the canopy frame. That's all for now folks!
 
Tim Hooper15/01/2012 21:12:50
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Excellent work Terry!
 
Tell you what - I'll design 'em, you build 'em, OK?
 
Obviously it's frustrating when parts don't quite fit as drawn, so I sympathise there. I think F3 could simply have been widened a little with a balsa strip along each edge, but that's the way I tend to bodge things.......
 
Looking forward to seeing more.
 
tim

 
Terry Walters16/01/2012 08:12:53
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1829 forum posts
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Posted by Tim Hooper on 15/01/2012 21:12:50:
Obviously it's frustrating when parts don't quite fit as drawn, so I sympathise there. I think F3 could simply have been widened a little with a balsa strip along each edge, but that's the way I tend to bodge things.......
 
Looking forward to seeing more.
 
tim

 
Hi Tim,
 
Yes the wood packs could be better but most of it is fine - actually I'm not finding it frustrating just interesting and enjoyable. After all building is not just plugging part A into part B etc - that's ARTF. I like the fact that you can't take things for granted and have to work out or work around issues - that's what makes built models unique isn't it. Keeps the old brain working too!
 
I made the new F3 out of the generous scrap left over from the CNC parts. A significant amount of full length balsa strip can also be cut from the scrap! That's a builder's mentality isn't it!
 
I'm sure there are a lot of fliers out there who secretly harbour a desire to 'build' rather than get something off the shelf - there's no doubt you feel differently about a plane you have put something into yourself. Also the fact that when its raining, too cold or dark you can still build!
 
Terry
 

Highlander16/01/2012 09:17:13
31 forum posts
21 photos
Hi Terry,
great build thread, I am bodging one together from the free plan but may yet go down the cnc route. I am interested to know if the upper fus sides fit, if they were scanned from the plan they will be too small in 3d as the model is angled and curved.
regards James.
Highlander16/01/2012 09:28:34
31 forum posts
21 photos
Here, (hopefully) is a photo of the nose on mine, I did not like bolting the motor to the ply so used the metal mount internally . H1 I made deeper as there was no way 2 1/8 contact areas were going to support my gash planking efforts,(yet to be started).
 
James.

Tim Hooper16/01/2012 09:32:38
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Posted by Highlander on 16/01/2012 09:17:13: I am interested to know if the upper fus sides fit, if they were scanned from the plan they will be too small in 3d as the model is angled and curved.
 
James,
 
The prototype was built directly from the plan, so the same applies. Taking it further, should the fuselage sides be lengthened slightly on the plan to allow for the shortening effect when the rear ends are joined together?
 
Good luck with your build and keep us posted please!
 
tim
Terry Walters16/01/2012 12:06:57
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1829 forum posts
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Posted by Highlander on 16/01/2012 09:17:13:
Hi Terry,
great build thread, I am bodging one together from the free plan but may yet go down the cnc route. I am interested to know if the upper fus sides fit, if they were scanned from the plan they will be too small in 3d as the model is angled and curved.
regards James.
 
 
Hi James!
 
Welcome to CBBC (Courier Builders & Bodgers Club)!
 
My first result today is going out and getting my longer piece of plaster board - 2.5M x 60cm! That was an optimistic purchase as I do expect to getting as far as the wing some time in the near future! Beautiful day here - -5C with white hoar frost first thing then blue sky and fresh - lovely!
 
Re upper side fuselage panels - just compared then to plan - they are longer than the side elevation and as far as I can see just right for the top view. Trial fitting suggest that they are fine. Even if they are a bit out it can be adjusted with the cockpit area - a bit here or there won't make a great difference. I will chamfer the base and top edges very very slightly to make a better angle for mating with roof panel and lower sides.
 
Terry
martyn sharp16/01/2012 18:00:47
420 forum posts
10 photos

I will follow this build Terry i am hoping to build one when i have finished the Lancaster by the way Tim i like the advert in this months RCM&E for the cygnet looks like the old goldberg's advert very professional it dose your  designs justice
 
Martyn

Edited By martyn sharp on 16/01/2012 18:01:53

Terry Walters16/01/2012 18:43:36
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Hi - Martyn - you are very welcome! Just off upstairs to do some more!
 
Is that the TN Lancaster you are doing? I looked at Djay's review today - multis aren't my thing but I like to see what others are up to.
 
Terry

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