Whether for a cowl or wing, slicing consistent ribs requires only a few simple tools. The author’s
new scalpel got a good workout!
Thayer taped the balsa stock in line with one edge of the drafting triangle and cut off the straight
edge before slicing the first rib.
How can you resist the urge to
start building after drooling over Tom Hallman’s
exceptional Loose Special Racer? Photo courtesy of
Tom Hallman, Hallman Studios.
I have been spending some workshop time
preparing for the
Flying Aces Club (FAC)
Nats this summer. Among the
models I plan to fly is my take on
Dave Livesay’s 1937 Loose Special
Racer. I couldn’t help but feel the
need to have my own after seeing Tom
Hallman’s gorgeous example flying so
It has been quite a while since I
have undertaken such a Free Flight
model, and it has been fun to dust off a
few old techniques—and sort out some
new ones—while working on this
Most of the construction is fairly straightforward, although there are a few
areas that demand some extra attention.
The cowl is one example, and definitely
worth a bit of extra care. Dave originally
designed the cowl using 32 sliced balsa
ribs glued between the first two fuselage
formers. The spaces between the ribs are
spanned with individual tissue strips.
Tom used a solid cowl, in part to help
balance his model and, I suspect, simply
because it improved the appearance. No
question that his cowl looks great, but
simple inertia as I started kept me from
following his proven footsteps.
First, I didn’t have a suitable balsa
block to turn with my Sherline lathe.
With the internal box already framed,
and a favor called in to a friend to supply
laser-cut formers, I also didn’t fancy
redesigning the front end.
I chose to go with the original design.
Shaping all of those pieces consistently
enough for acceptable results is the
same as slicing uniform wing ribs, so
I first selected 7- to 8-pound 3/32-inch
balsa and cut a piece slightly longer than
I needed. I carefully aligned the grain
when slicing ribs for as much strength as
possible. The extra length would allow
me to bevel the ends to precisely fit the
Some 1/32 plywood soon resembled
a simple template. With 32 pieces to
Slicing consistent ribs
89 Model Aviation SEP TEMBER 2016
AROUND THE PATCH