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Akula 1/144 Scratch built

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  • Akula 1/144 Scratch built

    Hi Gents,

    Greatings from Belgium.

    I have started with my long (I have ordered the plans in 1997 from deep sea designs “Greg Sharpe”) planned scratch building project of an akula submarine almost two years ago. In the nineties some names were all over the web with a lot of information David Merriman was such a name. In 2006 I have stumbled upon a very interesting project of Jerome Simon. In 2010 I have purchased Wayne Frey’s book “Russian Submarines” witch is also a great help for my built.
    As I have a family to take care of and a full time job the progress of my built will be slow but continuous, furthermore the appetite to build has to be there, for me it has to be relaxation not another stress building nerve wracking thing. No appetite no Build!!.

    Last week I lost the appetite to built (It always returns after some weeks) so this seemed a good opportunity to start a thread on this forum that I discovered only a few months back.

    I have two running on another forums….so why another one? Well I want to share ideas with as many people as possible. All the crafts and tricks I use for building my sub I learned through the WWW from other people. I believe I have to give something back in return. Furthermore I realy enjoy this forum.

    I will mention some people in my thread where I got ideas from, not to advertise for them but I strongly believe in Referencing, no more no less.

    As I made already some substantial progress with the built I will divide the elapsed time into small chapters till the “as is” situ.is reached.

    Grtz,
    Bart
    Practical wisdom is only to be learned in the school of experience.
    "Samuel Smiles"

  • #2
    HEELO BART and Greatings You too .

    I dare to say Welcome , being the first I right . I believe we are many people " in the same Boat " sort of speak .
    I think the Time is not so important as long You do what You do with Passion .
    That is the thing that kept Alive these Hobby in my opinion .

    MARIUS

    Comment


    • #3
      Making the master:

      The scale I have chosen in function of transportation possibilities. It had also to be hand carried with ease. So the easiest for me was to shrink the “deep sea designs plans” (1/96) 1,5 times, so scale 144 was the outcome. The sub would measure 800mm what was acceptable for me. The scale was set next the making off the hull.
      As previous stated I have read the thread of Jerome Simon building his akula and this made my decision easy. I will make a master, make a mold from the master and finally lay-up the hull in the mold.

      I have started out with some hard wood from the old windows of my house. First problem to tackle the dimensions of my lathe, distance between centres is only 400mm, so I decided to make the master out of 3 pieces, each piece consisted out of two halves bolted together so I could separate them after the piece was shaped on the lathe. After the three pieces were shaped the halves have been separated and glued together resulting in a top half and bottom halve master.
      The pieces were turned on the lath by hand. As a novice in wood turning I first made the pieces cylindrical and then made an recess every 10mm till I reached the correct diameter and finally removed the remaining material between two recesses. Next step was sanding the pieces, this resulted that everything was covered with a nice red carped of dust in the basement/my workshop. And as I left the door to the basement open the carped of dust continued into the living quarters of the house.
      The pictures below showing the master halves; Cleary visible are the glue seems and boltholes for holding the halves together in the lathe process. The traces of bolts in the centreline of the master are remnants of the bolts applied for the centres of the Lathe. The masters have been coated with filler.

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      This picture below shows the plugs for filling the boltholes in the master (made out of a broomstick). Afterwards more sanding also the flat surface of the master halves to get an even seem between them.

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      The plugs were glued in the bold holes with epoxy glue so far so good. Remaining gaps were filed with the same glue. Master halves where sanded and primer was applied.
      The flat rear deck I have constructed out of a piece of 3mm Polycarbonate sheet….sanded one end till I had a sharp edge for the rear transition with the hull. I have attached the flat deck to the hull by means of screws, one every 30mm , so it followed the radius of the hull nicely. The gaps at PS and SB side, between the hull and the flat deck, I decided to fill up after the sail was installed.

      On the sail I have cheated a little bid. A few years ago I have purchased a D**AS kit, never assembled it as it did not meet my expectations. I took the sail of the D**AS kit and used it on my present build. It was glued in place by means of epoxy glue.
      I also used the stuff to get the curved transition between the hull and sail and hull and flat deck. I thought this would do the job…..it did till I went sanding the stuff in shape. I will keep it polite…..never again that stuff is very hard to sand and the result is poor…surface can be compared with that of the moon . I have tried to rectify it by means of automotive filler but the attempt has crashed and burned; see picture below.

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      So I went to looking for another product to finish the job. I remembered “metal glaze” works well but this product cannot be purchased in Belgium. I found a store that has specialized in Polyester, resins & fiberglass. After I had explained what I actually wanted (easy to sand and quick drying) I went home with an equivalent of the a.m. product……applied the stuff and went sanding…..after a few second one could see a very happy man in his basement ….the stuff worked great.
      Picture below; the white iwo the transition hull/sail is the EURIKA stuff. (still smiling as I write this dawn, I will remember the sanding of the epoxy glue for a very long time….if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger I guess.

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      When I was enjoying the view of my work, a bug settled in my brain. I took the drawings and noted that the sail runs horizontal for a while before it plunges towards the deck. Mine didn’t. I went through all the pictures and printed some details of the sail they only confirmed my findings. To rectify this I copied the ”as is” sail shape to a piece of 1mm [1/24”] styrene sheet. Then I copied the “to be” shape from the scaled drawing onto the same sheet. Next the difference between the two was cut out and glued onto the sail. See pictures below.

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      The difference is small I know but visually its night and day. Then I applied the EUREKA putty to fill the gap…..in order to get the PS and SB side the same was hard but eventually it turned out fine. See below pictures; also note the sail has grown in length to. Memo to myself, next time no shortcuts!

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      The first thing I have tackled are the bumps, gaps and scratched that showed on the master halves in the daylight, and were not revealed by the fluorescent light in the basement, using automotive spray-on putty and filler. With the temperatures at that time this stuff hardened pretty fast too.
      During this job I noted the upper and lower halve of the master didn’t pair as well as I would like, I did sand them on a flat piece of wood though. So I went to check and ascertained that the table itself was sagging slightly.
      I tried to figure out how to rectify the master halves. First I straightened out the table. A sheet of styrene on the table served as a nice smooth surface to work on. Next I applied some EUREKA putty all around the edge of the lower master halve, pressed the flat side of the master halve onto the styrene sheet and removed the excess putty that had squeezed out (and hoped it would not stick to hard)……which it didn’t, nevertheless iwo the putty I noted the styrene was affected/melted by the putty, so I was lucky. Next step I sanded the flat surface till I was happy with it.
      As I did not want to try my luck a second time I tried another approach. I applied some transparent tape on the flat side of the lower halve and removed the tape that protruded from the contours of the master. Then applied some EUREKA putty all around the flat edge of the upper halve and pressed both halves together, removed the putty that had squeezed out…..and hoped I could part them after the putty dried…..which I managed.
      Picture showing the transparent tape in place on the PS, remnants of putty clearly visible.

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      This one showing the applied putty on the upper part.

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      I was very happy with the result, both halves are now mating pretty good, picture below, edges still rough but no gap.

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      The edges were touched up with spray putty and filler and sanded.
      Also I have spent a lot of time to get the trailing edge of the sail right iwo the connection to the deck. The same goes for the corner where the sail mates with the flat deck area. I have put a lot of effort into it in order to get the PS and SB identical (especially in the point where this corner stops and flows over in the curved transition between sail and deck). It is really worth the effort.
      Work in progress.

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      Below close-up sail trailing edge finished.

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      Below close-up sail corner with flat deck.

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      Below close-up view of the seam.

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      Next step was applying several coats of automotive primer to the masters and preparing them for molding. The masters in the picture below were wet sanded with 600 and finally with 1200 gri sandpaper.

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      and afterwards polished.

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      Last edited by bwi 971; 04-28-2015, 03:04 PM.
      Practical wisdom is only to be learned in the school of experience.
      "Samuel Smiles"

      Comment


      • #4
        Bart,

        Thank you so much for sharing your work. Which, from what I see, is of an outstanding quality. And good on ya for acknowledging those who helped you. I too try to give attribution when I write, and I'm tickled pink when others do the same. We all stand tall on the shoulders of the Craftsmen who came before us and passed to us their tricks-of-the-trade.

        Welcome. I'll be following your thread with interest.

        M
        "... well, that takes care of Jorgenson's theory!"

        Comment


        • #5
          I wish I could add something intelligent here. Your work is outstanding. Someday, (god willing), I will try my own scratch built.
          Keep up the sharing, I am scribbling notes as fast as I can with this crayon.
          Thank you for posting.
          Peace,
          tom
          If you can cut, drill, saw, hit things and swear a lot, you're well on the way to building a working model sub.

          Comment


          • #6
            @ Marius, I agree

            @ David, your cabal reports in the 90ties made this happen Sir, never saved them though, just read them a dozen times in those days till I knew them by hard.

            @ Tom, if I would be intelligent I would have purchased the Revell Skipjack and a SD Fittings Kit and I would have been having a superb time @ the pont while building a Akula from scratch in my basement LOL.


            Making the molds:

            I have made the mold boards out of laminated hardboard; I have reinforced it by means of a longitudinal piece of the same hardboard.

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            The master were presented to the mold board and the contours were copied to the mold board by pencil. I was pondering about how to attach the master to the board. In first wanted the use screws but let the idea go. Finally I have opted to use some special modeling clay, when it is heated (microwave) the stuff becomes really soft almost in a liquid state. My intention was to heat the modeling clay, make a string, apply the string on the molding board following the contours in pencil, then to press the masters onto the molding board squeezing the modeling clay. I had to make another approach because the moment the modeling clay made contact with de cold board the clay hardened and could not be squeezed anymore. So finally I made thin strings of modeling clay, laid it on the molding board on the contours and heated the stuff up with a paint stripper until it became really soft then pressed the master on the molding boards.

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            The modeling clay squeezed out nicely and the after it was cured the masters were perfectly attached to the board. The excess of the clay was cut away leaving an nice seem between the board and the masters.

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            To make the molds I have purchased two 2 m˛ of 150gr glassfibre cloth, 1 kg of gel coat, 2kg of polyester resin, release wax and release liquid.
            I had also purchased an good quality half face reusable respirator with adequate filter elements to protect myself against the nice vapor of the polyester resins.
            Now everything was ready to apply the gel coat…..it was really strange to cover the nice and shiny master with the gel coat logically one expect this will turn out really bad.

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            I laid down two coats of gel coat with the necessary curing time in-between, then applied the polyester resin with the cloth. After the last coat was applied on the 2nd master I started to clean up everything. It has been a long day, started at 8h00 and finished at 22h00. When I picked up the measurement can for the hardener my hart jumped over a few times I noted the hardener of the last coat was still in the can…..After some nice vocabulary that lasted several minutes I took the decision to apply pure hardener with a bruch on the last coat of resin and hoped for the best.
            The next day (very early in the morning) I rushed to the garage to see if my attempt to rectify my stupid mistake worked. I was surprised to see that it had worked quite well, only some miner spots on the 2nd master mold were not cured.

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            I left the everything cure further fore Five days, then I tried to extract the masters out of the molds. At first I thought that everything was clued to each other I could not remove the masters, but with some gently applied force (read: red face, pumping vains) I managed to removed them. I was a little disappointed to see that pieces of the master remained in the mold, what went wrong?

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            I place the whole in my boot and drove to the Polyester store for advice. First of all he told me that for a first mold it was a very good result, I told him I did everything by the book. He suspected that de automotive paint did not cope with the resin of the polyester as it is an one component paint.
            After the molds were cleaned and the pieces of the master removed (gently sanded), I was pleased with the result. But the clueing of the master to the mold kept crossing my mind. The paint is protected by the wax and I had applied 5 layers? I applied a layer of wax on a undamaged part of the master and polished it as I did before. I inspected the surface of the master and found it was shining but could not find any trace of the wax, I had polished so hard that I had removed the wax! Now I had found what I have done wrong. This lesson I will remember when waxing the molds.

            What I also noted on my molds is traces (brush marks) of the release liquid, even though I used a cloth to apply the liquid. So for making the actual hulls I will spray the release liquid to the molds. But I did not have an air compressor @ the time (it was still on my whishlist).

            Molds ready to trim

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            Last edited by bwi 971; 04-28-2015, 01:40 PM.
            Practical wisdom is only to be learned in the school of experience.
            "Samuel Smiles"

            Comment


            • #7
              Upper and lower Hull

              As it was wintertime over here I turned the garage into a artificial tropical greenhouse using an electric heater. The temperature was a constant 20°C, exact what was needed to work with glassfiber resin.
              I waxed the molds (this time I didn’t polish the wax off). I applied 2 layers of gelcoat (with grey pigment) and 2 layers of 300 g/m˛ glassfibre cloth.

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              Waited two days to let everything cure. The hull parted very easily from the mold this time, no gluing at all. The hull stiffness is OK and so is the weight.
              My first DIY hull was a fact! I’m was very pleased with the result.

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              Both hull parts were trimmed with dremel cutoff disks. The hull parts were sanded on a flat surface to make them fit together as good as possible. This worked out fine. I have only a gap (1mm) that I have to rectify. Hull part were wet sanded with 1200 grid paper (surface is to smooth to draw on it by pencil).

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              Next thing to do was to cut the lower hull in 3 pieces, quite an terrifying thought after all that work. First I had to determine where I would make the cuts, for the Fwd my first idea was to make the cut iwo the front of the side sonar area, but this was too far to the aft, I would run into trouble to get the WTC into place. So I decided to make the cut at the Aft of the sonar area at the bow. The Aft cut I decided to make just in front were the tail fins ended. The centerline en cut lines were established by a laser (If you rebuild your house you remain with nice leftovers for your hobby afterwards).

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              Before the lower hull was cut I prepared the index lips needed at the sections afterwards. I made the index lips out of polyester resin and 2 layers of 300gr fibreglass cloth. I took over Davit Merrimen’s idea to make them the way I did. First I attached some wax paper to the hull i.w.o. the indicated cut lines. On top I laid-up the fibreglass so the hull shape is exactly transited to the fibreglass. After curing the wax paper was removed and after trimming the fibreglass you remain with very nice and easy to install index lips.
              As I didn’t had a clue where to find the waxpaper and I did not want to spent half a day looking for it in nearby shops, I shut down all my vital body functions and used that brain cell to pounder if I could use something else. And yes it worked, I think everybody has la label paper roll somewhere in house, well I thought if the labels don’ t stick to the paper is must be some kidt of waxpaper, I remove a label and tested it out with a drop of CA adhesive and it worked, after curing the drop could easily be peeled off the paper.

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              The cuts were made using my Scroll Saw, five minutes of concentration a the job was done.

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              The bow and stern were assembled and tagged with CA glue. The middle piece was try fitted. After that the bow and stern were permanently attached with CA glue the seam was reinforced from the inside with fiberglass cloth and polyester resin.
              The Fwd and aft index lips were glued in place with epoxy glue.

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              PS & SB index lips were constructed the same as the Fwd an aft lips, all glued in place with epoxy glue.

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              At first I glued the indexes to the upper part of the hull, it turned out to be an bad idea. It was impossible to get de seam of the upper end lower hull nice in line due to the fact that the thickness of the hull halves differed. I removed the indexes (nice job when all is glued with epoxy) made new indexes cut them in 3cm long (1”) pieces en glued them alternating to the upper and lower hull. It took me some time but eventually I managed the get hulls lined up nicely.

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              For the propeller shaft assembly I used the techniques of David Merriman.
              The propeller shaft bushings in sinter bronze were ordered and arrived. A dummy caliber was turned at the diameter of the bushings. The dummy was centered in the stern. The fish was placed vertical. Polyester resin was poured into the stern the excess was able to drain trough a previous drilled hole. After the resin had cured the caliber was removed.
              As earlier stated the stern did not fit perfectly together, I closed the seam with CA glue in order to pour the resin in without leaking through the seam. However the gap resulted that the aft part of the stern was not cylindrical anymore but more of an oval. This could not be rectified until the stern was filed up with the resin. I spent a lot of time to make things cylindrical again and at the same time match the diameter of the bushing.

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              Last edited by bwi 971; 04-28-2015, 01:00 PM.
              Practical wisdom is only to be learned in the school of experience.
              "Samuel Smiles"

              Comment


              • #8
                Propeller

                I’m familiar with propellers in real life but I never have seen a submarine prop in real time, just on pictures. I thought this would be a nice side project to build a subprop in 1/144 scale.

                I wanted some more information on the pitch and the diameter of the submarine propellers. I knew there must be something about propellers in the SCR’s. I when through the library of the old SCR’s and found some very interesting articles about the subject.

                · Issue 9 page 15, The engine room by Robert Hughes and friends
                · Issu 11 page 66, model submarine propeller theory, design, and fabrication by David Merriman
                · Issu 19 page 24, yet another way to make propellers by David Merriman.

                I studied the pictures I have of the props, it is really hard to tell the exact shape of the blade area as the angle in which the picture was taken deforms the shape of the blade. I had one good picture almost taken at the height of the hub. I have imported the picture in google sketchup and traced the blade shape, that was one les worry.

                The blade area turned out to be 70% what was ok (see articles)
                I decided not to cast the propeller but to make the propeller out of brass. The prop will be diameter 43mm. The 7 blades were cut out a 1mm thick brass sheet. The hub, diameter 10mm with a length of 21mm, was turned on the lathe.

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                In order to make the 7 cuts in the hub that retain the blades I made a division aide, a circle was cut out of plywood, the disk was divided into 7; and 7 holes were drilled; in the center I have mounted the chuck of my lathe. A support was made from plywood all glued together. The vertical part was also provided with a hole at the same radius as of the plywood disk. The disk is connected to the support and rotates on it by means of a 10mm axel.

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                When I put the brass hub in the drill chuck I can rotate the circle plate until the next hole mates with the hole in the support, put a taper pin in it and mill the first sleeve in the hub. For the next sleeve I rotate the circle plate until the next hole matches with the hole in the support….I did this 7 times and it worked fine. Before you start milling the sleeves you have to calculate the blade angle at the blade root as per mentioned SCR articles.

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                I was in doubt for a long time about the diameter of the hub 10 or 8mm, as I had to do a test with the jig I used a 8mm piece of wood; the test was ok but the 8mm was to small compared with the blade dimensions.

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                The sleeves are 1mm wide and 8mm in length.

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                Next step was to twist the blades in order to get the desired blade angle at a given radius. I had already calculated the angle at the blade root and now I had to calculate the angle at the blade tip. I twisted the blade tip matching the desired angle making sure that the twist is equally over the entire blade length.

                The Russian subprops have a attenuator on in front of the hub. To cut sleeves in the hub I used a jigsaw; the blade thickness was 0.4mm. It took some patience and determination to cut the sleeves in the 10mm thick brass but it turned out fine. The attenuator plates were cut out 0.4mm thick brass sheet. One of them was cut longitudinal in halve.

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                The hub was cut to length on the lathe leaving a collar at the back. My intention is to adjust the diameter of the collar to the diameter of the actual stern-tube collar.
                That is the reason I will not solder the prop together yet, if I do I can’t adjust the collar diameter on the lathe.
                All part were cleaned up and polished.

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                But I could not wait till then to actual see the prop all together so I filled the blade sleeves of the hub with some modeling clay and pushed the blades in place, and all the effort played off with the view I got.

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                For the Stern bushing I made a grinding device to get the stern plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the sub doing so I get a perfect fit with the stern tube bushing (Idea from DM). The dummy caliber for casting the stern tube was converted to a grinding jig, adding a washer with sandpaper glued to it. Insert the gig into the sterntube and twist it around and you get a perfect mating surface for the bushing.

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                The diameter of the collar on the prop hub was adjusted to match the diameter of the stern-tube bushing.

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                In order to solder the prop, a solder jig was made as per Robert Hughes example. I have made mine from aluminum. The seven posts (dia10 x 25mm) are mounted to the baseplate by M4 bolts. A 4mm hole is made in the posts to support the arms, a set screw allows the arms to be fixate into the posts. At the end of the arms a modified screw terminal block is attached, the grinded V-slot can receive the blade, the blade can be fixated by the small screw.

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                Soldering: I used solder with a flux core. This didn’t work at all, the solder did not flow nicely, as a matter in fact it didn’t flow at all resulting in a prop with clumps of solder sticking to it and to complete it all…..blades eventually popped out of the sleeves in the hub. I was so disappointed that I left the prop on the workbench for a couple of days. It looked really bad some of the blade were still not attached even with all that solder clumps sticking to the hub. When all the dust settled down the prop got my attention again.

                I decided to heat the lump of solder and retrieve all the parts and investigate if any of the prop parts were salvageable. I spent a couple of hours to clean all the blades, attenuator and the hub. The sleeves in the hub was the most difficult to clean, I did it by heating the hub and blow everything out with air pressure. Yes I worn safety googles but I hope nobody has do the same as I explain below how I manage to solder the prop the right way. To my relieve all the parts were reusable.

                I streamed the www and found out that the appliance of a separate flux was the way to go, just as you do with hard soldering (go figure……I have done my part of hard soldering when I was at sea). What I also learned is that some of the fluxes contain acid others don’t. You have to use the one without acid. I ordered my flux on the www and waited……until it dropped in the mailbox.

                I prepared the prop in the gig and went to work, applied the flux to all parts, heat everything up and applied the solder (as you have a separate flux you must not use solder with flux but just common solder) and YES YES YES it flowed soooo nicely. I almost say it’s word while the disappointment at the first attempt (but I suggest you skip the first attempt even though the happiness might be less intense).

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                The last thing outstanding was to soften the cutting and trailing edges.

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                Propulsion line is ready
                Practical wisdom is only to be learned in the school of experience.
                "Samuel Smiles"

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hello

                  Thank You for posting your build, very interesting to watch and learn from.

                  Do you plan on making copies of your hull scale for sale with the appendages and propeller?
                  George

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Nice work !!! Really enjoyed it !!!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      OUTSTANDING WORK . I don't know any intelligent work to address to You .
                      Thank You for sharing .

                      Same Question from me :
                      Originally posted by george View Post
                      Hello
                      Do you plan on making copies of your hull scale for sale with the appendages and propeller?
                      George
                      MARIUS

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by george View Post
                        Hello

                        Thank You for posting your build, very interesting to watch and learn from.

                        Do you plan on making copies of your hull scale for sale with the appendages and propeller?
                        George
                        Originally posted by profesorul View Post
                        OUTSTANDING WORK . I don't know any intelligent work to address to You .
                        Thank You for sharing .

                        Same Question from me :


                        MARIUS
                        Thks for the compiments.

                        I'm very honored but I’m not doing this to go on a commercial tour.
                        As previous stated I do it because I enjoy it I want to share my experiences with others.
                        I will not allow it to become another stress building, nerve wracking thing with deadlines to meet (I have a full time job that takes care of that).

                        Furthermore this is my first scratch built project and it is not flawless. I consider this as a learning model so to speak and I’m learning here all the time. Best forum I have come across.

                        I'm always here to help out if more info is needed.

                        grtz
                        Bart
                        Practical wisdom is only to be learned in the school of experience.
                        "Samuel Smiles"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by bassplayer1 View Post
                          Nice work !!! Really enjoyed it !!!

                          Thks Yannis.....I will be knocking on your door for sure when I start with the my Delta VI..... I learn by watching your skills sir.

                          grtz,
                          Bart
                          Practical wisdom is only to be learned in the school of experience.
                          "Samuel Smiles"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            LOL.......now I understand......detonator words such as CNC, RAPID PROTOTYPING, 3D PRINTING, ARTIST, etc........ can trigger explosions………so it is advisable not to use them on the forum.

                            Ok I will stay offline now……..until his Eminence is finished……..probable it will take some years.

                            Grtz,
                            Bart
                            Practical wisdom is only to be learned in the school of experience.
                            "Samuel Smiles"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by bwi 971 View Post
                              LOL.......now I understand......detonator words such as CNC, RAPID PROTOTYPING, 3D PRINTING, ARTIST, etc........ can trigger explosions………so it is advisable not to use them on the forum.

                              Ok I will stay offline now……..until his Eminence is finished……..probable it will take some years.

                              Grtz,
                              Bart
                              LOL

                              There be Dragon's here!

                              M
                              "... well, that takes care of Jorgenson's theory!"

                              Comment

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