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Making an ARF ( Almost Ready To Fly) Safe
Author: Bill Cousins

OK, so you bought yourself an ARF. Before you begin assembling let's talk a little about the safety of an ARF. Let's go back a bit and say that when you purchase a "kit" and assemble it yourself, you tend to take extra care in gluing ( CA ) and epoxying your prize plane. You tend to take extra care and more time and effort in making sure everything is securely attached and making sure the fire wall is epoxied as well as using triangular bracing for added strength. Ok, with this said let's look at the ARF you bought.

Take the parts out of the box, {ALWAYS READ THE MANUAL FIRST} taking the wrap from each of the components. We'll start with the fin and rudder. If the hinges are already attached, pull gently on the rudder to ensure the hinges are properly inserted and cemented. Check with the stabilizer and elevator doing the same. Look at the wing halves and make sure the ailerons are properly attached in the same manner, making sure they are firmly cemented in place. If the instructions require you to install all the hinges, just make sure their in place and well secured, and always double check everything. If it is a low wing with the landing gears in the wing, it would be a good idea to cut the covering from around the landing gear blocks and using some epoxy, add some strength with a few additional beads of epoxy. They have a tendency of coming loose because of the production assembly line. I know, your going to hate me for suggesting this but if by chance a landing gear breaks loose, it can and might splinter a couple of ribs on the way. Recover that particular area, using the same color and you won't notice it.

Now you can begin to join the wings together making sure that the joint is tight. Do not spare the epoxy on the dehidral brace and the ribs that join the wings together. Firmly hold the two wings together for at least 24 hours for a proper bond (using 30 minute epoxy. Do not use 5 minute epoxy for this application as you want a strong bond).

Let's look at the fuselage. The fuselage is mostly covered but there are a few areas you can improve upon with a little extra time. Try to reglue as many bulkheads as you can. Also, if the servo try is already installed, run a bead of epoxy down each side for the sake of security. { I know of a few instances where the servo tray has come loose and down goes the plane } Don't forget the wing hold down bolts. Make sure you reinforce this area - nothing worse than flying and loosing a wing. The best way of doing this is running a bead of epoxy along the top and underside of the wing hold down bolt area (meaning the basswood to the fuselage) remembering not to get any epoxy inside the bolt area itself.

Remember to reinforce with a bead of epoxy along the landing gear block inside the body of the fuselage. This will secure that area to survive a rough landing with a little bit more resiliance. Try and not to use the WIRE landing gear they give you in the kit, instead buy your self a fiberglass or aluminum langing gear and BOLT it to the landing gear block using the plastic bolts and nuts. { Why plastic? } because the plastic bolts will break off instead of ripping the bottom of your fuselage on an EMERGENCY landing and also it will give you very low bounce landings. The wire landing gear they give you in the kit tends to bounce or {hop} upon landing and this all depends on what kind of ARF kit you purchase.

Let's get to the most important part of the fuselage - the firewall. {motor mount } Please make sure that this area is SECURE as you don't want the plane and the motor to divorce between start-up and shut-down. Contact with a powerful motor sporting a sharp propeller can be deadly; at the very least, excruciatingly painful. Always check this area thoroughly. In the engine compartment run a bead of epoxy down both sides making sure the epoxy is attached to both the wall and the fuselage.

Where the gas tank is located { other side of the motor mount inside the fuselage }, check to see if it has triangular bracing. If it does, always reinforce it with epoxy making sure both sides of the triangular bracing is thoroughly covered with epoxy. If for some reason, it does not have the bracing, make two pieces of triangular bracing to fit inside the fuselage ensuring that both the triangular bracing and the inside of the fuselage and motor mountl are smeared with a good amount of epoxy. After placing the bracing against the motor mount and the fuselage you should be able to see some epoxy squeezing out so that you know you have used sufficient epoxy. This area you must use 30 minute epoxy. DO NOT use 5 minute epoxy!!! 30 minute epoxy cures slow and that is where you get the strength from.


Note: I have nothing against ARF's as they are well-made, but due to the assembly line construction, they do not have the same quality that the personal builder can ensure. I fly ARF's and they are an exceptional plane either small or large. They are a great way of getting into the air quickly. It never hurts to recheck any plane before flying the first time. After the plane is fully assembled and the engine installed, remember to balance it to the manufactures specifications. Also balance the plane laterally which is also very important.

A few more " SAFTEY TIPS " that you should not forget:

(1) Never start your plane unless it is properly secured.
(2) Never wear loose clothing when starting your engine. If your hair is long, make sure it is tied back.
(3) Always make sure your throttle stick ( left gimble ) is down to maximum ( use your trim for fast idle ) for starting your plane.
(4) Be very careful when taking off the igniter, always take it off from behind the motor, never reach over the propeller.
(5) Always adjust your " high " speed needle from behind the prop.
(6) Never fly alone - accidents can happen and you don't want to be helpless.
(7) When transporting your plane from the pit area to the runway announce your intentions so that others clear your path.
(8) Always have a COMPLETE FIRST AID KIT on hand at the flying field.
(9) It is a good idea to have a fire extingquisher ( 5LBS ) in the pit area, also manditory when flying jet turbines. ( CARBON DIOXIDE )


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