Construction (Page 1)


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Well after a long wait for the kit, it has finally arrived.  I just picked up my Rafale, and I have to say that I'm very impressed with the workmanship. The Rafale kit is an ARF and comes from a company called Tamjets  The kit is very detailed, and the finish is very impressive considering it is an ARF. I chose the Rafale because from research I've done on model jets,  I've come to understand that the Rafale is one of the more "easy" scale jets to fly and I also think they are one of the better looking jets out there.  Although I have a lot of RC and model building experience, I have absolutely no Jet and Turbine experience. With this in mind, I wanted to start off with something that is relatively easy to build and fly.

Retracts and Doors

This particular kit is fairly new on the market, and when I unpacked the box, the first thing I noticed is that they're are no instructions. I contacted Tam from Tamjets, and he is in the process of sending me some pics that show how it is put together. He also explained that a manual has not been created yet, but that I can call him anytime if I am not sure of anything. Tam is very helpful, and after looking through most of the parts, it is not that difficult to understand how things go together.
The first thing I wanted to do was to install the landing gear. Some of the formers and landing gear plates were a little snug, and needed a little modifying in order to get the gear to fit properly. This was no big deal, but did require a little effort to make fit.
Once the gear was in properly, my next step was to install all the doors. The doors are all installed with offset hinges and do require a little fooling around to line up properly.. On the Rafale, there are a total of 7 doors, and with this in mind can take a bit of time to set up.
Here are a few pics of the doors installed:

Here are some pics of the air cylinders and lines.

The function of the scale Rafale's gear is as such that when the the gear lowers, the outer strut doors closes, and the inner strut doors remain open. Now in order for this to happen, it requires some fancy plumbing, and a special valve that will change the sequence. Ultra Precision valve makes a valve called a UP2. The UP2 by itself will control the gear, and the assigned doors that will remain closed. The operation is as follows: Door opens, gear drops, door closes back up. This works fine on the outer strut doors, but the inner doors need to remain open, so a special valve is needed in conjunction with the UP2. The UP4 valve is then connect with the UP2, and is designed to keep the inner strut doors open in the sequence. Here are some pics of the set up.

Gear up: Gear is up, all the doors are closed

Gear down: Gear is down, outer doors close, inner doors stay open

Installing the Turbine, and fuel tanks
One thing to note when building a jet, is that space is always at a premium. Things get very tight, very fast, and you have to sort of think ahead as to how you are going to place the various components require to run the turbine. The next set of pictures will show you where and how all the various pumps, tanks, solenoids, hoses, etc. were placed in my jet. There is no hard fact rule as to where things should go, just what makes the most sense to keep things organized, and functioning. (As a side note, and because people have asked, the turbine I'm using is an Artes Rhino. The Rhino produces about 36lbs of thrust, and is available through http://www.jetartes.com/ )
The first thing that needs to be installed is the bypass, and tailpipe. The bypass is attached to the turbine rails, and the stainless exhaust pipe is then installed to the bypass. The end of the pipe then feeds through the fiberglass nozzles into  the back of the jet. This basically lines up the pipe with the fuse.
After installing the pipe and bypass, I then test fit the turbine into the opening to see how it fits. I noticed that the nozzle did not line up very well with the opening of the exhaust pipe. It seemed that the turbine sat a little lower than the pipe. In order to adjust for this I had to shim the turbine up by about 3/8" in order to get it centered into the pipe. I used some aluminum stock to mount and shim the turbine. Here are a few pictures.
The next set of pictures show the front end of the turbine, and all the other various components installed. It will give you an idea as to where everything is placed.

Wings and linkages
The wings are pretty straight forward. The servo wells are already cut out, and what were used are aluminum angle brackets, to hold the servos in. I then mounted them to the wings, fitted the servo hatch,  glued in the control horn, and attached the linkage. Here are a few pics of the installation.
Once the linkages were set up and working properly, I then installed some scale air scoops to hide the linkages. Some blocks of hardwood were glued to the wing, and then the scoops were secured to the blocks with screws, making them removable.

Smoke System
I decided to install a smoke system into the Rafale. With my experiences using smoke, the one thing I've learnt is that heat is the one thing that really produces nice smoke, and nothing is hotter than the exhaust coming out of turbine. The smoke system I'm using is made by Tamjets, and how it works is that two stainless steel tubes are mounted to the sides of the turbine, and then using a pump, will spray smoke oil into the jet blast. Here are a few pics of the install, and tubes. (Notice how there is a shut off valve to the spray nozzles as you don't want any smoke oil to flow while refueling)

I've always been a firm believer of function when it comes to model airplanes, and with the options I saw in connecting the rudder, I opted for ease and Functionality, rather than esthetics. They're are ways to conceal the rudder linkages, but after looking at them, I decided to go with something that is a bit more solid and ridged. I basically mounted a servo in the fin, and connected up a straight linkage to the rudder horn. Here are a few pics of the set up:

My apologies for not keeping the Rafale project up to date, but to sum things up on it. I did finish it last spring, and flew the Rafale over the summer. It flies great and is allot of fun. Although, on one of the very first flights I had a bit of a mishap, in that I tried flying the Rafale off a grass field. The mishap occurred when trying to land, as the nose wheel caught into the grass, and folded back. The net result was minor damage, but none the less, the entire front end of the Rafale had numerous cracks. I later took the Rafale home, and after one or two nights I had it repaired and flying again. I had to glue all the cracks together, and then reinforce the cracks with some fiberglass. It held together, but it certainly wasn't pretty. I just recently had a look at it again, and decided that I wanted to fix up all the cracks and refinish it. Here are a few pics of the repair. I apologize for not taking any actual "before" pics, as I just didn't think of it, once I got into the project.

In the pictures above you can see where I patched up all the damaged areas. I used some automotive filler to fill in the cracks and voids, then sanded it down to make it smooth again. Using a feather technique, I was able to blend it into the original surface.

Once the front end was all sanded down, I then primed the surface, with an automotive primer. Since there is allot of filling and sanding going on, the negative part was that my original panel lines were filled up, or sanded out. I then had to recreate them by using a fine file, and scratching them into the primer. Once they were created, I then sprayed on the paint.

Believe it or not, I actually used Tamiya plastic model paint. The reason I used that paint, is that the sheen of Tamiya paint matched the sheen of the original paint that was on the Rafale. It seemed to match up fairly well, and is hard to distinguish between the two.

While I was at it, I also decided to finish off the canopy area. I didn't go to the trouble of making a scale cockpit, but I did want to finish off the area so that it would at least look a little nicer. I just used some old gauges I had lying around, and created a cluster. I then made a floor out of some fiberglass, and voila!...Instant cockpit. I have a couple of pilot busts that I ordered, and should be here soon.

The final steps were to clean up the panel lines, draw on some rivets (I just used a simple pencil to do that) airbrush a little weathering to match the rest of the Rafale, add some decals, and voila! Here is the finished product.

Pics with the Pilot Busts

Once the weather gets a little nicer, I will take a few more pics of the Rafale on the actual runway. Maybe even figure out how to post some video. I have to admit, Jets are definitely allot of fun!

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Last Updated 03/14/2008