Tag Archives: Lloyd Shales


Wheels on rubber band planes

It’s fun to put wheels on a rubber band plane. Commercial ones are heavy so interfere with your airplane.

Traditionally people make them from balsa. This is a little tricky.

One method I used in the past is to glue two sheets of balsa together cross grain. Then rough cut out a wheel and glue in a piece of brass as the hub. Mount the hub in a drill chuck and turn it with sandpaper. I’ve used a wood doweling in place of the brass. That works well too. You just slice off and drill it out to match the wire.

In these pictures you can some of the wheels that Lloyd Shales has shared with me. They are laser cut balsa and use brass tubing. This is much easier than making them entirely by hand.

He uses a jig for bending the wire.

I’ve been studying this problem as well. Here’s what I’m doing. I’ve got paper ones that work pretty well. Much lighter than plastic. I’m using some beads as the bearing as well. This is light and inexpensive.

I’m looking at methods of bending the wire too. A CNC wire bender has been in the works but I’m not satisfied that it’s needed yet. I’m still coming up with some alternate bending patterns.

I think both these wheel making methods are nice. I added both Lloyd’s and my wheel samples to my portable lab so I can start testing them and having some fun.

I just boxed up two shipments of wheels to go to two locations in India for testing. If you’d like to test them be sure to send me a note while I’m still working on this.


Sparrow Build

Sparrow kit comes with everything you need except glue!

The other day I spent an afternoon flying a Sparrow catapult glider.

Designer Lloyd Shales lives near me and I visit him occasionally to share ideas about model aviation. Lloyd is also known for his Minnow which is a stick and tissue model.

Lloyd gave me a Sparrow all ready to go as well as a kit one day. It sat in my inbox with a whole whack of other project. I’m getting caught up on things so the project finally came forward.

Wow, I didn’t realized what I was in for. I fell in love with the design right away and couldn’t get enough of flying it.

Now I’m curious what’s involved with making one. I had a kit on hand so this afternoon I sat down to give it a whirl.

Kit contents. Also instructions and ballast included!

The Sparrow kit is laser cut, hand cut and carved. I can tell Lloyd puts a great deal of love and care into these kits.

All you need (aside from the kit) is glue. You can use craft glue, white glue, carpenter glue, ambroid, or CA. I prefer craft glue because it’s safer and has no smell. I used Eileene’s Tacky Glue since I had it on hand. I think wood glue would work great. Especially the ones that are more grabby.

The tow hook is installed and the catapult is already assembled.

Very fine craftsmanship. Gull wing seams beveled.

As you can see in the image, even the gull wing seems are beveled.

All the parts are ready for sanding with the included sand paper.

In a nutshell you just smooth out the edges and the surfaces. Trick is to not sand the areas where the wing, tailplane or fin will be attached.

That step took about 5 minutes.

The next step was to start gluing the pieces together. There are only 6 pieces!

Eileen’s Tacky Glue.
Gluing wing.

I glued the gull wing tips first as was suggested in Lloyd’s instructions.

I used wax paper underneath the glue joints to protect the work surface but one could have used the packaging.

I used a glass for weight and some plastic cups to prop up the wing joints.

Gluing tailplane and fin.

I then glued the tailplane and fin.

I found it easy to lay it on the table to easily see the alignment.

After the wing and tail feathers were starting to set, I added the ballast so that I could place the wing upside down on the glass and balance the fuselage on it.

This made it easy to glue the wing onto the plane. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the glue to dry!

Stand by for a report on trimming and flying!