PFM Logo Fokker Triplane Model T Curtiss Canuck

October 23, 2004 Project Update

Positioning the rudder floorplates

A muddy field greeted the members of Team Fokker this past weekend as overnight rains flooded the area and turned the place into a quagmire. Despite the soggy ground there was an RC Modeler event held on both Saturday and Sunday on the flying field. There were several spectacular crashes and twice Roger had to get the tractor going to pull a modeler's vehicle from the mud!

Oakman Hurd had completed some work on the Dr.I during the week. Oakman continued working on the firewall, spark control and some of the flight controls. He'll also complete the fuel/oil tank once a few ordered parts arrive. Jim Johnson has been silver doping the horizontal stabilizer and the elevator, as well as the axle fairing/airfoil. We really appreciate these guys who come in during the normal workweek and put in a lot of time. That's how these airplanes can become a reality so fast.

Wayne Belcher and Chris Backer again came by and offered their help in whatever needed to be done. Components that were worked on this weekend were:

Turtledeck

Tom Gaylord and Bill Broussard worked on completing the fabrication of the turtledeck and preparing it for installation. First step was to tear off the cockpit surround piece that Bill had glued onto the turtledeck, per the Ron Sands plans. The cockpit surround failed to sit where it was supposed to without bulging and bowing. Roger and Bill worked out the modifications and steps to correct the issues. Bill varnished the underside of the turtledeck and ground down the tips so the turtledeck would lie correctly against the cockpit sides. Dick Schenk varnished the upper surfaces. The turtledeck was installed for the final time on the airplane and Dick tied it down to the fuselage cross members to ensure the proper shape was achieved.

Fuselage Cheeks

Bill had obtained hoop pine sheets to begin fabrication of the fuselage side fairings, running from the firewall back to just behind the fuselage. He laid out the parts and he and Brad Perry cut the parts out and test fit them to the fuselage. Roger and Bill debated how to best mount these to the airframe.

Cockpit Floorboards

Brad varnishing the floorboards

Tom and Ted Dawson worked on the floorboards doing the final fitting and shaping. A mounting system was worked out using conduit brackets. The heel scuff plates were cut out, positioned and mounting holes marked. All floorboard holes were drilled and countersunk, and the wood received a final sanding, after test fitting to the airframe. Brad lent a hand with final sanding, staining, and beginning to varnish the boards. He also primed the mounting brackets, preparing them for a coat of 'Fokker Green'. Roger suggested having all the team members sign the bottom of the floorboards and sealing the signatures with varnish. No one has signed yet, but there is still time before final installation.

Wheels/Tires

Since our last work weekend, someone had mounted the tires and inner tubes on the wheels. So Brad and Tom installed the fabric wheel covers. These were levered on and tied off. Roger wielded the shrinking iron. Two of the covers seemed extremely loose and it seemed impossible that they would shrink enough to work, but they shrunk up fine! Tom and Brad applied two coats of nitrate dope and added in the tire valve patches.

Ammo Cans/Feed Chutes

Ron Marcotte with Ammo can top

Ron Marcotte (our German aircraft armament specialist!) measured out the fuselage and laid out the top panels of the ammunition cans. He fabricated these out of sheet aluminum. Ron also located the wooden patterns used to form the aluminum sides of the feed chutes when he made those components for the D.VII. New patterns will be made of steel.

Seat Belts

Ron, Brad, and Roger worked on installing the seat belts on the aircraft. Several test dummies were required to sit in the cockpit to ensure the belts had enough 'range' to cover the spectrum of potential pilots. Brad served as the skinny model, Tom served as the fat pilot. Engine noises were made and the seat time was logged as 'Pilot in Command'.

Fuel/Oil Tank Mounts

Roger and Bill worked on the problems involved with installing the fuel/oil tank into the airframe. The rear engine mount spider and carb were temporarily stuck onto the airplane to ensure adequate clearance. The mount system specified in the plans was unworkable, but Roger fiddled with the bracket placements until he had worked out a solution.

Fuel Selector Valve Mount

Roger modified a component to fit where he wanted it on the airframe cockpit side and added another bracket to mount the fuel flow valve. The handle has already been manufactured and mounted to the cockpit side. The new mount will be painted Fokker Green - we actually have quite a collection of small bits that need painting!

White Paint/Dope

Gary Marsden opened negotiations with Roger about using white dope on the triplane, rather than the Daytona White used on the crosses on the D.VII. Gary had initially been pleased with the Daytona White when applied to the D.VII's crosses, but didn't like the look once the wing was attached to the aircraft. The slightly off-white color really shows up.

There is a lot of white on the triplane's tail surfaces striped and large patches of white for the German crosses to be painted on. In addition, the rudder was painted some time ago in true white, and the mismatch would be highly visible. So, Gary started lobbying Roger to use true white instead of the Daytona White. The problem is Roger has lots of Daytona White, and no White dope in stock.

Gary offered to take up a collection to encourage Roger to buy true White dope for the triplane. Gary, Brad, and Tom all felt strongly enough about the issue to donate, so Roger will order true White dope for the triplane!

Color Scheme Change

Roger threw everyone a curve ball on Saturday by suggesting that we ought to reconsider the colors on the axle fairing. This component was originally scheduled to be light blue undersides with khaki base color topside with the streaky green finish. Roger brought up his experiences building and finishing the USAF Museum's triplane. According to Roger, the streaky green finish cannot be done with dopes, so another type of paint needs to be used and it creates a dissimilar materials issue - the finish is prone to cracking, flaking and is just generally delicate. The axle fairing is expected to be a high wear area from the landings and take-offs as well as the frequent scrubbings necessary to keep the area generally clean (that rotary engine sprays castor oil everywhere!).

Roger suggested all black, since the Jasta's flight colors are black (engine cowling and wheel covers). Not only would this be a rugged color easily achievable in dope, but it would help hide the castor oil build-up. Gary was in favor of a) painting it to match the tail surfaces (i.e., longitudinal black & white stripes) or b) light blue undersurfaces with a black topside. Gary's concern was that an all black axle fairing would detract from the wing's German crosses on a 'belly pass' along the flight line.

The general consensus was that the axle fairing should just simply be all black.