|On a chance visit to the Bellingham Washington Heritage
Flight Museum in early July 2006, we came across a P-51 Mustang
pedal plane. Allister was glued to it and it started us wondering if
such a plane could be purchased as a kit. After a short
investigation on the Internet, it turns out you can purchase the plans for
the P-51 Mustang, and a variety of other planes, from Aviation
Products Inc of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We sent for the plans and a
week or so later they arrived - all six sheets worth and a 24 page booklet
of straight text (no pictures) detailing how to build the P-51. The
photos below are in reverse chronological order. If you wish to follow
progress from beginning to end, proceed to the bottom and scroll up.
Update: Having completed the P51 in time for Christmas 2006, it was suggested by the Wing Commander that I construct a second pedal plane. This project, a Tiger Moth, was started in September. Click here to see the ongoing progress as I target completion for Christmas 2007. My pedal plane construction hobby will end with the completion of the Tiger Moth.
|The big day arrived and the plane was finally unveiled.||
|Mom & Dad arrived for Christmas and Dad helped with the final details - a few decals hear and there. Plane is now finished after 5 months and with 4 days to spare.||
|There is light at the end of the tunnel and with only 10 days until Christmas the P51 construction is down to its final few tasks. Lower font cowl, trim around cockpit, hubcaps, and decals/markings are all that remain. A little touch up on the paint, a ribbon and bow...and it is ready for delivery to the test pilots on Christmas morning. I may purchase some stencils and put some customized naming on the side but will make use of most of decals provided in the kit.|
|Progress is happening at a faster pace now. With Christmas looming it seems that the whole project is coming together. I have decided to paint the P51 using spay cans instead of brush painting. I figure it will result in a better overall look. So far that it is true but I am burning through cans of spray paint pretty fast. The biggest challenge at this point for me is mental - to remember that this is a toy and not a real plane or model. The example above that Allister is riding is impeccable and having now almost completed my own for the boys I realize just how skilled a craftsman the person was who made it. It isn't until you start to put the paint on that you really notice the little imperfections here and there which seems like such a shame after so much effort to get this far. Anyway ..as I said...its a toy...and it will get banged up, beat up, etc.|
|A month has nearly passed and it doesn't seem that much has happened. Early in November, I finally purchased a drill press and made the spinner. This was by far the most difficult item to construct and the pieces where the propeller blades screw into the spinner are a bit rough as I had no band saw. A significant amount of time was put into the finishing coats on the wood using sanding sealer. Locating it was difficult and then with 4 coats required for each piece it took time. November was the wettest month in history in BC with large wind storms, torrential rain and flooding, and ending with more snow than I can ever remember. Several evenings were lost due to the power being out. It seems that being ready for Christmas is still a possibility. Next steps are paint, installation of the windshield, final assembly and decals.|
|All cowls are on and work is focused on the spinner. This appears to be the most complicated effort and without a band saw a difficult task to complete. Used hand-held 'keyhole' style saw to do the work but it is a bit rough. Will use liberal doses of filler to finish off. Test Pilot #2 (William) had his first seating in the plane and gave it a thumbs-up endorsement.|
|Progress continues, although much slower the last few weeks, with installation for rear fuselage cowling and test fitting for front. Am running into problems with fitting cowlings to the fuselage and having to come up with some 'fixes' to ensure all will fit properly.|
|The four kits that include all steel, metal and assorted non-wood parts arrived today. Delivery time was good - only three weeks after ordering and that included time to be processed by Canada Customs. Having been 'shut down' I was eager to get going again and quickly installed the landing gear. There is a distinct lack of photos of the Test Pilot inspecting his plane. He has seen the construction process and for some reason does no wish to sit in the plane at all at this time.|
|Progress slowed over the weekend as I was busy with the Band and the weather was just too nice to not enjoy. The wings are now fitted and glued to the seat this evening. The landing gear is sitting in place but can't be completed until metal parts arrive. All other progress also halted at this point with the possible exception of some sanding sealer on the inside.|
|Progress on the fuselage continues and focus has now shifted to the underside. Completed gluing fuselage together and work on instrument panel area (which turned out to be exceedingly complicated due to some vagueness in the instructions). I recovered from a few false starts in this area and moved on to forming the nose. The hand carving using a wood file worked out much easier than anticipated. With the nose glued/screwed in place some final touches were done with the Dremel. Additional supports were placed on the underside of the fuselage and the tail wheel door areas were fabricated. We ordered the four kits at the start of the week and look forward to the arrival of the metal pieces that form the controls, the wheels, the cowlings, and the decals. Next steps are to work on the seat, wing and landing gear components that are all interrelated.|
|Over the long weekend I added the fuselage doublers and dowling, the doublers for the nose and fitted the dry elevator and elevator support to the rudder. Next step was to build the jig in which to hold the fuselage sides while the various pieces such as nose plate, instrument panel, seat back, etc are added. I then made the first BIG mistake and glued the elevator and elevator support to the rudder backwards...and good glue job it was. The is done by supporting the rudder in the vice upside down and I conveniently forgot that I should turn the elevator upside down as well when gluing them together. Overall result was I was back to square one with those pieces - tracing out new copies, cutting, sanding, and spending several hours getting back to where I was a few days ago. This evening we had the first check by the test pilot - Allister -who sat in the fuselage. Overall opinion from the test pilot was thumbs up and lots of smiles.|
The test pilot couldn't wait to get his face cleaned before giving it his first try.
Whoops...here is the major mistake....elevator glued the wrong way.
Here is the resolution...cut out some new pieces from another sheet of plywood.
|We returned from holidays to Winnipeg in late August and I got back to work once the grass was cut. The first order of business was to muster up enough courage to attempt to bend the fuselage sides. After building the jig some old fashioned water and steam from Cindy's iron did the job. The buckets of water were to provide constant pressure while I sat their ironing a bunch of wet rages at the bend points. Sure enough....the plywood bent as described..|
|The plans arrived in late July and I spent several days pondering the daunting task at hand. I have had limited experience with something this complex and don't have a lot of the tools that I know I would require. By the time the August long weekend arrived, I decided to take the plunge and would give it my best shot. I began by spending several hours cutting out the individual pieces from the plans. After searching for days for 'good two side' 3/8 inch plywood, I settled on two sheets of 'good one side' and laid out the plans while missing the worst of the knots on the bad side of each sheet. With my rarely used ed sabre saw equipped with a nice new blade, I spent the next two afternoons cutting out the various pieces. Then using the neighbors sander, I sanded each piece and ensured they matched the plans as close as possible. A few days later I borrowed a router a friend and the following weekend I carved the dado cuts in each of the fuselage sides, made the cuts where I will bend the fuselage and built the jig to assist with the bending.|