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Starduster Too: Required Builder Skills

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scramjetter

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To anyone that can offer advice,

Despite the thread title, this post is really about acquiring the skills to build a tube and fabric airplane. Many years ago I fell in love with the Stolp Starduster and its pretty sculpted wings. I have decided that the two-seat SA-300 Starduster Too, is the best option as I want to share the fun with others. Thans to Ian Howat for the first Starduster picture, trailing smoke and having fun.

I have worked with aluminum and have pulled and driven rivets but this is outside of my skill set. I have never welded anything before but I am reasonably sure I am competent with woodwork, but not fabric. Can anyone offer any advice as to what resources, like books or videos I could get to ease into the process? What about welding gear? Gas or Electric? Left to my own devices I would just dive in and start welding scrap metal but I don't want to spend excessive time welding things that may not apply to the relatively thin tubing found in small aircraft. I also appreciate the title of a known good book, rather than wade through lots of lesser tomes.

All comments welcome and thanks in advance,
Paul

ian_howat_stardusterToo_GJIII.jpg

wiki_sa300_starduster_too.jpg
 

don january

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Welding Fuselage will be done by O/A and is done like any tube and fabric plane of same type of build. You will find the wings to be a very long process due to the amount of jigs required to build your wing ribs. The upper center section of the wing is where I started with my fathers building of the Starduster II and is in by no means a beginner airplane to build though It can be done. My advice is to purchase a set of prints along with some welding books and get some pieces of 4130 tubing and see if you have the knack for welding it. "Sportplane construction techniques" by Tony Bingelis is a good start for books and as BJC stated Google can be great help in information. FWIW
 

TFF

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oxy/acc is a good place to start. TIG has a similar but uses an arc instead of a flame. MIG is not normally a preferred welding of airplane tubes and there are reams on a that discussion. So no need to rehash do a search.

Welding scrap that is airplane thickness is a good way to start. Then get a little help to refine the skill. Watch a lot of YouTube and don’t be hard on yourself. Useable and perfect are completely different grades. Practice, practice.

Biplane Forum has builds and other builds of like planes. Lots of good info but they are a more distilled group. Dave Baxter over there is also the historian on Stardusters, having worked for Starduster and building three personal ones and helping a bunch of others.
 

proppastie

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Easy to burn (too hot) the thin stuff, make some flat coupons ....purposely burn it and flex till it breaks.....to see what I am talking about...the welding tip size for thickness of material is very important.
 

scramjetter

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Thanks, I've heard of the Bingelis book so I'm going to get a copy. That's great that you have hands-on experience with a Starduster! Do you recall if the plans suggest a particular order that the major components should be built in? I imagine the wings and fuselage could be done in parallel? When I think about something complex like a biplane I can't help but think I'd really be building two airplanes :rolleyes:

Welding Fuselage will be done by O/A and is done like any tube and fabric plane of same type of build. You will find the wings to be a very long process due to the amount of jigs required to build your wing ribs. The upper center section of the wing is where I started with my fathers building of the Starduster II and is in by no means a beginner airplane to build though It can be done. My advice is to purchase a set of prints along with some welding books and get some pieces of 4130 tubing and see if you have the knack for welding it. "Sportplane construction techniques" by Tony Bingelis is a good start for books and as BJC stated Google can be great help in information. FWIW
 

scramjetter

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Good advice, figure out early where things get too hot...

Easy to burn (too hot) the thin stuff, make some flat coupons ....purposely burn it and flex till it breaks.....to see what I am talking about...the welding tip size for thickness of material is very important.
 

scramjetter

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I'm going to check out the Biplane Forum, thanks!

Biplane Forum has builds and other builds of like planes. Lots of good info but they are a more distilled group. Dave Baxter over there is also the historian on Stardusters, having worked for Starduster and building three personal ones and helping a bunch of others.
 

Dana

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As TFF said definitely join the Biplane forum, yes, it's a pay site, yes, it's worth it if you're building a Starduster.

Fabric work is easy to learn especially if you ever covered model airplanes (it's the same but different). Welding is a steeper learning curve, though many people tack weld their fuselages together and then have a pro finish it (that's what I did when I built a new landing gear for my Starduster, I do some welding but nothing my life depends on). If you do decide to learn and weld it yourself, a oxyacetylene is probably the best choice as you'll need a torch anyway to stress relieve TIG welds.

The Starduster is arguably the prettiest of the small biplanes, I enjoyed my SA100 for the brief time I flew it. I didn't build it, I bought it "well used".
 

plncraze

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There are some welding books too. Richard Finch had one. The EAA store should have more. Also check out the EAA videos. Tip size is important as is comfortable eye protection. Patience with yourself is the most important thing.
 

bmcj

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Watch eBay, Barnstormers, Craigslist, etc (even HBA). Many builders get as far as a welded fuselage before deciding they would rather fly than build. You will frequently find projects for sale that already have the fuselage cut and welded, and often have extras like spars or ribs.


BUT... talk to people who have built biplanes in recent years. There can be a significant cost in small parts like turnbuckles, stainless tail support wires, and streamlined stainless flying wires. I’m not saying don’t build, I’m just saying do your research and go in with your eyes open.
 

don january

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The prints do not call out for any specific area to start the build. As I recall we started with the fuselage tacked up and welded then moved to ribs and top wing center section. While I worked mainly on ribs dad was welding and making control surfaces and we teamed up on the center section then it all becomes a blur do to the many many parts that went into the aircraft We never finished the craft due to the fact a fellow crop duster took over the build. It has always been one of my favorite planes and I guess that's why I still have a set of prints
 

Toobuilder

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The SA-300 got me back into the homebuilding fold after a long absence. Its beauty is undeniable. That said, it's a simple airplane to build, in the context of mid 1960's homebuilts. This design was the "RV" of the 60's/70's. The woodwork is easy, and the welding is just a skill you need to develop or pay for. Take some community college or vocational welding classes and you should be on your way. It's not the same as welding up fuel tubes for a spacecraft. The airplane was designed to be built with a hacksaw and a torch. (It's also really heavy).

All of THAT said - you can buy a very nice flying Starduster for about half (or less) of what it would cost to build one. That makes building a true work of passion.
 

Dana

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...welding is just a skill you need to develop or pay for. Take some community college or vocational welding classes and you should be on your way...
Everybody says that, but I have yet to find a community college that offers a course in gas welding. Everything is MIG and TIG nowadays.
 

GeeZee

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The EAA “Sportair workshops” still offer gas welding classes, however they are only one weekend long so won’t get you far. Still better than nothing. I took one and I’m glad I did. Maybe don’t be so quick to dismiss TIG. The majority of builders seem to have switched. I have found no community colleges that offer any kind of welding but have found that the local welding gas supplier offers TIG classes and the local “Metals Superstore” offers TIG classes. Also Toolbuilder is spot on with regards to buying vs building. Unless you really want to spend 3000 ish hours building there are plenty of projects or flying examples at pretty good prices.
 

wsimpso1

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Sportair workshops are out there for gas welding and fabric covering. These classes are well worth the travel, time, and money. The skills are able to be acquired by many. Learning them is doable. Training in woodworking is much more widely available and also able to be acquired. The issues are primarily motivation and being conscientious.

All that being said, you have picked a big project that many have started but not finished.

I will suggest you start looking for one that has had a bunch already done or needs restoration. This will have a much higher probability of flying.

Billski
 

Pilot-34

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Find Little Scrapper's threads here on HBA. He's got some great tutorials on learning welding, including well thought out practice jigs.
I agree with that so much I thought I’d add this;


This is one of the truly outstanding resources anywhere!

Thank you little scrapper!
 

TFF

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Welding is not that hard of a skill to learn. Show winning welding is on a whole different level that takes literally miles of welding bead practice, like professional welding every day for ten years. A safe, usable, respectable looking weld takes a month or two of serious practice.

What helps is practice, screw up a bunch, try different things while practicing. After that, you have a language to talk to someone who can direct you. It’s not hard.

The hardest thing is you have to use both hands at once, and you have limited resting space because stuff is hot.

Clean the area often. Oxidation does not weld easy.
 
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