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Which of the LSA designs is most builder friendly?

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Jock

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Mar 27, 2010
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Of plansbuilt LS aircraft which is "easiest" to construct with plans that make mistakes less probable? I know its all opinion but you guys have seen more metal plan sets than I.
Thanks
JG
 

High Altitude

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Knoxville, TN
For a basic two place sport plane, Zenith or Sonex.

Lots of help available and the plans are very clear and detailed. Any plan set can be over whelming to the first time builder but after taking some time to digest them it gets more clear.

Zenith would be easier IMHO. You can get assembly DVDs from homebuilt help for most of the zenith planes and assembly manuals from Zenith that are geared towards kit assembly are available. Homebuilt help also has a DVD on scratch building which is excellent.


The Sonex has great plans but I don't believe there are any type of assembly manuals or DVDs (sonex does have some video clips) to help you along. Lots of help online though.
 
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DarylP

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Mar 22, 2010
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CO
I only built one plane, an Ultra Light, and my next plane will be all metal construction. The Dacron was a pain to install, only to have it rot off in a few years, longer if you clear coat. I love the Zenith, and from what I have read it not a tough plane to build. I say that because it seems like the parts all fit together very nicely. I cannot imagine having to do another fabric (Dacron) covered plane, much less a dope and fabric. I do know that Rans makes a darn nice kit, it is supposed to go together very nicely, and they have great support to. It is not a metal wing though, which is my criteria for the next plane I build.

:)
 

Careca

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Portugal

Having worked in a composite ultralight/experimental aircraft factory and for Zenithair showed me that few kits are as easy to build as CH601 or CH650, especially when compared to composite kits!

Blind rivets (AVEX) and CNC routers make an incredible job in cutting building time. Plans are easy to follow and they have very good builder assistance. Recently we have eared lots of things about Zenith products but if you stick by the plans, implement all the modifications and fly it safely you won’t have a problem.

The new Rans S19 seems to be easy to build as well (similar building technology) with the advantage of better quality blind rivets (CHERRYMAX).
 

bmcj

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Of plansbuilt LS aircraft which is "easiest" to construct with plans that make mistakes less probable? I know its all opinion but you guys have seen more metal plan sets than I.
Thanks
JG
JG, to make a suggestion that is useful to you, we must first know a little more about what type flying you want to do. Primarily, do you have the need to carry a passenger (or even flight instructor), or will this just be a craft to get you in the air? Is this for cross-country work where a little extra speed is nice, or is "low and slow" around the local area sufficient? Do you need to carry some baggage? Do you plan to fly in cold, wet weather, or just during good weather (in other words, is open cockpit OK, or do you need a closed cabin with heat)? Are you very tall or very heavy? These all play a roll in plane selection.

The previous suggestions are OK, but if you just want a single seat puddle-jumper that is neither fast nor fancy, and you plan only to be a fair-weather pilot, perhaps something like the MiniMax would be more appropriate. I have no personal experience with the MiniMax, but hear that it is easy to build and fun to fly. It is all wood, glue, and fabric, so requires a minimal amount of tools, skills, and time. It is only a single seater, so you cannont take a passenger, an instructor, or even much in the way of luggage. It is not fast, so cross-country are time consuming and involve lots of fuels stops, but it does give you lots of fun flying hours. It is normally built as an open cockpit, but can be built with a canopy and possibly some form of cabin heater. best of all, it can be built relatively cheaply, including engine.

There was a builder's link for the MiniMax posted on heresome time ago where you could see the build from beginning to end. I'll try to find it and post it here (unless someone else beats me to it).

If you need two seats, the Pietenpol might also be a good choice for you, but it is definitely a fair-weather flyer.

But first, try to answer some of the questions I posed for you.

Bruce :)
 

bmcj

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What do people think of the Volksplane?
Easy to build, but heavy and less than stellar in performance. Most VP owners are less than satisfied with their climb and payload capabilities. Flying speeds are low, but that is not really an issue with the VP since that is expected on a design like this.
 

Jock

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I have the plans for a Jodel D-18, and it fits my criteria, 2 seat, ELSA,relatively simple to build (excepting the 1 piece spar)wood and fabric. It's the wood and fabric part I am self questioning? I am told hangars are expensive and thats not likely to change, and fabric is perishable. My plan is to scratch build, thats why clear plans are a plus.
Thanks for the info , it will all go into the mix.
JG
 

bmcj

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There are some easy to build 2-seater kits like the Kitfox and Avid Flyer that have quick folding wings for towing your plane home or tucking it in beside someone elses plane, making hangar rent cheaper or non-existent. It also helps bypass a waiting list for hangars because you can find someone already in a hangar and rent a corner from them. You can even put it in a shed or building that is too small for a normal plane (folds to about 9' wide).

I'm sure there are some others out there that also fold like this. For example, Rans or Highlander might.

Regarding fabric, if properly sealed and painted with a good UV protection layer, it can actually survive the weather quite well. Use a paint like the Stits Polyfiber Polytone, and you can rejuvinate the old paint when it starts to look weathered. In New York, I think your biggest concern would be the build-up of heavy, wet snow on your wings if stored outside.

I've heard good things about the Jodel, and it looks like a nice plane, but I don't know if it has folding wings. Often times, you can tuck a small low-winged craft under the wing of a high-winged Cessna, allowing you to share a hangar. It might be worth talking to some of the pilots and measure the hangar to see if this will work.

Bruce :)
 

lr27

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I vaguely recall seeing something about a folding wing Jodel. If you're going to fold the wings, why not keep it in a trailer? Trailer kits are incredibly cheap from Harbor Freight, and you could easily stretch one a bit, then make some kind of enclosure for it. If you used painted dacron over a frame, it might be very light. Just make sure there is lots of ventilation area, with screens.

I built a longer boat trailer from a small Harbor Freight trailer kit in one very long day. (or maybe it was two, I seem to recall 14 hours). That's not painted, however.
 

Jock

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The Jodel does not have folding wings, and uses a 1-piece wingtip to tip spar. The Falconar Jodel copy loses some performance and pays a "hefty" weight penalty. Winter disassembly and storage are thoughts.
 

snaildrake

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Albuquerque, NM USA
The Jodel does not have folding wings, and uses a 1-piece wingtip to tip spar. The Falconar Jodel copy loses some performance and pays a "hefty" weight penalty. Winter disassembly and storage are thoughts.
Are there other plan sources than Falconar for the Jodel D-18?
 

bmcj

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I vaguely recall seeing something about a folding wing Jodel. If you're going to fold the wings, why not keep it in a trailer? Trailer kits are incredibly cheap from Harbor Freight, and you could easily stretch one a bit, then make some kind of enclosure for it. If you used painted dacron over a frame, it might be very light. Just make sure there is lots of ventilation area, with screens.

I built a longer boat trailer from a small Harbor Freight trailer kit in one very long day. (or maybe it was two, I seem to recall 14 hours). That's not painted, however.
True. In fact, some of options I had in mind when I said "shed" included a trailer or used shipping/storage container. The benefit of a trailer is that you can tow it home (if the airport allows "through-the-fence" operations), whereas a shed or storage container will still require negotiating and renting a bit of space from the airport.
 

Jock

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The origional Jodel plans were in metric measure,and in French. A gentleman by the name of Frank D. Rogers of Austrailia translated the plans to english, changed the hardware from metric to standard U.S.but kept the measurements in metric,but every measurement is in mm's ONLY, you can't make a mistake( I'm in U.S. and metrically challenged). He has retired, but a friend has taken over the plans sales.Join the Jodel group,much info.
JG
 

SkyPirate

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Edgar Springs MO
There are some easy to build 2-seater kits like the Kitfox and Avid Flyer that have quick folding wings for towing your plane home or tucking it in beside someone elses plane, making hangar rent cheaper or non-existent. It also helps bypass a waiting list for hangars because you can find someone already in a hangar and rent a corner from them. You can even put it in a shed or building that is too small for a normal plane (folds to about 9' wide).


Bruce :)
some kitfox builder's/ flyer's use an enclosed trailer,..rolling hangar so to speak ..folded dimensions are 7'10" model 4 and down and right at 8' model 5 and up ,. I have design a couple trailers for kitfox's including goose neck 2 plane trailers which are 101" outside dimension enclosed ,..and built open trailers using boat trailers as a platform and lowering the back end of the trailer for the main gear on a TG,..the plane get's towed backwards on the trailer with wings close to level in fold position.
My plane I'm building now ..my own design has folding wing and will finish out right at 101" wide folded,..the max legal road width in the US without a need for a permit.
 

Kmccune

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Aug 5, 2007
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162
The CH750 for sure and I believe the CH650 are now match hole designs. Meaning almost every hole is drilled you just cleco the parts together and then drill to final size, deburr, prime or not as you feel necessary and rivet together. Guys are completing them in under a year.
 

LArzfromarz

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Aug 17, 2009
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Sunny Central FL
I'd have to think the Vans RV-12 ranks right up there. I know dedicated RV builders that could knock one out 3-4 months (or less).
I really think the question has to pretty subjective since most folks don't have the depth of experience in the many different brands/types so YMMV.

Larry
 

Windsor Mike

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Sep 8, 2005
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Location
Ontario ,Canada
For a basic two place sport plane, Zenith or Sonex.

Lots of help available and the plans are very clear and detailed. Any plan set can be over whelming to the first time builder but after taking some time to digest them it gets more clear.

Zenith would be easier IMHO. You can get assembly DVDs from homebuilt help for most of the zenith planes and assembly manuals from Zenith that are geared towards kit assembly are available. Homebuilt help also has a DVD on scratch building which is excellent.


The Sonex has great plans but I don't believe there are any type of assembly manuals or DVDs (sonex does have some video clips) to help you along. Lots of help online though.
Sonex takes a different approach .There is one page that depicts a building tree similar to a family tree.You can start anywhere on the tree ie;tail,wings etc You start on any box on the tree as long as it has only one branch going to it.If a box has more than one branch(line) it means there are steps that must be done before you can move to that box.
Sounds confusing but it's not.The box your in refers to a page in the plans and all the instructions for that part or parts are written on that page.Trust me it's very clear and easy to use.I'm building the Onex and the Sonex family John and Jeremy Monnette and staff are top notch .The Sonex or the Onex will cost a lot less to build than the 701/750 unless you plan to put something other than a rotax in them.
Onex with an Aerovee engine can be built for under $30'000. SonexBuilders.net


 
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rheuschele

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Jan 12, 2010
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533
Location
Chicago Il. USA.
Guy's, you've gotten off track. He's looking for "plans built". So the match hole construction won't matter. Jodel is a fine plane, but you better figure somewhere around a decade to build it. And yes, that one piece spar might make you think twice. Try going to homebuilt.org. for more ideas.
Ron
 
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