6. Balsa USA Northstar Flying Boat Seaplane Kit Build Log (Updated 10/11/2014)

8/5/2012 – Starting build. Initial inspection showed a well packaged, complete and professional quality kit. Parts are die-cut, not laser, but all the cut pieces are clean and ready for use.

The Balsa USA kit includes all wood and hardware needed to complete the build. Optional wheels, fuel tank and covering need to be purchased separately.

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The included instruction booklet is nicely detailed with step by step instructions and photos.

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8/8/2012 – Starting with the delta wing. Ribs are glued to the trailing edge. Using a rib alignment tool called the Up Right from House of Balsa.

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8/10/2012 – Ribs and top trailing edge sheeting completed.

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8/10/2012 – Added hardwood spars and balsa sheer webs.

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Sheeted bottom middle section. This is a far as you can go until the fuse is built and installed.

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8/11/2012 – Assembling the fuse sides with doublers.

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Formers prepped and ready to install.

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Fuse (hull) sides are done.

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8/14/2012 – Next step for the fuse is to install the control rods. These are on order and should arrive soon. While I’m waiting I skipped ahead and built up the sponsons which will be sheeted with 1/8 light ply instead of balsa and fiberglass.

After the control rods are installed I”ll sheet the bottom forward section of the fuse with 1/8 light ply instead of balsa and fiberglass.

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Prepped the fuse for the aileron and rudder control rod exit holes.

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8/16/2012 – Ran all of the connecting rod tubes.

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Started sheeting the rear bottom of the fuse.

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8/17/2012 – Sheeted the front bottom of the fuse with 1/8″ light ply.

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Bottom fully sheeted.

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Used Titebond wood glue to to seal gaps and strengthen all joints.

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8/18/2012 – Since the plane will balance tail heavy, based on suggestions from the designer and several other builders, I’m relocating the servos into the bay ahead of the stock location. I decided to build a tray out of 1/8″ light ply to mount the servos in and hold the battery.

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After tracing the servo locations, I use an #18 X-ACTO Chiseling Blade in a #5 X-ACTO Heavy Duty Handle to punch out the servo tray holes.

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Ready to fit the wing to the fuse.

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Trimmed the excess leading edge to fit tight against the fuse–looking like a plane now.

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8/20/2012 – Sheeting the wing leading edge with 3/32 balsa.

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Top of the wing sheeted.

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8/22/2012 – Wing fully sheeted, leading edge sanded and fitted to the fuse.

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9/3/2012 – Working on the sponsons. Got one sheeted with 1/8 balsa.

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11/11/2012 – Getting back to building after putting a few ARFs together.

The wing is finished and after hinging the ailerons the wing is ready to be attached to the fuse.

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11/12/2012 – Glued the wing to the fuse using Titebond wood glue.

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11/13/2012 – Added the upper fuselage sides that will be sheeted and started finishing the tail fin.

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11/14/2012 – Completed the tail fin sheeting.

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11/15/2012 – Built the nacelle.

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11/19/2012 – Attached the nacelle and test fit the engine. Engine is an O.S. 46LA with a MACS muffler running an APC 10 x 7 prop. Using a Hayes Slimline 8oz fuel tank.

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1/22/2013 – Back to building. Sheeted the rear fuse and built up the final assemblies. Still need to work on the hatch which requires forming with hot water and steam.

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2/17/2013 – Made my own set of canopy mount rails. The plans call for a single 1/16 piece of ply along the bottom which acts as a mount for the hatch screws. Mine provide additional support and act as a guide when shaping the canopy side pieces.

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I removed a triangle shape from the tri-stock to allow the sides pieces to curve to the shape of the fuse. Then I used Windex to wet the canopy side piece and taped and clamped it to the mount rails to dry.

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2/18/2013 – Pinned the firewall with wood toothpicks.

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2/19/2013 – Canopy mounted.

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2/24/2013 – Getting into the final finishing stage. Filled and sanded the fuse and wing and now doing a little fiberglassing on the nacelle and sponsons with 2oz cloth.

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Mixed 50 / 50 resin and denatured alcohol. After it sets I’ll sand and then one more coat mixed 75 / 25.

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2/27/2013 – Last thing to do before covering is to shape and mount the nose cone. The kit provides a block of balsa and requires shaping.

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After getting the nose cone close to the final shape, I used epoxy to attach it.

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3/2/2013 – Forgot about the strikes. Framed them and sheeted them. I’ll use some filler to smooth out the leading edge transition.

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3/3/2013 – The last, last thing to do before covering is to mount the horizontal stab. I decided to use #4 socket head screws and brass inserts to hold the stab on instead of gluing it as this will allow access to the fuel tank if it needs to be serviced.

The vertical stab will be mounted after covering. Color scheme is going to be all white with black on silver Decathlon Stars and Stripes.

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3/6/2013 – Started covering. Color scheme will be all white with black on silver Decathlon stars and stripes.

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3/10/2013 – More covering.

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3/16/2013 – My friend Jason’s vintage North Star takes to the air for it’s re-maiden after nearly 20 years as a hanger queen.  Fitted with a small block .60 Evolution engine with a 10 x 8 APC prop she flew with impressive power not thought of in the original Laddie Mikulasko  design.

1/14/2014 – It’s been a while since I’ve posted on the North Star.  I’ve recently moved and all of my planes have been in storage for 6 months.  I’m just getting the hobby room setup in the new house and plan to start working again by summer.

7/20/2014 – Well it’s summer now but I still have’nt finished covering the North Star.  I just need to commit to gettting it done as Novemebr is float fly season for me.

10/11/2014 – The North Star isn’t going to make it to the water this year.  Just can’t get motavated enough to tackle the rest of the covering.  I’ll get it done eventually!

Comments
  1. Jason Benson says:

    Looking great, Danny. Keep up the good work.

  2. Jim Feldmann says:

    Not an easy subject to build, but it looks like you are doing a great job.

  3. Jack Higgins says:

    I’m following this with great interest. I just bought an original kit (1987) at a swap meet. I have met Laddie last year for the first time but have admired him for many years. I live in Toronto. I’m very curious as to how you plan to finish it. I’m thinking to completely sheath the wing in 1/16 th balsa and use light weight FG all over?

    Jack

    • electricdan says:

      Jack,

      Sheeting is not going to help. This plane will be tail heavy when built to spec, so the extra weight behind the CG will just hurt.

      I’m curious as to how I’m going to finish it as well!

      This is a good build with a few challenges.

      Good luck!

  4. John X says:

    Good clean work – I built my NS in 1988 Have flown it but once on land (not easy). Since have taken off the wheels and rebuilt it for water only. Have never flown it. It is currently hanging on wal of my garage – I may fly it some day when I get to a lake or the sea.

  5. Meeca Schroeter says:

    Hi Danny
    My dad just past away and left me one of these planes. It is mostly complete be I need a few more details to finish it. Hoping you can help out thank you.
    Meeca

    • electricdan says:

      Meeca,

      Thanks for the comment. I’ve recently moved and all of my planes have been in storage for 6 months. I’m just getting the hobby room setup and plan to start working again by summer.

      What kind of information do you need?

  6. Robert says:

    Hi… Liked your documentation,, What happened ? any progress ?

    The Sweede with a Dream 😉

  7. James says:

    I’m currently making a Northstar too. My work’s not as clean as yours, and I can definitely empathise with your lack of motivation. Started it last summer and been building it on/off since. I’ve still got to paint the underside, add markings, add decals, build the cockpit internals (mine has clear windows), fit a voltage regulator between the battery and servos, get the centre of gravity right, mount the engine and put fuel in the tank.

    I’m pretty happy with what I’ve done so far though. You couldn’t get your friend to take a picture of the inside where the nose gear is, could you? I’d like to know how the steering’s supposed to be set up.

    • electricdan says:

      I can’t get past the covering. Not skilled enough to do it right.

      I’ll ask for the picture.

      Thanks for the comment.

      • James says:

        Heh! This is my first balsa RC plane, so I definitely don’t have the skills. Knowing that I wasn’t going to get those skills by doing nothing, I just went ahead and did the covering anyway. It’s as messy as the rest, but it’s there.

        Oh, can you also ask him how he gets the landing gear to stay in position? Mine falls out or swings around. No way I’d land on that.

      • James says:

        Sorry about double post, WordPress is being annoying. I was actually trying to ask how your friend got his landing gear to stay put on the underside.

  8. Bob says:

    I’m just finishing up my Northstar from an original kit given to me by a friend.

  9. Joe says:

    Hello, I have the north star. I want to put a 61 Os on it but the directions say not to. Will ad to much weight and then you need more weight up front to balance out. Also can’t go any bigger then a 10″ prop, and on a 61, might be over rev. How did you do yours with the 60 evaluation?

  10. Sammy says:

    Hello, This is an excellent post for a newbie like me. I found this post looking for lost instruction manual. I have the plans, but i am scared to get started without the instructions. Is it possible for you to share the instruction manual? I would really appreciate it. thanks in advance,

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