Main Intakes

News Flash: Tom Rousell of Edmundston NB, Canada did it the RIGHT way and made vacuum form molds so he could crank out these intakes!  Click here for More Information!



Well, it has been a while, but this last phase was a long one.  I wanted to create the intakes for Airwolf's jet engines, so I started with a technique from the Airwolf build by Thompson Fuselages (Airwolf_Crazy on the forum).  This technique uses construction paper to get the complex shape of the intakes formed.  First, I created cones with the construction paper, and used a handy snifter to mark the end of the intake:





Once I had the pattern for the intake, I transferred it to a heavier grade of paper.  The heavier grade would crease too easily when trying to get the initial fit, but once cut down to size it handled easily.  I should have scanned the pattern for others to use, but honestly, I just did not think of it until now.





I taped it in place, and used a small mixing cup on the end to keep the end of the intake circular.  Then I gave it it's first coat of West System 24 hour epoxy.  This relatively thin epoxy completely saturates the paper, giving the resulting part surprising (for paper) strength.






Here is where I diverged from the Thompson technique.  Rather than leaving the epoxied paper in the fuselage, I removed the parts and applied multiple coats of epoxy to both the inside and outside.  The goal was to get the part rigid enough to apply fiberglass.






Getting the pattern for the fiberglass was easy.  After rough sanding it, I simply rolled the part on the fiberglass, and marked the edge as the intake rolled over it!






Here we have the parts with their first layer of fiberglass..  Once the first layer hardens, the successive layers will be easier to apply.






I used "fine" or "lightweight" fiberglass to finish the part, so light sanding was all I needed before giving the outside (which will become part of the interior) it's coat of paint.  This part really should be part of the kit.  The way Vario represents intakes is horrible... just a hole in the fuselage is all you get.  The Len Mount Dauphin included some really nice cast resin intakes that I just had to glue to the fiberglass and finish.  You can see, I left a i/2 inch border around the edge of the intake for the epoxy to latch onto, to make a good bond.






In order to securely mount the intakes on the fuselage or "blind" side, I laid down fiberglass matting soaked in 24 hour epoxy.  The paint under the matting has been ground down to the carbon for a strong structural attachment.  The Intakes may well become the easiest place to lift the Heli, so I want them strong enough to support the weight of the aircraft (of course, I say that about every component).






Section by section of the intake is lined up with the edge of the intake bezel, then "tacked" down with little balsa squares, and CA.  Once a section is tacked down, it is Aeropoxied (Hysol) for strength.  At this point, a heat gun is handy.  It softens the fiberglass, allowing you to more easily conform the fiberglass part to the fuselage.





Once the entire intake is properly mounted against the bezel, the part is fiberglassed into the fuselage.  Again, I use the heavier weight fiberglass for strength, and then a final layer of the lighter weight fiberglass to smooth everything out.  Any gaps or voids are filled with Aeropoxy.





Once the fiberglass and epoxy has cured, it is time to smooth out the inside of the intake with Evercoat Metal Glaze (just like Bondo). The multiple complex curves are a pain in the ass, I ended up using small pieces of blank "credit card" plastic as spreaders, as standard spreaders just will not fit in this place!





Getting pretty close here, now we have to pay attention to symmetry!  Curves on one side must be mirrored on the opposite side.





In between sanding sessions, I airbrushed the interior to cover the fiberglassing work.  Some parts of this MAY be visible from the cockpit area, so we want to make everything look as nice as we can.





Back on the outside, layers of Metal Glaze, 2-part-primer, and sanding are slowly working the intakes to a nice, smooth finish!





I also wanted some detail in the intake area.  I has played around with a 40mm fan, but the blades did not look realistic.  Les and I were poking around in an electronics surplus store, and I found some impeller type fans that had a lot of promise!  All they needed was some sanding and paint....  (I have those!)





Final sanding is made easier by sticking a flashlight in the back of the intake.  In this case, there really IS light at the end of the tunnel!  Seriously, the light made it possible to get those final, tiny imperfections sanded out.





Yikes!  A void in the fiberglass! Apparently, when I glassed in one of the intakes, there was an air pocket that I missed.  pressure from sanding discovered it, and so I opened up the void, and used a Monoject syringe to inject some Metal Glaze into it (This is a handy device to fill the inevitable voids you get in 2-part doors and hatches- just punch 2 holes and squirt!).





Finally, the intakes are almost done, and beginning to look like real intakes!  It's getting hard to remember that these were once just construction paper!





Back to those impeller fans... I painted them Silver, (actually aluminum), and then used a mixing cup with the base cut out as a mask, and painted the center black.  2-part clear went over the whole thing for durability, and lo-and-behold... I think I have something interesting!  The impeller wheels are easily removed from the rest of the motor, but I am leaving them attached for now, as they protect the impellers from scratches.





Here is a shot of the intake with the fan blades placed.  This actually looks like the "business end" of a turbine!  Airwolf has an armor screen covering the engine intake, so I will start looking for a screen that will be true to the Airwolf specification, but still allow this detail to show through!




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