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How to Build the Vintage Foam Phantom (Online Instructions)

Posted by James on 9th Mar 2021

How to Build the Vintage Foam Phantom (Online Instructions)

This article will detail how to build the Vintage Foam Phantom with large photos and extra resources to help you along the way. 

Note: These instructions are currently being updated

BUILD PREP

Prior to Building you will need prepare your workspace. All you’ll need is a flat table with your tools and materials all ready to go.

Things You’ll Need

  • Hot glue gun
  • Hot glue sticks
  • Scissors
  • Craft knife
  • Ruler
  • Strong Pliers
  • Clear tape
  • Your chosen RC Electronics

Things You might need

  • PVA glue
  • Masking tape
  • Sand Paper
  • Choice of paint - We recommend modellers or automotive spray paints

FOAM TECHNIQUES

Before diving into your model kit, take a moment to ensure you are familiar with foam building techniques by watching this short video.


ELECTRONICS SETUP

Now you can set up your electronics prior to building. The recommended electronics for this model can be purchased as an electronics pack, specifically the 'Speed' (C) Electronics Pack which includes the motor, speed controller, servos, hardware and much more.


FUSELAGE

We recommend you begin the build by constructing the fuselage, starting with the motor box which will house the aircraft's power train - the motor, ESC and battery. 

Step 1: Locate foam motor box part and this ply doubler part. Remove foam slot cutout material as shown.

Step 2: Glue ply doubler over slots inside of foam. Next fold up both side pieces with ‘Beside Fold’. Test and then glue at a 90 degree angle - use the included foam Square Tool to help!

Step 3: Now glue the front ply motor bulkhead to the end like so.

Step 4: Add a couple of pieces of tape across the ply part, wrapping it around the foam. This will strengthen the part.

Step 5: Press the included 'T' nuts into these holes in the rear of the motor bulkhead.

Step 6: Now you install your brushless motor, passing bolts through the motor ‘X’ mount plate through the ply bulkhead and into the T nuts.

Step 7: Reconnect your ESC to the bullet connectors. It is recommended that you also reconnect the receiver and power up the system as you did before the build to double check the motor spins the correct way (counter-clockwise when viewed from the front)

Step 8: Add the velcro strip to the bottom of the motor box and pass the velcro strap through the holes to provide a loop for securing the battery.

Step 9 Prepare main fuse part, creating channels from the areas marked (blue) and also score cut creasing where marked (green).

Step 10: Install the motor box as shown, gluing it in place with hot glue.

Step 11: Fold your landing gear wire referring to the Landing Gear Wire Guide paper sheet included in the kit.

Step 12: Pass three cable ties through these holes in bulkhead 2.

Step 13: On same side as the heads of the cable ties, line up the landing gear wire against the bulkhead and pass the free ends of the ties back through.

Step 14: Tighten up cable ties and cut down with scissors as shown.

Step 15: Glue bulkhead 2 behind motor box.

Step 16: Fold fuselage side with beside fold.

Step 17: Glue bulkhead in place

Step 18: Fold second side of fuselage with besides fold and glue in place. Maybe use the end of your build table to ensure your landing gear doesn’t interfere.

Step 19: Separate the fuselage tail sides a little and place a run of glue in each relief as marked. Glue together and make sure everything is square.

Step 20: Bring tail together and glue

Step 21: Prepare your tail surfaces. Remove material from slots. The elevator hinge line needs bevelling to 45 degrees with sharp craft blade (or sandpaper if you prefer). Carefully create a single bevel by folding the elevator back on itself and removing material from the elevator side itself (tip: watch how to do this in the Foam Techniques video at the top of this page)

Step 22: Glue the horizontal stabiliser and elevator part to the fuselage, taking care to get it nice and square to the fuse.

Step 23: Glue the vertical stabiliser fin into the slots on the fuse and tail, making sure it is square and straight with the horizontal stabiliser.

Step 24: Glue the two doubled up large turtledeck formers together like so.

Step 22: Glue each of the three turtledeck formers into their slots on the fuselage. The smaller one goes at the nose.

Step 25: Install a servo into its mounting hole in the tail like so.

Step 26: Glue ‘L’ shape ply doublers to the inside of the fuselage nose underside like so.

Step 27: Glue the ply doublers with lightning holes to the inside of the wing profile cutout like so.

Step 28: Cut two pieces of the thin dowel to approximately 12cm. Now pass each dowel through fuse wing anchor points. Strengthen the rear contact points by sliding ply circular doublers over the dowels and gluing in place where the dowel meets the inside of the foam fuselage.

Step 29: Glue the bottom fuselage panel.

Step 30: Glue the tail skid in place.

WING

With the fuselage structurally complete, you can now move onto building the wing. 

Step 31: Locate these wing spar parts.

Step 32: Fold at the score cut mark and glue like so.

Step 33: Prep one of the wing halves as shown. Single bevel the aileron, double bevel the top and bottom half dividing line and then open up the score cuts with a pencil or dowel (as shown in the techniques video).

Step 34: Glue wing spar to wing half and locate servo and servo Y harness.

Step 35: Glue aileron servo in place like so and run servo lead down behind the wing spar joining to the Y harness. Orientate servo as shown.

Step 36: Glue trailing edge wing spacer to the inside of the wing as shown.

Step 37: Test fold the wing. Fold the top surface over at double bevel and establish shape of airfoil at the opened score cut marks. Making sure the bottom surface is pressed firmly against the table, gradually work the surface over to form the shape of the wing. 

Step 38: Now, opening the wing back out again, lay thin beads of hot glue along 45 degree bevel, the wing spar (and top of servo) and the trailing edge wing spacer. Fold the wing over and use two hands to apply even pressure to the top of the wing for approximately 2 minutes while all glue fully dries.

Step 39: Repeat previous steps on the opposite wing panel, taking care to orientate the servo as a ‘mirror image’. If it is placed incorrectly, the servo will not work in opposition to opposite aileron servo meaning the ailerons will go up and down together, which is incorrect.

Step 40: Add ply spar doublers alongside spar, one on the left wing behind the foam spar and one on the right wing ahead of the foam spar. Now you can test fit the wings together.

Step 41: Pull the wings apart and lace the inside of the ply spars with glue. Now slot the wings together firmly and squeeze more hot glue down into the seem between the wings, smearing excess off the surface with a scrap of foam.

Step 42: When the glue has dried, it is advised to wrap tape around the join for a stronger wing bond. You can now set the wing aside for finishing later on.

FINISHING

Step 43: Cut the transparent vac formed canopy down to size, but make sure to leave some of the plastic in place to tack it down to the fuselage top.

Step 44: Place the card turtledeck over the formers and canopy to check fit. Adjust by carefully trimming material from the cockpit opening if necessary. When happy, tack it down in the middle only before rolling the sides down and gluing or taping these in place. Tip: for a clean result, try using PVA glue where the turtledeck meets the fuselage sides with masking tape to hold it down while you wait for it to dry.

Step 45: Cut three push rods to size using the included paper wire guide.

Step 46: Insert a linkage into the elevator servo arm on the middle most hole, securing it in place with a nut. You may need to enlarge this hole slightly. For more throw use the outer hole, for less, use the inner hole. Repeat this three times for each of the three servos. 

Step 47: Locate three control horns and pass another linkage through the middle hole, securing it in place with a nut. 

Step 48: Test fit the control horn in place on the elevator. Now, with the linkages loosen 

Step 49: Happy that your servo is centred (power up your RC system WITHOUT the prop on the motor to test) glue the control horn in place. Still keep the control horn linkage loose on the push rod for now.

Step 50: Repeat this process for the aileron servos.

Step 51: Attach the wing to the fuselage anchor points with the four elastic bands included in the kit.


FLIGHT SETUP

Now we have the aircraft fully built, we can set it up for flight. 

Step 1. Power up the model (WITHOUT the prop on) and tighten the control horn linkage grub screws so they grip the push rods.

Step 2. Balance the aircraft. The Phantom should be balanced at the marked location on the side view drawing (20mm from the leading edge measured at the centre of the wing) with the battery installed. Insert the battery into the battery compartment (do not connect it) and secure the battery with the battery strap wrapped around the battery. Adjust the battery's position - forward or back so that when the model is lifted at the main spar the model's wing and tail plane are horizontal. It may feel a little too far forward, but it is far better to start with the aircraft a touch nose heavy.

Step. 2 Check that the control surfaces – the elevator and ailerons travel in the correct directions. For instance, when you move the transmitter rudder control to the right the rudder moves to the right and that when you pull back on the elevator control the elevator moves up. If any of these are not correct follow the instruction for your radio set to reverse where required the direction of travel.

Step 3. Set the deflection distance for the control surfaces. Follow the instructions for your radio to set the initial recommended travel for both the rudder and elevator controls to:

  • Elevator: 15mm up and 15mm down, measured at the trailing edge of the elevator.
  • Ailerons: 15mm up and 15mm down, measured at the trailing edge of the ailerons.

The travel can be increased once the first flights have been successfully completed to suit your style of flying.

Pre-Flight

Here is a suggested pre-flight check list to follow:

  • Charge the flight battery(s) and check the transmitter batteries and change or charge if low.
  • Check that the balance of the model with the battery installed is correct.
  • Check control surfaces correctly centre, and for proper direction of travel, rate of throw, secure pushrod connections and hinges.
  • Check the airframe for damage, warps and attachment of flying surfaces.
  • Bolt your propeller to the motor propshaft.
  • Keep clear of the propeller! When connecting the battery keep clear of the prop arc.
  • Complete a Range check. Follow the radio manufacturer’s instructions for performing a proper range check.

Taking to the air

This model has been designed to be easy to fly but if you are completely new to model flying, we recommend learning to fly with a trainer or simulator first. Some tips for success are:

  • Fly at a suitable location - the biggest open field you can.
  • Choose a dead calm day for your first flight.
  • Takeoff from the ground if possible and perform short hops at first to get used to the feel and balance of the aircraft.
  • If takeoff from the ground is not possible, get a friend to help hand-launch the model. Hand-launch over long dry grass and glide the model down to get used to the balance and feel of the the controls.
  • Takeoff into the wind and power up a few mistakes high. Turn the model by rolling the wings and pulling back on the elevator. The phantom will high speed stall if extreme amounts of up elevator are applied, so keep your control inputs small and gentle.
  • Play with your airspeed and find the point at which the Phantom will stall. You should see minimum wing drop thanks to the under cambered wingtips.
  • When it is time to land, bring the plane in faster than stalling speed, flair the aircraft, bleed of airspeed and touch down.
  • Practice makes perfect! Keep flying and don’t be afraid to fail. You can always fix your aircraft or build a new airframe entirely.


FURTHER HELP

  • Visit our help centre on the website for guides, articles and videos
  • Watch our video guides on the Vintage Model Co Youtube Channel
  • Ask for help on our online community page
  • See our frequently asked questions page
  • Use friendly online forums to share your model and get advice and help from experienced aero modelling
  • Join a (if in the UK) BMFA affiliated flying club to learn from its members