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MAKE YOUR OWN SKIS
by Randy Treadwell
Winter flying can be fun with a simple way to make skis for your airplane. Here are some simple steps and
photos to help you.
The object here is to make a light, easy set of skis. Start with a 2x4 to make the
mold. Band saw the shape of the ski on the 4" side of the wood.
To make a quick smooth molding surface on the 2x4 mold, I used packing tape.
Epoxy or resin will not stick to it. After light sanding and
application of the packing tape on the mold surfaces,
clamp the top and bottom together, and then use
screws to pull the mold halves tight to each other. Your
mold is now ready to use.
Now select the materials to make the skis from. I like epoxy because it is less stinky
and a little stronger. Resin will work. After selecting the liquid part comes the
material. Simple fiberglass tape 2" wide was what I used here. You could use carbon
fiber, Kevlar, or some other special materials. Fiberglass is flexible and will do well on uneven snow. The
other materials are stronger and stiffer as well as lighter. The cost goes up also, but I don’t see better
performance needed. I used 3 layers of cloth in the lay up. Make sure the entire
weave is wet. I use a cardboard sheet to wet each layer one at a time and then
move it to the mold. As you tighten the screws, some epoxy (resin) should
squeeze out. I use the oven to cure the molded parts by setting the kitchen
oven to a low setting under 170° for 20 min. If you do this with resin, you may
be run out of the kitchen because of the stink. You can let it cure at room
temperature for a much longer time.
After curing, remove the screws and pry the 2x4 mold apart. You will have a part
that needs to be trimmed to shape. I used a band saw, but a scroll saw or
handsaw will work. To attach the skis to the landing gear, I used a plywood block
with a hole in it for the landing gear. When you glue the plywood block on the
ski, sand the top of the ski and use some small scraps of cloth to bond the block
to the ski by going down the side of the block and out onto the top of the ski. Use
the same material you used for the ski; it will bond the
best. I also installed a small block aft of the gear mount to make a small light wire
brace to the bottom of the fuselage. That will make it easy to keep the ski in the
correct position during flight. Make sure that you have more ski behind the gear mount
just in case it comes loose so it will hang in a safe position for landing.
I made these skis in 2 work sessions of about an hour each. I cut the mold and made
2 skis oven-cured in under an hour. The mounts and wire rear frame took the second.
1954-2009 Rocky Mountain Modeleers