Peter Loveday's Storch project
The Slepcev Storch Mk. IV is an exceptional short take-off and landing ultralight, able to manoeuver safely near the ground at incredibly slow speeds. Peter and Matt Loveday spent four years constructing a Storch from a kit supplied by Storch Aviation Australia. That aircraft flew for the first time on June 9, 2001. Your web author presented a few questions about the project and Matt Loveday has kindly supplied the following:
Slepcev Storch Mk. IV 19-3094
Q. How many man hours went into the building operation?
A. As with any first time project there were a number of things that we probably did 'the long way'. There were two of us working on the project. Both of us at times, one at others. If you added up the actual man hours spent on the kit then you would probably find it to be in excess of the prescribed 500 hours but we did a lot of things the hard way. Such as using solid rivets where the kit only required pop rivets, but we felt they would be quite a bit stronger.
Q. Was the instruction manual adequate?
A. Instruction Manual? There was a set of plans (a few A3 pages) provided with the kit along with a small magazine-like instruction manual for our kit. This however was not a problem as most of the construction of the wings and control surfaces was common sense and the set of plans explained the rest in sufficient detail.
Q. Was there an adequate "help desk" available?
A. During the course of our project we found that Nestor Slepcev and his team were most helpful when it came to any problems that we were having but they also kept us up to date with design improvements that were taking place while we were building.
Q. What are the materials used?
A. The fuselage is made of welded chrome-molybdenum and was fully fabricated when the kit arrived while the wings were a meccano set of aluminium spars and die-pressed aluminium ribs, with pre-bent aluminium sheeting for the leading and trailing edges of the wings. The spars came pre-drilled (even in the right place) which made assembly of the wing a snap.
Q. What particular craft skills are needed in the construction?
A. Basic skills are all that was required for the project such as being able to drill a straight hole and dolly and hammer solid rivets if you so choose. If one was to use pop rivets it is even easier and would cut construction time a fair bit.
Q. Who was involved in the project?
A. My father, Peter, the owner of the plane, and I were the main people involved in bringing this project together but special thanks would also have to go firstly to Mum for putting up with us spending countless hours working on "that bloody aeroplane!" Also thanks would have to go to our local LAME, Laurie McDonald who provided us with a third set of eyes, opinions, and ideas for our little quandaries and Len Neale, the local AUF Level 2 who also watched over us and taught us how to put fabric on aeroplanes.
Q. Have those involved prior experience in kit-building?
A. I think that as far as the scope of this project goes my father and Len Neale would be the only ones with kit building experience. Len has previously rebuilt (practically from scratch) the 1936 Heath Parasol "Miss Sandgate" which has featured in many an AUF magazine and my father who has previously built a 32 foot steel sailing yacht.
Q. What tools, jigs, benches etc were needed?
A. The only special tools required were a number of pneumatic tools. I would recommend the use of a pneumatic tool system for this type of project as the amount of extension leads you would use for electric tools would be ridiculous and battery power can be quite frustrating. A good compressor and an overhead air supply rail would be nice but not a must. We did it with air hoses laying around and it wasn't a drama. The only other thing you will need is a nice big flat bench about six metres long. This is a must and we built ours using a light RHS frame with adjustable legs so that any imperfections in the floor underneath could be compensated for. The only other tools that we had to buy were the tools for painting. If you are going to do this and want to make a decent job of it and not waste too much of that expensive paint for the fabric system then I would recommend a HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) spray gun with a separate pressure pot. They are worth every penny.
Q. Where did you build it and what floor area was taken up?
A. We completed almost all of our project other than pre-cover rigging and final assembly in a 6m x 9m, 3 bay garage. There was plenty of room even with two of us working but once again, I wouldn't like to go any smaller. The fuselage with rudder and elevators attached and engine mounted 'just' fit in one bay and the other two bays were 'just' enough for wing building.
Q. Any problems you encountered along the way?
A. We didn't really encounter any specific problems. The only thing I can think of that stands out is the brakes that were supplied with the kit. These were small, cable-actuated drum brakes that proved to be a little less effective than dragging your feet on the ground during initial taxi testing. We overcame this problem by adapting a set of custom made discs to alloy calipers connected to standard toe-brake mounted master-cylinders. I believe that kits now include hydraulic disc brakes as standard. The only other snags were things like hold-ups getting parts and a lack of spare time. All in all the kit we got was pretty simple to assemble and the swearing was kept to a minimum. The main thing that we learnt out of this project is that these things take time and if you take your time and get things EXACTLY right you will be left with a aeroplane that is beautiful to fly and pretty to watch. If you want to hurry things, chances are you will fly it 3 days earlier and there will be things you wish you had done differently.
Q. Some personal details?
A. I am a final year mechanical engineering student. I have been around aeroplanes ever since I was born and grew up flying them and when I was old enough to get a license it was too expensive to fly GA machines so I went with ultralights and gained my certificate in a Skyfox. My father is the man who did the hard yards on this project but he is too lazy to write about it. He has had a pilot's license since the age of 17 and as the ultralight movement became stronger and so did the aeroplanes he made the swap. We both still fly GA when we can but try to avoid the cost. We live on a property near Biloela in Central Queensland from where we operate the Storch. The good thing about the Storch is that you don't need much of a runway and that's about all we've got. At this time (July, 2001) we have clocked up 10 hours on the Storch - flying it whenever we get the chance. It is a lovely plane to fly and performs exceptionally well both on and off the ground and all that lies between.
... Matt Loveday 2001