Time to start building! Assembly of the Osprey begins with the mechanics. Although the body is a true ARF, the mechanics have to be assembled from individual pieces. I consider this a plus for a couple of reasons: First and foremost, on every “pre-assembled” heli I’ve ever purchased I felt it necessary to check every last screw for thread-lock. Because of this, I really prefer to build my helis from the ground up so that I know it was done correctly (or if it was not, I know whom to blame). Secondly, building a helicopter from the ground up helps you to understand exactly how the machine works. And since the Osprey is unlike any other “heli” you’ve seen, understanding it is a good thing. To these practical reasons I will add that I just enjoy building; it’s fun watching a heli come together over the course of a few hours of work.
As noted earlier, the assembly manual for the Osprey is available in PDF form on the RotorMast website. I like this approach because the manuals can be kept constantly updated to reflect the latest tweaks and clarifications. The assembly notes are generously sprinkled with updates, and they include some very useful advice. I downloaded all ten chapters to my iPad so that I’d have them handy while working.
As is common with helicopter projects, the Osprey fits into what I call “dining room table modeling”. All you need is a few basic tools, and there’s nothing messy involved. This is a nice break from my dusty shop where I do most of my building.
Assembly starts with the main shafts. As always, be sure to use blue Loctite for all metal to metal screws and red Loctite for installing bearings.
The swashplates are next up, and while there are a lot of parts, they go together quickly. The swash-drive hubs are a slightly different design than on typical flybarless heads, but they’re nice and stiff and have almost no friction. Finally the main rotor heads are assembled. These differ from typical heads in that there are no dampers, and assembly is straightforward.
Next up is assembly of the nacelles…