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Workshop Build-Along — Triplane Aileron Servo Installation

Workshop Build-Along — Triplane Aileron Servo Installation

Here’s a common, very popular way to install aileron servos. To make field maintenance easy, install your servos with hatches built into the wing so they are flush with the wing’s underside and are held in place with screws.

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The first thing I do to get the aileron servo hatch properly aligned is to install the aileron control horn and then attach the linkage. I then use the linkage as a guide for the placement of the servo arm slot I cut into the hatch. The linkage should be straight and 90 degrees to the aileron hingeline.


Once I have the slot location figured out, I draw a rough sktech on the inside of the hatch cover centered on the servo spline. Here I am using ProTek RC T330 digital, metal spline servos from A-Main Hobbies.


To support the hatch cover, I use lite-ply to line the servo compartment opening. Here you see some balsa strip material glued to the lite-ply cross piece to form the opening. It is about 3/8 inch wide to give plenty of support to the fabric covering. Once this is all done, I place the hatch cover (also made of Lite-ply) and I trace the clearance around the opening. This is to determine the placement of the servo and its supports.

IMG_0120 (2)

I use hardwood blocks as servo mounts and I support the blocks with 1/16-inch plywood gussets. All is glued with Thick Zap Glue.


Here I am making sure the servo arm is centered on the slot guideline which lines up with the aileron control linkage. A Heavy Duty FMA servo arm is being used. I have found that a slot about 1/4 inch wide is best for most servo installations. I use a Moto-Tool and a round bit to cut two holes at either end of the slot. I then use a hobby knife to cut the slot between the two holes. A little sandpaper makes the slot neat and clean.


Here the hatch and servo have been installed and screwed into place. You will need to determine the length of the slot by using your transmitter to move the servo arm back and forth. You can see I had to make a little clearence in the lite-ply support cross piece to clear the servo arm.


To complete the control linkage, I use a scrap of wood and a couple cloth pins to center the aileron.


Here the servo side clevis has been soldered to the 4-40 control linkage wire. I use Stay-Brite liquid solder flux and high siver content solder for all my control linkage soldering.


A unique feature for my current project, a Balsa USA 1/3-scale Fokker Triplane, is that I am using a secondary RC receiver, battery pack and charge jack/switch installed in the top wing. I am doing this to eliminate the long servo wire leads that usually run up the cabane strut to connect the aileron servos the main receiver in the fuselage. The NoBS Batteries available from Hangtimes Hobbies are A123 LiFE type and they have a capacity of 2300mah. The NoBS heavy duty switch harness also has a charging jack in it so all I need to do is attach my single charging lead to balance charge the pack at a high rate. This can be done easily with the FMA 4S A123 charger and it is basically plug it in and forget it operation. No settings to set or get wrong.\


As with the main receiver located in the fuselage, the secondary Spektrum DSMX 7-channel receiver in the wing also has a auxilary receiver installed in the wing. The radio compartment is in the center section of the top wing and there is a removable hatch cover for access to the radio and battery pack similar to the servo hatches.


Here the radio compartment hatch has been installed but the charging jack/switch still has to be installed.

Now that the wings are done, lets cover them:

Updated: October 19, 2015 — 4:41 PM
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Add a Comment
  1. Gerry, great article. I only wish I had known about using a separate receiver for ailerons when I put my 1/5 scale DR-1 together and ran the wires down the cabane. I may yet make this mod when I convert it from 72 to 2.4. Thanks.

  2. Hi Gerry ,
    What soldering tool are you using for silver solder and Stay Brite flux to solder the linkage to clevis.

    1. Hi Albert. good to hear from you. I’m using nothing special. It is an off brand name 80watt soldering iron with a wide chisel tipped end. it is about 3/8 inch wide and it heats up in no time. I got it a while back at the local hobby shop but there are available everywhere K_Mart hardware section, Harbor Freight, etc.

  3. HI GERRY, I have just seen your step by step on Aileron servo to the wing, it took me quite sum time to get it right as shown in your version, do you do a step by step on installing Robart Hinge point’s.I never get it right I seem to end to tight or to loose.

    1. Hey Brian, I do have a video showing installing the Robart HingePoints for the triplane. I will dig it up and we’ll post it on the MAN site. cheers, and keep building!

  4. what a lovely piece of modelling thank you from somebody who has come back to building models after 25 years.

  5. Hi Gerry, this is great I have just completed doing my SIG LT40 conversion, your article confirmed all the things I did.

  6. I’m always concerned about using CA for structural adhesive. I opt for epoxy at the expense of time and hassle. Have you (or others) ever had issues using CA in a location like this? It seems brittle compared to epoxy. …Thanks!

    1. On that topic, what are your thoughts on yellow woodworking glue?

  7. I’ve been a modeler since I was age 10, hardly enough money to build anything, I was very excited
    when the early Backyard Flyer came along and read many articles by you Gerry Yarrish, wishing
    I had enough to get into electric.
    My wife of 52 years died of Surgery complications and now that I am getting over the bills from her
    many years of illness, I am able to get back into having fun, I am 76 and too slow for many models
    but enjoy the little stuff.
    Thanks for your ideas.
    Lynn Ray Carter

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