Workshop Build-Along — Sopwith Camel — Part 26, Bungees Cords and Bracing Wires

Workshop Build-Along — Sopwith Camel — Part 26, Bungees Cords and Bracing Wires

Finally we got the Camel all painted and reassembled and I brought it outside to sit in the sunlight for a while. There is just a very short To-Do list of items to button up before we are ready for our test flight in about 2 weeks.


The most recent building tasks were fairing out and finishing the landing gear and adding the tail bracing rigging wires. Refer back to Workshop Build-Along Part 12 for a refresher on how the wire landing gear and articulated, 3-piece axle were made and watch for the upcoming September 2015 issue of MAN to see the process of covering, finishing and painting the landing gear.

Landing Gear Bungee

The vintage gear I built for the Camel uses the tried and true Bungee Suspension system found on just about every WW 1 airplane. You can find 1/8-inch bungee cord at Balsa USA as well as in most Scuba and sporting Shops. Divers and hikers use it as a cheap way to secure their gear while keeping it readily accessible. Also, in most CVS stores you can finds “Hair Bands” that can also be used for lighter weight airplanes. Plus, the Bands are cheap so you can stock up on them as they don’t last as long as the standard bungee shock cord.


A note is that the Camel’s Tail Skid is also bungee equipped and it takes two 4-inch lengths of cord (two 2-inch rings), to provide proper support.


There are two ways to produce the rings. First, cut the cord to length and then bring the ends together, wrap with sewing thread (about 1/2 inch overlap), and hit with a couple drops of  Zap CA. Second, wrap the cord around a large diameter dowel a few times, and then tie the ends into a knot, then hit with Zap. Either way works fine, but I prefer the wrap method.


(above) This is the method I used for the large tail skip in my 1/3-scale Fokker Triplane. Quick and simple. (Below) is the wrap method I used with the Camel’s tail skid.



Here the Hair Bands (4 of them), have been looped onto the landing gear’s axle and secured to the two wire extensions. The bands are perfectly sized for an “over and back” attachment.


Viewed from underside, you can see that the bands hold the the axle down against the heel of the gear assembly. Four bands provide proper tension for good rebound.


So here the landing gear are done and the bungee suspension bands are in place. With this 19 pound model, the hair bands provide plenty of support, but might tend to wear out after a few landings. They are cheap and easy to replace, but for extended use, I recommend the use of 1/8 inch bungee shock cord.


Here’s the final bungee installation. I used 15 inches of shock cord formed into a loop with a thread wrap and a couple drops of thin Zap. It loops back and forth over the axle about 6 times.

Tail Bracing

When it comes to minimizing vibration and strengthening the tail, just like the full-size aircraft, my 1/4-scale Camel has rigging wires to brace the horizontal and vertical stabilizers.


The wire is standard 2-56 threaded pushrod wire, and the upper clevises are from Nelson Supply. (no longer in business). Clevises are also available from Proctor Enterprises and are available in several sizes.


The stainless steel through bolts and lock nuts are from RTL Fasteners Getting these in bulk saves some $$ and I always have my shop supplies ready for weekend jobs without worrying about running out. For the aft supports I used the threaded clevises  and the soldered, fixed clevises for the front.


The lower bracing wires, use standard Sullivan Products Clevises and at the ends connecting the horizontal stabilizer I used solder wire terminals, from Balsa USA. I used Stay-Brite High-Silver-Content solder with liquid flux. Pretty simple. The jam nuts for the clevises still have to be installed. Here the bolts still have to be cut to length and the wires will be painted to match the model.


That’s it! Bungee and bracing wires are a big part of WW1 planes, if you want smooth landings and a ridged tail, they are a must.

Part 27:



Updated: March 31, 2016 — 11:05 AM


  1. Gorgeous airplane! Nice job. I suggest when you shoot the whole airplane to put something in the photo to provide scale. I noticed that both the port and starboard ailerons on the top and bottom wings are drooped. Especially noticeable in the top photo. What gives?

    1. Hi Don. Well, at the time I took the pix, I still had to install aileron servos and linkages. We have several other minor items left to button up before the test flight. Stay tuned!

  2. Looks great what I did was take a 1/4″ rod and thin copper wire rap there 2 together in the middle and then silver soldier them in place then rap the bungee aground the2 wire as tight as I can so far works great

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