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13. Thoughts so far, or great expectations




I have not been enjoying this build.


but I need to elaborate. 


A programmer friend once told me that I would be an excellent beta tester because I always seem to find that combination of inputs that seizes up the computer.


I am also a creative person. Often if i make something, it comes out of nowhere. The last major thing I built was this arcade machine running MAME:




and this custom light gun for the NES




this gives you an idea of the skill set I have. Not a master craftsman by any means, but able to come up with novel ideas and solutions. In my mind then this is at one end of the creative spectrum. Another sort of creative pursuit are things like LEGO or Mechano. In the case of making one of those models the goal is clear, and there are explicit instructions to get you there. This is at the other end of the spectrum.


So, sometimes I like the OCD hypnosis of something like LEGO (I have a kit ready to start on actually) and sometimes I want the immersion of creating something from scratch, like my arcade machine with glass control panel and touch controls. With the Bushcat kit I was really expecting a giant Mechano set. But it’s not that. How can it be? Mechano have made millions and millions of sets and had maybe a century to perfect their system. My Bushcat kit however is number 231. And a hell of a lot more complicated than a Mechano set! This ‘model’ is a continuous work in progress. There are typos in the instructions, missing or wrong sized bolts. There are sections where you really have to use your initiative and work out what it is they are trying to tell you.


so then, this is not a scratch built arcade machine, but nor is it a Mechano set. 


But Mechano is what I was expecting. Every step perfectly defined. Every part present and correct. So I am struggling because of my false expectations. So each time there is a problem, I really start to get down about it. Maybe because then I’m not sure what the right thing to do is. With one of my scratch built projects, the right thing to do is whatever comes to mind. The solution is correct so long as I am happy with that solution.


However, I have been told this kit is one of the easier ones and the manual one of the most complete. I think if you are a prospective buyer, be clear about what you expect. For most people, it will be all you expected it to be. For those rare few Beta Testers like me, you may struggle.



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I think we all have expectations of what a "Kit" entails when deciding to build an aircraft. I got quite a shock to find the manual was almost incomprehensible. The manufacturer who wrote it had very poor written expression skills, could not spell & missed a lot out. The saving grace was I went to the factory, got to know him & he was always happy to respond to even the most mundane questions & sent the missing bits immediately (He'd even forgotten to include the seats). He'd had the plans done by a professional which was good even though they were for an earlier fabric covered model. He did provide lots of construction photos & a video. Nothing in my kit was pre-drilled, cut to size or bent to shape and there were wrong sized bolts as well as missing bits. It was just a pile of extrusions, rolls of alloy sheet and some fibreglass mouldings straight from the mould. I guess I am different as I really enjoyed the challenge of doing things I'd never done before. The build took 4 years.


Hang in there, it isn't what you expected but once completed I am sure you will look back with pride as to your achievements.

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Try building a 1928 design from plans drawn by the designers mate in 1933....?. I also just picked up a Rainbow Cheetah which is the older Brother of your Bushcat. 

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Hehe. I think sometimes it would be easier to work from plans! But im way too lazy for that! Anyway, I’ve stopped pouting and working on it again. It is a lovely plane to fly so I must keep thinking of the end result

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My CH701 sat untouched for two years because I was so pissed off with trying to interpret the plans. Eventually got back to work and finished it because it was worth nothing as a pile of bits if I wanted to sell it. I’ve been flying it for about four years now and I’m really glad I persevered.

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They've sold thousands of Savannahs, it's a very complete kit. But visit the forums and most builders spit the dummy at some point over the manual. This seems to be the rule, more or less, with homebuilts, with the exception of the RVs, which I am told are literally line by line LEGO, though I believe they also aspire to a higher build quality and finish, so it's not quick. I've not seen one being built, but this is what I have heard, and certainly groups and schools build them: no way you could sensibly do that with the Savannah.

So, hey, you're part of a unique but not uncommon journey, that almost all home builders will identify.

I walked away from mine for some months when I stopped enjoying it and started making too many mistakes. But I picked it up again and enjoyed finishing it and am enjoying owning and flying it.

My first suggestion, if you can, is to locate knowledgeable builders of your aircraft who you can bounce questions off. I got the last NZ kit to come out of Australia, so I had access to the very experienced Oz agent. I also spent a lot of time on Mark Kyle's build thread here on this site, plus several others, and I bounced a lot of questions off Mark. I found most aviators are only too happy to help. I also learned that nobody knows everything (of course) though some know a great deal: but nevertheless while I listened to the advice and was thankful for it too, I learnt to make my own decisions. This is my first suggestion, because I have since come across builders working in isolation, and sometimes they have headed off up some very strange avenues.

My second suggestion is to get access to as many build pics for your aircraft as you can. My Oz agent supplied some, Mark Kyle and others have posted heaps, and I have now added my own online share. At the start, flicking through the pics really doesn't seem to mean much. But as you go on, they provide a wealth of detail and answer a whole lot of questions. By the time I was well into my build, I had an open manual, a separate open parts catalogue (which happened to have some exploded drawings) and an old laptop on the bench allowing viewing of build pics.


I'll leave it there for now. It's a journey, and a less than usual one, but I'm pretty sure you'll get there, and be very glad you did.

Happy days.........and blue skies.





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