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If you’ve recently noticed a problem with your RC helicopter’s blades or the way your copter is functioning, then it’s time to take a break from your hobby and figure out what could be wrong with your RC helicopter. Occasionally, it’s quite evident when you need to repair or replace your RC helicopter’s blades. Other times, however, it will be more difficult, and you’ll notice you need to fix a blade or piece of the blade because of the performance of the helicopter.
So, how can you repair RC helicopter blades? Depending on what your problems are with your RC helicopter, you can repair blades in a variety of ways. For example, you can use tape for small areas of damage. However, if you need to toss your blade and fully replace it, you can make your helicopter blades with our simple guide in this article.
Since there isn’t a lot of information available on the Internet today covering how to repair RC helicopter blades, we’ll include that information below. We’ll offer a few quick fixes for your RC helicopter blades, steps on how to make your blades and replace your broken blades, and some information about how the toilet bowl effect can happen when you have issues with your blades and fly bar.
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Fixing Minor Blade Issues
If you’re dealing with minor blade issues, there are a few quick and simple fixes you can perform to get the job done.
If you have some small chips and cracks on a helicopter blade, but it seems to be functioning fine otherwise, you can use some tape for a repair. However, if your edge is very damaged, like being broken in half, then you’ll need to throw it away and replace that blade.
Making Your RC Helicopter Blades More Durable
If you are interested in making your RC helicopter’s blades last longer, there is a simple and easy trick you can use. Cover each edge on your RC helicopter with clear packing tape and laminate the blades. If you go slow with the process, you should be able to get that tape over your edge smoothly. Plus, putting packing tape on your blades for protection won’t impact the way your helicopter flies, but it will help reinforce your helicopter’s blades and make them more robust.
Of course, you’ll be adding a minor amount of weight to your helicopter, but in our experience, we’ve never noticed any problems with flight times when we’ve done this. Instead, we’ve seen that our helicopter blades wind up being a lot more durable when we cover them with clear packing tape.
When you cover your RC helicopter blades with clear packing tape, you’ll want to make sure you have covered both sides of the entire blade. Tape the part up to the root where you find the mount. Continue to wrap both sides of each blade until you’ve fully reinforced your helicopter blades, making them more durable.
Now that you know how to fix minor RC helicopter blade issues as well as how to reinforce your RC helicopter’s blades to make them last longer, we’ll cover how you can create new RC helicopter blades from old, broken blades so that you can easily replace them when they break.
How to Make New RC Helicopter Blades from Broken Ones
If you fly around your RC helicopter often, then you’ve probably broken blades a few times. Not only that, but you may have experienced other issues because you didn’t notice an edge had some type of damage done to it. Later on in this article, we’ll discuss some of the common problems you’ll see when you have issues with your blades, too, but more on that in a bit.
When they break their blades, most RC helicopter owners run out to the store and purchase replacements. However, replacement blades can cost ten dollars or more per pair, and they can also be challenging to find locally especially if you don’t have an RC hobby shop anywhere in your area.
However, did you know you can save quite a bit of money by merely building new blades from the stubs of your old, broken blades? Well, now you know that you can, and below we are going to cover the steps on how you can do this.
Step #1: Materials
Below we’ll describe to you how you’ll be using the stubs of your old, broken RC helicopter blades and making new blades from them. To start with, you will need the stubs since they provide the mounting hubs you’ll need so you can set the pitch of your blades correctly. (We’ll talk about how blades being off-pitch can affect the way your helicopter flies and how you can fix that later).
After you’ve made your new blades, you’ll wind up covering them with Monokote so that they are smooth but also have extra strength—much like laminating your parts with packing tape helps prevent damage to your blades and makes them far more durable. Here are the materials you will need:
- Two plastic helicopter blade stubs of equal length with about an inch or so of the blade left.
- Four pieces of 1/16” balsa wood.
- Strong glue, such as Gorilla Glue or CA Glue
- Monokote or similar material to cover the blades
- A household iron or a covering iron, whichever one you own.
So, start by gathering up these materials. Once you are finished, you can move onto step two.
Step #2: Cut to the Correct Size
Now you’ll need to cut your helicopter blade pieces to the correct size. Get your stubs and your balsa sheets, and cut these to match the current blades of your helicopter. You may need to adjust dimensions and cuts because RC helicopter blade sizing can fluctuate.
Step #3: Glue Your Sandwich
Next, you’ll want to glue, so you make a sandwich with the stub in the middle and the sheets on the outside of the stubs. Make sure you also use two ball sheets per blade that you use. You’ll need to glue your part and clamp it down well securely. Pay close attention to the stub area because you want a strong adhesion, so the balsa connects well to the stub. When you are done, you should have a gentle curve at the end of the stub that looks less curved around the tip’s end.
Step 4: Cut the Balsa Blade Down
Now you’ll want to cut your balsa blade back down to the blade’s original size. Grab one of your store-bought parts or an old blade to use for guidance and cut your blasé down to the right size for your helicopter blade. As you get experience doing this, you can start cutting your blades in ways you find beneficial for the way you fly your RC helicopter.
For example, I tend to cut my blades, so they are shorter than my original edges. However, I make them a bit wider at the same time. When I did this, I was able to get better rotor speeds when I wanted to hover, and I also found that my helicopter was more stable as it flew, too. By experimenting with your blades during this step, you might be able to up your game a bit, depending on the type of RC helicopter that you own.
So, you’ll need to plan on experimenting a bit depending on what type of helicopter you have. The first time you cut your blades, consider making them larger and longer. Then, attach them before you cover them to see how they work. If you don’t like them, you can adjust them down and try them again to get the size you feel is just right. Remember, make sure you do this before you cover your blades.
Step #5: Sand the Airfoil Shape
Next, you’ll need to sand down the blade or blades you’ve made, so the edge has a rounded shape that is also tapered. You should be able to figure this out by looking at your commercial blades and turning the tips of your new blades to resemble them.
When you work on this step, you’ll need to ensure your blades also have the same weight and balance as your other blades. If you don’t make sure everything is even, you’ll hear a heavy vibration whenever you take your helicopter out flying.
Step #6: Cover Your Helicopter Blades
Now that your blades are sanded and shaped, you’ll want to cover them with something, so your blades are both reinforced and durable. We recommend using Monokote to cover them, but you can also use the standard R/C covering, too, if you prefer. Keep in mind that the lighter your covering, the better the performance you’ll get from your helicopter.
You’ll need your iron to cover your blades and follow the directions that come with whatever covering you decide to use. However, no matter what cover you use, you’ll need to make sure that it’s smooth by the time you are done. You’ll also need to make sure the amount of cover you are using is consistent as you lay it down so that you don’t throw off the balance of your blades.
Step #7: Install and Fly
Now you need to install your blades as you usually would, and you should be ready to fly.
Now that you know how to fix and replace damaged blades, we’ll discuss another aspect of RC helicopter blade care you’ll need to know about to correctly fly your vehicle: the blade pivots, the fly bar, and the toilet bowl effect.
What is the Toilet Bowl Effect?
All RC helicopters are susceptible to experiencing the toilet bowl effect. If your RC helicopter has a micro coaxial, it’s even more prone to experiencing the toilet bowl effect. So, what is the toilet bowl effect? Much like the name sounds, when an RC helicopter experiences the toilet bowl effect, it will act the same way as it would if it were being flushed down a toilet.
The description seems a little inaccurate, however. In reality, when your RC helicopter experiences this, it will start rotating in a circle without its nose turning correctly. It will feel like your RC helicopter only responds when you give it cyclic commands exclusively, and the trunk will remain forward without turning.
There are two reasons for the toilet bowl effect when you fly an RC helicopter, the fly bar and the blade pivots on your RC helicopter. So, yes, blade issues can create the toilet bowl effect, and that’s why we’ll tell you what you can do to fix this problem.
Fixing the Toilet Bowl Effect
If you’ve got a solid fly bar, it’s probably because the upper rotor blade balls are too tight, so your blades are not operating correctly. Now that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily need to replace your blades entirely, but sometimes, you might need to do just that.
If you notice your helicopter is experiencing the toilet bowl effect and you’ve got a solid fly bar, you should disconnect your fly bar’s links and start pivoting the fly bar to see its movement if your fly bar is moving around freely. Your fly bar should feel slightly loose in the head area as well. However, if it feels very tight or you already know your helicopter is experiencing the toilet bowl effect when it flies around, then you’ve got some work to do, and that includes your blades.
Step #1: Use Sandpaper on the Blades Ball Links
If your fly bar feels tight, you should grab 400-600 grit sandpaper and start working around the pivot points on your fly bar and the blades. It also helps to apply a small amount of silicone spray so that things move freely. Avoid using dense sprays or anything like WD-40 when you perform this step because petroleum-based sprays will attract dirt and cause other problems. If you are out of silicone spray, don’t spray anything in this area.
However, this won’t be the only area you will want to sand. You’ll also need to take a look at your ball links on your blades to see if they are stiff. If they are rigid, these ball links are most likely feeling that way because of the molding process. You’ll need your 400-600 grit sandpaper again and polish off the ball links you find on the fly bar and your rotor blade. That way, you are getting rid of imperfections that could be creating the tightness. Once you’ve done that, snap everything back on and check on it again.
Once you are done with this step, the link on the blades and the fly bar area should move quickly. It should feel slightly loose on the ball connecting to the blade and the fly bar areas.
#2 Sizing Your Fly Bar and Blade Balls
Once the balls are ready, you’ll need to move onto sizing your fly bar and blade balls. You can purchase ball link sizing tools if you want, but honestly, all you need is a pair of needle-nose pliers. Put the link back on the ball in the fly bar and blade areas and squeeze them with your needle nose pliers. Make sure they are moving well. Don’t forget to add a little more silicone spray again at this point if you have it.
At the end of this step, the balls on the fly bar and the blades should be simple to move. Make sure everything feels loose enough to move around.
#3 Check the Upper Blade Pivots
Now you’ll need to check the upper blade pivots as well to make sure they are a bit loose, just like the other areas you checked on. Often, hair or something gets trapped in between the blade and the head area, and if it binds, it can create the toilet bowl effect. So, you might need to do some cleaning at this point.
Also, from simple wear and tear, you can wind up with a gummy residue on your blade pivots and blades. If you can clean the blades and salvage them, do so. However, if your blades look like they need a replacement, this is the time to do that using the steps we gave you above.
You won’t always need to replace your blades at this point. If you feel your blades are salvageable, then grab a Q-tip with some isopropyl alcohol and clean out the entire area. It will take several Q-tips because you probably have a lot of dirt and grime. Also, if you don’t do this type of cleaning regularly, you should perhaps consider doing it more often.
Once you are done cleaning, you’ll re-lube your pin area again with silicone spray if you have them, put the blades back on (whether they are old or new), and you are ready to take your RC helicopter out on a flight test.
If you still notice you are experiencing a toilet bowl effect, you’ll need to revisit the process because something is probably still too tight, or too dirty. Or if you decided you could reuse your old blades, it might be time to change them out and try again.
Tracking and Balancing
Whenever you install new blades or repair damaged ones you will want to make sure that they are properly balanced and working properly. The video below thoroughly explains how to make sure that your helicopter is working perfectly.
Now that you know how to repair and replace your RC helicopter blades whenever they break, or when you experience the toilet bowl effect, you should be good to go. So, now it’s time for you to get back to flying!
Replacing the blades is quite a simple process especially if you just purchase a new set of blades rather than making them yourself. For some people it makes more sense to just buy the blades while other people prefer to have the customization that comes with making their own replacement blades.
If your RC helicopter is having issues flying straight too I have written an article that explains that issue and what you can do to fix it. You can find that article here.