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   TIPS & TRICKS - How to balance rotor blades with no special equipment

We all need to balance the main rotor blades of our helicopters, as this is an essential part of the mechanical setup, and because if the blades are not balanced correctly, the helicopter will not fly well, and may not even fly at all.

There are several different types of commercially available tools to help you do this task, but items such as a blade balancer will cost around 10 or more.  You can do this without purchasing such items

There are two parts to balancing rotor blades.  Each is described briefly below...

1 - Find the centre of gravity of EACH BLADE INDIVIDUALLY

This means getting something on which you can balance a single rotor blade to find its balance point at the centre. Once found, you mark that point with a pencil or marker pen or similar, then repeat for the second blade. Check to ensure that BOTH BLADES have the same point of balance along their length.  

If they don't have the same balance point, you need to add weight to the outer end of the blade that has the balance point further INWARDS TOWARD THE ROOT until they do match exactly.  Most of use something like coloured electrical tape for this task.

The easiest way to find the centre of balance of a blade is to find an old Stanley knife blade or similar, and an old piece of 1 inch or 2 inch square wood about 4 inches long. Use a hobby hacksaw, or even the Stanley knife itself to score a thin groove across the wood just wide enough and deep enough to let you force the old Stanley knife blade into it with the BLADE side UPWARDS.  If necessary, glue the blade into place, although you should not need to do so.

Now you have a perfect fulcrum to lay the blades across and to let you find the balance point.

2 - Balance EACH BLADE against the other BLADE

This needs a little more work, but basically all you are doing is ensuring that each blade weighs exactly the same as the other blade. If they don't, you add weight to the CENTRE OF THE LIGHTER BLADE where the centre of balance is for that blade.  That is why you marked it in step 1 !

The easiest way to do this is to get a piece of nice STRAIGHT threaded rod the same diameter as the bolt that holds your blades onto the head.  It only needs to be about 6 inches long. You will also need a pair of nuts to fit the thread.

Slide the rod through the mounting holes of both blades, ensuring that the leading edges point in OPPOSITE directions (as if they are fitted to your helicopter).  Tighten the nuts up on either side so that the blades cannot move by themselves, and get them as straight as you possibly can, as if they were fitted on your helicopter.

Now find a couple of old tins, or jars or pieces of smooth wood, or whatever that are both the same height and are smooth enough so that they will let the outer ends of the rod roll freely.  Put the blades on the supports with the blades as horizontally level as possible, and wait for them to settle until they are totally still.  Then use a ruler or whatever else you have to measure the distance of both tips from the bench.  When they are both the same YOU ARE FINISHED.

Make sure that the bench is level. If it is not level you can still do this by measuring the height of both blades, and then repeating it with the blades pointing the opposite way by simply turning them around on the supports.  If the measurements you take are the same at both ends as previously, then if you think about it, they are in balance.

I hope this makes balancing your blades a little easier and cheaper.

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