New Product and January Update

Per a customer request, I’ve developed a new product, now available for all!  It is a laser-cut Gizmo Geezer Nose Block Kit for the Jimmie Allen Skokie (BA Cabin).  Just stack/glue these together and add the 1/64th plywood thrust plate and then match it up to your model.  The clear advantage is the precisely placed hole ready for the 3-lobed Gizmo Geezer Adjustable Thrust Button.  For you, it’s only 3 bucks.

VPS-Skokie GG nb Kit

 

2016 has has been an adventure already.  As I prepared for the long New Year’s weekend Thursday night, the 31st of December, I had a rude jolt about 8pm – my laser cutter stopped working.  No cutting over that long weekend!  and I had to wait until Monday afternoon to contact the west coast supplier of my laser cutter.  I called and told them I thought the controller card was bad.  They said “ok, we will run through some things to check that out, but first – your cutter is an older model, so we can only support you via email.” Lol, what?  Yup.  All future communication was done via email.

After a few days, I mailed out the controller card for replacement.  A new one was returned and I was back burning up the balsa – two weeks after it went out.

That delayed some orders, but mostly, it delayed other plans.  I wanted to upgrade my computer in January, but not knowing how much the laser was going to cost, I put that on hold.  After awhile, I did buy a new computer, transferred the old one to light duty (printing shipping labels int he basement), and reinstalled all important software on the new one.

Then – and this one impacts you, my customers, even more directly – the Post Office decided to raise their shipping rates.  I have been a loyal customer of the USPS since I started, and I have always appreciated the fact that I can print postage right from their website and get a discount from the cost if I took the packages to the Post Office without a subscription fee.  They also will pick up at my house, if I let them know the day before, so everyone is happy – until 18 January, that is.

The USPS decided to drop the web site discount – that, combined with the price hike for postage gave me sticker shock!  It forced me to jump over to a postal supplier that charges a monthly fee.  However, because they still offer a discount, I was able to minimize the increase that I am charging you – states surrounding Michigan will see no increase.  The rest of the country will see my flat fee only go up by 50 cents.

While I did that, I thought it best to fully integrate hardware and software – now my postal scale is hooked to the computer and read by the postal software.  Also, orders and addresses are imported from my website and updated as shipped when I purchase postage.  I purchased a dedicated thermal label printer to print on rolled labels.  All of this has really sped up the postage process of my shipping.   I invested in technology to save that time and money for other things!

Other than that, all is just the same as ever.  I haven’t built since I finished the Elmendorf Special, but should have a new plane underway by this weekend.  I have been working at the virtual drafting board to create new plans, one of which is “commissioned” and under deadline.

I realized the other day that February is nearly here and my first contest is at the beginning of April – that’s only 2 months away!  That’s good and bad:  good because soon I get to fly again; bad because I don’t have the 16 models built yet!  3.8 have been completed and 3 others have been repaired.  I should have one or two others done by flying season – and I hope to have another “big” surprise for Geneseo in July (but I better start building!)

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Winter Build #4 – Elmendorf Special

This will be my Flying Aces Club Greve Racer for 2016.  It is the Keith Rider R-5 in its original colors – the Elmendorf Special (2 years before the Marcoux-Bromberg Jackrabbit).  I started this just before Christmas, so it’s been three weeks.  I vacuformed the canopy yesterday (and one for Jack’s Jackrabbit) and tried my hand at a pilot.  This was also vacuformed, but by Chris Boehm.

This will also be a short kit – it is essentially the same as the Jackrabbit, but with changes to the fuselage – and the plan and laser cut parts will reflect those changes.  It is based off Tom Nallen’s design and will build to the same 16″ span.  My prototype (yet to fly – its near-blizzard conditions out there today) weighs in at 20.5 grams without rubber.

As for the color, Robert Hirsch says it was “Cream (band-aid)” – so…I selected this peach/tan color.

I will have a gallery set up on this site soon for this model and might even include tissue-printing files.  In the mean time, here are some photos:

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2015-2016 Year End Review

Happy New Year!

This is a year-end message from Volare Products, where I will try to summarize the last year.  Basically, it’s a big THANK YOU to all of my customers, flying buddies, and friends.  The flying season just whizzed by – here in Michigan, the season is from March/April through October/November (depending on the weather).  I didn’t get to fly as much as I wanted, but I never do!

The business had a fine year, duplicating the success of 2014.  I feel that I have about reached the limit with what I can do with a part-time, after-hours business – and maybe some of you have felt that, too (poor communications, delayed receipt of orders).  My bout of bronchitis in November and December really impacted my service to you, and I apologize.  On the bright side, I was able to put out 7 new laser cut kits in 2015; we are up to 19 different planes now (I think).  These short kits are something I really enjoy.  Here’s a little description of my business vision about the kits:

Personally, I really never liked cutting formers and ribs – it was a tedious and painful part of the building process.  I can draw up parts (yes, it probably takes as long or longer than hand cutting the parts) and produce the “exact” items required.  And, unlike hand cutting, that initial time investment pays off in the end, as I can reproduce the parts any time I want.

I can share that ability with my customers.  And I can pass on that savings to you.  I set my prices at what I believe is a reasonable rate.  True, you don’t get all the fancy bells and whistles that come with a beautiful box kit – BUT, my wood is generally better than most kits I have seen AND when I do provide a full kit, the prop and rubber I provide is what I used to get the prototype flying in the first place (not a too-small prop and too-short rubber).  And speaking of prototypes, I won’t offer you a kit that hasn’t been built and flown – in fact, I have one kit “ready” except for the fact that the prototypes I have seen fly (built by friends) do not fly to my satisfaction.  So that one sits on the shelf until I decide to mess with it and make it fly – which may be never!

Anyway, I hope you think of my kits the same way that I do:  good products at a good value.

We tried some new things in 2015, and some of them proved themselves.  One thing that is still up in the air; we did NOT set up to sell at the Toledo r/c show last April.  I only ever set up on Saturday, and – truth be told – the sales profit that we usually made was likely eaten up by the travel expenses, feeding the crew (before, during, and after) and the discontent of said crew not enjoying the experience.  So, we probably won’t be back trying to sell Free Flight stuff at an r/c show.
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We bought a 15-foot tall VOLARE PRODUCTS banner to fly at events – that worked out well – the size, shape, and color can be seen across the field and it announces our presence on the flight line.  In 2014, I bought a junky old camping trailer to haul my stuff.  Well, it proved its worth – I was able to haul all of my flying gear and models, all of my sales goods, and my chase bike to the larger shows.  It proved its worth enough that I made a large investment and bought a large, not-junky camper that you may have seen in September at Muncie.  I really like staying on the field and being able to fly in the evenings and eat and talk with my flying buddies way after dark.
trailer
One thing that we did that we feel was a great success was our Customer Appreciation Hot Dog giveaway.  Jack and I did this at the FAC Outdoor Champs in September.  I can’t take credit for the idea (AMA/NFFS have been doing this for years at the Nats), but we decided to try it and give back to the FAC and to our customers.  We cooked up all the hot dogs we brought, and I don’t think anyone went away hungry, even Don DeCook’s dog had one!  We will continue this into the future.  It was just a small gesture; I hope everyone knows that I truly appreciate them as customers and as flying friends.
dogs
Looking forward –  I think 2016 will be a significant year.  For one thing, the business is now officially “Volare Products” (registered with the State of Michigan).  For those that don’t know, that is the name I used back in the early ’90s when I started selling plans.  When I jumped in with both feet and bought Shorty’s Basement, I kept that name for the name recognition.  Not to slight Dan and Carole Kane, but I have always had it in my mind to transition their business and create my own name and brand.  If I look back at the product line when I took over and compare it to what I have today, there are significant differences.  Yes, my product line is particularly focused, but that focus is similar to what I mentioned about the kits – I don’t like to offer and sell things that I don’t know anything about.  That’s why you don’t find electrics or r/c or FAI-style or AMA Gas items in my catalog – some, I flat-out don’t have interest in and others I know nothing about.  I’m not wanting to stand in front of a customer and sell them something (telling them how great it is) when I haven’t a clue about it.

Future cures for current problems.  Any of my regular customers probably have noticed some issues with my website and such:  sometimes inventory quantities and stock-on-hand values are wrong and sometimes items are actually out of stock for a long time.  Sometimes orders get delayed.  This probably bothers me more than most of you.  However, it’s a pretty shabby way to run a business.  The problem is, this business is run by one guy alone – after he gets done with a real 40-hour job in the evenings and weekends.  I truly appreciate everyone that accepts that and tells me “no rush” and so on.  But part of my plans for 2016 are to change that.  If everything goes per design, I will be able to dedicate may more hours to the business after June 2016.  I will have served the Department of Defense, as a civilian, for 35 years in June and will be eligible to retire.  So I expect to be able to work this business in a much more dedicated manner in the second half of the year.   And maybe I can get more of those short kits made up; I’ve got over a dozen designs in process or planning now and there’s always more models to build!

Small things on deck:  keep refining Superior Props, possible tissue printing templates for download, new how-to videos, new “today at the flying field” videos,  who knows what else might pop up!

Thanks again to everyone out there in cyber-land.  Thanks to the Flying Aces Club and to the Cloudbusters.  And thanks to my family:  Patricia, Jackson, and Tristan – they support me every day.  Happy New Year everyone; don’t hesitate to contact me with questions or suggestions.  Email is most efficient!

–george

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New Short Kit – Keith Rider R-5 Jackrabbit

Finally, I am able to release this for sale – the Keith Rider R-5 Marcoux-Bromberg “Jackrabbit”; a Tom Nallen design.  This 16″ span model is a very popular model and has been popular for years.  It is a simple plane to build and a great flyer.  I asked Tom for permission to kit this and he graciously granted.

I did make some minor changes to his plan, some to adjust the layout for a more scale-like representation and some for ease of construction and a little bit of strength (Tom used 1/16″ square for both the leading edge and trailing edge).  In this short kit, you get two sheets of laser-cut parts and two 11″x17″ newly drawn plan pages.

Oliver Sand, a teen-aged modeler in NYC, built the prototype shown here.  My son, Jack, also built one, but the weather here has not let us test it.  Oliver has tested his kit and here is a video he shot of a TEST flight:

Here is a photo of his bones:

R5kit02

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Modeling Ambition and the Real World

Winter is here in the northern half of North America and, traditionally, this means it is building season.  As the flying season winds down (months ago), I assume most modelers go through the routine that I do:  they assess their existing models, determine which need nothing, which need repairs, and which need replaced.  Every year about this time, I create a list of planned builds for the next flying season.  Often, I over-estimate my capacity to build and, what was a long list of desires, turns into a short list of models.

This year may be a record.  According to my scratch pad, I have marked down about a possible 25 different models in 19 different categories.  In October, I told myself that I have five months before spring and I “might” be able to get 6 models built in that time.  (Of course, that is shoe-horned in between a full time job, a part time job maintaining a hobby business, and family duties.)

What I identified as “December Build #1” should really be called “Winter Build #3″, since that is the real timeframe and it puts the plane in its proper order. I completed OT Stick Wanderer, I have a 24” Comper Swift (15 year old bones) nearly covered, and now the Bad Axe Embryo.  Here is a shot of the covered fuselage.  Black Esaki, hand colored with Sharpie ink, with a bond paper yellow flash.  If I keep my messiness very limited and short in duration, I can build in the living room in a 5′ x 10′ area while watching football or evening TV.  By putting my building time in these after-hours, I can accomplish these goals without too much interference from the aforementioned obligations.

On my to-do list are other planes where I have all of the design work completed – that means no need to draw plans and layout parts before building:  Those are two Phantom Flashes (unless I really screw up, one will certainly fly away), the Stout-Ford 2-AT, and a rework of the Tom Nallen Jackrabbit – the Elmendorf Special.  The Phantom Flashes will be delayed for later (last minute builds), but the other two are likely to be next on the building board.  Oh, I have an SE5a that needs covered that isn’t even on the list.

Of the 25 different planes, those seven are the only ones that I have complete plans and parts for.  All the rest require drafting and design before parts can be cut.  That’s a lot of additional work and a big reason that I might not get very many more built this winter.   Some will be potential products for sale, but others will just be for me.  Speaking of products for sale, here is a list of the next short kits that will be available very soon:

Bad Axe Embryo (need to finish packaging)
Tom Nallen’s Jackrabbit race plane (prototype build and flown, need to finish packaging)
Pacific Ace Jr Old Timer (need to confirm some parts fitment and packaging)
Elmendorf Special race plane (need to build prototype, but it is essentially a Jackrabbit, finish packaging)

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December Build #1 – Bad Axe Embryo

Here is an Embryo I put together this weekend.  This has been my best flying Embryo – my first one won its first contest and then was lost when it would just not come out of a thermal.  Jack built one and – guess what – he lost his, too.  These are Big Field models; I wouldn’t even fly mine at our club park.

It is called the Bad Axe; a strange name.  It is a modified Don Campbell Tomahawk.  Since Don was a Cloudbuster here in Michigan, I decided to rename this modification by playing on the Tomahawk name with the name of a small town in Michigan – Bad Axe.

Anyway, hopefully, I can crank out another model in December (hence the December #1).  As I built this model, I made adjustments to each part that needed changing from the baseline Tomahawk parts, there are several.  By doing so, I’ve created another Short Kit.  I will release it some time this winter.

BadAxeKit01

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New Ikara Indoor Props – #SciOly ?

I forgot I bought these this summer – never got them online until tonight.  These might be good for Science Olympiad or NoCal flyers – or who knows what other Indoor categories?

I believe I now have all of the different Ikara Indoor Propellers.  Each one comes with the bearing hanger, too.

Find them in their own section:  Props/Ikara Indoor

IkaraIndoorAll

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FOR SALE – “Experimental” Prop

In the last batch of prop blanks from the Prop Factory (my dad), I received a couple of blanks that were strange in appearance.  The pitch was as advertised but the block layout was shifted (due to an error in machine set up).  I decided that these were so strange that I did not want to sell them to a customer base that loves every aspect of wooden props – including how nice and symmetrical a blank should look.

So, I decided to see if I could make a finished product that would look good.  The photos show the result.  I think the finished prop looks fine, but I will let the public decide!

This is a 10″ Diameter x 14″ Pitch regular rotation balsa prop for Rubber Powered Free Flight.  Notice the “scimitar” shape to the blades – this was due to the layout issues mentioned above – I could not get a symmetrical blade out of this blank.  The maximum blade width is about 1.25″

This was made from 5-pound balsa and it now weighs 1.7 grams as shown.  It will need final finish (dope, CA, glassing – your choice), a central hub installed (currently a 3/32″ hole), and some sort of drive/freewheeler.  These are left to the buyer.  Also, there has been no effort to balance the prop, although it is nearly balanced.  I also carved in a bit of under-camber into the blades.

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Price:  $20 postage included, shipped USPS Priority to anywhere in the United States (international postage will be greater).
Payment:  PayPal preferred.
Contact me ONLINE (email, Facebook post, Facebook Messenger, etc.) if you want this prop.  We will work from first to contact me has first opportunity.

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Customer Photos! – Roy Courtney

Long time flying friend, Roy Courtney, sent in two photos of some of his Volare Products Embryos.

Here is his Big Cat

Big Cat by Roy Courtney

And here is his Durham Mystery

Durham Mystery Plane by Roy Courtney

Both should be great flyers – Thanks Roy!

If you would like to see your photos here, just send them on in to me.

Just an update on me – I’m slowly getting better.  I still have a hard cough remaining from the bronchitis and my right ear is still plugged, but I am definitely getting better.  I have sent out some orders, but still have a significant stack that piled up while I wasn’t feeling like doing anything.  I will get these out as soon as I can.  Thanks for being patient.  –george

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The Winds of November

Here is my “fortune” from fried rice last night…

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Expanding my business – ask my son:  that is on my mind every day.  But these past couple of days shows just how fragile a one-man shop really is.  It’s been a few days since I posted.  I feel like it’s been forever.  Sickness grabbed ahold of me and knocked me down.  I’m starting to get better, but not fast enough.  I did absolutely nothing for about 5 days, fighting what is thought to be some sort of viral bronchitis.  I haven’t been knocked out like this in ages.

As a result, no building, no site updates, no orders filled – and people are getting antsy.  I finally got some orders packed last night and might get some packed tonight.  I’m back at my job (hadn’t missed due to extended sickness in about 5 years), but working means resting in the evenings, so it all will be slow going.

However,  I do have new products in the pipeline.  Some are commercial items that I will be distributing, some are items I picked up that I thought modelers might be interested in, and there are some more Short Kits coming – one is very close as a  prototype has already been built and flown, and a couple would need the plan packages completed.  And of course, Superior Props – we keep getting requests for new props and we get them out the door as soon as we can.

Also, I have had a couple of customers send in photos of their completed Volare Products.  I’ll post them soon.

So, thanks for hanging in there with me.

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