In the many months since we took over Superior Props, we have dedicated much time to reviewing the manufacturing processes, quality control, and accuracy.
For example, we have developed an accurate pitch gauge to check the output product. This caused us to rework all of the pitch templates to ensure the same pitch across the entire blade – both blades (true helical pitch). We have cleaned up the hub section and tapered the thickness of the blades.
Also, We have done research on many, many Old Time propellers. The Cloud Tramp props shown here have all been made to match Charles Hampson Grant’s specifications in his book “Gateway to Aero-Science”. This includes length, width, thickness, and pitch. We are gathering all the OT Prop Data we can to provide propellers just the way the designers wanted. We have many specs, but we would love to have prop specs provided from customers.
We are reporting the calculated density of each blank. This is done after the raw block is cut and before it is machined. The volume is measured and the block is weighed and the density is calculated. While we cannot offer much in the way of the customer density selection, we do allow thicker blades on the lighter densities so the customer has wood remaining for strength.
The values shown here are from our latest batch of wood. We had a supply of wood but it ran out when as we produced propellers. Strangely, it had a wide range of densities – 7-16 lbs/cu ft. This box, has some very fine wood; it seems to be 5-8 pound wood.
This is all in an effort to offer the best propellers we can. And we will continue to improve wherever we can.
I finally finished the packaging for The Wisp. The Short Kit includes 2 laser cut sheets of wood and a large, newly-drawn plan for this 25″ span Cabin ship from the January 1946 Model Airplane News. Find it in The Basement under VPS Kits.
I had a visitor yesterday; John Jackson from the Cloudbusters. As I gave him a quick and dirty (the shop is a terrible mess) tour, he was very interested to see the laser cutter in action. I gave him a show and he suggested that I post a video online. Good idea.
Below is a 5-minute video of my laser cutter in action. It highlights the Phantom Flash kit that I produce, but is fully representative of all the kits that I do. Just to be clear, EVERY Volare Products Laser Cut kit is done right here on this machine. I do every one; I do not farm out the work. In fact, not only do I cut all the parts, but I have to draw all the plans and parts in CAD before I can ever cut a single part. Whether it is my own design, someone else’s design that I am producing, or an Old Timer that I am reproducing, I have to draw or trace every plan and part.
In addition, to date, there has not been a single Volare Products kit produced that has not been built and tested for fit and accuracy before being offered for sale. This fits right in with a position I took when I first started selling my own plans over 20 years ago: all planes have been built and tested and flown for, at least, the Flying Aces Club minimum flight time of 20 seconds. I don’t want to offer something for sale that can’t be used as intended – that is, flying.
It was a chilly, but nice, day for our last Outdoor contest of the year up here in Michigan. When I got my Phantom Flash out of the box, I saw that it had a “potato-chip” stabilizer. Oh well, it was the only one I brought. The first flight was an 82-second flight. It was during the best part of the day. The air was still calm and the temps were starting to warm up. (It was about 25 degrees when we started the contest. By the end of the contest, it was in the high 40s.)
I was encouraged. This poor plane had spent one night outside this year and the wing had to be recovered. I am sure I will be building a new one this winter. But, sometimes our little planes do all they can do. They fly as best as they can. Sometime they seem like little puppies; so eager to please. Even with its warped tail, this plane flew like it was perfectly balanced. No rubber motor weight shift needed on launch, Take offs were straight up, with a stall to level flight and another climb. And then it settled into large, slow circles.
The second flight was 85 seconds. No one else had flown Phantom Flash at the time, but I gave it one more flight, since it wanted to fly. I put in the winds, called for a time and let it ROG one more time. Up it went – climb, stall, flatten, climb, flatten, circle. As the motor ran down, the plane never lost altitude. In fact, it’s nice trim allowed it to rise and rise. I could see that the motor came off the front and was hanging on the rear. But it was perfectly trimmed. I chased and stopped. Chased and stopped. Chased and stopped three or four or five times. Finally, it came down on the far end of the field. I got back and was told it was a 4:16 flight! The 82, 85, 120 was good enough for a win in Phantom Flash, against 4 other flyers.
Time to start promoting the business…I have a large lot of 3″ Vinyl Stickers and an initial batch of T-shirts in Medium, Large, X-Large, and XX-Large. The stickers are 50 cents each (maybe less!) and the T-shirts are $15 each. Get yours today!
Years ago (nearly 20 years now!) , I published a hard copy photo index to the marvelous EEA book “the Golden Age of Air Racing – pre 1940″ by Schmid & Weaver. I created the index for my own use because I spent literally hundreds of hours pouring over the photos, trying to learn all I could about the fascinating race planes.
I’ve been asked a couple of times to resume publication. I finally decided to do just that, but in a different media. I use WordPress for this web site and I found a plug-in that would allow tables to be displayed AND sorted. So…I installed the plug-in, converted my old format to a compatible one, and have published this work online – free to anyone that wants to use it.
There are nearly 850 images referenced and you can sort by any of the column headers by simply clicking on the column header. Do you want them sorted by page? Click Page. Do you want them sorted by Plane Name? Click Plane. Do you want to find all the 3-views in the book? Click on Notes.
There is only one minor problem – the page may appear blank when you go to it. I guess the table needs to load properly, I don’t know. But I have found that if you hit REFRESH (once, twice, more?) the data will be displayed. It’s a big table, so be prepared to scroll down!
Enjoy – follow the link below – or look on the menu above under “HOW-TO”
It was a busy Sunday, today. The photo below shows a little of what was going on – that’s about enough laser cutting for 20 short kits, all done today. Included in that is the first set of production Wisp kits; as soon as I get some graphics done, I will have the Wisp Short Kits on the site – maybe by the end of the week.
Also, I packed half a dozen orders, worked on new plans, and worked on making some stock for sale.
I am very close to two new laser-cut short kits – NoCals this time. One has been built and proven, the other is new. I won’t tell you all what they are just yet – maybe in November.
Also, I am working on the 2016 One-Design for the FAC Outdoor Champs. Work has to be done by January, so, I’ve got to get cracking on that. And then…I will be starting work on a very successful and proven Greve Racer design; again, a short kit with options to build in one of two versions.
Of course, I have about 15 different planes I want to build over the winter for next year. I know I won’t get nearly that many built, but you gotta dream big!
Now available: our Volare Products SHORT KIT for the Durham Mystery Plane Embryo. The Short Kit contains the newly redrawn plan and two sheets of laser-cut parts. Also, find out what is the mystery! All this for $10 plus shipping. Find it here: Mystery in the Basement
It never lets up here. I’ve been packing orders, restocking supplies, and working on new products.
On the Superior Props side, we are fine tuning the pitch templates and soon will have the best propeller blanks to date.
In the Basement, I’ve restocked many supplies, but many will be happy that Gizmo Geezer Nose Buttons are now back in stock! These go fast when the serious modelers find out I get a new batch. I now carry 1.25″ reinforced abrasive discs and mandrels. These are very reasonably priced.
In addition, I’ve managed to pick up several items from estates. The first two are Specialty Winders: a Blazhevych 4:1 F1B winder with Torque Meter, and a Wilder 20:1 Winder plus attachable Wilder Torque Meter. Soon to come, I have two great stooges and many commercial kits at bargain prices.
Also, I am finalizing two kits: the Wisp and the Durham Mystery Plane. They will both be short kits, but there is a possibility that The Durham might develop into a full kit. These are nearly ready.
On the drawing board are two new plans: a new Beginner’s Peanut and a new Embryo. Over the winter, I will be working on the next One-Design for the 2016 Cloudbusters’ FAC Outdoor Contest (we have to plan these nearly two years in advance).
I was excited about the Wisp. This was my first 2 Bit model (Old Time ROG models with 26″ span or less) and I spent a lot of time making it look beautiful (if I do say so myself). In addition, there was additional time spent installing my first working DT. At 29 grams and 75 square inches, it just might need that DT. I built the model per plan, including the carved prop (8″D x 6.25″P) and the 3″ per tip dihedral. These two things concerned me – my intuition was telling me both were strange numbers. Then, right before I left for Muncie, I re-read the MAN article – it said “up to 2 inches per tip” but the plan clearly says 3″ per tip – very frustrating.
I arrived in Muncie on Friday with plenty of time for testing before the Sat/Sun contest. Trimming out, the plane flies, but not beautifully. It seems to pull to the right for some strange reason, and there is a lot of wing-rocking. Then there is a sharp, right-hand, spiral dive when the power is low. After testing off and on through Saturday (2 Bit is on Sunday), I bit the bullet and cut the pretty tissue, the spar, LE, and TE and reset the dihedral to about 2″ per tip. I also changed to a 7.875″ Czech plastic prop. These changes improved the flights, but it still needs more work. I was able to coax flights of 85 seconds or so, but I am still battling the right hand spiral. I am sure it is a free-wheeling issue and I hope to get it sorted out. Here is an in-flight shot of the Wisp – it sure looks pretty in the air.