HOW-TO – Repairing my Elmendorf Special

The Greve Race Mass Launch at the 2016 FAC Nats was held in a veritable gale.  I held little hope that my entry would make it to the last round, and the wind forced it down in the first round – with damage.  Today I repaired it as shown in these photos.

Repair1Repair2Repair3Repair4Repair5Repair6It’s not a perfect repair, but I am satisfied and we will be flying again next week at the AMA Nats.

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July Kit Progress

While July is extremely busy (two multi-day contests and filling resulting delayed orders), it is also my first month of full time dedication to Volare Products.  We will be releasing two more kits soon, both proven, of course.

The T-37 Tweet Jet Cat glider will be assembled as a FULL kit – It will include plans, photo sheet, 3 sheets of different sized laser-cut wood, bass wood, nose weight, stickers for marking, carbon fiber rod for fuselage stiffness, AND a full-size working catapult.  This kit will be $20.  At least six of these have been built, proving and improving the design (it may be our most-tested kit).  I need a little more time to package some of these, but they will be available soon.

I am really excited about the second kit for this month – it is a popular and well-flying Old Timer that has not been kitted before (to my knowledge).  It will fit into FAC Old Time Cabin and FAC 2-Bit Plus One.  It is the famous King Harry!  Every one of these I have seen flies like gangbusters.  I asked Don DeLoach and Pete Azure to build the prototypes -Pete’s flew away at Geneseo last week!  Here are some photos of Pete’s model and mine that I built this week (I’ll be testing and flying it next week at the AMA Nats):

HarryKit02

HarryKit04The short kit will include 2 sheets of plans, a copy of the Aeromodeller plan, and 3 sheets of laser-cut balsa.  The Short Kit is $10 and a Combo Pack that includes a Superior Props 10″ King Harry prop blank is $16 (you save $2).  The King Harry kits are available on my site right now.

In the Pipeline:

I have another Old Timer getting ready to ship out as a prototype, a popular simple stick model in development, possibly a larger version of the Tweet JetCat, and I made some deals/agreements to produce some popular models by other designers – these will be in the Peanut/Scale/Dime areas.

Now back to filling orders, stocking shelves, and laundry!

 

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2016 FAC Nats – Spirit (with video)

Much is said about “the Spirit of the FAC”, but what is it?  Sure, there is the competition, but it is the most good-natured competition – laid back and fun.  If I win, that is great, but just being with others of a like mind and hobby is the best.  Here are two other examples; one of my own spirit and one of another person.

On Day one, our “camp” was starting to fly or had been flying, struggling with the wind when out of nowhere a young man was passing through our area.  We were at the immediate south end of the field, and apparently, we were the first people that could be encountered because this young man found us.

His name is Michael Smith and he is from Texas.  Now it turns out he didn’t drive all the way from Texas, but he did drive over 8 hours from New Hampshire to come to the FAC Nats.  That in itself is not unusual – what is unusual is that he knew NO ONE at the Nats.  he never had built a complete Free Flight plane, did not have a local mentor, and had only watched videos on YouTube of FAC Scale Free Flight.  He convinced his pregnant wife to come with him on an adventure where he didn’t know a soul.  That’s some FAC Spirit.

We, in the Roscoe Turner and Cloudbusters squadrons welcomed him and gave him the general layout and introduced him to some other modelers.  Micheal spent much time wandering, exploring, talking, learning as much as possible.  Day2 was going to be a busy day for Jack and I and I suggested that Micheal and Lorena could sit under our canopy and observe how things went, if they liked.  They did and Lorena avoided more sunburn.

Because of the wind, things didn’t turn out well for Jack and I – we broke a lot of planes and didn’t have the best contest, but we enjoyed our time with Michael.  Around mid-day on the third day, I had an idea.  Michael had said that the Stuka was his favorite airplane of all time – he was building a Guillows Stuka.  Fate had brought him to the right place.

I had built a Mega Scale Stuka for this contest (here’s a pic).  I hadn’t done anything with the plane since I got there other than have it on display on Day Zero.  So I showed Micheal and a couple other people my Stuka.  One thing led to another and I actually put a motor in and gave it a test flight (another story).

MegaStuka

This inspired me to give Michael a real opportunity.  Yes, he had seen many planes fly.  Yes, he had helped other modelers with their models.  He had asked a ton of questions and received more information than he could possibly absorb.  He even built a stick model on the field and gave it a flight or two.  But I decided to give him the opportunity to FLY his favorite plane.  Quietly, I dug out my Peanut Stuka and gave it a test flight.

As I was picking the little model up after the flight, Micheal came running out and said “did you just fly that?  I missed it!”  I said, “yes, I was making sure it was ready to fly because I am going to let YOU fly it.”  I think he was shocked.

I gave him the little model and had him do everything with my coaching and direction.  I told him how to stooge the model, how to pull out the propeller and grab the rubber, and take off the prop assembly.  I told him to take the blast tube and hook up the wire and insert the tube.  I told him to hook up the winder and stretch out the motor.  I told him to count his turns on the 15:1 winder and stop when he got to 100.  Then I had him feel the rubber, noting that it was still elastic and not yet hard.  I coached him to slowly move in while he put in 20 or so more turns.  Then I told him how to carefully remove the blast tube and re-attach the prop, noting which side of the nose block was up.  Finally he removed the plane from the stooge and we went out into the field.

MichaelStukaSI don’t know if he was nervous – he was very attentive and listened well.  Jack took a video of us in the field.  Because of the wind (not ideal teaching conditions), we can’t hear what I was telling him, but I have captioned the video with the important thoughts.  The flight didn’t go as I had planned – I think I told him to come off the wind just a little too much.

But I hope Micheal got an experience and a taste of what it is that we do.  To me, there is no better way to teach than with hands-on.  Watching videos is great – and importantly, it got Micheal from Texas to Geneseo – but the real learning in this complex hobby comes with mentors and hands-on.  When I was young, I had to drive a couple hours to Cleveland and it was under the mentorship of the Cleveland Stork Squadron that I finally began to have some success with my models (and I will forever be grateful).

Sharing what we know and passing on our knowledge is the only way that our hobby will survive.  The FAC is strong, but we all need to help the next modelers join our ranks.

 

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2016 FAC Nats – Stout 2-AT Mass Launch

One of the most satisfying things at the Nats for me – as Volare Products – was the Stout 2-AT One-Design Mass Launch.  We, the Cloudbusters, selected the 2-AT as the One-Design to honor our aging member, Stu Weckerly.  Stu, who is in his mid-80s and has 411 kanones to date, used to fly a Stout back in the 80s and 90s.  It was a light-weight wonder that dominated the Golden Age event.

I took Stu’s plan and developed a laser-cut short kit for an 18.5″ version that was necessarily more robust for a better scale representation and so the model would be buildable by the average modeler.  This short kit was given away as part of the registration for the 2015 FAC Outdoor Champs in Muncie last year and many have been sold since.  As a vendor, I only get a small amount of feedback on what people think of my kits.  It made me a bit apprehensive having a single event at the Nats for one of my designs.  Would many people build it?   Would the models fly?

Well, about 15 people showed up for the Mass Launch and all of the models looked – the same!  One of the issues with this plane is that out of the 11 or so 2-ATs that were built, every one was silver with black lettering.  This might make for some issues with following specific models during a mass launch, but that all worked out well, for the most part.

Here are a handful of the competitors with their planes before the first round.

Stout-Gilbert

F.S. Gilbert

Stout-Gorman

Dick Gorman

Stout-Houck

John Houck, sr

Stout-King

Matt King with Ray Rakow

Stout-Moore

Winn Moore with Jack Bredehoft

Stout-Welshans

Ted Allebone holding Mike Welshans’ Stout – prototype #1 and still flying!

Stout-Farrell

Wally Farrell

StoutFinalRound

Final Round Launch. L-R: Mike Escalante, Dave Mitchell, Winn Moore, John Houck, and ???

Stout-Mitchell

Happy winner, Dave Mitchell

Here is a long (4 minute) video of the first round.  At least two planes flew out-of-sight in that first round.  The third and final round was nearly as impressive with all planes going up and the victor winning only seconds ahead of 2nd and 3rd.  These performances were spectacular – and comforting to the kit designer and producer.

 

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Moving Onward and Upward – Volare Products

July 2nd will begin a new chapter in Volare Products and in my life, in general.  Whereas Volare Products has been a part-time, after-hours “job” for me, I will be retiring from my regular, full-time job on July 1st and will be dedicating those hours to Volare Products.  It is my hope that this translates into better service for my customers, improved accuracy on the web site, expanded product line (mostly expanding my kits), and increased activity (sales).  We shall see!

July is also the busiest month of the year for me, as I will be traveling to the FAC Nats and the AMA Nats where I will be striving to compete at the top levels and also selling product to eager customers.  Selling at contests is a terrible compromise – time dedicated to sales is time away from competition and time dedicated to flying results in sales lost.  So, when you go to one of these events and you run into me, please consider the following statements.   I will PRIMARILY be competing at the FAC Nats.  Of course, I will be set up and selling the Wednesday before competition – that will be the big day of sales.  I will have all of my stuff with me, but likely not set up to sell on the field.  Orders can be taken and they will be filled after hours, but I am in Geneseo to FLY first, and sell later.  In Muncie for the Outdoor Free Flight Nats (I won’t be at the Indoor Free Flight Nats), I will try to do as I have done in the past – that is have my stuff set up and available for purchase, but I might be out on the field flying at any given moment.  Please understand and consider these scenarios.

One way that you can help relieve my conflict (sell or fly) is to PRE-ORDER!  Go on the web site and fill a cart and place an order and I will deliver it to either of these two events, already packed just for you.  You can pre-pay or you can select Cash/Check for payment on the field.  For shipping, you should select EVENT PICKUP and indicate which Event to which you expect delivery in the notes.  This will result in zero shipping charges.  One caution with this – if you are selecting an item that is out-of-stock, either check with me first, or take the chance that I don’t have it for you.  IF YOU WANT SUPERIOR PROPS DELIVERED, ESPECIALLY FOLDERS, GET YOUR ORDER IN NOW, as they take time to make.

As I am an FAC Guy, I have been collecting a variety of hardware and tools over the winter and will give my FAC customers first crack at these.  There are a couple of boxes of various winders, balsa strippers, rubber strippers and other tools that will be available on a first-come, first-served basis starting Wednesday in the sales area.  Anything left will be available two weeks later at the AMA Nats.  After that, they will go on the web site.

Oh – I will have PLENTY of Gizmo Geezer Nose Buttons!  These are the hottest of hot sellers at the FAC Nats and I will be very surprised if I sell out this year (but you never know!)

We plan on being very active at the FAC Nats.  Our monthly Facebook Giveaway will somehow be tied to the event (we’re still thinking of how to do that).  We would love to see anyone that has built one of our kits and may create a separate promotion for highest-placing Volare Products kit.  Don’t hesitate to find Jack or me and show us your model – we’d love to get a photo of it and you – even if it isn’t the top performer in its event!

We will be on the field until dark every night.  If you haven’t thought about after-contest evening flying, you owe it to yourself to just stop by and watch, if not fly.  It is the most relaxed and enjoyable environment of the contest. No one is scurrying to get flights in, they are only there to enjoy the pure essence of Free Flight.  Stop by our area, pick up a cold beverage, have a nice chat about planes, hints & tips, or whatever – camaraderie, mostly!

base

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May Flowers (Products)

It’s been a hectic couple of months here at Volare Products.  Spring is in full bloom and I am itching to get flying.  We had one outdoor and one indoor contest in the past month, but it looks like the next contest will be a cold and windy blow-out.

There are new products just around the corner.  As stated earlier, Torque Meters are in their final stages of Production and the first batch of Sidewinder meters should be available this weekend.

My Facebook followers already know that I just released a NEW Short Kit in my Monthly Facebook Giveaway – the tiny, but great flying Pacific Ace jr.  It’s already on my site, so you can just pop over to the shop and pick one up for $10.

PAjr12Wait…you didn’t know about my Facebook page?  I post a lot of photos and commentary over there that doesn’t get published here.  You can check it out at this link:  https://www.facebook.com/VolareProducts/  And, yes, you read that right – I give away a Short Kit, sometimes a Full Kit, every month!

I have more kits on the way, too!  One that is near completion (for Production) is the Kokusai Ta-Go Dime Scale Short Kit.  You may have seen the plan in the Jan/Feb 2016 issue of the Cloudbusters Newsletter.  I published it there to comply with the new Flying Aces Club Rules that all neo-Dime Scale plans must be released in a known publication to verify and validate that the original plan conformed to the FAC rules requirements regarding plan size and parts layout.  Jack Moses built the first prototype and it has flown well.  My son, Jack, has prototype #2 nearly complete and I have one under construction, also.  I’ll have the kit online very shortly.  Here is a photo of Jack Moses and his model:

TaGo-09I’ve been considering creating a Short Kit of my Barracuda NoCal.  I probably will someday.  The plan needs a little more work.  Encouragement from you readers could hurry that along.

I’ve got one other Short Kit almost ready – two prototypes were sent out and one has been completed.  That builder tells me “kit it!” but to my knowledge, his model hasn’t flown yet.  The other prototype is under construction and feedback has been received for corrections (which were already applied to the prototype that has been built).  I anticipate that this kit will be a popular one, because the plane is a known winner and I don’t believe it has ever been kitted before.

Two other prototypes are out being built – this model will be in the registration packet for the 2016 FAC Outdoor Champs this fall.  It’s a reproduction of the rare Comet kit E-2, the Vega Starliner.  That kit won’t be for sale until after the September meet.  Anyway, I know you will want to go to the contest and get one in your registration pack!  Here’s Pres Bruning’s drawing for the T-shirt – oh yeah, you get a T-shirt, too!

img010a

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Torque Meters – Taking Orders

I spent Friday and Saturday at the Volare Products Machine Shop so that my dad and I could collaborate and finalize the design and operation of two new products:  plug-n-play Torque Meters for two standard winders, the Morrill Sidewinder and the Rees Scalewinder.

RT01 MT01The VPS Torque Meter for the Morrill is similar to the old Hinson torque meter and it installs the same way:  unscrew the hook adapter and screw on the torque meter.  The capacity is 120 inch-ounces and the scale reflects this, but needs to multiply by 10 (10 on  the scale represents 100 in-oz).

The VPS Torque Meter for the Rees is similar, but is a brand new product.  It is a bolt-on to the Rees winder.  The capacity is 30 inch-ounces, but I don’t think anyone will (or should) ever take the Rees to 30 in-oz.  Most people would max out the Rees between 10 and 20 in-oz.  The scale, again, reflects 0-3 (multiply by 10).

We are in production on the VPS Torque Meter for the Morrill Sidewinder is in Production.  The prototype has the bugs worked out and we have parts ready to assemble for 8.

MT03The VPS Torque Meter for the Rees Scalewinder has been prototyped, but there are some tweaks needed to be made, but they are small issues and we are ready to go forward with this.  It will be a full assembly – with the face plate and everything – unscrew the four small screws and replace the hook and plate with the torque meter and plate.

RT04

Both meters utilize two bronze bushings and a ball-bearing thrust bearing.  Both of these will be $80.  Feel free to inquire about availability; we will take pre-orders without deposit – put your name on the list.  The VPS Meter for the Morrill should be available within a week or two, the VPS Meter for the Rees just a little longer.

One parallel note – we are resuming production on the Rees Winder, but are having trouble sourcing the main gear (it is backordered with the manufacturer).  At some point, we will offer a new Rees winder with torque meter installed.  Also, we are going back to the original long knobs (as shown above).

 

 

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The Long Road from Idea to Kit

I’ve had real conversations with friends and customers that go something like this “well, that can be your next kit!” I’ve imagined that some customers don’t understand what goes into producing a kit, even a short kit – at least out of this shop.

Part of my business philosophy for the products I create is that they must be tested and proven.  In a way, it even goes beyond what I create; it is also why I don’t carry electrics or gas or r/c –  I just don’t know about those areas, so I don’t want to offer and promote something and create a false sense of endorsement or quality.

When I started offering my drawn plans, I didn’t release any until they had flown the FAC minimum official flight time of 20 seconds.  This carries over into the kits and short kits that I create: every one has been built and tested and “passes muster”.

So, over a year ago, I started to work on a Jet Cat.  It’s a simple event that you can do in a smaller space or in worse weather – or just for fun.  Gliders are NOT an area of my expertise and starting from scratch has not been an easy process.  Here you will see a photo showing my progress to date.  (more story below)

TweetPrototypesThis is my Cessna T-37 Tweet Jet Cat.  I chose the design because of the proportions and simplicity.  You see three versions.  The top version was completed in January of 2015.  It featured a laminated fuselage; the layers sandwich kevlar tow.  The thought was to strengthen the fuselage.  While keeping it light.  You can see how “successful” the strengthening was – there are, at least, five fuselage breaks in that version.

The middle version was done sometime last summer to replace the first one.  If you look closely, you can see sticks of bass wood instead of the lamination.  That was an improvement but not really very much.  I did reinforce the front by designing 1/64″ ply sides that did a good job of making the nose stronger.  These ply sides only extend back as far as the engine pods.  The second version also has bass leading edges on the wings and a penny embedded in the sandwich of the nose.

The third version was built this week.  Changes include carbon fiber rod for strength and a smaller horizontal tail area (recommended by a friend).  This version hasn’t flown yet, but looks promising as it has a nice glide in a hand toss without weight or adjustment.  These all weigh between 17 and 19 grams for the 14″ span model.

If – IF – I can get this to fly, the kit will contain a sheet of 1/16″ balsa (fuselage), 1/32″ balsa tail and engine pods, 1/64″ ply nose doublers (etched with the prototype XT-37 designation, as shown), 1/8″ balsa wings, plus the bass leading edges, carbon fiber rods, adhesive sticker markings, and the penny nose weight.  I may never get this into production, because, as I said, Jet Cats are a struggle for me.  Much of the damage occurs during test flying; trying to get a predictable flight pattern!

This is why it takes me so long to get a kit to production.  I have to be satisfied with the product and its potential for performance.  This doesn’t even consider all of the hours of drawing the plan and laying out the parts for laser cutting.  At any given time, I have about 3 or 4 new kits in the process of development.  That is my short list.  Then I have the short long list, those that I intend to work on next.  The long long list has those designs I consider viable and good candidates.  I would estimate about 20 designs are on these lists, just waiting their turn.

 

 

 

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Canopies – Waste Not, Want Not

Everyday, people – INCLUDING US MODELERS – throw away perfectly good material that would work in our modeling world.  I’m not talking about the product you purchased, but the packaging you throw away – the ubiquitous Blister Packs that contain a multitude of our daily products.  Did you realize these are commercially vacu-formed items?

I keep many of these, “just in case”.  To say I have more than 100 is not an exaggeration (unfortunately).  Here is a small sample of my hoard – four varieties of smaller blister packaging.

Canopy03I have used the second from the top, previously – as the windscreen for my Jimmie Allen Special.

Canopy04In preparing for the up-coming flying season, I decided to spice up my Durham Mystery Plane.  I use this for small-field Embryo.  The FAC Embryo rules state that you need a headrest with an open cockpit – I never put one on and never cared for the look on the Durham, so I decided to go to my local canopy supply.  I chose this one:

Canopy02A little trimming here and there, inking with a sharpie, and an over-night cure of the canopy cement resulted in this.  I think it gives it a little bit of the look of the F-8 Crusader or the A-7 Corsair II.

Canopy01So don’t throw away all of your blister packs!  Think about how you can use them.  Even some of the hard packs that salads and fruits come in can be used since they are flat pieces of clear plastic.  Think outside of the box!

 

 

 

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CUSTOMER APPRECIATION – 10% OFF with Code

I started this last year and am continuing it – our Annual Customer Appreciation Sale.  April 1st is the start of our 5th year in business, so between now and 15 April (Tax Day here in the US), customers can enter the coupon code below at checkout to take advantage of 10% their entire order (before postage).  You can use this once, so make it count.  So here’s the code you need to use:

5thYEAR

It’s easiest to just copy and paste so you don’t make any capitalization errors.

Thank you again to all my current and future customers.  Let’s move on into the 5th year!

–george

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