How-To: NoCal Nose Bearing

For years – as long as I have been building NoCals – I have been using Peck nose buttons and gluing them to the motor stick with a little bit of downthrust, bound with thread.  Of course, they are not adjustable.

I had seen aluminum “indoor-style” nose bearings but never thought they were worth buying.  So for the last year or so, I’ve been trying to discover an adjustable NoCal nose bearing.  I considered just a L-shaped strip of brass, but I prefer a nose bearing with a tube for the prop shaft – or at least two points, like the indoor style.

I bought some narrow brass strip and drilled it out and soldered in some brass tubing, reinforced with some tiny brass washers.  This worked.  I could adjust the brass strip to impart side and down thrust – but I discovered it was heavy.

Once in the past year, I saw a nocal that my friend, John Jackson had built.  It had an aluminum “indoor-style” nose bearing.  I asked him where he got it and he said he made it.  I asked where he got the aluminum strip (because I couldn’t find any) – and he told me…”it’s aluminum tube – flattened”.  What a revelation for me.  I experimented and here is a how-to on how to make these yourself!

  1. Start with a piece of 3/32 Aluminum tubing about 1″ long…
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  2. Use a needle nose or duck bill plies that has a FLAT section in the jaws (no ridges)
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  3. Squeeze to flatten the tubing – not excessively, and it will take 4 or 5 crimps
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  4. Round the ends with a sanding board.  Then drill a hole in each end.  I recommend holes about 0.005″ greater than the wire used for the prop shaft.  During thrust adjustment, the shaft will not always be square with the hole and if the hole has too little clearance, the shaft will bind.
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  5. Mark and bend at about .025″, .075″, and 0.875″ as shown
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  6. This example weighed 0.2 grams.  The brass assembly it replaced weighed 1.2 grams.  This 1 gram off the nose allowed me to remove 1 gram off the tail.  2 grams off my 10 gram model reduced overall weight by 20% and I can probably go with a lighter motor, too.
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