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BLUF: I discuss tissue and possible tissue options.
As everyone is probably aware, Esaki has gone by the wayside. Some of us suppliers still have some amounts and colors, but I think all the popular colors are getting really scarce (that includes white).
I have mentioned my favorite DOMESTIC replacement before (FLOMO Brand), but I had a customer send me a message a couple of weeks ago. Randy Wrisley sent me this:
“Found some domestic tissue I really like. Called Pom tissue and sold by Etsy. I like neon colors, very dense color. Tissue doesn’t run when water sprayed and is colorfast when doped with 50/50 nitrate. Take dope without the fuzzys so common with other domestic tissue I have used. On the model pictured, I used Esaki on the wing and stab. I noticed the Esaki sagged a lot more than the Pom tissue. It may be heavier, but if one doesn’t have to add dye or other color enhancers weight is probably about the same.”
Here’s a photo of the model he described.
I told Randy that I would definitely check this out, so I found the ETSY site (“PomLove”). I was surprised at the variety of tissue they off (over 50 different variations). If you calculate, the prices are really cheap per sheet.
Here is the link to the Tissue section of the shop:
I ordered their White package and their Rainbow package. I just received it in the mail today.
These almost have a shiny side (no so shiny, but clearly more slippery) and a definite grain to the tissue.
The first thing I did was take a piece of white and weigh it. It measures 15″x20″ and weighs about 3.3 grams per sheet. I also weighed a sheet of the lavender. The colored sheets are twice as large, 20″x30″. The lavender weighed about 7.5 grams; so both colored and white tissue weigh the same.
I got out my trusty Excel spreadsheet and created a calculator to convert my “grams per sheet” to the standard tissue measurement of Grams per Square Meter (GSM). Here are the results:
Esaki was reported to have a GSM of 12
FLOMO (white) has a measured GSM of 14
PomLove has a measured GSM of 17
So the PomLove tissue (probably a chinese “domestic” tissue) is definitely heavier than Esaki, but you won’t have too much of a penalty on your sport models, especially the larger you go. The color selection is quite wide and it is cheap. So, the price is right. One thing I did notice is that the wet strength is not very good. This is typical of “domestic” tissues and should be no surprise. You can get around this by covering dry and shrinking the tissue.
In the end, here is another option when it comes to sport model tissue replacement.
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A year ago, I posted a video on the operation of a Electronic Band-Burner DT and many people have asked if I would be carrying this product.
I am happy to say that I have worked out an agreement with Bernard Guest, who is making these timers. I now have them on this site for sale – with or without a 40mAH battery.
These are great little timers and I use them myself. I am convince that one of these saved my Caudron from a fly-away last year at the AMA Nats.
They are programmable up to 16 minutes in 10-second increments. The operation and programming are not as difficult as you might think, and are especially easy to do after you’ve done it once or twice. (Instructions are posted on the product page)
Because Bernard is making these individually by hand and I have to buy them at very little discount, they are currently available only with or without the battery and I only have a small number (10) on-hand today. Should I get plenty of batteries in the future, I could sell them individually. Bernard does promise that he will soon be able to provide appropriate chargers in the near future, which I will post as soon as possible. (Note: I use a small and cheap 100mAH charger. Bernard warns that LiPos should not be charged at this high rate as it will shorten the life of the battery.)
Buy them here: ELECTRONIC BAND BURNER DT
Videos below the photos
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It’s funny how perceptions change. Prior to this year, it might have been “too windy” to fly. It really wasn’t, but we get spoiled. Now, since many of us are self-isolating and most forms of entertainment are no longer available, we appreciate getting outside and doing what we love – flying model airplanes.
I was pretty tired Sunday morning, due to multiple sleep interruptions over the last week, but I made that long drive (2 hours) up to the Cloudbuster’s flying field for our monthly contest. These are low health risk events as there are only a few of us (eight, yesterday) and it is outdoors. We are cautious: no more hand shakes and we stay apart from each other, even when chatting.
I already posted the contest results on the Cloudbusters Facebook page, so I won’t go over that here, but will focus on some of my personal adventures here.
The first thing I did when I got parked and unpacked at around 8:30 was to get out my new Square Eagle P-30. If you remember, I was only able to put in 100 hand-winds at home for a 10-second jaunt around the back yard. I wanted to “air it out” so I was hoping to get in some test flight before the wind started to pick up (it was already pretty breezy and that probably didn’t change much throughout the day). I used a short DT every flight. On the first, a medium-powered flight (maybe 1000 turns?), I took it upwind and let it go. Even at medium power, it was up and climbing – maybe the turn was a little wide, but it did get up. The DT kicked before the power ran out, so we couldn’t check the glide.
The next two flights were full power – about 1600 turns or so with a 90-sec estimated fuse burn. The climb-out was good and I got a 1:57 with the DT kicking later than expected. I tweaked in a little more right turn in the Gizmo Geezer prop assembly and shortened the fuse a little more. Wow, it likes to fly, climbing right out (and this is on 2-loops of 1/8″, not 3), much better with the right turn. It was plenty high when the DT kicked this time and it came down slowly. As Winn suggested, it took 20 or 30 seconds to come down after the DT. My thoughts were – I will be losing this in a strong thermal some day. And this is with the tail kicked per the design. Success! In two weeks, we have our Oldenkamp Cup event – I’ll get to try to wrestle the cup from Winn’s firm grip (he has won it most of the past several years).
The next bit of fun was with my Victory Models. I decided to bring my old Victory Stick and my newer Shaft to participate in our Combined Old Timer event. The event is really 2-Bit, but if people want to fly the bigger Old Timers, we let them. In this case, I chose to fly SMALLER Old Timers as both are sub-14″ span OT Sticks (as Sticks, they are not eligible for 2-Bit – no landing gear).
The Victory Stick needs more work as the wings have been broken off the wire supports so many times, who knows if the incidence is anywhere close to correct. I really need to build another (fuselage tube is already completed!) But the Shaft flies well – it’s about a 45-second ship. Here’s a video from fall of 2016 when I built this second one.
So I wound up the the little Shaft and took it upwind and let it go. Man, it climbs. With the help of the wind, it went quite aways downwind – almost across the road. But a tree grabbed it right out of the air. It was pretty high up, so I just went back and thought “the wind will blow it out”.
I would check on it as the day went on, but it wasn’t budging. So much for participating in Combined Old Timer (note – I “could” fly either the Victory Stick or the Flying Aces Sportster, but I “wanted” to fly the Shaft).
Later on, a few of us had gathered to fly JetCat. We often fly at the same time so we can record/fly/record/fly – and get it all out of the way. One of our new flyers, Ken McGuire, was flying a 2-Bit, trying to get it trimmed. We gave his some advice – maybe too much – and his little plane got caught in a tree near where my plane was. I told Winn “we’ve gotta go on a retrieval trip after this (JetCat) because Ken just put his plane in a tree”. So we went over there with my long pole (a Jackite 31″ Orange Kite Pole – get them through EasyBuilt or Jackite – but they’re $80 before shipping!)
(Note – in my opinion, an important part of having a club and attracting new members is helping them get their planes to fly. Most of the time, that is just a piece of trimming advice here or there – you don’t need to dedicate the afternoon to their planes. But, again in my opinion, possibly an even more important part is finding their lost planes. Losing a plane can be disappointing or even heart-breaking and maybe they will quit after that. So go find that plane and keep them flying!)
We got back to the cars and Chris Boehm said they needed a third for Combined Old Timer – he and Chuck Hickson had been flying that while we were jetting. That was more incentive to get my little plane back.
I spotted Ken’s model deep in a tree and way up. With the pole fully extended, I was able to get it out of the tree. Then we went to the next tree and did the same for mine. I thought it was too high, but that pole is long (and, apparently, my how-high-up internal estimator needs calibration).
What followed was some really good flights on this little ship. Here is a chart I made of the general start locations and landing spots of my four flights on the Shaft. The red line is the first test flight that landed in the tree.
Keep in mind that I use a scooter for chasing. Our pit area was just to the left of the white hangar at the end of Line 3. We ride on the edges of the runways – the runways are smooth; the other areas are very rough, usually with tall grass, and some areas have ditches crossing them. So, really, you have to stay on the runways to chase (that makes following on windy days difficult as you are sometimes traveling in the opposite direction of your model!)
I don’t know how long, in time, the test flight was, but the official flights were: 1) 52 seconds, 2) 102 seconds, and 3) 69 seconds. These were really good flights for the Shaft. Torqued up and trimmed, it would go nearly straight up with a slight left component. Flight 2 was nerve-wracking as it actually went NNE toward the tree line and then headed east. We’ve lost several models in that tree-filled area and I was afraid that one was a goner. Those were long flights for the little plane and it ended up beating the Chris’s Flying Aces Moth (second place) by over 40 total seconds. More Success!
Oh, and I beat Winn in JetCat for the third straight month!
The trip back home was long and difficult, but I made it and spent the night relaxing and recuperating (and napping) in front of the tv, often recounting the day in my mind. It was a good day.
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Two years ago, Dave Acton sent me the materials and his blessing to go produce the Square Eagle P-30, should I want to. Dave and Bob Langelius had been selling the Blue Ridge line through PAL Model Products. They had turned over the Blue Ridge Special a few years ago and then Dave sent me the Square Eagle. I knew it would be a good P-30 kit, but P-30 is not my area – I fly FAC events and only dabble in P-30 for fun at local events.
For some reason, I got a burr in my saddle to work on the Square Eagle. I set about measuring the original plan Dave sent and redrawing it. The first thing I had to do was figure out a way to produce a 29″ long laser-cut fuselage on a laser cutter with a 14″ bed. The solution was simple – splice the sheet pieces in the middle. I also decided to supply all of the cross pieces that hold the two sheet sides together. These have built-in gussets for a little more strength. Built-in gussets were added to the trailing edges, too. I designed a fin plug-in system that not only positively holds the fin, but also sets it at the proper angle to impart a right hand glide (per the original instructions). Lastly, I added a couple more wing-peg holes to allow the wing to be moved forward, if necessary.
I started building on the 4th of July and finished on the 12th. That included time dragging my feet over covering, which I seem to dislike more and more. The wing-peg holes were an addition because I intended to use a 9.5″ Gizmo Geezer prop assembly. These are P-30 legal and include a freewheeling tensioner and thrust adjustment, but I felt they would be heavy, leading to a nose-heavy condition that would require the wing to be moved forward. While I did move the wing forward, I was surprised to see that the GG assembly was only 1 gram heavier than a Peck Prop, Gizmo Geezer Nose Button, a prop shaft and a clutch – so they really aren’t that heavy after all.
The build is fast. All parts are laser-cut except for the spars and the diagonals in the fin. And since all pieces are straight, covering couldn’t be easier, either. I used my personal colors of black, red, and yellow. The tissue was from my stash of Esaki, but any should work well. The black has been wiped with india ink to make it really black, the red was sprayed with Design Master Carnation red, and the yellow is airbrushed Dr Martin’s Bombay ink. The fin logo was inkjet printed on pre-painted tissue and the “SQUARE EAGLE” text was laser printed on bond paper and pasted to the fuselage. The pieces were sprayed with a couple of coats of Krylon crystal clear and then assembled.
I stuck with the original and old-school fuse DT in the tail because it is light, quick to install, positive acting – and still permitted in this part of the country. This could certainly be replaced with a viscous, mechanical or electronic DT of your choice, but would take more time to install.
My little back yard is way, Way, WAY too small to fly a P-30, but I took it out for some power-glide testing. The first thing I did was, indeed, move the wing forward. In fact, I moved it two spaces (1 inch) forward to get a good glide. I put in 100 had turns into the prop and was rewarded with a gently climbing right hand turn and glide that got about 15 feet high and lasted about 10-12 seconds. This thing is gunna fly! I can’t wait to get it up to the airport and put some turns in it.
I know it hasn’t made 20 seconds yet, but it is obvious that it can and will fly. I am releasing it now. I’ve decided to offer four options as follows:
- Option 1: the Short Kit – my new plan, an original instruction booklet, and 5 laser-cut sheets for $20
- Option 2: the Short Kit plus a copy of the original Blue Ridge plan for $25
- Option 3: the Short Kit plus a Gizmo Geezer 9.5″ prop assembly for $33 (save $2)
- Option 4: the Short Kit both the original plan and the Prop Assembly for $38
You can find the kit HERE
Here are my build photos:
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A quick update – New JetCat Kits, Postal Rates, Build Projects, Photos, etc
NEW JETCAT KITS
I have two New JetCat kits available: The Heinkel He.178 and the Lockheed L-133 Starjet
The He.178 has been mentioned here before, I am sure. I resisted doing this jet for awhile because it has been drawn up by others. But I gave in, drew it up and gave it my treatment. It has proven to be a great flyer. On a test outing last Sunday, I flew a 41-second flight (into brush; I was lucky to get it back!), three consecutive 30+ second flights, then two dud flights (under 15 seconds) and a final 30+ second flight. Possibly my best streak in JetCat ever.
The Lockheed L-133 Starjet was sent to my by Randy Wrisley as a proposed kit for me to do. I don’t usually take external suggestions to heart, but something about this grabbed me. The 1939 Lockheed proposal was a very sleek and aerodynamic twin jet canard. Randy reported his build flew great, so I set to work. It was a quick build and seemd to do well under low power in my back yard. Full power at the flying field showed the model to be very stable – in power and in glide.
Find both kits by clicking the JetCat link in the menu on the right side of the screen.
I wrote about postal rates a few months ago. I resisted doing anything until today. I was packing orders and noted that my postal software told me they upped their rates. The margins were no very slim – a few cents. So I have upped my rates by 50 cents.
I’ve got some things on the building board.
I started to work on a Phantom Flash. “Started?” you say – they don’t take very long to build. Well, you see, I started before all outdoor contest were cancelled. As I have an indoor (I hope we can fly indoor again this winter!) I don’t really need an outdoor Phantom Flash now – so it sits.
A couple days ago, I decided to step outside of my comfort zone – I am putting together a long-out-of-production P-30, that was given to me by the previous vendor. I don’t fly P-30 in competition, but our club does have a couple of P-30 events. I’ve got the fuselage and the horizontal all built and these went together in an afternoon – very quickly. This should be a good kit in the near future – no specific details yet, but soon!
Also, here is a shot of Duke Horn’s Northrup N9M flying wing. It is his 32″ plan, that I am reworking for a laser-cut kit. Let me say – this is the most complex model I have worked on! There is so much to be worked out with regards to the positioning of all of the ribs, given that there is sweep back AND washout. Having said that, this center section was built “in the air”, not pinned to a building board, and I had absolutely no problems with doing that. The most difficult part was planking the bottom “hull” per the plans. Anyway, upon completion, this will be a short kit, also.
Ed Pelatowski sent me some intriguing photos. He took my Focke-Wulf FW-189 plans (in the Jumbo section), reduced the span to 30″ and built the armored fighter version of the FW-189. He reports it flies a repeatable 40-50 seconds. I always like to see customer builds, so send some my way.
Here are some of my recent flying photos – posted elsewhere days ago.
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First, contest fun, then a report on the F-86 and its high point and low points.
As I posted elsewhere (Cloudbusters Facebook page), we had a great day for the June Contest. I covered the general report there, but will give some of my personal highlights here.
My Flying Aces Sportster had a little assistance (light thermal) and clocked a 71-second flight. It went off the field and came down on the road, as seen here. There was no damage.
My 5-year-old Peanut Fairey Barracuda pulled out a win in the WWII Combat Mass Launch. The loop of 3/32″ rubber is too powerful – at first. There are many aerobatic maneuvers performed as it struggles to find a stable pattern. After about three high-powered circuits, zooming and then skimming the grass, it finally settles into a circuit and climbs up for a long cruise followed by a great glide pattern. That’s six kanones for the little model that was smashed at Muncie years ago, five of them in WWII Combat.
I brought my Elmendorf Special for the Races Mass Launch. I built it for indoor, but had some prop issues in test yesterday. I had brought my 24″ Caudron C.460 because I had repaired it and it was ready to go. But it is a “big field” flyer – it does huge circuits and need lots of space. When I won at the AMA Nats last year, I was really torquing it up and it has a beautiful glide and would have been lost (instead of smashed) if it had not had the DT on it.
Well, when the Elmendorf was acting finicky, I decided to give the Caudron a try. It still has the year-old motor in it that had one knot in it already. I gave it a test flight with less than half torque and decided I would fly it in the races if we launched from somewhere that would allow the long cruise not to go over woods or neighborhood. While winding for the test flight, I got another broken strand and tied a knot. Here is where the test flight landed.
It didn’t hit the tree, just landed there. Strangely, I had three planes throughout the day land withing 10 feet of that tree – my Heinkel JetCat, the Barracuda, and the Caudron. All were launched from different locations and all have different flight characteristics, and to my knowledge, no one else went in that direction all day.
With about half of full torque, the Caudron easily made it to the second round of the Races. Because I am pretty much launching at cruise power, the model never climbed very high, but did its stable circles and gentle glide. All of the time the two Cessna C-34s of Ron Joyal and Winn Moore were climbing out high and looking like winners.
Back at the base while winding for the last round, I started talking smack to Winn. We pit right next to each other and that is typical of our contest banter. I would say things like “man, I’m packing in the turns this time” and “wow, look at that torque climb!” The reality was, I did put in more turns, but my torque still was only about 70% of max torque. I just didn’t want to lose the model. On the way out, I decided to use the DT. It is an electronic band burner, and I turned it on on the motor-bike ride out to the launch point. When we got there, it had actually counted down and burnt the band. Fortunately, I had two dental bands looped together – it only burnt the first and I was able to stretch the second enough to set the DT.
We launched and went up together. The Caudron still was not getting the altitude of the Cessnas, but that was ok with me. Ron’s came down and mine was cruising. I had added a small blob of clay to (hopefully) prevent porpoising and that was, indeed, lessened. Winn’s plan and mine went in different directions and his was much farther down field than mine. As mine hit the ground, I hollered “DOWN” in their direction and would rely on them to tell us (Chris with the scoreboard and me) who won. Winn’s model was lost in the trees, but both Ron and Winn reported that it had gone in while mine was still in the air. Two contests, two victories.
Our home field (Alkay Airport) is long but a little too narrow for my comfort and I rarely fly my “big field” models there – I’ve lost enough models at Alkay and don’t want to risk my big ones.
F-86 Sabre JetCat Report
Maybe some of you had to plod through the above (or just scrolled past) just to get to this part. I know there is interest. I decided to build an F-86 – they are one of the cleanest designs. I had thought about doing a John Glenn F-86 (as an Ohio boy, he was a childhood hero), but I found this striking livery of the late 50s Italian Air Show crew.
I designed and cut out some parts and then worked (for an inordinately long time) laying out tissue prints. Confession: I did use light wood for my version. I am solidifying my various techniques and think I am pretty set now on how I will be building JetCats. They all have a laminated fuselage. This starts with a 1/16″ sheet center, with an inset carbon fiber ribbon for flex resistance. Also, there is a 3D-printed nose hook that is keyed into the balsa. This “spine” is cut with the grain going in a certain direction and the laminating sides are cut with the grain going in a different direction (the parts are angled on the balsa sheet, as the sheet dimensions permit).
I’ve had difficulties in the past with these laminations. The first several iterations used CA – but CA is heavy and not forgiving as to locating the parts and adjusting. I’ve used wood glue. It is lighter than CA and much more forgiving regarding the alignment, but it can warp the wood and requires weighting the assembly, which is either not enough or shifts the pieces.
This time, I thought I would try something different and it seems to work well: spray adhesive. I used Gorilla Glue spray, but I don’t think the brand matters. I sprayed the center and located one side and pressed it into place on a flat surface. I then sprayed the other side of the center and placed the other fuselage side. It worked well. I suppose you could spray both sides, if you were worried about the glue holding.
I used the same spray for the printed tissue. That was a little more critical regarding placement – you can’t really pull up the tissue after you tack it down. I made sure reference points were properly set and then started at the center of the piece and rubbed outwardly to smooth the dry tissue over the sprayed panel.
After it was fully assembled (I was going to do the individual pieces but got carried away), I sprayed the entire model with a couple of light coats of Rustoleum Gloss (again, I don’t think the brand name is critical). As you can see, it looks great – maybe my best JetCat.
In my backyard on Saturday, after I completed the model. I could only go about half-pull on a single loop of 1/8″ rubber. My yard is surrounds by trees. Either I can get stuck in the trees, go through the trees into a creek, or go over the trees – never to be seen again. This model, right off the board, would go straight and true on a hand toss. Under very light pulls, it would arc up, flatten out and go into a flat spin to the ground. I added what turned out to be 0.3g of clay to the nose and got wonderful flat glides – right into the trees, nearly every launch. It’s really hard to trim a model when you can’t fly it. But the promise was real.
At the field yesterday, I could finally put some power on the model. It arcs up and transitions at the top and glides pretty well. I did add a bit more clay, but this seems to be a little touchy (what JetCat is not touchy?) as the glide is now slightly nose down. But the model is very reluctant to turn in glide. I tried gurney flaps here and there but they made the model do violent snaps under power. It tried weighting the left wing tip, only to induce the spin again (I realized that the wing tip is behind the CG – I was shifting the CG by quite a bit).
So here’s the conundrum: The glide is very stable and floaty (but it won’t turn much). The launch seems to have too much arc – it’s too tight for my liking – so altitude is limited. If I could get it to go higher and get it to circle in the glide, I just might have a pretty good JetCat. Any ideas? By the way, my top three times were 20, 19, 17 – so it does fly.
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Two weeks ago, while I muddled about my house, trying to get re-motivated, I read the McCook Squadron’s latest newsletter. In that issue, was a plan for an Embryo designed by Frank Scott, way back in the very early 1980s. (Thanks to Mike Smith, editor, for thinking to publish the newsletter on Facebook and via email – I never would have seen this model.)
This was inspiring to me, for several reasons. I am glad to see Frank come back to the FAC; he was an inspiration to me when I was starting out, as the CD of the Dayton Sector Skirmishes (contests) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. In fact, my first kanone was won at one of his contests. Frank would also write (and have published in the FAC News) the occasional fictional story (Hysterical Hystories – find them in the FACN Back Issues – you might check the News Index) of the adventures of Captain Derek DeBris in the spirit of the old stories in the original Flying Aces Magazine – this model was attributed to Derek DeBris! Looking at the plan, it has fantastic proportions – a 17.5″ long fuselage and a 20.5″ wingspan – and it is all square construction. Even more fantastic, it has retractable landing gear! Who can resist this much fun? (much more story below the photos!)
Check out my BUILD article (click HERE) – complete with VIDEOS!
I asked Frank if there was documented history on the model, which he called both the “DeHavilland Discard” and the “Bristol Bullhorn” from the DeBris Model Works (note, in the spirit of Derek DeBris, these are not actually scale models, they are fictitious – these factories never built these planes (except the DeBris Model Works DID build the models). He told me he had none, – but I was able to dig up the “true” history and Frank verified that it “was exactly how the Discard/Bullhorn came to be”.
Before we get to the story, Frank and his son Chris built these models in the 1981/82 time frame and and Frank reports one of them flew OOS at the 1982 FAC Nats. (story below the photo!)
Here we go – the Hystory of the DeHavilland Discard and the Bristol Bullhorn (discovered by George Bredehoft and verified by Frank Scott):
The DeHavilland Discard
At some time in the 1930s, some young engineers at the DeHavilland factory were inspired to work up an internal proposal for the upper management. They did not have tacit approval to work on this project for a light transport, but were able to cobble together a simple (and low-cost) aircraft after-hours from excess and scrapped parts. This is how the one-off DeHavilland Discard (from discarded parts) was born. Although it flew, the prototype was rejected for production and was pushed from one hangar to another and finally behind a hangar after a few years.
Eventually, the hulk was purchased by one Captain Derick DeBris (ex-RAF in the Big Fuss – now at DeBris Model Works) for a symbolic 2 pounds 5. He towed the once-again-discarded frame back to DeBris Field where he restored the unloved aircraft to flight-worthy status. It was registered as “G-ERUP” in reference to the early retractable undercarriage (gear up).
He used this as a local “airline” and transport for his remote neighbors. It wasn’t much of an airline as it could only take three passengers. One time, he won a small transport contract for the London Zoo. When he arrived at the zoo, he found that the job required flying a full-grown ostrich to Manchester. The only way they could manage this was to bind the poor bird seated on a nest and have its head poking out of the rear engineer’s cockpit!
After a series of misadventures – including cannon balls falling through the floor on a flight over the Thames, barely missing the Tower Bridge, and that time he rented the Discard to a pilot and a barrel of whiskey “broke loose and shifted to the rear” causing the “improperly balanced” plane to fly as if the pilot was drunk (whiskey was everywhere after that rough landing, including all over the pilot, but no barrel was ever found) that crushed the rear fin and was the last flight – DeBris sold the well-worn transport to some rather unsavory characters who took it west. They did a quick patch job, fixed the rudder, and repainted the poor machine. Not having a clue as to what the original fin looked like, they hacked together an ugly job. They tried to flip this crate as a “new product” calling it the “Bristol Bullhorn”.
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In 1979, I graduated from high school. My big plans included going to an electronics school and jumping into that blossoming career field. That lasted all of one semester and I dropped out of that program. The next fall, I decided to go back to school; this time I would be studying Mechanical Engineering Technologies.
This was a good fit for me and it would change the direction of my life and put me on the track to where I am today. This was a two-year Associate’s Degree program and it taught me much of what I used in the rest of my life including right up through today.
Because of this program, I got my job with the US Air Force and it eventually moved me to Battle Creek, where I completed my career with the Department of Defense after 35 years. That gave me with a stable job that continues to provide well for me and my family.
In addition, some of the classes included Drafting (old fashioned paper/velum and pencil/pen – no computers yet!) and Machining. I chose the M.E. course because my dad was a Toolmaker and it was somewhat familiar to me. Probably 1/3rd of the classwork was lab work in a machine shop. We made several items, including a small cross peen shop hammer, a C-Clamp with a cast aluminum body (we created the sand mold and poured the molten aluminum), and a small machinist’s vise. I am not sure where the hammer is (the head was loose, due to screw threads cut too deeply), and I think I know where the C-clamp is, although I never used it.
I do use the drafting skills every day these days, and I use the machinist’s vise regularly. I didn’t for many years, but after I got back into the model aviation hobby and started making things for the business, I found I needed it often.
Here is a photo of that vise in use from this morning. I am using it to drill out the Superior Props Drive Dogs that we make. My dad machines the body and sends them to me to finish. He also made the little fixture to hold the bodies to be drilled. The vise spent many years in the garage and barn, so it is not in the best of shape. It suffers from the same issue the hammer did: the chased threads were cut too deeply and the screw action is just a little sloppy.
By the way, we had to make every part. I don’t mean that we poured the steel, but we did choose the dimensions of each part and we had to design the particulars, like how the screw was captured into the jaw. We machined each part (including surface grinding) and assembled them and and the finished product was graded for appearance, operation, and workmanship.
Little did I know while making it that I would be using it a few times a week nearly 40 years later.
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First, the I-16 Short Kit is ready! And it comes with a bonus – I vacu-formed a canopy – and a spinner AND I am including a 3D-printed spinner, too! You can choose what route to go. You can download the printed tissue template from the DOWNLOAD page. And be sure to check out all of the build photos HERE.
Order the I-16 HERE
Second, I have a canopy buck nearly done for my Peanut Fairey Barracuda. I ran a small batch of these short kits a couple years ago, but made the canopy from wood and was never 100% satisfied with it. Now I am 3D-printing one and the test canopy is pretty good – I just have to sand it smooth and I’ll have those kits back on line shortly!
Order the Barracuda HERE
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Our models are all just sticks of balsa, tissue paper, a little rubber, and a propeller. We use some other hardware and accessories and we go out and have fun together.
First off, we can’t go out and have fun, especially together. I don’t want to get sick – and I don’t want any of my friends to get sick. I am approaching 60 and I am one of the younger guys. Nearly all of my flying buddies are older, and therefore, at a higher risk of getting sick. Remember, the exposure isn’t limited to just “me, you, and Joe”. I need to travel to get to our club’s site. I have to stop and get gas, I might want a bite to eat. Each place is a point of potential contact. And not just the person you see. It’s like the old sex adage: You’re not just having sex with her (or him), but with everyone they have. How many people does the cashier come in contact with every day – or hour? Now it is you, too – and you will pass that on – the cost might be more than a burger. Extremist? Possibly, but I want to fly with my friends again – when it is safe. I am going to err on the side of caution for awhile.
So, let’s stay at home and build. I think a lot of you are saying the same thing. While my sales had dropped for the first three months, I think that was due to many factors on my end, not with the modelers mindset. This has picked back up to normal, maybe even a little bit stronger in April. That is good for me – and good for you. However, there are many product issues that I am dealing with.
Tissue: I am just about out of Esaki. I have a fair amount of Green and a little bit of Brown. Other than that, I have shut off sales for all other colors. I’ve kept a small reserve for myself (maybe too small, in some cases, like white. At the present time, I will not be sourcing any other tissue to sell. Personally, I have started using more supermarket domestic (I like FLOMO brand, especially the white, I have some black and red, but haven’t tried it). EasyBuilt Models has sourced a Japanese tissue they are calling Mt Fuji. I have some, but haven’t tried it. I have seen models built with it and they look great; I REALLY like the red. (Benefit to me: I’ll no longer have to figure out how to pack up a pound of rubber and two sheets of tissue into the same box without crushing the tissue.)
Propellers: I am still getting Gizmo Geezer Products. As you may know, they are now sold by a different company, still in Canada. That company is so close to the US that they will go across the border to ship TO US addresses FROM the US. Their packages have always arrived in about a day. However, now they are shipping from Canada and there will be associated delays – I anticipate about a week or so to receive shipments. That’s not terrible, but I need to be aware (just like all international orders).
Hardware: I am out of various K&P products, mostly nose bearings and the large 10/4:1 winder (I still have many 10:1 and 15:1 winders). I ordered some this week – they cannot fill the order because they are also on lockdown and not permitted to go to the place of business (after all, this is not “essential” stuff). So, that stuff is on hold.
Rubber: FAI still has a good deal of rubber. I have been ordering about once a month, maybe more like every 3.5 weeks. However, I/we are out of 1/4″ rubber and Charlie tells me there won’t be any new batches of rubber for awhile. I took that to mean batches of any size. I am sure that when the rubber manufacturer can get back to work, Charlie will get more, just like normal.
Postage: I post this periodically – postal rates go up all the time, about every 9 months or so. My current postal rates just cover the reduced rate that I get through Stamps.com. When I started in 2012, the cheapest Priority box to a close location (like Michigan or Ohio) was just about $5, like $4.90 or $5.10 – something like that. Now the cheapest is $7.56. I (explaining again) use Priority Mail. Why? Because it is convenient (the Post Office will pick up at my house on their normal route) and because every package gets a tracking number. It is possible to ship some items by First Class, but they won’t pick those up, unless there are Priorities in the same pickup. And, I cannot ship anything over 1 pound by First Class. Anyway, my flat rates are something like $8, and $9 (regional) And that is almost always less than a dollar different than what Stamps.com charges me. Sometimes that difference goes to the negative – and that is happening more and more, recently. So, my shipping charges will have to go up soon.
Balsa: here’s a real punch in the gut. After months of hearing about the price of balsa, it is finally going to affect me and my products. I buy balsa from two sources (you’ve already heard this in the past): SIG and National. SIG always had good wood and gave great dealer discounts. I bought from them exclusively – until one year ago, they had a fire in their balsa shop. They have still not recovered and buying from them is spotty. Less than spotty, actually – I cannot buy from them in any reliable manner.
I can buy from National reliably – kind of. They always fill orders fast. And they always had a good selection of wood; I could even get light wood on demand (at a higher charge). And they were always double the price of SIG, sometimes more. Monday, I placed an order for a small amount of wood (most light wood was unavailable). Prices have doubled – at least (again). Yesterday, I received a box – about 12″x6″x36″ and it cost me over $450. I haven’t had a chance to weigh it yet, but I can be certain that there will be a significant amount that is too heavy for my stuff – and I am sure most of the 1/8″ wood (used for Old Timer nose blocks, Jet Cat wings, etc.) will be on the “way-heavy” side – last time it was like 15-20 pound wood. I did buy some light-weight 1/8″ – at $5.69 a sheet!
This is painful. Since I started offering kits, I have striven (now struggled) to provide reasonable quality for a reasonable price. I know my stuff is not perfect. And I know my customers get less with my kits than they can get from other manufacturers. And (in case anyone thinks this can actually happen) I am not trying to “get rich” selling balsa kits. I started out at $10 for my basic short kits and they are now up to $11 due to balsa rates increasing last year. I am now paying 3x to 4x more for balsa than I was when I started out with the $10 kits. Prices WILL have to go up soon. I don’t want to do it and I don’t know the next price step.
So, stay safe. Take care of those around you, even if that means avoiding them. If you are in self-isolation and are now building more than before, welcome to my world. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past 3.5 years. (I had a friend tell me “now you should have plenty of time to build.” I told him “my day-to-day has changed very little.”) Thank you for your continued business and for your words of encouragement and support. I am sorry that the reality of the world around us is impacting our hobby – in our ability to practice it and the cost of doing so. I am trying my best to help you continue to do what you love – build (and fly) stick and tissue. I hope we can get out to the flying field together this summer or fall.
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