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Products, Props, and Planes

This morning, I finished up loading all of the remaining products into my new storefront – that is, except for the Superior Props items, which are still on hold (I think I got them all).  I streamlined many items, so you will have to make selections of what size you want.  This reduces the number of items for sale and makes the site a little more manageable, – I think.

Two discoveries:

  1. You do NOT have to register an account to buy product.  I did not import the old accounts (I don’t even know if that is possible), so (as some have found out) your old ID and Password will not work on the new site.  But, as I said, you can complete an order without an account, so I guess that part is up to you.
  2. Shipping should now show two options: Flat Rate and Contest/Event Pickup.  I thought I had the Event Pickup programmed, but it wasn’t working and I had to make some changes.  Event Pickup will not charge shipping.  Obviously, it will be used if we are meeting somewhere and you want a hand-to-hand transfer of products.  Also, I advise customers to use this on a second, active order when they want to combine orders.  Of course, If you choose this, your product will NOT be shipped.

I should now be moving on from site maintenance.  The rest is up to you – go ahead and try it out.

I’ve been making replacement props for several of my Indoor models.  You might be able to connect my end product with a certain jig that has been online, but I will wait to provide details until after I get some testing done the day after tomorrow, when I go to the Cloudbusters February Indoor Meet.  Here’s a photo – I’ve made 8 props to date and they all are using calculated and laser-cut Larrabee blade shapes.  Performance reports after the contest.



I set aside my Mega Caudron for a bit.  I needed to get a Greve Racer ready for the AMA Indoor Nats at the end of May.  I will be testing it on Thursday, also.  Here it is – The Elmendorf Special.  This is the Keith Rider R-5 in its first livery.  It was later black and yellow and known as the “Jackrabbit”.  The plan is a Tom Nallen design and this is built from my Short Kit   It is the second one I have built.  The first flew into some neighborhood last summer and could not be found.  This is much lighter and, at 14 grams, should do well Indoors.

You can find both Short Kits HERE and HERE.  Strangely, I have seen quite an up-tick in Elmendorf sales in the last year (over the Jackrabbit).  For a long time, the Jackrabbit was the more popular.  I have come to think that it is because of the new FAC Rules and the Greve Race Eligibility List that came out last year.  The list was simplified to list a plane only once, even though it might have had multiple colors and race numbers – and it lists the earliest version.  The old list referenced the Jackrabbit, and the new lists the original Elmendorf Special.  This problem is that it might be confusing – maybe people are thinking the Jackrabbit is no longer eligible – which is not true!

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Storefront RESTORED (mostly) – 07 FEB 2020

***BUY NOW***

Through the process of updating, I found even more import shortcuts.  I now have most of the products online.  There are some things not yet on board, such as the “Accessories” category (includes, tubing, wire, glue, tools, etc.) and all of the Superior Props items.  These still need to be loaded, but first logical categories need to be created.  It’s not a big issue, just part of the process.

Shipping has always been a bugaboo and I am still on Flat Rate.  I’ll be looking into that more in depth since I now have rough weights and dimensions on each product.  In theory, that means the system should be able to calculate a closer price to the cost.  That would be nice, since sometimes the flat charge is less than actual cost – and sometimes vice-versa.

As I said – the store is up and running. Orders have been placed (and even some have been fulfilled).  So have at it, whenever you like.  I will still be learning this interface (like how to create orders for people), so that will take some time.  I do know that some Product Descriptions got truncated, so those will need to be fixed.  If your having issues navigating or find problems, contact me and we will figure it out.  If there is something you want to see online that used to be there, contact me and we will see about getting it up there.

Anyway, I can now get back to filling some older orders, cutting some kits, finishing some models and so on.

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Notice I am now saying “restoration” and not “failure”.  We are moving beyond the failure into the new store.  And, it’s moving along.  I am able to batch upload Product Names and Descriptions that I can extract from the old site.  During the upload, I can set price and category.  These are much easier to do on a spreadsheet than on each individual product page.

But I learned that I have to do it in small sections.  Because, then I have to go into each individual product page, set things like product dimensions – and photos.  If I did 500 at once, I’d never be able to make sure all were logged correctly.  So, it is slow and steady.

I’ve now got just over 100 products in the store.  As I load, I am trimming my products, eliminating ones that I no longer sell (or no longer want to sell).  This was coming anyway, as suppliers dry up.  This will streamline your experience – and mine.

Last evening, I received my first order from the new store!  So, YES, IT WORKS!

To see the store, click the SHOP item on the right end of the top menu bar.  That will show a page of the different categories (if they have items in them).  Or you can just jump right to the specific category you want on the SHOP BY CATEGORY on the menu on the right SIDE.

As you can see, it is a fully integrated shop.  If you are having problems, let me know what they are and I will see if I can track them down.  As one person already observed: now the store and blog appear properly on small screens (like phones and tablets).  That’s an improvement right there.  I paid for a “responsive” site back when, but it was only partially realized.

I’ll be packing some orders this morning, and then back at the tedium that is reloading the products.  Onward and upward!

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Re-store-ation (haha) is underway.  It is and will be a slow process.

Background:  My site has two parts – a blog and a store – and these required two separate systems (WordPress and Zen Cart).  A couple of years ago, I paid (good money) to integrate the two.  What I wanted and what I got were two different things and both the blog and the store were compromised.

A couple week ago, I did some background system upgrades a) because it is always a good idea and b) I wanted to use a cloud system so I can access some of my files (not store related) if and when I am on the road.  Well, it appears that this upgrade action broke some of the implementation that I paid for and some store items became un-orderable.   You could go to the details page, but you couldn’t add the item to your cart.

I tracked the problem to an issue with the template – the “look and feel” of the site.  Of course, this template was part of the custom integration that I paid for.  I tried to fix that myself.  I installed some templates to see if they would allow the site to operate.  Well, due to the poor nature of the integration, modifications had been done to root (basic system) files, not directly associated with the template.  My actions of simply loading new templates overwrote these files and my site broke immediately.  Because I did not know which files were replaced, I could not undo what I had done.  I did try doing a file roll-back from the host provider to files dated a week ago (that should have worked) but it didn’t do anything.

So, I gave up.  The blog (WordPress) portion of the site was still accessible.  I started researching how I can integrate sales into WordPress (what I paid for a couple years ago) and I think I found a solution.  I hope it is robust enough to handle what I want – which really isn’t much, but I have over 500 ACTIVE items for sale I will have to enter most of the information individually.  I can still access the administrative back end of the old store, so I can export my products and I can import in batch, but each item needs individual attention after that.  It is a time consuming process.

You can start to see the results.  In the upper right corner of the page, you can see new items on the menu bar:  SHOP and CART.  These are part of the new store.  On the right side menu, you can see the new menu section SHOP BY CATEGORY and you will see categories and sub-categories popping up in there as time goes by.  I am going slowly, but stuff is getting there already.  I believe the purchase process is in place – so the store is LIVE, just not full of products, yet.  Bear with me and we will get there.  And I will finally have an integrated store that I wanted a long time ago.

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I was doing some maintenance and broke the site.  I will be working to restore it.  I cannot say when it will be back, but I am working on it.

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Weight Savings – Think About it

Over the last couple of days, I have been distracted by a potential project. I want to build a 16″ span model – but lighter than I normally do (I want to hit 12 grams w/o rubber as opposed to 20 grams w/o rubber).

I got to thinking about wood selection. If I built with some 7 lb wood (1/16″ square) that would be lighter than I normally do. Good idea – I’ve built Peanuts like this, why not go to Dime/Embryo size with similar wood. Actually, I’ve done it before with my Indoor Dimers and Embryos, so the practice matches the theory.

Then I had another thought – I have some 6 lb 3/32″ wood – maybe that would be near the same weight but (hopefully) a little stronger due to the increased cross-sectional area. Hmmm – yeah, that might work!

I did a similar thought process years ago regarding building lighter for Peanuts (I thought I had it online in my How-To section and was going to link it here, but, it is not there ***), but hadn’t really thought about that relevance on today’s project.

I got out my handy-dandy Excel spreadsheet and did some involved, round-about calculations that cleared my mind – and I realized there was a much simpler method of calculation.

This is a screen capture from my CAD program to illustrate the correction to my wrong-thinking. The image on the left is a square 1/16″x 1/16″ – like you were using 1/16″ square wood. The image on the right is a square 3/32″x3/32″ – like 3/32″ square wood.

Now notice that the small square had 4 units of area in it and the large square has 9 units in it. A piece of 3/32″ square has 2.25 TIMES MORE WOOD than a piece of 1/16″ square. How does that apply to my problem? you can look at it in two ways:

1 – if I used 7 lb 1/16″ square wood to build with, to get a piece of 3/32″ that weighed less, I would need 3 lb wood.

2 – conversely, if I used 6 lb 3/32″ wood, I could build with anything less than 13.5 lb 1/16″ and it would be lighter.

For my project, I don’t want to build out of 13.5 lb wood – I’ll stick with 7 or even 8 lb 1/16″ sticks!

*** – my previous article had to do with building Peanuts out of 1/20″ square rather than 1/16″ square. Using the same density wood would realize a similarly significant weight savings. Of course, finding 1/20″ wood of light density is a challenge.

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Caudron C.460 Short Kit – and Other Items

You’ve been waiting a long time.  I have finalized the Caudron C.460 Short Kit.  This is a 24″ span kit of the 1936 National Air Races Greve and Thompson Race Champion.  In FAC competition, it qualifies for FAC Scale and the Greve Races.

This kit has been a complex project.  It comes with a 36″x13″ rolled plan, 6 sheets of laser-cut balsa (one 3/32″ sheet, two 1/8″ sheets, and three 1/16″ sheets – over 30 minutes of laser cutting time per kit), and two pieces of aluminum tape to replicate the two radiators.  In addition, I have created some optional items:  a vacu-formed canopy and a 3D-printed nose block (with Gizmo Geezer Nose Button).  You will be able to choose your options (one or the other – or both) when you select the kit for purchase.

You can see build photos HERE (opens in new tab).

Go directly to the order page HERE (opens a new tab).

screen shot of the order page with options.



Here are some other products I am releasing today:


I don’t sell balsa – until now.  I have been getting so much “heavy” (12-20#) balsa that I decided to try to re-coup some of my losses.  This is too heavy for my kits, and I have been giving it away locally, but I can provide it to you for a good price, if you can use this heavier stock.

I am selling 1/16″ sheet and 1/8″ sheet in 18″ lengths for the price of 10- 18″ sheets for $5 and $10.  That is LESS THAN my cost.

3D Nose Blocks – with Gizmo Geezer Nose Buttons

I’ve made these for MY models and have tested them.  They work.  They are designed to with the following features:

  • they FIT the model (dimensions per plan)
  • they have a built-in bevel on the top of the plug insert to allow for the block to pop out easier on landing (saving the prop and fuselage)
  • they are designed to replace the back of the Gizmo Geezer Nose Button (you screw the front into the nose block directly) – this saves a little weight.

They only weigh a couple grams and they are durable.  They are also available in a variety of colors.  They can be sanded for a smooth finish or left as-is.  They are $9 for the block AND the GG Nose Button ($6 alone!), so if you don’t like carving and sanding, this is the item for you.

King Harry Nose Blocks

Wanderer Nose Blocks

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Can You See 2020?

This is a day or two early, but I think I’ll write about the past year, the past eight years, and the past decade, in general – today.  Good-bye to the 2010 decade, and hello to the 2020 decade.

This year started out like a steamroller that disorganized everything.  My business saw record-setting activity – in January through June, five of the six months had their highest monthly totals in both orders and dollars and I actually saw daily averages over four orders per day.  Now that might sound wonderful – until you have to fill four orders a day.  This is really just a hobby for me – it is not (and will not be) a Hobby Shop in the traditional sense – and a flood of orders set me on my heels for a time – and I am still a bit behind.

In addition, the weather was really uncooperative and before we knew it, Geneseo in July was upon us, and we had had little outdoor events up until that time.  Then it just seemed like contest upon contest until we closed out September in Muncie – before we knew it, the year was over.  It seemed like we got little flying done, but that’s just the way it went; and that is the way the decade went, too.  I returned to the hobby and started “Volare Products – the Parts Biz” in 2012.  It now fills my daily life – more like an obsession than a hobby, I guess.  But I like it.

I bought Superior Props in 2013 (with the generous help of many supporters) and it continues to be a success.  It has taught me a lot about propellers and, importantly, it has reinvigorated my dad as he really enjoys being back in the machining world.  It has kept him active in his later years (he will be 81 next month).  Unfortunately, I have had to disable the sales of the Superior Props line again, as he has taken up a new role.  It is one that he struggles with physically and emotionally, and while temporary, it will have a permanent impact on our lives.  He has had to become full-time caretaker for my mom.  She has struggled with severe rheumatoid arthritis all of her adult life and now she is in the late stages of renal cancer that has spread through her body.  This was discovered in November and we do not think she will be observing her 81st birthday in May.  It will be a trying time for all of us.

Looking at my records, I have only release eight new kits this year – that is a bit below average, but they have two NoCals, two Embryos, and FOUR Peanuts.  I don’t mind saying that the Peanuts are pretty good kits, especially the Corsair and SRE.  I do have two large Scale models that could/should be kitted (24″ Caudron C.460 and Jumbo Aircraft Designs Stallion), but they are complex and the plans need much editing and many annotations.  The Caudron is closest to being finished – really, it is ready to package, but I’ve been busy.  I also have two Old Timers (2-Bits) that need to be built and flown, then they could be kitted.

My “to-do” list for 2020 has 16 projects on it.  After a flurry of late autumn activity, four of those are finished (and already kitted).  But, as I like to say, I “bumped my head” and one project has become an obsession within my greater obsession.  A month or so ago, I was talking to Vance Gilbert about my desire to build a “Mega” (54″ span or greater).  This is a strictly unofficial FAC event, although any planes can and do qualify for the official events of Giant (48″ span), Jumbo (36″ span) or Scale (between Jumbo and 13″ Peanut) – depending on which events are hosted at the contest.  I clearly remember telling him that I wanted to do one, but it would certainly be as simple as possible given the inherent complexity of the largest of rubber-powered models.

Well, I may have really bumped my head on this one.  I quickly went for simplest high-wing monoplane ever to a complex low-wing twin-engined behemoth.  I have started drawing up the Caudron C.640.  Caudrons of the mid-30s are some of the most streamlined and beautiful airplanes ever and this one may be the epitome of their designs.  The C.640 is basically a twice-sized C.460 with two engines instead of one.

I’ve been steadily working on drawing up a 55″ model.  I have got the wings and nacelles just about drawn up to working prototype level.  Here is a screen cap of the nacelle design.  This model will swing 10″ props – they probably should be bigger, but cheating the nacelles outward would start to change the look of the plane (they were very close to the fuselage on the full-sized plane).

that rectangle is 24″ wide. and the F1-Motor Peg distance is 15.5″

Anyway, I have committed myself to this plane and having it ready for Geneseo in July.  It is unlikely many of those remaining twelve 2020 projects will see much work until this is done.  Right now, I’ve gotta get back down to the basement and pack up some more orders to keep all of you customers happy.

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My Peanut WACO SRE

Watching Mike Kelly build out his larger WACO SRE last year, I became inspired to work on a Peanut SRE.  I also did it to honor a friend and mentor from the Cleveland Free Flight Society, Del Balunek.  Del gave me my first rubber (black Champion, I think) and he also always seems to have a Peanut WACO with him, as he was a huge WACO fanatic.

Anyway, Walt Mooney did a Peanut SRE (Model Builder, Nov 1973) and that would be a good place to start.  My plan is not a direct copy of the Mooney plan, but used it as “inspiration”.  I built my version for Indoor competition, cutting the parts and sticks from 6# wood.  I am very pleased with the way this turned out; it is 10.5 grams, including about 1.4 grams in Gizmo Geezer nose button and my VPS/Boehm  3d-printed clutch.  The N struts are also 3D printed (the N struts will be included in the short kit).

I had this in the back yard the other evening, it was calm and dry.  With 400-500 turns, it was very stable, flying right, and seemed to need either a touch of tail weight or a touch of elevator.  I didn’t push it,, since I didn’t want to crash it or get it wet before flying indoor.

There are my build photos.  With any luck, I’ll have flight video sometime soon.






Del Balunek with a Peanut WACO N from my plans. This was in the ’90s


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