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Cessna 177RG Cardinal – SUCCESS!!!

First, the build, then the flight report, with video, below.

In the summer of 2019, before we all had other worries, we witnessed Gene Smith win the FAC Modern Civilian event at the 2019 AMA Outdoor Nationals at the Muncie flying site.  Gene’s model was nicely done and light and put in very nice flights.  I asked Gene if I could produce a short kit from his design and he said sure and that he would send plans to me.

I was a bit surprised when he sent me…sketches – haha!  But I pushed through that and took my time to draw up all of the half-shell formers, keels, and stringer notches.  I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but when it came to building, I only had to make three or four very minor changes to the former designs.

part of Gene’s original drawings

 

BUILD REPORT

I started this build in January, knowing that I was building an Outdoor model during Indoor season.  As I laid out the keels, I noted that they are narrow.  Were they too narrow?  So were the formers.  I had cut my prototype set out of pretty light balsa and I had to be careful as they broke on the grain very easily.  I added comments and notes to the plan showing how to reinforce them where the grain made them weak.  When I got the keels laid out and started placing the formers, I was pleased to find that they all fit just right.  Even the side keels, with former notches, matched up fine.

I only put on one side stringer to hold things in place hoping that it wouldn’t pull the keel & half-shell structure out of “straight” – that worked, too.  I glued on the other half formers and the side keel and side stringer.  Everything was straight.  I started adding the remaining stringers in pairs – first one side and then the corresponding stringer on the other side.  Where the curves were very tight, like on the underside of the nose, I moistened the outer side of the stringer to make the straight stringer bend (to my will – haha).  Historically, I don’t like Keel & Half-Shell construction, but they do come out nicely, maybe even lighter.

I quickly got on to finish the fuselage and then built the easy parts – the tail and the wing.  I found a full-scale ship to model and set about creating a printed tissue set for the build.  This turned out to be a challenge, even for this simple design, because I had to cover the curved fuselage is sections and had to match up (or try to match them) the panel lines.  The result wasn’t perfect and had plenty of tucks and errors, but it turned out fine.

The windows – and there are plenty on this model, were critical to the appearance.  Gene didn’t include any details about the windows.  The sides are not too bad, but they do take up a bit of space.  The construction, unfortunately, does have one former going through a window.  I probably could have solved that, but just ignored it.  The sides are basically flat and I glued tissue to plastic (with spray adhesive on the cut out tissue) and then glued the plastic to the frame (with canopy glue).

The rear window on the full scale is nothing but compound curves.  I could have done a canopy for the rear, but it is small enough that it can be represented with a flat piece of plastic wrapped around the fuselage.  I glued tissue to the plastic, glued the top edge to the frame, then wrapped it around when the top was set.  I think this worked out just fine.  I feel I tapered the window cutout a little too much, so I widened the base of the cutout on the plan.

The front window could be done in the same manner as the rear window – a flat piece wrapped around.  I’ve done that before on a similar model (my Jumbo Stallion – see pic), but the 3-views and full-scale photos just show too much of a compound “bubble” to reproduce that as flat.  So I tried to model a buck in 3D, but just couldn’t get it right and asked Archie Adamisin if he would take my basics and create a good file that I could print.  He did a great job, thanks Archie!  I printed out the buck, sanded it smooth, and then cut it apart!  It was just a little too large for my vacu-former.  Actually, my design produced a buck that was overly long;  It could be redone, but this will work out. I pulled several as a test and then pulled on that I would use on my model.

I covered this model in a different order than normal (for me).  Normally, I start on the bottom of the model, then I cover the sides, and finally the top surfaces.  If the length requires two pieces, I start at the rear and go to the front.  In my mind, this make the overlaps less visible – the sides cover the bottom and the top covers the sides – and the front pieces cover the rear pieces.  Because I printed the tissue on this model, I had to do everything differently.  I had to put the rear turtle on first, so I could put the rear window on.  then I put on the side windows (with the sides windows overlapping the rear window edges), then the top cowling.  I did the bottom next, but found that the landing gear openings would wrap onto the sides (I cut them off and pasted them on later).  There was enough compound curvature on the sides, that I had to cut the pieces into a front piece and rear piece (this messed up the printed lines) and also had to make snips to handle the compound curse (these made tucks in the tissue).  Ugh – It doesn’t look very good, but it is all covered!

Oops, I forgot to mention – I was printing on red Esaki and if you know red Esaki, then you know it has as bluish tinge to it.  I bought some Pan Pastel Red chalk and rubbed it into the back of the tissue.  It really didn’t change the front much, but the back was now red.  i hoped it would come through after sealing, as my full-scale choice is bright red.

Then I did something I have never done in all my years of modeling:  I used dope on the model!  I broke down and purchased some Randolph Non-taughtening Nitrate Dope and matching Thinner.  I measured it out 50-50 into a glass jar and brushed it on.  One coat for the Fin (which had been damaged after covering (grr…), two coats for the wing (the wing also has two puncture holes in it! double grr…) and horizontal, and three coats for the fuselage.  The red chalk came through a little bit, but maybe I should have tested the red chalk on white tissue.  Of course, Design Master Carnation Red spray would have been perfect, but then my black stripe would have needed to cut and applied afterwards – ugh, choices.

Moving on, I decided to go with a stacked prop – I chose a 7″ x 9″ pitch.  I use this size prop on Embryos.  What’s the connection?  Well an Embryo is 50 square inches and my Outdoor Embryos weigh in at about 20 grams (and fly well on a loop of 3/16″ rubber).  This Cessna came out light at 20 grams and has 66 square inches, so I thought a 7″ prop would be ok.  I also printed a spinner.  I finished up the prop and spinner at about 9:30pm on the night before the contest.

FLIGHT REPORT

I was nervous about taking a model of this size to an Indoor contest.  I’ve seen Paul Boyanowski fly many larger models indoors, but for me, this is something new.  This would be the largest and heaviest model I have attempted to fly inside.  Even as large as the Ultimate Arenas facility is, I know very well how hard the walls and ceiling girders are – they are unforgiving.  Heavy planes can and will sustain damage.

I got to the facility a little early.  I got set up and got the Cessna out before anyone was there.  I had put a short loop of 1/8″ in it – maybe it would be under-powered, but it wouldn’t be overpowered and zoom into the hard boundaries of the building. I gave it a few test glides and added clay to the tail to get a good glide that still remained a tad nose-heavy.  I put about 500 turns into the motor and gave it a very cautious toss – wow, it flies!  I tweaked the Gizmo Geezer nose button for just a little down and a little more right and wound it up to 1000 turns.  As you can see in the video, I was rewarded with a very stable 54-second flight!  Truly amazing!  This was all before the contest started and I didn’t really care how the rest of the day went – it was a great success.  I must say that if I had crashed out of every event I would not have been very happy, but I didn’t and how well or poorly I ended up in those events was certainly eclipsed by the flights I had on this brand-new airplane.  My best flight was 88 seconds on 1900 turns on a longer motor.  I am probably stalling out a little on the high-torque launch and that can be trimmed out.  And if I can carry slightly more weight, I can put in an even longer motor and break two minutes indoors.  Oh, I won FAC Scale with my 88 second flight – a win on the first day of flying is always a good thing!

Here is the test flight video, followed by more construction photos.

 

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2020 Hindsight Into 2021

Wow, 2020 was quite the year.  I don’t really need to review any of the things that affected us as a country and the world – all of us lived that and I am sure that 2020 will not rank as “My Favorite Year” to very many people.  Let’s all hope that we have a better 2021 than we did 2020.

I flew as often as I could in 2020 – but they were all small local contests and even some of those were cancelled.  All of my planned big contests were cancelled.  No Indoor Fling in Pontiac, no Indoor Nats in Arizona, no FAC Nats in Geneseo, no Outdoor Nats in Muncie, and no Muncie contests at all.  I love flying at Muncie – it is my favorite field and when I arrive there, it feels like home.  I get to fly my big planes, stay on the field as long as I like in the evenings and rise with the morning sun.  I did none of that in 2020.

As for the business, sales were down in 2020, but not too much.  I kept busy , as people still ordered at a consistent rate throughout the year, with June, July, and August orders coming in at a higher than average rate.  I guess people kept building throughout the year, whereas they normally would have been traveling the country and fly flying.

According to my records, I produced 12 new Short Kits in 2020.  I had time to build, but it was frustrating as I couldn’t get out and fly to the max, especially those produced at the end of the year.  Build it, refine the parts and plan, get in a few test flights in my back yard, and put the model on the shelf.  Oh well, at least I can get in enough flying to get the products on the shelf for you to buy.  Maybe you can build while your locked down, too.

Apart from being at the flying field, I really enjoy the development of new kits.  I like to draw, either translating someone else’s drawing to a kit or developing my own designs from scratch.  I draw every day and that is not an exaggeration.  Every morning, I sit down with my hot cup of coffee and work on a drawing for an hour or two before I pack orders before the mail comes – then I often draw more in the afternoon or evening.  Some drawings are really quick and some take a very long time.  I’ve been working on an obscure OT Stick for over two weeks.  Now, OT Sticks are simple, right – I mean you can’t get much simpler than a straight box fuselage with a wing and tail.  Well, this one has rather complex wing and tail details that have required a LOT of time to convert into a product that can be made into a Short Kit.  It is taking a lot longer to get to the build stage than I had anticipated.  I am getting a lot invested in this design and I am expecting big things from it when I get it built – haha.

I try to do a lot of “things” for myself and I do share these with the Free Flight community.  I’ve become better at designing things for the 3D Printer.  I try to solve “problems” that I am having and then share these with everyone else that is interested – because sometimes others are having those same “problems”.  This is also rewarding – whether you, the public, buys my stuff or not.  I try to help and share, even share information.  I often get notes or calls telling me that people do appreciate the things I do.  That is always good to hear.  I was surprised – and honored – this year by two recognitions in particular: I was nominated (and won) a Special Model of the Year Award from the NFFS community and also nominated (not yet announced) for the Flying Aces Club Hall of Fame.  While I do not do what I do for this recognition, I am proud of both of these.  Thanks to all of you.

So, 2021 is merely hours away.  We can look forward and plan and hope.  There will be new experiences coming.  Let’s all reflect on what has passed and be thankful for what we have and what we will have and even the things we had and lost.  Appreciate every day for what it is and try to wake up and say “what a beautiful day” everyday, because it is a gift, regardless if it is our “perfect” day or not.

See you on the flying field! –george

3D printing canopy bucks has allowed me to add canopies (and spinners) to some of my kits, especially the WWII Peanut kits.

a rib test for my OT Stick – and these are the “simple” ribs!

a test print of a nose block with a recess for the Gizmo Geezer nose button. Not the first I have done, just the most recent.

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New Band Burner DT – Photos and Demo Video

Over the past few months, I worked with Bernard Guest and Liav Hershkoviz to make improvements on the Band Burner DT.  Earlier this month, I received a new batch from Bernard and Version 2 is a vast improvement, not in operation (that is the same), but it application.  It is now more compact and of a standard shape with a “housing” for easy mounting.  Here is a series of photos – and a video – showing the new product, a new charger, and some little accessories I designed for my own use (I will probably include the 3D printed protective case in those that I sell).

This is the new Band Burner, with its 3D-printed housing, and the 30 mAh LiPo battery

the bottom view of the Band Burner and housing.

the side view of the assembly (battery installed) showing the housing’s cross section and how the battery sits immediately under the circuit board.

my 3D-printed protective case for the back. without this, the battery (typically) inside the model’s fuselage and subject to beating by the rubber.

how my protective case slips over the Band Burner’s 3D-printed housing.

my 3D-printed base for a “mousetrap” bail for DTs. It has a hook for one end of the Dental Band that will be burnt by the Band Burner. This standardizes the DT Band Mounting (removed excessive stress from the DT itself). This can be used on fuse-burning DTs, as well.

here is a graphic illustration of the base plate

How I have mounted the Protective Case and the Mousetrap Bail (with 0.025″ music wire) on a test board. The case being glued to the board with CA makes it a permanent part of the fuselage – the DT can be removed at will. The Mousetrap Bail is also glued to the fuselage, with the tiny hook in linear alignment with the hook on the Band Burner DT.

the band Burner DT mounted. Also showing the Hummingbird Variable Charger, specifically designed for these tiny 1S LiPo batteries – and an adapter cable that connects the new battery with the charger. The charger works off any standard USB-Output source (computer, battery, wall wart, etc).

Version 2 of the Hummingbird Band Burner allows the battery to be re-charged without removal of the DT from the model. Simply unplug the battery and plug in the charger.

the Charger, attached to a battery source (not shown) charging the battery with the DT installed.

Showing how the Band Burner DT is set up with the Mousetrap Bail – ready for action (see video).

Here is the video of the Band Burner DT with the Mousetrap Bail in action:

You can find the Hummingbird Band Burner DT HERE

You can find the Hummingbird 1S LiPo Battery Charger HERE

 

 

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New December Products!

There has been a flurry (December snow – get it?) of NEW PRODUCTS this week!  Band Burner DTs, 1S LiPo Charger, Stacked Prop Kit, Yak-3 Peanut – see below for details!

  • Hummingbird Band Burner DT – BACK IN STOCK
    • redesigned for a more compact and standardized form
    • light weight and rechargeable without removal from model
    • find it HERE
  • Hummingbird 1S 10mAh-100mAh LiPo Battery Charger
    • specifically designed for the tiny 1S LiPo batteries used in the Band Burner DT
    • variable charge rate
    • powered by any USB source
    • find it HERE
  • VPS Stacked Prop Fixture Kit
    • accurately sets sticks for stacked props
    • Normal or Reverse rotation
    • 4P through 15P pitch choices
    • comes with two sheet of laser-cut sticks
    • find it HERE
  • VPS Stacked Prop Sticks
    • laser-cut for identical pieces
    • 1 set = two sheets
    • choose 6″, 8″ or 11″ length
    • find it HERE
  • Yakevlov Yak-3 Peanut Short Kit
    • vacu-formed canopy and spinner included
    • build notes HERE
    • free tissue printing template HERE
    • Short Kit HERE

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Peanut Scale Yak-3 – All Done!

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Peanut Scale models.  And I really like to make WWII fighters in Peanut Scale – they don’t always win against bigger models in Combat, but they can shock the troops when you get a good flying one.

Back in 2018, I went to the AMA Indoor Nats in Rantoul, IL.  There I met George Nuñez, who drove up from Florida with a car load of models (he probably had 20 models with him!)  One of those that caught my eye was his Peanut Yak-3.  Not only was it cute and clean little plane, but it flew great (he beat my Barracuda in WWII Combat).  I asked him about it and he said his son, Jonathan had designed it.

George Nuñez at Rantoul in 2018 and some of his models. Note his Yak-3 front and center.

I always meant to ask Jonathan about it, but many things got in my way.  Eventually, his plan was published in the Nov/Dec 2019 issue of the NFFS Digest.  I contacted Jonathan and asked him if I could kit his plan and he consented.  It took me a little time, but I finally got the plan redrawn (I redrawn plans to create the parts).  I made some minor changes (replaced the hollowed out block for the lower cowl to what I call stringer/formers and some other minor changes).  Then I had to convince myself to start building.  Once I did, it went really quickly – just a few days from nothing to covered model.  Final weight without rubber is just a smidge under 9 grams.

By the way, I grabbed the tissue patterns from the asisbiz website – a site for computer gaming skins.  This is a great resource for WWII tissue layouts as the entire surface of the gaming aircraft needs to be covered, just like out models – and those artists go into great detail.

While my model hasn’t hit 20 seconds, yet, I know it will.  At 9 grams without rubber, it is just too light to test outdoors – even light breezes carry into the trees surrounding my yard.

Here is a link to the short kit, complete with vacu-formed canopy and spinner: (HERE).   You can download the tissue print file, too (HERE).

Here are my build photos.

3D printed canopy and spinner bucks and resulting pulls

ready to start building!

tail surfaces

the second side being built

going 3D on the fuse

installing the block that is the nose

showing the upper stringer/formers

showing the lower stringer/formers (after sanding)

setting the dihedral

covering underway (with printed tissue)

radiator scoop ready to cover

radiator scoop covered

underside of finished model

top side

“Yellow 19” in Poland 1945

“Yellow 19” in Poland 1945

composite – with photo, artwork, and model

the end of the last outdoor test flight

retrieved without damage

 

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December-eve Update

Boy, you take a couple of days off for Thanksgiving and the orders pile up!  I’m working on them, but people seem to be stocking up on supplies (lots of little things).  Also, lots of orders for parts that require me to make things – lots of hands-on time for me.  Oh well, I asked for it!

Things that I have been doing in non-production hours:

The Nunez Peanut Yak-3 is still sitting on my building board; the bare plan, vacu-formed pieces, and cut parts staring at me, telling me to get busy.  That’s my next build, for sure, but I don’t know if I will get to it before our next Indoor session (Dec 10th).  Or maybe I will as Michigan is currently restricting such gatherings until the 9th – they might extend, which would cancel our December meet and give me another month to build before January.

I couldn’t help myself and took my light-weight He.178 JetCat (6.5 grams light for a 10.5″ span!) outside on a calm morning this week.  It certainly shows potential, but it is hard to trim in my yard:  I had it bouncing off all four “walls” (tree lines) in my back yard.  I’ll get some Gurney flaps on it and hope to get it flying like I want, but that will need to wait until Indoors.

I’ve been concentrating my drawing time on the Gene Smith Cessna Cardinal (21.5″ span).  Gene designed it as Keel and Former.  I think I finally have the shapes of the formers finalized, along with stringer placement (12 stringers in addition to the four keels).  To me, this is the hardest part -not only do I have to locate the stringer notches on each former, but I have to make sure the notches on ALL the formers result in a nice smooth flowing line, avoiding dog-legs in the stringer as the test build is completed.  Usually, I have to change the location of one or two notches when I start to build.  I’ve got the formers about 95% converted to parts/cut layout and the sheet placement has started – about 60% complete.

Well, it’s time to finish my lunch and get back to making those parts!

 

 

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The Slowness of Now (plus Secrets Revealed!)

I haven’t posted in three weeks.  I feel sluggish, tired all the time, and unmotivated.  It is most likely due to lack of sleep, but a certain amount of the ennui or lethargy is due to the time of year and this year, in particular.  Winter is hard for me when it comes to building and flying.  I can build, obviously, but I cannot really test as I have no testing area.  Here is a photo of outside today.

The weather is rarely good enough to test outside – it is either wet and snowy, like the picture, or warm and windy, or cold and windy.  Rarely do we get a day where we have soft breezes and a ground that is neither sopping wet or rock hard.  I can only test indoors and that is once a month – at contest time.  And this year?  well, it is bringing its own challenges.  We did get the November meet in, but spiking COVID cases are a constant worry and the state has limited gatherings.  It may be relaxed by the December contest, but maybe not.

So where am I to get motivation?  In addition, my shelves are getting full of models.  I am running out of places to store them.  Anyway, I will push on, but right now the push is less than a crawl, and more of a stall.


I didn’t write a personal report on the November contest, mostly because I didn’t want to come off as bragging – I took 4 of 5 events and was mere seconds away from the 5th and left that one on the table, due to the model needing a repair.  But there were things that I was particularly pleased with.

My Phantom Flash (#11) continues to be perfectly set up, at least for me.  I made up some motors BEFORE the contest (that’s a shocker, if you know me) and put one of these new motors in the PF.  I guess I can’t read my own notes because the new motor was short – with the model running out of turns well above the ground.  On one flight, it ran out about 20+ feet up in the air at about 2:30 and landed at over 2:40.  That is about my highest flight time – imagine what it would have been with another couple hundred turns from a longer motor.  Next time…

The other great flight was in an event that wasn’t even contested.  I took my newly finished Hobo2 Embryo out for some test flights.  Bob Bienenstein flies his Hobo design on a LONG loop of 1/16″ and a 6″x6″ prop.  I’ve tried to emulate this, but just cannot get the duration that Bob gets out of a loop of 1/16″, probably because I can’t build as lightly as Bob.  I built a 6″x6″ wide-blade prop and put in a 3/32″ motor.  After a couple of initial test flights, I wound it up.  I had 2800 turns and let it go.  It leapt right off the board with a very strong climb-out straight away, as it came to a gentle stall, it put in a little right turn and climbed straight out again.  After the second power stall and right turn, it continued on with no more power stalls and a nice right turn.  Everything went well in the flight, it got good height and had a smooth transition from power to cruise, and it landed at 2:15.  Success.  I think there is more potential – I can probably go with a slightly thinner motor for a longer duration, but it was a most satisfying flight, even if no one else had an Embryo to fly.


Speaking of contests, in case you are not aware, July 2021 will be especially busy for some of us.  Currently scheduled: in the middle of July will be the yearly FAC contest in Geneseo, NY – the next week will be the AMA/NFFS Indoor Nationals in Pontiac, MI (my home field!) – and the week after that will be the AMA/NFFS Outdoor Nationals in Muncie, IN (home away from home).  I anticipate there will be many people that will attend one of these three major contests, there will be a smaller number that will attend two of these contests, and… right now, I know of two people that are planning on attending all three of these contests!  Mike Welshans and I plan on being at all three of these!  What a month – we will be dog tired come August.  Let me know if you are planning on one, two, or three of these!


Every year around this time, I create a Potential Project List that I keep taped to the wall right next to my desk.  It is a reminder of what I want to design/build/fly/kit for the next year.  It is a living document – meaning I add to the list as I get inspiration throughout the year.  Often there are carry-overs from the previous year that didn’t get built, but I still have interest in.  Right now on the 2020 sheet (initially created last year this time) there are 32 models, with 11 completed, and three nearly completed (built and not finished or cut parts waiting to be built).  In the next few days or weeks, I’ll look at the 2020 list and determine what should be carried over to 2021 and create a new list.

So what’s coming up?  Traditionally, I don’t usually share too much of what is in the pipeline.  Maybe I should share some of this information.  I’ll divide this into several groups, based on the current stage of progress on the project (comments welcome).

  • Ready to Cover
    • Peanut Fike E “Dream” – I built this last year for Indoor, but Indoor got shut down.  Then EasyBuilt came out with a Peanut kit.  My project stalled.  I will cover it and fly it for Indoor, but I don’t know if I will kit it.
  • Ready to Build
    • Al Backstrom’s Dimer Mauboussin Hemiptere – as seen in the NFFS Digest – prototype being built by Oliver Sand
    • Jonathan Nuñez’ Peanut Yak-3 – also seen in the NFFS Digest – sitting on my board waiting for motivation
    • Gil Sherman’s Convertible – 2 Bit Old Timer – prototype being built by Archie Adamisin
  • Old Successful Builds, but not Ready for Production
    • Jumbo Stallion – drawing needs finished – depends on public interest
    • Peanut Stuka – drawing needs cleaned up, instructions written, and most importantly, I need to figure out how to design a canopy buck that I can 3D print
  • Drawings in Process – Top of the List
    • Mike Welshans’ 24″ Rearwin Speedster
    • Gene Smith’s Champion 21″ Cessna Cardinal
    • Comet’s Fokker D.vii Dimer
  • Any Interest in These that are also In Progress?
    • Peanut Occipinti’s Tailwind (Wittman Tailwind with retracts)
    • Ace Whitman Sky Rider for OT Fuselage
    • Korda C Stick Tractor for OT Stick
    • Ralph Kuenz’ 24″ F-82 Twin Mustang
    • Gollywock-based Embryo
  • About 100 Other Subjects, Some of Which Have Drawings Started

That’s about it for now.  Orders need packed, Kits need cut, Things need 3D printed, and Models need built.  Stay safe, everyone, even if that means staying separate on Thursday.  I hope to see you at the flying field in the future.

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Never Say Never – Spitfire NoCal for Indoor

I have never really wanted to build a Spitfire.  I did build a Guillows one back before I knew the first thing about Free Flight, but haven’t felt any need to since – up until now.  To me, their proportions are just not right, then there are those long pointy wings.

Back in early 2016, I made a decision to venture west to the March contest in Colorado Springs.  It was a lot of fun – I still owe Don DeLoach another beer for putting me up for a couple nights.  In preparation for that event, I built a Fairey Barracuda for Indoor WWII NoCal Combat.  Rules require 6.2 grams minimum weight and 7″ maximum prop diameter.  These rules are great equalizers as there is no need to build super-light NoCals – pretty much anyone that flies Indoor can build to 6.2 grams or 7 grams without too much problems if they just do a little smart wood selection.

This event was really the start of my learning and improving my Indoor flying.  I was able to get it trimmed out and (with a stroke of luck) won the Combat event.  Here is a trim flight from that event.

What was the luck?  Well, busy CD Don DeLoach never put in a test flight on his model.  He pulled out his model for the first round, wound it up, launched, and watched as it foundered like a fractured duck.  It was certainly the favorite, but it went down early.  The cause?  A cracked wing.  And the model he pulled out of the box?  It was a large, clipped wing Spitfire.

This was the start of my learning to trim (I also learned the importance of checking and testing your model before and official flight).  My Barracuda peaked out at 2:47 over the years and is still a very strong threat in the local Cloudbusters Indoor WWII NoCal Combat – it has won eight out of 11 Combats in Pontiac since that trip to Colorado.  But, it is never good to rest on your laurels.  People are starting to bring in really competitive models – and the Indoor Nats will be held on my home turf this July.  I’ve got to raise my own bar.

I’ve built an Indoor Racer that has hit 3 minutes and should fly more (if I were to risk re-trimming with a new prop) – “I have the technology” to build a better WWII NoCal.  I have been looking and always return to that Spitfire mk.XVI – its got a clipped wing and converting to NoCal takes it right up to 60 square inches – that is Huge (the Barracuda is under 44 squares).  And the hook-to-peg distance is longer by a couple inches.

I set about drawing it up and it went quickly.  My plan has almost all parts laser cut – only the longerons and strip wood to laminate the tails will have to be supplied by the modeler.  The model build very quickly – you could build the frame in a couple hours, if you laminate the tails the night before.  I built this slowly with lots of downtime while I did other things, and I had the frame done in 24 hours (including laminating time) and the model covered, ready to test in another 24 hours.  Here are the build photos.

5 pound wood on the laser cutter

ready to build

the tail surfaces laminated over supplied templates

body and tail built up

wings built up – using supplied tapered LE and TE and 6% Simplex ribs.

I sanded the sheet tips before detaching them – reducing the 1/16″ sheet to about 1/32″ thick so it could bend to match the tip airfoil.

completed structure at 2.2 grams

printed tissue on carrier sheet – fresh out of the printer

1/4″ square solid motor stick, with nosebearing and tail hook – 1.5g

covered model right at 5g. tissue and adhesive weighed 1.5g

finished model ready for testing

final weight – 6.7g – just over the minimum 6.2g

Now we wait.  We will fly next Thursday.  I am a little anxious because this is a low-wing.  The Barracuda is a nice and stable shoulder-wing.  I will definitely have to watch that torque roll.  I imagine it will take a few flying sessions before I get all the bugs worked out.  As I told my son, Jack, today – I probably jinxed a good thing (the Barracuda) and the new plane – and neither will fly!  We will see!

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Customer Photos – EKW C-3603

About a year ago, I received an inquiry from a potential customer.  This customer wanted SIX of my EKW C-3603 Short Kits.  That was unusual enough, but to add to the experience, the customer was in Switzerland (the EKW is a Swiss plane).

This morning, I woke up and checked my email.  There was a new message from the customer, Chris Ott.  He reported that two of the six kits had been completed.

It is always nice to get feedback and notes from customers, but, I think you’ll agree, this was especially gratifying.  These models are finished well beyond our typical flying-for-fun models and built more like display models.  It is nice to see and hear that my little kits were satisfactory for these modelers.  Thank you, Chris, for sharing your beautiful models!

Here is his message – and photos.

It was a pleasure to build this model, using your short kit. The drawings and lasered parts were very precise, so the assembling was easy, even without assembly instructions. Nevertheless we  modified some parts to give that model a more scale appearance :

  • The rear end of the canopy has been rounded.
  • The valve covers were modified.
  • The boxy radiator got round shapes.
  • We gave the cockpit a pilot and instrument panel.
  • We reduced the dihedral to 7.5° only. (instead 9.5° as indicated in the drawing).
  • We painted the model with neutrality stripes (like the prototype 1944).
  • For exhibition purposes we added a removable landing gear and scale propeller.

In the attachment you will find some pictures made during the construction of the first two, now finished models. They wear the buzz numbers C-516 and C-521. The others will follow soon, in other paint schemes.

The b/w picture shows C-625 ready for take off on the runway. This scene could have taken place in the 1940s (photo montage created with Photoshop).



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NEW PRODUCT – Tweety Pup Embryo Short Kit

Before I took my 12-year-break, I flew with all the old-school Cloudbusters from the 80s and 90s.  One of those was Don Campell and this is his 1997 design, the Tweety Pup.  Ever since I drew up Don’s Tomahawk Embryo, I have wanted to do this model, too.  It is a sharp-looking, stand 20 feet away, almost-semi-scale model designed as a play on the Cessna o-1 Bird Dog.  The wing and vertical are very similar to the O-1, and the fuselage is similar, but lengthened significantly.  And, since I just did the Bird Dog as a Dimer, it was only natural that I tackled the Tweety Pup (plus, I just lost my everyday Embryo).

For this build, I decided to go back to basics, building like a “normal” or even new modeler.  No striving for lightness, building with “regular” wood, heavy plastic and wire, and a off-the-shelf plastic prop.  In addition, I am testing a new tissue, a possible replacement for Esaki, that comes from Japan.  This tissue has a nice feel to it, has a definite shiny side, the back side is a little rougher than Esaki (you won’t get front and back confused).  It is only marginally heavier than Esaki.  People are working to get this in production (if people like me give it a thumbs-up) and we’ll see in a few months if this can be done.  I’ll talk about the tissue more later on.

Jump right over to the product for sale HERE.

The Build

This build was kicked in the pants when I lost my DeHavilland Discard at the Cloudbusters contest a couple weeks ago.  We have one more outdoor contest this fall and I decided to have something to fly.  I quickly traced Don’s plan and laid out parts so I could start building.

This is built entirely out of 1/16″ balsa.  I designed this for quick building – almost all of the tail feathers’ parts are pre-cut, and all of the upper and lower fuselage cross pieces are pre-cut.  This removes the tedium  of measuring, cutting, fitting – just build the sides and pop out the crosspieces and glue them in.

The wing goes together in the traditional manner.  I do include trailing edges with built-in gussets for the ribs.

Back to the Tissue

Again, I am testing this tissue.  So I decided to use several treatments on the tissue, in application and finish.

For the tail feathers, I used bare tissue for the fin (except a small print) and the horizontal is covered in fully printed tissue.  I cover these dry and flat.  when they were finished, I sprayed them with clear Krylon (or whatever the spray-can clear is that I have on hand).  They are not shrunk with anything; I do this to resist warping (covering variation #1).

The wing was covered with bare tissue on the bottom and full-printed on top.  Again, these were covered dry, gently tautened during the gluing process, and then sprayed with water to shrink.  This tightens the tissue, but less-so than covering with damp tissue.

The fuselage was covered differently – I covered it with damp tissue.  Since I didn’t know how this tissue would react, the flat sides on the fuselage allowed for a reasonable test.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The tissue dried nicely and pulled taut – I am very happy with the results.  Even on the arched turtle decks, the results are great.  Sometimes tissue pulls really tightly and causes stringer to dip under the stress.  This tissue shrunk just the right amount (cue Goldilocks and Baby Bear).

The noseblock and wheelpants were wood covered with slightly stretched tissue.  I do this by putting glue stick on the solid wood and rubbing damp tissue over the curves.  This worked well, as expected, although I did have one stretch separation – which is typical of this type of covering (at least for me).

I sprayed the finished wing with clear, and the fuselage with white Design Master White.  It is flat white and so I sprayed some of the gloss clear over it.  While I didn’t over coat any of these with the spray, I didn’t hold back (for lightness).  It all looks good and the tissue handled it all well.

I finished up the build with some heavier plastic than I normally use for the windscreens and side windows.  Of course, along with heavier plastics, came minor frustrations of trying to glue plastic to balsa.  I got through it without too much damage to my psyche.  The plane was finished with full 1/32″ wire on the landing gear (usually, I use 0.025″) and a off-the-shelf plastic prop.  The model came out at 22+ grams, not too heavy for an Outdoor Embryo – that’s satisfying.

I test flew the model in my back yard yesterday, and am happy with the potential.  Of course, I need a larger field (hopefully, that will come Sunday).  Here’s what happens regularly in my back yard.  Note:  planes don’t get up there without FLYING.

 

 

UPDATE:  After a few trim flights, I got the model sorted out.  It climbs out well on a 7″ prop with a loop of 3/16″ and Maxed on its third official flight, winning the Embryo event!

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