Musings from the Combat Pits

Safety thongs: Put a little color in your life

By Buzz Wilson

At a recent contest, I noticed that Mike Rule was using a new safety thong. When I saw it I said to him, "You have been to Ace Hardware," and he replied “Yes."

A few weeks before the contest I was in my local Ace Hardware and noticed they had fluorescent-colored cord and thought it would be ideal for safety thongs.

In Combat, sometimes we will use a pilot-start-your-own-engine procedure in which you find that you are running into the circle and trying to locate your handle. In the past I have resorted to placing a rag under the handle. When I saw the fluorescent cord I knew that I wanted to replace my safety thongs.

For benefit of the lawyers, the following is from the Academy of Model Aeronautics. Refer to the AMA rules for suggested construction.

A safety thong connecting the handle of the Control Line models to the pilot’s wrist, and strong enough to prevent accidental release of the model, shall be worn during all flights of Control Line events except all Racing events. The safety thong should have a minimum amount of slack to preclude accidental release or interfering with the controls. Releasing the controls during flight or before the model has come to a complete stop shall constitute a foul if the safety thong restrains the model and lines from flying free; if the contestant releases the controls and the safety thong during flight or before the model has come to a complete stop, the contestant shall be barred from further participation in the event and all of previous flights canceled.

The following photographs show the materials that I used in making the new thongs. Shown at right is the wrapping string. This is the same string I use to reinforce the trailing edges of my foam airplanes, chalk line marking string).

I start by cutting the cord. Since I have a small wrist, a 20-inch piece works well for me.

I have shown the method I use for making the loop. I have used this for years and have never had a problem. I will wrap the loop end with line marking string. Once it is wrapped, I use cyanoacrylate glue to soak the string and safety cord.

The final step is to take heat shrink and slip it over the assembly and shrink the joint. The heat shrink needs to cover the entire wrap. My wrap tends to be slightly less than 1.5 inches so a piece of heat shrink of 1.5 inches works well.

The final step is to heat the tube.

Take the end of the cord and thread it through the loop and slip it over your wrist and tighten. Now check to make sure there is enough length to attach to your handle. You will need to fuse the end of the cord before you continue. Do not forget to slip the heat shrink over the cord. The F2D handle has a center hole. The attachment to the handle can be made the same way as the loop – wrap, CA, heat shrink.

For my other handles, I prefer to take and thread the cord through the hole in the handle and tie a knot in the end. I will take a torch and fuse the end of the knot.

The new F2D handle is very smooth. I have taken the Power Flex and put a light wrap on the handle. This material will form to your hand and is easy to replace.

Here is a photo of the completed handle:

The photo at right above shows a variety of handles ranging form Half A to Fast that I have replaced the safety thongs with fluorescent.

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This page was upated Dec. 28, 2017