Miscellaneous Stuff

A simple, cheap, quick-to-build 1/2-A Combat-style airplane for a reed valve engine, made from pink insulation foam. It flies well! Gene Pape photo.

Try this at home

By Gene Pape
March 2020

First,  something you may actually find useful.  Lane Puckett recently sent a link to an issue of Aeromodeller magazine that has nearly everything you could ever want to know about building and flying control line models.  The information is a bit dated, but it all seems worth reading.  Check it out. Also, here’s a link from Lane to a whole lot of issues of Aeromodeller.

I’ve recently been building some vintage combat models.   Because I’ve had leadout guides that are glued to the surface of the wing tip come loose, I always drill holes through the wing tip for the brass guides.  I find that if you drill a 3/32” hole through even a 1/8” balsa tip you will not cause any problems with the structure, and the guide will never come loose.  I simply drill the hole through the tip, slip in the brass tubing, and apply thin C/A to both sides of the tip where the tubing goes through it.  The only problem I have doing this is that the drill alignment is critical and I’m a klutz.  I’ve taken care of this by making a simple drill jig using 1/8” plywood and brass tubing.

A guide for drilling 3/32" holes through a 1/8" wingtip. Gene Pape photo.

I have found that regular power tools are too big and powerful for many of the things I do in modeling.  Buzz Wilson got me started on this path by suggesting a small Dremel Moto Tool.  I have since purchase a small rechargeable one of these.  I also purchased an incredibly inexpensive corded rotary tool from Harbor Freight.  These tools cost less than $10.00 with a coupon and come complete with a variety of collets, drill bits, and all kinds of grinding tools.  They are very not powerful, and that’s the whole point.  You can do very intricate work with them.

The $9.99 Harbor Freight power tool comes with all these accessories. Harbor Freight photo.

Do you ever need to have flat washers with flats on the sides to fit into slots?  I’ve been making these things all kinds of ways for as long as I can remember.   Today I decided I needed to make 10 of them and I really hate this job.  Then it occurred to me I could clamp a stack of them on a bolt and use the nut as a guide to get them done correctly.  Why didn’t I think of this years ago?

Washers stacked on a bolt with the nut used as a guide for grinding flat sides so that the washers will fit in a motor mount slot. Gene Pape photo.

A few months ago, Gary Weems showed u at our flying field with a model carrier made from one-inch-thick pink insulation foam.  He said he had lots of scraps of it if I wanted to play with it.  I discovered that this material is much stronger than the white foam we ordinarily use for making wings and is also fuelproof.  It inspired me to build an extremely simple ½-A flying wing just to see if it would work.  It does! (See photo at top.)

For those of you who enjoy building if you don’t already know about Vintage Performance Model Airplanes, you should.  From what I can tell, Stan Fronabarger makes the best kits ever.  His web page doesn’t begin to cover all of his products.  As near as I can tell he is reproducing nearly every popular profile and Combat model kitted before about 1970.  He has upgraded construction techniques to make the models easy to build.  If you want one but don’t want to build one, he also sells al of his models as extremely high-quality ARFs done to your specs.  He has even been known to supply vintage engines.  He has a strong presence on Facebook.  Check him out.

Doing a complete 180 from that, the project I have in mind for next is to build a model as nearly as possible exactly the way I had to build them when I was 13 years old in 1962.  That means starting from balsa sheets and strips.  Using no power tools whatsoever.  Using no epoxy or C/A.  Using only brushed on dope as a finish.  I have a number of other projects to complete before I’m ready to start on this.  Maybe one of you can do it first and let me know how you did.

-- Gene

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This page was upated March 15, 2020