Flying Aces Club 101 #003 June 2019


Lt. Studster’s unofficial Flying Aces Club newsletter

Alright wingsters! You’ve read the two previous FAC101 newsletters, you’ve done your research, assembled some stick fuselage jobs and amazed yourself, friends and families with dazzling aerial displays. Nice work! You’re hooked on taking to the skies and you’re ready for big time!

This issue of FAC101 will offer advice to mitigate your newfound freeflight addiction, a precautionary intervention of sorts. Many modelers know first hand the dangers of shoot ‘ferda stars freeflight over-enthusiasm. Sites such as Ebay make it too easy to jam yer closets full of models and supplies like a Thanksgiving turkey bustin’oer with too much stuffin’.

NOTE: The information provided in this newsletter isn’t “law”, but is summarized from reliable sources and the personal experience of your dutiful editor.

How to Spend ‘yer Cash on Model Supplies

Purchase one model kit at a time! You’re buying models online so it only makes sense to buy a bunch of models to save money on shipping, right? But Ebay has a “one of a kind” vintage kit that you’ll never see again. You don’t need it now, but you may get to it in the future.

Cartoon of airplane modeler from Bill Hannan's Peanuts and Pistachios Volume Six
Cartoon borrowed from Bill Hannan’s Peanuts and Pistachios Vol. 6

Try not to get caught up in these traps, take it from someone who willingly walked into all of ’em. Shipping costs are shipping costs – there’s no getting around it. Piles of boxed kits scattered around the house aren’t going to do anyone good. If the “rare vintage” kits on Ebay are affordable they probably are not that rare. Keep in mind, there are plenty of sites online that likely offer plans for these no longer produced kits as a free download.

As you progress through the hobby you’re probably going to scratch build your models from plans and right around that time you’ll regret buying sooo many kits. Eager to spend some scratch? Here’s a good general start:

  • Sheet Balsa: It’s good to have a a running stock of 1/32″, 1/16″ and 3/32″ sheet balsa. 1/16″ is the most commonly used thickness for most models. It’s also smart to have some 1/8″ and 1/4″ sheets on hand for laminating nose blocks, wheels, etc. Purchase a Master Airscrew, they cost less than ten bucks, and you’ll be able to cut your own balsa sticks with ease.
  • Music Wire: Music wire is used for landing gear, tail skids, rubber hooks and other miscellaneous stuff. Common sizes are .020 and .032. Purchase about 10 lengths of each – it goes faster than expected. Hobbylinc carries all the metal supplies you’ll need.
  • Aluminum Tube: 1/16″ and 1/8″ OD (outside dimension) aluminum tubes. These tubes are commonly used as motor bushings and rear motor pegs. It’s soft enough to cut to size with a single edge razor blade by rolling the tube on your cutting mat while pressing down with the blade.
  • Tissue Covering: Pick out colors you think you’ll use. It’s affordable and small enough to have a good supply on hand. *
  • Rubber: You’re going to need rubber. 1/8″ is the most commonly used, but it’s good to have 1/16″ and 3/32″ on hand as well. It’s recommended to replace a motor after three fully wound flights because the rubber becomes fatigued and is likely to break. A visit from “HUNGorilla” is devastating (and frequent enough). *
  • Propellers and such: Unless you’re going to carve your own balsa props, which you can do, you’ll need a supply of plastic props. It’s good to have props ranging from 4″ to 8″ on hand. As for the rest, buy an assortment of nylon prop bearings and shafts (unless you plan to make your own shafts from music wire). *
  • Wheels: Plastic wheels are good, but you can model your own from balsa. Your model belongs in the sky, not on the runway.

* Peck Polymers, Easy Built Models and Volare sell the good stuff.

HUNGorilla?

Hungorilla Illustration FAC

Hey, motor-peg breakers, do you know that moment when your motor breaks? All twelve strands? Or two? That instant when the uprights and shreds of insignia-emblazoned tissue go flying about in a spray of doom? And you know your greed for more seconds was a stupid quest, for now you have hours of oath-filled rebuilding to do?


Sure. We all do. And your FAC buddy next to you says, “Oooops… back up one turn, and you’ll have it just right.”


Well, there is one more problem associated with this grief and mess. That is removing that too-tightly wound bit of motor, maniacally twisted about itself in the rear of the fuselage, still ready to give its all, but now only a dire threat to ruin forever what is now a merely broken plane…

FAC News #31

The story continues on, concluding with a request to name “that too-tightly wound bit of motor”. The winning name is revealed in FAC News #33…

“HUNGorilla”, thought up by the Fox of Milford, Lt. Bob Jespersen. His species? “Scatteraloverus Octibusticum”, two of many suggested by Clubster Ed Franklin…

FAC News #33

Glues and Dope

The opinions and available options of glues and dope have changed throughout the history of the hobby. During the early days of the hobby modelers used Ambroid glue to assemble their balsa parts and banana oil (Isoamyl acetate) to attach and “dope” the tissue on their models. If you can find some Ambroid glue it works great, in regards to banana oil – there are much better options available to the modeler.

Here’s a summary of different glues for the fledgling peelot:

  • Wood Glues such as Titebond Original are great for assembling balsa parts. Mixing in 30 – 50% water helps to thin the glue and assists capillary action absorption into the wood. Wait several hours for the glue to “set” before proceeding.
  • Five Minute Epoxy provides a strong bond, great gap filling ability but adds weight to the model. Use epoxy sparingly, general uses are for attaching landing gear, tail skids, etc.
  • Testors Green Tube 3505 is a favorite in spots where a strong bond is required. Comparable to Ambroid glue, this odorous glue provides several minutes of working time and works well for attaching wire landing gear and other fussy parts. Be patient.
  • CA Glues (Cyanoacrylates) are available in various viscosity levels: thin, medium and thick. CA glue. Some modelers build their entire models with CA glue – it’s use is recommended only where a lightning fast bond is required. If you’ve never used CA glue before start with medium viscosity – and be prepared to glue your fingers to your precious model.CA “debonder” is available to detach CA bonds – don’t waste your money.

NOTE: Although CA glues are not toxic the fumes from cyanoacrylate are a vaporized form of the cyanoacrylate monomer that irritate the sensitive mucous membranes of the respiratory tract (i.e., eyes, nose, throat, and lungs). They are immediately polymerized by the moisture in the membranes and become inert. These risks can be minimized by using cyanoacrylate in well-ventilated areas.

  • Purple Glue Sticks are used to attach tissue to your model. This is a much easier way than the old fashioned banana oil or dope method.
  • Canopy Glue is used to attached clear windshields to the fuselage. Fresh out of the bottle it looks like white glue, but it dries strong and crystal clear.

Dope is still readily available from model supply companies for the purposes of “finishing” the tissue covering. The use of dope on freeflight rubber models has all but vanished in these modern times. The various types of dopes have reputations of shrinking and warping models. Dope also adds a great deal of weight to a model.

If you’re interested in giving dope a try start with:

  • SIG Lite-Coat – Low-Shrink Clear Butyrate Dope and mix it 50/50 with SIG Supercoat Thinner. These products aren’t cheap and they tend to evaporate through even the tightest sealed containers. There’s a strong odor associated with these products and you’ll smell them wherever you have them stored.

The common modern substitute for doping tissue is:

  • Krylon Matte Finish Spray is rumored to be lighter than the glossy sibling. Spray one or two coats of clear Krylon at a distance of eighteen inches and you’re good to go.

No-Cal Scale

FAC News #23 presented clubsters with a new and controversial FAC contest and No-Cal took off from there. “No-Cal” is a swell abbreviation for the term “No-Calories”. No-Cal is a great FAC contest category for ze fledgling FAC peelot to tackle. Basically a glorified motor-stick job, No-Cal models are arguably the easiest scale models to build and get off the ground.

No-Cal is a “profile” model – with the fuselage of the model having minimal width. The rules for the class are simple: Wingspan is limited to 16″, the airplane being modeled must be recognizable, and the model must include the landing gear if the full scale airplane has a fixed landing gear. The model can be represented with the landing gear in the up position if the full scale airplane has retractable landing gear.

No-Cal models are designed for light weight and long flights, typically indoors, or outdoor in calm weather. Simply stated, the fuselage of a No-Cal model is a flat representation of the profile of the actual aircraft.

Almost every FAC contest has a No-Cal Scale event, “scale” meaning the model must represent an actual full-size aircraft. According the FAC Rules the model must be in correct color scheme, and have control outlines, registration numbers, etc. This is your big chance to get your foot in the door and git yer name on the big board of contest results. Volare Products offers a variety of quality No-Cal “short kits”.

Short Kits

Eager to learn what a “Short Kit” is?A short kit usually includes a plan and some laser cut balsa parts, mainly the wing ribs and other non-square balsa components. The purchaser is responsible to provide everything else to complete the model, ie: most of the balsa, all of the tissue, metal fittings, rubber and propeller, the list goes on…

It’s important to remember why short kits exist. Most every supplier of stick and tissue models operate as a hobby business. Profits are minimal and the work requires time, energy, resources and passion for the hobby. Basically “short kit” retailers are providing a gift for a nominal fee. They’re doing the hard part, designing and printing the plan, testing the model design, and providing the complex balsa parts.

Besides, most serious modelers don’t utilize any parts from kits. The balsa, tissue and the like are hand selected by each modeler because they prefer to know exactly what’s going into their project. In a way short kits teach modelers how to be modelers. That said, it can be frustrating to be responsible to provide all the materials when you want to focus on building.

Tip your hat and thank these manufacturers because in a way they’re volunteering their time to help you, the fledgling peelot.

Luscombe Phantom No-Cal Plan

Dave Stott’s original Luscombe Phantom No-Cal Plan

Be the first in your squadron to take the air in this snappy Luscombe profile job. This bus can make use of the weak winter thermals if you keep her light. For the record, she has ticked off over one minute flights at 12 degrees F., and over six minutes on last December 27.

FAC News #89

Founding Father Dave Stott included this plan in the Jan. – Feb. 1983 #89 of the FAC News. Your dutiful editor took the time to redraw the plan to make your modeling experience easier. You’ll find pointers and tips for building the model in FAC News #89 – download by clicking the citation above. Download the redrawn Luscombe Phantom No-Cal Plan here.