Other Peoples Recollections

I would like to dedicate this page to anyone with an interesting or humorous tale to tell regarding Free Flight or Control line, and also express my thanks to those who have contributed so far. 

Aeromodelling has a rich history, and all these small stories give a some idea of what it means to be involved in the making of it. it's not the models as such, but these individual stories and memories that put flesh on the bones, so to speak.

If you have such a tale that you would like to share, please email me

P.S. it would help me a 'great deal' if people would send these written pieces (or any written stuff!) as plain .txt files NOT .doc files. Load the .doc file and just do a 'Save As' , making sure to select Plain Text as the format. It should end in .txt when your are done.

Adrian Duncan's, 'Jeff Sagas', have been moved to their own well deserved page.

  Keil Kraft Senator
 William Blaney, Canada

The following was part of an an email. It was so evocative I asked permission to share it on this website.

I think "dazed" is cute ( my original ident, Zoe ) and aptly describes myself when my Senator first took to the air.

senatorKnowing absolutely nothing at that time about the intricacies of trim and warpage and all those other esoteric things that used to be bandied about with such ease in "Aeromodeller" and "Model Aircraft" my Senator literally flew right off the board,er ,bookcase that is,since the top of my bookcase was my workshop.

Now the Prop was a cat of a different colour. Believe me, I looked long and hard at that twisted piece of basswood trying to figure out how anything so ugly could be transformed into a usable propeller.On top of that, I couldn't afford to buy one.{I had saved my school dinner money for 2 weeks just to buy the kit}.Well,nothing venture as they say. So there I sat after school on our back step,my mother had a fit when I started carving indoors,with my trusty lino knife,sharpened on the window sill, and an old piece of sandpaper I had scrounged from somewhere and set to. Pitch? Camber? These and all those other magic things were just something I would read about in the mags.

So after about a week of shaving and sanding I finally had something that, while not a thing of beauty,looked close enough to my schoolboys eye to be close enough to the plan.The centre hole I drilled with an old hand drill,which also served with a cup hook in the chuck as my winder. Balance, what's That?

Strangely, as I recall, I had very little trouble with the covering,the Kielkraft tissue paste stuck the tissue right to the undercamber. In the absence of a spray I sprinkled the water onto the tissue with my fingers to shrink it. No one told me I should pin the wing down, anyway the dope went on with a watercolour brush and when it was all dry, lo and behold, the covering was tight as a drum and no wrinkles.

The next day was a beautiful summers day, sun shining and just as calm as could be, I too was scared to put too many turns on it so I settled for about 400, and with my teeth clenched,anticipating another ignominious nose dive, I let her go. Wonder of wonders! It was actually flying! The prop turning quite lazily she floated into a wide circle and gradually gained height. To my schoolboy eyes it seemed like she was up for hours till the motor ran down and then with the prop freewheeling she gently came in for a perfect landing.

I think that day all the gremlins were on holiday and the leprechauns were sitting on my shoulder. I guess now you will understand why I decided to build another,tho' this time I will buy a prop.

And another mail from Bill regarding Control Line. Plus a salutary lesson for all of us that complain about the English weather

Keil Kraft Skystreak

First the weather: -16C and rising gradually, a big improvement on yesterday but still cold enough to petrify the crown jewels on the proverbial brass monkey.

skystreakAs I recall my one venture into C/L was a Kielkraft Skystreak powered by an Allbon Javelin. The engine I bought used at a hobby shop in Glasgow and cost me a whole pound,in those days 10 Capstan cost 10 1/2d.The Skystreak as I recall was very easy to build but when it came to flying,in the absence of a pit crew I had to rely on my little brother whose interest in model planes varied from zero to not very much.Since I couldn't afford proper control lines I remember using deep sea fishing line and a handle I carved from a piece of 2x4.After more than a few heart stopping events and some very choice comparisons of my brothers debatable parentage we finally got it airborne so there was me twirling around and the Skystreak doing just what it was supposed to do. FLY!!!!

DC JavelinI don't know how many laps I got in,all that was in my mind was trying to keep this beast on the straight and level,finally the tank ran dry and she coasted in for what to my eyes was a perfect 3 pointer.No broken prop,{I only had the one} and no wounds that required the box of Elastoplasts I had with me,to repair the plane of course, tho' I did have one very sore finger from the engine kicking back.Still it flew and that is all that mattered.I got quite a few flights from her tho' I did give up rather early on in my quest for the Gold Cup.I still remember that after that first flight I was reeling around,dizzy as a drunk

The followoing was recalled in an email sent to me by Richard Sheppard. In case you don't know, Mick Tiernan was World Control Line Combat Champion; twice. A combat wing of his own design, the 'Andruil', was published by the Aeromodeller, and still remembered by most CL fliers today.

Tale of an Oliver Tiger
Richard Sheppard

During the early seventies my pals and I began to get interested in control line, having built and flown many free flight designs and drooled over the then still developing radio control models.

Being schoolboys we didn't have much to spend but after learning on such models as the Phantom Mite and The Champ we eventually progressed onto combat models. The current 'hot' model was something like the Ironmonger by Richard Evans and we could only dream of owning a Copeman tuned Oliver Tiger. We flew own designed wings with horrible worn out OS20s and 15s on the local school field. Being unsilenced they must have made a heck of a racket but we carried on regardless.

One day we noticed a tall skinny figure ambling towards us. Thinking we were just about to receive a ticking of for all the noise we carried on trying to flick the reluctant glow motor into life. As the man got closer he gave us a smile and a nod and came closer to see what we were up to. I suddenly realised that it was Mick Tiernan - an up and coming combat legend that I had seen pictures of in the Aeromodeller. He was almost hero status to me and I couldn't believe that he lived just down the road!

He took us under his wing and recommended that we saved up for a PAW if we wanted to get serious. I ended up going to competitions with him and Steve Bingham and Roger someone who used to tune their Olivers. Mick was very kind and gave me not only one of his Andruil kits but also a tatty Oliver mark III. I still have the Oliver which I put new bearings and made a piston for. I saw Mick about 10 years ago and he asked me if I still had the Oliver. I could tell he regretted giving it away!

Mick Tiernan

Mick Tiernan, circa 1974

I knew Mick as a passing acquaintance at the time of his rise to fame, we both lived in the same City, although I was flying RC models at the time. I can remember one conversation with him at the field and watching him fishing what seemed like an endless succession of Oliver Tigers out of his field box, most of us could only 'dream' of possessing a single one. I also think that the fact the Mick was six feet tall and left handed also had a lot to do with being good at combat.


I recieved an email out of the blue from Alan Morgan relating his experience of getting into Control Line. It made such good reading I just had to include it here in the hope that it might encourage others to dabble in Control Line. CL scale is a sadly neglected area of CL, so it was great to read about this. Read on and enjoy

One Man's First, And Second, Attempt To Enter A Control Line Circle
Alan Morgan, May 08

Firstly, allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Alan Morgan and I am 56 yrs old and been aeromodelling for about 40 yrs. I first came into contact with control line about 10 years ago when my good pal Trevor Tabor persuaded me to have a go with a warlord. Oh my god, I have never felt so sick in my life. That was the end of control line for me. Or so I thought.

Two years ago I was on holiday for one of the Old Warden meets but Trevor went and met Andy Housden who persuaded him to have a go at Carrier.  When Trevor told me that I could fly control line with a throttle and not feel sick, my interest was rekindled.  So much so in fact that within 2 months Trevor, a flying mate Glynn Roberts and I got plans form Andy and built HMS Incontinent (sailing under a flag of convenience)  I then had to build a control line carrier model and opted for Andy's Zero.


With control line now firmly embedded in my soul I ditched all but 2 of my radio models and started building in earnest for the Nats.
The model I chose was a scaled down version of my R/C 110" HP Heyford. At 55" and powered by 2 x ASP 15's and on 50' lines the model was ready a couple of days before the 2007 Nats and was unflown.


I have a 2 channel 27Meg Rx in the model with the rf bit cut out so its just the decoder .On one channel I run the two thottle servos and with the other the ventral turret and bomb drop. At the handle end I have a converted squeeze handle with a box bolted to the side with the encoder of a 4 channel 35meg TX in. This gives me 4 channels for other models,  throttle, flaps, retracts and bomb or other function. The beauty of it is that we are using just 2 line and they are plastic coated 28lb green DRENNAN pike wire from a fishing tackle shop

The idea came from Mike Welch of carrier fame. He sold his lanc to my pal with a tx/handle. we poked about in the guts of an old (busted) RX until it glitched and we had a down the wire control system. with the RX done we did the same with another defunct TX and had another complete system. Older gear seems to be the best as there are not so many tiny surface mounted components  and its easier to find the 'sweet spot'. We have all our carrier models working on this system now. It seems more reliable than the servo tester method and of course you get 4 functions.  I have got Andy Rutter Of Micron on the case now and he can supply new decoders only all set and ready to go. I know its not aeromodelling but I picked up a Blackhorse P47 at 64" for 90 fourstroke (R/c) and converted it to c/l with a laser 75   this has throttle, Flaps and retracts and will get its first flight soon .The 'kit' was a bargain at £124.00

This was my first ever comp and with my first scale control line model which I didn't even know would fly. My first thought was " No Way not this year" but fellow Peterborough club mate urged me on and I nervously took the centre spot.  The first flight in the windy conditions was a little too fast and a bit unsteady but it flew, and I managed to drop a stick of bombs and deploy and retract the ventral turret.

The second flight on the Sunday was better and after gaining the highest points for static judging I managed to win the Knokke No. 2 trophy for F4B.  I am under no illusion that if Mike Chapman had entered he would have won again .


This email received fro Bob Fitzsimmons, still makes me chuckle everytime I read it. Of such things are control line aeromodelling legends made of.

Barely in Control
Bob Fitzsimmons, July 2008

Hi Zoe,

I suspect that your plan for the "Lil Quickie" Goodyear racer was the one done by my old pitman Ed Needham for the APS.

Ed and myself were the first to fly a "Quickie" at the Ouston  meet early in 1977, we finished 2nd to John Horton and Don Haworth in the open final. It was my third ever competition and we only used the "Quickie" due to our MVVS D7 powered "Stinger"  being constantly blown in on the lines due to the high winds. That "quickie" had the then new super Tigre X21glow fitted which would clock 100mph anywhere, plus about 2 stone of line tension. Ed and myself parted company shortly after as he wanted to use OPS engines and I continued to use ST's albeit with a tuned pipe.

The model I flew and all subsequent models I built had the CG at 15% back from the leading edge to give me a chance to avoid the potential carnage that frequently occurred when three novice pilots were attempting to race 100mph+ Goodyears.

Ed., as a pitman, had the approach that pilots were not to be trusted with any form of control and subsequently designed his "quickies" with the leading edge CG in an effort to make the model as "brick-like" as possible. In those days we had to cut the engine about 1 1/4 laps out for the pitstop, my piped x21 model weighed in at 28oz, so the high speed brick like glide was considered normal. I can imagine only to well what happened when you had tried to land a lightweight forward CG model on grass.

Funnily enough both approaches seemed to work equally well as that year Ed won the Goodyear league and I won the Eliot Goodyear trophy at the Nat's. Ed and myself continued to fly in various club 1.5cc rat races and used a Russian MK.17 diesel to great effect. Tony Eiflander will hate me for saying this; we found it almost as quick as a PAW but much more economical and the easiest starting engine ever made, hot or cold, if you get a new one be sure to strip it and clean the swarf out. A real life saga of the tortoise and the hare. They are still available on eBay for a song. 

As a postscript to the different quickie models, both Ed and myself attended the 1978 Irish Nat's just outside Belfast (this at the height of the troubles, I was 18 at the time and invincible or just plain stupid).

Ed had trouble with his model and my stand-in pitman couldn't start the piped X21. For reasons that escapes me I wound up pitting and Ed,s regular pilot,(who we will call mister Whippy to save his blushes) flew my model. All was going well,three first flick starts and about 120+mph airspeed thanks to mister Whippy in the middle.

Ed soon realised that we were about to smash his then current 3.52 British record and started to remonstrate that any time we did would be invalid as it was set under the Irish governing body and not the SMAE. He didn't need to worry though as suddenly Mr Whippy had an incident entirely of his own making involving his baseball cap, which for some reason he threw away and the the down line which caught it. I wouldn't have minded so much but the other two models were on the ground at the time.

As the remains of my model slithered past my pitstop (minus u/c,outboard wing ,tailplane etc) Ed turned to me and uttered the immortal line, "That's why I never give the pillock any controls, he only breaks 'em".

I think quite a few people will recognise Mr. Whippy, but even thirty years on I'm still aggrieved that he cost me the chance of the fastest Goodyear heat ever.

My experience was similar regarding these engines, skin and rice pudding spings to mind!

On the subject of the Davis Charlton Bantam
Adrian Duncan, May 2009

DC Bantam

I think that dratted little engine did more to harm the reputation of the British model engine industry than any other!  You mentioned rice puddings – I reckon the average housefly could out-pull a typical Bantam!!

How Ron Warring achieved the test results that he reported in “Aeromodeller” for January 1960 beats me! At the time, I was an impecunious 13 year old schoolboy and was flying smaller models simply because I could afford to keep them supplied with fuel. I had an ED Bee (who didn’t?!?), a beat-up Frog 80 and a ratty but very serviceable DC Merlin, but wanted to try a glow. I didn’t like the radial mounts on the then-current Cox .049 models, so when a rash of beam mounted British 1/2A glow models started appearing in late 1959, I sat up and took notice.

That January 1960 “Aeromodeller” test was quite an event – three motors in one go!!  Looked at the AM .049 – hated that cumbersome starter and Mickey-mouse needle valve plus the inconvenient beam mounts. As a present-day collector I wish I had one today, but back then I wasn’t interested. Neither was anyone else – the AM didn’t last long.

Looked at the Frog .049 – too bulky, besides which it didn’t get near the Frog 80 diesel for performance, and I already had an 80.  No dice ………………… although I have since acquired an example for my collection. Pretty gutless, especially for its bulk

Then I looked at the Bantam!  “Aha” I thought, “Here’s Britain’s answer to the American .8 cc onslaught!!” So I mowed lawns, did odd jobs and saved my pocket money, and eventually scraped together the modest cost of a very slightly used Bantam. Low cost was one of its four positive attributes – it was cheap! The other three were that it was very light and compact; it was quite well made; and it stated very easily.  End of positives …………………

I never stopped to wonder why this relatively new Bantam was going cheap after having been barely used. I soon found out!! First thing I did was remove the Quickstart clobber – ugly as hell, added dead weight and was completely unnecessary. Most owners did the same. The Bantam was a dead easy starter by any standard, and I soon had it running. At that point, I was astonished at the sight of midges making headway flying upwind in the slipstream from the supposedly matching DC 5 ½ x 3 ½ nylon prop! Warring reportedly got the thing up to 17,600 rpm on that prop, but using the harmonica which then served me as a rev counter (you matched the note and hence the frequency), the best I could do was a slightly sharp A - about 13,200 rpm.  Quite a discrepancy!! And that particular prop was designed to let engines rev, not to move air, so there wasn’t much happening and with a “real” prop, the engine just died!

I recall a lot of others having similar reactions. The things were so unbelievably gutless that there was a general sense of “let down” among the active modelling crowd. The word got about, and I think this really did harm the image of the British industry in general and DC Ltd. in particular.  The Bantam became a bit of a standing joke, in fact – a bad motor run in any model with any motor would draw comments like “What have you got in that – a Bantam or something?!?” The Bantam replaced the ED Bee in that sense!

I did build a Bantam Cock for it using a borrowed plan (couldn’t afford the kit – sorry, Yeoman!!), and it got the model into the air but was pretty marginal for aerobatic performance. That was pretty much it for many years with the Bantam – I went back to the dear old Merlin (a far superior engine) and soon graduated to larger engines and models in any case.

In recent years, having acquired some skill at engine tuning, I did re-evaluate my old Bantam. In hindsight, the real problem with the engine was that the induction system was positively asphyxiating! You had that tiny gas passage in the shaft – unavoidable because the shaft itself was pretty skinny.  However, the very small crankcase volume meant that things wouldn’t have been so bad if gas had been able to get into the gas passage from the venturi!  Problem there was that the tiny induction port in the shaft surface was way smaller than the venturi internal diameter and thus represented a significant constriction to gas flow.  Plus both venturi and induction port were round holes, which gives relatively slow (and hence inefficient) opening and closing.

The trick proved to be to elongate the induction port in the shaft in a fore-and-aft direction using a small Dremel grinding stone. You don’t want to change the timing by widening the port – the timing is pretty good, added to which you’ll weaken the shaft. The aim is to turn it from a round hole into an oval “race-track” shape running fore and aft with its ends corresponding to the front and rear edges of the venturi.  This has to be done with great care, and should only be attempted if you really know what you’re doing. The shaft is hardened, so grinding is the only approach that works.

I also added two short flow channels radiating from the central gas passage at 90 degrees to each other in the rear face of the crank disc to help gas to escape from the shaft interior. These are symmetrically arranged on the opposite side of the gas passage from the crankpin so that at bottom dead centre they feed upwards, one to each side of the rod. I also replaced the rear cover gasket (a ridiculously thick fibre component) with a far thinner treated paper gasket which moves the backplate further into the case when tight (there’s ample clearance for the rod and shaft) and reduces crankcase volume for better pumping efficiency.  Finally, I ground a little metal off the rim of the crank disc on both sides near the crankpin (take great care not to damage the pin!) to add some counterbalance.

The only other mod that I make is to use a thin gasket made from soft aluminium in place of the standard head seal. This lowers the head very slightly and increases the compression ratio.

With these mods aboard, those midges can no longer fly upwind!! The engine turns a Top Flite 5 ¼ x 4 nylon prop (a far more substantial air-mover than the old DC toothpick) at a steady 13,500 rpm on the ground using 15% nitro fuel, and this would definitely be a major improvement in flight performance over that anaemic DC nylon prop, which didn’t move much air at the best of times. I don’t have one of those props any more, but I think the modified engine would get far closer to Warring’s figure. The engine is also extremely smooth, with practically no vibration – the counterbalance has really helped, since vibration is a great power-robber in a model, especially a light one.

Al of this has demonstrated that the Bantam could have been a far better engine had it not been for the over-riding imperative to keep costs down. A better induction port shape plus a little counterbalance, more attention to crankcase volume and a slightly higher compression ratio would have thrown it into the thick of the 1/2A performance stakes. But these measures would have added to the cost, and the Bantam was definitely built down to a price.

Despite its failings, it’s worth recalling that the Bantam was many people’s first model engine and did serve as a painless introduction to model engine operation. It was Britain’s top-selling engine for many years, and s a result examples are still both plentiful and cheap today.

I don’t normally recommend modifying old engines, but in the case of the odd Bantam I’m prepared to make an exception – there are a lot of them around, and at least they then become worthwhile engines to actually use!  I see merit in that – I’d rather have a few of them in the air than simply resting in attics or collections!

Now, if I can just find a Bantam Cock plan, we’ll see what might have been.

Yet another piece from Adrian Duncan with a familiar ring to it.

A daunting challenge - starting one’s first diesel!
Adrian Duncan, September 2009

A daunting challenge - starting one’s first diesel!

I started building and flying model aircraft in Britain in 1956 when I was nine years old, cutting my teeth on simple gliders and rubber-powered models.  But the lure of the then-popular control line format was ever-present, and it was my ambition to become involved in that facet of the hobby as soon as circumstances permitted. The main barrier was financial – I simply couldn’t afford an engine at this stage of my life.

At the time in question, the diesel was predominant in Britain for all but a few specialized applications such as control line stunt, speed and Class B team racing.  So it was more or less inevitable that my first model engine would be a diesel, probably made by a British manufacturer. Accordingly, I read all I could about the care and feeding of model diesels so that when the time came I would be ready.

In 1959 I was among the oldest of my contemporaries to take the infamous 11-plus examination through which the course of one’s future education (and indeed, one’s future overall to some extent) was then decided.  If I had been one month older I would have taken that exam a year previously!  Anyway, I passed the exam and immediately turned 12 years old. My parents were so pleased (or perhaps relieved!) at my 11-plus result (which got me into grammar school) that they decided to really splurge for my 12th birthday and get me something that they knew I was lusting after – a new model diesel engine!  The fact that my new school had a thriving aeromodelling society added impetus to my desires, about which I had made no secret!.

ED beeOne of the standard beginner’s engines at the time was the 1 cc ED Bee diesel, then in its Series 2 form with loop scavenging and glow-motor style side stack exhaust. It was far from being the most powerful 1 cc diesel of its time, and was in fact a bit of a standing joke among serious modellers.  This was quite undeserved, since the Bee was an easy-starting and very durable engine which could be relied upon to give long and faithful service as long as one set it up right and didn’t expect contest levels of performance out of the box.

Anyway, my Dad went to the local hobby shop and bought a brand new ED Bee on the advice of the shop owner after Dad had told him that the recipient would be a complete beginner with an interest in control line.  I received this wonderful gift on my birthday with an immeasurable degree of gratitude – I can still remember the feeling! 

But having the engine was one thing – starting it was quite another! At the outset, I anticipated little trouble – as mentioned earlier, I had read everything that was available on the subject of starting model diesels and considered myself to be very well informed.  Alas for over-confidence ..............

I made a test mounting block for it and followed the instructions implicitly, even to the extent of using ED Economic fuel (which came in a glass bottle at the time!). Not a crack could I get from the dratted little engine!  In retrospect, it’s obvious that I didn’t have the required knack of really “snapping” the prop over by using a combination of arm, wrist and finger.  But that’s a knack that comes with practice – I lacked any experience whatsoever at this time. Basically, I had yet to acquire the necessary “feel” for a model diesel engine.

What does a 12 year old boy do when he runs into a problem like this?  That’s right – he brings in an expert, in this case my Dad, who was a professional mechanical engineer and should therefore know all about engines!  So the next evening, down came Dad into the cellar where I had the engine set up.  “No problem” said he as he rolled up his sleeve..........................

Three hours later, he was still flicking without response apart from the odd pop and a lot of flooding, and I was quite alarmed at the language that was coming out!  I learned a lot of new words that evening!

Dad finally gave up and went off to bed with a scowl on his face, a sore right index finger and a headache.  But he was not the man to allow anything mechanical to beat him!  The next night he was back down again for another three-hour period, with no better result.  By now, his bad temper was making itself felt to one and all, even my long-suffering Mum. There was tension in the air ....................

A third similar night followed.  By now, I was making myself scarce, feeling that I was somehow the cause of Dad’s increasing frustration and anger.  It was however no longer me pushing him – I’d have been very happy if he’d have given up!  But the idea of this pesky little mechanical device beating the great mechanical engineer was a concept with which my rather obsessive Dad simply couldn’t cope.  So on he went .....................

At the end of this third evening of torment, Mum had had enough!  She told both Dad and myself very firmly that the dratted little monstrosity that had assumed such a dominant position in defining the mood of our family had to go and not return until it had ceased to be a source of aggravation and ill-feeling. At this point, Dad belatedly remembered that there was a fellow at work who was an active aeromodeller and might be able to help.  He hated the idea of having to admit defeat himself, but the imperative by now had become simply to get the thing running, by whatever means presented itself.  So he packed up the engine and its test block and took them off to work with him the next morning.

What a change that evening!!  Dad came rushing in through the door, yelling for the benefit of everyone within hearing “I can do it!  I can do it!!”  Before anything else was done, Dad insisted upon all of us heading down to the cellar where the test stand was once again set up. He filled the tank, choked it, clobbered the prop and away it went!  “See?!?” he exclaimed triumphantly, “I can do it every time!” He proved this by repeatedly stopping and re-starting the engine. “It’s all in the flick!!’ he proclaimed from the lofty standpoint of his new-found expertise, finally standing aside to let me have another go.  Armed with his advice, I quickly had it going myself, and have never had any problem starting a diesel from that day to this.

It turned out that Dad had taken the engine and stand into the machine shop at his workplace, where his aeromodelling colleague was employed as a machinist.  The thing was set up on the bench, the chap set it by “feel” and it started on the second flick, much to Dad’s initial chagrin. A lengthy instruction period followed, aimed at arming Dad with the necessary rapid flick required to start any model diesel engine. This is one of those knacks which can take a little while to acquire but once learned is so easy that you wonder why you ever had any trouble!  Dad soon had it down, with the results reported above ............. 

However, I think that the incident may have scarred Dad for life! Certainly, he never laid another finger on the prop of a model engine and showed very little subsequent interest in my own consuming passion for the hobby, which has lasted lifelong.  Too bad – it would have been nice to do some modelling and flying with him .....................

I reckon that the “flick“ issue was one reason why the glow-plug motor eventually achieved the prominence that it enjoys today.  With glow ignition, there’s far less “art” involved in flicking it over to start, and indeed one can safely use an electric starter, something which should never be applied to a diesel in view of the possibility of a hydraulic lock and consequent damage to the engine. It can’t be denied that starting a diesel is more of a “black art” than starting a glow, although my subsequent 50 years of diesel operation have demonstrated that, once acquired, the knack never leaves you and diesel operation is just as easy as glow operation. Indeed, in many ways it’s simpler – no plug to mess about with and no batteries required!  Plus the infinitely variable ignition timing provides a level of operational flexibility that no glow engine can match.

That ED Bee served me very well indeed.  It went into a KK Champ trainer on which I leaned to fly control line, and subsequently powered a whole series of other models over the years. I subsequently tuned it up to the point where it easily outran the average AM 10 (then the standard by which other 1 cc diesels were judged). I still have it today, 50 years later, albeit on its second rebore and third conrod. It’s still mounted in a replica Champ which I made many years after the first one, and I sometimes give it a flight just to remember how it was when I started out.............

One thing about the ED Bee (and indeed its close relative, the 1.46 cc ED Hornet) – the aluminium rotor is somewhat susceptible to premature wear unless the engine is properly set up. The major issue is the end float on the crankshaft. The prop drivers on most of these engines were set up so that they never contacted the front of the main bearing – all that limited rearward float was the disc itself into which the end of the crankpin was located for drive purposes.  It’s essential to reduce the end float to the point where the front of the main bearing stops the rearward movement of the prop driver and shaft, rather than the crankpin bearing on the rotor  disc.  I do this by carefully reaming out the 7 degree taper inside the steel prop driver to a progressively greater depth until most of the end float is eliminated, thus keeping the rotor itself free from any axial loadings.  This approach has the added benefit of increasing the threaded length of the shaft for prop mounting purposes, always a weak point on the Bee.  But you can also achieve the same end by inserting a washer of suitable thickness between the rear of the driver and the front of the main bearing.

If you do this, you’ll find that the aluminium rotor will last far longer than it will otherwise. In particular, a Bee or Hornet that has not been modified in this manner should never be used with a pusher prop, since the rotor becomes the thrust bearing and wears out very rapidly.

With this modification, the Bee remains to this day a delightful little sports diesel – still one of my favorites. Give one a try, but remember my Dad and practice that flick first!!

This scenario was similar to mine, except my first engine was a DC Spitfire 1cc diesel complete with the file:///home/zoe/Model/web/zoe/images/others/dc_spitfire.pngspring starter. This device has been called blind over the years, but it did make my path to success a little easier. I can remember many times running home from school to dive into the shed in the back yard and trying to coax the  engine into life. it was here I also learned that they bite back, and the only way to cope is to A, get used to the pain and blood, and B, not to be timid with a diesel.

I also learned that chicken sticks, as they are now called, are a waste of space and don't help, a finger (or two) is the best starter you will ever come across; if you take the trouble to learn how to use them that is. The technique borders on battering diesels into submission with somehing akin to a karate chop. 

The aluminium dog behind the prop invariably wore or broke and the spring didn't take kindly to being wrapped round the prop as repalcement measure, inevitable becoming stretched and hitting the rear of the prop in operation, or broke. But by this time I could start the engine by hand anyway, so the spring starter had served it's purpose. The dear old Spitfire went on to power all sorts of models, from FF through CL to very heavy early RC models.

As Adrian has stated, once learned the knack doesn't leave you, and glow engines become pussy cats to start, unless they are insanely large . The only concession is that now I wear an all leather gardening glove on my starting hand to stop APC razorblades cutting into my flesh, I'm still dubious as to real life operation of these props giving any advantage. The figures look impressive, but like a lot of things, actual use can show that pretty numbers don't always tell the whole story. The glove also protects the back of my hand if the engine kicks unexpectedly, or I do something silly, something that finger protectors don't do. All of the above is probably why even today I prefer to hand start engines, apart from being lazy and not wanting to carry heavy batteries around everywhere to run heavy starters and uneccessary fuel pumps. Less is always more in my book. The lessons I learned in that shed all those years ago, still let me know what an engine is telling me when I try to start it. 

Think on this: an electric starter can and  probably will start a nearly clapped engine, but would you know it was clapped? A finger would have alerted you to that long before it ever became a problem. I starter will spin a flooded or dry engine just the same, but do you know if it's either that is causing the engine problems in starting? A finger will tell you.