A return to model building and flying. Part 27
Note: if you follow any external links from this page, use the browser back button to return to this page.
Covering Film, a Maiden Flight, and a Closed Shop
In my, flawed, infinite wisdom, I decided to cover my latest creation in a relatively new coverting material called ToughLon. It is supposed to be relatively easy properties to apply like Solarfilm but have the strength of Oracover/Profilm. Hmmmmmm!
The one thing I can say for certain that likens it to Solarfilm, is the tenacious grip of the backing to the film. I do not! want to spend a minute plus with every piece trying to get the damned stuff separated. It also has a tight curl with the backing film in place which makes measuring and cutting out shapes a bit awkward to say the least.
It does not go easily around curves, I found Profilm easier, and that is supposed to be difficult to use. It also has a tenency to leave overlapping joints very visible, whereas profilm, to the eye, tends to blend into itself.
I also noticed a tendency to tear very easily if nicked at the right angle, something that left me feeling a little uneasy.
The worst thing is the adhesive. It will become active a quite a low temperature but does not grab until it has thoroughly cooled down. This leads to all sorts of complications. Stick a piece down then try and pull or shrink the rest of the film and it will lift off. Yes it has the advantage that a mistake can be lifted off with a little heat and repositioned, but it gets very annoying when it keeps happening spontaneously. I was constantly having to double check joins to make sure they had not lifted at the edges. A lot had. It also does not stick readily to plywood or hard wood. I was even beginning to wonder if it had a reluctance to stick to balsa at one point. Trying the Solarfilm trick of coating the wood with Solarfilm Clearcoat (this also works with Profilm) first did not help matters, in fact if anything, made things worse
This does nothing to inspire confidence. I have dark thoughts of it all peeling off in flight.
Creases do not iron out. With profilm, a not too severe crease can be worked out with a bit of patience and gradually increasing the temperature of an iron and applying some pressure. This does not work with ToughLon, all that happens is a harder crease.
The end result is passable, not good, as you can see from the picture. How it will stand up to hard use is anyones guess at the moment? Be assure, you will read about it here if it does go pear shaped on me.
I really do regret buying the stuff, but unless we try new thing we will never know. From now on, it's back to nice user friendly Profilm. And wait for some non-critical application, to use the rest of the ToughLon up, like a few disposable combat models.
Hellcat on a Windy Day
The first opportunity to fly the Hellcat arrived with the wind doing it's best to dissuade me from leaving my flat at all. I deciding to go anyway, as I needed to set up the carb on the engine, and that does not need to be done flying; initially anyway.
The engine is an SC40 MK I bought on ebay for £15.00. I only wanted the remote needle assembly and carb for a Mk II 40, but got the lot for less then the price of the the items new. As it happens the Mk I is a different size than the MK II so they would not have fitted anyway. However, under the accumulated dirt and burned on oil, the engine was in remarkably good condition, and ran well after finding out that loose head bolts were the cause of difficult starting, the tell tale spray of oil from the cylinder joint was a bit of a give away. It was remarkable that it started and ran at all in this state. All this was achieved the week before in the rain with the engine in a test stand, the rest of the control line group huddled in the club storage shed; in the dry! Offering gentle words of encouragement such as, "Why is it taking so long?" They seemed to loose interest when the Mk II I had fitted with a new crankshaft and bearings, started second flick and ran like a train. The Irvine 20 diesel that I had finally got a replacement crankshaft for from and old engine also ran OK to, but seemed a bit reluctant to hot start. By this time the rain and wind was wearing me down, so I wrapped things up.
I really wanted to set the carb with the engine in a test stand, as in the model with a side mounted engine, the slow running needle is difficult, if not dangerous to fiddle with close to a spinning prop. Also I have no experience in setting up twin needle carb's so this was a bit of a leap in the dark and crash course (no pun intended) at carb setting. After a couple of hours, of messing about, and yes I did fly, even though the conditions were not very friendly for a maiden flight, I got nearer to the correct settings.
The one thing the Wildcat has taught me, is that engine reliability is extremely important. As carrier models spend a lot of time flying slowly on the point of a stall and sometimes beyond, the last thing needed is a cough and splutter when the throttle is opened, or an unexpected cut out. The result of any of these usually means falling out of the sky. I also found that when trying to get used to slow flying, I have a tendency to forget how long I have been flying. Running out of fuel on the verge of prop hanging situation is not good. All this has focused my mind on engine reliability and fuel feeds more than ever.
I rearranged the components so the needle assembly lies parallel with the engine cylinder to better improve the surviveability in the event of a mishap. This proved it's worth when an unexpected cut out up wind, caused by the throttle still not being sorted properly, the model pitched over on its nose and would have probably taken a conventional needle off, the model weighs in at 1.3 Kg, and even a conventionally arranged remote needle would have not fared much better.
Well, the model survived it's first ordeal, and none of the covering fell off or came loose as you can see, so I think we will call this one a success, at least for the moment. There is still a lot more to be sorted out, and I have not even begun to trim the model, some clement weather would not go amiss and help focus my mind a little better. I built this model to help me fly in windy conditions, but setting it up initially in a wind is none to easy on the nerves.
In light of the last paragraph, I suppose I must soften my view on ToughLon a little. It does look nice when in place and has a very high gloss finish. I also found subsequently that edges can be stuck down with more certainty using quite a lot of heat locally. It is still a pig to handle, so I still won't be using it again.
Cheap Chinese Engines
It is strange that when some radio fliers in the club see an SC (Super Custom) engine I detect a metaphoric turned up nose and the intimation that they are rubbish, yet my SC15 is a work horse and quite powerful, sure it has it quirks, what engine doesn't? It developed a strange reluctance to start in very hot weather but so did a new Irvine 25 I was running at the same time.....? Having disassembled it and rebuilt it. I know that it is not badly made, and neither are MDS engines, another one that comes in for some more than average criticism. My father experienced the same attitude in a different RC club with his MDS 25. Yet the only thing that ended it's days was a hard impact with a runway. The SC 40's I possess fall into the same category as the 15, I can find nothing wrong with the design or quality of the build, except for the Mk II 40 which (second hand) had a rumbling main bearing and some peculiar corrosion on the crank pin, which fortunately had not seemed to harm the conrod big end bush. I have my suspicions about how this engine may have been used and stored by it's previous owner. And is it in my imagination that all the engines I have had to strip down, that have supposedly been carefully cherished and stored with after run oil after each session, always seem the most worn, yet all the ones that look like they have thrown into a corner of a damp shed after use with no attention at all seem to be in better condition internally?
I buy these engines because they are cheap new, and even cheaper second hand. This makes my modelling possible on a severely limited budget. So my thanks to the Shenzen Sanye Precision Machinery Co. Ltd. China., where I am sure they are made, ASP and AP engines are, and the similarities between ASP and SC look a bit close for coincidence. If anyone knows differently please let me know.
Whist not always true, what I tend to find is that cheap does not necessarily mean crap! More like, extremely good value for money. I don't expect these engines to perform like an OS, Enya, or Webra, but I am pleasantly surprised when they turn out to be reliable and have more performance than I expect.
I wonder how much of the bad hype comes from people who buy an engine, stick it in a model with the factory recommended prop and expect everything to burst into life and run flawlessly. Maybe it's something to do with flying CL models for many years, that I know the above scenario is just not going to happen. Such things as finding the right size, shape, position of fuel tank, right diameter/pitch/make, combination of prop for a particular airframe, fine tuning the carb, all seem a bit lost on some people. Yet working through that lot is the only way to optimise the engine output and achieve reliability. Only when all that still does not increase performance or reliability can anyone turn round and justifiably say any engine is crap. Even then It will probably be truer to say, it just does not fullfill my requirements, there is no guarantee it will not be perfect for someone elses needs. My only essential, must have, requirement for any engine is that it must hand start consistenly and reliably.
The same can be said of non modelling items. I recently got hold of a second hand mini dv camcorder/mp3 player/voice recorder/still camera, for such a low price it was a joke, a cheap mp3 player would have cost more. I knew from my research that it was no challenge to a proper DV tape camcorder, and that it's video quality would be poor, so I was under no delusions about how it would perform. It was a pleasant surprise to find that it produced quite passable results that were not half as bad as I was expecting, as long as it's limitations are recognised, and I had also got the hang of using it properly. The picture on this page of the Wildcat sitting on the gravel carpark was taken with it. The image has also been compressed horribly for this page, the original looks a lot better. A surprising thing is the weight, 90g, and it's the size of my palm. It's so convenient to just slip into my coat pocket or hanbag that I always take it to the flying field now. The lack of quality is forgiven for shear ease of transport and use. And with 2 hours of recording time on 512MB MM card! need I say more. Only fly in the ointment is the manufacturer's decision to use Microsoft's ASF format for movie files (looks like another MS attempt to dictate their own standards to the world), Why..? An AVI wrapper would have been far more convenient and conventional as most editing software uses AVI (as do a lot of other similar camcorders), saving me the task of converting every file before can edit it. But then I only parted with 24 notes for it, so I haven't the heart to complain too loudly.
When I finally get a new web host organised, with more storage space to breath in, I hope to share some of the results with you.
Proposed Carrier Event
I have had not no one else show any interest in a carrier event so for the moment it is nonstarter.
A remarkable piece of news is, that the club has been offered a carrier deck. Details are a bit sketchy at present, but I will enjoy using it, even if no one else does.
More rubble has been deposited on the new second circle, so maybe it will actually get finished some time this year.? It will seem very strange once all the heaps of soil and rubble have finally been filled into the the very deep hole in the middle of the RC flight line.
Model Shop Demise
My local model shop is no more; gone into liquidation. So now I am faced with a long drive to another town to get my goods, or pay the postage and use mail order. This must be an altogether too common situation. But don't a lot of businesses bring it onto themselves. A few hours buying and selling on eBay, or shopping around in the Internet for any type of item, not necessarily model related, will tell you which way the wind is blowing; you are tapped into the world not just the local area.
My local shop had a web site, but never used it to sell anything. All it had was the opening hours and the telephone number. What a criminal waste of resources. Many modellers that tried to support the shop complained that ordering anything was a waste of time. I personally had 2.5 l of diesel order for 3 months and 5 l of Model Techics Duraglow 5 on order for two months. This was not exactly a difficult or unusual order. Is it really surprising then to see them go under? I know it was many years ago, but I can remember shops ringing other shops and trading between themselves to keep customers happy if there was going to be a delay in obtaining stock from a wholesaler. The best model shop we ever had in this city had an owner that never said, "No we can't," it was always, "I am going to the wholesalers mid-week," and nine times out of ten what you wanted was there the next time you visited, from a kit to an odd size screw. Where did all that disappear to?
By sheer good fortune, around this time I stumbled across a business that will send fuel to your door. It is not cheap, either the fuel or the postage, but combined with other items I just could not get hold of anywhere locally, it was worthwhile. The order went in on Thursday afternoon I received two email confirmations, of receipt of order and dispatch within an hour of each other, and the goods arrived Tuesday morning. So taking the weekend into account, not too bad. And at least I don't have to worry about diesel fuel for the next six months, or where to find a pair of 20mm tail wheels. Take look here: