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DismayingObservation's blog
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jul 21, 2007 @ 12:55 AM | 2,417 Views
Good news: I replaced the firewall on my old homebuilt .25 combat plane. Some 1/2" basswood, some dope and I'm good to go. Best of all, I still have plenty of wood to make plenty of firewalls!

Bad news: I briefly succumbed to the siren song of Wikipedia.

Morbid curiosity got the better of me the other day so I swung by my old user page and talk page, both locked out from editing by anyone other than an administrator, which I no longer am.

Trouble is, bots can edit protected pages.

Not three days prior to my arrival, a bot left a message on the talk page regarding an image I'd uploaded ages ago. For the record, it was of a ParkZone Fw-190 park flyer. At one time, a promotional photo was considered fair use. Nowadays, only the site's lawyers know for sure.

The only way for me to have that notice removed was to contact the person responsible for the bot.

Since I removed my e-mail from my profile, the only way I could do it was to leave message on the user's talk page.

Sweet mother, I was about to edit Wikipedia.

Thankfully, the user in question was an old online acquaintance and he happily agreed to remove the bot notice. Since one good turn deserved another, I actually fixed a couple of errors on a couple of articles and told him so.

Felt pretty good to do so.

Oops. Mistake number one.

Earlier today, I went to the site and made mistake number two, namely looking at the new pages entries.

One particularly idiotic tome caught...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jul 19, 2007 @ 08:50 PM | 2,019 Views
I hope you can relate when I say that I really enjoy my R/C goodies. After an absence of close to ten years, it took a HobbyZone Firebird Commander to reignite the flame and to lead me to the incomparable thrill of putting a model in the air instead of just along the ground.

Yup, I'm hooked. But good.

Only one thing is missing in all of this.

Building a plane.

From a kit or from scratch.

Everything I've had until now has been an ARF or an RTF. So, I bought a brand-new Hobby Lobby Mini Telemaster off one of the guys at the field.

It'll be a nice little three-channel when it's through and it'll give me an opportunity to put a couple of 1500mAh 3S lipos back in the air.

Better still, I'll finally immerse myself into what's probably the most important and oft-neglected facet of the hobby as of late.

My $30 (what he paid less the shipping charge) got me a narrow cardboard box full of balsa sticks and sheets. Yup, I paid $30 for a pre-crashed model airplane, I did.

I can't wait to break out the glue.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jul 19, 2007 @ 02:38 PM | 2,091 Views
Wow, what a difference eleven short days make.

Eleven days ago, I posted a blog entry regarding a long-unused HPI Savage 25 which suffered from one engine problem after another both from HPI and Team Orion.

The new Wasp 28 is finally tuned and ready. I may have to experiment a bit with the idle speed, but I'm not complaining.

I could have, though.

The young gentleman at the hobby shop who dialed it in called to tell me of yet another bad one-way bearing in the Roto-Start. He offered to remove the engine, clean it up and hopefully get it running.

It was slipping when I got it back this past weekend and boy, am I glad it was.

If that engine actually ran, it probably would have gone flying off the chassis. All four hold-down bolts were loose and sans Loctite. So were the bolts holding the Roto-Start. Apologies and store credit from the store owner and all is now well.

Picked up a new one-way yesterday; bolted the engine back in last night and drove it this morning out in front of the house. An entire tank's worth of driving. Success!!!

The tech may have been a bit lax in reattaching the engine, but boy, he sure did get it running.

Today, for the first time ever, I actually took the thing out to an open area (namely the same abandoned turf farm I fly my planes and chopper at) and turned it loose. I had the Blade CP with me...and I never once flew it.

I was having too much fun flying all over the desert with the Savage.

About time,...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jul 18, 2007 @ 05:53 PM | 1,964 Views
Thank goodness that at least one of the two hobby shops in my area has a full-time airplane guy behind the counter, namely the owner.

Don't get me wrong; I spread my limited wealth among both. It's just that one store has guys who are more oriented toward cars than aircraft, save for a part-timer who also happens to be president of the area's lone R/C flying club.

Looks as if my answer to my disintegrated wood firewall will be in the form of 1/2" basswood which I'll cut and drill to fit and then paint with the dope I used on the cowl of "Project Zero."

I have to admit now that I have tasted the nectar of nitro, I have found it to be good.

Flew the E-flite Thunderbolt today for the first time since I first started playing with the .25-powered homebuilt combat plane. Plenty of power, plenty of fun...but it just didn't have the punch of my "flying fencepost."

No prob. Once I make that new firewall, the nitro madness will resume, presumably unabated!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jul 17, 2007 @ 07:38 PM | 2,028 Views


The combat plane is really showing its age. The fuselage, being made of PVC, will likely last until the crack of doom. The coroplast wing has some cracks in the corrugation, but those were already there when I got the plane. Need to figure out how to fix 'em.

The firewall, however, is somewhat more organic being made out of plywood.

Old, fuel-soaked, desert-dried-in-a-garage-for-years plywood.

Out in the field, the firewall almost popped out during a routine landing earlier today. Man, I had that plane dialed in. Way too much fun.

However, the firewall wasn't cooperating no matter what I did with the screwdriver.

Got it home, took it off the fuse and the firewall immediately began delaminating and crumbling in my hand.

This would normally be no big thing. Trouble is, I have no woodworking tools to speak of.

I shall improvise. That little plane is too much fun and I'm resisting the urge to sacrifice the engine for "Project Zero." I want to put a fresh engine in that plane. It turned out way too nice!

BTW, if there are any combat fighters out there with a similar setup (see the photos a few posts below), I'm open for suggestions.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jul 12, 2007 @ 08:26 PM | 1,903 Views
Things are moving fast, so I thought I'd update my last update, as it were. So, grab a cold one and relax.

I really should have left well enough alone with the Savage. Three tuning screws are proving to be troublesome, even for someone with more experience than I have. I've been asked to rest assured that it'll be running OK by tomorrow. I suspect a bad exhaust manifold gasket m'self. It's the same one that was on the old engine. I've asked him to change it out.

Ah, but the combat plane...

I stayed up last night setting up the radio. Off to the field I went early this morning, not knowing quite what to expect. For a small plane, it looks kind of cumbersome with its plywood firewall and three full-sized servos.

I assure you, it's anything but.

Once I got a troublesome fuel pump to, well, pump, I fired up that old O.S., pointed it into the wind and gave it a toss.

It may have well been shot from a cannon despite the fact it was running rich with a really old glow plug.

I've only been involved with electric aircraft until now; my second gas plane was the first in the air, beating out "Project Zero."

The fun factor of this plane was off the scale. It was considerably faster than my full-house E-flite P-47D Thunderbolt despite weighing probably five times as much. It also did some really outrageous and insanely tight manuevers the P-47 could only dream of. I did an accidental snap roll about six feet off the ground but a bit of...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jul 11, 2007 @ 05:39 PM | 1,950 Views
Well, all is not wine and roses with the Savage and its Orion heart transplant, at least not yet. I knew that this engine would be a bit difficult to tune and my pal at the hobby shop agrees. Thankfully, he's had more experience than I with Orion engines, so he's promised to dial it in for me. Man, when that engine's running reasonably good on the top end and that transmission shifts to high, that truck is genuinely frightening. Anything that'll squeeze its tires with centrifugal/centripetal force just like a full-scale top fuel dragster is worthy of respect while in operation.

Which leads me to this musing: Why can't this engine be as easy to run as an O.S. Max?

That little Max FP .25 engine was started today for the first time in literally years. This is the one that was given to me along with the homebuilt combat plane it was mounted to (see photos in an earlier post). Since the muffler gaskets did in fact come in yesterday, I figured what the heck. In went the new fuel tank, on went the lines.

It started and ran to near perfection with one brief blip of the starter. On an old glow plug, yet. A few minor tweaks of the air bleed screw and it really does run perfectly. I am genuinely impressed.

One thing's for sure: I am definitely putting an O.S. in "Project Zero."
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jul 09, 2007 @ 12:19 AM | 2,291 Views
It has returned. Finally, after putting it off for nearly a year, it has returned.

I refer to my poor, ignored HPI Savage 25 of which I will post a very brief history:

My son purchased this truck a few years ago for himself. After a mishap with a curb, on went a carbon fiber chassis. It wasn't long after that when we discovered a serious factory flaw in the engine.

They installed the Roto-Start not with blue threadlocker, but with red. The permanent stuff. Ruined the block trying to get everything apart.

Since he wanted more power (and who doesn't?), I treated him to a Team Orion Wasp .28.

This is where the troubles really began.

Apparently, these engines were suffering factory flaws of their own with poorly fitted and manufactured crankshaft bearings which caused a loss of compression. Orion's own discussion board was rife with similar complaints.

That engine simply refused to run no matter what we did, so it got sent to Team Orion who acknowledged the problem, rebuilt the engine and sent it back.

Ran fine...until the carburetor popped loose while the truck was running, wiping out the carb as well as a Robinson Racing clutch bell and spur gear. The problem was a defective pinch bolt, one which somehow managed to fuse itself to the block. My son had given up on the truck by this time and gave it to me. He insisted that I take it, in fact. Poor man was frustrated beyond belief and I don't blame him. Even the transmission was giving us...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jul 05, 2007 @ 12:10 AM | 2,412 Views
Well, almost.

Project Zero's airframe is now complete. That cowl was a definite bit of work, but it turned out great! Pardon the slightly filtered photos; it was dusk, I was being attacked by eye gnats and there was a fingerprint on the lens cover. I'll upload better pictures soon, but I was anxious to get at least something posted here.

All Project Zero needs are an engine and radio. Tower Hobbies has a .25 with remote needle valve for under $60. I have a $10 coupon which means that I'll be getting an engine for less than I've paid for some electric motors.

I scored some more freebies this past Sunday, including the old .25 homebuilt combat fighter you see in the photos. I wish that I'd taken photos before I cleaned it up...it was coated in dust! Wingspan is only 36" and the fuselage is only 24" long. This is going to be a real handful, I can tell. Friend who gave it to me knew I needed a .25, but this plane's old O.S. Max FP hadn't been run in years. It's also out of production, but there are still parts available and it has plenty of compression. The carb was totally gummed shut, but a bath in some penetrating oil did the trick. Just waiting for a new mounting gasket. Had to improvise a muffler gasket, though. So did my friend, for that matter. I removed his homemade gasket and replaced it with one of my own. Turns out O.S. is backordered for about a month on muffler gaskets. Go figure.

The DU-BRO spinner is new, but the 9x6 APC prop was the one on the engine when I got it. A new Expert servo is waiting to replace the thrashed Futaba used for the elevator as is a new Sullivan fuel tank. The Sullivan that was in it had a manufacturing date of 1995. Didn't need a receiver battery, however. The plane already had an old Sanwa in it...and a new Futaba battery was given to me as part of the package. I do want to put landing gear on it. Looking into some carbon fiber parts.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jun 21, 2007 @ 02:39 PM | 2,140 Views
Project Zero is nearly finished!

The wing is completely ready to go, servos and all. The fuselage is as good as it's gonna get and the cowl, which turned out to be the single biggest project, is ready for paint. I've even ironed out all the wrinkles in the covering. All that's left is to repair the broken "window" on the canopy and then open my wallet for the radio gear and engine!

It shall fly by summer's end if not sooner. Going on a big summer vacation and I want to save my sheckels for the time being.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jun 14, 2007 @ 12:33 AM | 2,374 Views
Wow, have I fallen behind. These were the newest pictures that I had...and there's been more work done since these were taken!

The wing halves have been epoxied together and the covering replaced as best as I could. It was wrinkled pretty badly on the crash, but it really can't be seen with the wing in place on the fuselage.

I've cleaned up that fuel tank support area in the fuselage a bit better than what you see in the picture. That'll be hidden by the fuel tank once it's installed.

Thanks to my buddy, I now have a Hobbico Torqmaster starter and Hobbico power panel, both nearly new. One flyer at the field this past Sunday brought two boxes of old equipment a friend of his was throwing away. This netted me a second Torqmaster, an old Futaba Attack 4 AM transmitter and RCD receiver with Futaba "G" servo connections(!) as well as...the coveted Hobbico covering iron! My buddy's young son got to the iron before I did thinking the thing was pretty cool and despite the fact that his dad didn't need it; I wound up paying him two bucks for it.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jun 03, 2007 @ 02:09 AM | 2,333 Views
It's nice to know who your friends are.

The gentleman who gave me "Project Zero" called me at work on Friday night and had me on the phone for nearly a half an hour. He was concerned about what had happened to me with a frequency issue a couple of weeks ago which nearly set an elderly seasonal visitor at my throat. Look at my post titled "Of age and civility" to see what I mean.

It seems as if this fellow who wanted to go upside my head has crashed the planes of other flyers on several occasions by turning on his transmitter; he may have done the same thing to me in the past. I discussed "The Curse of Channel 50" in a previous post. He may well be the source! He was there the day my Flyzone Cessna suddenly and unexpectedly went into a hard right turn just before touchdown. The result effectively destroyed my plane. I'm not accusing him of anything, believe me. It's just that he didn't claim responsibility if he was in fact responsible, which I strongly suspect to be true.

As far as "Project Zero" is concerned, things are moving along nicely and I promise to upload pictures. The wing is repaired and the two halves rejoined properly. I've rebuilt the fuselage as best as I could (and it should work just fine despite a few missing pieces which I had to fabricate and since the damage was minimal) and I even fixed the broken tail. Best part is, I didn't need to replace any covering! I just tacked it back down with some...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | May 29, 2007 @ 02:26 AM | 2,372 Views
Wow, what a wonderful weekend this was. Didn't do a lick of flying, but my wife and I did spend time with my sister and brother-in-law at their place in beautiful San Diego.

My brother flew himself, his wife and one of his sons over from the high desert to visit my folks here at home. Lucky guy flies a full-scale Cessna Citation for a living and hopped over the mountains in his Piper Cherokee.

Turns out he's reconnected with some old high school chums. Successes, all. I couldn't be happier for them. One couple, like my wife and I, were high school sweethearts and are still married.

My oh my, did they ever have some news regarding classmates.

You see, these folks who contacted my brother were some of the nice people. The ones who got no mention in the yearbooks. The ones generally disdained by the "popular kids." We were in the band, in the theater. Sports? Don't make me laugh. We had one of the worst losing streaks in all of high school football going on when I started there. I turned my attention to the band, mostly because my mom objected to the thought of my getting smooshed on a football field despite my size. While the band was winning awards (I lettered in band, for that matter), the football team was out getting pummeled.

Naturally, they were the ones lauded at the baccalaureate, the prom and in the yearbook. We were largely ignored and hung around other band members and the occasional "Star Trek" fanatic. In short,...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | May 24, 2007 @ 08:20 PM | 2,369 Views
Well, I traded in the Formosa. I think I want one at a future date.

Scratch that: I know I want one.

The gray matter kicked in prior to loading it in the car.

Since I was going to have to spend the money anyway (the store only issues store credit), why not spend it on Project Zero? Oh, yeah.

Except for the Cessna's tail and a spare tail motor for the Blade, the rest of the dough went into balsa stock, adhesives and epoxy filler for the cowl.

I bought Project Zero with me to match up material thickness; a couple of guys couldn't believe it had simply been given to me. An easy fix, they all agreed.

I even dared to look at a neat little O.S. .25 complete with muffler. It'll fit like a glove. Got some plans for my wedding anniversary, so no big purchases for now. Once I finish fixing the airframe and I'm OK with how it turned out, I'll get the engine before I start in on the cowl. That way, I'll know where I have to cut it before I patch and paint it.

I'm pleased to report this first influx of money into Project Zero was rather painless at less than $30.

As for the Cessna, it lives! Not bad for something I dug out of the trash, you know?

Pictures of the Zero to follow ASAP!
Posted by DismayingObservation | May 23, 2007 @ 09:37 PM | 2,134 Views
Boy, do I feel silly.

I could have saved myself $46 if I'd looked at the damage to the Cessna a bit closer.

The voices in my head told me to dig the Cessna out of the recycle bin this morning. Guess what? They were on to something.

Oh, sure, there was some CA...but only a few paltry drops. The foam was utterly pristine. The broken part wasn't completely broken off, you see. The antenna tube, trim tape and a few small shreds of foam were holding it on, more or less.

I mixed up some epoxy, trowled it on, and put the pieces back together.

It worked. Perfectly, in fact. If that empanage ever breaks off again, it sure as shootin' won't be at that epoxied joint.

The hobby shop will issue store credit, so I'll get the tail assembly and a few odds and ends for the Blade CP. I have two damaged tailfeather assemblies and I may be able to salvage the decals.

As it turns out, I would have had to have spent more money to get the Formosa in the air. My 1100mAh Ni-Mh packs from the Cessna were a bit too thick to fit properly in the fuselage and I didn't want to start hacking foam.

OR...I may keep the Formosa and assemble it a little at a time with an outrunner and a li-po. That'll give me an excuse to upgrade my radio while I'm at it.

Ah, the possibilities.
Posted by DismayingObservation | May 22, 2007 @ 09:26 PM | 2,262 Views
After three months of irritation, the Flyzone Cessna is hereby retired and will soon be on its way to being recycled into a food tray or something of that nature.

I tell you, I crashed that tip-stalling little monster more than just about anything I've ever flown. Made the mistake of hand-launching it the other day with a less-than-fully charged battery. Darn thing would not climb.

Wound up swinging it around into a palm tree. Ouch.

Busted up the tail and its mount on the fuselage. Glued it together as best as I could, but it simply wasn't going to stay together. I flew it today, but things were a bit shaky. The empanage busted off at the glue joint and the horizontal stab busted off at a whole new location.

By the time I would have bought a fuselage, decals and tailfeathers, I discovered that I would have been within less than ten bucks of a GWS Formosa, if memory served regarding the price of the parts. Doing the wing and cowl to make it a full rekit would have set me back more than sixty bucks. Plus, the fuselages are on back order. Wonder why...?

So, I bought the Formosa.

It looks as if it will accept the Cessna's battery packs with no problem and I already have the proper GWS speed control.

Now, I've seen a Formosa in flight. This little plane is a real athlete, ranking up with the best of them from what I saw, especially when compared to the Cessna with its flat-bottomed airfoil and its complete inability to loop from straight and level flight. I don't recall what the plane I saw had in the way of power, but I'm sure that I'll be happy with the stock setup for now.

I just can't help but wonder if I'm a victim of karma after what happened the other day. See my post below.
Posted by DismayingObservation | May 20, 2007 @ 02:31 PM | 2,309 Views
I've begun the preliminary repairs on the Zero. I reinstalled the framework for the fuel tank support (with as many of the original pieces as I could find) and reinforced it with some balsa. Once I repair the tail, I can turn my attention to the wing. Success!

I wish the rest of my day was as pleasant.

Today was as perfect a day for flying as one can imagine. In fact, I was one of the first at the field where a loose band of hobbyists like myself meet on Sunday mornings. The fellow who gave me the Zero brings a frequency board with him...but he arrived much later than I did.

There generally aren't any frequency issues, but those who grab the pins ask aloud if anyone is on that frequency.

Had a frequency issue today.

An elderly seasonal visitor flies on channel 50. My little Flyzone Cessna is on 50 as well. He hadn't verified that anyone else was on the frequency.

He arrived considerably later than I and was in the air when I switched my transmitter back on...and I had previously verified that no one else was on the channel.

The result was predictable. I sent the man's plane nose down into the dirt.

Before I go on, I have to say that the folks who come out to that field are some of the nicest in town, including the seasonal visitors. The only really poor attitudes belong to, well, the snowbirds. One of those snowbirds utterly refuses to check frequencies and has splashed a few planes as a result.

But I digress.

He and I had a...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | May 07, 2007 @ 09:53 PM | 2,417 Views
I was thinking of documenting the repair of my crash damaged CMP Zero 25 with some photos just for fun...but my buddy in Georgia took it one step further. He suggested something in book form which in turn led to my idea of documenting it right here on the blog. It'll be a learning experience for me, so feel free to offer comments.

We shall see if we can get this Zero to terrorize the skies once again!
Posted by DismayingObservation | May 06, 2007 @ 11:40 PM | 2,302 Views
Now that I've gotten that eBay thing off my chest, I'm pleased to announce the arrival of my re-flashed PowerZone adapter board. It's back on the Blade CP and works to absolute perfection. Thanks, Thomas B.

I'm also pleased to announce the arrival of a free airplane to my hangar. Earlier today, a flying friend of mine gave me a CMP Zero Fighter 25S that had been damaged in a rare midair collision with another plane out at the field. He'd built it as an electric, but I'm going to "go for the gas" once it's repaired. The damage is actually quite minimal. The LE of the wing has a ding where it meets up with the saddle, the fuel tank mount and motor mount broke off, the fiberglass cowl got kind of beat up, there's a hole in the canopy and one of his sons did some slight accidental damage to the tail after he dropped something on it. I gave him two brand-new sets of wings from my old UltraFly Cessna 182. He's happy; I'm ecstatic. Thanks, Mitch H.

This gives me the opportunity to develop some building skills now that I've polished my flying skills thanks to RTF's and ARF's. Yes, I know this plane's an ARF, but it's a traditionally constructed ARF. Only other balsa ARF I've owned was too badly damaged in a crash for me to even attempt a repair.

Been looking for an excuse to buy a covering iron anyway.