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Old Jan 02, 2010, 10:03 AM
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Jim Walker Firebaby

I cut my CL teeth on a Firebaby in the early 50s. I still have very fond memories of that plane and those times. You could buy the finished plane with the motor, fuel, flying lines and starter battery for under $10 and go directly to the field.

Flew really well. Probably flew it at least a hundred times and never crashed it. Heck, if you did, you could buy replacement parts. My dad trashed it when I left for college in 1958!

Do you remember the metal prop and rudder?

I have one I bought a few years ago, NIB. It is the original, with the wooden fuselage (later versions had a plastic fuse). A real collector's item.

Anybody still flying one? How about an electric version?

James in eTX
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Old Jan 02, 2010, 10:37 AM
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James, you might try that first picture again...

I was born too late to be able to enjoy these models and to try and buy one from you know where is cost prohibitive for me.

Aside from the above, I would love to try my hand at one and have a high interest in the model itself, how it flew and how it was manufactured.
Never having seen one in person, only pictures, I can only imagine what it would be like.

I know the color was applied from the factory and the finish was fuel proof right out of the box, but did they use colored dope or just clear dope over some other coloring? If that is so, what coloration was used?

The grain of the wood can easily be seen in some pictures so it is my guess that maybe only one or two light coats of dope were used.

Please someone correct anything I am not sure of.

The canopy and balloon fuel tank are of high interest to me and I wish I could see one close up. Not so much the balloon mind you!

For more information, history lots of great pictures, go here: http://www.americanjuniorclassics.com/index.html
LT
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Old Jan 03, 2010, 09:42 AM
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WQAAAAH I want my 1956 back.....

We flew those combat, balloon busting, clip wing racing.... all sorts of idiot stuff. We had bipes before Jim Walker did, and when he came out with the bipe, we built tripes. Much fun.

howell
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Old Jan 03, 2010, 09:25 PM
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Yup, I learned to fly c/l on my buddy's Firebaby. He had a Spitzy 045 (he still has it) on his, and it was all we needed to learn, no one else around interested at the time. The Spitzy save us the effort of learning about the balloon tank!
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Old Jan 03, 2010, 10:07 PM
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If you're interested, the estate of Frank Macy (friend and collaborator) is for sale at

http://www.americanjuniorclassics.com/Collection

The prices are horrendous -- even for things not connected to Jim Walker. But then, I'm a flyer, not a collector.

Now, for the questions (remember this is from over 55 years ago.....)


James, you might try that first picture again...


I know the color was applied from the factory and the finish was fuel proof right out of the box, but did they use colored dope or just clear dope over some other coloring? If that is so, what coloration was used?

Some sort of lacquer with a clear overcoat. The finish was solid: Blue leading edge scallops, natural wood "pin stripes" and red behind that. Same scheme on the stab. The firebaby emblem was on one wing. Fuselage was solid red.

Firewall and wing/bell crank mounts were aluminum --wing slid thru the slot and held inplace by bc bolt. Alumininum firewal was punched for several different engines (except the Cub .049 X I had!) Clear canopy fitted under a lip on the firewall and snapped into place on the back.

The balloon tank was a 1" or 2" balloon with a piece of fuel tubing inserted into it. The balloon was wrapped with either wire or thread (small piece of brass tube inside the fuel tube kept it from collapsing. You had to get all the air out of the balloon before putting fuel in, and had to bleed air out before hooking it to the engine. Otherwise you got a presssure feed. There was also a flat alumninum prop which you could bolt in front of the regular prop; bending negative pitch into it was supposed to slow the model down. Didn't work for me. Oh, the rudder was also sheet aluminum. Nice rubber tired aluminum hub wheels which wound up on all KINDS of planes.

We used balloon tanks for free flights also.

Thanks for awakening the memories. The AJ site might have better pictures and even some stuff for sale. I ahven't checked lately, but back when I did, I slap couldn't afford it. But damn I'd love to fly a firebaby again.

By the way, I do have a post war Fireball flying. I got the kit from American's Hobby Center in NYC for $5.00. They were having a close out.

howell
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Old Jan 04, 2010, 10:47 AM
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AJ FIREBABY circa 1950s

Great memories. Keep those comments coming.

Not sure how the paint on the balsa was done. It has little bleeding and the colors are almost perfectly aligned.

Has anyone done an electric version?

James in eTX

More Pix:
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Old Jan 04, 2010, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by realglow View Post
Great memories. Keep those comments coming.

Not sure how the paint on the balsa was done. It has little bleeding and the colors are almost perfectly aligned.

Has anyone done an electric version?

James in eTX

More Pix:
nice pix!!! I rememeber back in the early 60s visiting my aunt in kelso wa. my oldman boguht me one at the LHS.....back then walker at his factory in the portland area but never hada chance to see it anyone interested I have several very nice plans for a profile fireball....BTW frank macy from portland was recreating some of walkers stuff....man sure brings back memories....used to fly with a guy that did the helmet thing, still got it on video.......send PM for plans
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Old Jan 04, 2010, 03:43 PM
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Firebaby - More Pix

Lectroglide: Any chance of posting the video here?

More pix from my files:
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Old Jan 04, 2010, 03:48 PM
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Firebaby Pic

I use this pic for wallpaper on my pc:
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Old Jan 04, 2010, 04:28 PM
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I suspect the color was printed on; that's the way the other AJ's were done. Now, whynhell would you want ELECTRIC???? Jeeze Louise -- the noise was the best part!

Realglow, I see you're in Texas, 280 km from me. Better lock your windows......


howell
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Old Jan 04, 2010, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by gwinhh View Post
I suspect the color was printed on; that's the way the other AJ's were done. Now, whynhell would you want ELECTRIC???? Jeeze Louise -- the noise was the best part!

Realglow, I see you're in Texas, 280 km from me. Better lock your windows......


howell
While I am hardly a good source of info regarding printing proccesses, I have seen many examples of what I have been told were "silk screen printing" and I would give a dollar to a donut that these were silkscreened for color and the mystery protective clear finish applied on top.

I'm not against electrics and if someone wants to do one of these with electric power I say go right ahead but...
I'm going to have to stand in Howell's corner regarding the noise! And don't forget the smell of the nitro... I just love the smell of nitro in the morning!
LT
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Old Jan 05, 2010, 08:21 AM
Eat, Sleep, Fly!
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Firebaby

Still love the smell of nitro. Reminds me of my childhood and the 20th century.

Step into the 21st century guys! Electric is the way now!

Or is it because I am an electrical engineer? Oh, well......... mine will be electric with throttle control with down-the-wire signals ala Clancy, but my own design. (maybe even a twin) And I will probably fly indoors. Nya Nya

James in eTX and the 21st Century
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Old Jan 05, 2010, 08:25 AM
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Realglow, I PREFER my childhood and/in the 20th century. Someday you will understand.....

howell
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Old Jan 05, 2010, 08:27 AM
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MUCH prefer my childhood in the 20th century. Someday, Grasshopper, you will understand.

howell
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Old Jan 06, 2010, 08:23 AM
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Hey Realglo,

Can you give me the wingspan dimension of the Firebaby? I have saved the photos you posted and with the wingspan I can now draw up a full size plan with graphics to reproduce a model of a Firebaby like I did with the Jim Walker 704 and 404 gliders.

Planwman
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