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Archive for June, 2006
Posted by GRW3 | Jun 27, 2006 @ 12:11 AM | 14,900 Views
Every once and a while I’ll be talking with some flying buddy and they will ask “Wouldn’t you like to have one of those jet engines?” The answer is NOOOOO! They’re neat OK but I make my living off of jet fuel and I just don’t want to deal with jet engines or jet fuel when I’m on my own time.

This week finds me in Toronto, Ontario, Canada for the semi annual meeting of ASTM Committee D.02 on Petroleum Products. My personal effort is directed to participating in and being an officer of the Aviation Fuel Subcommittee. We deal with the specifications for the jet fuel and aviation gasoline.

Jet Fuel is actually a glorified kerosene. Jet Fuel, Kerosene and #1 Diesel all come from the same part of the barrel of oil. It’s a little lighter than typical Diesel (#2) and a little heavier than gasoline. The military uses jet fuel for both turbines and diesels for logistical simplicity. You can’t legally use jet fuel in your car and truck diesel because it is not a low sulfur product.

Jet Fuel is not just for burning. It’s the secondary coolant for most jet engines, taking heat from the oil. It’s used as a hydraulic fluid to operate mechanisms on the engines and it’s used to cool avionics. It has to be useable at –40°C and safe at +40°C. It has to provide sufficient energy to get from here to there and it has to do it in a way that will not harm the engine. Providing all this is a constant struggle that just takes some of the luster off of turbine engines.

By the end of the week I’ll just be looking for a quiet place to recover. By the way, working in the aviation business is not conducive to being at ease when you fly. I know all about the odd and all but when you hear about practically every fuel related problem that comes up, it kind of sticks with you. So Friday when I get on the plane I’ll just plug my I-Pod into my noise canceling headphones and read my way back to San Antonio, shoving what I know about ‘making sausage’ to the back of my mind.
Posted by GRW3 | Jun 10, 2006 @ 10:10 PM | 15,657 Views
I did not finish my Eindekker in time to participate in the annual Dawn Patrol Over Old Kingsbury (this year!) but I attended anyway and took my son, Bryan, with me. The site is a very nice grass strip operated by the Tri-City Flyers about 50 miles east of San Antonio. It is part of a larger enterprise called the Old Kingsbury Aerodrome that is the home of the Vintage Aircraft Historical Foundation. The VAHF specializes in WWI aircraft. The founder of the group and the owner of the field, Roger Freeman, built and flew a Fokker DVII that was used in the Aviator.

The attendance was good, over twenty pilots and even more planes. The flying was very relaxed, not the frentic activity you usually see when ten 'extras' trying to compete for a place to hover. The WWI planes really like the bigger sizes. Quarter scale is good and third is really nice.

There was no formal display but we modelers were allowed to check out the historic planes in storage and being built. That was a treat, a real inside look at the operation. I have threads on the fly-in and real planes in the Scale Power Plane section, where I am maintaining a Build Log on my Eindekker.

Vintage Aviation Historical Foundation

Dawn Patrol Over Old Kingsbury

I did not finish my plane so I did not register. I wanted to support the effort (to make sure it comes back) so I spent the registration amount on Raffle tickets. The prize is the recently returned third scale Moraine Saulner from Balsa USA. They also...Continue Reading
Posted by GRW3 | Jun 05, 2006 @ 05:32 PM | 15,337 Views
After buying my new radio at Toledo, I just let it set in the box until this weekend. I have planned a major installation in a new Balsa USA Eindecker (you can see my build log in the Scale Power Plane section). I have just reached the point where I will start working with the radio installation.

I pulled the Tracker out of the box and sat down with it and the manual in front of the TV. As I was reading through the book I thought "Why not set it up to work my current plane?" I have a sport plane on Airtronics Ch 52. Just four channels no fancy mixing. I went through track one and set it for channel 52 and Airtronics receiver. I got out of the chair, walked into my shop, turned on the airplane's radio, and it worked.

I hadn't done the overnight charge yet so I did not get a chance to work out the servo reversing but the pattern was clearly Airtonics. I put it on charge and will do the track two honors tonight.

An interesting thing happened while I was setting up the radio. I ran frequency scan just to see how it worked. It started at the blank setup value of 36 and worked through the numbers. Imagine my surprise when it came around to ch 11 and started beeping. I have a transmitter on ch 11 so I went in the shop to check. Sure enought, I had picked up that transmitter a on Saturday and evidently I had failed to turn it off. Despite the fact that the transmitter meter was way down in the red it was still transmitting. So there's another use for your Tracker,...Continue Reading
Posted by GRW3 | Jun 03, 2006 @ 12:22 AM | 16,373 Views
Once I built a railroad
I made it run
Made it race against time.
Once I built a railroad
Now it's done
Brother, can you spare a dime?

I was thinking about the travails of our club (San Antonio Prop Busters) in keeping a flying field and I was reminded of these lines from the famous depression era song. We’re on our third field now and the trip has had some unusual twists. I write this to warn of pitfalls and offer hope to those who have lost or are about to lose a field.

Twenty years ago I was the President of the club in a trying time. Shortly before assuming office we received a notice that we would loose our field within six months. We had a little money to work with, because of the prescient efforts of a former President who persuaded us to double our dues, but not much. We, as a club, were blessed by the crash in the oil boom that resulted in hiatus in land development. The property owners continued to tell us it was a temporary reprieve.

We were afraid that we would loose members to the other established clubs in town. I pushed hard to do more activities that would keep us unified. Maybe too hard as the money spent was used as a reason to find my replacement for the next year. I still believe that club activities are important at all times but critical when times are tough.

Fearing the end could be near we did strike out to find a new field. We found several potentials but they were ruled out for various reasons but the biggest was “too far”. Our...Continue Reading
Posted by GRW3 | Jun 02, 2006 @ 12:26 AM | 16,207 Views
I’ve been considering the current discussions on the difficulty in sizing and application of electric motors in comparison of the ease of selecting an IC engine. This consideration came as a result of attending and helping my club with a sport pylon race for 0.40 size engined planes. The racing was divided into two classes of 0.40 and the effort to divide it by two and still come up with 0.40 was mind boggling.

Really though, this should not be that big a surprise to us IC flyers. We’ve dealt with it for years. You can put an OS 0.46 FX on a regular high wing trainer if you treat it carefully. If you don’t you get things like broken hinges (though, fortunately, two out of four on the elevator can be enough to land your plane). Better to use a 0.40LA instead but, hey, nothing exceeds like excess. The bottom line is, we know pretty well how to match a ‘forty’ plane with a ‘forty’ engine. As much as we whine about how hard it is to do, matching electric motor systems to planes is really no harder, just different. I think Horizon has a good idea with its 32, 46 and 60 outrunners by taking advantage of IC psychology. A quick read of the web based info on the 46 shows it can be set up from LA to FX strength and beyond.

Another heartburn seems to be related to the total costs of systems. One way of thinking of the cost is as if you were buying an IC engine and all the fuel at one time. That’s OK but lets take another approach and look at a couple of definitions from Merriam-...Continue Reading