DismayingObservation's blog View Details
Posted by DismayingObservation | May 11, 2010 @ 06:26 PM | 7,967 Views
All is good in the land of nitro-powered airplanes. A single gallon of FAI fuel is on its way for the old Webra, I sucessfully completed repairs to a "SPAD" homebuilt plane I got through an RCGroups member about three years ago...and it was sidelined for two after some engine problems (now fixed; it was a carb problem) led to minor crash damage. Much fun seeing the old flying drainpipe back in the air!

The landing gear for the old Cub was silver-soldered at a local music store since I couldn't find anyone else to do it. In retrospect, I should have bought it to a radiator shop. The music store charged me thirty bucks! We all have to make a living, but thirty bucks? Oh, well. It's done, the repair is nice and strong and it went in the air yesterday at the private airstrip I mentioned a post or two ago and it looked terrific. The engine ran better with each passing minute and the thing was just plain fun to fly. However, the rough dirt runway managed to strip the gears of the aileron servo while trying to taxi back. Again.

The next project begins soon.
Posted by DismayingObservation | May 03, 2010 @ 11:53 AM | 8,072 Views
Might have found me a source for a single gallon of FAI fuel for my poor old Webra 40. Best part is, it'll be an imperial gallon of roughly five liters instead of four quarts for sixteen bucks.

My local club has made arrangements with Magnum Fuels for discount rates on imperial gallons. I'm getting the usual 15% nitro/18% oil stuff with a separate order for 0% nitro/20% oil FAI if they'll send some as part of the total order.

If Magnum will ship a single gallon of the FAI, I can have fun with a vintage model with a vintage engine and it'll free up my modern Magnum XL .46 for use in a Great Planes Ultimate Biplane I'm working on.

Fingers are crossed; this may be the best sixteen bucks I've spent in a long time.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Apr 24, 2010 @ 04:16 PM | 7,903 Views
As luck would have it, the Webra 40 I blogged about in my last entry is at least as old as the plane it was mounted in.

According to the wonderfully helpful Paul's Hobby Shop of Fargo, North Dakota, that old engine is designed to run on 0 to 5% nitro with 20% minimum oil content. The modern standard 15% nitro/18% oil was causing the engine to detonate and overheat, hence the loss of power.

No one - and I mean no one - in my area carries the stuff and I would have needed to purchase a case.

I have no idea whether or not that engine as four gallons of life left in it, so out it came and in went a lightly used Magnum XL .46 I had set aside for another project.

Same basic size (the crankshaft snout is actually a tad shorter) and weight, so in it went.

This engine was another prize from the same club raffle which went to a member who flies strictly electric. In fact, he was glad to give it to me since he had no idea what the heck he was going to do with it.

All I need to do is continue to help him out with his buddy box, which I am more than happy to do.

Tell you what, though: That Magnum revs like crazy, much faster than the Webra even with the tuned pipe.

This should be fun in the air.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Apr 17, 2010 @ 01:44 AM | 8,036 Views
I'd forgotten to mention in my previous blog that what might be a pesky little air leak was driving the idle setting on my ancient Super Sportster "castoff" absolutely bonkers. This morning, the engine started losing power in flight which, coupled with the weird idle issues, led to one very l-o-o-o-o-n-g landing with a broken prop resulting from it running out of runway. Basically, I was trying to bring it down in a hurry and it glided in hot at a private R/C airstrip I was privileged to fly at. The owner of the property had an old three-blade Evolution trainer prop which we used to get it back in the air. Not a whole heck of a lot of thrust with such a low-pitched prop as I'd correctly assumed and when it started losing power again, I knew it wasn't going to make the field, so down it came in the open desert before the runway. No harm at all to the plane, prop busted off a blade.

So, out came the engine this evening.

Which, as it turned out is not an O.S. 45 as I'd been led to believe.

It is an Austrian-made Webra 40. An old one at that, needless to say.

Off to see the Google wizard which in turn led me back here and over to Paul's Model Supply in Fargo, North Dakota. Apparently, Paul is an expert on Webra engines, so I e-mailed him a description of my issues.

I told him that while a new engine would be great, the model would lose a big chunk of that vintage cool.

Don't let me down, Paul!

Naturally, I'll share the progress right here on this very blog, so stay tuned.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Apr 14, 2010 @ 08:56 PM | 7,920 Views
Talk about fun; the former "castoffs" in my last post are not only no longer cast off, but are now proud additions to my fleet.

The 1/6-scale Cub - which might not be a Sig Manufacturing model after all - had been giving me trouble from the very start in regards to its landing gear. The sleeves which are supposed to hold part of the assembly together simply have no grab left in them and the whole works collapsed on the first takeoff attempt.

Ah, but the second attempt was a thing of beauty. She took to the air with real authority on a fairly windy afternoon. Straight line performance was terrific and that old O.S. 45 hummed like it was new. Throttling back let the Cub fly nice and gentle, but those old 45's like to rev, so it wasn't terribly happy, but hey, I didn't mind.

Not wanting to press my luck with the landing gear, I floated the Cub in for a landing and sure enough, one side let go. I was able to taxi back to the flight line with no problem. The flight convinced me to eventually finish the visual details such as the cowl, scale wheels and landing gear fairings. It's just too much fun to fly a Cub not to do this one right.

The real fun came when the Super Sportster hit the sky. What a rush! Loud and screaming fast with that tuned pipe, it ripped through the sky with little more than some left aileron trim. It pulled off some truly nice loops, Cubans, half Cubans and victory rolls with a lot more aileron response than I would have...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Mar 25, 2010 @ 11:06 AM | 7,670 Views
It is a slow and tedious process, but sure as heck, my project planes are finally getting some attention.

On my last blog, I told about an orphaned, thirty-plus-year-old Super Sportster given to me complete with engine and servos. She's ready to fly once I pop in a receiver and battery, set up the transmitter and check the CG.

This in turn inspired me to dust off an older project, one I creatively dubbed "Project Cub."

This poor old 1/6-scale Sig sat for heaven knows how long in someone's attic crawl space in the desert and was it ever dirty. It came with unusual Hitec HS-101 servos and not much else. No decals, no cowl and no evidence of there having been any. On the other hand, it was well-built and covered with 21st Century simulated cloth covering.

I slapdashed some basic repairs, slapped on an old (and yet another castoff) O.S. Max 45 with a fuel tank from a crashed model and put it in the air. The engine was a bit hard to start and the darn thing flew pretty well with more than adequate grunt, but I chose to ignore a slightly crunchy rudder servo. Landing on a windy day several flights later sent it into a safety fence, shattering the windshield and breaking off one of the posts.

So, back into the garage it went.

After cleaning up the Super Sportster, I thought it might be fun to revisit the Cub.

I had an old O.S. 25 on hand which would provide more scale performance, but the mounts were aligned for a .40-sized engine. Off...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Mar 15, 2010 @ 01:54 PM | 7,736 Views
Well, it would seem that another odd model plane has managed to find a new home...namely, mine.

A friend of mine who's basically just starting out in the hobby and flies only electrics managed to win a used but complete nitro-powered plane at a club raffle. Since he didn't want to mess around with nitro, he gave it to me as-is, with engine and four Futaba servos.

Not bad for one dollar for him and free for me.

I was told that this roughly .40-sized model is about thirty years old, but I have no way of knowing that unless I can track down the original owner. Regardless of the age, it is a finely built thing.

Both the fuselage and wing appear to be fiberglass over wood, covered with a fine fiberglass cloth and painted with dope. The fusealge actually feels like a single, solid unit as if it were carved out of a single piece of wood. The graphics are regular iron-on bits. I have never seen a model put together quite this way. The Donald Duck finger puppet which took up space in the cockpit was removed; it's too nice a model to have such an incongruous figure under the canopy and it was rattling around loose anyway.

The engine is an "odd duck" as well. It seems to run fine with its strapped-on tuned pipe open at both ends. Nice and loud and according to another flying buddy, it pulls the model through the air just fine. At least I can take heart in knowing it flies well and just flew recently. How anyone managed to fly it on the original fuel...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Mar 02, 2010 @ 11:51 PM | 7,703 Views
Where has the time gone? Heck, I haven't blogged since last summer, so here goes:

Still flying my E-flite Blade 400 and still loving it. However, I haven't had as much opportunity to fly fixed wing in the last few months since my wife and I moved. I'm now nearly fifty miles from my club field...ouch! On the up side, the powers-that-be granted me free membership this year thanks to my publicity efforts of the past year, so it certainly works out. Besides, I still have family out that way, so it's the perfect excuse to toss a plane in the car and drive out.

There's a dry lake bed considerably closer to home, but it's on a rather rough dirt road and the rains here in Southern California have pretty much turned it into a gigantic mudhole, or so I'm told. I went one heck of a long way down that same dirt road without finding the fork which would have taken me to the flying site. Had I gone any further out, I'm convinced that I would have found the ten lost tribes of Israel.

Nice part about the new place is that I have plenty of room to fly an eggbeater, so I do.

Two of my nephews have been bitten hard by the R/C flying bug. One is making absolutely incredible progress on helicopter flight thanks to lots of simulator time. He'd bought an indoor/outdoor coaxial just before Christmas and flew it beautifully here at my place.

About a week ago, he sent me a text message saying that he'd bought a used but very nice and nicely modified T-Rex 450.

Ooh, big jump, thought I.

He's not only hovering, but he's into forward flight...and he even went inverted and in control, again thanks to the sim.

I don't even like going inverted with a simulated heli, let alone a real one without a magic reset button which puts everything back together.

To be perfectly frank, I can't wait to see him in action!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jul 17, 2009 @ 07:15 PM | 8,540 Views
As luck would have it, the new E-flite Blade 400 3D I talked about in my last blog may have been a victim of a bad radio despite the fact my transmitter wasn't on the Spektrum DX6i recall.

It didn't take more than a few flights by me and my friend Manny to learn that this bird was unflyable. Manny's description, by the way. Anyone privileged enough to fly some T-Rex 450s for Twentieth Century Fox should know what "unflyable" means.

Stubborn me went to fly it anyway.

I put it in a seemingly stable hover, hit the idle up and the thing went into an immediate and very fast hard left turn right into the ground. This happened too fast for me to react right away, so what was left of the main rotor continue to turn under power for a moment. That moment was enough to cause the li-po to vent and begin to burn...!

To make a long story short, I told my tale of woe to the nice folks at Horizon Hobby who asked me to send the wreck to them.

Their response?

One brand new Blade.

Here's the sweet part: It came with the transmitter batteries already installed, a new but discharged li-po (I got to keep the original because of shipping concerns and it wasn't the one which vented), their updated and recommended radio settings already set...and I think they may have even removed the back of the transmitter to check the pots since the charge jack was rattling around inside. Unless it had come like that from the factory, the only way it could have come loose was by removing the back. The jack is held in place by the two halves of the transmitter case.

In short, these great folks tested the model before they shipped it.

It flies like a dream and it's going up in the morning yet again. I can't get enough of the thing.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Apr 11, 2009 @ 08:25 PM | 8,624 Views
As I'd pointed out in a previous entry, it's nice to have knowledgeable friends in the hobby.

Heck, it's good to have the hobby for the friends you make.

Case in point:

I joined some flying buddies for breakfast this morning...their treat. Of the three, two are beginners and one is an expert helicopter pilot who, as I'd learn, just did some work with some Align T-Rex 450s for the Alvin and The Chipmunks sequel filming in Los Angeles.

Talk about lucky: He got to keep a couple of the T-Rexes, the high-end JR Spektrum radio, the chargers and a whole slew of brand new li-pos on top of getting paid. He's still on call and may have to go back to LA for the shoot; one of the helis he'll get to keep is still there. It was scanned for CGI modeling and it'll be autographed by the cast and crew when it's no longer needed.


One of those very same helis was in the air today at a quiet, privately owned field available for use by members of the local R/C club. The T-Rex will be wearing a scale fuselage in the movie, but for today, it just had the stock canopy.

I will most assuredly be posting pix when I know he'll be out with the movie fuselage installed.

Of the beginners, one is actually rather famous as an exhibition drag racer and he flies full-scale to boot. He's still learning R/C, but that doesn't stop him from having a blast on a buddy box.

He'd gotten a brand new E-flite 400 from Horizon Hobby for a warranty claim, but he didn't really...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Apr 05, 2009 @ 06:03 PM | 8,547 Views
Certainly not I, that's for sure.

I maidened my new Great Planes Spitfire EP 25 today.

Holy jeez, what a rush.

But I digress.

As it so happened, I had the exact same O.S. 25FX the build called for, left over from the crash of my late and still unlamented Nitroplanes Zero Fighter-25. Even two of the GWS Naro Pro servos I'd used in the thing were called to service as aileron servos while three of the Hitec HS-81 servos which also saw use in the Zero went in the fuselage for elevator, rudder and throttle after a tiny bit of work with a Dremel.

Ain't no way in God's green earth I was going to deal with Nitroplanes again and I desperately wanted to put the engine in some sort of airfame. It's probably the best .25 in the world and I'm a huge fan of Great Planes and Hobbico in general.

Finally broke down and got me the Spitty. I was going to get the Warhawk, but the hobby shop didn't have one in stock and I wasn't going to wait.

Of course, such a build wasn't without its issues. I trimmed a bit more than I'd bargained for while trimming the throttle pushrod tube. Seems I managed to snip off one of the coaxial antenna leads on a brand new Futaba FASST seven-channel receiver.


It's a simple fix, but I'm leaving it to a pro.

Ah, but now that the plane is complete and several days of high winds have come to a close, up went the Spitfire with a receiver borrowed from my Carl Goldberg Yak-54 EP.

I expected the speed to be relatively close...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Mar 12, 2009 @ 08:19 PM | 8,678 Views
After my recent success with my new Kyosho Phantom 70 and its weird landing gear modification, I promised myself that I'd bring it and no other model to the field if I were to go flying this morning.

Who am I to break a promise to myself...?

The only problem with the club field is the fact it tends to be windy when the surrounding areas aren't. Perfectly calm at home, blowing pretty hard there.

Undaunted, I bolted the wings and struts to the thing and waited.

When the wind had diminished sufficiently, in went a tank of fuel and on came the engine.

As always, it was ballistic on takeoff, but even with some increased aileron throw, I still hadn't dialed in enough travel to roll it. The friend who fixed it later reminded me that the Phantom is a pylon racer and not an aerobat.

I knew that (blush).

In any event, I kept it within sight and under fairly gentle throttle to get the feel of it since it becomes darn near invisible too far out.

Oh, what a sweetie this bird is. Even with limited aileron travel, she turns in hard, fast and accurate. It's exceptionally realistic in flight as well.

Landings were the reason I went to the field in the first place, so I turned from base to final, all the while concentrating on the plane's attitude; remember, the thing becomes almost invisible when viewed head on.

I was coming in a bit too hot on the first approach, so I gunned the throttle, brought it around and lined up once more.

This time, I was...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Mar 11, 2009 @ 11:54 AM | 8,714 Views
Thank goodness for my R/C club and its people!

Many thanks to the VP for repairing the Kyosho Phantom 70 I spoke of in my last entry. He sleeved the landing gear to the cut stubs and silver soldered the things in place. Since he put the cut-off parts above the stubs instead of in line with them (which added a lot of strength), he only needed to notch the tops of the wheel pants to get them to fit. That's the only evidence of repairs and you really have to look to see what I'm talking about. Still plenty of clearance and the setup works great!

I still need to practice landing a biplane, especially an all-white one which seems to magically disappear on approach when viewed head-on.

I bounced it kind of hard when it tip stalled, but the repair held firm. No damage; it's a tough little bird. Nothing short of an utterly catastrophic crash will separate those parts and even that might not be enough.

Needless to say, I'm not too willing to experiment.

I found out that my rather conservative aileron settings allow it to turn just fine...but it won't roll at all.

Easy fix, especially compared to what my buddy Tom went through to fix the gear!

Struggling a bit with "Project Cub." I got a hold of a cast-off O.S. Max .45 from a club member which in turn feeds through a new Du-Bro 12 ounce tank. It runs with gobs of power now that it's de-crudded, but I think there may still be a bit of gunk in the carb. It doesn't run consistently which resulted in a couple of dead stick landings.

A tweaked set of scale landing gear and a crosswind sent it rolling into a safety fence as I tried to take off, this after three previous good flights. The windshield's busted as is the fuselage immediately surrounding it on the left, but it's easily repaired. I may ditch the scale gear, but we'll see.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Feb 02, 2009 @ 01:02 AM | 8,672 Views
Boy, did I ever get me one.

It was a pretty exciting moment last October when I won a raffle at my flying club for a new, mostly assembled Kyosho Phantom 70 biplane complete with a full compliment of servos (including a couple of digital miniservos for the ailerons), a lightly used O.S. 46AX two-stroke, a new Great Planes spinner and a pre-installed, plug-ugly, caricatured pilot figure. This was just the head of what I knew was an expensive, hand painted bust of a madly grinning fool with a bulging eye and a WWII German officer's cap.

Strange choice of a pilot figure for a model of a 2007 Reno Air Show racer.

The whole schmutz, probably 750 bucks worth, had been donated to the club by an older member who'd basically given up on the thing. Only problem I could see was in having to do a small repair to the underside of the lower wing since it had blown off of the display table a few minutes prior to my winning it.

I got it home and got to looking closer at my good fortune.


Darn thing was a $300 glue bomb on closer inspection. Streaks of CA smeared the fiberglass fuselage, especially near the tail section. The lower wing and a few other odd places were streaked as well. Even the needle inlet valve on the O.S. was broken. With all the other projects I had going on, not to mention my reviewing tasks here on RCGroups, the Phantom took a back seat. I spent Thanksgiving Day at home with my wife and I took the opportunity to do most of the final...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jan 07, 2009 @ 10:41 PM | 8,836 Views
Well, I did it!

Per my last blog in November, I was able to get the old abandoned Sig 1/6-scale Cub in the air!

Darn thing flew great. It was easy to fly, easy to land and just good fun all around. It really hustled with its temporary Thunder Tiger Pro .40 and a Master Airscrew 10x6 scimitar prop up front. All the mini-servos were A-OK and just needed a double-check of their mountings. Oh, and the Futaba receiver worked just fine with a new crystal on the proper frequency! Nice little bonus to be sure. I flew it on both the Futaba and a Berg Microstamp 4. It was as aerobatic as a beginner's park flyer, though. Little bitty strip ailerons do not a roll rate make. It banked and looped just fine, but rolling was out of the question. I was able to do an Immelman turn to get it inverted, but I had to complete the loop in order to get it right side up again. Thank goodness for altitude!

The strange fuel tank with its ninety-degree offset outlet tubes molded in the cap only lasted a couple of flights before the engine quit starting. The klunk had come loose inside and there was no getting it out.

In went a temporary (albeit smaller) tank supported by a couple of foam automotive tire dressing applicators and I was back in biz the next day. Short flight times, but back in biz nevertheless.

Short biz, too. The old, brittle landing gear retaining straps broke on a smooth touchdown. No damage and a 99-cent four-pack of Great Planes retainers got me back in...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Nov 19, 2008 @ 07:25 PM | 8,102 Views
The stab on Project Cub is fixed. Real easy to do. The frame was slightly broken in three places, but two of the places were right next to some triangular joiners which had worked loose. I have a feeling that's what led to the damage in the first place. The covering on the fuselage is ironed down and looking good, if a bit smudged. I may hit it with Simple Green.

The nylon elevator clevises were brittle, to put it charitably. Some metal Great Planes units await.

I think I can fly this with the .25 which once lived in my Raiden Tech Zero Fighter and which waits for a Great Planes P-40. We shall see. In fact, I have every reason to believe that I can get it in the air in the next day or two less its cowl and landing gear skirts. Even though Sig says it'll fly on a .25, I may yank a .40 from another plane and install it for the time being.

Pictures will be forthcoming. This is just too fun a project not to share.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Nov 18, 2008 @ 06:51 PM | 6,892 Views
Yup, the 1/6 scale Cub which I was given was built from a Sig kit and covered with 21st Century simulated cloth covering.

The fuselage cleaned up pretty good with little more than plain water and some paper towels. There's a bit of grunge which will require some more in-depth cleaning.

Last night, I took a moment to epoxy the damaged jury strut back together. Good as new. Next will be the slightly broken horizontal stab.

I honestly think that this thing this'll be flying by next week!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Nov 01, 2008 @ 01:23 AM | 7,148 Views
Well, things haven't exactly been going according to the predictions in my last couple of blogs.

The Great Planes Cessna 182 project is on temporary hiatus (I needed two of the new servos I'd bought for it for use in another model and I'm fairly certain the engine is way too large) and I haven't yet ordered an airframe for the O.S. LX 25 which had powered the late and relatively unlamented Raiden Tech Zero Fighter-25.

All hasn't been without some action. I have three reviews for the magazines almost ready to go once I edit the videos. Broadcast quality, yet. My friend the producer who shot the models in action has too much on his plate to edit the raw footage, so I've arranged to edit the footage with help from another production house.

No tricks this Halloween, but I did get an unexpected treat.

I went to the local hobby shop to pick up a new li-po I'd ordered. One of the clerks came from the back room with an old, dusty .40 or .46-sized Cub fuselage and corresponding wing. No decals, no markings, no cowl or engine.

I was told that it was mine.

One of my retired flying buddies works at the store part time. He was given that plane along with several others which had been gathering dust in an attic only Heaven knows where; attics aren't in vogue here in the desert. Nor in Southern California in general, for that matter. I assume it was from an out-of-state seasonal visitor.

In any event, she was a dirty little beast. Well made, though....Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 17, 2008 @ 05:42 PM | 6,810 Views
Well, it would appear that I can add another plane to the list of past models.

Funny thing is, I'm not too broken up over it.

I refer to the loss today of the second (and final) Raiden Tech Zero Fighter-25. That model was my very first review here at RCGroups and a "beauty shot" of it when it was new graces the Wikimedia Commons as a public domain photo.

Poor little plane was never quite right after a mishap with a crossed-up elevator control crunched the horizontal stab. Since Raiden Tech/Nitromodels has absolutely ZERO spare parts for said Zero, not to mention the worst customer service in the history of model aviation, I had to make do.

I was trying to get the little monster flying right earlier today, but the elevator simply wouldn't stay aligned due to flexing of the repaired stabilizer, itself incorrectly installed when I first assembled the model. My fault, I fear. All it wanted to do was to pitch up no matter what I did. 'Twas an ongoing problem which really took all the fun out of flying it. I figured it was do or die. Either the thing was going to fly or it was going to become a static display with the O.S. FX 25 and radio gear destined for one of those neat little Great Planes .25 warbirds I'd passed up in favor of the Zero..

About the time I got it to pitch down instead of up, the repaired stab let go.

Lawn dart!

In a way, I was relieved. I paid less than a hundred bucks for it, delivered to my door about a year ago. I...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 11, 2008 @ 06:57 PM | 6,528 Views
As I once pointed out, there isn't anything quite as rewarding as taking something which, once discarded, is brought back to useful life.

Work nears completion on the badly handled Great Planes Cessna 182 stuffed with a new O.S. LA 65. Got the whole works complete with radio (albeit an obsolete transmitter) for all of fifty bucks. The engine was worth more than twice that. Its Futaba receiver is currently doing duty in my old .46-powered profiler. Lots o' engine for something intended for use with a .40, but very similar to the way the same plane is represented on both RealFlight simulators with very promising results.

The transplanted VQ Model Cap-10B .60 flap servo covers converted to aileron servo panels work to perfection. However, repairing the mounting blocks where the struts attach to the fuselage proved to be troublesome. The only thing making the whole affair easier than normal was the fact that the original owner failed to epoxy the servo tray in place. Still couldn't get the tray out all the way, but as it appears, the struts are more show than structural. The mounting blocks and recommended hardware are more suited to a park flyer, so I fixed the blocks as best as I could.

There was a strange pushrod setup for the throttle which didn't seem to engage in any possible way with the throttle arm on the O.S., so I got me a DU-BRO throttle cable, trimmed it to fit and voila! I have throttle control!

The Sullivan fill valve from the dearly departed...Continue Reading