flying 23 year old glider ?? Asking for trouble?? - RC Groups
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Apr 27, 2005, 01:13 AM
nakman8's Avatar

flying 23 year old glider ?? Asking for trouble??

Dusting off my late dad's Olympic glider and getting it ready to fly. We used to fly alot together. Plane is in great cosmetic condition. My worry is that the balsa wood might have gotten weak after all these years of sitting.
Most of the time it was stored indoors. Last few years it was in my attic where it can get pretty hot in the summer months. Am I asking for trouble even thinking about flying it because of it's age? What should I be looking for as signs of age?

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Apr 27, 2005, 04:14 AM
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vintage1's Avatar
What have you got to lose?

wood keeps forever if dry.

Glue is pretty agless too.

Covering can go.

wiring will need looking at.
Apr 27, 2005, 05:48 AM
Registered User
Should not be a problem. My oldest model was built in 1962, has been re-covered twice and the wood and glue (balsa cement) are quite sound.
The model for those that care---hah hah hah, is a free flight Luton Minor scale job from a December 53? Aeromodeller plan. Webra Picolo .8cc diesel powered.
Apr 27, 2005, 07:21 AM
Registered User
I don't necessarily agree with Vintage on a couple of points as both wood and glue may change in mechanical characteristics over time and dependant on precise storage conditions. I say this after years in full size aviation then as an industrial model maker and finally as one who has been playing with model aircraft since the mid 1950's.
Most types of glue may develop a degree of brittleness with age. Regrettably this is hard to detect without breaking joints but if your Dad did a good job wioth tight joints you could be lucky. Some types of glue are worse than others for this. Similarly wood may also be affected but in the main this is down to the humidity that the model may have endured over time. A very dry atmosphere can actually remove all the moisture from the wood and this in turn will mean that it does not possess that springyness that we tend to take for granted in a well designed balsa structure.
Unless you want to go through a recovering job all you can do is carefully examine the visible wood and try a bit with a thumbnail. See if there is any sign of "crumbliness" to it. If not you should be OK. Personally I'd also give the radio a serious look if not the old heave ho. Circuits within the radio and servos may be OK but particularly if the model has sentimental value why risk it for the sake of a few bucks.
Strangely enough models almost store better in use than out of it.
Apr 27, 2005, 08:52 AM
Registered User
Probably be fine. I'm still flying a glider that's 26 years old (and starting to look every minute of it!) and there's an A/1 with a fuselage that dates back to about 1973 which is still sound. Has had three wings and four stabilisers, though... My 'Creep' was built in 1979, has been recovered but it's still very airworthy.
Apr 27, 2005, 02:41 PM
Vintage Flyer

Old models

Hi fellas!
Well, I'll add my two cents worth here.
I have a free flight gas model airplane, built in 1939 that is still flightworthy.
The fuselage is mostly original, but is made of almost entirely of cherry wood, with some new balsa added when the airplane was restored in the late 80's, early 90's. The wing, and stab , fin and rudder had to be replaced because they were destroyed in an industrial fire years ago, when my Uncle's factory burned to the ground, ( this is where he kept the airplane).
We did check all the glue joints and reglued some, but what a magnificent old airplane. It is high pylon polyhedral ship, something like a huge Playboy Senior, but diffrent, and called a "Squalus", the only one ever built, and named after the USS Squalus submarine which sank off the east coast of the USA , and became the first underwater submarine rescue.
Today it flies with RC assist. It has a 9 foot wingspread.
In later years, my Uncle founded and built light sport boats, fishing boats and ski boats, once known as "Crosby Aeromarine", and later as "Hydrodyne Boats"
he also owned and flew several full size aircraft, a Cessna 180, then later, a Aero Commander twin engine.

Blue skies!
Apr 27, 2005, 03:43 PM
Registered User
Orphic_Egg's Avatar
Hey Ed, We'd love a picture of that.!
Apr 28, 2005, 02:31 PM
Vintage Flyer
I have pictures , vbut I don't know how to reduce ( file size) so I can upload them.
I have tried before, but get a message back from RC Groups that the file size is too large, anyone know how I can reduce it in file size?
Or should I set my digital camera ( a high end Kodak model on a lower megapixel size when I take a picture?
Apr 28, 2005, 07:40 PM
Registered User
vintage1's Avatar
Notes to Dave:

I agree about glue, but most glues of that era were balsa cement! Unless exposed to UV its unlikley to gave degraded.

I disagree about wood. Once kiln dried wood settles in to a constant humidity level, that does not gradually lower. It adjusts to the locall humidity level. And stays there.

If it crumbles, its been damp and got a fungal infection...

Plenty of dried well looked after wood > 500 years old exists. In timber framed houses. In furniture. Itrs mechanical properties do not change radically.
Apr 28, 2005, 09:23 PM
Havin FUN
Gonnacrash's Avatar
Double click on Pic
Click on Edit Pic
Click on Save As
Resize Pic.... select % to reduce
Click on Save

Should work,
Don-Basehor, Ks
May 01, 2005, 08:54 PM
Registered User
rchawks's Avatar
If stored in the attic check for warps in the flying surfaces. Probally wouldn't want to winch it or do any zoom launches. Otherwise (probally) will be fine. Will you be sloping or hi start? Converting to electric (heavy payload?) ect.

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