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Jan 07, 2008, 12:06 AM
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Thread OP

My first indoor model flies.....but

I built a Parlor Mite for my first indoor model ever and it flies but I'm not too happy with it at all. After I covered it with condenser paper (attached with condenser paper cement) everything warped big time. All the warps are concave on the paper side. My guess is the condenser paper cement shrinks a good bit and bent everything up. My polyhedral wing looks more like it was built to be a curve. My carefully dut ribs have lost their nice curve. I have had the thought of putting a coat of cement on the bottom side of the wood to try and pull it back but I'm sure the plane is already quite heavy because in my lack of experience with such light structures I think I broke every part on this plane at least once while trying to get it built. I have never worked with anything so delicate in my life. The instructions call for 1/64 balsa wing ribs. After breaking about 6 or 8 (plane only needs 5!) I gave up and made them from 1/32! After breaking and replacing several other parts I kind of gave up and began repairing the breaks with glue. This, of course, adds weight. This is certainly the most poorly crafted model I have ever built and yet it flies! Does anyone out there have any info/advice to share?
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Jan 07, 2008, 03:34 AM
B for Bruce
BMatthews's Avatar
For indoor you've already learned a good lesson. Don't go back. Move forward instead. You learned a LOT of lessons on this one and your next model will be leagues better as a result.

Don't try to use your fumble fingers for a lot of indoor stuff. When I was doing a lot of indoor I quickly learned to use very springy tweezers that would hold but not crush the wood. It's a whole new world when building this sort of stuff and you need to learn all the tricks to dealing with it.

Not to try to blow you out of the water but if I was building a Parlor Mite I'd even sand down the 1/64 wood to around 1/100 for the wing ribs. Flight forces on such a small model are almost insignificant and almost any amount of wood at all is enough to hold it together. But it requires all new methods from the builder/master to handle the jobs.

Back in my day the glue of choice for condenser paper was rubber cement thinned down a LOT until it was about as thick as well boiled tea. Again it hardly takes anything to hold the paper on.

I also did some microfilm models using the real microfilm instead of the new mamby-pamby mylar films and the glue of choice for that was a thimble of water with a single "hork" of saliva stirred together and used to wet the top surfaces of the frame. Stuck like glue it did....

Don't give up. And please don't take my reminiscing as trying to suggest that you're not "Godly" enough. I had a hard time at first as well. But I learned quickly and adapted. And when you see a model flying at speeds that appear to be just not possible it is heady stuff indeed. It's worth the trip, trust me...
Jan 08, 2008, 12:50 AM
Registered User
Thread OP
BMathews, I am not in the least way offended by your post. Quite the opposite, I am gratified that you took the time to write an informative and encouraging reply.

I flew the plane tonight in a small gym and the best flights were right about 25 seconds. It actually flies quite nicely and makes two 20 foot dia. cirlces but never really climbs during that time. I had it adjusted so that it had just the slightest hint of a stall then backed off on the incidence just enough to remove the stall. Just too heavy I guess. I'm going to try making a new wing and tail out of smaller stock and see what that does. I am already making a "custom" pair of tweezers to keep my "fumble fingers" in check.
Jan 08, 2008, 12:55 PM
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TLyttle's Avatar
Bruce knows what he is talking about alright; he used to do some very inspiring things with indoor models.

He was the one who told me that the quickest way to tell if an indoor modeller is alive is to hold a pane of glass under his nose...
Jan 09, 2008, 03:54 AM
B for Bruce
BMatthews's Avatar
Thanks Terry. I'd forgotten about that old joke.. Geez, that was a lot of years ago....

LD, I'm glad you're taking it as encouragement. I loved my time with the indoor modeling. Somehow it hit a chord with me and that's why I ventured into the microfilm stuff for a while much to the surprise of many of my modeling buddies of the time. It's great fun and a real teacher in just how little material you actually need to get airborne and still hold together.

However one time I went a little overboard and made a condenser "paper" class model that never even got one flight. It was easily as fragile as a mic job and I'd wound it to a small fraction of the max turns and turned to walk out for it's first ever flight. Another guy dashed by about 6 feet in front of me and I slow walked into his wake. The turbulence of his passing was still there and folded the wing and stabilizer into a pretzel..... It was such a mess that I never repaired it. Part of that decision was that it was obviously too weak anyway. I'd actually made an indoor model that was TOO light for its size.

Don't worry about it for your parlor mites. That paper job was 25 inch or so span. A far cry from a parlor mite....
Jan 09, 2008, 02:50 PM
Intermediate Multi
Trisquire's Avatar
I think people dust the framework with 3M 77 these days, prior to applying the covering.

Jan 09, 2008, 09:04 PM
Registered User

Your propeller is another big factor in the model's duration. Did you mold the prop blades on the side of a jar and set the pitch like the instructions show? It's very important to do this and not use flat (ugh!) blades. Also, a good indoor model consists mostly of rubber band. You'll need to make the motor as long as possible until it lands with one last row of knots in the rubber. You can work on this later after you get the model to climb. I would buy an assortment of rubber strip sizes and cut motors for each flying site.

My best record with a Parlor Mite was 1:46 in my living room which was small and cluttered with lamps and furniture. The ceiling was only 8 ft high and it took many evenings of adjusting just to get over a minute in that small room, mainly due to obstacles. My models were built with water-thinned Titebond glue (from the hardware store) and I also used thinned Titebond to cover the model. This isn't as exotic as other's have suggested, but if you apply the glue SPARINGLY, you can get buy with simple stuff. Avoid using any CA glue on these models, its just too tricky to work with on the small wood sizes.

Indoor models require very different techniques for construction and handling than heavier rubber models and there are a few books around that describe the techniques. If you don't know the tricks it can seem impossible to even make one of these models. The original Parlor Mite kits had excellent instructions. Did yours come with a several page instruction manual? If not, you'll definitely need to buy a book such as:

Jan 09, 2008, 10:23 PM
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TLyttle's Avatar
Yeah, the angriest word you can hear at an Indoor event is "Gesundheidt!"...
Jan 10, 2008, 12:41 AM
Registered User
Thread OP

Yes, I molded the prop on the recomended 2" dia. cylinder at the correct angle. Made and used the 45 deg. assembly jig. Balanced it. The prop was about the only thing about the plane that I liked and was proud of. LOL! Watching it spin so slowly has a certain elegance about it.

Rubber: Yes, I have my doubts about the rubber. The rubber that was in the kit mic's about .020 thick and scales about 1/32 wide. I'm in the process of looking on the net for some really small rubber. I think Indoor Model Supply may have something to try. I tried cutting some larger stuff down with a double edge razor blade and then a scalpel blade. It was a miserable failure.

I am going to build a new wing and tail of smaller dimension wood (the wood in the kit was called out as 1/32 but actually mic's at .046) and I'll try to get a better covering job. I have re-shaped my mold for forming the rib stock to include some over bend to offset the springback I got last time. Hopefully they will more accurately match the plans.

A minute and 45 eh? Wow! You have my respect for that one, sir!

Thanks for your help!
Last edited by Lost_Dawg; Jan 10, 2008 at 12:52 AM.
Jan 10, 2008, 05:34 PM
Peck Polymers
A2ZTim's Avatar
Another good book that is readily available is the one by Lew Gitlow. As far as I know he is the guy that started kitting the parlor mite planes.

We offer the book and some of the Indoor Model Supply products and kits like the parlor mite (and soon all of the IMS line) as well as other indoor specialty supplies in our online store at Peck Polymers e-store
A2Z Corp
Peck Polymers division
Jan 10, 2008, 06:01 PM
Closed Account
Originally Posted by mlbco

. . . If not, you'll definitely need to buy a book such as:

Thanks for that Steve. I'm hoping to get a new printing out sometime soon but don't hold your breath - something always seems to come up.

Jan 11, 2008, 11:30 PM
Hey Now
Hi-Here is our little indoor freeflight website. That's me on the front page of the site as well I"m a casual indoor flyer/builder and have learned a lot with the dozen models or so I've done.

What width rubber do you need? pm me and let me know. I've got a pile of various scrap strips that might be the right size. Or get yourself a rubber stripper and go to town!

Don't give up. Try something less demanding for your first model. I've had a blast with "parlor 'copters". Take a look at my blog or the website I linked to for some pictures/plans.

Jan 16, 2008, 11:06 PM
Registered User
Thread OP
Well I have Ron Williams book: Building and Flying Indoor Model Airplanes" and Bob Ross's book as well. These ought to go a long ways toward getting things going in the right direction!

Speloepower, I have sent a PM.
Last edited by Lost_Dawg; Jan 18, 2008 at 02:43 PM.
Jan 19, 2008, 12:19 PM
Registered User
Thread OP
there has definitely been some progress. Got some new, small, light tan rubber and the flight time went up immediately. Best flight last night was 55 seconds! More than double my previous best time. With more practice and carefull winding I think I will break a minute. I'm also building a lighter wing and tail surfaces. It'll be interesting to see the results.
Jan 19, 2008, 03:00 PM
Registered User
kevin matthews's Avatar
55 seconds is not bad.

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