Hints and Tips
Modellers are constantly coming up with simple tricks or clever fixes for commonly occurring problems. This Hints and Tips page gives us the opportunity to share these ideas with other modellers. We are always on the lookout for more tips and would welcome any suggestions in any aspect of aeromodelling. It doesn't matter how simple or advanced the tip is - if it saves time, trouble or expense or if it makes something safer, then this is the page in which to put it. It is geared towards everyone from absolute beginners to the most experienced flyers.
New Hints and Tips may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep Fuel Tubing Safe
If your fuel feed tubing is touching the cylinder head it might melt. But if you slip 3 or 4 rubber O-rings over the tubing it will keep it clear of the engine.
O-Rings in a Scale Cockpit
To make an excellent aircraft instrument panel, find a photo on Google, print it onto thick glossy paper, cut it out and stick it to a balsa backing. Then stick suitable different O-rings over the instruments. Don't use cyano glue - it will mist over the photo. Use Canopy glue which sticks any plastic to anything.
Solarfilm won't come away from backing
The protective backing on Solarfilm is difficult to remove. But stick short lengths of sellotape on either side of the film, face to face, near a corner and you can pull them apart easily.
Hold U/C Wire for Soldering
How to hold the wire legs on an undercart together while soldering them. Get an old tin can or bowl. Fill it with sand and poke the wire pieces into the sand at the correct angle. That will hold them steady for soldering.
Secure your Large Model ID card
Many people now have to carry ID cards at the work and have to swipe them regularly to open doors, log on to cash registers etc. These cards are often carried in a holder and worn around one's neck or clipped to clothing.
The plastic slider into which the ID card goes makes an ideal holder for the large model card. It is very thin and lightweight. Just remove any strap, clip etc and glue it in the model. Then slide the card in when you receive it and change when it is renewed or if you buy or sell a model.
Building Board Ruler
Take the plunge, surprise the wife/partner and offer to go to IKEA with her. Pretend you are interested in everything that is presented to you. As you go through the store, IKEA have lots of tear off strips of a 1 metre very strong paper tape to facilitate customers measuring things. Tear of a couple of them and roll them up carefully and then head home. Take one of the tapes and varnish it down on the smooth edge of your building board with a couple of coats of strong varnish. You will end up with a pretty durable 1 metre rule imbedded on the edge of your building board in a very convenient position similar to the old brass yardstick on the counter of drapery shops long ago..!! Whaddya mean what is a drapery shop ?
Internal Cable Tidy
I recently completed a YT International Formula 3D which, I might add, is an excellent kit and flyer. Because of the limited depth to the space between the bottom of the cockpit area floor and the top of the wing, I had to pack the receiver up with the tank, ahead of the wing. I was using separate elevator servos and this combined with the aerial left a number of unsightly wires located in the wing opening.
I found the following is a very neat way of tidying up these wires. Simply go to your office stationary cupboard or your local stationary shop and get one of the plastic spiral binding thingies (the ones that bind a small report together).
Just epoxy this along the length of the fuselage opening down in the corner and by pulling back all the plastic spirals, the collection of servo wires can be trapped inside them, thereby producing a nice narrow cable tray/tidy running from behind the wing to the tank area and no trailing wires loose anywhere!
Long ago in the days of No 11 Blades and balsa bashing, we used to solder piano wire of varying gauges having first of all cleaned the wire, tinned it and then wrapped the two pieces to be soldered with fuse wire. What is fuse wire?? It was a wire sold on a card and came in 3 different Amp ratings, namely 5, 15 & 30 Amp. It was used to temporarily 'mend' a blown fuse. However, we used it to bind two pieces of piano wire to hold them in place for soldering. Because of the spread of trip switch boxes now instead of fuse boxes, the need for fuse wire has diminished as I was told when I recently went to my local hardware shop to look for fuse wire. I was laughed at. "Sure nobody uses that stuff anymore" was the reply. "Haven't they all gotten rid of the fuse boards and replaced it with trip switches!" But then, flicking through the pages of the Maplin catalogue, there it was 'FUSE WIRE' - sold on a card with three different gauges for the three different ratings. I walked out with five cards @ around €2.69 a card!
Accurate Cowl Fitting
I am sure you have had many variations on this topic. However, I have used a method for the past 10 years which has never let me down. The following steps are a summary of what is involved:
- Fly new model with no cowl but with nose weight to compensate for lack of cowl and make all side, up and down thrust modifications.
- Cut 6 - 8 (as many as max no of cowl fixing screws) lengths of 1/16" plywood each around 8" long and 1/2" wide.
- Tape each of the ply strips horizontally along front of fuselage extending to and matching exactly the extremity of the cowl fixing blocks or points, i.e. ends of ply strips extend as far as and to cover the cowl fixing blocks. Use low tack masking tape so as not to damage nose covering when removed.
- Remove prop and slide cowl over shaft and over cowl fixing blocks with the ply strips on the outside, ie trap the cowl under the ply strips.
- Fit spinner backplate, prop and prop nut and tighten up.
- Jiggle cowl so that front of cowl or spinner ring on cowl is exactly matching the back of the spinner backplate and an even 1/16" gap all around.
- Drill holes in the ply strips approx 1/4" back from tip of ply strips which should also continue the hole thru the cowl and into the cowl blocks.
- This will leave a hole for each of the cowl retaining screws in the correct position in the cowl and centrally in the cowl retaining blocks.
- Remove ply strips, fit front of spinner and go fly with a very neat cowl/spinner alignment.
The ply strips can be used again and again.
And now for the more advance scale builder...Cockpit Frame Simulation
To easily represent metalised cockpit framing with rivets for sport or scale models the following is a cheap and cheerful method which has stood the test of time. Find a typewriter somewhere (might be the hardest part in this day and age!!). With a page of ordinary white A4 paper installed, type 1000's of full stops... lines and lines of full stops. You can double space each line for convenience later. When the page is full, remove and lay upside down on a cutting mat. With a steel rule and brand new No 11 blade, slice the A4 sheet from side to side above and below each row of full stops. The gap between each slice will be the width of the cockpit frame. You should now have a large number of such strips with bumps along the length, i.e. the back of the page where the full stop created a depression on the other side of the paper. Simply glue the strips around the perimeter of the cockpit glazing, you can even do both sides and when dry paint the relevant colour, silver for sport aeroplanes and the relevant camouflage colour for warbirds. Seal with either gloss or matt fuel proofer.