In December 1941, the US entered
World War II and the Navy needed that
balsa for life rafts, so it purchased the
lot. With balsa supplies gone, modeling
changed drastically as hardwood, plastics,
and even cardboard were used for kits.
Megow survived with various war
contracts, but during the post-war
years the business climate changed.
Regulations came from all levels of
government. Jobbers and middlemen
shared more of the profits. In 1949, with
revenue diminishing, Fred liquidated the
business and retired to Florida.
I’ve heard that during the Great
Depression, the sale of model aircraft
kits was one of the healthier parts of
the economy. Charles Lindbergh’s
famous flight excited the nation and
barnstorming pilots still traveled the
country. People looked up when an
aircraft passed over. And most of all,
model kit building was one of the more
affordable pastimes. At least a portion of
the Megow success story was fortuitous
timing, when few other new businesses
would have survived.
“Real” Old-Timer (OT) models are
built over plans on a flat building board.
Many old plans show only one wing and
sometimes one stabilizer. Instructions
were to build one wing, then reverse the
plan and oil it, making it semitransparent,
to build the other.
That messy idea had some merit in
addition to cost savings. Mechanical
drafting could produce plans with
asymmetrical right and left wings. I
avoided the oil mess by putting plans
against a window and tracing onto the
backside. Today a copy center can make
reversed copies while giving you fresh
plans in any scale you’d like.
Rubber-powered aircraft modelers
often shape propeller blades from
thin, moistened balsa wrapped around
cylindrical objects. This clever idea came
from a SAM35 Speaks issue. By wrapping
the propeller blades around a conical
object you can make progressively
One source of conical shapes is
inexpensive miniature traffic cones used
in field games and found in sporting
goods stores. The propeller’s outer tip
is placed toward the cone’s large end.
Wider cone angles produce greater
pitch progression. Positioning the blade
closer to the cone’s tip produces greater
Snug pull-pull controls on RC models
can strain servo bushings or bearings.
More strain is produced when someone
holds an OT model for launch by
gripping around those lines. The servo
strain can be eliminated by installing an
idler bellcrank a few inches aft of the
servo. Use a regular pushrod between
the servo and bellcrank and run the pull
lines from the bellcrank to the control
surface. The bellcrank should be sturdily
mounted and bushed.
One objection to diesel engines is the
permeating fuel odor. Lava soap has been
recommended as the best for getting the
odor off your hands. And OxiClean is the
recommendation for clothing.
85 Model Aviation DECEMBER 2014