Showing a few years’ wear, this cast-iron woodstove door
predates the author’s introduction to RC on August 11,
1978, by 24 hours.
Rob Caso reworked his Fairey Swordfish last fall to include functioning ailerons and prototypically
folding wings. Late on this warm December afternoon, he successfully defended a local ball field.
Revisiting my RC roots
“Boyertown? I know where Boyertown is,” my father emarked one day last fall,
when learning of my December travel
plans. I was a bit taken aback by his
comment, as Boyertown, Pennsylvania,
is home to just slightly more than 4,000
people, and the drive is a solid six-plus
hours from his home in northern New
“Unicast is in Boyertown,” he finished.
Wow, was that ever a blast from the past.
The summer I turned 15, I went
to work for my father, expecting to
purchase a couple of brass locomotives
for my model railroad before heading
back to my second year of high school
I had just finished phase one of an
8 x 18-foot layout as classes ended
that spring. The basic bench work was
complete, and I had laid slightly more
than 35 feet of roadbed and track,
establishing the main outer loop and
giving me the chance to see some action
on my burgeoning empire.
The script called for both mining and
logging operations, set against menacing
rocky crags of the western mountains.
Little did I realize that my
ambitious plans would soon be
That August, my father and
I drove south from Vermont
to visit Unicast, the contract
foundry that he was using for
some cast-iron stove parts. The
heat and smell were unlike
anything that I had seen before,
and one of the highlights of
that trip was scratching my
name and the date into a sand
mold. Destined to shape molten
iron into a new door for our
woodstove, the mold was hand
packed to a surprisingly hard,
smooth surface that challenged
my reversed penmanship.
The other memorable incident
of that adventure came the
next day on the drive home.
A few miles from Boyertown,
and surrounded by a stand of
late summer corn, was a modest
flying field that had been empty
when we passed by the day before. That
second time we went by, we turned
beside the small, hand-painted sign and
stopped to watch as two modelers flew a
couple of 1/2A airplanes.
The day’s “expert” had been flying for
approximately a year and was tearing
up the sky with his 1/2A Trainer 5 from
Radio Control Modeler. The second pilot
had gotten his start only a month earlier,
and was still working out the basics
with his 1/2A-powered sailplane, its Cox
engine mounted to a pod above the wing.
We spent roughly an hour at the field,
pummeling them with questions while
soaking up the magic. By the time we
were back in the car, I knew I had a new
I never bought those brass
locomotives. Returning home, I packed
up my trains, broke down the layout
framework, and for the next 35 years, I
never looked back.
The rest of that summer was filled
with carving balsa parts on the antique
farm table that is now in my brother’s
dining room, still showing the outlines of
my first fuselage sides.
Coming full circle last December, I
found myself headed to Boyertown to
visit a friend for a few days. We made
91 Model Aviation JULY 2016
AROUND THE PATCH