This spectacular Curtiss Jenny is one of the many beautiful Scale
models that was at the annual Warbirds Over Delaware. The event’s
World War I gaggle flight must be seen in person to appreciate.
You don’t need a laser cutter to make your own
rib-positioning tools. Bevel a scrap of balsa
and secure it to another with a drop of CA
better if he could lighten them up a bit,
but it was not to be. This tale’s amusing
tidbit is that he even knew why they
were too heavy.
He was of that generational mindset
where nothing of value was wasted,
including freshly mixed epoxy. Once
the originally intended pieces were
joined, he couldn’t bear to let any of
that expensive adhesive remain in
the mixing cup to harden without
improving the world—certainly not
when a little dab here, and an extra
smear there, might not only make his
latest creation stronger, but also prevent
the epoxy from being wasted.
Inevitably, his models suffered, as we
all do as our waistlines grow big and
round (thanks, Vance Gilbert!). Some
needed a larger engine shoehorned into
the cowl, while others were simply
relegated to an occasional outing when
conditions were just so. It’s a shame to
put your heart and soul into a model
and have it not fly the dream that fills
your head as your hands give it shape.
Along this line of thought, a conscious
realization recently came to me. I really
like my models to fly as though they
are filmed in slow motion. There is
something so elegant about dissecting
the hidden world of motion, so that we
can know for sure whether a horse’s
four hooves are ever all in the air
together, or know what a soap bubble
looks like as its skin fails.
Now translate this to a flying model.
Watching it ghost by, whether at eye
level or high overhead, often sparks
memories of those old black-and-white
movies I watched years ago when my
passion for flight was forming.
There are a few tricks to be learned
when building light. Yeah, maybe it is
okay to mix a little less epoxy and use
the excess to encapsulate dull, single-edge or #11 blades for safer disposal,
instead of putting it on your model.
More is definitely not better here.
Another trick is figuring out how to
handle all of the little sticks that make
up the bones of a light model. Sliced
ribs are often employed to lighten a
project, though they can be a bit of a
challenge to handle while assembling
the wing. I’ve recently updated a
technique that I have been using for
many years, inspired by the magnetic
fixtures I bought from Retro RC
Years ago, I made my first rib handlers
from a couple of pieces of 1/4-inch scrap
balsa that were gently beveled with a
disk sander and glued to form a block
with a narrow V in one side. It was
designed to catch one end of a rib in the
V with the block resting on the bench.
The block stabilizes the rib as you
guide it into its final position against the
leading or trailing edge. Hold or pin the
block down as you add a drop of glue
to the joint.
A few weeks ago, I cut a few new
V blocks from some 1/8-inch balsa
plywood using my laser cutter. They
feature a hole sized for a 1/4 x 1/16 rare
earth magnet, providing enough “stick”
to hold the rib in place without reaching
for a pin. When it’s time to glue to the
opposite outline, I prop these clamps up
on the sliced ribs.
The magnetic attraction falls off fast
as you pull them away from the building
board, and the angled spacing offers a
nice clamping effect. Give either version
a try on your next lightweight build.
While originally conceived for Indoor FF
Duration models, they work just as well
for smaller RC and CL models.
Wow! It appears that I’ve again managed
to run out of room too quickly. Until
next time, keep in touch and happy
AMA Sanctioned Event Calendar
105 Model Aviation JULY 2017 www.ModelAviation.com sponsored by HOW-TO issue