Filthie's Mobile Fortress Of Solitude

Filthie's Mobile Fortress Of Solitude
Where Great Intelligence Goes To Be Insulted

Sunday, 28 August 2022

Monday Ramble - Antiques And Autopilots

I was in the hobby shop picking up glow plugs for my little RC airplane when I spied a thing of absolute beauty hanging up in the rafters.

What a sweet old bird.

It was made back in the 40s. Given the tools and materials of the time… that thing is a work of love and art. There are no control surfaces. No throttle. If I understand these things correctly, the engine ran briefly  at top RPM on a very small charge of fuel. It would circle and climb until it ran out of fuel… and then glide back down on its dihedral and permanently offset rudder. There was no control, just simple free flight.

The finish looks horrible in the pic but looks are only skin deep. The surfaces are all smooth as a baby’s bottom, wood that was lightly and lovingly sanded and polished, and doped tissue paper. The cowling was hand made out of metal and the work is a delight to the eye.

It's close to 80 years old. In it’s day it would have been a high tech marvel. It’s been kept around all these years for sentimental reasons - the reason I know this is that RC planes are big, fragile and an absolute pain to store.. I absolutely hate this end of the hobby… a lot of our guys are older and are dying off and when they go… you can’t give this stuff away. The kids don’t want it, they live indoors and play video games. Older kids like me don’t want them…we are building our own. So…they end up being donated to the club, and hopefully one of the guys will take them home. Or Scotty The Retard gets them… and that kid is the Dr. Mengele of model aviation.

Mind you, some go to a good place. At the other hobby shop in town, an old boy scratch built a Tiger Moth biplane from scaled down plans of the actual airplane. It’s a giant 1/3 scale model and it is a spectacular a masterpiece. He passed away back in 95… but that bird is still hanging up in the shop. It never flew, and it’s not for sale. There’s a pic of the builder with the model and a short obit. It makes me happy to see it there as a benchmark set by a man with top shelf skills. It really shows you what’s possible.

As for me… I got hacked right off with the fuselage of the Turd Bird. It’s slightly out of square and I got so damned mad, I just said to hell with it… I’ll build another one. I tried to work with magnets and save the plans like the advanced cool kids do… and I wasn’t happy with that either. I am going to go old school and pin everything down and build right on top of the plans the way they did back in the old days.

ThThats a chinkish Evolution donor engine that Flapz gave me.

The engine I want to use is on a test fixture I am building in the background.

Working from plans is great - IF you know what you’re doing. My plans were drawn up in 1965. Engines and servos and batteries and components have changed in the last 50 years… and my CG came out a little too far forward. It’s not the end of the world, I can rebalance things and still make it fly… but… dammit… I am a stickler for keeping the corners square. I hope to get better results this time. 

I have an OS 55 AX going on the Turd Bird - I hope. It was the damnedest thing.When I started working with it, the fuggin tank wouldn't fill. It would go into 'full' mode and start pissing the gas out on the ground or the bench and I just couldn't figure out WHY that was happening. I got so damned mad, I pulled the tank to pieces and went through the fittings end for end - everything was clear. I put it all back together ... the same way I had before... and it worked like a charm. I don't get it. The aviation gods piss upon me. I set the carb jets up as per the users manual and ... no dice. So I set up the carb the way I learnt to do it with two cycles... and she opened right up and ran beautifly on the high end with the throttle wide open. I leaned out the high jet, and then brought it back for a slightly richer mix. These things get hot so ya want enough oil to blow through them to keep them cool. But she flat out refuses to run on idle. Hopefully some more googl-fu will help me sort that out.

This thing WILL fly, I swear it!!! Life is still hard on the stupid down in the Reclusium... but it's a great place to be if you can put up with the nonsense going on down there.


  1. Wax paper Glen! I always used to put the plans on pieces of ceiling tile, cover with wax paper and pin balsa right on the plans.
    You've got me dreaming about doing it again now, well over half a century since I last did it. I got into RC right at the beginning of the digital revolution in radio; spent an insane fortune on a Phil Kraft radio, and was state-of-the-art for a while. I did a little free flight, but they're tricky as hell to get trimmed right. I also remember single channel RC that only did a flip flop with the rudder. They worked too, but nothing like full controls.
    If you can stand the noise, pull the muffler from that engine. Free breathers run much easier (though they will spit castor oil on everything near them).

    1. What? With mine, the fuel tank is pressurized off the muffler? How can you get fuel flow without it…?

  2. Your troubles aren’t restricted to the RC world, my friend. Just had Joe Pilot write up the tail logo lights on our Lear 45 for being inop. They work just fine when I put the switch in LOGO…so I go find Goldenhands and ask him to “come show me whatcha did”… funnily enough, they worked for him too. 45 minutes of paperwork later……..

  3. i see that you live on tums!
    i live on immodium but that's another story [which no one wants to hear!].

  4. The old school gas engines remind me of the shattered prop that sheared through a couple of knuckles on my right hand when I was 14, and the summer I spent in a cast while the tendons and bones reknitted. Still finished that little plane with one hand. Funny, like 2 years ago a cutting wheel on my grinder blew out on a "I'm only cutting one little stainless 1/4" bolt, no need to put gloves on" moment, sheared through the top knuckle on one of those same fingers, 35 years later, and I decided to live with the tendon cut rather than lose 6 weeks of work, and closed everything up with a bunch of CA glue and accelerator. Damn tendon healed 80% on it's own, far better than expected. Luckily it's my ring finger, not my communicatin' finger.