Why Didn't I Think Of That? - Top Tips Part 1

Top Tips, some you may know some you won't, but they all come in useful, especially if you're new to the hobby!

If you have any great tips that you want to share with other modellers, then send them to us at editor@flyingsites.co.uk or to the address listed on our 'Contacts' page.

Curving Balsa

Get some ammonia, found in the household section of the supermarket. Put some in a spray bottle, and spray both sides of balsa sheet liberally. Carefully bend the sheet to the right shape. You can even tape it to a form, such as aluminum pop cans, and let it dry. Once dry, it may be used as turtle-decks, etc.Be careful with ammoinia and where you are spraying.


Wing-Tail Alignment

Get an old (but straight) telescopic antenna, the same type as on transmitters. Use it as an adjustable-length measuring rod to compare critical measurements on planes during construction. I use this idea to compare the distance from one wingtip to the stabiliser, and to make sure this distance is equal on both sides of the plane. This ensures that the stabiliser is parallel to the wing.


New Pilot Tip

Something to pay attention to when learning to fly is control reversal. Control reversal is when the inputs on the transmitter sticks must be reversed when your plane is flying toward you, rather than away from you.

When flying away from you, there is no problem, just move the stick in the direction you want to turn.

Many new pilots become disoriented when their plane is approaching them. To help with this, move the stick in towards the low wingtip. This will level the wing when your plane is coming toward you, avoiding a sharp bank, and possibly a crash.

Example: Say your plane is coming toward you, and the right wingtip is low, as if banked to the right. Move the stick to your left, toward the low wingtip. This will bring the plane's right wingtip up, and level the wing.


Installing Triangular Stock

For me, triangle reinforcements have always been difficult to handle due to their shape, especially if they're coated with epoxy.

Try sticking your Xacto knife loosely into one end of the triangle. Then lay it on the bench so that the wide part of the triangle (the hypotenuse) is against the benchtop. Now apply the epoxy or other adhesive to the sides that will contact the airframe. Next, by using the knife handle, insert the triangle into position in the airframe. Press down with your finger onto the wide side that has no glue, and carefully slide the knife out of the piece.

This way you can cleanly install triangle stock, and not get any glue on your fingers.


Ralph's Rib Maker

Cut two ribs from 1/16-inch steel. Drill two holes along the center line, one near the leading edge, one near the trailing edge, for 1/4-inch bolts to pass through. Make sure both steel ribs are identical.

Use a steel rib as a template to draw ribs onto balsa sheet. Leave room around each rib. Cut each rib "block" out of the sheeting, and drill the holes in each.

Assemble all ribs on the correct length bolts, and sandwich all between the steel ribs. Using nuts, tighten the assembly down, making sure it's straight.

Now, using a belt sander (a disk sander will work too), remove the extra wood around the ribs down to when the steel begins touching the sander. Cut out the spar notches with a hand saw, and clean them out with a file.

This will make all the ribs for a wing at once, and they'll all be identical, resulting in a straight, uniform wing. It can also be used for a tapered wing (with all the ribs of different size), and bulkheads and formers can be made using this method too.


Sandbag Weights

Fill plastic zip-lock bags of various sizes about 3/4 full of fine sand, and seal each well. Use these to hold down large parts while building, such as wings. The sand will conform to the shape of parts well. They also work good when gluing sheeting to foam.


Air Bleed Screws

When adjusting air-bleed carburetors (the ones with the little hole in the front), a good rule to remember is the word "richen". Split this word in half (rich-en), and when you want the carburetor rich, turn the screw in. Of course leaning the carburetor would be turning the screw out.


Measuring Balsa Density

Knowing the density or weight of balsa pieces can be important. It's especially useful when making ailerons or wingtips, because you want the pieces to be "matched", which will result in a better balanced and better flying airplane. To do this, choose balsa that is similar in weight by weighing them on a gram scale.

If you don't have a gram scale, use the deflection method: Take the balsa pieces, and using heavy weights or sandbags, hold down a few inches of one end of each balsa piece onto the edge of a table. Make sure that equal amounts of each piece of balsa overhang the edge.

Place a smaller weight onto the other end of each piece, and measure how far each one bends from the floor. The one that bends the most generally is the lighter piece. Using this method, you can choose balsa that is similar in density. Keep in mind that if you build from kits, you don't have to use the supplied wood if you don't like it! .


Cleaning Superglue (Cyano) Tip

After using a bottle of Cyano adhesive for a plane or two, the tip usually gets cured glue all over it. Remove the tip from the bottle and soak it in a closed jar of acetone. Nail polish remover also works, as long as it's the kind that contains acetone. After about an hour, the cured Cyano will gel, and is easily peeled off the tip.


Transmitter Neck Straps

If you use a neck strap on your transmitter, beware of getting it caught in a rotating propeller! Some people leave the strap around their neck and detach the transmitter while starting engines.

This is a perfect way for it to get caught in the prop, especially if you start your planes on the ground rather than a stand or table.

Also, having the transmitter nearby while starting an engine is potentially a hazard. When you pick up the transmitter make sure the strap doesn't swing into the prop.

This page has been contributed by Jeff's R/C Airplanes