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Pine Grove, Calif, USA
What Are You Doing With the Covid Shut Down Time?I’ve been doing RC helicopters since the days of the GMP Legend and fixed wing RC even longer. As a result of not ever being able to pass up a good deal, and being a “normal” RC modeler, I have collected a very large pile of both helicopters and fixed wing machines. My non-RC friends call me a “hoarder” but my RC friends completely understand and consider it normal behavior. When I count the pile of helicopters, I have the number gets to 48.Along comes Covid. Obviously, the seriousness of the pandemic cannot be overstated. However, us RC folks do have an alternative to sitting and staring at the walls. We can go into whatever serves as the shop and build, rebuild, upgrade, repair, tweak and attack those projects that have been set aside for years. We can also safely go out and fly and thereby create more things to repair, rebuild, tweak, etc. I fly three times a week and Covid has not changed that routine. The small group that shows up to fly all wear the mask, maintain social distancing, etc, etc.Everyone has one or two machines that are their favorites. The rest of their herd mostly sits and collects dust. As for me, and my 48 helicopters, I always take two helicopters to the field. I mostly take and fly either a Predator P-Max 90 or a Fury Expert. The P-Max has significant punch but the Expert (60 size) gets easily two flights with the same amount of fuel the P-Max sucks down per flight. When I fly gassers, I fly a Predator or an Excel 1005; pretty much a toss-up. Those four machines burn up 90% of my helicopter flying time.So, with all this Covid down time available I put in place a goal to actually fly all of my 48 machines. Little did I know what an effort this would be, but no matter what, it beats staring at the walls during lock downs. Of the 48 machines, and minus the 4 that I routinely fly, there are about 10 others that I fly from time to time. The remainder of the machines were/are pretty much unknowns.
One of the Four I Normally FlyMy goal in this Covid undertaking is to take at least one of these 44 sidelined” machines out every time I went flying and fly a tank or two through it. I started this project with the 10 machines that I have flown from time to time. These 10 had all the pieces and parts installed and were, for the most part, expected to be flyable. What really surprised me was many of them had one or more issues that needed attention before they could be flown with a reasonable expectation of success. Upon close inspection I found questionable ball links, fuel system problems, unglued gyro sensors, and shot bearings. That was over and above just cleaning them up. Anyway, after fixing what needed to be fixed, I did manage fly all 10 without any disasters...
One of the Ten I Fly OccasionallyNext, I dove into the remaining 34. All of these machines had been stuffed into remote areas of my shop since who knows when. I have now looked through all of them and discovered that 9 of them are only partially built, missing all electronics, and/or missing the power plant. That initial inspection at least revealed that 25 of the set asides might be readily made flyable.I started on the 25 in no particular order. I simply started grabbing from one shelf until all were flown then moved on to the next storage area. What I found in almost all of these machines were, 1 – the engine was frozen, 2- the bearings needed to be cleaned and lubed (and occasionally replaced), 3- I needed to setup the transmitter for the newcomer, 4- most of these machines came from other folks whose building skills were sometimes lacking, and, finally, 4- cleaning years of dust, dirt, coagulated oil off the machine was a really boring task.Fixing a frozen engine is not difficult and can be done with the engine remaining mounted in the helicopter. Remove the glo plug and rear crankcase cover. Take your Monokote heat gun and start heating the engine all over, including the carb and pointing the gun up and into the opened crankcase. Get it hot! I relatively short order the engine will loosen up. Once loose, squirt after run oil in the glo plug hole and liberally into the open crankcase making sure to get the connecting rod/piston pin joint. When all oiled up hit it with a starter. Remove the needle valve and blast some rubbing alcohol into the fuel inlet nipple. Be prepared in that often the small o-rings on the OS Engine needles needed replacing.Gravelly bearings are not difficult to replace, just tedious. Replacement bearings can easily be found at the usual bearing outlets which modelers are familiar.Transmitter setup should not be difficult. Long ago I was taught a trick of making a standard transmitter helicopter setup (I have one for flybarred machines and one for flybarless). Your standard assigns the switches as you always like them, mixes, and everything else you always use on every machine. Store that standard setup on your transmitter under a fake model name. Every time you have a new machine to setup create a new model for that machine on your transmitter as usual. Then simply copy your standard (fake model) into the new model’s place on your transmitter. Then change throw directions and tweak to suit.Ah…..as to cleaning the machines, you’re on your own.As I write this note I have flown 19 of the 25 with only one “aw cr@p”. Like all of these occurrences, it was another lesson to be learned. Some time ago I bought two Predator 90’s from someone who bought them from an estate sale. They were among the first of the 25 to fly. I went through the first one and found all the items I mentioned above. I took the first one out to the field and ran 2-3 tanks of fuel through it and It flew fine. A while later, the second one was ready for flight. On its third tank the machine was flying pretty good until I became a spectator. What had happened was that the tail rotor hub had come loose from the tail rotor shaft (set screws) just when the helicopter was in an awkward position, low to the ground. It took a while to find all the pieces.The lesson learned: I went back through all the 19 that I had successfully flown checking EVERY nut, bolt and set screw for proper tightness. I was amazed how many I have found that were not properly tightened and/or did not have any evidence of Locktite application. Take this effort as a word to the wise if you latch on to a machine you did not build yourself……..
One of the 19. This is the one I splattered.The remaining 9 machines that are only partially built or missing many pieces will be the final quest on this project. Fortunately, I have pretty large parts stashes for both Miniature Aircraft and Century machines so I will eventually be able to get them all flying.
This is One of the Last 9 that needs considerable effort. It is an original bent frame Excel 60.So, most of the guys at the field know of this undertaking and have been following it with some interest and curiosity. My last trip to the field included me bringing a Trex 600 electric machine out and successfully flying it a few batteries full. One of the guys was so taken with the machine he ended up buying it! That made two of us happy.Finally, for those who have read this far the real final question is:
What Have You Been Doing During These Covid Days to Prevent Going Crazy???? Why don’t you let us all know.
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