Musings from the combat pits

Prepare for the next contest

By Buzz Wilson

When do you start preparing for a contest? Maybe I should ask, do you prepare for a contest, or do you just throw stuff in the car like you were going to the field to fly? If you do not prepare, you are not going to be very successful. I have never figured it out what happens to equipment that worked the last time out when it just sits in the workshop. At one point, we thought that someone's wife was sneaking out with a hair dryer and putting warps in the wings. Fuel tubes crack, bladders deteriorate.

I start preparing as soon as I get back from the last contest. First, I review what worked and what did not work. What I mean by this is I go over each match. Next, I review the equipment. The planes that did not get used will be hung on the wall. Since this is being written after the Portland contest, and the Regionals are a month away, I left the engines mounted and put extra oil in them. Two planes were used in combat. One plane was damaged and the other flew four matches. Checking the good plane, I noticed the motor mounts were coming loose around the leading edge. Everything else looked good. The motor mount fix was simple. CA glue carefully applied at the spar and hit with accelerator and then using a drill bit putting holes in the leading edge adjacent to the wood motor mount. These holes were filled with polyureathane glue that expands and fills the voids. This plane has been used in eight matches. Up until this repair, the only other repairs have been to the leading edge to repair kills ­ darn those kills.

The second plane needed a little more attention. In my second match, I went for the kill and flew in front of Jeff. The plane was hit taking out the lines, splitting the wing, destroying the elevator and boom. All of these are easy to repair. The scrap bin had a boom and elevator that could be added. However, before the plane will be ready to fly in competition it will need to be tested. The repair of the broken wing may have put a warp into it. The repaired boom may have changed the CG. Certainly, the turn diameter will be need to be reset.

Now back to getting ready for the next contest. I went through two sets of lines in five matches. The first set of lines was from last season and passed the pull test, but when I ran the lines out, I discovered a broken strand. The second set was broken in the midair. Although I have lines made up, I will need to make up two sets to replace the ones destroyed at the last contest. No bladders were lost so no need to make extra bladders. One prop was destroyed so no need to restock props.

The day before the next contest, I will check the fuel bottle especially the fill tubing, the battery leads will be checked, and the batteries recharged.

Those of you who are still flying 80 mph with old engines ­ you know those that you can't start or go lean in the middle of the match, read the article on how to set up a 25 FX. If you get one and do not know what to do, send it to me. I will set it up for you. The only cost will be for parts and postage.

Back to getting ready for the next contest. The process applies to any event. At the last contest, I flew beginner stunt. The plane that I used was given to me and I thought all I had to do was bolt an engine onto it and go fly ­ wrong. First, I used a different spinner, secondly I used a different diameter line, thirdly I had not set the rudder offset, fourthly I changed the gear from single wheel to two wheels, and finally I was using a different fuel. I flew it the day before the contest, realized there were some serious problems ­ trim, and power. I added weight to the nose and changed fuel, but the plane was not flying correctly. I went ahead, flew it in the contest, and wrestled it through the maneuvers. Therefore, before the next contest, I need to make some major changes. The first will be to check and set the CG to the original specs. Next, I will make up a smaller diameter line set. Thirdly, I will set the rudder offset to zero and finally I will remove the air filter to get extra power. This will all need to be tested to see what the plane will do.

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This page was upated May 2, 2007