A View from Broadway

The beginner's F2A plane, described in Part 1 of this series of articles. All photos by Ken Burdick.

F2A, the beginner's version, Part 2

A tale of agony in three fits

By Ken Burdick
March 2020

Yes Folks, it’s true.

Over the winter and before any knowledge of Crona being anything other than a beer, I built the beginner version of an F2A Speed ship. When I disassembled the engine, I quickly realized that if it actually did come on the pipe, the rear bearing would explod,e making it all for nothing. What to do?

If you want it, it’s out there just waiting for you to spend money on. I located the bearings from a Russian seller who seems to have most everything involved in F2A (Speed) and F2D (Combat). The original rear bearing with its steel ball retainers had to go. Anyone who ever spent good money on a Fox MKIII Combat Special can tell you that when said engine reaches that nice harmonic, the tabs on its retainer will scatter inside your once-viable motor. So, this new rear bearing has a nylon ball retainer and that will solve the problem.

The old rear bearing.

Getting the engine back together with new parts was a snap. Now what to do? Guess I’ll just wait for the good weather to fly it.

“Hum, hum, hum, tap, tap, tap, tick, tick, tick ... BUT I WANNA FLY IT NOW! Ice and snow have a way of convincing you otherwise. So I began looking around for “Phase 2” of this F2A idea.

Fit the first

What would be involved in making a REAL F2A speed ship? Not just some Pinocchio sort of thing, but a “REAL BOY.”

Sometimes I think the isolation of winter brings on this stuff, but no matter. Peeking into the Internet once again, I was horrified to see that you could buy a car for the prices these things sold for. Finding an engine was not the issue, finding the RIGHT engine was. What to do? “I know, I’ll write to good buddy Will Naemura.  He said, “The trainer will be good idea, but I suggest you not buy too much other stuff yet.”

Well, that was like waving a red flag at a bull. “Sure, you want to do this?  There’s still time to run away!!!”

“Does this mean |I need to buy a nylon track suit to fly the event?” “A straight jacket is more like it”  he replied.

What encouragement. But you cannot say I wasn’t warned.

Fit the second

(Be careful what you wish for)

My mind was now ablaze with all sorts of ideas. Some of the things I knew for sure:

  1. Don’t try to build the model yourself.
  2. Get as good an engine and tank as possible.
  3. Ask questions of those who know.

It all seems so linear, not at all what I was warned against. “Call allies,” I thought, “They’ll encourage me.”

So I wrote to Batman (Bruce Tunberg), super engineer and all-around good guy. He didn’t write back. Next was Jim Booker. “I sold all my stuff; don’t do it,” he said. How bout John Knoppi -- he had a bunch of F2A planes. “Nope, all gone now.”

Then I tried Scotty Newkirk. “Sure, c’mon over and I’ll fix you up.” A normal person might have seen this as an error, but where’s the fun in that?

Scott made me a great deal on some equipment with what some consider a “special” engine. This one was sold to the inside crowd and how I got it was pure luck.

Excited by my good fortune, I contacted U.S. team member Billy Hughes. I get to call him Billy because I’m so old now. He sent me volumes of information, all very helpful.

I made a run into Seattle and paid Scott, took the bunch of disassembled unobtanium home and began to assemble it, or so I thought.

Fit the third

First thing was I could not bolt the wing to the pan because I had no metric machine screws. I ordered 50 of the three sizes needed and then Billy Hughes said “any hobby shop that sells RC cars has 'em.”

There is one hobby shop in Kamloops -- they sell RC cars. (Sigh)

Excited now, I was bolting it together. It all fit seamlessly. The tank was perfect and I was amazed at how tight it fit into the cowling. It did seem to be a bit deep though -- when I tried to put the cowling onto the pan, the tank would not allow it. (Groan)

The cowling, kept from closing because of the fuel tank was a little too tall.

I wrote to Scott asking why. He asked, “What is the number inside the cowling?” I’m thinking, “What number?”

I looked and there in ink was the number 19. “Okay,” says he, “What number is on the tank?”

(I looked.) “Number 3,” I said.  “Nope, won’t fit.”

With a project like this, I need to keep the momentum going, or it will never get completed.  I made a speed trip to Seattle and got a couple of tanks from Scott, with a feeling of “hope this works, 'cuz that’s all I got.”

By now, the coronavirus was really getting ramped up in the Seattle area and the border guards were getting into semi-full stride.

“Purpose of your trip?” “Um -- model airplane stuff.”

He eyed me like a fish sandwich.”It’s not critical, is it?” Fortunately, I had read the latest on border crossings and it was not a closed situation yet. “It is to me,” I replied.”

Well, that about did it, and I spent the next several minutes listening to how I was to isolate for the next 14 days. “Yes sir,” I said, and was allowed to enter.

When I finally got to the workshop, I was a bit unsure that this tank would fit. It would go into the cowling okay, but would the assembly bolt together? I spent the next two days fiddling with it and getting the fuel line to fit inside the no-room-for-error cowling assembly. I made a few minor adjustments and it somehow went “POP” and everything fit. YAY!!!!

The more advanced F2A Speed ship in its elegant transport box.

I was so happy that I built a travel box for the misguided project. That was the most fun of this entire thing so far. It started out to be a box for two models, but come to find out, it’s really best suited for one.

All this and I haven’t even run the engine ...

So now I’m in self isolation here in Kamloops. I’m having a pretty good time building a couple of Sneekers and may even start on my Scale project. The F2A is happily sitting in its travel box waiting for us all to come out once again. I suspect the next contest we all attend will not be taken for granted.

-- Kennyb

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This page was upated March 24, 2020