A View from Broadway

Formula 40 Speed plane ready for 2020 campaign. All photos by Ken Burdick.

Formula 40

By Ken Burdick
January 2020

Yes Folks, it’s true.

The formula seems simple enough, but do the numbers add up to a winner?

Some number of years ago, good Combat buddy Darin Albert sold me a Nelson .40. It was an older ABC model, but the price was good. As with any unknown Nelson engine, I sent It to Henry for review, new bearing and the usual housekeeping things along with a new spinner and pan. This was going to be my Formula 40 Speed engine.

Time machine Please!

One of the things we don’t have enough of is time. There seemed to be project after project in front of this particular one and so the years roll by. What with Combat Graffiti, some scale racers, a Free Flight or two, it just kept being put on the back burner.

Then there was Boris and the charge into D Speed, C Speed, A Speed, -- um -- B Speed, not to mention Northwest B Proto and F2D Proto.

Sometime in 2018 I decided that something had to be done about it. Marty Higgs, aka “The Fast Hippie,” had sent me a set plans for his record holding Xzaing model, so I dug em out of the huge pile of plans I have. Somewhere around that time, I read in Charlie Johnson’s Competition Newsletter that Ray Harvey in Australlia was cutting wings using a CNC router! “How cool is that!?” I thoought, so I sent him an email and learned what he needed to do the job. I sent email photos of the wing along with dimensions and bellcrank size.
Ray was backlogged but after six weeks or so he was able to start the project. I was sent a sizeable bill in April and the wing arrived in a very cool shipping container.

I have to tell you, this is by far the most beautifully carved wing I have ever owned. The detail is perfect and airfoil shape perfect. The line slots are cut in the wing but the pieces covering them are hardly noticiable. The hardwood pieces looked more like guitar work than model airplane stuff.

The cost was a bit over the top for my usual stuff -- 155.00 AUD including shipping, but at lease I didn’t have to carve it!

The rest of the model was pretty straightforward. The chubby Nelson pan eliminates any bladder clearance issues as is the case with many Speed pans.

I used a slightly larger stabilizer for my model.

I prefer bladder tubing for my standing start models. I will use a shutoff to pinch the feed tube to the engine during the starting process. When it fires, I simply push a button to release the fuel to a preset needle valve.

Finish was my usual, three coats of nitrate dope followed by Rustoleum primer and top coat of Rustoleum 2x rattle can, followed by a topcaoat of automotive clear coat. The clear coat is “Speedy Coat” and applied with a Harbor Freight gravity gun. ($15.99)

With a bit of luck, I’ll be able to fly this baby at the Northwest Regionals in 2020. Just a 10 year delay, but who’s counting. A couple more photographs are below.

-- Kennyb

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This page was upated Jan. 17, 2020