Geezer Clown: The Final Chapter

By Ken Burdick

Yes Folks, it's true.

Not once, but now twice I have been involved with building a Clown racer.

The first time started in the Think Tank of the world famous Broadway Bod Busters. The Rein Man and I were sitting there drinking a beer when from nowhere comes, “I want to take something away from Todd Ryan.”

"Huh?” sez I. "You heard me, I want to beat him in something.” Counting the empties and deciding the Rein man was about halfway lit, I said the obvious. "Why?”

The mind of the Rein Man is a strange and wonderful place that sometimes runs afoul of logic ... not often, but it happens.

“Dude ... .in case you hadn't noticed, we haven't flown racing in like 100 years, and he ain't flying combat anytime soon.”

“I KNOW ALL THAT!” he sputters.

“I'll ask again ... why?”

“Because he stopped my 35 1/2A combat win streak in 1995!”

“Ya mean when he hit you with that stupid thing he bought from McConnell” It looked like a little Super Swoop.

“Yep, that's the one.”

“Norm and I were holding each other up laughing at that one, Dude.”

“I want revenge.”

Revenge R US

“Okay, suppose we really do this, what event were you thinking?”

We went through the list of racing events and took what we thought was the simplest -- CLOWN RACE.

I have a Nellie I can send to Henry -- hell, he can turn it back to a diesel, we got it in da bag. mon.”

The Long and Winding Road

Thus began our first Clown racer. I still remember pacing around the shop as we recounted ancient history of what we both knew should embody a racing airplane.

Ground handling ... You gotta whip it in to me, it's a diesel so that skinny fuselage wood from Brodak won't do, it's gotta be tough so add carbon.”

The list went on and the rest is, as they say history.

I spent several hundred dollars sending the engine to Henry to convert it, rebuild it when we would burn it down, learning and relearning diesel fuels. The results were a near-record setting combination back then. We, however, never did win much.

New and Improved Geezer

While finishing up the 'Clown-Light” or Geezer Clown, it occurred to me that it is indeed a light version of the fortress Jeff and I built for the Nelson. I used all ... no, wait, most of the kit parts. A few spars were just too wimpy to be used for racing abuse. I put wheels on the Geezer along with everything else it needed to be flown and weighed it. 14 oz. on the nose. I took the old-days Clown off the wall and put it on the scale ... 20 oz. on the nose. That 6-oz. difference is mostly in beef built into the airplane. The Geezer Clown balances as it should, wheels are where they need to be, lotsa wingtip weight and I used the kit tank mounts which weigh a lot. All and all, I think it's perfect for the little engines designed into this event by Mike Hazel.


I thought I would use a tank that anyone can understand. It is a basic rectangle of 1x2x1. Uniflow as per Todd's article. No excuse for not having a decent tank now. It is 30 cc and has the brass mounts soldered to it. I copied Dave Shrum's vent and ran it out on the inside of the nose.


The covering is UltraKote, paint is Brodak red and Rustoleum white. The Brodak dope is free for the asking ... never again. When I peeled off the masking, the red lifted like it was rubber. That was 5 coats with sanding in-between, and then Brodak clear. I tried the ARF method of finish work and was not happy with the results. I painted parts then assembled them. Somehow I blame all this on Todd, but no one was twisting my arm to build the thing. If I had not won the two Clown kits I have, I think I'd have opted to build one from scratch. Plans are available from various sources, including Brodak and Barry Baxter's Control-Line Plans Service.

Testing-Testing 1,2,3.

Today was testing day and I'm in the part of British Columbia that control line flyers decided should be forgotten so I built a stooge.

The Geezer Clown was all set to go, fuel (check) stooge, (check) on and on until I drove to the field. The field was a bit of a challenge for the Brodak .15. I did find a smooth part of brown on the otherwise lush green field that I could take off from. The first run it just sort of nosed over. Subsequent tries found me dragging the Geezer into the air on full up and running back some. Once airborne, the Geezer flew as the article said it should. Steady, smooth and low. The tank ran great and takeoff was at a slightly richer than dead lean with it leaning out in the air. The full 30 cc was used and the engine didn't change note once. I counted 48 laps and 50 laps on two flights. The third and final flight had issues. Once again I dragged it into the air, but being Geezerly, I had moved a bit and tagged a cyclone fence with the wingtip. A new piece of covering will fix that.

I used the muffler to see if I can take advantage of the 10 lap bonus offered in the event. Once it started it was fine ... however, no way could I get it to restart inside of 10 laps the muffler represented.

The problem? Dunno yet as I just can't hear what the engine is saying with the muffler on. Tomorrow I'll try it sans the muffler and see if I can remedy the issue. I still do not like the piston fit, but this is fuel-related. I removed the final head shim so we'll see how the thing likes that.

Day 2

The next test was without muffler. The engine ran fine with all head gaskets removed. The millage increased a bit, to 55 laps and 60 on one too-lean run. Speed is not what I had imagined however. Using a 6.5 x 5 APC prop, the range is 3.50 to 3.75 seconds per lap (63 mph at best). I will thin down the spraybar to get a little more air into the thing.

The starting improved greatly. I found that it's getting flooded on the refill so once that was determined, I can easily correct the condition. Starts were typically 3-4 flips. I finally got over a dry patch to land on, the position of the wheels worked great and it rolled in as advertised.

Now what????

Well I just don't know. My pilot The Rein Man won't fly racing anymore due to his back issues, Dave Shrum is recovering from surgery and the Combat Monster just wrote me from the Bladder Grabber that “we're too old for this stuff” Maybe I can get a Beaver to pilot it for me.


See first installment of Ken's Geezer Clown article series

More detail photos

Some of the Brodak kit parts.

Leadout and tailskid details.

This page was upated Aug. 23, 2013

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