A View from Broadway

A new Speed flier!

The Picco .049 Ken Burdick photo.

By Ken Burdick

Yes Folk’s, it’s true.

Half-A is not my bag, man.

My early attempts using the Picco P-Zero were most encouraging, 97 – 100 mph seemed to be in the wheelhouse for this mighty mite, when the crankshaft blew. I rebuilt it, but was never able to get the power from it again. The engine now resides in John Knoppi’s collection as the #1 Galbreath engine. Meanwhile back at the ranch, Jerry Rocha has been consistently running 110 mph from a standing start with his Picco and we all try to get a decent run to place second behind him.

Enter Mr. Rogers

Mel Rogers is an unassuming retired tool maker and master machinist who lives in Utah. One of his interests many years ago was model airplanes and he flew Combat wings like the Winder and Voodoos.

As many others did, Mel gravitated to radio control but never lost the need for speed if you will. Those of us who have it know it just morphs into new shapes and different things; it haunts us when we sleep. In Utah, he had entered the competitive world of Pylon Racing, 1/2A Pylon Racing to be specific. We old control-line dinosaurs want the most bang you can get out of an engine,  So it comes as no -lsurprise that Mel had known about the P-Zero and its weakness of crankshaft.

Though he knew, Mel did what most of us cannot, and made his own crankshaft with the much-needed better material and a larger hole for the port. You see, Mel has a complete CNC machine shop and makes medical equipment when he isn’t grinding a crank or two.

I met Mel online on Facebook while watching a group called Model Engine Builders. He told me he had no idea there were still guys flying control-line, much less high-performance Speed.

Mel’s success has been with my least successful engine, that is to say any .049. When I learned that his RPM range has been in the 34,000 range on 35% nitro and not puking a crank, I was excited. He sent me one of his engines and I tested it. It, however, did not produce the RPM we discussed on 10% fuel.

Some head scratching and discussion followed. I suggested a Nelson plug rather than the stock head with a turbo plug. Everything seemed to be right but the highest RPM I could get was 32,000 on 10%. When running with little or no nitro, things get very finicky. Mel dug in and came up with a head I never thought of using and very inventive. Anyway, his next RPM readings were 34,000+ on 10% nitro.

For those wishing to get a crankshaft from Mel, you will have to contact him and make arrangements yourself and learn what is required. I suggest you also buy one of his special heads as well. It has eclipsed my Galbreath heads.

Mel provides a brief history of how he got started in the hobby:

" I started flying at age 9; I got a T-28 Cox control-line plastic tricycle, flew like a turd in a punch bowl but I mastered it. I flew the hell out of it until the following Xmas and got another Cox model, then I went to the balsa stuff and a Golden Bee. I never stopped after that and grew up to be a dumb ole machinist."

Mel made the drive from Redmond, Utah, to Roseburg, Ore., pretty much just to watch the Speed and Carrier events at the 2019 Northwest Regionals. He wants all to know that he had an absolute BLAST. I did try to get a hurry-up proto for him to enter but misaligned the wing-to-stab incidence and it would barely fly (my bad) so his debut in Speed was not up to his expectations.

Meanwhile, Mel has built his own design of proto and recently purchased an LA .25, because he couldn’t believe the sound coming from some of the proto beasts he heard.

Mr. Rogers has been inducted into the Broadway Bod Busters and is their newest member.

We welcome Mel.

-- Kennyb 

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This page was upated July 16, 2019