Saturday, 31 October 2020

In search of a decent club...

 Well, I got fed up with being treated like a piece of shit on Betts's foot for absolutely no reason and when he started spouting BMFA rules at me when I raised a point on the club's facebook page I lost it and, calling him a rule-loving arse licker publicly, sort of ensured I would not be welcome back at Station Meadow, Haha!

So, I went to Downham club, where I'd been going a few times a year for a look and a natter for, believe it or not, over 30 years, but had never joined as I was told they were very expensive. It actually turned out they're a few quid cheaper than Emneth. I was told there'd be no objection to my joining, especially as I was yet another refugee from Emneth (they had a few already, all quoting problems with Betts/Ball).  But when I went back 3 days later, the geezer who runs the club (damned near owns it!), John Langridge told me he'd called the BMFA and they'd said not to allow new members till the new year. Now, that is not in their power to say and John wouldn't use his precious pennies to call the BMFA to save his life. In fact, he just didn't want me to join because he was jealous of my friendship with his co-founder. But Peter had developed dementia and I'd been asked not to visit as it might upset him. This ban has been like a death for me as Pete and I shared a passion for the hobby and I just wanted him to know I'd finally taken up the hobby.  When I learned that John had been visiting I realised he was behind my ban. Unlike him I am not after all Peter's wonderful models. I'd have nowhere to put any of them anyway. They're all big ones.

However, while I sat chatting to other members of the Downham club, without Langridge, I was told of a small club in the Thetford Forest.  I found the club online, 'phoned their Secretary and was given such a superb welcome I went over there, with my wife and our wee doggy and paid them a visit.  Well, what a fantastic place and what a wonderful welcome from Secretary and Chairman.  They made my wife just as welcome and if our dog were friendlier they'd have welcomed her too!

They have electric, I.C. fixed wing, helicopters and even FPV and drones. In fact the secretary is a licenced drone pilot for aerial photography (now so much used in TV).  They even have a 4 foot concrete patch in middle of the field for helicopters to take off and land.  The site is surrounded by huge trees on three sides, a river behind and a railway line in front, all topped off by a small chicken shit-powered power station to one side. Basically, if you can fly there you can fly anywhere.  The club are in the process of buying the site, but they have to retain access to the public on the footpaths that run round it.  But that's not really a problem. The public tend to stop and watch and ask questions.  Naturally I joined immediately, paying their incredibly low subs sum, itself halved as I was joining over half the year through  and I have now flown with the instructor three times on the club's Bixler trainer, even getting as far as looping and landing last time up, despite the cross wind.  Then the weather broke and I've not been back for three weeks, but Sunday next is forecast as good weather.  We must see whether Boris shoves us all back in lockdown for November, as is thought likely.

Here's what the site looks like...


Yes, that's a tall chimney on the extreme right of the top photo. It's a good way off, but a chap hit it with his large stunt 'plane last time I was there and never found the front half of the model.
The lower picture is where we all park and behind that is the river. Fast flowing alas, but somebody did once get a floatplane off it!  Couldn't get back on though!


Sunday, 26 July 2020

A gingerish return?...

Well, the plague is still with us to some extent, but things are a little more relaxed and training flights began again last week.  I had to book in for a slot, but got one easily and another booked for this coming Tuesday.  I flew as well as last October, so I haven't forgotten anything. I'd like to push things along some and start doing low passes and landings.  I could try the playing fields in the village where the guy who runs things said he'd welcome me there with small electric 'planes as it would "make a change from bloody dog walkers"!!  As long as there are no kids playing ball games I may well sneak some stick time in there. As long as I have his permission, I have insurance.

I have had some plans for a Vulcan reduced to a more manageable size for me. I can't transport or store big models and frankly I have always been a four footer fan. They're what I grew up with and what I like to see. The huge things, which OK, may fly better, just strike me as willy waving.  "Look at me, I can afford a huge £400 petrol engine in a £500 kit which someone built for me. I have Futaba RC costing £2400", even though the infinitely better AND beautiful Jeti Duplex is much cheaper.  "I had to buy a special van to put it in and fit it out so I can only carry toy aeroplanes on racks".  No, thanks, not for me.  If it won't go in my Suzuki Swift, it don't happen.  So, the Jetworksonline Vulcan plans were reduced at some cost by a fearsome Polish lady in a local print shop.  Actually she was very pleasant and did a good job. It must be that missing indefinite article in her speech that makes me think she came hotfoot from a James Bond set!
The Vulcan is now just over a metre wingspan, instead of the big 55" it started out at. It will still take a pair of 50mm EDFs and should sound fairly jetlike. My son, Mike, 3D printed a couple of components to check the drawings and they fit like a glove.
As it was my Birthday a couple of days ago he also bound the instructions into a booklet at work. Much easier to refer to.
I shan't be building this one until I've flown some of the other aircraft I've built during the plague.
I still have my wee Pietenpol, a kit from Flite Test in foamboard. Bernard at the club already flew this and loved it.
And I managed at last to get a couple of Lidl's gliders a couple of weeks ago and converted one to power, using pitcherons, which is where the wings themselves pivot to act as control surfaces.
I also have the trainer all finished and fitted out with an Enya 40, waiting for when I'm allowed to fly my own aircraft at my own risk.
I also built a Flite Test Spitfire from free plans which I scaled off the PC screen as I'm too tight to print 30 odd A4 sheets with the price of ink.  I finished it with some mods to make it a little more realistic looking and in First Flight zinc chromate and bare metal as I detest cowshit cammo. But you just gotta have that shape in the sky and the FliteTest version has undercambered wing tips so no nasty tip stall, which is normally the bugbear of Warbirds and Spitfires in particular, so it should fly in a beginner's hands.
There are more, but they'll keep for next time. I'm fast running out of ceiling!

Monday, 30 March 2020

Did I say still flying?...

Ha!  Forget it. I see I haven't blogged since October last year.  And, coincidentally, I haven't flown either. I managed to walk to the field when the track was boggy, but didn't get to fly as it was too windy.  So I made a trolley to take stuff on foot, but then this virus shite hit and they closed the field anyway.  So effectively I will have paid a year's subs for a couple of month's use and frankly I think the club should give us some free months next year. I may even chuck it all as, having got interested, keen even, bought gear, built aircraft and planned others, it's all fallen to bits. I'm back on the slot racers.  I'm seriously considering pulling the yachts out again. There's a river up the road with nobody on it and nobody near me.  Model boats...there won't be anyone else!

But it struck me that one of the main reasons that so many people are having a hard time with staying in is because they have nothing in their lives that fulfills them.  They've spent years poo-pooing hobbies, pretending that they're too busy and now, when a hobby is exactly what they should be able to easily fall back on, they have nothing.  Going out, having friends round, travelling, sport?  They are NOT hobbies. They may be interests in some small way, but a hobby is something that really absorbs you.  Because I work from home and always have with few exceptions (which I hated!) having to stay in is no different to me.  I have usually worked at my hobby and raised a family and paid a mortgage on it.  But there are many aspects of that same way of earning a living that are purely hobby elements.  I can switch between them.  Model yachts (for me only), model scenery ( an artistic for me aspect), model railways (now client only), model cars (bit of each). Over the years I have also done static model aircraft, model furniture, even model firearms (which worked!).  I can also turn to restoring an old Seagull outboard motor, repairing and rejuvenating ancient pond yachts and repairing all manner of stuff for others.  I could do that Repair Shop programme standing on my head! They clearly have no idea how to paint anything for a start!

If people had absorbing hobbies, they could do the chores then turn to the shed or the spare room and be in another world. The time flies.  Why not buy a model kit (online if your local shop has shut, like mine) and build it. Really try to do it well, maybe if your kids are home do it with them. Buy what appeals to you both and make that. Never mind school stuff. That's all pointless crap, as this enforced absence will eventually prove.  Use their time and yours to learn about and build something interesting. A plastic kit maybe or a balsa wood and tissue model you can actually fly with the child.  Make a point of watching youtubes about it (and there WILL be a youtube about it) and make it something enjoyable and absorbing for both of you. And when it all goes back to normal, you will have something far more fulfilling to do than watching some bunch of overpaid pansies kicking a bladder about or going and sitting in a grossly overpriced caff of dubious cleanliness drinking coffee you can make better yourself.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Still flying, or I was, when Winter did a-come in..

Damn! I was getting lessons from the nice Brian (not the less than nice one) at the club on  Tuesday and doing really well, when the weather broke. I hadn't flown for three weeks, then one of the chaps, Mark, who I regard as Clubman of the year, mailed me to say he would be down the field and was I going.  So off I went, sans aeroplane as I thought it was just a social meet, but once we'd had our coffees, Mark offered me a flight with his own aircraft. Now this would be a kind and frankly risky offer at the best of times, but the aeroplane in question was a low winger and rather a racy one at that.  But Mark took it up high, "3 mistakes high"and gave me his transmitter.  I flew this apparently "unsuitable"'plane with ease. I found it more responsive than the club trainer, but in an encouraging way.  Mark was both encouraging and informative. As he thought the engine was not up to mustard he took over and landed it. I was well pleased with my progress and so was he. Another good flight was also truncated by an iffy performance from the engine. Later mark stuffed the 'plane on take off as the engine suddenly died and said I'd flown his 'plane better than he had!  Flattery will get me back every time  But not since thanks to rain making the track to the field impassable and it's too far to walk for me, especially lugging a flight box and aeroplanes.

Meanwhile, I took on the build of a Wills Craftsman kit of a Southern Railway station building for a chap who couldn't get the hang of it.  The instructions are complete crap, written by Iain Rice, something of a model railway has-been. Once everywhere in the model railway firmament, he's rarely heard from these days. Perhaps his whimsical sketches or his slightly belligerent writing style are against him. I don't know, but considering a Craftsman kit is really just a pile of Wills plastic building sheets with a few detailed mouldings thrown in, the instructions need to be a lot more explanatory and explain immediately what's in all the bags. As it turned out, the kit I'd been sent had no sash windows, so that's where building finished and I hope the guy can get some sash windows from Peco who market the kit.
They've been pretty well slated on the forums, but as an attempt to get people actually making stuff rather than just opening a box they're as good as one can expect. However, poor instructions, barely readable photos and missing parts will ensure they win even fewer friends in future.
Some silly old bat on youtube went to the extent of putting a slagging off video up saying how she was so disgusted by the kit, that she was going to bin it.  Well bin it then, you dozy old cow. There is enough stuff on forums about these things that you have no excuse for buying something that isn't what you thought it was.  What gets me is that every comment on the youtube was supporting her!  So what we have here is a world where everybody is terminally stupid and can't read reviews, or is so physically incapable of manipulating simple tools that they can barely be entrusted to open a bloody box!  Why don't these useless individuals go trainspotting?  Laying on the rails looking up gives you a great view, I'm told.  Albeit briefly...

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Up and away, at last...

Them as knows me and readers of this blog who've somehow stayed the distance will know that not only have I mentioned the would-be hobby, but have several times actually tried to start in model flying, but been stymied somehow or other.
Well, I finally went and dun it. I actually bit the bullet and joined a local model club because they'd moved their field to a location a few minutes away, compared with 40 minutes previously!  Off I trots and gets a really warm welcome.  Real "Man Shed" stuff.  Joining half way through the year gets me membership for half price and even a reduced price for the rip-off merchants in the BMFA, who are now the only source of insurance.  For decades every magazine in the old MAP publishing house had an advert. for a fiver a year insurance, but when MAP was flogged off to some faceless bunch with a toy town name they stopped with the insurance and now we have to pay £29 a year to this mob. They clearly never bothered to shop around.  The BMFA are what "grew" out of the Society of Model Aeronautical Engineers, of blessed memory. I will only put an SMAE sticker on my aircraft.  The BMFA crap logo only goes on the English oak of my field box to obscure stains, where it belongs.

These costs endured, I can now go to the club field and be taught by any of three or four training flyers with a buddy box system and the club trainer.  I have now done this 3 times and have no idea what next, so I have secured a field nearby where I can risk my skills and aeroplane alone for practice.  I don't do rules, but with turn-outs way above the national average it would, I confess, be safer to fly elsewhere and so the club doesn't allow solo flying until an A certificate has been awarded or the instructor reckons you can be trusted with your own aircraft.

I have built a Pietenpol parasol wing aircraft from a Flite Test foamboard kit and an old chap at the club flew it beautifully, so I know it will perform. 
I also have a cheap foam glider which I have converted to Radio control, as yet untested. My son made me a power pod to take all the radio gear and a pusher prop. on his 3 D printer, to power this floater.  Seen without its wings plugged in as it's a four foot span aircraft.
 And a friend has sent me an old kit from Germany that he will never build so I am building that. It's a great Planes Piper Cub. It's designed for electric power, but I fancy it with a small IC engine and I have an OS 10 which will power it just fine.  Fuselage, tail feathers and one wing already built and I only got it last Tuesday!

I also have a foam and balsa electric Skystreak 32, built from plans which is for when I'm a half decent pilot as it'll be quick and twitchy, but it's my favourite model aircraft shape, which I've known since I was a kid.
And, today I rescued a magazine from the club hut with a free plan of a Vulcan in it made of Depron foam, which I rather like and of which I have a supply. Designed to be flown by beginners, so that HAS to be made, as I saw the real aircraft on it's last year of flights.

More news as I progress.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

HOW long ago???...

Whilst looking for references to the KeilKraft Skystreak aeroplane model, of blessed memory, I came across a picture of one of my model aeroplanes and that particular entry in this blog, but it was this time 4 years ago!
Ye Gods, where does it go?

The point is I have decided to take up model flying after all, even after the previous false starts. The Wisbech club, who actually flew nearer Kings Lynn have all but disappeared up there own tail pipes, but the Kings Lynn Club, having been kicked off their common by the raving save-the-noot mob now fly (unknown to me) literally up the road and seem a reasonable price, so I have decided to go along and meet them.  I went one Sunday morning and met with a very warm welcome from some excellent chaps.

I gave my old chum his models back as I really thought it would never happen. I kind of wish I hadn't now, especially as he now has a sudden dementia and wouldn't even remember me. Quite where all his dozens of models will end up I dread to think.  I will try to get as many of them as possible to members of my new club as the woman my old chum seems to trust is not, in my view, all she seems, but there's not much I can do.

I have bought a foam glider costing a princely 8 quid and am converting it to R/C and a small electric brushless motor. My wife has also bought me two other convertible gliders for a huge 71p each!  One of those will become a flying wing.

Apart from that, the Skystreak 32 will now be done in foam as I really don't like balsa wood. Never have.  Foam is the future, dependent upon which kind of foam you use. 

Finally looking forward to taking up my long overdue hobby, which I have wanted to do since I was a kid and KeilKraft were on every shelf.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Right on track...

In the last post (and apologies for the paucity of posts lately) I mentioned my scenic bits and bobs going on my slot track.  Well, I tried to lay out a track in Airfix sections, but it wouldn't connect properly, so I tried with Scalextric, but that was rusty and the joints wouldn't make good contact, even after a clean, so I made the decision to rout a track in MDF and make my own.

I bought a sheet of MDF and divided it into three boards that would run round my shed walls. Then I laid out a reasonably interesting track in pencil.  The joints between the boards were strengthened by having a kind of tongue and groove affair built in the ends.  Then the fearful job of routing begun. In fact, it went smoothly, using templates made from left over MDF and even some 5mm Foamex, so all the bends were progressive, rather than geometric.  Nothing on a slot track is worse than a bunch of geometric Mickey Mousery on the corners. None of that here, thanks.

Having routed the three boards, I dug out the emulsion paint tester pots and painted the slots, to seal them, then the main track areas, blending the cream colour with the still wet grey for a bit of visual texture and finally detailed round the edges with a broken white line, grassy areas and a bit of good ol' mud. This is Britain and a race track. There has to be mud!  A few asphalt repair patches were put on in black.  The idea is to recreate one of the sprint courses that we have in England, where there are no pits or fancy facilities, no grandstands, just a control caravan and a few marshals' posts, a toilet/wash block and maybe a cafe hut.  The odd hedgerow and maybe even a tree or two, but few people.  An old breakdown truck just off the track in case of a slow speed crash. Nuttn' happens wildly fast on a sprint track.
Somebody saw the photo and said it looked like the club circuit at Brands Hatch. I never realised, but any track going round three walls of a shed will tend to look like that.

I have all the electrical bits ready, but no idea how to connect them all!  Somebody will set me straight.