So, as a bit of background it will help you to know that I had a strong interest in R/C airplanes years ago.
Yeah, I know: me and 98% of the EAA's membership.
R/C flying was something I gave up in my mid-20's pretty much without even a backward glance over my shoulder.
Not too long ago, I was visiting a hangar neighbor and noticed that he had a couple of old R/C planes hanging on the wall as decorations. Taking a closer look at it, I noticed that it still had the servos in it, and the engine didn't look too bad.
Long story short (surprise!), I brought it home as a restoration project.
Before going out and buying any of the plethora items that will be required to get it in the air, I started looking at prices. The engine and servos would account for $300+ of stuff I wouldn't need to buy, but there are supplies and tools and such to be gathered up.
The first thing to look into was radio gear. Back in my day, a four-channel Futaba with three servos ran around $200. That's $761.75 in today's economy. I could (and will, if I can sneak it by as my 2nd birthday present this year, which might be tricky since my birthday isn't until August) buy a droid with a GoPro carrying, 3D stabilized gimbal for the camera, ready-to-fly for $400.
I would opt for the droid, with that math.
That pushed the whole thing onto the back burner (aka the back corner of my hangar) for while, but it was still in the back of my mind. Then one fateful day.... YouTube tries to guess what might interest me. Having done some searches on R/C airplane related topics, the algorithms selected a video about an R/C airplane simulator named RealFlight 7.5. I've known of these simulators for awhile, but had never paid much attention to them. This time, though....
Well, I bought one.
Now the neat thing about that simulator, which set me back $160, is that it comes with a real R/C transmitter that will be usable with the actual plane I want to restore. That seemed like a good deal and a good idea - if you watched the video, you will know that the practice will have been valuable.
Oh, before buying the transmitter, I looked up the price of the receiver.
That's $3.93 in 1978 dollars.
That was the last of the showstoppers, so I started on the restoration today.
By going to Harbor Freight. I had already ordered and received some stuff from Tower Hobbies (what a painful process - I've had fewer questions asked at a mortgage closing that their high-friction eCommerce site), so all I needed from Harbor "The Home of Cashiers with Ear Gauges Through Which You Could Push a Golf Ball" Freight was some simple modelling tools.
The measuring tape was free. It was all I could do to not use it to measure the diameter of the holes in that guy's ears!
The hacksaw was specifically selected as "close enough" to the saw I actually needed but they didn't have. The ball end allen wrenches are an absolute requirement for R/C airplanes.
With the de rigueur 20% coupon (5.25% in 1978 percentages*), the knife set was less than $15. That sounds like a pretty good bargain, but keep in mind that I will lose or break all but the #11 with ten days**.
* No, not really.
** Hyperbole. I give it three weeks.
I bought the C-Cell plug power thingy at Hobbytown. I forgot to mention that I made sure that the engine would run before ordering any more stuff. I had to buy the battery thing to see if the glo-plug was any good. Testing indicated that it wasn't. I went to buy a new one. Testing indicated that the new glo-plug was also dead.
I began to suspect the veracity of the testing.
Why I continue to select the used batteries of questionable provenance that someone in this house insists on throwing in with the new ones is beyond me.
Later examination of the know "good" batteries, which had met their expiration date in early 2008, proved that it wouldn't have mattered anyway.
With a new battery, I tried to start the engine the old-fashioned way.
I never had a .91 engine back then. Fortunately I had thought that it might be prudent to use a chicken stick. The handle of the nut driver took one for the team.
The engine ran, but only for so long as it took to finish the fuel that I had sprayed down into the air inlet - the engine was not drawing fuel from the tank. But, it ran, and that's good enough for now.
I also bought a new fuel pump and a starter. I need these fingers to type with.
This is the heat gun I use on things for the airplane - it is wildly inappropriate for applying MonoKote.
It's great for removing it, though.
Taking a tour around the subject, the engine is dirty. That's nothing - as long as it's not corroded, it's fine.
The builder was not sure of the quality of the vertical stab to fuselage joint and beefed it up with extra balsa. It's ugly, but I get "better safe than sorry."
Quite a bit more anxiety on display here. Again, functional but could be prettier. I haven't yet decided whether or not to remove the feathers - I'd like to, but I'm not sure how to do it without breakage.
Being as cheap as they are, you don't get nearly as much receiver as you used to.
There's a potential reason for the tank not drawing fuel: the tank should be set to a height where it is at the same level as the carb on the engine. This tank is positioned quite a bit lower than that. There could be other reasons for the lack of fuel flow, but this is definitely a contributor.
The brace that's holding the tank in place will have to be removed. There's no access hatch on the front top of the fuselage - that's a serious annoyance. I don't know if the kit was designed that way or not, but I always put an access hatch on top.
The cowl is pretty blocky. Looking inside, though, there's not a lot of wood in there - I won't be able to narrow it down enough to make it look any better.
The engine is now identified as an ASP .91 I was always an OS Engines guy, but beggars/choosers, right?
You can see that it's going to be a tight fit with a saw to get that brace out.
That's what the little hacksaw was 'good enough' for.
The windscreen is in bad shape, but it came off in one piece. That will allow me to use it as a pattern for a new one.
The ball end wrenches help with things like this. I didn't have one to fit the muffler bolts (should have bought the metric set too) - the bolts were fairly easy to get out, but there was one that was too easy to get out. I'm worried about that one.
I really hate this. A clevis is a much better solution than this, and they're dirt cheap.
I tried cutting the wire in the throttle pushrod with the little hacksaw, but it apparently can't cut anything harder than balsa wood. Lucky for me that that's what I bought it for!
Harbor "The Home of Balsa Wood Hacksaws" Freight:
The fuel tank looks fine, absent the staining. I might keep it.
Well, maybe not. If I can't figure out a way to make an access hatch, it would be stupid to lock an x number of years old fuel tank in there again.
Removing the nose wheel:
The engine mount bolts were all finger tight. The bolt looks undersized to the mount hole.
I ended up bending the throttle control arm getting it off of the old throttle cable. I'll use a better one when I reinstall the engine.
The landing gear was held on with lock washers that performed the exact opposite function due to their mis-sizing.
The hinges looked like they had little pins holding them together, leading me to believe that I could just remove the pins.
Such was not the case. I had to cut through the hinges. One was installed so crookedly that the knife couldn't get through it. There's one in every crowd.
I like this little fuel port - I never had one of these. Nice to know how the other half lives.
It's in pretty bad condition and was being held in place by a single bolt through a cracked mount hole. I'll have to try to find a new one.
As I started taking the MonoKote off, well.... I don't know what to say.
This is the landing gear mount. I'm thinking of converting it into a GoPro mount, and adding another double further forward to make the plane into a taildragger.
That's the end of the first day. Next I will remove the MonoKote from the wing and the tail feathers, then start figuring out what to do next.