Some quick updates

DLE-55. With new bearings, the DLE-55 in the MXS-R is back in service and flying well. I also purchased a Jeti DS-16 transmitter and updated the MSX-R to run on the R9 Jeti receiver. I’ll post an update on the Jeti radio in the near future. So far, I love the Jeti radio, the build quality, and its capabilities, which outshine the competition. They have set the bar high, and everyone else has some catching up to do.

L-39 Turbine. I finally tracked down the leak in the retractable gear to a cylinder shaft seal on the left and right main gear. I’m checking to see if it is serviceable, or if I should go ahead and replace the gear with electric retracts which was part of my overall plan from the beginning. I was hoping to use the current gear as is and update to electric over the winter, but it may make sense to just update now. And if so, I’ll just take it out of service and do all the winter modifications and updates I was planning.

I have test run the turbine on several occasions, and its been flawless. High speed taxi tests prove it has mild manners on the asphalt, which was my only concern with this aircraft. I’m less nervous of the in-flight portion as I am with the roll out on landing and take off. However, it appears to be very well behaved.

Align 700E Helis. They have spent a lot of time on the bench this season. With traveling, flying the MXS-R, Yak54, MXS-C, and Ventique 60e, I haven’t given them much love. I took them out for a spin the other day, and can tell I am rusty. My timing was off in many of the maneuvers making even the easy ones look sloppy. I had to think more during 3D maneuvers to get them back on track. I need to get them up in the air more, and winter is  usually a good time to do so when the snow grounds the airplanes.

Valiant. This poor guy has sat a lot this season as well. It’s a great flying airplane, and very versatile easily converting from grass to asphalt, snow, water, or STOL. It’s like the SUV of the RC world. Tons of power to take off and land in tight quarters, can easily haul a lot of cargo, and still fun to throw around the sky. I’ve got to fly this more!

Ventique 60e. I have grown to love this airplane. Very stable, capable of advanced aerobatics, is happy to fly fast or slow. The harriers are super stable, upright or inverted. I find myself devoting half my flight to IMAC maneuvers, and the other half to 3D. It’s been the most flown aircraft in the hangar this year, and I don’t see that changing next year either. I’ll be ordering a second kit to have on hand just in case they discontinue it.

Yak54. The Yak is in the shop getting updated to the Jeti radio system, and a new 70cc twin cylinder engine. The existing 50cc single just lacks the punch I want for the way I fly. Otherwise, its been a very reliable and good flying airplane. Very precise in the air, and my IMAC style flyer.

 

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MSX-R/DLE 55 Engine Rebuild

Well, the DLE555 has reached a point it needs to be rebuilt. I got it used as part of a purchase with a EG MXS-R, so actual runtime is unknown. It also sat for a couple years which could have caused rust in the bearings.

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The crankshaft and connector rod are press fit, thus need to be replaced  as an assembly.

I had known all this before purchase, and it was a good deal even if I had to rebuild the motor. I managed to get a good season of flying out of the motor before it started to show signs it needs new bearings.

It’s a very strong running motor,and really overpowers this airplane. That makes it so much fun to fly 🙂 The motor is apart on the workbench, parts on order, and I want to get it back in the air quickly. I miss the excitement this plane dishes out.

It needed a lower needle bearing on the connecting rod. While the inner and outer crankcase bearings seemed serviceable, I am replacing both. All new gaskets, and a carburetor cleaning and it should run like new.

She’s Gone :(

Sellers remorse. Big Time. I loved that airplane, and will miss it.

But the reasons that I decided to sell it still stands, so I know its the best option for me. Its too big for my current trailer, and I don’t want to invest in another trailer and have to build it out. Too time consuming, and one of the reasons I went with the size trailer I have is because it would fit inside the garage for the winter months. So the plane goes, no matter how much want to keep it.

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Time to look to the future for it’s replacement. A 40% Edge, MXS, or Slick 580 would be a great replacement project. While its still a 40% airplane like the Decathlon, they are actually smaller. The Decathlon sat tall and had a 150″ wing span. The 40% Edge sits lower, and is nearly 2 feet shorter in wing span. The horizontal stabilizers are easily removed allowing two 40% aerobatic airplanes to fit side by side. This makes a big difference in the trailer.  No longer would I need to decide between the Decathlon and nothing else, or everything else and no Decathlon.

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I’ll spend the 1,000 mile trip back home from South Carolina contemplating on a replacement for the Decathlon. I’ll probably be dong a lot of reminiscing as well.

Interesting How Things Come Together Sometimes

When things are meant to be, they happen. Accident? Coincidence? Fate? I don’t know, I just accept it.

The total eclipse is a once in a lifetime event for me, as I am not willing to travel around the world to chase it. Unfortunately, the eclipse across the USA is quite a bit south of where I am. About 1,000 miles south. I contemplated driving down just for the eclipse, but 4 days of travel for a 2 minute and 40 second event seems excessive, even for me. I decided a partial eclipse in New England would have to suffice and crossed it off my calendar.

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This is the airplane I was delivering. A 40% Decathlon with a twin cylinder 150cc two stroke gas motor, and nearly 13′ wingspan. It was just too large for my trailer and every day flying.

Then by accident, coincidence, or fate, things started to come together.

I advertised one of my larger RC aircraft for sale and received a number of inquiries. One inquiry happened to be located in Florida. As it turned out, the pilot had been following this aircraft from the build to flight reports over the last two years. He was planning on calling me for information as he was going to build one himself, and wanted to duplicate the modifications and setup matching mine. They he saw it posted for sale and contacted me that day.

The larger aircraft are expensive and costly to ship, requiring custom crates to be built, and removing all items that had gasoline through them. So it’s customary in the RC community for buyer and seller to find a place halfway to meet and make the exchange. Just over half way between Florida and Boston sits Triple Tree Aerodrome, home of the world renowned Joe Nall RC airshow each May. I was just there for the event, and its my favorite place in the USA to fly. Florida to New England would be a stretch for most, but not for a motivated buyer and a seller looking for an excuse to head south.

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A restored WWII control tower moved and erected on the Triple Tree site.

Triple Tree Aerodrome also happens to be in the path of the total eclipse. Isn’t that convenient. I checked their website for any RC events that might be going on. If I’m there for the eclipse, why not piggyback it to one of the RC events. Unfortunately, nothing RC related.

Wait! On their full scale event list is a 3 day Solar Eclipse Fly In!

While RC flying is not allowed during the event due to the flow of full scale aircraft that will be arriving and departing, night flying RC aircraft will be as the runway is closed after sunset for full scale aircraft. I would no longer be traveling 2,000 miles round trip to exchange an aircraft and a 2:40 total eclipse. I could stay for the full scale eclipse fly in. Beautiful! Coincidence? Fate?

Being the personality type that prefers to arrive early and wait to ensure I am on time, I was planning on arriving a day or two early for the exchange. This buffer would allow me to recover from a mechanical breakdown on the road should that happen.

I decided to look around for a local club hosting an event around the days of my arrival. One where I could fly for a day or two and allows on-site camping. That would be ideal, but no such luck.

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My normal RC trip configuration. The white whale and trailer ready to go.

RC pilots are a friendly bunch, and I ended up in a text exchange with one of other interested buyers after informing him the Decathlon was sold. We did the usual, talked airplanes and flying. During that exchange he suggested that if I was ever in the area, to let him know and I could come fly with them. I asked him where he was located, and the response was North Carolina. He was directly on my path to or from Triple Tree Aerodrome! This is no longer a coincidence!

Talking further, he mentioned that he and some club members will be camping out at the field the same weekend I was in the area, and I could camp there for a few days and fly. Between Triple Tree and the North Carolina club, I now had paces to stay and fly for nearly a week. Rather than a quick cannonball run to South Carolina and back for a 1/2 hour airplane exchange and 2:40 eclipse, it has grown into a trip worthy of the drive.

A little more investigation showed that if I planned a slightly longer trip, I could add two New York events to the mix. One on the way south, and one on the return trip North. Both events I usually attend when time permits. I rearranged work as best I could to accommodate, and will also work while on the road. Problem solved, plans made, time to prepare for the trip.

I’ll post more on the trip. Rather than duplicate the posts across both of my blogs, look for “The Stars and Planets Aligned” (since that seems to be exactly whats happening!) over on my other blog “www.BlacktopOffice.com”.

Joe Nall 2017

After not attending Joe Nall for several years, I was looking forward to this trip and it did not disappoint. There were so many changes and upgrades to the flying site, several new flight lines, and expanded camping areas.  This really opened up the event and reduced waiting times to get in the air since my last visit.

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A few of the airplanes typical at the event. An aerobatic, glider, bi-plane, and jet under one of the vendor canopies.

For those that aren’t into Radio Control airplanes, Joe Nall is the premiere RC event worldwide. Over 1,600 pilots of giant scale RC aircraft come from all across the USA, and many worldwide, to attend the best of the best. Thousands of spectators attend daily, there is a vendor area with all the name brands in attendance, a food court to keep us all happy, and several flight areas spread across this 2 mile long facility.

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Early morning aerial view showing 2/3rds of the facility from just below the electric and control line flight areas.

The trip to South Carolina was familiar as I’ve traveled it several times in the past. Into the heart of Connecticut then trying to avoid New York but failing, I78 through Pennsylvania onto I81 in Maryland and through the gorgeous Shenandoah Valley, then I77 to Charlotte and on to I85 and you’re there. 15 hours and 950 miles.

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Very nice scenery along the route chosen. Much better than the I95 route, in spite of the extra hour or so spread over the two day drive. A far more relaxing drive.

In the past I would stop at a campground in Chambersburg PA, part campground, part farm. It was run by a very nice elderly couple. I hope they are still there and doing well. Other than the smell of methane gas every now and then to remind me of the cows, it was a highlight along the otherwise flat blacktop littered with semi trucks that became a blur for 9 hours a day. Behind schedule I elected to keep moving forward and stop at a truck stop further down the road. In hindsight, I should have made the stop.

Arriving at Triple Tree Aerodrome, home of the Joe Nall event, I was greeted with a new Welcome Center just beyond the entrance. This was the first indication that things have changed. Gone are the Ez-Ups, folding tables and chairs of the gate keepers of the past. I registered, then was off to find a place to camp.

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I was pelted with locusts in West Virginia. I sounded like machine gun fire hitting my van, and was over in a few seconds. Looking at the front of the van, I estimated I took out nearly 100.

Being late to the game, I had to hunt around for a level spot out of the hot South Carolina sun. While stopping along the main road to regroup, I  met a couple watching the festivities. They were tucked back into the trees, enough to be shady in the hot afternoons, but in full sun in the mornings.

They offered me their spot since they were leaving in the morning. So I camped just off the road for the night and captured their spot as they departed in the morning. The van fit right in easily under the trees, yet left a great view of the 3D flight area. It was a  convenient spot as the bus stop was right there.

I say bus stop loosely. They had several school busses that traveled the length of the flight lines, which is nearly two miles long, to pick up and deliver pilots anywhere in the facility. You just wave them down, board the bus, and yell when you are near your destination. Very convenient, as I elected to leave my bike at home in favor of packing yet another airplane instead. Although, there were some very creative alternate forms of transportation seen around the facility! Golf carts, custom bicycles, mini-bikes, go carts, gas powered scooters, and good old fashion sneakers.

Having a number of flight lines for the varied flying styles was the best improvement in my opinion. But it was also my least favorite improvement. If you wanted to fly 3D, it was nice that they had a specific area for it and you where not mixed with other non-3D flights. But that also meant that if you fly different styles, it was a hassle moving all your gear from one flight area to another. Flying 3D with both airplanes and helicopters meant my ‘flight station’ was 2 miles apart! Luckily, the helicopters weren’t that bad to transport. They pack small and don’t require a lot of gear, very easy to move. So I setup by the 3D airplane flight line as the airplanes are larger and harder to move.

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Aerial view of the 3D flight area with camping just beyond. This is the ‘lower’ end of the facility with the Welcome Center at the ‘upper’ end nearly 2 miles further to the left. The actual full scale runway is 7000’x400′ long as listed in AirNav (SC00).

Flying generally starts the morning the event starts, and is non-stop 24hrs a day until it ends a week later. It’s common to wake up a 4am, look out your RV window, and see a plane in the air. For night flying, pilots light up their airplanes with LED lights inside, on the outside, or just use powerful spot lights from the ground to illuminate their aircraft.

The only disappointment was the Noon time air show. In the past were full-scale aerobatic performances by well-known pilots, and other full scale aircraft such as a trio of AT6s taking off, landing, and doing some low passes. There were no full scale flights at all for 2017. Granted, there were a couple interesting RC aircraft demos flown, but most felt like a live advertisement with purchase and contact information given at the end of the flight. Ok to watch if you are interested in those particular aircraft, but far from an ‘air show’. I miss the days gone by.

Here are some images from the event. In hindsight, I should have taken more still images, but I was in a video kind of mode.  You can also see more images and information on the Triple Tree Aerodrome website at Joe Nall Photos and Triple Tree RC Events.

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The view from my campsite tucked into the trees for shade from the hot South Carolina sun. Sitting at the front of my site along the road is a perfect view of the 3D flight line and for night time shenanigans on the flight line. Such as a full size Pillsbury Doughboy lighted from the inside crossing the runway at night. You just never know what you will see at Joe Nall.

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The gazebo at the 3D flight line. This was new since my last visit.

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Looking out the back of the 3D flight line gazebo is a fire pit, and beyond that is the bath house with bathrooms, showers, and laundry room. Very nice addition!

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A list of the many vendors in the vendor area, open all week during the event. Great place to get some hands on the various equipment, airplanes, and get your questions answered.

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The full line of DA engines were on display. I really wanted to take home a 70cc twin for my 89″ Yak54. Currently has a DA 50cc, but it lacks the punch I am used to in my acrobatic airplanes.

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The ‘General Store’. ATM available inside. Mostly run on an honor system (‘ATM’ excluded 🙂

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One of the full scale airplanes in the hangar, a beautifully restored P-51 Mustang.

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Panorama view from the patio built along side the hangar and overlooking the pond. Great place to sit for the various dinners they host during the week.

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Another view from the patio.

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Three gorgeous jets found on the flight line.

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Airplane setup for night flying off the pond. It’s built out of EPP foam with LED lights installed inside to light up the airplane. It’s very effective and highly visible during flight.

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3D gazebo during night flying

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Spectators along the original main flight line

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Pilots and airplanes along the main flight line

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An L39 Albatross turbine. This is the same model turbine I owned at one time. Gorgeous airplane, very stable and comfortable flyer. I really miss mine, which I sold it to a buyer in California a few years back.

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Pitts Python bi-plane. Nice color scheme. Reputed to have excellent flight characteristics.

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Another favorite turbine of mine. Its on my short list.

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In-line for the Saturday evening pulled pork and shrimp dinner.

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Saturday evening dinner sitting pond side.

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Airplanes along the main flight line.

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A few of the airplanes at the 3D flight area.

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WWII control tower restored and reconstructed on site.

 

 

MXSR repairs seem to be holding

I’ve put on several flights on the MXSR since making repairs. Normally about this time the muffler would again come loose, but its holding strong. I’m convinced that there was a series of issues causing the problem, and I’ve taken actions to address all of them. I hope in another 10 or 15 flights things are still on track.

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EG MXSR with DLE 55cc gas motor

I suspected a couple of issues. Overheating caused by a bad carburetor and reduced airflow over the cylinder, which in turn caused the muffler to loosen over time, further causing worn cylinder head threads from repeated loosening and tightening and vibrations on the loose bolts and muffler.

To resolve this, I replaced the cylinder head and carburetor, resurfaced the muffler cylinder head face, new muffler gasket/sealing, replaced the fuel tubing to the carburetor, created a better airflow over the engine by opening up the cowling, and re-tuning the fuel mixtures. So far so good.

Not being able to fly this airplane without issues was a disappointment. It is a great flying airplane, very responsive, lights, gobs of power, and very nimble with the large control surfaces.  Getting the MXSR back in the air after flying the YAK54 for so long, makes the YAK54 feel like a taxi, and the MXSR a Ferrari.

If all is well with the muffler situation, my next post on the MXSR will be cover dynamic flight testing and setup. I had a 40% Giles 300 that I absolutely loved flying. It truly was my Ferrari in the air. This MXSR has all the earmarks of the Giles but only in a smaller package. It could easily become my goto favorite airplane for all out 3D flying.

Keeping my fingers crossed.

** Update Jul 10 2017 **

The issues appear to be resolved. With 20 or so additional flights under her belt now, everything is still holding. I can safely say “problem solved” at this point.