Posted by Ron Graham
Posted on 3/18/2016
By Bryan Mailloux, NC Assistant Regional Director
So . . .
now that the warmer weather is already creeping upon most of the North central area and Ontario, many pilots are eager to get out flying once again and get some practice before the summer contest schedule hits. Over the winter months my planes have been in hibernation mode and its very good practice to do some preventive maintenance for a successful first flight and contest season. There is nothing worse than showing up to the flight line or contest and notice there is a mechanical issue that takes the focus away from doing your best at the contest.
Starting with the frame of the aircraft, are all glue joints intact? Thoroughly check the motor box. This is where the most abuse usually happens, especially along the landing gear area. Check your fiber glass parts (wheel pants, cowl) for stress cracks that may be forming. If so, I usually clean and reinforce with some light fiber glass to prevent the slight damage to become worse. While the wheel pants are off, double check the wheel axle and wheel collars to make sure they are secure. Check all servo hard points and hinges in the airplane, this is important to check to make sure the servo linkage is still in excellent condition.
One of the other area's that usually show’s wear is the outer covering, A good cleaning and going over loose covering seems or wrinkles with a covering iron is easily done. Smoke oil and rich oil mixtures usually cause corners to lift and peel. This gives you the opportunity to go over the entire airframe for an inspection. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYKZorfl3ys. After the covering has been looked at I use a spray on type car wax to give a protective coating for the covering. This makes the model appear to be freshly covered and gives it the new plane look.
The next area I check are the electronics, I’m inspecting for damaged or cracked servo wire or connectors. Double check to make sure all servo connections, are clean and secure. This is also good time to check your batteries voltage and make sure it’s capacity is still excellent. I have a battery meter that gives me a very good indication of each cell voltage and informs me of any possible problems. Giving it a full cycle will determine if the battery is acceptable. When in doubt throw it out.
This is a good time to check the operation of the servos and look for centering or holding issues. The servo may operate but will not be up to the precision or torque required to do the task. This is sure signs that the servo needs to be sent back to the manufacturer for service.
The engine/motor reliability is paramount to many successful flights over the course of the summer. I check exhaust, motor mount bolts and prop bolts. There is an enormous amount of stress put on them over many flights. I am able to get replacement hardware from my engine mfg. These bolts will get stressed and stretch the threads and break at the most inconvenient time. Ensure props are tightened properly to the proper torque. The engine spark plugs can also show wear. This is a good time to check the color of the ceramic insulator for any carburetor mixture issues. Rebuild kits and gaskets are available from many places locally. Remove, clean and inspect the built in filter screen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7U6zJRP97Ms
Moving onto the rest of the fuel system I inspect the tygon line and usually replace if it has become hard and stiff, this may eventually leak around joints and adaptors in fuel system. I always replace the gas tank stopper and pick-up line; I secure joints with cable ties or wire method.
Doing these simple steps over the winter season, helps ensure I get to enjoy my model for many flights throughout the summer. Having a reliable aircraft that I can count and depend on has made my contest experience more enjoyable.
- Bryan Mailloux has been flying RC since 1993, He competed in his first IMAC contest in 2005 and has progressed up to unlimited class. Bryan currently lives in Norwich, Ontario. He calls Woodstock RC club his second home. During the winter he can be found organizing and flying indoor events. He is a professional tool and die maker by trade. Bryan finds that his desire for precision in the trade also transfers to his flying skills.