Alex Whittaker takes a sideways glance at our beloved hobby and is thoughtful…
When I look back at the 1970s, I am amazed how things have changed. As a young bachelor (remember that word?) I used to get up early on a Sunday morning. Down dusty lanes not far from the sea at Southport, I would drive unmolested into deliciously flat and un-encumbered rural West Lancashire. I would knock on a random farmer’s door and ask if I could fly my Keil Kraft Outlaw over his land.
Two things stick in the memory:
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1. The answer was always ‘Yes’.
2: And second, ‘Shut the bloody gate after you!’
Of course, I never actually opened any gates. In fact, I would take my KK Outlaw out of the boot of my yellow and brown Ford Consul, choose a space, and set down my flight box. I would only actually set foot on the farmer’s open grassland if I overshot my landing.
My flight box in those sunny far-off days was a sturdy black plastic toolbox from the Radio Spares catalogue. It had two pull out red drawers, a folding red handle and a fixed tool tray. I had to improvise the glow storage fuel bottle. Under the tool tray was a big space where I fitted my DIY fuel bottle. I remember I used my silver tin heat gun to coax a discarded 1-litre plastic Coke bottle into a fat L-shape that would fit the box. This all worked amazingly well, was compact, and fuel proof.
Utterly untroubled by anyone all morning in this quiet sunny backwater of a lane, I would have three or four flights. At luncheon, I would lean on the open car boot for my flask of coffee, plus my Mum’s rather challenging cheese and onion sarnies.
OZONE & AZORES
Idly, as I refuelled with Nitrex 15, I would think about boiling my new white KK nylon props. I would also dream of owning a ‘full house’ radio set and, perhaps, getting a girlfriend. A shiver would run down my spine as I fought off the cold thought of returning to work on Monday morning. Thus, I would happily proceed to the afternoon flying session.
In those days of ozone innocence, I knew that with stable high-pressure from the Azores, I could regularly get 18 minutes per 2 oz tank. Maybe nineteen minutes of lazy high-altitude flying out of my trusty Enya .09. The model would be an indolent dot in the blue and I would be content. Mentally I was flying alongside her, imagining her view of the field pattern.
I would gently lean on the single channel stick and steer her in huge ovals, squinting against the light, whilst admiring the sun through the blue and yellow Modelspan tissue. The distant buzz from above in the summer heat was a delight. However, I always had to remember to keep the little 45-inch span model upwind.
After a long flight, and maybe couple of lean burps, she would run out of fuel at a great height. Her nose would drop, and she would settle into the glide. With no elevator or up trim the next part of the flight was always a satisfying challenge. Yup, one of the joys of innocent lone-hand single channel aeromodelling was trying to stretch out the glide to three of four high circuits, before positioning her to come in low and slow on her final approach. Perhaps to land at my feet or skid down the gravel road in a cloud of grey dust. The afternoon was a rhythm of hand launching, high flying and instant refuelling, which is one of the great joys of glow flying.
By late afternoon I had to think of turning for home. I would wash the model down with sudsy water from an old Sqezy washing up bottle with my trusty oily rag. As I raced home to the city for tea, in the days of few speed limits and no tax-cameras, my fingers would stick to the steering wheel. Back home I would religiously put my only DEAC pack straight on charge, wipe down my tiny transmitter and think back over the day’s triumphs. After tea, I would watch The Onedin Line.
FRIENDS OF THE MAGIC BUS
As mentioned last issue, I have recently acquired an inexpensive old Ford Galaxy to transport my models. I also needed a vehicle big enough to act as a minimalist overnight micro-camper. I require this latter function for all those distant modelling one-day events that I have to attend lone-handed. Especially when I can’t be bothered with the faff of towing The Command Module.
Also, in my 2021 Lockdown Affected Events Calendar, being ready to travel at a moment’s notice has now become very significant. Anyhow, so far, I have had a few dry runs with my ‘stealth camper’ at a number of ‘one day’ modelling events.
The Magic Bus has worked out even better than I expected. I did have to dispense with my original idea of an air mattress for over-nighting. The eight-quid chinoise job I bought from Halfords literally let me down at four am one morning. I therefore invested in a sixty-quid folding memory foam mattress from Amazon and it is wonderful.
Next issue was the ten quid butane gas camping stove I bought from a tool stand at The Nats many moons ago. This worked well on windless days and its super-stable ‘flat’ design made it great for my ‘heart starter’ morning fry-up of eggs and bacon. Unfortunately, at a very breezy Ozzenby Scale Day, the wild Lincolnshire wind got the better of it. It didn’t actually boil anything! I was cooking on a table under the hatchback of the Galaxy, but really should have put this butane stove just inside the back door out of the blow. I don’t fancy cooking inside the vast Galaxy boot area, so I will look for a similar ‘flat’ stove, able to take those more efficient propane gas cartridges.
So far, apart from those two minor issues, and having spent very little indeed, I am all set for long days spent miles away at the summer shows. The Magic Bus has tinted windows so I can also crash out in my DIY stealth camper overnight if I wish. I can then drive home at my leisure in the morning. I might even invest in a roof storage box for my large slope soarers and thermal gliders.
Stay tuned and I will keep you in the loop about my aeromodelling adventures with The Magic Bus. It looks a good solution to the keen modeller’s summer show requirement.
BMFA Buckminster has a lively calendar planned and many Clubs are putting on their own meetings. It is like the sun coming out after a long Covid winter. This means, gentle reader, that I shall be able to get you fresh photos of the flying action, fresh Model Magics and up to the minute event reports.
On a related note, I have been extremely grateful for all your notes, emails, Facebook comments and phone calls with kind (and very understanding) words about RCM&E’s Lockdown coverage. Reader support means a lot to me, so I thwack you for your indulgence. I wanna get back to the shows!!!
THE REAL McCOY
Okay, I am showing my ignorance now. I had no idea that some of those famously attractive red-head McCoy glow engines were actually made in Japan. I always thought these were the quintessentially ‘Yankee’ engine: stylish, powerful and beautifully presented commercial objects. To discover that some were made in Japan actually made me doubly happy, since as you all know, I adore Japanese model engines. Needless to say, I loved the famous off-set glow plug red head, but also the beautifully bright crankcase casting.
The McCoys were designed by Dick McCoy, working for the Duro-Matic Company, who manufactured them in the USA. This was in those far-off swashbuckling days of the mass market glow engine. A time when motors were the brain children of creative and colourful individuals. Not the bland but worthy products of massed banks of CAD Stations.
When the Duro-Matic Company was bought out by The Testor Corporation, Dick was kept on to continue to design engines, including the famous Mc Coy .61. I guess that after that point some McCoy .35 motors must have been made in Japan, rather than the USA.
A few years ago, I acquired a McCoy .29 glow, complete with freshly restored red head and, of course, have never got around to actually running it! However, it is a lovely object to hold in the hand whilst you dream of a triumphant return to the control-lining of your youth.
Fast forward to last week, when keen RCM&E reader and my auld mate, Farmer Derek North of Osbournby, made me the most magnificent and generous present. He gifted me his very own McCoy .35. It looks handsome with its red head set off against the silver cadmium crankcase and those deeply groovy black cooling fins. This engine is the very one he saved up all his pocket money for all those years ago the in the1960s. I really was very touched that Derek had thought of me.
Derek’s engine has rounded sides to the exhaust port, which I think might mean it is not as old as the earlier 1950s McCoy 35s. Also, the intake venturi and needle valve treatment might be the later kind. I am sure RCME readers will ‘crowd source’ an answer for me. They usually do! However, I do know that there were variations in the head design for different Mc Coy.35 versions, namely centre plug and offset. They were all control line engines, so had no r/c carb.
I seem to remember that in the USA they used to have an Old Timer event called, something like, the ‘Foxacoy Climb & Glide Comp’. This was specifically for this engine and its Fox .35 competitor. They used R/C and, of course, a radio-controlled fuel cut-off.
Despite the bashing it must suffered as a teenager’s first control line engine, it remains in superb condition. Anyway, it came to me complete with box and papers, and that trademark chequer-box Guarantee Card that gave The Testor Corporation (Rockford, Illinois) as the manufacturer. However, clearly stamped on the back of the box is the hallowed phrase ‘Made in Japan’. All I can say is that one lives and learns.
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