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Choices, Choices, Choices

John Slade

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Bob Nuckolls posted the following to the Aeroelectric list and asked that it be passed around.... I think it contains some good points for general building as well as for the electrical system......


--> AeroElectric-List message posted by: "Robert L. Nuckolls, III" <bob.nuckolls@cox.net>


From time to time, a builder writes to ask, "I got a really

good deal on this kind of wire, can I use it to wire up

my whizzy-giget?" Or, "Why should I go out an buy this

$high$ connector that takes a special tool when this

$low$ connector does the same job and installs with

a soldering iron?" I've been pondering this situation for

the past several days. Indulge me please while

I share some past experiences:


When I was in the 4th or 5th grade, I shared an interest

in model aircraft construction with a cousin about 5 years

my senior. He worked in a hobby shop and I think took much

of his compensation in store stock. His models were

all beautifully crafted and flew well. I recall a

conversation about glue. His personal choice was a product

called Ambroid while my personal preference was for

a less expensive, faster drying Testor's model cement.

As I recall, Ambroid sold for perhaps three or four

times the price of Testors. It also took 12-18 hours

to reach full strength.


When you considered the cost of a kit, cost of engine,

and hours to assemble, and a quest of lowest cost of

ownership (lots of maintenance-free flying), the

difference in $total$ for assembling with Ambroid vs.

Testors was insignificant. He also covered in silk while

I used tissue. I suspect there were additional differences

in our choice materials and techniques wherein I went the

$low$ route . . . but in the final analysis made little

difference in the total cost of our respective



Perhaps it was a mute point in my case, cousin Calvin's

models usually lived to fly many a mission while my

own were not so fortunate. Had any of his models

survived to the present time, it's a certainty that

they would be the finest examples of model construction

of that era.


Would we build a model that way today? Epoxy wasn't

around then. Nor were any form of composite materials.

You had to shrink coverings to contour with multiple

coats of finish, not with a hot iron. Radio

control was bang-bang, rudder only at wide open throttle,

today it's fully three-axis with trims accessory

control channels + throttle.


I open my seminars with a statement to the effect, "You

folks are building the finest airplanes to have ever

flown." This always raises a few eyebrows, "Wha-da-ya-

mean? I don't know all that much about it."


I can confidently reply, "Yes, and that's why. You

participate on list servers to tap the collective

gray-matter of the OBAM aircraft community. You are

attending this seminar to achieve a higher level of



If you break something, it gets replaced. If

a part doesn't work quite right, you rebuild it as

needed until it does. Unlike those new graduates bucking

rivets on an assembly line while dreaming about what they're

going to do after work that evening, YOU are paying attention

to achieving the very best the community knows how to do.


I'll suggest there is more VALUE in a nicely built RV

than ANY spam can irrespective of how nice the paint looks

or what electro-whizzies are bolted to the panel. Finally,

no two OBAM aircraft are built exactly the same way. Certified

airplanes are literally carved into regulatory stone of

conformance, your airplane can freely evolve. OBAM aircraft

are by definition at the leading edge of performance

and value in aviation."


Remember the Jimmy Stewart movie "Flight of the Phoenix"?

The folks trying to assemble a man-rated, flying aircraft

from a pile of salvage were not pleased to discover that

their "designer's" previous experience was limited to building

flying models. It took some time for folks to understand that

basic principals of structures and flight were interchangeable

between the worlds of miniature and full-scale.


I suggest that after you've purchased kit, engine, propeller,

brakes, and a panel full of whippy radios and instruments, impact

on total cost for the-best-we-know-how-to-do versus materials

or tools you discovered at a garage sale or hardware store is



My experience at workbench of cousin Calvin stands out my

memory as a benchmark of Calvin's superior sense craftsmanship.

He chose to build in a manner that represented the very

best the model building community knew how to do.


To be sure, few OBAM aircraft builders are going to be using

today's techniques and technologies 20 years from now . . . May I

suggest we should be wary of tools, techniques and materials

popularly used 20 years ago? May I further suggest that it's

not so much a question of "will it work" as opposed to will

it be something you'll look back on 20 years from now as the

best we knew how to do today?


Dee and I offer our best wishes for you and yours for the

upcoming holidays. We're looking forward to meeting many of

you in what promises to be a busy seminar schedule for

next year. It's always enjoyable and gratifying to work with

folks building the finest airplanes to have ever flown.


Bob . . .



P.S. I'd appreciate it if folks would take the time to relay

this note to other list servers . . .

I can be reached on the "other" forum http://canardaviationforum.dmt.net

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