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Hobby Room Tips

Bending copper tubing - Nov. ‘06

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       When it comes to bending copper tubing for use in model aircraft projects, nothing beats 1/8” annealed copper tubing. I discovered automotive gauge copper tubing back when I was designing my first smoke muffler. I had problems bending brass and thin wall copper tubing (similar to K&S brand tubing) to the tight radiuses I needed.
       I stumbled on the soft copper tubing when I was at a local auto parts store and have been using it ever since. I have found that you can bend this stuff as tight as a 1/4” radius without crushing the profile flat. This tubing works great for smoke muffler preheater coils, just like the ones that I used in Super Smokers Part I & II.                 

You can purchase a 1/8” copper tubing kit from most automotive supply houses. They are used to plumb pressure gauges to engines. 

       This type of tubing is a heavy wall tubing so you want to avoid using long lengths on board to minimize the weight. The tubing weighs about 3/4 oz per 16 linear inches. The upside of the heavy wall is that it handles chaffing due to vibration much better than thin wall tubing.
       If you are not able to get “auto gauge” tubing where you live you can try to anneal the K&S hobby brand type by heating it up “red-hot” and allowing it to cool slowly. This will soften the temper of the copper and allow it to bend better.

Preventing covering from peeling up - Nov. ‘06

       If you are having problems with your models covering peeling up at the edges and they will not iron down, CA glue can fix it. I use a regular “Super Glue” dispenser to “wick” CA like a pen along the overlapping Monokote joint to seal it permanently. Once glue has dried, I wipe off the CA haze with a damp cloth and I am finished. Done carefully, this works great and even glow fuel will not peel it up. This can also be used to spot the corners of lettering and pin striping. If you make a mistake you can clean it up with Acetone on most non-fabric coverings.

Always wear safety glasses when using CA glue as it can easily splash or “flick” into your eyes.

See how I do this process in more detail here!!!

Storing Cyanoacrylate glue - Nov. ‘06

       I like to have extra stock of the building materials I use frequently but unfortunately some of the items have a limited shelf life. Cyanoacrylate glue or “CA” can thicken over time and eventually be rendered useless. CA is made from a acrylic resin that can be accelerated in the presence of water (actually hydroxide ions in water) so it is important to keep moisture away from the glue. Heat and light can also effect most chemicals so it is important to keep them in a cool and dark place.
       When I want to store CA for a long time I seal up the bottles in a freezer bag along with a silica gel desiccant pack (available at packing supplies) to absorb any moisture in the bag. I then put the glue in my spare refrigerator to cool it helping prevent chemical evaporation. You can also store your CA accelerators and paints in the fridge as well.
       I don’t believe in putting glues in the freezer as it causes too many physical changes in the glues structure. I also like the fact the refrigerated glue will acclimate to room temperature much faster then “frozen” glue.
Please be careful to not allow children access to these types of chemicals and to make sure they are clearly marked for identification. If you cannot secure a space in your refrigerator for sealed chemicals then I suggest you buy them as you need them.

The many uses of Velcro - Nov. ‘06

       You can use the fuzzy side of Velcro brand fastener to protect vibrating parts from chafing each other. I use this to protect my Cub wing where the struts bolt on and also as a wing saddle padding to take up vibration. I also make wheel brakes out of this cool stuff.

I stick a Velcro pad between the strut and wing to protect the covering from being chaffed up.

I use Velcro for a lot of hobby uses and I buy it in 2” X 15’ rolls as it is cheaper that way.

Velcro straps are great for strapping in batteries, radio gear and fuel tanks.

Chemical pumps - Nov. ‘06

       On my glue caddy I have an Isopropyl Alcohol and Acetone dispenser pumps. These dispensers work by pressing down on them with paper towel or cloth, thus soaking the cloth with the chemical inside the dispenser. These dispensers are great to have around because you only need one hand to operate unlike a bottle. I use the Isopropyl Alcohol for cleanup with epoxies and the Acetone is great for cleaning Cyanoacrylate Glue off your fingers etc. These dispensers can be purchased at a scientific supply or a beauty supply shop. Always keep proper ventilation when working with chemicals. Never use flammable materials near open flames or while smoking.

I attached a dispenser holder on my glue caddy.

The dispenser is simple to use, just push down with a cloth and it pumps the liquid into the cap thus wetting the cloth.

Hobby knife anti-roll - Nov. ‘06

       To keep my hobby knife from rolling off the building table and sticking in my foot, I drilled the handle and installed a key ring. No more close calls !!!

Applying Vinyl Letters - Nov. ‘06

       Applying vinyl lettering on a model can sometimes be a sticky situation. The smaller the lettering the harder it is to get them on straight. I adopted a method of using my hobby knife to hold the letters as I place them on the model which makes it a whole lot easier. I use my index finger to slightly pinch the letters to the blade as I peel them up from the sheet. I then use the knife to pinpoint the letters in place.
       The best part about this method it that if you make a mistake in placement you can just pinch the letter with your finger, pull it up and try again. The key is to not pull the blade out from under the letter until you are happy with it’s location. This method can be used with all kinds of stickers and decals as well.

Swing out Dremel tool hanger - Nov. ‘06

       I made a Dremel tool hanger that swings out of the way when not in use. It is helpful to hang the motor as it puts less of a bind on the flex whip and spins faster.

Building room dust collector - Nov. ‘06

       If you have a building room at home, you probably know about the dust problem that is created when you work on your models. I had battled balsa dust all over my house and really needed a solution. I wanted to install a dust collection system that would be quiet and efficient. Most commercial dust collectors I found took up too much space and created a lot of noise. The price was not attractive either so I looked at a vacuum system as an alternative.

       The inherent problem with a vacuum is that they are not designed for prolonged use. The high current, high RPM motor of a vacuum is great for intermittent use but falls short on continual use. The filter on a shop vac will also clog up quickly with balsa dust. After considering what I wanted, I went back to researching the commercial dust collector. After looking around on the net I found a 1 HP portable dust collector from Harbor Freight for about $100. The collector has a 4” input which has a great volume capacity. The only problem is I didn’t want the collector in my hobby room.

       Because my hobby room is next to my garage, I opted to cut a 4” hole in the wall and pass through a flexible 4” dryer vent duct. Even though this was invasive, it proved to be very affective! I now needed to find a way to make a dust chute that would not get in the way of my setup. I came up with a trap door system that covers a hole that is plumbed to the 4” dryer vent duct. The hole has 1/4” screen over it to prevent parts from being sucked away. I also installed a switch so that when the shutter is opened up, the blower turns on remotely.

       Now that I had a good dust collection system going I could sand balsa all day and not worry about dusting the living room later. The collector can run for prolonged periods so I can just flip up the door and go to town! Another great feature of the remote collector is that you can use it like a fume hood. Before I installed the collector, my wife would complain of glue or paint smells. Now I can use CA accelerator spray and not stink up the house! Of course I cannot use spray paint indoors but it can handle brush painting or epoxy odors.            

       I was fairly sure that there would be no improvements made to the system until I had a need for a vacuum hose. The floor of the building room needed constant cleaning and I was getting tired of getting out  the vacuum. To solve this I fabricated a flat plate that fits over the dust collector chute. The plate has a 2” PVC fitting attached to the top which allows me to connect up a small shop vac hose. Now I can use the shop vac hose to vacuum the floor or clean out a dusty fuselage quietly and efficiently.

       Overall, the dust collector was well worth the price and effort to install as it made the joy of building so much greater. For those of you who are squeamish about cutting a 4” hole in your wall or cannot do so because it is a rental, you could temporarily run the duct through a window or a garage doorway while you are building. When you finish your work you could “slink” up the dryer vent ducting and pack it away. Just an idea :0)

More tips to come !!!

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  Questions or comments ? Feel free to contact me - Don Giandomenico

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