Sunday, 19 June 2016

New engines for the Stearmans

Tango 1 and Tango 2 now have brand new engines.  Richard has never been happy with the pickup of the DA150s on take off because he didn't think it was smooth enough.  For formation flights you want a smooth acceleration of power. So, he decided to invest in 2 new Valach 170 engines.

The change over wasn't too bad but a different engine always means a few changes.  Tango 2 was the first plane to be dealt with.  The old engine came out easily and the new one went in easily although it's not the lightest thing to hold whilst bolting it in.

The fuel and smoke tanks were taken out to check they were still serviceable and given new tubing.

New bolt holes had to be made to hold the engine to the firewall.  The throttle linkages on the Valachs are on the opposite side to the DAs so the pushrods hat to be moved across.  This meant that the smoke tanks had to be lifted up so it didn't foul the movement of the pushrods. 

The header pipes from the engine to the exhaust were modified to prevent fouling, The smoke injection points had to be worked out.

The cooling ducting was modified which meant chewing out some of the nice detail that Steve had done because it now fouled one of the cylinders.

Once everything was checked in the cowling the tanks and batteries were put back in and all the systems were checked out.

The whole process was then repeated for Tango 1.  Then 34x12 props were added which is the same size used with the Mokis we had at the start.  The DA150s had smaller props - 32x10.

So what is the verdict from the pilots? So far, so good.

The engines were easy to set up.  The first engine started on the second swing and the first on fired on the first flick.  To date they have been starting reliably every time.

There is a slight increase in power and Richard and Steve are both impressed with the smoothness - especially on take off.  The throttling is slightly different so each flight they are learning more about how they respond

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Baby Wingwalkers at Bex Air 2015

The Bex airshow only takes place every 5 years.  So we were really pleased to be invited to the 2015 show.

With 2 vans fully loaded with the Baby Wingwalkers and a few other models we set off from South West England on our 500 mile journey.  24 hours later we were very glad to arrive in Bex.

All the models we took and flew during the weekend -
and they all fitted into 2 vans

The location is a full size airfield with a beautiful mountain backdrop.  One of the advantage of an airfield is of course the hangars where we could store the planes overnight.  But because there were so many pilots with large models it was still a squeeze.

Like many European events, this was a single day show so Saturday was test flying day.  It would have been a relaxing day apart from a few mechanical problems with some of the other planes we had brought.

That is one of the hazards when models are flying regularly.  However well you maintain them, just like a car, they break down at the most inconvenient times.

But the Stearmans were trouble free and we had 2 enjoyable flights.

In the UK, 2015 has been the windiest year we can remember, so it was a real pleasure to fly in still air.  The one disadvantage of still air is that the smoke hangs around in the air and on a few occasions made it difficult to see the planes.

Sunday arrived with beautiful blue sky and no wind.  It was a leisurely day, though because we were parked at the end of the flightline we did get a lot of exercise pushing the planes up to the pilot's box and back.

Our first flight was around lunchtime and went well - using less smoke than usual.  Our second flight was the finale of the show.  Everything went well again until we landed and noticed that the pin in Baby Danni's harness had come out and she looked as if she was going to jump off.  Fortunately the other harness strap - and of course the safety cable held her on.

After 3 hours of packing away we treated ourselves to a few days' sightseeing in the area before the long journey home.  The scenery was stunning and we would have loved to stay longer.

Thanks to our Swiss hosts who looked after us, the people who helped us to fix planes and the other show pilots who put on such good displays.  Thanks also to Christopher Watts who took the great flying shots for us.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Construction of 30% Breitling Stearman models numbers 3 and 4 (Foxtrot 1 and 2)

Foxtrot 1 in its original colour scheme
Foxtrot 1 in its original colour scheme
Richard has just finished the third and fourth Stearmans to add to the collection. They were made from two airframes orginally built by Colin Bond. Steve had been flying one for a couple of years with a different colour scheme and the other one had never been flown.

It's always a good idea to have a spare plane - in this case we have two spares. There were some modifications to make so that they were more like the full size Breitling Stearmans. 

Breitling Stearman number 3 model with 2 of the full size in the background
Foxtrot 1 with 2 of the full size Stearmans
Richard left most of the fuselage on number 3 (Steve's plane) Only the area forward of the front struts was changed. The firewall was pushed back because these Stearmans have the Beech cowling. 

New fairings were put on the undercarriage and wheel spats were fitted. The tailplane, fin and wings were stripped and the wings modified to create top ailerons. A headrest was added. 

ailerons on top and bottom wing

On the full size, numbers 3 and 4 have shorter bottom ailerons than 1 and 2 so the bottom ailerons were shortened slightly to match the full size. Fittings were added to link the top and bottom ailerons. 

The paintwork on 3 and 4 has been modified to reflect the 2012 alterations to the full size paintwork on the wing.

Model Breitling Stearman in flight with its nav light and smoke
Foxtro 4 with smoke and light
The same modifications to the ailerons, wheel spats and undercarriage fairings were made on number 4, plus a few additional changes. The fuselage was virtually rebuilt to match the shape of the other three planes. The rear cockpit was moved back slightly and the front cockpit made longer. A cowling was made. The hinge points were changed on the elevators.

putting the tailplane onto Stearman number 4
The original construction of these models has a different way of attaching the tailplane and there are also different connectors on the wires between the wings.
detail of the new windscreen
Windscreen detail

Both planes have had some changes that will be copied on the original two models.  Thicker aluminium was used for the windscreen fairing as it wasn't strong enough on the first two models. Finally, lights have been added to the underside of the fuselage and on the tail.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

4 Stearmans in the Baby Wingwalker Team

It's been quiet on this website but it hasn't been quiet in the workshop.  Over the last 9 months Richard has been building 2 new Stearmans to add to the team.  So now we have 4 Stearmans, all of them 30% scale.

Their first outing was at the home of the full size Breitling Wingwalking team and so we couldn't resist some photos of all 8 of them together.


So, here are some pictures and we'll have some written information about the new models soon.

All photographs copyright Chris Bowler

Monday, 26 September 2011

Baby Breitling Wingwalkers fly at Battle of Britain Airshow 2011

On 17th and 18th September it was the Battle of Britain Airshow at Cotswold Airport. We flew at the spring airshow there and really enjoyed it so were pleased to be invited back as part of the model aircraft flying display.

Richard also took along his Mosquito, Steve took his Bronco and Anson and we were joined by Eddie from the Swindon Club with his Corsair and Spitfire. Chris - our trusty helper and photographer was also there.

Our slot times tend to get moved around at full size shows because of the arrival and departure of aircraft so communication between everyone involved is important.

We were really lucky with the weather on both days because, apart from one big shower that soaked us and the planes on Sunday, the rest of the showers skirted around us. The wind on Sunday wasn't pleasant but it was still possible to fly and by the Saturday it was much calmer.

We found it a real luxury because Costwold Helicopter Centre generously allowed us to use their hangar to put the planes in overnight and we also had somewhere to take them to pieces on Sunday evening which meant we kept dry.

We thought we would lose our slot on Sunday because it poured with rain when we were due to fly. It wouldn't have been safe to fly in rain that was that heavy because of the risk of water getting into the planes' electrics. Fortunately there was some space in the schedule so we managed to fly once the rain had eased off. We don't like letting people down but we also don't want to take unnecessary risks.

A few of the planes couldn't display because of the weather and mechanical issues but we still saw some good displays. The Tiger Moth 9 were spectacular, flying in formation similar to the Red Arrows. The Lancaster and Spitfires were special to watch as always. The Antonov displayed on its own as well as droped the Renegade parachute team - and was a useful shelter for some of us during the downpour. The Red Hawks gave a graceful aerobatic display.

See more pictures from the show on our Facebook page.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Baby Breitling Wingwalkers at Much Marcle Model Show 2011

Last weekend was the Herefordshire Model Aero Club/Large Model Association show at Much Marcle and we attended with one of the Baby Breitling Wingwalkers. It's always an enjoyable site to fly at because it's a grass strip with a picturesque backdrop.

We certainly got a lot of exercise during the weekend as we were parked on the end of the flightline so there was a lot of walking up and down the flightline all day to collect and refuel the planes. As well as the Baby Wingwalker we had 3 other aircraft and we had about 3 flights each day with each plane.

The walking was also added to because Sharon was collecting signatures on a 40th birthday card for one of the modellers so ended up walking up and down the trade line and chasing modellers around to get them to sign the card. Still, it's a good way to have a chat with everyone.

The weather was good, though there were some interesting bumpy conditions at some times during the day. The Stearman and wingwalker Baby Sarah performed well so it was a pleasant weekend. Thanks go to SLECfor letting us use their tent as a hangar overnight.

For more pictures of the show visit us on Facebook.

Although it was the last model show of the year, we have still got a few more displays this year - the full size Battle of Britain show at Kemble on 17th and 18th September and the Large Model Association's static show at Gaydon in October.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Baby Breitling Wingwalkers at Chedworth Club Barbeque

Last weekend we had a relaxing day at Chedworth at their annual barbeque. It was nice to be able to fly when we wanted to without the constraints of a show programme and to have lovely sunshine and warm weather.

At Cosford we had problems with Richard's engine but during the week we made the same modification that we had to Steve's when he had problems with his engine earlier in the year. It seems to have been successful as Richard had quite a few flights without any engine trouble at all.

One of the club members brought his grandson along for an hour or so and in true modelling tradition spent most of the afternoon there. His grandson was fascinated by the wingwalkers and he has now become the youngest person to operate them in the air (with a few reminders as to which switch operated which limb).

Baby Wingwalker Sarah also had her hair replaited because it had become quite untidy, which is hardly surprising when you think of how much it gets blown around in the air. You can see the forces the wingwalkers are put under if you watch any of the onboard footage.