After removing the opossum from the gutter last month, I went into the garage to get some scrap wood to cover the hole in the eave. This was a mistake because every time my wife sees the garage she is compelled to tell me in no uncertain terms that it needs to be cleaned.
While I’m inclined to agree with her, the weather for the past few months has been less than conducive to working in an un-air-conditioned environment like that in our garage. Needless to say, I’ve been putting off this dreaded task until cooler weather prevails – say, in February. I did, however, manage to go through a few things in the off chance that I could find something that could be disposed of and thus give the illusion of making some progress in the cleaning process. One of the things I came across was an old remote controlled (RC) airplane kit along with some old radios, engines and spare parts. “The kids will LOVE this!” I thought. “Heck, with this much stuff I can get back into the hobby for almost no money down!”
Now, the last time I flew an RC model was April 8, 1989. I remember that date because it also happens to be the day I got married. Yes, it’s true – while my wife was spending hours getting dressed and her hair and makeup done and fretting over countless last minute details, I was at the field at the high school with two of my friends flying model airplanes.
To say the least, it had been a while since I had last worked on the airplane. After inspecting the model, I found that it was missing enough pieces that attempting to salvage it would be a losing proposition so I figured I’d just go buy a new one (how much could that cost?) but first I had to locate a hobby shop. Orange Blossom Hobbies closed years ago and I had no idea where a decent hobby shop was. I made a few phone calls and learned that RC Hobbies is good…GOOD AND FAR! It’s on University Drive north of Commercial in Broward! “Oh well, I’ll only have to go there once or twice” I figured so I left work early one day and drove up to see what they had to offer.
The place doesn’t look like much from the parking lot but inside they’ve got just about everything for every hobby imaginable. It was all I could do to control myself as I walked back to the model airplane department. Once there, I talked to Skip and explained my situation to him. Fifteen minutes later, I had selected a model and picked up some glue and a few other items that he suggested I might need. Just over $100. “Not bad!” I thought to myself. “The kids will love it!”
After working on the plane for a few days, I learned that none of my old wheels were large enough for this model and that my old radios were in an obsolete frequency range and I needed a new one. In addition, I had mistakenly used the balsa instead of the spruce pieces in step #3 so I had to re-do a few things.
Back to RC hobbies. This time I met Ron and had him show me the new radios and explain their various features. I resisted the temptation to buy the $1200 model on opted for a cheaper one. I also picked up some extra pieces of wood, some larger wheels and some MonoKote to cover the plane. Ouch! That cost more than twice what the model did! “Oh, well, the kids will love it.”
After a few more days I was ready to install the engine. I’ll let you guess what happened when I checked out the condition of my old engines. Yep. Back to RC Hobbies and…ENGINES COST HOW MUCH?!? Well, since I’m already spending that much I might as well get this. And this. And a few of those propellers. And that. “The kids had BETTER love this!”
A few days later I discovered that I needed more MonoKote and that my iron that is used to apply it was all rusted. In addition, Gus (one of the guys I was flying with back in 1989) had my electric starter. Gus now lives in Colorado Springs instead of Miami Springs. Back to RC Hobbies and there goes another hundred bucks or so. “The kids WILL love this or I am putting them up for adoption!”
By this time I had pretty much bought a new version of everything I had been storing in my garage for the past 15 years but it was finally starting to look like a working airplane. It was covered in University of Miami colors. The new radio worked wonderfully. The wheels were on. The engine was mounted and the prop was in place. Now, let’s start up the engine to see how it wor...$&%*!!!
After one last trip to RC Hobbies to see my buddies Ron and Skip and to buy some fuel, a fuel pump and a few other “odds and ends” I was finally ready to start the engine. To my amazement, it fired right up and everything worked perfectly. I’ve been running it around in the street for the last few days to “break in” the engine and will be taking it for its first flight this weekend. It’s too bad the kids aren’t around to enjoy this - I had to sell them into indentured servitude to afford it all.
In closing, I’d like to say that it’s amazing what you can do with the junk that’s been sitting around in your garage for years. Why, just the other day I found an old HO Train set and the last time I was at RC Hobbies I saw this awesome layout for just a few hundred dollars. Of course, I’ll have to find a place to put it since there’s absolutely no room in the garage.
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