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Q-talk 55 - Jan/Feb 1996 - index

JAN/FEB 1996



by Jim Masal


Like many of you, my serious interest in aviation began as a kid deeply involved in building model airplanes. It didn't hurt that my Dad was an A&P for Pan American Airlines in Miami. Those were wonderful projects that taught me a lot about neatness, craftsmanship and art (not to mention the great sky battles of WWII).

Some 20 years down the road as a young man a friend invited me to accompany him to a show and tell meeting of a society of plastic modelers. I had some spare time and I guess a vague hope that I might re-experience some of those pleasant times of my youth by doing some aircraft modeling again. It blew my mind.

I stood silently watching a guy working on a 1/78 scale Jap zero. He took a small hole punch, a sheet of aluminum foil and punched out a tiny disk of foil. It was not much bigger than a B-B. Then he put it on the tip of his finger and pressed a blunt pin into the center to give it a cone shape. Then he put a tiny droplet of clear cement into the cone. He paused. So I asked, "What is it that you are making there?" He said, "Oh, this is a landing light for the wing of my Zero here." I lost all interest in plastic modeling there and then. But this demonstrated how complicated we can make modern life.

It's not that I don't admire or appreciate the meticulous craftsmanship of painting an artificial horizon on an instrument panel the size of your thumbnail, it's just that I have a thousand things I wanna do in my life and I can't afford 100 hours of focused attention to create just one nearly-perfect plastic airplane. Some do, I don't. And I believe only a very few select humans have the time, energy and bucks to do that without a little slippage in the rest of their lives.

A few years ago, I worked with a guy on his Glassair. He spent 5 weekends once building a console between the seats that was already half-built by the factory. You ain't gonna have a lotta flight time if you don't focus on finishing the whole airplane in your lifetime.

How badly does a Jap Zero model NEED a realistic-looking landing light? How about I just paint a silver dot and use my imagination?

And that brings me to this. Some guys will take a 3-step process, add 6 more steps and then try to convince you that their end result is far more pleasing than yours. Don't fall for it. Case in point. We just received a very detailed and lengthy article describing how to prepare and paint a fiberglass airplane. This is an outstanding article that we have permission to reprint from the Central State EZ Association. Quicker Robert Bounds, who has secured that permission for us, and who has used the described techniques with modification, then describes his mods.

After reading all this and mulling it over ... and observing some really gorgeous paint jobs on local Toyota Corollas, I ask myself, "How can the Japs turn out such sparkling paint and still sell the car for under $15,000?" I'll bet they do it in less than 32 steps.

And another thing ... how can you show that your 9 labor-intensive steps are better than my 3 steps without waiting 5 or 10 years to see how the jobs hold up? I don't like sanding in the first instance, why should I do it 2 more times?

Forget paint for a moment. All through your project you will be tempted to fall into the trap of making a landing light for a Jap Zero ... to get your tail wrapped around the axle of details. If you are the best of the best, and if you are intent on a trophy at Oshkosh, succumb to temptation. But if you are intent on tinkering around to perfect each individual part, don't be surprised if death or illness or family problems, builder fatigue or one of a thousand other things eventually intervenes and gives some other guy the thrill of a first flight after you sell him your project. Make your second plane the perfect one.




If anyone is curious about how the last newsletter got so screwed up, it can all be blamed on the sign-up form. I know that all the text for that issue was in the word processor and everything was OK until I told the computer to make room on pages 3 and 4 for the sign-up form. I don't know what I did, but I do know enough not to do it again.

When I went back and tried to fix up the mess, all I had to do was remove the changes made to insert the sign-up form and PRESTO everything unscrambled. Like I said, I don't know how it happened, but I screwed up when I didn't check the text one more time before I sent it to the printer.

Speaking of the sign-up form, everyone has been doing a good job of filling them out. The form really helps to keep things organized when updating the mailing list and catching any address changes. I noticed about half of the folks took their newsletter to work and made a copy of the sign-up form. I should have known better, I wouldn't want to cut up my newsletter either. Next time I'll make it a separate sheet and you won't have to make a copy and that might also make the newsletter a little easier to read.

Still learning,


P. S. Jim wanted his "oKAY" that way, but I'll take credit for all the other typos.

Other Articles In This Issue

LETTERS - by Tom Moore
CLASSIFIEDS - by Tom Moore


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