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F2D News Ė 13 December 2004
Mark Rudner

Winter is really here now, and pretty soon Santa Claus will be sliding down chimneys delivering toys (coals) to all of the nice (naughty) boys and girls out there. Have you been good? If so, then you might consider asking Santa to give you a hand in restocking your fleet of models and other supplies for the coming season.

The off-season presents a good opportunity to catch up on things around the house, spend some time with the family, and of course to get oneís gear back in order for the next year. The holidays are undoubtedly a busy time for most, but itís not a bad time to start thinking about what needs to get done to prepare for next season. Are there damaged models that could be fixed up? Have you run out of any supplies? Did any aspect of your equipment cause trouble for you during this past season? Is there a way to correct this?

In terms of models, the winter months are a good time to go through the pile of carnage from the last season and slowly repair those models that can be brought back into working order. Some will probably have to be scrapped out for spare parts, and the rest tossed out. After assessing how many models you have in potentially working order, you can then see if it will be necessary to build/buy any additional models in order to be stocked well enough for another full season of combat. Itís good to get a sense of this as early as possible so that you will have time to complete your building or place and receive your orders well in advance of the first pleasant Spring day. In addition to repairing smashed models and obtaining new ones, it is also a good idea to do a careful inspection of the remaining good models to look for less obvious signs of wear and tear. Normal traveling and flying/landing can make little holes or tears in the covering, which if left un-patched, could propagate into much larger problems. Also, itís a good idea to check leadouts, control horns, tail hingers, and pushrod connectors for signs of damage or cracks.

How about other supplies? If youíre running low on propellers, now is the time to get some more (not when you get down to your last one part way into the season). Although if your engines are set up correctly they should not be blowing plugs, itís also important to make sure that you have enough spares on hand to replace them if something goes wrong. Because of the long lifetime of plugs in modern F2D engines, there is a tendency to leave the same plug in for a very long time. After many runs, although a plug may still glow orange, a layer of oxidation will develop on the element and lead to a decrease in performance. Because of this, you might want to start off the new season with a fresh plug in each of your engines. Before putting new plugs in your engines now, however, note that sometimes a plug left sitting in an engine for too long will get stuck and can be very difficult to remove. Before storing your engines for the winter, you may want to remove their glow plugs in order to prevent a sticky situation when spring rolls around.

Last, what, if anything, caused persistent trouble for you this season? One piece of equipment that I saw on the field was a battery that turns itself off every minute or so. While this is a good feature for preventing possible electrical shorts, it can cause serious problems in a combat match and possibly make the difference between winning and losing a tight match. While this battery is what was available at the store and seems to work well in all other respects, I personally would spend some time this winter looking for a way to disable the automatic shutoff or simply looking for a replacement. Other things to think about Ė is your pit box well-organized? Can you and your pitmen quickly find the wrenches, spare props, bladders, etc that might be needed during a match? Are there any items that you could conceivably need in a match that you havenít been keeping in your box? These are all questions that can and should be addressed in the off-season. Attention to such details will make next season run even smoother than last.

Thatís pretty much all Iíve got for this month. I hope everyone is staying warm and having a nice holiday season.

If you have any questions or comments, please email Mark at rudner@mit.edu