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F2D News – 8 November 2004
Mark Rudner

After a long, exciting, and hopefully very enjoyable 6 months, the first season of F2D combat in New England has finally drawn to a close. This does not necessarily mean, however, that it is time to pack everything away in mothballs to wait in a corner of the basement until spring arrives. It is not uncommon to have a nice sunny day now and again during the winter months, and if there’s time, it would be great to take advantage of such days by putting in a few flights to keep tuned up as best as possible for the start of next season. After experiencing my first “off-season” last winter, I found out how easy it is to take a few steps backwards over such a period without any practice.

Regardless of whether or not you expect to do any more flying between now and April, the end of the season is a good time to go through your equipment to inspect it for any problems and perform routine preventative maintenance operations. If any of your engines have been in the ground and you haven’t had the chance to open them up for a thorough cleaning, now is the time to do it. Additionally, the air was quite damp during the final contest of the season, which undoubtedly left water residue in any engine that was exposed to the elements that day. To prevent rusting, it would be good to try to just run each engine briefly (30 or 45 seconds should be plenty) outdoors on a nice dry day, to replace whatever water residue might be in there with nice film lubricating/preserving oil. Other things to check for are bad bearings, which can be spotted by lightly turning the crank back and forth and feeling for a “tick,” and sand-blasting of the head, which is a sign of excessive compression (see article on head clearances in the Resources section of the F2D News webpage). Once all this is complete, it’s a good final measure to put some additional oil (e.g. 3-in-1 oil, Marvel Mystery Oil) in the front bearing, down the venturi, and into the cylinder, to prevent rusting as the engine sits in wait for its next use.

On Sunday October 24th, the final F2D event of the season took place in Middleboro, MA. In addition to the now-regular New England F2D crew, 2004 US F2D Team member Ron Colombo was on hand for this contest. To give everyone as much flying time as possible, we decided to fly triple elimination rather than double. Things went pretty smoothly, and we finished with plenty of daylight to spare. For a detailed report on the contest, see Neil’s contest report on the NECN webpage.

The weather on Sunday was a little chilly and a little damp, but overall quite pleasant for this time of year. On Saturday, Ron and I were at the Middleboro site for some test flying, and the weather was much colder and windier. I was test flying with an old set of lines, and had one break all by itself. I mention this just as a reminder for everyone to keep a close eye on the condition of his/her lines to avoid needless mishaps such as this.

More interestingly, during that training session I encountered the first major problem with one of the Cyclon PC6 engines that I have been testing over the course of this season. When I tightened the propeller on one of the engines in preparation for a test flight, the engine suddenly got tight and would not turn over. After several minutes of fiddling around trying to determine the cause of the problem, we located its source – the aluminum drive-washer/steel split cone. It appears that after many runs, the fit between the cone and drive-washer began to loosen, allowing the cone to sit deeper and deeper inside the washer. On disassembly, a few aluminum flakes were found on the cone in addition to a streaky wear pattern inside the washer, suggesting that there may have been slippage. Once the cone sits too deeply inside the washer, the back of the washer crashes into the front bearing retainer and prevents the crankshaft from turning. Curiously, this problem was observed at the same time by several other pilots in the area. This indicates that the problem is probably universal, and will need to be dealt with on all of the engines acquired in the batch last winter. Fortunately, Cyclon offers a titanium drive-washer/cone assembly that should have much better longevity.

As we close this chapter of F2D in New England and prepare to begin another, I would just like to take this chance to thank everyone who has made this possible. First, I would like to thank Paul Kubek, a regular on the Formula GX combat circuit, who has come to help run/judge every F2D event this year, and even made the trek out to Muncie, IN to support our team in the World Championships this summer. Kirk Hargeaves, brother of F2D pilot Ken Hargreaves, has also been a great help at our F2D events in New England and as a supporter of the US Team in Muncie. Additionally, I would like to thank all of the local flyers – Rick Clark, Ken Hargreaves, Will Rogers, Neil Simpson, Brian Stas, Matt Stas, and Jeff Vader, who put in the time, effort, and money to give this event a chance, and the non-local flyers Chuck Rudner and Ron Colombo who also participated in and supported F2D events in New England this year. I’ve been really encouraged by everyone’s excitement and progress over the course of the season, and I hope to see participation grow even further next year. Thanks guys!

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