Friday, August 19, 2011

A Stick & Tissue Wind Vane

When I was around eleven years old, I built several Balsa Wood Stick Models covered with tissue paper.  Back then, plastic kits were something new and not readily available; besides one could fly these models.  A rubber band motor and a large propellor was all that was needed for a free flight model.  So the years past and these types of models are still around but not in the great varieties as back then.  One of the two best types as far as I am concerned were Monogram "Speedie-Built" and "Top Flight" models.  They were much easier and quicker to build as for the most part the wings were solid balsa while the fuselage was almost solid balsa.
So years past and one week while looking for something to build I came across a Domus Kit of a Curtiss Robin.  The box said laser cut parts.  Well I quickly recalled the hours of frustration when a part would split when trying to cut it without the use of a single edged razor blade
Single edge blades were not popular in our house as my Dad used Gillette double edge blades.  So we had to snap the blade in half and put a band aid on the broken half to prevent it from cutting into our fingers which it did on many occiasions when trying to cut a part out of the printed balsa sheet.  Laser cut parts; well that should make building these kits much easier.  So I bought the Curtiss Robin and soon it was built and covered with tissue.  Yes it was easier to assembly and I had not forgotten all that I knew about building these types of models.  Super glue like "Zap" replaced the old tube Balsa glue and assembly was much faster.
Yes! it flew and I only added a small trim tab on the rudder once it had been balanced to keep it in a straight flight path for the most part.  So it soon ended up on top of a shelf in my room and collected dust for a couple of years.
In our yard, we have a Red, White and Blue pin wheel that we put up Memorial Day.  All summer we watched it spin around.  The other night while sitting on our swing, the idea came to me that perhaps the Robin might make a cute wind vane.  After all; all that was necessary is a rudder to catch the wind and make it turn, a airplane for the main part and a propellor to spin in the wind. DRAWBACK! IT'S TISSUE PAPER!
Problem solved, I got it off the shelf check it out and said to myself spray it with Krylon sealer.  No Krtlon; what do I have I can use?  An old can MinWax Acrylic stain. That should work just fine.  It's an Acrylic sealer and the stain color was light so it should not effect the tissue color.
I put three coats for a good seal.  For sure the Robin will never fly on its own any more, but it stands in our yard atop a pole and looks as proud as can be. I am sure it will not survive any major rain storm or our Northern Winters but at least for now she is one proud airplane enjoying a second life.