Is there anyone out there who can tell us just who, where and when started the convention that the sheeting on the bottom of a fuselage should be installed with the grain crosswise - and what is the logic, if any.
If you try doing things this way you will find that much cutting and fitting is needed - plus more glue. Trimming to fit the width needs a very sharp knife due to the reluctance of balsa to to be cut across the grain without tearing. Having got that far the result is virtually impossible to sand without getting undulations along the length of the fuselage. That's bad enough, but wait until you try rounding off the lower edges!
Sooner or later, you will subject the finished fuselage to a hefty thump which, if hefty enough, will cause it to break at some weak point such as the wing leading or trailing edge locations - and that cross grain lower sheeting will do nothing to help!
Right! Now try it my way. Sheet the bottom of the fuselage with the grain running lengthways. It goes on in one piece, is easy to trim flush with the sides, easy to sand and it strengthens the fuselage considerably. There now, that was quite painless, wasn't it?
One more Nationals has now become history (my thirtieth, if anyone is interested) and I am about to give way to the temptation to compare it with earlier meetings. Yes, I know that one's memory does tend to become tainted by only remembering the good things, but who said that I was going to be critical, or uncomplimentary anyway? As if I would!
Memory always seems to insist that things were bigger, better and more numerous in 'the good old days' but one cannot help noticing that there are fewer and fewer of us each year. At least, this seems to be so from looking at the campsite. In some ways, this is perhaps a good thing since the campsite discipline has sadly declined. Such things as firebreaks, which used to be rigidly enforced, now seem to be a thing of the past.
This trend is evident elsewhere too. The runway surface used to be sacrosanct and not to be driven on, parked on, or even flown on without rigid precautions against fuel damage. This year, while precautions were still taken - in most cases - against fuel damage, it seemed that you could get away with anything. Mind you, a cursory examination of the, once pristine, surface showed it to be in a sad state of repair with much patching (sorry Station Commander).
I also remember that parking on the grass used to be 'verboten'. As early as Friday evening this year there were well defined flattened areas beginning to appear together with several well used tracks. The rope barriers which are normally used to assist in the running of various events were largely conspicuous by their absence this year. They had been used instead to segregate the public and competitors cars to separate areas of the airfield. I am sure that most competitors liked this arrangement (they would have liked it even more if the barriers had been 'additional' rather than 'instead of'). It probably suited the public too in some ways, but I heard many complaints about the three-quarter mile walk to the scale flightline!
One thorny old problem which becomes more acute each year is that of finding people to run the various events. There is still, fortunately, a hard core of individuals who are willing to arrive early on Friday to start setting things up for you to enjoy yourselves. Quite how they felt when the helicopter event, for example, began to think about sorting things out at nine o'clock on Sunday morning, I hate to think.
When you enter a Nationals event, you fill in a pre-entry form which has to be in one month beforehand. In the case of R/C events you have to state your frequency and an alternate. The idea of this is that a flying order can be sorted out well in advance and the competitors notified via the SAE which they have to enclose with their entry. Comes the aforementioned Sunday morning and it is suddenly discovered that nearly half of the helicopter entry is on the same frequency!
Having sorted that one out - there were no judges. Having found some judges there was lots of loud bitching about the judging standards! Ah yes, but they were given a bottle of wine each to reward them for having stood out in the sun for three rounds of three hours each. The control line stunt judges stood out for three solid days and got nothing!
Honestly though it was a good Nats and anyone who missed the freeflight sessions on Saturday and Sunday evenings should be ashamed of themselves. Be there next year - why shouldn't you have bruises on the back of your neck like the rest of us?
Have you ever noticed how friendly empty cars are? No? Let me explain.
It is early Sunday morning and you are the first to arrive at your club field - or the contest site, it's optional. You get in a quick flight before anyone arrives - or take your transmitter to the pound. Back to the car and - what's this - another car is parked so close that you cannot open the door far enough to get in.
Now there is a whole airfield available and the other car could have been parked anywhere - but no - it's ridiculously close to yours.
There are several degrees of severity of this disease. At it's worst you can move your car away from the offender several times, only to have another perform the same trick. Don't be tempted to park in some unusual location in an attempt to foil them all, however. The usual result is that someone will park behind you and you cannot get out!
A variation occurs when you park in public car parks. Here someone will park so close to your vehicle that they cannot get out and they will then knock seven bells out of your paintwork while attempting to do so.
One way to drive people insane is to park diagonally in the corner so that they cannot reach your paintwork with their doors. They cannot understand what the hell you are doing!