Since the snow will be
falling very soon, many AMA members may not be flying for quite some time.
For those who donít intend to fly on skis, the following suggestions may
help to preserve your model over the winter months and allow you to get back
in operation quickly when the snow disappears next season.
Be sure to give the entire aircraft a thorough cleaning to remove all traces
of exhaust residue. Check the covering to be sure that fuel is not creeping
under the seams around the firewall and areas around the exhaust outlet,
soaking the balsa. If so, make the repairs during the off season while you
have some extra time. Check the fuselage and flying surfaces closely for
cracks or other damage. Check the servo arms, control horns, clevises,
pushrods, and/or control cables for excessive wear or damage.
The aircraft can be
stored indoors or outdoors in the garage; the constant cold temperatures can
be tough on batteries, but otherwise donít seem to cause any problems. The
only problem that could occur would be if you stored it in, for example, a
workshop that is heated occasionally and then allowed to cool down after
use. This could result in damage to the engine because of condensation and
probably to the balsa or covering material from temperature changes.
If you store the airplane on a wall, it should not be supported on the nose
because this could damage the engine bearings. Support it by the tail
structure or similar means. If the wing is removed, do not stand it on end.
Support it similar to the way it is normally mounted on the fuselage. Do not
leave the weight of the airplane resting on the tires if you donít store it
The major concern regarding engine storage is to remove all the glow fuel
from the inside of the crankcase and cylinder to prevent rust formation on
the bearings, crankshaft, etc. The best advice is to remove the engine from
the airplane, remove the glow plug and backplate, and flush the inside out
with a solvent such as kerosene.
While the backplate is off, check it over for signs of rust, bearing
failure, etc. After cleaning, generously oil the bearings and the cylinder
with lubricant such as one of the after-run oils or Marvel Mystery Oil.
After it is well oiled, reinstall the backplate and plug and place it in a
sealed plastic bag along with the mounting hardware until next season.
If you decide not to remove the engine, at least remove the glow plug, pour
some oil into the carburetor, and spin the engine over clockwise to
distribute the oil through the bearings. Add some oil through the glow plug
hole, turn the engine over slowly a few more times and reinstall the glow
plug. Remove the propeller if it is made of wood. Put a plastic bag over the
engine to keep dust and dirt out.
Ideally you should cycle the transmitter and receiver batteries and record
their capacity for reference next season. It is best to leave them on a
trickle charger to maintain a charge during the off season. If this is not
practical, try to charge them at least every one to two months. When ready
to fly again next spring, cycle the batteries first to be sure they have
Donít forget to check over the servo wiring and connectors. If there is any
sign of corrosion on the connectors, then get them replaced. Also check the
output shaft for looseness.
Check the receiver
antenna for damage. If there are any doubts, get it fixed or replaced.
Extend the transmitter antenna and clean it with alcohol. Collapse the
antenna and repeat the cleaning several times. (There are contact fingers
inside each antenna section that may become coated with oil, preventing the
proper contact between sections, greatly reducing the transmitting range.)
If you have fuel left, be sure it is capped tightly and store it in a cool
place out of sunlight. Some recommend against storing fuel in very cold
temperatures, but I have not had any problems doing this in the past.
If you have an electric starter hookup, remove the 12-volt lead acid
battery, clean the terminals and check the electrolyte level. Add water if
necessary. This battery must be charged if stored outdoors during the
winter. A monthly charging will keep the battery from freezing and also
extend its life.
If you have a handful of used rubber bands as I do, throw them out and plan
to buy a new box next season. This would be a good time to check your supply
of spare glow plugs, propellers, etc., and make up a parts list to replace
those used during the summer. If, during your inspection, you run into
problems or there is something you are not sure about, call another club
member for some advice or suggestions. Make the repairs during the winter
and save the warm weather for flying!