Rekindle Memories Of That Old Favourite!


Buying & Restoring Old Aircraft
By Steve Broughton

Each year, a large majority of seasoned modellers visit model 'swap meets', looking for that elusive bargain, or in most cases now………we have turned to the likes of E-Bay. Whilst there are some genuine bargains out there, around 60% of the second-hand market is full of tat… or is it?

If you look carefully enough, and with a bit of TLC that tatty looking 80's sports model you see on the vendor's table in front of you, might make a great 'hack', or if done up, it could make a tidy profit!

With power models, such things as crash damage, warps and poor fuel-proofing are the main things to look for. Never be afraid to strip the old covering, as this will reveal how well the model was made, whether any damaged or stressed areas of the airframe need replacing. With gliders, fuel usually isn't an issue!

All wooden models seem to take the stresses of flight well, as do most modern composite aircraft. Things such as wing bolt locations, tail plane seating and radio trays, are the things to check for, as well as stress / damage to the main fuselage.

In October 2005, I won a job-lot of models on E-Bay for £30, comprising of:-

6 Glider fuselages.
1 I/C trainer fuselage.
10 Sets of glider wings.

Out of that lot, only two gliders were in any fit state. The rest of the stuff was broken up, and binned.

One of the gliders salvaged, was an EMP Apex (pictured left), this is how it looked the day after I got it.

The general condition of the fuselage was OK, although the model had been stored in a smoker's room or something, as the ABS plastic fuz was heavily stained with nicotine! Various attempts were made at cleaning it off with every commercially available solvent or cleaner.

In the end, the only thing that worked in removing the staining as Cellulose Thinners.
(Try this first on a test piece as cellulose thinners can attack some plastics. Ed)

The photo below shows the extent of the staining, the lighter area showing where the cleaning has taken place.

Once the fuselage had been renovated, attention turned to the tail plane and wings. A new tail plane needed to be made as the original was too badly warped, but the original elevator was reused.

The wings were perfectly OK…and were not touched, apart from having the faded covering removed from the upper surfaces of the wings.

As can be seen in the first photo, the rudder was missing. So by purely guessing sizes, a new one was made.

Once everything was done, the model's wings and tail were covered in Pearl Purple ToughLon, whilst the underside of the wings retained the original Orange Solarfilm that it came with.

A suitable canopy was sourced from my friends at Vortex Vacforms, and was an almost a perfect fit! The end result can be seen below……….a near pristine model, dating from the 1980's………that looks almost like new.

The model was sold soon after this photo was taken. A fellow member of "FS" leant to fly on one of these gliders, so seeing another one bought back nostalgic memories for him.

So take it from me, not only can restoring old models be fun and educational, but you can also enlighten someone's life, by reminding them of something from their past.

Money can be made from restorations too, but it's more than that; it's the pleasure of seeing an old dilapidated airframe restored to its former glory.

So don't be afraid. Go On, have a go yourself, you'll enjoy it!