|Sturdy Model Aircraft Stand|
Have you ever wondered why British modellers are content to kneel, (or even lie!), on cold wet grass when starting or working on a model? Have you never looked longingly at the pictures of American clubs, with their bespoke starting tables – no grubbing about in the mud for them! This is something that I’ve always had a profound dislike for, but a recent accident has left me totally unable to kneel, so some kind of elevated model stand has become somewhat of a priority
The trouble is, the flying fields I have had use of are either not permanent enough to warrant permanent fixed starting tables, or the location was such that the tables would be either vandalised, or stolen, whilst no-one was flying.
The other option was a portable stand that I could take to the field. The problem with this has, been finding one with all the qualities that I require:
For many years I’ve scoured the shows, rummaged in shops and pored over every magazine I could lay my hands on, both British and American, on the lookout for my ideal starting table. Every candidate though, has failed to meet at least some, if not all of my strict criteria.
On a recent visit to the Weston Park Show, I came upon a small stall selling what turned out to be the answer to my prayers.
The Great Mate is the perfect accessory for all those people who have problems with bending, their knees, or just hate kneeling on wet grass!
Of an all steel square tube construction, the Great Mate is finished overall in a “cub yellow” enamel, with selected parts having a pale gold anodised surface. It certainly appears much more capable of standing up to British weather, than some of the wood/MDF contraptions I have seen for sale. It even has a built in seat, so you can park your derriere whilst having a natter between flights.
The Great Mate is supplied fully assembled with no construction required. The manufacturer does recommend, however, that the plywood seat surface is given a coat of varnish before use, to protect against exhaust spatter and fuel spills. A goodly length of foam pipe lagging is even supplied, to pad the metal yokes and thus prevent damage to your plane.
The Great Mate resembles one of the popular DIY work benches in its fully closed state.
Set up is simplicity itself. Just release the neat locking catch, and swing the frame open from the bottom, until the locking pieces swing down into position. The front and rear model yokes are secured into the built in seat frame.
Just loosen the securing screws, (these are in the form of small black knobs – you don’t need any tools!) to remove them. Place them in the appropriate location at each end, and tighten the knobs to secure.
The yokes are adjustable to fit the size of model, again using easily adjustable thumb screws/ knobs. All that is then left to do is swing the built in seat (it also doubles as a handy place to plonk your flight-box) down, put some of the pipe lagging on the model yokes, and that’s it - done!
The Great Mate is shown, below, set up with my brother’s World Models Clipped Wing Cub. The Cub has quite a bulky fuselage, and as you can see, it handled it with ease.
For those of you with larger models, (like me!), wider T-bars are available as an optional extra which widen the yoke considerably, enabling those tubby fuses to fit between the uprights. There is also an extension piece available which moves the aft yoke rearwards for those longer models. Being no light-weight, those with a long walk to their fields may want to purchase the optional add on wheels, so you can just wheel it to the flight line. Even Heli fliers do not need to feel left out, as brackets are available which, when combined with a suitable piece of plywood, gives you a nice flat worktable.
In use, the Great Mate certainly lived up to my initial expectations, holding models of varying sizes securely whilst they were started or worked on. It was as solid as a rock, and very stable throughout – not a single wobble in evidence! And, of course, no need to kneel down.
The only gripe that I can think of, is that you do have to be a bit more careful with the cable on your starter (if you use one that is) as it is coming from behind and below the model – so watch out for that prop arc.
The Great Mate is not available in any model shops, and is only available direct from the manufacturer.
In retrospect, the Great Mate may not be the cheapest model stand available, but it is certainly the best I’ve ever used – BAR NONE!
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