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Hobby101: Workbench Tips

There are many things I wish I had known earlier in the hobby. The things that the old hands know and if you’re lucky they share with you; workbench tips is one those things I wish I knew.

Handy Tips

Grub screws

It is easy to strip a grub screw if you’re not careful. Those little allen keys can slip and round off both surfaces. Firstly, make sure you’re using a good quality solid allen keys as they soft ones, especially on the small keys, will strip it out in a heartbeat. Keep handy a set of imperial and metric keys because sometime you’ll find the hex hole can be over or undersized. Between you’re metric and imperial set you’ll be able to find a really good fit. If you need a little more you can wrap all foil around then allen key.

If the grub screw is glued in then it can be a real pest to remove. If you feel that its glued stop as you won’t get it out and you’ll damage the head and strip if off. Glues generally fail once the temperature rises beyond the specified working range and we’ll exploit this to loosen the grub screw. You will need a sacrificial Allen key for each size of grub screw that you intend to remove.

Simply heat the Allen key until red hot and quickly insert into the grub screw. The heat will destroy the glue and by using a little pressure the grub screw will start to loosen. In fact, this method works for screws too.

If you have tried everything and you still cannot get it out try some brake fluid as this will wick into the thread. Your last resort is a left-hand drill bit. Try this slowly and with any luck the drill grabs and starts to back out the screw. With a larger grub screw or even a bolt, there are purpose-built tools for exactly this.

Don’t forget to run a tap through the hole after you get the bolt out as they may be scoring and damaged threads. The tap will clean this up quickly.

Squeaky Wheels

If you have squeaky wheels on a model airplane don’t be tempted to use oil. This is a rookie mistake as it collects dirt and debris which leads to rapid wear. The solution is graphite grease which is not exactly a grease but rather powdered graphite. This does not collect dirt and is perfect for other jobs where there is a high likely hood that dust and dirt may come into contact with the lubricant.

Rusted Bolts and Tools

If you ever have ever come across a rusted bolt that you need to free off yet it’s firmly rusted in place there is hope. Heating the nut to red hot will do the job. After you have got the piece up to red allow the metal to lose the red glow and whilst still hot start trying to shift the nut and you’ll see how easy to come undone.

The same process can be used for tools that have rusted up. Next time to come across cheap tools at an auction that is rusted, just remember that these can be made good again and quickly. A little heat and a wire wheel will bring these back to a youthful lustre.

I’ve got a good collection of tools that I’ve found over the years. They are never like they were when new but they are still quite serviceable and they will likely outlive me.

Painting Scenery

Painting a model scenery can be expensive, if you’re using those little paint pots, however, there is another way. Most hardware stores can colour match paint so don’t be afraid they don’t judge, much. If you take in a dried sample of the Tamiya paint they will be able to match it for you. It might not be perfect but it will be close and since you’re painting scenery it won’t matter. Also, check the paint seconds area if they have one. Lots of paint gets mixed wrong and it will be sold for next to nothing. It will be on a heavy discount so be sure to check there.

I’ve even taken whole models into the hardware store and asked for a colour match. They have water based acrylics sample posts and will be only too happy to make that up for you. If you happen to know the Pantone they can do this for you too.

Storing Internal Combustion Engines

Engines can cease up if not in use for prolonged periods so it’s important that they are lubricated before being put away. Over time the piston rings can rust on to the cylinder wall of the engine. This results in permanent damage that cannot easily be fixed. Generally, the piston has to be freed from the cylinder before replacing the cylinder, rings and possibly pistons. Oil can also gum up and cause issues it almost impossible to get going again.

Simply add a little some transmission oil into the carburettor and ensure that it makes its way around the internals of the engine. This provides a great protective film for long term storage. Every 12 months or so add a little more transmission oil and turn the motor over so that the internals receive another coat. Fuel is pretty hard on plastics and tubing so be sure to remove any fuel from the tank at the end of the season and before a new season be sure to check the tubes as these can become quite stiff over time. This means the clunk will not move around and pick up resulting in a dead stick. There is no need to remove the oil before and you can top up the fuel and get started right away.

Reuse – Recycle

I hate throwing things out much to the chagrin of my very understanding wife. I’m always on the lookout for bits and pieces that I can give a second lease on life, or tuck away in the garage for years until I actually may never need it. Auctions are great places to find things but be warned you will walk away with garage shelves fillers.

I like keeping as may packaging plastic containers and tubs as possible. They are great for mixing things in that can be disposed of right away. Things like Araldite, paint, putty, cleaning parts are all perfect, and nor are there clean up or costs. Glass jars come in very handy for all sorts of things. The lids can be fixed to the underneath of a shelf and the glass jars screwed in. This leaves the bottom shelf totally clear. Never pass up extra shelf space.

Paint Trays

Paint trays are almost always considered single use but they don’t need to be. Cover the tray in alfoil and you can reuse those over and over again. Even if you have an old tray it can be reused with this method as they paint and solvent will not come into contact with the old paint.

If you intend to take a break from painting for lunch cover your roller in cling wrap to stop the roller drying out. You can even come back the next day and take the wrap off and begin painting again.

Free Plywood

Pallets are an excellent source of plywood that goes to landfill if not reused. Plywood is expensive if you want to buy it so keep an eye out. If you plan a project in advance and ask around your friends, family and foes, it is surprising how much you can get for nothing.

Power Supplies

Computers have high output power supplies that are perfect for high-end chargers. If you drop past your IT department at work I bet you can snare one for nothing. There are lots of things chucked aware that we can reuse. If you wanted to buy an equivalent power supply you would be handing over a fair amount of cash.

Nail Polish – Poor man’s loctite

If you need a lock nut but don’t have one handy your better half might have an old bottle of nail polish handy. A little but applies to a thread works wonder in a bind. Lock nuts are the forgotten friend of RC pilots. Our little planes or multirotors vibrate like crazy which can loosen nuts and bolts without notice. If you can, fit lock nuts because there is very little chance that it’s coming undone. Loctite is also fairly handy and will save you from losing an aircraft.


 

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