These are answers to questions that frequently come up.
Q. What is a 'short kit'?
A. A short kit is one that includes only those parts that need to be cut from a sheet of wood (balsa, bass and ply). It is one step up from a scratch build and reduces the build time a bit. The builder still has to supply all sticks, wire, and sheet necessary to finish the model. Some people prefer short kits so that they can hand pick the sticks and sheet wood they will use to finish the build. We do not supply build lists for the short kits. Some short kits will seem more complete than others, ie, they will have many more parts laser cut. That is up to the designer and how the plane is assembled. For example, a stick type fuselage takes a lot of extra wood, whereas a kit like Rob McKellar’s GeeBee Z has almost every part cut.
Q. I want a xxx with ailerons but you only offer one without. Can your kits be converted?
A. Yes. Many of our customers have converted a 3 channel plane (rudder/elevator/throttle) to 4 channel (aileron/rudder/elevator/throttle). I did that on my first build of a Peter Rake design, the WACO SRE. It does take a bit more modeling skill and time, but, is fairly easy to do. Most of the wing sizes allow a micro or nano servo to fit within the wing, or, links can be used for a central mounted servo.
Q. Can these kits be flown with gas/glow engines?
A. Short answer is No. But, the Peter Rake designs can be converted to fly with IC. The limiting factor will be the prop size as most glow engines will not swing a larger enough prop. It looks like a .09 diesel is the minimum for most of the WWI airplanes due to the round cowls. For the 54" SE-5A and SPAD XIII a .52 4 stroke or similar size diesel would work. Again, the forward fuselage would need some added strength to withstand the starting load and vibration. The conversion of Adrian Britton's PA-12 to an .06 PAW diesel was so successful that we will start working up new firewalls for his three civil deisgns and will advertise their ability to use 1/2A engines. We will look at other designs for conversion as well.
Q. What about the details, such as pilots and machine guns for detailing your kits. Are they included?
A. No. The detailing of WWI planes especially is a personal choice. I tend to be a 'minimalist' making my MG's out of a piece of dowel and a block of balsa. Others will make small handles, and other small details. So, we leave all the detail, including rigging, up to the builder. All of Peter's 1/9 scale WWI biplanes (36" span) and the SRE can fly without rigging. The 1/6 scale planes should have functional rigging.
Q. Can I paint Doculam?
A. Yes, in fact, Doculam is clear and requires painting. I have had the best luck with latex acrylic house paint bought at the local hardware store (any brand). Prepare the surface by wiping with vinegar (any type). Then clean with alcohol (rubbing or denatured) and paint. You can thin and paint with an airbrush (recommended) or with a brush. Make the first coat very thin and let dry thoroughly (24 hours). Then paint cover coats. If you want to apply graphics or mask areas let dry for at least 48 hours.
Q. Does Doculam require an adhesive?
A. No. Doculam has an adhesive on it and also has no backing to peel off. It is as easy to use as any other standard covering material. It does use a medium heat setting.
Q. What file format can I use to send for cutting?
A. CorelDraw will import just about any vector based drawing file. CAD files should be .dxf as that seems to solve most conversion problems. Splines, beziers, and other complex curves are not translated well and should be avoided. Also, using groups or blocks in your CAD drawings can confuse the laser. If any question about compatibility send us a sample and we'll see how well it converts.
Q. I have a plan of a xxx. Can you cut parts for me?
A. Normally we cannot due to the time involved. Send an email with a picture of the plans and we can determine if it is a job we can do. The conversion is not a simple one and will be quite costly, a minimum of around $100 and can be as much as $500 just for converting the files for cutting. Parts would cost extra. If we decide to do a job we require permission from the author or copyright holder to do cutting.
Q. The xxx kit lists a Speed400 for power. What kid of brushless motor can I use?
A. First, unless you use an inrunner with a gearbox you will need to modify the motor mount. It is simple to do, but, the alternate mount is not included in the kits. Second, brushless motor nomenclature is confusing at best. A good replacement for the Speed400 is the EFlite Park 400. There are so many others to choose from that a complete list is not feasible in this space. A typical Speed 400 would put out about 90W, so any brushless motor of that size would work. Be aware that many WWI planes have larger cowls so a large prop is needed to clear them. Typical on the sp400 size planes would be a 9" or 10" prop. You can find a replacement for the Speed300 or Speed600 in the same way.