Sketchbook - Model Building Tips
September 1954 Air Trails Hobbies for Young Men

September 1954 Air Trails
September 1954 Air Trails Cover - Airplanes and RocketsTable of Contents

These pages from vintage modeling magazines like American Aircraft Modeler, American Modeler, Air Trails, Flying Aces, Flying Models, Model Airplane News, & Young Men captured the era. I will be glad to scan articles for you. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

These building and finishing tips might be 60 years old, but every one of them is still useful and applicable to today's model aircraft builder. There are still a lot of guys who do the Silkspan and or tissue and dope covering method that are looking for advice since there are rarely others around anymore who are familiar with the techniques. The idea of pre-coloring trim before applying tissue is something I'd like to try sometime ... if I can remember to do it. 


Sketchbook - Model Building Tips, September 1954 Air Trails - Airplanes and Rockets

Have you developed something new in construction, control, or flying? Send a rough sketch - we'll redraw it and pay $5 for each accepted. Contributions should be original ideas; sorry, we cannot enter into any correspondence on submissions.



Fire hazard of fuse-type dethermalizer - Airplanes and Rockets

Fire hazard of fuse-type dethermalizer is reduced by wire stem to hold burning fuse after dethermalizer trips - By Ira Deutsch, Woodbridge, New Jersey.



Tungsten alloy as material for flush-mounted propeller counterweight - Airplanes and Rockets

Jim Cahill, Albuquerque, New Mexico, former Wakefield champ, suggests tungsten alloy as material for flush-mounted propeller counterweight. Weight permits forward wing location and smaller tail.



Felt-point marking pen is ideal pattern tracing - Airplanes and Rockets

A felt-point marking pen is ideal pattern tracing tool says John Frankosky, New Albany, Pennsylvania. Duplicate parts are easily made. 

 Exposed edges are color-doped - Airplanes and Rockets

"Color trim" without masking is the idea of Carl Barnes, Columbia City, Indiana. Exposed edges are color-doped before covering - Clear dope on covering bleeds color through for trim.



Brilliant trim, numerals ,emblems for model decoration may - Airplanes and Rockets

Brilliant trim, numerals ,emblems for model decoration may be cut from aluminum foil reports Bill Weise, Tipton, Kansas.



Jar serves as convenient break-in engine tank-mount - Airplanes and Rockets

Mayonnaise or large size dope jar serves as convenient break-in engine tank-mount. Unit is conveniently hand-held says Scott Prindle, Chicago, Illinois.



Tricycle gear for payload models - Airplanes and Rockets

Variation of tricycle gear for payload models improves take-offs & landings. From Carl Schroder, Kansas City, Missouri.


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Back when the Sketchbook, Gadgetry, Powerless Pointers, and Engine Info columns were run, there were very few pre-built models, and there simply was not as much available in the way of hardware and specialized modeling tools. We were still a nation of designers and builders. The workforce was full of people who worked on production lines, built houses and buildings with hand tools, and did not have distractions like Nintendos and X-Boxes. Remember that plastics were not common material until the early 50s and the transistor wasn't invented until late 47. Enjoy the tips. Some of you will no doubt wax nostalgic over the methods, since you can remember the days when you did the exact same thing!



Posted December 27, 2014