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4 Simple Shop Tips

4 Simple Shop Tips

Simple tricks are the best, don’t you think? These tips may not change your life, but they will make your time in the shop easier and more enjoyable. Have your own tip you’d like to share? Send it to MAN@airage.com and you could be featured in the magazine!


Have you ever noticed the slick surface on a new covering iron after you first pull it out of the box? The iron seems to float on top of the plastic covering, giving you a beautiful finish. However, after time goes by and the iron gets a little older, the smooth Teflon feel on the surface just goes away. Here is a simple way to rejuvenate that old iron. When the iron is cool, add a little baby powder to the surface and rub it in with your fingers. This will give the contact area a new surface that will glide much more easily over your covering. You can reapply powder as needed to keep the iron gliding smooth.


I always have a problem with getting the socket-head bolts into those hard-to-reach spaces. Even though the socket-head bolts do hold on better than a Philips or screwdriver head, they tend to let the bolt fall off just before you can get it started. That’s where this trick is really going to save your day! Add a little piece of paper towel to the end of the ball driver and press it into the socket head of the bolt. You will find that this holds better than a magnetic head driver.


Bicycle spokes have the same thread size as a standard-size airplane pushrod, which means you can have 25 to 50 pushrods from an old bicycle wheel. First remove the tire and inner rim tape to get to the spokes. Now just cut the spoke near the center hub and slide it out. Cut it to length when needed. Many of the newer spokes are made of aluminum and are very light.


When setting up the aileron linkage, it is helpful to have a third hand holding the aileron in the center position. The next best thing is to make this simple alignment jig out of a clothespin and two pieces of balsa. Just put the two pieces of balsa above and below the aileron centered on the gap between the aileron and wing trailing edge. Attach the clothespin to hold the aileron in place. The soft balsa will help prevent the clothespin from marking the surface. Just be sure to remove it before operating the servo when testing the throws..

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Updated: March 2, 2017 — 10:47 AM


Add a Comment
  1. Thanks for those tips…really helpful. But I have another problem with socket-head bolts , particularly those small tiny ones ..like those in wheel collars …
    allen keys just not able to turn them off after sometime…how do one get the wheels out to change them huh? Any tips ?

    1. Raja, try using heat before turning screw. Hold soldering iron on wheel collar for around 15 to 30 seconds, you should be able to turn screw then.

    2. Most of the time, the issue isn’t the screw. It’s the driver. If you pick up a good hex driver from the hobby shop (Usually $8-$20 depending on how nice of one you want), they’ll work much better. And no more hurting yourself on the hex key.

    3. use a pair of channel locks or vise grips

    4. It’s not good on a wheel or tire, but if you have to get it off without cutting the axle, then heat the wheel collar up with a propane torch or a very hot iron. It will expand the metal, which will help break up the crud (including thread locker) that’s holding it tight. If you can get some kind of a heat sink between the collar and the wheel, you might save the plastic wheel from melting.

      Good luck!

    5. Usually it’s the Allen wrench that’s the culprit those small get rounded over pretty easy. Just take your Dremel with a cut off wheel and cut the end back till you get a good end again.

    6. Rather than a small allen screw, put a small socked head bolt to hold the wheel collar in place. That uses a larger size allen wrench and will not strip out.

    7. You can even try With a torx if the allen key wont work coz of the torx (if you use the right size) will grab deeper inside the corners of the allen screw and usually wont slip..

  2. Use a tiny amount of copper slip compound or wheel bearing grease
    Clean of the excess with a paper towel

    1. To repair damaged cowls or other fiberglass parts, I round out the damaged area and then put cardboard (from a cereal box for example) behind the hole and draw the shape. I then cut it out to fit the hole. Then I put another piece of cardboard behing the hole that is cut oversize and use ca to glue it in place. Then I use ca to glue the first piece into the hole over the backup piece. I coat the inside and outside pieces with ca and then use JB Weld to fill in any gaps. After curing, simply sand off the exess and you are ready to repaint whatever it is. On contoured, complex parts, wetting the cardborad will let you conform to any shape. The ca still works even with the wet cardboard. The two pieces together are just as tough as the original material.

  3. I thought baby powder is known to cause cancer and now you want to heat it up and breath in the vapors?

    1. really,no body said breath the vapors, but if you want you can buy yourself a respirator or maybe even a Scott air pack, or better yet, just buy a new iron.

  4. I just use a little CA to glue the screw to the allen wrench. I breaks off easily once the screw is right.

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