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–and score a free subscription to The Hangar, our membership site with MAN archives, exclusive articles, and more.


Model Airplane News - RC Airplane News | 4 Simple Shop Tips

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.


Model Airplane News - RC Airplane News | 4 Simple Shop Tips

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.


Model Airplane News - RC Airplane News | 4 Simple Shop Tips

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.


Model Airplane News - RC Airplane News | 4 Simple Shop Tips

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..


  1. Bicycle spokes are not made from aluminum. Some spoke nipples are aluminum.

    1. Well actually some bicycle spokes are indeed made from aluminum. Unfortunately not all bicycle spokes are the same diameter and they don’t all share the same thread, making only some of them compatible with RC pushrod fittings. And least we forget that RC pushrods themselves come in differing Imperial and Metric diameters and threads. Bottom line, make sure you know the diameter and thread of the spoke you are intending to use as a pushrod because it isn’t always going to be compatible.

  2. My nipples are made from aluminum.

  3. Using those will also protect your servos during transport.

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