No-Cal Scale Plans by Michael A. Morrow

Lightplanes and Homebuilts
Unlimited Racers
Golden Age Racers
World's Smallest
Military Aircraft
Sport Racers
No-Cal Bearing Holders
No-Cal Stick-On Markings
Flying Aces club No-Cal Rules
Covering No-Cals - instructions
Covering No-Cals - Tips in Pics
Decorating No-Cals
Sanding Motor Tube Wood - A Photo Essay
Flight Trimming a No-Cal

No-Cal Plan Links - Click aircraft name for model



















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What's a No-Cal?
"No-Cal" is short for "No-Calorie", which is another way of describing "skinny", or profile models. The neat thing about No-Cals is that they provide great flight potential while still being recognizable as the real aircraft they represent.

My No-Cal Designs - Perfect for Flying Aces club contests!
My No-Cal Designs have ALL been flight-tested, and several are multiple contest winners. With the exception of novelty designs like the Flying Flea, Starr Bumble Bee, and XF5U-1 Flying Pancake, all are capable of at least 1 minute 30 second flights. If you've got a high ceiling flying site, many are capable of flights exceeding 3 minutes, and several designs consistantly exceed 4 minutes.
click picture for enlarged version
Scale outlines and dimensions have been maintained as much as possible for maximum recognizeability. There are no stretched noses, wing-sized stabilizers, or wings moved aft on these plans.

$3.50 and $4.00 Plans are one 11 x 17 sheet. Other plans are oversized. Each plan includes a detailed construction article written specifically for the plan. Each No-Cal order also includes the following:
o "Hints & Tips" page describing
- how to shrink, decorate, and apply Japanese tissue
- how to make rolled motor tubes
- how to make laminated parts
- how to make built-up (sheet blade 'can') props
o Flight-Trimming page to help the beginner with flight-trimming.

o and a page on
- using Spray-Mount Adhesive to cover No-Cals
- a simple laminated motorstick alternate to rolled motor tubes (for SMALLER No-Cal models only)
- a different method for making curved fuselage, wingtip, tail, and stabilizer outlines
No-Cal Accessories - Several products are available to make finishing and flying your No-Cals easier.

Bearing Holders - these little beauties make life sooooooo much easier!
Thrust-line adjustment is critical to properly flight-trim a No-Cal. With this in mind, three sizes of a simple aluminum bearing holder designed to be used with small nylon bearings are available. These bearing holders allow any necessary thrust adjustments to be made with just a small pair of needle-nose pliers. No more having to cut off, reposition, and reglue the bearing just to change the thrust alignment. The bearing holders also allow propellers to be changed without cutting the prop shaft by sliding the prop assembly/nylon bearing out, and installing a different assembly.
These things are GREAT! See them in the Flying Model Supplies section.

Stick-On Marking Sheets Marking Sheets are No Longer Available
The key to a great-looking No-Cal is cool markings - also the rules say ya gotta have all appropriate markings, soooooo I've tried to help out a bit. Color peel-off, stick-on marking sheets are available for each No-Cal.
Look for them in the Stick-on Markings


Why build No-Cals?
There are lots of advantages to building and flying No-Cals:
They are a great way to learn new building techniques. Don't know how to roll a motor tube? Try a couple! They don't have to be perfect, and the investment in time, materials, and money is minimal.
Don't know how to make a built-up prop? Try a couple! Try a dozen! Changing props is a great way to experiment and can produce big differences in flight performance.
Don't know how to make laminated outlines? There are really simple techniques which require no special (read expensive!) tools to master. No-Cals are an easy place to try out this great weight-saving, strength-increasing method of making outlines.
Have an odd aircraft configuration you want to try? Try it with a No-Cal first! You can work out all the balance, incidence, and flight trimming issues before expending a lot of time on a fully built-up model.

Q: Why use a motor tube instead of a motor stick?

A: If a model isn't built very very lightly, it will require larger rubber sizes to fly. With larger rubber sizes, using a motor stick allows the fuselage to twist under full rubber winds. This can make flight-trimming very difficult because the tail assembly starts off twisted relative to the fuselage. As the rubber torque decreases, the tail assembly untwists, changing the stabilizer and tail adjustments.

Motor tubes do not twist under rubber torque loads. This makes flight trimming MUCH simpler. One set of adjustments will work for both high and low-torque flight regimes.

Q: Why use a built-up prop instead of a plastic prop?

A: Using a plastic prop has the single most negative impact on flight performance for No-Cal Scale models. No-Cal scale models are very light by design. Even the smallest plastic prop will be a significant percentage of the model's total weight. In most cases, it is almost as easy for the rubber to turn the airplane (make it roll) as it is to turn a plastic prop. This makes it very difficult to trim the model for flight. If the model is trimmed so it will fly properly during the initial torque burst portion of the flight, it will probably go into a spiral dive when the high torque subsides. If the model isn't trimmed for the initial high torque, it will do a barrel roll into the ground.

Built-up props make up a MUCH smaller percentage of the model's weight. The rubber will find it easier to turn the prop than the model, so less adjustment will be required to control the initial torque burst, and the model's flight pattern will change less as the torque decreases.

Unless there is something fundamentally wrong with your No-Cal model (like warps, improper flying surface incidences, or an improper balance point), the mere act of switching from a plastic prop to a properly made built-up sheet prop will almost always DOUBLE your flight times! Take the time to build a couple. They make flying a lot more fun!

Q: If Your Club Requires Using a Plastic Prop . . .

A: If your local contest rules require the use of a plastic prop, some success has been achieved by using the little 4" diameter Peck-Polymers grey plastic prop. The small size of the prop limits the amount of torque fed back into the airframe, making trimming almost as easy as using a sheet balsa prop. I did a little random testing on nine of my smaller No-cals*, and changing out the built-up sheet balsa prop for the 4" Peck prop required removal of the clay nose balance weights to balance the models. Other than that, the resulting flight profiles were surprisingly docile, and flights of between 1 and 1.5 minutes were achieved for all the models tested.

Keep in mind that larger No-Cals will require a slightly larger prop. I tested the Wittman Bonzo model with a 6 inch Peck plastic prop with some success, although I'd recommend increasing the stabilizer size to improve longitudinal stability (dive recovery).

* (models tested with a 4" Peck prop included the P-39 Cobra II racer, Heinkel He-119, Piper Lance, Piper Skycycle, Osprey GP-4, Rand-Robinson KR-1, Makhonine Mak-123, and Mr. Smoothie racer).

Q: How do I cover a No-Cal?

A: Follow the directions below for covering that won't warp the model.

1) Shrink a piece of Japanese tissue. I do this by laying it out on a screen and completely soaking the tissue. I let the tissue shrink completely (no frame). It looks a wrinkled mess when done, but there is a reason.

2) Cut a piece of tissue out about 3/4 to 1 inch bigger all around than the structure to be covered.

3) Dry-iron the tissue flat. Be careful not to iron wrinkles into the tissue.

4) Tape the tissue over the plan and apply panel line and other line markings. In the past I used India Ink in Koh-i-noor drafting pens, which made very nice lines, but was tedious and required cleaning the pens. I now use PIGMA MICRON or Sakura MICROPERM fine point felt tip pens. They come in a variety of colors and tip sizes, and are easy to use. Other types also work fine.

Even if you start taping the tissue down as soon as you've ironed it, you'll notice that it gets loose (untight) quickly. Don't worry about it too much. Finish applying the panel line and color-demarcation lines anyway.

Don't forget to put register marks on the tissue to help align it with the structure during covering.

5) Untape the tissue from the plan and place it on the ironing board with the hot iron ready to go.

6) Apply adhesive to your finished, ready-to-cover structure. In the past I used either a UHU brand glue PEN (not a glue stick) or Scotch-brand Type 77 spray adhesive. I now use 3M GENERAL PURPOSE 45 spray adhesive - it's much less expensive. When the adhesive has been applied, put the structure as close to the ironing board as possible (preferably ON it), on a piece of paper to keep adhesive off the ironing board.

7) Turn the tissue upside down and iron it as flat as possible. You want to cook as much moisture out of the tissue as possible! I have found that heat boxes are almost completely in-effective for this purpose, because they don't change the humidity of the air, they just heat it up.

8) IMMEDIATELY take the structure, line it up with the register marks on the tissue, and press it onto the tissue. You want as little time as possible to go by between ironing the tissue and applying it to the structure. IT TAKES LESS THAN 15 SECONDS FOR THE TISSUE TO ABSORB ENOUGH MOISTURE RIGHT OUT OF THE AIR TO COMPLETELY NEGATE THE RESULTS OF IRONING!!! Do not pull the tissue tight!

9) Allow adhesive to dry completely.

10) Trim the excess tissue from the structure using a new razor blade. I disassemble disposable razors and use the blades. Be very careful. The blades are very sharp, and only 0.004 inches thick!

11) Use felt-tip pens to apply any needed color for your color scheme, then assemble the model.

Using the above covering method will result in a baggy-looking covering job, but it needs to be that way. ESPECIALLY if you want to keep the model in flyable condition (unwarped) for any length of time, or if you fly in an area where the humidity has wild swings. Around the Seattle area, one day the humidity will be 100% (rain), and the next it might be 10% (dry north wind). The tissue will absorb moisture on the rainy day, and the moisture will evaporate out on the dry day. One or more of these cycles, and you might as well have water-shrunk the tissue! Not the best for lightly-built, easily-warped No-Cals! However, if you follow the procedure above, your No-Cal will never warp.



Michael A. Morrow's AERO ACES - Doing Business since 1995 !
AERO ACES is a TRADEMARK of Michael A. Morrow.
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& Copyrighted by Michael A. Morrow