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Hello from Andy Sephton

Andy Sephton

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Andy Sephton

I'm writing this one by way of an introduction.  This is my second year of membership of BARCS and it's about time I posted something.  I'm a life-long aeromodeller and have tried most disciplines, ending up mainly in Free Flight and RC Scale. However, after a brief diversion into thermal and slope soaring in the late seventies and early to mid eighties, I've decided to try it out again.  I have two F3-RES models ready to go, one F5-RES model, three 100S models (one of which is competitive) and an aerobatic sloper.  It's the latter area that I'm looking at at the moment as I'm adding a flapped Phase 6 to my stable.  I'll be asking for advice on that in a separate thread, so please don't hold back.

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Hi Andy, welcome to the forum. Good to have you here. This place is full of very helpful people with lots of experience in the various disciplines. 

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Hi Andy

Welcome to the forum. I can't help much with aerobatic sloping but if you want to use your 100" models the Mike Lucas series of 100" comps is still being run at Twywell (not too far from you) by Alan Morton subject, of course, to being the comps being coronad at the moment like everything else. Like all things launched by winch the numbers have reduced greatly in recent years but it still has an enthusiastic  following.

Alan runs a web site www.glassflight.co.uk and his E mail address is glassflight1@talktalk.net

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Andy Sephton

Hi Peter,

Thanks for that, but I tried it last year.  I entered a recently built old formula 100S (Cambrian Models Elan 100)* into the competition and came last behind eight Tracker 100.  I've managed to procure a similar model to the Tracker, but I can't help but feeling that 100S is dead in the water.  A conversation on the day went something like:

Me:   So how do I become competitive in 100S?

Answer: You need to get hold of a Tracker 100.

Me:  Where can I get one?

Answer:  you can't, they're unavailable … but I have two spare ones in the garage for when I break these....

Next conversation:

Me:  How much is a winch system?

Answer:  About £500.

Me:   OK, where do I get one?

Answer:  You can't, they're unavailable!

I have a good friend who will allow me to use his winch and a(supposedly) competitive 100S model, so as soon as I'm able, I'll be flying in the Mike Lucas … but I still can't help but thinking that 100S is dead.  So, being someone who votes with their feet rather than just winging about it, I've built two F3-RES models and am just about to start a second F5-RES machine.  The Ivinghoe Soaring Association are on board and will be hosting F3- and F5-RES competitions as soon as we are allowed to fly again.

F3-RES is a duration competition for 2m span models controlled by rudder, elevator and spoilers, built from predominantly wood and launched by bungee.  The cost of a model and launch system is far less than the (unavailable) winch in 100S, so it becomes more available to model flyers than the current 100S.

* I bought the Elan 100 about two years ago, Cambrian Models were selling the kit for £69.99; for me, an aeromodeller,  it was too good to miss.  As with F3-RES, it's a really good value introduction to Thermal Soaring. I believe we are really missing something by not promoting this type of model.  If we can get modellers interested in soaring via such cheap and simple models, then maybe some of them will progress to the really high performance stuff.


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Hi Andy

Your thinking on the demise of 100S comps is pretty acurate. The decline really started in the early 2000's, when winches came in, due to most flyers taking part, being of an age, where they were no longer able to tow models up by hand. This then, coincided with the "Tracker" model, being available and there being few if any moulded models of 100S spec, it came to dominate the class.

I was one of the people to promote the Mike Lucas series of comps( Mike Lucas left an amount of money to promote model flying) at the end of year series. To that end, I also put a kit that I produced called "Trilogy6", that quite few people flew at that time, as an incentive, to encorouge new blood into the hobby, via a lower cost option.  It became obvious, from about 2004/5, that unles you flew a Tracker, you would not be able to compete, on the same basis, as the Tracker would always out launch any  conventionally built model, due to it's greater strength that can withstand the loading on the wing. The same thing had happened in Open and F3j comps.

So I was to gravitate towards electric launched gliders, from 2007, which then had not been taken up by that many flyers, mainly due to lack of battery technology. These have now become the main side of glider flying and now with height limiters being used, to form the F5j class, has IMHO produced a class of competition that is a level playing field for all taking part and can be flown by those of virtually any age.


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Brian is quite correct that the imminent demise of 100" has be forecast for the last 10 years or more but it still lingers on with a group of enthusiasts. There is still a 100" class run at the Nationals and whilst the numbers may be small compared to years ago they are still larger than many other classes flown at the Nats.  Maybe the coronavirus will finish it off!

A winch only costs £500 if you want to buy a fancy new one from the German manufacturer. With the increase in electric launched models there are many up for sale second hand market, just put an advert in the wanted section of this web site if you want one.  Alternatively, as an ISA member, the club owns a winch and many members, including me, are happy to lend them out rather  than see them gathering dust.  Most winches meet the F3B specification which was also used for F3J  but when used on a lighter or weaker model the power can be simply pulsed on and off or the power can be easily reduced by adding resistors in the circuit. 

It should also be fairly easy to produce a light, cheap and low powered winch using lithium batteries which would be very suitable for F3-RES and would easier to use and more consistent than stretching out bits of rubber. Remember the Eynhallow Avionics winch produced by Nick Neve many years ago using an old type Mini starter motor? They are still around.

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Andy Sephton

Peter: Thanks for the comments.  It's interesting that you are suggesting that winches be used for F3-RES when it appears that they caused the demise of 100S.. The elegance of the F3-RES competition rules is that only bungees are acceptable for launch.  Competition organisers provide similar bungees at the contests so competitors can be assured of similar launch power.  The class has really taken off (pun intended) on the Continent and I believe it has a place in the UK competition schedule.  it would provide a cheap and cheerful introduction to thermal soaring that, under the current rules, is unlikely to be taken over by technology and purse size.

On the other hand, if you prefer electric launch, the F5-RES class is similar except that the launch is by on-board electric motor with height and time limiting devices fitted..

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It wasn't winches per se that cause the decline in 100". In fact they helped the class to continue as too many competitors grew older and were no longer able to hand tow. The problem was that the only power specification  for a winch that was around at the time was the FAI one for the F3B class and that was strong enough to pull the wings off Algebras and Eliminators.  A lower power specification was discussed but rejected because it was though that it would mean many pilots having the expense of two winches, one for 100" and one for Open/F3J.  The only moulded model made to the 100" specification that would stand such a strong tow was the Tracker so the class became virtually a 'one model'


BTW have you seen the posts above in Thermal and F3J regarding F3-RES?

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