The Essential Goodies
Once you have bought your aircraft, engine and radio, there are all sorts of other goodies you can buy. Some you will need right away and some you can wait a bit until you get over the cost of the initial setup.
If you have a glow engine you will need a glow driver. As the name suggests it gives the glow plug the initial glow until the engines is running. Power panels are the most common way of doing this. They are powered off a 12v battery (Gel Cell or Car/Bike battery) They will also power your starter motor and your fuel pump. If you can't afford a power panel you can get LARGE 1.5v batteries that last a while, or what is called a 'hot stick'. This is a battery and glow plug connector all in one. They are very handy but do not last too long before you have to recharge them.
Glow Plug Connector
You will need a glow plug connector. This goes between your power source and the top of your glow plug
This can be any container that holds at least one litre. Any less and you won't be having many flights. A metal can or thick plastic bottle is ideal. If you are not getting a fuel pump you will need a 'squeeze bottle' so you can fill the fuel tank in the aircraft.
You don't HAVE to have one of these but it makes life a lot easier. There are two types, manual and electrical. If you don't buy a pump at least get a 'Squeeze Bottle' so you can fill the tank in your aircraft. The pumps do not come with plastic tubing so you will also need at least a metre or so.
A must to top up your batteries at the field. Make sure you buy a charger that will charge a variety of batteries including lithium batteries. Ensure the charge will run off 12v so you can use it at the flying field. It is also handy to have a 12v mains power supply for it so you can easily use it at home.
Many people do not class this as an essential but I think it is. With a battery checker you can check the state of the batteries in your aircraft. They put on the correct amount of load to give an accurate status of your batteries. You don't need one for your transmitter as they are built in. If you are fiddling around with your model on the ground for a while or have had a few flights you never know what state your batteries are in. It its very reassuring to know that your batteries still have enough power in them to continue operating the model. It's up to you... you can always borrow one off someone at the flying field for a while.
This is to remove or tighten your glow plug. You do'nt have to have the flash job from the hobby shop, and simple cheap 8mm socket and T wrench will do the job.
Good Hat, Sunglasses & Sunscreen
It's imperative that you get yourself a good hat and a decent pair of sunglasses. With aero modelling you are always out in the open looking up at the big bright sky, and you can get seriously burnt. Most people carry a small tube/bottle of sunscreen in their flight box. Overcast days can be worse then bright sunny days.
Many trainers and sports models have their wings held on with rubber bands. The bands that come in many of the kits are a bit loose and when you double them over they seem very tight. Get yourself a packet of No.64 rubber bands from your local stationer, they fit most models that you will come across. After you have bought them make a hole in the packet and chuck in a good dose of talk powder or baby powder, it will stop them going dry and they will last for years.
Nice To Have Goodies
Some people see a starter as an essential item but you don't HAVE to have it. Old school modellers flick their engines by hand, safe modellers use a starter. You don't have to have a starter motor to be safe, you can always use a 'Chicken Stick', this is a piece of dowel or something similar that you can use to flick the motor over with. As glow plug engines always have the glow running they quite often backfire, if your fingers are anywhere near the prop and you get wacked it hurts like hell. Be careful using a starter motor, if the motor has a piston full of fuel it will hydraulic and the starter motor can snap the conrod or do other damage. Constant pushing against the front bearings doesn't help them either. Having said that... almost everybody uses them.
It's handy to have a spare prop in your box of goodies. When you are learning it is easy to nose the model over and you can break you prop. It's a real pain if you have to pack up just because you broke a prop.
Spare Glow Plug
Glow plugs are funny things, they can last for years or seconds. A blown plug is a common occurrence and it is handy to have a spare in your box.
Super Glue/Epoxy Glue
It's always a good plan to have a little bottle of super glue (Cyanoacrylate, commonly called Cyno) or 5 minute epoxy in your flight box. Things are always coming loose or falling off models and more often than not a drop of glue saves the day. Cyno goes hard in the bottle if left in the sun so keep any eye on it. Keeping it in the fridge will make it last for ages. Do not use Cyno on foam models, it eats the foam. You can buy foam safe Cyno.
Tuning your motor for maximum revs with a taco can be handy bit is a real luxury. Leave this for later.
It's a good idea to keep your transmitter in some sort of case. It stops it getting knocked around during transportation and keeps the sun and dust off it. The simple cases you get from discount stores are quite sufficient
Contributed by Brian Carson - SMF Senior Instructor (Note from Bob Cottle - Webmaster)