Rechargeable glow starter with meter
and hexagonal head for loosening plugs.
Miniature Aircraft pitch guage,
the best one I've seen.
Screw and hexagonal drivers.
Ball link pliers.
Verniers, measure down to 0.1mm.
Ball link butterflies, a whole lot
better than using your fingers!
Brakleen, Simple Green and Blue
Of all the newbie emails I get, one of the most common questions asked is "What
support equipment do I need?". The truth is, you can get by with a bare
minimum, but you're much better off with a comprehensive list of tools to help
I'm going to outline all the support equipment I have and what I use it for.
I've split up the list into two sections. One for all the tools I keep in my
tool box that I take with me to the field, and one for all the tools that stay
at home in the helicopter room.
· Glow Starter: Without one of these
you're not going to go very far. My one has a meter on the end of it that allows
me to see if they plug has glow or not. It also has a hexagonal plug end so
that I can loosen the plug off a little if need be.
· Pitch Gauge: One of the essential
items is the pitch gauge which gives the angle of attack on the blades. It allows
you easily and fairly accurately set your helicopter up before you even fly
it. I've seen some shocking excuses for pitch gauges around and I believe that
the Miniature Aircraft one is one of the best I've seen.
· Hex driver set + allen keys: Helicopters
are mostly built using hex drive bolts to hold everything together. You're not
going to get far in helicopters without some hex drivers! I would recommend
getting some with 'rounded' heads so that you may get at bolt heads from an
· Phillips and flat head screw drivers:
I keep a small flat head screw driver
· Ball link pliers: You'll need a good
set of ball link pliers to remove and re-attach ball links to your machine.
· Adjustable crescent: Always handy
for holding onto nuts when undoing bolts.
· Socket set: I always carry a metric
socket set with me. The most popular size is 8mm which is used for glowplugs.
Also handy for doing field maintenance such as changing spindle shafts.
· Glowplugs: I always keep a good supply
of glowplugs on hand.
· Ball links: Have some of these handy
cause it's quite easy to fracture one if you're not careful and you don't want
it to ruin a day of flying just cause you don't have any links handy.
· Loctite products: I use a variety
of Loctite products include 609, 243, 262 and 510 (gasket sealant that I use
for sealing exhaust outlets).
· Superglue: I don't use this much,
but when I don't take it to the field, I end up needing it. Useful with planks
when you tear the rudder off doing a ground loop after a dodgy landing (so I've
· Araldite: Haven't needed to use this
much for helis at the field, but is useful for securing the o-ring dampener
kits in Vigors or expoxying the boom support ends. Used to good effect in planks
· Double sided tape: For holding down
your gyro. I've had a gyro come loose on me before, luckily I recovered from
it and resecured the gyro and I was away again.
· Cable ties: There's ALWAYS a use for
· Electrical tape: Some kind of electrical
tape for securing things down like receivers, batteries etc.
· Tri-Flow: Always useful for a bit
of emergency lubrication.
· Fuel tubing: I always keep some lengths
of fuel tubing in the toolbox for emergency use.
· Cutters and pliers: Some kind of cutters
and pliers are always handy as well for cutting cable ties, tape and fuel tube.
The pliers speak for themselves.
· Verniers: Absolutely essential for
measuring anything. Will measure down to tenths of a millimeter. One of the
best tools you can have.
· Ball link butterflies: Used for threading
ball links onto pushrods. Much better than trying to do it with your fingers!
· Fast Charger: I've got the Robbe Infinity
II charger for battery management (charge/discharge etc).
· 12 Volt battery: My 91 sized engines
can take a bit of convincing to crank over sometimes, this battery (an old one
out of my car) along with the Sullivan Hi-Torque starter does a good job of
persuading them into action.
· Sullivan Hi-Torque starter: I used
to use cheap wimpy starters until I got my first 91 engine which laughed at
the measly power of the cheapie starter. The Sullivan Hi-Torque soon showed
it who was boss.
· Misc hardware: Such as various bolts,
nuts, washers, screws etc. Inevitably you're going to lose some at the field.
· Cellphone: Good to have in case of
emergencies (ie calling a mate to tell him to bring a part to the field that
· Field Mat: I spread this out on the
ground before 'establishing' myself. This is so that I don't lose any nuts and
bolts or tools etc. Inevitably though, by the end of the funfly my stuff will
be about 3 or 4 meters away from where I started. I call this 'Funfly creep'.
· Hammer: You may laugh, but you try
getting bent mainshafts out of bearing blocks without one!
· Vice: Use one for pressing bearings
in and out of bearing housings.
· Ball link reamer: Loosen up your links
with one of these. Makes for a smoother control system.
· Dremel tool: At some stage you're
going to need to grind something up, the Dremel tool with the appropriate cutting/grinding
bits is just the ticket for this.
· Drill: Eventually, you're going to
need to drill something, a decent drill with various drill bits up to about
13-14mm will do the trick.
· Grease: Get some silicon grease for
lubing your head dampeners and some bearing grease for the thrust bearings in
the head of your heli. Helis with tail gearboxes (such as the CS) benefit from
some of this too.
· Fan puller: I found a neat little
mechanism made by JR for pulling CS fans off. Works great!
· Tooth brushes: Make great cleaning
tools as well as being great for sticking down carb throats to hold engine crankshafts
in place while you remove the fan.
· 12 volt battery charger: Because I
fly helis with 90 sized engines, I need a decent battery to crank them. In this
case I got an old battery out of my car for this purpose. I've got a great little
12V charger for keeping this battery in good shape.
· Stacks and stacks of ice cream containers:
Nothing is worse than pulling your machine down and having everything scattered
everywhere all over your bench. Organise the different bits in separate containers.
· Bra-kleen: I use this for cleaning
engines and such. Quickly removes grease and crap and dries very fast.
· Simple Green: Use this for soaking
objects to get them clean. It's not as powerful as I'd like, but it seems to
· Tonnes of re-usable nappies: I've
found the softness and ability to absorb lots of liquid lends itself directly
to helicopters. The smoothness of the fabric keeps their frames nice and smooth
(with no rashes :)). When you think about it, helis are not much different to
small babies. They both make a lot of noise, can't understand what they're saying,
require a lot of cleaning up after an 'accident', and both will give your wallet
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