Category Archives: RC

What the People want:

So, for example, here’s what brought people to my blog yesterday:
More editing tomorrow.

— Information pointed to from here:
mosquito bomb aimers position 23
boeing 707 gray 2
hobby store bay area 2
dh mosquito

— Information here for airplanes and other subjects for modelling:
mosquito bomb aimers position 23

— Information here for paint and finishing:
boeing 707 gray 2
how to sand down excess plastic modeling 2
how to thin model master acryl paint 2
remove decals to model aircraft 1
tamiya paint sets 1spraying with water based paint 1
water based paint diluters

— Information here about Bay Area hobby shops
hobby store bay area 2
san francisco rc plane shop 1

“wwii” and “model kit” and “kids” 2
“air international” magazine index 1

dh mosquito cockpit door 1
grumman f7f tigercat/cabin view 1
radio shack electric motor rf-500tb-182 1
thinning water based paint for spraying 1
tamiya acrylic remover 1
dh mosquito 1
model paint stripping 1
and dilute acrylic paints for models 1-20 y 1
boac mosquito 1
removing future floor wax 1

I— nformation *not yet*here
italeri c 27 1/72 2
spray paint for pots and pans 1
système de trim wheel en cockpit 1
misquito twin engine bomber three view 1
revell constellation lufthansa blue tamiya colours 1
cockpit/grumman tigercat/images 2

Families of references for the model builder

I’ve started working on my index of Air International again, but on reflection it occurs to me that a simple list of all the potential reference sources and how to start reeling them in on the internet would be of value, so here’s a beginning,  and yes, I’ll list more of Volume 18 of Air Internatonal!

Which Dewey Decimal and/or Library of Congress filing sections this stuff goes in is a separate matter, and there’s also on-line stuff but here’s a start on books, maybe magazines after this: I’ll put in examples after I get the listings going.

ARCO- ARCO did several different series:

ArcoAircam small, paper-bound volumes of color and black-and-white profiles by artists like Richard Ward

– larger, soft and hard-bound books on a single subject, mostly pix and text – Boeing 707, Lockheed Constellation, P-51, B-58, etc.

Aero series A numbered series of soft-bound books on particular subjects

Colors and Markings – Squadron or Kinzey started this series, they’re a bit too exhaustive for me. One I remember specifically was the volume for F-106s. I like F-106s, and I’d be interested in what I construe their “Colors and Markings” to be. In actual fact, the book contained a clear, black and white, photograph of the squadron markings (and variations) for every squadron that operated the F-106, with some of the test, NASA, etc airframes thrown in too. No color at all, just the names of the colors. (Well, F-106 were almost always Air Defense Command glossy gray…) Still, I was hoping for something like the Arco-Aircam profile books, lots of color illustrations, and sadly disappointed. On the other hand, if you have a squadron number and want to see the markings they used on a particular kind of airplane, this would be golden.

Aerofax -A magazine that morphed into paperback books and now covers a wide range. Very scholarly, dry, text, lots of official technical manual drawings and photos. Mostly black and white, a page or four of color and a color cover. Very reliable, thorough, but a little bloodless.

Aero Detail – Japanese productions with photographs of museum examples, contemporary technical drawings, color profies. Some English text, some in Japanese, photo captions are in both. Scott Hards of Hobby Link Japan serves as translator for this range and does a good job. Pictures are from a variety of airframes if there ARE a variety available. These books are the beyond-the-ropes tour you wish you could get….

Aircraft in Profile, Armor in Profile, AFV in Profile, Classic Cars in Profile, Cars in Profile, Warships in Profile, Locomotives in Profile, Small Arms in Profile. – the melting pot of British amateur enthusiasts. Texts can be quite good to pretty poor- I don’t really believe that the P-51 (aka A-36) made no progress in the USA until a bribe was paid by North American to someone, but the photos and color art are always fun. The sun WAS setting on the British Empire while these were being written and the result is a lot more pre-1939 British content than any objective analysis would warrant, but what of that? So there are more between-wars RAF bi-planes than total USSR subjects… even with 260 titles published this was a work of love and devotion, not really a scholarly enterprise. Its all from the heart, and they DO have some airliners and the odd civil subject.

The automotive series are even more oddly focused, or un-focused, but there are some interesting topics, even if the mix is strange. The Ferrari 330 P3/P4 and Porsche 917 are well served, in the more modern series, and a lot of the “Classic” cars at Pebble Beach and so forth can be found.

The Armor series seems to have been aimed at classic WWII subjects, the AFV series was a re-take with something improved, but I’m not clear what. Photos tend to be the official record photo from the proving grounds, the text is too short for all of a general overview, operational history and placing the design and use in context. I never found the text particularly usable, or the range of markings in art and photo worth keeping for reference.

In Detail & Scale – Bert Kinzey’s very impressive if slightly stiff series of books on US subjects (Note ampersand in title). The model kit reviews are sometimes singularly humorless, but the quality of the photographs Mr. Kinzey and his authors turn up is VERY good.

Naval Fighters – Steve Ginter’s slightly less formal take on US Navy subjects, with more photos but messier layouts, plenty of manual pages reproduced, lots of informal photos.

Air Force Legends – Ginter Books stretched out to cover USAF subjects, particularly the unusual and underserverd B-51s and F 103s, etc.

Aeroguide With large, clear, black and white photos of modern RAF/RN subjects, this can be thought of as a condensed version of Detail and Scale without the extensive internal detail or text. One or two pages of black and white profile drawings, a good photo or two of the ejection seat, the rest is a walk around.

Aeroguide Classics

Aerofax Extra

Aerofax Minigraph

Air Age Publishing

Aircraft Monograph

Arco Aircam


Airliner Tech

Warbird Tech

Air Racer Tech

A J Press

Apogee Books

Windsock International

Aircraft Archive

Ballentine History Of A Violent Century – WWI and WWII battles, armies, weapons, commanders. Very high contrast photo reproduction mixed in the text, generally good text, no color. Trade-paper size, inexpensive, mass-market books from specialist authors.

Berliner, Don

Gunston, Bill

Braybrook, Roy,

Chant, Chris

Ellis, Chris,

Zaloniga, Steve

Green, William, Swanborough, Gordon

Presidio Press



Crowood Press

Squadron/Signal In Action

Camouflage and Markings – Dulcimus Press


Famous Aircraft Of The World (FAOW)



Concord Publications

Schiffer Books

Doubleday Books

Hanover House


Maru Mechanic

Macmillian Publishing

Monogram Books


Munson, Kennith

Ward, Richard

Wanatabe, Ruyuku

Naval Institute Press

Cross and Cockade

SAM Publications


Tanks In Detail




More later!

Airliners International 2008 at DFW Airport, Wow!

I had a whirlwind day at the AI 2008 Airliner nerd/enthusiast show and it was terrific! Important family business meant I had to bail after the one day but I sure had a good time anyway. People in Texas are, and I hope will always be, friendly. First and foremost. Regional cuisine was limited to watching my friend Ken eat a piece of Texas-shaped waffle, and loveliy fresh fruit & veggies in my hotel breakfast. Ken said the waffle was chewey, I thought the all-the-veggies-and-a-little-ham-and-cheese-please omlet was terrific. The buffet hash-browns were very nice- little bits of red pepper, moist without being either wet or oily. All this at the DFW Sheraton. If I could have had a breakfast the next morning I would have tried the waffle.

We took the American Airlines DFW maintenance base tour- 4 hangers in 3+ hours at 2 sites, very, very, nice. Far superior to the Kansas City maintenance tour last year for several reasons:

1) They let us take photos

2) DFW is a going concern, KC was something like the Marie Celleste, even if we did get to see the escape slide repair and refurb shop and a bunch of other deep-inside activities- A busy shop is a happy shop: DFW was hoppin’

3) we got to walk all around and go into the cockpit and interior in (groups of 5) of a 777 and a 757, (the 757 was having an engine cowl change so the tour guides powered it up and deployed the thrust reverser on the other engine!)

4) we got to walk around a number of MD80s, 767 and 757s;

5) They let us take photos!

Big thanks to AA management and the union, each of whom contributed a tour guide, emphasizing that they worked together on everything, at every level. And I’m sure they do… now. Terrific tour, American already gets good marks from me for offering tours, and this was a GREAT tour. One little boy with his mom and dad got to stand in the intake of a 777 and a 757- in the 777 the union guy jumped in first and stopped the windmilling fan by holding onto the spinner. One of those pictures is going to be the holiday card this year…

Good so far, and a nice lunch at Sonic too. The grilled chicken-breast sandwich, no dressing, was tasty and healthy, and I partially made up for that with the banana-split splash/smash/swirl/blended drink. Cold and tasty, and no doubt no good for me.

Then we went to Wild Bill’s Hobby shop and looked around and I found a PitRoad/Skywave 1/700 accessories set including two P3 Orions, at least one of which will become an Electra airliner, and a bunch of cast-metal 1/144 WWI bi-planes (!). I bought a DH-4, which can be a US Airmail plane or ???, and a Neuport 28. They had a bunch more, but the Fokkers and SPADs and DH-2 and Sopwith Camel were sold already.

Wild Bill’s Hobby Shop  <—- interesting, that… I wonder which came first!

535 E Shady Grove Rd
Irving, TX 75060
(972) 438-9224

This is a full-service shop, RC from small to chain-saw engine powered, plastic models, slot cars, balsa and other construction materials, die-cast collectables of every kind of vehicle, in all the popular sizes. The model paint range was extensive, Testor’s, Floquil, Polly Scale (Yay!). The building is a serviceable size, but its packed with stuff, so you’re really looking at the depth in stock of warehouse operation. Prices are MSRP or thereabouts- no astounding bargains and nothing very old or dusty on the shelves. They know what their customers buy and that’s what they stock. There appeared to be an RC vehicle race track behind the store, but I can’t confirm it is open.

We visited an Army-Navy-Pawn shop and paused at “Trinity Broadcasting” on our way back… Army Navy Pawn is a good-quality army-navy store with a wide variety of new patches and tee shirts and pouches, etc. I bought a cotton tool bag for my son Benjamim, as a souvineer.

Our one mis-step was to try to find a good photo location at DFW… we spent an hour or more driving around looknig for some place worth parking and taking pictures from. There’s a “founders park” that’s being moved, and the temporary one does it exist, but with three (!) pairs (!!) of runways in use, its not close to any of them and infavorable form a son perspective in the afternoon. Oh well! Be a great place in the morning, especially if you like climbing around in weeds. In the afternoon the closest pair of runways was upsun of us, and the pairs (!) further away were too far for the lenses we had. There were 6 active runways and that was something to behold. You just have to make the sun angle match your location, and get close enough to get the shot. Shooting the shadow side of an airliner under a blue sky is like drawing on an inside straight… you might succeed but you probably won’t.

After that, we went out to get Ken’s photos printed (worth it, he took 2 3rd places in the photo contest!), had dinner at Chili’s (nothing regional about it, other than the nice service staff), and then we had a beer at the hotel bar. I was working to finish some of my small models so I joined late and didn’t go to the swiming pool. I did confirm you can apply model decals with beer, however. Back in my room at 11:00, I caught a 7:30 departure for Oakland and arrived at 11:45 local time- 6:15 travel time, gate to gate.

Pictures will be posted soon. This was a great trip.

Where To Get Small Electric Motors, San Francisco Bay Area, for science-fair projects, etc.

Partial lineup, Mabuchi Motors

Some, but not all, of the motors Mabuchi make today. From 5 people 50 years ago to 40,000 today….

So I now have some data to back-up my speculations:

Mabuchi Motor Co. US Product catalog

1) Aristo-craft pack a line of Mabuchi or Mabuchi-like electric motors, sizes 130, 140, 260 and 280, which have a retail price for $2.85 to $3.95, depending on size and whom you buy it from. They’re a great deal because they each come with a little stamped steel mount that holds the motor and which you can use to attach it to your project. Better than rubber bands or hot-melt-glue. You can take them off and use rubber bands or hot melt glue if you want.

They also come with 3 plastic gears to fit on the common 0.079″ (2mm) motor shaft, making it easier to connect the motor to something. Other gears, or push a sewing machine bobbin over the gear or hot-melt-glue something (K’nex, Lego) to the gear… They’re in a little clamshell blister-box with a yellow sheet of paper giving the model number on the front and the specifications for the whole range on the back. The packs are about 3″ X 3″ (aka 75mm square).

All four sizes, the small ones for 1.5V typically, the larger ones for 3V, typically, are available at Hobbies Unlimited in San Lorenzo and J & M Hobby House in San Carlos. I’ll report on what other stores stock them as I know it. $2.85 or $3.35 for a 130 size motor with a mount and three gears is a pretty good deal, considering the purchasing power of $3. The 130 runs willingly on a single AAA cell

1a) There seems to be a Japanese-originated standard for small electric motors. I’ve seen 130s to 540s and many sizes in between. I’m not sure if its a measure of optimum energy output, length * diameter in mm or what.

2) There are larger motors in the same series, up at about $9 and then there’s another price point around $12. Dumas packs motors in the $9-12 range for battery powered model boats. After that you’re looking at the standard RC Car motors, from $15 to the sky’s the limit. MAJOR power, drawing on MAJOR batteries! If you want more, or more efficiency, look at the “Speed 400” and “Speed 280”, which are based on standard electric motors from rechargable battery powered tools. A “Speed 280″ is about the same size as the 280 that Aristo Craft packs for $3.75-3.95 retail, but costs more, and can both draw and produce more power. Beyond that, you’re into the brushless motors used by electric model airplanes- much more efficient than DC brush motors, for the same battery power. But you’ll need a controller. Figure $25-50 for something that works, before you buy the battery. You’re paying for the low wieght and high efficiency.

For that kind of money you could buy a rechargable tool AND battery and perhaps a spare battery and use it for motive power in your project. And you’d have the tool to remember it buy when you’re done. Almost any electric tool will have a robust reduction gear set along with an on/off switch, possibly variable speed, possibly reversing. In their last year, the Odessey Of The Mind team that I coached used two rechargable drills to power a one-person vehicle that drove around on patios, quiet streets, and high school gyms. 3/8″ steel axles were chucked to the drills and very small tires and wheels fastened to them as well. The wieght of the vehicle was carried on some kind of bearing the axle ran through on both sides of the wheel- copper tubing fitted snugly into a block of wood might have been the bearing- I didn’t invent it! The drills ‘floated’, other than being restrained from turning in reaction to the torque they applied to the wheels. They were mounted upside down and the tires and wheels used were a compromise between what would let the drill run at its optimum speed (about 1/4″) and what would allow the drill to clear the ground! (about 3/4”)

3) I’m pleased to report that Radio Shack also sell electric motors, with several available in the 1.5-3.0V range and for a $4 or a bit lower price. My local Radio Shack had a ‘260-like’ motor, 250mA, 3.0V, for $3-something, a smaller, higher voltage motor that came with a metal gear, and some larger motors at the higher price points.

4) Of course, you can also shop on the Internet, starting by searching for Mabuchi in titles AND descriptions of all items at eBay. You’ll find everything from 540 series motors used in stock RC cars by companies like Tamiya, to people selling the little tiny motors used for pager and cell phone vibrators. You can get the $1 motor this way, but you’ll pay shipping.

5) If you’re willing to pay shipping, Did You Know that K’nex has a catalog and will sell loose pieces? Like gears, wheels and tires. Wheels and tires are opportunities to scrounge and invent but gears are more hassle when you’re inventing. Its never bad to know where they can be bought. They’re made to turn on or lock to K’nex “sticks” and that can be readily attached to other things.

6) Radio Shack sells battery holders for 1, 2, 4 and 8 AA cells, 1 and 2 C or D cells, closed boxes with lids as well as open holders. Single-cell AA holder is $0.99, the simplist versions of the larger ones are $1.99 or less. Before you say “Battery holders are for wimps, I’ll just tape some telephone wire to the button and bottom of my battery cells”, consider how easy it will be to change to fresh cells, or swap rechargable cells, with a first-class regulation battery holder. You could even have someone else do it for you!

7) Just like with restaurants, its worth your time to find out what’s local where you live, or where you are, and patronize them. Hence my leading with Hobbys Unlimited and J & M Hobby House. Try the yellow pages for your ocal electronics parts and/or surplus place when looking for switches, battery holders, etc.

8) Extra Credit: If you put an incandesant flashlight bulb in series between your battery and your motor (3V or more, with appropriate bulb…) it will light up in proportion to the current flowing through the motor- lots of current, lots of light. Little current, not much light. Spinning freely with no load, the motor won’t light the lamp very much. Put some drag on the motor and watch the light get brighter. Its brightest when you’ve completely stopped the motor. You can use this interesting behavior to show when your motor is being loaded and when its spinning freely… Can you apply that to your project?

9) Extra extra credit: Make your own motor!
Michael Faraday invented the homopolar electric motor, taking advantage of the magnetic field from a current running at 90 degrees to the direction of electron flow…

Wendell Oskay's take on Faraday's Homopolar motor

Windell Oskay’s homopolar electric motor, made from a drywall screw, powerful rare earth magnet, single “C” cell and a 6″/15cm piece of copper wire.
wire loop motor
There is a trick, and the trick is, not all the insulation has been removed from the two straight bits of the wire that stick out through the safety pins. When connection is made, an electric field is created and that change in the electrical field creates a magnetic field which attracts or repels the button magnet on the wooden base. The loop turns, the connection is broken, more change in electrical current, more magnetic field. The momentum of the mass of the wire carries it on until it connects again and the whole business starts again. Extra points for figuring out how to get it to do useful work, more for finding the optimum amount of wire that should be bare and that which should be stripped, and the angular relationship between the stripped area and the coil…

Science Fair season- building stuff, vehicles with electric motors

I see kids and parents walking around some of my hangouts with folded papers in their hands looking for stuff to build science fair projects. Many times, electric motors, small wheeled vehicles and that sort of thing are being sought. Here’s a couple of quick words of advice and I’ll do more reesarch on what’s available where:

1) Electric motors for battery powered things: 1.5 to 6, 9 or 12V DC motors. Smallish unless otherwise indicated. The “Mabuchi” motors of my childhood, no doubt made in China now. The higher voltage ratings will work slower with smaller voltages from small numbers of batteries, but 1.5 or 3.0 V will make a 12V motor turn, possibly at more or less the speed actually needed.

Generally, electric motors are too fast for the wheels, propellers or other mechanisms that they propel things through. So some gear reduction is in order. If you salvage your motor from something, it may come with the reduction hardware- usually a small gear on the motor and a larger gear for whatever the motor is turning- wheel axle, propeller, treads, fans, etc. The secret is that the motor turns something small and that small thing turns something big- this reduces the speed and increases the torque by the ratio of the small thing to large- count the teeth if gears, measure the diameters if pullys.

A convenient “belt reduction” you can build from stuff found around the home can be made by putting a bobbin or some other small, flagned, pulley, on the motor shaft, and a thread spool or other large, flanged, pulley substitute, on the axle you want to drive. A big, fat, rubber band transmits the power. Thread spools can be sawn in half and the halves glued over an axle, with hot melt glue, if the axle is already installed. Obviously, one can cut down a spool width as easily as cut it in half. Using an idler axle between the motor and the load you can have a Two Stage reduction too.

Gear reductions and gear sets based on Lego gears, K’nex gears or various gears available to experiementers are also possible. For toy-sized projects, Lego gears are good choices, but not for something you want to ride on yourself!

Rubber bands can be shortened and sewn together. Rubber strip for flying model airplanes and lightwieght bungee cord are available if long loops are desired.

Various sizes of pre-made wooden wheels and spools are available, as well as the lovely but expensive RC Car tires and wheels, RC Airplane tires and wheels, etc. Scale model car tires and wheels are usually better to look at than use- the tires are too hard. Inexpensive wooden wheels with a rubberband stretched around the outside have much better traction. If you need cheap, consider tuna or cat-food cans with a rubber band or two stretched around them. Metal or plastic pipe caps make dandy wheels, as to slices of dowel. A slice of the dowels used for hangers in closets, with a length of bicyle inner tube over it, makes a very usable, very inexpensive, wheel.

Axles: Steel is good, especially with brass tubing for bearings. Brass or copper rod or tubing is ok, Wooden sticks, dowels, bamboo skewers and other round things are good. Use brass or plastic tubes for bearings. Even plastic rods or tubing. Plastic straws make all kinds of structual stuff, if light-wieght is a goal. Carbon fiber is fun if you know how to cut and shape it and don’t care that much about cost. VERY stiff.
Bearings: A hole drilled through the structure is always a good start. Brass tubing or copper tubing or plastic tubing can be oiled or greased, after its attached. Its generally a good idea to use the axle or a dummy axle to hold the alignment of sets of bearings when attaching them to a structure. Depending on what you’re doing, you might even allow a screw adjustment for alignment.

A hole through something hard, hardwood, a block of metal, a thread spool, can serve as a bearing. Aluminum is soft but works great for flying airplanes- steel shafts through aluminum brackets, with beads or small brass washers, for thrust bearings, are popular with rubber band airplane enthusiasts.

If your motor or bobbin or axle or thread spool doesn’t fit and there’s too much space, use nested brass or plastic tubing (or rubber tubing…) to fill the distance without loosing the ‘center’. The advantage of rubber band belts and rubber tubing to make sizes match is that it allows a little lee-way in alignment. If you build with gears, you have to get your holes in the right spots and aligned correctly. Gears are pretty unforgiving of misalignment.


Radio Shack sometimes stocks 1.5-3 or 6V motors.
Target has some toy car product which has removable motors and is selling a pack of replacement motors right now.
This is right up Hobby Engineering’s aisle, give them a call. You can have dim sum at the nearby big, fancy, chinese restaurant..
Some hobby shops (D&J and Berkeley Ace Hardware for sure, likely Hobbytown) sell science-fair experiementers supplies, including motors.
Some (D&J again, and Fry’s Electronics) have Tamiya’s line of inventor stuff, including motors, gear boxes (fixed ratio and selectable), crawler treads and the like.

Most hobby shops and many hardware stores have brass tubing, and most successessive sizes of the small stuff (1/16 inch to about 1/4 inch) ‘nest’, like an old telescope. Plastic tubing that nests is also available, and because its made from oil, may cost more than brass! Use aluminum tubing if you need something really soft, but still stiff. Use steel tubing if you need something strong- stainless steel won’t rust, a convenient property. If you want to attach axles, gears, pulleys, etc, to an axle, consider simply drilling a hole through it and sewing a piece of wire through the hole. You can be fancy and use a cotter pin if you want. Filing one or more flat spots in the round axle is another good technique, if you can get something stiff up against them.

I’ll do some more research and post what’s available here. I still remember coaching a terrific Odessey Of The Mind team back in the 1990s, and I haven’t lost my enthusiasm for the subject.

A good $2 investment is a battery holder from Radio Shack, etc, that holds the cell(s) you want to use but allows you to replace them. Really slick stuff compared to using masking tape to hold a bit of telephone wire to the end of one or more cells…

Answers to the questions that brought people to my blog…

Hmm, wordpress saves what the search key was that brought people to my stuff, and there were a bunch of questions in the last two days that I do have an answer for, but its not written down here. So here’s a grab bag of answers to questions people were asking when they found this blog, and perhaps the people who were looking will come back some time and find them… or someone else will profit from it.

Mixing Olive Drab ?

After ‘open the window!’, ‘keep the lid on the glue’ and ‘clean the paint brush while the paint is still wet’, my introduction to the secret knowlege of model building came in my early teen age years. I mentioned wishing there was an olive drab paint, as all I had were the glossy primary colors, and my father told me it was just yellow mixed with black. And indeed it is, which is why its so often seen in nature. Yellow and black are common enough colors among plants. Mix some for youself today, and give a thought to how much has changed since I learned this, in 1969.

Color Code Gull Grey?

The US Navy uses a color called “Light Gull Gray”, 595a # 36440 for flat, 26440 semi gloss, 16440 gloss. In the 1950s and 60s this was the standard color for the upper surface of USN and USMC military planes, with shiny white on the underneath. The white was removed from fighters in the 1970s when it was realized that the different top and bottom colors would give-away the way the plane was facing in a dog-fight. So the white/gull gray scheme was replaced with overall 36440.

I really like 36440, because it seems to precisely capture the color of clouds in sunshine- there’s a definate warmth to it. Surprisingly poetic, but if you want to blend into clouds, you need to be cloud colored. (Unless you choose the green balloon and want to look like part of the tree- appologies to A. A. Milne, Christopher Robin, Pooh and the bees…)

Prior to 1942, the US Navy used a light gray overall or for the UNDERSIDE of airplanes- the SBD, TBD, F4F-3, F2B-3, etc. There’s an Army/Navy (A/N) number for the USN Light Gray, but the AN USN LIght Gray and 36440 are indistinguishable by me. The formula may be different, or the same, certainly the purpose was the same.

Lots of airline model instructions call out “(Light) Gull Gray” or “36440” for the light gray frequently found on wings and horizontal stabilizers, on the wing/fuselage fairing, jet engine fan cowlings, and composite (fiberglass or carbon fiber) pieces. I find *6440 too dense and too warm. Boeing do offer more than a dozen colors for gray and another more than a dozen for white, to their customers, but there is a definate, ‘typical’, gray that’s about the same tonal value as bare aluminum that Boeing, McDonnel Douglas, Lockheed, Airbus, etc all use or used by default. At Boeing it’s called “Boeing Aircraft Company Gray” and has the stock number “707”. Sometimes this is rendered “BAC 707 Gray” but it’s not “707” gray- the number is coincidence. Or so I’m told.

Xtracolor make pre-mixed BAC 707 Gray, which is a spot-on match. Hannant’s in the UK own Xtracolor, and stock the paint. Airline Hobby Supply carry it in the USA, and perhaps others do too.

I recently decided to try mixing something similar using Testor’s Acryl, and found 3 parts 36495 Light Gray (I’ll look up the Testor’s part number and post it here) and 8 parts white were pretty good. Its far, far, from 36440 or Light Gull Gray, but its a pretty good match to what you see on the wings of DC-9s, 737s, A-320s, etc. Your milage may vary, of course.

There’s also a “Dark Gull Gray”, a darker color (FS595 36231), used in airplane cockpits and perhaps in more modern US Navy camoflague schemes.
Check out:

Its a complete list of 595 color names with samples for your screen- not definative but a great place to start.

Thining Vallejo paints for airbrush?

Al at D&J Hobbies in Campbell always advised thinning to the consistancy of fresh, whole, milk, for airbrush use. That’s what I’d try first. Thin with whatever Vallejo recommend- water, water + alcohol. Some sporty airbrushers thin their acrylic paint with laquer thinner- boy I bet that dries fast, but you’d have to be used to laquer thinner to bother.

Used Radio Control Cars?

The RC Car-oriented shops, Sheldon’s or NorCal for example, often have a spot for people to post their stuff for sale. Not unlike the similar spots at PartsHeaven or other foriegn/speciality car parts places. And there’s always Craigslist.

San Francisco Bay Area Slot Cars?

I’ve used and recomend “Homeroom Racing Cafe” on Webster on Alameda Island. Slot Car Magic and Hobby in (San Lorenzo? Between Hayward and Oakland) have a great track and I hope to try it one day. Both are multi-lane layouts made from Scalectric Sport track. There’s an old 1960s commercial track with about 8 lanes and the big banked turn at the RC and slot-car place on Camden Avenue at Union Ave in San Jose. Others?

Bare Steel Colored Paint?

If you can take the time, smooth and polish the plastic to a shine, just like a molded part, and shoot rattle-can Testor’s Metalizer Stainless Steel on it. Then buff with a soft, clean, cloth, or paper, never touching it with your bare fingers, changing cloths frequently, until you get what you want, and seal it with their clear laquer sealer or Future floor wax- one coat, no more. Polly Scale make a “Steel” color, in their Railroad line, which is ok. Tamiya make a “Metalic Gray” (XF-56) which is also ok, though a bit more work to get looking good. For both acrylics, the key is to brush it out THIN and use more than one coat for coverage. The acrylic metalics seem to get thick and gloppy even more than regular color acrylics. Frankly, oil/solvent based paints make better or at least easier to use, metalics. So the Testor’s Model Master or 1/4 oz little bottles of “Steel” would seem like good things to try. Or Humbroil or Revell Germany or solvent based Mr. Color (Gunze-Sanyo) if you can get them.

Can Tamiya Paint Be Thinned With Water?

Yes. Absolutely. I’ve done it myself with great success. They sell an acrylic paint thinner, and its NOT water, but if you want to make Tamiya paint brush nicer, or make a wash of it, or spray it from a Badger 250 paint sprayer, water will work just fine. As will water and isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. I have never sprayed Tamiya acrylic paint through an airbrush, so I’m speculating when I say it’ll probably work fine thinned with water, but I think it will. Paint some test object first to be sure, of course. When I was a kid, the ‘test object” was always the inside of the lid of the box the kit came in. A ‘spare’ kit or the parts of a spare kit make superior test objects. You can paint different colors on the two sides (inside and outside, top and bottom) of each part- that’s a lot of test subjects! Make sure you keep track of what each test consisted of, you’ll forget in a year or two…

I have every confidence the Tamiya Acrylic Thinner will work as well- in fact, if you plan to airbrush a lot of Tamiya, you’d be well served by doing some experiements with different thinners and find what works for you.

Remember, thin to the consistancy of fresh, whole, milk. The stuff you put on your cornflakes, or did, when you were a kid.

Alphabetic Directory of San Francisco Bay Area Hobby Shops

Berkeley Ace Hardware, moved to Miliva, 1 block south of University, Berkeley, CA – (510) 845-0410 (under construction…)

Boss Robot Hobby, 2953 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705 – (510) 841-1680

Capitola Hobbies, 3555 Clares St, Capitola, CA – (831) 462-3555

Chan’s Trains & Hobbies, 2450 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA
94109. – (415) 885-2899.

Dan Webb Books, 331 17th Street (Between Webster and Harrison), Oakland CA 94612 – (510) 444-4572
**More hours! Mon thru Sat 11:15-4:30, Sun 9:40-4:30**

Hobbies Unlimited, 937 Manor Boulevard, San Lorenzo, CA – 510-351-7112

Hobby Company, 5150 Geary Blvd San Francisco, CA 94118 – (415) 386-2802

Japantown Collectibles, – Japan Center Kinokuniya Bldg.,
1st Floor, 1581 Webster Street, San Francisco, CA 94115 Tel: 415-563-2970

J & M Hobby House, 1660 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA – (650) 593-5019

Nor Cal Hobbies & Raceway, 30600 Union City Blvd, Union City, CA –
(510) 324-5700

R C Unlimited, Rc Unlimited Hobby Shop, Slot Cars and Hobbies,
Slot Cars Unlimited Raceway, Speedway, Castle Hobbies
14910 Camden Ave, San Jose, CA – (408) 377-7760
14918 Camden Ave, San Jose, CA – (408) 377-3771

Slot Car Magic and Hobbies, 104 Parrott St, San Leandro, CA – (510) 357-8514

Sheldon’s Hobbies, 2130 Trade Zone Blvd, San Jose, CA – (408) 943-0220

Talbots Toyland, 445 S B St, San Mateo, CA – (650) 931-8100

Toy Safari 1410 Park St Alameda, CA 94501 (510) 522-1723