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TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

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Old 04-22-2011, 03:14 AM
  #426  
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

It's been a while since I've posted here, but I thought that this would be worth while adding to the thread. I recently found this on the auction site and have now added it to my collection. Without further ado - Mrs. Helen Brett and the Apogee. Enjoy!

FB

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Old 04-22-2011, 04:29 AM
  #427  
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

FB

Helen has her own copy in her scrapbook. Nice to see there are others out there.

She has asked about you and your Perigee. Did you ever e-mail her?

Duane
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Old 04-22-2011, 04:34 AM
  #428  
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

Hi Duane!

I'm doing well, starting to settle into a new job, been very busy with that. I would love to email Helen, but I don't have her email addy. Could you provide off line? TIA!

FB
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Old 04-23-2011, 08:04 PM
  #429  
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

ORIGINAL: Free Bird

It's been a while since I've posted here, but I thought that this would be worth while adding to the thread. I recently found this on the auction site and have now added it to my collection. Without further ado - Mrs. Helen Brett and the Apogee. Enjoy!

FB

At the RCCD tribute to Tom Brett last season, Helen told me that several modelers offered her their own copies of the same cover. They had it in their own archives all this time.

Duane
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Old 11-28-2011, 06:03 AM
  #430  
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

ADDITIONAL TBX INFORMATION:

My thanks to Michaelj2k for the following reference to Tom's TBX found in a 1966 modeling magazine...there is also a reference to the "Simla" built and flown by Curt Dimberg.

The thing I think that's most interesting about this caption is the description of TBX's flight characteristics, and the reason it didn't place well in the NATS. As unusual as this design is, the author says straight-out that was NOT the reason...the model flew very well, with special mention being made of the plane's slow-flight characteristics.

I know first-hand that Tom had chronic problems with the running of the engine in an era void or reliable fuel pumps. The tank was located far back in the fuselage, and I'm pretty sure Tom relied on an air-pressurization system to relay fuel from the main tank to the small forward tank. As a young teen, I distinctly remember many of the club members at our local field at the RCCD, (Radio Control Club of Detroit), clustered around Tom as he worked on what seemed to me to be the pressurization system. He was pressurizing the fuel line with a bulb pump.

I also remember the plane in the air, and it seemed to fly well...borne out by Chuck Winter's video which shows a few seconds of the TBX in flight performing a "Victory Roll" for the movie camera. I will ask Helen to comment...it will be a good reason to get back in touch with her.

Duane
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Old 11-28-2011, 10:01 AM
  #431  
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

All of that nice C-grain in there and a brand-new looking Veco tank with neoprene connections, sure is a time capsule.
Chris...
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Old 11-28-2011, 11:00 AM
  #432  
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

ORIGINAL: stuntflyr

All of that nice C-grain in there and a brand-new looking Veco tank with neoprene connections, sure is a time capsule.
Chris...
Yes Chris, you are so right. I'm not absolutely certain, but I believe that when Tom left R/C it was a very short transition before he became fully immersed in full-scale flight with Helen, then the building of his home-built aircraft.

Being an engineer, and being as meticulous as he was, he took good care of his models during his R/C days, but, his models were left exactly as they were the last day he flew them. I don't know if he left the radios installed, and they were removed later or not...that would be a good question to ask Helen as well.

There was a photo of Ed Kazmirski posing with his most famous Taurus fuselage in 2006. The picture shows the engine, (and probably the radios) had already been removed by then....(BTW, Ed DID leave in the original 4oz converted baby bottle he used as a fuel tank). Toms models (except for the radios), are truly like museum pieces.
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Old 11-29-2011, 05:43 AM
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

Duane,

You are so fortunate that you were able to see Tom's models in person, surely a once in a lifetime opportunity. I would love to have my Perigee photographed with Tom's TBX and Apogee, that would be a real kick!

FB
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Old 11-29-2011, 06:51 AM
  #434  
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE


ORIGINAL: Free Bird

Duane,

You are so fortunate that you were able to see Tom's models in person, surely a once in a lifetime opportunity. I would love to have my Perigee photographed with Tom's TBX and Apogee, that would be a real kick!

FB
Yes I have been fortunate, but I've also been persistant enough to "push on the door" just a bit to see if it would open. My first attempt to meet Helen fell through, but finally in the end I was able to deliver Chuck's video to her personally, and she proved to be a gracious hostess, and Tom's #1 fan.

I have talked to you enough about this that I really feel it would be a significant event in your life, (as it was for me), to make the trip...sometimes you just have to make it a priority to make it happen while the opportunity is there. Why don't we both plan to make a joint spring trip...it has been well over a year since I've been to see Helen, (when she shared the scrapbook with my wife and I), and I'd love to meet you for the first time, and visit her, and Tom's planes again.

Contact me if you'd be interested.

Duane
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Old 11-29-2011, 09:04 AM
  #435  
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

Yes I have been fortunate, but I've also been persistant enough to "push on the door" just a bit to see if it would open. My first attempt to meet Helen fell through, but finally in the end I was able to deliver Chuck's video to her personally, and she proved to be a gracious hostess, and Tom's #1 fan.

I have talked to you enough about this that I really feel it would be a significant event in your life, (as it was for me), to make the trip...sometimes you just have to make it a priority to make it happen while the opportunity is there. Why don't we both plan to make a joint spring trip...it has been well over a year since I've been to see Helen, (when she shared the scrapbook with my wife and I), and I'd love to meet you for the first time, and visit her, and Tom's planes again.

Contact me if you'd be interested.

Duane
Now that's a very interesting thought Duane. I'll get back to you on that!

FB
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Old 12-22-2011, 08:45 AM
  #436  
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

I received a response back from Helen that I'd like to post which answers some questions...Free Bird take note of Helen's respons to our inviting ourselves over to visit her:

BTWI couldn't get a great look at the engine, but ONE photo of the TBX engine from a 3/4 angle had good enough resolution that I was able to determine the engine was a .56. I believe the SuperTigre .56 was the strongest engine around at that point. This was the same engine Ed eventually used in his Taurus II, after starting out with a Veco .45.

Good to hear from you again and see action on the thread again. Thanks for the newsletter, too, always interesting.
In answer to your questions, I think you are right about the pressurized system being the problem with TBX I looked at the planes this morning and the engines in TBX and NimbusIII are the same, silverhead and larger than the .45 K&B greenhead in NimbusII. Could they be Supre Tiger or Veco .54's? You may be able to see from the photos Brett sent of NimbusIII, or even the TBX.

From the '65 Nata I mostly recall the crowds around and the number of photos taken for three days, which pretty much kept us tied down to one spot. Tom had confidence enough in the performance of the plane to take it to Philly, and aside from the engine problems, was satisfied with the plane.. He built it to be different, not as a contender in pattern contests. The highlight of the experience was winning the Hurst Performance Products trophy for Outstanding R/C design concept. Made our day!
As to the equipmentTom asways removed the radios equipment at the end of the season, and installed them in the next plane. In '66 we were getting into the "big boy" planes and the servos were left in NimbusIII, and removed at time of the sale. All planes still have engines. Perigee is the only one with full gear installed. I have photos of installation if you are interested, and this morning I went on a search and found a large piece of the gold silk he used on the planes. I'll send you a scrap, just for old times.

I'd like to meet FreeBird. Keep that thought in mind, you two.

Helen
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Old 01-03-2012, 09:30 AM
  #437  
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

Duane - PM Sent!

FB
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Old 04-10-2012, 07:15 AM
  #438  
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

Hi Brett Fans. It's been awhile, but we have some new topics to discuss.

We usually travel to Michigan to see family once or twice a year. Last year I didn't go, but this year we just returned from a trip up north. Since 2009, I've tried to include a visit to Helen, (Brett) in the itinerary, and she has been gracious enough to meet with me, talk, and let me visit Tom's planes, (which have all been preserved in original condition). That 2009 visit started this thread.

Helen passes on her best wishes to those (you know who you are), who share my appreciation for Tom, his R/C career, and his legacy of pattern designs. This year I was able to get a first-hand look at Cirrus, and Nimbus III which in the past were hidden behind a bunch of boxes. I was struck by how similar Tom's pattern planes, (with the exception of TBX-1) looked...they appeared, (at least to me), to be the same general shape, and primarily a difference of SIZE, with small differences in the control surfaces. Certainly if Tom were here to explain the subtle differences he would point out what he was specifically looking to accomplish in each variation; that's something that I regret...it would be great to be able to ask him. Willie McMath, (Brett family friend, see earlier), once made the statement that all Tom's planes flew similarly.

To restate one of the principles Tom used when designing his planes, he would design the plane AROUND THE EQUIPMENT, and for a PARTICULAR PURPOSE. For example, (from his Perigee article), both Perigee and its sister ship Apogee were designed after Tom got a look at the published 1962 pattern of maneuvers. He felt his earlier Nimbus was too large to easily achieve the verticals needed, so Perigee was designed as small as possible to accomplish the job at hand. This was restated in his book of instructions packed with each Perigee kit, (but more about that later).

Perigee's wingspan was 61 inches, and was designed to fly with a K&B .35, (Tom actually used a "detuned" .45). The needed engine was a function of the weight of the plane, and Tom gave a range of engines (for the kit builder), depending on weight...anywhere between under five pounds up to over six pounds. An interesting fact I was unaware of...Apogee weighed in at ONLY 4lbs 15oz as stated on the sticker under the canopy, (Nimbus III also contained a weight). While discussing engine size, at one point he made the statement, "it is easy to overpower..." this plane. I didn't think that was possible, but maybe he wanted to project a certain look and constant speed throughout the maneuver...Perigee is a VERY SLIPPERY streamlined design, and flies quite fast if I remember correctly...maybe Evan and Free Bird can comment on the performance of their Perigees.

More to come...
Duane
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Old 04-10-2012, 04:32 PM
  #439  
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

Yep, they are quick, both Nimbus and Perigee I have are LA.46 powered, around 5lb each and are pretty serious aerobatic models. Unlike Taurus, these stall and spin when commanded, accelerate quickly and have a wide speed range, they do wind up going down, so the prop has work as a brake, but the lightish loadings are fun, you cut the power up high, then do half the schedule on the way down, on the glide. If you only have room for one model in the car, then you would take one of these, rather than a Taurus, as they are just that little bit more competent. Orion begat Nimbus, and Nimbus begat Perigee so they have a thinish wing section, like Orion, and are better for it. That is, as pure aerobatic models, if you want to 'fun fly' then Taurus has the edge...
Evan, WB #12.
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Old 04-12-2012, 03:59 PM
  #440  
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

Also being a Perigee owner, I find it to be comfortably fast, with an LA .46 I did have a lot of trouble dialing in the corrrect differential to make the rolls look good, the final adjustments being a half turn of each clevis. Very groovy plane.
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Old 04-12-2012, 07:52 PM
  #441  
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

Sounds like Perigee was the "Ferrari" of pattern planes, both in the extremely sleek good looks, and high performance it had. The thin airfoil and other advanced engineering Tom put into Perigee made it a state of the art performer, and a model that would easily spin on command...but also made it a little less forgiving than more docile planes, for example, the Taurus, (BTW...the Taurus II that Jeff Petroski will eventually be kitting is also a higher performing, faster model than the original. Ed's second generation Taurus came along a couple years after Perigee, and flew with Perigee at the 1964 and 1965 Detroit Invitationals).

Because Perigee was designed for maximum performance and for experienced pilots, it received an undeserved "bad rap" in the media because it was often built and flown by relatively inexperienced pilots out of heavier, (compared to the hand selected contest balsa Tom used) balsa in the kit. DeBolt couldn't afford to competitively market Perigee with the finest contest balsa, (similar to the problem Jeff faced with the Simla kit), and the kit version models tended to have higher wing loadings than Tom wanted. When the models came out too heavy, they tended to "snaproll" at low speeds in the hands of inexperienced pilots...there was no room for indecision or "horsing" on final approach.

My Dad built an all yellow Perigee back in 1965, but didn't fly it until he was accomplished enough to handle it. I was grown and out of the house by then, and never saw him fly it. Many years later when I was flying Novice pattern in the mid-80s, he brought his Perigee out to my home field in Battle Creek, Mich, and I finally got the chance to see it fly. He hadn't flown it in a while, but was undaunted. He took off and was "all over the sky" as he was fighting to get control of it at full throttle[X(]... behind the flight line and over an interstate located nearby. I think he put a .60 in it...man was it fast. [X(] He finally got control and got it back in one piece. The plane still exists; he had some minor damage that was repairable, and it hangs in my basement now some 45 years later. Note the hand-carved little pilot. He used his own hair which actually gave it a very life-like look from a few feet away. I still have that "head" mounted in my Taurus.
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Old 04-13-2012, 03:13 AM
  #442  
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

Duane,

Having seen and flown WEDJ's Perigee, I just can't imagine your Dad's with a 60 in it, it sure must have been a rocket! Mine is still not ready to fly, I've made a promise to myself to get some air under the wing this year as I'm planning to attend a couple of vintage events this year. Stay tuned.......

FB
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Old 04-13-2012, 03:50 AM
  #443  
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

ORIGINAL: Free Bird

I've made a promise to myself to get some air under the wing this year as I'm planning to attend a couple of vintage events this year. Stay tuned.......

FB
Rich;

I hope one of them is the SPA contest in Asheville....July of this year.[8D] I'll double-check the engine size on myDad's Perigee and report back. Regardless of the engine size, I vividly remember that flight. [X(] P.S....The pilot figure has lost some hair over the years.

BTW...When I called and told her you weren't able to make it she was disappointed...really...she wanted to see your Perigee. She agreed to see me again IN SPITE of you not being there. Some "new blood" and new stories would have been welcome. Please keep a future visit in mind.

Duane
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Old 04-17-2012, 07:59 PM
  #444  
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

While visiting Helen we had the chance to take a more detailed look at several of Tom's models...including TBX. I didn't have the nerve to ask her, but as if she could read my mind, Helen OFFERED to let me remove the two hatches...the fuel hatch up front and the main hatch toward the rear on the bottom, (see photos). Remember this plane has not been touched in at least 30 years, and perhaps as many as 47 since it competed at the 1965 NATS.

The screws for both hatches came off easily enough, but neither hatch would budge...looks like some fuel/castor oil residue from long ago worked its way into the cracks between the hatch covers and fuselage and over time acted like glue...a strong glue. I had forgotten that I had experienced the same problem while trying to remove Apogee's tank hatch back in 2009.

Helen, (bless her heart), even offered up an Exacto-Knife in an effort to try to pry the hatchs off, but after a couple gentle tries, there was still no sign of budging. I took the safe road and decided not to risk marring the paint. I want to keep Tom's classic in as perfect a condition as possible after all this time. This will require some real thought, more time than I had for that visit, a sharp new knife blade, and most likely a solvent that won't hurt the paint. I appreciate that Helen was willing to trust me with Tom's baby.

Now I'm asking for solvent advice for how to proceed some future day.[8D] I believe the paint Tom used was AeroGloss. I know that AeroGloss is in short supply now, and is not all that compatable with other paints.

A second discovery was the fact that Tom's double wheeled main gear swivels front to back, so the tires will touch the ground in a slanted back angle like the "big planes".

Later
Duane
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Old 04-18-2012, 07:44 AM
  #445  
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

ORIGINAL: kingaltair

Rich;

I'll double-check the engine size on my Dad's Perigee and report back. Regardless of the engine size, I vividly remember that flight. [X(] P.S....The pilot figure has lost some hair over the years.
Regarding posts #441 and #443, I looked at my Dad's Perigee last night, and it actually has a .40 engine, (2-stroke) in it, I was wrong...it just FLEW like it had a .60 in it. It really MOVED. We are so used to larger engines nowadays...this is a plane where a .40 to .46 is all it should have. I was going to put an OS .50 in it, but that is probably too much.

Duane
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Old 04-20-2012, 11:16 AM
  #446  
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

Down in Tom's airplane storage room, he had retained an original Perigee kit, and I just discovered, a kit of Maxy Hester's, the King Cobra. On the front of the box was a picture of the plane which struck me as a WWII-type fighter design, with a nice picture of Maxey posing with it. I had never seen a picture of Maxey though he had flown at the Detroit Invitationals I had attended, and my Dad had taken a picture of his plane.

The Perigee kit I remember seeing from my last two visits, but didn't have the time to look it over. It was nice to see the Perigee kit in the original box since I remember my Dad pouring over the plans while building his. I still have the plans but they are in terrible condition...torn in many places with occasional blotches of Ambroid glue. I had always assumed that Tom's kit had been presented to him by Hal DeBolt as a "first-of-series" or something when the plane was originally kitted...instead I learned it was originally intended as a contest raffle prize back in 1963 for the Detroit Invitational, but for some reason it was never used. There it was with the original sticker from a hobby shop in Missouri. Now here is the surprising part...I was surprised and thrilled when Helen said “why don’t you take it”!! I said “are you sure” and she answered in Helen’s typical no-nonsense fashion, “I’m not going to be building it”. As our kids say…OMG…what an unexpected, tremendous gift!! I said "you'd better believe it" before she changed her mind. Actually I don't remember just WHAT I said other than "thank you very much".

Tom won the “worlds” in the summer of 1962 with Perigee, and the post mark on the box said March 1963…this was a very early kit. When I got it home and looked it over, everything was perfect…the die cutting was great and everything was as it originally was packed in the box, (the canopy may have been missing since I didn't see it, but haven't taken everything out to look). Other than the paper the plans were printed on looking a bit aged, the inside of the kit looked brand new, (the outside showed some minimal wear and aging). It was tremendous.

As if that wasn’t enough, Helen still had a supply of Tom’s original beautiful gold silk used on all his planes including the open-winged Perigee, Apogee, and TBX-1!! I plan to use that silk when building the kit. I may replace some of the sheeting/blocks with contest balsa to keep it light as can be. I know Tom would have been very particular about the quality/weight of the wood in his models.

A public THANKS to you for so tremendous a present. Thanks again.

A few more items to come.

Duane

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Old 04-20-2012, 01:54 PM
  #447  
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

Duane,

This may have been the kit you saw in Tom's storage room.

Ray
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Old 04-20-2012, 08:26 PM
  #448  
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

Regarding my Perigee's flight characteristics, although fast, it is not a rocket by 80's pattern standards. It is very flyable, similar to a Kaos 40. I believe the problems that were attributed to it (snap rolling on landing) were due to construction problems, not design or even weight. If you look back into my build log on this plane, when the top wing sheeting was applied with the grain slightly cross to the transverse line, the tips warped up, creating a wash-in effect (tips at a higher angle of attack than the center). Unless the builder measured this and corrected the problem when sheeting the bottom, you would have a plane that would be a bear to land unless the whole wing was still flying.

Seriously, it got a bad rap because of Tom's engineering expertise, translated to a kit, built by people who didn't measure enough during construction (IMHO)

Free Bird, do you agree?
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Old 04-20-2012, 09:01 PM
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

There is rumour of two 'Perigee' kits, un-opened, hiding somewhere in Auckland. I am led to believe that the kit version is a little simpler than the originals, all sheet fin, for one. I am confused too, with tip stalling reports, it will stall, as reported, does loverly snaps, but it does need to be deliberately pushed to do so. Per the 'Hobby Helpers' plan all my wing sheeting is parallel to the leading edge except for the rear pieces, which are parallel to the aileron spar. I had no trouble at all with keeping the wing straight, I built in a degree or two of washout as a matter of course and the result is a very predictable airplane. My guess is that, given the current 'state of the art' at the time the average pilot/builder of the model may not have had Toms attention to detail nor his flying skills. The model definitely does not have the forgiving characteristics of Taurus, and this combination may have been the cause of the reputation. It is also a small airplane, at a time when radio was both expensive and large. I guess it was just a bit much, all round, for the time. Nice sports model now, of course, just shows how things have changed.
Evan, WB #12.
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Old 04-21-2012, 02:37 PM
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Default RE: TOM BRETT'S DESIGNS-UPDATE

ORIGINAL: RFJ

Duane,

This may have been the kit you saw in Tom's storage room.

Ray
Yes Ray...as usual you are right on the mark. I corrected the post. Helen confirmed it today in an e-mail. Here is what she said:

Hi Duane

If the canopy is missing from the kit that could be why the contest kit was still here. I know Tom bought a kit from a local hobby shop and at one time we had three of them, one possibly coming from Hal DeBolt. About 20 years ago I gave one of the two left here to a friend who never finished it.

I checked the Maxey Hester kit this morningit is a P 63 King Cobra.

To answer your other questions, I am pretty sure Tom used Aero Gloss. He won several Testor awards for perfect finish though.

I checked Perigee this morning and I am sure the cowls were made of fiberglass. I so recall the odor of the process, it almost came alive again. The one I showed you must have been made for Beast II

Backtracking here...I went through the scrapbook this morning to see if I could find anything tracing a kit back to Hal, and found a letter from a satisfied kit builder that Hal forwarded to Tom in 1966.

Good to see the thread active again, and thanks to all followers.


I looked at the kit again, and indeed the canopy is there, but was made of thin material and was badly dented in a couple places, (nothing like 39 years of something pressing on it to do that), so the dent didn't fully bounce back. Any ideas on what to do? The box has a shipping label from DeBolt to a hobby shop in Higginsville, Missouri with a note that says "Contest Prize".

I will definitely build mine...just not sure exactly when, but hopefully not too long.

Duane
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