Q608: You commented a while back about the current-carrying capacity of the various connectors used for electric-powered flight. As you stated, “overloaded” connectors can sometimes heat up to the point of melting. Keeping this in mind, what about the wire used with these connectors? Are there any guidelines for the current-carrying capacity of the wires?
A608: Connector construction, as well as wire diameter, is very important to the safe and efficient operation of an electric-powered system. Since my last mention of electrical connectors, I found an excellent website offered by the ICARE sailplane company. The website is listed in the “Sources” section.
What concerns me is that some of the RTF electric-powered model aircraft employ ESCs that use small-gauge (diameter) wire that can’t take the load. The result is that the connectors on the ESC and the wire can’t take the electric load. To help correct this kind of problem, I’ve found several interesting sources.
One source is provided on the RBE Electronics website. It contains charts on wire gauge with equivalent wire diameter, as well as the current rating for the various wire diameters employed in electric-powered flight. By using an Internet search, I’m sure you will find many references similar to this. The website is listed in “Sources.”
Let me offer a bit of advice. If your ESC wiring does get hot from an overload (too much current), go to the next-larger-capacity ESC. Make sure your interconnecting wiring is at least the capacity of the wiring employed on your ESC.
As to sources for electrical wiring, I found a company that advertises in many model magazines called Summit Aerospace. Its website (listed in “Sources”) contains a lot of wire information. The company sells wire for RC use in cut packages or by the foot.
I might add that some wire is stamped or marked with the wire gauge, but in many cases, especially with the smaller diameter wire, there are no markings. When you purchase new wire, place it in small bags and mark the gauge number with a felt-tipped marker.
BP Hobbies and Radical RC are two other suppliers of wire RC use. I’ve also listed these businesses in the “Sources” section.
Piper PA-11 Cub Special
Q609: This may be the wrong column for this question, but here goes anyway. I’ve heard that there is a little-known variation of the Piper J-3 Cub called the Piper PA-11 Cub Special. Can you supply me with some contact information and possibly a photo?
A609: This is an airplane that is dear to my heart. I took my first series of flying lessons in the late 1950s in a Piper PA-11 Cub Special. It is basically a Piper J-3 Cub, but with a fully cowled-in engine. Remember, the J-3 had exposed engine cylinder heads. The PA-11 was produced after the conclusion of World War II and was a contemporary of the popular Aeronca 7AC Champion.
The one thing that made the PA-11 stand out was that it employed a variation of the Aeronca Champ color scheme. The Aeronca was yellow and orange, while the PA-11 was yellow and blue. I built and published a small Stand-Off Scale version of the PA-11 that appeared in the December 2004 RC MicroFlight newsletter that was published by Air Age Media. My version had only 130 square inches of wing area and weighed just 5.4 ounces.
I recently decided to build up a Carl Goldberg Models anniversary edition of the Piper J-3 Cub with a 76-inch wingspan and 744 square inches of wing area. To make this airplane into a PA-11, I was able to purchase a scale cowl from Fiberglass Specialties in is Garfield, Arkansas. The company’s website is listed in “Sources.” This cowl cost me $36, including shipping. It is well made and will be a perfect fit.
I also purchased a set of excellent plans for a small PA-11 on floats that is offered by noted Scale modeler, Bill Schmidt, of Bel Air, Kansas. Again the address is listed in “Sources.”
Aircraft Museum Guide
Q610: I remember your series called “Bob Aberle on the Museum Trail” that appeared in 1989 and 1990 Flying Models magazines. Your articles have inspired me to go on an aviation museum tour this coming summer. Are there any listings of the various museums throughout the country?
A610: I recently came across a reference to a book titled Guide to Over 900 Aircraft Museums, USA and Canada. It is available in paperback or on a CD. The paperback version is $27 plus postage, while the CD is $18 plus postage. This is a detailed and accurate book. I’m sure it is what you would want. I listed the website in the “Sources” section.