By Leslie Hunt
FIG. 62: PARTS OF A KITE REEL
A, disc forming ends of reel, 3/4 by 5 1/2 inches--two required:
|One 3/8 by 8-inch machine bolt with threads cut full one fourth the length with four washers and three nuts.|
|Two 1/4 by 3-inch stove bolts with three washers and two nuts to each bolt.|
|One large spool for the reel handle.|
|One large nail or spike.|
A 3/8-inch dowel rod, 3 feet long makes excellent rods for the reel drum, but the rods may be planed or whittled to about the right size and finished by driving through a machine nut. Be sure they are not less than 3/8 of an inch in diameter. The lumber and nails may be obtained from the ends and partition of the orange crate. The drawings in Figures 62 and 63 describe the making of the reel step by step, so only a few cautions need be given in the text.
If you are left-handed, turn the base over so the hole for the upright will be to your right when the longer part of the base is toward you.
The hole for the crank bolt should be first countersunk on the inside of the disc with a 3/8-inch bit just deep enough to allow a washer and one nut to lie in it when screwed up tight. Bore the hole through the rest of the way with the 1/4-inch bit. The bolt must not be screwed in past the nut, lest the string catch on it and be cut by the sharp edge. A good plan is to glue a heavy piece of paper over this attachment before the string is wound on.
The block carrying the brake is countersunk in the same manner on the side that fits against the upright piece. The brake is a little troublesome to fit, so it is a good plan to fit it in place first, using a small nail as the pivot, then following the nail hole with the bits.
Do not bore the holes for the rods clear through. Bore until the nib of the bit can be seen, then turn back and clean out the hole. Try to have the holes all the same depth, holding the bit perpendicular to the surface when you bore, and taking care that you do not unexpectedly burst through the board.
The moving parts should fit snugly but should not bind or catch. Damp weather and tight winding make the reel hard to turn, but storing in a dry place usually is all that is necessary to loosen it again.
There are many kinds of reels, some of them elaborate affairs, but for all ordinary flying, the one described here answers every need.
The simplest messenger is a piece of paper having a hole near the center and a slit so it may be pinned around the string. These go only toward the kite, and after a number have been sent up, interfere with the flying. The trick of getting the messenger to return has been described in many magazine articles; in almost every case, it depends on folding the sail at the right time so the messenger glides back under the force of gravity. The messenger shown in Figure 64 does not fold the sail, but sets it at an angle so that the wind aids in sending the messenger back to the flier. Various releases have been devised, but I do not think any as simple and as positive as the one here described. A yacht is the usual form of messenger, although I have seen a messenger shaped like a mouse run up the kite string to be later overtaken and brought back by one shaped like a cat. But fancy messengers call for good flying conditions, and too much disappointment should not accompany their failure to perform.
If a yacht messenger is to be used, make the hull of thin cardboard, fitted to blocks of thin light wood. T he center block is a spring mousetrap, spring toward the prow, bait treadle down. The jaw is prevented from going too far forward by a check made of a strong rubber band and a string. Two light sticks are fitted to the sides of the jaw for a mast, and to the mast is rigged a sail. Parchment paper or tracing cloth makes a good sail. The bowsprit passes through the stem of the vessel and makes contact with the treadle of the trap. The trip on the string may be almost anything that is large enough to do the trick without adding unnecessary weight to the system. A small ring or even a short stick serves very well. The trip should be placed some distance from the kite, about the place where the string curves sharply upward.
The yacht is hung to the kite line by means of little screw eyes that have been spread a trifle so the string may pass into them without having to be cut and threaded through. A hole will have to be made in the trap to allow the string to pass. The whole scheme is to have the sail erect when the messenger is climbing, and when the trap is thrown, to have the sail swing forward parallel to the string. Both gravity and the wind will aid in returning the messenger to the flier.
No dimensions are given, since the style of vessel is one of individual choice. The author has one that is 12 inches long and weighs 3 ounces. In a stiff breeze it works very well.
To make a parachute, roll a cone of tissue paper about 10 inches in diameter and 8 inches deep. When nicely shaped, paste it together and let it dry. The shape and size may be obtained by cutting out a circle of paper 14 inches in diameter and then cutting out a piece like a fourth of a pie and pasting the edges of the cut together. When dry, crumple the paper until soft and glue 4 threads about 2 feet long at equal distances around the base of the cone. Holding the cone by the tip, even the threads and knot together. Experiment a little to find a pebble that will make the parachute open and sail when dropped from a short distance. The pebble may be attached to the threads by wrapping it in a tuft of cloth or crepe paper.
A parachute may be made over a crock or mixing bowl, and if you care to take the trouble, one may be built up with a number of sections cut like those of an umbrella. Do not use too much paste or glue or the parachute will be too stiff to open.
The most satisfactory attachment is a combination attachment and release.
Stir a spoonful of gunpowder or saltpeter in a few spoonfuls of water. When dissolved, stir in a quantity of common string. Let the string become thoroughly soaked and then hang it in loops to dry. The string is now a slow fuse. Cut off a piece, and determine roughly its rate of burning. Usually, it will burn from 1 to 2 inches per minute, so a few inches is sufficient for each release. Tie a thread to the parachute loop, and suspend the parachute a few inches from the kite. In the case of the Balloon Kite, suspend from the lower cross stick. Then tie a piece of fuse string to the thread, or run the thread through the fuse with a needle. When everything is ready, light the tip of the fuse and put up the kite. A parachute on each side is better than one, as the kite is more easily balanced.
Fuses are also used for releasing camera shutters in making aerial photographs, for opening boxes aloft, and for setting off fireworks high in the air. Firecrackers, punk, and cigarettes have been used for fuses, but the manufactured fuse works better, unless a signal is needed at a given time as described in the paragraph on photography (below).
Secure a small pasteboard box that has a loose overlapping lid. Attach the lid at one end by means of a paper hinge. Sew a loop of fuse through the end so the lid will be released when the fuse burns away. The box is to hang to the kite string, lid down, and hinge next to the flier. A longer fuse should be tied around the thread fastening the box to the line, but care must be taken lest the kite line get afire. Put a handful of confetti, chopped paper, bran, chaff, or maple seeds in the box, attach to the kite line, light both fuses and send aloft. Do not allow too much fuse as there is a limit to the time a box will remain flying in the air without interfering with the flight of the kite. S ome fliers prefer to fix the box to the string, and reel in for another charge.
A box 200 feet above the ground gives a wonderful effect; even at a less height the experiment is very pretty and well worth the time and effort.
Bear in mind that the tail of a kite is for a definite purpose, so do not burden it with unnecessary decorations. Carry your banners and flags on the kite line some distance from the kite. A banner should be hung in the proper position, and the top should be hung straight. By top, is meant the part of the banner that is the top when the banner is in the proper position to be read or examined. Fasten a light stick to this margin of the banner and hang it on the kite line so it will be horizontal when the height is reached where the banner is to fly. A trial or two may be necessary in order to secure the proper adjustment.
A national flag should fly horizontally, with the stick fastened to the margin of the flag that goes next to the mast or staff. Have the stick a trifle longer than the width of the flag and hang the stick vertically from the kite line with a guy cord tied to the bottom of the stick and to the kite line so the proper position will be kept. Be sure the flag flies right side up. Flying a flag upside down is a signal of distress and should be done only in time of dire need. Do not fly any flag or banner above any national flag. Only the chaplain's pennant is permitted to fly above the United States flag, and that only under certain conditions. Other flags not of national character, banners, or pennants may be flown lower on the kite line. Pennants are usually attached directly to the line. Streamers may be fixed to the kite line to suit. It is well not to overdo the decoration of a kite. Put up more kites rather than load a given kite or team of kites too much.
Kites for team flying should be tried out singly since a lazy kite will offset a good one with the result that the weight of both will hang on the line.
"He has too many kites on one string," is a saying equivalent to "too many irons in the fire" and is often heard, especially from older people. It is possible to have too many kites on one string, but three or four may be managed nicely with only a few precautions. Fly the first one about 200 feet, and the second one about half that distance on another string. Then tie the two strings securely to a small ring, cast-iron preferred, since a wire ring may open and release the kites.
A heavier string should be attached, the two flown about 200 feet, another ring added into which the third kite should be tied. It should be flying about 100 feet before it is tied in. Put up the second kite behind the leader, the third kite behind the team, etc., to avoid getting tangled. Decorations should be attached to the same ring as one of the kites. Only two sizes of string are necessary for kites like the ones here described.
First of all, use an inexpensive camera until you are sure that no disaster is likely to occur. Even then, a parachute a yard square attached to the handle and folded neatly so it will open in the event of a fall, may be a wise precaution.
Arrange a rubber band so it will jerk the shutter across or release it according to the make of camera. Then relieve the shutter from the pull of the rubber by a string to which is attached a fuse. Experiment with the release until you hit upon a plan that will work. Stubborn cases may be solved by using a firecracker with a long fuse made as described, and the release string running through the firecracker. Or, use a cartridge made by taking a few turns of wrapping paper around a pencil and glued so a shell is formed open at one end. Into this, place half a teaspoonful of black powder, insert the fuse deep into the powder, glue up the open end and run the shutter string through the body of the cartridge. A puff of smoke tells one when the shutter has been snapped. It may be necessary to rig the shutter control to a light stick.
Observe the rules necessary for making a good picture at the surface, such as focus, direction of light, pointing, changing the film, etc., and do not take it too much to heart if you fail the first few times. There is a knack in taking pictures from kites that must be mastered before one can be sure of success.
If you do not care to use a firecracker or cartridge, you may time the fuse, allowing plenty of time extra for it to work: Or, you may tie a tuft of paper to the fuse so it will be released a minute after the shutter. It will drift down slowly, and may be spied even if it is not seen the moment of its release.
For warrior kites, kite battles, etc., the reader is referred to War Kites.
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Last modified: October 15, 2016.