Bending Ends on Solid Lead Outs

April 2021 President’s Report
May 20, 2021

Tutorial: Loop Making in Solid (Music Wire) Lead-outs

by Scott Richlen

I suppose there will always be an ongoing discussion in the stunt community of whether solid lead-outs or flexible lead-outs are the best. I happen to use both. For many years I used solid lead-outs, but after I started flying larger planes with 60 size engines I began using flexibles. Some people will only use one or the other. I use both.  But, I prefer the look of the solid lead-out because I can put a loop for the line connection at the end of it that looks very clean, and I think the straight line of the solid lead-out wire is aesthetically pleasing.

Others have issues with solids: they think that they are too easy to kink, and lately there has been concern about the brittleness of the wire. In years past I never had any problem with brittleness in music wire, but I know that lately a number of flyers have had a hard time bending up music wire lead-outs without breakage. I don’t know if this is from a decline in American production standards or from widespread importation of inferior product. As a result, I  use flexible lead-outs on my larger planes, but I much prefer solid lead-outs on any of my planes that are powered by LA .46 or smaller engines.

Of course, aesthetically there’s probably nothing worse than poorly shaped loops; when not done cleanly they can be very ugly. So, in this tutorial I want to describe how to make aesthetically pleasing connecting loops at the end of your solid lead-outs

A crappy job on your lead-out ends: Yuck!

Let’s talk about making the ends on your solid lead-outs the right  way.

Hard to get 20 points without these

You really only need three tools to accomplish this. You need pliers, a Du-bro Kwik-Twist, and a pair of looping pliers.

Here are the three tools you need to make your solid lead-outs

Let’s assume that your control system is in place, and it’s time to bend your lead-out loops.  First, ensure that your control system is in neutral, as shown by the position of the flap horns.

Start by setting your control system at neutral

You can now make your first bend in your lead-out wires. Here’s an important consideration: your lead-outs must extend past the edge of your wingtip far enough that their full motion up or down is not restricted by that edge.  There is nothing worse than cutting one of your lead-outs too short (Well, actually, there is: you cut both off too short!).  Also, I know that some people stagger their lead out loops; however, my lead outs extend the same distance out, and I have never had an instance where they interfered with each other.

This first bend is pretty sharp – I should have used the looping pliers to radius the bend

I now use my looping pliers to bend a uniform small loop in the wire. This bend is made in the opposite direction to your initial bend (as shown in photo above.) You will notice that the excess wire crosses above the lead out – this will be important for when you use the Kwik-Twist later.

Use your looping pliers to bend a small uniform loop

Carefully repeat this process on your other wire.  Take care that you make it the same size as your first.

Insert photo “Both loops bent” here

Loops completed

Now, use your pliers to firmly grasp one of the end loops. Turn the knurled knob on your Kwik-Twist to open its side slot, and then after sliding your lead-out wire into the slot, twist the knob again to lock it into place. In the photo below you can see a small round grommet-like appendage sticking out from the left end of the Kwik-Twist. You will use that to catch the excess end piece of wire.  Now, remember that I said whether the excess end of your loop goes over or under the lead-out wire shaft makes a difference?  To wrap your wire, you must twist the Kwik-Twist in the same direction that you previously used to lock the Kwik-Twist onto the lead-out. If you twist in the other direction, the Kwik-Twist opens and releases the shaft of the lead-out wire.  So, make sure that the excess wire of the loop crosses over the top of the shaft!

Lead out loop grasped by pliers, quick twist mounted on lead out wire

You will now use that small appendage sticking out of the left side of the Kwik-Twist to grab the excess wire and then, as you rotate the Kwik-Twist, it will wrap it around your lead-out shaft.  Usually, 5 to 8 wraps will secure it.

Lead outs: before on the right, after on the left

The only thing remaining is to clip off the small wire stub sticking out from the end of the wrap.

Clip off the stub of wire sticking out from the wrap

Here you see the end result. I will then (Very Carefully, so as not to nick the lead-out shaft!) use my Dremel with a ceramic cutting wheel to trim off the rest of that small stub.  That will ensure that it does not catch on the other lead out or on my line clips.  It also saves my fingers from little puncture wounds when hooking up or unhooking my lines.

Use your Dremel (Carefully) to trim off this little stub

Congratulations on your 20 point lead-out loops!