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Dad's fascination inspires models

Staff writer

About four or five years ago, Doug Taylor of Hillsboro started making airplane-shaped weathervanes to give to family and friends.

“It mostly started out as a hobby,” Taylor said. “My dad really liked airplanes, so instead of being a car guy, we were always watching airplanes and going to airports.”

He said he could recognize a huge variety of airplanes, especially World War II planes, when he was younger.

Taylor decided about a month ago to make an enterprise out of his weathervanes, selling them at crafts shows. Losing his job at Parkside Homes prompted the final decision.

“I’d been thinking about doing it anyway,” he said.

People had been encouraging him to sell his creations for a while, he said.

Early reactions have been positive, especially from children, Taylor said.

He makes his weathervanes in small batches to save time. The process is more time-consuming than he expected, he said.

Taylor makes the fuselages of his weathervanes from two-by-fours. The wings, stabilizers, and tail are made of redwood siding. He cuts out the shapes using a band saw, then smoothes the edges with a belt sander.

He then primes and paints the planes, some with real designs and others from his imagination. He makes the propellers for the weathervanes by combining two double-bladed propellers designed for radio-control airplanes to make a four-bladed propeller.

Even in a wind too light to turn one of his weathervanes, the propellers will spin, he said.

Taylor finishes the weathervanes by drilling a hole in the fuselage closer to the front than the back. That ensures that the front faces into the wind, he said.

The first weathervanes he made were based on the P-51 Mustang, a World War II fighter. Another favorite is the P-40 Warhawk, which also was a fighter in World War II.

Now he is trying a bit trickier design, the B-25 Mitchell bomber. Keeping the same scale as his other weathervanes, the B-25 is much larger, and it has an engine on each wing.

“The B-25 has been a favorite of mine,” Taylor said.

He tried making a helicopter weathervane, but he wasn’t happy with the results. The rotor didn’t spin much in the wind. When he tries again, he plans to drill the pivot hole at an angle. That will point the nose down slightly, exposing the rotor to more wind, he said.

Weathervanes aren’t Taylors only woodworking projects. He also makes picture frames, television cabinets, and other crafts. For more information, call Taylor at (620) 947-0195.

Last modified July 7, 2011

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