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How long should the towline be?

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  • How long should the towline be?

    It depends on the size and weight of your sailplane...but even less than ideal lengths can be made to work (so don't get overly stressed about this).

    We have experimented with a lot of tow planes and sailplanes and came up with this guide.

    Small foam sailplanes, like the Multiplex Easy Glider, which are 2M or less wingspan and about 2lbs. in weight...#18 braided nylon mason line about 60-65' long works very well. The twisted mason line will also work, but the braided line is more durable and easier to work with.

    Slightly larger foam sailplanes, like the Multiplex Cularis, which are about 2.5M in span and about 3lbs. in weight...#18 braided nylon mason line about 75' works very well.

    The small scale sailplanes in the 2.5-3.0M wing span are tricky to tow for reasons other than the towline length, but, #18 braided nylon mason line about 75-85' works okay.

    Scale sailplanes in the 3.0-3.8M wing span are a little easier to tow successfully...and #18-21 braided nylon seine twine about 85-90' long works very well.

    Scale sailplanes in the 4.0-6.0M wing span are much easier to tow...#24-30 braided nylon seine twine about 100' long is great.

    Scale sailplanes in the 6.0-7.0M wing span range works well with #30-36 braided nylon seine twine about 100-110' long is fine,

    Finally, scale sailplanes in the 8.0M+ wing span range work well with #36 braided nylon seine twine about 110-120' long is fine.

    These are not absolutes, just the sizes that we have used with good success.
    Last edited by JimD; 05-12-2015, 03:12 AM.
    A Site for Soar Eyes

  • #2
    We also use the Mason line for the smalerl Gliders, the added bonus is they come in Neon colours so you can find them if the line is dropped for any reason!

    Jeremy and Ben


    • #3
      A good source of heavier duty nylon seine twine is the Memphis Net & Twine Co., Inc.

      We have found that the #30 size is a good all around size for our typical aero tow events where most sailplanes are in the 4-8M range. The #24 has also worked well, especially if there are smaller sailplanes in the mix.

      As for the snap link, Memphis Net & Twine sells the Rosco terminal tackle line of products and after some experimentation the Rosco Swivel with Snap size #2/0 has worked the best.

      A simple overhand knot works fine for the tow plane attachment and for the swivel attachment, although you may want a "cooler" looking knot "just because!"

      We made up a new towline for the recent New England Aero Tow Event using 105' of #30 nylon seine twine. After making the knots on both ends, the towline was about 104' long. We used it for everything from Easy Gliders up to an 8M Duo Discus.

      The only issue with the small sailplanes is the weight of the line. It tends to sag in the middle on tow instead of being tight and straight like it is with the bigger, heavier, planes. We compensated for this by towing at a steeper angle and managing speed with the throttle.

      Landing at the Prop Busters field drags the towline through the corn field stubble and occasionally results in yanking a corn stalk root out of the ground! We calculate that we did about 300 tow circuits and on the last day on one of the last tows, the towline finally gave up and the swivel broke off. So we answered the question: "How long does a towline last?"
      A Site for Soar Eyes