Products - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- I really like your kit, but I'd like to (insert change here). Can you help me modify your model to (insert changes here), such as installing a larger engine?
- I heard about a new product which is not yet listed on your web site. How can I get more information?
- When will you come out with a (insert model type here)?
- Where can I find scale documentation to complete my model?
- Can you tell me how fast this model goes?
- How do I take MonoKote covering off a model?
- How do I install washout into a wing?
- The manual for my model tells me to balance the plane laterally by picking it up by spinner and fin and seeing if it drops a wing tip, then add weight to the light tip to balance. Why do we do this?
- My MonoKote is brittle and fractured. What can I do to keep this from happening?
- The model I am building says to place the spinner nut X distance from the firewall. I am using an engine with a small, light case which is not long enough and I can only get Y distance from the firewall. What do I do?
- Where can I find the specific setup information for (insert kit name here), including control throws, center of gravity, and incidences?
- Has MonoKote changed over the years? I have a few rolls of covering that say "Super MonoKote" on the wrapper and newer rolls that say "MonoKote". What is the difference?
- I have a question about the: Stinson Reliant
- I am looking to get into flying remote control airplanes. How do I get started?
- I used to own product X. I can't find it on your web site now. Do you still make it? If not, will you produce it again?
- I am replacing the motor mount, or making other repairs to the my built aircraft. How can I install new blind nuts since I can't get my hand to the back of the firewall?
- My new warbird required noseweight to balance. Did I do something wrong? Why does plane require noseweight?
- The kit I am building calls for metal pushrods from the rudder and elevator to the servos. Am I going to have problems with the antenna running through the tail of my fuselage with these metal pushrods?
- How can I make a professional gapless wing saddle?
- My aircraft flies beautifully, but I just can't get it on the ground. It floats and floats right past. What can I do?
- I am thinking of installing an engine inverted. What do I need to know?
- I am trying to assemble multiple pieces of sheeting for my model. Can you help make this easier?
- Do you offer a wing kit/fuselage kit/tail kit for my built up wood aircraft?
- I am building my aircraft and can't seem to find the hinges. Were they missed in my kit?
- How do I use CA hinges? Is there anything I need to know to use them properly?
- Do I have to worry about interference with the metallic, silver, chrome, and similar colors of MonoKote?
- I don't understand how the airflow inside a cowl works, how an engine is cooled, or what baffling does.
- I am getting ready to install a gasoline engine in a large model aircraft. What do I need to know to avoid radio noise from the ignition system?
- What is the best way to solder braided cables onto couplers?
- How do I solder heavy gauge wire?
- I am interested in using a 3- or 4-bladed prop for a more scale appearance. How do I decide what size prop to purchase?
- When should I use a 2-stroke engine vs a 4-stroke?
- My servos work backwards on my new model. What's wrong?
- This aircraft has dihedral or polyhedral in the wing. I want the model to be aerobatic. Can I remove this?
- My model's engine is not placed dead center on the firewall. Why?
- No matter what throttle setting I have, my tach always reads approximately 3600 RPM. What am I doing wrong?
- I cannot get my engine far enough forward on the mount to reach the measurement called for in my plan's instructions. (For example, 5-3/4" from the firewall to the back of the spinner.) What can I do?
- How should I fuelproof my firewall or fuel tank area?
- I am having difficulty painting on my fiberglass parts. What am I doing wrong? Is there anything special I need to know?
- What is a 'retract servo'? How is it different from a standard servo? Should I use it with mechanical or pneumatic retracts?
- Will parts from the current Gold Edition models fit my pre-Gold Edition 'red box' kits?
- What temperature should I use to apply my covering?
- My new model calls for the servos to be mounted on the exterior of my aircraft (sticking out of the wing or tail.) Is this okay? Will the fuel and dirt damage my servos?
- How do I apply the decals included in my kit? Do I need to use water? Do I need to protect or seal the edges?
- Can I use a clothes iron to apply my covering?
- I have higher torque servo(s) to put in my scale, aerobatic, or 60+ sized model. Where would you recommend I install it (them).
- My manual says my model should have washout of x degrees. What is washout and how do I tell if my model has the proper amount?
- I am building a small model. Should I leave the antenna hanging out the back of the plane or wrap/fold/cut it?
- Why does my kit have thin sheeting in it? Why don't you use heavier sheeting?
- My engine is overheating or running hotter than I would like. How can I get it better cooling?
- Can I use a gyro in an airplane? When is it a good idea?
- What is the difference between a direct drive and gear drive electric motor?
- Making soft weights that won't damage balsa
- Making a professional balsa skin
- Repairing surface damage
- Recommended Covering Steps and Sequences for a Typical Semi-Scale Model
- Keeping Wheels in Place on Axle and Model Tracking Straight
- Proper Servo Mounting
- Important things to check in Pre-Flight
- Important Engine Safety Precautions
- Quantity/position of rubber bands to secure my model's wing?
- Basics of Flying — IncludingTaxi/Take-Off/Landing
- Model snaps, tip stalls, or loops off to one side. What can I do?
- How long can I store unopened fuel? how about opened fuel?
- How do I check incidence on a park flier?
- How do I break in an electric motor?
- My switch stopped working, and when I checked it, I found the black wire all corroded. The copper part looked dark and was brittle. What happened?
- Is it ok to let my antenna touch the pushrods, servo leads, etc?
- My airplane's electric motor runs in the wrong direction. What do I do?
- What is model fuel made of? Why do I need such a special fuel? Can I use something cheaper?
I did not find the answer to my question here. How do I get further assistance?
I really like your kit, but I'd like to (insert change here). Can you help me modify your model to (insert changes here), such as installing a larger engine?
We cannot recommend exceeding our engine recommendations or making other modifications to our models. Power recommendations are made based upon a variety of factors, including size, weight, fit, thrust, torque, and stress testing of the model. Even if a larger engine may fit on the airframe, that does not mean it is a good choice for the aircraft. Exceeding our engine recommendations voids your warranty and exposes you and those around you to additional risks. Likewise, chosing to use an engine smaller than our recommended engine range may provide the aircraft too little airspeed to fly safely and again voids your warranty and creates unnecessary risk.
When will you come out with a (insert model type here)?
Unfortunately, we are not able to provide any information on future releases or planned future kits. However, please use our Product Suggestion form, which will be forwarded directly to the appropriate product managers for future consideration. Thank you for your time and interest! We take your suggestions seriously, and use consumer's suggestions in our considerations for future products. Please note that our design cycle is long and planned well in advance, and that a model needs to have good popular appeal for us to seriously consider it.
I heard about a new product which is not yet listed on your web site. How can I get more information?
If a product is not yet listed on our web site, chances are good that we do not yet have information on that newly released product. Please visit your favorite hobby shop and our web site regularly for new technical information as it becomes available.
Where can I find scale documentation to complete my model?
An excellent resource for scale documentation for your project is:
Bob Banka's Scale Model Research
3114 Yukon Avenue
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
This is Bob Banka's Scale Model Research, a huge scale modeling resource who sells photopacks and other documentation which is enormously helpful.
Can you tell me how fast this model goes?
Unfortunately, we cannot estimate speed of our models. Speed is dependent on a large variety of factors, with the key one being engine and prop selection, but also including engine break-in, altitude, humidity, temperature, fuel and plug, assembly accuracy and, of course, pilot skill. Please remember that if your model does not fly as quickly as you had anticipated that prop selection can make a huge difference. High diameter low pitch props are like low gear in your car - providing you lots of pulling power off the line (great vertical) but very little forward speed. Low diameter high pitch props are like high gear in a car - lots of top end speed, but poor acceleration off the flight line and poor vertical climb.
How do I take MonoKote covering off a model?
Removing covering is a bit challenging. Remember, the product was designed to stick to your airplane through thick and thin! You'll want to cut into the covering in an open bay area, then using a heat gun and a flat, scraping blade, gradually peel up all the covering you can. Where you cannot remove it, you will need to sand through the covering to remove it from the aircraft. In some cases in small areas MonoKote trim solvent can help bring up edges to peel up small stuck pieces. Once the bulk of the covering is off, try using an air hose to blow off some of the leftover adhesive sections, then sand clean.
How do I install washout into a wing?
- place the wing so your left panel is flat on your desk and the wing is RIGHT SIDE UP on the desk (confirm its incidence at the root is 0). Use some weights (sand bags or ankle weights work great) to hold the center and the leading edge flat to your desk.
- place a small balsa wedge under the trailing edge of the left wing tip. Begin with a 1/4" wedge.
- place weight on the trailing edge as well. Note the bow being caused by the wedge.
- use a MonoKote iron and heat gun to tighten the covering in this "twisted" configuration. Allow to cool overnight.
(If you have not previously covered the model, then instead wet your sheeting with a water/ammonia mix prior to weighting the wing. Leave weighted and allow to dry over at least 24 hours.)
- use an incidence meter to determine the incidence at the tip matches your desired incidence. Repeat 1-4 with a larger wedge as necessary to gain desired incidence.
- repeat 1-5 with right wing.
The manual for my model tells me to balance the plane laterally by picking it up by spinner and fin and seeing if it drops a wing tip, then add weight to the light tip to balance. Why do we do this?
Many things can cause an airplane to be out of balance laterally (from left to right), but usually the reason is very simple - an engine does not weigh the same from left to right of the aircraft because of mufflers, etc, and therefore the other side needs to be weighted appropriately to balance the plane this way. Balancing laterally is very important because an airplane that is balanced laterally will usually stall straight ahead and be very predictable and easy to handle at landing speeds. An airplane that is heavy on one side will drop that wing when it gets too slow to fly, increasing a possibility of a crash.
My MonoKote is brittle and fractured. What can I do to keep this from happening?
In most applications a covering scheme will remain supple and beautiful literally for years, even decades. However, there are a few things that can shorten the life of your model's covering. The #1 killer of a beautiful covering scheme is excesive heat during installation. Extreme heating with a heat gun or iron during installation or retightening can permanently damage your covering. Other suspects include long term exposure to UV (ie. storage against an unprotected window), and harsh chemical cleaners.
MonoKote should be pulled tight as it is applied and the wood should be very dry. The most common cause of MonoKote problems is caused when the covering is ironed around the edges then heat gunned to tighten it. You can avoid problems by first blow drying the wood with a heat gun to remove the moisture, then tacking the covering film down as you pull it tight to pull out the wrinkles. Iron the film to the surface starting in the center of the surface working out toward the edges. When applied this way, you should have no further problem.
The model I am building says to place the spinner nut X distance from the firewall. I am using an engine with a small, light case which is not long enough and I can only get Y distance from the firewall. What do I do?
Most manufacturers try to provide a universal engine mount which will fit all engines in the size range at the time of the production of the model; however, in our quest for lightness, many manufacturers are now managing to produce ever smaller, lighter engines. Simply place shims between your firewall and motor mount to properly position your engine as instructed.
Where can I find the specific setup information for (insert kit name here), including control throws, center of gravity, and incidences?
Please refer to our chart which lists all of that information for both current and discontinued kits.
Has MonoKote changed over the years? I have a few rolls of covering that say "Super MonoKote" on the wrapper and newer rolls that say "MonoKote". What is the difference?
No major changes have been made to the formulation in the past 15 years. That is not to say that slight changes are not made from time to time to conform to constantly changing EPA regulations. This is primarily concerning solvents, the adhesive/pigment package has remained virtually unchanged since the upgrade to "Super MonoKote" . With this in mind please be aware that not all colors are made exactly the same-some colors adhere better than others, some offer more opacity and so on. But they all have essentially the same characteristics.
Concerning the change from MonoKote to Super MonoKote and back to MonoKote. The original material sold was "MonoKote" this was only on the market for about 5-6 years before it was upgraded to "Super MonoKote". It has remained Super MonoKote ever since. We stopped using the "Super" designation (but changed nothing in the formulation) because most of the modelers involved in the hobby today do not remember the original MonoKote. This created some confusion with some modelers wondering about "regular" MonoKote.
As a final thought, you will note that we did not change the "Super" designation on the roll itself. The imprint of "Super MonoKote" is still stamped on the edge of every roll.
I am looking to get into flying remote control airplanes. How do I get started?
WELCOME TO THIS GREAT HOBBY!!
The first step is to locate a hobby shop in your area (use the dealer locator and enter your U.S. zip code), and to ask the local shop to refer you to a club in your area as well. In major metropolitan areas there are usually several, so you often have several places and groups of people to choose from. These 2 contacts will be invaluable to you in gaining first hand knowledge and support.
The next step is to visit the local field and watch people fly. Some clubs have a club trainer plane so you can gain a few flights before expending any money to find just how much fun this hobby is.
At this point it is time to join the AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics, www.modelaircraft.org), which provides you insurance in case of accident or property damage with your model as well as an excellent monthly magazine. The cost is small and the protection is very important. Don't miss this vital step.
We STRONGLY recommend a simulator to help you learn to fly. Great Planes RealFlight R/C Simulator (www.realflight.com) is the best simulator and if you use it as a real training tool can save you a lot of time, money and frustration in learning to fly.
Once you're ready to 'take the plunge', we recommend you select an aircraft, radio and engine that best equates what your selected instructor uses. This will make it easier for him/her to assist you along the way. In particular, be sure to select your radio so that it is compatible with your instructor's radio so that you can use a trainer cord to help you learn to fly and help protect your investment. There are many directions to go in selecting a plane — for some modelers building is the most exciting part, and they select aircraft such as the Great Planes PT40 Mk II model kit to assemble. For others, they want to get in the air fairly quickly but are on a budget. In those cases, a plane like the Hobbico Superstar ARF makes a great choice. Others are short on time and want to be flying as quickly as possible, so they select an aircraft such as the Hobbico NexSTAR, which is almost entirely preassembled, with engine and radio already installed!
Please recognize that leaning to fly a model aircraft is a very challenging skill. Just as it would not be a good idea to try to teach yourself to drive an automobile alone in city traffic, it is an equally poor idea to attempt to teach yourself to fly. Model aircraft are amazingly responsive, and it is easy to get disoriented and lose control of your aircraft. For your safety and enjoyment, and for the safety of those around you, we strongly recommend you join the AMA, find a local club, and work with an instructor you trust. Similarly, it is always best to begin your instruction on an easy to fly trainer type model, and not attempt to fly more complex models until you've mastered the basics.
Good luck and again, welcome to our great hobby!
I used to own product X. I can't find it on your web site now. Do you still make it? If not, will you produce it again?
If the product you are seeking is anything other than an accessory or repair parts for another item, then unless a product is brand new, if it is not listed on our web site then the product is no longer produced. Unfortunately, we cannot answer whether or not a product will be reproduced in the future.
I am replacing the motor mount, or making other repairs to the my built aircraft. How can I install new blind nuts since I can't get my hand to the back of the firewall?
This is a fairly common problem when installing a new engine, or completing repairs. To install new blind nuts, drill your new holes if needed. Slide a long pushrod which is the same thread as your engine mount bolts through the hole in your firewall far enough so you can access the end of the pushrod easily from your wing saddle. Screw the blind nut onto the pushrod (now in your open radio gear area), and pull the blind nut into position in the firewall. Use your engine mount bolts to pull the blind nut securely into position.
My new warbird required noseweight to balance. Did I do something wrong? Why does plane require noseweight?
Modelers are often surprised when a warbird model requires noseweight. Please rest assured that this is very common, and is inherent in the fact that full size warbirds had huge engines in very short noses. Our engines are comparatively small and very light.
Here is a terrific little real world example:
Full size Spitfire MK IX - 7500 lbs - Loaded
Rolls Royce Merlin engine weight - 1650 lbs
Engine weight is roughly 22% of aircraft weight
Source - Rand McNally Encyclopedia of Military Aircraft
Top Flite Spitfire - 10 lbs
Engine weight - 1 lb, 3 oz.
Nose weight - 1 lb even
Engine plus nose weight - 2 lb, 3 oz.
22% of 10 lbs = 2 lbs, 3.2 oz.
Result - Top Flite version needed less nose weight than the original, despite an enlarged tail.
The kit I am building calls for metal pushrods from the rudder and elevator to the servos. Am I going to have problems with the antenna running through the tail of my fuselage with these metal pushrods?
You've asked an excellent question! Metal pushrods are a standard of this industry and are not a problem whatsoever, SO LONG AS you do not get your antenna intertwined with the metal pushrods or with servo leads. If you cannot run your antenna on the outside of your aircraft, run your antenna through a plastic pushrod outer or paper tube to keep it away from the metal pushrods and any servo leads you may have extending through your aircraft.
How can I make a professional gapless wing saddle?
Making a gapless wing saddle.
1. Cover the top of the wing center section with scrap MonoKote and shrink it tight with a heat gun. This is important as you want a smooth finish after the next few steps. Wipe a VERY light film of Vaseline over the covered part of the wing to act as a release agent.
2. Apply 3/4" masking tape to the sheeting on the outside edge of the fuselage wing saddle (not to the wing mating surface of the saddle itself). Position it as close to the edge as possible so you won't have to do much sanding later.
3. Mix about 1 oz of 30 minute epoxy in a Dixie Cup and add about 1.5 ounces of Micro Balloons or Talcum powder to the mixture. Stir it in throughly until you have a smooth paste.
4. Working quickly, spread this paste onto the left and right wing saddle, coating the outer half with a thick layer. Don't worry about coating the entire surface as all you should be concerned about is the outer edge.
5. Carefully mount the wing and secure the wing bolts. Some of the epoxy paste will be squeezed out of the saddle. Use a piece of scrap balsa to squeegee the paste into any remaining gaps and then scrape off any excess from the fuselage sides before the paste cures. It's not necessary to get it all off, but working clean helps minimize sanding. Allow the paste to cure for a couple of hours... overnight is better still.
6. Remove the wing bolts and pop the wing loose with the palms of your hands. Pull off the masking tape from the fuselage and remove the film from the wing. Using fine sand paper and a sanding bar, lightly sand the hardened paste from the outside edges of the fuselage, blending it with the fuselage contour. Check the fit of the wing to the saddle. If you have not overdone the sanding you should have a perfect fit without any gap.
My aircraft flies beautifully, but I just can't get it on the ground. It floats and floats right past. What can I do?
Many full size aircraft, like the Beech Bonanza for example, do float and have long glide paths. So do many models, especially lightly wingloaded ones. First, be sure your model is properly balanced (both CG and laterally to avoid tip stalling at slow speeds.) One trick, if the model has them available, is to use flaps (or flaperons). Also keep the nose slightly high almost to the runway (practice this at safe altitudes of course, until you know your model's stall characteristics well). Control forward speed with power. Touch down on the mains and then immediately lower the nose wheel. A higher diameter, lower pitch prop will also slow the aircraft down at all speeds, including idle speed. A low enough pitch will actually behave like an air brake (for example, 12x4 on a 46FX), so be sure to experiment with it at safe altitudes and familiarize yourself with the aircraft's new glide path prior to attempting to land. Lastly, how heavy is your model? If it is close to the suggested weight you could also add a little weight without effecting flight performance.
I am thinking of installing an engine inverted. What do I need to know?
There are a few things to know about the nature of setting up and running any engine inverted. RC engines are small, lightweight and fairly simplistic engines. They do not have all the complex equipment available to competition aerobatic full size aircraft engines or similar machines; therefore, when asked to run in inverted mounting, sometimes they can be a bit more challenging to set up than an upright installation.
First, realize that your engine may be full of fuel PRIOR to starting, risking hydrolock which can do severe damage to your engine, especially if the aircraft has been stood on its nose or even just nose low during transportation. Always flip the prop over to check the compression prior to using a starter. If it seems harder than normal, remove the glowplug and flip through several times or spin the engine with an electric starter to clear it and avoid the possibility of hydrolock.
Next, ALWAYS follow your manufacturer's instructions on engine break-in. In almost every case, the engine should be broken in on a test stand where it can be properly watched, cared for, fueled, drained, and adjusted easily and safely. If your manufacturer recommends in flight break-in, just be aware that it will be soft on power until the break-in period is completed and always be prepared for a dead stick landing during those break-in flights.
Then, once it is broken in, it can be installed. In some cases tuning in the inverted installation is a little more challenging due to the tank/carb relationship combined with the inverted mounting. If this is the case, tuning with the aircraft inverted/engine upright will help get the engine running flawlessly, then it can be run inverted.
Finally, some engines, especially inexpensive bushinged budget engines, will not like to start in an inverted position, again due to carb/tank positioning and fuel flow. In those case, you may need to start the aircraft inverted and turn upright to fly when running.
Do you offer a wing kit/fuselage kit/tail kit for my built up wood aircraft?
We do not sell fuselage kits or tail kits for any of our models. We DO offer the individual parts so you can purchase just those items you really need so that you do not have to purchase an entire kit when you only need a few individual parts for repair. Note that if you need to replace an entire fuselage, or even most of one, starting from a new kit may be quicker, easier, and provide you a better product in the end.
We offer wing kits for a select few of our models, because wing damage due to a rough landing or crash is most common. We offer only those our customers have regularly requested. A wing kit is everything which came in the original kit to build a new wing, including all hardware, plans, and a manual. Again, you can purchase just the individual parts if you do not need the entire kit.
Below is a list of the wing kits we currently offer. Please note that this list is subject to change at any time without notice. Please contact your favorite hobby shop to purchase the wing kit you require.
TOPA1610 P560W P51D MUSTANG 60 WING KIT
TOPA1620 P406W P-40E WARHAWK WING KIT
TOPA1630 AT-6 WING KIT
TOPA1636 P396W P39 WING KIT
TOPA1640 CESSNA 182 WING KIT
I am building my aircraft, and can't seem to find the hinges. Were they missed in my kit?
It's possible your hinge material may not have been packed, but many people just don't recognize the hinge material. CA hinges come in a 3" x 9" strip in your kit and must be cut to size for use on your model. You may confuse this for fiberglass reinforcement tape, as it is fairly thin and somewhat flexible. CA hinges are an exceptional hinging material which fits in a thin slot, bonds very well to balsa with CA, and remains flexible and operational for a very long time if properly installed and cared for.
How do I use CA hinges? Is there anything I need to know to use them properly?
The CA hinges work wonderfully — if used properly, they have minimal gap, require little effort in installation, and are super strong and durable.
Things to remember:
- Never just slop a hobby knife in to make a slot. Always clean out the leftover wood to get a good socket. Don't over-enlarge the hole or the hinge will not fit snuggly and get a good gluing surface. The Slot Machine will cut perfect slots for you every time.
- If you are not using the Slot Machine, drill a 3/32" hole 1/2" deep into the socket prior to installing the hinge. This will allow the CA to travel the length of the hinge.
- Never install with medium or thick CA, or epoxy. Always use thin CA.
- Never apply 10-15 drops on the center. Always apply only the amount called for in your specific installation (this will vary by hinge size, but is usually 6.)
- Never try to install and glue one side at a time. The CA will wick and stiffen the rest of the hinge, which will not mount properly later.
- ALWAYS flex the surface as the CA is drying to keep the hinge from stiffening.
- NEVER use kerosene based or similarly corrosive products on or around your CA hinges.
Do I have to worry about interference with the metallic, silver, chrome, and similar colors of MonoKote?
Absolutely not. These products do not present any problem whatsoever with creating any radio noise or other interference in your radio equipment. ENJOY!
I don't understand how the airflow inside a cowl works, how an engine is cooled, or what baffling does.
This can be confusing. It can really seem backward, as air opening is one place where in some cases less is better. Regarding cooling inside a cowl, you must force air over the engine, otherwise it will escape around the engine (taking the path of least resistance), creating a stale pocket of air over the engine which never gets cool air and so the engine overheats. A properly shaped cowl or a baffle forces the air over the engine area, not giving it an easy escape route otherwise.
If you have an overheating problem, consider creating a baffle so that only 1/4" all the way around your engine is open to allow fresh air in, to properly force cooling to the engine.
Another good rule of thumb is to have at least three times the exit area as the inlet area, again to help encourage air into the cowl to flow over the engine.
The air is forced through it....kind of like a velocity stack, which because its so narrow at the bottom it increases the air pressure coming through. This does the same thing. All that air hits the baffle and MUST go somewhere....so it goes through the much smaller volume opening with much more pressure.
I am getting ready to install a gasoline engine in a large model aircraft. What do I need to know to avoid radio noise from the ignition system?
In setting up your gasoline engine's installation, there are several important factors to remember:
- ALL ignition equipment, including an electronic kill switch, MUST be mounted at least 12", and preferably 14", away from ALL radio equipment, including throttle servos, etc.
- The ignition kill switch should always be on the opposite side of the fuselage from the radio kill switch.
- All pushrods going to anything related to the engine MUST be non-conductive (just non-metal clevises is not sufficient).
What is the best way to solder braided cables onto couplers?
The method we like to use is as follows. First, make sure your soldering iron is very hot, a 100 watt iron will probably not get hot enough. Then, pre-solder the cable so that the end is totally silver, but not saturated with solder. Make sure to use a fair amount of paste flux. Then, put a small amount of solder in the bottom of the coupler. Once both pieces are ready, cover the end of the cable in flux and place it in the coupler. Then, heat the coupler until the solder becomes fluid and place a small amount of solder on the rim of the coupler. Using this method does make both pieces very hot, so you will want to hold the parts with pliers until they are cool enough to touch.
How do I solder heavy gauge wire?
Soldering heavy gauge wire is one of those things that is an acquired skill. Like many things, once you learn it, it becomes relatively easy.
Silver solder will produce a MUCH stronger joint. It comes with a liquid flux. It is more sensitive to the correct temperature and it is also more expensive.
Start by making sure the wires are very clean. We recommend sanding them where they are to be soldered with 150 grit sandpaper. Then clean them with alcohol (isopropyl, rubbing alcohol). After they dry, tack glue the wires together, using as little CA as possible.
Next, coat the wires with a paste type of flux in the areas to be soldered and then wrap them with the wrapping wire. Coat this assembly with some more paste flux.
A 100 watt soldering iron will not get the assembly hot enough. A small propane torch will work well. If you have a larger household type of torch, don't turn it on full force. A flame about one inch long should work well. Heat the joint with the inner blue cone of the flame. The flux will bubble and start to burn off. When you think the joint is hot enough, remove the flame and apply the solder. Most types of solder will work. We usually use rosin core as that is what we usually have out.
If the joint is hot enough the solder will flow into the joint. If it doesn't flow, the joint is not hot enough. If the joint gets too hot, the flux will completely burn off and you will have to start all over again. If you do not remove the flame the solder will melt before it touches the wire, making it very difficult to get it to flow into the joint.
Done correctly, the joint will cool slightly as the solder flows in. When this happens the solder will stop flowing. Remove the solder and reheat the joint a little. Remove the heat and flow some more solder in. You might need to do this two or three times.
When you have enough solder in the joint, lightly wipe it with a wet rag to remove any excess solder.
I am interested in using a 3-or 4-bladed prop for a more scale appearance. How do I decide what size prop to purchase?
Please be aware that 3-bladed props are less efficient than a 2-bladed prop, so you are going to lose some performance. Additionally, 4-bladed are less efficient than 3. If your model is already marginal on power on a 2-blade, we strongly recommend against a 3-blade prop.
If, however, you have plenty of power and are willing to give up some performance for scale look and sound, then a 3-bladed prop is for you. You will want to start with a prop with either 1" less diameter or 1" less pitch than your 2-blade prop as a rule of thumb. For example, if your engine happily turns a 13x6, try a 12x6 or 13x5 to start with. Then adjust from there as needed.
To go to a 4-bladed prop, decrease an additional inch in either dimension. If your normal prop choice is, for example, a 11x6, you would begin with a 10x5 and work from there to find a 4-bladed prop that best fits your circumstances.
When should I use a 2-stroke engine vs a 4-stroke?
A 4-stroke gives you more torque, more power off the line, better vertical performance, and slower more scale flight speed because it turns larger diameter, lower pitch props. A 2-stroke is generally lighter and more powerful for the same displacement (not always) and goes faster, turning higher pitch lower diameter props.
My servos work backwards on my new model. What's wrong?
There are two possible answers to this question:
1. Moving control A activates the wrong servo. In this case, please unplug all servos from your receiver, check your model's and radio's instructions, and reinstall. Note that some manufacturers use different designations for which slot controls which channel so when in doubt follow your radio's manual.
2. When you move control A the servo goes the wrong direction. For example, moving your rudder stick right causes the rudder to move left. This is an installation or set up problem with your model. If your radio has servo reversing switches or computer radio programming, reverse the direction of that servo. If it does not, you will need to purchase a reversed servo, a servo reversing lead, or change your linkage so the pushrod works from the opposite side of the arm so that the linkage operates properly.
This aircraft has dihedral or polyhedral in the wing. I want the model to be aerobatic. Can I remove this?
We strongly recommend against modifying the designs. Each aircraft is tested extensively and set up based upon a specific design parameter. For example, removing dihedral in the GP CAP 232 will result in the model having a noticable roll reaction when rudder is applied.
My model's engine is not placed dead center on the firewall. Why?
Most aircraft benefit from having right thrust or down thrust built into them. (Note that some models because of their wing configuration require upthrust.) The model's engine is pointed right and or down slightly (a few degrees) to counteract certain aerodynamic forces which occur from the force of the engine and propeller. The engine's position on the firewall is usually shifted just enough so that the spinner backplate will still be centered on the aircraft.
We strongly recommend not changing or removing the thrust angles built into your model, as they are extensively tested and were specifically selected to provide specific flight behavior. For example, removing the up thrust in a GP CAP 232 will result in the model having to carry positive elevator for full throttle flight and the pitch trim setting for full throttle will result in a balloon at other throttle settings.
No matter what throttle setting I have, my tach always reads approximately 3600 RPM. What am I doing wrong?
Your tachometer is very likely reading flourescent lighting. Please note that your tach cannot operate properly in flourescent lighting. Please try using it in natural light.
I cannot get my engine far enough forward on the mount to reach the measurement called for in my plan's instructions. (For example, 5-3/4" from the firewall to the back of the spinner.) What can I do?
Some engines have very short case lengths and so cannot meet the measurements given. Simply use washers or plywood spacers to shim the motor mount away from the firewall until you can mount the engine properly to the mount and match the desired measurement.
How should I fuelproof my firewall or fuel tank area?
There are a variety of ways to do this. One way is to fuelproof it with iron-on covering such as Top Flite MonoKote. That is to say, cover the entire firewall (but not the engine compartment) or interior of the tank area, then just use small amounts of thin CA or thinned epoxy to fill in around any openings.
Another way to do so is to paint with fuelproof paint or with thinned epoxy.
I am having difficulty painting on my fiberglass parts. What am I doing wrong? Is there anything special I need to know?
All fiberglass parts are made in a mold which was coated with some kind of mold release, some of which would undoubtedly still be on the surface. This must be fully removed or paint will not stick or will react because of residual mold release. Before painting, one should first clean the surface thoroughly, possibly using a solvent, such as mineral spirits or naptha (lighter fluid). Depending on the type of glass and release agent, the solvent could attack the surface, so a test should first be done in an inconspicuous area. If that doesn't work, then perhaps a light sanding of the area to be painted, followed by a thorough cleaning, may work. If the mold release (possibly silicone, to which nothing sticks) somehow was partially absorbed into the surface, it's going to be difficult to paint without first sanding off the outer layer.
What is a 'retract servo'? How is it different from a standard servo? Should I use it with mechanical or pneumatic retracts?
A retract servo is specifically used for mechanical retracts. It is a non-proportional servo which only moves 180 degrees. That is to say this servo is either "off" (gear up and fully locked) or "on" (gear down and fully locked). No ATV, EPA, or AST adjustments can be made on these servos because they are not proportional. The linkage must be set up properly to allow this servo to operate at its full range and do its job—securing your model's landing gear in a gear-up or gear-down position.
Will parts from the current Gold Edition models fit my pre-Gold Edition 'red box' kits?
No, unfortunately not. The new kits are complete redesigns and most are larger in all dimensions than the pre-Gold Edition red box kits.
What temperature should I use to apply my covering?
The temperature will depend upon the covering material you are using. Please see your covering material's instructions for guidelines. Please note, for example, clear and transparent MonoKotes have very different temp needs than opagues or flats.
For a chart on proper temperatures for popular coverings, please see:
For further information on working with covering materials, please visit:
My new model calls for the servos to be mounted on the exterior of my aircraft (sticking out of the wing or tail.) Is this okay? Will the fuel and dirt damage my servos?
Most current-generation servos are sealed well enough, so that a small amount of dirt, fuel, and such are not a concern unless you have reason to anticipate dead stick gear up or similar landings, in which case you might damage your servos with ground contact. Otherwise, external exposed servos are very common and easy to service/inspect, and are quite common in today's larger ARFs. However, it is always a good practice to wipe your exposed servos down after each flying session to prevent degradation of the plastic or problems with the output shaft.
How do I apply the decals included in my kit? Do I need to use water? Do I need to protect or seal the edges?
These are pre-adhesive decals. Simply trim around the decal shape with a hobby knife, lift carefully, (be sure not to stick it to your fingers!) and position the decal in the desired location. HINT: round edges rather than sharp points will minimize the chance of catching and peeling the decal back up.
To give your decals—and your covering and seams—the best possible protection you may want to consider covering the entire model in a thin layer of clear coat paint. Be sure to test the clear first to confirm it is compatible with your covering (for example, LustreKote and the paint on Coverite fabric are NOT compatible) and your decals.
Can I use a clothes iron to apply my covering?
While this is possible, and has definitely been done by some modelers in a pinch, it is not preferable. We really recommend the use of an iron specifically sized, shaped, and designed for use on model aircraft.
I have higher torque servo(s) to put in my scale, aerobatic, or 60+ sized model. Where would you recommend I install it (them).
This will depend upon your specific aircraft, however, here are some general rules of thumb. In most applications where the model will be asked to perform any type of aerobatics, the most powerful servo(s) should be applied to rudder. For non-aerobatic applications, the most powerful, best centering, most reliable servo(s) should always be put on the elevator.
My manual says my model should have washout of x degrees. What is washout and how do I tell if my model has the proper amount?
For a definition of washout, please see our glossary.
You will want to utilize an incidence meter to determine the washout of the wing of your model. To do so, set the incidence meter on the root of the wing, and read the angle of attack of the root. Write this down. Now measure the angle at the tip of the wing and write this down. The washout in your wing is the difference between these two measurements (root - tip = washout).
Note that washout means the leading edge of the wing tip is lower than the leading edge of the wing root. If it is the opposite, the model has washin, which is desirable in certain types of aerobatic models for extreme performance, but not in most other models due to decreased stability.
I am building a small model. Should I leave the antenna hanging out the back of the plane or wrap/fold/cut it?
Never shorten your antenna by cutting down its physical length or by folding it back upon itself. Always allow the antenna to extend its full length, even if it means having a 'tail' hanging out the back of your model. You might also consider running it out the wingtip rather than down the fuselage.
Why does my kit have thin sheeting in it? Why don't you use heavier sheeting?
The decision to use the lightest possible sheeting is an intentional one. Current generation aerobatic and even military scale models are now designed to be as acrobatically capable or as easy to fly as possible within its size and other restraints. You would likely be quite surprised as to the difference a 1/32" change in sheeting (remember you're adding at least 1/2 again the sheeting weight) to the model's performance, and in particular to roll performance and minimizing tip stalling tendencies. The more weight out toward the model's wing tips the more roll inertia the model displays, causing it to oversnap, to be harder to start and stop spins, etc.
These models are intentionally designed to be capable of so much more than 'acceptable sport flying'. These models are designed to be capable of clean, gentle, dependable, smooth flying at wider speed envelopes and orientations than models of even 5 years ago.
Fifteen years ago models were designed knowing they would probably crash, because our radio systems would often cause that of no fault of the user whatsoever. Now that this is so much less of a concern, we are now far more focused on the capabilities of the model.
If you handle the model's wing at all times by leading/trailing edge and spars you will find you have no trouble with the sheeting (assuming it is not bad wood). Much larger aircraft than this are sheeted with 1/16 and survive very successfully; they simply require a slightly gentler handling along the way.
My engine is overheating or running hotter than I would like. How can I get it better cooling?
Most people make the mistake of thinking more is better when it comes to the air INLET at the front of the cowl. This is a common error and while it seems logical the reverse is actually true.
To properly cool your engine you need more OUTLET not more inlet. You want at least 2:1, preferably 3:1 air out to air in otherwise it makes a 'dam' and the air can't come into the cowl because it has no where to go OUT of the cowl. If your engine is not cooling properly, try blocking off the other air inlet or opening the belly of the cowl further to better cool your engine. See the instruction manual for the Top Flite Corsair (pages 35, 40) for an example of making a baffle to properly cool your engine.
Can I use a gyro in an airplane? When is it a good idea?
Aircraft gyros are fairly new, and some people consider them a bad idea while other people consider gyros to be the perfect tool for just about everything. Let's take a look at some of the common uses along with the pluses and minuses associated.
Will they help me learn to torque roll?
The most common request is how to set up gyros for learning to torque roll. (Don't know what a torque roll is? Please consider purchasing GPMZ0220, A Look at Aerobatics.)
One modeler describes torque rolling as the equivalent of balancing two plates on top of broom sticks, with your eyes closed, while bouncing a top a large rubber ball. So, if it doesn't come quickly and easily, don't fret! It takes a lot of time and practice. And don't be upset if a gyro doesn't suddenly make your model torque roll alone—it won't. But it will help a little to a lot, if everything is set up properly.
Using gyros in an aircraft to aid in torque rolling has its advantages and its drawbacks. Gyros can assist a modeler in learning to torque roll because it will correct SOME to ALL (depending on the type, quality and settings of the gyro) of the yaw and pitch movements caused by the torque and instability of the aircraft in this precarious position; however, it will also be countering corrections made by the modeler so the modeler has to think and move even faster and give even more input to make corrections against the gyro and the aircraft.
Basically, a torque roll is an extremely unnatural action for an aircraft which requires incredible pilot skill to maintain and complete. The model is being suspended solely by the power of the engine/thrust from the prop, with just the right amount of throttle being given to keep the model from climbing or tail sliding. The torque of the engine will pull the model around to the left, with no amount of aileron input in the world being able to stop the rotation UNLESS the model has ailerons extending all the way in against the fuselage or has ailevators functioning as ailerons. This torque, and gravity, are also twisting the model on both the yaw and pitch axes, which requires extreme skill by the modeler to correct.
If you wish to use gyros to help ease the difficulty of this complex maneuver, you will want to install one gyro each for the elevator and rudder surfaces. Note that if your model uses twin elevator servos which are plugged into separate ports you will need a product like the Hobbico Aircraft Gyro (HCAM4010) or the Futaba GYA351 (FUTM0817) which supports 2-channel input and output for a single axis.
We used to recommend AGAINST heading hold gyro settings for torque rolling, as the gyros sometimes seemed to lag behind, and improperly correct as the model got farther and farther into the torque roll. However, the new Futaba GYA350 and 351 gyros have changed our minds! These specialty gyros specifically for aircraft use perform superbly in AVCS (heading hold) mode in torque rolls and similar circumstances. (Always remember to switch out of AVCS mode for 'normal' flying.)
It is important to remember that, while heading holds are the only gyros which will truly return the model to its initial orientation (other gyros just correct for movement, but not necessarily back to the starting point), there are MANY situations in which you and your model can be unintentionally in danger when the heading hold returns the model to a position you did not intend.
Please remember that normal gyros will not 'do it for you'. They are not a 'missile lock' or 'heading lock' and do not fixate on a position in the sky and maintain it. They simply dampen unwanted (and wanted!) motion, so they will not make torque rolling suddenly easy. But depending on your skill, your model, and your understanding of the dynamics, they can be a good training aid for torque rolling.
How about other maneuvers?
Gyros ARE a great aid in many other aerobatic maneuvers. They are amazingly beneficial, for example, when used during maneuvers such as snaps, tumbles, and stall turns. In some cases the heading hold or AVCS option will be beneficial, and in others not. Always remember....if you try to change your yaw line without moving the rudder servo and have a heading hold gyro on the rudder (for example, doing a banked turn with just aileron and elevator), the heading lock gyro will immediately return the model to the initial direction of travel! Therefore, it is best to leave the gyro in standard mode, not heading lock mode, except in specific circumstances where you want the 'dead on tracking' of heading lock mode.
- A gyro on the rudder will minimize the yawing caused by torque on a slow up line such as entry to a stall turn, and minimize the tail wag on the exit.
- A gyro on elevator and rudder will cause snaps, spins, rolls and tumbles to stop essentially instantaneously when a modeler releases the inputs with no over rotation.
- A gyro on elevator and rudder can dramatically decrease the pilot inputs required to slow roll, and other precision rolling maneuvers such as ratchet rolls, rolling circles, 4-point rolls, etc.
- Straight lines of all types—whether horizontal, vertical, or anything in between, can benefit from the aid of a gyro.
Lastly, gyros are extremely popular on the rudder of scale aircraft, especially complex nostalgic aircraft which are notorious for difficult ground handling. In this case many modelers DO use a heading lock gyro or AVCS (heading hold) mode in a switchable gyro, but then turn off the heading lock feature the moment the model breaks ground. This way the model will literally track perfectly straight with no rudder input from the pilot whatsoever.
What is the difference between a direct drive and gear drive electric motor?
Direct Drive- has less moving parts, less complication with meshing gears, less expensive.
Gear Drives- turn larger props and get more speed out of a motor if you gear it up. They usually draw less current then a direct drive system as well.
HOW TO MAKE "SOFT WEIGHTS"
Weights are needed for a variety of purposes during the model building process, especially when setting wing washout or if you need an extra pair of hands. We made some 2 and 3 pound "soft weights" for use in our shop as follows:
A. Obtain four smallish, but sturdy plastic bags (freezer bags work well), four old tube socks (preferably laundered), and 10 pounds of buckshot, available at sporting goods or gun stores. Sand can also be used, but the weights become pretty bulky.
B. Use a scale to measure out two 2Lb bags and two 3Lb bags of shot (or sand). Seal the bags with masking tape, without compressing the contents. Soft weights work best if they are floppy like bean-bags.
HOW TO MAKE A BALSA SKIN
- True up the edges of the sheets with a metal straightedge and a sharp knife or a long sanding block.
- Test fit the sheets together to make sure they match well.
- METHOD "A": Edge glue the sheets together with thin CA over a flat surface covered with waxed paper. A quick wipe of the joint with a fresh paper towel will remove excess glue and make sanding easier. Mark the poorest surface that you think should be the inside of the sheet with an "I".
METHOD "B": Edge glue the sheets together with Great Planes Pro Wood Glue. Smear the glue lightly along an edge with your finger, then join the sheets over a flat (waxed paper covered) building board. Pin the sheets to the board to hold them together. Wipe off any excess glue before it dries. Pro Wood Glue is easier to sand and won't leave a ridge at each seam, as CA is prone to do.
- Place the skin on a large flat surface and sand it with a large flat sanding block and fresh, sharp 220-grit sandpaper. Use light pressure and a brisk circular motion.
- Trim the perimeter of the sheet to square things up.
REPAIRING SURFACE "DINGS"
Many surface blemishes on a framed model are caused by bumps and balsa chips on the work surface. This type of ding is best repaired by applying a drop or two of window cleaner or tap water to the blemish, then running hot a sealing iron over the spot to expand the wood fibers. After the surface has dried sand the expanded area smooth.
Final sanding - Fill any scuffs, dings, and the forward end of the pushrod tube exit slots with balsa filler (Hobbico HobbyLite #HCAR3401 recommended). After the filler has hardened, cut and sand the pushrod tubes flush with the fuselage sides, then sand the entire structure with progressively finer grades of sandpaper, ending with 320-grit. When you think the job looks good, sand some more to make it better. You'll be glad you did.
Fuelproofing - Fuelproofing may be done either before or after covering. Fuelproof the engine and fuel compartments, by painting them with fuelproof paint or 30-minute epoxy thinned with about 25% Rubbing Alcohol. Pay special attention to the firewall. Prevent paint or epoxy from clogging the blind nuts by first packing the holes with petroleum jelly applied with a toothpick. Be sure to clean off any "external" petroleum jelly "messes" with rubbing alcohol before fuelproofing.
Recommended Covering Steps and Sequences for a Typical Semi-Scale Model
Make sure the structure is smoothly sanded with 320-grit sandpaper. Remove all dust from the structure with a vacuum cleaner and Top Flite® Tack Cloth so the MonoKote will stick well. Cover the aircraft with MonoKote using the sequence that follows. Make sure the MonoKote is thoroughly stuck down to the structure and all of the edges are sealed. Use a Top Flite MonoKote Hot SockTM on your covering iron to avoid scratching the MonoKote.
- Cover your sealing iron with a Top Flite Hot Sock and turn the heat about 3/4 of the way to the high setting.
- When covering areas that involve sharp junctions, like the tail section, cut narrow strips (3/8" to 1/2") and apply them in the corners before covering the major surfaces. The larger pieces of MonoKote will overlap and capture these smaller pieces. This technique also bypasses the need to cut the MonoKote in these areas after it has been applied. DO NOT, under any circumstances, attempt to cut the covering material after it has been applied to the fin and stab, except around the leading and trailing edges and the tip. Modelers who do this often cut through the covering and part-way into the balsa stab. This can weaken the stab to the point where it may fail in flight!
- Say we are going to cover the Stab: cut a piece of MonoKote film about 2" larger all around. Strip off the backing and position the film flush with the fin, over the MonoKote corner strip. Tack the film down at the center of the stab/fin junction.
- Pull (as in stretch) the film toward the stab tip, sealing it to the balsa from the fin outward, the width of your sealing iron. Work out any wrinkles and air pockets as you proceed with a back and forth motion.
- Stretch the MonoKote toward the four corners, sealing it down as you proceed. The trick is to shrink out any wrinkles before you seal the film to the surface.
- Use a heat gun to heat and stretch the film around curved surfaces like the stab and rudder tips, while pulling on the excess material. You may need to pull hard to get out all of the wrinkles, so wear a glove if you need to. Trim off the excess, then follow-up with your sealing iron to secure the bond.
The idea behind this approach (which can be applied to any part of the model) is to pre-stretch the MonoKote as it's applied, and remove the air pockets that can expand later which cause the sags and wrinkles.
Recommended Covering Sequence:
- Tail Junction Strips
- Rudder left side
- Rudder right side
- Bottom of elevators
- Top of elevators
- Stab bottom
- Stab top
- Fin left side
- Fin right side
- Fuselage bottom
- Fuselage sides
- Fuselage top
- Ends of ailerons
- Bottom of ailerons
- Top of ailerons
- TE surfaces of wing
- Bottom of left wing panel
- Bottom of right wing panel (overlap covering 1/4" at the center)
- Top of left wing panel (overlap covering 1/4" at wing LE)
- Top of right wing panel (overlap covering 1/4" at the LE and at the center)
Keeping Wheels in Place on Axle and Model Tracking Straight
Install the wheels on the landing gear using two wheel collars per axle. Grind or file a flat spot at the point of setscrew contact for each of the outer collars. This provides a better area for the setscrew to bite and helps keep the wheels in place.
NOSE GEAR FLAT SPOT
- When everything is aligned and the model tracks in a straight line when rolled along the ground, tighten the screw on the steering arm tight enough to leave a mark on the nose gear wire. Remove the nose gear from the engine mount and remove the steering arm assembly.
- As mentioned, a flat spot is required on the nose gear wire. This flat allows the nose gear steering arm to be positively locked onto the nose gear wire providing a "no-slip" steering linkage.
- Remove the steering arm from the nose gear wire and locate the mark left by the screw. Now, with the mark facing up, clamp the nose gear in a vise and use the side of a flat file or a Dremel® Moto-Tool® with a narrow grinding wheel, to make a flat spot at the mark.
- Reassemble the nose gear and install it. Tighten the steering arm screw directly over the flat. Your nose gear steering will always remain positive, even on the roughest of surfaces.
Proper Servo Mounting:
The proper way to mount a servo is as follows:
- Insert a rubber grommet into each of the four servo holes.
- Insert a metal eyelet from the bottom side of the rubber grommet. This way the wide portion of the eyelet will be in contact with the servo tray when mounted.
- Test fit the servo in the tray, and enlarge the openings so the servo will not touch the tray. The rubber grommets will isolate the servo from the hard vibration of the airplane's structure.
- Position the servo, then mark the location of the mounting holes. Drill pilot holes with a 1/16" bit at each mark.
- Use the servo screws supplied with your radio to mount the servo(s) in the servo tray. Tighten the screws until they just touch the top of the metal eyelet.
Important things to check in Pre-Flight:
No list is all inclusive or fits all models, but here's a good starting point:
- Charge the batteries - Follow the battery charging procedures in your radio instruction manual. You should always charge your transmitter and receiver batteries the night before you go flying, and at other times as recommended by the radio manufacturer.
- Balance the propeller - Balance your propellers carefully before flying. An unbalanced prop is the single most significant cause of damaging vibration. Not only will engine mounting screws and bolts vibrate out, possibly with disastrous effect, but vibration will also damage your radio receiver and battery. Vibration will cause your fuel to foam, which will, in turn, cause your engine to run rough or quit.
- Ground check the model - If you are not thoroughly familiar with the operation of R/C models, ask an experienced modeler to check to see that you have the radio installed correctly and that all the control surfaces do what they are supposed to. The engine operation also must be checked and the engine "broken-in" on the ground by running the engine for at least two tanks of fuel. Follow the engine manufacturer's recommendations for break-in. Check to make sure all screws remain tight, that the hinges are secure and that the prop is on tight.
- Range check your radio - Wherever you do fly, you need to check the operation of the radio before every time you fly. First, make sure no one else is on you frequency (channel). With the transmitter antenna collapsed and the receiver and transmitter on, you should be able to walk the distance prescribed by your manufacturer and still have control. Have someone help you. Have them stand by your model and, while you work the controls, tell you what the various control surfaces are doing. Repeat this test with the engine running at various speeds with an assistant holding the model. If the control surfaces are not always acting correctly, do not fly! Find and correct the problem first.
Important Engine Safety Precautions
No list is all inclusive, but here are some basics to watch for:
NOTE: Failure to follow these safety precautions may result in severe injury to yourself and others.
- Keep all engine fuel in a safe place, away from high heat, sparks or flames, as fuel is very flammable. Do not smoke near the engine or fuel; and remember that the engine exhaust gives off a great deal of deadly carbon monoxide. Therefore do not run the engine in a closed room or garage.
- Get help from an experienced pilot when learning to operate engines.
- Use safety glasses when starting or running engines.
- Do not run the engine in an area of loose gravel or sand; as the propeller may throw such material in your face or eyes.
- Keep your face and body as well as all spectators away from the plane of rotation of the propeller as you start and run the engine.
- Keep items such as these away from the prop: loose clothing, shirt sleeves, ties, scarfs, long hair or loose objects (pencils, screw drivers) that may fall out of shirt or jacket pockets into the prop.
- Use a "chicken stick" device or electric starter; follow instructions supplied with the starter or stick. Make certain the glow plug clip or connector is secure so that it will not pop off or otherwise get into the running propeller.
- Make all engine adjustments from behind the rotating propeller.
- The engine gets hot! Do not touch it during or after operation. Make sure fuel lines are in good condition so fuel will not leak onto a hot engine causing a fire.
- To stop the engine, cut off the fuel supply by closing off the fuel line or follow the engine manufacturer's recommendations. Do not use hands, fingers or any body part to try to stop the engine. Do not throw anything into the prop of a running engine.
Quantity/position of rubber bands to secure my model's wing?
If you are using rubber bands to attach your wing, the rule of thumb is to use two #64 rubber bands per pound of model weight. If your model tipped the scales at 7 pounds, you need 14 rubber bands. It doesn't matter too much how many you run straight across the wing or how many are criss-crossed, so long as the last two are criss-crossed. This trick stops the other bands from popping off. Do not use oily rubber bands for more than a few flying sessions. Check each rubber band before using it, watch out for cracks. Rubber bands can be conditioned by storing the oily ones in a zip-top storage bag partially filled with talcum powder or corn starch. Both products will absorb the oil.
Basics of Flying — IncludingTaxi/Take-Off/Landing
Of course, no brief written guide can replace an instructor in safely teaching you to fly. This guideline is intended only to help you understand the steps to come and practice in simulation when your instructor is not available.
Start the engine and set the throttle trim for a slow, steady idle. Have your instructor or a helper hold the plane while you work the controls. Upon release advance the throttle slightly to start rolling, then back-off the power to prevent going too fast and possibly taking off. Stand behind the plane as it taxies away from you and note the direction it turns as you move the rudder control. One thing to keep in mind with R/C models (whether it be cars, boats, or planes) is that the steering controls may seem to "reverse" when the model is moving toward you. For example, if you are flying toward yourself, and you give a right control input (ailerons or rudder), the model will move off to your left. The fact of the matter is of course, that the controls are not reversed and the aircraft did actually enter a right turn. The plane does move off to your left from your vantage point, but if you imagined yourself in the cockpit you would realize the plane turned to the right as commanded. All it takes is a little practice to maintain proper orientation of your aircraft ( it sometimes helps to face the direction of movement and look over your shoulder), but that's why we recommend finding an instructor. When you feel comfortable, advance the throttle a little while standing behind the plane to get the feel of a takeoff roll, but pull back on the power before the model lifts off. Try this several times, adding a little more power each time. If the plane starts to veer off, immediately cut the power to prevent a mishap. Although many R/C pilots have taught themselves to fly, we strongly recommend that you find an instructor to help get you started. Although trainers offer the greatest opportunity of success for the self-taught, there is a high probability that you will crash your airplane on the first flight. Protect your investment of time and money—obtain the assistance of an experienced R/C pilot.
Your first flights should be made in little or no wind. If you have dual rates on your transmitter, set the switches to "low rate" for takeoff. Taxi into position, pointing directly into the wind. Although trainer models have good low speed characteristics, you should always build up as much speed as your runway will permit before lifting off, as this will give you a safety margin in case of a "flame-out." Advance the throttle smoothly to the wide open setting. When the plane has sufficient flying speed (you won't know until you try), lift off by smoothly applying a little up elevator (don't "jerk" it off to a steep climb!), and climb out gradually, trying to keep it straight and the wings level. The model should climb at a 20 or 30 degree angle under full throttle. Climb to about 100 feet before starting a VERY gentle turn by moving the aileron stick. Apply a little more back pressure on the elevator stick as the plane turns. Stop the turn by moving the aileron stick in the opposite direction until the wings are level then return the stick to the neutral position. Pull the power back to 1/3 throttle.
We recommend that you take it easy with your trainer for the first several flights and gradually "get acquainted" with the plane as your engine becomes fully broken-in. Most trainers are designed to fly level with neutral elevator trim at approximately 1/4 to 1/3 throttle—this is the best speed for learning to fly. On later flights, if you want the model to maintain level flight at full throttle, you will need to give it a little down trim.
Your first flights should consist of mostly straight and level flight with gentle turns to keep the model over the field. These flights will give you practice at coordinating your control inputs and maintaining the proper orientation of the airplane. As mentioned earlier, turns are accomplished by banking the aircraft with the ailerons (rudder will accomplish this on a 3-channel airplane) then gently adding some back stick (up elevator). Enough back stick should be held in to keep the aircraft at a constant altitude. To stop turning, apply opposite aileron (or rudder) to level the wings, then release the sticks. There is a memory aid that may help keep you out of trouble when the plane is flying toward you—"put the stick under the low wing." In other words, move the stick in the direction of the low wing to raise that wing. When you are comfortable flying the aircraft, you can practice using the rudder along with the ailerons to 'coordinate' the turns—usually, a small amount of rudder applied in the direction of the turn will keep the tail following the same track as the nose.
The most common mistake when learning to fly is "over control." Think of pressure instead of large movements of the control sticks. Remember nearly all trainers will recover from almost any over control situation within 50 - 100 feet if you simply let go of the sticks.
Add and practice one maneuver at a time, learning how your plane behaves in each one. For ultra-smooth flying and normal maneuvers, we recommend using the "low rate" settings as listed in your manual. High rate control throws will give your model enough control for loops, barrel rolls, and many other basic aerobatic maneuvers.
After you have several flights on your trainer, its time to reward yourself with your first aerobatic maneuver—a loop. Climb to a safe altitude and turn into the wind. Apply full throttle, level the wings, then slowly pull back on the elevator stick to about 1/2 to 3/4 up elevator (depending on your throws), and hold this control input. After you go over the top and start down the back side of the loop, pull the throttle back to about half, this will keep the stresses on the airplane low and the airspeed relatively constant. Keep holding "up" elevator until the plane is level, then slowly release the sticks. You're done! It's really that easy!
CAUTION (THIS APPLIES TO ALL R/C AIRPLANES): If, while flying, you notice any unusual sounds, such as a low-pitched "buzz", this may be an indication of control surface "flutter". Because flutter can quickly destroy components of your airplane, any time you detect flutter you must immediately cut the throttle and land the airplane! Check all servo grommets for deterioration (this will indicate which surface fluttered), and make sure all pushrod linkages are slop-free. If it fluttered once, it will probably flutter again under similar circumstances unless you can eliminate the slop or flexing in the linkages. Here are some things which can result in flutter: Excessive hinge gap; Not mounting control horns solidly; Sloppy fit of clevis pin in horn; Elasticity present in flexible plastic pushrods; Side-play of pushrod in guide tube caused by tight bends; Sloppy fit of Z-bend in servo arm; Insufficient glue used when gluing in the elevator joiner wire or aileron torque rod; Excessive flexing of aileron, caused by using too soft balsa aileron; Excessive "play" or "backlash" in servo gears; and Insecure servo mounting.
When it's time to land, fly a normal landing pattern and approach as follows: Reduce the power to about 1/4 and fly a downwind leg far enough out from the runway to allow you to make a gentle 180 degree turn. As you make the turn into the wind for your final approach, pull the throttle back to idle. The PT-60 has a lot of lift so you will need a slow, reliable idle in order to achieve a nice slow landing. Allow the plane to keep descending on a gradual glide slope until you are about 3 feet off the runway. Gradually apply a little up elevator to flare for landing. You should apply just enough up elevator to hold the plane just off the runway while the excess speed bleeds off. The trainer should settle onto the runway for a slow, slightly nose-high landing.
Model snaps, tip stalls, or loops off to one side. What can I do?
There are a variety of causes of this behavior.
- CG: A tail heavy model will snap on elevator input, particularly aerobatic models such as a giles, cap, or extra. Additionally, they will tend to go nose up at an idle, causing the model to stall unexpectedly. For example, the Great Planes Giles G202 .46 sized model is DESIGNED AND INTENDED to snap on elevator input alone when using the high rates, which are solely for 3D flight. Be sure you are flying on a low rate intended for normal flight performance.
- Lateral Balance: The #1 cause of a tip stall or unexpected snap is improper lateral balance. If one wing tip is heavier, it will stall first and drop first. Be sure to lateral balance carefully, actually suspending the model off the floor and measuring the tips' distance from the floor. See other areas of our FAQ for more info on lateral.
- Wing warp: Another very common cause of tip stalls is uneven washin or washout in a model. Use an incidence meter to check the incidence angles of the roots and tips of both wings, and a variety of points in between. The two wing roots should be identical when compared to the tail, and the two tips should be no more than 1 degree of difference between them. Even a model which should not have washin will perform better if the washin is even than a model which has no washin but has uneven washout. See other areas of our FAQ for information on adding washout/correcting uneven washin.
- Next please check that the elevator halves are perfectly straight to the stab. Next use a throw gauge to measure the actual elevator throw at neutral then at full travel. You may need to make adjustments to get these two identical. They MUST BE.
How long can I store unopened fuel? how about opened fuel?
- Unopened fuel which is stored out of direct sunlight is literally good for years. We have opened 10-year old containers and had the fuel be fully potent and usable. However, in general it is a good idea to use the fuel off your shelves annually, especially if exposed to sunlight.
- Once fuel has been opened, it has been exposed to air which includes moisture. Both water and sunlight are your fuel's enemy, so the more frequently or the longer it is exposed the more rapidly it will deteriorate. In general we recommend customers use all open containers of fuel in a single modeling season then properly discard any remaining fuel.
How do I check incidence on a park flier?
The Great Planes AccuPoint Laser Incidence Meter and the Robart incidence meter are not well suited for measuring incidence angles on small, flimsey airplanes such as park fliers and indoor fliers. The units are simply too bulky and too heavy.
One accurate way of measuring these angles is as follows:
- Block up the airplane until the stabilizer is level. (Use a small bubble level to check that the stabilizer is level).
- Take accurate measurements from the leading and trailing edges of the wing down to the flat and level table top. Using the difference between these measurements, along with the chord of the wing, one can compute the incidence angles (by trigonometry). You would divide the difference in measurements by the wing chord, and then use a calculator to find the ArcTangent of the result. This would be the angle of the surface, relative to the table top.
It's not an easy way to do it, but it is mathematically accurate.
How do I break in an electric motor?
Ideally you'd like to run the motor at about 1/3-1/2 it's rated voltage with no load (without prop) for an hour or two—long enough to wear the brushes down without arcing.
R/C car modelers have special transformers for optimum break-in on high performance motors. If what you're working with is a typical 05 can motor, you can make your own system that works fairly well. Start with 2 alkaline D cell batteries and some spare 12 gauge wire. Simply hook the batteries up in series so you have a 3 volt power source and hook the wires to the appropriate terminals on the motor. Let the motor run until the batteries are dead.
My switch stopped working, and when I checked it, I found the black wire all corroded. The copper part looked dark and was brittle. What happened?
This is a case of what's been called "Black Wire Corrosion". Over time, the negative lead from the battery pack, through the switch harness, to the receiver will corrode until the copper wire becomes dark, almost black, and brittle. It no longer has the bright "coppery" look, and is no longer flexible.
The cause is storage of the system in a damp environment with the battery installed. The effect of the wire being connected to the battery pack, and the environmental moisture, will cause an electrical effect to promote corrosion of the wire. The corrosion usually starts at the battery pack and works its way towards the switch harness.
A "damp" environment does not necessarily mean that it's particularly humid. Storage in a garage or shed provides enough humidity to allow the corrosion to happen. The wet that gets brought into a garage from your car is enough. It will happen faster if the battery pack is not maintained and allowed to go flat. Keep the battery charged and cycle it regularly to prevent or slow down the corrosion.
The net result of black wire corrosion is to make the battery lead act like a resistor, which will prevent proper current flow from the battery pack to the receiver and servos. In some cases, the resistance can be high enough that during aerobatics, with all servos moving, the voltage at the receiver can drop enough to cause the receiver to quit. The model crashes as a result.
What can make this baffling is the fact that the R/C system may operate normally when tested. That's because the tests don't involve high loads upon the servos, so the voltage drop caused by the resistance of the corroded wire isn't enough to cause the receiver to quit.
Transmitter batteries can also be affected, but usually not as much because transmitters are usually stored in a friendlier environment. They still need to be checked periodically, though. When the corrosion gets bad enough, the transmitter will just not turn on. It's not likely that the transmitter will fail during a flight.
The effects on the corrosion would also be seen on the transmitter's power meter as low output. The battery pack gets blamed, gets replaced, and the problem goes away. That's because a new battery pack comes with new wires. Corrosion may never even be suspected or found in these cases.
There is no cure once black wire corrosion starts. You can only replace the wires. Prevention requires that your equipment be stored in a clean, dry environment, and maintain your batteries. Store them fully-charged and cycle them regularly. If you can't do that, then at least remove the batteries from your models, and store them, along with your transmitters, inside, where the temperature and humidity are fairly stable, compared to a garage or shed.
Is it ok to let my antenna touch the pushrods, servo leads, etc?
No. It is important not to let the antenna touch the pushrods, servo leads, etc. It is particularly important not to allow the antenna to make contact with anything metallic in the aircraft. We recommend running the antenna through its own pushrods tube to isolate it safely.
My airplane's electric motor runs in the wrong direction. What do I do?
First off, it's not the speed control. Model airplane speed controls have only forward, off, and sometimes propeller brake. The problem is elsewhere.
There are two things to check. First off, make sure your motor is wired correctly. Sometimes the "+" and "-" symbols on the motor are not correct for your installation, and you really have your motor wired backwards. You can easily check this with a tach. If your motor turns more RPM in one direction than the other, the higher-RPM direction is the correct direction.
If your motor is wired correctly, but the propeller still turns in the wrong direction, you may have to change how you're gearing the motor. This usually happens when a gearbox and motor are put together by the modeler, and the motor was not purchased specifically for the gearbox.
I did not find the answer to my question here. How do I get further assistance?
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