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Posted by DismayingObservation | Oct 03, 2007 @ 05:40 PM | 3,089 Views
Well, my very first review is done! The article has been "promoted," as it were. However, I seem to be having trouble formatting it for photos, so an admin with deep access to the site is going to give it a once-over and then release it for public consumption.

Darned if I didn't get the HPI Savage back together and running, but it'll have to come apart again. If you own a Savage, you know that a transmission removal means taking half the chassis apart.

The tranny works insofar as it gets power to the ground, but it won't shift. Adjusting the shift point engages either high or low. Ergo, it either bogs down like a salted slug off the line or it leaves the line hard and fast and basically goes not much of anywhere after that. The internal clutch retainer ring(?) is factory assembled and calibrated. It's only eight bucks, but it means excising the tranny yet again. I can take the time to double-check my assembly and make sure that I didn't goof. Next time I need to overhaul the transmission will likely mean that I'll try out the available three-speed. From what I understand, it's reasonably priced and greatly improves the top end. Yeah, like it isn't fast enough already with a Wasp 28!

The "weather guessers" predict windy days ahead, so I might not be able to scratch my R/C itch. Nuts. I just did some mechanical and electronic adjustments on the Blade CP and it flies almost as nice as a T-Rex. Notice I said "almost." I don't want to torque off any T-Rex users, especially since I happen to want to join that particular club.

There's also the new Raiden Tech Zero which still has only two flights on it. Double nuts.

I guess I can take the time to straighten out my workbench while waiting for the transmission part.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 26, 2007 @ 05:49 PM | 3,228 Views
Despite what is probably the worst assembly manual in the history of hobbies, the Raiden Tech Zero Fighter-25 ARF I've been working on and writing about took to the air this morning.

Verdict: I dig this bird.

The review is coming up as soon as I finish it with the info on the maiden flight.

In a totally unrelated story, those of you with an E-flite P-47D Thunderbolt 400 park flyer in your stable and which might be equipped with the 4200kv inrunner setup will appreciate this: If you need a prop, don't get the E-flite props and then go through the hassle of drilling them out to fit the gearbox shaft.

Get an APC 11x7 slow-flyer prop instead. Install the APC adapter that came with the plane, press the large adapter ring in the prop and see the difference this setup makes. The motor spins noticeably faster. Ergo, the plane gets through the air faster as well.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 21, 2007 @ 05:51 PM | 2,899 Views
There's an update below...please take a look!

I would have had it up and on by now, but I had to cancel the maiden flight of the plane in question due to high winds. Making matters worse (at least from the review's point of view) is the fact I'm taking a little weekend out-of-town jaunt.

Believe me, I was sorely tempted to just fuel up the plane and put it in the air today by myself, but I wouldn't have been able to get pictures. The club president has offered to give me a hand under the circumstances; we just have to recoordinate our schedules. It would have been a great day, too. Cloudy but nearly dead calm. The E-flite Thunderbolt took to the sky instead. Back at the old homestead, I was finally able to begin reassembly of the HPI Savage 25 with the arrival of the final parts, namely the brake lever and piston. The lever was totally narfed when the tranny started coming apart. All better and nearly back together! Used the rest of the time to re-epoxy the motor stick on the Thunderbolt. It came loose at the field; CA just doesn't cut it when that happens on a foamie. I'll have to start carrying epoxy and not just CA. No way it's coming loose now short of an "unscheduled landing!" That stick's stuck.

Some epoxy was pressed into service to see if I could fix the poor FlyZone Cessna and its badly deviated septum. Grabbed a decal sheet yesterday but it may be a bit of a wait for the fuse and the cowl. It so happens that I have the old cowl and...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 19, 2007 @ 05:56 PM | 2,974 Views, sir. I don't like 'em.

In the interest of safety, I clipped the JST connector from the GWS speed control of my little FlyZone Cessna 182 Skylane. The wires were beginning to pull out of the rear of the connector and I didn't want to risk a short. I soldered on a JST from the plane's old motor...but those wires were pulling out as well. This little plane is a real handful to fly, believe me. It's a little bit underpowered and tip stalls like you just wouldn't believe. The GWS ICS-300 speed control helped enormously, especially after the problems I had with the factory ESC.

Apparently, I'm not the only one; at least one user on this forum reported his caught fire!

That same factory sent me a new replacement a few months ago on a warranty claim. So, what the heck. In it went.

Down came the plane.

It simply would not ROG from a 600' asphalt runway. Making things worse was the fact that the voltage control was cutting in early.

A hand launch resulted in the motor cutting out, the plane tip stalling and BANG! Down it went, the nose of the fuse breaking off on the runway and shattering a brand new cowl.

New parts are on order, although I think I'll try my hand at repairing the fuselage for now, assuming it isn't too distorted. A quick test fit revealed that the foam under the "windshield" is crushed. I would have retired this little monster and installed the radio in another plane if not for the fact that I'd just installed a brand new motor and landing gear, the original gear being pirated for my little nitro combat plane.

I have to say that I was rather amused that both area hobby shops stocked plenty of replacement wings.

Wonder why...?

Anyway, once you replace that lousy speed control with a good one, the plane is a blast. I can't help but wonder how many folks have given up on these planes because of bad ESC's...
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 15, 2007 @ 09:49 PM | 2,832 Views
I'm pleased to say that both my newest plane and its review are nearly ready.

I hope and pray that I don't have another mishap (or ANY mishap) similar to the one in my previous blog entry. Phone calls galore, e-mails galore. Trying to call the distributor was a genuine exercise in futility. The toll free number left me on hold several times in excess of twenty minutes with no answer and the regular number was constantly busy, each starting about one minute after their start of the business day. E-mails were slow in coming, but they at least came.

Here's the answer I got from Raiden Technology (also known as and regarding my inquiry for replacement parts (italics mine):

Sorry, we do not carry parts for the ARF planes at this time.
>Best Regards,

Are you freaking serious? I buy your plane, you don't carry parts and you're wishing me best regards?

I even told them in a previous e-mail that I was reviewing their bird. For a worldwide audience, yet. If I were them, I'd have busted open a kit and shipped a part, no questions asked. Or, I'd have shipped an entire kit. If they can sell the things for eighty bucks a pop, you can bet the farm they aren't paying twenty a unit. No matter how good this plane flies, I won't be buying another from them. I really dislike slamming a company. I prefer praise and I've heaped praise on Horizon Hobby, Team Orion and Hobbico for customer service above and...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 13, 2007 @ 02:40 AM | 2,738 Views
Boy, did I ever do a boo-boo.

I did a terrific job (or so I thought) of aligning the stabilizer on the Raiden Tech Zero Fighter-25 ARF I'm putting together and reviewing.

So, I glued it down.

Without the elevator halves glued in place first.

And I know better than to have done something that boneheaded.

Darn thing was aligned front to back, but was off laterally to the right about a centimeter. Ain't no way the CA was letting go, ain't no way the left elevator half was going to fit and I didn't want to break anything.

According to the owner of the independent hobby shop who has more flight experience than I, the misalignment shouldn't be an issue. Trimming the left elevator a bit got it to fit OK. Trying to contact the manufacturer is a study in either patience or futility. Couldn't get through on the phone, but they did acknowledge my e-mail inquiring about a replacement stab.

At this rate (and with apologies to George Carlin for stealing one of his lines), I'll finish that plane sometime around Saint Swivven's Day.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 11, 2007 @ 06:21 PM | 2,603 Views
The horrific instruction manual I got with my Raiden Tech Zero Fighter-25 resulted in a mistake and damage to the covering. I cut the cover where the instructions sorta kinda pointed to and realized with a horrid sinking feeling that I'd just opened up a hole in the wrong place.

A great big nicely trimmed rectangular one.

I about had a fit.

Calling their toll free number resulted in no live help whatsoever. All I got was a generic computer that kept telling me it would try to connect me, all to the strains of "Take Five."

At least it was the Brubeck original. Over and over and over. No live help no matter what I did with my phone. Five minutes, answer.

Well, directory assistance wasn't able to find the place and the number I did find for the company online is busy. Constantly.

However, I finally got lucky and got a live tech who was quite helpful. While he didn't have the olive drab covering on hand, he did have some of the gray covering used on the underbelly. Since there's always a chance that the underbelly might get dinged by a rock or something, I took him up on his offer to send me some of that color. As far as the wait on the phone is concerned, I just needed to wait longer than I was able to spare. Eventually, I'd have gotten through.

Thank goodness I kept the elevators from the crashed Zero. I have no idea why. I should point out that I received the first plane with the tailfeathers already installed and I...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 10, 2007 @ 09:42 AM | 2,603 Views
The new Zero is coming along nicely despite every effort of the instruction manual to make it do otherwise. When the review comes out, you'll see how much I love the plane (so far) and hate the manual.

I go a nice, warm welcome at the AMA Gold Certified local field yesterday. Nice folks, all. Somehow, that club had gotten a reputation for elitism and snobbery toward those with electrics. Booshwah. Nicest folks you ever want to meet who do a lot for the community in return. In fact, a grandfather/grandson team were having a ball with a GWS Slow Stick soon after the club president landed his 100mph delta wing.

The combat plane made the ride with me. Unfortunately, it bit me. The idle was too fast; it was the first time I'd flown it since tweaking the throttle cable. I reached around the back to pinch the fuel line and ka-WHANNG! Took a nice chunk out of my right thumb. Despite "leaking" all over the sidewalk, it was more of a glancing blow than a deep, direct one. I got lucky. If I'd have been there alone, I would have been a long way from first aid.

Unfortunately, the plane didn't like ROG from the pavement, so it was time for a hand launch. REAL fun with a sliced-up thumb and bloodsoaked dressing. It flew fine, but the engine loaded up soon afterwards. Didn't quite make the field and the new landing gear got tweaked. No biggie; relaunched without the gear...started loading up again...and I brought it in for a nice, greased belly landing before it stalled. Looks like I may have an air bleed problem along with that thumb bleed problem (which, by the way, looks a lot better this morning than it did yesterday). Lots of fuel and oil in the muffler.

I needed to change the dressing on the thumb and I figured I'd had enough. Still, a great day despite having left a lot of DNA on their patio.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 05, 2007 @ 08:47 PM | 2,443 Views why do certain ones of great importance always seem to be on backorder?

Wouldn't you know it.

All the parts for my HPI Savage 25 came in today as did my Hitec GS-81 servo gears and FlyZone Cessna 182 Skylane main gear. It turns out that I had landing gear for my combat plane right under my nose; I cannibalized the Skylane park flyer for its aluminum main gear. Perfect fit. Two DU-BRO Ultra Lite wheels which I had on hand and one DU-BRO micro tail skid later, that combat plane now does perfect ROG's, at least from a dirt runway. It wanted to pirouette on the club's asphalt runway, so I may experiment with installing a steerable tailwheel. Three channel plane, four channel radio! Anyway, it was worth the $14 it cost me to replace the thing (complete with wheels, hardware and wheel fairings), especially since I was planning on doing so anyway after it got tweaked in a crash some months ago and never did fit right since. That's the good news.

The servo gears for the GWS Naro Pico servo I need for the throttle of my Raiden Tech Zero Fighter-25 didn't. They're on backorder, for cryin' out loud. Either there are a lot of people stripping gears or those servos have lousy gears that need replacing often. I haven't used them long enough to give an opinion either way.

I could have lived without the parts for the Savage, but doggone it, I need those servo gears, especially since I'll be writing a review.

I guess it won't be a total loss. I can now rebuild the Hitec aileron servos which means I can assemble the wing and photograph its progress at the same time.

The hobby shop promised to look into exactly how long the backorder will last; I'll know by Friday. If it'll be too long, I'll simply get a new servo.

Which I'll have to order.

The hobby shop is out of stock...
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 01, 2007 @ 12:05 PM | 2,653 Views
Talk about service!

The new Zero Fighter-25 from was on my doorstep less than 24 hours after I ordered it. It was here before the new servo gears I ordered from the hobby shop...and I'm still waiting for those!

I've installed the engine, but that's as far as I can go without the servos, so the project begins anew next week.

I got in touch with Angela and I hope to do a review of the build and the (hopefully crash-free) flying in the magazine. Snapped a few pix of the fuse last night along with detail shots of the packaging and other components. The AMA membership is renewed and I'll be testing the plane at one of the premier club fields in the country. The Coachella Valley Radio Control Club hosted the turbine meet last year that was covered by the AMA in Model Aviation last November. The president has been egging me to join up for months.

Heck, how can I say no?

No frequency hits, no crazed bees like the one that insisted on divebombing my head one day, no dust, no noseovers due to irregular ground.

I'll have shade, work tables, a place to sit and a HUGE runway to ROG from.

Not a bad tradeoff...
Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 27, 2007 @ 02:45 PM | 2,863 Views
It's amazing what a little bit of time will do to your point of view and your attitude.

I figured that it wasn't worth getting upset over the loss of an ARF that I could replace for $80. Sure, I was upset at losing a plane which I'd worked hard to get airborne again, but it's really not too much of an issue when one can replace the thing for relatively little money. Heck, rekitting a park flyer like a ParkZone J-3 or Flyzone Cessna from the ground up would cost about $80. A beautifully built balsa and ply warbird for that same price sounds pretty good to me.

What surprises me is the lack of choices in the .25 size range. Plenty of electrics in the "general vicinity," not many nitros.

So, thought I, why not just get another one of the same plane? It appears to be the least expensive ARF of its type on the market and it comes chock full of a lot of extras to boot, like a steerable tailwheel. The smaller, more expensive Great Planes Spitfire I'd been considering does not.

Plus, it's BIG. All the .25 planes I found had a wingspan of around 39". The new Zero will, like Project Zero before it, measure in at 49".

I'm off to the Raiden Tech or Nitro Planes website later tonight to place the order. Should be here in a couple of work days which means I can start the initial assembly on Friday if I'm lucky.

Boy, am I stoked!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 23, 2007 @ 07:32 PM | 2,577 Views
It seems Great Planes makes a neat little Spitfire that'll accept my .25 and, in fact, they recommend the very engine I happen to have on hand waiting to be fully broken in. It has a 39" wingspan, a full 10" shorter than the recently deceased Zero and the same as my E-flite P-47.


This thing has got to scream with that .25 up front. I've seen this plane or a similar one at the field set up for electric power and was it neat. Not only that, there's parts support from Great Planes.

There's also a very detailed and comprehensive instruction manual, unlike that horrific mess I got with the Zero.


You know, this might be a do-er. I'll have to check Tower and see if my incentive coupon is still valid.


Retail therapy, anyone?
Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 23, 2007 @ 05:57 PM | 2,599 Views
It's kindling.

I should have listened to the fellow who gave Project Zero to me. Our field has been the site of some really severe radio hits bad enough to trash two of his planes. The hit would send his planes into a hard left spiraling power dive from which there was no return.

It happened today. Second flight. On Project Zero. Same MO. All that work down the tubes. Complete rekit necessary and three of the five servos had their gears stripped. All this after grinning like a total idiot all through the first flight. I was running the engine rich as part of the recommended break-in, but that didn't stop it from flying absolutely fantastic. Just like a bigger, faster version of my E-flite P-47 with some really sensitive ailerons and far more rudder control just to keep things interesting. My radio doesn't have exponential, so I figured I could live with it. It really wanted to torque roll on takeoff and it was all too easy to overcompensate. On the other hand, rolls and loops were utterly gorgeous, albeit limited per the engine's break-in recommendations. I even got it to do a fairly nice knife edge with all that rudder, something that's flat impossible to do with the P-47.

I guess I could be philosophical and say that I crashed a free airplane...but I did spend a lot of money to get it airborne and more than a little bit of totally irretrievable time.

All this before breakfast, too.

I seriously found myself wondering whether or not I wanted...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 22, 2007 @ 02:50 PM | 2,646 Views
As of exactly noon local time, Project Zero was finally completed! Man, that cowl was work!

In any event, all that's left to do is to fill the fuel tank, check the CG, plug in the receiver and reinstall the battery. I simply couldn't resist bolting on the wing so that I could photograph the plane and share the news.

Oh, and I will of course be rejoining the AMA at my earliest convenience. I really want to take advantage of the local club!

If anyone has the November '06 edition of Model Aviation, the club has a featured article since it hosted a statewide turbine meet. You'll agree it'll be worth the $15 a month to play there.

Enjoy the photos!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 20, 2007 @ 01:41 PM | 2,897 Views
Since all of the airframe repairs were made to my Project Zero some time ago, the rest is comparatively straightforward.

However, I promised pix of the ongoing work and pix there shall be.

I can see why everyone raves about O.S. engines, including the guy at the hobby shop. Using the opportunity to not only rest my sprained ankle but to do some of the easier tasks necessary to finish the job, I soldered up a Sullivan Gold-N-Rod throttle cable and proceeded to do the preliminary break-in.

What a magnificent piece of engineering this .25 FX is!

I broke it in with a 9x6 prop but I'll be flying on a 10x5 since the 9" looks mighty small against the cowl. One of the freebies I was given along with the plane itself was a Master Airscrew 10x5. Lucked out on that one. Even with the 9x6 up front, that fuselage wanted to practically explode off of the field box. This engine is smooth, powerful, easy to start and is built like a Swiss watch.

It's down to only this:
  • Final trimming, painting and filling of extra holes in the cowl

    Drilling the access holes in the cowl for the mixture screw and glow plug

    Mounting the "Fueldot" fuel filler

    Double-checking the CG

I have a feeling this is going to be one fun ride.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 17, 2007 @ 06:14 PM | 2,582 Views
While it's true that those of us who fiddle with R/C models occasionally get bitten by them (and I have scars on my right forearm to prove it), I may be one of the first...if not the twist an ankle because of a model plane.

Thought I'd fly the combat plane one last time before dissecting it in order to add the landing gear. So, I wound up to do a "Hail Mary" throw with the, two, three steps forward...and my right foot came down wrong on a clump of crabgrass. Might have been the same clump that hung up the P-47 on landing the other day.

Time to do some weeding. Sweet revenge.

I almost forgot: I've mounted the new engine on "Project Zero," but hoo boy, do I still have a lot of work to do.

The engine is mounted on its new nylon mount in exactly the same place that the thing would have been mounted on the wooden mounts, but I had to trim the fuse to clear the muffler and (sadly) had to cut open one whole side of the cowl to accomodate same. After all that work to repair it, too. Thought I was gonna cry. Oh, I knew I'd have to trim that part, but it didn't make it any easier.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 16, 2007 @ 07:38 PM | 2,578 Views
...unless you have to disassemble everything to make it right.

For instance:

The E-flite P-47 just got itself a new wing after three months of waiting. The factory told me that they were backordered. So, I've been tooling hither and yon across the sky with a wing that was damaged on its second flight by one of those dangblasted vinyl servo covers coming loose in flight. P-47 owners, you can no doubt relate.

Yesterday, sure as heck, one new cover popped off the new wing. Lost it in the field, but at least the wing didn't get damaged. Again:

Thankfully, I had a near-new spare with the double-sided tape intact, so on it went with a bit of Zap-a-Dap to help hold it down.

Naturally, the covers will have to come off. The adhesive holding the landing gear blocks are letting go after only two landings. They're impossible to remove when new. A little bit of impact is all it takes to loosen them.

So...why in HECK does that factory insist on doing stuff like that? In their attempt to save building time, the opposite is happening instead since each and every factory adhesive bond in that plane is substandard. The instructions even hint to that fact, suggesting that all hinges and the motor mount stick be checked. Naturally, they come right off in your hand, necessitating a cleanup of the old "gorilla snot" adhesive and reattachment of the part.

Result: Double the build time.

I hope that I can get that cover with the contact cement off without much trouble.

Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 15, 2007 @ 04:41 PM | 2,549 Views
No, I'm not predicting the apocalypse. Really.

It's just that I have everything I need to complete "Project Zero!" It's been a long and piecemeal process...a little bit here, a little bit there...but I expect this little sport plane to be back in the air within the next week.

To recap: "Project Zero" is a new "Zero Fighter 25S" ARF. A friend of mine bought it online through, I believe, That's the only online source I could find, by the way. Anyway, he put it together with electric power and proceeded to clip another plane in midair a few seconds into its maiden flight. Rather than repair the exceedingly light damage, he elected to simply order another ARF. He gave me the damaged plane less electronics (but with the brand new, unused fuel tank) this past May. My plans were to rebuild it with glow power since the model can be equipped either way, and so I have. I've been working on it a little bit at a time since then, repairing damage to the wing, the internal structure of the fuselage, the canopy and the engine cowl. There was some damage done to the tail after the crash when something was dropped on it. That may have been the proverbial back-breaking straw. I've also been documenting the progress here on this blog.

So, the countdown has begun! Once this is done, I plan to hit my next project which will be my first kit. A Hobby Lobby Mini Telemaster waits patiently in my closet.

All told, this whole affair has set me back maybe $200, most of which went toward the engine and fuel. Not bad at all.

Stay tuned!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 13, 2007 @ 05:53 PM | 2,669 Views
You know, there's something very satifying in taking a discarded machine and bringing it back to life.

I gotta tell ya: I'm feeling mighty satisfied right about now.

Burned much midnight oil last night without realizing it in my attempt to fully free up the crank and carb of a really old and completely gummed up Veco 19 that a gentleman had given me.

Once assembled with a glow plug, the compression felt like that of a new engine. Lots of bite.

So, I used my .25 combat plane fuselage as a test bench this morning, fueled it up, fired up the glow plug...and darned if it didn't run even without a pressurized tank.

FYI, the tank had to have some sort of ventilation. Woudn't run at all when I plugged off the line I normally use for pressure.

It doesn't like being run lean, it really doesn't like to idle (although it may be because the exhaust port is closing too far) and it's sputtering a bit on the top end. It also wants to flame out after about half a minute; I suspect that the carb gasket is contributing. That missing carb setscrew might be contributing as well. I couldn't really adjust the mixture screw when it was running since it happens to be on the same side as the exhaust port. Owie. I didn't pull the pressure line off of the tank, so the engine might have been "sucking through a straw," as it were.

What I do know is this: An engine that likely dates back to the Kennedy administration (or earlier) and which languished in a box of junk for heaven knows how many years (or decades) is a viable, operating machine once more.

There may very well be a vintage project in that engine's near future.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 12, 2007 @ 11:41 PM | 2,484 Views
I just can't leave well enough alone.

Here I was, all ready to incorporate an old Veco 19 as part of a wallhanging, when I decided to start tinkering with the thing.

Before leaving on vacation, I'd managed to get the crank to turn (albeit not too well) and I also managed to free up the exhaust baffle.

Tonight, I got serious.

Off came the top of the head and off came the carb. Some electric motor spray, WD-40 and VB penetrating lube freed the crank from its sludgy prison. Turns nice and easy.

Best part is, the internals look to be in great shape.

Even with key parts removed, the pop-suck-pop of that little engine was nice and strong. There's no scoring in the cylinder, no play in the crank bushings and the piston looks good as well as viewed through the exhaust baffle. There was a bit of crud on the top of the piston, but only a bit. Maybe someone wanted to upgrade to a .25, so this .19 just got set aside.

So far, the only hangups are the carb and one of the carb's setscrews. The carb has been dissected and is currently in the opening phases of a two-day spa treatment in VB penetrating oil. Like the old O.S. that I just resurrected, the throttle barrel is stuck at WOT. As far as the setscrew is concerned...I lost it! Somewhere between the back of the house and the front yard, one of those original parts was lost. I can easily replace it, but it's the thought of losing an original part that steams my fleckmans.

Here's where you Veco...Continue Reading