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Old Dec 14, 2012, 11:53 AM
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About Converting Guillows Kits to Electric RC

While there may have been a few hundred Guillows kits successfully converted to electric powered RC there must be thousands that were not successful in the sense that they survived the maiden flight attempts with repairable damage and eventually became a pleasure to fly, for enough flights, to justify the expense and effort.

Most of us builders were attracted, at least once, by the kit box art and the relative low cost of these kits and tried converting them to either tiny glow engine power or electric-powered RC. Some of us with some building and flying experience were lucky enough to get these models to fly, surviving the maiden and subsequent tweaking/trim flights. At least, we learned valuable lessons in choosing power systems and RC gear, light weight building techniques, setting CG and engine thrust angles, wing tip washout and covering and finishing techniques.

When we "experts" try to dissuade beginning builder/fliers from starting with Guillows and similar rubber free flight kit conversions, we are hoping that beginners will start with larger more lightly wing loaded models that are designed for electric powered RC. The chances for success, without a lot of help, are much greater with larger models with plans that show what power system to use, where and how to mount parts, etc.

Some who have finally been successful converting Guillows kits encourage rank beginners to go ahead and try it. (maybe want others to experience the same challenges that they did)

Do not be fooled by kit seemingly cheap prices. A Guillows kit may cost $35 but by the time you have bought motor, speed control, receiver and servos, battery packs, covering materials, etc, the investment may be well over $100. The amount of effort in choosing and acquiring appropriate motors, etc., and actually planning, building and finishing the model will be considerable.

The intent of all this "hot air" is not to convince anyone not to try Guillows kit conversions, it is just to advise beginners to take an easier cost-effective route for your first model building and flying adventures. Once you have learned how to build and fly models designed for electric powered RC successfuly, go ahead and convert away. It can be fun and rewarding.
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 01:18 PM
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I hear ya. I'll try and keep this short.

About 16 months ago my second daughter was born. I took a month off of work to help out my wife. I quickly found. There wasn't much for me to do. A few diaper changes. Cook dinner, etc.

So, I went down to the hobby shop with my the 9 yr daughter. I came across some Dumas kits. Memories came flooding back of me about her age sitting there as my dad built what must have been Sterling kits or something like that back then.

We picked up a little AM6 Zero kit. I put it together in about 4 days. It looked horrible. All the while I'm thinking "I bet people are RCing these, these day" After a little research. Sure enough they are

After crashing a Micro PZ Corsair several times. (My first RC plane) I go to convert a Mr. Mulligan Dumas kit with the electronics from the Corsair. It took me about a month and I failed. Too heavy. (The build is on my blog) I try again with a 24" Guillows Cessna. Again I fail.

I then try a Tom Herr design: http://www.gravesrc.com/HRRK302_HERR..._p/hrrk302.htm

Finally success!

I went on an ARF kick because I realized I don't have the experience to fly these if I get them right.

Now a little over a year later I'm a member of a local RC club and have about 10 plane in my fleet. Including still the Tom Herr J-3 I built.

Now I'm back at the conversion with a 24" Guillows Laser cut Thomas Morse. We'll see how I come out.

I agree now. That I should have started out with that Tom Herr J-3, but it's been fun!
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 02:54 PM
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E,

I'm with you in the sense that no rank beginner to building and/or flying electric RC should contemplate converting a Guillow's fighter or bomber as their first project, because it will almost certainly lead to frustration and disappointment. There are easier models with which to learn building techniques and flying skills.

That said, anyone who has built a couple stick models and can fly a WWII fighter ARF can probably manage a Guillow's conversion. Back in the early days of e-flight, everyone who attempted a Guillow's conversion was breaking new ground, frequently with the model doing the ground-breaking, if you know what I mean . Today, almost every Guillow's model has at least one successful conversion documented here:

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=827861

So, for anyone not a "rank beginner", I'd wholeheartedly encourage attempting a Guillow's conversion following the lead of the guys who have done so successfully before.

Steve
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 04:02 PM
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I think it's worth building Guillow's kits just as intended, with rubberband power. It's a good way to learn the construction methods, covering, and the basics of flight... how dihedral and getting the plane properly balanced at CG help it to fly steady. Converting it to electric RC power is definitely not for a beginner... but it's still relatively cheap if you are salvaging the parts from other crashed planes. Keep in mind... these planes were designed to more or less "crash land"... so they are built a bit heavy. I bet they would be great to simply add controls and no motor, and drop-launch them from a bigger plane and glide them down to the ground.
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 07:34 PM
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I have to admit converting a guillows kit was harder than i thought it would be, although now im addicted.

Ive built quite a few kits but had been swept up with everyone else with the arf foamies. Then i came across a House of Balsa 1/12 P-51. I built it in a few months and it flew great and reminded me of the satisfaction of flying a model that i actually built from wood. After seeing other people on this site converting guillows kits i had to give it a try.

I just finished building the 24" laser cut beaver and while alot of fun it was really quite a challange with everything being so small. I maidened it last weekend and it just didnt have enough throw on the elevator so ive since fixed it and will try again tomorrow morning. Ive already started on the laser cut FW190.

My point i guess is i have to completely agree with your statement that converting guillows kits to r/c is definitely not a good place to start in this hobby. But once you have some experience not only in flying but what makes a plane fly good or bad which is exponentially important with the guillows kits
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 08:37 PM
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Agreed the Guillows Kits were seductive.. 50 years ago.
But as a most all of us kids soon discovered.. they were Really! crap kits. Became a standing Joke actually.
Poor wood, badly cut parts, Starved horse appearances (hey! more wood and formers/ribs would have increased costs) Silly and incomplete instruction.
Dunno Why? these are popular these days. Today there are genuinely Competent kits by skilled/conceintious makers..who are Struggling to to make a few sales.
Yet this Guillows junk keeps finding buyers.. Sad but true.
One can't make this stuff up.
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 08:59 PM
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Warhead-

Tom Herr is a pretty good designer- and his FF stuff may be better than RC. Guys in the FF contest community don't buy kits that often - dunno if they ever did, but when I showed up at the FAC Nationals with a Herr Bonanza, it was clear that most of the guys hadn't seen a Herr kit fly. I had several flights around a minute with that airplane, and they got some attention.

I don't recommend that people start with Guillows kits in FF- too many are just whacko to try and get to fly- like the supposed beginner kit of the Cessna 180. It has upthrust fer crying out loud! When I wound up my Herr Cessna 180 at the local RC, field, some of the old timers commented that they'd never seen an FF model fly that way. (nearly lost it- went over a few hundred foot trees.) They're not much harder than the Guillow's stuff to build- and they do fly a heck of a lot better. they just don't have the box art....which clearly sells the Guillow's stuff and some of the Sterling and Comet stuff too.

With regards to EC's original post- there are some good choices for RC conversions these days. Some folks are challenged to put together a Stevens Aero kit- while other people could turn out something gorgeous from a Comet box with no prior experience. I've kind of given up on trying to help the folks who insist on starting with a Guillows scale WWII warbird as a first project...

Sam
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 09:13 PM
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As a child, I had a great deal of fun and frustration building the Guillows, and Sterling die crushed kits. I had no one to assist me in getting them to fly, so I soon gave up trying to get them to fly, and built them for static display. After I began working and had a few bucks, all I had to do was to screw a Cox .010 to a thin ply firewall, and voila! Began to get some satisfaction in free flight with these kits. The rubber band were a joke. The Cox .010 worked really well on a Comet Aeronca Sedan.
All the experience building those planes led to my first RC build, a Sig Clip Wing Cub. The rest, as they say is history. Whatever that means....
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Old Dec 15, 2012, 04:36 PM
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As a relative newcomer who started flying with HH products but wanted to attempt to build as well, I must admit the list of successful conversions played a big part with me attempting guillows conversions and like ccc1970 am hooked on the challenge. There's more than enough info in the relevant threads and it's great to see newer ones utilising updated power and control setups. Still, it begs the question why aren't the bulk of people attempting the more superior kits?

I can only speak for where I live but with the trend of the LHS closing and only the odd toy store with kits accessible, if any of these type of kits are stocked they're likely to be Guillows so it's what people are most likely to buy. My closest proper hobby stores are 4 and 4.5 hrs away and on a recent visit to one I was delighted to see it carry Dumas alongside the Guillows kits, though they didn't have a kit I was interested in so I bought another Guillows as a stocking filler.

I realise it doesn't take much effort to buy online and/or from overseas but I'm assuming that most people's first purchase, if they've got a balsa kit in mind, will be over the counter and that will likely be a Guillows kit due to their availability. The likes of Dumas and Tritle and others just aren't stocked well if at all in the toy or hobby stores. I only heard about other designers and kits after finding RCG which was well after I bought my first Guillows kits.

Dare I say it but I do agree with the lure of the box artwork too. Something I wasn't too sure about other times its been mentioned in other threads but it's true. Even as a 40yo I was more attracted to the Guillows kits than the Dumas boxes I saw a couple of weeks back.

For now it would seem there would have to be a costly marketing campaign by any of the alternates to influence importers and stockists and capture the attention of gift buyers and newer modellers over the Guillows kits.
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Old Dec 16, 2012, 10:47 AM
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Guillows comptetitors are mostly garage operations and can't afford advertising. They often sell only a few short kits after spending months developing, testing and producing kits and short kits. This is why I try to make others aware of alternate sources of kits designed for electric powered RC.
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Old Dec 16, 2012, 11:08 AM
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All hail Pat Trittle!
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Old Dec 16, 2012, 06:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by E-Challenged View Post
Guillows comptetitors are mostly garage operations and can't afford advertising.
True and I completely understand. I should've added that I doubt it was feasible or likely to happen which is unfortunate.

Although threads like this will make people aware of the alternates, to be honest I doubt the trend of people getting their feet wet with a Guillows first will abate much. I'm guessing here of course but I'm assuming many go through a similar experience as me. The first Guillows kit or two is brought home before any research is attempted. You become focused searching purely for Guillows info which far exceeds in volume, particularly due to the list of conversions which is a great resource. After a while you do notice the mention of other kits and start to take note.

The Tritle appreciation thread grabbed my attention some time ago and it's a pity it's not a sticky too. On the to do list is to build a replica of an interesting aussie bird dog, bunny II, which hasn't been modelled as far as I can tell. I actually had the tiny Guillows kit underway to do a micro version and thought, "this is ridiculous" and canned it. Some videos of Tritle cessnas flying plus others and testomonies convinced me to aim for the Dumas/Tritle kit, though I decided that early this year. I still have this backlog of a few bigger Guillows kits I'm determined to complete.
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 09:22 AM
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As a recovering converter, I have only the Guillows Dauntless kit remaining in my stash. I might build it ALAP ( as light as practical ) as a final Guillows conversion.
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Old Aug 30, 2015, 10:52 AM
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Well,.. here's what I say,.

Guillows kits are NOT, IMHO the best, or 1st thing to try as far as both flying, OR Converting. I remember the pain of failure in the early 60's Building & crashing Guillows kits. Now don't get Me wrong, Guillows are fabulous scale kits,. but the grade of wood they use is just too heavy for the size of the aircraft... AND if you Chuck the wood, use contest grade wood to trace the parts on they fly as fabulous as they look. Comet kits gave me My 1st success to actual flight as a child.(and 1st stiches due to having to cut out print wood parts.. You REALLY had to watch which way you picked up Dad's broke safety razor blade )
Guillows was very good in the thirties, with stick & tissue builds like the Brown Sport, but after Paul K. passed, wood quality went down,& weight went up, and "die-crunched" went, and laser cut arrived, and the price went up. And, sadly, Comet has gone the way of the dinosaur.. but resurrected through Penn Valley Hobby & Shrive (spelling?) industries. I haven't bought their reproduction kits yet, so I couldn't give an honest review. Herr, and Dumas have very good flying kits, that are excellent candidates for conversion but a bit "pricey" for entry level, for 1st time builders, because a simple mistake can cost you the build...I don't do F/F anymore(I can't chase F/F anymore I have one knee that has been remanufactured, one that needs remanufactured, and the remanufactured one needs re-remanufacturing, and My 2014 Indian Chief doesn't like the woods ) AND I'm CHEAP BUT, I'm always buying kits that I can convert,. yes even Guillows., but there is a LOT of remanufacturing IE: tracing, recopying plans,pasting etc. There IS another company, that again, IMHO Has good flying kits, that are VERY ripe for conversion, and has light wood, but seems in the 80's and 90's got a bit of what I thing was an undeserved bad rep. That, is Easy Built Models. You can go to their Website (yeah, STILL in Business) and look at theie offerings. BE WARNED,.. on most of their kits, you will have to CUT print wood parts ( I STRONGLY recommend You NOT use a broke razor blade They sell professional surgical scalpels on Ebay 100 blades to a box with handle and FREE shipping! Yep, CHEAP) They do have some laser cut kits and kits for R/C.. but They also have scale aircraft designed incredibly light, that practically begs a conversion. 30-50" wingspans guarantee success. In the not-so-near future I plan on doing an Easy Built 50"span SE5-A conversion,.. but, .. that's me,.. they have everything from WWI-WWII Golden Age, Private, Twin engine O/T flyers... So save the Guillows till You get a few builds & successes under your belt...
PS: I just recently picked up a vintage British KeilKraft 30" Conquest tow line glider kit off Ebay with plans of testing the limits of a 1C geared motor and rec/ESC/servo brick set up using the geared 1C powered motor as a power pod mounted atop the wing.. well It won't be happening with the stock "SOLARBO" balsa the Britts were so proud of back then,.. has the stiffness AND weight of iron! I seriously believe, if I built the wee glider stock, with supplied Solarbo wood.. If I flew it straight down into the street asphalt,.. it would bore a small hole! Bob
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Old Aug 30, 2015, 11:15 AM
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Just a quick reply,.. as I forgot to subscribe to this thread...
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