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Stevens AeroModel Daddy-0 525 Review

This is one you build little by little from that miracle material - balsa wood - in this case, beautiful hand selected balsa wood.

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan:52.5"
Wing Area:485 sq. in.
Weight:36 oz.
Length:42"
Servos:3 Hitec HS65HB and 1 Hitec HS65MH recommended
Battery:3 cell 2100 mAh lipo, 16c or better
Motor:300 watt- Hacker A30-16m or SA Sport Power 10e recommended
ESC:35 amp., Castle Creastions recommended
Manufacturer:Stevens Aeromodel
Available From:Stevens Aeromodel
Price:$229

StevensAeromodel has a Daddy-O 525 waiting for you. It is a knockout gorgeous airplane, and when it comes to flying, it is spectacularly well behaved. Believe me you owe yourself one, but there is just one catch. Daddy-O is a kit and not the kind you can build while the battery charges. This is one you build little by little from that miracle material - balsa wood - in this case, beautiful hand selected balsa wood.

Oh no! Did I hear a groan?

Come on. This is really something you can do.. So let's talk about building from a kit.

Let's talk about building a kit.

First of all, the kits available now are vastly better than they were decades ago. I started out in the '40s when impossible to cut out parts were printed on sheets of wood. What a pain!

By the '50s, the kits were die cut. (We used to call them "die crunched"). The parts were supposed to pop right out of the sheets of wood, but unless you got a kit from the very first production run when the dies were sharp, the dull dies didn't cut through and you had to get out your hobby knife anyway. Still painful!

Today's kits are laser cut. Parts are cut with accuracy unobtainable by human hands and are so precise that they just click together. This allows for innovations in construction that were unavailable before, and Stevens Aeromodel is a master of them. The resulting airframe is exceptionally strong, light, and easy to put together.

Where I fly, everyone flies almost ready to fly aircraft of one sort or another, and so do I. Many of them are excellent, and for those of us who like to build our airplanes, almost ready to fly airplanes are also a way to have something to fly while we are taking our time to build a new airplane from scratch, from plans, or from a kit.

But why build your own in the first place? I can offer you lots of reasons. Sometimes, as in the case of Daddy-O, it is just about the only way to get one. But for me, the most important reason is simply that it is something I just plain enjoy. I find it interesting and relaxing.

I don't have to do it all at once. I can build for a few minutes or an hour or two whenever I feel like it. I don't hurry because I already have something else to fly. I get a kick out of seeing my airplane take shape as I work along, and value the freedom to make the airplane my way if I want to, a little stronger here, a little extra detail there. AND IT JUST ISN'T HARD.

Stevens Aeromodel kits are superbly engineered to take advantage of new assembly techniques that laser cutting makes possible. They have extra clear instructions, building them requires only tools you probably already have and no special skills are needed - just a little patience!

I humbly hope you are convinced to give this one a try.

More introduction

Still with me? At least toying with the idea of building your own airplane? Let's get on with it!

The Daddy-O's design has been with us for a long time. A model of nothing in particular, but patterned after the great air racers of the '30s and '40s. It's first appearance was as a 16" wingspan free flight Daddy-O Embryo Racer designed by Jason McGuire

In 1995, Thayer Syme published Daddy-O in the June issue of Fly RC Magazine as a handsome 35" wingspan "electric pseudo-scale park flyer" - "A Golden Age Racer that should have been" - with a free pull out plan . Still smitten with the design, Syme enlarged his version to create a 52.5" wingspan Daddy-O 525 Racer. Bill Stevens laser cut parts for the prototype that made its very successful debut at the 2007 NEAT fair.

Stevens was hooked on the airplane, modified the design and extensively re-engineered it to improve both flight performance and ease of construction, the result being the Daddy-O 525 reviewed here. Stevens calls it "a modern high performance sport pattern aerobat in a 1930's wrapper." Each iteration has won both applause and trophies. Purchasers have been extravagant, and rightly so, in their praise of Stevens Aeromodel's kit.

Kit Contents

Interested now? I hope so.

To explore further, why not download the Daddy-O 525 construction manual, all 59 pages of it, from the Stevens AeroModel web site. Go to the bottom of the page and look there for a "Download" tab. Unlike the black and white version that comes with the kit, you will receive a version in full color. Downloading the manual, will save me a lot of tedious typing, because pages 2 and 3 contain complete and detailed lists of the Kit Contents, Required Electronics, and Required Building Supplies and Tools, and Suggested Building Supplies and tools. I'm just going to give you a summary view here.

Nothing fills me with joy like finding a new airplane sitting on my doorstep. In this case, Daddy-O's carton was an impressive 8 x 6.6 x 6.5 inches.

The carton label tells you a lot and contains, and you are going to find its full color photo of the plane very useful.

I couldn't wait to open the carton. There was no inner box and the contents were loosely surrounded by crumples of brown paper; nevertheless, everything arrived in perfect condition and there was a surprise inside. Along with an impressive packet of sheet wood and a formed cowl, there was a 48 inch long white tube. "How nice," I thought, "they have rolled the plans and protected them in that tube." I popped it open and found only strip wood. Hunting through the carton, I still found no plans. "OMG, they forgot to pack the plans! What will I do?" I did what most of us do as a last resort. I looked in the manual. Right there,under Kit Contents, it says "No plan sheet is required or included with the kit." I wondered how things would work out with no plans to work over as I have always done, but I trust Bill Stevens, and was confident that everything would work out just fine. They did

It is not at all uncommon when building from a kit to discover that some of the supplied material is unsuitable, balsa that is too hard, or too heavy, or too soft and/or hardware that is shoddy. If you build a lot, you search your scrap box for replacements. Otherwise, it is off to the hobby shop to buy them. Not so with Daddy-O. With the exception of the required electronics and covering materials, everything you are going to need is in that box and the quality is 100% outstanding.

The heart of the kit is a bundle of 29 sheets of perfectly laser cut parts, mostly of balsa but some of plywood, each with a burned in part number and, when required, indication of which is the front side of the piece and its top. This level of thoughtful detail is found throughout the kit. Do you think I exaggerate? At first I wondered why a ball point pen is included in the hardware bag? I laughed when I discovered that the cockpit hatch is secured by a spring loaded sliding latch and that the pen provides the spring. That's what I mean by detail.

The level of detail in the kit is matched by the included 59 page manual. Each construction step is photo-illustrated and accompanied by detailed explanation. This is a kit that respects and takes good care of its purchaser.

Equipment

Before starting construction, I like to find out what equipment my airplane will require. Daddy-O is a fine airplane and by the time it is done you will have invested a lot of (pleasant) time building it, not to mention bucks, so don't take chances. Get good stuff. As it turned out, the equipment Stevens Aeromodels' suggestions is what I would have selected in the first place.

Motor

Daddy-O is designed for 300 watts of power. Several available motors will do the job well. Stevens Aeromodels recommends a Hacker A-30-16M motor or Stevens Aeromodels' own SA Sport Power BL 10e. I decided to give the SA Sport a try, especially because it cost half as much as the Hacker. It has been powerful, smooth and reliable. I think it is a bargain.

ESC

Stevens Aeromodels recommends the Castle Creations Phoenix 35 ESC. When I want a trouble free ESC that I can be sure of, I choose Castle Creations. Their products never disappoint.

Servos

Stevens Aeromodels recommends 3 Hitec HS-65HB and 1 Hitec HS-65MG servos. Again, when I have a plane I am serious about, I choose these exact servos. In the past I have lost planes to the failure of inexpensive servos. I have never experienced a Hitec failure.

Covering

There are a number of iron-on coverings that will suit this airplane, but I decided to give Stevens Aeromodels' choice a try. They recommend and can furnish AeroFILM that is apparently identical to British Solarfilm. I chose Deep Blue and Antique White, as you shall see. The blue is opaque while the antique white is translucent, so the structure of the plane is visible through it but not in an unrealistic way. I found AeroFilm easy to apply and very willing to heat shrink to a glossy and wrinkle free surface.

Assembly

As mentioned above you can download the 59 page Daddy-O Assembly Manual from the bottom of the Stevens Aeromodels web page. Given the easy availability of that information, I am only going to touch on the highlights here, following the Manual's sequence of steps.

Preparation

Sit down and read the Manual. Or, as Stevens says "READ and REREAD the instructions." Really, if you read the whole thing, you will have, right from the beginning, a better sense of where you are going and why certain assembly steps make sense.

Using a sanding block with fine sand paper, sand the back side of each sheet of wood. Stevens says they have found that most stock wood runs several thousandths of an inch over sized and this gets the sheets down to where they will interface accurately. I keep a small table alongside my workbench for just this purpose, sanding the sheets one by one when I first need them.

Fuselage

The fuselage is built around a core of interlocking plywood parts. They fit so well that you can put them together without glue and then glue them when you are sure they are right. Be careful that the parts are right side up with the front facing front as marked on the part.

Sides are attached to the fuselage core, then joined by formers and shaped with stringers. As you work along, notice the clever way that the landing gear struts are solidly secured within the fuselage.

A battery compartment hatch and a cockpit-hatch are built in similar fashion. Both are held in place with magnets, and the magnet holders are another of Stevens's unique and ingenious bits of engineering.

Tail

The tail is simple to assemble from laser cut parts.

Wing

Because the parts interlock so well, you no problem building the wing without a plan. The ribs have tabs at the trailing edge and so long as your building board is really flat, the framed up wing will be warp free. The parts interlock in a way that holds the structure in alignment both vertically and horizontally.

Like the fuselage, the wing starts with assembly of a sturdy plywood core

The rest of the wing builds out from the core.

The ailerons are built separately with a carbon fiber trailing edge for strength and to prevent warping.

Alignment

With the major structures built, fit them together preliminarily. Check the fit and alignment.

Covering

Have fun designing your own covering scheme. I covered the entire plane with antique white and applied the dark blue over the white. I simply placed the blue over the white, ironed the edges and shrunk the covering. I have read, however, that you can simply coat the base color with acetone, lay the trim cover over, and sponge down any wrinkles. I'm going to give that a try next time. I got the red striping tape at an auto supply store.

I can't imagine covering the cowl, but maybe it is possible. I suppose you could do yourself a favor and choose covering colors for which there are matching paints. As for me, good buddy and world class painter Glenn LeCartz mixed me up a batch of cowl paint. Thanks, Glenn!

There is just one area where I deviated from the kit instructions which specify installing the aileron servos after the wing is covered. I don't like to fiddle with pushing cables through small holes, so I covered the bottom of the wing, installed the aileron servos, and then covered the top. Much easier IMHO.

Radio Installation

As described above, I installed the aileron servos during the covering of the wing and installed the linkages later.

The battery fits under the wing, held by Velcro and by a strap. The rudder and elevator servos are installed through the battery floor.

There is plenty of room on top of the wing for the receiver.

Completion

With all of the major covering tasks complete, there are a few final bit of building still to do . The kit includes a simple and effective plywood motor mount. Once it is built and the motor is mounted, shove the ESC through the opening in the firewall and bolt in the motor with mountt.

The wheel pants are built up from several layers of sheet parts and are not hard to cut and sand to shape. On most airplanes the attachment of wheel pants is weak, resulting with wheel pants that seem continually to be out of line. Stevens Aeromodels' method is another example of clever engineering. The landing gear strut and axle are one piece of 1/8" hard drawn wire that nestles in a slot in the wheel pant. Once the strut/axle and wheel are in place, a plywood cover is screwed over the slot: This makes a firm connection and is easy to remove if you want to change wheels.

Now for the final tune up. The CG location and control throws specified in the Manual work out well for me. Check that the pushrod links are tight and secure. Balance the 11x5.5 prop.

Nothing left to do but sit back and admire your creation. The time is beer:30.

Flying

Basics

All I can say is what a sweet flying plane! Daddy-O does exactly what you ask of it, gracefully and with no backtalk. This is the kind of airplane you take to the field every time and never tire of flying. I'll admit my knees were shaking on Daddy-Os maiden flight. I was amazed that at low control settings and less than full throttle, the flying was nearly trainer-like and the first landing couldn't have been improved on. And when you are ready, open the throttle, switch to high rates, and discover that Daddy has an entirely different and very frisky personality.

Taking Off and Landing

Takeoff - absolutely no problem. Daddy-O steers well on the ground, requires little or no rudder input as it accelerates down the runway and lifts off straight ahead. I haven't had occasion to take off from grass, but I have seen videos in which other Daddy-Os do this with ease.

I have never had an airplane that is easier to land. That process that with other airplanes often has my knees shaking is gentle and predictable with Daddy-O. Keep a little bit of power on your final approach and the plane will practically land itself.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

I can't say it any better than Mr. Stevens does:

"Daddy-O 525 is capable of most common full-house aerobatics including Snaps, Spins, Stalls, Wing-Overs, Stall Turns, Chandelles, Barrel Rolls, Lazy-8s, Cubans, and Loops. Will it 3D, mister? ... Goodness, I hope not! Besides, you'd look a might bit out of place hovering a Daddy-0 525 over the runway."

I just relax when flying this well behaved airplanes. When I reach out to try some new maneuver for the first time, I can trust it not to do anything scary

Is This For a Beginner?

Stevens says this although this kit is recommended for intermediate model builders, he invites absolute beginners building it to contact his staff with questions and for help.

As for flying, Daddy-O is for those who have graduated from a high winged trainer and are used to flying with ailerons. It is gentle, but since it represents quite an investment in time and in cash, be sure you are ready and then take it up with every reason to anticipate a trouble free experience. Remember, when in doubt, there are experienced builder-flyers waiting to be asked to help.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

Let's be frank. At $229, Daddy-O is going to give some of you sticker shock, but in terms of the quality and completeness of the kit, its excellence of design, its prospects for being long lasting, and the probability that you will enjoy it for a long time, it is money well spent.

Daddy-O has appealing looks, a strong, sound, light design, is a joy to build, and a superb flyer. There is no way you can go wrong with this one.

It is customary to list "likes" and "dislikes" in these reviews. I am so "number 1" about this airplane that I worry that you will think me uncritical. In all honesty, this one is 100% like.

Appreciation

  • Test Pilot: The one and only Mark Jensen, teen age wonder.
  • Shooting Video: Glenn "the painter" LeCartz.
  • Still Photos: Ray Peterson, who flies anything as long as it is a stick.
  • Bill Stevens: For supplying the kit, motor, and AeroFILM
  • Castle Creations: For supplying the ESC
  • HiTec: For help with the purchase of servos.

Last edited by Angela H; Feb 27, 2012 at 03:45 PM..

Discussion

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Old Feb 16, 2012, 09:21 PM
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CSpaced's Avatar
Oak Ridge, NC
Joined Jun 2006
1,432 Posts
Great review, it's nice to see a kit build in todays sea of arf's.
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Old Feb 16, 2012, 10:25 PM
Mach 1
pathfinder's Avatar
walterboro s.c.u.s.a
Joined Jun 2004
756 Posts
Sticker shock!
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Old Feb 17, 2012, 05:23 AM
Registered User
Belfast / Dublin
Joined May 2004
1,554 Posts
this is a beautiful plane and no doubt a great flyer as you mention - and it probably represents reasonable value - but its not cheap

FYI parkscale models do a smaller version of it which is more affordable if you can't stretch to the 230 bucks
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Old Feb 17, 2012, 07:05 AM
Registered User
USA, PA, New Hope
Joined Nov 2001
899 Posts
I built a Daddy-O last winter and completely agree with the review. I really enjoyed building this plane. It went together perfectly and quickly. Much more satisfying than an ARF.
I also saw one on floats at the NEAT fair last fall. Very cool.
Vito
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Old Feb 17, 2012, 08:39 AM
AND FOR MY NEXT TRICK....!
jodini's Avatar
Omaha Millard, Nebraska, United States
Joined Sep 2004
4,062 Posts
Nice model and that teen, is one good pilot!
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Old Feb 17, 2012, 11:59 AM
jrb
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Edina, MN, USA
Joined Oct 1999
11,430 Posts
Very nice!

Love the look; bashed together something very similar:
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Old Feb 17, 2012, 10:18 PM
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Great review.
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Old Feb 18, 2012, 02:02 AM
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Suisse, Genève, Genève
Joined Sep 2010
133 Posts
I can only agree. It's a great plane to build and to fly and it looks terrific on the ground and in the air

Only one minus point : I find it a bit slow on the roll axis to my liking.
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Old Feb 18, 2012, 09:43 AM
Rust: The poor man's Loctite.
TomM's Avatar
State College PA
Joined Jul 2002
1,076 Posts
Great review and a great looking plane- just the style I like. But I gotta say it..... sticker shock.
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Old Feb 18, 2012, 10:14 AM
Is it Friday yet?
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United States, NC, Raleigh
Joined Jun 2008
691 Posts
Great looking plane and sticker shock is right. Wow!
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Old Feb 18, 2012, 10:48 AM
Visitor from Reality
United States, VA, Arlington
Joined Dec 1996
12,788 Posts
Never mind the 'sticker shock' - Thayer Syme and Stevens Aero have come up with an unusual stand-out in looks that is a good, honest sports flying model.

If I was into kits, this would climb to the top of my 'must build' list. Yes, I date back to die-crunching - it was the same in England as the US! Laser cutting has made this model possible. With the vast number of outrunner producers around, offering a matched power package is also a good idea.

And thank you for an informative flight video that didn't leave me cross eyed and feeling air-sick !

D
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Old Feb 18, 2012, 09:35 PM
Balsa is for doll houses
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Texas, San Antonio
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great review.
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Old Feb 18, 2012, 09:44 PM
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United States, MN, South St Paul
Joined Dec 2000
82 Posts
Don't complain about sticker shock! Let's remember this is an american made product. Made by people who need a reasonable wage not chinese wages. I think this is also a great example of you get what you pay for. Try and get a build support or spare parts for you Hobby King arf.
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Old Feb 19, 2012, 09:58 AM
Mark Young
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Amen!
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