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Hobby Lobby Miss Stick Senior Balsa Laser Cut Kit Review

Albert Wahrhaftig explores this great-looking old-timer work of art, and the accessory package HL sells to complete it.

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Introduction


Wingspan:55"
Wing Area:400 sq. in.
Weight:22 oz.
Length:35.5"
Wing Loading:8 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:(2) Hitec HS55
Receiver:Hitec Electron 6
Battery:Kokam LiPoly 7.4v 1200ma
Motor, Reqd:Geared Speed 400 or small brushless
Motor, Tested:Axi 2212/26
ESC:Jeti Advance Plus 8
Available From:Hobby Lobby

An airplane like Hobby Lobby’s Miss Stik Senior is one of those things we just have to have once in a while. I eat healthy, but every once in a while I have to have a McDonald’s sausage biscuit. I go to the gym regularly, but every once in a while I just have to sleep in. I build with foam and fiberglass, but every once in a while I have to get my hands on some balsa sticks. And, needless to say, I fly the current crop of brushless powered hyperacrobatic models, but every once in a while I need to just kick back and enjoy an elegant old timer floating through the sky. That is where Hobby Lobby’s Miss Stik Senior comes in.

In both appearance and construction Miss Stik Senior, an “Old timer styled sport model”, is a classic design. Those who know the work of designer Tom Hunt are aware that he likes airplanes built from very little more than balsa sticks, and that’s what Miss Stik is, even down to the wing ribs which are simple stick assemblies. But if you thought that airplanes built of sticks are necessarily a collection of straight lines and square corners, you couldn’t be more wrong. Miss Stik is a beauty with elliptical wing tips and a curvaceous and wasp-waisted fuselage. Mostly the curves come from extensive use of laminated balsa, in the best free flight tradition. As a result, Miss Stik is both great looking and has a rugged and very light airframe.

The kit

Designed for a geared Speed 400 or for brushless equivalents such as the Axi 2212/26 or 2212/34 (parts for either installation are provided), Miss Stik is small enough to be easily portable but big enough to easily see high in a thermal.

Hobby Lobby’s very reasonably priced kit provides high quality material for all the basics, but leaves it to you to provide wheels, hinges, control rods, linkages and everything else beyond the essential airframe. I think this makes good sense since this kit is likely to attract those with a taste for building and some experience with “stick ‘n tissue” construction. Such persons are likely to have strong personal preferences about the additional bits and pieces and, in all probability, already have most of them in their scrap box. And, of course, this keeps the price down.

On Miss Stik's web page, Hobby Lobby itemizes all the needed parts and supplies and sells them as a package at a slightly reduced price. For this review, they generously supplied the whole package.

By the way, in the hobby magazines and web pages lately there have been laments that “builders” are a vanishing race and descriptions of well stocked hobby shops with all the accessories in the world but with only ready to fly airplanes and no builders’ kits. Miss Stik would be a wonderful and very economical way to introduce or reintroduce building to hobbyists and can readily serve as a trainer as well. I would love to see hobby shops take advantage of this and might also suggest that it would be suitable for a club building project and for a one design contest. Something to think about, eh?

Most of the material supplied is balsa stock in 1/8 x 1/4 inch and 1/8 x 1/8 inch sticks. There is one sheet of laser cut light ply formers and miscellaneous parts, a bit of sheet wood, a molded cowl, and a few pieces of hardware. All material is high quality and the wood selection combines strength and light weight.

One of the joys to be found in this kit is the 35 x 69 sheet of plans. Beautifully drawn, the necessary side and top views are accompanied by a handsome set of isometric drawings to show the steps in the assembly of the fuselage. These remind me of the best of rubber powered kits in days of yore. Of course, a sheet that size is too big to conveniently work with, so very reluctantly I cut it into separate wing, fuselage, and tail pieces. Would it really cost so much to include a second set of plans to be kept intact for display or just to look at once in a while? I’d be willing to pay for that.

Four pages of building instructions plus a list of parts and materials are included. These are a bit on the terse side, certainly adequate for an experienced modeler, but perhaps a beginner might benefit from some of the remarks and photos in this review.

Constructing Miss Stik

The Wing

Construction starts with the center portion of the wing which uses a hardwood dowel leading edge for added strength. A minimum of tools are required for this step. The whole works could be done with a razor blade (single edged, please) and sandpaper block, but a good machinist’s square or equivalent and a miter sander are handy additions if you happen to have them. The method of “cracking” (a word the instructions use) the ribs over the main spar is well illustrated on detailed drawings on the plans sheet. Note that the top ribs are not placed directly over the bottom ribs. They are staggered. I wrote Tom Hunt to ask why, and he answered, “for two reasons. 1. They don’t require sanding to fit the trailing edge. 2. It provides more contact surface for a better joint at the trailing edge and the leading edge.” So why are the top ribs glued over the trailing edge in my photos? Because I was a careless dummy and didn’t read the drawing carefully. That’s why. So let that be a lesson to you: wake up, take your time, and really pay attention to the plans.

The outer wing panels come next. Here the trailing edge is a lamination of three layers of 1/8” square balsa while the leading edge is a lamination of one 1/8” square piece and one 1/8 x 1/4” piece. Providing you have lots of pins and a flat building board which you can easily stick them into, this is quick and easy and both stronger and better looking than piecing the edges together with parts cut from sheet wood. If you have never done it before, I bet you will start using this technique on a lot of models in the future.

The wing has a flat center section with dihedral in the tip panels. Spars for the tip panel are laminated from a hardwood piece and a balsa piece, and then trimmed to shape. Instead of the common technique of tilting the outermost rib to the desired angle, which in my experience does not easily produce accurate results, a precut triangular dihedral wedge block is glued between the two panels. This quick technique produces a strong and accurate joint. It is, of course, supplemented by a 1/16” plywood dihedral brace. Be careful to note that the inner and outer sides of the dihedral brace are of different sizes. The brace is marked, but the marking is rather inconspicuous. Look carefully.

A few finishing touches, a lot of sanding, and you’ve built yourself a wing.

Tail surfaces

Nothing tricky here. Construction of these parts is similar to that used on the wing outer panels.

Fuselage

So many models these days use a “build a box and stick on a couple of formers” method that it is refreshing to see something different used on Miss Stik. On Missy, two identical fuselage “crutches” are built over the plan. One becomes a foundation upon which the upper part of the fuselage is erected; the other becomes a foundation upon which the lower part of the fuselage is erected. When the two are then joined face-to-face, the result is a strong, light, and perfectly symmetrical fuselage.

Now you need to decide the kind of motor you will use. In the past I have built several models powered by geared Speed 400 motors running on 7 nicads. My experience convinces me that this airplane would fly quite well with that combination. A geared Speed 400 motor, if used, is mounted directly to the plywood firewall (F1), and the plan contains a detailed drawing to aid you with this.

My version used the Axi brushless set up which entails a different mount.

A circular ply plate is epoxied inside the plastic cowl. The motor is attached to the ply ring-cowl, and then the cowl is attached to the fuselage by means of tiny screws on the edge of the cowl that fasten to small hardwood blocks on F1. I have to tell you that I had my doubts about this. Would it be strong enough? Would an unbalanced prop (perish the thought!) cause the holes in the cowl to tear, and would it survive a crash? I asked Tom Hunt about this, and he wrote, “Since the cowl is made of .06 styrene (much thicker than most kits) and it is also doubled up with plywood, the cowl is more than strong enough to take abuse and an unbalanced prop.” Now that I have built it per the plans, I see that it is indeed a strong structure. Even so, I reinforced the inner edge of the cowl where the screws pass through with strips of fiberglass.

Finishing up

There is plenty of room for your radio equipment. The plan advises that “to achieve the best performance, the smallest, lightest components are not absolutely required, but mini servos and a small RX should be used.” I raided my scrap box for wire pushrods and ran them through scrap small diameter plastic tubing. The tubes were run through cross pieces of scrap 1/8 x1/4 balsa. Very basic, very simple.

When it comes to assembly, I always cover the components first. I also attach the control horns to the rudder and elevator before attaching the tail surfaces to the fuselage. Doing it later is sometimes very awkward.

Covering: The instructions strongly recommend the use of high strength heat shrink film. Hangar 9 Ultracote was my choice. I can’t imagine not using a transparent covering with all that beautiful framework to show off.

Be sure everything is aligned, check for warps, adjust the control throws per dimensions given on the plans and set the CG according to the range specified on the plans. Now you are ready to fly.

ATTENTION! Before you take to the air, pay attention to the following caution contained in the instruction sheets:

“The model is not designed for violent maneuvers, especially pull-outs from steep, fast dives. Keep this in mind when flying the model. Fly the Miss Stik in close and slow, that is what it does best.”

Flying Miss Stik Senior

Give the weatherman a sixpack! He said on Saturday the wind and rains would be gone, and gone they were. A perfect day to try a floater like Miss Stik.

Downloads

There were no surprises. The Axi motor develops plenty of power and Miss Stik took off after a run of about twenty feet and entered a steep initial climb. With me at the sticks and Robert Film handling the camera on the first flight and switching roles on the second, we both had a good taste of this little plane. It does exactly what it is supposed to do, is inherently stable, will handle very tight circles without dipping into a spin, is virtually stall proof, and would be an excellent choice for a beginner. Cut the power and glide down, aiming towards your belly button, and Miss Stick will touch down for a gentle landing.

The instructions call for elevator movement of 1/4” for beginners and 3/8” for experienced pilots and rudder movement of 1/2” and 3/4” respectively. Do not exceed these throws. Miss Stik does not like to be over controlled.

Heeding the cautions given in the instructions, we did not attempt any aerobatics at all. Still, we had great fun flying as the instructions suggest: “Fly the Miss Stik in close and slow, that is what it does best.” So much fun, in fact, that we forgot to time the flights. As equipped for this review, Miss Stik can be kept under power for well over 15 minutes. Add in some gliding and some thermals and you’ll be up for quite a while.

Conclusion

For those who enjoy building from kits the old timer way and who enjoy slow and gentle flying on a sunny afternoon, Miss Stik is a winner. I expect to be enjoying mine for a long, long time, and I expect to use it to teach a few people to fly. Get one and come fly with me in Sebastopol, California!

Discussion

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Old Mar 13, 2005, 09:48 AM
Registered User
Charleston, SC, USA
Joined Jan 2001
199 Posts
Anyone having trouble downloading the movie clip?
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Old Mar 13, 2005, 09:49 AM
Registered User
Charleston, SC, USA
Joined Jan 2001
199 Posts
BTW I loved the article and have had my eye on this model for some time. Thanks for a great build article.
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Old Mar 13, 2005, 10:06 AM
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OZZIE's Avatar
St. Louis
Joined Nov 2002
160 Posts
I wonder how long it took him to build - mine took about 30 man-hours. It came in at 14.5 ounces using an Astro 010 geared and an Apogee 830 3S. Jumps off the ground; climbs at better than 45 degree angle, then floats around like a glider. I used SoLite, opaque fwd of spar, transparent aft.
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Old Mar 13, 2005, 11:06 AM
Registered User
Sebastopol, CA, USA
Joined Dec 1996
539 Posts
Sorry about the video

Apologies about the video. What I uploaded to the editor system doesn't work and my mail server won't send large video files. Monday I will snail mail a version on CD and AnnMarie will get it up and running as soon as possible. Come back for a second look in a few days.

After seeing the Solite covered version, I'm resolved to get some of that material for my next project. It looks like great stuff and that's a beautiful wrinkle free job you did.

I'm glad you folks liked the review. I didn't keep track of how many hours it took me to build, but really a built up structure doesn't take long once you get up and running, and building with a crutch avoids the tedious job of trying to align two fuselage sides in three dimensions as must be done with the more usual "box" fuselage system. I like messing with balsa wood. It is covering that bores me.
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Old Apr 06, 2005, 10:25 PM
Not now, Kato! Not now!
katobaggins's Avatar
Sheridan, OR USA
Joined Jan 2005
143 Posts
Got my kit yesterday. Looks like a lot of fun and fairly straightforward. I'll post flight data later.
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Old Apr 13, 2005, 07:39 PM
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Greg Knipp's Avatar
Manitowoc, Wisconsin
Joined Dec 2003
1,285 Posts
jbourke, I am curious to know if you left the upper rib caps alone once you recognized the mistake or did you surgically remove them and install them as per the plan? I saw the gorilla glue in the background and figured you had just left them be. Thanks............Greg
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Old Apr 20, 2005, 10:38 AM
Registered User
Sebastopol, CA, USA
Joined Dec 1996
539 Posts
Ribs

Greg, I guess your question was meant for me? I confess to sanding them to taper with the trailing edge, adding a little glue fillet, and letting it go at that. The Gorilla Glue was there for something else.
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Old Jun 17, 2005, 08:32 PM
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Joined Jun 2005
2 Posts
Different Motor for Miss Stik

I don't know if this would help anybody - but I purchased a motor/controller combo from Hobby Lobby when I bought the Miss Stik kit. It is the Motor Max 400XT brushless and the Jeti Advance 08 brushless controller. I was trying for more power than from the brushed 400 series, and less money than the motor 'specified' in the HL accessories.

Anyway, turns out the motor will not mount either to the cowl or in the firewall. I wound up having to cut and glue a piece of plywood inside the hole in the firewall, in order to have wood to put the mount and screws on. Turns out the distance from there thru the cowl is just right for mounting a spinner, prop, etc. The problem continued in finding the right height on the adapted firewall such that the shaft would center thru the cowling.

If anyone out there has purchased the same motor, let me know and I could send you a pic of the motor on the firewall - perhaps save some ponder time. Made the first flight today and the set up seems to work well. My kit came in at 18 oz all up.
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Old Jul 09, 2005, 02:17 AM
MINE!
Mick Molloy's Avatar
Australia, VIC, Point Cook
Joined Jul 2003
3,186 Posts
The .mov is still not working.

Here are some pics of my Miss Stik, Just about to join the 2 fuse halves and rig the control runs. Then start to cover tonight.

Should I cover the Tails before or after attaching them to the Fuse...?

Nice job on the Stik and the Review
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Old Oct 07, 2005, 04:03 PM
www.airmidimicros.com
Air Midi's Avatar
United States, CA, Oceanside
Joined Jan 2004
381 Posts
For the wing, what would you guys recommend for the covering. The article mentioned Ultracote, and I have been using Solite film on some of my planes. There is also an Ultracote Lite film available. Any recommendations?

Thanks.
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Old Oct 07, 2005, 06:46 PM
MINE!
Mick Molloy's Avatar
Australia, VIC, Point Cook
Joined Jul 2003
3,186 Posts
Profilm all the way....
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Old Oct 07, 2005, 07:19 PM
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Air Midi's Avatar
United States, CA, Oceanside
Joined Jan 2004
381 Posts
Thanks Mick.

I just saw this in another thread.

Oracover is brand name as sold in Europe & Asia.
= Profilm in UK
= Ultracote in USA
check out instruction and colour sites =

Oracover = Ultracote = Profilm . Hobby Lobby's tips
http://www.hobby-lobby.com/oracover.htm
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Old Oct 08, 2005, 12:42 PM
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United States, CA, Oceanside
Joined Jan 2004
381 Posts
I'm not familiar with the term "cracking" used to put the top ribs on the wing. When I try to put the rib over the spar my balsa sticks are actually breaking (cracking???). Are the sticks suppose to bend over the spar, or should some type of snapping occur?

Mike
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Old Oct 08, 2005, 02:23 PM
Registered User
Sebastopol, CA, USA
Joined Dec 1996
539 Posts
About "cracking"

The objective is to have a triangular airfoil - straight line from trailing edge to up to spar and straight line from spar down to leading edge, and yes, the rib does "crack." That is, you don't want it to curve over the spar. Mark the point where rib and spar meet and cut the rib half way through crosswise at that point, then break (if you don't want to call it "crack") the rib over the spar, but keep it in one piece, just broken over the spar. Sound effects are optional. Have fun. You chose a great little plane.
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