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Magnum XLS .61A Aircraft Engine Review

You say you want a ball bearing-supported crank and other high end features such as a three-year warranty for around a hundred bucks, but you thought it was impossible? Cheer up! It's Magnum to the rescue!

Splash

Introduction

The Magnum XLS .61A during its break-in phase.
The Magnum XLS .61A during its break-in phase.
Displacement:.607 cubic inches (9.94cc)
Weight with muffler:22.5 oz. (637.9g)
Bore:.94" (24mm)
Stroke:.87" (22mm)
Construction:"ABC" piston/cylinder denoting an aluminum cylinder with a chrome-plated brass cylinder
Crankshaft support:Ball bearings
Propeller range:11x8 - 13x4
Break-in propeller:11x7
Propeller shaft thread size:SAE 5/16-24
Practical RPM range:2000 - 18,000 rpm
Recommended fuel:Powermaster 15% - 30% nitro, 18% lube; 15% break-in
Glow plug heat range:Hot
Accessories:Magnum XL Pitts-style muffler (279945), O.S. #8 glow plug, APC 12x7 nylon propeller, DU-BRO 3" spinner
Catalog number:210770
List price/suggested selling price (USD):$155.00/$99.00
Manufacturer:Magnum Engine
Available From:Hobby People

Not long ago, I commented to a fellow flyer on the performance of his plane. Under the cowl was a big four-stroke Magnum which I seem to recall was a 1.20. It started with a blip of the starter and generated enough thrust to darn near tear the wings off if one happened to be holding the wings while this engine was running at full throttle.

As it turned out, he was an avowed Magnum user who'd enjoyed a long history with the brand. Prior to this engine, he'd used an older Magnum four-stroke for many a season and in many a plane, during which time he'd gladly sent the engine in on two occasions for a factory rebuild.

When it came time to rebuild the engine a third time, off it went to Global Hobby. This time, it seemed to take longer for the engine to return. A phone call to Global's tech support department was answered by a technician who apologized profusely for the delay, caused by the illness of the one technician in the company who still had the experience to rebuild his particular engine.

That's when the tech made an offer my flying friend couldn't refuse.

Would he like to receive a brand new and up-to-date version instead? Free?

Yes, you read right. Global Hobby actually sent this man a brand new engine as a direct exchange or a years-old and outdated engine, the very engine I'd commented on.

When it came time for me to review a new .60-sized Cap-10B, a new offering from the alliance of Vinh Quang Model and Global Hobby, I jumped at the chance not only for the plane, but for the engine as well.

After all, a story like that tends to stay with a person.

Contents

Your new ball-bearing equipped Magnum XLS .61A comes with:

  • Optional remote high-speed needle valve
  • Full-flow muffler
  • Muffler gaskets and mounting hardware
  • Extensive break-in, operating and mounting instructions
  • "Quick start" guide
  • Troubleshooting guide
  • Decal sheet
  • Three-year factory warranty

You will need:

  • Aircraft fuel with 15% nitro content and 18% oil content; Powermaster brand fuel is factory recommended
  • Suitable glass-filled nylon, machined aluminum or integrated hardwood motor mount
  • 6-32, 5/32" or 4mm steel cap screws and related hardware for mounting engine to mount
  • Long-reach, hot heat range glow plug
  • Medium-sized silicone fuel tubing
  • 11x7 propeller for break-in

Assembly

Final assembly of the engine is pretty straightforward; all you need to add are the muffler, carb, glow plug (not included) and if you wish, the remote high speed needle valve. You'll need to first remove the needle assembly from the carburetor and transfer it and its thin plastic gasket to the remote bracket. A plug came installed in the remote bracket; it gets installed on the carb while the valve goes where the plug used to be.

One problem: The high speed needle came installed in the carb and was so tight that the brass hex at the base of the needle's body stripped. A quick e-mail to Mike Greenshields, product developer for Global Hobby and my direct contact there, netted a new carb and needle along with his advice.

The factory heats the carb slightly before installing the valve, resulting in an extremely tight seal when it cools. Mike was once faced with having to remove one of these needles and found that a Craftsman 8 mm "midget" or "ignition" wrench has the bite to remove the valve without stripping it. You'll find it as part of set number 42339 at Sears or Kmart. Lightly heating the carb should help as well.

Thankfully, the replacement carb had the plug preinstalled and not the valve, which arrived in a separate bag. The new carb went on first (careful not to overtighten the setscrews!) followed by the needle on its remote bracket. Magnum packs everything for the conversion along with the engine, including longer backplate bolts and a short length of fuel line to connect the valve to the carb. The line looked a little narrow, so I opted to replace it with a short piece of medium fuel tubing.

Break-in

As with all engines, some break-in is required. The detailed and comprehensive instruction sheet recommends that the engine be broken in while installed in the model in order to sort out any possible problems with the fuel tank, linkage, etc.

Give yourself plenty of time for the break-in period since youll be running it for 5 - 10 minutes at a time with a ten-minute cooldown period between runs.

Start by adjusting the high-speed needle 2 1/2 turns out from the fully closed setting. Install your 11x7 break-in prop, fill the tank and get ready to start the engine. Magnum recommends Powermaster fuel; these are the same folks who produce fuel for Traxxas and their all-purpose Powermaster blend is simply amazing, but it isn't readily available in my area since the closure of the hobby shop which carried it. Instead, I used Byron's with the same blend of 15% nitro and 18% oil. This engine has a tremendous amount of compression out of the box and it really gave my starter a workout. I didn't use a spinner, but I should have. It would have made things easier. Open it up to 1/4 throttle and hit the starter.

Once turning, the Magnum XLS .61A fired right up with no hesitation whatsoever in a fast idle, a bit too fast. It seemed to be a bit lean for my taste when breaking in an engine, so out the valve came about another 3/4 turn. Much better; plenty of smoke. Also, plenty of torque. Even with the 11x7 in place, that incomplete VQ Cap-10B (reviewed here at RC Power as well) wanted to fly right off the tailgate of my old Ford Ranchero.

For this first run, advance slowly to full throttle and hold it there for ten minutes. Naturally, the engine should be sputtering and smoking during that time. After ten minutes, throttle down, shut it down and allow it to cool for ten minutes.

I wasn't able to complete the break-in procedure that day, so off the plane and I went to my club's field that same weekend. Much easier to do on a workbench in the pits than on a tailgate in my driveway. Per the instructions, each subsequent step was for five minutes at a stretch with ten-minute cooldowns, each time with the high-speed needle turned in a quarter turn lean. You'll need to put 45 minutes of runtime on your new engine before you fly it, so figure one ten-minute run and seven five-minute runs, each punctuated by a ten-minute cooldown. This will certainly allow the parts to lap together both mechanically as well as thermally, but make sure you have the time and the fuel to do it; you'll be running that engine for a long time before it hits the air.

The only problems I encountered were with the adjustment of the throttle cable and with some transitioning during the last run which turned out to be some stale fuel I'd borrowed from another flyer after I'd run out. Believe me, you'll have no trouble getting the Magnum to idle down low. It just wants to run. As far as the throttle cable was concerned, I relocated the servo from its optional place on the firewall back to the servo tray and ran a pushrod instead of a cable back to the throttle arm.

Flying

When it came time to get this great new combo in the air, it was with help from Dan Metz, president of the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club.

The engine started fine, but it was running poorly and no adjusting of the high-speed needle seemed to make a difference. I removed the cowl, bypassed the DU-BRO Kwik-Fill filler valve I'd mounted on the cowl and reattached the prop; Dan readjusted the factory-set low-end mixture screw. The main culprit was immediately apparent once we started the engine back up; it was the factory-installed block-off plug on the side of the carb where the high-speed needle would normally go. The transition from low to high speed was off, but was easliy corrected by setting the low-speed needle back to the factory setting. The other culprit was the bolt which holds the two halves of the Pitts muffler together and which allows them to be adjusted. It didn't seem to affect how the engine ran, but we might never have found the problem had we not removed the cowl. In short, make sure everything's tight. Everything went back together and once more, Dan hit the starter.

Ah, glorious music.

The XLS .61A fired up immediately, settling into that slow, loping idle it was exhibiting during the break-in. A quick readjustment of the high-speed needle and both the Magnum and the Cap-10B were ready to go.

The Magnum made a flawless transition from idle to full throttle, rocketing the Cap down the runway and into a clear summer sky.

I'm pleased to report that the Magnum behaved perfectly during this first flight, even though it was still a bit tight; the manual claims it would take about five flights to get everything dialed in. Still, it pulled that big Cap around the sky with real authority in any attitude we care to put it in. That plane was a real blast to fly as you'll learn when you read the review and a lot of that enjoyment is a direct result of the ease of operation and the sheer power of this engine.

The ever-advancing technologies of CNC machining and precision casting have given hobbyists a real gift in an engine like the Magnum XLS .61A. In it, you have all the advantages of state-of-the-art engine technology for the price of an older, entry-level engine.

Is This For a Beginner?

Absolutely. The vast and detailed documentation, ease of operation, ease of adjustment, high-tech features at a low-tech price and smooth, consistent power make the XLS .61A an excellent choice to power a .60 trainer. I can think of few engines I've operated which start and run with such ease.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

Few products of any kind can boast about having "something for everyone," but this big Magnum can deliver on that promise on several fronts. It's inexpensive enough so as not to break a modeler's budget, it produces gobs of horsepower for the most dedicated speed freak and it's easy enough to start and run so that even the greenest beginner can have his or her trainer up and flying with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of fun, that is, once it's broken in. If you're like my buddy at the flying field, you'll be a die-hard Magnum fan for a lot of years to come.

Even if you can afford a more expensive engine, you may not necessarily find a better one. As for me, I'm looking forward to the next time I can hear that exhaust roar from those dual exhausts on that Pitts muffler!

There's a lot to like or even love about this engine. Among them:

  • Ball-bearings for a bushing price
  • Power, power and more power
  • State-of-the-art casting and machining
  • Affordable price
  • Vast documentation
  • Generous factory warranty and support
  • Attractive packaging makes for an impressive gift to a modeler

The only real dislikes are minor:

  • The tightly installed high-speed needle resulted in damage while trying to remove it
  • Lengthy break-in period and somewhat expensive given the price spike in nitromethane as this article goes online
  • Powermaster fuel isn't available in all areas
  • The decal sheet has no two decals exactly alike for those wishing to put a decal on both sides of their plane
Last edited by DismayingObservation; Jul 08, 2008 at 02:27 AM..

Discussion

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Old Jul 08, 2008, 08:12 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
5,024 Posts
Good review. Looks like a good engine for a great price. Were you able to collect any empirical data as to RPM on various props?
Mike McD
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Old Jul 08, 2008, 11:39 PM
Transmogrified.
DismayingObservation's Avatar
Southern California
Joined Feb 2006
2,832 Posts
Thanks, Mike.

I didn't think to do so since I don't presently have a tach, but I love the idea. I need to send a follow-up to Mike at Global anyway. I'll see if he has the data and if so, I'll post it here in the message section. If not, I guess I'll have to beg, borrow and/or steal some props and a tach and hit the throttle.
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Old Nov 23, 2008, 02:18 PM
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Dallas, Texas area
Joined Sep 2003
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Do you have any tach readings on this engine ?
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Old Feb 02, 2009, 05:37 PM
Pro Bro # 2398
GassPasser's Avatar
BoonVegas, Indiana
Joined Dec 2005
674 Posts
on sale right now for 64 bucks right now at hobby people. i just bought 2 !
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Old Oct 14, 2010, 09:50 PM
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makeitworst's Avatar
So Cal ... Kingdom of Taxes
Joined Nov 2008
441 Posts
Nice if the plane in the air was actually in the video and in focus, for more than 25% (and that's generous) of the time. Time to Shoot the videographer.

Just a Note - I hope everyone knows that Magnum motors are nothing more than re-branded OS motors, which many have "lesser" features - such as not ringed in the same displacement category. At least it used to be that Global Distributors had the US exclusive distributorship for Magnum branded versions of the OS line. Since Global is a "half scale" version of a real distributor like Horizon or Hobico (Global mostly just supplies their own chain of stores - Hobby People on the Worst Coast) OS didn't feel Global could move enough motors, so OS branded motors remains for other outlets.

I have an OS and Magnum 91 FS, and they are identical cosmetically, but the mfg finish is another thing ... the OS is better and runs smoother. (never the less, the Magnum is a good motor).
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Old Oct 16, 2010, 08:13 PM
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jeffie8696's Avatar
United States, IA, Muscatine
Joined Oct 2009
1,528 Posts
"The main culprit was immediately apparent once we started the engine back up; it was the factory-installed block-off plug on the side of the carb where the high-speed needle would normally go. "

OK so this is a plug that was leaking air into the fuel system?
Would the average newbie know to fix this?

I am not anti Magnum, I have a Mag52RFS that I have flown for at least 2 gallons and it runs fine. However the first one I received from Hobby People had to be sent back twice for quality issues , they sent me a new one. I have to concur that the extended break in is expensive but I was able to fly it through the process and after a gallon it now runs quite well.
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