Blast From the Past with a 1/2a Bee-tween - RC Groups
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Feb 14, 2010, 09:21 PM
Registered User

Blast From the Past with a 1/2a Bee-tween

The Find:
I guess this qualifies as a mini-review, 20 years late. I recently picked up an old plane at a swap meet. I didn't know what it was, it just looked cool, and the guy took $20, what the heck. A little research and I found it is a Randy Randolph Bee-tween. It was meant to fly on two channels with a 1/2a glow engine.

The plane was super clean, and looked like it had never been flown. I didn't see any signs of glow fuel residue. There was damage, but it looked like damage from years of neglect and storage. I ended up completely stripping down the fuse to bare balsa. I used a heat gun to remove the film and then lots of sanding to remove the remnants of color. I re-covered in blue and added white stripes to the tail. I think it looks kinda like a PT-19!

I also added a very small tail wheel. I was careful not to add much weight to the tail. This plane was designed for a pretty heavy engine in the nose. An outrunner would no doubt be lighter.

Next came two fresh HS-55 servos, a Spectrum sport receiver, 18 amp ESC and 3s lipo (11.1V). The motor is a Rimfire 28-26-1600Kv turning a 7x5 prop. According to the datasheet, the combo is good for 180+ watts (overkill).

The motor mount was easy as there was already a heavy ply firewall. I just drilled holes for standoffs in the right hole pattern. Fishing the screws in from behind to hold the standoffs was the hardest part. I put epoxy over the screws to make the standoffs permanent.

The battery tray was also pretty simple. The rails that hold the servo tray continued all the way to the nose. I just added another tray of ply for the battery and one for my receiver.

Weight balance required 14 grams of dead weight on the firewall, even with the battery shoved all the way forward. Not bad. I balances right on the main spar. The all up weight is just a hair over 1 lb.

In short, this is the most fun I've ever had on 3 channels! What a nimble, fast and fun little plane. The combination of small, light plane and small fast turning prop is a blast. It accelerates just fine, will go straight up, and will go FAST! Despite it's speed, it WILL slow down. You just have to give it some time. In fact, you can almost hover in a 5-10 mph wind. This is a hands-down fantastic little plane for park flying!

I knew I was overkill on power, but I was having so much fun on the first flight I couldn't hold back...then pop....what was that! Was it a rubber band....nope the wing! The main spar cracked in a tight fast (ahem...full-throttle) turn

I was lucky the wing failed gracefully. The plane actually still flew fine. I didn't really see what was wrong until I was home looking closely. The main spar is balsa. It has ply doublers, but only in the very center section. The balsa snapped at the stress-riser where the ply stopped on the right side.

I repaired the break and then extended the doublers out one more section of the wing in both directions. I patched my holes with black stripes and continued the pattern across the wing. Patch, what patch. I like the under-wing stripes. It looks fantastic in the air!
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Feb 15, 2010, 11:43 AM
Yep!!! This is one of the greatest flying 3 channel low wing planes ever... I have converted 2 of the IC models I made years ago to electric and both flew great. First one flew with a Speed 400 direct drive on Nimhs. My son flew that one into a high voltage transmission tower at full speed and it came down like confetti. I still have one wing left mated with a foam fuse that looks kind-of-like a PT19 also. The only draw back of the original model was its short nose which is hard to balance with eley conversions. I stretch the original plans around a inch in the nose and everything is OK then.
I fly mine with about 120Watts and it is all I need, has good speed for a old geezer but as you said will creep along in the sky also.....

Happy Flying
Feb 15, 2010, 12:55 PM
Registered User
A longer nose would help. I also thought about cutting some openings in the tail while I had it all stripped down. Laziness prevailed.

Can you still buy the plans?
Feb 16, 2010, 06:13 PM

The plans were a freebee pullout centerfold from Model Airplane News. I looked all over mine and cant find a month or even year of when it was published. You maybe able to check the web site for MAN and they may be listed. Mine are very yellowy and ragged. I cant even put a date on when I built the planes, maybe 15 years ago or so. Sorry cant help you much!!!!!!!!

Good Luck
Feb 23, 2010, 09:22 PM
Registered User
I've built lots of Randy's airplanes over the years and they all fly great, gas or electric they fly good..........
Feb 26, 2010, 11:23 AM
I have no friends
Looks like a little cutie for sure. Too bad the old classics are disappearing and plans are hard to get. Would be nice if the free plans from days gone by could be downloaded.
Feb 28, 2010, 11:45 AM
Visitor from Reality
That is so cute! I built one back before I left England, used to baffle my clubmates doing rolls with no ailerons.

Randy was one of the best, a true Texan gentleman - I had the good fortune to meet up with him on several occasions.

I still have my copy of the Bee-Tween plan - it dates back to around 1991 or 92, but before anyone asks, it's packed up with the rest of my workshop (and home ) some 700 miles away.

Oddly enough, I have a plan somewhere in my CAD files of an electric specific model of similar size, but more 'old timer' looking. I designed it after I'd moved over here. Randy's concept of a low winged two/three channel model was so much fun, I've done a couple of my own - one slimey, one electric.

The image is the simpler electric version - it's slimer cousin had much nicer lines. Plan on another nice one when the dust of moving cities settles. Unlike the more civilised Bee-Tween, this one hasn't got wheels, but an underhand toss and bellyflop landing were no sweat.

Good to see the Bee-Tween is still around.


Feb 28, 2010, 12:38 PM
I have no friends
Just looked and the plans are available through Model Airplane News yet.

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