What plane is this? Debolt Livewire Champ-w/short video - RC Groups
Thread Tools
Mar 21, 2010, 01:24 PM
Registered User
reacher10's Avatar

What plane is this? Debolt Livewire Champ-w/short video

I just picked this plane up for $35.00 at an estate sale. It's old I know that and that is all I know. When I picked it up and felt how light it was I knew it was perfect for electric. Fuse weighs 500g and the wing is 300g. WS is 55.5 inches and the fuse is 38.5 inches.

AUW dry = 1.76 lbs/28.21 oz.

I can make it lighter by taking the fuel tank out. and the bulkheads can get lightening holes.

It needs new covering on the fuse. The wing needs ailerons. I'll put a battery hatch. Not sure where, the bottom is a perfect cadidate but if it needs nose weight weight then I'll make the hatch where the fuel tank is.

This was a point and shoot plane. No throttle control and no ground steering. That is was a 3 channel is amazing considering the size of the rudder and the electronics that were in one of the other planes shows that the servos were the ON/OFF type (they looked like those little wind up music box mechanisms).

It appears to have been a Dmeco kit. The cabin looks like the front of a wheel house on a boat. (light bulb time...it just doesn't have the wind screen...DUH.)

With modern electronics it should fly great. I'll throw a Turnigy 35-42 1000kv,http://hobbyking.com/hobbycity/store...idProduct=3884

Two 3s 2650mah 20c batts in parallel...more flight time.

So does anyone know what on earth this design is?

I'll post this in a more trafficked forum as well but I figure if some know what it is they would prolly be visiting this forum.
Last edited by reacher10; Apr 07, 2010 at 10:25 AM.
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Mar 21, 2010, 01:36 PM
Registered User
DGrant's Avatar
Originally Posted by reacher10

So does anyone know what on earth this design is?
I'm looking for clues...
Mar 21, 2010, 01:46 PM
Registered User
reacher10's Avatar
Originally Posted by DGrant
I'm looking for clues...
Oops...forgot the pics, pics posted. Now realising the windscreen is not there my guess is an Aironica?
Mar 21, 2010, 02:06 PM
B for Bruce
BMatthews's Avatar
It's an old Debolt Livewire Champ. It's not a scale model of the Aeronca at all other than in a "Stand back 20 yards and squint myopically" sort of way They were kitted by DeBolt Model Engineering Company (DMECO) in the later 50's and well into the 60's. There's no doubt at all that you've got yourself a GEN-YOU-WINE antique on your hands. This one is almost certainly a kit since it's got the decal on the fin.

They were originally used with rudder and throttle controls only. That style of trimming and flying being pretty much a lost art these days. This one was obviously built with rudder and elevator control. Or modified for elevators at some point.

They are a classic flying model and well worth your time to restore it to its former glory.

Hal Debolt was one of the major pioneers in the RC community all during the 50's, 60's and well into the 70's. His pictures can often be found in magazines with his signature corn cob pipe grasped firmly between his teeth while twiddling the sticks on an Orbit reed or proportional radio. I'm not sure but I think he may have been part of the Orbit company as well.

Hal was a frequent poster in the Vintage and other forums over at RC Universe for the first few years that I was involved with that forum. It was an honor to swap bandwidth with this Icon of the hobby. Sadly he passed away a few years ago at a ripe old age.

So restore and fly that model with pride and the knowledge that you'll be helping some of the newcomers to realize just how rich a heritage that model flying truly has. Far too many think that old means useless. LIttle do they know of the many fine designs that would be just as much fun to fly today as when they first took to the air.
Mar 21, 2010, 02:32 PM
Registered User
reacher10's Avatar
WOW! That is the kind of info I would never have expected. Knowing this I will leave it as a tail dragger, I was going to change it to nose wheel steering.

Now I feel as if I really need to fly this with care and not crash it. Not that it'll be a hand full to fly at all but to keep it as it was built. This ain't ARF.

I was discussing the aileron aspect with one of the guys at the field who really knows building and he's gonna take a look and see what the best way to proceed will be. The trailing edge is a 2" peice of balsa and I was thinking of cutting them out of that and not rebuild the internal structure.

I'll keep this thread updated as I revamp this fine lady.

Thanks BM, I have a whole new perspective now.
Last edited by reacher10; Mar 21, 2010 at 02:38 PM.
Mar 21, 2010, 03:07 PM
Hobby King Hater
Kimber's Avatar
Try to save the decal, so you have a pattern. It needs
a dummy engine if you make it 'lectic. The vintage forum
has a couple threads about how to make them. Most likely
the weight won't hurt, may even be needed.

Good luck with this project. I think Brad likes bringing
back an old plane as much as building a new one.

Keep us posted,, with pictures.

BTW, the plane is still available..


Maybe they can get you some plans??

More info...


Look at the bottom right of the page, shipping was 25 cents....
Last edited by Kimber; Mar 21, 2010 at 03:17 PM.
Mar 21, 2010, 03:12 PM
Registered User
vintage1's Avatar
yeah..that's a classic single channel plane. With maybe kick-up elevator on a compound Escapement..don't throw the escapement. They are classics too. . One button stuff.

Id normally have covered a wing like that in nylon, and the fuselage would be tissued and doped.
Mar 21, 2010, 04:37 PM
Registered User
All the debold RC designs from that era were basically the same model scaled up or down. I still have a Livewire Cruiser that I built in 1956. I think it was the largest of the Livewire series. I bought it because it was large enough to contain the radios I was experimenting with. It had rudder, elevator, and throttle using pulse proportional single channel radios drivng Southwest Magnetic actuators for rudder and elevator and a three postion escapement for throttle. I was also experimening with ways to add ailerons but never got it reliable enough to fly. Probably why it survived. I did use it to check out my first proportional Microavionics radio in 1967. It has been in the attic ever since.
Mar 21, 2010, 09:18 PM
Registered User
reacher10's Avatar
They also had about 30 kits at the estate sale but they originaly wanted to sell the whole lot for 2k. I went back again this afternoon and noticed a lot less kits and asked if I could just buy one. Picked up a Sig Colt https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=705835 and found the plans under video & informationhttp://www.sigmfg.com/cgi-bin/dpsmar...FV4.html?E+Sig ..looks like fun but very heavy...need to electrify it. Scan it, put it in Autocad, electrify it and have the parts laser cut...that works.

The Champ fuse was done with dope and whatever material. I'll use shrink coating but keep it close to what it is...prolly translucent beige if there is such a color. I love the clear coating on the vert. stab and around the cabin so that stays, maybe lightly wet sand it with 1200 grit and clear coat it again. I'll take a pic of the decal it in my computer but that will stay as is also. I'm not crazy about the sky blue paint so I'll change that. I put an iron to the wing and it tightened right up.

Question: What is good to use to get the old dope/tissue off the wood where it wanting to stick. Sanding I know about but what chemicals? Acetone I'm sure will work but might not be the best thing for old dry blasa.

Here is a thought...leave the fuel tank and use it to fill as needed for nose weight? Nah, that area will be a removable hatch. The hinging style is old school but works great so I'll leave it as is.

Well tomorrow I'll tackle the coating.

Thanks for all your input as I've only been flying for a little over a year. I have alot of building and design experience...used to build boats then went to school for drafting. I've been designing for, jeez...23 years...yikes. All kinds of stuff, aircraft antennas, automated machinery, vibration isolation, architectural, civil...man the list goes on.

But I will have questions on some model aircraft building aspects.

Question: What is the best way to cut open the front to get the tank out? I'm thinking tape a line where I want to cut and use a razor saw...carefully...good or bad idea?
Last edited by reacher10; Mar 21, 2010 at 09:29 PM.
Mar 21, 2010, 09:49 PM
B for Bruce
BMatthews's Avatar
You really do not need ailerons. With some extra throw in the rudder the Champ will do nice rolls, regular and reverse immelmans, snap rolls, spins and many other maneuvers that many folks think require ailerons. The only things it won't manage is stuff where a pure yaw with no roll is needed such as knife edge flying.

Even inverted flight will be possible. But you'll need to keep adding small bits of correction since with the dihedral upside down it'll be sort of like balancing a broom handle end up in your hand. But it is possible and doable without anything more than that little extra for effort and attention.

Heck, I've done all that except for the inverted flying with my rudder only model. That's right, no elevator, no ailerons, and no throttle control. Why this works is that the rudder induces yaw which works with the generous dihedral to produce a strong rolling effect. Basically forget that it's rudder controlled other than on the ground while taxiing and during the first portion of the takeoff. Once in the air just treat the rudder control as your primary rolling control. In other words put the rudder servo into the aileron output of the reciever and pretend that youve got ailerons. The model will do it's darndest to help you believe that this is the case.

To paraphrase the old spaghetti western Mexican outlaw "You don' neeed no steeeekeen' aileeerunz! ! ! !"

Kimber, nice addition putting that scan of the advert in. I've got one of the Early RC kits that I got from the original owner in trade for some old radio gear. They really are nice kits. I just need to stop putzing around with my other hobbies and get back to model building soon so I can put it together.
Mar 21, 2010, 10:25 PM
Registered User
reacher10's Avatar
My GWS cub that I learned on only had E/R and it worked NP but when I added ailerons I really enjoyed it more. Now I have a Super chipmunk...fast, Yak 54...great pattern plane, My own design mid wing GWS Cub...flys like a pylon racer, the original GWS cub and now these two, oh, a twin on the CAD drawing board partly built.

I would like to have ailerons on this.

These are the two motors I'm juggling. With no calc just off the top of my head my guess is AUW to be 3.5 lbs.

This one for a nice big slow turning prop: http://hobbyking.com/hobbycity/store...r_Eq:_AXi_2826

This one will use a smaller prop but maybe less amps? Not sure yet: http://hobbyking.com/hobbycity/store...idProduct=7125

I'll post some pics tomorrow and lets see what kind of progress I can make.
Mar 22, 2010, 01:12 PM
Registered User
reacher10's Avatar
I started working on the battery compartment in the nose. Had a neat little brass fuel tank in there. I also started removing the covering. It was covered with silkspan and just the elevator was covered in tissue. At this point I'll recover the entire plane except for the vert stab. Here's some pics.
Mar 22, 2010, 05:47 PM
B for Bruce
BMatthews's Avatar
Whatever motor and prop you use you'll want to prop it to draw around 70 to 80 watts per lb to achieve a more or less period correct style of flying. Actually that would be more power than the original .15 would have provided even at 80 watts per lb. The more generally accepted modern amount is 100 watts per lb but that gives darn near vertical climb ability. Not really something in keeping with this sort of model.

So you will need a motor that provides something near 75 x 3.5 = 260 watts. On a 3S pack that would mean 260 / 11 = 24 amps. So both of your motors are pretty much overkill in that area. Keep in mind that when they suggest these things to replace an "X" size glow engine they are typically expecting you to put then into a 3D stunt model.

And you'll want to manage to get this with an 8 or 9 inch prop. With 10 inch being about as much as I'd want to use. If nothing else but for the sake of the landing gear providing the clearance needed for grass takeoffs. Also an 11 or larger prop with high power will definetly begin to show signs of torque effects if you jam it on at slower speeds.

With that in mind of your two options I'd opt for the second one. But perhaps find a similar power motor but with a slightly higher Kv value so it's more in tune with a 3cell pack and getting the current to the right level with a 10 inch or smaller prop option. Even the second motor shows the smallest prop as the 10x6 which means they are intending it for use with 4 or more cells in series since it is the smallest prop they list.

If it were me I'd look for one of their motors that is rated for a max 350'ish watts so you'll still be running nice and cool at th 260 you'll be using. And I'd go for a Kv value of around 1100 so it will work with props in the 9 to 10 inch range with 3 cells so you cause the motor to draw the desired amperage. Remember that it's the motor and load on it that determines the max draw. Prop big to pull more current and small to reduce current at full throttle. But to allow this to work you need to have a motor that will work well with a specific range of prop sizes. That's where the Kv value comes in along with looking at their range of props and considering the range of cell count they list.
Mar 22, 2010, 08:01 PM
Registered User
Doesn't need ailerons. It should be covered with silk, nylon or Silron to be authentic. That tank is a Demeco clank tank. Mine flew well with rudder only( no throttle ) on a K&B .15 on a 10-3.5( I think ). Had a citizenship hard tube receiver and a Babcock Mk 1 escapement that was tidied up by a club member who was a jeweler. I flew my first rc flight at a contest near Albany, Ny. with it.
Mar 22, 2010, 08:45 PM
Registered User
reacher10's Avatar
I was mulling the motor around today and came to same conclusion as you.

I totally forgot that I have Super Tigre .10 and a 30 amp ESC that was I was going to throw in my Yak 54. Since I bought these 2 planes the Yak can't make an appearance for a few weeks.

I just ran it up with a Master Airscrew 10x5 on a 3S 2650 20C. 24.7a x 11.3v = 279.11 W. Ive already run this motor in my other now destroyed Yak and it will definitely fly the Champ. These are great motors. All right then...moving on to mounting it.

The battery tray and front hatches are roughed out. I ordered 50 magnets today, not that I need 50 for this plane but K&J has 8mm x 6mm x 1.5mm on sale for 6 bucks. http://www.kjmagnetics.com/proddetail.asp?prod=ZB5

I'll just make the wind screen from balsa and make it part of the battery hatch.

It's shaping up.

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Discussion Anybody know what kind of plane this is??? yellowbird2800 Electric Ducted Fan Jet Talk 9 Oct 10, 2015 11:44 AM
Discussion Can someone help me identify what kind of plane this is and how I should power it? Red5 Waterplanes 20 Mar 16, 2010 10:58 PM
Discussion Anybody know what kind of plane this is??? yellowbird2800 Giant Scale Airplanes 0 Mar 07, 2010 12:48 PM
Discussion anyone know what plane this is? Mr.Me Electric Plane Talk 4 Feb 28, 2010 09:13 PM
Discussion Help! what plane is this? and how do i fix it? Flying Scotsman Foamies (Scratchbuilt) 12 Sep 06, 2009 01:29 PM