About to build my first ARF, any tips? - RC Groups
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Aug 24, 2012, 06:37 PM
Registered User

About to build my first ARF, any tips?

I've had enough fun with the foamies to move up to a balsa plane, and today my LHS called to say it arrived. Great Planes Edge 540T, not my first choice but since Horizon is a cluster with their inventory it seems like a good substitute.

Anyway I'm looking for any tips, tricks and advice from experienced builders. The first thing I noticed when looking at all my components is that the servos (Hitec HS-85MG) don't quite fit into the aleron slots, the slot is short by about 1/16". Do I use a razor to trim that away or is a nail file / emery board a better solution?

Also I have just one type of CA, a general purpose medium thickness, I suppose. Do I really need to buy two more tubes, thin and thick?

Thanks in advance!
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Aug 24, 2012, 06:52 PM
Registered User
Ranandar's Avatar
I have not had that exact model, but a couple like it.
You will need some thin CA to strengthen balsa connections and attach hinges.
The thick just sometimes comes in handy.

Some ARF models need additional structural support in the stabilizers and landing gear. Great Planes is a good brand so assembly should not be a problem.

If you have a grass runway get some bigger wheels.
Aug 24, 2012, 10:14 PM
Yea, I fly dusty planes..
zeezee's Avatar
You need to have a good supply of X-acto blades for things like enlarging the servo hole's and cutting covering. Covering is really tough on blades and you always want a nice sharp one. You will need thin, med. and thick C.A. depending on what you are gluing and some C.A. debonder to clean up after yourself especially with C.A. hinges. I would want some 5 and 30 min. epoxy. Some low tack painters tape is handy as is some canopy glue. That and the usual assorted hand tools and you should be pretty good to go... BTW, I love Hanger 9 ARF's, and E-Flite Platinum series...Check out Heads Up RC for all your motor, ESC, and any other supplies, they can't be beat!! Dave/ZZ
Aug 24, 2012, 10:26 PM
Registered User
That model looks quite sexy. I have yet to do a balsa ARF. Best of luck..
Aug 24, 2012, 11:08 PM
Suspended Account
Yes. Use the recommended equipment, and work slowly and not late at night. A tried brain equals a messy plane. Also, how careful you are will determine how well the plane flies. Good luck!
Aug 24, 2012, 11:25 PM
Hobby King Hater
Kimber's Avatar
Brad looked at the instructions and,, one of our club members has one and the tail
wheel needs a collar to keep it on. The member has lost several tail wheels before
he put the metal collar on. It has a silicone washer to hold it originally.
Aug 24, 2012, 11:32 PM
Registered User
Go slow, read the directions carefully, don't glue anything until you've checked it over twice. If you get the least bit tired or impatient, put the model aside, do something else for a while, or get back to it the next day or evening.

When you get the model assembled, with all the servos, ESC, receiver, motor, prop and battery installed, check CG carefully according to the specifications. Usually that can be done by moving the battery forward or aft. If not, add weight to the nose or the tail until the CG is right. Don't ever maiden a model without careful CG setup.

Justt before the maiden flight, check all control surfaces carefully for movement in the correct directions. (Huge mistake to just check for movement alone, without also checking direction.) If possible, have another pilot check it out with you.

Good night and good luck.
Aug 25, 2012, 03:39 AM
222 km/hr Parkjet flyer
solentlife's Avatar
Dry fit TWICE ... check alignments ... jig if neccasry. A piece of string is a marvelous tool for checking wing to tail alignment etc.

CA.... on a Balsa model - this can be a killer - sorry to you guys ... but it tends to soak into balsa and create rock hard stress points ... its fantastic stuff ... but believe me when you Zap a joint and it fails ... you keep zapping that joint and still it fails to hold ... you'll soon realise it is not the universal answer.

If you can live with slower cure times ... do yourself a favour and use woodworkers PVA glue ... it's far more forgiving on balsa / wood. It gap fills and partly evaporates to cure ... in event of repairs - you can remove it to get back to joint again.

For serious strength points ... ie undercarraige / wing rods / motor mounts etc. - there is only one glue - Epoxy and I use 5 minute for all these jobs.

I've been building and flying big and small models for over 40yrs and above has stood test of time for me.

I only use CA as a field zap repair and then at home do the job properly.

But of course all above is MY opinion and may not agree with others ..

Aug 25, 2012, 06:39 PM
Registered User
Quarterscaler19's Avatar
I fully agree with Nigel. CA is a quick fix. If you take your time, understand each step fully before committing with glue, and check-check-check!, you will have an awesome experience with your ARF. Above all else, DO NOT ASSUME!! Get experienced advice on any question you may have...this is definite with Chinese model instructions, generally. Measurements of airfoil and tail feather surfaces is crucial...I use a wooden folding carpenter's rule...the measurements stay uniform. The MOST important step is setting the CG. Missing this step will surely be costly.

A tail-heavy aircraft is generally a one-flight airplane. A touch nose heavy, no fuel, is best, but the closer to 0 degree incidence the better.
Last edited by Quarterscaler19; Aug 25, 2012 at 06:42 PM. Reason: Additional text
Aug 26, 2012, 01:03 AM
Registered User
Thanks for all the great advice! I spent last night and most of today working on it, had just enough time to take it to the field for a quick maiden flight to trim it out. A few minor hiccups along the way but nothing insurmountable.

The first issue was the one I mentioned in the original post, the servo bays were about 1/16" too short to fit the HS-85MGs. A dremel with a sanding drum attachment took care of that pretty easy.

Next up was the pull - pull setup for the rudder. There were guide tubes pre-inserted into the frame for the threads to run through, unfortunately the ends of them were hidden under the monokote. So I cut through the coating where the instructions said to, unfortunately the end of the tube was nowhere near there. So I repaired the cut with some packing tape and cut a length of 1mm piano wire. After a bit of straightening I pushed it through the tubes until it popped out the coating, a good inch or so away from the spot marked by the instructions. I'm glad I had some on hand, it was the perfect tool for the job.

Gluing the stabilizer in place was probably the most nerve wracking part of the process, but once it was on the elevators went on fine. It was my first time doing CA hinges but it's not so hard.

It flew great on the maiden, I do have to re-adjust some linkages for trim but that was expected. The really unfortunate part was the canopy flew off mid flight over some trees, I looked for a couple hours but the sun was setting and I couldn't find it. I'll head out again tomorrow and see if I can track it down. I can see I'll have to come up with a better solution than the magnets that hold it on.
Aug 26, 2012, 02:21 AM
222 km/hr Parkjet flyer
solentlife's Avatar
Canopy magnets !! Great idea - but the cause of so many lost canopy's.

I salvage magnets from other planes etc. and add more if I really want to stay with magnets. But my main remedy is to fit a spring pin catch.


A quick and easy fix and works with wood or foam material ... get an old servo arm ... take a thin long self-tapper and fix it via the servo centre hole on fuselage close to canaopy edge. It then rotates on the screw to provide a tab to hold down canopy. Nothing fancy .. just using up old scrap !!

The problem you had with the tube and misplaced end is common and is why you need a length of wire at hand for such jobs. Another trick is to gently rub around the area and often you will 'feel' the hole ....

I don't know what you used for for your pull-pull - but one of the best is fishing trace and crimps. For servo end I use brass screw ends ...


Passing trace wire through and crimping ... then a normal clevis gives you connection to servo arm and adjustment.

I love pull-pull for rudder ... used it on all my biplanes before.


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