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Dec 25, 2016, 04:14 PM
Discussion

A Christmas Story: The Testors Skyhawk Project


Merry Christmas to all!

This is an amazing Christmas and one that will be remembered for quite a while. A while back I posted a request for any and all parts for the Testors Skyhawk. My desire was to get a Skyhawk for my Dad and me to commemorate our 50th anniversary in RC this Christmas. Well, after several false starts, an anonymous donor, Santa Mike, shipped me a compete Testors airframe. I was blown away by the generosity. Santa is alive and well. My Dad and I had a blast opening the present in an original Testors box.

The real story begins 50 years ago today, when after two free flight fly aways, my Dad bought me (us) a Testors for Christmas. We lived North of Baltimore and the weather was spotty. The first day the weather cleared, he had to work and told me not to touch the Testors. Well I was 13 and decided to sneak out with the Testors and fly it. I broke the wing in half and crumpled the fuse. Dad came home and scolded me and we began the repair process. That plane had over 70 flights on it before the airframe was beyond repair and I transferred the electronics to a Livewire Trainer. I proceeded to get another 50 flights on that plane. I can't remember what happened to the electronics.

During my Testors search, I was surprised how many similar stories exist of Father's and Son's, beginning in this hobby, with a Testors. This thread is for all of us to enjoy each others stories with the Testors, to enjoy my Testors Skyhawk restoration and to follow my creation of a Testors clone. I do intend flying the restoration a couple times and to have the clone as a daily flyer.

I had no idea that any Testors Skyhawks existed until I began a search for a LR3 Galloping Ghosts system. This search revealed a whole group of individuals reviving and flying Galloping Ghost systems. I discovered the Tobe actuator, a modern LR3 clone, and a plug and play 2.4 Ghz electronics package developed by Phil G. A new friend, Jay Mendoza, became a source for the Tobe/Phil G. system and a great asset in my Testors quest.

I acquired a Testors transmitter off Ebay and an ACE adam's actuator system from a local estate sale. I consulted with Jay and bought a clone Testors receiver and actuator from his inventory. The Testors system is in his hands being cleaned up and tuned. Once ready, it will be installed in the Testors airframe.

My next step will be to reverse engineer the restored airframe and design a Skyhawk clone. So if you have the desire, you can build a Testors with me. The clone will be electric and pulse rudder controlled with the ACE system and a modern 3 channel 2.4 Ghz system for throttle, ailerons and elevator. So the plane will be flyable either way.
Last edited by Otto Dieffenbach; Dec 26, 2016 at 01:27 AM.
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Jan 06, 2017, 11:21 PM

Step One: Documenting the Original


Before I began documenting the original Skyhawk, I went through and cleaned up/inspected all the parts.

Santa Mike was very generous with the complete airframe and a original Wen-Mac motor. The wing and stab have some minor mars but nothing that can't be erased with care. They had no indication of ever being flown and the landing gear had never been mounted. The fuse had been flown but other than some castor residue in and out, it is in great shape. The vertical stab mounting was not to my liking so I removed it. It required some rudder repair and leading edge reshaping. All is ready to be reinstalled.

The cowl appears to have been custom cut for the Wen-Mac and does not appear to have been cut by the factory. I think most or all this plane is from a Skyhawk kit and not from an original RTF plane. The shipping box I have appears to be a kit box since there is no room for the original transmitter. It is dated 1969. My original 1966 Testors had a Golden Bee and flew well. I've heard reports that the Wen-Mac, if not broken in properly, does not provide enough power. The original radio, I've reassembled with Jay Mendoza's help, is like my 1966 first edition. Anyway, the cowl is quite fragile and I plan to make a plug and vacuum form several new cowls for flight. This one would never handle 1/2A motor vibration.

After clean-up, I took out some Xmas wrapping paper and outlined all the elements of the plane. That was easy. Next I addressed the wing and horizontal stab, making true airfoil cross sections of the tips and roots of both. Now I have to find somebody that can accurately cut me multiple foam cores of the wing and stab.

The fuse was time consuming too. I made half cross section shapes for each significant location down the fuse from the firewall to the tail. I used some scrap 6mm Depron for the forms.

The final step was to weigh everything. I'm pretty confident I can make a new one lighter. The Veco wheels are very heavy. We will see.

I have created a mounting system for an electric motor and ESC for the Skyhawk. I have made it a requirement not to drill any new holes. My general plan, which keeps changing, will be to first fly the original airframe on 2.4Ghz with the electric motor and a modern clone Adams actuator system, rudder only. I may then have a step with a mix 2.4Ghz and 27Mhz pulse system. The pulse system on the rudder and 2.4Ghz for motor and possibly a temporary elevator and single aileron. Still thinking this through. The final step will be a couple flights with the original airframe as I first flew it, Golden Bee and Testors Pulse system.

After the two flights, It will be put away for show and tells and rare flights. My Dad and I consider it a valuable part of not only RC modeling history but the beginning of our modeling history. Almost a museum piece.
Jan 07, 2017, 02:12 AM
Registered User
Grup's Avatar
Theres a NIB testors radio in the classifieds. Expensive, but original

https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show...k-RADIO-FOUND-!!

That's a nice looking airplane. I thought a Skyhawk would look like a 172, but it looks more like a low wing Piper.

Regards
Last edited by Grup; Jan 07, 2017 at 02:20 AM.
Jan 07, 2017, 03:48 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grup
Theres a NIB testors radio in the classifieds. Expensive, but original

https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show...k-RADIO-FOUND-!!

That's a nice looking airplane. I thought a Skyhawk would look like a 172, but it looks more like a low wing Piper.

Regards
Yep, it looked like a Piper but they called it a Skyhawk. I tried several times to contact the owner in the ad with no reply.
Jan 07, 2017, 03:45 PM
Registered User
Hello, Otto! Nice to see that there is another Skyhawker out there. The Skyhawk was my first foray into RC, although not in the normal fly/crash/fly crash sequence of events. I bought mine about the same time as you and it also was the Golden Bee powered version. A faulty actuator sent the bird back to the toy store (where they knew nothing about RC) before the first flight. Rather than risking a repeat experience, my Dad and I went to a local hobby that really took the time to get me on the right track. No Skyhawk this time, but a Goldberg 1/2A Skylane, Cox Golden Bee and a Controlaire Mule Mk II radio with a Royal servo. Not Galloping Ghost, but one for right, two for left push button. After building, learning to cover with silk and all that, the Skylane took to the air for two wonderful flights before crashing (me) and was relegated high up on the back shelf. Moved on to an Andrews H-Ray and three channels and never looked back.

I always got rather nostalgic when reminded of the Slyhawk, though. After a few years of sporadic looking on Ebay, I found one for $40, along with all the problems that a plane of that price includes. It had been crashed and crumpled, the fuselage being split in the firewall area. A large balsa block was substituted and the Golden Bee (not included) and nosewheel were screwed to this. Cowl was not included and most likely did not survive the crash. Not overly sanitary, but workable. The fin was loose and the wing was suffering from numerous gouges. Not the greatest example of the breed, but then Skyhawks aren't exactly common finds. Questionable condition or not, she's a keeper.

I haven't decided on exactly how the restoration will proceed, but the wing will get some lightweight Spackle and be covered with with white Econokote. The fuselage damage can be fixed with some foam reinforcement and Gorilla Glue. Making a mold for the missing cowl won't be an issue. Going electric would be nice, but seeing as this is a nostalgia thing, I'll more than likely go with the Cox or a McCoy (Wen-Mac), both stashed out in the shop somewhere. I was going to use a current 2.4 radio, but after reading your post, the idea of having that flapping rudder just seems so "right." Whatever I use, I will have the whip antenna sticking out of the top, whether it is live or not! The funny part of all this is, I am coming up on the 50th anniversary of my getting into RC. The celebration will include my original Slylane (yes, still with me and currently under restoration) and this old Skyhawk, my first RC airplane that I have never flown.
Jan 07, 2017, 06:51 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fravits
Hello, Otto! Nice to see that there is another Skyhawker out there. The Skyhawk was my first foray into RC, although not in the normal fly/crash/fly crash sequence of events. I bought mine about the same time as you and it also was the Golden Bee powered version. A faulty actuator sent the bird back to the toy store (where they knew nothing about RC) before the first flight. Rather than risking a repeat experience, my Dad and I went to a local hobby that really took the time to get me on the right track. No Skyhawk this time, but a Goldberg 1/2A Skylane, Cox Golden Bee and a Controlaire Mule Mk II radio with a Royal servo. Not Galloping Ghost, but one for right, two for left push button. After building, learning to cover with silk and all that, the Skylane took to the air for two wonderful flights before crashing (me) and was relegated high up on the back shelf. Moved on to an Andrews H-Ray and three channels and never looked back.

I always got rather nostalgic when reminded of the Slyhawk, though. After a few years of sporadic looking on Ebay, I found one for $40, along with all the problems that a plane of that price includes. It had been crashed and crumpled, the fuselage being split in the firewall area. A large balsa block was substituted and the Golden Bee (not included) and nosewheel were screwed to this. Cowl was not included and most likely did not survive the crash. Not overly sanitary, but workable. The fin was loose and the wing was suffering from numerous gouges. Not the greatest example of the breed, but then Skyhawks aren't exactly common finds. Questionable condition or not, she's a keeper.

I haven't decided on exactly how the restoration will proceed, but the wing will get some lightweight Spackle and be covered with with white Econokote. The fuselage damage can be fixed with some foam reinforcement and Gorilla Glue. Making a mold for the missing cowl won't be an issue. Going electric would be nice, but seeing as this is a nostalgia thing, I'll more than likely go with the Cox or a McCoy (Wen-Mac), both stashed out in the shop somewhere. I was going to use a current 2.4 radio, but after reading your post, the idea of having that flapping rudder just seems so "right." Whatever I use, I will have the whip antenna sticking out of the top, whether it is live or not! The funny part of all this is, I am coming up on the 50th anniversary of my getting into RC. The celebration will include my original Slylane (yes, still with me and currently under restoration) and this old Skyhawk, my first RC airplane that I have never flown.
Great story! Never had a Skylane but my best friend did. He had his on escapement. My friend is now the most senior pilot at Southwest Airlines and retires this summer. I think you need to look into the 2.4Ghz clone Adams actuator system. I should have one soon and will report on it here. I am jealous of your $40 find. Did it come with all the original radio? That can be fixed and flown. Let me know if you need any help.
Jan 07, 2017, 09:36 PM
Registered User
Ah-ha! Southwest Airlines, my carrier of choice. Interesting that the senior pilot flew rudder only in the beginning. The more I think about this, the more I think that the Adams actuator system is the way to go on the Skyhawk. I will be looking forward to hearing how this all works out for you, Otto. I wish mine came with the original radio system, but by the time it fell into my hands, it was just a scuffed up airframe. At least the landing gear was still with her. I will be out in the shop tomorrow (depending on the cold here in the South) and I will find which box I stashed her in and get everything out on the bench. Might as well get started. Thanks for the kind offer of help, Otto. I am sure that we will be talking in the future!

Reid
Jan 15, 2017, 04:03 PM

Update: 1-15-17


Santa Mike sent me the whole Testors electronics package. It is in surprisingly good shape. The transmitter is almost pristine. I put batteries in it and it generates interference on AM radio but I do not hear a pulse like my other transmitter so I'll investigate this further with Jay's help. I opened the receiver box expecting all sorts of corrosion from battery leaks but that was not the case. The batteries had remained intact but will not hold any charge, no surprise. The three foam layers in the box that separated and cushioned the batteries and receiver had disintegrated. I cleaned the dust and residue out with alcohol. I soldered a couple wires back into place on the switch. Next stop Jay's.

I located a source to cut a new set of wings and stab for the clone plane. I'll provide source information once I see the work.

Tobe, sent me his modern Adams actuator clone system. It doesn't look anything like an Adams but it is PNP with a 2.4Ghz system and the movement is almost identical. I just finished an electric powered Mayfly that I may first use to fly this actuator with a std servo on elevator. Eventually the Mayfly gets a Min-X.

Still working out the Testors clone fuse structure and will soon be in build mode.
Jan 15, 2017, 10:27 PM
Registered User
Keep the reports coming, Otto!
Jan 17, 2017, 11:28 AM
Registered User
The Mayfly doesn't need any elevator, just build it as shown on the drawing! You have to remember that You actually have a throttle that will...if....help You. Just be sure you have a good glide with a hand launch. A single channel needs to be trimmed the old way. Trust me I know ;-) been there and done it before.
Jan 17, 2017, 10:01 PM
Registered User
I am glad that I have a background in the ways of free flight. It certainly made my neophyte RC days far more successful than they might have been otherwise. Having a speed control is an interesting luxury that might just take advantage of. I have a bunch of 1/2 kits and plans (Skyhawk, Skylane, Minnie Mambo, a turn of Keith Laumer plans, etc.) that I expect that I will be doing. A couple will get .049s for the sake of nostalgia, but I think the rest are going to be clean amd quiet, electric powered. I hate castor oil!
Jan 18, 2017, 01:40 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by TobeGG
The Mayfly doesn't need any elevator, just build it as shown on the drawing! You have to remember that You actually have a throttle that will...if....help You. Just be sure you have a good glide with a hand launch. A single channel needs to be trimmed the old way. Trust me I know ;-) been there and done it before.
I actually built the Mayfly for a Min-X GG system with a true LR3 so the elevator is already there. I figure I'll put a servo on the elevator since it doesn't cost me anything when I checkout the 2.4 Ghz Tobe/Phil G Adams clone system.
Jan 18, 2017, 01:47 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fravits
I am glad that I have a background in the ways of free flight. It certainly made my neophyte RC days far more successful than they might have been otherwise. Having a speed control is an interesting luxury that might just take advantage of. I have a bunch of 1/2 kits and plans (Skyhawk, Skylane, Minnie Mambo, a turn of Keith Laumer plans, etc.) that I expect that I will be doing. A couple will get .049s for the sake of nostalgia, but I think the rest are going to be clean amd quiet, electric powered. I hate castor oil!
Both the LR3 clone and the Adams clone are great actuators and systems. They were designed by Tobe/Phil G and plug into any 2.4Ghz receiver allowing you to use an ESC for throttle control. You can buy either system PNP from Ray Mendoza here in the states.
Jan 18, 2017, 08:24 PM
Registered User
This is a fascinating thread. The only thing I can relate to is the Cox/Wen-Mac discussion. A friend and I carpooled to summer college classes around 1976 and flew control line early in the morning some days. We both had half A planes and I had a Fox .35 plane. My .049 was a Babe Bee and his was a Wen-Mac. He wanted to try my Cox so we borrowed each other's engines. Mine was instantly a dog and his came to life. Never did get him to give me the Cox back. The power difference was huge.

Off topic, we were flying in a mall parking lot. While I was flying the .35 powered plane one morning an elderly woman walked through the flying circle carrying a bag of groceries. We were a very long way from any residential areas so no idea were she had been shopping or where she was headed. We tried to get her to change course but she was either deaf or indifferent. Kinda scared me, it was a very dangerous situation but fortunately it never happened again.


Good luck with the project.

David
Jan 19, 2017, 12:38 AM
Registered User
While Cox always seemed to be the engine of choice (and why not? -every kid had one), I ended up with a few cast off Wen-Macs that were deemed unusable. With some cleaning and a new glo-head, they all ended up working, except for the one's with plier marks on the cylinders fins. Ham fisted maintenance and egg shaped bores made them pretty much junk. My favorite glider had a power pod with a Wen-Mac that ran almost an ounce of fuel per flight (hey, why hunt thermals when you can put it so high up it takes forever to glide back down?) and did so for years. Never wore out and I still have it! Pretty good little engine if treated it right.


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