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Apr 24, 2005, 11:09 AM
Thread OP

Is glow better for scale

I started in this hobby a few months ago and have so far really enjoyed the "building" experience, and seem to be doing pretty well with some free flight and scratch built electric models (yes they do fly, just not by me yet).
Currently I'm starting my first more elaborate kit, a Gee Bee products Tiger Moth which was designed for a .25 to .35 glow engine. My question is this- glow seems to be a little more.........Intense. Is it? Should I stick with the plan? Gotta buy all that stuff. It does seem more realistic, especially for scale, but for a rookie? You guys have the experience, got any suggestions for a new scale modeller?

P.S. No this will not be my trainer, just having a gas building it!
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Apr 24, 2005, 12:14 PM
Registered User
actually I have found that electric scale models are more scale like. ( in my opinion that is) been building for a year or two, and have noticed that the electrics use more scale sized propellors, and "sound" more scale when you get into the larger models. the 200 dollar motor that swings a 30" prop on one of my models would be replaced by a much more expensive fuel motor that weighs many times more in order to do the same job.
Apr 24, 2005, 01:55 PM
Official Boat Bum
Eddie P's Avatar
Hey, we can always use more scale modelers. Welcome to the "Oooooh... Ahhhh" side of the hobby

Sounds like you need a solution that will get you flying regularly, first. Then you can venture into considering the merrits of scale aircraft as a standalone issue and takle it with what works for you, and what you come to like. But here's my .02 worth for your consideration.

I have flown both glow and electric scale for many years. In order to accurately answer your question, I have to qualify my answer as an opinion based only on my own experiences and research.

My scale airplanes are:

Jets, Multi-engine models, warbirds.

As far as jets go, it doesn't get any more scale than turbine power, period. But if you will ever consider ducted fan, then I'd say as of today with contemporary equipment, electric has recently gotten better than glow ducted fan power. (sound, ease of use, maintenance and flyability on any given day)

Multi Engine: Anything up to 100" span 4 engine aircraft... Electric. If you get bigger, then gas (not glow) is better. The really neat thing about electric multiengine scale is that you never see cylinder heads sticking out of your engine pylons. Of course the auto start of all engines simultaneously is a bonus too There is less of a chance of a partial power failure in an electric model too, though complete immunity from electric motor failure is not guarunteed either, and some have a false sense of security on that one.

Warbirds: IMAA size - Gas (not glow). Period. 60 inch warbird size? Depends. That one can be argued all day. There are many, many beutiful glow and electric examples here. Glow is convenient, relatively inexpensive and well-supported by most local hobby shops, club members and instructors. Glow is also more convenient price wise, for most sport scale sizes. One advantage of electric is the non-marred front end with realistic lines not fouled up by glow heads sticking out or small, unrealistic 2 scylendar props. If you want an all-out scale warbird in the 60-80 inch wingspan size, you can really have a show stopper electric plane that will do anything any other one will do, for just about as long - but you will spend much more on the power system up front. In the long run, the lack of gas purchase will average out the total investment - but if you don't fly much, then Gas or Glow will be cheaper.

Small scale Warbirds (45 inch and under)? Electric power.

No free lunch here, each advantage has a disadvantage wating to be considered too. Best to go with your gut feeling. Sounds like what you see at your local club is more glow than "quality" electric. That may favor glow for you, since you will probably get better guidance from your local flying buddies in this area.

Again, just my humble opinion on scale models based only on my personal experience with each. Remember to always have fun no matter what turns the prop or fan on your model
Last edited by Eddie P; Apr 24, 2005 at 02:03 PM.
Apr 24, 2005, 03:17 PM
Thread OP
Thanks for the 2 cents, it's worth much more. It'll be awhile before I venture into multi-engines although a nice 40" span Mosquito was flying around in my head the other day. There's two clubs fairly close to me, and yes one seems to be mainly glow and the other is for sailplanes (another really interesting thought), so help with electric engines, batteries, esc's, etc. is a little hard to come by face to face. Question- are gas engines quieter, easier to start, easier to tune, etc. than glow? I know they are more expensive.

Thanks again
Apr 25, 2005, 12:34 AM
You made that out of trees?
Boomerang1's Avatar
EddieP summed it up, my feelings too. I'm drifting towards electrics for larger models now, with the small ones it was a no brainer years ago.

Here's a pic of a DB moth kit converted to electric, I have the same kit designed for a 40 motor but I use an 80 four stroke. I wish mine was electric but too late now. - John.
Apr 25, 2005, 07:16 AM
Thread OP
Hope mine looks as good (fall out of chair laughing)! Actually I just hope it flies. Thanks for the thoughts, not only is this a great place to get help in the sport, but so interesting to get feedback from all over the world.

Hey Ron- 30" prop huh! Do you take kids up for rides, must be huge. Nice to hear from the Fraser Valley, bet you get some interesting air currents there. It does seem that electric is starting to overtake ic, so I'll have to think of what modifications to do for the Moth, it does have a lot of room in the front.
Apr 27, 2005, 11:13 AM
Official Boat Bum
Eddie P's Avatar
The one undeniable thing about IC is that for 75 percent of the model builders and pilots out there (sport flyers), a quality glow engine and good fuel will do everything for them that they need, at a reasonable cost, and with outstanding power to weight ratio. The day-to-day sport pilot is in really good shape with a glow powered model.

For the special intrest guys that like scale and jets, the electric option has recently met the power to weight ratio requirements and it gives several special advantages like better scale outlines, correctly sized props, overall better reliability, and in some circumstances, realistic (or more realistic) sound.

About 6 years ago I sold my glow models and got into multiengine and ducted fan flying and decided to go all electric to do it. Only now have all of my expectations been met though, at first it was a tradeoff here and a tradeoff there. Also, with the latest electric upgrades, some of the pattern and 3D competition guys are now delving into electric power so the field has widened considerably. I'm really happy with my options now in electric but there will most certainly be another glow or gas powered model in my future too

Oh yeah, to answer your question CBW, Gas engines tend to be pretty easy to keep running well once you get them broken in and tuned well. They also tend to be larger displacement engines, so by that very feature, they tend to be less tempermental than the typically sized glow engine.

Have fun!
Apr 27, 2005, 01:15 PM
I still have the top wing of my Gee Bee Tiger Moth...

1) It would convert to e-power fairly easilly... needs a fair amount of lightening to the structure of the fuselage.. and some care in setting upthe coolng air flow paths, but it can be done.

2) its not really meant as a contest quality scale model. and I really don't like how they designed the upper wing mount. (rubber band the wingsin a hand bent and soldered cradle.. sure you can get the incidence right... if you've been building such stuff for 20 years.)

3) the "interplane" (out between the wings) struts are a joke if done as per the plans. totally useless and they fall out in flight. (thankfully they are meant to be useless... it says in the instructions leave them out for test flights)

I'd have to figure out how to scan the plans in to detail the changes needed for e-power... and for a better upper wing mount system (and better interplane strut attachment, so they DO SOMETHING other than add drag.)

Essentially on the wing mount.. I'd say go to dural aluminum "N" struts bolted on. (with 1/2" X 4" ply plates hidden in the wing center section made from 1/8" aircraft ply... and similar plywood plates in the fuselage)

For the interplanes, I'd go to 1/4 inch X 1/8 inch plywood struts sanded to streamline and make 90 deg angle brakcets from control horns and bolt them on (or have small plywood "tongues" extend up and down through the wing covering.

Note that the UPPER wing has ALL the problems. The lower bolts on in a standard manner and that's a good mounting.

The very light balsa spars are more than adequate for flight loads. (suprises the heck out of people to see them in this kit) especially with PROPER wing mounting spreading stresses from wing to wing with the interplane struts.

Power it with the electric equiv of a strong .25 glow and it will have plenty of power. I used a .40 glow and it was a mistake to ever push the throttle beyond 30%. (a Tiger Moth could torque-roll at 1/2 throttle was just wrong.)
Apr 27, 2005, 04:35 PM
Thread OP
Thanks for all the tips. Yeah it does seem kind of heavy, and Im really at odds over what to do. My philosophy has always been when you don't really know what you're doing stick to the plan, but. I don't like this upper wing saddle thing either, but haven't figured out my best way of changing it. Has to be removeable, thought about adding some stock to the center section and then using little bracket clamps over the cabanes screwed into the center section, incidence I think could be set the same as the bottom wing. Haven't thought about the struts yet, not that far along. Am kinda leaning toward gas for this one, but haven't got any extra cash right now so the build goes on and the decision can come a little later. Am trying to not go too far with the fuselage finishing or sheeting in at the front until I decide for sure. Don't think it would be that much different in cost, to go electric with this one sounds like it would have to be brushless.

Thanks again for the heads up on the struts, etc,
Apr 28, 2005, 11:06 AM
If you can get at a GP Fokker Dr1.. look at how the upper wing bolts on.
Apr 30, 2005, 09:31 AM
Registered User
One more plus for electrics is that there is less field equipment to carry. You can just take your plane and transmitter, make a quick flight or two and go home. No messy clean up and you don't leave with that awfull oily smell taste and feel.

Electrics are also a little easier on the airframe. Less vibration, and you can paint it with whatever you want with out worrying about fuel proofing (important for scale). Even the best fuel proofed glow powered scale model starts to look run down after a couple years of use.

Overall I think electrics are much nicer for scale except that if you go over around 45" span it gets very expensive.

Last edited by schmitty; Apr 30, 2005 at 09:40 AM.
Apr 30, 2005, 12:11 PM
Registered User
E-Challenged's Avatar
I fly scale etc., models using both IC and EP. I think that for larger than .40 size scale models, electric power using high capacity brushless motors, speed controls and large lipoly batteries is still too expensive for most modelers. It is undeniable that electric power is more reliable and easier on airframes/engine mounting, covering/paint, and bipe rigging. A "flame out" on take off or unplanned landing almost never happens with electric power. Multi engined electric powered planes don't have the danger of one or two engines dying in flight. I am getting ready to build a couple of Dynaflite WWII funscale .40 size planes using a used geared Astro .25 and 16 1950NiMh cells. I plan to get about 5 minutes duration with acceptable scale-like performance at a reasonable price. With a much more expensive brushless/Lipoly power setup, performance and duration would be much improved but cost more than I'm willing to spend. So, use of electric power in large scale models is "currently" a question of how much you are willing and able to spend.
Apr 30, 2005, 02:28 PM
Official Boat Bum
Eddie P's Avatar
Originally Posted by E-Challenged
I think that for larger than .40 size scale models, electric power using high capacity brushless motors, speed controls and large lipoly batteries is still too expensive for most modelers.
I especially agree with this if the task is for a current glow power pilot to convert to a big electric scale model. The support equipment is completely different not to mention that everything in the new project will be "new" and not already partly on hand.

Once a pilot has the basic electric support equipment plus spare odds and ends the cost of going for a larger scale model is reasonable, but a gap in price still exists and it could be a factor depending on the budget. Certainly costs for quality stuff have really gone down recently, it will be interesting to note if that trend continues with all the new innovation, products and competition that has begun.
May 18, 2005, 07:48 AM
Registered User
JimMcIntyre's Avatar
All good posts/good advice so far. Let's not forget belt drives for swinging the big props though, and the RCV engines look convenient for hiding the non scale engine 'warts'....

As a scale competitor, I only see one thing missed, and a very controversial subject at that ... SOUND.

Like it or not, sound is a factor in scale judging, smoke is often a consideration as well. When I fly an older aircraft in competition, I'm often blipping the kill switch to simulate the old "short the points" method of controlling speed. I've yet to find anything electric to compare with the sound and smell of a gasser for impressing the judges.

That said, I still hold hope for electric ... maybe if I can install an mp3 player with an old rotary sound byte and a big enough amp....
May 18, 2005, 11:14 AM
Grumpa Tom
Kmot's Avatar
I have yet to hear an electric "propellor" plane of any size sound even remotely "authentic". EDF is sounding very realistic, next best thing to turbines. But electric prop jobs just don't cut it in the "sound" dept, IMHO.

Big gas engines sound pretty awful too. Just loud and basically obnoxious. I think they could be helped tremendously with the addition of a decent muffler that actually "muffles".

Four strokes have the best sound, hands down. Although they do not "accurately" replicate the sound of full size engines, they do sound awesome and are very appealing and reasonbly quiet and pleasing to the senses. Of course, there are also the OS four cylinder and the various radials that are the bees knees for authentic IC sound.

Again, this is just one old curmudgeon's opinion.

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