Hobby Lobby's Senior Telemaster ARF Electrified Review - RC Groups

Hobby Lobby's Senior Telemaster ARF Electrified Review

Steve Herlacher explores the re-release of a real classic...the Senior Telemaster ARF! Steve finds the new version to be very high quality, nearly completely pre-built, sporting easily removable wings and struts, and with all the performance of the beloved classic!

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Wing Area:1330 sq. in.
Stab Area:320 sq. in.
Weight:175oz. ready to fly
Servos:Hitec HS-322HD
Transmitter:Futaba 14MZ
Receiver:Hitec Electron 6
Battery: 16 cell 3300MAH packs
Motor:Axi 4120/18 outrunner
ESC:Jeti Advance 70 amp
Available From:Hobby Lobby

The Telemaster series of airplanes has been in production for nearly 40 years and is still going strong. A variety of sizes are available, including the Mini Telemaster, the 6 foot Telemaster 40, the nearly 8 foot Senior Telemaster and even one with a 12 foot wingspan. The Senior Telemaster was previously offered as an ARF, but hasn’t been available in this form for about ten years. Well, it’s back, and with some significant improvements in both structure and in covering material.

Kit contents

The "here's everything" package included:

  • Complete kit
  • Hitec Laser 4
  • 2 additional HS322 servos & extensions
  • AXI 4120/18 motor & radial mount
  • Jeti advance 70A ESC & BEC
  • 8-cell 9600mah NiMH & charger
  • APC 14x10 prop
  • build accessories


The general assembly of the Telemaster is fairly straightforward with a lot of the work already done for you. However, the instruction manual is from the original ARF of some years ago and it is outdated and in some areas unclear.

I first went over the plane with a covering iron and heat gun to get the wrinkles out. Be sure to keep the heat gun moving as the covering burns more easily than Ultracote or Monokote and you will get a hole (don't ask, it was on the bottom of the wing anyway.)

All of the decals were already applied, but this was also a curse as the covering was wrinkled underneath them. I used a covering iron and just put it straight down on them for a second and lifted, I did this over and over until they came out. This marked the decals up a tiny bit but it wasn't really noticeable.

There was no visible damage to my kit when it arrived, however there was a section of broken sheeting on the upper rear decking. The sheeting on the top has the grain running the length of the fuselage rather than across it, this allowed the section shown in the photo to be broken. The repair was a simple one that took less than 15 minutes. The covering on the model is a heat shrink type, but it is not Ultracote or Monokote. I found that Cub Yellow Ultracote is a very close match and worked perfectly in recovering the repair.

The instructions are out of date and tell you to hinge all of the surfaces. This is not required as they have all been pre-hinged and even pinned. This is a nice touch and it really saved me some time.

The two wing panels are connected by a main and secondary spar/joiner and are designed to be easily assembled and disassembled, without gluing. I don't recommend gluing the wing panels together unless you have a really big vehicle for transport!

When installing the tail feathers, they did not appear centered because I was trying to center the 2" wide piece of sheeting that I could see under the covering. I was informed that the sheeting is NOT put on center, and instead to mark the center of the leading and trailing edges of the tail. I then used those marks to center the stab. I used a soldering iron with a straight edge to melt away the covering instead of an Exacto as there was less chance I would weaken the wood underneath.

Tailwheel mounting:

  • The slot for the rudder also needed to have the rear balsa filler removed.
  • I mounted the tailwheel to the bottom of the fuse with 2 screws.
  • I glued the top of the linkage into the rudder for steering...
  • I drilled a small hole in the rudder for the wire.
  • I test fit the rudder and marked where to remove the covering, then did so, using the same method used for the horizontal stab.
  • I used 30 minute epoxy to install it so I would have time to make sure it was square, and put a small amount of epoxy in the hole for the tailwheel wire also.

The landing gear couldn't have been any easier to install:

Radio Tray & Battery Tray Installation

I glued the 4 balsa mounts for the radio tray to the inside of the fuse. Note that the instructions did not mention them. The Ply servo tray then sat on top of these supports, and was a real tight fit to the fuse sides. I glued everything in with thin CA and 5 minute epoxy. The Hitec servos dropped right in the openings.

The pushrods were pre-made out of wooden dowels, which is a nice touch. The only bad part was that the wire used was a little brittle on mine and when I made a Z bend it broke, so I had to replace the wire in one of them. The elevator pushrod has 2 wires in one end for the dual elevators. It was a little tricky to get them installed as the rudder pushrod interfered and bound, but after working on it for a while I got them to work perfectly with no binding.

To Wing strut or not to wing strut?

The wing struts were included but they were not covered and the old instructions did not say anything about them. They included some extra covering to cover the struts and any other small hangar rash.

I have been told by some pilots that they are not needed and I have been told by Hobby Lobby that they are needed for loops or rolls so I decided to use them. I used some brass control horns from Hobby Lobby to mount them to the wing and then just a wood screw to mount the other end to the bottom of the ply landing gear plate.

Power system installation

The recommended setup for the Telemaster is the AXI 4120/18 motor, Jeti 70 amp ESC and 16 cells with a 14x10 prop. Hobby Lobby sells nylon spacers so its was pretty easy to mount the motor after minor modifications. The Telemaster already has hardwood beams for a glow engine mount. These were in the way of mounting the Axi so they had to be sanded back a tiny bit. I also had to sand their bottom edge to clear the spacers. A UBEC was also used to power the radio system from the main battery pack. I mounted the motor with long 8/32 bolts thru the radial mount and the spacers and into the blind nuts in the firewall.

Note: the included red spinner was already reamed out to the correct size for the prop adapter shaft. What a nice surprise!


It only took a couple of minutes to slide the wings on the joiners and mount the struts. I also used Sig #67 rubber bands as the #64 bands are not long enough to stretch across the cord of the wing.

My total weight was close to 11 pounds.


I used the recommended control throws. Dual rates really aren't needed on a model like this, and none were recommended.

Starting Settings:

  • Elevator 1/2" up and down
  • Rudder 3/4" left and right
  • Ailerons 1/2" up and 1/4" down
  • CG: 5-3/4" from leading edge

The manual recommends using 2 aileron channels and setting up differential (providing more up travel than down). My radio supports this function, and I set it up per the recommendations.

I found that the 16 cell 3300 NIMH battery pack had to be placed pretty far back (in front of the servo tray), which required removal of the wing to secure it with the velcro straps. This put the balance within the range of 5 3/4" - 6 1/4" from the leading edge. I also had to add 1 3/4 oz of lead to the tail to balance.

With the 14x10 prop the static amp draw was around 35-40 amps at full throttle.


The Telemaster takes off like any trainer, but it seems to do it in slow motion. Some right rudder was required to track straight, and the airfoiled tail came off the ground very quickly. I needed 2 or 3 clicks of elevator trim and it was flying perfectly level.

The control throws seemed adequate but after the first few flights I maximized the rudder throw for more positive control. I did not use any rudder to aileron mixing but I found myself using the rudder in turns, so a mix would be helpful, especially for someone who hasn't yet learned to do coordinated turns.

Full throttle was needed to climb to altitude but after that it floated easily with 1/4 throttle or less, I even cut the throttle and stayed up for a good 5 minutes just floating around in lazy circles. If you were using it as a tow plane for a glider or carrying a heavy load (camera, lots of candy, etc) then you might want more power. I would anticipate that the Axi 4130/16 motor would be a great choice for these types of payloads.

Landing the telemaster is very easy, I just killed the power and let it float in, with all of the wing area it likes to keep flying and a few times it just floated right on by me and I had to go around.


The Telemaster can do some basic aerobatics, I did some stall turns and loops but that was about the extent of it. Loops required a tiny bit of a dive to get them to be round instead of flopping over at the top of it.

Touch and goes are one of the Telemasters best moves.

Camera mounting

I made a very simple mount for my CVS Camcorder. It just bolted to the landing gear plate with a couple of screws. I would bet you could put about any payload onto the Telemaster and it would carry it with no problem. Down below is a short video from the camera I took at our flying field, notice the Kadet senior flying underneath it towards the end.

Alternative batteries

I contacted True R/C about an inexpensive Lithium polymer pack I thought would be a great pack for the telemaster. It is a 5s2p 8000mah pack and it weighs 30oz, about 6 oz less than the 16 cell 3300 NIMH pack. With 8000mah, the Telemaster could fly a VERY long time. The static current draw went up to about 45 amps but that should still be fine for the 4120/18 motor in short bursts.

With this pack there was a noticeable power difference, and i had multiple 10 minute flights, with plenty of power in reserve when I chose to land. With the right throttle setting, I'm confident I could stay up for an hour if I wanted! This pack had to be mounted in about the same place as the NIMH pack did to balance.

Another pack I tried was a Tanic 5s1p 3650mah pack. This pack was a lot lighter and it had to go up near the firewall to balance properly. The run times were, of course, shorter than with the 8000mah pack, but were still better than the NIMH pack.

The Telemaster can be flown on a variety of different batteries which makes it a perfect plane for those that have many different packs.

Is This For a Beginner?

Of course it is! It could possibly be one of the best trainers ever made! I would not recommend flying first flights by yourself though, get some help from your local club or a friend that can use a buddy box with your transmitter. The build is very easy and most of the hard work is done for you already, like hinging the surfaces. If a beginner chose this as his first ARF to assemble, I would suggest having an experienced modeler as a reference, since the manual isn't a perfect match.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery



The Telemaster is a very versatile plane. It can be used for a basic trainer, a glider tug, candy drop plane, camera plane, or whatever else you would want to carry up to the wide blue yonder. It can fly with many different motors and battery combos and they fit into everyone's budget. Its no wonder they brought the ARF version back as I am sure it will be a hit...again.

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Jan 10, 2006, 05:55 PM
Mike Freas's Avatar
Great review! Your article answred my battery and ESC question. Thanks.
Jan 10, 2006, 06:38 PM
Gravity is a harsh mistress.
Tim Wolff's Avatar
Nicely done Steve.
Jan 10, 2006, 07:06 PM
Morning Light Mountain
badbill's Avatar

Good Review !

Another good review Steve, nice work. Coincidentally, I walked back in the shop this afternoon after test flying my new SR Telemaster, clicked on Ezone and there was the review I was very pleased with the kit, and the test flight went perfectly with no trim at all required. I am using an AXI 4130-16, Phoenix 80 and TP Gen2 Lite 3s3p 6000 batteries, 2 for 6 in series. 17x10 APC Eprop, Dimension Engineering 6v ParkBEC. To say power was adequate would be the understatement of the year, it was awesome. Will climb straght up at full throttle, cruise is at 1/4 throttle. After this session one wheel came loose from the hub and I replaced them with some nice 4" Kavans. Mine is 11.3 lbs with batteries installed.

One thing Steve didn't mention is that the somewhat overdone stickers on the plane are easily removed- pick at one corner and the whole thing will peel right off. I left only one "Telemaster" on mine and added some Hodges Hobbies graphics I drilled a hole on either end of the struts, epoxied in a 4-40 threaded stud and used the Dubro strut attach points- very nice. Overall it is a great ARF at an awesome price.

Bill Davenport
AMA 28141
Jan 11, 2006, 01:23 PM
Registered User
Ken Myers's Avatar
Hi Steve,

You said your AXI 4120/18 draws 35-40 amps on 16 cells using a 14x10 prop. I've got 16 cells ordered for my 4120/18, so I have a few questions.

Is it closer to 35 or 40 amps HOC and what prop did you use? There are two APC 14x10 props, which did you use, sport or E?

I want to use a 13x10E and draw closer to 30 - 31 amps, at least that is my target. I should have the cells in a few days, but I'll have to build the pack, so I'm just fishing for some information now.

Ken Myers
Croswell, MI USA
Jan 11, 2006, 02:43 PM
Registered User
Thanks for the compliments guys.

It pulls 40 amps on a fresh charge and then drops off a little bit after it runs for a few seconds. I used the APC-E prop as they are more efficiant than the glow APC props, they are also lighter.
I am not sure why you would want to prop down to 30 amps unless you only have a 30 amp ESC? Kinda like buying a corvette that only goes in first gear
Jan 11, 2006, 06:47 PM
Registered User
Ken Myers's Avatar
Originally Posted by Steve H.
Thanks for the compliments guys.
I am not sure why you would want to prop down to 30 amps unless you only have a 30 amp ESC? Kinda like buying a corvette that only goes in first gear
Thanks. Wanted to use no larger diameter than 13" for a sport plane, ground clearance, only need about 500 watts for excellent performance on the Fusion, from ElectroFlying.com
Great kit, great plane. Got the tail feathers done and hope to start on the wing tomorrow. I've got the motor out in the shop, so have to figure out the mounting, but shouldn't be hard as Steve Pauley used a Phasor in one of his prototypes.
Jan 11, 2006, 07:10 PM
Registered User
Oh, I thought you were doing the Telemaster and it has plenty of ground clearance. That Fusion looks pretty cool.
Jan 11, 2006, 08:15 PM
Pickin' an a Flyin'
Wufnu's Avatar
Good review, I like the honesty. Sounds like it's the same kit from way back when, for almost two hundred bucks I would expect them to figure out how to pack it by now so it wouldn't break, improve the instructions, or use some modern covering. What I don't get is why they would go through the trouble of reaming the spinner for the prop adapter, but not change the former for the battery, modify/remove the mounting rails, or put in a battery tray. Sounds like you did all the converting yourself. I'm still not to keen on the price, but maybe I've just gotten used to the foam pricing these days (You just can't pop a balsa bird out of a machine!). Is that a good price for a large balsa arf? I haven't even looked in ages, and I'm pretty poor to begin with. I can build a foam plane of similar size for about $40. Then again, when someone describes a $300 battery as inexpensive, I'm obviously in another dimension Yah, I know that IS inexpensive for a lipo of that voltage that large.

It's already a well proven design, I guess the real review was how it flies on E power! Nicely, it seems. The high cost of the large motors and battery packs hasn't reached a level I can afford, however. I've always wanted one, since I was about 15 and I'll probably get one someday but I'll probably go with small displacement trimmer motors instead (unless I hit the lottery, then expect a build thread on the most ultimate senior telemaster ever made with turbine engine and onboard laser light show). I've always liked the way it looked and flew, it's just my kind of plane.

Thanks for the review, very informative! One of the better reviews I've read in a long time.
Jan 11, 2006, 09:54 PM
Morning Light Mountain
badbill's Avatar


I gotta chuckle at Wufnu's post, especially as someone who has found themself unemployed twice in the past three years. Less than $200 is expensive for a 94" wingspan ARF???? Then what the heck is cheap? Especially for one this quality. Mine nor any of the 4 the LHS has sold were broken. Larger electrics are still not for everyone, but you can get motor AND batteries for this one for less than what a good four stroke motor costs. Buy a good used ESC and count down gallons of slime fuel till it's paid for. This Telemaster, glow or electric, is a great bargain. And judging by the smiles at the field today when I let everyone fly it, you won't be dissapointed.

Also, I was surprised at how axial the rolls were for such a big bird?

Bill Davenport
AMA 28141
Jan 11, 2006, 11:17 PM
Registered User
Thanks for the kind words Wufnu.

It is a very good value for the price, you can't build the kit and cover it for $200 plus would have a lot more time into it. I think mine was just a fluke that it was broken, it was packed very well and my particular one probably just had a little too much moisture in it when it was shipped so when it dried out it cracked a tiny bit. I could have just glued the piece back on from the inside but thought I would uncover it to fix it properly.

I thought I read somewhere that it can actually carry up to a 10 pound payload but I am not positive. Cant find another $200 ARF that can do that.
Jan 12, 2006, 10:25 AM
I'll try anything once!
thacherd's Avatar
What I don't get is why they would go through the trouble of reaming the spinner for the prop adapter, but not change the former for the battery, modify/remove the mounting rails, or put in a battery tray. Sounds like you did all the converting yourself.
I actually have a different opinion about the mods. I'm glad that they haven't changed the plane around at the warehouse. Mainly, (and I am probably going to catch some grief on this one) because I want to make it a glow plane. I picked up the Senior Telemaster ARF on the Hobby Lobby Crash sale last week for $130.00! Awesome price, but I have an engine that will fit the plane already... so it going to be a glow plane. I may eventually electrify the plane, but for now glow is the least expensive route for me to take. It's nice that the plane is shipped actually as a glow plane, and then you can modify it. Just gives the RC'er more options at setting the thing up, IMO.

Nice review Steve. I like your suggestion on covering the bare wood in the aileron slots. Can't wait to get mine in the air.
Jan 12, 2006, 02:16 PM
Mike Freas's Avatar
Originally Posted by Steve H.
Thanks for the compliments guys.

It pulls 40 amps on a fresh charge and then drops off a little bit after it runs for a few seconds. I used the APC-E prop as they are more efficiant than the glow APC props, they are also lighter.
I am not sure why you would want to prop down to 30 amps unless you only have a 30 amp ESC? Kinda like buying a corvette that only goes in first gear


You mentioned in your article that you got a 5S2P pack from TrueR/C and had several 10 min flights on it. Can you tell me exactly how many flights and your opinion of the pack and it's performance for the price? This is the exact set up I'm going with so I want to know what to expect.
Jan 12, 2006, 06:01 PM
Registered User
I flew it for one 10 minute flight and I think the next one was around 8 minutes but I did not fly it after that so I Don't know exactly how much longer it can go. I didn't notice any power drop afterwards. It doesn't take much power at all to keep it airborne.

The power to the motor is definatly noticeable though as they hold a higher voltage. Its definatly worth it for the upgrade, but I see they are out of stock on this pack. I am sure they have others that will work just as well though.
Jan 12, 2006, 06:28 PM
Pickin' an a Flyin'
Wufnu's Avatar
I keep forgetting how expensive wood is As mentioned, I'm a foam person myself. After thinking about it, I suppose $200 is a pretty good price. "It is a very good value for the price, you can't build the kit and cover it for $200 plus would have a lot more time into it." That says it all, really. I'm a convert, I like it, I want one, it'll have to wait 10lbs is one heck of a payload. I wonder how well it would fly on a 25ish cc gas trimmer conversion? That'd save you a few hundred bones, right there.

Although.... "Less than $200 is expensive for a 94" wingspan ARF???? Then what the heck is cheap?" Crazy Herbs "Big Pink" is of the same size (foamy, not an arf and pretty squarish), and can be built WITH motor and electronics for about $80 more than the STM. It's different, heavier than balsa, and most definitely not electric (although with the right motor I'm sure it could be), and really not a direct comparison to the STM... it IS about $40 for a completed airframe, though. Maybe it's easy to see now why, after looking at $40 giant planes for the past couple years, I might scoff at a $200 arf. I was still wrong though, as mentioned you couldn't build the STM for that and you'd still have to put all that time into it.

I'm just obviously out of touch, sorry to be in the wrong place I still love the plane, always have, and an electric one is all kinds of cool How many plastic parachute men can you pack into 10lbs?

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