Build - Top Flite Contender - RC Groups
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Feb 08, 2006, 01:18 AM
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Build - Top Flite Contender

Hello: I have started my first build. I have been a RC enthusiast about 1 1/2 years now. I am currently learning to fly on a Hangar 9 Alpha 60. Time and distance constraints do not permit me to get to the club field very often. I have just recently purchased AFPD so that I can get in some time at home. I think I like to build as much as fly. It is a lot of fun and sure can relieve job related stress.

If there are any Contender owners out there I would appreciate your hints and comments. I know I have a long ways to go before I can fly this plane, but I want one ready when the time comes. I, also, have a GP Super Decathlon to build, also. But, for now, I am concentrating on this one.

I have attached some pictures of my progress, so far. I, also, have attached a picture of a plane I saw in a build thread. I think it is great. I want to do something similar with the covering scheme.

PS: Andy Steere, if you see this thread, I hope you will not be angry for me showing your plane. I think it is the greatest. I would love to hear from you. I have a lot of questions concerning your scheme.

All help, appreciated.

AMA 821369
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Feb 08, 2006, 03:15 AM
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Andy Steere's Avatar
Hello Jim,

Thanks for the nice comments about my Contender! Feel free to ask any questions you have. The checkerboard on the tail is hand cut 1" squares of black Ultracote placed over the chrome. I used 1" Black and Yellow Checkerboard Ultracote on the wing bottom. The rest of the yellow is Ultracote Pearl Yellow. I had not intended to go as far as panel lines on the wing... but the edge of the ribs caused an ugly line in the chrome and 1/16" Utratrim covered them nicely. The trim helps keep your eye off the imperfections. All chrome is a pain that I would never undertake again.

Best build tip I can give you is to keep it as light as possible. It will fly much better. From your pics, it looks like you are coming along nicely with it. You haven't gotten to the fun part yet... sanding the leading edge of the wing round and shaping the nose.
Feb 08, 2006, 08:31 AM
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Andy: Thanks for the response. and the additional pictures.

On the bottom, are those individually cut 1" squares or can you purchase checkerboard UltraCote in different colors with checkerboard pattern?

What size OS is that? I am using a OS .61 FX. I did modify the rudder somewhat. I just brough the trailing edge down straight.

Did you add additional width to the aileron at the wing tip end as some have done?
Some have increased the width approx. 1/2". I intend to use optional wing tips.

In light of the fact that you say you would not use "chrome" again, I may use all black with yellow checkerboard pattern on bottom, like yours, and overlay the fuse and wings with yellow somewhat like yours. I want it to be easy to see and orient when flying. What do you think?
Feb 08, 2006, 09:53 AM
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Andy Steere's Avatar
Yes, you can buy checkerboard from Horizon. It comes in several colors and square sizes. I'd recommend the 2" size... the 1" turns to a dark yellow much past 50' away. Here's a link:

You can browse all colors here:

I'm using a OS .61 FX... a great engine for this plane! I didn't extend the ailerons or do the wing tips. I would recommend the tips to improve knife-edge performance.

Your color scheme sounds interesting. Chrome is a pain, there is no doubt. Attached are a couple pics of other Contenders. The factory scheme looks pretty good too.
Feb 08, 2006, 10:09 AM
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HobbyCNC's Avatar
I remember seeing these by the "hundreds" at the flying field in the late 70's, early 80's. They do fly very well! It was the sport aerobatic plane to have!

Build her straight and true and you'll have a blast with it!

Feb 08, 2006, 10:31 AM
Hooper, full throttle!
Tommy D's Avatar
Oh yes, the Balsa Battleship!! Pop's flew one!

Great Thread!!

Feb 08, 2006, 11:32 AM
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pda4you's Avatar
Keep us updated - this brings back many fond memories!

Feb 08, 2006, 12:17 PM
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Thanks Andy for the reply. I went to the sites you posted and I have added some things to the wish list.

Andy, what brand spinner and prop are you using? Because I have not even soloed on my Alpha 60, yet, (.61 Evolution w/ 3-bladed prop) and I have had no experience with the OS .61 FX I don't know what to use. I need to go ahead and get the spinner so I can mock the cowling and begin shaping.

Also, what brand and size wheels did you use?

I started cutting balsa for the decking on the bottom leading edge of the wing today. I am ready to glue on the sub leading edge. By the time I get it glued on tomorrow the decking should be dry and ready.

Thanks again for the answers. It is very helpful to a old (61 yrs.) beginner.
Feb 09, 2006, 02:30 PM
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Andy Steere's Avatar
The spinner is a Tru Turn 2.75" 120-slot standard spinner. The prop is an APC 11x7. The wheels are 3" foam tires of unknown brand... but I'd probably use Dubro Lightweights instead. Smaller tires are probably ok for most folks... our grass runway was brand new at the time and rather rough.
Feb 14, 2007, 02:31 AM
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Hello All - I just ordered a contender from Tower. I was working on a GP Rapture, but had so many problems with the build (wing bow/warp problems, wood wouldn't take CA, etc.) that I broke it up and put it in the fireplace last night.

In any case, I'm much more excited about the Contender, what with the flap option, individual aileron servos (hello dive brakes!) and trike gear.

I've built two kits already with no problems (a GP eCub and Ryan STA), so let's hope this one goes better for me.

I'm planning on using the following:
SuperTigre GS-40
Hitec HS-225 wing servos
Futaba S3110 micro throttle servo
Futaba S3004 std BB for rudder, elev, flap
Solid insignia blue (late 40s/early 50s Navy scheme ) (don't worry, I've had lasik, so my eyes are pretty good for now)

Any suggestions on hardware, build, etc. would be great.

This is my first glow plane (slimer...). If you'd like to see some of my previous shenanigans, go to youtube and search for "electricub".

Best Wishes,

Naples, Italy
Feb 14, 2007, 09:31 AM
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Congratulations onthe purchase of a terrific kit. It is not a difficult build. As you can see from Andy's beautiful plane they are really cool looking. I have attached a couple of pics of my finished plane. I used Andy's for inspiration but was not ready to try the foil covering. It takes a real pro to get foil to look good.

I made very few modifications:

1. On page 20, step 19 (nose gear holes) use blind nuts also. Just screws are not adequate to hold the nose gear plate onto the firewall.

2. I added 1/2" width to the outoard end of the ailerons. Of course, I had to add 1/2" to the wing tip trailing edges, also. I think helps roll rate.

3. I straightened out the rudder at the trailing edge. I took the indent out of it and made the trailing edge straight. Adds a little more ruddder area.

4. Because I used a OS .61 FX there was not going to be adequate thickness of material left on the sides of the cowling and I would not be able to remove the engine if repairs were necessary if I made the cowling as outlined in the plans. So, I made the bottom air scoop (functional) removeable and the side supports at the top and bottom of the cowling behind the spinner base plate removeable, also.

This way, I can drop the scoop from the bottom, pull the spinner, propeller, spinner backplate and then the side supports for the cowling, and pull the engine straight out the front.

5. I chose to build the optional upswept wingtips. I made them removeable in case of dammage. I doubled the last rib in the wing, then doubled the first rib in the wingtip and then screwed the wing tip to the wing. I added 1" wide strips of balsa on the top and bottom of wing from leading edge to trailing edge on the outside edge of the wing. This was so I could cover the wingtip separately and would give me some grab space for the covering in the event I ever had to remove wing tips to repair damage.

Well, so much for now. Good luck on your build. If you have any questions, just post a note to this site. I still subscribe to this thread.

Feb 15, 2007, 06:11 PM
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Andy Steere's Avatar
Jim: Looks great! Thanks for posting the pics!

Tom: Keep it as light as possible... or that GS40 will be marginal power. Good luck with your project!

Feb 16, 2007, 01:12 AM
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I sent back the GS-40 and traded it for a ST .51. But, I'll still keep it light anyway...


Feb 16, 2007, 01:32 AM
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Thanks for the tips - lots of great mods on your bird there! I'll probably do some changes here and there too. I suppose one of the benefits of stick-built construction is that you can build it however you want.

- Tom
Feb 16, 2007, 09:20 AM
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That's the wonderful thing about building your own. Chances are when you show up at the field there won't be another just like it. Also, there's the joy of knowing that this is your creation. Makes you feel real good to see it take off on that maiden flight and come home safely.

You may be an experienced builder, but I'll remind you anyway: Remember, you are building that wing upside down. Pin those spars down good to the work surface. I used 2 2' x 4' pcs of ceiling tile. I wnet to the print shop, had a duplicate set of the plans made (cost $6.00). That way I could cut up the different sections and lay them on the work surface, cover with saran wrap and just spill glue everywhere without worry.

I think your choice of engines is good. It will pull it along very well.

Keep us posted with build pictures.


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