|Servos:||4 Hitec HS-55|
|Battery:||Polyquest 25c 3s 1800xp|
|Motor:||AXI 2217/16 brushless outrunner|
|ESC:||Jeti advance 18amp brushless esc|
|Available From:||Hobby Lobby|
The Wedell-Williams Model 44 was a racing aircraft, four examples of which were built in the United States in the early 1930s. It began as a rebuilding of the partnership's successful We-Will racer of 1929, but soon turned into a completely new aircraft. It was a typical 1930s racer design: a braced, low-wing monoplane powered by a large radial engine and equipped with fixed landing gear in large spats.
Model 44s were raced in the 1932, Ď33 and Ď34 Bendix Trophy races, as well as the 1934 Thompson and Shell Trophy. In September, 1933 at the International Air Race in Chicago, the 44 piloted by Jimmie Wedell set the new world speed record of 305.33 miles per hour. (Wikipedia)
The Wedell-Williams model 44 kit box was shipped inside of another very sturdy box. The contents of the kit box were individually wrapped and held in place with tape to prevent movement and damage during shipping.
Items needed for completion:
The major sub assemblies are covered in a very brilliant plastic film covering that had no wrinkles or bubbles. The fuselage appeared rather bulky but was fairly light for its stature. At first I thought the fuselage had a fiberglass front and bottom section, but on further inspection it appeared to be some type of well formed heavy-duty plastic. The wood framework inside of the fuselage is a thing of beauty; someone has some good laser programming skills. The wings are incredibly light. They come pre-hinged, although the hinges need to be glued in by the modeler. The painted parts had nice clean lines, and the color match was near perfect. The yellow trim color is not painted but is actually trim tape that is applied before the clear coat is sprayed on the fiberglass parts. The fiberglass cowl was very sturdy without being too heavy. As provided the cowl needed some modification (more on that later). The wheel pants were very light but also very flimsy. The Model 44 also comes with an incredible aluminum trailing link tail wheel assembly that looks great on the completed aircraft. The included building supplies were about what I would expect except for the many feet of included flying wires. Overall I was impressed: The airframe looked great and appeared well thought out.
As is typical with any new build, I like to read the manual at least twice before I begin assembly. The manual is very detailed, but every once in a while the detail gets a little hard to decipher. There is a picture for every step in the manual which is very helpful, but again some of the pictures are a little fuzzy and small and hard to make out. Overall, the manual is helpful but could be a little bit better with some refinements.
The first step in assembling the wing panels is to flex the CA hinges at the half way point in preparation for installation into the aileron hinge slots. Don't skip this step! You will find that the included CA hinges are a bit stiffer than most others currently on the market. After I had flexed the CA hinges a bit I inserted them into the aileron slots on the wings and glued the ailerons on with thin CA.
The aileron servo installation is straightforward and easily accomplished. I simply mounted the HS-55 servos to the balsa mounting blocks on the bottom of the servo hatches. Note: The blocks needed to be trimmed for proper fit. I also soaked the balsa blocks with thin CA to make them harder.
After installing the servos, I had to remove them to widen the holes in the hatches that the servo control horns stick out of. As provided, the servo control horns contact the hatches at the rear of the horns.
Before the servo hatch assemblies are installed on the wing panels, the aileron control horns need to be prepared and installed on the ailerons. I needed to enlarge the holes on the aileron control horns to the width of the push rod. As provided, the holes in the horns are very close to the leading edge on the horn. After I widened the first hole I was uncomfortable with how little material was left in front of the hole. I decided to use a set of aftermarket Dubro horns and widen the hole only towards the rear of the control horn.
The control horns are simply glued with CA into factory drilled holes in the ailerons (the covering under the horn should be removed). Next, I worked the aileron push rods between the servo control horn and the aileron control horn before placing the servo hatch assemblies on the wing panels (there is a z-bend on each end of the factory sized push rod so it must be installed before the hatches are installed). I then screwed the servo hatch assemblies to the wing panels with wood screws.
The assembly of the tail components onto the fuselage moves along fairly quickly because of an integrated tab and slot design.
The elevator must be inserted into the slot in the fuselage first because it won't fit after the horizontal stab is inserted. After the elevator was inserted, I inserted the horizontal stab and lined up the stab slots in the fin opening.
The stab and fin attach to the fuselage with thin CA after checking for proper alignment. I added the pre-painted hard plywood pull-pull control horn to the slot in the rudder. I hinged the elevator using the same method outlined for the ailerons, except only roughly 1/3 of each hinge is used (the hinges must be cut by the modeler). After the hinges were glued in, I worked on installing the tail wheel assembly into the rudder.
The tail wheel assembly looks great and has a working trailing link; unfortunately, the actual wheel that is included is made of hard plastic. Since I fly from tarmac, I always try to avoid hard tail wheels since they are noisy and don't steer well on hard surfaces.
The metal extension bar on the tail wheel is glued into a hole in the rudder. I installed the rudder onto the fin with trimmed CA hinges. The tail wheel assembly bracket attaches to the bottom of the fuselage with two wood screws.
I ran into a small issue at his point. Unfortunately, when I checked the alignment of the stab on the fuse I made sure the stab hinge line was perpendicular to the fuselage. Since the stab fit into the slot so tightly I didn't check the relation of the horizontal stab to the horizon closely; the left side of the stab was too high. The stab slot in the fuselage was not quite straight.
I cut away a little bit of the fuselage underneath the left side of the stab and shimmed the top of the stab down with CA hardened balsa until it was level.
I searched my scrap covering box for some red to fill the gap left after leveling the stab. I came across a roll of red Ultracote that matched the color perfectly. I covered over the gap and moved on to the tail brace wires.
Installation of the tail brace wires starts with the crimping of a loop on one end of the brace wire. This loop is secured to the bottom of the fuse with the front tail wheel screw. The wire is then fed through the pre-drilled holes on the stabs and fin until it reaches the origination point where it is looped, crimped and attached to the tail wheel screw. Be careful when pulling the tail brace wire tight, it is easy to pull the stabs and fin off axis. I secured the brace wire with thin CA at the points where it goes into the fin and stab.
The elevator and rudder servos are installed into pockets in the fuselage that are pre-installed. Note: One servo is installed 180 degrees flipped from the other. The fuselage comes with the pull-pull cables for the rudder and the battery Velcro is already installed... a nice bonus.
I have met a few modelers who are wary of installing a pull-pull system because they thought it would be hard to install it correctly without slop. But this couldn't be easier. The servo side of the pull-pull cables already have the snap swivels installed. I simply hooked them onto my servo control horn after centering the servo. The rudder side of the pull-pull cables are simply looped through the rudder control horn and crimped with a piece of small brass tubing after pulling the wires tight.
I installed a control horn for the elevator using the same method as used for the ailerons. The metal elevator pushrod is installed inside of a pre-installed plastic sheath in the fuselage. There is a small pre-painted pushrod standoff that must be installed on the pushrod before hooking the pushrod to the elevator. I installed the elevator pushrod with a z-bend on the servo side and a plastic clevis retainer clip on the elevator control horn. After the pushrod is secured at both ends, the standoff is glued in place to stabilize the pushrod.
The main landing gear legs are inserted into slots on the bottom of the fuselage. After pushing the gear in fairly hard, I was finally able to get them to seat properly. I glued in a set of plywood retainer blocks that are used to hold the gear wire in place.
The wheel pants are fairly flimsy. I thought about reinforcing them, but I figured they would hold up fine if used on pavement.
Each wheel pant slides on partially, and then one of the wheel collars is inserted onto the gear followed by the wheel and another wheel collar. The tip of the gear wire fits into a hole in the plywood pant retaining block. The manual recommends using canopy glue to glue the gear wire into the plywood block. I used extra thick CA which didn't hold up too well over time.
installed the landing gear covers to the gear legs. Each gear cover is held in place with two plastic retaining clips and 4 wood screws. Unfortunately, the wood screws provided were just a bit too long and poked through to the top of the gear cover.
After reading through the manual, the installation of the power system and cowl looked very straightforward.
I soldered the battery connector to the speed controller and then soldered the motor to the controller. I wanted to check that the motor was spinning in the right direction before I proceeded with installation. I began to install the motor to the short motor mount (a long motor mount is also included) as noted in the manual but ran into a small issue. The holes in the mount did not quite line up with the recommended motor no matter how I matched the motor to the mount. Some quick grinds with a Dremmel on the mount and I was back in business in no time.
After the motor was mounted to the short mount, I simply installed the whole motor assembly onto the firewall with four machine screws (the blind nuts for the screws are factory installed). Before the cowl is installed, a small piece of balsa block is glued to the back of the firewall to prevent the battery from making contact with the screws.
That was easy! Time to mount the cowl.
The manual recommends enlarging the hole in the dummy radial to prevent the motor from rubbing against it. I decided to temporarily mount the cowl to see how much I would need to enlarge the hole. I slid the cowl and mounting ring over the mounting screws on the fuselage and mounted the cowl temporarily. I ran into something I wasn't anticipating: The motor was too short and didn't stick out of the cowl far enough to allow for the mounting of the prop!!
I pulled the cowl off and looked over everything to see where I had gone wrong. I checked the manual again, but everything I did was outlined in the manual. The only thing I could think of was that there must have been a good reason the kit came with a long motor mount, and I was going to use it.
I swapped out the short motor mount for the long one that came in the kit. I enlarged the hole in the dummy radial motor and test fit the cowl again. It was now sticking out a little bit far but was much better than the original.
I placed a call to Jason at Hobby Lobby just to give him a heads up on my situation with the motor mounts and the cowl. I wanted to let him know the manual recommended the short mount but it was actually the long mount that was needed in order for the cowl to fit properly. I am glad I called. I found out from Jason was that the short mount was the proper mount and that the cowl ring was improperly mounted from the factory. The ring was mounted too shallow inside the cowl which pushed the cowl out too far and didnít allow the motor to stick out of the front far enough. He went on to say that the cowl needs to be mounted right up against the fuselage or I would experience some less than ideal flight characteristics.
Jason sent me an e-mail with the updated specs for the cowl ring placement, and I made the trip back to the building room.
I followed the steps in the service bulletin. I removed the cowl ring and remounted it with thick CA in its proper place.
After I modified the cowl, I remounted the motor to the short mount and reassembled the power system and cowl to the fuselage.
At this point, the manual recommends installing the flying wires ..." only if you are an experienced flyer and will not be flying from grass or rough runways". I thought, a Wedell-Williams model 44 racer must have its flying wires, and this is a review, so I should install them.
Before I could install the wires I needed to permanently attach the wing panels. The wing panels simply slide onto the wing tubes and are held in place with a couple of pieces of tape on the bottom of each wing joint. The wing panels are very tight, so the tightness of the fit and the tape are strong enough to hold the wing panels.
The installation of the flying wires is fairly straightforward if you take your time and read the installation directions a few times. Unfortunately, there was not enough wire provided to complete all of the steps (confirmed by Jason of Hobby Lobby - new kits will be provided with the proper amount of wire). Luckily I had some extra wire left over from another project.
A few things to note: When making the crimps in the brass collars that hold the wire loops, make sure they are very tight and are also secured well with thin CA. Even though I thought I had completed this process satisfactorily, some of the wires began to sag because they were slipping slightly in the brass cable crimps (I even did a double loop through most of the brass crimp tubes. The cables are coated with a plastic covering).
The canopy comes precut and painted from the factory. The manual recommends installing the canopy with canopy glue. I chose to mount my canopy with vinyl pinstripe.
The only thing left to do on the radio installation was to install my Futaba R617FS receiver with Velcro, hook up the servos and speed controller and install a large strip of Velcro to the battery tray floor for the battery. Although the airframe comes with two Velcro straps included for the battery, only one of the straps could be used because the battery needs to be pushed all the way forward (in front of the back strap) to help balance the airframe.
I used the recommended control throws from the manual but decided to skip the expo recommendations for now. I usually don't like my aircraft to feel soft around center.
The racer needed 2 ounces of lead added to the bottom of the firewall to balance on the recommended CG, and that was with the battery pushed all the way up against the back of the firewall.
After everything was done, I reassembled the model and took a few pictures. It looks great!
After a range check, I checked the control throw deflection and made sure everything was moving in the right direction. Everything looked good so I set the racer on the ground and started to taxi out to the runway. Once lined up on the runway (blacktop), I started to advance the throttle in preparation for liftoff. The racer started forward then started to go up on its nose. I settled the racer down and then made another attempt with the same result.
I walked out to the racer and picked it up to look at the main wheels. As provided, the wire gear are bent in a manner that provide toe out when the wheels are on the gear. When a certain ground speed was reached, the wheels were going outward and putting pressure on the wheel collars and wheel pants causing drag. A quick bending session back at the clubhouse had the wheels pointing straight ahead. Unfortunately, I stretched out the gear flying wires a bit while performing my realignment.
This time I walked the racer out to the runway and pointed it into the wind in preparation for its maiden flight. I began to advance the throttle and got a little too quick. The racer performed a perfect ground loop, if there is such a thing. I am sure the fact that I was a little too quick on the throttle, and the hard plastic tail wheel (no grip) contributed to the ground loop. For the next attempt, I gradually fed in the throttle and let the tail come up so I would have more positive control with the rudder. This time the takeoff was perfect. Subsequent takeoffs have been much easier using the same manner described above. The racer needs a lot of corrective rudder for takeoff when flying from pavement.
Landing the racer couldnít be much easier. The racer settles in very nicely as long as you slowly decrease the throttle on the landing approach. With the throttle reduced to a normal idle I only need to slowly feed in elevator until the racer settled on the runway. The racer lands more like a sport plane than a racer so there is little to worry about when its time to bring it in. After the airframe is on the ground it is easy to ground loop it if you get too quick on the throttle and rudder when taxiing. When I slowed the taxing speed down and added up elevator it was easier to control. Remember, the racer has a very hard plastic tail wheel and I was flying from pavement.
Even with the offset thrust on the motor mount, the torque from the prop pulled the racer left after I lifted it off of the ground. Once up to speed, I needed to dial in a little bit of right rudder to help it overcome the effect of the prop torque. I also needed to dial in a little bit of right aileron and down elevator.
I did a few big lazy laps around the field to get used to the racerís flight characteristics. One thing I noted immediately was that the racer had a tendency to pull down and slightly to the right when I advanced the throttle quickly. Likewise, when I backed off of the throttle from full, the racer had a tendency to climb. I made a few more passes trying varied throttle positions. If I advanced the throttle slowly the tendency was much less pronounced, although it would pull down at full throttle then correct itself when max flying speed for that throttle position was reached. I also noted that the racer pulled down in a right turn and pulled up in a left turn. I knew these characteristics were something I was going to look into but for now it was flying well so I decided to move forward with the flight.
The Wedell-Williams Model 44 flies much more like a sport plane than a racer in both flight characteristics and speed. When flown at a constant throttle setting it handles very well. It does not respond to control inputs with exact precision, but does very well for a small sport plane. Before trying some more advanced flying, I wanted to test the stall characteristics of the airframe. I climbed to three mistakes high and began to slow the racer down. The Racer will fly very slowly before stalling, and when it does stall it is fairly subdued with a slight tendency to fall to the left. Recovery from stall is very easy. I simply added in some throttle and pulled up. Recovery time is very short. When I had a better idea of how the racer would handle I moved on to a little more advanced flight maneuvers.
The racer will easily loop from level flight. The loops are easily executed without any tendency to roll out at the top as long as they are not too big (the racer does not have unlimited climb ability). Rolls are fairly axial although there is a slight hitch in the roll when the airframe is inverted. The racer flies very well inverted with very little down elevator required. One of the most graceful maneuvers that the racer performs is the stall turn (more graceful to the left). The racer easily pulls itself sideways at the top of the turn with only a moderate amount of rudder input. There is a surprisingly small amount of tail waggle from the racer as it exits a stall turn. Although the rudder is fairly effective the little racer doesn't have a chance (at this power level) to perform a knife edge... not that it should. The racer will perform a snap roll although they are somewhat subdued. Overall, the racer will perform the basic four channel sport aerobatic maneuvers with ease.
I decided to take out some of the offset thrust in the motor, remove half an ounce of weight and add some of the aileron to rudder mix back in (I had removed some of the mix to try to correct some of the turning tendencies). My hope was that these changes would help eliminate most of the attitude fluctuations (and turning tendencies) noticed under acceleration or deceleration.
With the above changes plus a little more control throw, I find the racer flies much more to my liking. It still pulls very slightly down under acceleration but it is not nearly as pronounced. Overall the handling is a bit better as well. With most but not all of the offset thrust in the motor mount removed, I now need roughly 5 degrees of right rudder trim to fly straight.
The Wedell-Williams Model 44 is not for a beginner. Although it is a typical 1930s racer design, it flies much more like a modern day sport plane with a few scale quirks. But someone with a few sport models under their belt should be able to handle this airframe easily.
The Wedell-Williams Model 44 provides the classic racer look without the classic racer flight characteristics. The racer was easy to assemble because of the high level of prefabrication. The racer flies well enough to be used as an everyday sport flyer (although I did make a few changes to fit to my personal liking). The Model 44 looks great. It almost always gets attention at the field. Pilot-1 and Hobby Lobby have proven you can fly a Golden age racer without all the fuss or stress.
Awesome review, my friend...great job! It's good to see another Pilot-1 review out there now. But, man, I thought I was long-winded in my Champ review! I think you got me beat. Very informative though. I liked it. Good pictures too...but where are the inflight pictures?
Kudos to your video guy...he did a fine job. And you greased that landing! The ground loops were priceless!
Way to go!
One note on the guide wires:
The directions in the booklet were pretty poor and I, at least, had a tough time getting them figured out.
I made the attached .pdf to help illustrate them a little better.
Also, I would recommend NOT attaching them to the battery hatch. After you disassemble the rigging one time to change a battery, you'll see what a dumb design this is.
I would recommend attaching them just below the door, on the fuselage so you can leave the wires in place when accessing the hatch.
Last edited by Tony_Fletcher; Jun 27, 2009 at 02:53 PM.
Thanks for the compliments guys...i like a little meat in my reviews as you can see. i have problems with reviews where someone opens the kit box and three steps later they are at the field flying.
Tony...that flying wire pdf is great, too bad i hadnt seen that earlier It wasnt too hard to figure out the wires once i started installation, but the manual is a bit hard to follow in this area.
There's also a color version of the instructions in the build log I started. That was helpful too.
I loved your review. I am a bit of a beginner and I was eyeing this plane. I have no problem flying my Common Sense Quatro four channel trainer. I will wait until I am a better pilot before I purchase this plane. I am more interested in older plane design and warbirds.
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