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Why Fit Larger Wheels to your Model ?

Dec 14, 2012   //   by admin   //   Tech Info  //  No Comments

Why Fit Larger Wheels to your Model?

Most kits and ARTF models are manufactured down to a price. A price that will offer good value for money and be price competitive against other suppliers. An unfortunate result of these “competitive prices” is the wheels supplied have become much smaller over the years.

If you look at powered free flight and early radio controlled model aircraft in the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s, they all had one thing in common. They all had large wheels mounted on undercarriages close to the front of the model.

Why was this??…. In those far off days, ready made propellers were rarely available and good ones made in wood, were very expensive. Most modellers had to make their own. So large rubber wheels were necessary to prevent the propellers from breaking when landing. And also, many flying competitions stipulated that the models had to “rise off ground”

Not many model flying clubs had access to tarmac runways or finely mowed grass. Most clubs flew from open heathland or farmer’s fields. This is often still the case today where many clubs, including our own, fly from mown grass areas in fields. Which can take many years to convert ordinary grazing pasture to the texture and flatness of a good lawn. So back to the problems of having small diameter wheels, as fitted to so many models.

Many wheels are also made from very hard foam rubber, which although is light in weight, has little “give” to absorb the shock of heavy landings. These landing shocks are then transferred to the airframe structure, which is a point of failure in many current ARTF models. The wooden plywood structures supporting the undercarriage is often so lightly built, that it shatters if any landing is “less than perfect”

Take Off’s

Small wheels have to rotate faster for any given ground speed than larger wheels. This increased rotational speed has the penalty of increased axle friction which will also slow the plane’s rate of acceleration. This increases the length of take off  run before flying speed, and a successful take-off, can be achieved. Small wheels cannot roll over small obstacles, whereas larger wheels will.

ie:        If a 2”(50mm) diameter wheel meets a 1” (25mm) high obstacle it will stop dead !

However, if a 4”(100mm) diameter wheel meets a 1”(25mm) obstacle, it will roll over it.

This is particularly true of large, soft rubber, hollow air filled wheels, which will also absorb most of the shock and prevent much of it being transferred to the airframe. There is also a phenomenon known as “prop-walk” where the tip turbulence of the propeller causes an increase in air friction, at ground level.

This also interacts with the torque required to turn the propeller, and makes a plane extremely difficult to steer straight on take-off. This usually results in the well known, “Ground Loop” as often experienced by pilots of full sized, tail wheel aircraft.

Hence the phrase: ”Real pilots fly tail-draggers….but….Real tail-draggers fly the pilots !!”

Fitting larger wheels also enables larger propellers to be fitted without making any structural modifications. So why fit a larger propeller ? 

Larger Propellers

Engine manufacturers always try to advertise the most powerful engines for their capacity. But the quoted maximum horsepower is often dependent upon achieving very high engine speeds. This is ok until you need to fit the best available “airscrew” to pull, (or push) your model through the air.

On full sized aircraft, the propeller is fitted to suit the horsepower required to give the best cruise performance and/or top speed. Then, a constant speed hub or a dual pitch propeller is fitted. This enables fine pitch to be selected for good acceleration on take-off and a good climb out, then provides a coarser pitch for improved cruise and top speed performance. This is because, at low speeds, a coarse pitch propeller is not efficient, as it will create a lot of turbulence and will absorb a lot of engine power without developing effective thrust until the plane is actually flying at cruising speed.

This can be seen in the very first pre-war squadrons of Spitfires and Hurricanes which were fitted with fixed pitch, wooden two blade propellers. When these were eventually fitted with constant speed, adjustable pitch propellers, take off runs were then much shorter and their rates of climb were significantly improved.

If a small diameter, high pitch propeller is fitted, the high speed airflow along the fuselage creates backwards drag during takeoff, so reducing acceleration and extending the take-off run. The larger the propeller diameter, the greater an area of air can be “pulled” by the “Airscrew”. which gives a more laminar airflow along the fuselage and  the wings and tail surfaces.

As a fundamental rule, the larger the fuselage cross sectional area, the larger is the propeller diameter necessary to achieve the most efficient thrust. Variable pitch propellers for model aircraft are extremely expensive, as well as being easily damaged!! So we have to make the best compromise, between achieving the best takeoff performance and the best flying performance.

Just like full sized aircraft, an engine must develop sufficient power to pull the model through the air fast enough to fly. A larger diameter propeller will pull, (or push) a larger diameter “tube” of air than a smaller propeller. The pitch (blade angle) of the propeller must then be selected to pull, (or push) the air fast enough for the plane to fly, AND for the engine to achieve it’s optimum RPM to do this.

Now this is when an engines maximum torque (Break mean effective pressure/BMEP) can be used to good effect. Rather than achieving maximum power revolutions per minute, on the ground, let the engine achieve this when flying. Thus, using a larger propeller with a finer pitch will give your model better ground acceleration with an improved rate of climb. The engine revs will rise after takeoff and the engine will then develop even more power and the plane will pull through large aerobatic manoevers even better.

As most of us do not race pylon racers, most of us are not concerned with achieving a model’s maximum speed when flying.

So which propeller to Use ?

If you have .20 to .60 sized, slower cabin models, trainers, and/or WWII type bi-planes, a 4” pitch propeller will give a good all round performance, with a larger diameter propeller.

For faster .20 to .60 sized trainers and aerobatic sports models, a 5”to 6” pitch propeller should suit most flying applications with a larger diameter propeller.

With very fast .20 to .60 sized aerobatic and very fast sports models, such as deltas, 6” to 8” pitch propellers are required to achieve the necessary high flying speed.

With larger engines, which normally achieve their best torque and power at much lower RPM, higher (coarser) pitch propellers are required to achieve the best flying speed with even larger diameter props to absorb the power of the engine.


So now the takeoffs are quite good, and your plane climbs well and pulls through aerobatic manoevers without falling out of the sky…………So what about the landings.?

A large, fine pitch propeller will also act as an airbrake when the engine is slowed for landing. The propeller will then be rotating at less rpm than the airspeed requires, and so a steeper landing approach can be made without a significant increase in airspeed. This is when fitting larger wheels to give your propellers more ground clearance and less rolling resistance will also prevent your models nosing over, due to the wheels “digging–in“ on landing.

So how much do large pairs of rubber, lo-bounce, air wheels cost ?….£4.00 to £6.00 ??

AND, how many propellers will they save from damage, at £4.00 to £8.00 plus, per propeller??

It’s a “No Brainer” as well as preventing  damage to the airframe if any landing is less than perfect.

These guys can’t be wrong ? “  “

 Fitting larger wheels will help your models fly better and save you Money

Make Propellers Visible

Feb 26, 2012   //   by admin   //   Tech Info  //  No Comments

Make Your Propellers Visible !

We all know the safety rules and common sense about the safe handling of powered model aircraft, and of spinning propellers in particular.  Full size aircraft propellers can easily kill or maim the unwary.

But why consider full size aircraft ?… Because most full size aircraft have the tips of their propellers painted “Bright Yellow”, because this is the best colour to provide a good contrast against all other background colours. Many makes of model propellers are almost “invisible” when running, especially Grey, APC and Graupner propellers which seem to be the least visible, with the Black grp, “Master” and “JXF” propellers coming a close second. 

On many full size aircraft propellers, the rear face is often painted Black. This is so the pilot can easily “see” through the propeller arc without reflections. The tips are then painted “Bright Yellow”. The yellow arc of the spinning tips is then easily seen when the motor is running . 

It was proposed by Roger Perryman (E&DRCC Vice-Chairman), that all members paint the ends of their propellers “Bright Yellow”.  Some members are wisely, doing this already. There are many makes of  enamel paints for modelling, available in small tins, that are proof against petrol and glow fuels. It only takes a few minutes to paint the last half inch (12mm), or more, at the tip of each propeller.  In fact, an extra coat of paint can be easily added to any blade that is “light” to assist with balancing. The tips of  propellers can be gently abraded with medium 360 grade “wet and dry” emery paper to provide a “key” then cleaned off with cellulose thinners prior to painting the tips on both sides of each blade. 

In the 1980’s, on my Rowena 56cc glow motors, I always painted the tips of the 24” x 12” wooden propellers in this way. A propeller that size turning at up to 7,000 rpm could do anyone a lot of damage………….It’s high time I started painting the tips of my propellers “Bright Yellow “……again !!

Humbrol Enamels, “Chrome Yellow” or Flair Paints, “Cub Yellow” are both fuel proof , very visible, and will dry overnight.  


Hints & Tips

Oct 19, 2011   //   by admin   //   Tech Info  //  No Comments

I prefer to fit larger diameter propellers than is recommended by most engine manufacturers.
Over the years, largely by trial and error, rather than trying to get maximum rpm on the ground, I try to get maximum static thrust for good acceleration and climb out.
( Maximum Engine Torque or BMEP = Brake Mean Effective Pressure)

This is how engines were tested and propellers were selected for most early aircraft. ….There is a tree preserved at Farnborough Aerodrome where many early aircraft were tethered for engine tests.

In this way, the acceleration, take-off  and climb out of most models can be significantly improved.

As a general rule of thumb if a 12″ x 6″ propeller is recommended for a 10cc motor, then this can be simply transposed to a larger 13″ x 5″ or even a 14″ x 4″ propeller which will load up the engine in a similar way within it’s useable RPM range.
Bearing in mind that the engine revs will increase as the model achieves it’s normal flying speed.

Also, the engine revs will rise during a dive, but the actual air speed will be not so high when compared with a smaller propeller with a greater pitch.

And, on a landing approach, when the engine revs are reduced, a large fine pitch propeller will also slow the model up when the airspeed is greater than the engine rpm and propeller pitch will allow, so a few more revs are often needed untill final flare out for landing or a slightly steeper approach can be made without any increase in airspeed.

Transversly, if you want a plane to fly faster, then you would normally fit a propeller with a greater pitch. But, if the engine is loaded up too much, and the engine rpm will be lower and the plane may be be sluggish at low speeds, then for every inch you increase the pitch, select a propeller with an inch smaller diameter.
So if a plane is initially flying with a 15″ x 6″ propeller, then fit a 14″ x 7″ propeller to fly faster or a 16″x 5″ to fly slower, but climb better.

I have used this principle on many different engines and aircraft over the last 50 years, from Cox .049’s, and various 40’s, 48’s, 60’s, and 90’s, up to 56cc glow motors from first flights with a 20″ x 16″ propeller to an eventual 24″ X 12″ propeller which gave an improved flight performance.

Successful motor and propeller combinations, have been as follows:

Cox .049’s = Tornado 6″ x 4″…..or…….7″ x 4″

Enya .19 = APC 10″ x 5″ ( Small trainer)

OS FP.20 = Smart Prop 11″ x 4″ (Junior 60)

OS .26FS = Smart Prop 11″ x 4″ (Junior 60)

OS.25 = APC 10″ x 5″ (Funfly)

SC .25 = APC 10″ x 5″ APC (Funfly)

MDS .40 = APC 12″ x 4″ ( Limbo Dancer)

RMX .40 = APC 12″ x 5″ (Arising Star Trainer)

Irvine .46 = APC 12″ x 6″ (Irvine Tutor Trainer)

SC .40 = APC 12″ x 5″ (Boomerang Trainer)

MDS .48 = APC 13″ x 4″W (Wildcard)

Webra .60 = Robbe “quiet prop”11″ x 8″ (Tuned pipe)(Bulldog FAI Aerobatic)

Webra 10cc = APC 12″ x 7” (Crossflow engine: Harry Brooks “Rebel” )

OS .70 ( 4T) = APC 13″ x 6″ ….or …..14″ x 5″ (1/6 scale Harvard)

Webra .60 = APC 13″ x 6″…..or……14″ x 5″ (1/5 scale Spinks Acromaster, Sukhoi 31, 1/4 scale Cosmic Wind)

Webra .90 = JXF 16″ x 6″…..or……17″ x 5″ (1/4 scale Spinks Acromaster)

RCV 120 = Graupner 20″ x 10″…..or …..three blade 18″ x 12″ (1/6 scale Mk XIV Spitfire)

Webra Bully 32cc = JXF 18″ x 10″…..or……20″ x 8″ (1/4 scale Spinks Acromaster)

Rowena 56cc = Airflow 24″ x 12″ (1/3 scale Pitts S2A)

Comparative Propellor Loading Chart[1] This chart clearly hows the relative power required to turn various sizes of propellers at their optimum rpm. It clearly shows that adding or reducing the diameter of a propeller by one inch will also require the pitch reducing or increasing by one inch to achieve a similar loading.

However, after conducting over 225 BMFA/DoE model noise tests comprising many different propeller, engine and airframe combinations since October 2011, the E&DRCC noise meter operators have realised that more consideration must be given to the “Noise” generated by the propeller.  Often, fitting a larger diameter propeller will reduce the engine rpm and make the exhaust note quieter.  But, the noise created by the propeller tips has then been even noisier!  To reduce the tip noise, it has sometimes been necessary to fit a smaller diameter propeller with a greater pitch to achieve an overall reduction in model noise.  Or, by changing both the make and type of propeller.  Three or four  bladed propellers are normally quieter than an equivalent two bladed propeller due to the smaller diameter and reduced speed of the blade tips.  When the propeller blade tips go supersonic, a lot of extra noise is generated by the continuous shock waves created at each blade tip.

Most propeller manufacturers have introduced new designs onto the market in recent years.  The modern trend is for the propeller tips to be slimmer and curved to a “scimitar” shaped tip. These are now much quieter and more efficient than their older products.  The turbulence created by blunt  propeller tips  creates lots of noise and drag that also robs the engine of  power.

I will soon be testing some modified propellers.  By carefully re-shaping the blade profiles of various sizes of Zinger and Master propellers, then measuring the reduction in noise created by the tips.  I will be creating tip profiles similar to the “Robbe” quiet props which is almost identical to the “Smart” quiet props and most APC propellers. The latest types of “Master”, “Graupner”, and other popular propellers all have similar shapes.  I will be publishing my test results later this year.

I hope this article helps you to choose a propeller which is better suited to your model and style of flying.


ALWAYS fit any two blade propeller in the horizontal position with it just rotated gently against compression.

WHY?…..Because IF your model has a dead-stick landing, the motor will stop against compression with the propeller in a horizontal position. You are then less likely to damage the propeller if the landing is often less than perfect.

This is ALSO, the optimum position for hand starting ANY motor (If you’re right handed) with the hand pulling horizontally into the body when flicking the prop.


Most ARTF models are fitted with very small wheels and often, wheel spats as well……….which are perfectly fine when flown from smooth tarmac runways.
As we fly off grass, as do many other model flying clubs, models will take off and land more easily if larger wheels are fitted and the wheel spats removed !
On our flying strip, we find that the smallest useable wheel size is about 3″ dia ( 75mm ) with 3.5″dia, or 4″ dia wheels giving a lower rolling resistance which make for easier take-offs and smoother landings.

Buying a larger pair of wheels won’t break the bank, and easier, shorter takeoffs will be welcomed by most as well as giving more clearance for larger propellers.
However, if your model is fitted with retracts, please ensure that the wheels won’t jam in the wings. This is because a stalled retract servo will quickly pull down the receiver battery voltage, often with disasterous results.

This is all common knowledge for experienced model flyers, but we need to help the newcomers to our hobby enjoy safe, sucessful flying. It is most important that their “budget holders” are not put off by damaged models.


When mounting engine mountings to the firewall, bed them onto epoxy resin.
This will ensure that fuel and oil will not seep behind the metal or plastic mounting bracket and soak into the airframe structure. I always paint the bulkhead area and inside the cowling with a good fuelproof paint.
I prefer to use a matt black, fuel proof paint.


When finally fitting the silencer to the exhaust stub on the motor, ensure both faces are flat and perfectly clean, then use a tiny smear of mixed, epoxy resin on both faces.
Please make sure the mounting screws and silencer threads are lightly oiled to prevent the screw threads from being epoxied as well.  When the silencer needs to be taken off , remove the screws or clamp, then a light tap with a screwdriver handle will easily open the joint.


Seal the metal threads with a blob of flexible “PVA Canopy Glue”.
Locknuts are not required, and adjustment is still easy. It works like a plastic locknut, yet does not immobilise the thread like locktite !


Always shake up your fuel to mix it thoroughly before using it for a days flying. Some mixes of glow fuel separate out slightly to give an uneven mix from top to bottom of your fuel container. Some petroil mixes can also de-nature the petrol and lubricant mix over short period of time.

Motor Cycle race teams always use old two stroke fuel mixes just for cleaning engine parts.

Glow fuels sometimes develop small pieces of organic matter which can form a light covering at the bottom of the fuel container. It is seen in suspension once the fuel has been shaken up and easily seen when the container is held up to sunlight. But all is not lost, as this fuel can be easily filtered using a paper coffee filter positioned in a plastic funnel. It normally takes about half an hour to filter one gallon of fuel and it is sometimes necessary to change the filter paper after each three or four pints filtered. As Methanol is hygroscopic (absorbs water), Filtering your fuel in this way can also remove water from your fuel.

It also pays to remove the fuel tank from your model every year or two, to see if any debris or oil residues have collected in the tank. These residues can often go un-noticed for a number of flights the next flying  season, until a blob of congealed oil blocks the carburettor needle or causes irregular running.

Finally, Always fit an inline fuel filter between the tank and the carburettor, as well as using a filter in the pump outlet of the filler pipe.  Who really wants a deadstick landing anyway ??

NOTE:  All fuels are highly inflammable. Please ensure that no naked lights, or any heaters, are in the room. It is always best to handle fuels in the open air, on a warm, dry day.