Great Planes Escapade MX 30cc ARF

8

INTRODUCTION

When my eyes first noticed the Escapade MX 30cc it was at the AMA Convention in 2015, sitting a bit higher than eye level and sadly many modelers missed it. Don’t know how that could happen as the Escapade MX has over 2000 square inches of wing area, sports a very colorful color scheme and even had an appropriate sized pilot inside the large clear canopy. Right then I knew I would someday own and fly this bird!

 

 

The Product Review of this Escapade MX 30cc will be a bit different from the norm as I think modelers who have an interest in a plane this size, type, and price range, already know how to assemble an ARF. Therefore the will focus on those ‘things’ that might be done to improve this model – not that I know more than anyone else but doing some things ‘in addition’ to the instructions that some may not know.

 


SPECIFICATIONS:

Wingspan: 80” (2030mm)

Length: 67” (1700mm)

Wing Area: 1184 Sq. In (76.4 Sq. dm)

Weight: 12.75-13.75 lbs (5780 – 6230 g)

Wing Loading: 25-27 oz./sq. ft (76-82 g/sq.dm)

Radio: 4-6 Channel

Servos: 85 oz. torque (7): 50 oz. (2)

Engine: 1.8-2.0 cu. in (30-35 cc)

Motor: RimFire 1.60 (63-62-250) Brushless

Speed Control: 80 AMP ESC

Batteries: (2) 5000mAh 18.5 v

Cost: Tower Hobbies list it at: $329.99

 


FIRST LOOK

To begin there were some features that immediately tipped me off that this was a well thought out airframe. For example, the horizontal stabilizer already had some covering removed where it was to be glued to the fuselage; also the vertical stabilizer lack covering where it would be touching the stabilizer and fuselage.

Looking further I noticed the thick firewall was already reinforced and secured tightly with triangle stock, as was the landing gear block. Both of those items were aircraft grade PLYWOOD. Not to mention a very heavy hardware package!


ASSEMBLY

Pre-Assembly Fuselage:

I took the plastic control horns from the same bag that managed to spring a leak for those little blue fuel tubing’s that are used for securing the clevis. The horns were painted white so they would blend in with the white Monokote covering found on the ailerons, rudder and bottom of the elevator. The paint used: Testor’s Enamel – the little square jars we used to buy for $.15 ‘back in the day’.

Testor’s Enamel white paint was used to match the white Monokote covering.

Next the nose of the Escapade got a nice coating of 30-minute epoxy – first the back of the firewall, then the second batch of 30-minute epoxy was mixed with some milled fiberglass and spread over the triangle stock on both the firewall and landing gear block. I do this on most of my planes because I want to fly them a long time. I don’t know about you, but a plane that costs this much isn’t going to be replaced anytime soon so it had better last! Next a very light coat of thinned epoxy (I like Acetone) was used to coat the bottom the fuselage under the tank….if I do this the tank will not leak, if I don’t, it will leak for sure! Murphy’s Law at work.

Insurance, insurance, insurance…additional coats of epoxy will preserve the front end for a longer living model!

 


Assembly Wing:

The wing requires 4 servos if you wish to include the flap option. Reports are they almost useless due to their size and angle of deployment (I disagree) Nonetheless, that option was used. Both the aileron and flap servos were installed as per instructions with no problems occurring. Four servo extensions were used to connect the servo with the receiver. The supplied ‘string’ that was to be used to pull the extensions was discarded and a highly classified NASA/CIA/AMA/FBI developed tool was used instead – it consists of a long 1/8” wire with a “U” shaped bend on one end. Let’s try to keep this tool on the down low O.K.?

A simple wire with a “U” shape bent into one end eases the task of pulling servo wires through the wing.

If one installs flaps, the servos and their arm/position on the servo must match up with each other 100% or things will get interesting during deployment, especially during landings. Therefore the two flap servos were set up on the bench to operate exactly the same. One feature often overlooked is the placement of the control horn on the flap itself. I made certain both control horns were exactly the same distance from the leading edge of the flap.

Flaps are optional but fun to play with, so they were included in this assembly.

The wing tube fits TIGHTLY in both the wing panels as well as the fuselage. A couple of trials were necessary and before you would know, they all played together well. The alignment was spot on. The supplied bolt that holds the wing panels tightly against the fuselage have a large tab which makes it very easy to use.

Very ‘snug’ fitting wing tube “almost” eliminates the need of a securing bolt – which isn’t recommended:)

The longer this plane sat in the workshop, the more the wrinkles appeared. Twice the Monokote was reattached on the wing, fuselage and tail feathers and twice the wrinkles reappeared. When the plane arrived there wasn’t a wrinkle to be found! Guess the covering doesn’t like the cool Arizona spring weather. Can’t wait to see what happens when the temperature goes over the triple digits at the flying field.

Wrinkles, wrinkles everywhere – but after three shrinking, all seems tight for the initial flights.,

 


Assembly: Fuselage

With the wing completed the attention moved toward the mounting of the engine. Great Planes has already marked the locations for three engines (DLE 30; 35; and OS GT33. Field reports as found on RCU suggested most pilots with a DLE 35 rarely go over ½ throttle, so the decision to install a DLE30 over the DLE 35RA was easily made. I happen to have a Pitts-style muffler for that engine, but it is about ¼” too wide to conceal it inside the cowl, so the stock muffler was used (darn, I liked the sound of the Pitts!).

DLE 30 on left with Pitts-style muffler and NIB DLE 35RA on the right – decisions, decisions, decisions. Too bad the Pitts muffler didn’t fit:(

The only problem with mounting the engine was the very top washer (the engine is tilted) as it hit the framework. So some Dremel action took place and with the aid of a House of Balsa Tuff-Grind 2″, the process took a few seconds. I also noticed the landing gear blind nuts (pre-installed) also had some of the washer portion ground away so the triangle stock could be installed. Nice touch.

Problem washer was grinded down to size

DLE30 mounted at an angle so muffler could clear the cowl.

With the engine temporarily mounted holes were drilled for the choke and throttle pushrods along with some extra space for a fuel line. The choke received a 4-40 rod that was substituted for the suggested method of activation because I felt more strength was needed to move the choke arm. At this time the suggested plywood method of mounting both the throttle servo and choke servo was followed and fine-tuned so the servos were not stalling when moved to their full throws.

Aftermarket throttle arm removes some conflicts with the choke push rod.

There is a lot of room behind the firewall but the fuel / battery tray eats up most of it, so that tray entered a weight-loss procedure at the hands of a table saw and was cut almost in half. That created more space in front of the tank for electronics, batteries, etc. Now with the throttle and choke push rods installed, the engine was removed. This produced a lighter fuselage and made the mounting of the servos, push rods as well as the installation of the tail feathers easier.

 


Assembly: Tail Feathers

Returning to a previous section of the installation manual, the horizontal and vertical stabilizers were glued into their respective locations AFTER the control horns were installed. It is so much easier to use a drill press to drill four perpendicular holes than it is to use a hand drill to make 4 parallel holes after mounting the stabilizer to the fuselage.

Two elevator servos move the elevators and one servo makes the rudder move via a pull-pull system. The rudder control horn actually consists of two control horns bolted together, whereas the elevator horns have a back plate on the top of the elevator in order to secure them.


The rudder servo was mounted first and the pull-pull system was finalized before the two elevator servos were installed. A 3” rudder servo horn was planned but it interfered with the elevator servo arms and was replaced by a smaller arm. This affected the location of the pull-pull cables on the rudder horn itself and the suggested movement of 2” throw was obtained – but without some removal of the vertical stabilizer! The rudder was already joined to the vertical and there was almost no gap which restricted the rudder movement. Some thin slices of the vertical trailing edge permitted the rudder to move appropriately.

For those who have never used a pull-pull system before a general rule is as follows: The distance between the connectors on the servo arm should be the same as the distance between the attachment points on the rudder control horn.

 

 


The fuel tank was plumbed with ‘large’ Du-Bro Tygon fuel tubing and held in place with the supplied Velcro straps. The overflow tube was routed out the bottom of the fuselage.

 


Assembly: Tail Wheel

With that out of the way, the supplied tail wheel was discarded in favor of a carbon fiber assembly salvaged from a previous (RIP) aircraft. That was a personal decision and I’m sure the suggested and supplied tail wheel will work as designed but I don’t like the metal arm glued into the rudder as I have had many break lose after some of my ‘less than’ perfect landings.

I prefer a spring loaded tail wheel assembly over one directly connected to the rudder – just a personal choice.

 


Assembly: Landing Gear

The two-piece landing gear was painted white with a rattle-can from Wal-Mart (which took three days to dry in the hot Arizona sun!) and the supplied wheel pants and wheels were installed. We will discuss the wheels later in this review.

 


Assembly: Electronics

The engine was mounted with Blue Loctite.  A Miracle dual switch/fuel dot was installed on the upper right side of the fuselage and a shelf was created right below that to hold the Ignition Module. Now that the tank was installed, the RCXL Opto-Kill unit could be placed between the tank and fuselage.

On-Off switch included the fuel dot.

Two NiMH batteries were wrapped in foam and placed directly behind the firewall. The spark plug lead was a problem until a hole was drilled in the bottom of the fuselage and then the lead nicely exits the fuse and directly to the spark plug.

Hole in bottom of fuselage permits the exiting of both the spark plug wire, but also the overflow of the tank.

 


Assembly: Cowl

The beautiful cowl requires some cosmetic changes in order to get the blasted thing on and off the fuselage. A Dremel tool was used to open up enough of the bottom of the cowl to permit the cylinder head to poke out. So far, so good. THEN the muffler was put on the DLE30 and things got interesting as it was much more difficult to install and remove the cowl. The culprit was the long exhaust pipe and additional cowl was removed in order to slide the fiberglass cowl over and around the pipe. Sadly, as mentioned before, a Pitts-style muffler will not fit the DLE30cc without hacking up the side of the cowl.

By placing a 1/16” balsa sheeting behind the spinner back plate, the cowl can be pushed up/centered against the back plate and secured to the fuselage with screws. Then when the balsa is removed, the gap between the backplate and the cowl is a PERFECT tight fit. Boy that supplied chrome aluminum spinner sure looks good. Another good call by Great Planes!

 

 

 


Assembly: CG

By placing both batteries up front, the CG was just forward of the 4- 7/8” mark which is where the first flight would take place. No additional weight was added at that time. Controls were set according to the published manual.

 


Photo Shoot

 

Flying report: Ground Handing

I was surprised at how sensitive the tail was until I calmed down and touched the rudder as opposed to bumping it! The tail wheel was arranged so there isn’t a lot of movement on the wheel itself. After that first ‘wiggle’, takeoffs were not a problem and the Escapade MX tracked straight and true. With an idle of about 1800 RPM’s and throwing a Master Airscrew wood 18-8, the taxi speed is just about right.

 


Flying

Flying report: First Flight

Once the initial ground handling “oops” was over, the Escapade MX tracked almost center-line for its initial takeoff but dropped its right wing and a couple of clicks of both rudder and aileron had her flying straight but not level…relaxing the sticks produced a definite nose down flight path so some up elevator trim was applied. Once flying straight and level some camera shots were called for and then some maneuvers. At full throttle the Escapade MX moved along pretty well and vertical didn’t seem to have a limit but I tried to stay ‘under’ 400 feet. My favorite maneuver is the hammer head and this plane was made for that maneuver.

Rolls at the suggested low rates take a while to complete while at high rates feel just about right. Stalls are non-events….the Escapade MX just dropped nose first – sort of….more like a mush – without a tendency to dip a wing. The spins at low rate are merely a spiral, while at high rates, this bird will spin nicely. Flaps were fun to play with – and required a lot of down elevator input but once slowed down the plane just wanted to do was putt putt around the sky with no tendency to drop a wing or stall. Inverted flight required a small bit of down elevator to fly level and loops could be as large as desired.

One note concerning throttle management – the Escapade MX doesn’t like to slow down and this comes at quite a surprise to me as the wing has a very thick airfoil. I would frequently overshoot the landing area because the plane was flying too fast. Flaps helped and a flat landing approach seemed to be the best option as every time there was a 3-4 degree angle the speed just didn’t hold its own but would accelerate. Took some getting used to for sure and yes, the engine was at idle and one click of throttle was too fast. (Note to self: Nose heavy planes land fast, hint, hint).

George took controls for a couple of flights and felt comfortable flying this bird. His landings were about the same as mine (a bounce or two – or three) until we went over to the grass section where his landings improved but with an occasional bounce or two. Perhaps different wheels might help so I’ll have to try some Du-Bro’s Low Bounce wheels and see if they will smooth out the landings.

Flying report: Changes

After the first flight the amount of up elevator needed for level flight was about 1/8” so the ignition battery was moved back next to the receiver. This resulted in an aft movement of the CG (5” mark) and resulted in a reduction of the up trim to almost zero.  Inverted flight now required only a small touch of down elevator and reduces some of the bounce on landings. Perhaps some additional movement of batteries may eliminate the bounce all together – but there still is one factor that can’t be eliminated…..dumb thumbs on the radio:).

 


Video

 


Summary

For assembly (part-fit) Great Planes gets an A

For Supplied hardware Great Planes gets an A

For the color scheme Great Planes get an A

For matching engine/airframe (30cc) the Escapade MX gets an A

For flying characteristics I have to give the Escapade MX an A- and that is due to the lack of shock absorbing under carriage. Of course when I ‘grease’ in a landing without a bounce, it is only the pilot who get the A!

For the Canopy Attachment Method the Escapade MX gets a C as 4mm nylon bolts with small heads make removal of canopy time consuming (especially if flying electric).

I’m happy to report this is one GREAT FLYING gas models for the everyday pilot. No, it will not “3D”, hover or do a great waterfall, but it will fly normal aerobatics smoothly and gracefully. This will be my ‘GO-TO’ plane for sure. Now, if I can switch to smaller fuel tank and add a SMOKE TANK this will be the ‘cat’s pajamas’.

The Escapade MX comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

 

For more information about the Escapade MX 30cc go to:

http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin/wti0001p?&I=LXEGCH&P=ML

 

 

 

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8 Comments

  1. Purchased one on the second order at T. Hobbies. Mine has a DLE 35 ra with all the power one could ask for.
    Great flying plane, fast and yet docile if flown right. Knife edge is easy and the plane seems to be made for it.
    One of my go-to planes……..

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