The World Models LA Racer ARF with Pylon Racing Mods

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Who doesn’t love a good sport plane? You know, the one that flies really well, looks good, but doesn’t look like any particular plane in existence? That’s where The World Models LA Racer fits – it’s a great sport plane! As a sport plane, it flies well and looks pretty good – but that’s not ALL it can do…  It’s also built well enough to compete! Compete? yeah, that’s right! It makes a great pylon racing aircraft as well! With just a few hardware replacements, the LA Racer can handle some serious speed! Interested? Read on!

Specifications

Wingspan:   54 in   (1370 mm)

Wing Area:   556 sq in   (35.9 sq dm)

Flying Weight:   5 lbs   (2.2 kg)

Length:   48 in   (1220 mm)

Engine Required:   .40-.46 2-stroke

Radio Requirements:   4 Channel (Minimum) Transmitter and Receiver

Servo Requirements:    4 (Electric) or 5 Standard Sized Servos

Pylon Racing Mods

As I said, a few modifications were required to get the LA Racer ready for pylon racing. The mods are all hardware – while the included hardware is fine for sport flying, it just isn’t quite ‘up to snuff’ if you plan on putting the LA Racer through a pylon course. So, here’s what I used to set up the plane for racing.

DuBro Super Strength T-Style Control Horns

DuBro 2-56 Steel Pushrods

DuBro Spring Steel Clevises

Hitec Heavy Duty Servo Arms

Electric Conversion

There’s a new class in pylon racing coming soon – electric! For this review, Don Stegall of  Stegall Hobbies not only sent me the LA Racer (An online hobby shop that sells The World Models aircraft for Airborne Models, which is the main U.S. distributor for The World Models), but he requested that I set up my LA Racer with the recommended electric setup for this special pylon class. Here’s what I used!

For this class, a .60 sized equivalent outrunner is required. I’m running the Electrifly Rimfire .60, which has a kV rating of 650. A Hitec Energy Sport 80 Amp ESC with BEC will be controlling the motor, and 12×8 Falcon Beechwood electric propeller, and power will come from a 5S 4000mAh LiPo battery.

Equipment Used for Review

I will be using Hitec gear to control the LA Racer – my trusty Flash 7 2.4 gHz transmitter will be paired with the Optima 6 receiver. Hitec’s HS-625MG High Speed metal gear premium sport servos will be connected to all the control surfaces. With the Energy Sport ESC’s output voltage of 5.5 Volts, these servos ought to react plenty quick!

I will be using ZAP brand adhesives throughout the assembly of the LA Racer. ZAP has a wide variety of available adhesives, and they are available from www.franktiano.com

If you’re looking for high quality fillers to add to your adhesive of choice, take a look at the full line of fillers available from www.facebook.com/StegallHobbies. These products are also available through Amazon at www.amazon.com/StegallHobbies. These fillers are great for thickening epoxy so it says where you put it. There’s also many other uses for fillers as well!

First Look 

The LA Racer 40 ARF arrived double-boxed. For this review, I received the blue version, but it’s also sold in Green, Orange, Black, and solid Yellow or solid White. Same plane, six color choices! All the parts were bagged and taped together to prevent shifting during shipping. All parts were accounted for, and were in great shape! The non-solid colored trim schemes have a lot of checkered trim panels on them. I will be removing these to make my own trim scheme for racing. It’s really hard to have several racing planes on the course at the same time – especially if they all look the same! But, if you’re planning on flying it at your local field, the checkered patters are great for orientation while flying.

The best thing about the LA Racer that makes it easy to convert to electric power is the battery/ fuel tank access hatch. My 5S 4000 mAh LiPo packs will just fit through the hatch, making it easy to change batteries between flights! The fiberglass cowl is high quality and the paint lines matched the Toughlon covering pretty well!

The World Models has tried to eliminate excess weight where possible. There are lightening holes in the cockpit area, while still leaving enough material to mount the pilot. Inside the fuselage, you’ll find a lot of light ply – this gives the LA Racer the strength it needs to stand up to the rigors of pylon racing! The servo tray has ply doublers on the bottom side to give the servo screws more wood to ‘bite’ into for a good hold.

The canopy isn’t quite clear, but I’m going to probably paint it anyway…

Steel-pinned hinges are pre-glued from the factory on all control surfaces! This is a nice touch! The fully-symmetrical wing will allow for great aerobatics, if racing isn’t your thing.

A fuel tank, complete with silicone tubing is included. Many of the manufacturers have eliminated the tubing from their ARF kits, possibly a way to save a few cents per aircraft. The World Models still includes the tubing for inside the tank – Thanks TWM! The aluminum main gear looks to be quite robust, and should handle the aircraft plenty well. Foam wheel and wheel pants round out the main gear, though wheel pants are NOT allowed for racing. The tail wheel bracket is mostly assembled, requiring that only the wheel be installed before attaching it to the fuselage.

Making Mine Unique

As I mentioned previously, I decided to remove the checkering from the wing and tail. I laid out a simple wing and tail design to make my LA Racer unique. I had some Toughlon STL250 Blue covering left over from my World Models Piper Pawnee build, and it’s the same color blue used on the LA Racer! The red on the leading edges of the horizontal stabilizer is covering that was removed from the top side of the wing.

Assembly

 

Assembly began with the wings. Since all of the hinges are pre-glued at the factory, I was straight on to checking the fittment of the wing halves. A quick test fit verified that everything would assemble easily. I marked the wing joiner at the center, so I could quickly verify that it was properly installed once it was covered with epoxy.

The Hitec HS-625MG servos were installed in each half of the wing. I like to drill and tap the servo screw holes, then add a drop of thin CA to each screw hole before installing the servo – this toughens up the wood and helps keep the servo screws from backing out due to vibration.

Other than the color scheme, the first modification is replacing the stock control horns and pushrods. I used some DuBro Super Strength T-Style Control Horns and 2-56 Threaded Rod  and 2-56 Kwik-Links  for the ailerons. I made Z-Bends to replace the nylon snap keepers – there’s no way the pushrod can disconnect, short of breaking the servo arm!

The covering was removed from the horizontal stabilizer slot, cooling vent in the fuselage, and the screw holes in the tail and stab.

A drop of ZAP Blue thread locker was added to the stabilizer retaining machine screws before attaching the stabilizer. Be careful when you tighten the two machine screws so as to not crush the wood. I also added some ZAP Medium CA to the stabilizer/fuselage joint to add a little security – I really don’t want the stabilizer coming loose when I’m trying to pull a tight turn!

I used some ZAP Z-Poxy 30-minute epoxy to install the vertical stabilizer.

The main gear was installed next, along with the axles, wheel collars, and wheels. Just remember to add a little Blue thread locker to all nuts, bolts, and set screws.

Unfortunately, wheel pants are not allowed for Club 40 Racing, so I left them off.

The tail wheel assembly was installed next, and was really easy!

Like the ailerons, the elevator and rudder received upgraded DuBro control horns, 2-56 x 48″ Threaded Rod Pushrods, and 2-56 Kwik-Links.

Since I’m using the Electrifly Rimfire .60, I needed to open up the front hole in the cowl to allow the prop adapter clearance and also to let the 2″ Gator RC electric spinner push as much cool air into the cowl as possible. There’s limited room for blind nuts at the interior top end of the firewall, so I installed the top two 6-32 x 2-1/2″ machine screws protruding outward.

The standoffs ended up being 33mm in length to get the over all length correct for the cowl installation – it took a little work, but it was worth it in the end. The Hitec 80 Amp Energy Sport ESC fit nicely in the muffler recess – this should allow for ample cooling! The Falcon 12×8 propeller and Gator RC electric spinner added a great look to the LA Racer!

To create enough space for the Super strength arms included with the Hitec HS-625MG servos, I had to flip one of them around and trim the servo arm a little bit. No harm done at all and it’s a great installation, allowing plenty of room for the servo arms to move!

As I mentioned earlier, I decided to paint the canopy blue to match the covering – but that was after I had taped it in place and drilled the mounting holes. The blue canopy turned out great, but took a little work before painting. I used a piece of 3M Scotchbrite scrubbing pad to scuff the canopy until it was no longer glossy at all, as this gave the paint a surface with which to bond.

With that, the LA Racer was ready for balancing. I found that the plane balanced just a bit on the nose heavy side with a 522 gram 5S 4000mAh LiPo mounted about 1-3/4″ back from the firewall. This was a great starting point, as you’ll see when we get to the flight report. With the CG verified and the control throws set, the LA Racer was ready for takeoff!

Photo Shoot

 As you can see, the red, white and blue look stunning in the sunlight!

Flight Report

As luck would have it, I only had to wait a couple of weeks to get a good day for the maiden flight! The sun was shining, the wind was blowing at or below 10 MPH, and best of all, my video pilot was available! Jim Buzzeo and met out at the Willmar Area Radio Control Club’s flying field in Willmar, Minnesota for an evening of flying. I had three other planes that needed maiden flights, photos and videos shot as well!

The 5S 4000mAh LiPo pack was strapped into the fuselage, the ESC was armed, and the battery hatch was securely latched in place – with that, the LA Racer was ready to go. The maiden take off veered off course a bit, but Jim steered it away from the pits quickly. Advancing the throttle to full, the LA Racer was off the ground in just a few seconds! In Club 40 Racing, the airplanes are released from a ‘starting stand’ with the engines running at full throttle – it’ll be interesting to see how the electric version does with a full throttle release. Climb out was brisk, and the Rimfire .60 paired with the Falcon 12×8 beechwood propeller had plenty of power to pull the 5.75 pound (ready to fly weight) LA Racer around!

After spending a few seconds trimming the plane, It was time to put the LA Racer through its paces. Because of it’s fully-symmetrical, low wing design, this airframe makes a great aerobatic trainer. Loops and roll are easy, and there’s enough control throw to set up high and low dual rates – the LA Racer would make an excellent second airplane!

Flying fairly slow can be done, and stalls were easily recoverable – add a little speed and fly out of the stall. The LA Racer didn’t prefer to drop the nose or a certain wingtip – it was pretty random.

Moving on to high speed testing, which is what I will be using the LA Racer for the most, I was impressed, but not overwhelmed. The motor, battery, and prop setup I chose was OK, but I wanted more. The Falcon 12×8 propeller was an excellent choice for a sport plane propeller, and provided a great overall flying airplane. Even still, the 12×8 pulled the LA Racer along at a good clip! But I want more SPEED! I’m in the process of looking into some different propellers, and will probably be looking at an 11×10 propeller. I prefer a wood prop to the nylon propellers, so my search is on…

When it came time to land, the LA Racer proved to be easy on the sticks – after all, it’s a sport plane! The plane was lined up and brought in. The breeze kicked up a bit, but the rudder kept the LA Racer heading the right direction. Touch down was easy, and the aluminum main gear held up very well!

Check Out the Video!

What IS Club 40 Racing?

That’s an excellent question! Club 40 racing was designed to be three classes of racing within RCPRO Racing that promotes pylon racing with inexpensive airplanes and engines. Four planes are allowed by the RCPRO Club 40 rules. The Sky Raider Mach II ARF and the LA Racer 40 ARF by The World Models Manufacturing, Co. Ltd. Recently, the SIG 4-Star 54 EG ARF was added to the list of approved ARF aircraft, and the Club 40 Raider kit by Sanaloma Laser is also allowed. It must be built to instructions.

The engines are what specify in which class of racing your particular aircraft will fly.

  1. Bronze Class – bushing bearing glow engines from .40-.46 ci are allowed, and the minimum weight of the aircraft MUST be 4.25 pounds without fuel
  2. Silver Class – ball bearing glow engines of .40 ci or below are allowed, with the exception of the Evolution 46NX with the Evolution one-piece muffler. The .46 NX is restricted to using only an APC 9×6 sport propeller. The minimum weight of silver class aircraft MUST be 4.5 pounds without fuel.
  3.  Gold Class – ball bearing sport glow engines of .46 ci or below with a maximum street price (retail price) of $160.00
  4. Electric Class – Coming soon! I have been helping to establish the guidelines and parameters for the new electric class!

The complete 2017 Rules can be found by clicking here.

Why was club 40 racing created? Club 40 was created as an alternative to spending large quantities of money on racing. Smaller courses and only two pylons allow this type of  racing to be done at many club RC fields, thus giving many more RC pilots the opportunity to get into pylon racing!

Click on the image above to see the standard layout for the Club 40 Pylon racing!

Check out www.Club40Racing.com for more details on how to get into pylon racing on a budget!

Club 40 Racing Videos

Summary

That’s going to wrap up my review and modification of the World Models LA Racer 40 ARF. Not only is this a great sport plane and aerobatic trainer, but it’s also an excellent airframe to use in Club 40 pylon racing. Whether you choose electric or glow, the LA Racer is a lot of fun. It was really easy to assemble, and flies extremely well! Go get yourself an LA Racer from www.airborne-models.com – you’ll be glad you did!

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2 Comments

  1. Interesting write up. I’m the two time National Club40 (silver class) champion and also backed up my Silver win by also grudge match with the Gold class winners and beat them as well in 2016.
    In just looking over you power set up. I suspect it would not be an equivalent to the Silver of Gold class being too powerful.
    I have assembled at least 10 racers over the last few years both LA and Skyraider ll.
    All of the hardware you replaced was not necessary. I have never seen any issue with the that provided. The music wire is soft but completely usable in this application There are two things that I don’t use and recommend they not be used. That is the fuel tank. The stopper threads will strip out easily and is too large unless you plan to fly half an hour. 4 oz is typically used in a wet race plane either by installing a 6 oz and short fueling or the 4 oz. The spinner has short comings and as a rule I never use a plastic spinner cone on a plastic backplate. Balance and alignment issues causing loss of potential engine power.
    There are several versions of the LA racer, the specific LA racer you assembled has the easy access hatch on top of the fuse which I found convienet even for a glow setup. The goal of 4 1/2 pound race plane was not achievable. The installed metal hinges weigh almost an ounce and since they are glued in not easily replaced. The metal landing gear also weighs more than the music wire setup. I don’t believe the wheel pants improve performance but do look better. Local racing can make their own rules so you could dictate or allow variations on the Club 40 national rules.
    I also prefer to tape the canopy on using the 3M tape, and use the provided pilot so it looks like an airplane. I am not a HiTec servo fan. Better servos are available but that’s my preference, your mileage may vary.
    Sparky
    “Repeat not three peat National Champion”

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