The World Models Pilatus PC-6 Porter (.40Sized ARF) with TWM Electric Conversion

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What the PC-6 Porter (or Turbo Porter) lacks in aesthetics, it more than makes up for in performance. The squared-off tail surfaces and wing tips, wide track landing gear, and over-sized wheels can mean but one thing – Pilatus was more interested in how the plane flew than how it looked. Personally, I like the look – it’s sort of cute, like a piglet! Being able to take off , carrying over a ton of payload, in around 650 feet, and land in less than 430 feet has given the PC-6 great STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) capabilities. Again, function wins out over form. There have been many, many variant over the years, with the earliest versions utilizing a piston engine. It only took a few years for the turboprop engine to be incorporated into the Porter. Starting life in 1959, and still available through Pilatus’ website today, it’s safe to say that the Turbo Porter has and will continue to be a well utilized STOL aircraft!

Recently, The World Models has introduced their rendition of the PC-6. Though they call it the Porter, it would be more accurate to be named the Turbo Porter. Available from Airborne Models in the US as a .40 sized ARF and as a KIT, the PC-6 is sure to please most modelers today! My review will be focused on the ARF version of the PC-6. Info on the Kit version can be found Here. So, if you’re looking for something a little different, read on!

Specifications

Name: The World Models Pilatus PC-6 Porter ARF

Availability:   Airborne Models in the US    OR    www.theworldmodels.com Worldwide

Price:   $199.99

Wingspan:   64 in   (1625 mm)

Wing Area:   592 sq in   (38.2 sq dm)

Flying Weight:   5.5 lbs   (2500 g)

Length:   45.5 in   (1155 mm)

Required Items

Engine: .40 – .46Sized Glow Engine OR Comparable Electric Power System

Radio: 4-Channel (minimum) Transmitter and Receiver and 4-5 Standard Servos

Standard Assembly Tools and Adhesives

First Look

As do all World Model Aircraft, the Pilatus PC-6 Porter arrived in a plain brown box with a full-color label. Inside, I found all of the parts taped and bagged to prevent damage during shipping. With all of the major components on the table, I was pleased to see that everything was in perfect shape!

The forward battery/fuel tank hatch is large enough for even the largest of hands, and the side door helps during servo installation – I’ll get to that in more detail in a bit. All of the control surfaces are not only pre-hinged, but the hinges are glued in place! The World Models uses a plastic ‘pinned hinge’ that is similar to a Robart hinge – I like these a lot more than a CA hinge!

The two-piece wing is held in place with a pair of carbon fiber rods that are quite substantial in length, and the aileron servo hatches are ready for the servos to be installed – the servo mounts are molded into the pre-covered composite hatch!

I really like the fuselage assembly – a combination of laser-cut balsa and lite ply make for a light, stiff airframe. There are hardwood blocks and triangle stock reinforcement, allowing a strong attachment point for the main landing gear.

The World Models has been very good about including quality hardware and accessories with their ARF aircraft, and the PC-6 is a fine example of their commitment to quality. The hardware is bagged and labeled with a number system that correlates to the instruction manual, taking the guesswork out of determining which hardware goes with which step in the assembly process.

Reviewer’s Note: While not a big deal, there are two things I would like to see from The World Models. I would like to see the turbine exhaust stacks attached to the cowl at the factory, and I would like to see more up-to-date, realistic pilot figures. As I said, these are not a big deal, but items that I would like to see.

For this review, I will be using The World Models’ own .40 sized electric power setup. It includes a 3749-750kV brushless outrunner motor, a 40Amp ESC, motor mount, propeller adapter (not shown), propeller adapter wrench, and 3mm bullet connectors in TWM’s own specialized connector fittings. They also have an inexpensive ($4.99) special tool (Not included) to make separating these connectors really easy!

Equipment Used for Completion

From the ground, I’ll be using my Hitec Flash 7 2.4 gHz Transmitter- I really love this radio! A Hitec Optima 9 receiver and 4 Hitec HS-485HB Deluxe servos will be taking care of the Picanto Alpha in the air.  Power will come from a 14.8 Volt 4S 4000 mAh courtesy of True RC.com.

Manual

As I have found with all of TWM’s instruction manuals, there’s less written instruction than images. However, the illustrations do a great job helping any modeler assemble the Porter!

Click Here to see the web version of the PC-6 Instruction Manual.

Assembly

Assembly began with applying the decals to the various parts of the airplane. I found it to be much easier to apply all the decals before the plane was fully assembled! I also noticed that the upper ‘legs’ of the main landing gear slide into pre-cut slots in the fuselage. To determine the proper decal locations, I removed the covering from these slots with my old soldering iron. This actually melts the covering material, but leaves a nicely sealed edge on the covering.

Reviewer’s Note: Instead of simply sticking the instrument panel decal in place, I applied a light coat of thin CA to the wood – this helped to seal the wood and creates a better surface to which the decal can stick. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s curling decals!

 The horizontal stabilizer was slid into place and secured with a machine screw, after I removed the covering from its slot.

I set the vertical stabilizer in place, traced around its outline, and removed it before cutting and removing excess covering. Removing this covering will allow the fin to be better attached to the fuselage with epoxy in the following steps. At this time, I also cut the steerable tail wheel wire slot in the covering in and on the tail. There are four layers of covering that need to be cut – the top and bottom of the fuselage, and the top and bottom of the horizontal stabilizer.

The vertical stabilizer and horizontal stabilizer tip extensions were attached permanently with epoxy. 30-minute epoxy is best for this job, as it will allow plenty of time to get the parts lined up correctly.

The rudder control horn was assembled and installed, followed by the rudder pushrod. The clevises are plenty strong, thanks to the steel clevis pin!

I installed the split elevator control horns and pushrods in the same manner as I did for the rudder – I like these control horns a great deal, and the holes are pre-drilled in the control surfaces!

The tailwheel bracket was installed next – it involved slipping the wire through the tail end of the fuselage and into the bottom of the rudder. a sub-bracket is installed between the tailwheel bracket and the fuselage to make a no-bind fit. With the upper end of the tailwheel wire secured to the rudder by an aluminum clamp and 2 mm machine screw, I ground a flat spot into the tailwheel axle and secured the wheel with a collar. I used a small drop of blue thread locking compound to keep the set screw tight in the wheel collar.

The main landing gear was installed next. After making a single cut in the covering (I did not remove any of the covering), the gear was placed into the hardwood mounting blocks. The two upper gear legs were slipped into the slots I cut earlier. I drilled 12 holes for the six mounting straps, and hardened each hole with a drop of thin CA. when the CA had cured, the straps were secured with a dozen wood screws.

Because I wanted to fly the PC-6 from the grass at my flying field, I opted for a larger wheel than what comes with the ARF. the 2″ included foam wheel was replaced by a 2-3/4″ wheel. The larger wheels were a little wider than the originals, so the inner wheel collar was omitted and replaced by a pair of 1/8″ ID washers. After grinding a flat spot in the outer portion of the axle, the wheels were secured with a wheel collar. Again, I used a drop of blue thread locking compound on each of the wheel collar set screws.

Moving on to the power setup, I started by soldering the bullet connectors to the ESC and motor wiring and installing the 3-pin EZ connectors. A Deans Connector was soldered to the Battery cables as well.

The propeller adapter was attached to the motor, and the motor was attached to the composite motor mount. I really liked this mount because it automatically spaced the motor the correct distance from the firewall. As you can see, I originally placed the motor wiring inside the mount and ran it through the firewall, but this ended up not working very well.

The ESC fit perfectly within the cowl when I Zip-Tied it to the mount, and this location provided ample cooling to the ESC. I slid the cowl in place, installed the battery hatch, and then temporarily installed the prop and spinner. The prop adapter wrench served as my spacer between the cowl and spinner backplate. I then taped the cowl in place, securing it to the fuselage and spinner for a perfect placement.

I drilled holes at the proper locations for the cowl mounting screws, and then attached the cowl. There are four silicone spacers that fit snugly into the cowl mounting holes and provide a little cushion between the cowl and fuselage. the propeller and spinner were then permanently installed.

When it came time to install the simulated exhaust stacks, I placed them on the cowl where I wanted them and traced around the stacks. Using my Dremel tool and a small drill bit, I drilled through the painted layer of the cowl, exposing the fiberglass underneath. With all of the drill marks in place, I cleaned up the area with some denatured alcohol. I also made sure that the larger, round surface had been sanded flat. This will help the stacks adhere to the cowl.

The manual says to attach the exhaust stacks with epoxy, but I had a product I wanted to try out – it’s called rubber-toughened CA, and it’s a ZAP product available from Frank Tiano Enterprises. This stuff is TOUGH!

I installed the rudder servo and connected it to its respective pushrod – a slight bend in the pushrod was required to get it to slide without binding in the guide tube.

The elevator pushrod connector was installed, followed by the elevator servo. Thankfully, there’s a door on the side of the fuselage – if not, it would be nearly impossible to install these servos!

With the servos in and connected, it was time for the windows and windshield. The windshield is attached using four silicone grommets and screws, and I used ‘Formula 560’ canopy glue for the windows. This glue is awesome! It goes on white, gleans up with water, and dries clear – what else could you want in a window glue? When the glue had dried, I removed the tape and installed the door latch.

Because I like to use the longer arms on my aileron servos, I had to open up the servo hatches a little bit. This was easily done with my Dremel and a high speed rotary cutting bit. A 12″ servo wire extension was secured to the existing servo wire, and the servo was attached to the hatch.

I pulled the servo wire through the wing using the pull-string installed at the factory – I love it when they do this, as it makes pulling servo wires easy! With the hatch in place, I marked and drilled the hatch screw locations.

With the hatch secured, I installed the aileron control horns (just like the elevator and rudder). The aileron servo was centered, and I assembled and installed the pushrod.

After sliding the carbon fiber rods into the right wing half, I drilled through the rod, being cautious to NOT drill through the bottom of the wing. I then secured the carbon fiber rod wth a wood screw and washer in each of the drilled holes.

I removed the covering from the three holes on each side of the cabin area, and slid the rods through from the right side. with the right wing taped securely against the fuselage, I slid the left wing onto the wing tubes.

The left wing was pushed as tightly as possible to the fuselage, and taped in place before drilling and inserting the left side wing screws.

The wing struts and mounts were then installed. The machine screws on the bottom of the fuselage and underside of the wing got a drop of blue thread locking compound before they were tightened.

I added a small piece of Velcro™ to the battery tray to help the two straps keep my battery in place. With the large True RC 4S 4000mAh LiPo pack in the Pilatus, it was pretty nose heavy. To remedy this, I trimmed a small portion of the former at the rear of the battery tray. This allowed my LiPo pack to be placed farther back into the cabin of the PC-6, making it easy to balance the plane without adding any extra weight. I ran a bead of medium CA along the trimmed area to make sure the battery tray was securely glued in place. With the Center of Gravity now set, the PC-6 was ready for flight!

Reviewer’s Note – Because I am using the recommended electric power setup, I secured my Hitec Optima 9 receiver to the cabin floor. It was easy to place with the cabin door open, and will allow for easy maintenance in the future. a small piece of adhesive-backed Velcro™ held the Optima 9 in place!

Photo Shoot

Flight Report

As luck would have it, the weather wasted no time in presenting a perfect late fall day to fly – even better yet, it was a Saturday! With a breeze out of the East at 5-7 MPH, a late morning temperature hovering around 60° F, and a bright blue sky, I couldn’t have asked for much more! I met my review pilot, Jim Buzzeo, at our local field (Willmar Area Radio Control – WARC for short) to wrap up this project before the weather turned for the winter. Our unseasonable fall weather had kept the grass green much longer than a normal November, but we certainly didn’t mind!

We taxied the plane on the textile mat and grass runways a bit, and found that the rudder and steerable tailwheel had plenty of authority on the ground – if there’s one thing I dislike, it’s a plane with poor ground handling. The Pilatus definitely performed well here! The larger wheels I installed were a bonus on the grass!

Since the wind was straight out of the East,  Taking off was easy – we did find that the PC-6 rolled straighter through the grass, as the foam wheels wanted to skid sideways on the mat. With a push of the throttle to full, the Pilatus was off the ground and climbing out quickly and effortlessly. The electric power system, combined with my 4S LiPo made for a great combination! The PC-6 lived up to the Short Take Off part of its STOL nomenclature! Because I was looking to keep the PC-6 as light as possible, I didn’t install the pilots or their mounting platform. It may have been only a few grams of weight, but every little bit helps!

In the air, the Porter trimmed out easily, requiring only a few clicks of right aileron and down elevator. With trimming done, we moved on to high and low speed testing. The motor and speed control supplied with the PC-6 are the same as The World Models packages with their .40 sized EP Zero warbird – that thing is FAST! I know, because I have one that I bring out and fly when I have a need for speed…  Anyway, back to the Porter, it moves very well at full throttle! the Porter liked cruising at approximately 1/2 throttle. Surprisingly, it was hard to slow the Pilatus down! The airframe is quite sleek, and it doesn’t bleed off speed quickly. When it does finally slow down, it will just hang in the air – and though the PC-6 does not have full-length ailerons, they remain very effective!

Though it looks really out of place performing aerobatics with a STOL aircraft, the PC-6 is more than capable of standard aerobatics. Thanks to the excess power, loops can be as large as you want, and aileron rolls are fairly axial with only a slight tail wag. Speaking of wag, the Porter likes just the slightest touch of rudder input added to ailerons to make a smooth, scale turn. If you don’t mind a little extra movement, the PC-6 can be turned without the rudder as well.

With the maiden flight nearing the 8-minute mark, We decided it was time to land. Again, we were surprised by how well the PC-6 maintained momentum in the air! The airframe, though deceiving, is very aerodynamic! We had to pull the throttle back earlier than normal – it was at zero power before turning the last 180° on final. with nothing but grass in front of the Porter, she settled in nicely, and touched down easily. With the slightly larger wheels, the PC-6 navigated through the grass effortlessly!

When all was said and done, and the PC-6 was back in the pits, I checked the battery life – an 8-minute flight used approximately 70% of the 4000mAh battery. That leaves plenty of time for a ‘go-around’ or two! I couldn’t be happier with how well the Porter performed!

Check out the video to see The World Models Pilatus PC-6 Porter in Action!

Summary

I really like the Pilatus PC-6 Porter from The World Models. This plane went together very well, and flew great! The electric conversion kit available from Airborne Models has enough power, and it’s economical as well. I really like that the PC-6 requires nothing fancy – standard servos and a 4S LiPo battery. Other than the larger wheels and modified battery tary, the Porter was assembled as per the manual. This is one really nice airplane – I have a .40 sized set of floats, and I think they just found a new airframe to hang under! A job well done goes out to The World Models and Airborne Models!

-GB

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