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  1. #1

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    Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    I have had the wreckage of a foam Byron Christen Eagle lying around for many years. I never flew the airplane but bought it from an acquaintance who flew it with a Quadra 35. He thought it was under powered and that it wasn't that good of an airplane, but I don't know much about his flying skills.
    I am looking for opinions from those with experience with this airplane to let me know if it is waste of my time and money to finish this project. I have rebuilt the airplane and t is ready for a finish and radio installation. A Moki 2.1 is installed. Iam thinking about a glass cloth and epoxy finish, or would it be better to apply low temp covering as per the original.
    Is it a good flying, what is the best engine prop, what should be the max weight, etc,?
    I look forward to your experince to let me know if I should pursue finishing the airplane or .

  2. #2
    foodstick's Avatar
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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    A guy in my club had one of these MANY years ago, and it always flew very well with him at the controls.. Everybody would stop to watch him fly it...it did one day make a bad landing deadstick (off the field).

    That was the end of it...

  3. #3

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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    I have one of these as well in pieces. I was hoping to get it together and fly it. Byrons no longer sells airplanes. Iron Bay bought out the molds and stock but have been very slow to reposnd to emails or get this model into production. So I am excited to see what you did. You Chrsten Eagle must be in good shape. I have the manual and parts but that is about it. No Engine as of yet. The covering has faded and yellowed and would like to replace it but no one has the multi-colored print. I don't know how heavy it will become if I glass it. I wonder how they fly as well.

    Tim B.

  4. #4

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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    Tim B
    Pictures would be great but I have just moved and everything is still "packed". What I have is a complete airplane and parts except for the piece that fits between the landing gear legs and forward. That can easily be made of foam and/or ply and balsa. The cowl and wheel pants are beat up but restorable. The crash caused the fuselage to brake in large pieces which were glued together with Titebond.The dents in the wing and fuselage were cut away and replaced with polystyrene foam which was sanded to shape. Balsa was glued to the trailing edge of the wing and to the leading and trailing edge of the stab/elevator for some ding resistance. Also, some balsa strips were inlaid in the sides of the fuselage to give it some strength. The pilot remains secure under the canopy but the canopy needs polishing. Light weight spackle will fill the nicks and dings and a thinned coat of spackle will be painted on and sanded to give a smooth surface for glassing.
    Having given this some thought since the initial posting, I think I will finish the model with glass cloth and poly/latex. I have heard positive things regarding it being a light finish. I am not a scale purist, although I appreciate those how are, so I won't be replacing the rainbow eagle color scheme. Instead there are many other color schemes that can be copied or designed more easily. Three or four colors with some graphics can make a real stunning model. Many won't care that it is a Christen Eagle but will appreciate a good looking model. Power probably doesn't need to be more than a Moki 2.1 but a gas 40cc might be a good match.
    The intent of my posting was to fish for ideas and experience from others who have built and flown this model to get the best for success. Hopefull there are those still out there who would like to give there input.

  5. #5

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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    They fly very nicely in my opinion but a Q35 is definitely on the very low end for power. The 2.10 Moki should be a bit better and may be satisfactory if it's built light. Many years ago this was a very popular airplane with a G-62 up front and with the wings glassed for some extra strength. They flew fantastic as long as the fan up front was turning but dead sticks were generally very high stress events. They glide about like the proverbial brick. I also had a Byron Pitts (same basic airplane) and it actually flew pretty well on a G-38 but was built factory stock and only weighed about 16 pounds. Not unlimited aerobatics bay any stretch but comfortable to fly and much more friendly in the landing pattern than the 20 pound G-62 powered equivalents. If it's built well and is relatively light then my opinion is that it certainly is worth the effort to get it back in the air. My .02 cents.

  6. #6

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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    Thanks for the encouraging words regarding its flyability. It looks like this could be a worthwhile winter project. It only needs covering, painting and radio installation. Now, I have to get educated on covering and painting with glass cloth and water base paints. Wish me luck.

  7. #7

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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    This plane is very aerobatic and therefore a bit fijity with the short tail moment , under powered is worse than over powered on this plane. [remember that you do have throttle control] The byron cristen eagle is one of the best of that model.

  8. #8

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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    Thanks, f16man.
    The Eagle is is line right after - well, who knows. I have a number of good wrecks to rebuild and am excited about all of them. My most recent rebuild was a totaled Aamco Aeromaster which now is looking great and flying even better. Who needs ARFs when there are those who crash and throw. It is a shame to waste a good, slightly damaged airplane. Waiting in the rebuild line are the Eagle, a Big BalsaNova, and Ultrasport 40, an Aamco Sportmaster, a giant scale CAP 20L, and other fun stuff. An Andy Sheber Pitts S2 1/3 scale is in process right now along with a Skylark 56.
    The Eagle should be an easy completion as I have it repaired except for the finish work which could take place among other projects. It would be mostly drying time of the finish and some sanding time.
    Is this a great hobby or what? Let's go rebuild something!

  9. #9
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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    I used to have lots of broken arfs coming my way, it has slowed down lately ! good to see you are making use of some of them.

  10. #10

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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    I can't comment on the flyability of the Byron but I do have a Great Planes version which weighs in at about 18.5 pounds and is powered by a O.S. 300 twin which is plenty of power and the sound is nothing short of phenominal.

    As with all Christen Eagles with that short coupling, landing is a tense moment but generally it flies superb when it's in the air.

    A friend of mine bought a half built Byron from a hobby store and finished it, glassed it and covered it with low temp covering I think, flew pretty well on it's maiden but since this was his first excursion into large planes he was a bit nervous which caused him to land into a field which didn't do too much damage. His second attempt he got airborne too quickly and stalled the plane shortly after takeoff, it rolled and crashed into the field, he currently has it in pieces and hopes to rebuild. This version was electric powered and I think his came in around 17.5 pounds. If you would like to hook up with him and have him answer some questions I can sure send him here.

    By all means you need to keep this plane as light as possible, go easy on the glass and paint if that's what you use. The 2.1 Moki would be a great engine for this plane, you would want a minimum of 50cc if going gas.

    Mine has 17 flights and sits comfortably in my living room as a show piece. These always draw a crowd and the flying stops when you get it airborne. Good Luck on your rebuild
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  11. #11

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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    Nice bird there looks like fun to me!!!!!

  12. #12

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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    Thanks for the input, Stuntpilot51. When the time comes for first flights, I will be reporting back in with the results. I expect them to be positive.

  13. #13

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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    Heggen,
    Show us some pictures of the your Christen eagle, I would like to see how much damage it has and see the finished pics.

    f16man,
    Thanks! it is alot of fun to fly

  14. #14

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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    I will be glad to take some pics and post them. It is a good excuse to get it in the shop to get going on it again. Photos will come in the next few days or so.

  15. #15

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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    Here are some pictures of the Byron Eagle after repairs to the broken fuselage. The quick background on this airplane is - over 30 years ago, arriving at the flying fileld, I saw the Eagle being landed. I looked away and then looking back, and the next thing I saw was foam pieces flying in the air at the end of the runway. I went to help pick up the wreckage and bring it back to the pits. The owner talked about pulling the radio and engine and throwing it away, so I asked if he would rather sell it. He said no but 10 minutes later came back and asked if I was still interested. I told him I was and asked what he wanted it for it. He said $15. I quickly slammed $15 in his hand before he could change his mind. The wings were in good shape except for a couple of big dents but the fuselage was in multiple large pieces. But, they were BIG pieces that could easily be put back together like a puzzle. I "played" with rebuilding it and got it back together. Other projects came up and the Eagle was set aside. Then, I acquired an almost new Moki 2.1 which seemed to be a good match for the Eagle. so I resumed repairing it. While doing so, it appeared that the weakest part of the airplane was over the lower wing. For added strength, I inlaid and faired out balsa sticks for some strength. Some light weight spackle filled in the cracks and low spots and that is where it is today. I still have to glue and sand balsa leading and trailing edges on the flying surfaces for dent resistance. Then it is on to the fiberglass cloth, polycrylic and filler to prep for paint.
    Based on previous comments, I am eager to fly the Eagle.
    More pictures will come after the paint is on.
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  16. #16

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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    All the pictures didn't post. Hopefully, they will all show this time.
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  17. #17

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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    Here is a pic of my fathers byron Christen Eagle. He got it from a guy in a trade and it flew great with a Moki 2.10. Ithe covering was peeling so I convinced them to let met strip it and glass and paint it. the first photo is the completed plane. He was also given a second Eaglle that was crashed on the first flight and I did the same to it. The fuse broke at the cockpit and one of the wings snapped in to. I did the same to it but painted it black. the other phots is picture of the second before I started it.
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    carl h stewart jr

  18. #18

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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    Bigstew60, In putting my Eagle back together, I want to make it better than factory. I am wondering if you made any modifications to the airframe, equipment installation, or hardware. It is obvious the weak point of the fuselage is at the lower wing/cockpit area. The cockpit module provides no strength in that area and the two sides are not adequate to provide sufficient rigidity and strength.
    My plans are to install 3/32" balsa sheeting cross-grain under the cockpit module to stiffen the fuselage at that area. I will also install servo rails glued to side rails on the inside of the fuse with gussets on the servo rail/side rail joint for extra rigidity. The pushrods are going to be replaced with 1/16" musicwire pushrods, routed inside outer nyrod tube, supported within the fuselage. I am not comfortable with the factory method of holding down the fuel tank with the rubber bands on cup hooks idea. I will be using a 24 ounce tank so a fuel tank platform and a more secure method of holding the tank in place will be designed.
    Beyond that, I am open to ideas from you or anyone else to make this a successful airplane.

  19. #19

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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    Heggen,
    I think the weakest part of the Fuselage is around the cockpit. I would run plywood or carbon fiber along the inner walls of the fuselage in that area to strengthen it.
    carl h stewart jr

  20. #20

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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    The weakest part of this airplane is hopefully not anymore. I have glued 3/32" balsa sheet cross-grain over the cockpit area,closed up the open area at the front of the cocpit and installed servo rails in that area. The strucure has become considerably stiffer. Wood strips 1/4" x 1/2" were inlaid on the outside and faired to the outside surface. There are two strips on each side that run from in front of the cockpit to behind the cockpit. To eliminate dings from happening in the soft styrofoam leading and trailing edges, foam was cut back and balsa strips were glued in place and faired to airfoil shape.
    Working on this styroam picnic cooler is very frustrating as the slightest bump, scratch or pressure marks the styrofoam surface. I have been chasing blemishes with lightweight spackle everytime I work on it to try to create a fair surface. The next step is to install the radio, engine and fuel system. and then on to applying the finish with fiberglass cloth and polycrylic a try.
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  21. #21

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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    I have been working on the Eagle as time allows and have made some progress, though looking at it doesn't show much change. I have installed balsa edging on the leading and trailing edges of all the flying surfaces for ding resistance. Pushrods and guides have been installed and their exit points filled around the pushrod to look clean and neat. Formerly there were big holes where the pushrod came through the side of the fuse. The wings, tail, and fuse have been fiberglassed with 3/4oz glass cloth using Minwax Polycrylic. The repair of the tattered wheel pants is next. They are made with polyester resin and the epoxy used by the previous owner has let go of the fittings attachment to the axle. I am going to strip them down to bare fiberglass and fix the crack an holes with glass cloth and more polyester resin. The cowl, too, has some little problems which will be taken care of in the same way.
    I am thinking ahead to paint and moving toward using acrylic enamel with a plasticizer. Any opinions on that?
    I will try to get some pictures in the near future to show the progress.

  22. #22

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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    Work continues with putting on the base for a finish but I am frustrated with trying to get a smooth surface on the styrofoam fuse and wings. I have covered with light glass cloth and attached it with Polycrylic. It appeared smooth in the shop light but sun light revealed an irregular surface. I sprayed a light coat of grey prime and sanded with a flat block sander which revealed many dips, dents, grooves, and everything but a smooth surface. I am using lightweight spackle to fill the problem areas but it does not adhere well to the area where it is applied making a it a challenge to get coverage of the shallow dent. Spot putty works but it is heavy and by the way things look, it could take a lot of spot putty to smooth things out. Does anyone have any ideas for a light, sandable filler, other than lightweight spacle, that can level out this field of dents?

  23. #23

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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    This has been a model repair project full frustration because this whole model is styrofoam. It is prone to denting with only light pressure. Imagine its condition after 30 years of having been crashed, stored carelessly, and just plain handled. My latest frustration, as noted earlier, was attempts to fill the low spots and dents to get a smooth surface on which to apply the finish. I needed a light filler which sands easily so I thought lightweight spackle would work, but it wouldn't stick to the surface. Then in the corner of my shop was a bucket of left over lightweight joint compound from my shop construction. When thinned with a little water to a consistency of whipped cream, I could paint on a thick coat with a foam brush. After it was dry, a flat block with 120 grit paper wrapped around it leveled the surface nicely. On the concave surfaces on the top of the wings, which depicts fabric over ribs. sandpaper was folded over to create a stiff back and the surface was lightly sanded until only the dents remained filled. The model's surface is now smooth and fair and ready for a seal coat of polycrylic and then primer.
    The cowl and wheel pants were pretty beat up and dirty. The pants were very light and flimsy so I am sure they damaged easily. I applied a layer of light weight cloth and polyeter resin with some reinforcement strips inside with heavier cloth. Now they are quite rigid with very little weight gain.
    The pictures will give some idea of the progress.
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  24. #24
    foodstick's Avatar
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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    Way to go ! The one I saw fly years ago was a beauty !

  25. #25

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    RE: Byron Christen Eagle rebuild

    great kit
    Where's my glue....I gotta build!
    Spitfire Bro #108


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