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Balsa USA 1/4 Scale DR-1 Kit Review

Old 11-24-2010, 08:18 PM
Mustang Fever
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Default Balsa USA 1/4 Scale DR-1 Kit Review

I started building this kit on March 11, 2010, and recently completed it. I have flown it four times.

This will be a brief review of the things I liked, the things I didn't like, and the things I modified.

Likes: die cut parts were clean and came out of the carriers easily, and they fit well, for the most part. Big, impressive, great flying airplane. A lot of the tasks that can be really tedious on smaller models were easy on this one, due to so much room inside the fuse and the cowling. Instruction booklet was very thorough and well illustrated. This kit is very well engineered and is not particularly difficult to build. I would recommend it to the first time 1/4 scale builder because it does go together so easily. Easy to take off and land (as long as you keep it into the wind), flies realistically and does beautiful slow speed aerobatics. Handles very well in high winds. Has no tendency to nose over or ground loop, due to wider than scale landing gear design. Came out well within the factory weight statements, and was not difficult to balance. I'm really happy with this one, and I would definitely purchase another BUSA kit in the future.

Dislikes: the lower wing drawing on the plan had the left hand panel almost an inch shorter than the right hand. This was not due to the plans shrinking or any other such nonsense- it was drawn wrong. This error did not occur in any other place. I informed BUSA, and after laughing it off, the engineer agreed to look into it. I had to correct the error by making a false outer rib out of thick sheet balsa. There were two wing ribs per carrier sheet, and there were differences in the spar notches between the two. I took one set as the "reference" and sanded the notches slightly on the others so that they would all line up along the leading edge. The plans called for the elevator halves to be joined with a piece of wood. Struck me as a potential failure, so I silver soldered my own control line style wire and brass horn. The fuselage was very flexible after construction and before covering. I mean you could twist it 15 degrees with no danger of breaking anything. Airplanes that change shape don't fly well, so I reinforced all of the stick joints with 1/4 inch balsa gussetts, aft of where the hardwood stops on the fuse. The stab and elevators were flimsy, to say the least. Very flexible and no resistance to damage from minor bumps. I did a bunch of reinforcement on both, using 1/4 square spruce and sheet balsa gussets. The trailing edge scallops on the wings was flimsy. I filled in between the rib TEs with 1/16 sheet balsa to stiffen them up. I sustituted 1/4 spruce for the spars on the lower wing, shear webbed the lower wing with 1/16 ply, and shear webbed the center wing with 1/8 balsa sheet.

Things I modified: (in addition to the reinforcements noted above) I used an OS 120AX two stroke swinging a 17x5 Zinger wood prop. Flies the airplane at a realistic 40 mph or so, provides gobs of thrust for manuever, and costs less than half what I would have paid for either a small gas engine or a big four stroker. I have measured the performance of this engine and it is right on par with the Saito 150 FS, which puts it in the middle of the recommended engine range (140-160FS). I mounted the engine with the cylinder low on the right side so that a Macs muffler on an OS extension would end up underneath the fuse on the centerline. (Gives the least amount of mess. I only get a little oil on the LE of the lower wing and the front bottom of the fuse.) I used Great Planes .095" metal wire pushrods for the rudder and elevator, instead of nyrods or pull-pull. Reliable, cheap, and easy to setup. I used 1/4" music wire for the landing gear axle, after reading some posts about how bendable the factory supplied piece is. These airplanes really need some positive incidence in the stab, or they try to go sunward at full throttle. I made my stab removable so that I could put washers under the leading edge. I have three of them in there now, for maybe 3 degrees pos incidence, and the airplane has no tendency to nose up when I nail the throttle. I probably have a little more down and right thrust then the instructions called for. You know you have enough when you actually have to give the bird a touch of left rudder on initial takeoff roll, which I do.

This airplane never fails to draw a crowd, whether its spectators at an airshow or just the guys in your club.

The complete build thread is at:

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Old 08-02-2012, 07:13 PM
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Default RE: Balsa USA 1/4 Scale DR-1 Kit Review

thanks for  sharing
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