RCU Review: Great Planes Cherokee ARF


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    Contributed by: Ken Isaac | Published: September 2008 | Views: 86333 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    Great Planes Cherokee 40 ARF - RCU Review

    Review by: Ken Isaac (RCKen) | Email me
    Flight Video Piloted by: Paul Phillips

    Ken Isaac
    { RCKen }
    Email me
    About the Author




    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    www.greatplanes.com



    • Great 2nd plane for beginning pilots
    • Very complete kit
    • High quality construction
    • Pre-hinged control surfaces
    • Bolt on tail structure
    • Wing can be assembled as one or two piece
    • Designed for either glow or electric power
    • Very capable aerobatic plane

    • Canopy dowel pin fell out before flying plane
    • Foam wheel under muffler absorbs fuel
    • Wheelpants may have problems if flying from grass fields.
    • Instructions skip around, need more organized sequence
    • Hardware identification page would help new pilots identify hardware
    • Paint color of the cabin slightly off from covering

    It seems to be an almost universal constant in the RC flying world. Almost as soon as a new pilot starts training with their trainer they will start looking for their next, otherwise known as the 2nd, plane. I've never been quite sure why this happens. Maybe it's just the excitement of learning to fly, or maybe it's because they want to fly something besides that "clunky ole trainer". There are many planes out there that are considered "second planes", some of which have become almost an industry standard. Great Planes has just released another plane aimed at that "2nd plane" pilot which just might rise to the top of the list of 2nd planes out there. That plane is the Cherokee Sport Scale ARF. On Great Planes' website they describe the Cherokee as:

    "You've mastered your basic trainer. Now step up to sport scale!"

    The Cherokee ARF is a great step up from your basic trainer - and one of the few realistic sport-scale alternatives for low-wing flight training. Its fast 4-6 hour assembly and steady performance provide the right foundation for success, complemented by quality wood and fiberglass construction plus the freedom to use glow or electric power.

    • Ideal for everyday sport flying and aerobatics - perform loops, rolls, inverted flight, stall turns and more!
    • Bolt-on wing and tail simplify assembly and transport.
    • Operate the included flaps with a 5-channel radio for even greater realism and flight control.
    • Tricycle landing gear provides positive handling on grass or pavement."

    The Cherokee is a 40 sized plane that has been designed from the ground up for either glow or electric power. It's been engineered to help reduce the time from opening the box to the flight line in order to get the pilot airborne quickly and easily.

    I first saw this plane at the Weak Signals Show in Toledo this year and I have to admit that it really caught my eye. I've always liked the lines of a Cherokee and think that it's a very good looking airplane, but something about the Great Planes model really made me want it. Please don't ask me to explain what it was about it because I'm not really sure myself. As an instructor I am regularly asked for advice on 2nd planes, so I really wanted to get my hands on the Cherokee so that I could know if it really was a good 2nd plane or not. So I shot an email off to the "RCU review meister" requesting this review. I was pretty excited when I found out that I was getting it, and felt a bit like a kid at Christmas time waiting for the "Big Brown Airplane Truck" to arrive.
    So, let's dive on in and see what the Great Planes Cherokee 40 ARF has to offer.........



    Great Planes Cherokee Sport Scale ARF

    Specifications
    Price: $159.99
    Stock Number:
    GPMA1033
    Wingspan: 60 in (1520 mm)
    Wing Area: 606 sq in (39 sq dm)
    Weight: 6.75-7.25 lb (3.1-3.3 kg)
    Wing Loading: 26-28 oz/ft sq in (79-85 g/sq dm)
    Length: 46 in (1170 mm)
    Requires: 4+ channel radio system (5-channel required for operational flaps) w/4-7 standard servos
    Electric Power Requirements: ElectriFly RimFire 42-50-800 Out-runner Brushless Motor (GPMG4700); ElectriFly Silver Series SS-60 Brushless Electronic Speed Control (GPMM1850); 18.5V 3200mAh LiPo battery (GPMP0622 and GPMP0623); propeller (10x5E or 11x5.5E)
    Glow Power Requirements: 2-stroke .40-.46 cu (7-7.5cc) or 4-stroke .52-.56 cu in (8.5-9.2cc) engine

    Includes

    • Pre-built and covered wings

    • Fuselage and tail assemblies

    • Pushrods

    • Pre-bent main and nose gear

    • Wheels

    • Wheel pants

    • Cowl

    • Engine mount

    • Fuel tank

    • Wood servo trays

    • Spinner

    • Aluminum joiner tube

    • Pilot figure

    • Decal sheet

    • Hardware package

    • Photo-illustrated instructions


    Items needed to complete the Cherokee:

    • Engine:.40-.46 (7 - 7.5cc) 2-stroke
      OR .52 - .56 (8.5 - 9.2cc) 4-stroke
      OR 42-50-800kV brushless outrunner electric motor

    • Muffler:: Pitts style if installing a two-stroke glow engine

    • Radio: 4-Channel minimum with mixing capability preferred

    • Servos: 4 minimum standard size and torque 44 oz.-in.(3.2 kg-cm)
      Operational flaps require two additional servos
      Throttle for glow engine requires additional servo

    • Servo Extension: Two 9" (229mm) for aileron servos

    • Y-Harness: 2, 1 each for ailerons and flaps

    • Misc. Items: Glow plug, 1/4" foam rubber padding, medium fuel tubing,
      fuel filter, propeller, based on engine selection.

    Actual Flying Weight: 6 lbs 6 oz.
    Engine Used: OS 55AX ABL
    Muffler User: Slimline Pitts Muffler (Slimline #3218)
    Radio Used: Futaba T9CAP
    Channels Used: 5 total - Ailerons, elevator, throttle, rudder, and flaps.
    Servos Used: Futaba S3003 Standard Servo
    , 2 ea ailerons, 1 elevator, 1 rudder, 1 throttle, and 2 ea. Flaps
    Prop Used: APC 12x7 sport propeller


    Unpacking The Box

    The box for the Great Planes Cherokee ARF is very nicely designed and is sure to catch some eyes as it sits on the shelf. The box goes a long way to letting you know what is in the box, and what you are going to need in order to complete the plane. Opening the box reveals several of the major components on the top. Everything is taped into place so that it can't shift and damage the components. Emptying the box gives you all of the major components, which are all in individual plastic wrappings.

    All of the smaller components are also sealed in plastic. The interior of the fuselage is very spacious for a 40-sized plane, which will make it easier for the modeler to set up the plane and get it ready to fly. As the components are removed it's easy to see that Great Planes has put a lot of thought into making this plane easy for newer pilots to set up. Touches such as the canopy assembly show this quite well. The cockpit for the Cherokee comes assembled with a pilot figure already in place. I will admit that I was a little disappointed with the canopy. The color of the paint for it was a bit lighter than the covering, which caused a noticeable mismatch when the canopy is installed.

    Further examination shows more of these touches. The Cherokee comes out of the box with all of the control surfaces pre-hinged, meaning the pilot doesn't have to deal with it. The quality of the hinge line really impressed me, as the gap in the hinge line was almost non-existent. The Cherokee comes with fiberglass cowl that sports a very high quality paint job. The paint does match the covering of the plane.

    The final picture shows what is needed to complete the assembly of the GP Cherokee. I am setting the Cherokee up for glow power and I was provided an OS 55AX with the plane. A total of 7 servos are needed if the plane is set up with functional flaps, 5 servos are needed if the flaps are fixed into a non-operation position. Y-harnesses, a Pitts Muffler, and a prop round out what are needed to get the Cherokee in the air.


    The Manual

    Great Planes has a history of producing some of the better manuals available on the market. The manual for the Cherokee is no exception to this. The manual is very well written with all steps explained in a clear and concise manner. There are plenty of pictures and illustrations provided to help a person understand what needs to be done. The manual provides a "check box" so that the modeler can check off each step as they are completed. At the beginning of the manual several lists are provided that identify all the materials and tools that are going to be needed to complete the plane. The manual also has a very good section at the end of the manual explaining the proper setup of the plane. A pilot moving to their second plane should have no problems with assembling the plane when following the instructions provided in this manual.

    Even though the manual is well above "par" for the industry, I do feel that there are several things that could be improved upon with the manual. Please understand that these items will not keep the plane from being assembled or cause mistakes in the assembly, but rather I think these items would be an improvement considering the target audience being newer pilots. The items that I would like to see improved are:

    • A hardware identification page would help to identify the smaller screws and bolts needed for each step. For newer pilots with little experience in the hobby it can be very easy to select the wrong screw or bolt in a step. An identification page would help to prevent this from happening.
    • Each major step in the assembly would benefit with a listing of the parts and tools needed for that step. Once again, considering that this plane is intended for newer pilots and helping them to collect the correct parts and tools needed before they start each major step would help ease the assembly. This recommendation really goes hand in hand with the previous recommendation.
    • The order of the steps could have been laid out better. For instance; when working on the engine/motor installation the instructions switch to installing the landing gear and then continue on with the installation of the nose gear and engine cowl. It would have made more sense to completely finish installation of the engine area and then move on to the landing gear, which should have been done while working on the wing. Following the instruction manual will require most to remove the fuselage from their work area, place the wing on the work area, and then have to swap them back out to continue, which can be bothersome. Another example of this is the installation of the tail assembly. The instructions call for installing the tail feathers early in the assembly, where they can be banged and bumped while working on other areas of the fuselage like the engine and servos. It would have made more sense to finish the rest of the fuselage setup and then install the tail feathers last. Since the tail assembly is bolted on instead of glued on it is very easy to accomplish this step later in the assembly.

    Removing Wrinkles From Covering

    The covering job on the Great Planes Cherokee is outstanding, but like just about any other ARF out there wrinkles can occur during the shipping of the plane. Some time will need to be spent to remove the wrinkles from the plane. A covering iron at a minimum is needed for this, and at best a heat gun and trim iron as well would help in this process. The first step here should be to go over the edges of the covering and all seals between coverings. This is done so that it won't pull loose as the covering shrinks in the middle. After hitting the edges go over the area with the heat gun. This will accomplish two things. First it show where the covering isn't adhered to the wood underneath. And second, it will stretch out the covering in preparation to sealing it back down to the wood underneath. Once this is done go over the area with a covering iron with a hot sock on it. This will seal the covering back down to the wood structure of the plane.


    For the Cherokee it took me about 30 minutes to go over the entire plane and get all the wrinkles out of the plane.


    Product Spotlight

    As reviewers occasionally we will receive new products to try out with our reviews. Some of them are ok, some are good, and some are great!! Recently I received one that is great, and I'd like to share it with you.

    It's hard to imagine something new in the world of epoxy that would be exciting. I mean, come on - it's just epoxy. Right? Not so here? Newton Supply Company in Miami, Florida has released a new line of epoxy based adhesives that really do make a difference. I received 3 types of adhesive from them - Model Matrix, Fast Set, and a 30-minute epoxy.

    For the Cherokee I used the 30-minute epoxy, and would like to share with you what I thought of it. The first thing you will notice is that the epoxy doesn't come in bottles, but rather it comes in two squat jars. The epoxy still comes in an "A" and a "B" jar like all other epoxies. But opening the jars reveals something a little different. One part is thick with a "Vasoline" type consistency and the other part being a very thick liquid. The epoxy is mixed in a 50-50 mixture ratio just like most other epoxies. A hobby stick (a.k.a. popsicle stick) makes it an easy step to measure out a small "blob" of each part of the epoxy. The two types are mixed together and applied like most other epoxies.

    So if Epo-Grip is "like most other epoxies" why is it worth talking about? Mainly because of the paste like consistency of the epoxy. When mixed together the epoxy does not "run" like more liquid epoxy. So this means that you can put the epoxies in places like joint filets, gaps, or on a wing joiner and the epoxy will stay right where you put it - and not run and drip out of position. Something that all modelers have experienced at least once. Also, the Epo-grip is VERY easy to measure out and get the right amount of epoxy mixed for the job you are doing. I have always had a hard time with epoxies in bottles in that I usually made up way more epoxy than I needed, and wound up wasting epoxy. With the Epo-Grip I was able to get the amount I needed, and not waste epoxy.

    To sum it all up, Epo-grip had found a permanent place on my building table. I really like the results I got from the product and I will definitely use it from now on.


    Ailerons and Flaps


    There are many things that Great Planes has done to make this plane easy to assemble for the newer pilot. One of the most notable of these is the fact that all of the control surfaces are pre-hinged. Ailerons, flaps, elevator, and the rudder are all in place with the hinges installed as the plane comes out of the box. This will greatly reduce the amount of assembly time needed to get the Cherokee in the air. Although these surfaces are pre-hinged, it would be wise to double check to ensure that they are secure and properly assembled. On each control surface give them a good tug to ensure that the hinges are indeed secure.

    The first step in assembling the GP Cherokee is to build the aileron and flap mounts. An interesting side note on the ease of putting this plane together is that these two steps are the only place on the plane that epoxy will be needed. The servos for these controls are inside the wings and mounted on the underside of the access hatches for each servo. The mounts are built by using epoxy to glue mounting blocks to the underside of each hatch. Normally when building such mounts the modeler will need to use the servo in order to mark the location for each block. But for the Cherokee this isn't necessary as Great Planes has marked each hatch with the location for each block. It's a very simple matter to glue each block in place using 30-minute epoxy, ensuring that the grain on each block runs perpendicular to the grain in the hatch.

    Attach a 9" servo extension to each aileron servo and use heat shrink tubing to secure the connectors together. Position the servos on each mount with the servo arm centered in the cutout on the servo hatch. The instructions call for providing a 3/64" gap between the servo and the hatch in order to isolate the servo from the vibrations from the engine. Instead of trying to measure 3/64" I found it easier to simply place a small metal ruler between the servo and the hatch when marking the location for each servo. A pilot hole is drilled for each servo mounting screw. Use a mounting screw to cut threads in each pilot hole and then harden the threads using thin CA. Mount each servo to the hatch using servo mounting screws. I prefer to use the socket head servo screws from www.microfasteners.com for mounting servos. With servo and hatch mounted route the servo leads out through the hole in the top of the wing panel. A pull string is provided for each servo to aid in guiding the servo lead through the wing panel. Label each servo lead so that they don't get mixed up when mounting the wing on the fuselage.

    Place each servo hatch in position on the wing. The mounting holes are created in the same manner as we did the mounting holes for the servo. Each hatch is secured in place by a #2 x 3/8" self tapping screw. The pushrods are built by screwing a nylon clevis 20 turns on a 4" pushrod, and then sliding a silicon clevis retainer on to the clevis, which is then connected to a control horn.

    For each control horn location on the ailerons and flaps there is an embedded piece of plywood to mount the control horns to. If you look at the control surfaces at an angle you will be able to see these embedded pieces. It's important to mount the control horns in the plywood pieces in order to not have them pull out in flight. Line up the pushrod with the servo arm on the servo and place it on the control surface with the holes of the control arm in line with the hinge line of the control surface. Mark the location of the control arm holes and remove the control arm. Using a 1/16" drill bit, drill pilot holes for the mounting screws. It's very important to not drill completely through the aileron or flap. This differs from the way many other control horns are mounted with a backplate and screws completely through the control surface. The Cherokee uses self-tapping screws in plywood to secure the control horns in place. The holes are prepared in the same manner as the servo mounts were done. Once the holes are prepared mount the control horns for the control surface.

    Connect the servo to the receiver and with the radio on center the servo. I use two clamps and two hobby sticks to hold the control surface in the neutral position while marking the pushrod. Mark the pushrod where it meets the outer hole on the servo arm. Place a 90° at this mark and then place the servo arm on the bent pushrod. Install a nylon FasLink on the pushrod and snap it on to the pushrod to secure it. Cut the pushrod approximately 1/16" below the nylon FasLink.

    When installing the flap servos ensure that the position of both servo arms are the same. This is done to ensure that the flaps are in the same position and have the same throw when the servos are installed in the plane.

    On my Cherokee I set up the flaps to work, but for those who do not wish to do this Great Planes has included the option to set the flaps to a fixed position. Included with the plane are two wooden strips that are used to lock the flaps in the "up" position. These strips are glued into place on the flaps and the wing on the underside of the wing using thin CA. If the plane is setup without working flaps the modeler will need 5 servos for the plane, instead of 7 needed when flaps are used.


    Installing tail surfaces


    One thing that causes many modelers problems when assembling many ARF's is setting and attaching the tail surfaces. For newer pilots just getting started in the hobby this can be a very intimidating process, and can lead to problems with the performance of the plane if done incorrectly. To avoid this Great Planes has engineered the Cherokee so that the tail structure is assembled by simply bolting the components together.

    The tail surfaces are attached to the fuselage with 3 6-32 x 1" socket head screws. The horizontal stabilizer has 3 holes pre-drilled in it for the bolt holes to pass through. The vertical stabilizer assembly also has the mounting holes pre-drilled. To install the tail structures, first place the horizontal stabilizer in place in the saddle of the fuselage, and then place the vertical stabilizer assembly on top of that. There is a groove in the fuselage provided for the forward part of the vertical stabilizer fin. Ensure that the forward portion of the vertical stabilizer is firmly seated in this groove before bolting the tail structure to the fuselage. With tail structure in place secure the assembly by installing the 3 6-32 x 1" socket head screws, make sure to apply thread lock compound to the bolts before inserting them into the fuselage.

    Provided with the plane are small sections of both the red and white covering used on the plane. Use the red covering to seal over the bolt holes for the tail structure. And that is it. That's how easy the tail surfaces are to install!

    With the tail surfaces in place it's time to install and set up the servos and pushrods for the elevator and rudder. To mark the location for the control horns on the control surfaces a 36" pushrod is inserted into each pushrod tube. This can be used to locate the position for each control horn, and mark the location for the mounting holes. Unlike the ailerons and flaps that were mounted into hard wood in the control surface, the elevator and rudder control horns are mounted in the more traditional method of using machine screws through the control surface and into backplates on the other side of the surface. The mounting holes are drilled through the control surface with a 3/32" drill bit and the wood around the hole is hardened with thin CA. The control horn is set in place and 2 2-56 x 1/2" machine screws are inserted through the control surface and then screwed into the backplate on the opposite side of the surface. The control horns for both the elevator and rudder are done in the same manner.


    Tail pushrods and servos

    When installing the tail servos the rudder servo is placed first and needs to be placed to the outside of the servo mounting tray inside the fuselage. With the fuselage upside down the servo will be placed to the right side of the servo tray. Before mounting the servo two arms are cut off the servo arm leaving two arms that form a straight line. One end of the servo arm needs to be enlarged with a 5/64" drill bit, and on the other side of the arm the second inner hole needs to be enlarged. Plug the servo into the appropriate channel on the receiver and turn it on to center the servo and mount the servo arm so that it is perpendicular to the servo. To position the servo in the servo tray insert the pushrod into the pushrod sleeve and place the servo in the tray so that the outer hole on the servo arm lines up with the pushrod. Mark the location of the servo mounting holes and prepare them in the same manner as the servos mounted in the wings earlier, and then mount the servo in the servo tray. With the rudder servo in place the elevator servo is mounted next. Cut 3 arms off of a 4 arm servo arm and enlarge the outer hole in the remaining arm with a 5/64" drill bit, and then place the servo in the servo tray so that there is 1/4" distance between the servo arm for the rudder servo and the elevator servo. Mark and prepare the servo mounting holes as before, and then mount the elevator servo in the servo tray.

    To finish the pushrod installation start by installing each pushrod in the sleeves and connect the clevis on each end to the control horns mounted on the rudder and elevator. Connect both servos to the receiver and turn the radio on to ensure that the servos are centered. Mark each pushrod at the center of the mounting hole in the servo arms. Bend each pushrod 90° down at the mark. Insert the bent pushrod into the servo arms in the outer holes and slide a nylon FasLink on the underside of the servo arm, and secure by snapping onto the pushrods. Cut off the remaining pushrod approximately 1/16" below the nylon FasLink. This will complete the installation of the servos and tail pushrods.


    Engine installation


    The Great Planes Cherokee ARF can be set up and flown with either a glow engine or with electric power. The modeler will need to purchase a medium size brushless motor mount (GPMG1255) if they choose a brushless power system. This is not included with the plane. For the review an OS 55AX glow engine was provided with the plane, and that is the installation that I will be covering here.

    The first step in installing the engine is to assemble and install the fuel tank. The fuel tank included with the plane is a 14.2 oz (420 ml) tank with a standard rubber stopper assembly. The 14.2 oz tank is actually huge for this size of plane and should provide pilots with more than enough fuel for even their longest flights. Since the plane includes a full cowl a normal 2-line fuel system would be difficult to use in this setup. Along these lines the GP Cherokee includes all the parts needed to set up a 3 line fuel system. The parts included will allow one fuel pickup line that runs from the fuel tank to the fuel intake on the engine, one vent line from the muffler to the fuel tank to provide tank pressure, and a third line used to fuel and de-fuel the plane. A metal clunk is provided for both the fuel pickup line and the fill line in order to keep the fuel lines inside of the tank submerged in the fuel.

    To assemble the tank first start with the stopper assembly. The rubber stopper consists of the stopper, two metal plates, and a machine screw. The plates are placed on either side of the stopper and the screw is run through the stopper and screwed into the back plate. When the screw is tightened the plates will squeeze the stopper together which will expand it to seal against the neck of the tank. Included with the tank are 3 aluminum tubes that will be inserted into the rubber stopper. One of the three aluminum tubes is longer than the other two and will be used for the vent line. The fill and pickup line tubes should be inserted so that they are straight through the rubber stopper. The vent tube is inserted through the stopper and then bent upwards so that it is positioned at the top of the fuel tank. Use the silicon fuel tubing and two metal clunks are provided with the tank. One of each is placed on the fill and pickup lines. The lines need to be cut so that the clunks sit approximately 1/8" from the back of the fuel tank when the tank is assembled. They need to move freely when the tank is inverted in order to allow the clunks to stay in the fuel within the tank when the plane is inverted. When satisfied with the setup of the fuel lines insert the stopper and tighten it down to seal it against the neck of the fuel tank, but be careful to not over-tighten it as it could split the fuel tank.

    The fuel tank is secured to the tank tray strip with hook and loop type fastener strips. Use 12" long hook and loop straps from the included hook and loop material by overlapping the mating ends of each side by approximately 2". Insert the straps into the slots in the plywood fuel tank tray. The fuel tank tray is secured to the fuselage by drilling two holes through the tray into the hardwood mounting blocks located underneath it and mounting the tank tray using two #2 x 1/2" self tapping screws. With the tank tray secured to the fuselage place a piece of 1/4" foam rubber (not included) on the floor of the tray and place the fuel tank on top of the foam rubber. Position the tank so that the stopper assembly is securely positioned in the hole cut in the firewall. Secure the tank with the hook and loop fastener strips. I have found that it helps to label each tube in the stopper assembly in order to not mix them up later on. Attach approximately 6" of fuel tubing on each outlet tube in the stopper assembly.

    The included engine mount is the standard mount used by Great Planes and is adjustable in order to accommodate many different engine sizes. The blind nuts for the engine mount are already in place on the backside of the firewall. Install the engine mount with four 6-32 x 3/4" socket head screws, four #6 flat washers, four #6 lock washers.

    Be sure to use threadlock compound on the screws before installing them.

    The engine mount needs to be placed so that the head of the engine is placed on the right side of the fuselage. Before tightening the screws make sure that the engine rails are spaced to fit the mounting lugs of the engine you will be using.

    Engine Spotlight

    OS 55AX ABL
    w/muffler

    Price: $159.99

    Displacement: .545 cu in (8.93cc) Bore: .906" (23mm)
    Stroke:
    .846" (21.5mm) Practical RPM: 2,000-17,000
    Power Output: 1.75 ps/16,000 RPM
    Weight: 14.29oz (405g) w/o muffler 18.52oz (525g) w/ muffler
    Recommended Props: 12x7-8, 13x6-7

    More muscle for .40 sized airplanes.

    Increase displacement in your 40-size model the easy way: just drop in a 55AX engine! You'll enjoy more horsepower for swinging bigger props - which means improved 3D, precision and sport flying. Best of all, there's no modifications required!

    • Mounts directly into the bolt pattern for a 46AX.
    • A diagonally-placed needle eliminates the need for a remote needle valve.The 5-sided, angular head design looks great and significantly increases surface area for better cooling.

    Features

    • Same mounting dimensions as the O.S. Max .46 AX
    • Advanced Bi-Metallic Liner process uses a double layer of plating material rather than one thick layer. This helps the metal bond to the cylinder and makes the plating more durable. Also, the plating process is more consistent, resulting in a more precise fit between piston and sleeve for better compression and longer life.
    • Angular head design offers increased surface area for better cooling
    • 40J Carburetor with diagonally placed Needle Valve eliminating Remote Needle Valve placement
    • Two year limited warranty

    View online manual for the OS 55AX


    The engine needs to be placed so that the front of the engine drive washer is located 4-15/16" from the firewall. This can be a bit tricky to measure at times, so I have come up with this procedure that really helps in locating engines. Place the spinner backplate on to engine crankshaft and secure it flat against the engine drive washer. This will give a more accurate way of measuring the distance to the engine drive washer. Instead of using a ruler to measure I prefer to cut a hobby stick (a.k.a. popsicle stick) to the length required for the engine mounting, in this case 4-15/16". By doing this it becomes a lot easier to properly measure the distance required. With the engine in the proper location mark the mounting holes on the engine mount. I find that a Hobbico Dead Center Hole Locator is one of the easiest and most accurate ways of marking this. Remove the engine from the mount and use a 6-32 tap and drill set to create threads to mount the engine. Mount the engine in place using 4 6-32 x 3/4" socket head screws, 4 #6 flat washers, and 4 #6 lock washers.

    The throttle pushrod needs to be installed by drilling the mounting holes in the firewall and the second fuselage former. This hole needs to be drilled so that the throttle pushrod clears the engine exhaust port. With the proper location marked drill a 3/16" hole through the firewall, being careful to not drill a hole in the fuel tank. A long drill bit will make it easier to drill this hole with the engine in place. If not the engine will need to be removed in order to drill this hole. An additional 3/16" hole needs to be drilled in the second fuselage former to allow the pushrod to line up with the throttle servo. With both holes drilled place the pushrod tube in the holes and cut it off so that the tube extends 1/4" from the firewall and the second fuselage former. Before placing the pushrod tube roughen the outsides of the tube with 220 grit sandpaper to allow the CA to get a better grip on the tube. Secure the tube in place using medium or thick CA.

    A nylon clevis is screwed on to the pushrod and connected to the throttle arm on the carburetor. The pushrod may need to be bent in order to clear the exhaust port on the engine. Position the throttle servo in the tray so that it lines up with the throttle pushrod and mount the servo in the same manner as the other servos. A brass screw lock connector is used on the throttle servo arm to attach the throttle pushrod. Cut the throttle pushrod so that it extends approximately 1/4" past the screw lock connector after the throttle linkage has been properly adjusted to the throw of the carburetor.


    Assemble and install the landing gear

    For each landing gear slide the wheel pants over the landing gear with both wheel collars and the wheel in place. Mark the location for each mounting hole in the wheel collars and remove everything from the landing gear. Use a rotary tool to grind a flat spot on the axle at the marked locations. This will help secure the wheel collar so that it does not slip. Reinstall the wheel pant, wheel collars, and the wheel and secure the wheel collars in place with 6-32 x 1/4" socket head screws. Make sure to use threadlock compound on the screws.

    To secure the wheel pants to the landing gear place a landing gear strap over each gear leg and mark the mounting hole locations. Make sure to place the strap so that it is lined up with the wood blocks on the inside of the wheel pants. Drill the mounting holes and prepare them with CA as previous holes were done. Secure the wheelpants in place with the strap and 2 #4 x 3/8" self tapping screws.

    Install the main landing gear into the wings in the slots provided. Ensure that each landing gear is firmly seated into the groove for each landing gear. The gear are secured in place using two nylon straps that are placed over the landing gear in each slot. Place the straps so that they are spaced equally on the landing gear and position them so that they are at 45° to the landing gear slot. Mark the location for each mounting hole. Drill pilot holes using a 3/32" drill bit and prepare the holes with thin CA in the same manner as previously done. When the CA has dried install the nylon straps in place using #4 x 1/2" self tapping screws.

    The nose gear steering arm is assembled by inserting a 5/32" wheel collar into the steering arm and securing with a 6-32 x 1/4" socket head screw. Insert a brass screw-lock connector into the hole in the steering arm. Position the steering arm on the front landing gear between the two steering mounting blocks. Align the bottom of the steering mounting block with the bottom of the fuselage and mark the location of the mounting holes. Drill pilot holes with a 3/32" drill bit and mount the front gear using #4 x 5/8" self tapping screws, ensuring to use thin CA to harden the threads cut into the wood.

    Cut the threads off of a 12" pushrod and make a 90° bend 3/16" from one end of the pushrod. Insert the pushrod through the pre-drilled holes in the 2nd former and the firewall, and slide into the brass screw-lock connector in the steering arm. Insert the bent end of the pushrod into the second inner hole on the rudder servo and secure in place using a nylon FasLock. Plug the rudder servo into the receiver and turn on the radio in order to center the servo. Tighten the brass screw-lock connector so that the front landing gear is centered.


    Muffler


    Install the muffler for your engine. If installing the stock muffler on an engine it may be necessary to use a muffler extension to extend the muffler far enough away from the engine to clear the side of the fuselage. You may have to carve off part of the lower corner of the fuselage in order for the muffler to properly fit as well. Great Planes has installed a block of wood on the inside of the fuselage to facilitate carving this corner if needed. Additional white Monokote is provided to recover this area if it has to be carved.

    I chose to use a Pitts style muffler on my Cherokee, but ran into a small problem here. I had contacted Slimline Products about their new "Q" line of mufflers and they sent me one to use on the GP Cherokee. When I installed the muffler I found that there was not enough room for the steering arm to move in order to steer the plane. The 55AX engine I used sits very far out on the motor mounts and smaller engines may have even more problems with the steering arm when using the "Q" series muffler. I have been in contact with Bill at Slimline and he is working on a solution to this problem. I had been provided a Slimline #3218 compact Pitts Muffler which was perfect for this installation, but unfortunately this muffler has been discontinued and may be very difficult, or impossible, to find. Hopefully Slimline will come up with a solution quickly as this plane really deserves the look of a Pitts Muffler. The exhaust tubes of the Pitts Muffler do extend down a bit far, but these can be cut off very easily to provide a very clean look for the plane

    Cut the vent line to fit on to the nipple on the muffler of the engine.


    Finishing the Model
    Radio and battery installation

    Make straps from the hook and loop fastener strips to mount the receiver and receiver battery pack. Wrap the receiver and battery pack with foam rubber and secure in the fuselage on the tray provided. Connect all servo leads to their proper slots on the receiver. Route the wiring so that it does not interfere with the movement of the servo arms. I found that using small zip ties help to organize and secure the wiring inside the fuselage. Install the receiver switch and charging jack on the side of the fuselage. The instructions for the plane call for mounting the receiver switch on one side of the fuselage and mounting the charging jack on the opposite side of the fuselage. I chose to use a Great Planes switch mount so that the switch and charging jack are located on the same side of the fuselage.

    A tube is provided in the fuselage for routing the antenna wire inside of the receiver. Because of the length of the antenna wire there would have been a large amount of wire extending out the back of the fuselage, which I wanted to avoid. Without doubling the wire on itself (which can reduce the range of the radio) I ran the wire inside of the fuselage a bit before running it down the antenna tube. Use a strain relief (made from a cut-off servo arm) where the antenna wire enters the tube to protect the wire from pulling out of the receiver in the event of a crash or the wire being pulled accidentally. A second strain relief is used where the wire exits the fuselage to secure it in place.


    Cowl, spinner, and propeller

    One of the hardest things to master when putting a plane together is cutting the holes in the cowl to accommodate the engine and muffler. I can't even begin to count how many cowls that I have butchered before I figured out a good way to do this task, and as a matter of fact it was a Great Planes kit where I learned this trick. Install the engine, muffler, and anything else that will be placed under the cowl. Using heavy paper or light cardboard, (I prefer to use manilla folders), create strips that can be used for cutout templates. These strips need to be long enough so that they can be taped to the fuselage behind where the cowl will mount. Create cutouts in the templates that fit the engine and anything else that will protrude from the cowl. Fold the templates back so that they are out of the way and remove the engine and anything else that will come through the cowl.

    Four hardwood blocks are provided for the cowl mounting screws. Place a piece of tape on the fuselage next to these mounting blocks and mark the location of the center of the blocks. Place the cowl into position on the plane. Using the previous marks as a reference mark the hole location 3/8" from the edge of the cowl. Drill a 1/16" hole through the cowl and into the hardwood block underneath. Remove the cowl and expand the holes to 3/32" in the cowl. Mount the cowl using #2 x 1/2" self tapping screws, making sure to use thin CA to harden the threads cut into the hardwood. With the cowl in place extend the templates back into place on the cowl and mark the location for all cutouts on the cowl. When cutting these cutouts in the cowl I found that placing masking tape over the area to cut will help to prevent the fiberglass from chipping or cracking as it is cut. I used a rotary tool with a cut off wheel to rough cut the cowl, and then used a sanding drum to finish shaping the cutouts. With the cutouts finished the engine and anything else removed can now be reinstalled.

    Included with the hardware is a stopper plug that is used to plug the fuel fill line to keep fuel from leaking out. The instructions direct the pilot to use this stopper plug in the filler fuel line, and to leave the line hanging free from the bottom of the plane. While there is nothing at all wrong with that, I would have preferred to have a cleaner installation where the fuel line is inside of the cowl. Better yet, with a plane as nice as the Cherokee I would have liked to see a fuel dot included with the kit. Luckily there is a cheap and easy fix for this situation that uses the provided plug. On a recent review of a Hobbico product (Top Flight B-25) instructions were provided for building a mount so that the plug sits cleanly in the cowl of the plane. Start with a 1/4" block of balsa and brass tubing just large enough for the fuel tubing to fit into. Drill a hole through the balsa block for the brass tube. The brass tube should extend approximately 1/16" past the bottom of the block. Drill the same size hole in the cowl where you want to mount the fuel fill. Using 30-minute epoxy glue the block into the cowl where you drilled your hole.

    And that's it. You know have a neat and easy fuel fill for your plane. Extend your fill line through the hole and place the plug into the fuel line. Simply push the fuel line back into the cowl and the plug in will "snap" into place.

    Install the spinner backplate and install the propeller on the engine crankshaft. If necessary, ream out the prop hole in order to fit the shaft of the engine. Install the front portion of the spinner using the screws provided with the spinner. Ensure that the prop does not touch the spinner in any portion of the prop cutouts. If it does touch remove the spinner cone and enlarge the cutouts.


    Mounting the wing and canopy

    The Cherokee comes with a two piece wing that is not glued together, meaning it can be disassembled for easier transportation. The wing is joined by using an aluminum wing tube at the spar of the wing and a small anti-rotation pin located towards the trailing edge of the wing. Included with my plane was a small addendum calling for using a nylon strap to hold the wing halves together. This is installed with two #2 self tapping screws placed in the pre-drilled holes in the wing. Even with the strap in place it is easy to disassemble the wing into two halves for transportation. To install the wing on the fuselage place the two dowel rods at the front of the wing into the holes in the #2 fuselage former. The wing is secured by using the nylon 1/4-20 wing bolts.

    The canopy of the Cherokee is secured in place by two wooden dowels at the front of the canopy and two 4-40 x 5/8" machine screws and flat washers. It is recommended to use thin CA to secure the washer to the screw so that it's not lost when removing the canopy at the field, especially when using electric power which will require removing the canopy every flight to replace the battery. At this point I would recommend using thin CA on the front dowels on the canopy. As you will read later in the review I had problems with these dowels. At some point during the break-in of the engine one dowel completely fell out and was lost, and the second dowel rod was loose. Work some thin CA around the dowels now to ensure that they are firmly secured to the canopy.


    Apply the Decals

    The provided decals are applied using the pictures on the box and in the instructions as a guide for placement. While the decals are self-sticking the instructions call for using a mixture of liquid dishwashing soap and warm water to apply the decals. I chose to use Windex for doing this. Using either solution will allow you to position the decal in place easier than simply applying the decal to the plane. To apply the decals place the solution on the location where the decal will be applied. Position the decal and use a squeegee (scrap balsa wood works well) to squeeze the solution from underneath the decal. Use a dry paper towel to remove and remaining solution.


    Preparing the model to fly


    Control Throws

    These are the recommended control surface throws:

    Control Throws: High Rate Low Rate
    Elevator: 1/2" [13mm] 21 deg up 3/8" [9.5mm] 16 deg up
    1/2" [13mm] 21 deg down 3/8" [9.5mm] 16 deg down
    Rudder: 1-1/4" [32mm] 34 deg right 5/8" [16mm] 17 deg right
    1-1/4" [32mm] 34 deg left 5/8" [16mm] 17 deg left
    Ailerons: 1" [25mm] 24 deg up 7/16" [11mm] 10 deg up
    1" [25mm] 24 deg down 7/16" [11mm] 10 deg down
    Flaps: (Full) 9/16" [14mm] 24 deg
    (1/2) 5/16" [8mm] 13 deg

    Balancing the plane

    The Cherokee should be initially balanced with the CG located 3-1/16" back from the leading edge of the wing. Since this is a low wing plane it should be balanced upside down and with the fuel tank empty. I used a Great Planes C.G. Machine to balance the plane with. The plane required 1/2 oz of weight in the tail to balance the plane at the required CG.




    I have to admit that I was pretty excited about getting to the field and flying the Cherokee. Unfortunately that excitement turned to a bit a frustration at the field. After taking the "Photo Shoot" pictures of the plane I fired it up to get a trim flight in. But for some reason I just couldn't get the engine to run correctly. I won't bore everybody with the gory details of the troubleshooting, but I did spend a good hour trying to figure out what was wrong with the engine and why it wouldn't run right. In the end I discovered that there was something in the carburetor that was clogging it up. As I was troubleshooting the engine problems I did notice one other issue that I do need to address. One of the dowel pins in the front of the canopy assembly was missing. I know it was there when I assembled the plane, but somewhere along the line it had worked itself out and was lost. When I pulled the canopy off I noticed that the remaining dowel pin was loose as well. I put a dab of epoxy on it to secure it in place, and then I made a new pin for the one that was gone.

    But after that bit of frustration worked out I took the plane up to trim it out and get her ready to shoot flight video. With the engine running well I flew her around a bit to make sure the trims were good and then I brought her back in to refuel for the video flights. With the plane ready to fly for video I was a bit sad, as I knew that I wasn't going to be at the controls this time around. It was my turn to shoot video of the flight instead of flying. For this flight I was switching places with my normal "video guy", Paul Phillips, and I took the camera to film the flight. Paul is an excellent pilot so I knew that the Cherokee was in good hands for the flight.

    Paul taxied the Cherokee out and pointed her down the runway. As soon as he lifted the plane off the ground I could tell that he was going to have some fun with her. At first he circled the pattern a few times to get the feel for the plane, and how she handled. Once he was comfortable he started putting her through her paces. From previous experiences I have learned that when shooting video for a review it's important to get the takeoff and landing on tape before getting "fancy" with flying the plane. So after a few times around the field Paul put the Cherokee into the landing pattern and settled in for a landing. For the first landings he left the flaps up to see how the Cherokee did. The plane has pretty clean lines so it doesn't slow down right away when on approach. But the plane comes in like it's riding on a wire, so coming in a bit fast really wasn't a problem at all. I did notice when the plane was rolling after touch down that it was a bit sensitive to bumps in the runway. It wasn't a big enough problem to worry about. Without coming to a stop he opened the throttle and took back off. First up was a roll. The Cherokee performed a very nice roll that was almost axial, with just a hint of dropping the nose during the roll. Pulling into a loop the plane tracked straight and true through the loop and required no rudder inputs to keep it tracking straight. Coming back around he pulled in a vertical up line for a stall turn. At the top of the climb the plane had plenty of rudder authority to bring the tail around cleanly for a very nice stall turn. On the next pass around the field Paul rolled inverted to see how the plane would do. He indicated that the plane needed just a slight touch of down elevator to keep the plane flying level while inverted. While inverted Paul did an aileron roll which did drop the nose just a bit. While still inverted he pushed the Cherokee into an outside loop and put the plane into a spin when it was on the backside of the loop. The plane was very easy to spin and recovered nicely when the controls were centered. Entering into another spin he was able to center the controls, which stopped the spin, and then reversed the direction of the spin. Very nice for a little plane like the Cherokee. Paul did make several approaches where he dropped the flaps to get a feel for how the plane would respond. While it was no surprise that the plane slowed down tremendously with the flaps down, what was a surprise was that the plane did not pitch up when lowering the flaps like a lot of planes tend to do. The last thing we checked was the stall characteristics of the plane. This plane has one of the gentlest stalls that I have seen in a plane. When it stalled it simply dropped the nose straightforward and then started flying again. With a lot of the basics down I told Paul to play around with it so that I could get more tape of it flying. He was having so much fun flying it that I managed to get a good solid 8 minutes of tape before he brought it in. As he taxied back Paul indicated that it was a great flying little plane and the smile on his face backed up that claim!

    After we finished up the flying I took the plane up myself to get a good feel for how she flew. I put her through the paces myself and I agree that Paul was completely accurate; it was a fantastic flying little plane. In fact, I was able to do something with this plane that has always been a bit tricky for me to do. I've always had a little bit of a problem doing inverted flat spins, but that definitely wasn't the case here with this plane. When I put it into an inverted flat spin I literally had my jaw on the ground on how easy it would go into it. In fact, someone on the ground mentioned that he was sure I was going to spin it right into the ground as I let it go so long. I admitted to him that I did let it go for a bit longer than I should have, but I was so amazed at how easy it was to do the spin that I really wanted to enjoy watching it spin. When it was time to come out of the spin I simple centered the sticks and the plane recovered with no additional input needed from me. Wow! As I flew around I did a LOT of low level passes over the runway with it because I just love the lines of the plane. In the air it just looks so graceful in the way that it flies. It looks like it's doing exactly what it was made for: flying!!

    I will be the first to admit that the 55AX might be a but too much engine for this plane. I was able to fly the plane around the field at 1/3 throttle and still put it through basic aerobatic maneuvers with ease. A 46-sized engine would be a great match for this plane, and it would even do well with a 40.


    Great Planes Cherokee
    Flight Video
    Small File (8.1 MB)

    Great Planes Cherokee
    Flight Video
    Large File (18.4 MB)


    It's a bit odd that I put so much emphasis on the aerobatic qualities of this plane since Great Planes advertises it as a good second plane. And this is where this little plane really impressed me. It is BOTH of these things rolled in to one wrapper. For the person that is moving up to their second plane the Cherokee is very gentle and flies in a very predictable manner, meaning that it's not going to reach out and bite a novice pilot. But when it's time to start doing aerobatics the plane is going to reward the pilot by easily performing what it's asked to do. But if a pilot gets into a bit of trouble all he needs to do is level out the plane and slow the throttle down, the Cherokee will calm down and fly very easily which will give the pilot a bit of time to catch his breath. And this is where this plane really shines in my opinion. I think that any pilot moving up to the Cherokee will find that it's going to serve them for a long time to come. While I normally don't wind up keeping many planes that I review, this little gem has found a permanent home in my hanger. It's just a fun plane to fly!!

    The OS 55AX had more than enough power for the Cherokee. For most of my flying the throttle was set at 1/3-1/2 and I still had plenty of power for flying. While the OS 55 pulled the plane around the sky with authority, the plane would still fly with plenty of power on a 46 sized engine. Although, those that live at higher altitudes may want to stay with a larger engine like the 55 to compensate for the elevation that they fly at. The plane could be flown on a 40 sized engine as well, although the plane would more than likely fly more scale like and would not be as aerobatic as mine was with the 55. Overall pilots will have a wide range of engines to choose from so that they can power the plane to suit their flying style.

    There were only a few small downsides to this plane in the way it flies and handles. Because of the overall light weight of the plane it does have a tendency to get bounced around a bit in gust winds, although it's nothing too bad that can't be handled. The plane is a little bit bouncy on the ground which can be attributed to the short landing gear used on the plane. This may be a bit of a problem on bumpy or rough runways. Also, for grass fields pilots may have problems with the wheel pants in place, but they can easily be removed if there are problems with them. The instructions call for an assembly time of 4-6 hours which I felt are a bit "ambitious", especially for newer pilots with little experience at assembling a plane. While Great Planes has gone a long way towards making this an easy plane to get together and in the air, I think it may take newer pilots a bit longer than 6 hours to get it together. But it's still not going to take huge amounts of time to get it together. I think a more conservative goal would be a weekend, or several evenings to get the plane ready to fly.

    Great Planes had really hit a home run with the Cherokee. While they are marketing the plane towards pilots looking for a second plane, this plane will appeal to a larger group of pilots. More experienced pilots will appreciate the Cherokee because it is a plane that is just flat out fun to fly. Since it's a 40 sized plane a pilot can easily transport the plane to the field and have it ready to fly in mere minutes, as opposed to closer to an hour for larger aerobatic planes. Now I'm not saying it's going to replace a pilot's 1/3 or 1/4 scale aerobatic baby, but it will be a nice change of pace when a pilot wants some fun flying in a short amount of time. But for the new pilot is where this plane is truly a pot of gold find. This is a plane that a new pilot can move up to as their "2nd" plane and succeed in. It is gentle enough for that pilot to take to the air after flying a trainer, but has the capabilities to help a pilot increase his flying skills. And the plane is capable of doing so much it's not a plane that a pilot is going to grow tired of quickly. Rather this is a plane that is sure to remain in a pilot's hangar for years. It's just that good! Plus, the Cherokee just looks good. It's sure to get a lot of attention at the field with this plane because of it's good looks. For those newer pilots looking to move up to a second, or third, plane I can't recommend the Cherokee enough. This is a plane that you just can't miss out on.


    Great Planes Cherokee Sport Scale ARF

    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    www.greatplanes.com
    Product Used: Cherokee 40 ARF, Switch/charge jack mount, Thin CA, Medium CA, Thick CA

    OS Engines
    Distributed Exclusively in the U.S.A., Canada and Mexico by:
    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    www.osengines.com

    www.greatplanes.com
    Product Used: OS 55AX ABL

    Slimline Products
    PO Box 3295
    Scottsdale, AZ 85271
    Phone: 480-967-5053
    Fax: 480-967-5030
    www.slimlineproducts.com
    Products used: Compact Pitts Muffler, #3218
    Epo-Grip Adhesives
    Newton Supply Company Inc.
    13953 SW 140 Street
    Miami FL 33186
    Phone: 1-800-888-2467

    Website: http://www.epogrip.com
    Products Used: 30 minute epoxy
    Micro Fasteners
    24 Cokesbury Rd Suite 2
    Lebanon, NJ 08833
    Phone: (800) 892-6917 or (908) 236-8120
    Fax: (908) 236-8721
    Website: http://www.microfasteners.com
    APC Propellers
    APC Propellers are manufactured by:
    Landing Products
    1222 Harter Ave.
    Woodland, CA 95776
    Phone: (530)661-0399
    Website: http://www.apcprop.com/

    Product used: 12x7 Sport Propeller
    DU-BRO Products, Inc.
    P.O. Box 815
    480 Bonner Rd.
    Wauconda, IL 60084
    Toll-Free: 1-800-848-9411
    Website: http://www.dubro.com
    Products used: Silicon Fuel Tubing, Foam Rubber

    Comments on RCU Review: Great Planes Cherokee ARF

    Posted by: tundraman on 10/03/2008
    Great review! I am worried that a catastrophic wing failure will occur if I use a 55 AX or equivalent engine. Anyone else have this issue?
    Posted by: hobbynutt on 10/05/2008
    EXCELLENT JOB ON THE PLANE AND DOCUMENT.REALLY NEEDS A GOOD FOUR STROKE!
    Posted by: RCKen on 10/05/2008
    Yeah, I was really hoping to get a 4-stroke for this plane, but Hobbico sent me the OS 55 AX. If I had my druthers I think I would power it with the new OS 56 Surpass 4-stroke. That would be a sweet combo in my opinion. Ken
    Posted by: lenn on 10/14/2008
    very nice job on the review! I like all the photos and the way you describe her flying abilities! I think i will use it with my old .46 fx
    Posted by: lenn on 10/14/2008
    very nice job on the review! I like all the photos and the way you describe her flying abilities! I think i will use it with my old .46 fx
    Posted by: lenn on 10/14/2008
    very nice job on the review! I like all the photos and the way you describe her flying abilities! I think i will use it with my old .46 fx
    Posted by: VeeAte on 10/21/2008
    Anyone else have issues downloading the vids? Neither link works for me.
    Posted by: Red Max on 10/23/2008

    Posted by: Red Max on 10/23/2008
    I have a GP Cherokee on order now. I am planning on using a Saito .56 four stroke. It is a beautiful plane and I am looking forward to building and flying it.
    Posted by: griffiths on 10/29/2008

    Page: 1 2 3 >
    The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.

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