RCU Review: Hobby Lobby Senior Telemaster ARF AXIFIED

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    Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: May 2006 | Views: 107202 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    Senior Telemaster ARF E-Conversion

    Review by: Greg Covey
    Flying Photos: Papa Jeff Ring
    Video Pilot: Lynn Bowerman


    Senior Telemaster ARF
    Distributed exclusively by:


    5614 Franklin Pike Cr.
    Brentwood, TN 37027

    Ease of Assembly


    Sturdy all-wood design
    Great ARF value
    Superb Flying Performance

    Poor elevator linkage
    Weak stock wheels

    Senior Telemaster Electrified

    The new Senior Telemaster ARF from Hobby Lobby
    is one big value!

    It comes right out of the box pre-built and covered
    for less than you could build it yourself.

    The ARF design is so complete that even all the control surfaces are already attached. I'll have plenty of fun converting this plane to clean and quiet electric power using my own setup design.


    • Wingspan: 94"
    • Length: 64"
    • Wingarea: 1330 sq. in.
    • Flying Stab area 320 sq. in.
    • Flying weight: 10.5lbs
    • 4 channels; Aileron (2 servos), Elevator, Rudder and Throttle

    Electric Conversion

    My plan is to use the AXI 4130/16 on a 6s BalancePro HD Lithium pack for a safe conversion to clean and quiet electric power. Since weight is not an issue on the Senior Telemaster ARF (other than needing some for proper balance) using NiMH cells is also a good solution for a lower cost.

      • AXI 4130/16 motor
      • Jeti 70-amp Opto Advance PLUS ESC
      • BalancePro HD 2p6s 6400mAh pack
      • APC 15x8 e-prop

    The advantage of this 38oz pack (although expensive) is that each cell can be balanced on every charge and monitored during discharge for a true safety cutoff that keeps the pack lasting over 500 cycles. Although the pack can be charged at a 3C charge rate, the BalancePro HD 6s Charger only goes to 10 amps so the actual charge rate is about 1.5C. This 6400mAh pack will provide for safe 30 minutes flight times.

    The main hatch allows easy access to plenty of space.
    The stock motor mount is meant for a glow engine.
    All the decals are already applied to the Telemaster ARF.

    Motor Installation:

    My AXI 4130/16 motor mounting started by installing the Radial Mount Set. The basic front design of the Sr. Telemaster allows for a dozen different ways to mount the motor. I choose to create an extended firewall from two 1/4" thick pieces of 3" square birch plywood.

    The one piece had been "pre-enjoyed" and had some extra holes in it. It holds the motor mount using #8-32 hardware and T-nuts. The other piece that does not hold the motor, gets cut in half. I drilled some 1/4" holes on either side at 1-1/2" from the firewall and cut slots to the holes using a craft saw.

    The motor is first screwed to the main 3" square block so that you can detect alignment issues when gluing it in place. I attached one side using three servo screws and epoxy into pre-drilled holes.

    The two-sided assembly is then slid into place on the frame and glued in with epoxy while watching the alignment. A slight downthrust is built into the frame and should be followed.

    The last step is to screw and glue the third side in place. The result is a rock solid mount for the AXI 4130 motor.

    ESC Mounting:

    The ESC power input was wired to the Dean's Ultra connector in parallel with a 6v UBEC (Universal BEC). The 6v UBEC will provide a stronger and quicker response on my FMA DS300BB digital servos. The UBEC also eliminates the need for a separate receiver battery.

    I drilled three 3/8" holes close together to create a slot in the firewall for feeding the motor wires into the fuselage. According to other RCU member's findings, the battery pack will reside close to the CG so the entire compartment behind the firewall is available for other components.


    Note that the manual is meant for a different version of the ARF than what is sold by Hobby Lobby. Many steps are already finished on the Hobby Lobby ARF, like the control surfaces all being attached. Others steps must be modified due to the high degree of pre-assembly, like the horizontal stabilizer mounting.

    Gear Mains:

    The gear mains and wheels installed easily without any issues. You simply cut away the film covering in the two channels and pre-drill the eight holes for the screws.

    The first step is to cut the small section of tail away so that the bulky airfoil stabilizer can be slid into position from the rear. Note that the fuselage is on its side because you can see the airfoil opening.

    Flying Stabilizer:

    The tail on the Senior Telemaster appears to be built for a version of the ARF that didn't already have the control surfaces attached. This doesn't create too much of a problem as long as you are willing to do some custom cutting and think ahead so that things go together properly.

    I also needed to cut some other tail areas to help the stabilizer position move forward. I find it easiest to position the stabilizer where I want it and then trace the section of covering to be cut away with a felt tip marker.

    You can see that the rudder will not fit without some slight modifications. I cut away the tail channel at the very end for the rudder to fit and also decided to mount the tailwheel assembly at this point.


    A 1" deep hole is needed in the rudder for the tailwheel bar. It was easiest to attach the tailwheel assembly to the fuselage bottom first using two screws and then epoxy the rudder in place by sliding onto the bar as it entered the fuselage channel. Remember to sand off the black paint on the section of bar that goes into the rudder for a better glue hold.

    Since my tail end and horizontal flying stab did not perfectly mate in the rear, I cut a narrow vertical channel for the tailwheel bar to run in on its way to the rudder.

    After the epoxy dried, I ran a bead of thick white glue along the seams as they had some gaps to be filled. This looks better and adds strength to the joint. My trusty Hobbico Builder's Triangle kept the two stabs at a right angle.

    Not much room for dinner while building this plane on the kitchen table so I was forced to clean up.

    Trim Piece:

    I finished up the tail assembly by attaching the trim piece to the rudder and fuselage using thick white glue. Since the trim piece has no structural significance, the white glue dries clear and looks better than epoxy.

    I also ran a bead of glue along every joint.

    I was a bit disappointed in the cheap tailwheel supplied with the kit for a plane of this size. That being said, you really get plenty of plane for the cost of this ARF.
    I replaced the stock tailwheel with a much firmer Dubro 1-1/4" diameter tailwheel. The Dubra tailwheel was slightly larger then the stock tailwheel and it fit on the axle without drilling.

    I sealed the bare balsa on the rudder bottom with thick white glue.

    Servos and Linkages:

    My servos are the FMA Direct Premiere Digital Adjustable Servos and my receiver is the M5 v2 for glitch-free performance. Built on the time-proven M5 design, the new M5 v2 has improved resolution to support digital and other super-sensitive servos. It also has an improved failsafe technique as well as improved digital filtering. The M5 v2 is dual-conversion, narrow-band to provide full range and performance. The receiver can be used in aircraft ranging from park flyers to IMAA-legal aircraft and helicopters.

    The tiny 0.3oz M5 v2 is held in place with double-sided servo tape and a ty-wrap. The antenna wire is routed inside a black plastic tube and then placed down inside the fuselage all the way to the tail.

    Note how far back the servo tray ended up and how short the metal rod sections are as the dowel rod assemblies appeared to be built to the wrong length.

    Although the rudder linkage installed fairly well, the split elevator linkage was not great. Aside from the wrong length "Y" rod assembly, the linkage could sway from side to side and the long metal rods were rather soft.

    I decided to bend the metal rods out and back towards the elevator since they were excessively long and it alleviated most of the binding against the slots in the fuselage. This may be a mistake since the metal in the rods is quite soft and allows you to defect the elevators easily by hand. I may revisit this assembly if I have problems in flight.

    To help keep the wooden dowel from shifting inside the fuselage, I created a custom balsa guide and glued in from an opening I cut into the fuselage bottom. The opening will also act as an air exit for cooling the ESC and battery. The control surfaces seemed to swing well and I used minimal throw settings to increase the resolution and strength through the mechanical linkages.

    The aileron linkage installed without issue. Note that instead of using "Z" bends at the servo arm, I used my own snap keepers. I also added rudder fuel hose "keepers" to all the clevises. Again, near minimal throw was selected for the aileron mechanical linkages.

    The manual recommends an aileron differential setup if you have a computer radio. After some flight testing, I didn't really see any need for aileron differential.

    Wing Assembly:

    My next step was to assemble the wing. Again, the manual instructions are poor. I needed to cut a slot in the wing chord end to route the aileron servo wires to the bottom. The wing halves are joined by two large spruce spares that provide great strength. My assumption is that you want to keep the wings split when not in use due to the large 95" span. The manual has no recommendations or final assembly instructions in this area.

    Switch, Spinner, and Pack Position:

    I mounted the On/Off switch and spinner without issue. The switch was my favorite S3K On/Off Switch Harness from Tower Hobbies. The spinner is supplied with the ARF and fits without any drilling on the 4130 Radial Mount Set using an APC 15x8 e-prop.

    I positioned my BalancePro HD 2p6s 6400mAh pack near the CG as shown an tested the balance to be about 1/2" forward of the recommended 6" back from the LE.

    The big 6s2p BalancePro HD 6400mAh pack easily fits in the main cabin of the Senior Telemaster ARF. It firmly slides into position surrounded by foam and is then held in place with a block of white EPP foam that wedges snuggly into place.

    All the connections are made from the front hatch area so the wing can be kept on for arming and recharging.

    Strut Mounting:

    I could not get the spare covering in the kit to work properly. There seemed to be no backing to peel off and no glue to hold it onto the wooden strut so I spray painted my struts black with Tamiya acrlyic.

    For the wing end, I used Dubro hinges with the metal pins so the strut would stay permanently connected and be able to swing. I slotted the strut, then glued and pinned the hinge in place. It is held to the wing with 6 screws.

    For the fuselage end, I wanted a quick disconnect without any tools needed in the field. I choose a 1/4" clevis pin and hitch pin clip from Home Depot.

    I made a diagram of my metal bracket to be screwed into the bottom of the fuselage where the thick hardwood block is for the gear mains. The cut off clevis pin will connect the strut to the metal bracket using the pin clip.

    After securing the bracket to the fuselage bottom using 3 screws into the hardwood block, I drilled 1/4" holes through the bracket and strut ends. The clevis pin was shortened using a Dremel tool and I took up the length slack with a thick 1/4" washer.

    The wings feel strong now and the struts connect or disconnect easily without any tools.


    My Senior Telemaster was ready to fly at around 10lbs using the 6s2p BalancePro HD 6400mAh pack.

    The power system draws 50amps for about 1000 watts of power. The resulting 100w/lb provides strong take-offs with aerobatic capability.

    Test Flying

    When I maidened my Senior Telemaster, it flew as expected...like a dream. As with any Telemaster, they just love to fly and can be a bit lofty when landing. On the rolls, we used plenty of down elevator when inverted. The AXI 4130 provides awesome power and the BalancePro HD 6s2p 6400mAh pack provides long 30 minute flights.

    The winds were 10-15mph during the video and the plane could easily have been another pound or two heavier to help keep it stable.

    CLICK HERE (9.5meg)


    The Senior Telemaster ARF is a great value. It would cost you more to build it from a kit. Although the manual was unclear in several areas, it was easy to make the changes needed for a successful assembly. A large plane like the Senior Telemaster is both fun to build and fly. The big size and color make it easy to see in the air and the split wing makes it easier to transport.

    The plane design and size make it relatively immune to additional weight so less expensive NiMH packs can be used as an alternative power source or you can add a payload for even more fun. The AXI 4130 outrunner motor provided a spirited 100w/lb power level for strong take-offs and aerobatic maneuvers. Hobby Lobby recommends using struts for performing loops or rolls and their AXI 4120 motor recommendation also works well.

    The Senior Telemaster is easy to fly but requires intermediate piloting skills to land as it becomes a bit lofty. Modifications are easily done to suit your own preference. I only changed the stock tailwheel and modified the wing mount to eliminate the need for using 16 rubber bands.

    I rate this model very highly for the great value it offers and its ability to accept many different power systems and flying weights. After all, it's a Telemaster - and nothing flies like a Telemaster!

    Senior Telemaster ARF

    Distributor Information

    Hobby Lobby
    5614 Franklin Pike Cr.
    Brentwood, TN 37027

    FMA Direct
    5716A Industry Lane
    Frederick, MD 21704
    Website: www.fmadirect.com
    Sales: 800.343.2934 or 301.668.7614

    Comments on RCU Review: Hobby Lobby Senior Telemaster ARF AXIFIED

    Posted by: fritzdecat on 02/05/2010
    excellent review
    Page: 1
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