It seems like it’s been a long time since I flew an RC plane with only three channels that wasn’t a micro-sized indoor aircraft. It’s also been a very long time since I flew anything with a polyhedral wing! But what happens when you combine those two characteristics, and add in a stick-built fuselage that uses state-of-the-art laser cut parts? You get the new Value Planes Cloud Walker 65! When I first saw the Cloud Walker I was intrigued with it. Would the younger generation of modelers embrace a new kit that looked vintage? Maybe. Would younger modelers that have ARF-only experience be looking to build an airplane like this? Maybe not, but this kit is more directed to the guys and gals looking for a plane that’s relaxing to fly and fairly simple to build. I love to build from a kit, but this will be my first attempt at a kit with LOTS of sticks! If you’re looking for a great project that will be a lot of relaxing fun to fly and fairly simple to build, read on!
Aircraft: Value Planes Cloud Walker 65
Where to Purchase in the US: RedwingRC.com
Price: $99.99 (Price at time of review)
Wingspan: 1650 mm (65 inches)
Length: 1240 mm (49 inches)
Electric Flying Weight: 1185 g (approx. 2.6 pounds)
Kit Weight: 667 g (approx 1.5 pounds)
Complete Airframe Kit
Classic Old Timer Vintage Design
Extremely Lightweight and State-of-the-art Construction
Can be built for Glow Powered Engine or Electric Power
Full Size Plans
Instruction Manual with Color Photos
Required to Complete
Adhesives – Wood Glue, Thick, Medium, and Thin CA, Epoxy
Covering – Lightweight Iron-on Covering
Radio – Three Channel (Minimum) Transmitter and Receiver
Servos – 17 Gram (Two Required)
ESC – 30 Amp ESC Minimum
Electric Motor – 2835 sized Brushless (Minimum of 800 grams of thrust required for good flying)
Battery – 3S 2000-5000 mAh LiPo
Tools – Standard Kit Building Tools
My Cloud Walker 65 arrived via the US Postal Service from Jeff Mitchell at Redwing RC. The plain cardboard box is accentuated with a single large label, which has a load of information on it. There’s specifications, features, a product list, recommended equipment listed, and even a few full-color photos! The box arrive with a few dings, but none of them were noteworthy.
Opening one end allowed me to see that the kit contents were well-packed. There’s not much extra room in the box, so there’s no real chance for anything to move around during shipping. Pulling the items from the box revealed a large bag of various sheets of balsa and light ply, a bundle of twenty 6mm by 95 cm sticks. The rolled plan was in great shape, as was the hardware bag, which included a lot of items – I’ll break that down in a minute. The main landing gear is a single piece, pre-bent to shape and ready to install in the fuselage.
There are several sheets, in varying thicknesses, of laser-cut balsa parts, as well as four uncut sheets for the leading edges of the wings. All of the balsa was straight, and the quality was very nice. The laser cutting was also well done, and required almost no cutting to remove the parts from the sheets.
There are only a few parts that are Light ply, filling less that three laser-cut sheets. The ply is excellent quality, and the laser cutting is well done! The Bundle of twenty 6mm by 95cm balsa stick appear to all be relatively straight, and of good quality balsa. At 6mm, they are .236 inches, so a 1/4 inch stick will work if you need a spare. You shouldn’t need any extra, though, as I ended up with almost two whole sticks and a few other shorter pieces left over. The two wing dowels are of good quality hardwood, as is the the other block included in the kit. I’m not exactly sure what the block is used for, as it’s not listed in the instructions anywhere…
As I mentioned earlier, the wire landing gear is pre-bent and ready for installation. A nice pair of 3.25 inch (82.5 mm) rubber wheels are included in the kit, meaning you don’t have to purchase them separately. There are also two wheel collars, two nylon control horns with six control horn screws, and a pair of pushrod quick connectors as well. Rounding out the included hardware are a pair of 1.5 mm steel pushrods and guide tubes. One end of each of the pushrods has a pre-bent Z-bend in it, which should make it really easy to install and connect the pushrods.
Value Planes has even thought far enough ahead to add ten CA hinges and rubber bands in with the Cloud Walker 65! The clear windshield is pre-cut to shape, and there are four acrylic side windows included as well. The side windows have a protective paper covering on them – they really are clear…
The single sheet plan is laid out well, and will be used to build the main ‘box’ structure of the fuselage, the vertical and horizontal stabilizers, and the elevator and rudder. I really like the fact that the part numbers are easily seen in red, making it simple to determine part placement. The plan also has the basic layout for the glow engine and electric, which simplifies building with the correct parts! Because I am a huge fan of plans, I decided to have a copy made to build on, so I can keep the original plans free from pin holes.
The manual is printed in color, and most of the written instruction is easy to understand. I loved the full-color photos, as it really helped with the build! Some sections of the manual were a little vague, and required reading each section a few times. Having built several kits previously was also a great deal of help. If this is your first kit, definitely recommend getting some help from someone who has built a few airplanes.
Beyond the normal building tools (cutting knife with #11 blades, single edge razor blades, razor saw, and a straight edge) I would highly recommend the following tools when kit building. An Easy Cutter, available from Midwest Products, is a tool I had long wanted but never bought. Because of the amount of stick cutting involved with this kit, I decided it was finally time to purchase this tool. I can only say I wish I had purchased this tool twenty years ago! At $14.99 at my local home improvement store, it has been well worth its weight in gold for cutting balsa sticks! You can also never have enough clamps on hand when building – Spring clamps and Ratcheting bar clamps are definitely a must! The four inch bar clamps I picked up at Harbor Freight when they were on sale for just $2 each, and the spring clamps came in a set that cost around $10.
For the basic build of the Cloud Walker 65, I will be using a few different adhesives. For the main fuselage box, I will be using Titebond original wood glue. This will allow me time to position the individual sticks correctly and pin them in place over the plan. ZAP Brand Thick, medium, and thin CA will also be used in places as needed, mainly where the hardness of the CA will not make sanding the balsa difficult. ZAP CAs are the ONLY CAs I trust when I’m building a kit or assembling an ARF!
Equipment Used for Completion
To complete the basic build, I will be using my trusty Hitec Aurora 9X 2.4 gHz transmitter. Inside the Cloud Walker 65, a Hitec Minima 6L 2.4 gHz receiver will be sending commands to the elevator and rudder servos. The Minima 6L and Aurora 9X have plenty of range for my flying field – if you plan to fly at a very large field, you may want to step up to Hitec’s Optima or Maxima lines of receivers.
I chose a pair of Blue Bird BMS-380 Max Competition Metal Geared servos for the elevator and rudder in this plane. They are the perfect size for the servo tray in the Cloud Walker 65, and will have more than enough power for this particular application. A large line of Blue Bird servos are in stock and ready to ship from Redwing RC!
APPLICATION / SUITABLE
Let’s Get Building!
The instruction manual starts with building the fuselage. After cutting out the side view of the copied plan I had made, I taped the plan to the back of a 24″ by 48″ suspended ceiling tile. I purchased the ceiling tile at my local home improvement store for $3.79, and it’s well worth it to purchase a new one for every plane I build! A sheet of waxed paper was taped on top of the plan, so that the fuselage parts are not glued to the plans. A pair of 6mm by 95 cm sticks were pinned in place with T-pins. They are the correct length without having to be cut! Speaking of cutting, the diagonal bracing sticks were all cut to fit and pinned to the plan. At this point, I had not used any glue – All the pieces were fit together before gluing. This was the beginning of the right side of the fuselage.
A33 was also test fit, which required a very minor bit of sanding for a perfect fit. At this point, I removed the diagonal bracing pieces one by one and glued them in place, ending with gluing A33 in place as well. I really liked using the Titebond wood glue for these pieces, as it gave me a lot of working time to get the pieces back into their perfect placement. The down side is that, though the wood glue sets up in approximately 30 minutes, it is recommended to not stress the glue joints for 24 hours. I left the built fuselage side on the building board for a few hours before carefully removing it and building the left side of the fuselage. Editors Note – There is only one difference between the left and right sides of the fuselage. The basic build on the left side, minus A33 is exactly the same as the right side. A33 must only be glued in place after flipping the frame over, as A33 must sit flat with the outside surface of the frame.
Horizontal Stabilizer and Elevator
While I waited for the wood glue to fully dry on the fuselage sides, I decided to move on by building the horizontal stabilizer and elevator. There are several laser cut parts that needed to be removed from the thick balsa sheets. I started by pinning the center section and trailing edge of the stabilizer in place with T-pins.
Similar to the fuselage, I pinned the outer pieces in place first, then glued them together with the Titebond wood glue. The leading edge of the elevator IS NOT glued to the trailing edge of the stabilizer! It is pinned in place only. The remaining outer pieces of the elevator were pinned and glued in place, followed by cutting and fitting the laser cut ‘ribs’ inside the stabilizer and elevator frames. Once all of the ribs had been cut and fit, they were individually removed and glued in place with Titebond wood glue. At this point, I called it the end of the first day of building, leaving the parts pinned to the building board to dry over night.
Back to the Fuselage…
After pinning cross formers A25, A26, A27, A28, A29, and A32 to their respective places on the ‘top view’ of the plan, the fuselage sides were glued to the pinned parts. After gluing, I added T-pins to the outside edges of the fuselage sides to keep them tightly joined to the cross formers. The tail end of the sides were also slightly sanded to the perfect fit over the plan, and glued and clamped to dry.
When the glue had dried, the assembly was gently removed from the plan. A second set of cross formers A25, A26, A27, A28, and A29, along with A31 were pinned in place on the plan. the fuselage assembly was flipped over and the upper cross formers were glued to the fuselage assembly with Titebond wood glue.
Motor Box/Front Fuselage
The motor box/front fuselage assembly is made from light ply. I cut all the parts from the ply sheet and sanded the cut edges to remove any high spots.
Using Titebond wood glue, A8, A9 (the little V-shaped piece), and A10 were glued to A40.
Glue was then applied to the sides of A40, and an A11 side piece was attached to each side of A40, A8, and A10. The whole assembly was clamped together and allowed to dry overnight. At this point, the pushrod guide tube mounts (A41, A42, A43, and A44) were glued to the underside of the TOP fuselage cross formers. In the last photo, the fuselage is upside down. This was the first time I had used ZAP thick CA during this build.
The fuselage (sticks and cross formers assembly) was pinned upside down on the top-view of the plan. I fit and marked the motor box assembly for attachment to the fuselage, then glued the balsa sticks to the light ply motor box. Four spring clamps held the pieces together until the Titebond wood glue had dried.
The lower fuselage formers (A34, A35, A36, A37, A38, A39, and A30) were glued in place next, using a little more ZAP thick CA. The pushrod guide tubes were also installed at this point, and cut almost to length. I left a short section of the tubes protruding from the tail end of the fuselage for now, waiting to cut and sand them flush until I was ready to sand the fuselage.
The lower fuselage center longeron was cut to length (from A34 to the tip of the tail), then glued with Zap thick CA and clamped in place. When the CA had cured, the tail end was sanded to a taper. The lower left and right longerons were cut and glued in place likewise, but only run from A34 the front side of former A30, and glued to the front of A30. There will be a slight twist to the left and right longerons as they are glued into the notches in the formers.
Because I already knew which brushless motor I would be using, I took the liberty of marking and drilling its mounting holes in A1. As you can see, the holes I drilled are just slightly larger than the laser cut holes from Value Planes. The two 8mm balsa pieces that make up the face of the cowl area were glued together using Titebond. Again, it’s much easier to sand the Titebond wood glue than it is to sand cured CA. The CA is so much harder than balsa, so you’ll end up with hard ridges between glued pieces when sanding. After applying a layer of the wood glue to the balsa cowl faces, they were clamped together until the glue dried. I may have used a few too many clamps in the photo, but the glue joint was nice and even all the way around the pieces!
Using various pieces of 8mm balsa from the left over sheets, and part of the large ’empty section’ of 8mm sheet, I cut and glued the pieces to the motor box. The front motor mount (A1) and the laminated cowl face assembly were aldo glued in place. All of these parts were glued in place using Titebond wood glue and clamped together while drying. When the glue had dried, the clamps were removed and the front end was roughly sanded to shape. Looking back a little later, this was where I made my first mistake during the build. At this point, I should have glued one more layer of the 8mm balsa sheeting to the outside flat sides of the fuselage. I will show you what I mean in a bit, but just know that a second layer of the 8mm balsa should now have been glued to the sides of the nose…
The upper fuselage/cabin formers (A15, A17, and A18) were now glued in place. I used ZAP thick CA to glue these formers in place, perpendicular to the top of the fuselage. The light ply wing mounts (A16) were glued in place with Titebond wood glue and clamped to dry.
When the glue had dried, I noticed that former A17 stuck out beyond A16. Since there are balsa sheets that are glued over A16, I decided to sand A17 smooth to A16. I also added a small piece of scrap balsa to the front side of A18, where the balsa sheets that make up the cabin window openings will be glued in place.
The balsa cabin window sheets were then glued in place with Titebond wood glue and clamped until dry. The turtle deck formers (A19, A20, A21, and A22) were also glued in place, using ZAP thick CA.
It was at this point that I realized my mistake with the balsa sheeting on the nose. I was about to add a 6mm longeron to each side of the fuselage, and it needed to be flush with the sides of the nose. But, as I quickly found out, I could not make those longerons flush with the nose. So, a smaller section of the 8mm sheet balsa was glued, using Titebond wood glue, to each side of the nose and clamped until the glue dried. Thankfully, I had not sanded the nose area to its final shape yet, or this would have been a larger mistake!
While the glue was drying on the balsa nose sheets, I cut, fit, and installed the 6mm turtle deck longerons. The center longeron spans from A19 to A22, with only a short section protruding forward of A19. That short section is used to glue a pair of 6mm balsa stick to the upper corners of the back side of A18. The next lower set of longerons (one on each side) need to be partially cut at former A19 so they will flex enough to fit from A18 to the front face of A22. If they are not cut, they will crack on their own, which can be unpredictable. When cut, I know where they will bend. The pair of longerons running nearly parallel to the main fuselage frame were an easy fit, and run from the notches in A18 all the way back to the notches in A22.
Value Planes has been kind enough to send the parts to build the front end for glow and electric power. Since mine will be electric powered, I built the battery hatch frame from light ply parts A2, A3, and A4. a 6mm stick was glued to the notches between A2 and A4, creating the top of the hatch. I put the hatch in place and marked the rear of A4. A6 was also glued to the front side of A15 with ZAP thick CA.
After marking the rear of the hatch, I removed it. Former A5 was glued in place with ZAP thick CA. Though not called for in the manual, I thought it would be a good idea to add a small section of 6mm balsa stick between A5 and A6. The notches were cut in A5 and A6, and the stick was glued in place using ZAP thick CA.
A small section of the 8mm balsa sheet was cut and glued to the front of A15. This will later serve as the upper windshield mounting area. The edges were rounded to the approximate shape shown in the manual.
I cut and glued two pieces of the 3mm balsa sheeting to formers A5 and A6, using the 6mm stick at the top as a center line for mating the two pieces. the edges were sanded to an angle to allow them to fit tightly against the sides of the nose.
How do I Attach the Battery Hatch?
This is one of the vague areas of the instructions. If you’re going to use a glow engine, the manual lays out how to install the formers and sheeting. The hatch itself is a nice design, and should be plenty large enough for any battery in the recommended size, but the manual makes no mention of how to attach it to the plane. I decided to make use of the pre-cut holes in front of the hatch and former A1, and glued a pair of dowels into the holes. Behind A2, I glued a small scrap of balsa on each side of the 6mm stick to help support the dowels. Because I always have extra stuff laying around my shop, I came up with the idea of ’embedding’ neodymium magnets in the back former (A4) of the hatch. The magnets I had were 3/8″ in diameter, and 1/8″ thick. I drilled two 3/8″ holes in the rear hatch former (A4). Two small scraps of the 3mm balsa sheeting were used to Back the 3/8″ holes, so the magnets would have a surface to which they’d be glued.
The magnets were glued into A4 and A5 using ZAP thick CA so that they were attracted to each other (Yes, I tested the direction in which to install them about 4 times to make sure I was right on the first attempt). Once the glue had cured, I put the hatch in place with a sheet of waxed paper between the hatch and the fuselage. The hatch was then sheeted using the 3mm balsa sheet. In the last photo above, you can see a slight gap at the front of the hatch – this should be closed after the covering has been applied. At his point, the balsa nose was sanded to shape and smoothed. a few places required some filler – I use Red Devil OneTime Lightweight Spackling to fill in and smooth out any rough areas. It dries quickly and sands easily. One more thing – the magnets hold the hatch in place very tight! This was definitely a great way to attach the hatch, but I’m going to need to add a pull tab or something to get it to let go of the airplane…
Servo Tray, Servos, Fuel Tank Tray, and Receiver
Because the cabin area is a little tight for large hands, I decided to mount the Blue Bird BMS-380 Max Competition Metal Geared servos before gluing the servo tray in place. As I always do, I used DuBro Socket Head Servo Screws to secure my servos to the tray. What you cannot see is the two thin pieces of light ply I glued to the underside of the servo tray that will serve as doublers for the servo screws. In the manual, balsa is called for to add as the doublers, but I felt better using light ply. The servo tray was glued into the fuselage using ZAP thick CA. I also decided to use the fuel tank tray to mount the Hitec Minima 6L 2.4 gHz receiver. The small receiver is attached to the tray using adhesive backed Velcro. Two small sections of the leftover pushrod guide tube were glued to two of the diagonal fuselage bracing sticks using ZAP thick CA. The tubes were ‘roughed up’ with sandpaper before gluing them in place. the receiver has two antennas that needed to be mounted at 90° angles to one another, and the guide tubes worked perfectly. This was also a much easier job before to install before the fuselage was covered. In the second photo, you can clearly see the 6mm longeron that was glued to the outside ‘box frame’ of the fuselage. This longeron runs from the rear edge of the 8mm blasa sheeting added to the nose back to the end of the fuselage. The last four inches of the longeron are sanded to a fine taper at the tail.
Vertical Stabilizer and Rudder
After removing the vertical stabilizer and rudder parts from the balsa sheet, they were pinned on top of the waxed paper covered plan. The laser cut parts were removed one at a time, and Titebond wood glue was applied to each piece and it was put pinned back in place.
The laser cut ribs were cut to length and fitted to the stabilizer and rudder. Each rib was then removed and glued in place with Titebond wood glue. When the glue had dried, the stabilizer and rudder were removed from the plan and set aside.
Building the Wing Halves
I started by laying some waxed paper over the wing plan, and removing the laser cut parts from the varied sheets of balsa. Main spar is a two-piece design, so it was glued together with ZAP thick CA. Reviewer’s note – The second step in the manual for building the wing is to ‘Sand the trailing edge of the wing’. Without the ribs attached, I found it difficult to determine the angle at which to sand the trailing edge. For this reason, I chose to NOT sand the trailing edge at this time. I will sand the trailing edge to shape after the wing has been built.
Ribs B2 through B8 were glued to the spar, and a 6mm balsa stick was glued into the notches in the ribs on top and bottom. The 6mm balsa sticks were also glued to the main spar. The sticks were cut flush with outward side of rib B8, and the first section of the laser cut trailing edge was glued to ribs B2 through B8.
B14 was glued to the outward side of B8. It gives the 6mm balsa sticks a good place to sit for the outer section of the polyhedral wing. Ribs B9 through B13 were glued to the spar, and a pair of 6mm balsa stick were glued to ribs B14(which was previously glued to B8) through B13. The laser cut trailing edge was also glued to ribs B8 through B13. The two sticks were then sanded to shape, so they tapered to match B13. Reviewer’s note – I found this to be difficult, so I changed my method for the second wing. I will show you that method a few photos from now… The laser cut 8mm balsa wingtip was also glued in the trailing edge and B13.
Remember those four plain balsa sheets? It’s time to use them! There are two for each wing, so I chose to use them as sparingly as possible. I fit, cut, and glued the first sheet to the inner bottom section of the wing with ZAP thick CA. When the glue had cured, I cut the sheeting flush with the front edge of the wing ribs. The two-piece root rib, B1, was now glued to the trailing edge, main spar, and sheeting. Shear webbing was also added between ribs B1 and B2, and B2 and B3.
Balsa sheeting was glued to the outer wing section on both top and bottom – the bottom sheeting was cut to shape before adding the top sheeting. The top was then cut to shape as well. If you look closely at the wing tip, you can see that the sheeting goes over the balsa tip. I sanded the tip to match the shape of B13 before gluing the sheeting to the tip.
The inner section top sheeting was then added and cut to shape. Keep all of the sheeting that was removed – you will still need it! The leading edge was also cut to fit and glued to the sanded front edge of the sheeting and wing ribs. I used Titebond wood glue, so that the glue joint would be easier to sand when the leading edge was shaped later. As you can see, I love having LOTS of clamps on hand – the wing’s leading edge is not straight, so clamping is essential in as many places as possible. I found that clamping between each rib gave the leading edge a perfect formation to the wing! While the wood glue dried on the leading edge, I set the left wing half off to the side and started building the right wing.
What I Learned from the First Wing…
As I mentioned previously, I learned some things from building the first wing. The second wing was built a bit easier because of this, and I thought I’d share my ideas with you!
For starters, I decided it was easier to glue both sections of the bottom 6mm balsa stick to the spar before gluing the ribs in place. The outer ribs were used as a gauge as to where the outer stick was glued to the spar, though, and the stick was sanded to shape before the ribs were glued in place. With the lower 6mm stick already glued to the spar, I was able to use ZAP thin CA to glue the ribs to the spar, making the second wing quicker to build than the first.
For the top 6mm balsa sticks, I cut and sanded them to their respective shapes prior to gluing them in place as well, saving the ribs from sanding abuse.
Back to Finishing the Wings
Remember the sections of balsa sheeting I told you to save? You’re about to use them! A cap strip was cut from the sheeting and glued to the top and bottom edges of rib B8. This will make it easier to cover the wing, as I’ll have a larger surface for covering adhesion. The remaining sections of sheeting are glued between Ribs B1 and B2 (top and bottom). I found it much easier to install these pieces after gluing a 3/32″ strip of balsa to the inner sides of each rib and a small piece of 6mm stick close to the trailing edge of the wing. These sheets are glued inside the ribs, not to the top and bottom of the ribs, so take care to cut them very precise! With that, the wings were ready for final sanding. Because I am planning to use a transparent covering, I will be using the Red Devil One Coat Lightweight Spackling to make the wings look as nice as possible.
Speaking of sanding… I gave the horizontal stabilizer and elevator, and the vertical stabilizer and rudder a smooth sanding as well. The outer edges were all sanded round, while the leading edges of the elevator and rudder were sanded to an approximate 90° bevel. Before sanding the bevel, though, I marked and cut the hinge slots in the stabilizers and control surfaces, as this is easier on flat surfaces. The trailing edges of the stabilizers were left flat, for contact with the beveled leading edges of the control surfaces. Again, I will be using transparent covering in places, so I filled all of the pin holes with filler prior to the final sanding. The last photo shows the completed basic build. Because I find it easier to cover each part individually, I will be covering before beginning the final assembly.
This wraps up my basic build review of the Value Planes Cloud Walker 65 kit. I will be going over how I cover the Cloud Walker 65 in part two of this review. My over all impressions of this kit so far – I very much enjoyed building this vintage looking kit. The laser cutting was spot on, and the balsa wood quality was great. The manual, though a little vague in places, was pretty good. If this is your first kit build, I would definitely recommend getting help from someone with some building experience. If no one is available, this review should help you figure out the tough spots. With that said, I think it’s time to clean off the work bench, and heat up the covering iron – I hope to you’ll all check back in to see the second and third parts of this review! Until then, I wish you all happy landings! -GB
Value Planes – valueplanes.com
Redwing RC – redwingrc.com
Blue Bird Servos – redwingrc.com
Hitec – hitecrcd.com
ZAP Adhesives – franktiano.com
DuBro – dubro.com