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Seagull/SIG Bowers 69" Flybaby build.

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"Build" is perhaps the wrong word as the kit is an ARTF so "assembly" is the more accurate word.

Collected from Rob on Thursday, the usual retail price of this lovely semi-scale model is £217. It is a very nicely constructed offering from the thriving Vietnamese Seagull company. The parent owner would appear to be SIG. To complete the model you need either a .61 size two stroke or .90 size four stroke I/C engine or electric power set up. In addition, you need radio gear. Other than those items, its all in the box. Value for money, its a lot of nicely constructed model for the dosh.

The kit includes a conversion kits. It is your choice whether you go I/C, in which case you use supplied two part  engine bearers, fuel tank and a throttle linkage wire and outer sheath. The electric kit comprises an electric motor mounting box is also in the kit. Four M4 bolts allow either the I/C or electric kit to use the same bulkhead blind nuts to secure either of the conversion kits. It is a very cute design and you could convert either way in about half an hour if you wish to do a later conversion.

The core of the model was built in about four hours on Thursday. Another five hours were spent on Friday with most of the effort going into manufacture of the dummy rigging wires and end fittings. This was my first effort at rigging and I found it slow and somewhat tedious. It is very fiddly work and you need steady hands and reasonable eye sight to deal with the plastic coated rigging wire and the pre-cut lengths of aluminum crush tube. The tube lengths were rather mean but Rob had previously sold me a length of ali tube so this saved the day. Slightly longer tubes allowed a better finished crimp to be formed. Sixteen lengths of rigging need to be constructed to achieve the full visual effect. That job is perhaps the most difficult aspect of this kit assembly. My rigging effort is reasonable but I would expect to achieve a higher standard with my next effort. Practice makes for a better technique and less frustration as one becomes more adept with the process.

The Oracover covering has been well applied at the factory. No issues at all with that. The model is easily assembled using normal hand tools and there are no nasty surprises or irritations within the kit. This kit is a class leader when compared to some of the naff under developed Chinese laser kits which have recently flooded onto the market place.

Made ready for flying, the Flybaby took just twenty or so hours to put together. In the 1750mm/70" class, its a lot of model for the money. The finished all up weight is 9.6Lbs. This includes a 50/65 420Kv motor and a 4500mAh lipo together with an appropriate speed controller. I have a dislike of UBEC units having had one burn out on Rob Newmans` counter recently. A five cell 2600 NiMh additional free standing battery pack has been fitted above the electric motor mounting box to provide a separate and stand alone Rx/servo power supply. I find that rather more reassuring than waiting for another UBEC to go up in smoke! The electric motor set up employed on this Flybaby has been snatched from my well known and trusty No 1 Ultra Stick. It is the right spec for the job and utilizes a 15x8 APC prop. I have a 360Kv version of this motor currently installed in another Ultra Stick. This can turn a slightly bigger diameter prop which the Ultra Stick can handle with its taller landing gear. No 1 will be refitted today with that power unit.

Would I buy another Seagull offering? Yes, I certainly would. Great price and value for money. Construction is first class and the finished item cuts a good dash.

Yet to be flown but not possible to do this Sunday due to the Biggin Hill Airshow, I might nip up to Fickleshole tomorrow or perhaps when some of us gather on Tuesday morning. More on the first flight shortly.



















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A few external shots taken today.

It seemed like a good idea at the time....I love James`s wonderful Flybaby Bipe. It really does fly like a full sized plane and I fell in love with it months ago. To have one is an itch I just have to scratch. So I bought a plan from Sarik for a 54" with the intention of having the plan blown up to about a 70" span. Then the plan arrived and I opened the envelope to find it was for an 84" span model with the prototype weighing in without fuel at about 9.7Lbs. Power was from a Super Tiger .61 two stroke glow motor. The cowl used was from a SIG 1/4 scale piper Cub. It didn`t take me long to decide to build this monster and perhaps power it with a Saito 1.20 four stroke unit or similar type engine. There is a used one on eBay presently with two days to run. It is described as recently serviced, in good order and a great starter. Bidding currently stands at £102 plus £7 carriage. Anyway, there is plenty of time before I need an engine. I expect to take at least three months on the air-frame build. I`ll open a separate thread on the project.

If the weather is suitable this coming Tuesday, I`d like to maiden the Seagull Flybaby. Watch this space.








Edited by Mike.K
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Some news about the Flybaby.

Prior to the maiden flight, it was seen that ailerons were loosing their neutral position upon switching on Tx and Rx.  Re-setting arm positions and messing with the linkages then followed to restore positioning. After a few stick waggles, the servos and ailerons would loose the plot again. It was most frustrating.The more the transmitter stick was waggled, the worse the issue became. Power/signal leads were fitted new as were servos. I`d perhaps bought badly. Although I`ve previously purchased Tower Pro digital servos with a metallic purple label, the ones pulled from my stock had a black label. Internet forum research now indicates that these particular items may well be "knock off" copies. Having found the issue at the flying field. Dave and Trevor suspected an issue with the RX. Back home, I changed the receiver but the problem persisted. I tore those servos out and substituted some simple but old analogue Futaba S-148 units. An instant fix. So buyer beware. Avoid any black label servos marked Tower Pro. They appear to have feed back potentiometer issues.

With the servo issue fixed, I couldn`t put a maiden flight off any longer. Trevor stood by as I took the model up for its first sortie. It wasn`t a pleasant experience. Masses of right aileron trim had to be applied together with a little right rudder and some down trim. The model seemed cranky and directionally un-stable. After a couple of minutes flying, we had the model trimmed as best as we could but it really did remain something of a handful. Slow speed work was rather un-nerving but I performed a few circuits just to get the feel of what was needed for approach and landing. The landing got me back on the pitch well enough if rather over to the far side of the strip. As the model slowed, the starboard wing tip just touched some of the surrounding crops which spun the model around by about 120degrees and stuffed the nose into the vegetation. As we recovered the model, we could see damage to the port wing tip. Lifting the model, a broken wooden propeller was noted.

Back on the flight table, the excess applied aileron trim added in flight to get the model to fly straight was immediately noticeable. Sighting down the starboard wing confirmed a straight and true wing. Not so the port wing panel where we could see excessive wash in ie, the wing tip rib sitting higher in incidence that the rib at the wing root. That explained the problem.

Yesterday I phoned Rob at Avicraft whilst traveling on the train up to London. Rob was most sympathetic and suggested that I take the wing back to him so that the distributors, J Perkins could examine the offending panel. That is were I`m off to now so more news on the distorted wing shortly. It is disappointing that such a bad panel could have left the factory. Clearly there had been no quality checking carried out before the kit had been dispatched from Vietnam. Lesson learned. Even quality kit wings need checking by the finishing builder prior to first flights....

The first image here shows the distorted wing clamped down to chair arms over-night in an attempt to correct the 12mm wash out issue. Un-clamped next morning, the wing jumped out of the clamps to revert to its original warped state...it was worth an attempt. The second image shows the bashed wing tip following the first landing.

Mike K



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  • 5 weeks later...
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A Flybaby update.

Correction. The warp was due to a distorted wing which had 12mm excess "Wash in", ie the port wing tip was at a higher angle of incidence than the root  of the wing. Not nice.

The offending port wing panel went back to Rob. He immediately agreed the panel was a real shocker and phoned Perkins on the spot for a warranty replacement. Just over a couple of weeks later a replacement wing was supplied together with a new aileron, cyno hinges and a nuts and bolts pack which included a replacement glass fibre aileron control horn. Back in the hangar, the new parts were joined up and the complete new wing fitted to the model in little more than an hour. The only cost to me was a few dribbles of cyno used to fit the CA hinge tabs. Full marks to Rob for sorting the problem for me. Such a nice guy....

The weather has been lousy this weekend but I finally seized an opportunity this Sunday evening at 17.00 to fly between the showers. Conditions were a bit dank, slightly blustery but very flyable. I`ve been somewhat out of action recently having had back surgery followed by several complications and this has rather dampened my enthusiasm for excursions away from home. I finally found the energy to get all the kit together and put the Flybaby in the car. I`m glad I did. Although conditions up at the field were a little lumpy, the re-worked model flew a treat with its new components. It was a completely different beast to when I first flew with the warped wing. It is a peach to fly around gently with no apparent vices even when the weather is less than calm. On this second flight I noted the aileron response was a bit sharp and that the model was perhaps just a tad nose heavy. Adjusting the aileron expo at the field from -30% to -35% made aileron response softer and more flyer friendly for the third flight. Just a smidge of applied left aileron trim had the model flying straight and level. I`ll correct the slight nose heavy condition for the next flying session by simply moving the 4500 LiPo aft by about 25mm. Internally, there is masses of space for even a 6000 LiPo. The LiPo sits just forward of the CoG under a magnetic removable section of upper fuselage and the LiPo is held in place by velcro straps. Access to batteries, receiver, servos, cables and switches is easy and straight forward. As a practical no nonsense proposition, the Flybaby is great for field access, isn`t fiddly to operate and can quietly spoddle around the sky at about one third throttle. Flown into wind with its Clark Y, flat bottom section wing, it can climb like a demon. Flown into wind at slow speed, it can almost come to a stand still. That`s quite fun to do.

The model looks at its best when flown slowly with steep turns thrown in. It appears very realistic and with the motor turning at less than half throttle, it can hardly be heard in flight. I love small full sized home-built aircraft and this model fits my easy to fly, semi scale requirement perfectly. I suppose one could say that it flies rather like a big lightly loaded trainer but has rather more maneuverability and potential for basic aerobatics. I`ve yet to fully explore the full flight envelope but the Flybaby experience to date looks like being a good one. Anyone considering this model will not be disappointed. (Just check the wings for accuracy when you first open the box) Having got your A-test and with your confidence building, the Seagull Flybaby would make a great second model to progress to. Its far less "full on" than an Ultra Stick which gets around the sky rather faster than the Flybaby. We all know that our Fickleshole site takes care and practice to operate out of due to the surrounding trees and their placement. That said, I had no difficulty navigating this sizable 69" span model around the circuit or successfully getting it down on the pitch with space to spare. It is as forgiving as the lovely little SFM Se5a that I`ve been flying recently. Some might expect that model to be a bit of a handful but it is not. Its another little sweety with similar characteristics to the Flybaby.

As some of you may know, my 84" scratch built Flybaby Bi-plane is progressing well with now just the wings to begin. It will be interesting to see how the mono-plane and bi-plane versions compare.

More news on both models in due course.

Mike K

Edited by Mike.K
Typo corrections.
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