Keith Shaw’s Modifications to our 1905 Wright Flyer Kit

A customer wanted to know Keith Shaws Modifications of our 1905 Wright Flyer. Keith is an experienced modeler. A member of the AMA Hall of Fame. His advice on any model is well worth reviewing. Here are Keith’s views as written myself and on of our builders:

Hi Dave,

………….I really didn’t do much of anything to make the Wright fly “better”. Most mods were for convenience and scale appearance.

1) Made the front “head” removable so that I can transport it in my minivan along with other airshow planes.
2) Made the fantasy long range tanks to house the four A123 cells. Voltage/current/power is virtually identical to the 3s Lipo you spec. I just prefer the safety of A123 cells.
3) Used a tan magic marker to draw fake ribs and spars on the bare foam before painting with the Almond High-heat Rustoleum.
4) Made a dummy engine, sprockets and chains. Found a toy fireman that was just about the right scale for Orville. Sewed a suit and made a high collar, tie and cuffs for the figure.
5) My flier seems to need more positive elevator trim than yours at the given CG. I move my CG back to about 7/8″ back of the leading edge to reduce the front surface loading. This could be due to a slightly different camber profile than yours. Hard to guess when using the heat gun, ribs and rubber band method.
6) I used #117 rubber bands from OfficeMax rather than linking two #33 together.
7) I guess there were a couple of improvements now that I think on it. I found the vertical rudder hinge wire far too flexible and was the cause of the slow rudder oscillation. I used 3/32 instead of the spec’ed .055.
8) The roll axis was a little vague, and I suspected that the wing warping pushrods were buckling under load. I sleeved the .055 wire with 1/8th O.D. aluminum tubing. Now the wing warping is *almost* as positive as ailerons. Of course there is still adverse yaw from their use, so I mix in about 10% aileron-rudder coupling.

Hope this helps him,


Note’s from Dave; I do remember Keith mentioning that he runs the CG a bit further back than I suggest in the plans. He may have forgotten to mention that in the above letter. I do advise however that you start with the CG where suggested and only after a couple of flights, start to adjust it rearward. Any such adjustment should be made in careful small increments. 1/4″ is a long way to move a CG. Try to move it 1/8″ per flight until you find the uncomfortable location then readjust slightly forward. This is the method I used to arrive at the instructed location. For me it feels tail heavy any further back. By tail heavy, I mean, the model begins to hunt about the pitch axis. Keith feels that location is a bit further back and perhaps he is correct. Someday I may start moving it back again on my own model. Just bear in mind, you’re not experimenting to start where I suggest in the instructions. I want you to have a successful test flight.

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