Written by Greg Gimlick
From wheels to water in minutes
As seen in the March 2017 issue of Model Aviation.
Model type: Electric sport model
Skill level: Beginner to expert
Wingspan: 61 inches
Wing area: 559.5 square inches
Length: 40.9 inches
Weight: 50.3 ounces
Wing loading: 12.96 ounces per square foot
Power system: E-flite Motor 10 brushless outrunner motor (installed); E-flite 40-amp brushless ESC (installed); E-flite 3S 2,200 mAh LiPo battery; E-flite 12 x 4 propeller (installed)
Radio: Spektrum AR636 six-channel AS3X receiver (installed)
Requires: Six-channel Spektrum DSM2/DSMX transmitter; 3S LiPo battery
Street price: $249.99 BNF
Motor used: E-flite Motor 10 brushless outrunner
ESC used: E-flite 40-amp brushless
Battery: E-flite 3S 2,200 mAh LiPo battery
Propeller: E-flite 12 x 4 propeller
Radio system: Spektrum DX9 transmitter; Spektrum AR636 receiver
Ready-to-fly weight: 51.2 ounces
Wing loading: 13.19 ounces per square foot
Flight duration: 7-plus minutes
• STOL capabilities.
• Shock-absorbing main landing gear with tundra tires.
• LE slats (optional, but included).
• Easy to install EDO-style floats with dual water rudders (included).
• AS3X receiver with optional SAFE activation.
• Exceptional performance off of land or water.
• CG shifts slightly aft with the installation of floats.
I probably shouldn’t admit it, but my first impression when I slid the foam box containing the E-flite Timber 1.5m BNF Basic out of its outer shell was, “Which end is up?” The foam box is double-sided, so you’ll find parts going in from each side. The parts are well protected and everything fit snugly into formed sections, but make sure to get all of the parts out of each side.
The Timber 1.5m BNF Basic’s parts count is small.
I thought the foam’s finish was nice and the decals were securely adhered. There was no curly stuff to fix. As I unpacked the aircraft, it was easy to see that this would be a quick build. Taking the accompanying photos took longer than the actual construction.
As always, read the manual thoroughly ahead of time to familiarize yourself with the assembly process and radio programming. Check the website to see if there have been any updates or revisions. At the time of my build, there weren’t any.
E-flite continues its habit of making radio programming as simple as possible. Even if you get the Plug-N-Play version requiring a receiver, the programming chart offers enough information to make programming a different radio simple. I used my Spektrum DX9, so I copied the settings and was off to the races.
The first assembly step is the landing gear. It is quite an ingenious design. It’s spring loaded and flexes at the base on hinged assemblies. With big tires and live gear, it’s custom made for tundra operations.
The live landing gear is a thing of beauty and functional, too.
The tail surfaces slide on with a joiner and an interlocking plastic piece. They are secured with two screws. Everything aligned perfectly and it was a simple matter of connecting the control rods. The manual will have you looking for clevises, but in reality, they are 90° bends employing keepers. I prefer these to the plastic clevises.
The wing assembled much the same way, using a joiner and then a plastic plate at the rear to hold it all together when bolted down. Plastic tabs in the leading edge (LE) fit receptacles in the fuselage for a secure mount.
Slats or No Slats?
The optional LE slats are included in the box. You’ll have to decide whether or not to use them, and after they are installed, you’ll have to live with it. There is no provision to make them removable. If one were to come off or loose in flight, it would be disastrous.
I decided to install the LE slats because my purpose for getting this airplane was to have Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) capabilities, for which I was willing to give up some aerobatic ability. The roll rate will be slightly reduced, but the inverted capabilities will suffer most.
You’ll still be able to do outside maneuvers and inverted flight, but you’ll have to be more aggressive with the elevator and allow for more altitude. Installing the slats allows slower-speed flight and increases aileron authority at those speeds. You can also carry a higher angle of attack before it stalls. It’s definitely worth installing them.
The author chose to install the LE slats, allowing for slower-speed flight.
Having floats included with the kit makes it that much better! If you’ve never flown off of water, you’re in for a real treat. A huge plus for me was how easy they were to install and remove. Six screws, a couple of pull-pull connectors, and I was done! Unlike some airplanes that I’ve decided to dedicate to float flying because it was such a pain to swap back and forth, this one can leave the field and head to the lake in minutes. Great job on these floats. The water rudders are also easy to attach and adjust.
Four screws hold the floats in place along with a plastic retention piece.
Control Throws and CG
I set the center of gravity (CG) at the recommended 60mm and adjusted the battery position to achieve that. When you’re comfortable with it, you can adjust it plus or minus 5mm. Be sure to measure the distance from the wing’s LE, not the front of the LE slats. The floats shifted the CG to the rear enough to be noticeable and there is no room to move the battery forward. It’s controllable, but I’ll probably add some weight to the noses of the floats to compensate.
My control throws were set at the recommended settings and I left them there. No exponential was programmed, as instructed by the manual for the AS3X system.
SAFE Select or AS3X Only
I’ve come to love my AS3X systems. The Timber also employs SAFE Select, which is a self-leveling system that allows the pilot to center the sticks and the receiver will level the airplane. This is great for beginners because it helps prevent overcontrolling problems.
The Timber’s system allows you to bind it so that Safe Select is active, and then assign a switch to turn it on or off. If you don’t ever want to use Safe Select, simply bind it in the usual fashion and you’ll only have AS3X.
I had to wait out some weather, but when the chance finally came, I jumped at the chance to take the Timber to the field and then to the lake. The STOL capability of this airplane is almost difficult to describe because it’s so effective. I was immediately glad I decided to install the LE flaps.
I made the test flight with Safe Select active simply to see how well it worked. It went great and seemed quick to level the airplane when needed. Then I disabled the SAFE Select. The AS3X works in the background, so it doesn’t feel as though you’re fighting a stabilizer. It dampens out some of the turbulence, but never enough to reduce the “feel” of the airplane.
I can’t believe how this thing slows down for a landing with full flaps. Takeoffs are equally quick using the flaps. My desire to have a STOL airplane was satisfied within minutes of leaving the ground.
With flaps deployed and a blip of throttle, it instantly heads skyward. In fact, if you’re not ready for it, it will get your attention. The more I experimented with stalls and slow flight, the more impressed I became. I’m not sure I can even call them stalls because they just sort of mushed along and never dropped a wing.
With the LE slats installed, full-on aerobatics become more challenging, but that’s not why I bought the Timber 1.5m BNF Basic. The elevator feels “heavy” during inverted flight and outside loops require more altitude, but the capability is still there. It is different performing aerobatics with this airplane, but it was designed for slow flight. That noted, it will hover and do respectable loops whether using wheels or floats.
Flying off of water was a breeze. I’m hesitant to say that an airplane is the perfect model for something, but this is as close as it gets for one to learn float flying. By using the SAFE Select, a beginner could easily teach himself or herself float flying, confident that the airplane will compensate for early mistakes leaving the water. The pull-pull water rudders worked like champs and are some of the easiest to set up that I’ve seen. This airplane is a joy to do touch-and-gos off of the water!
The 3S 2,200 mAh battery is secured inside the bottom battery hatch.
I bought a Timber for one reason: I wanted a STOL aircraft and it fit the bill perfectly. The addition of the floats and its foam construction made it that much more of a no-brainer. Gone is my fear of the wood getting wet during my float-flying sessions.
The fun of this airplane is seeing how quickly I can get it off the ground and how little rollout I get on landing. It is aerobatic when wanted and a beginner’s trainer when needed. I think I found a winner for a new club training airplane on land and water.