GWS Slow Stick Modifications

by Ironsides

Introduction

The GWS Slow Stick® is a popular choice for aerial photography.  But, it has advantages and shortcomings.
 
Advantages
1.    It is inexpensive
2.    It is easy to build
3.    It lifts a lot of weight
4.    It glides nicely with power off for photo taking
5.    It can "thermal" to great height
6.    It flies very slowly, but can handle some wind
Shortcomings
1.    It is fragile 
2.    The wheels are easy to break
3.    The stick fuselage is easy to bend
4.    The wings can flutter badly in a fast dive
5.    Under full power, the plane climbs too quickly and it      spirals left

Wing
 

The kit comes with aluminum tubes bent in a slight "vee" for the front and rear of the wing centre.  These tubes should be replaced by similar diameter brass tubes that are elongated about an inch on either side.
 

There are fibreglass rods that fit into the brass tubes to strengthen the leading edge and trailing edge of the wing.  These rods should be fitted into the brass tubes and the whole assembly epoxied into place BEFORE the clear tape is applied to complete the installation.  This will greatly increase the rigidity of the wing and reduce flutter if the plane is dived too quickly.
 

Tip:   A high speed dive can be avoided by simply pulling back all the way on the elevator and applying right or left rudder.  This will cause the plane to lose altitude without picking up speed.  Be aware that with other aircraft this manoevre can result in a very nasty spin that might result in a crash.  When in trouble, neutralize the controls.  The plane knows how to fly better than you do !
 
 
Wheels

The kit wheels are not very useful in the field.  It is better to replace them with any number of lightweight wheels that are used in other park flyers.

If you don't want to replace the wheels, then at least boil them to reduce their brittleness.  In a salt-water solution, boil them for 15 minutes at a low boil.  Suspend the wheels in a metal strainer to keep the plastic off the bottom of the hot pot.

Fuselage
The thin aluminum box girder can easily be bent on a rough landing.  The easiest and lightest way to strengthen it is to stuff the whole length with balsa.  This adds tremendous strength at minimum weight penalty.
Tendency to Zoom and Spiral Left Under Power
The Slow Stick is optimized for slow flight under low power.  It tends to zoom and spiral left dramatically if full power is applied.  This tendency can be overcome by:
1.    Modifying the motor attachment so that the motor points to the right and down.  To do this, take a piece of fairly hard wood and shape it so that the butt end will go straight into the aluminum fuselage tube, while the front half goes into the motor bracket with a right and down attitude.  Test fly and if the plane still zooms;
2.     Shim up the trailing edge.  Simply insert small pieces of balsa sheet under the rear wing saddle until the plane flies more normally.  You will have to experiment to get the correct amount.
Alternate Way to Modify the Motor Mount
The easiest way to modify the thrust angle on slow stick motor mount is with a Bic Lighter!!  Apply flame to heat up the plastic and "stretch" the motor mount to aim thustline down and right.  Then epoxy motor mount to aluminum fuselage.
 
Quick, easy and sure. [Credit: Jonathan L.]
 
 

 
 

The Uncle Mikey Motor Mod

The stock GWS motor runs backwards, thereby reducing its full power potential. "Uncle Mikey" has perfected a modification as per:

 

http://www.superflyplanes.com/pdf/Gws370gear.pdf
 

The Uncle Mikey mod reverses the motor.  The motor is then secured on top of the aluminum box spar of the fuselage to give the gears enough room.  The stock GWS prop is also shaved down to clear the front of the motor.  The mod takes about an hour to complete.
 
 

Tip

Your Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) can heat up under sustained current draw.  If you secure it so that it is directly on the aluminum fuselage, then the aluminum will act as a great heat sink and pull the heat away.

Camera and C of G

You might have to make fairly dramatic changes in the placement of the major components if you hang a camera from the Slow Stick to join the increasingly popular digital aerial photography group.  Some move the battery pack forward in front of the landing gear and  put the servos way back almost behind the wing.  That tends to open up some space so that a heavier digital camera can be slung under the wing close to the C of G.  The great thing about the Slow Stick is that it is very flexible.  [Credit:  Sam H.]
 

  Revision 9 dated 26 August  2003