Timber 1.5m BNF Basic with Floats Review
Review by Adrian Apodaca, RealRCReviews Owner
- Stock BNF Basic
- Glacier 3s 2200mah
- Spektrum DX9
- Did not use optional slats
- Looks great
- Good size
- Includes floats and slats
- Uses very common 3s2200mah batt
- Great STOL performance
- Good speed and great slow flight
- Nice wheels
- Two piece wing
- Preinstalled LED lights
- Floats are tricky to install
- Parts of instructions not clear
- Water rudders not very effective
- Mixed feelings on AS3X
Living the first 11 years of my life in San Diego, one of my favorite treats was getting to see the Miramar Airshows. From the first fly by, I started a life-long love of aviation, not of just war birds, but also civilian planes and experimental aircraft. As a result, my dad took me to as many places as he could where I could see airplanes–private airfields, farms to watch crop dusters and regional airshows. One of the coolest things I remember was seeing a Super Cub demonstrating its STOL capabilities. It just didn’t compute how a plane could get off the runway in such a short distance.
Fast forward 30 or so years to 2010 when I started flying RC. As many of us do, I tried to progress to the fastest plane I could, as quick as I could. After that bug was satisfied, I started looking at slower, more familiar looking planes like Super Cubs, J3 Cubs, Champs and a few Cessna planes. As I was still flying at local empty lots and parks, I realized I needed a true bush plane, something I could use to take off and land in relatively rough turf. I ended up with the Multiplex Fun Cub. It is a truly fun plane to fly, but there are some design flaws that ultimately made it a little annoying. I never crashed it, but it finally died when my motor literally shot off of the firewall because of the weak way the motor mount attaches to the nose of the plane. Before that, my elevator servo had failed but thanks to the flaps, I was able to save it that time.
After that loss, I figured I’d move on from that and search for a new bush plane. I tried the Legacy Aviation Littlefoot and pretty much hated it. Some really bad tendencies there. THEN, it happened, Horizon Hobby announced their take on a true bush plane, the E-Flite Timber 1.5M. Awesomely, it started shipping while Horizon was having a Foam Sale. I was able to score the BNF basic version for about $10 more than the PNP version. Luckily, it arrived at my house a day before my annual 2-week trip to the family lake house on Lake Champlain in Vermont.
Unboxing and Assembly:
Just like all of my E-flite planes, the Timber was boxed very carefully with substantial support for every piece. Make sure you inspect all the surfaces of cardboard as there are a few essentials taped to it. I have no complaints as to the fit and finish of the plane and was particularly pleased with the wheels included. I was also very happy that this plane actually came with floats... you don’t see that often at this price point for a quality plane. After inspecting everything and removing it from the box, I packed it up in the CR-V with the rest of the luggage for our trip to Vermont.
The trip took us about 9 hours, but as you well know, RC guys always have energy for a little build or assembly. Though most things in on the plane are intuitive, there are a few confusing areas in the manual. For one, they never tell you which screws you are supposed to use. It’s not rocket science, so you can figure it out, but it just adds a little time to your assembly. The tails section was a breeze as were the wings (though labeling the aileron and flap leads would have sped things up). Since my only runway was going to be Lake Champlain, I went with the floats. The pictures are a little confusing, so I had to restart a couple of times before I just looked at the box for reference and figured out exactly how the crossbars are placed. Finally, I hooked up the water rudders. The process is straightforward, though you may have to adjust them a few times to get plane rudder and two water rudders to align correctly.
After checking and double-checking my plane over in the morning, I got out to the dock as soon as I could. The battery tray is only so big, and like most BNF planes from Horizon Hobby, you can put the recommended size battery anywhere in the tray and have the plane pretty balanced. I’ve flown all the way forward, and centered front to back and the characteristics of the plane don’t seem to change much. Anyway, for my maiden, I set everything up per the manual and put it on high rates for my first flight. They recommend low rates for first flights but with something like a Cub, you can definitely go with the higher rates to start.
So I dropped the plane into the water and taxied out a little. The first thing I noticed was that the rudders didn’t seem to help much. I have tons of room in the lake so even with just the planes rudder, I was able to make a wide turn and line myself up against the wind. I pushed the throttle up to about 50% to get the plane moving, and then punched it close to full throttle to and the plane leapt into the sky. As I got up and flew around, I didn’t need any trim that I remember. I did my standard maiden maneuvers to see what I was dealing with.
After that first flight, I checked out the water rudders to see what the issue was. I found that even with the line taught, I wasn’t getting any visible movement on the rudders. As us guys tend to do, when something isn’t moving and it should, we spray it with WD-40. I shot a little bit into each hinge on the rudders and worked them back and forth for about a minute. What a huge difference that made. Still didn’t turn as tight as some other seaplanes but much better than before. Of course you get even better response adding a steady amount of throttle.
So as I flew more and more, I found that the roll rate is pretty slow, even on high rates; however, it is exactly what I expected. Inverted flight is excellent and loops are a cinch. The range of speed is actually pretty awesome for a high wing bush plane. Speed when you need it, and slow and smooth when you want to just cruise. I couldn’t get a hover, but it did a decent knife-edge, though you start to lose a little altitude as you fly across the horizon. With both flap settings, the plane slows down to a crawl, obviously full flaps has the stronger effect. Taking off with flaps is awesome. Even half flaps gets you up pretty fast, but full flaps literally shoots you off the water. On choppier days on the lake, I just timed a wake, added full flaps and pretty much used the wake as a take off ramp. Another great thing about this plane is landing it. The ample elevator really allows you to pull a nice flare on landing and land really smoothly on the floats. One thing I started enjoying was climbing high, then diving as vertical as I could with full flaps then leveling off above the water and landing abruptly. I absolutely loved being able to fly every day, but started looking forward to flying off land.
As easy as it was to assemble, it was just as easy to disassemble for the trip home. Back home, I added the normal landing gear, which is relatively straight forward, but a tiny bit tricky getting the braces in the small plastic retainer in the middle of the gear. Once I had this done, I was ready to head to the field the next day.
I had hoped to get a nice calm day to do my land based testing, but no such luck. The forecast had it at 8-10mph winds all day. That didn’t stop me, as I was pretty determined. Since I had labeled my servo leads, prepping the plane for flight took less than 3 minutes. After take off, immediately noticed the lighter feel the plane had without the floats on. Not a huge difference, but certainly noticeable.
I did my same small wheelhouse of maneuvers on the several flights I flew this day. Rolls are a tiny bit easier without floats and I didn’t find myself losing altitude on the knife-edge. I couldn’t achieve a good hover, but maybe that is my lack of skill versus lack of the planes ability. I was still able to stay more or less vertical in the same area of several seconds. Of course inverted flight is completely effortless without floats. Again flaps bring the plane to a crawl and the same dive and land techniques work even better on land. Take offs can be pretty much as short as you want them. I honestly can’t find one complaint on the actual flight characteristics of the Timber. If I have one issue with the way it flies, it’s mostly due to me not being used to AS3X. This is my first plane with it and I found myself wanting to make the corrections the AS3X was already doing for me. I also wasn’t used to how it kicks in when you have the sticks centered. On turns that I am used to making with a bit of rudder and letting the planes momentum finish the turn for me, the AS3X kicks in and wants to straighten you out. Not a bad thing really, but surprising when you are not accustomed to it. As for flight times, with floats and with wheels, I find I get about 5 minutes using a 3s2200mah battery. Perhaps I could get a minute or so more if I cruised the whole time, but 5 minutes seemed to be the sweet spot for my style of flying.
Before flying my plane, I read through a lot of the Timber thread on RCGroups. There were some complaints about noses flying off, landing gear breaking and some other quality issues. Here at Real RC Reviews, we don’t hold anything back, not even on our favorite brands, BUT, I didn’t encounter any of the issues folks were talking about. I would be the first one to sound he alarm if there were any real issues with this BNF. If there were ever issues (I’m always skeptical as a lot of guys just want excuses for having crashed), none were present with my Timber. This plane is of the same solid quality I have come to expect from Horizon Hobby.
In my humble opinion, Horizon Hobby has hit another one out of the park. I would prefer a little quicker roll rate, but the Timber is predictable and a heck of a lot of fun to fly. I would feel comfortable recommending it to anyone with 4-channel experience and as a 2nd or 100th plane! It is easy to transport and has a good size wingspan for a big presence in the sky. If your only available flying field is an empty lot with some overgrown grass or bumpy terrain, the Timber all but eliminates the need for much of a runway. If you like bush planes, and want an easy to use, high quality plane, the Timber is a great option, especially for it’s price. Too bad I don’t get a commission as several members at my club decided to order Timbers once they saw mine in action. I have both a float flight and a land flight below. Check them out and please subscribe if you can.