How to Install Electric Motors on RC Airplanes

By Larry Simmons

Things Needed

  • Pencil
  • Screwdriver
  • Engine mount
  • Screws
  • Bolts
  • Electric motor
  • Battery pack
  • Heat-shrink tubing
  • Airplane propeller
  • Hairdryer

For safe, enjoyable flights, you need to install the electric motor in your RC airplane correctly. Mounting the motor securely ensures that the plane will operate as expected, flying at level and at a consistent speed, without sudden plunges. Most motors come with mounts specially built for quick installation. Those mounts have the proper angles already set, so that all you need to do is screw the mount and motor in place and connect the wires. In well under an hour your engine can be in place and your plane ready for flight.

Place the engine mount for your motor against the firewall (the firewall is a piece of balsa planking that protects your airplane from the heat and vibration generated by the running motor) located at the nose of your airplane and mark the screw holes onto the firewall using a pencil.

Screw the anchor bolts that will hold your engine mount in place into the firewall, using the marked holes so that bolt holes are flat with the surface of your firewall. If your plane uses a mounting stick placed through the body of your airplane, mark the mount along the stick locations and screw the bolts directly into the stick.

Line up the engine mount with the anchor bolts and screw it into place.

Attach the electric motor to the engine mount and pull the motor cables into the plane cavity (plane with a fuselage), or along the body of the plane (for a foam-bodied plane) to where the electric speed controller has been mounted.

Mount the battery pack on the plane, placing it either into the cavity of the plane or on the side. Secure the battery pack in place using plastic ties.

Place heat-shrink tubing onto the three engine wires, pulling them over the wire connectors onto the wire itself. Run the three wires to the electric speed controller and connect the wires from the motor to those on the controller, leaving the connectors uncovered.

Connect the airplane battery pack wires to the electric speed controller.

Place the propeller on the motor and secure it in place by tightening the propeller nut. Holding the airplane steady, apply a slight throttle to the airplane, using the remote control, to test the motor connector. Wires are properly connected if the prop turns clockwise (clockwise as you look down the line of the airplane from the tail to the propeller). If it turns counterclockwise instead, disconnect any two of the motor wires connected to the electric speed controller and reconnect them, switching their connection points so that each wire goes to the wire where the other was formerly connected.

Move the shrink tubing over the wire connections and apply heat using a hairdryer to shrink the rubber to a tighter fit. Shrinking the rubber protects the connection from vibration and damage from dust or moisture.

Tip

Purchase the engine mount and motor together as a kit to ensure compatibility.

Warning

Always make sure the battery pack is disconnected when working with the motor and prop to avoid the possibility of serious cuts.

About the Author

Larry Simmons is a freelance writer and expert in the fusion of computer technology and business. He has a B.S. in economics, an M.S. in information systems, an M.S. in communications technology, as well as significant work towards an M.B.A. in finance. He's published several hundred articles with Demand Studios.