10' DTFB Ford TriMotor

by aviator08 | July 10, 2017 | (14) Posted in Projects



This aircraft has always intrigued me, so I thought I would see if I could make one using FT methods. I was going to make it the same scale as the Golden Age Racers, but that would have been a 12' wingspan which was just a little too big so I made it 1/8th scale. 



I drew the plans in AutoCAD and started building the fuselage. Interestingly enouph, I started with the seats. I'm not sure why, but I wanted it to have some interior detail as well and this seemed like a good beginning point. Next came the cockpit and front passenger area section.


Next I started on the center section of the wing. 




Once the wing center section was skinned, I used a light weight aluminum shower rod for the main spar carry through.


From there the rest of the fuselage was added on.



Center section set into the fuselage.

Front of fueslage installed.

Horizontal stabalizer and elevator detail.


Tail has been added. 



Wing ribs being tested on left wing.


Servo installed in wing.


Servo extention wires roughted through center section and front of passenger cabin.


Passenger area detail


Left wing skinned.


Wing test fitted.



Aileron test fitted.


Next was the design and installation of the TriMotor signature landing gear. This required some 3D printing of special gear fittings.


With the gear came the assembly and installation of the outer engine nacelles.


One of my good friends offered to 3D print the fake radial engines for me. This was a dramatic improvment in the scale detail of the aircraft. 



Now it really started to take shape!  At this point I was confident that I could complete the build..... now would it fly? That's another question entirely!!


First motor taxi test.


Hooking up aileron servo.


Right wing completed and installed .

.... and painted.


1/8th scale Ford TriMotor next to the 1/6th scale 1930 Laird Super Solution.


First Taxi test with all three motors. 



First high speed Taxi test. ( It lifted off well before I expected.  Landing gear fitting failure.... back to the drawing board.)


 Maiden flight   It Flys!!

 More strenghting needed in the lower landing gear fitting... redraw and reprint.


Second flight 


Second flight from GoPro cam



Second and third radial engines arrived!  Thanks so much Jared!


Intallation of the radial engines.


Now on to Flite Fest West!!


Well, that didn't go as planned. The extra drag created by the radial engines along with not letting the airspeed get high enouph caused it to stall on take off at FFW. 

But the good thing about building in foam board..... what can be built can be fixed!  :-)




With the extra drag, the motors overheated. The next step will be to go to bigger motors and use 4cell batteries. 

This has been a challenging but very rewarding project. I hope you have enjoyed the journey !


epicrcguy on July 29, 2017
that is so cool. you've inspired me a lot. hope to keep seeing cool projects
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Air-headed Aviator on July 26, 2017
This plane looks awesome!!! I really need to learn Solidworks, could really bump up my build design to your level!
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Planecrash on July 28, 2017
Nice plane, I'm currently working on a 1/13 junkers ju 52.
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DarkFire on July 31, 2017
WOW!!!! That is a really cool project!

A few questions:
How long did this thing take from start to first flight?
It looks like you used the GT 2215 motors from the C pack?
What is the AUW?
What batteries a re you running on this plane?

Thank you!
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aviator08 on August 1, 2017
1) About three months
2) The two outboard motors are from the C pack. I had to change the center one to a Dynum 4 cell motor after I installed the outboard dummy radial engines because of all the drag.
3) 9 lbs.... 2 lbs of that is lead weight in the nose to achieve the proper CG.
4) the outboard motors each have their own 2200 3cell, and the center uses a 2600 4cell.
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scottie on July 26, 2017
Very nice :-) !!!
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The-One-Who-Never-Crashes on August 3, 2017
So beautiful! Keep it up!
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frayja2002 on March 1, 2020
I know this is a bit old now but is there any chance of you releasing the autocad plans for this.

I would love to have a play with it.
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aviator08 on March 2, 2020
No, I never did. I don’t know if I still have it, but if you private message me I will look for it.
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10' DTFB Ford TriMotor