How to install electric motors on RC planes

Updated July 20, 2017

Battery powered radio-controlled aircraft have become very popular due to the low initial investment to get started. Unfortunately, the explosion in the number of electric models available has resulted in sometimes poor design and quality control where motor mounting is concerned on the part of the manufacturers, especially where foam construction is used. Seemingly minor impacts can upset the positioning of the motor. To minimise that danger, you can create your own motor mount out of 3 mm (1/8 inch) hardboard to provide a sturdy foundation for your motor.

If you are building a foam model, examine the engine mount. Sometimes manufacturers with provide a flimsy plastic mount or no mount at all, simply a hole in which to place your motor. If this is the case, you will need to fashion your own motor mount out of lightweight hardboard sheathing. If you have a plastic mount, trace the shape onto the sheathing and cut it out with a jigsaw or rotary tool. If no motor mount was provided, measure the height and width of the fuselage where the motor is to be mounted and cut a rectangular piece of 3-mm (1/8-inch) thick hardboard 9 mm (3/8 inch) to 13 mm (1/2 inch) smaller than the fuselage.

If the foam model had only a hole in which to mount the motor, use a utility knife to carefully hollow out the front of the fuselage to the point where you can insert the new motor mount.

Draw a circle in the middle of the motor mount the exact diameter of your electric motor and cut it out with a jigsaw or rotary tool.

Place the motor in the motor mount with apprixmately two-thirds of the motor sticking out of the front.

Secure the motor in place with a small bead of silicone adhesive on both sides of the mount. The positioning of the wiring harness and battery should not change and the new motor mounting is light enough that it will not significantly affect the weight or balance of the aircraft.

Place the motor mount in place in the fuselage and secure with silicone adhesive.

If your model plane has a more traditional wooden fuselage, mount the motor as indicated in the instructions provided with your model.

Make sure that your battery is secure in the elastic or Velcro bands provided prior to take-off. A battery shifting in flight could cause your plane to become uncontrollable.

Things You'll Need

  • 60-cm-by-1.2-m (2-by-4-foot) section of 3 mm (1/8 inch) hardboard sheathing
  • Awl or drill
  • Jigsaw or rotary tool
  • Utility knife
  • Silicone adhesive
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About the Author

Rob Billeaud has been in the technical and business writing field since 1996. His work has appeared in print publications and online at, a music interest website promoting peaceful solutions to political and cultural disputes through music. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.