How to Upgrade the Hobbyzone Champ Motor to the PKZ3616

I love flying the three channel Hobbyzone Champ Radio Controlled airplane with my son. It is so light that it is very tough to gain enough energy to cause significant damage during crashes. It flies, well, like a CHAMP!

After flying for several months, my son and I started to get adventurous and tried some maneuvers that were a bit more challenging. Our favorite is a big loop, but the stock motor in the Champ just isn't that strong. To gain the speed to execute the loop, we have to go at full throttle straight down and then a hard up-elevator to get all the way through the loop.

We were ready for a bit more and trudged down to the local hobby shop to purchase the more powerful PKZ3616 motor. This is meant for the Ultra-Micro Series P-51 and T-28 but is identical in size to the Champ. A few dollars later and we were rushing home to install the new motor!

Use a Utility Knife to cut the Tape
Use a Utility Knife to cut the Tape
Peel Off the Top of the Fuselage
Peel Off the Top of the Fuselage

The first step is remove the battery (just to be safe!)

The fuselage come in two pieces and is held together with several strips of scotch tape. Very delicately cut the tape with a utility knife. Make sure you get all the tape! Now, gently pry the top of the fuselage away from the bottom.

What you will see is the propellor, gear box, motor, and the ESC/brick.

See the two-wire plug on the back of the brick? On my model, it was red and white wires. Use your fingernail to pry the plastic connector off the body of the brick. It should come off very easily.

Note: Be VERY careful with the ESC/brick. Damaging the connectors could easily cause your model to quit working.

The motor is held into the gear box with a dab of foamy glue. Use your utility knife to carefully cut the glue and remove it from the motor and the mounting bracket. This will make the next step a lot easier.


After cutting the foamy glue, use a pair of needle nose pliers to GENTLY pull the motor from the housing.
After cutting the foamy glue, use a pair of needle nose pliers to GENTLY pull the motor from the housing.

With a pair of needle nose pliers, gently pull the motor straight back out of the gearbox and housing. If it is stuck, make sure that all the foamy glue was cut away and try to spin it in the housing using the pliers. That should be enough to wiggle it loose.

Now, just pull straight back until it is free of the housing.

Tip: The ESC/brick was in the way of the motor as I was removing it. I had to cut through some of the glue holding the ESC to the fuselage in order to lift the ESC 1/16" to allow the motor to be removed.

Yeah!  The motor was successfully removed.
Yeah! The motor was successfully removed.

The Stock Motor Removed

Look at the picture to the right. Go ahead and click on it to show it full size.

You'll notice the old, stock motor is removed and the space is crying out for the brand new (and MUCH more powerful motor!)

I had a fair amount of dirt inside the body of the plane. I have absolutely NO idea how that happened (if I ignore my numerous nose-first landings!). Oh well, this is a great time to clean it out and use a bit of compressed air to clean off the electronics too.

Reverse the process to install the new motor.  You may need to slightly turn the propellor to have the gears engage.
Reverse the process to install the new motor. You may need to slightly turn the propellor to have the gears engage.

Note: BEFORE you tape the fuselage back together, plug in a battery and test the propellor. I inadvertently reversed the motor plugs when I attached them to the ESC/Brick. I only figured it out when I went to hand launch it, and the plane flew BACKWARDS for a second before it crashed! A simple fix: just reverse the plug on the brick!

Installing the new motor is easy peasy!

Place the motor back in the fuselage and gently push it into the housing until it is fully seated. You may need to move the prop a little bit to ensure the gears are meshed.

Note: My replacement motor fit into the housing snugly. I was not worried about it coming unhoused, so I did not add any glue to keep it in place. So far, so good. There is nothing wrong with adding a dab of glue, but you may need to wait until it fully sets up before flying.

Route the two wires from the motor underneath the ESC/brick and plug them into the connection. Read the inset box to the right on how I messed up this step and had my Champ flying backwards for a bit!

The best part of the project is taking your kid out to fly the plane!
The best part of the project is taking your kid out to fly the plane!

Now, take a bit of scotch tape and retape the fuselage back together. It doesn't take much!

Take your kid, a few batteries and your radio and go test out the new motor. You'll find that it runs extremely fast compared to the stock motor.

I had to trim the elevator a good amount as this little guy just wanted to keep climbing! A few clicks later and he was flying smooth and fast. Most striking was that the plane flew a nice and steady path with only 1/4 throttle. At full throttle, she was moving pretty darned quick!

Of course, the loops were a lot easier to perform now!

For a 10 minute upgrade, this Champ mod is well worth the time. Now go out flying with your family! Maybe my son will actually take turns with ME next time!

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Comments 9 comments

bushrod 4 years ago

what kinda prop works with this set up?


GinnyLee profile image

GinnyLee 4 years ago from Arlington, VA Author

bushrod, I still use the stock prop. I have heard others change it up a bit, but I think the standard one works great.


bimmerland 3 years ago

What size battery did you go to,


GinnyLee profile image

GinnyLee 3 years ago from Arlington, VA Author

@bimmerland, I use a 25C 160mAh battery


R/C Noob 3 years ago

What transmitter are you using?


GinnyLee profile image

GinnyLee 3 years ago from Arlington, VA Author

@R/C Noob, I use the DX5 and DX6 depending if I am flying with my son or not. The stock controller is fine, but I definitely like the Spektrum models more.


bill 23 months ago

what if i switch the motors and then it won't bond with the radio


bill 23 months ago

what do you think went wrong?


GinnyLee profile image

GinnyLee 23 months ago from Arlington, VA Author

Bill, switching motors shouldn't impact the bind. Try to rebind the transmitter to the plane.

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