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Is traditional building a disappearing art?

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Devcon114/04/2017 07:26:43
1360 forum posts
476 photos

Traditional building is, I think, a disappearing art but will remain as a small niche market for those who don't just see building as a means to an end, where easier alternatives present themselves we modellers tend to embrace them as I think for a good proportion of us flying is the prime mover.

In the very early days people had to build , including the radio, as no affordable alternatives existed but every new product that presented easier and quicker routes to the skies were embraced by most including foam/obechi wings (oh the irony of foam) and decking, iron on films, epoxy/Cyano glues, glass fuselages, electric starters, pretty painted pilots, laser cut parts and not forgetting the great ARTFs, foam composite models and true ready to fly models straight from box to sky.

The future, well I don't see the basic premise changing much although traditional building will probably have a bit of a renaissance at some stage.

Here's what I think we'll see........

Force feedback to our sticks via telemetry and sensors in the model.

Telemetry stall warnings.

Voice activated radios.

All the clever tech that drones use will become available as standard in fixed wing as opposed to high cost add on systems.

As well as the incremental gains in batteries, motors and further improved composite foam airframes.

Percy Verance14/04/2017 07:52:48
8109 forum posts
155 photos

Ultimately our hobby is whatever you want or need it to be. If you want to go the Peanut Scale route, with the building board on your knees while you're sat in your Parker Knoll, you can. If you much prefer an instant foam job, ready to go in a few minutes, they're there for the taking too.

There's a whole variation of models and ways to create and fly them out there. Assuming most materials and accessories continue to be available, and the supply of instant artf's doesn't dry up or diminish, we can all continue to to the things we enjoy.....

Perhaps slightly controversial, but what is clear now though is that our hobby has seemingly evolved into two distinct groups, Aeromodellers and Model Flyers. Now that's not necessarily a bad thing, as the latter can (and sometimes do) take up building. At the end of the day we're simply all just interested in flying model aeroplanes.

Edited By Percy Verance on 14/04/2017 08:14:30

John Dennier14/04/2017 08:13:08
35 forum posts
7 photos

Here on the wet and windy Vancouver Island there remains a glimmer of interest in Trad building although the sentiments expressed generally in this thread are undeniable. Foamies are by far more popular than home builds but in their defence I for one would not be an aeromodeller if it were not for ARTF's . It is the wetness that inspires me as the rains commence in October and persist well into the new year providing the perfect conditions for extensive model building activities. In my case I have completed a Traplet plans Fairey Firefly which I would have hoped to fly by now in it's birthday suit but have been thwarted by the incessant rain. consequently I have finished the aircraft and it remains in my hangar awaiting the arrival of a dry spell. As winter refuses to relent I have had to turn my hand to further building this time utilising the salvaged corpses of pranged ARTF's, in an ironic twist, and have produced from a sheet of insulating foam an Avro Arrow mounting twin 70mm motors powered by twin 4s batteries. For the benefit of the sceptics out there a comparison between prices might be in order: My Arrow has cost no more than $50 as the parts were already available, in stock as it were, but my hangar contains an SU35 from Motion RC which, by the time dollar exchange rates, shipping and customs duties are paid, costs in the region of $800! This makes a compelling case for home building in cheaper materials.

A fellow club member builds and modifies designs created by RC Powers. These again are easy builds in foam board mostly of park flier style propjets . These aircraft have impressive performance and can be seen on You tube postings in the name of E3Scott. I would be surprised if any of Scott's planes cost more than $40.

This suggests that the case for home builds might be evolving but is not yet a reason for despair. Especially given the interest generated by the mass builds and the gliding fraternity so heartily encouraged by the RCME

Cheers JD

Jonathan M14/04/2017 08:36:11
669 forum posts
275 photos

Scratch-built trad aeromodelling at its best: **LINK**

Indoor Free Flight Scale Nats next weekend. I hear Kit Scale entries now up to 40 - double that of two years' ago!

Peter Miller14/04/2017 08:41:02
10070 forum posts
1192 photos
10 articles


If we get to the stage where everyone flies ARTFs....Who will design the ARTFs of the future?

Barrie Dav 214/04/2017 08:56:21
1012 forum posts
14 photos

Chinese, Peter?

A lot of words in this post about kits to build from. Very many of we aeromodellers have always built from plans (Cliff Charlesworth our Peter Miller et al). There's nothing like a new plan to gloat over and savour the forthcoming project

Ernie14/04/2017 09:01:19
2511 forum posts
20 photos

Instant gratification, How sad........Buy the plastic jobbie in the morning, crash it in the afternoon, move on to something else;


Percy Verance14/04/2017 09:52:32
8109 forum posts
155 photos

There's certainly an element of that Ernie. Over the decades I personally have seen some who seem to *do the rounds* as it were, trying several hobbies and pastimes to see which floats their boat. From what I've observed, odd ones stick around for while, whereas others build/buy/acquire just the one model, crash,bash or otherwise wreck it, then move on to other things perhaps assuming they've experienced all the hobby has to offer. We live in a disposable age, and some see hobbies as disposable too. That's pretty much the way it is today.




Edited By Percy Verance on 14/04/2017 10:00:20

Flyer14/04/2017 10:46:54
533 forum posts
81 photos

Many, many valid points have been made above. I have been taking part in the PSS mass build of the A4 Skyhawk, although I failed to finish in time to be part of the mass launch. I had previously only built from kits, over 20 years ago, until having the family took over. As , I suppose, a 'returner' it was so useful to ask forum members on here 'how to do ' various elements. This I feel is where traditional building will continue.

I suppose we also need to define 'traditional'; in my view this is the production of a flying model from an idea, be it scale or sport. ARTF certainly has it's place; without it I would not be able to fly regularly. But, ultimately, my aim is to design, build and fly aircraft. There will always be different elements of our hobby; those that like to build, and those that like to fly. And, as such, I believe that ARTF's will always encourage a few to improve their models and to move onto plan builds and then own design. Numbers may be small, but from attending (albeit briefly) the PSS at the Great Orme last weekend there are so many enthusiastic members out there who are freely giving their advice and experiences to enable others to build and fly too.

Due to the demise of the LMS, it may take a little bit of planning to make sure you have all your materials to hand, but once you have a few models, you can always find something to do whilst waiting for the postman.....


Andrew Ray14/04/2017 11:01:54
703 forum posts
19 photos

I don't know about a disappearing art, you only have to look at the vast range of laser cut wood available to construct from plans, (Belair, Laser Cut Sailplanes, Traplet and Myhobbystore). Tony Nijhuis has a great range of models too that are frequently covered within this forum.

Interestingly from a personal standpoint all my gliders are either kit or plan built whereas the power models that I am flying currently are ARTF models, I do have a number of models yet to be finished that are either from traditional kits or plans. I get a much bigger kick from studying a plan or opening a box full of balsa and ply than I do opening an ARTF box. And of course there is the immense pleasure seeing one of my creations taking to the skies for the first time that far surpasses the ARTF experience.

The ARTF models I have bought recently have suffered quality issues, a Ripmax Wots Wot, poor covering, a hardwood wing joiner not fit for purpose as it had a knot all the way through and right in the centre. I have a Hangar 9 Pawnee where the motor mount box needed to be shortened as I was fitting a longer engine, I found it nearly fell apart due to lack of glue. The fittings in these kits I now bin after my experience with another Ripmax product, the Acro Wot XL. Will I still buy them? Probably as they are a quick way into the air and far cheaper than an equivalent kit or plan built model and my traditional building skills give me an insight into the integrity of the model that I may not otherwise have and the ability to repair and make modifications.

However, I have a large collection of plans that I will build from, mainly scale gliders, and I have a collection of traditional power model kits that will also be built, I just need the time and that ladies and gentlemen is the crux of the traditional building problem.

Edited By Andrew Ray on 14/04/2017 11:03:51

john stones 114/04/2017 12:14:28
10499 forum posts
1480 photos

No it's not, whist there's the wood and glue available people will do it because they enjoy it. Many built in days gone by because they had no other choice...some didn't even enjoy it surprise

Time ? folk have always worked and brought families up, no change there.

Lack of skill amongst the younger generation ? No they're as capable as we ever where.

More choice and there's some good stuff available for less than we could build it for. Would some of us have built in days gone by, if we didn't have to ? I don't think so wink


ChrisB14/04/2017 12:30:24
1219 forum posts
34 photos

Posted by bouncebounce crunch on 14/04/2017 05:51:55:

I reckon club environment and available spending is hindering traditional builds. The club can be restrictive and confrontational at times, far from when a couple of mates built a model each and met at the field/schoolyard/golf course to test them. Teenagers and their models and really enjoying the moment .Now it seems to be grumpy old men wanting bigger and better than their nemesis or finding anything to gripe about. we are killing ourselves and the hobby.

a flat surface a few cheap cutting sanding and measuring tools is all you need to produce a nice flyable model. Powered Bandsaws, scroll saws, sanders and the like can make it easier but not better. Tim the toolman in my club could not build a flyable example even with all his money. back to basics is how we can pass on our great hobby.

I'm not sure I agree that clubs are hindering non ARTF models. Surely clubs are just the place where is should thrive? In my club there are probably a handful of us who build from kits, plans etc. Most of us try and pass on advice to others to help them understand how models are built and encourage them to build basic kits etc to start off with.

In recent times we've seen a few new, novice members who know more than those who've been flying and building for 20 years and there's nothing you can tell them that they don't already know and speak with great authority on. They tend to be the ones who disappear after a year or two, once they have exhausted all their knowledge and experience in crashing and failing to rebuild their ARTF models.

bouncebounce crunch14/04/2017 13:06:09
1739 forum posts
212 photos

Chris B you have a few valid points there too. I wish my club scene was a breeding ground for builders. I don't expect every pilot to be a builder but I had expectations that a few would build a model or two every couple of years. my club of twenty, over the last year 3 are now or have been building from a kit and three from a plan which isn't too bad when you look at it that way. but the regulars are down to 3 that churn out one model per year.

ChrisB14/04/2017 17:24:06
1219 forum posts
34 photos

That's not a bad ratio BBC. 3 out of 20. I think we've probably got about 12 out of 85 which is broadly the same.

As Pete Willbourn says there are builders, many who are superb craftsmen and then there are flyers and some who are a bit of both, probably the majority.

ChrisB14/04/2017 17:28:56
1219 forum posts
34 photos
Posted by Pete Willbourn on 13/04/2017 14:39:12:

Chris B knows who I am talking about , We have a scratch builder in our club , yes he is of the older generation , but I rate him as one of the best ,museum quality detail !

He takes his time , about 3 years to finish a model , But the problem is that when covered you cannot see the workmanship. He like some others mentioned here get someone else to test fly his creations , a very nerve wracking time then he flies them once or twice and then actually gives them away !

So he belongs to the builders side but he does fly , but mainly the older Cocklebarrow type aircraft which need a true "oldie" to be able to trim them .!

I have put some of his models on the forum from time to time , so far without comment , so I presume 90% of the membership are flyers rather that builders !

personally I like getting a broken up ARTF and rebuilding /repairing it , its quicker than finishing my Stampe , Tiger Moth , Snipe , and the couple of conliners for my son !!


I do hope the chap in question is still building his fine creations. His paintings are equally fine masterpieces!

I remember a story he was telling me about going to an event where the rivet counters thought his modified WOT4 was something else!

Mike T14/04/2017 18:21:02
410 forum posts
28 photos

All the guys we've had join our Club in the last few years have started out with ARTF foamies. Three of those are now building all sorts of stuff, from indoor flyers using the electrics from the Bind'n fly kit, all the way up to 3M span PSS Learjets.

If you decide the hobby is for you, it seems some people do tire of the sameness of ARTFs and want something more personal. The key is that foam got them flying successfully, so they have the confidence to invest in their own constructions with the promise of (more or less) guaranteed success.

eflightray14/04/2017 18:53:56
574 forum posts
128 photos

Traditional building ?, I know what you mean.

You can't seem to find many blacksmiths these days either, what's happening to the world ?. surprise

Perhaps it could be that some people are living too far in the past, especially in the UK.

A well known American based model forum is growing from strength to strength, even with new forum groups popping up.

Loads of builder there, probably loads of builders here, just not always balsa and IC powered, or want to show and tell in a forum. The world has moved on.

john stones 114/04/2017 19:05:14
10499 forum posts
1480 photos
Posted by eflightray on 14/04/2017 18:53:56:

Traditional building ?, I know what you mean.

You can't seem to find many blacksmiths these days either, what's happening to the world ?. surprise

Perhaps it could be that some people are living too far in the past, especially in the UK.

A well known American based model forum is growing from strength to strength, even with new forum groups popping up.

Loads of builder there, probably loads of builders here, just not always balsa and IC powered, or want to show and tell in a forum. The world has moved on.

Blacksmith here need a model shoeing wink


Tom Sharp 214/04/2017 19:41:40
3459 forum posts
17 photos
Posted by eflightray on 14/04/2017 18:53:56:

Traditional building ?, I know what you mean.

You can't seem to find many blacksmiths these days either, what's happening to the world ?. surprise

Strange that, just yesterday I saw a blacksmiths van from Manchester Airport of all places. The Mind Boggles.

Pete H14/04/2017 20:58:52
71 forum posts
58 photos

Building for me is a more interesting part of this hobby than the flying, and I enjoy the flying. I find it makes model flying a much richer and more rewarding experience.

For instance, with an ARTF model the input is limited to fitting a few servos and power plant. very quick but doesn't fire the imagination in any way. You then take it to the field and it looks exactly the same as the plane next to it. That first flight, when the plane takes off and flies well or not, there was very little that you could have done or changed to influence how the model flies.

However with a plan, kit or own design build there are many opportunities to tailor the build to suit your own preferences. The level of detail, the weight, the servo locations, ailerons, flaps, spoilers, all these changes could have a positive or negative effect on both the appearance of the model and that all important first flight. The time spent building and thinking about the build and the problems it presents help build a bond with the plane. The first time you take it to the field knowing that the plane is unique; the questions from club mates; the skills gained. All adds to the anticipation, drama and ultimately sense of achievement from that first flight that I feel is lacking in the ARTF experience.

One does not need to have a huge arsenal of tools or building space. My first plan built plane, complete with built up wings seemed impossible at the time. However with a scalpel, razor saw, a covering iron and some mistakes. I built a perfectly respectable Thomas Morse S-4C Scout bi-plane on the kitchen table. I did a build blog at the time here.

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