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Is traditional building a disappearing art?

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eflightray14/04/2017 21:07:57
581 forum posts
128 photos
Posted by Tom Sharp 2 on 14/04/2017 19:41:40:

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

Probably for Ryanair wink

Jonathan M14/04/2017 21:27:52
669 forum posts
275 photos
Posted by Pete H on 14/04/2017 20:58:52:

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.

Very well expressed.

How long would one have to fly a model one built oneself to equal the time spent making it?

A wild guess of, say, 100hrs making (2.5 weeks full-time work) would equate to 600 ten-minute flights!!


Phil 914/04/2017 21:37:36
4284 forum posts
231 photos

there is not much more disappointing than to build a model to find out you just don't like the way it fly's or even worse you crash it within the first few flights

Percy Verance14/04/2017 21:41:16
8108 forum posts
155 photos


The time spent building can differ considerably depending on the type of model. Quite some time ago, I spent some time off work as the result of an accident. Fortunately I was still able to build models, so that is what I spent some of the time doing. At that time I needed a good trainer type model with which to teach a new flyer in my (then) club. I chose one of the Telemaster range, in particular the 70 inch version. It's a straightforward uncomplicated build, with no compound curves anywhere. I had the fuselage built, covered in Solartex and painted in 3 days. The wings took a further week or so.

As a complete contrast, something like a WW2 fighter would probably take quite a bit longer, mainly due to the additional complexity. That said, it's pretty much down to how much time you're able to devote to the project.

As Pete points out, you don't need lots of specialist tools or masses of space. A suitably sized flat board placed on a chest of drawers would provide enough space for some types of model. The crucial thing here is that the board must be flat and have a surface suitable for sticking pins into it. If any slight twist or warp was present, then everything you built on it would be flawed, and you'd grow old wondering why you couldn't get it to fly straight........ 

Building models from scratch certainly isn't a black art, and you do get better at it the more you build! Oh, and the satisfaction factor is huge........... it's a brilliant feeling flying a model you've actually created.





Edited By Percy Verance on 14/04/2017 21:58:47

Josip Vrandecic -Mes14/04/2017 21:54:01
2993 forum posts
260 photos

It is difficult and thankless task of forming strong opinions about what is for some people interesting, pleasant or as an encouraging adrenaline.
I never understood gambling, betting, hunting, bullfighting but personally I have no problem to accept it as a fact and that such persons do not feel inferior in any way.

And personally I like and I fly models by foam (I passed all stages in the modeling, except that I was not a pro) , of all categories, and today I am very happy that I can get it relatively quickly-cheaply RTF over Internet.

Note: Some beautiful crafts are disappearing today ... such as new time ..and life is not always it ever ?!

Thanks for your time.

Shane Sunday14/04/2017 22:06:51
342 forum posts
160 photos

Funny how time has been mentioned so many times here. Time is one of those things that is fleeting and so hard to grab onto or get back. While building does require time and an ARTF model requires only a little I think it comes down to time. Building from a wood pack and a plan does take more time and effort which many of us today have little of but still wish to own and fly fantastic models. I love building and nothing gives me greater pleasure than to fly a model I built from sticks or sheets of foam. I've built and crashed some wonderful ARFS but felt more grief for the time spent scratch builds I've lost. I don't think trad building is finished but I do believe we need to pass the torch to the younger generation. And to finish my thought on time... if you do one thing every day no matter how small, eventually the model will get done.

Percy Verance14/04/2017 22:11:18
8108 forum posts
155 photos

Very true Shane. Oddly though, I've found that once built it takes what seems like ages to cover and fit the model out with horns, hinges and the radio etc.

We all have differing views on what seems an appropriate amount of time to spend on a particular model. A chap I fly with is an ex boat modeller, and does still build the odd one. A few years back he built a model of a fisheries protection vessel named Drumbeat of Devon. The model was about three feet in length and was fully detailed. Even the unions on the hydraulic hoses on the Hi-ab Sea Crane were faithfully reproduced. There were quite a number of brass portholes on the model too, and he mentioned that carefully fitting these alone had taken well over a week.......


Edited By Percy Verance on 14/04/2017 22:19:29

bouncebounce crunch15/04/2017 06:02:17
1739 forum posts
212 photos

After many hours contemplation. traditional building is dead.

no garden of Eden in my town.

no Arks.

plenty of burnt bridges though

Don Fry15/04/2017 06:04:10
4038 forum posts
45 photos
Posted by Phil 9 on 14/04/2017 21:37:36:

there is not much more disappointing than to build a model to find out you just don't like the way it fly's or even worse you crash it within the first few flights

But character building.

cymaz15/04/2017 06:07:55
8726 forum posts
1186 photos
Posted by Donald Fry on 15/04/2017 06:04:10:
Posted by Phil 9 on 14/04/2017 21:37:36:

there is not much more disappointing than to build a model to find out you just don't like the way it fly's or even worse you crash it within the first few flights

But character building.

A my late dad used to say, "character building " but always added...."or soul destroying "

Percy Verance15/04/2017 08:48:56
8108 forum posts
155 photos


Those many hours of contemplation could have been spent building something.......... wink

As mentioned earlier in the thread, there must be lots of building happening somewhere. Who do you think builds all those artf's? smiley

Edited By Percy Verance on 15/04/2017 08:51:49

Peter Miller15/04/2017 08:55:00
10245 forum posts
1224 photos
10 articles
Posted by Phil 9 on 14/04/2017 21:37:36:

there is not much more disappointing than to build a model to find out you just don't like the way it fly's or even worse you crash it within the first few flights

Personally I have had some models that took ages but were dismal failures BUT I never considered that a waste of time. I enjoyed the designing and building and I always learned something from it. The same with models that didn't fly as nicely as I would have liked.

My 1/4 scale model of the Stits Baby Bird worlds smallest.

Or not at allsad

On the other hand some models turn out to be a real joy to fly and that just adds to it all.

ballerina flt (25).jpg

But then, just ocasionally I get the urge to produce a model that is a real challenge to design and build and when that works well what a bonus.


And some times there is just the pleasure of creating something that just looks good and proves to ones self that one can do really good work.

bulldog 005.jpg

As for building and space. Well I have build models on the back of an RAF tall locker and even on the top of a small locker in a barrack room. and on a dressing table in an hotel bedroom So don't tell me that you can't do it

Edited By Peter Miller on 15/04/2017 08:57:13

Phil 915/04/2017 09:24:50
4284 forum posts
231 photos

if any fancies a bargain price short kit I am selling via the classifieds a cloud dancer 120 short kit. I really wont ever get around to building this one **LINK**

..15/04/2017 09:34:48
974 forum posts
1 photos

I don't think its disappearing but with alternatives on offer now that never were it's never going to be as popular. The biggest thing and as previously stated in the thread is that many people like to make things and I can't see that changing.

It is an oddity that unlike many things it's far cheaper to buy an almost ready made model than buy all the raw materials and do it yourself.

Personally I think the time available thing is a big part in today's society, just look at how long we spend on places like this for a start.

I've tried & sadly failed due to time and space issues but I look forward to building a "Proper aeroplane" as a fellow local flyer and nostalgia notebook scribe put it to me.

Long live balsa bashing.

Cuban815/04/2017 09:49:10
2753 forum posts
13 photos

Building is far from a dead or a lost art, certainly in the modelling circles that I inhabit across two clubs. True, more flyers either go ARTF or buy second hand, but there is still a very active cadre of people who build from O/D, plans, or kits as far as I can see. The only worrying thing, is that those builders tend to be at the senior end of the scale with only very few younger people (under 45) taking up the scalpel, sandpaper and glue.

Bit of a chicken and egg situation, I suppose - without suitable kits (Flair, are you listening?) we won't get people building, and without builders, where will the kit companies' customers come from?

Phil 915/04/2017 09:52:25
4284 forum posts
231 photos

building does take other forms also. rather than build a complete model from scratch I do sometimes like to build modifications into artf models

Edited By Phil 9 on 15/04/2017 09:52:50

Robert Parker15/04/2017 10:43:48
912 forum posts
1172 photos

Hi All,

I love building and always have since I started in this hobby back in 1990. It is a time issue I find that I can grab an hour or two most evenings after work, but trying to find the right weather and not have any family commitments to go flying is a lot harder.

The forms of building I do is mostly is kit or plan form plus I have assembled three ARTF's. I have built scratch built two aircraft and a third is on the way two which were drawn whilst I was on sick leave from work. These have been a great pleasure to build and for me increase the satisfaction level of that of a kit build, they do of course present problems along the way, but as yet they have not been unsolvable just a lot of head scratching. Of course by building a model it allows you to create an individual model

I think it is down to the modeller and the time they have available to them.


My scratch built Short Stirling on it's ill fated maiden flight


My current scratch built model, a FW 200 Condor, this has caused a lot of head scratching but it is well on the way.

dsc09730 (800x533).jpg

Plan built Beaufighther with torpedo drop, still waiting for me to get up the nerve to fly her.

dsc05580 (640x427).jpg

Galaxy Models Chipmunk in BA colours



Tom Sharp 215/04/2017 11:15:18
3545 forum posts
18 photos

I bet young Al of Al's Hobbies doesn't build his own models.

DaveyP15/04/2017 11:16:44
206 forum posts
47 photos

I've been reading this thread with interest as I've just got back into the hobby after a very long break.

My views for what they are worth, which is exactly what you paid for them, are looking around this forum there are many exceptionally good builders and many other capable/competent builders.

I myself have just finished my first build in over four decades, I did a blog in the builders forum, "Madcap" and although not up to the standard of some builders here it gave me a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction not to mention learning lots of new things.

I'm now half way through my second build, a 4ch. trainer as up to now I've never flown anything radio controlled.

I stand / sit in awe of builds like the bf110 and Condor,etc. something I can only dream of achieving but I will attempt a scale model sometime in the near(ish) future just to see if I can.........

The spin off from my efforts are that my son in law is showing some interest and my grandson. although still very young loves to see what I'm up to.

Just to clarify I'm only interested in traditionally built balsa models and I'm very glad many here are likewise, my only concession to modern developments is that I shall probably try an electric powered model at some point nerd

Jonathan M15/04/2017 13:37:10
669 forum posts
275 photos

Another angle is this:

Just how many schools have aero-modelling clubs? I'd bet the answer is a big fat round zero!

Also, the pride of place in most school DT workshops is the laser-cutter or even a CNC machine, combined with an array of screens and keyboards. Any bench-planes or chisels still in existence won't be properly honed or tuned (because the teacher doesn't know how), so the practice - and joy -of making things properly will never really be experienced.

If we wish to future-proof 'traditional' skills, then this is where it would have to start...

... or where its been neglected for a whole generation already!


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