By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
Forum sponsored by:
Forum sponsored by CML

Foamies for beginners?

A discussion.

All Topics | Latest Posts

Search for:  in Thread Title in  
Nigel R14/11/2018 11:46:05
avatar
1977 forum posts
368 photos

"But from what I am seeing in the real world is that the foamie taught generation who move on to (still very light) aerobatic models are some of the best pilots I have seen in decades"

Very low cost, combined with very low repair / build times, breeds a lack of fear when practicing.

That, is essential, to learn a lot - a scared pilot will learn little other than to stick to what they know, like nice and high left hand circles, to use a stereotype.

I don't see many "old school" pilots practicing rolling harriers at 15 foot altitude. Of course not, when the result of a mistake is weeks of repairs and large costs of replacement bits.

It's always the guys flying foamies day in, day out, that seem to be progressing. Stacked the hummer? Hot glue and a new prop, off it goes again.

And the skills translate.

Foamies are a good thing, but, they are just one of the things that make up the hobby.

PatMc14/11/2018 12:31:03
avatar
3931 forum posts
492 photos
Posted by Richard Harris on 14/11/2018 09:49:27:

I am not a lover of foam models but do think it is one of the best things that has happened in our hobby in the last decade or so

"Foamies" have been around since at least the early '70's.

David Mellor14/11/2018 12:34:50
avatar
1126 forum posts
546 photos
Posted by Nigel R on 14/11/2018 11:46:05:

 

And the skills translate.

Foamies are a good thing, but, they are just one of the things that make up the hobby.

 

I absolutely love foamies.

 

Thats why I also build traditional,  powered balsa free flight designs, and autogyros, and wooden slope soarers - because they too are also an essential ingredient of the hobby in its widest sense.  And I love them just as much.

 

It is exactly as Nigel says..... foamies are just one of the things that make up the hobby. 

 

One of the sad things that can happen on forums in general (not saying it has happened here) is to isolate a particular item (it would be "foamies" in my illustration) and then instantly polarise the discussion, with the inevitable heated - and unhelpful - results.

 

To answer BEB's 3 points directly (his first post that set this thread up), my personal experience is that the Lake District is at least as windy as North Wales and probably even windier. But I have no problem flying foamies here. Secondly, he suggests foamies are too light and don't provide weight and inertia experience. My personal experience is that is fundamentally not correct either - they can be designed and built to any weight, size and power of interest, though I do agree that most commercial ones are not so great in that respect.

And thirdly.... you can take (and pass) your 'A' cert with a foamy, in a very windy part of the country, with a big, heavy foamie. I know this because it is exactly what I did.

 

Dave

 

 

 

Edited By David Mellor on 14/11/2018 12:49:58

David Mellor14/11/2018 12:36:45
avatar
1126 forum posts
546 photos
Posted by PatMc on 14/11/2018 12:31:03:

"Foamies" have been around since at least the early '70's.

Exactly right, Pat. Well said, mate. I wonder if they have been around as long as foam itself?

Dave

PatMc14/11/2018 13:23:47
avatar
3931 forum posts
492 photos
Posted by David Mellor on 14/11/2018 12:36:45:
Posted by PatMc on 14/11/2018 12:31:03:

"Foamies" have been around since at least the early '70's.

Exactly right, Pat. Well said, mate. I wonder if they have been around as long as foam itself?

Dave

Actually, I'm wrong. It was being used in the early '60's.

The "luddites" & "dinosaurs" of our hobby have a long history of considering new materials &/or technologies wherever they arise to see if it's there's any way to exploit them in making & flying models, then making good use of whatever benefits they come across & passing on the knowledge to anyone who will listen.

David Mellor14/11/2018 13:58:02
avatar
1126 forum posts
546 photos

Yep, I suppose it is human nature Pat.... if something new looks like it might be useful, then its only a matter of time before someone tries it out in a model!

Nigel R14/11/2018 14:12:07
avatar
1977 forum posts
368 photos
Posted by PatMc on 14/11/2018 12:31:03:
Posted by Richard Harris on 14/11/2018 09:49:27:

I am not a lover of foam models but do think it is one of the best things that has happened in our hobby in the last decade or so

"Foamies" have been around since at least the early '70's.

Come on now, we all know "foamies" have foam on the outside... except when they're covered in something like a plastic film (possibly packing tape) to make a composite structure... but that doesn't count, because they're still "foamies".

All those old 60's foam models have their foam on the inside, because they were always covered in something like veneer to make a composite, except when they weren't, like if they were made from blue foam, in which case they might have something like a plastic film around them. Anyway, they don't possibly count as foamies because they would have had an IC engine and servos like bricks.

Keep up at the back!

Nigel R14/11/2018 14:18:40
avatar
1977 forum posts
368 photos
Posted by PatMc on 14/11/2018 13:23:47:

Actually, I'm wrong. It was being used in the early '60's.

IIRC I saw a scan of an old article from around the time solarfilm was new, from the same people, talking about using sheets of beaded foam being veneered on one side, and used to make fuselages. They were extolling the quick build nature of it, you "just" cut out the fuselage shape, the top and bottom, stuck in a firewall and a couple of formers and reinforce the hard points with some glass.

Martin Harris14/11/2018 14:38:55
avatar
8020 forum posts
204 photos

We seem to have wandered a long way from that OP all those pages ago (talking of which, is BEB on holiday? He hasn't posted at all this month - hope he isn't poorly...)

The OP referred to very lightweight foam models which are a different kettle of fish to many of the examples being quoted. Far from being any sort of attack on the construction material, isn't it simply a fact that these very lightweight mass produced models just happen to take advantage of foam's production merits? This thread is supposed to be about models which due to their small size and low wing loadings are unrepresentative of models that learners (with apologies to those sharing the surname, I dislike the term newby) may aspire to.

I believe the discussion was meant to revolve around whether a new pilot would benefit from learning on something more substantial (maybe a Riot - that's a bona fide foamy) rather than something like a Hobbyzone Champ which is representative of the sort of model that I think BEB had in mind.

PatMc14/11/2018 15:15:03
avatar
3931 forum posts
492 photos
Posted by Nigel R on 14/11/2018 14:12:07:
Posted by PatMc on 14/11/2018 12:31:03:
Posted by Richard Harris on 14/11/2018 09:49:27:

I am not a lover of foam models but do think it is one of the best things that has happened in our hobby in the last decade or so

"Foamies" have been around since at least the early '70's.

Come on now, we all know "foamies" have foam on the outside... except when they're covered in something like a plastic film (possibly packing tape) to make a composite structure... but that doesn't count, because they're still "foamies".

All those old 60's foam models have their foam on the inside, because they were always covered in something like veneer to make a composite, except when they weren't, like if they were made from blue foam, in which case they might have something like a plastic film around them. Anyway, they don't possibly count as foamies because they would have had an IC engine and servos like bricks.

Keep up at the back!

All sorts of materials were used to cover the foam & sometimes the foam wasn't covered at all. Veneer or balsa was the most popular for "serious" models though brown paper, self adhesive plastic (Fablon was popular), wrapping paper etc were also not uncommon. Some of us knocked up C/L combat models on a production line basis using ceiling tiles & plastic film. IC powered, RC combat models, constructed of paper/plastic covered foam & plastic drain pipes were being made flown by at least the mid to late '70's. There were a few pre moulded foam plastic kits around as well, IIRC Graupner made one.

David Mellor14/11/2018 15:26:49
avatar
1126 forum posts
546 photos

Martin, I don't think the real issue that BEB has raised has anything to do with foam at all, when you look closely at what he says. And I don't think that anyone has suggested an attack on foam as a construction material.

 

The aspect that BEB was raising is that people are turning up with relatively small, light and lightly loaded models, which are unsuitable in some respects.

 

As you rightly say, owing to manufacturing cost advantages of banging out cheap foam models, and owing to high production costs of hand-built balsa models, it just so happens that most of the "unsuitable" models that BEB is referring to are indeed foamies.  But his point would remain exactly the same even if the "unsuitable" models were made of bamboo or cheese rather than foam.

 

Much of BEB's original concerns are therefore to do with the amount of money being spent by new entrants in the existing commercial market for RC models which universally supplies only foam models at the bottom end of that market price band.  

 

As you say, many of us watch this phenomenon and think a Riot or Wot-4 would serve them better - and perhaps it would. But others have made the point that lightweight models can teach fast reactions and 3-D skills from the get go, and that is surely a good thing, especially in younger new entrants? And, of course, for a new entrant to buy a Riot or Wot-4 would require a bigger financial outlay and may return less pleasure (fun/satisfaction) in the short term than a light foamie like the Twisted Hobbies Crak Yak.

 

There is another - more subtle - point to bear in mind. And that is age. Youngsters are very connected and can see the instant fun to be had on lightweight foamies - and you can learn with no help at all to fly them (I did). But many of us old -timers would do things differently.......and recommend bigger, heavier, more traditional looking planes because that reflects our route through the hobby. But there are now many more routes than when we started.... and as long as everyone is happy, surely thats a good thing for the future, isn't it?

 

 

Edited By David Mellor on 14/11/2018 15:36:14

PatMc14/11/2018 15:38:59
avatar
3931 forum posts
492 photos
Posted by Nigel R on 14/11/2018 14:18:40:
Posted by PatMc on 14/11/2018 13:23:47:

Actually, I'm wrong. It was being used in the early '60's.

IIRC I saw a scan of an old article from around the time solarfilm was new, from the same people, talking about using sheets of beaded foam being veneered on one side, and used to make fuselages. They were extolling the quick build nature of it, you "just" cut out the fuselage shape, the top and bottom, stuck in a firewall and a couple of formers and reinforce the hard points with some glass.

I think you're probably refering to an article in RCM&E by Derek Hardman. IIRC the article described the general technique you mention but also had dimensioned drawings of a glider.
I used the a modified version of the technique to build a Watt4/Ugly Stick type O/D model. Fuselage & tail were pretty much as per article but the wings had veneer wrapped around the first couple of inches of LE only with veneer cap strips to a 1/2" veneer TE with veneer covered foam ailerons. Model was designed & built within a week of spare time & flew as well as the Ugly Watt4 Sticks mentioned. Actually I think it may have pre-dated the Watt4.

David Mellor14/11/2018 17:16:54
avatar
1126 forum posts
546 photos

A quick search on Outerzone turns up some interesting facts about early foamies.

 

Pat is right, there were companies setting up in the USA selling foam wings in the early 1960s. One example is Foamcrafts based in Campbell, California. They sold foam wing blanks (possibly also full kits?) for the Beatnik and the tapered Candy wing - all dating from 1966 or earlier.

 

The point of mentioning them here (I know Martin thinks it is a bit off topic) is that these are not only rather beautiful and efficient foamies, but they were also highly sought after, highly regarded and highly competitive designs - based on foam.

 

So.... in those days.....in the 1960s...... small US independent companies were manufacturing foamie kits that would make BEB proud and which would really fly well and allow perhaps intermediate pilots to progress to National competition standards.  In some ways they are perhaps distant ancestors of designs like the Wot-4 and Riot.  

 

So you could argue that when foamies first appeared on the planet, their initial form would have pleased BEB (or more accurately, not have attracted his ire as expressed in this first post).

 

But........ were they really suitable for new entrants to learn on? No. Were they cheap? No. Were they mass produced by the thousand? No.

 

And then..... in the nature of evolution and selective pressures on commercial design and use of new materials....the foamie concept slowly evolved.

 

It is a big jump in time to today, of course, but what has changed is that Chinese manufacturing and marketing has succeeded in firstly identifying a market for smaller, lighter, cheaper and easier to fly foamies than those early pioneering US designs.  And then it succeeded in investing, tooling up and banging them out for the bottom end mass global markets.

 

It is this trend (easily affordable, easily flown, mass produced foamies) that BEB is querying now, I think.  As I mentioned earlier, there is quite a convincing argument that the issue worrying BEB is about the amount of money that new entrants are willing to spend - very little of which is needed these days to get a model that flies - rather than what those models are made of.  To be blunt - in the "old days" there were no cheap, easy to fly models of any material.  Now there are plenty.......all foam, almost all Chinese. 

 

Here are some of the earliest (rather nice and weighty) foamie products made in the USA:-

img_3088.jpg

img_3089.jpg

 

Edited By David Mellor on 14/11/2018 17:35:31

PatMc14/11/2018 18:28:01
avatar
3931 forum posts
492 photos
Posted by David Mellor on 14/11/2018 17:16:54:

So.... in those days.....in the 1960s...... small US independent companies were manufacturing foamie kits that would make BEB proud and which would really fly well and allow perhaps intermediate pilots to progress to National competition standards. But........ were they really suitable for new entrants to learn on? No. Were they cheap? No. Were they mass produced by the thousand? No.

It is a big jump in time to today, of course, but what has changed is that Chinese manufacturing and marketing has succeeded in firstly identifying a market for smaller, lighter, cheaper and easier to fly foamies than those early pioneering US designs. It is this trend (easily affordable, easily flown, mass produced foamies) that BEB is querying now, I think.

The moulded Graupner kit I refered to was the Consul. About 45" span, trike u/c, balsa & ply parts at strategic points, EP wings fus & tail were covered with tissue. The 1964-65 annual gives details of the kit, refers to other available (non-specified) German and Japanese kits in an article that also details suggested methods of building EP models from scratch with further advice on repairs if necessary.
No cost of the Consul mentioned but definitely suitable for beginners.

The big changes from then to now are light, cheap RC gear & light, cheap electric power trains. If these had existed in the '60's the market would have been identified & satisfied by local manufacturers.

Dave Hess14/11/2018 18:33:33
259 forum posts
18 photos

Most foams used in model aircraft can't deal with heat or fuel, which is most likely why foam wasn't widely used,, when IC motors were more or less your only choice, but when we had electric motors that could do the job as well as IC ones, it opened up the doors for foam planes.

Edited By Dave Hess on 14/11/2018 18:34:48

PatMc14/11/2018 18:35:29
avatar
3931 forum posts
492 photos
Posted by Dave Hess on 14/11/2018 18:33:33:

Most foams used in model aircraft can't deal with heat or fuel, which is most likely why foam wasn't widely used,, when IC motors were more or less your only choice, but when we had electric motors that could do the job as well as IC ones, it opened up the doors for foam planes.

Edited By Dave Hess on 14/11/2018 18:34:48

Foam was widely used.

David Mellor14/11/2018 19:34:45
avatar
1126 forum posts
546 photos
Posted by Dave Hess on 14/11/2018 18:33:33:

Most foams used in model aircraft can't deal with heat or fuel, which is most likely why foam wasn't widely used,, when IC motors were more or less your only choice, but when we had electric motors that could do the job as well as IC ones, it opened up the doors for foam planes.

Edited By Dave Hess on 14/11/2018 18:34:48

 

That is an interesting suggestion, Dave.  But I don't think it can be quite right, can it ?

 

As Pat says, use of foam wings was widespread from approximately 1963/64 onwards, as a great many popular designs on Outerzone plainly show. And almost all of them (perhaps actually all of them) are for IC engines.  I don't think that fuel or heat was any sort of problem in practice, and indeed there are some interesting 1960s designs for multiple IC engined foamies.

 

So it does look like there was a substantial proliferation of foam designs for quite some time (i.e. several decades)  before cheap and plentiful small brushless motors, ESCs and lipos came on the scene. Much of this is relatively recent spin-off technology from the much bigger mobile phone industry.

 

I think where you may be right, though, is that the Chinese mass production of cheap foamies that we have today wouldn't work commercially as well as it does now if it relied on small IC motors instead of those nice little brushless motors/ESC/lipo items.

 

To focus on the OP's original points of concern (BEB's first post in the thread), it does look to me increasingly like BEB's concerns (about light and arguably unsuitable models) are much more to do with Chinese abilities to supply new and cheap products into global markets than they are to do with foam!.

 

Edited By David Mellor on 14/11/2018 19:49:47

Nigel R15/11/2018 09:31:44
avatar
1977 forum posts
368 photos

combination of things, I think -

- mechanical side of RC gear coming down to a weight to make a 1m (ish) wingspan conventional models really viable (late 80s / early 90s?), and the subsequent inevitable price reduction of that kit (early 2000s?)

- brushless motors + escs being developed

Once that happened, the small ARTF market was cooking on gas.

I don't think foam has that much to do with the above, it's all been made possible by the cheaper electronics side of things - thanks in large part to laptop and mobile phone battery and radio technology advances.

On the IC front, I agree, I can't see punters going for ARTFs with a cox up front, those days have long since come and gone with the profile control line kits, I think.

Bob Cotsford15/11/2018 10:12:50
avatar
7584 forum posts
427 photos

I believe that most if not all of those early foam models used EPS which is brittle, weak, and susceptible to attack by solvents and heat. There were a few models that didn't rely on a wood or hard plastic veneer for strength but they were the exception. What really set the ball rolling was the adoption of EPP/EPO and similar flexible, solvent resistant foams that could be used straight out of the mould. Add in brushless motors and LiPo price reductions and here we are today.

Dave Hess15/11/2018 10:59:40
259 forum posts
18 photos
Posted by David Mellor on 14/11/2018 19:34:45

As Pat says, use of foam wings was widespread from approximately 1963/64 onwards, as a great many popular designs on Outerzone plainly show. And almost all of them (perhaps actually all of them) are for IC engines. I don't think that fuel or heat was any sort of problem in practice, and indeed there are some interesting 1960s designs for multiple IC engined foamies.

So it does look like there was a substantial proliferation of foam designs for quite some time (i.e. several decades) before cheap and plentiful small brushless motors, ESCs and lipos came on the scene. Much of this is relatively recent spin-off technology from the much bigger mobile phone industry.

I think we need to differentiate between planes with foam core wings and foam planes. I built several planes with foam cores, and they always ended up heavier than built up balsa ones. Also, it was a lot more messing about. By foam planes, I'm thinking about the ones predominently made of foam.

All Topics | Latest Posts

Please login to post a reply.

Magazine Locator

Want the latest issue of RCM&E? Use our magazine locator link to find your nearest stockist!

Find RCM&E! 

Latest Forum Posts
Support Our Partners
Wings & Wheels 2018
CML
Expo Tools 14 July
Motion RC
electricwingman 2017
Slec
Gliders Distribution
Overlander
Airtek Hobbies
Advertise With Us
Sarik
Latest "For Sale" Ads
Which part of building a new traditional balsa aeroplane do you enjoy the most?
Q: Which part of building a new traditional balsa aeroplane do you enjoy the most?

 Research & choosing the model
 Building the fuselage
 Installing the engine and radio systems
 Building the flying surfaces
 Covering/painting/finishing
 All of it!
 None of it. I'd rather someone else did it!
 Other

Latest Reviews
Digital Back Issues

RCM&E Digital Back Issues

Contact us

Contact us