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Recommended First Balsa Kit

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neil martin 127/12/2018 10:10:40
29 forum posts
9 photos

Whoa..what a fantastic level of feedback, thank you all so much! Been offline for a couple of days for obvious reasons!

Having a couple of young children doesn't give me a great deal of time at the workbench (need to factor this into my choice of kit too) so time at the bench is a precious commodity for me. I am really pleased that this thread has had a great level of input for others in a similar but rare situation, being those that can fly but not yet build. Again... I really appreciate all of your comments.

Just to answer a few questions that have appeared and a couple of other points to raise:

In answer to a question about the size of model I would like to build, for starting out I am thinking of a low wing aircraft of 40-60 size being glow or electric (no preference there). This is partly due to limited space in the garage (kid's bikes, wife's junk!... angry), cant wait to eventually move house and have my own workshop one day, but that's another story!

I currently fly a range of aircraft from the smallest ......SIG Smith Miniplane (built by a clubmate) that I overhauled with new Solartex, Paint and an ASP52, right up to the largest size in the fleet a Sebart Miss Wind and a 35cc Petrol Hurricane (Seagull) which I am hoping to maiden this spring when the weather gets better.

I would like to start with a laser cut kit, avoiding the need to cut out all of the ribs and formers at this early stage. I have a large flat bench in the garage to build on, but will need to invest in some tooling, Jigs and accessories. A friend at my flying club has built a Gangster 63 and he thoroughly recommends them, so that is certainly one to consider. It just needs to be able to teach me the basic essentials before moving onto the more tricky stuff like wing washout that Ill hopefully address on a 2nd or 3rd model. Relating back to my original question, I have a keen interest in Warbirds so I was hoping that there may be a sport style Kit that is stand-off scale and doesn't require all of the tricky aspects associated with scale warbirds that have been highlighted in this thread. Is it fair to say that the Cambrian and Fun Fighter range would fall into this category?

Last point to raise which has been mentioned a few times is concerning choice of wood. I've sometimes watched guys in the SLEC tent at the shows, religiously inspecting their balsa before making a purchase and can totally understand why this is important. With the demise of model shops across the country, how do modellers overcome this requirement, when ordering online is the most obvious method of making a purchase? Or, is it the case that the choice of supplier is such that they can be trusted to send something of good quality and specific to requirements? Obviously at some point I am going to want to procure materials and am interested to know how you guys manage this?

Thanks again all.

alex nicol27/12/2018 10:20:37
359 forum posts
15 photos

Might be worth a wee look at one of the outlets that supply a plan and wood pack options, quite often you can get a magazine build log too. Alternately if you haven't already have a look at outerzone or aerofred websites as there are literally thousands of plans on there you can browse/download/purchase

Good luck with whatever you decide on.

Ken Lighten27/12/2018 10:27:08
258 forum posts
42 photos

I would also suggest a Funfly from SLEC, they do them in I.C. and electric versions, the kits have virtually everything needed apart from covering and adhesives. I would also suggest a Super Stik from Sarik as a plan build, laser cut parts are available and it’s a straight forward build


Peter Miller27/12/2018 10:44:16
10946 forum posts
1272 photos
10 articles

Slec wood is brilliant. Not only that but when you order you can specify hard, medium or soft grades.

I simply order withthe grades specified and I never have any problems.. When ordering a good stock of sheet I normally specify mixed grades.

Don Fry27/12/2018 11:03:42
4557 forum posts
54 photos

I would say, given you have experience of covering, painting, repairing ARTFs, engineering background, you could go to the Warbirds Replica website, and choose your steed. Not difficult builds, there are some build blogs on this website, nicely made kits. They are sports scale, with an emphasis on flying quality.

neil martin 127/12/2018 13:19:30
29 forum posts
9 photos

Just viewed their website, the kits look good the online feedback seems to be fairly positive. Shame that they are showing no stock of most of their range but Ill make some enquiries.

Kim Taylor27/12/2018 14:23:32
307 forum posts
55 photos

I think they only 'do' the Spitfire now, although I think I remember a thread trying to get a 'group purchase' together on the ME109


kc27/12/2018 16:45:23
6418 forum posts
173 photos

Balsa seems to be more variable in weight and stiffness than any other timber. Huge variations in weight from one sheet to another. A set of digital kitchen scales will tell you which is the lightest sheet and therefore the choice for items like tailplane. There are tables which give a target weight for each size of sheet& thickness to ascertain weight in pounds per cubic foot. It still needs to be firm enough for the job in hand. Stiffness can be gauged by attempting to bend the sheet slightly - choosing two identical sheets will help to make a fuselage that is not bananna shaped. Spars etc usually need to be very hard balsa. Some sheets can be bent across the grain ( for LE edge sheeting etc ) and gently trying to curve the balsa will tell you which could be used for LE and which would not be suitable.

The people on the SLEC or The Balsa Cabin stands at shows can be relied on to give advice if you ask them. Otherwise ask an experienced modeller - those with experience can usually be identified - they are the ones with grey hair!

Edited By kc on 27/12/2018 16:48:53

kc27/12/2018 17:32:28
6418 forum posts
173 photos

Various books give the details of balsa weights to use. David Boddington' s book is available very cheaply at about £2.50 from various used book sources and cover basic construction and cutting of balsa. Worth buying.

Very few tools are needed for balsa models - scalpel, razor saw, razor plane. A permagrit wedge block is handy and a coping saw or fretsaw - powered are cheap still - for working with ply.

Former Member27/12/2018 21:19:22
724 forum posts

[This posting has been removed]

TJ Alexander11/09/2019 11:25:56
105 forum posts

Thank you all. This has been an interesting read for me, as I think about building again. I have some West Wings/Guillows kits to practice my skills before looking at doing a more usable size RC, but there are some great tips in this thread.

conrad taggart11/09/2019 13:33:49
103 forum posts
5 photos

I see the Gangster 63's that get a lot of mentions here go for fairly significant money



Was nearly tempted as also looking for first build ..

kc11/09/2019 19:16:33
6418 forum posts
173 photos

You could ( should) buy the Gangster 63 Lite direct from Mick Reeves Models for 95 pounds! Read up about it here and see that it is an improved construction now. No point in paying silly money for an old kit and anyway its already sold on Ebay.

Important to note that the original enquiry here was from a very experienced pilot and the answers are different to those that would have been given to a pilot of lesser experience. So it's quite important to build the model that will advance your flying.

gangster12/09/2019 05:10:16
1008 forum posts
17 photos

Both the Gangster lite and the Seagull challenger have been mentioned here I have built both and they are excellent models It pains me to admit it though but the Seagull is imho a better kit. Time has taken its toll on the gangster lite and both the fus and wing has warped. A few have mentioned the Super 60 but what about the low wing Super 60 traditional built and whilst it’s no acrowot it is probably way less boring than a high wing version. Not sure it’s available in kit form but it’s all 1/4 square balsa. The wing is available as a kit though it’s available from Ben buckle as a conversion for the high wing as to four channel. So best of both worlds kit and plan build

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