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PFM / Pat French Models

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Michael West 220/01/2019 23:30:49
1 forum posts

Not quite sure where to start with this one, and one probably for the slightly older generation.

I’ve inherited PFM or Pat French Models, which later became Aerotechnique based in Northampton. It was never sold on to anyone else and is now for me to decide what to do with what remains of it.

I see from a quick google and search in the forums that the name gets mentioned from time to time.

The kits have not been available since the late 80’s and has basically sat dormant since. If it was one of the later kits I probably stamped the part numbers on... (badly)

This is certainly not my field, but are people interested in getting a very limited number of the older style kits back in UK production? I’d have to modernise the balsa to laser cut (I can do this myself) as I don’t have the facilities to go fully old school bandsaw. Foam/fibreglass would be a problem, but not totally undoable.

I’m genuinely interested in peoples opinions, or even anyone who might be interested in purchasing the remnants of the business - there is a lot of IP in it.

I’m happy to discuss a possible sale with a genuinely interested party – you must have a verifiable business that you own to talk to you - I have my own full time job.

Michael.

Jon Laughton24/01/2019 00:40:09
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1172 forum posts
104 photos

Michael I sent you a private message through this forum...did you get it? If so please courteous and acknowledge that.

Tom Sharp 224/01/2019 01:07:58
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3425 forum posts
17 photos

Waste of time and hope, bin it all.

stu knowles24/01/2019 08:36:49
558 forum posts
44 photos

No! PFM did a nice large Zlin and the monoplane DH71 (I think) Tiger Moth racer. Even if you are not able to re kit them at least put all the information onto paper and publish it as a plan. There are still people cutting foam wings so only the templates and a layout drawing needed there.

Wasn't the DH71 around 90 " span? I always thought it a nice looking model.  You can put me down for a kit.

Edited By stu knowles on 24/01/2019 08:38:33

Nigel R24/01/2019 09:42:48
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2920 forum posts
470 photos

Just some numbers:

There's probably about 40000 active fixed wing flyers. That is a guess based on "most of us" being in BMFA, and the BMFA membership population.

Of those, 10% or 15% of us (insert a better guess here) build, the rest are ARTF drivers (it is not like the 80s where you had to buy kits in order to fly much).

Of those 4000, some will scratch build, some will kit build, maybe half and half?

So two questions -

how many kits will they buy per year? 1 each? 2 each?

what % of those do you think you can grab? 5%

You may find it easier to farm out the laser cutting to someone else, or simply let an established kit cutter like SLEC take on the designs, if they feel there is a market for them.

Your call of course.

Stuart Z24/01/2019 10:34:41
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369 forum posts

Michael

Really enjoyed flying the A1 Cranfield I had way back when. Might be interested if one or similar became available.

S

RichB24/01/2019 11:02:21
80 forum posts
1 photos

I've still got a PFM Firecracker.

I recently refurbished it and fitted it with electric retracts and a new engine but it could do with a new canopy as I managed to crack the original and the repairs look a bit rubbish!

It does fly well and I do feel that there could be a market for the kits. Good luck with the project and I hope you can find a buyer to take it on.

Stearman6524/01/2019 11:26:31
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769 forum posts
893 photos
Posted by Nigel R on 24/01/2019 09:42:48:

Just some numbers:

There's probably about 40000 active fixed wing flyers. That is a guess based on "most of us" being in BMFA, and the BMFA membership population.

Of those, 10% or 15% of us (insert a better guess here) build, the rest are ARTF drivers (it is not like the 80s where you had to buy kits in order to fly much).

Of those 4000, some will scratch build, some will kit build, maybe half and half?

So two questions -

how many kits will they buy per year? 1 each? 2 each?

what % of those do you think you can grab? 5%

You may find it easier to farm out the laser cutting to someone else, or simply let an established kit cutter like SLEC take on the designs, if they feel there is a market for them.

Your call of course.

Don't agree about kit building, I've been back in the game since last August & bought 2 ARTF's & three builders kits. The way they are produced now with laser cutting is far superior to the die cutting of old with crunchy balsa graded to suit the cutting process. Also the use of ply instead of balsa, is probaly environmentally friendly compared to the decimation of balsa trees. The main reason in buying kits in my declining years, is to give my brain & limbs something to do, & my memories back to my youth.wink

Edited By Stearman65 on 24/01/2019 11:27:24

Don Fry24/01/2019 13:35:38
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3725 forum posts
42 photos

If I were in your boots, I would be talking to the existing kit makers. Ask, say, the proprietor of Warbird Replicas, Richard Will, why there is no big expenditure of time and cash to provide big stock levels. Ditto, SLEC. Then decide if you want to invest, or sell, or cooperate with an existing small kit maker.

Nigel R24/01/2019 13:39:36
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2920 forum posts
470 photos

"Don't agree about kit building"

You're not the average club member. And with respect I don't agree with you not agreeing about kit building. Spend some time at a flying site and look at what club members have brought along. Count the foamies, count the ARTFs, then count the kit and scratch built, builders are the minority by a long long way.

Balsa is now mostly farmed on plantations, not hand picked from natural growth in tropical and sub-tropical rainforest. Most balsa is used as insulation in shipping. The wood we get now is consistently young compared to the wood from 30 years ago, where it would vary in age. Its grain is now more consistent. Perhaps this is what you have noticed.

Poplar liteply is consistent, cheap, and laser cuts quite well, hence its use, especially in ARTF which is more of a manufacturing assembly process, vs a scratchbuilders techniques and ability to select appropriate grade material. I sincerely doubt environmental considerations feature in its use in our hobby.

None of that is particularly relevant to whether the OP takes on the IP from a kit business which made kits targeted at the market such as it was 30 or 40 years ago.

Edited By Nigel R on 24/01/2019 13:41:36

Percy Verance24/01/2019 14:10:09
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8109 forum posts
155 photos

I had the PFM Cranfield. Nice straightforward build and a good flyer. Big model though at 84 inch span.

Stuart Z24/01/2019 20:29:27
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369 forum posts

Percy,

There were 2 Cranfields, mine was about 55” if I remember. 40 size engine.

S

Percy Verance24/01/2019 21:08:48
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8109 forum posts
155 photos

I can't remember a small Cranfield Stuart, but back then it was the bigger the better for me!

Now that I've thought about it I think the larger Cranfield was 77 inch, not 84. Still not a small model by any stretch......

It was the PFM Zlin that was 84 inch.

Edited By Percy Verance on 24/01/2019 21:09:50

Paul C.24/01/2019 21:16:17
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577 forum posts
139 photos

Mate of mine had the big Zlin and a 60 size bi plane (can't remember the name ) both flew very well, I had the Bucker Jungman 40 size again that flew well as I remember. All had foam wings as was the norm at that time , would be nice to see some of the old models again .

Paul.

Jon Laughton24/01/2019 21:28:43
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1172 forum posts
104 photos

This journey down the PFM memory lane is interesting however I’m wondering if the moderators need to look at this thread.

The OP invited people who might be interested in purchasing the IP to respond. I have done so through the forum and a pm without any response whatsoever so I suspect this is a possible phishing post for someone to use this forum to get some kind of market view....personally I find this discourteous and borderline offensive.

Over to the mods...

Michael West 124/01/2019 21:59:05
6 forum posts
Posted by Jon Laughton on 24/01/2019 00:40:09:

Michael I sent you a private message through this forum...did you get it? If so please courteous and acknowledge that.

I'm afraid I do not have a private message showing up. I also have a demanding full time job, and contrary to the belief of my friends and family I don't always spend every waking hour on the interweb, especially this week while finishing and attending the funeral itself.

Thanks to all for most of the comments. Its nice to see the affection.

I know that most of the models did fly well, some extremely well, especially designed by Pat himself back in the day, although I never flew them myself. Having a quick read on these forums from back over the years, backs this up.

I remember David (Dave) Hodgson from when I was a child, who used to do the displays when my dad ran the business. He was active on these forums a few years back and would like to make contact with him, if possible.

Zlin, DH71, Cranfield (yes, there were two one of 55" I think as mentioned - I think the other was in the mid 70"'s - I'll have to dig out the 1987 price list for that one!), and a few others I “helped” make the kits for as kid. There were 8-10 kits available, with many others that hadn’t been produced since Mike Boardman sold the business back on.

Interesting to see the Firecracker mentioned. Was the next kit that was supposed to go back in to production at the time, but never happened. Some of these were big models at the time but alas things have got bigger. Except for the cowl of the Firecracker – the size of a small rubbish bin even now, and yes, I do have some. Would be much more difficult for me to do as it used a significant amount of foam components to make it up.

The kits listed in the posts I am familiar with in my ageing grey matter, and were produced by my dad through the late 80’s before it came to a premature end, and those, if any, I’d feel comfortable to try to do something with. They were the better sellers of the time.

In terms of laser cutting, I already have access to a cutter - I'm within the making community so its not all unknown territory to cut some bits. SLEC show an image of a Laserscript cutter, which I already have access to. CAD isn’t a problem to prep stuff for laser cutting. Interesting comment about the balsa and change to ply – the timber used in that wasn’t necessarily grown in the most responsible way at the time, and some probably isn’t even now.

The kit design and manufacturing techniques has progressed a lot over the years as well and understand that many of the designs could now be better or produced in a different way as the old school way of doing things won't be applicable now - unless of course there is a real demand within the modelling community.

I’ve never myself got in to fixed wing. I’ve messed with the odd multi rotor stuff – I don’t know who of the kit makers are still around, and like anything, I know many will have been taken over so thank you for the names given already. I’ve still got to go through it to see what is or isn’t salvageable as you can imagine after 30 odd years of being moved around, it almost certainly isn’t complete, and I don’t think my dad knew either. I know some of the tooling would need to be re-created as that has been lost as the original suppliers are no longer around. I believe of the later produced kits, there should be enough to get it going.

This is the dilemma - could I do the kits justice in terms of quality? A lot of time it would take to get it going, but not impossible. I wouldn’t be holding much stock – probably just one model at a time for a small batch. Certainly wouldn't be made in China, and you'd pay for it. ARTF as just wouldn't have the space.

I need to make a decision fairly quickly to keep it, or to move the whole lot on to someone who could do something with it.

Thanks again, and keep posting!

Colin Leighfield24/01/2019 22:24:35
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5889 forum posts
2459 photos

image.jpgimage.jpgimage.jpgimage.jpgI thought Pat French’s planes (Economy Scale), were excellent. Easy to build and great flyers. I still have an unflown Team Special biplane that I hope to fly this year (I wrecked my first after about 20 years, the repairable wreck of a Giant Zlin that was brilliant with a Webra 91 and an another one unbuilt still in the box, waiting for the opportunity. There were also the Cranfield A1 and Tiger Moth Monoplane, I think both in two sizes and others. They were all highly thought of as I remember. I am interested. team special 79 in 1982 (2).jpg

Michael West 124/01/2019 22:38:40
6 forum posts
Posted by Jon Laughton on 24/01/2019 21:28:43:

This journey down the PFM memory lane is interesting however I’m wondering if the moderators need to look at this thread.

The OP invited people who might be interested in purchasing the IP to respond. I have done so through the forum and a pm without any response whatsoever so I suspect this is a possible phishing post for someone to use this forum to get some kind of market view....personally I find this discourteous and borderline offensive.

Over to the mods...

As already noted in my previous, as I type, yet another as yet un-moderated post, I don't have a PM from you - perhaps the mods would confirm this to calm your requirement for me being courteous and offending you?

Also, I have a full time job as noted, so perhaps I might have been implying it may take me a few days to get back, considering this wasn't the most urgent of items needing responding to while I assume the other moderated comments appear - not especially considering that today, as I type was the funeral itself.

The first post I can see came on here this morning. Perhaps if I take a picture with todays paper in front of the remains of the bits of PFM that I have such as some of the templates will put your wandering mind at rest?

Your lack of any respect to myself now forces me not to want to respond any further to any further communication from yourself..

To the others, sorry for going off on to a rant. I genuinely appreciate your comments.

Edited By Pete B - Moderator on 26/01/2019 10:28:03

Michael West 124/01/2019 23:03:11
6 forum posts
Posted by Colin Leighfield on 24/01/2019 22:24:35:I thought Pat French’s planes (Economy Scale), were excellent. Easy to build and great flyers. I still have an unflown Team Special biplane that I hope to fly this year (I wrecked my first after about 20 years, the repairable wreck of a Giant Zlin that was brilliant with a Webra 91 and an another one unbuilt still in the box, waiting for the opportunity. There were also the Cranfield A1 and Tiger Moth Monoplane, I think both in two sizes and others. They were all highly thought of as I remember. I am interested.

Colin, I saw this pictures when I was doing some research over the weekend , and was heartened by what I saw of yours - I've seen the kits go for quite a bit of money on eBay.

Sorry you wrecked your Zlin!

Other models I remember included the Vampire, even the glass fibre trainers such as the commander I think it was- I believe there is still a dustbin bag of new fuselages in storage somewhere in the lockup that never got sold for the latter. All of the kits my dad made and sold had Aerotechnique labels on the boxes somewhere. They would also usually have a inch by 1/2 inch box end label. Kits back when Mike or anyone before wouldn't have this. Its taking time, but things are slowly coming back to me as its been many years since I've delved this far back.

I went through the photo's trying to find something for his order of service, and found a few pictures of the PFM stand after he took it on with my dad in it. I think it was at Sandown race course from what he said at the time, along with a very early Dave Hodgson picture eating an icecream.... has one of Dave's many display Cap 21 models in shot, along with Ken strapped in to his seat of the Cap 21 ready to have this brains mashed by Dave's flying. Not sure who took the pictures as I don't think I've got the negatives. I suspect it might have been his friend Bob.

Piers Bowlan25/01/2019 07:14:06
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1800 forum posts
44 photos
Posted by RichB on 24/01/2019 11:02:21:

I've still got a PFM Firecracker.

I recently refurbished it and fitted it with electric retracts and a new engine but it could do with a new canopy as I managed to crack the original and the repairs look a bit rubbish!

It does fly well and I do feel that there could be a market for the kits. Good luck with the project and I hope you can find a buyer to take it on.

Rich, would that be a scale model of Desmond Norman's full size Firecracker? That was an attractive aircraft, shame there weren't any backers to take the full size aircraft beyond the prototype stage. I could be interested if a kit of it was produced, although in truth I already have quite a large 'kit mountain' to get through. I wish anyone considering model aircraft kit production in the UK well, although I fear the numbers simply won't add up at the end of the day.

Do you have a photo of your Firecracker Rich, that you might share?

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