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Future balsa supplies in UK

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Alan Gorham_20/09/2020 14:23:38
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1339 forum posts
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Just seen announcements on both the SLEC and Balsa Cabin websites regarding their balsa mill being taken over and the output being diverted to wind turbine blade manufacture in China.

Both companies are advising that they are yet to secure alternative supplies while SLEC are mentioning that there is a possibility of 150% price rises.

Both are also advising of depleted stocks and are requesting patience as they try to fulfill orders.

Balsa Cabin statement here:

**LINK**

SLEC here:

**LINK**

That is not encouraging news for builders going into autumn....Let's hope for an encouraging update from both suppliers soon.

Peter Miller20/09/2020 14:28:51
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11512 forum posts
1370 photos
10 articles

Without being greedy I did stock up a bit the other day.Just enough for my current design on the board and a couple more future designs.

J D 820/09/2020 14:33:10
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1631 forum posts
87 photos

Not good for ARTF makers either.sad

Geoff S20/09/2020 14:54:49
3836 forum posts
49 photos
Posted by J D 8 on 20/09/2020 14:33:10:

Not good for ARTF makers either.sad

... or kit manufacturers. In fact just about all builders except perhaps those, like Simon, who love Depron and foamies will be relatively a lot cheaper.

It would be nice to hear some good news for a change

Geoff

Ron Gray20/09/2020 15:01:34
2383 forum posts
965 photos

A return to foam veneered wings, turtle decks etc?

Stuart C20/09/2020 15:52:14
142 forum posts
4 photos

China has PNG over a barrel, having refinanced their national debt and given zero tariff trade links. PNG raw materials will only go where the paymaster allows them.

ken anderson.20/09/2020 16:41:13
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8772 forum posts
813 photos

off topic....we had a mushroom farm nearby who supplied all of the Chinese take aways and restaurants...overnight they found a new supplier and left on mass...the farm went bankrupt and was auctioned off..

ken anderson...ne..1. suppliers dept.

GONZO20/09/2020 17:27:02
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1392 forum posts
14 photos

sorry, double post

Edited By GONZO on 20/09/2020 17:28:59

GONZO20/09/2020 17:27:49
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1392 forum posts
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An 'on and off topic' comment. It doesn't take long for the leading edge of the blades to be irrepairably damaged by rain/ice/sand/grit etc. They are not recyclable and are therefore buried in giant 'graves'. The resin and fibre coating of the blades does not degrade in the ground. Search around and you'll find pictures. That's just one aspect of the so called 'green energy'!

Jim Carss20/09/2020 18:58:36
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2127 forum posts
81 photos

This is not good news,just have to wait and see what happens.

JIm Carss NE23----- wait and see dept.

Hope you have plenty in stock Ken and I know where you live !!!

Doc Marten20/09/2020 19:04:46
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889 forum posts
18 photos

If this doesn't change attitudes within the hobby then extinction will be sooner than later.

Jim Carss20/09/2020 19:11:01
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2127 forum posts
81 photos

could not agree more. sad

kc20/09/2020 19:28:54
6736 forum posts
174 photos

What attitudes are you referring to? Is there something wrong with building your own models from balsa?

McG 696920/09/2020 19:45:46
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3422 forum posts
1302 photos

... another 'toilet rolls hoarding' syndrome here??? ...

Just be patient and wait for the market to stabilize.

... and if balsa wood gets 150% more expensive, so it be.

You're not supposed to take your assets with you when you're crossing The River, are you?

Cheers, but stay safe all

Chris

Alan Gorham_20/09/2020 19:54:02
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1339 forum posts
146 photos

Not sure you fully appreciate the significance here Mcg....

SLEC and Balsa Cabin are the two biggest suppliers of Balsa in the UK. SLEC do their own processing of the wood into sheet, strip and shaped lengths and I think that Balsa Cabin may do this too (they certainly used to).

The market appears to be stabilising in favour of balsa plantations sending their best wood in large quantities for wind turbine blades.

Without those two suppliers I think I'm right in saying that UK modellers are left dependent on imports of finished balsa which may well mean less choice of strips and shapes, thicknesses of sheets and variations in grade.

It may well be that business ends up not being viable for SLEC and Balsa Cabin. You may have a relaxed attitude to that fact in Belgium but I for one am not full of confidence tonight.

kevin b20/09/2020 19:59:32
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1935 forum posts
152 photos
Posted by McG 6969 on 20/09/2020 19:45:46:

... another 'toilet rolls hoarding' syndrome here??? ...

Just be patient and wait for the market to stabilize.

... and if balsa wood gets 150% more expensive, so it be.

You're not supposed to take your assets with you when you're crossing The River, are you?

Cheers, but stay safe all

Chris

yes

Maybe it will deter some of those who build ridiculously large 60% + scale models. Not that I don't mind large models, but if it is big enough to get in and fly, then it should be built to do so. Large scale replicas are great, but why would you want to fly them from the ground with all the associated extra risk ?

I can see a potential increase in the number of small club models being seen at the flying fields. It will be the 1970's all over again (but without the hair).

Maybe we will see next the Chinese keeping all their Lithium. We might have a resurgence of diesel and small glow engines !

Scott Edwards 220/09/2020 20:00:06
228 forum posts
97 photos

Well said Alan. I desperately hope SLEC & Balsa Cabin find an alternative supplier, they're both fabulous companies that have supported the hobby for decades.

If balsa goes up, then so do ARTF's, laser cut kits and boxed kits. Wooden ARTF's have already almost disappeared, this could be the death knell.

McG 696920/09/2020 20:20:57
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3422 forum posts
1302 photos
Posted by Alan Gorham_ on 20/09/2020 19:54:02:

Not sure you fully appreciate the significance here Mcg....

It may well be that business ends up not being viable for SLEC and Balsa Cabin. You may have a relaxed attitude to that fact in Belgium but I for one am not full of confidence tonight.

Alan,

I'm a very regular overseas customer of SLEC and I always receive very fast answers from Tina regarding my daft enquiries...

Regarding your "not full of confidence TONIGHT", I fully agree and that's why I wrote "to wait" before installing some kind of 'panic situation' as we all had not farther than a few months ago for very different and a lot more important reasons.

Cheers, young man

Chris

Alan Gorham_20/09/2020 20:41:25
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1339 forum posts
146 photos

If the loss of the supply of raw material to the UK model building community is not a potential reason to panic then I'm not sure what is. At risk of repeating myself: both SLEC and Balsa Cabin are low on stock and have no alternative supply.

If they cease to be viable as balsa suppliers that could well mean the loss of all the ancillary components they supply such as engine mounts, control horns and linkages, hinges etc. The list is huge.

The UK used to have Solarbo (readers of a certain age will remember that name) and one of their great claims was that they owned their own balsa plantation. Thus while building from plans was so popular, then the UK had security of supply.

Eventually that disappeared as building declined in popularity and modellers are now at the end of a queue for balsa. It cant be a coincidence that SLEC say they were trying to buy their wood supplier for the last few years. They must have had concerns about future supplies.

I've been building models and buying sheets of balsa for nearly 40 years and I really, truly do not want to give that up so perhaps you can see why some if us are not relaxed about this news.

McG 696920/09/2020 21:00:50
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3422 forum posts
1302 photos

Alan,

It's really not about being 'relaxed about this news' or not.

The point simply is 'YOU CAN'T HAVE AN INFLUENCE' on this matter.

So, no point of having 'sad' or 'worried' feelings/concerns about it right now.

SLEC, the boss, their staff and Tina know a lot better what are their possible actions than you even after 40 years of buying wood and building toy models... please... wait for their actions/decisions to be communicated...

Cheers

Chris

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