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Old Mar 16, 2015, 04:23 AM
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New Zealand
Joined Feb 2003
365 Posts
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Scratch build vs ARF composite DLGs?

I have been away from the scene for about 5-6 years. Back then, I have built and flown the Gambler, DL-50, Alula, Seeker and its successor Swyft. I have always wanted a composite ship but the cost always put me off. I even went as far as acquiring a vac pump and some associated gears for vac bagging, but never truly attempted a composite build.

I have started looking at the prospect of a composite DLG again in the last few weeks, and I am completely bewildered by the choices available and quite intrigued by some of the lower cost option,s namely the HK versus, 1.5m v2 and the top sky offering. Even allowing for shipping to my part of the world, a 1m "mini" DLG would set me back only US$150 and an older Topsky 2 US$250 or so.

With these aggressive pricing, is there still much to gain by scratch building (the learning and the experience aside)? Can one expect to build a composite ship to the performance of these ARF's below their prices? Is there any one out here still scratch building?

Personally I do like the idea of scratch building. The idea that one builds everything from ground up appeal to me. The idea that if one damage a wing or something, one can just cut another replacement set is also quite attractive. However, if it is actually more expensive to do so than it may not be so worthwhile.

If I would like to get started on scratch building, what would be a good design to grind my teeth on? Is it still the super gee / apogee line, or is there something else out there?

P.S I should add that I am not after something competition level. I am just a causal flyer usually doing most of my flying in the local school sports ground. I just want something that will have better dead air time than woodies or foamies like the Libelle, which I have also been contemplating.
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Old Mar 16, 2015, 11:06 AM
Master of the Wind
G Norsworthy's Avatar
United States, CA, San Jose
Joined Sep 2008
1,231 Posts
My take on it is that there are so many good planes on the market that I would only scratch build if I wanted something that cannot be had on the market. Take a look at my threads in particular skinny pickle and 2 piece pickle to see what is involved.

Used will get you in the air much faster and dumpster diving is still faster than scratch building.
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Old Mar 16, 2015, 11:29 AM
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Poland, Śląskie, częstochowski
Joined May 2008
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Almost all commercially available planes are scratch build by hobbyists. Home-build can be as competitive as planes on market BUT it takes a loots of skills/experience and pretty well equipped shop is required. Good materials are rather scares and expensive too. Fuse mold is a significant bottleneck.
That said it's totally possible to scratch build competitive plane but it won't be cheaper and for some time it won't even be decent. It, sure, takes more than one build to hit the spot so You looking at several builds.
Exception too that rule would be building with group of other people. Sharing workshop (clubs maybe) and collective purchasing materials could help too.
I'm big fan of scratch builds. I don't won't to discourage anyone but reality is reality.
I'm just going too add what everyone say: buy used and see if You are ready too do next step, new plane. It won't as rewarding as building Your own but it also won't nearly as frustrating.
Good luck!
Seba
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Old Mar 16, 2015, 12:33 PM
Aurora Builder
United States, MD, Lusby
Joined Nov 2003
3,701 Posts
I could have bought about 8 of my favorite molded ships with the $ I have invested in tooling for a fully molded contest grade DLG. Now, when I first started, I was building bagged ships that cost very little but my time. They were great for learning hand launch and getting started on the contest scene. When I switched to molded, my results went up exponentially. The ability to get back home from deep downwind made all the difference. CNC machined cores and high end bagging can result in the same performance, but the skills needed to build a wing with that quality with mylars and bags are known to a handful of people in the world.

Soo, go for it if you really want, otherwise picking up a low end new DLG or a good used ship are the way to go!
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Old Mar 16, 2015, 12:33 PM
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New Zealand
Joined Feb 2003
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Thanks. That's exactly what I am worried about. Using the Topsky 2 as an example, at US$250 or so it is imminently affordable. I sat down trying to calculate how much it would cost me to scratch build, and the amount easily reach if not exceed that amount. The only advantage I could see is that once the templates / tooling are there, I can keep producing more if I need spare etc, whereas buying commercial means that I will need to repair / buy replacement parts.

Second hand is never an option where I live, because New Zealand is a small market and F3K planes rarely come up for sale and if they do they will be like new price anyway. Buying secondhand from overseas is pretty much next to impossible.

On the other hand I am keen to explore the scratch build option because I have already acquired a vac pump system and a gravity foam cutter. They have been sitting idle for the last 5-6 years since I bought them and I simply could not sell them for what they are worth in NZ. Might as well put them to some use... But I guess I need to be careful to price the material costs...
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Old Mar 16, 2015, 12:50 PM
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Reno Nevada
Joined Oct 2007
2,709 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by G Norsworthy View Post
My take on it is that there are so many good planes on the market that I would only scratch build if I wanted something that cannot be had on the market. Take a look at my threads in particular skinny pickle and 2 piece pickle to see what is involved.

Used will get you in the air much faster and dumpster diving is still faster than scratch building.
Greg is right on with his comments. If you want to be a big time competitor there is no reason to build your own. If you are big time designer and top competitor then someone else will build your design or you get manufacturers to give you a great deal for you fly and win with their plane.

On the other hand, most development in our sport comes slowly as manufacturer planes have to be versioned so those who want to have the next latest and greatest can get new planes. But from a designer's point of view only radical experiments and improvements with planes are done by scratch builders. Often these scratch builders do not use CNC because of the general costs. Hence they do the foam cutting and bagging on a one-off basis. If the issue shows promise then better methods like CNC work. Molding fuselages is fast an easy if you do not expect to make many from the molds. In general, those making CNC molds do expect to make more than 5 or so fuselages, and expect to sell some.

But don't forget, there are those of us that scratch build and get enjoyment and show pride in our building and in our planes even though we are at the bottom of the pack. I think experimenters are becoming a rare breed.

In the end, buy the plane.

Chris
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Old Mar 16, 2015, 01:44 PM
a.k.a. Bob Parks
Glendale, AZ
Joined Jun 2008
2,502 Posts
See the Curtis Suter videos. He has one for the initial bagging od wings and others for tailboom constructiona dn more for building F3k & ALES planes.

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/member.php?u=9050
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Old Mar 16, 2015, 02:39 PM
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New Zealand, Waikato, Hamilton
Joined Jul 2011
917 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by dimple View Post
Thanks. That's exactly what I am worried about. Using the Topsky 2 as an example, at US$250 or so it is imminently affordable. I sat down trying to calculate how much it would cost me to scratch build, and the amount easily reach if not exceed that amount. The only advantage I could see is that once the templates / tooling are there, I can keep producing more if I need spare etc, whereas buying commercial means that I will need to repair / buy replacement parts.

Second hand is never an option where I live, because New Zealand is a small market and F3K planes rarely come up for sale and if they do they will be like new price anyway. Buying secondhand from overseas is pretty much next to impossible.

On the other hand I am keen to explore the scratch build option because I have already acquired a vac pump system and a gravity foam cutter. They have been sitting idle for the last 5-6 years since I bought them and I simply could not sell them for what they are worth in NZ. Might as well put them to some use... But I guess I need to be careful to price the material costs...

where in nz are you????? I'm in Hamilton ..... happy to help out with your builds etc
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Old Mar 16, 2015, 05:24 PM
Registered User
New Zealand
Joined Feb 2003
365 Posts
Hi gtrbaby
I am based in auckland.
Thinking back, it was actually more like 9 years ago when I was really involved in this and I actually went to great length importing a vac pump and accessories. The most difficult task I found was to source the various material. For example, I could not find any local supplier of carbon or Kevlar cloth lighter than 4oz. I have imported a small volume of Kevlar and carbon from USA some 10 years ago at exorbitant price when shipping was included, and never get around to use them. Do you scratch build and if so where do you source your raw material? What do you build and fly?

Henry
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Old Mar 16, 2015, 05:37 PM
G_T
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Joined Apr 2009
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Try R&G in Germany for materials.

Gerald
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Old Mar 16, 2015, 06:10 PM
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New Zealand, Waikato, Hamilton
Joined Jul 2011
917 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by dimple View Post
Hi gtrbaby
I am based in auckland.
Thinking back, it was actually more like 9 years ago when I was really involved in this and I actually went to great length importing a vac pump and accessories. The most difficult task I found was to source the various material. For example, I could not find any local supplier of carbon or Kevlar cloth lighter than 4oz. I have imported a small volume of Kevlar and carbon from USA some 10 years ago at exorbitant price when shipping was included, and never get around to use them. Do you scratch build and if so where do you source your raw material? What do you build and fly?

Henry
I don't build really - I repair a lot though HAHAHA ... Have a pretty decent understanding on the composite side of things - I fly competition gliders .
the costs are getting better as far as shipping goes.......

finding light carbon is a mission - but I have sources for it offshore. It can be relatively cheap.......you are going to go through a LOT learning to bag stuff properly though....

WAY cheaper to buy a glider.......
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Old Mar 16, 2015, 06:26 PM
Lots of Air Play
United States, CT, Coventry
Joined Dec 2008
852 Posts
+1000 for Seba's comments above.

Seba learned what he knows the hard way and his skills are amazing. You can trust that he knows what it takes to get a good end product.

I did some bagging when I first got into DLG and it ain't easy. I've no aversion doing it from scratch, but I spent more time and money doing it wrong than you can imagine. Unless you just GOTTA do it from scratch, buying is the way to go. More time flying-less time scratching your head wondering why you thought it would be cheaper to do it yourself.

Dave in CT
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Old Mar 16, 2015, 06:29 PM
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New Zealand
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Gtrbaby: Well, look like my vac pump will sit idle for a bit more then. Do you know anyone who might be interested in buying a vac pump and assoc gears?
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Old Mar 16, 2015, 06:37 PM
Registered User
New Zealand, Waikato, Hamilton
Joined Jul 2011
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Originally Posted by dimple View Post
Gtrbaby: Well, look like my vac pump will sit idle for a bit more then. Do you know anyone who might be interested in buying a vac pump and assoc gears?
0 2
1
265
5159

give me a call sometime -

Wynn
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Old Mar 16, 2015, 06:40 PM
Registered User
New Zealand
Joined Feb 2003
365 Posts
I think I have gathered enough opinions here to be desuaded from scratch building. I like building but probably not enough to throw lots of money in it for mediocre results. I guess that's why there hasn't been any taker for my vac pump set up previously as there just ain't that many scratch builders out there. Perhaps I just keep it for making small parts...
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