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Old Oct 17, 2013, 11:40 AM
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Question
Cheaper alternative to balsa for light weight plane frame

I was reading some of the ideas about using plastic kitchen wrap and other alternatives for a basic cheap plane covering materials and I was wondering if anyone knew of a really cheap alternative to balsa wood for the frame?

I want to experiment with different designs and ideas really cheaply.
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Old Oct 17, 2013, 06:05 PM
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Redwood is heavier than balsa, but usually pretty straight and good for spars. Bass is more flexible when crashed but also heavier. Doculam is good for covering and is heat sealed and heat shrunk just like the ____kotes. Much cheaper but a huge roll or maybe two is the minimum order. It is clear. 1.5 mil is preferred for most guys. I think I would get the 3 myself, but that is me. Foamboard can be used for fuselage formers and say redwood stringers if a more conventional build is preferred. Coroplast is quick and dirty and pretty good, maybe just a bit heavy and ugly in some cases. A foam wing covered with maybe silkspan glued on with wallpaper past or thinned white glue, covered with a film, and a fuselage as I mentioned would be fine for a "normal" or slightly abnormal type plane.
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Old Oct 18, 2013, 01:18 AM
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Thanks interesting, I have used coflute ( I assume it's the same as what you call coroplast) but it's very heavy, if it was cut into strips to make a frame it could cut through the kitchen wrap

Are there any cheaper alternative to those alternatives?


If only ice cream sticks were longer.

Btw I'm from Australia so some of those woods wouldn't be available here, only as expensive imports.
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Old Oct 18, 2013, 12:06 PM
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Bamboo was an old source in the early days. BBQ skewers can be found fairly long. Any softwood with a straight grain and no knots would be OK. Check out your lumber yard and get a line on a table saw to strip them out. 2mm coroflute is lighter than the 4mm. It is better to be used as a skin. I wouldn't use the kitchen wrap. I'd go for the Doculam. about $25 for a lifetime supply for a couple of people. Make up a hot wire and play around with some foam. It is pretty useful too. The pink or blue stuff sands nicely, but is slightly heavier than the white. Years ago cardboard was used for a harder type skin on wings etc. Like a thinner Bristol Board at a craft store. It requires painting or doping, so I wouldn't bother with it. I am cheap, but more importantly lazy too, plus I haven't found a good reasonably priced fuelproof coloured paint lately.
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Old Oct 18, 2013, 11:44 PM
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Thanks, I'll write down Doculam as a material to get but It's not available in Australia easily from doing a quick search. Is it called something different here does anyone know?
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Old Oct 19, 2013, 06:29 PM
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There are a couple others that work too, I searched it about a year ago in the forums but lost the paper I wrote it on. I probably spent a few hours looking on rcu and rcg. It is mail order here too in Canada. Big office suppliers may know the name and be able to get it. I never got any yet but will as soon as I get around to it. It is clear and can be painted.
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Old Oct 19, 2013, 10:54 PM
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Try a search for "Laminating film". It's the clear plastic that's used in laminating machines. (AKA Doculam)
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Old Oct 19, 2013, 10:58 PM
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Here in the US we have many "Dollar stores". They carry a foamboard product that's about a quarter inch thick and that has a coating of paper on both sides. It's very inexpensive and is easily cut to form ribs, formers, etc. Many entire planes are made of it. See, for example, http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1587275 or http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...oSQheRsY-Wb-5r
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Old Oct 20, 2013, 03:54 AM
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Sounds interesting, does anyone know if there is an equivelent in Austalia and where to buy it? Maybe I should make a new thread that people will see to ask.
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Old Oct 20, 2013, 12:27 PM
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I mentioned that in the 2nd post, but forgot about the Blue Fan Fold 1/4" foam. It is quite reasonably priced too. It is used under siding when renovating. The blue is what you want. I have to go to the US to get mine, and even then it is hard to get. It doesn't have a paper that needs to be peeled. There is a following for that stuff too. search 'blue FFF' and there is lots of info and plans there. Not sure what is in Australia, There are other brands that don't work as well.(for models) I got some blue 1/2" that is fairly useful too. I am making a Cheap Delta, a Crazy Herb design with that stuff.
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Old Oct 21, 2013, 12:29 AM
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Yeah most of these things aren't available here.

Oh well the depron looks ok.

I tried corflute but it's too heavy.
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Old Oct 21, 2013, 03:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RC Aerobat View Post
Yeah most of these things aren't available here.
.....

I tried corflute but it's too heavy.
What type of plane are your trying to make? What size coreflute are you using? You can make surprisingly light and good looking planes from 2mm coreflute and polystyrene (readily available in most places). See some of the planes in the sticky thread in this forum, or search for 'electric SPAD'...some guys were making some nice light planes a few years ago. There are also some tips for keeping planes light in the 'Beyond gutter pipes and yardsticks' thread. Coreflute is also great for slope soarers - follow the links from Flying Beagle's posts to the MIG and other corroscale sloper threads.

My observation is that correx is relatively more popular in SA and Australia/NZ because of the lack of cheap foam choices in these countries...and you will be astounded by what folks are managing to build with it. Search "correx MIG7" for some evidence!

2mm coreflute is also my material of choice for flying wings. When combined with a pool noodle, you can build very cheap and almost crash proof planes that fly well and are simple and quick to build
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Old Oct 21, 2013, 10:45 AM
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Yes I'll make a trip to the hardware store soon to look for materials including plastic pipes maybe.

I want to try a variety of construction methods with cheap materials, I have brown paper I have been saving which I want to use with a foam frame. Also probably a complete foam microstick and jumbostick and other slow and very slow flyers.
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Old Oct 30, 2013, 11:07 PM
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I just stumbled upon this, Foamboard in Australia...

http://flitetest.com/articles/foamboard-in-australia
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Old Nov 05, 2013, 12:40 AM
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Great link, I'll bookmark it to compare all the options.

lol but it seems depron is the best anyway.
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