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Old Nov 22, 2012, 10:39 PM
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foamies vs balsa?

Ok, so i need an opinion from you wise pilots (you can stop snickering now).

I've been flying for a year and a half now, and have been strictly limited to foamies, mostly due to price (since while i'm learning it hurts less!)

I've got about 9 planes in my hangar now, and I want to move on to bigger planes and more robust planes.

Now i'm quite crafty with repairing foam now, but i realize it's limitations.

My question is, once you move onto balsa / membrane / composite, anything that's not foam basically, what can i expect to see a difference in? performance? durability? fixability?

I've never flown anything other than foam, so i'd like your opinions.
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Old Nov 22, 2012, 11:02 PM
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They are different in all three of the catagories you list.

A balsa model in my opinion fly more predictable than foamies.
They seem to slice thru the air cleaner and since are built from a rigid structure handle more precise.

They are more durable than foam as far as bumps and hangar rash.
Not every impact is going to cause damage but most will dent the foam or at least leave marks.

Fixability is going to be more intensive work as the plane is built of parts and if you break it you will need to make new parts yourself. Not like a foamie where you simply glue both halves and hold together for 10 seconds.

I have both and enjoy both for different reasons.
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Old Nov 22, 2012, 11:04 PM
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Scroll to the bottom of the page and check the several similar threads.
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Old Nov 22, 2012, 11:14 PM
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Originally Posted by scirocco View Post
Scroll to the bottom of the page and check the several similar threads.
thanks!
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Old Nov 22, 2012, 11:31 PM
rrg
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You can expect to see a difference in price....
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Old Nov 23, 2012, 12:00 AM
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Joined Apr 2009
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As a balsa guy I can tell you that if the foam Stinger I crashed today was balsa it would have been ruined to the point of throwing away! Being broken in 1/2 in 2 places I fixed it almost undetectable in about 2 hours because it was foam...hot glue, gorilla glue, C.A. and a lot of tape work, along with the requisite colored sharpie...zeezee
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Old Nov 23, 2012, 01:40 AM
Balsa Builder. With some foam.
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It's not rocket science to cut out new parts from Balsa, if broken. If your Balsa plane has not turned into saw dust, you can always repair. With a little patience, and a sharp knife.
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Old Nov 23, 2012, 02:25 AM
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A balsa plane won't look like something you pulled out of the dumpster after flying it normally for for a year. Mud and grass get embedded into the pores of the foam, along with the normal hangar rash. Also some glues turn yellow with time, so that looks like crud also if you've repaired it.

I'm talking about normal out of the box inexpensive foam parkflyer planes, that are not customized with iron-on covering.
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Old Nov 23, 2012, 02:25 AM
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Latvia, Ventspils pilsēta, Ventspils
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I often combine both materials into one model.

Nigel
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Old Nov 23, 2012, 02:56 AM
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Hey now,
This can be a touchy subject. Both groups tend to believe their material of choice is better than the other and often foamie pilots believe the balsa folks look down on them.
Truth is both have their good and bad points.
Wood models either solid or open bay and covering tend to be more ridgid than foam and if your talking "pure" foamies balsa lasts longer. Foam has zero structural integrity so it can flex all over the place and can qui ily become soft and floppy. Yes there are things you can do to slow and even halt the process but those fixed generally turn it from a foamie into a composite model and tgats a class of it's own.
Foam is easier and faster to repair. Balsa can be fixed so you can't tell it was ever broken.
Folks often say balsa is more ridgid than foam and so flies cleaner. It's not a foam/balsa issue. It's about cleaness of line, structual integrity, and over all shape. Foam can be ridgid enough and presice enough to give the clean flight but then many will say it's no longer foam but composite.
I have wood planes I dearly love. Some of them over fourty years old now and they look and fly like new. I have some foamies that I really like too but the oldest foamie I have is a Wingo! Trainer thats sixteen years old now and it's floppy and crumbly and nber gets flown unless a short time friend is over from out of town. And I have some co
Posits planes that are amazing flyers. One was built in nineteen seventy two and looks and flies like new.
Foam has it's place as does wood and composite. None is best unless you get specific about task and even then there are exceptions to that rule every time.
Build what you like and don't let anybody force you into anything. However. If you haven't tried one or another material go ahead and give it a shot. You may find a new love.
RobII
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Old Nov 23, 2012, 03:13 AM
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United States, AZ, Yuma
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they FLY the same. the difference is how much time you put in and how long it last and how many times you crash.

my latest thing is a monocoque balsa reinforced fuse made from 1mm depron.
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Old Nov 23, 2012, 03:16 AM
Wake up, feel pulse, be happy!
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Quote:
Folks often say balsa is more ridgid than foam and so flies cleaner. It's not a foam/balsa issue. It's about cleaness of line, structual integrity, and over all shape. Foam can be ridgid enough and presice enough to give the clean flight but then many will say it's no longer foam but composite.
I think another aspect of this that's often missed is that foam is capable of being more flexible than balsa. You never see balsa wings that can flop and bend like foam ones because balsa will only tend to flex a little bit before it cracks or snaps. Of course there are exceptions, but in general I think it's less of a matter of balsa planes being stiffer by nature and more about foamies just be able to flex more when it's needed.

I know someone will now post a link to a balsa plane whose wings can fold up and touch tips without breaking, but they'd be missing my point
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Old Nov 23, 2012, 07:23 AM
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Joined Mar 2003
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Are the ARF 'balsa' models actually balsa ?

The few I have bought, (and I'm grateful they exist, and at the price), do not seem to be made from the same sort of balsa that I buy from a hobby shop.

Maybe it's because of the build techniques and manufacturing processes required to produce models down to the price. Admittedly buying a stack of quality balsa from a hobby shop these days is not far off the price of a ARF.

Both materials have their good points, and not quite so good points, but if the model you want is available at the price you want to pay, does it really matter what it is made from. (Or even what it is powered by).

To me there is no 'this vs that' if you enjoy the end result,.......flying.
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Old Nov 23, 2012, 07:56 AM
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Joined Jun 2004
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Don't laugh guys but this is my "go to" plane for fun and the first one to come out of my van to loosen up the pinkies. It'a 6 yr old Zoombi foamy. You can see where the paint has worn off the leading edge from air time. Shows just under 60 hrs flying time on the DX8 and probably that much time on the DX7. You can see where the fuse. has been broken in two a few times from the yellowed hot glue from old age. It uses aluminum wire for spars in the wings and side of fuse. If I want to try something different, this is my Crash Test Dummy. Just installed a 3 axes gyro in it for testing.These skis go on it for winter flying. I guess you could call it composite, but isn't balsa covered with plastic film also composite.
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Old Nov 23, 2012, 08:13 AM
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This is my opinion, and only an opinion, so take it as what it is. Some people like to fly balsa for certain reasons, some like foam for others. Haveing over 16 years of flying both, my motto is now, "If it's not EPO, it's a no go!". The way I fly, and places I fly, I just can't do balsa anymore. One mistake, and it is weeks of repair. With EPO you do get more hangar rash, but if I bust it, even bad, I can usually reapir it on the field and be back flying in a matter of minutes. Might not look as good, but it will still fly. I have an EPS GWS P-51 that was broken into 32 pieces at one point. In one evening I was able to put it back together. It is more epoxy than foam now, but flies better than ever.
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