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Old Oct 03, 2011, 06:21 PM
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United States, NY, CENTRAL VLY
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I think I'm done with foam...

I built a Stevens Hummingbird about two weeks ago and loved every minute of the process. I maidened it last weekend and was very impressed, although it was a little bit of a battle due to trim issues. I nosed over on landing and dislodged the motor ending the fun, but walked away in much better shape than I expected with my first balsa attempt.

I thought the trim problems might have been my covering and warpage, this was my first RC build and certainly my first shot at iron on covering. Turns out it was just a balance issue. I also built it tail heavy (not intentionally) so I decided while I was reglueing the motor, I'd reinforce the landing gear and alter the battery compartment to house my Hyperion 240s. I'd rather have functional weight, so I put wire and putty to good use.

A windy week kept me from trying the new setup until this afternoon, so my son and I hit the field.

What an absolute treat it was to fly. Dead straight, nice ROG even from a rough over grown baseball diamond. Tracked beautifully in the air, responded well. The only problem I had was it can fly so slow that the rudder is almost ineffective and I needed to anticipate any turning (or hit the throttle to get some air over it).

This is a 27" WS, 70+ gram model before I added the weight with the alterations. That's twice the AUW of my UMP-51. Just a Champ brick pushing a Bravo SX motor (GWS 5043 prop) and I'm flying nicely at 1/3, scooting along WOT.

It took some good bounces when hitting ruts and grass patches on the landings, no damage whatsoever, it just drops the wing. It's comical, gets a laugh every time, even when I found a smooth spot, it lands, rolls and spits the wing off like it's done.

I've got a Mountain Models Jeep in the sanding stage, can't wait to cover and get it in the air, At half the weight of the Hummingbird, I expect it'll scoot around pretty nice.

I think my days of taping foam and steaming out creases are behind me.
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Old Oct 03, 2011, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by ausf View Post
I think my days of taping foam and steaming out creases are behind me.
Nah, there are some beauties in foam as well. Why limit yourself?
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Old Oct 03, 2011, 09:19 PM
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United States, AK, Fairbanks
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I think my days of taping foam and steaming out creases are behind me.
Hold on there, buddy... Wait until you have your first real balsa crash before you decide to shun the humble foamie.
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Old Oct 03, 2011, 09:26 PM
Wake up, feel pulse, be happy!
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United States, AK, Fairbanks
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Addendum: At the moment I have one balsa plane. It's a scratchbuild that I built early this year as an experiment, and it took a hell of a lot of work to get the bugs solved. Ended up with a new, sexier fuselage by choice, yadda yadda yadda.

This plane has had one major crash and many tiny ones. Any foamie would be looking ready to retire if it was put through this abuse, yet this balsa craft looks better than the day I maidened it because covering hides all the damage. Course, my repair job from that major crash was frick'n beautiful too

You can smash up a balsa plane pretty badly and have it looking like new... Over and over and over... Whereas a foamie will eventually deteriorate beyond repair. That IS one advantage, though the smashing-up part does occur more frequently and violently than it does with a foamy being crashed the same way. More damage is taken, but far less is shown.
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Old Oct 03, 2011, 09:28 PM
The Sweet Aroma of 92 Octane
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United States, PA, Downingtown
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Originally Posted by TP16 View Post
Hold on there, buddy... Wait until you have your first real balsa crash before you decide to shun the humble foamie.
this.
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Old Oct 03, 2011, 11:18 PM
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United States, NY, CENTRAL VLY
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I didn't mean this as shunning the foamies as much as exhorting the balsa.

I'll still fly my UMs, but I'm finished replacing all the parts as they degrade and their bricks will find new homes.

I certainly wouldn't punish a built plane they way I do a UM.
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Old Oct 04, 2011, 12:53 AM
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The damage caused by impact is proportional to kinetic energy: 1/2 m v^^2. That's mass times the square of velocity. This formula applies to either balsa or foam. Or brick, for that matter.

Ultra-micro (UM) planes have very low top speed and very low mass, so the damage on impact with a typical lawn is minimal. This again is true for UM foamies as well as UM balsa planes, eg. the Stevens Aero DiddleRod series.

I have crashed my SA LittleRod and Lil'Squirt countless times with near-zero damage. Total weight of the Lil'Squirt is about 4 oz., and top speed is probably around 20 mph. It was the first balsa kit I built (as an adult) and it survived my beginner thumbs.

The LittleRod (< 1 oz. AUW) suffered a midair collision with a much larger plane. The collision tore off the outermost two inches from one wing but it kept flying, and landed normally. It's since been repaired and you'd have to look closely to notice the repair.

Bottom line, if you make it light enough, it doesn't matter at all what it's made of.
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Old Oct 04, 2011, 02:24 AM
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Originally Posted by TP16 View Post
Hold on there, buddy... Wait until you have your first real balsa crash before you decide to shun the humble foamie.You can smash up a balsa plane pretty badly and have it looking like new
Donīt shun the humble foamie,TP16 is right, remember that song "pick up the pieces" ? but regarding the other point smashing up balsa and having it look like new hmmm... well, O.K. but letīs not forget your grounded a hell of a lot longer. Iīve glued a Foamie at the field and was in the air again in no time, and I mean minutes
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Old Oct 04, 2011, 03:11 AM
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I have both foam and balsa and I doubt that will ever change. Don't limit yourself.
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Old Oct 04, 2011, 03:44 AM
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United States, MI, Monroe
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Glad to hear you like the balsa, nice job, I have not ventured into it yet. Still am put off due to the possibile repairs that are sure to come. Will have to try one one of these days. Just like a gas plane also, love the sound.
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Old Oct 04, 2011, 04:55 AM
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Australia
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Balsa and ply is quote tough. It's not like you're flying around a plane made of china

They both have advantages and dis advantages. Nose in a balsa and it's over. Nose in a foamy and chances are it will live to die another day.
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Old Oct 04, 2011, 07:04 AM
Meh close enough.
minivation's Avatar
United States, TX, Longview
Joined Dec 2010
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Gotta agree with TP16 - I really like balsa, yet my EPO foamie is the most crash-resilient!
I remember my maiden flight with my first balsa - the Mini Telemaster back in March. The maiden was a disaster, as I forgot to check the CG. Thank goodness that I was able to manage it in the air for a while until an experienced adult came over and "landed" it for me, or more like nosediving it into the ground at full throttle from 15 feet.
The point of that is, however, I got away very lucky with that flight. Only the firewall was damaged, and it went for its first REAL flight that afternoon.

Half an year has passed, and the Mini Telemaster, lived up to its reputation, "nothing flies like a Telemaster" - well - I mean in the other way. The Telemaster was simply a pain in the back, the heaviest, the hardest, the naughtiest and most maintenance-heavy. I discovered the reason just a few days ago - the left wing was as warped as it could ever possibly be! Why did I fail to notice this? I don't know, but luckily, I bought the plane as a "two wing-set deal", and having converted the aileron-less wing to a flaperon wing, I'll be using that from now on while I fix the original wing.

Balsa does have its weaknesses!
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Old Oct 04, 2011, 07:17 AM
Da' Cajun
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Lake Charles, Louisiana
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Quote:
I think I'm done with foam...
I certainly wouldn't punish a built plane they way I do a UM.
Good for you ausf.
There's nothing like flying something you've built yourself.
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Old Oct 04, 2011, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by minivation View Post
Gotta agree with TP16 - I really like balsa, yet my EPO foamie is the most crash-resilient!
I remember my maiden flight with my first balsa - the Mini Telemaster back in March. The maiden was a disaster, as I forgot to check the CG. Thank goodness that I was able to manage it in the air for a while until an experienced adult came over and "landed" it for me, or more like nosediving it into the ground at full throttle from 15 feet.
The point of that is, however, I got away very lucky with that flight. Only the firewall was damaged, and it went for its first REAL flight that afternoon.

Half an year has passed, and the Mini Telemaster, lived up to its reputation, "nothing flies like a Telemaster" - well - I mean in the other way. The Telemaster was simply a pain in the back, the heaviest, the hardest, the naughtiest and most maintenance-heavy. I discovered the reason just a few days ago - the left wing was as warped as it could ever possibly be! Why did I fail to notice this? I don't know, but luckily, I bought the plane as a "two wing-set deal", and having converted the aileron-less wing to a flaperon wing, I'll be using that from now on while I fix the original wing.

Balsa does have its weaknesses!
Balsa has it's disadvantages, I don't know about weaknesses. Sounds like most of what's described here is not balsa or design related as much as builder/pilot related. THAT WAS NOT A JAB!!! Heaven knows I've been guilty of all of the above and worse!

I've ALWAYS been a balsa fan over foam, but I've seemed to accumulate my share of foamies. They have their place - mostly in my back yard!
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Old Oct 04, 2011, 07:38 AM
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Helsinki, Finland
Joined Feb 2010
399 Posts
I am puzzled about your culture. I mean, there is no logic at all in this thread.
To make any kind of honest comparison, one must compare uncovered foamplane only to a uncovered balsa plane.
Glass-covered foamie will beat standard balsa plane any day.
"done with the foam" means "done with the foam ARF"s", for you, obviously.
How"s that uncovered balsa surface is taking that hangar rash?
"I"m done with the balsa" must then logically only mean some weak chinese ARF.
Is this the case? I mean some of those chinese balsa ARF"s are very weak. My friends balsa ARF shot it"s firewall to pieces on takeoff, before even airborne first time.
Could not take the motor"s pull.
Third landing teared off the landing gear, fuselage full of cracks. It was not a bad landing.
I mean balsa really seems weak
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