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Old Mar 08, 2007, 01:07 PM
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OhioMike's Avatar
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Balsa USA Kits?

I was wondering what the feeling is on these kits, especially the SE5A or the Spad XIII ones. I was going to start a 1/4 scale SE5A from scratch, but a kit would i believe be less work. Thanks in advance.
Mike
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Old Mar 08, 2007, 02:54 PM
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Martin Irvine's Avatar
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How important is a scale outline? The BalsaUSA kits are often "tweaked" to improve flying charateristics, or ground handling. Some are better than others in this regard. (I would imagine the SE5A wouldn't need any tweaking.)

Martin
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Old Mar 08, 2007, 04:19 PM
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I have built numerous BalsaUSA kits in the past and have three kits sitting around in the "to Build" pile. They are probably the best value for an "almost scale" WW1 plane. If you look at the pricing of some of the "Scale" kits such as Proctor and Arizona Models, BalsaUSA is a true bargain. Yes you have to deal with simpler instructions and be able to read plans but with some patience and determination you can produce an excellent semi-scale representation.
If you are going to convert one of the planes mentioned I would suggest the SE5 over the Spad due to the reduced overall weight and the ease of constructing a battery hatch into the top of the fuselage. Another choice would be the Dynaflite Se5, but I understand that the wood quality is very poor ever since Great Planes took them over.

cooper998
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Old Mar 08, 2007, 04:25 PM
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First and last Balsa USA kit I bought just recently was awful. The balsa was rock hard and die cut with a dull die. The rib stampings were so bad I couldn't use them.

These days Laser cut seems to be it. No more die cut for me. But maybe I just got an end of run kit but I won't be back.
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Old Mar 08, 2007, 05:17 PM
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Yea....Another Great planes kit, the Taylorcraft is also reported to have that difficulty as well, "Rock hard Maple" parts. Balsa USA's web site says on the SE5A, "Fall out die cut parts". Guillows used to say that to, and we know what their die cut looks like, at least with the older kits! I've seen Proctors web site and what they charge for kits. Their worth it as some would say, but my budget says hell no! Even what Balsa USA charges for their kits, they should at least have quality "Die cut parts"! Oh, well. Cooper, what was the quality of the wood cutting in your kit?
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Old Mar 08, 2007, 09:28 PM
Nothing like a good WOODIE!
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First I need to respond to dusty IV,
BalsaUSA is a stand up company and supports their product extensively. If at any time there is a problem with materials or workmanship they will replace it. I had a problem with my N28 kit having severely warped leading edge pieces, after e-mailing BUSA and explaining my situation they offered to send replacements but warned they may also be slightly warped due to shrinkage and moisture changes after milling. They offered to send some unmilled pieces at no cost if I preffered.
OhioMike,
I built a T-Craft from the GP kit and almost stopped building it when trying to build the wing. The ribs were not die cut all the way through in some places and the wood while hard was also very dry and brittle. I eventually did finish it and is now in my ready fleet. On my N28, Eindecker40 &80, Northstar, and 1/4 Scale Cub the die cutting was all very good to excellent, with most parts easily removed without breakage. If I had anything to really complain about it's probably the disparity between the plans and instructions. Sometimes the plans are different from the instructions but a little time thinking and it all works out. I am an old school builder having grown up building the Guillows and Sterling kits of the past so for me anything else is pretty easy.
While Lazer cut kits are a luxury most people want nowadays, the skills learned making things fit is something that will stay with me forever.

By the way, I have no connection with BalsaUSA other than being a satisfied customer.
cooper998
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Last edited by cooper998; Mar 09, 2007 at 10:42 AM.
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Old Mar 17, 2007, 12:02 PM
D.G.B.
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I also agree with copper998.Only thing I have to add is that B-USA use's lots of lumber.Almost all of the planes come out tail heavy.On customer service,IT IS SECOND TO NONE .

KOMET44
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Old Mar 17, 2007, 02:36 PM
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Maybe time for scratch building with foam ?

Nobody is " giving " kits away in the + 72" WS sizes.

Time to switch to solid blue foam Billets by Dow. I had to. The 7' x 2' x 1' solid piece cost $ 55. I bought the largest set of cheap plans that looked correct and had Staples blow them up to what I wanted. 80" WS A-10. Had 3 sets made so I could cut full sized frame stations where I wanted them. Also allowed full size ribs everywhere else. Bonus was scraps to build a couple of Piper L -3's.

You DO HAVE to use a tablesaw to cut the full span slots for spars. 2 minutes. Put spar material in the slots, pencil line. Etc.

You could put ply doublers in for landing gear boxes.
Heck, you can cut the body in 1/2 full length and add a lightened spine for strength.
I finsh sand with a 33 Grit and a 80 Grit --6' sanding board of each.

$55 dollar ........A-10 .. 80" WS....Solid foam, all foam parts = 4 1/2 pounds.

Somebody needs to use a new material ?
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Old Mar 29, 2007, 08:42 PM
RRS
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Just came across this thread, and for what it's worth thought I'd jump in...if it's not too late, that is.

I am building the BUSA's SE5a. It's all framed, about ready to cover except for some - yet to figure out - scale details, etc. Based on my kit I'd be happy to offer my comments/thoughts relative to it's contents, construction, etc, if anyone is interested and considering getting this kit.
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Old Mar 30, 2007, 11:27 AM
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RRS,
Feel free to post your findings, the more people learn about building the better. Nowadays people usually do not have time to build a plane and want instant gratification with an ARF. BalsaUSA as well as a few choice other kit manufacturers may soon disappear unless we continue to build their products. I personally own enough kits to keep me busy for many years but will always buy more if the subject interests me.
What power are you planning for the SE5a? any progress pics??

cooper998
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Old Mar 31, 2007, 09:30 AM
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not cheap but you get what you pay for http://www.scalercmodels.com/ww1kits.html http://www.arizonamodels.com/spad-13.html http://www.3seabees.com/planes.html#arfs
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Old Apr 02, 2007, 11:39 PM
RRS
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cooper998,
Tks for the encouragement. I don't usually make a practice of commenting on my builds or thoughts on kits with which I've had experience. But when I came across this thread I felt my observations and experience in building BUSA's SE5 might be helpful. I share your thoughts about the longevity of (good) model mfgrs, our need for us builders to continue supporting them, etc.

Over the years BUSA has had a reputation (at least from what I've seen and read) of having good and not so good kits. I've been kit (and scratch) building since the 40s and feel I'm fairly well versed in different constructions, etc. My first BUSA kit was their 1/3 Sopwith Pup which I built in 1980 and flew for 19 yrs before being 'shot' down. It was not the best of kits. To name a few things: poor balsa and die cutting, warped plywood and balsa, balsa and redwood spars, etc. Had to change out much of the wood. But, the finished plane was a joy to fly!

When I was at the '05 Toledo Show I bought their SE5, but didn't start it until '06 (hadn't even open the box (!)). When I did start my build I was pleasantly surprised. The plans and instruction booklet were well done. I had only a few questions but these were answered when I re-read everything. However, there were a few places where they could have been a little clearer.

The stick balsa was medium to hard, but quite well selected for it's applications. A few had small (not objectionable) bows. Sheet balsa hardness varied from medium to hard. I didn't use some sheets as they were harder than I like to use. Two of the trailing edge (sheet) strips also had varying degree of bow (which couldn't be straightened) and I had to cut new ones. Of the (5) shaped balsa wing leading edges furnished, two were OK, but three had varying degrees of bow. I was able to straighten two by steaming, but the remaining piece (quite hard), which was used for the wings' center section leading edges, required cross grain saw cuts (about 3/8" deep) every 2 in., or so, to relieve the bow. Then after firmly aligning and pinning in place against a heavy 'carpenter's' straight edge, small pieces of 1/8 balsa were then glued across each saw cut. Once the glue dried the entire section was then straight. Die cutting (balsa and ply parts) was excellent.

The balsa sheets used for the diecut ribs were of mostly hard stock, so in order to save weight I cut 'lightening' holes in most all the the ribs and all the 'false' ribs to reduce the overall weight. Weighing all the ribs before and after the holes, I found it saved a total of 2-1/2 ozs(!). In addition, I also tried to evenly balance the weight of each wing's balsa parts/material (ribs, spars, sticks, etc) as well as the stab.
Not really necessary, but it gives one a better abiulity to achieving final a/c balance, etc.

Two sheets of thin (1/64) ply are used for the decking (rear cockpit to nose). However, one piece was thicker - and of a different grade - than the other (I mic'ed them); so, rather than having to edge sand a lot where they join (to 'hide' the thickness difference), I used new 1/64 stock on hand that matched the other 1/64 kit piece.

The cowl cover construction is rather delicate - not too sturdy. Care must be taken to ensure that it's integrity is not comprimised while constructing. Since I wanted to have my engine completely cowled, I had to make sure the cowl would entirely cover the engine without having to cut out anything, or from the fuselage sides to accomodate the engine's exhaust or carb. After careful measurements of possible engines, I selected the Fuji BT-32. (I didn't get the EI because I felt I would need the magneto weight). It fits completely inside the compartment with the exhaust exiting the underside. Modifications had to be made to the fuselage's engine mount and the cowl framework to add strength, etc. I have (and are) also made a number of other mods which I hope will give it a more realistic appearance while at the same time won't hinder it's (excellent) flying qualities.

Overall, and except for the above difficiencies, I think BUSA has a great kit. It has been/is fun to build. Have never had a need or request for any picture posting, so never have done any. Suppose I could learn, though :-) Hope this hasn't been too long...

Dick
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Old Apr 03, 2007, 08:16 AM
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Martin Irvine's Avatar
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Thanks for the insight into the BalsaUSA SE5A kit Dick. I wonder how much weight a scratch builder could save.......

Martin
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Old Apr 03, 2007, 10:15 AM
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I would think as they are designed for fuel and the associated vibration you could shave ALOT of weight out of one building for Epower. Might find a thread in the electric conversion forum. Or at least alot of ideas.
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Old Apr 03, 2007, 11:13 AM
RRS
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Wouldn't think this kit would make for a good electric conversion project. Like Greg said you would need (and could) take out a lot weight. As designed it's for big engines with higher wing loadings, etc. Might as well start from scratch













































Agree with Greg D. You would need to (and can) lighten everything. But first, you would need to re-design the entire structure carefully planning for your choice of materials, etc. Not an easy task I should think. Might as well just start from 'scratch' :-) and spend your time building something to fit your taste rather than be always trying to adapt, etc. Just my thoughts...
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