FF Cottage Suppliers-beginners welcome! - RC Groups
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May 04, 2017, 08:02 PM
Balsa Flies Better!
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FF Cottage Suppliers-beginners welcome!


Hi all

I'm hoping we can get the moderators to "sticky" this thread. Yes, I know that there's an FF resource sticky, but it's pretty dated and strikes me that while it's helpful for experienced folk, someone who is thinking about getting his/her first rubber powered airplane needs something a bit less daunting- and informative.

I'm going to suggest that if we put in a supplier- that we should also add some feedback about them. I'm going through the guys that I know- but if you're not on this list, well, please don't be offended-odds are it's not a deliberate oversight. Please note- one of the reasons behind this thread is that I'm tired of reading about people building a Guillows or Dumas kit and then utterly giving up on the idea of getting it to fly. I suggest we focus on manufacturers that are selling FLYING model kits- not display models that with a lot of experience that can be made to fly. But we should also focus on airplanes that we know will fly and also that a beginner might have success with.

I do a certain amount of competition- I'm in the FAC and have gone to Geneseo a few times. Plus, I've been flying scale indoors for decades and am more recently migrating back outdoors as well. So a bunch of the companies- really guys- I'm going to name, well, I either know them from meeting them face to face or have spoken with them on the phone/email enough to recognize a kindred soul. Please note- none of these guys are making tons of money at this- most of them are retired and doing it as something to stay active with. I don't begrudge any of them the prices they charge for their wares- and often I think they represent a bargain when compared with the larger mfg such as Dumas or Guillows.

Without further ado...

Golden Age Reproductions. (www.goldenagereproductions.com) Jim Fiorello has been doing FF for a very long time. ALL of his kits will fly, although some are easier builds than others. The kits are printwood- but Jim includes very good wood and real Japanese tissue, so I think these kits are a bargain. His Fleet biplane is a great first biplane- and I won some indoor events with his Spartan Cabin- which wasn't that hard to build either- and very easy to trim. Outdoors, his C-34 was also a very nice flier and not too tough to build. (Rearwins are hard to trim unless you add some dihedral.) If you want a competitive WWII ship- his P-51 is very hard to argue with- check SVX's build thread- I put in a couple of photos of my bird.. It's also a rather straightforward build, but not the easiest thing to trim.

PT Aviation- www.ptaviationmodels.com William Scott is actually a relatively novice flyer- but a good designer. His structures look right and he uses good wood- also laser cut. I've seen his Barracuda kit fly and it's a honey- plus, it was easy to trim, although probably not the easiest build.

Retro RC-(www.retrorc.us.com) well, Mark Freeland says that FF is his first love and he's pretty good at it. I've seen a lot of Mark's stuff fly. I helped some kids with his Phantom Flash- nice kits with interesting lock together features. Wood needed to be a bit lighter to compete in our crowd though, but Ray Harlan (indoor guru) flies this event. Mark is someone who has a good knowledge base - he's helpful. Also note that if you're looking for Lee Campbell's stuff- well, Mark picked it up.

Easy Built Models-(www.easybuiltmodels.com) Dave N. is a hotshot competitive FF flyer. He took over the company a few years back and has been making changes, but since Easy Built is really a whole bunch of kit lines, the quality of their kits is highly variable. There's a simple solution though- ASK him what works. Odds are anything in the Pro Design series builds and flies well- I'll vouch first hand for the Orion. Wood is occasionally a bit heavy, but he will also sell you nicely graded wood strip- highly recommended if you're building a short kit from another mfg. The kits are a mix of laser cut and printwood. Some of his kits are quite challenging to build-hence, if you have a question- ask him.

Peck Polymers-(www.peck-polymers.com) Chuck S. has been flying with us and he's been working to convert all the kits to laser cut. He's also using good wood in them- which is a very welcome change. I helped a buddy with the Skiptown Cadet Embryo- it was his second airplane and in its first outing indoors- he hit 50 seconds in a small venue. I do not recommend peanuts for beginners- they're too tricky to trim, even if you can build them.

Volare-(www.volareproducts.com) George Bredehoft is another hot shot FF flier- and he's also a fine builder. His kits go together very well and are quite competitive. I've build his Jackrabbit- and nearly lost it in its first flights. He's another one that puts really nice laser cut wood in kits.

Dave Diels-(www.dielsengineeringinc.com) beautiful scale airplanes- but difficult to get to fly. Dave's stuff really works better as micro RC- I know, heresy. Wood selection is variable- but I think the newer laser cut parts are better. If you really like building- and want to do a scale masterpiece- this is a good place to start.

DPC Models-dpcmodels.homestead.com (haven't met Dave Cowell face to face)- If you like WWI kits this is the place to come. His stuff is laser cut, fits great, and has pretty detailed plans. His Be 2e was actually pretty easy to trim. I also like his short kits-have built the Guillow's Corsair (OK, I tossed the wing ribs out), but the wood was good and the plans accurate. Many years ago, Guillows actually had airplanes that were designed to fly- rather than be display pieces- he's got some of them. Do be prepared to modify them though, since they're original plans and often need help.

Ozark Model Aviation-www.ozarkmodelaviation.com Mike Midkiff. Mike is a wonderful guy. If you like solidly built airplanes- well, he's the designer for you. I tend to build light, and hence modify his stuff to reduce weight, but I also don't fly in Texas breeze. I find that his plans are accurate, that he picks decent wood (he'll go lighter if requested) and it's laser cut. I helped a newbie with his Devastator- he got it to fly quite well. The newbie was a great builder- also a bit heavy- but this one worked and was not too tough to trim out. Mike is another one that will help you if you let him.

Bob Holman- www.bhplans.com Bob has a great line of old time FF stuff. I've built a few of his RC kits- they go together well, and he uses good wood- also laser cut. His FF stuff looks good too- but no direct experience.

Tom Herr-http://www.sigmfg.com/cgi-bin/dpsmart.exe/iflyherr/HMainMenuF.html?E+Sig OK, Herr Aviation isn't exactly cottage since he sold out to Sig, but his kits used to have great wood and were well designed, light airplanes, although not necessarily the closest thing to scale. I've gotten his Bonanza to break a minute- but it can be twerpy.

Al Lidberg's plans http://www.aalmps.com/ Al also sells some great little electric kits, (I did his Skylark XL years ago- flew very nicely, but his RC setups are very dated) as well as semi kits for some unusual designs- his Bv-141 does fly- and quite well, although better with a two blade than a three blade prop. Al's plans are nice, clear and easy to follow, and he uses excellent wood. The kit I build had printwood, but I think his newer stuff is laser cut.

BMJR www.bmjrmodels.com- Brian Malin JR is a real modeler- dabbling in FF, CL, and RC. I wouldn't be surprised if FF is his first love. While the Race-E RC kit I built years ago was a bit variable, (note- the Astro Hog kit I just built was wonderful) his Goldberg Ranger 28 was superb- I assisted- minimally- with a 12 y. o. girl building one- flew beautifully off the boards. Brian is another one who would be happy to help- just give him a call. As an FYI- the girl's younger brother tangled with the Jetco Lark reproduction from Penn Valley. Both flew well- but hands down the BMJR kit was much nicer, although yes, it was more expensive.

If you've got some people to add- feel free- but I suggest that saying why a particular site is helpful is better than just a link.

Sam
Last edited by Megowcoupe; May 19, 2017 at 10:27 PM.
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May 06, 2017, 09:05 AM
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Pat Daily's Avatar
Sam

Thanks for posting this--it is a great summary and very useful.
May 06, 2017, 10:12 AM
Registered User
Jim O'Rielly Models http://www.jimoreillymodelplans.com/prodserve.htm There is some crossover with Bob Holman, but they are different enough to warrant listing them both. FAI Model Supply http://www.faimodelsupply.com/ RUBBER and other hard to find bits and bobs. Free Flight Supplies https://www.freeflightsupplies.co.uk similar to FAI, but in the UK run by international competitor Mike Woodhouse. Starlink-Flitetech http://www.starlink-flitetech.com/ Stooges, nice winders, timers, etc. Texas Timers http://www.texastimers.com/ Timers. Pearl Free Flight http://www.pearlfreeflight.com/Home_Page.html This is Don Deloach and his Pearl is sort of the go to in E36. BMJR Models http://www.bmjrmodels.com lots of laser cut free flight kits and some supplies. Al Lidberg's plans http://www.aalmps.com/. Aerodyne http://www.freeflightmodels.com/ Click the email on the homepage an Al Heinrich will probably give you an up to date list of plans that he is currently in the process of updating after computer problems. He has 900 plus plans.
Last edited by TRuss; May 06, 2017 at 10:37 AM.
May 06, 2017, 10:33 AM
Balsa Flies Better!
Hi Pat

Thanks. I must admit, I'd love to see more folks get a better start in FF than a Guillows kit. I understand Guillow's business model- most of the kits that they sell are really built for display, not flying- but I still think we're losing people due to frustration.

One of the problems is that a guy like Mark Freeland can't really put stuff in hobby shops easily- there's not the demand and he probably doesn't have the margins. Yet he and Chuck (of Peck Polymers) have really got some good beginner kits now- decent designs and wood that's actually suited for a flying model.

Sam
May 09, 2017, 12:46 PM
Registered User
My experience with Volare Products has been outstanding. Their laser cut short kits are very reasonably priced and the quality is far superior to anything I ever bought at the five and dime as a kid. Just took delivery of a new Rees winder. Its the nicest winder I ever owned! beautifully crafted. Three cheers to George!
Randy W
Last edited by RandyW; May 09, 2017 at 12:49 PM. Reason: unfinished thought
May 09, 2017, 11:51 PM
Build and rebuild
Brainstorm's Avatar
Sam: I love the idea of an up to date list of links, esp. if it leads to kits that are accessible for complete beginners like me. I "reported" the thread to mods (by clicking on yellow triangle) and hope they will agree to make it a sticky.

Randy: Thanks for your review of Volaré Products. I was perusing their offerings, and they even have winders for sale, both used and new. Now that's something!
May 10, 2017, 09:00 AM
Balsa Flies Better!
Brainstorm-

Thanks! And George is another great guy to talk to...I should have him add a torque meter to my Scalewinder (aka Reese winder)- which by the way- is probably one of the most popular winders at the FAC Nats.

Sam
May 15, 2017, 01:40 PM
Registered User
Mike Woodhouse is a very good man! Been in the game a long long time and has been a fantastic help!! Don't know about Aerodyne! When a guy tells you "i may have something laying around i could sell you? I will check the rafters" i think it can only end badly!! Especially never getting back to people! In my experience FF is dying because of the lack of care in communication! But it goes hand in hand with people flying FF since the 50s! Jim O'Reilly is a top guy! And Bob Holman also has helped out so thumbs up for Mike Jim and Bob!!
Last edited by Toadfish; May 15, 2017 at 01:53 PM. Reason: Additional information
May 15, 2017, 07:56 PM
Registered User
Al is the president of SAM and obviously has the organizational skills to handle that. He has always responded to me quickly. I feel he deserves a thumbs up too.
May 19, 2017, 10:35 PM
Balsa Flies Better!
While I certainly won't disparage Al Heinrich's contribution to modeling, my personal experience with him suggests that he's better resource for more experienced (and patient!) folks than beginners. My intent here was to focus on good beginner resources- not to be exhaustive.

Sam
May 20, 2017, 02:43 AM
Registered User
Gotcha. Much of my list might not be typical beginner stuff, unless we're talking beginner competition endurance. If you're looking to be a successful true beginner to free flight then Megowcoupe's list is a perfect reference for you. All of the companies that he has listed are well known for great products, value and customer service.
May 21, 2017, 04:27 PM
Build and rebuild
Brainstorm's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Megowcoupe
Thanks! And George is another great guy to talk to...I should have him add a torque meter to my Scalewinder (aka Reese winder)- which by the way- is probably one of the most popular winders at the FAC Nats.
Sam: Glad the sticky request worked out!

Those Reese winders are supremely nice! With or without torque meter, this would seem like an essential tool and sound investment for anybody who's serious about FF. I had seen the ones made with converted hand drills, and didn't realize you could still buy a purposely designed winder in new condition. Hope I can build some FF and micro RC models once winter rolls back. And hope that the DC Maxecuters will have another edition of their indoor fly-in at the National Building Museum. For now, it's time to enjoy summer flying with the bigger models.
May 21, 2017, 10:13 PM
Balsa Flies Better!
Hi Brainstorm

While a Reese winder is indeed a good investment if you're serious about rubber powered FF- one should not dismiss either the K+P winders which at $20, or the Peck or Sig 5:1 which represent much less expensive alternatives. I have a bunch in my box- in addition to the Reese winder. Somehow, for a smaller ship like a Dime Scale airplane, a Reese winder seems a bit overkill. And the Peck 5:1 is pretty bulletproof- makes a great accessory for a kid with a Guillow's slip together airplane.

On the subject of slip together airplanes (or sleeve kits- whatever you prefer)- while the old North Pacific Sleek Steeks were very hard to beat- something like a Guillow's Flying Machine can be made to fly reasonably- you just need to cut some wood off the tail, add dihedral and washout to the wing with steam, and come up with a decent motor. I kind of remember getting around 30 seconds with them using decent rubber and 5:1 winders. It'd be nicer if they'd fly out of the box without needing an experienced modeler though.


Sam
Jun 27, 2017, 03:09 PM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by Megowcoupe
Hi Pat
Sam,

Thanks. I must admit, I'd love to see more folks get a better start in FF than a Guillows kit. I understand Guillow's business model- most of the kits that they sell are really built for display, not flying- but I still think we're losing people due to frustration.

One of the problems is that a guy like Mark Freeland can't really put stuff in hobby shops easily- there's not the demand and he probably doesn't have the margins. Yet he and Chuck (of Peck Polymers) have really got some good beginner kits now- decent designs and wood that's actually suited for a flying model.

Sam
Haven't built a Guillow's kit lately, have you? Since going to laser cutting for most of their product line they have been milling their own wood. The stuff they put in their kits is not the lightest ( 8-10 lbs/cu ft) because they want their kits to be buildable by newbes and by older modelers who have lost some of their dexterity, but you won't see any of that 15 lb/cu ft plus stuff any more. (I once had a 500 series kit that had 27 lb/cu ft wood in it,,,the same density as red oak!) Most of them, now, will fly right out of the box. For the most part not competitively but satisfying.

Also, for new models, their design standards have changed. I designed the Porter and Beaver for Guillow and was specifically contracted to design better flying models. I reduced the outline thicknesses, spar dimensions and included removable noses and wing locating pins. I also had weight targets and included parts for both scale outline and 120% oversize, flying stabilizers. As produced, they can be made competitive with little extra effort.

This started a trend and the Edge 540 came out with an even lighter structure. (Designed by Dale Barker, not me.) I'm sure that any new models they add to their line will be both easily buildable and will be very flyable.


I have some of my own designs in kit http://www.hjlmodels.com and know quit well how slim the margins can be on low production volume kits and the ups and downs of market demand. I can't really put my kits in hobby shops either. However, you have to applaud the efforts of people like Mark Freeland, Chuck Imbergamo and others to keep this hobby going.

Howard Littman
Jun 28, 2017, 06:26 PM
Balsa Flies Better!
Hi Howard

I'm in a bit of a quandary here....but first, let me applaud you for doing what looks like a decent job on the Porter- I have that kit, but haven't touched it yet.

Second- I have built both the Avenger and the Me-109 in the 17" span range from new Guillow's laser cut kits in the past year. I'm sorry, I'm going to have to disagree with you about the wood that was included- I found it quite heavy although I don't have an accurate enough scale to quantify the cubic density. But it's certainly a lot heavier than what would be found in some of the cottage suppliers listed above.

I'm also going to have to disagree with you about the idea that a beginner could build and fly one of these airplanes. Simply put- the force arrangements are off- there's not enough wing incidence which translates to the airplane needing lots of down thrust. I also blew up the stabs on the airplanes I built, lost a lot of wood in the fuse, moved the motor peg forward, redid the thrust assembly, and went to cracked rib construction on the wings. At the end of the day, both airplanes turned out around 22-23 grams with rubber- using a 6" Czech prop. I've gotten 45 sec. out of the Me 109 indoors- might have done better with the Avenger outdoors. However, the idea that a beginner is going to be able to trim one of these airplanes at higher weights and keep it together long enough to have some successful flights is...well, not realistic. The Avenger was easier to trim than the Me- not surprising, it's a bit draggier.

Years ago, I built one of the beginner Cessna 180s by Guillows. It's a nightmare- the plans call for upthrust!- there's a ton of down elevator built in- not enough incidence in the wing- an airfoil with a high point at 20% or so- and a cg that's so far forward that it takes a ton of nose weight. So my grumble about Guillows kits isn't only the materials in the kit- it's often the design that's problematic. As far as I know- they haven't changed these designs. And if Dumas is reading this and chortling- well, I'm building a Beech Staggerwing and that airplane is getting a different airfoil and a lot more incidence in the lower wing- I doubt it'll fly as is.

So yes, I know that what I'm doing isn't necessarily an accurate review of these airplanes as designed- because I'm doing lots of modifications to them off the bat. It's not an unreasonable question to ask- how do I know the airplanes won't fly well if built as shown on the plans? The answer is I've built enough other airplanes to know that designs that fall outside some pretty standard parameters are going to be trouble. Is my certainty 100%? No, but it's better than 95%.

Here's the quandary...do I try and recommend a few Guillow's kits? And how is a beginner to know which ones to buy? Call Guillow's and ask? I've ordered stuff from them- the nice people answering the phone- well, I don't get the sense that any of them have actually built any of their products. Could be wrong...just a guess. Or do I stay with the intent of this thread and suggest that beginners call some of the cottage suppliers who will supply them with a good design, good wood, good tissue, and good advice?


Sam


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