Foamie Versus Balsa/Hardwood Models - RC Groups
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Dec 26, 2002, 11:03 PM
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Foamie Versus Balsa/Hardwood Models

Dear R/C Electric Flyers:

It has come to my attention today from seeing the CAP 232 flown by Steven of Steven's AeroModels with the Hacker and thre Li-Polermers 3035's at 20 1/4oz full flight weight, this little plane had unlimited vertical and very aigle and smooth at low speed as well.

I must admit that this CAP 232 and others of it's kind are very good flyers and their construction has come a long way with the Laser Cut parts and very little need for lots of glue you can have a very Acro Sport model in just a few hours.

My concern is that unexperienced flyers such as myself....I have been in this hobby for just over 4 months now, tend to thank a buddy for introducing me to FOAM models since as you can read from my threads, the GWS ZERO now weighs 16 3/8oz or over a pound from all the epoxy as results from so many many crashes.

The GWS plane came with the Motor, Glue, and hardware....didn't even need to cover it, except the decals. It's my thoughts that the CAP 232 shoud be considered for those whom have been flying for some time now and are good at fast, responsive ailerons models. The thought of me purchasing one of these nice planes such as the CAP 232 and coming in for a landing and do a CART WHEEL would be hardly a nice day.

I think that evey model (product) has it's time and like my Buddy (SIMANO) and I say, don't RUSH WINE BEFORE IT'S TIME! Unless of course you don't care about the time and effort in building one of these nice models, not to mention the extra costs of providing a motor, covering, etc.....FOAM MODELS are very hardy in crashes and are super easy to repair and many times at the field and be ready to fly in 15 minutes which is the time it usually takes to charge an 8 Cell, AAA size, Ni-MH battery pack.

Foam models are great for those who are new at R/C and even those that have been at it for a really can't beat the VALUE in the kits that GWS, ROBBE, and many others have when it comes to foam models that not only are very easy to build but, to repair as well!

Just my $0.02 worth.
Last edited by guapoman2000; Dec 26, 2002 at 11:05 PM.
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Dec 27, 2002, 12:54 AM
Demon-Leather's Avatar

You are right..

You are right Carlos,.. for the money,and there ability to take nasty "whacks" with mother earth, They are a wonderful investment for the new-commer to radio control! They repair with a bit of epoxy & spackeling,some packing tape, and You are ready to go again. After a while,and your skills are "honed" You might start looking for that "more challenging, I created it myself model." I'm not much of a "foam-guy" because I'm old and started out with built-up models. I had far from your sucsess rate starting out. I was building at 4,with help from My Dad. and had pretty good sucsess with his guidence... but when I struck out on My own at the ripe age of 7 My sucsess rate plummeted.
It wasn't till about 9 that I started figuring out CG's, watching My warps,and actually letting that "old yeller" Ambroid cement actually cure before trying to cover it!( I was alway a Lad in a hurry to fly!) after You have that one REAL sucsess... building,covering,flying,& doing it again & again with accuracy with something you made from a pile of dissasociated parts You brought to life and took to the air,I don't think You'll look at another ARF the same way... That's My Dime's worth on it (I added 8 cents due to the current inflation rate over the last 40 years) Bob
PS: Someday, that Zero will become too heavy with repairs and You will retire it... You'll have all those wonderfull "innards" to play with,You may want to consider building your own version of a Zero, or something to put the gear in.... I wish You much sucsess when that day comes Carlos!
Last edited by Demon-Leather; Dec 27, 2002 at 01:06 AM.
Dec 27, 2002, 01:49 AM
Registered User

I agree totally

I just finished my House of Balsa Schoolyard Acro cub and I did a great job! This one's my finest work and the feeling of accomplishment after finishing a model is well worth the long hours put in building it! Last night I took a million digital pictures of it and today I just looked at "her" with pride. This is only my forth plane so far and I get better after each one. I think the foam ARF's are great for learning to fly. I would not build my first plane that I learned on. Just my 2 cents !
Dec 27, 2002, 03:38 AM
The One....
genovia's Avatar
Hi Carlos,

I was gonna write something fancy to lure you into the balsa side of things, but Demon-Leather's reply says it all.

Just to add, I don't buy E-kits, because their too expensive, the only E-kit that I have is from MountainModels Switchback,Pica Mustang, Herr Piper J-3 Cub and my one of a kind Coca Cola, P-51 Python from flying hobbies (My favorite) I like the challenge of building balsa airplane, I like to convert gas to electric, specially. (good thing, because gas kit's is not that expensive)

Carlos, the reward is awesome, when you fly something that you put your time into building, covering and then seing it in the air, no words that can best describe your inner feelings of success.

***FOAM MODELS are very hardy in crashes and are super easy to repair and many times at the field and be ready to fly in 15 minutes which is the time it usually takes to charge an 8 Cell, AAA size, Ni-MH battery pack. ***

I'm learning a lot from my mentor. Planekrazy "The science of flying is simple, the art of making it fly, relies on your talent"
Take you time Carlos, start with an easy kit's or buy an ARF balsa airplane, then progress towards building. I think, I can see where your heading....... Good luck, and as I told you before, we need more guys like you in the Modeling section.

Good luck, my friend


PS I fly foamies too.. I always have a warm-up plane, before each main event.
Dec 27, 2002, 05:33 AM
Captain Carnage says......
AirWarriorBelgy's Avatar
True..... Foamies are great for a beginner

but ....Get a Switchback and come over to the Good side of the Force

there is nothing like building it yourself....then you can blame the crafter as well as the pilot for "why it doesn't fly right"

with 8 foamies under my belt i prefer to fly my Balsa (well one the other is still on the build table)

the adenalin rush of Balsa flight (fear of crashing) is almost equivelant to that very first with the very first plane

Dec 27, 2002, 08:59 AM
EB-66C Team Member
J Morgan's Avatar
Started years ago, so I'm a stick and tissue man. But, I have found many uses for foam where balsa would have been almost impossible.
Foam building is alot quicker usually too. Saves on time and nobody has enough of that.
My thought is that balsa flies better. And if built right, it is lighter.
To quote Dave Platt, probably the greatest scale modeler ever,
" Air is lighter than foam"
Just my 2 cents.
Dec 27, 2002, 09:14 AM
Motors beat engines!
I've built both, but prefer foam for almost all uses now. I've found ways around most of its limitations, and wind up with very sturdy, lightweight planes.

The only real reason to me to use balsa is looks. A nice balsa structure with a semi-transparent covering over it is undeniably very nice looking.

For myself however, Mr. always pushing my limits, its awfully hard to beat the tougness of a pink foam and tape plane, because in the end, I'd rather be flying my planes than fixing them.

Dean in Milwaukee
Last edited by DeaninMilwaukee; Dec 27, 2002 at 09:20 AM.
Dec 27, 2002, 09:28 AM
Registered User
Bill Glover's Avatar
I have been flying r/c for nearly 30 years, stick-and-tissue free-flight (rubber, glider, IC) before that. I've flown most things from IC pylon racers down to microfilm-covered indoor rubber f/f. My verdict:


I have 8 eflight models airworthy at the moment and half of them are foamies (Twin Jet, Pico Jet, Twin Star, Tipsy). The TJ in particular is one of my all-time favourite models, sure I could have built a balsa version that was probably a little lighter and a little more rigid ... but the TJ performs fine, and takes everyday knocks in its stride. It's nearly 2 years old now, the Pico Jet is over 3, and both are still in excellent condition despite some incidents that would have severely damaged a built-up model. I don't crash much, but do fly from some pretty rough sites

One of my other eflight models is an own-design, scratchbuilt, balsa model ... but I fly the foamies more often.
Dec 27, 2002, 11:44 AM
Registered User
Dave Lindsey's Avatar
I'm a stick and tissue man from way back, don't ask how far, lets just say my first powered plane used an ignition engine and leave it at that. However I'm also very impatient and never could delight in spending hours or days or months building a plane so I always looked for short cuts to speed up building time and yet I still enjoyed working with the wood. For the last little while I've beem designing and building using a technique that I think combines the best of both materials. I don't think its new or revolutionary just you don't hear about it much except for wings. I use white EPS foam (it's twice as light as the denser blue or pink stuff) for the shape and sheet it with thin balsa and you've got a structure that is strong AND LIGHT and as rugged and easily repairable as straight foam. Cut pockets, grooves
etc. in the foam and you can hide the wiring, equipment, etc. so you're aircraft doesn't look like a flying hardware store. This isn't meant to be a commercial but in the very near future I'll be offering plans or rather full size templates and instruction manuals for constructing a trainer type parkflyer to be followed by a series of foam profile warbirds using this technique. The website is up and running but I havent got the packages quite ready yet.
Dec 27, 2002, 12:27 PM
an earth bound misfit, I
Basketcase's Avatar
Both foam and balsa are equally flyable. And I have both types in my hanger.

I prefer to fly the balsa planes and crash the foamies. Not exactly crash the foamies on purpose but take all the risks and do all the stupid stunts with them because they can take the abuse better.

The balsa planes are my "good" planes and I don't take a lot of risks with them or even bring them out if it's too windy. In fact I just went to the foamy extreme, for windy day flying and durability, my newest plane is a Zagi 400X.

Last edited by Basketcase; Dec 27, 2002 at 12:29 PM.
Dec 27, 2002, 10:05 PM
Demon-Leather's Avatar

Tell You what....

I Tell You what Carlos...You tell Me the Wingspan of that GWS Zero, and what components it has in it, And I will whip You up a "Short-Kit"( A "short-Kit is all the balsa formers & Ribs dihedral braces,etc. without all the long sticks for longerons wing spars etc.YOU supply them!) of a comparable Warbird ship in size,and send them to You if You pay the freight... The balsa, ply & plans will be free. I have a LOT of old WWII kits & plans from the 40's, and they were made of "Substitute-wood" ( all the balsa was going in the wingtips & elevater/rudder tips of the REAL P-51's 40's etc,etc and then covered with thin aluminum) They still flew pretty good and with good balsa from today & a light radio system, the fly most wonderfully. Now, I'll make your "printwood" for You, but You are going to have to cut it out! just like We had to do in the "old-Days".. NO lasers!) I'll even include some carbon fiber laminate for making super strong Spars & such to handle the extra load of radio equipment & batteries.
If You can build it, You'll have an aircraft that NO one else will have on EZone,.. and if it flys well, I bet you will be chest-poundin' Proud! Bob
Last edited by Demon-Leather; Dec 27, 2002 at 10:54 PM.
Dec 27, 2002, 10:15 PM
The One....
genovia's Avatar
Can I get a clone? I'll pay
Dec 28, 2002, 01:27 AM
89" Kool Aid drinker.
Smash McCrash's Avatar
This debate has raged before. I like to think that foam taught me how to fly, balsa taught me how to soar. I like the foamy arf's for what they have done for the hobby, but I have always like the way balsa feels under the skin of the plane. I will acknowledge that there are many foamies out there that fly brilliantly. There are many balsa planes out there that don't. My balsa planes fly very well and do what there are intended to do. I prefer the balsa planes to the foamies...

Dec 28, 2002, 08:55 AM
Registered User
I love balsa, and foam...its a hard contest.

I started making paper planes (yes, laugh...but how many paper planes have you had flying for 8 minutes? ) when i was in lower high school. They were great and let me experiment with different construction techniques and designs. I ended up making a standard plane that flew brilliantly and a great flying wing created from a sheet of A3. The flying wing was an amazing achievement, it had undercarriage and a stiff airfoil (undercambered). It kinda looked like a simple B2, and required no glue, or scissors

Anyways, i moved through that to balsa gliders, tow/winch/bungee launched things, and finally to R/C, where i made a nice easy 2m thermaller. After a week of construction i had the whole frame completed, and it looked awesome. Theres something about a well built wing skeleton that just looks gorgeous, so naturally, i covered it in semi-transparent solafilm (i kinda miss the smell of banana oil/dope).

I crashed that plane a lot even with expert tuition, but it tought me heaps. But, having slaved over building the plane for 2 weeks i had great reluctance to launching it skyward, and hence was extremely nervous the first few times i flew it ( i swear i left finger marks in my Tx ).

Foam wouldve been a godsend to me. I would much rather be crashing a tipsy or a zagi than my beloved brolga, so thats why i now own a zagi (and soon, a tipsy).

I still love to build models, but if i want to break loose and go nuts on the field/slope/basketball court, id take my foamie any day.

That being said, i dont think anyone should start in RC. Building up to RC flight is such a rewarding experience.

Oh well, any way you choose, you're still flying
Dec 28, 2002, 10:30 AM
roguewolf's Avatar
Started out years ago, crashing the little Cox U-controls.

After a conversation with my great-uncle, a gas powered free-flight nut, I started building in balsa, sending them up and trying to chase them across the alfalfa fields.

After about 20 years of disinterest, I started building free flight rubber powered. I needed a new hobby.

Then I got a Slowstick about 6 months ago, my first RC plane. One new wing, a couple of crumpled fuselages and around a half a dozen props and I've pretty much stopped crashing.

When I thoroughly broke the wing I decided to build up a balsa/spruce wing replacement while I waited for Horizon to ship the new foam wing. Flew the balsa wing a couple of times with reasonable success then put the new foam back on.

So, now I had a wing without a fuselage, so I made a shameless copy of Slowstick completely out of spruce and balsa. It's a 54" span with a 36" spruce fuse, Spectra line pull-pull, and an EPS DX 7.75 gearbox turning a 13x9 prop.

Flew it for the first time yesterday and what a difference. Pops off the ground in about a foot and a half ROG with WOT or at a little over 1/3 throttle it will crreeeep off of the ground. It can fly slower and faster than the original, it will consecutive loop from level flight, and the wing doesn't make that disturbing cracking noise when you dive into a loop. With some altitude for recovery I shove the stick into the corner just to see what happens then reverse the stick until I get low enough to have to dive and pull up to recover.

I'm sure that I will shatter the wing or the whole plane one day, but building is a part of the hobby that I really enjoy anyway. And it's a lot prettier to look at. I just ordered some Curtek lights so now I have to build another wing to install the wiring internally.

Here's a shot of the wing when it was on the SS fuse:

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