I have some very old kits including a Bridi Kaos and an Aeromaster dating
back to the early 60s. Will balsa lose strength over time? It looks OK and
seems to be flexible. The plans are rolled and are so brittle they crack
when I try to unroll them but Kinkos will solve that problem :) I also have
an early (60s) Lanier ARF. It's a plastic F-86 sport scale model. The
plastic doesn't seem brittle. What do you think?
I can't say with any authority, Ed. Sorry.
However, I do believe that balsawood, like any other wood, is more prone to
splitting when it drives out from age. If it dries out. It depends upon your
local storage conditions.
Spraying the balsa with a fine mist always helps to get wood around corners
when it is too stiff. But I'm sure you knew that. I doubt that the wood is
any weaker. But I don't doubt that it is less flexible if it dries out.
Glad you found a way to save those plans. Please tell us what Kinko's has
offered to do for you.
I just reread your post. You did say that it was flexible. I doubt you will
have a problem with it.
I am not a fan of Lanier's early ARF efforts, so, with that said - I doubt
it could be any worse.
I have seen brand new plastic Lanier ARFs split around the firewall with
little provocation. But, there was a time when one of those things could get
you back in the air while you were waiting for your Titebond or Ambroid to
dry. They did serve a function.
Wood gets brittle as it dries, not just age. Pines and most other
woods will loose a bit of natural resine plastisizer, or turpentine and
other sap residue, which gives the wood its strong odor. But balsa has
little if any of this so its basically it is how dry your storage has
been. You might want to cut away a bit of scrap from one of the
sheets and compare it to some fresh wood.
I recently built an Eyeball from a kit that was purchased in the late 60's -
stored in unairconditioned environment in Florida. All the wood was good,
much better shape than the plans which I also "Kinkoed" to build from.
Still flying it after 4 years. The early Lanier ARFs were not all that good
to start with, as I recall they were ABS, so unless they have been exposed
to uv light or something they should still no worse than the were to start
Wood kept dry does not age appreciably: It stabilises to the mean annual
Build it. It will be fine.
Loads of models are being flown that were kitted and/or built in the 50s
Covering is waht seems to go mostly, and sometimes glues age.
But a new in box kit builds just fine.
Back then they gave you a lot of experience in trimming. Remember the only
trim we had was another servo on elevator (flying reeds). Early morning
flight when it was cool you trimmed for that, then when the sun warmed up
you trimmed again, high noon and another trim as the fuselage grew a bit
more. Kind of evened things out at a meet, if you were fast at a trimming
and good at flying you still usually won. Trying to hide the trimming on
your straight flight out was made even more difficult when they had a
monitor on and everyone could hear the quick beeps.
A bit of a rough landing and you had a nice wrinkle in the fuselage right
behind the wing.
Those were the "good old days".
I became interested in R/C during the reed days, but by the time I could
afford to fly a multi ship, reeds had disappeared and proportional was there
My first "multi" rig was a Micro Avionics XL-IC four-channel rig with tiny
PS-4 servos on 27.195 MHz. I made two mistakes buying that rig, the band and
the small servos. But, all turned out well as I flew that rig in a much
modified Goldberg Senior Falcon, powered by an OS.58 R/C engine, for a
couple of years without incident.
I ended up clipping two wing panels off of each wing and doubling the chord
of the ailerons. Then it had enough control authority for a young previously
active control line combat pilot.
I bought a Lanier Bronco at one point, in order to have a back-up model, but
half way through construction, Don Brown and his team visited our flying
field and put on demo flight after demo flight of his new ARF creations. I
sold the Bronco and bought/assembled a DB Beta low wing model. What a sweet
flyer, for a rubber duckie.