Must admit, they look pretty. Some even fly pretty. But they are expensive -
you pay a lot of money for a lot of covering and very little wood and even
less glue. Got an elevator servo failure and everything from the trailing
edge forwards got splintered. I have seen an old Astrohog doing a highspeed
cartwheel with minimal damage. With the aid of CA the owner was back in the
air a few minutes later. Was it an ARF he would have been back in his car
driving back home a few minutes later.....
Now, if we could only shorten construction time with good ol' balsa.
Ted shuffled out of his cave and grunted these great (and sometimes not
so great) words of knowledge:
Many of them WERE CR@P.
The latest ARFS out are not. They are well built, light and built
Not counting your time, you MIGHT be able to build a similar plane and
have it come out looking as good, as light in weight, as durable, but
not for the same money.
If you want to build one as light - instead of 1/8 lite ply, use 3/32
lite ply, etc. You can do the same things and have it come out as lite.
If you are VERY good at covering, it will look as good also.
Will it be any stronger or more durable - I doubt it. And, as long as
you don't crash, either one will hold up well.
I agree, I like building from kits 'cause I like to build! But recently
wiped out my first plane (a VRTF I might add) and decided I wanted to
get back in the air a little faster. Picked up a Tower Hobbies Uproar
40 for $79. It went together in less than 12 hours and straight as an
arrow. Flew flat with very little trim on the first flight. ...and it's
a lot of fun to fly. There is no way I could have kit built the same
plane in the same time for the same money.
In this case the ARF was the way to go!
Yeah, this kinda fits the way I've been going - I like to design, I like to
build, and I like to fly. But not all of the things that I like to fly are
things that I like to design and build. For elegant designs, like many of
the old tiemrs, or with small, unusual planes, I nearly always scratch-
build. For my .46-size aerobatics, though, I'm flying a Simply Magic
(ARF), and before that it was a Hurricane (RTC). And I've already bought a
finished plane from someone else to use once the Simply Magic makes that
final, sudden landing. I'd rather spend my buiding time on those elegant
old-timers, or this little 15-ounce V-tail, or my profile biplanes, or that
split-tailed pusher, or -
Anyway, yes, if I built something in the same general class as the Simply
Magic - say, a Somethin' Extra - I could build it a little better than the
ARF. It would be a little lighter, the linkages would be cleaner, things
would fit a little better, it would be less hassle to install the wing.
The color scheme wouldn't be as pretty, but the covering would be better-
sealed. And in the air, all those little improvements would be pretty much
So I build the things I like to build and buy the things I don't.
"There are two types of people: those who can be sorted into one of two
types, and those who can't."
If you look at the cost differential between a kit and the same kit offered
as an ARF (Top Flite for example), the ARF is far cheaper if you place any
value on your time at all.
If the pleasure and sense of accomplishment in building the kit are
important, the cost differential doesn't matter.
If your interest is more about flying rather than building, the ARF is
probably a better choice IF it is well made.
That said, some have had really gruesome experiences with some of the
Chinese- made ARF"s, even to a couple of cases where the airframe came apart
in mid air and investigation suggested that the epoxy used to glue
everything together had not been mixed with hardener and the epoxy viscosity
was all that was holding everything together.
All that said, if you plan to buy an ARF, you will probably be better served
to stick with either a well-known manufacturer (Top Flite, VQ, VMAR, etc.)
or else a large distributor that will stand behind what they sell
(Hobby-Lobby , Tower, etc.)
Depends on the ARF.. some are definitely of inferior quality. There ar
many out now that are excelent models.
The only problem I had with my GP Fokker Dr1 ARF was the rudder an
that could be blamed on my choice to stick on a much larger engine tha
recommended. appx 2 years of extremely violent aerobatics di
eventually wear ot the airframe.. but again, it was heavier and highe
powered than the instructions said it was supposed to be ( .91 4-strok
and smoke system will do that to a model made for .46 to .60 2-stroke)
I recently got a Polks Hobbies Fokker Dr1 (someone might think I lik
Dr1's or something ;) ) which looks to have appropriate consturctio
for the recommended .10 to .25 ci glow power.. a bit heavy for th
recommended speed 400 electric conversion. It looks like best would b
a .28 4-stroke really (but I don't have one) The only complaints I hav
with it are the rudder hinges (elevator and ailerons use covering hinge
which are good for this size model) and the wheels. While the hinge
are probably adequate for a speed 400 or a .10 glow engine.. the .2
I'm putting on will need the rudder to be more secure. the wheels.
well I plan to hand make some true spoke type and replace them
(because the method I will use will add some shock absorbing to th
I also recently got a model made in Checoslovokia and marketed via a
Italian company coalled Scorpio. This ARF motor-glider is very hig
quality and exceeds the performance i expected by a large margin. Wit
the recommended .15 on it... it has climb performance exceeding some .2
powered trainers despite it being close to the same weight.
I can list a lot more GOOD ARF's currently on the market than ba
So.. while some of the "no-name" ARF's you can get off E-Bay are no
very good at all (someone in our club got one and we found it ha
pressed paperboard ailerons...) there are also many VERY good ARF's ou
View this thread: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid6865
you pay a lot of money for a lot of covering and very little wood and
I agree. My main objection to ARFs is you don't know who built them
and how well they're built. The covering hides everything. I've seen
hot melt glue used to attach fuselage formers and servo rails. I've
taken a wing out of the box and pulled the ailerons off. No glue was
used and no mention of having to glue the hinges in place was made in
the instructions. The covering is often low temp and only fuel
resistant, not fuel proof. The hardwaer supplied is often metric,
which is nicompatible with most of our US stuff, like from Dubro and
Great Planes. For example, a lot of the supplied control linkages have
2mm threads and matching clevises. That's fine. However, 2mm is
slightly smaller than 2-56, which is the US standard for small
clevises. When the supplied clevis is replaced, the US clevis will
thread, and the control will operate properly...until flight loads are
applied, then it will strip out, probgably crashing the plane.
Now, if we could only shorten construction time with good ol' balsa.
We can, it's called CA. :)
I don't have a lot of experience with all the ARF's that are available
today, but I've have good experiences with a few. I used to think they were
very expensive also, until I keep track of all the costs of building a kit
(quarter scale). I was amazed how much it really cost to build. Now I look
at the prices of ARF's to be quite competitive. The only problem I have
with ARF's is seeing the same planes with the same coverings at the field.
Maybe they don't crash as well, but they are much lighter and you can have
another one in the air in a very short time. Some people lack the skills or
time to build kits. This hobby is for all the people to enjoy flying.
For what it's worth,
I have to disagree with expensive in most cases. I have built many
kits and have owned many ARF's. I agree there is some junk out there ,
but if you stick with the better brands ...Great Planes , Goldberg ,
Sig , Kyosho to name a few , I think they are a bargain if you
consider your time to be worth more than mere pennies per hour.
For example , I just bought a Great Planes U Can Do 3d ARF for 139.00,
an equivelant kit would run 85-100.00....plus about 25.00 for covering
, 15.00 or so for hardware ,wheels , tank, 10.00 for glue ...all
approx costs , and you will have approx 135.00 to 150.00 in it.
In this case I would have a few bucks more invested plus many hours of
my time.These ARF's are covered with Monokote or Ultra Cote with a
better covering job than the average modeler can do. All of the ARF's
I have owned going back to the 80's..EZ in particular , have been
built straight and true.
Of course , if one loves to build , then the kit is by far the most
bang for your buck giving you many more pleasure filled hours of
That had to be one lucky fella to 'cartwheel' with minimal damage. If
an airplane is built to fly good....which dictates a light aircraft ,
then they are built to fly , not crash. I'll take the good flying
airplane any day as I plan on flying , not crashing...although I do
occasionally :-(...sometimes more than occasionally.
I put in a Quickie 500 Pylon racer one day (ARF) at full throttle
(approx 125mph) and only knocked the firewall loose and was back in
the air for the next heat.
Some time later I put in a Sig Somethin Extra that I had just built
from a kit.....in tall weeds about half throttle , and demolished it ,
including busting the crankcase and bending crank on a new OS .46 FX.
The only thing left repairable was the tail feathers.
Most times , just the luck of the draw.
My biggest reason for buying ARF's....construction time.
I guess I said all that to say this , it really depends on personal
preference and where your priorities ly.
You get what you pay for still seems to hold in most cases. It all
depends on how ruff you are with the plane. Bounces, midair and
cartwheels are ruff on any plane at some point.
I have fondled a few fuses of ARFS and some felt squishy. They seem to
be more fragile. The tail feathers would twist. But the Hobbico
superstar 40 seemed to be rugged. I crashed it into a fence post( never
try to stretch a dead stick) and it put a divot in the wing leading
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