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-   -   ARF vs Kit build? (http://www.rcuniverse.com/forum/questions-answers-154/3623824-arf-vs-kit-build.html)

Gizmo-RCU 12-06-2005 11:15 AM

ARF vs Kit build?
[:@] I see a lot of posts calling the assembly of an ARF a build. My contention is that an ARF is assembled and a kit is built, there is a great deal of difference in time and skill..........
I would like to see how others feel about this subject?

redfox435cat 12-06-2005 01:17 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
Ya this subject will probably get heated. I does kinda get me when people day they built this ARF, and when guys have such trouble putting in a radio, which is the only thing you have to think about in an ARF, then with computer radios even that doesn't take much thought. Building in reallity I've found doen't take much skill really. It's simply a lot of small tasks. In most cases if you really screw something up you can correct it with little notice. Of course with experiance you can modify the kits to suite what you've found works best for you. Some Mods I've found difficult to do with ARF's since you can't really work through a fuse side without destroying something. Things like linkage position and internal anntenna routing. The true benifit of build are you can really say you build it, and two you learn so much about how the model works and functions, you figure out why thing are this way or that. Just start with a simple kit then work up. The tower uproar kit is the simplest kit I've put together. Morris Hobbies Balsa Nova is one of the most ingenouse kits as far a functionality is conserned I've seen. In fact most kit mods I now use on all my kits and ARF if I can is based on it's control set up. Scale Wars birds with curved tails and fuses can get a little weird on the first one. woudln't reccomend one as a first kit but are still easy builds. Top Flite kits make it as easy as posable

the only downfall I found in kits is it cost more. Subsiquently scartch building cost more than kits. I've done a couple scrtch builds and don't really care for it. Kudos to the guys that do. I prefer building a kit.

MinnFlyer 12-06-2005 02:20 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
"Assemble" is 3 syllables - "Build" is one.

It's like saying "Fix" instead of "Repair". The original definition of "Fix" is "To make sturdy" as in "Fix this loose railing to the deck"

But we say "Fix" because it's easier.

It may be incorrect, but as long as "Build" is easier to say than "Assemble", you might as well start getting used to it.

js3 12-06-2005 03:29 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
The ARF vs kit debate usually does get ugly. I don't know how it'll do in this forum however; it is after all the "Kit building" forum. How many ARFers come here? I know there are a lot of cross-over guys or guys who swing both ways if you will :)

To answer your question, when someone who assembles an ARF says they built it, that doesn't really bother me. Technically though, you are correct.

Taking it a step further, plans builders could say the same thing about kit builders (assemblers).

Edit: Where am I? Where am I? Confusion sets in. This isn't the Kit building forum; don't know what I was thinking. Sorry for that.

sfsjkid 12-06-2005 04:15 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
Its just one of those things, like the inconsistencies using the word "motor" and "engine", or why the plural for "house" is "houses", while "mouse" is not "mouses". It really doesn't bother me, though I probably wouldn't say "I assembled this from a kit" unless I was really trying to be humble.

BTW this is slightly off topic but I think in a few years (decades?) it won't even matter. I was visiting a plastic model site earlier today, and apparently when injection molded kits came out sometime in the '50's, modelers looked down on people who built them, ie no skill involved, etc. Article went on to say that it allowed more people to enjoy the hobby, drew many manufacturers who could now mass produce them, and generally produced a growth in the hobby. Having grown up with injection kits, I just assumed this was the way it was done. Additionally, many, many, moons back, I'm told that kit builders (balsa ones) were looked down on since the prevailing method was to design from scratch, I'm sure the same discussion took place, ie "assembled" should be the word used for KITS.

Me, while I prefer kits, plan on designing some of my own in the future, am excited about some of the ARFs I see around the field (hey, keep this a secret;)). A few of the guys I fly with would not be there if they had to build, but I enjoy their company all the same, and we all try to help each other out.

Lets go fly some nice scale jobs, 3D planes, helis, (I do all 3 BTW) and whatever, regardless if they started out as kits or arfs:D

Maybe we should just use "is/was", ie "This was a kit", "This is an ARF";)

Rcpilot 12-06-2005 04:20 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
I always try to say "assemble" when I'm talking about an ARF and "build" when I'm talking about a kit.

I'm a swinger.:) I like ARFs and kits.

I tried scratch building. Forget it. I just don't have the tools to do it right. I guess I should say that I don't have the tools to make it easy enough for me to want to do it again. I CAN do it with a jigsaw, palm sander, dremel and hand tools--but it would be easier with a scroll saw, bandsaw, belt sander, vacuum bagger----etc..

I guess, I build about 1 or 2 kits for every 10 ARFs that I slap together.[:-]

Kits are WAAAY more expensive that an ARF. I built a Midwest Extra 300S and I had $500 in the airframe. Thats not counting the servos and engine. That was just the plane, linkages, and covering.

I can buy an 80" ARF for about $400-$450 and save myself about 3 or 4 months worth of time spent building the kit.

kdheath 12-06-2005 04:33 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
If you want to be really technical about it, there are five levels of model airplane construction.

RTF-No skill required. Add batteries and rubber band the wing on.
ARF-some assembly required, with minimal skills like epoxying wing halves together and installing
Kit-Fairly self-explanatory.
Build from plans-fabricate parts, collect hardware, assemble and cover.
Scratch building-Start from a clean sheet of paper. Research a subject, draw plans, engineer the
airfame and tooling as as needed and fabricate. Using someone else's plans doesn't really count.

redfox435cat 12-06-2005 05:06 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
also rtc like an ARF but you have to cover it

Gizmo-RCU 12-06-2005 05:19 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
Some interesting views so far.

sfsjkid 12-06-2005 05:52 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
I guess it is a point of view thing too. Some of the guys out there aren't very mechanical/technical, to them an ARF is a "build'. This is not a put down, just an observation.

khodges 12-06-2005 05:58 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
I'll throw my hat in the ring--While I really enjoy the "build" of a kit, actually fitting parts together, making certain alignment is proper and watching the thing grow, I find I don't have the time to do as much as I'd like, so ARF's allow me to fiddle to a degree and still be able to increase my hangar.

Whether you say "build" or "assemble", you're still putting smaller pieces together into making larger ones which eventually become an airplane; albeit the assembly is not nearly as time consuming or technically challenging with an ARF as it is with a kit or scratch. I have to wonder on the side of the ARF boxes where it says "can be ready in as little as 11-15 hours" or some such. I guess if you are a Chinese ARF assembler you can get it down to that, but I just can't seem to put it together without having to change something to make it more suitable to me--it's not that there's something wrong I have to fix, it's more like wanting to add a detail, or modify a structure and I haven't yet come close to that magic 11-15 hours on any ARF I've built / assembled / constructed / put together (choose phrase you like best). But you can be dang sure it flies well when it's done, and nothing's gonna fall off. I've spent two days just mounting an engine.

If I can't build a kit, at least I can make the ARF more like one:). I took a NIB GP DR-1 and tore all the MonoKote off, and recovered it with white Solartex, and am hand-painting it, no masking or spraying (except the cowl). And I couldn't leave the cowl alone either; I thought it was too flimsy, so I added a layer of fiberglass inside it. I deepened the cockpit so an Aces of Iron pilot would fit in it, and that meant modifying a structural member (fuse former) I came within an inch of doing all pull-pull controls, but slapped myself and said "IT'S JUST AN ARF!", so at least they will remain as the manual states.

I'll save the kit or scratch building for those planes not available as ARF's. Scale models are what I'm interested in anyway, sport scale or fine scale, depending on the plane and how much time I want to spend on it. Mainly, I get bored and tired of cutting out forty-eleven wing ribs.

JohnW 12-06-2005 06:46 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
Build, assemble, Webster seems to think they both mean about the same thing. Even my thesaurus lists assemble as a synonym for build. Either could be applied properly to an ARF or a kit. Both require the combination of parts, one just has fewer parts. However, I personally feel that the word "assemble" implies some form of prefabrication, while "build" is more generic. But I also could care less. Build, assemble, slap together, construct, re-con-bobulate, whatever. Besides, both ARFs and kits both "un-assemble" or "un-build" the same way on impact, or would that be re-ARF and re-Kit? :)

I do however agree that ARFs don't require the time or skill of a full kit build, but that is the whole point behind an ARF. The owner gets a quick plane that may be beyond the skill of what they could have build on their own. I see nothing wrong with that. However, I believe some skill is important in building, er assembling, an ARF. While anyone can slap the ARF together, it does require some skill to end up with a straight good flying plane. Cheers.

mirwin 12-06-2005 11:36 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
Six planes and all but the 1st, my trainer, are kits. But I really want one of those H9 81.5" P-47 ARFs. It doesn't matter to me as long as the ARF is a good quality one.

I'm in this hobby to fly.


dr_wogz 12-07-2005 01:12 AM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
Some people up here "open" a light. Or, "close" it at bed time..

(This bugs me to no end!) You open a door. You turn on a light.

But then again, you are opening the circuit to get the electrons flowing to the bulb....

assemble / build.. depends on where you're from, and what you've leant to use.

I assemble parts into sub-assemblies. I build the sub-assmeblies. I then assmble the sub-assemblies together to build a plane!

Roby 12-07-2005 07:34 AM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
Build vs. assembled in regards to ARF's.

This is just a mis application of a "word" and I feel means very little.

Does it really matter ? The results are pretty much the same.

If someone says they built an ARF , then in their own mind perhaps
they did and they used all the skill they possess to do so.

If I hear someone say they "built" their ARF instead of "assembling" it,
so what. Apparently they don't know the difference and I'm not going to
tell them so I can avoid a pissing contest.

Usually the ones who use the term build when it comes to ARF's haven't
been around too long . With more experience over time they'll eventually
get it rite. The rest of us who know better will just have to be patient
until they get up to speed.

Just my opinion,

PointMagu 12-07-2005 08:14 AM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?

Ok, sorry had to get that one out 1st.

Kids in the 30's "built" "kits" that were nothing more than blocks of balsa with printed profiles. They'd carve and sand, carve and sand. This pretty much was it unless you had the $ to buy Cleveland products or the like that actually had parts that were diecut and had the balsa stringers cut pretty much to length. These hobbyists were true "builders"

WWII halted just about every private sector endeavor until VJ Day. Model magazines kept the fires burning until the boys came home. The industry boomed and companies started turning out kits that took the building process to the next level. People were crazy about conveniences. The war had taught folks to sacrifice for the cause but now, the push was on for easy-this and faster that. Think McDonalds and other fast-food joints as examples.

The model industry started the drive to bring their products to as many people as possible by making their products attractive, easy to "build" and more flyable. ARF's simply continue that tradition. The masses need easy, convenient and cheap. ARF's fulfill most of these basic requirements. To berate or belittle a guy that isn't savvy with an X-acto or that doesn't own band saws, table and scroll saws is unfair. There is something for everyone, (even electrics).

I've been "building" kits since I was 12. I've "scratch-built" from plans. I've bought and "built" ARFs that were so bad,(Chinese) that to describe them as ARF is false advertising, LOL....

I'll never say "assemble". To me that sounds like working on the line at Ford or something. I really don't think that a kid claiming to have built a PTS Mustang is any threat to an old fart like me that's been slicing up his fingers for years, messing with balsa wood and sharp instruments.

Just my 2 cents worth....


Jim_McIntyre 12-07-2005 09:19 AM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?

ORIGINAL: kdheath
If you want to be really technical about it, there are five levels of model airplane construction.
Just to muddy the waters a little more, there are also partial kits.... basically plans and a few of the more complex parts (eg. formers, ribs etc.).:D

jessiej 12-07-2005 10:34 AM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
Little comparison, really in building a model ans assembling an ARF.

I am puzzled when many attribute the popularity of ARFs to the lack of leisure time. Popularity of model aviation was very high in the late 40s and through the 50s when the typical work week was longer than today. At that time ARF/RTF models were practically nonexistent.

I suppose one must look at flying as a "sport" and building as a hobby". In addition to model aviation I enjoy motorcycles, photography, shooting sports and a variety of other activities. Model airplanes is the only one of these activities I do not enjoy unless I have built the model.


scolpit 12-07-2005 11:35 AM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?

ORIGINAL: jessiej

I suppose one must look at flying as a "sport" and building as a hobby".

I agree with you, i love both, that's why i prefer kit:)

kdheath 12-07-2005 01:22 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?

ORIGINAL: Jim_McIntyre

ORIGINAL: kdheath
If you want to be really technical about it, there are five levels of model airplane construction.
Just to muddy the waters a little more, there are also partial kits.... basically plans and a few of the more complex parts (eg. formers, ribs etc.).:D

Good point. I suppose I assumed that a short kit is still a kit, since adding the sheet and stick parts doesn't take any more skill than picking out the needed sizes and materials.

If you wanted to argue about "skill levels", I guess you play hard ball and insist that a regular kit doesn't require the skills needed to cut accurate parts from stock. And around and around we go!

David Cutler 12-07-2005 01:35 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
Just a mild observation.

There is a lot more difference between a scratch built model and a kit build than there is between a kit and an ARF.

In a scratch build, where, for example, you have to cut out the ribs, the accuracy of work has to be way more than the cutting found in, say, a laser cut kit. Things like keeping the knife vertical so that the edge of the rib is square become an issue.

Back in the Dark Ages, I used to build control line combat models for competition from scratch (that is, without even using plans) and it is a lot more difficult and time consuming than even building a kit.

-David C.

burgh_guy61 12-07-2005 02:32 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
Just to add my 2 cents, when i started in this hobby way back when, there were no arf's so you built from a kit. Boy did they take forever to build too...ambriod glue..silk and dope..on and on. Then arf's started to make the scene, i personally didnt care for the same ole looking plane at the field so i continue to build, plus there is CA and "plastic" covering which really sped up the kit build time. Recently arf's have become so diverse and well made also cost affective it is tough to really pass on them. ((I really didnt say that..sshhh)). In reality i now own a couple arf's though i am fussy about which one i might get, due to i still like to have something that looks unique at the field. I also still build for the same reason, plus i still like too build not assemble..lol.

mscic-RCU 12-07-2005 03:26 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
ARF, ARC, Kit, Scratch from plans. Done them all. Assembled and built. What does it matter! Just as long you take it to the field and fly it and have fun doing it!

Ed_Moorman 12-07-2005 04:44 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
You got that right-having fun is the name of the game. I've been flying glow powered models since 1950 and built solid and stick models for both display and rubber powered flying before that. I remember early kits gave you a sheet with the ribs printed on the wood. You had to cut them out. I also remember when die-cutting came out and people saying that wasn't building because you didn't cut the parts out. sounds like the same argument to me.

As for "assembling" vs. "building" an ARF, someone once told me that when he built an ARF, he reinforced the firewall at least with tri-stock or fiberglass and epoxy. Sometimes he added a firewall "cover" of 1/8 5-ply. He would reinforce under wing hold down blocks or change them completely. Landing gear mounts were reinforced and if it had retracts, he tore all that out and replaced it with his own mounts and gear. Servos would be relocated. The tail wheel was normally replaced and tail reinforcing added. Many times he peeled the wing covering back and glassed the wing center section. Of course, all the hardware and fuel tank were replaced.

After he finished telling me what he had done to one certain plane, I conceded that he "built" the ARF. I admit to reinforcing mine, but I have yet to cut the firewall out, add large tri-stock behind it, reinstall it then fiberglass around the nose with 30-minute epoxy and heavy glass cloth. Maybe rebuilt, revised or enhanced is a better definition, but he sure didn't just assemble it per the plans.

JohnW 12-07-2005 04:52 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
I offer this humorous tidbit that plays into the skill required to build model. We received written permission to from Mr. Raskin to reprint this in our club newsletter. Unfortunately, Jef has passed recently, but I’m sure as a avid modeler, he would have no problem with me posting this here.

A Sure Guide to Determining a Modeler’s Skill Level - By Jef Raskin

After a while in this hobby, you can walk up to somebody, look at his or her model or workshop, and immediately put them into one of four classes: Novice, Builder, Expert, or Master. So that you can tell one from another, here are a few tips.

1. Take a look at the control horns. If you weren't reading this Guide, you might think to look at how they're positioned and attached, but here's the real secret.

Novice: They still have the little bumps where they used to be attached to the plastic runner.
Builder: The little bumps have been neatly cut off.
Expert: The horns are scratch-built from aircraft plywood, sanded and varnished.
Master: The horns are hand made from polished T2024 aircraft aluminum and carbon fiber, coated for corrosion protection with the metal parts having been anodized to match
the finish of the aircraft. Did I mention the stainless steel ball joints?

2. Covering quality can be a dead giveaway.

Novice: Looks like the entire Belgian Army has slept on it for a week.
Builder: Looks like it has been slept on by a cat for one night.
Expert: Is as crisp as a freshly made bed.
Master: Looks as taut as a bed made up by a drill sergeant at boot camp.

3. Study the trailing edges of the wing.

Novice: Square and over 1/8 inch thick.
Builder: Nicely rounded.
Expert: Feather edge.
Master: Uses the trailing edge to shave.

4. How well are the uncovered wood parts finished?

Novice: Raw wood
Builder: Has been sanded and painted.
Expert: Sanding sealer, five coats of urethane paint, each coat wet-sanded, followed by rubbing compound and a fine European hard wax.
Master: Impossible to tell how it was done, looks like one piece of polished granite; wear

5. On many models, it is possible to see the framework. Look at it carefully.

Novice: Hard to tell that it's an airplane.
Builder: Reasonably straight and true.
Expert: Joints have no gaps, no warps, corners, gusseted, looks like it was carved from a
solid piece of wood with the grain always going in the strongest direction.
Master: It was carved from a solid piece of wood with the grain always going in the
strongest direction.

6. What aircraft do they choose to model?

Novice: Piper Cubs.
Builder: WWII fighters.
Expert: Anything with elaborate detail or impossible surface finish and markings,
scale operating engines, retracts, and all instruments work. Windshield wipers
come on automatically when it rains.
Master: Piper Cubs.

7. Glues they use.

Novice: Mucilage
Builder: CA, Epoxy
Expert: CA in three viscosities, aliphatic resins, four different epoxies, contact glues,
special canopy cement, and has a friend in the adhesives industry.
Master: Parts interlock so well that glue is not needed.
Clanking Armor, Page 5
8. Find out what shop equipment they use.

Novice: One old hobby knife.
Builder: Hobby knife, supply of fresh blades, handheld electric tools, box full of small
Expert: 2000 square foot shop with drill press, lathe, milling machine, table saw, router,
vacuum forming machine, foam cutter, and all are computer controlled. There is
also a rolling tool chest with larger tools, and a magnificent walnut machinist's tool chest with precision tools that cost as much as the GNP of a third world country. Each.
Master: One old hobby knife AND a sharpening stone.

9. Aerodynamic knowledge

Novice: Totally mystified, and has been since sixth grade.
Builder: Has read one book on the topic and forgotten it.
Expert:Runs simulations on computers that make NASA jealous; solves differential
equations mentally in seconds; and can give name, date of publication, and the
author(s) of every theoretical work since 1892.
Master: If it looks right, it is right.

10. Radio system choice
Novice: 2 Channel radio with elevator on left stick.
Builder: 4 Channel radio with two sticks.
Expert: 17 Channel radio made in Germany with an unpronounceable name and more levers and switches than the cockpit of a 747.
Master: Free flight.

11. How they fly them.
Novice: Crashes on takeoff.
Builder: Crashes on downwind turns.
Expert: Only crashes when it is someone else's fault.
Master: Knows better than to fly them.

About the author
Among other things, Jef Raskin has been a professor of computers at the University of California at San Diego; for most people that would be goal enough. Mr. Raskin went on to do seminal work on GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces--Microsoft Windows is an example of a GUIs-Editor-). He conceived, proposed, and was project head on the development of the Apple Macintosh. His most recent book on the subject is ‘The Humane Interface’, which has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, German, Spanish, and Russian editions, with French, Italian, Korean and Dutch versions to come. A prolific writer and researcher with hundreds of articles in print, he is an avid model builder and competitor and an active musician and composer. He has consulted on computer interface and system design for dozens of companies, from startups to multinationals worldwide.

jessiej 12-07-2005 06:53 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
Thanks, John W!


piper_chuck 12-07-2005 08:18 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
Build, assemble, construct, fabricate, whatever. Why get hung up on the words people use? Who cares what it's called? Just put the thing together and fly it. ;)

redfox435cat 12-08-2005 03:17 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
:DI like that, that made my week:D
Got me going though. SOme were between builder and master. tough call[:-]

BigWes 12-09-2005 02:21 AM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
Must be different wording for me as well. I normally say 'I built it myself" when I build a kit. For an ARF I say I 'put it together'. Hmmm. Maybe that doesn't work out good either??

Rcpilot 12-09-2005 05:02 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
According to Mr Raskins definition:

I guess I fall somewhere between builder and expert. Probably the same catagory that most kit builders in the hobby would fall into--if the've built more than 10 kits.

I'm currently working on kit #32.[sm=sunsmiley.gif]

dicknadine 12-09-2005 06:42 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
Add me to your definition, been at it since late 1930s. some of the definitions remind of the adds for Poker dealers at the Casino's, semi and or proffesional. dick

JCOKEEFE 12-10-2005 08:19 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
[8D]Will never "get used to it" . The
word "assemble" should not be that
difficult to handle, even by ARF'ers.

One more time, KITS are constructed.
Scratch builders CONSTRUCT.

ARF's have already, unfortunately,
reached that point (CONSTRUCTED)
to the detriment of those to want to,
love to build/construct model aircraft.

ARF's are assembled!!

Gizmo-RCU 12-10-2005 09:17 PM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
I keep coming back to those items you buy that are almost completely built. The box says "Some assembly required", when I see an ARF that's what comes to mind.
So no one misunderstands me, I have assembled ARF's and own one which I admit is a great flyer and as Great Planes doesn't kit the UCD I had no choice.
Anyone who has kit or scratch built knows the true difference.

Ispitfire 12-12-2005 04:47 AM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
What gets me is the more recent availability (or unavailability) of kits to build. I wrote build just then because thats what came out instinctively, just so you know my opinion.

I find it increasingly difficult to find the particular KIT I would like to BUILD. Pages and pages of ARTF jobs just dont cut it, I'm sure I cant be the only person with this opinion, maybe I'm looking in the wrong place? maybe I should try scratch building!

A large part of this hobby for me is being able to build the kit and be proud of what you have created, an ARTF is definitely nothing more than an assembly procedure pre-determined by the manufacturer, where is the fun/skill in that?

Oh yeah does anyone have an opinion on the topflite spitfire mk IX kit? (maybe i should take that to the warbird forum, but while we are on the topic of kits.....)

PointMagu 12-12-2005 07:56 AM

RE: ARF vs Kit build?
Can't say for the Top Flite rendition but I just picked up a Modeltech International Spit Mk. IX that looks promising.

I had built, (yeah...from a kit but a lotta work nonetheless) the Sterling Spitfire back in the late '70's. The box was a balsa factory with enough wood to build two planes. Talk about over-engineering.

This latest attempt is a "quick-build" with decks, wings and stabilizer pre-sheeted foam core. It's a .46 size and I'll be putting a .52 4 stroke up front to run inverted. The company is defunct but the kit looks 90% scale in appearance. No retracts or flaps so this will be simply a fun-fly affair.


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