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Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

Old 12-08-2006, 01:50 PM
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bigedmustafa
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Default Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

Being relatively new to the hobby, I have no kit building experience at all. I've decided that this is something I'm going to try this winter, so I bought a Great Planes Rapture 40 kit to put together.

Before I tackled the Rapture 40, I thought it might be a good idea to practice a bit, so I also bought a Gillow's 600-series Build-by-Numbers Lancer kit. I thought it would be pretty simple to put together, since the box had phrases like "easy building" and "junior contest" on it. Putting it together has been an eye-opening experience!

How useful is it to put one of these free-flight kits together while trying to learn about kit building R/C planes? Will any of my experience with the Guillow's kit help me when I go to build the Rapture 40?

Just looking for some helpful advice and some additional useful practice before I start tearing into a larger project. Thanks!
Old 12-08-2006, 02:18 PM
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ouflyer
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

I'm new to the RC world myself, but I have built plastic models most of my life, and control line models several years ago. I went into idle mode for a few years before I got into RC just recently. I did buy Guillows laser cut kit (French Neauport) (sp?) for a practice build. This is my first laser kit, and I must say it is awesome!!! Everything fits tight and straight. I don't know if yours is laser cut or not, but I think it would be a good practice kit to start on. It will teach you basic fundamentals you will use on the real deal. Just my neewbe input.
Old 12-08-2006, 03:20 PM
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

Some not quite as new, but still "newbie" input...

Being in the middle of my 4th build now, I've found that there are certain "building block" skills that would be, imo at least, independent of the kit one is building.

Learning to do things like ensuring a tight flush fit of pieces, using the right glue for the right job, monitoring the amount of glue used, sanding for good fit and appearance, etc....these skills are fundamental to ANY kit one builds. Granted, they may be more or less important to one kit or another, but learning first to WANT to get them right EVERY time, and second to actually DO so, are generic to any modeling activity, I think.

It seems to me that, in this case, you're practicing on an airplane kit...you're doing things where fit, accuracy, precision, and weight matter. those are concerns and skills that will definitely carry over to future builds.
Old 12-08-2006, 04:41 PM
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bigedmustafa
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

The Lancer kit I'm building is die-cut, and not very well at that. I've spent at least as much time cutting out pieces while retracing them with an exacto knife as I have actually pinning and gluing the structures. I actually think the Rapture will be much easier to build, as it is laser cut and the larger pieces will be less delicate to deal with.

I thought that plodding through the Guillow's Lancer would at least get me more comfortable with building from plans and getting used to the process. If building every kit were so tedious, however, I think it would make me run screaming back to ARFs!
Old 12-08-2006, 05:05 PM
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

Big Ed, That sounds like one of the OLD Guillows kits. Good Luck!

They are basically small-scale "Builder's Kits". If you can make that thing look good, you'll have NO problem building the Rapture.

But to tell the truth, that Guillows kit will not give you a whole lot of the type of experience you will need for the Rapture. They are just two different animals.

If you really want something to "practice" on, try building a Sig "Wonder" they are pretty cheap ($30?) and use construction that is similar to most of today's kits.

Otherwise, just go ahead and tackle the Rapture. I haven't built one, but I'm familliar enough with GP kits to believe that the Rapture will not be a difficult build.

Keep us posted, and let us know if you hit any snags.
Old 12-08-2006, 08:14 PM
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

The lancer kit would be similar to a sig senior type of construction, that is if the seniors still build the way they used too, LOTS of cutting sticks, sanding gluing. the small balsa stuff will teach you patience or destroy it! grin

However if you can build a small stick kit straight you can build most anything straight...

I honestly don't know about the rc kit you are building, but I can recommend the sig four star kits as fairly decent entry type kits.
Old 12-08-2006, 09:25 PM
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

You will find that a lot of modelers started with those small kits. You can learn a lot from them.
Old 12-08-2006, 10:26 PM
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ChuckW
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

In my opinion, the Guillows kit might be a fun project but it's probably a little different than the Rapture. It will also be alittle smaller and more dlicate which might be frustrating if you are new to building. Personally, I would just get started on the Rapture. I built one and it went together great. The only problems were some low grade wood and poor die cutting which, truth be told, weren't all that bad. I had the rapture framed and covered in no time. It was a great flying plane. Plus, the excellent instructions from GP will help you learn a lot about building.
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Old 12-09-2006, 12:12 AM
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

Thanks for the feedback so far. I'm just glad I'll get to use Ultra Cover or MonoKote on the large builds. I have no idea how many millions of brain cells I'm killing off while trying to apply the tissue covering with Aero Gloss. Man is that stuff potent!

The Rapture build will happen quickly enough. ChuckW, for now I have to get the Lancer kit off my building table. I've seen your Rapture 40 pics when I've searched the forums for Rapture info. Looks like yours turned out great!
Old 12-09-2006, 12:23 AM
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ChuckW
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

Let us know how both of them turn out.
Old 12-10-2006, 07:01 PM
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

Bignustafa

The way I cover the stick and tissue kits, is to thin some white glue with water, about fifty fifty, brush a coating on the outside edges where the tissue will be bonding, get it snug over the part, then lightly rebrush with glue, let dry.. Its the easiest way I ever found to cover. I never really got into the doping and shrinking it much ....
Old 12-11-2006, 08:48 AM
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simark
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

Yep, I started with the stick and tissue kits about 35 years ago. With the diecuts, most of the parts had to be reconstructed before they could be assembled onto the actual model. A royal pain but that beat an old Comet kit I built which was diecut only half way through the wood. And that beat a old British kit that came with the shapes of the pieces printed onto the wood. I still remember some of the printing being rather vague...
These kits will certainly give you good experience in cutting, sanding, swearing, skills that will serve you well when you start building some of the better "builder's kits", models that assume that you have mastered some advanced building skills, skills that don't come by gluing together ARF's. You'll know when you've bought one of these builder's kits when you open the box and you're staring at a pile of lumber.
Good luck with the Guillows- ask questions anytime. It's always a pleasure to help out new builders.
Old 12-12-2006, 12:02 AM
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

I also started building about 30-odd years ago with Guillows, Goldberg and Comet kits. The Comets really sucked but I learned a lot doing the Guillows ones. My most recent Guillows was the 1/12 scale Sopwith Camel, which I built about 15 years ago and still have.

Like the others have been saying, the Guillows kits are old-fashioned "builders' kits". That is, very few short-cuts and a fairly intricate construction. On the other hand the balsa in the kits was always mediocre quality at best and often really poor, and the die-cutting left a lot to be desired. Still, with patience and a willingness to occasionally re-make a part you can make a nice model with those kits.

I only started building RC three years ago and I found that the experience of building those kits was very helpful - but also that I needed to learn some new things about building bigger more powerful planes. I always tell people who ask about building - RUN, don't walk to Cafeenman's wonderful website [link=http://www.airfieldmodels.com]Airfield Models[/link] and soak up the marvellous advice he hands out there free gratis.
Old 12-12-2006, 02:41 PM
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

Big Ed--Might as well get my $.02--I have tried to build those small stick models and helped my son try to build some rubber powered models that were quite a bit bigger, but still using small, light sticks. I had difficulty glueing the wood and not my fingers. Found it to be very frustrating. I agree with everyone else on this thread that said "just do it" and tackle the Rapture. I've build several GP models including the Ultimate and Cub 60, as well as several Sig models, Carl Goldberg, Tower and a couple of scratch built. Talk to other modelers and spend some time on RCU--Tips and Techniques I think is the Forum title. Lots of good info. Good luck.
Old 01-26-2007, 07:46 PM
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bigedmustafa
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

I'm happy to report that, after about 25 to 30 hours of work, I managed to complete my Guillow's Lancer kit:



As much effort as I took, I think it was a good practice exercise. My confidence going into the GP Rapture .40 is better, because I finished the Lancer so I KNOW that I can finish the Rapture!
Old 01-26-2007, 09:30 PM
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

heck, if thats your first stick and tissue you'll do ok...I remember building a republic wildcat as my first model..got it framed up..and never did manage to wrap that thing in covering....
Old 01-26-2007, 11:31 PM
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

All right! Looks good. Sheesh - that's how I got my start and I am forever be-moaning that the learning stages are forever lost.

You have made a middle-aged man all warm and fuzzy to see someone start out once again with a gum engine stick and tissue kit. * sniff *

If you can make that thing look good, you'll have NO problem building the Rapture.
Ain't it the truth. I built a japanese silk covered Spitfire that turned out so ugly and twisted that termites wouldn't bite it if they were starving. Hardest thing I ever attempted, and this was for kids! ANYTHING that uses large, flat fuselage sections and die or lazer cut parts should jump off your board now. Good on you.
Old 02-19-2007, 11:59 AM
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

I just placed an order for my first RC kit, a Sig Four Star 40. To warm up for it, I too just built a couple of stick and tissue models. I first did a Guillow's die-cut FW-190 and covered it using thinned Elmer's glue instead of dope. It came out OK, and I had fun building it. Next, I built a Dumas models Zero, which was laser cut, and the quality was much better (also was 3x the price). I used dope for that one, and the covering came out a lot better.

The thing that I can't get over, particularly with the Guillow's models, is that the instructions show them being built by ten year olds. I realize that this is probably who used to build these kits 40-50 years ago, but I cannot imagine my 11 year old son being able to build one of these by himself. This is a little depressing, actually. I am just pushing 40, and even when I was 10 I had already fallen prey to TV and video games.

Anyway, from what I have read about the Sig Four Star kits, I feel I am pretty well prepared to tackle it now.
Old 02-19-2007, 04:44 PM
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

Here are some pics. The Zero came out way better than the FW-190.
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Old 02-19-2007, 05:34 PM
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

Nice builds, mclina, thanks for the pics! I actually took my Guillow's to a club meeting for "Show and Tell" and was heartily congratulated for completing it by some of the older, veteren model builders.

We met in the local community center where we fly small electrics in the gym after the club meeting. I decided it would be fun to launch my Lancer and see if it flew. The first flight demonstrated that I needed to add some nose weight. On the second flight, after I taped a penny to the nose former, the plane flew almost perfectly down the entire length of the gym and landed perfectly on its gear a few feet from the far wall. I got an ovation from everyone who watched the flight.

Watching something you built from sticks fly well is gratifying indeed!
Old 02-19-2007, 06:59 PM
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

That's awesome that your plane actually flew well. I haven't tried to fly mine. I didn't even put the rubber band in my Zero, because I didn't want to poke holes in the sides. The FW-190 has taxied across the kitchen floor, but I haven't gotten up the nerve to launch it across the snow yet.
Old 02-20-2007, 11:08 AM
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

Ahh, there is something to getting back to rubber FF models once in a while. Makes you feel like a kid again.
I built my first stick kit when I was 10. Got it for my birthday. It was a Comet Curtiss Jenny rubber powered kit. Very ambitious for a 10 year old, but I managed to complete it and it flew a few times. In my books back then, a flight more than 10 feet and a landing not requiring major repairs qualified as a success.
Skip ahead about 30 years, I saw an old dusty Comet Curtiss Jenny kit in a hobby shop. I had to have it. I didn't build it and it slowly worked it's way to the back of the closet. But every once in a while I take it out to look at it. Millions of 1/16 sticks, horrible diecutting, balsa wood from the worst examples of the species and a small bundle of tissue paper. My wife can't understand why I wanted a rubberband airplane when I fly gas RC planes every weekend. One day, I'm gonna build it with my boy, and then she'll know.
Old 05-26-2007, 10:56 PM
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

The Guillow's kits are definitely good practice.....I use them as a learning tool in my engineering class ( 10-12th graders). Yes, they typically build up heavy, but with some care do build well and fly. Many of my students have never touched a model before! Got 22 newbies introduced to this "commission of aviation" that we do. Several want to do follow-up projects!

I do wish that they would diecut or lazer cut all of the little notches......this seems to be the biggest gripe I get from the kids.

Keep 'Em Flying!
Old 05-27-2007, 06:42 AM
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

Bigedmustafa et al,

In my opinion, kit manufacturers like Guillows, Sterling and Comet have probably driven as many people AWAY from this hobby as they have attracted people to it. Yes, you can learn a lot from building such kits, but poor quality is still poor quality and poor quality is what you get in most of the aforementioned manufacturer's kits.

If you want a good stick & tissue kit, get one of the old-timer kits from Spirit of Yesteryear. They're laser cut, good quality wood, and fly beautifully with a speed 400 motor. Yes, they cost a bit more, but your chances of success with one of these kits is MUCH greater than with a Guillows.

papermache
Old 05-27-2007, 07:45 AM
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Default RE: Are Guillow's kits any good for practice?

After completing a Sig 4 Star, and another Guillow's kit, I think I agree with those who say that while the Guillow's kits are fun, they probably do not help much in preparing you to build larger planes. This P-51 I just finished had the worst wood and the worst die-cutting I ever saw, and I nearly chucked it in the trash after a few hours of trying to punch out some very questionable parts.


I pressed on though, and this is the finished product. It is pretty rough compared to the Dumas Zero I built. Comparing the actual build of this plane to my 4 Star, excluding radio gear, I bet I spent twice as long on this model as I did on the 4 Star.

I would almost go so far as to say that you should build a larger kit to prepare yourself for one of these little tissue monsters, especially if you go with $8.95 kits like I have. They are definitely a challenge.
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