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Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

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Where Have All The Kits Gone ?

Old 03-19-2024, 04:58 AM
  #1251  
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I can’t help thinking sometimes that kits are maybe a bit overrated…

I mean so many plans that used to cost a bit many years ago are available today for free download (and tile printing them means even a paper copy can be had for free), Balsa is also available, so is it such a big deal to cut some ribs and formers? (I admit I actually enjoy doing that).

On the other hand I see so many build threads start out with a proud kit on the bench, only to become cliffhangers some time later…
Old 03-19-2024, 07:43 AM
  #1252  
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The advantage of kits is all the heavy lifting is done for and you can get right to building the aircraft. All the shaped wood parts are already die cut, CNC, or laser cut. I have built from plans, cutting every shaped part by hand, it can be daunting task and is not for everyone. You don't need to design and make a plug and/or mold to make a cowling. You don't need to make a plugs and vacuum table to make windows and windscreens. With some exceptions all the parts are there to complete the airplane. If you are new to the hobby or not particularly skilled you can get beginner/trainer kits with very complete instructions with photographs to walk you through construction.
Now lets talk about the free plans out there. Most if not all are hand drawn plans Every such plan I ever used had at least some sort of error, even the CAD plans suffer from these at times. Purchased plans are not immune to design errors. I can recall see more than one frustrated builder cussing a well known designer who has a large catalog of plans for sale. By in large there are no instructions with these plans, you are expected to have the skills in place to solve any issues and complete the project. The old VK kits from the 70s, among others, suffered from this issue. I remember building the VK DR1, instructions were a few hints on the plans with a 1 page typewritten page.

Last edited by FlyerInOKC; 03-19-2024 at 07:48 AM.
Old 05-02-2024, 10:44 AM
  #1253  
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Even the Comet rubber powered stick and tissue kits left things to be desired that were at least fixed in Goldberg, Midwest and Top Flite designs. That was things like landing gear. If you followed Comet's weak designs, the landing gear would be ripped out upon first flight landing. I fixed their 18" span P-40 Warhawk plan by making a non-scale music wire landing gear fastened to a fuselage bulkhead just in front of the wing leading edge.

Plans required a modeller to have some prior knowledge of building, to fill in the gaps. It was an incentive to buy the magazine from which the plan issued from. Back then, magazines weren't expensive due to their worldwide circulation in very large numbers of copies printed. Though not perfect, the article instructions did help to cover some bases that the plans did not show or clearly explain.

I have an old Flying Models plan from the 1960's of the Aeronca C-3, about 50 inch span for rudder only and throttle control using a cross scavenge .15 engine. It does not have clear enough details on how the wing saddle above the cocpit is made, to adequately hold the wing in place with rubber bands. But, I bought the plan on clearance from FM back in the late 1970's. It is perhaps a best example of vagueness on details. Unfortunately, have not found it on-line as to obtain the FM article on it.

This is where resorting to other similar C-3 designs helps one to fill in details to make it work.
Old 05-02-2024, 10:51 AM
  #1254  
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I want add, the saving grace about Comet rubber powered kit designs is that most of them were lightly framed making them lightweight, which helped them to fly better than the then heavier "lumberyard" Guillow kits. The Guillow kits when built were better off as display models.

Nowadays, a few have built Guillows from plans using very lightweight balsa, which then they become decent flyers. The kit wood back then was rock hard and heavy, almost like pine wood. But even so, the kits then were very affordable especially for an adolescent.
Old 05-02-2024, 10:52 AM
  #1255  
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I don't think many people have the patience and problem solving skills the old designs required.
Old 05-02-2024, 12:13 PM
  #1256  
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Originally Posted by FlyerInOKC
I don't think many people have the patience and problem solving skills the old designs required.
Especially when they boast with pride, building an ARF.
Old 05-02-2024, 12:52 PM
  #1257  
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Originally Posted by FlyerInOKC
I don't think many people have the patience and problem solving skills the old designs required.
Maybe why there could be a big decline in ARFs as well.
I'm in the process of building an ARF, trust me, my patience and problem solving skills have been tasked well beyond my means with poor instructions and really bad parts and assembly. And of coarse, I can't get replacements because everything is out of stock. I'm back to building kits and scratch building after this project. At least with a kit or a scratch build project, I can create and solve my own problems instead of trying to comprehend problems caused by someone else.
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Old 05-03-2024, 05:42 AM
  #1258  
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I have never been a ARF RTF buyer but I have noticed in the past the build quality was all over the place and dropping. I think the majority are all foam junk these days. I'm sure that contributes to the decline.
Old 05-03-2024, 08:41 AM
  #1259  
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Problem is that nearly all production went overseas. From what I've heard, they contract with a company for a price to make a production run. Say between clothing manufacturing orders, they set up and do ARF's. So, it can be more than one manufacturer / region / country doing this. Without consistency in manufacturing, when parts are out of stock they are out.

Maintainability has gone out the door for many of our consumer products. You end up in the long run paying more, because more often than not, there is no longer a life cycle for more durable items. When it breaks (household appliances for example), you buy a new one.

I kept our gas dryer repaired, doing the cleaning and repairs myself. Midway, controller board went out along with a thermal fuse, replaced, thoroughly cleaned all passageways of lint and dust and it ran like new again. It lasted for 23 years. But when I started getting noisy, can no longer get most parts, I dumped and bought a new one. This is why I got 23 versus 8 to 12 years that most trash and buy again.
Old 05-03-2024, 09:19 AM
  #1260  
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I just put a transmission in 10+ year old Maytag washer. $178 (shopped around prices went as high as $350) looked a lot better than the price on a new washer.
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