Vintage KeilKraft Balsa Wood Models Available Again

mtrappett

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I remember building many of the old KeilKraft models growing up in the UK. The company that used to produce them, KeilKraft went out of business some time ago (years). The shortage of balsa wood I believe was the problem, which drove up the price of the kits. Anyway, most of them are available again! It's like stepping back 40 years or so. Tissue, dope and sanding sealer were the order of the day then. The smell of dope used to fill the house, and my mom used to complain. It was the same smell as where she used to work in the airplane factory in the 1940's. They used to build some of the old planes like the Mosquito's, Spitfires, and she saw the first Lancaster Bomber roll out (they had to widen the gates).

Oh, and Veron too! I built an SE5A, Spitfire, Hurricane, FW190, Super-Sabre (Jetex Powered), Sopwith Camel, Sopwith Triplane, Chipmunk, Beachcraft Bonanza, and so on. We used to convert them to RTP (Round the pole electric flying). I think I built them all! Those were the days.

Veron Models

Vintage Model Company

Oh, they also have the first R/C glider that I learn to fly with! OMG Impala 52" R/C Glider Kit That was an awesome model. I covered it with nylon, and it was built to last all the terrible landings and rough handling that they get when first learning slope-soaring.
 
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zathros

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It's amazing how many Balsa model plans can make excellent paper models, and with careful attention, be made to fly too, as the bodies no longer hold tissue doped up, but become structured members, and with some work can be smoothed to reproduce an even more accurate model. The last R/C plane I built had a 10" prop., an engine with a half inch diameter piston, and a 5' foot wing span. I used the shrink plastic available to do the body. I got in trouble with the Police as they said it was too large to fly from the park I was at and said I required a "million dollar" insurance policy, so I was only able to fly it on a friends farm (I never checked into the prices but found out later that such a policy only cost $150 bucks a year back then).

She had 80 acres of land, in Connecticut, that had been in her family for generations. I ended up having a spectacular flight when the wing shifted and the center of gravity went back, and it went into a spectacular stall, and crashed 50' from the ground. All the servos and motor were saved, but the plane was shattered. I've built many rubber plane powered Balsa models, usually from the "Gold Era", 1930's cabin high went Stinsons's, and my own one off designs. These things, with a little Brake Fluid rubbed on the rubber strands allows the propeller to wind up very tight knots, which stores a lot of energy, and I had models that flew 100's of feet into altitude before going into glide mode. I always set them up to go into a gentle spiral when the ran out so I had a chance of getting them back. You can easily put 50 hrs. into one of these planes, watch a beautiful flight only to lose the plane from a gust of wind 10 above it's landing. Lots of fun. :)
 
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zathros

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I designed a "round the pole" set up I used in a large room. The engine was powered from the bottom with wires going to the a bobbing that had copper traces to conduct electricity to brushes that went down the wires that went to the aircraft to run the planes engine. This gave me the ability to increase and decrease throttle and no battery in the planes. The fun part was I had a wire come down from a shaft on the ceiling, which was mounted on a the end with a bead chain, so the wire would not coil up. This very light fishing line came out of the ceiling pole into the bottom pole, out to the plane, between the wire mounts, thru the wing, and with a Bellcrank back to an elevator that was spring mounted, to make the plane dive slightly. I was then able to control the spring loaded elevator, and actually do controlled take off and landings and some light acrobatics. I've never seen anyone else do this, it wouldn't work outside, it might work but the pole would need modifications, come to think of it, it wouldn't be that hard. Being able to do stalls and recover, glide, go vertical, dive and actually crash the plane added a lot of realism to string flying aircraft. :)
 
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mtrappett

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Mar 4, 2013
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Santa Clarita, California
You can easily put 50 hrs. into one of these planes, watch a beautiful flight only to lose the plane from a gust of wind 10 above it's landing. Lots of fun. :)
Yes, I totally know what you mean! Back when I was heavily into model airplanes with my brother, we always would put our name and address in the model just in case someone recovered it if it was lost. That was the idea back then.

That sounded like a great flying area! I wish I had access to something like that now. I built an electric 4-channel model plane from a kit over here but I can't fly it anywhere. It just sits in storage. The rules are so tight anymore. It just spoils the fun.

I can see how you could convert one of the old scale model balsa kits to a card model. That would be cool to do.
 

mtrappett

Active Member
Mar 4, 2013
116
213
40
Santa Clarita, California
I designed a "round the pole" set up I used in a large room. The engine was powered from the bottom with wires going to the a bobbing that had copper traces to conduct electricity to brushes that went down the wires that went to the aircraft to run the planes engine. This gave me the ability to increase and decrease throttle and no battery in the planes. The fun part was I had a wire come down from a shaft on the ceiling, which was mounted on a the end with a bead chain, so the wire would not coil up. This very light fishing line came out of the ceiling pole into the bottom pole, out to the plane, between the wire mounts, thru the wing, and with a Bellcrank back to an elevator that was spring mounted, to make the plane dive slightly. I was then able to control the spring loaded elevator, and actually do controlled take off and landings and some light acrobatics. I've never seen anyone else do this, it wouldn't work outside, it might work but the pole would need modifications, come to think of it, it wouldn't be that hard. Being able to do stalls and recover, glide, go vertical, dive and actually crash the plane added a lot of realism to string flying aircraft. :)
That sounds good! I remember having so much enjoyment flying those RTP models. My brother-in-law Alan, my friend Pete, and me back in the 70's were all keen RTP flyers. Alan worked as manager at a warehouse and they let him use it evenings in the week for flying the models. The tin-copper wires were around 30 feet in length 24gauge. We had to have a couple of car batteries to allow for the voltage drop. We had a third wire that powered a small home-made solenoid to operate the elevators. It consisted of a nail, a piece of brass tube and a whole bunch of tin-copper shellacked wire wrapped around the tube. When the solenoid was energized, the nail would get drawn into the middle of the tube. I remember one model was a triple winger and it would sometimes take a short cut across the room with the lines dragging on the floor. It flew super-slow so it wouldn't get damaged when it came to the end of the wire tethers.

Those were some good times :)
 

zathros

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That sounds good! I remember having so much enjoyment flying those RTP models. My brother-in-law Alan, my friend Pete, and me back in the 70's were all keen RTP flyers. Alan worked as manager at a warehouse and they let him use it evenings in the week for flying the models. The tin-copper wires were around 30 feet in length 24gauge. We had to have a couple of car batteries to allow for the voltage drop. We had a third wire that powered a small home-made solenoid to operate the elevators. It consisted of a nail, a piece of brass tube and a whole bunch of tin-copper shellacked wire wrapped around the tube. When the solenoid was energized, the nail would get drawn into the middle of the tube. I remember one model was a triple winger and it would sometimes take a short cut across the room with the lines dragging on the floor. It flew super-slow so it wouldn't get damaged when it came to the end of the wire tethers.

Those were some good times :)

You are the only other person I have ever heard do this. I have a small home, but I have a "Great Room" concept, so the kitchen living room combo gives me a 24'x24' foot room. That gave me a great size for making a small plane with the above method I mentioned. Being able to control the throttle mean you could either fly so fast you could barely see it, or just loft, and really see the plane fly around, do stalls, recover, zoom towards the ground, and if you weren't careful, you would crash it too! The Tri-Wing plane must have really floated down nicely. Being able to take off and land these things, and not using batteries (I had a power supply hooked up) meant long flights, and loads of fun. I don't know why any toy manufacturer hasn't made a toy like this. A "Foamie" type plane would be the best. We thinking on the same plain man, though you're building on a mucher higher than mine.

As far as converting the Balsa to paper, I have done a few by importing the plans a "Pictureframes", which allows me to scale, and actually cut up the picture. I can then build the model virtually, make solid formers, and voila', you have a paper plain model. I think Blender would do that really easily. I'm a Rhino 3D nurd, I have so many years invested into that CAD program, I've made paper models with it, but I also have made parts for planes, cars and boats that I have sold to people, that they then produced. I don't do the production anymore because my neck and back are so screwed up. You can see some of my stuff in the "Renders and Illustrations' section. :)
 
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