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3D Balsa vs. Foam

Old 12-18-2011, 08:44 AM
  #1  
Eric Tessmer
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Default 3D Balsa vs. Foam

What are the pros and cons of one over the other for 3D flying and which are the top brands in each catatory.

I have owned each, and have my own thoughts on this, but am interested in other opinions out there. It looks like a lot of first-class pilots fly both for different reasons.

Thanks
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Old 12-18-2011, 11:38 AM
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JetPlaneFlyer
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I'm not very experienced on 3d models but a general observation would be that (injection moulded) foam is better suited to small size planes and balsa/ply better for the larger stuff.

At small size it's hard to build a balsa model as light as a moulded foam one (it's possible but the model will be fragile). At large sizes it's vary hard to make moulded foam stiff/strong enough.

Personally I just like balsa models better. To me they seem more like proper 'grown up' planes rather than kids toys, but that's just a personal thing, each to his own.

Steve
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Old 12-18-2011, 05:30 PM
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Bub Steve
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For someone who is not very experienced on 3d models,,you naided it here!! good post'in my Bub! bubsteve
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Old 12-19-2011, 03:50 PM
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cyclops2
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Default neither is bad.

Both are for grown up pilots.

3 types of modelers & pilots.

1 is about 50 - 50 on build & fly.
2nd is all about flying. Foam repairs faster. Glue the self aligning pieces together.
3rd is all about building.....most under 40 buy FOAM. Sales figures show that in ALL sizes.
I am 74. I started with sticks of balsa & silk or paper coverings. They were VERY DIFFICULT to get the proper tension as humidity changed. Big planes could really warp a lot if you worked on different days of humidity. Leaving Balsa loose in the basement helped. More constant humidity.

I build only ARF & scratch FOAMS. 8 sheet of balsa is almost the cost of a COMPLETE foam ARF.

If you build with Balsa. You have money.
Repair a Balsa stringer loaded fuselage that broke in half. Then the same break in a foamy.........Foam rules for the BUYING modelers. PLUS they come painted & decaled..........ETC.

I remember those Guillows sticks that were supposed to fly. GLAD I no longer have to buy them.

Rich
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Old 12-19-2011, 04:16 PM
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Bub Steve
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Rich,,Balsa can be $$$$ ,,Those Guillows kit's I was building near 50 years ago were great,,even though it took months to build one, I built with balsa though the 70's-80's and 90's and never threw anything out so have a bunch of balsa stock and parts to use,,Love foam as it's Quick fun and fast to fix but still 50-50 on the mix of foam to balsa plane around here,,tissue and dope was a pain to fix but when monocoat became available that all changed, new skills and materials has kept our sport more interesting for sure,,I'm only 60 an hope to fly till I'm100!!, your bubsteve
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Old 12-19-2011, 05:23 PM
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Eric,
I'll be on the Island in the spring, we always fly at the field in Kailua/Kaneohe www.asrcc.org

Anyway, I fly and own both types of 3D aircraft, balsa and foam. Another factor that brought me into 3D foamies is the sheer durability and repairability of foamies. I'm currently still bending the hell out of my 2 Dog Yak, and I still fly a pair of AirfoilZ Edge's. Both of those foam birds have been crashed, mid-aired, dorked, and stuffed into the weeds countless times. The sheer 'bounce per ounce' of the foamie makes it the ideal 3d trainer. Once you master your 3d skills, go balsa right? WHY? Foamies fly awesome.

In a perfectly matched world, if the two planes offer identical performance, why suffer the consequences of a balsa re-kitting episode? Simply bring your CA and kicker to the field and fix the foamie in most cases.

Last edited by Nitro Blast; 12-19-2011 at 08:19 PM.
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Old 12-21-2011, 10:29 PM
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these are balsa and do well


http://www.air-rc.com/forum/index.ph...ne%2Fskitch-36
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Old 12-22-2011, 06:06 AM
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There is nothing to compare to the satisfaction of building a balsa model. The down side is if you dork it in,and have to rebuild it! But it fly's great,and looks like a million bucks to the builder/owner! Foam planes are easy to build/repair,fly great,and are very forgiving of mistakes. Then there are the EPP foam models. These planes are like a Timex Watch (take a licki'n,and keep on ticki'n) Both have a place in flying,take your pick! Ron
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Old 12-23-2011, 01:18 AM
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Originally Posted by stevecooper View Post
Rich,,Balsa can be $$$$ ,,Those Guillows kit's I was building near 50 years ago were great,,even though it took months to build one, I built with balsa though the 70's-80's and 90's and never threw anything out so have a bunch of balsa stock and parts to use,,Love foam as it's Quick fun and fast to fix but still 50-50 on the mix of foam to balsa plane around here,,tissue and dope was a pain to fix but when monocoat became available that all changed, new skills and materials has kept our sport more interesting for sure,,I'm only 60 an hope to fly till I'm100!!, your bubsteve
Originally Posted by Ron Dog View Post
There is nothing to compare to the satisfaction of building a balsa model. The down side is if you dork it in,and have to rebuild it! But it fly's great,and looks like a million bucks to the builder/owner! Foam planes are easy to build/repair,fly great,and are very forgiving of mistakes. Then there are the EPP foam models. These planes are like a Timex Watch (take a licki'n,and keep on ticki'n) Both have a place in flying,take your pick! Ron

Couldn't have said it better than these two (Not quite as old as Bub though ). Grew up building stick and tissue and still do. Foam and modern technology is wonderful for our hobby, also quick and easy to fly and repair. I'm with them, 6 of one half a dozen of the other.
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Old 12-23-2011, 09:49 PM
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On smaller planes I agree I prefer the foam, oh and foam safe CA
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Old 01-14-2012, 02:46 PM
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Hi,

New to foam electric airplanes and just electric as well. I just purchased a 3D Hobby Extra 330 SC (used) more or less ready to fly.

Is it possible without a great deal of effort to recreate this plane in balsa and still be competitive in the weight category? Actually, I guess that question would go for most any foam plane in this size range.

Thanks!

Ken
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Old 01-14-2012, 04:07 PM
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This one??bubsteve
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Old 01-14-2012, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by kenh3497 View Post
Hi,

New to foam electric airplanes and just electric as well. I just purchased a 3D Hobby Extra 330 SC (used) more or less ready to fly.

Is it possible without a great deal of effort to recreate this plane in balsa and still be competitive in the weight category? Actually, I guess that question would go for most any foam plane in this size range.

Thanks!

Ken


In a word, no.

Understanding that nearly anything is possible with the correct amount of funding I'm thinking it may be able to be done, but I know a few solid reasons why foam is used. $ and $ and $. Foam is much more resilient to damage than balsa.

In my kiddie days, I built U control planes that were balsa, and looked just like todays foamies. Profile, flat wings etc. They were bricks compared to todays foamy 3D.
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Old 01-15-2012, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by stevecooper View Post
This one??bubsteve

This one.. The EPP one

http://www.3dhobbyshop.com/assets/im...epp-b-img1.jpg
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Old 01-16-2012, 12:09 AM
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There are lot's of profile BALSA ARF's out there,, Get this one if you want a super 3/D'in plane and one of my fave's,,bubsteve

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Old 01-17-2012, 01:16 PM
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Both have their advantages and disadvantages. I damaged the 68 in. balsa covered foam wing on my Cap 10B I thought I'd make a built up wing to see if I could make it lighter. Came out within a couple of oz. of one another so it wasn't worth it. I could hot wire one out in about half the time. The built up Twist 40 works great. Anothr point with the foam is, you anen't limited to the straight line designs of most of the balsa planes as this scratch built Catsass. Size is not limited to balsa either. This Byron Christen Eagle 18 pounder is completely foam and covered with HK covering material, much like Ultracote.
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Old 01-19-2012, 08:39 PM
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I'll be a jerk and throw out the loaded question to tick off both sides....

What if you want a 40 inch 3D friend plane... are you going foam or balsa? What would you buy?

One thing I dislike about foam is there is no weight to them at all so a bit of wind creates a handful flying.... its great that they are repairable but I've found the foam is so thin at times in spots its almost too fragile, tiny donks break it

I have a 40 inch edge foamy profile which has been fun to play on and learn some basic 3D but u can see wind contort the fuselage/wings......so I bought an unbuilt Somenzini thats basically the same as the Edge Stevecooper posted above... I hope it'll be more to my liking... what I really want is 1 balsa, 40 inch, edge or yak or something full fuselage like GreatPlanes or a Slick........ but not sure if it'll be a waste of $$ after the first mistake

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Old 01-21-2013, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by cyclops2 View Post
Both are for grown up pilots.

3 types of modelers & pilots.

1 is about 50 - 50 on build & fly.
2nd is all about flying. Foam repairs faster. Glue the self aligning pieces together.
3rd is all about building.....most under 40 buy FOAM. Sales figures show that in ALL sizes.
I am 74. I started with sticks of balsa & silk or paper coverings. They were VERY DIFFICULT to get the proper tension as humidity changed. Big planes could really warp a lot if you worked on different days of humidity. Leaving Balsa loose in the basement helped. More constant humidity.

I build only ARF & scratch FOAMS. 8 sheet of balsa is almost the cost of a COMPLETE foam ARF.

If you build with Balsa. You have money.
Repair a Balsa stringer loaded fuselage that broke in half. Then the same break in a foamy.........Foam rules for the BUYING modelers. PLUS they come painted & decaled..........ETC.

I remember those Guillows sticks that were supposed to fly. GLAD I no longer have to buy them.

Rich
I just joined and am new to RC planes. I have however always been a modeler, and craftsman. I find it difficult to call a foamie even a scratch built one a model... If you send me a small toy car and called it a model because I had to put the wheels on, I will not think of it as a model no matter how many times you call it that. Same with foamies. It is a model when although it may be oversimplified, the construction bears some resemblance to the origional... so for me Fomies are out

I will be doing Balsa models as long as they are for sale, and when they are not... I will build from plans.... That is just me however because I fall into the catagory builder. ... Its one of the main reasons I got into RC airplanes, I love to make stuff. I have built several boats, and they are acutally much more difficult... BUT I really wanna fly.

I have been comparing the foam vs plastic vs balsa and there are no plastic versions that come close to balsa as far as weight. to size. If you want a Large scale model.. I don't even think there are any choices other than stick built. Not sure though.

Any way for me it is the challange. I was actually concerned a lot about how much I was spending on all the stuff I had to spend to gear up on kit construction, but I have realized that these ARF planes are mostely heavy, and small. unless they are foam, and in my mind foam is for packing material. Once I have everything I need to build the balsa models, I can build them much cheaper than I can buy RTF, BNF, or ARF, models of any near the same calaber. I do, of course have to NOT include the cost of my time.. which I won't cause building is most of the fun for me. I imagine myself going to the RC field flying one of those RTF planes when I see right next to me a guy flying a model made of ply, balsa, wire, and covering. I can imagine I would feel somehow short changed.

I have spent a whole bunch of time on the flight sim, but I will be buying a foamie just to make sure I can fly before I put my balsa plane on the runway. But I doubt I will ever fly a plane that I didn't build again after that.

PS I am 56


my 2c
Cole
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:13 PM
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Witch one? both!! your gonna end up with more than one anyway
bubsteve
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Old 01-21-2013, 11:38 PM
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Originally Posted by flypaper 2 View Post
Both have their advantages and disadvantages. I damaged the 68 in. balsa covered foam wing on my Cap 10B I thought I'd make a built up wing to see if I could make it lighter. Came out within a couple of oz. of one another so it wasn't worth it. I could hot wire one out in about half the time. The built up Twist 40 works great. Anothr point with the foam is, you anen't limited to the straight line designs of most of the balsa planes as this scratch built Catsass. Size is not limited to balsa either. This Byron Christen Eagle 18 pounder is completely foam and covered with HK covering material, much like Ultracote.
18 lbs?

I keep looking at the photo and I just cant believe it.


Drummaker,

You may be suprized at the amount of craftsmanship and time
that can be spent scratch building airplanes out of foam.
You can paint and cover them as well.
I would be willing to bet a finished product is just as rewarding
regardless of its materials or time or money spent.
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Old 01-22-2013, 12:34 AM
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You can build light with balsa but you have to build different than i did when i was younger using modern skills . I build with balsa and foam and and like using both .I had a 1/3 byron's pitts with a 3 hp chainsaw motor in it around 1979 and it was a heavy plane but flew well with that kinda power it had. My 99 inch wing span 6ft long fuse short solent i built two years ago only way 8 pounds with the lipos in it. A normal balsa plane that size should be around 24 pounds. You can learn how to built light with what ever you use balsa or foam .If you realy want to learn how to build planes with balsa but keep them light ,look here and check out his plane sizes ,weights and wing loadings. http://www.ivansplans.com/ You wont go back to old school building ever. joe
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Old 01-22-2013, 12:36 AM
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Yeah, the Byron Cristen Eagle is 1/3 scale and is 68 in. wingspan. Originally I had a Quadra 52 in it. Give it a Google for some videos

Gord.
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Old 01-22-2013, 12:44 AM
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I haven't done much 3d flying, but...

I have flown nitro, electric, foam, balsa and combo's of all three. I don't think you could build a slow stick as tough and slow flying out of balsa. Now going to some of my arf's, they fly so much better then similar sized foamies, but I have been surprised bu foam and even corrigated plastick planes.

More then one way to skin a cat.
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:06 AM
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Originally Posted by hayofstacks View Post
I haven't done much 3d flying, but...

I have flown nitro, electric, foam, balsa and combo's of all three. I don't think you could build a slow stick as tough and slow flying out of balsa. Now going to some of my arf's, they fly so much better then similar sized foamies, but I have been surprised bu foam and even corrigated plastick planes.

More then one way to skin a cat.
If big foam 3-d planes were better than balsa one's then why are all the world champs flying balsa and fiberglass planes with big desert aircraft motors in them. ? I rest my case. joe
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:34 AM
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Its not what the plane is built out of, its how well engineered the plane is. Size and weight are all limitations. Building materials aren't.

My granpa used to build and designe free flight planes. Standard practice of the day was to use a yard stick as a main spar. He build his out of a boxed foam frame with carbon fiber reinforcements, makeing it stronger and lighter then a yardstick.

A lot of fiberglassed and carbon fiber peices are built out of foam, covered, and then hollowed out using solivents. Some the foam is left in the core to keep it stong.
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