Home Building and the Cub Scout

Everyone complains that kids don’t make things anymore. Having spent Christmas with some of the younger members of our family and their hangers on, I begin to see why.


And they are right.

Half the people in this forum think in terms of ‘a bit of balsa and a bit of basswood’ and think that’s what cub scouts (or people under some other medle making term of consent) can use - just like their fathers and their grandfathers and …

The other half are into doing modern things but to high standards and with great precision. The results look good but are genuinely very hard to make.

If you turned up at the airport departure lounge and the aircraft was Wights’s Flyer, you wouldn’t be all that impressed. Why should kids be impressed by modelling that has scarcely changed since Wright’s Flyer.

There is a crying need for people to devise modelling techniques and designs that produce results that look sexy to young people but are attainable. If modelling will make them something that they want, they will model. Otherwise why should they bother?

Get to it you clever people.

i agree angus.
i tried to get my nephew into some builds, but it’s like the youth today just don’t want to have any inclination to how things work, or facinated by the intricacys (spelling) of the build. they just want to use the shiny end product.
even myself. my whole life i’ve been into r/c. i loved how ya had to construct the vehicle. now a days, everything is ready to run, float,or fly. the lack of good build led me (a long time ago), to start making my own stuff. i needed the brain pussles of figuring out how i’m going to get the end product, buy starting with nothing but the mental conception.
to me i just cant buy a vessle anymore not because it is of poor design or even amaising quality. it’s the fact that i didn’t get to build it.

but i guess thats just my quirkiness. i always found it anti-climactic when the build was finished.

so to sum, (ramblin a bit) from a marketing stand point the finish product or project has to look like shiny candy to the youth to get them interested.
and it has to be easy and fast to get to the final part…the use.
however, as fast as they get to use it, after the fast, easy build. and they crash it, in the garbage it goes, and their onto what ever the next shiny piece of candy is.
the youth of today are raised in a disposible world…

My first home-built glider. Balsa square strips glued up over waxpaper on top of plans. Covered with paper tissue and sprayed lightly to shrink the paper. Out to the yard, and give it a throw. Plans flies straight, then a wing dips, front noses down, I run over and pick up fuselage wih one wing attached and then pick up other wing. Both go in the trash. End of aircraft modeling. Also saw a power model of Miss Budweiser get away and hit a wall at the pond - pieces and parts all over.

Now I stick to slow moving objects like sail boats, maple syrup, and latex paint. :smiley:

Happy New Year

Construction = Satisfaction.

For me, over the last 40 years of my model building life (I started in earnest at 10) it really has been as simple as that. I agree completely with Nigel and Dick… ready to float/fly simply means ‘easy in-easy out’. The phrase ‘the more you put in the more you get out’ applies so well to model building.

Quite frankly I think that the youth thing is an unattainable goal. Over those 40 years, most of which were involved with R/C and FF flying I read in the magazines so many times about how do we get the youngsters involved. Well I think the answer is, we don’t and never will. Children of active modellers being the exception.

BUT… what we can do is keep on doing and enjoying what we do, when we see an interested youngster then take the time to talk with him/her. Sow a few seeds and hope that they germinate into the typical 35 year old, post babies, reasonable income, first time modeller that is the reality of our hobby.


My view has been and still is that targeting the Footy class for children was a misguided direction. It seems that a bunch of you guys have come around to that conclusion as well.

Like Graham I started model sailing when I was 10 years old. I was one of three kids roughly the same age in my club. But I really wasn’t that interested in those guys, it was the grown-ups that I wanted to compete with. I wouldn’t have welcomed an influx of other kids.

I have met young people who are involved in our “sport”. They seem just as much the individual as I probably was when I got started. But it does take a unique personality to become involved and stay involved. That is something that they have to bring to the table on their own. Our function is to reenforce their creative drive and help where we can.

I believe that Graham has pinpointed the target demographic, but I would add the other most common criteria, some knowledge of sailing. Without this last ingredient the first time r/c modeler will probably build a plane.
There are quite a few ideas circulating about how to bring more new blood into r/c sailing, but the most effective way is to get boats on the water. I think that one skipper with one boat sailing about will look like a lonely guy sailing his boat alone. While he may attract attention it is not a very seductive scenario. So I would encourage the builders that are isolated geographically to consider building at least two boats at a time. Then buttonhole a friend to go to the pond with you. Be generous with stick time for interested onlookers and you may find you have a group to sail with.

One last suggestion, as a body we should consider r/c sailing a sport. Changing the mindset from a hobby to a sport broadcasts that this is an active pursuit rather than … say stamp collecting. Footy builders (be they first time or experienced) are not “modeling” any existing full size craft but constructing a boat to conform to a set of rules. It doesn’t matter if they are working from a short kit, building from plans, or starting from the ground up, it is an endeavor that has its rewards but also its complex anxieties and regardless of how the end product turns out the effort is well worth respect. If we take what we do seriously then others will as well, and that is what owner built boats are all about. That is the strength of the Footy.

There is a crying need for people to devise modelling techniques and designs that produce results that look sexy to young people but are attainable. If modelling will make them something that they want, they will model. Otherwise why should they bother?
Angus, I am sorry to report mate but I think that you are out of touch with just what is out there as far as model building goes.

All of us, not just the youngsters, have available to us the most bewildering array of models of every conceivable craft and some that you would never conceive. http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/index.php
Try popping over to this site and fill your boots with some of the “SEXYist” models outside “SPORTS ILLUSTRATED”

IMHO, we do not have to worry about the youth of the world discovering model yachts. Yachting is a minority sport. Model making is a speciality minority interest.
Model yacht making is a segment of the previous and radio yacht racing is… well you get the idea.

Model yachters come from two basic groups.
Those who enjoy the model construction aspect and those who are the compeditors and just want to race.
Of course that is a simplistic view and there are any number of varient`s within these extremitys.

Yes we are a tiny group, yes we are always looking for new recruits, yes we are all slightly mad, (me anyway) and yes we would love to be part of the normal world.
But the reality is, we will always be looked upon as being a little bit odd, so just get on with it, Build it and they will come. :devil3:

Ian, as ever you are interesting and largely right. However …

It is admittedly a notorious characteristic of the English that they eternally look foward to the restoration of an ideal and mythical past. However, we are been told at every turn in this country that kids no longer make things, that the number of applicants to engineering schools is dropping, that fewer and fewr puplis in upper secondary education are doing ‘hard’ science courses and so on.

I don’t know whether this is actually true and I have no intention of starting a political discussion, but from what I can remember of school (now a very long time ago) moost of my friends who did science seriously ‘made’ things. One got convicted and spent a week in hospital after his experimental explosive worked out a lot more effective than he thought.

I am certainly not saying that making ‘model’ yachts will save the youth of the western world. I agree that ‘model’ is the wrong word: to me a ‘model’ yacht is a pure engineering project, not an exercise in reproduction. What I am saying is that adult ‘model’ makers are stuck in a time warp and do not offer anything that is very attractive. The rest of the world closes in on them: I rrecently bought my godson a chemistry set and was appalled to find that it was incapable of doing anything incendiary, smelly or even mildly toxic. The teenage explosive makers have been screwed by health and safety legislation (poor possum might burn his fingers) and security.

‘Modelling’ is relatively free from these constraints. But for God’s sake, let us give them something modern to emulate or extend rather than just copying adults trying to relive their lost youth with just another little bit of balsa.

PS The explosives convict is now a professor of physical chemistry. It hurt his hands, but it probably helped him toward a chair.

Angus, as always your contributions are a delight.:zbeer:

I really enjoy your humor and can perceive the wealth of knowledge we are beginning to tap into here. :graduate:

Best wishes.:sly:

Ian, I believe there is a third category of R/C sailors: Those of us who have had an interest in other R/C activity and who find the gentler pace and two-dimensional aspect of sailing more in keeping with our advancing years. There’s also the lessening pleasure in the “vroom vrooom” factor of model cars, planes and power boats (something to do with lower hormone levels:confused: ?).
Such people have a long history of kit-building and could be surprised by what seems to be a widely held view in sailing that it can’t be any good if it came out of a box and that ABS must mean All Bull …
You’ve referred to R/C sailing as a small group within a minority interest and, as such, it does seem paradoxical that there should be a further dichotomy between owners of “real” and “toy” boats.
Just a few random thoughts.

I have found some reasons that the kids I know don’t want to or can’t get into modelling:

  1. The lack of modeling materials. Most hobby stores in the area don’t carry the right types or widths. Mostly just cheap balsa ( which works, but you need to know how to work it) in thin strips. Plastic (for vacuum forming) is obtainable, in quantity, but then you’re into very expensive equipment that kids can’t use either.

  2. The tools are too “dangerous.” Parents don’t want their kids using sharp hobby knives or instant glues. Too many horror stories on the evening news has gotten people to think instant glues are what you use to get yourself into trouble. I’ve tried to use scissors with the thin balsa, but I switched back to the knife after the balsa splits apart. Slow-drying glues will work, but then you run into a patience problem, or you just run out of time. Slow-drying glues require a lot of attention, too, to make sure your parts are staying in the correct shapes.

I think if you can change the attitude the parents have, the kids will try modelling too.


And we might have smelly, explosive chemistry sets back as well!

Ah… the good ol’ days…

This is partly swapping threads, but it’s my thread, so there!

I was talking to someone yesterday who had been talking to someone else (aged 70+) who was asking why there was a tendency to market the Footy as a kids’ boat. This guy had been trying to sell his equally elederly friends on Footys directing them to the AMYA site where they were confronted with a smiling child holding a toy boat.

I don’t think that the target ‘young person’ audience are much impressed by this either. As Neil says in another thread, when he was nine, he wanted to take on the grown ups. What we should all be trying to put across is that, because they are cheap and leave a great deal of room for imagination, Footys offer great opportunities for budding your naval architects, engineers, etc. Footy today, Mars tomorrow.

I think it’s very important that we put this image across.

In our small way we are running a (hopefully) international regatta in Birmingham, England this summer. We will be having a junior prize - but the main prize will be open to anyone. If someone under 18 scoops the pool, all power to her or him. Nothing would please me more.

I would initially tell someone the “smaller size” of the Footy is good for kids, but that doesn’t mean it’s a kiddie boat! It’s also supposed to be fun & simple to build, which is what kids starting into modelling need, but I like simple too, and I’m a grownup…:smiley:

It also needs less water depth to sail, less wind, fits better in your car, and is lighter & more simple to adjust & operate ( depending.)

It’s for everybody- to build & sail. Or just sail.

the footy is not a kiddie boat in the least. it is simply people friendly. as for kids not wanting to build things i think you guys are both right and wrong. i know a kid who is big into rebuilding mopeds right now, etc. and another who build model airplanes… then i know some who want to do nothing but sit infront of their Xboxes and fry there remaining brain cells… the problem, -as was said earlier- with model sailing is that full size sailing is a minority, and model sailors are a minority within a minority. nobody likes sailors. i was having a conversation with someone a couple of days ago about how once upon a time sailing made the front page of the NY times. now you get two lines about the winner of the Americas Cup… [go TNZ!] if you are lucky. the issue with sailing is that it is conisdered a rich man’s sport, even if it is not, - my fathers favorite line is “the only way to make a million dollars in the boat building industry is to start with 5 million.” - when you think about it the difference between a 2000-500,000 dollar boat is a lot harder to get excited about for most of the world than a $70 pair of cleats and a soccer ball - i guess its football to all you europeans - its a pity. if only they knew what they were missing… then again, if there really is global warming going on, pretty soon they will all be sailing any way, right?!:stuck_out_tongue:

Barrett - you are much younger than I am. How do we make this deal appeal to people who are on the margin between doers and Xboxers? I’know it will always be a minority interest, but how do we shift the balance a little? As far as I know you are the most competent user of this forum to comment. Please do!!!

This is a fun thread.

My kids have too many modelling projects on the go - something (as a dad) I’m rather proud of. Most of them are just passive plastic models (of the Airfix and toy soldier variety) but I had great fun with those as a kid, and know they are useful in building skills, confidence, and pride in one’s work. My elder son (he’s 10) has a balsa and tissue Piper Cup on the bulding board. It’s taking a while, but can be powered by either rubber (oops - I mean elastic) band or electric engine, so it too is a feeder for bigger things.

Why do my kids show an interest? Probably because their dad is always in the basement or the garage “tinkering”.

I built many models as a kid - starting with my first plastic kit (a Mk1 Spitfire) at the age of 8. Actually I think I had a “Thunderbird 2” (the Americans may not follow this) a little earlier but it was built with “grown up” help.

I also come from a family that always had boats (of the full sized variety) and so there was always work to be done. I built a dinghy with my father (a tender for the family yacht - in the New Zealand sense - what the Americans would probably call a pocket cruising sailboat!) in my teenage years, and owned my own racing (sailing) dinghy by the age of 13, and was responsible for my own maintenance.

I was designing keelboats - including specifications for building materials and manual (we did not have computer-aided boat design tools back then) displacement calculations etc by the age of 15 or 16. Needless to say, without money, none of my designs ever got built.

I built my first sailing model at 14 - a free sailing model from a plan we bought from the local model shop. The plan was probably 20 years old at the time we bought it, and together with my brother and two friends we built four boats off that plan. They sailed well, and two of them are in my basement now, awaiting restoration. They will be 30 years old later this year.

My working life is spent working with tax law and numbers. Model sailboats were always just a bit of fun - until I moved from one of the best big boat sailing locations in the world to a city 1,000 miles from the sea. Now, unable to get my sailing fix on the ocean every weekend, the models are a passion.

And now when I design a boat - I can afford to build it, because it is only one metre long!

And I get to tinker with sails, carbon foils, masts, everything. All the things I could never dream of doing myself when the boats I was racing cost more than my house!

I get to live the career (in a small way) I really wanted - what a relief from tax consulting!

And I have a fair degree of competence in “tinkering” because I learned from good mentors as a kid.

So now I’m a mentor for my kids.

So what’s the point? Just that if we show the next generation what we are doing, bulding, designing, engineering - then we will set the example. And in some, a spark will be fired. They may take up modelling - but then again they may take up a career in science, engineering or who knows what.

Recently my two sons sailed their first RC races at my club, and had a lot of fun. One of them showed a bit of talent too. I’m a bit biased - but believe (as some others do) that the Footy is not the class to start them on. So I’ve designed a multi-chine USOM to be built out of light ply (1/16th) and light fiberglass laminate. The boys can and will build the boats (with some help) and because they are larger than a Footy, they will be a little more forgiving of building error and rather easier to sail (the design is for a hull which is very “balanced” and displaces about 7 1/2lb or 3.4kg - not competitive in a USOM fleet but able to hold its own in an ODOM fleet). I have three boats - a Victoria, and ODOM and an IOM - and of course the boys like the biggest and the fastest. This is a point alluded too in a posting above - expect kids to want what the grown-ups have got. I guess I’m fortunate in having the tools and the materials to built these allow the boys to build these boats pretty cheaply. I have the fiberglass, epoxy, sail materials, radios, rigging materials and some servos “in stock”.

The pride that we have in our completed creations will be the same for the kids. They just need the opportunity, and some enforced absence from tv, computer games and the MP3 player! All that has changed is the availability of new pursuits. All kids need is mentors to push them in the right direction. We sometimes overlook that we are just as guilty for not making out time available to our children and grandchildren.

Muzza, that is the best post I have ever read on this forum.

Your background is almost exactly the same as mine, its effect is pretty similar and I understand you exactly. Only sad thing is I don’t have any kids - which is probaly why I’m f***ing about with Footys rather than trying to encourage my sons to do something longer, thinner, faster, more ambitious and Better than Bantock!. :sad:

Brilliant post mate.:zbeer:

Muzza -all of that experience and you are only 28 years old? I am truly amazed. :rolleyes: :stuck_out_tongue:

I also think I need to send a few r/c multihull photos to the “boys” as I’m sure it would be the next logical step (bigger/faster) in their building interest. :devil3:

Soon the 8 year old of my son’s will begin to “pester” his dad (my son) to help him build something big enough to improve his ego as he carries it to the pond. Perhaps that Dutch plan XL25