Balsa Prices – and Vacay for a Day

Well, two days.

Things have been slow around here, mainly because of a balsa shortage.  I order nearly on a monthly basis.  I got a small shock on my last order:  57 sheets out of 100 were in excess of my 12# weight limit.  That means I am actually paying DOUBLE for the balsa I am buying (since half of it will not be used).

So, I am stuck – do I continue to buy excess from National – or do I specify my density and pay a 40% surcharge at Specialized?  I ordered another lot from National and it is not here yet and I cannot cut what I do not have.  So, some orders are delayed.

The balsa situation will cause me to increase prices on my short kits (insert sad face here).  I do not like that prospect.  I need to figure out a way to keep prices low.  I think the best way to do that is to base the price on the amount of wood in the kit.  In the past, I’ve done a flat rate – $10 for short kits, and $20 for JetCats.  well, some of my short kits contain as many as 6 sheets of balsa – and they were the same price as those with half a sheet. I will probably end up taking the time to analyze each kit and set prices according to the number of sheets.

I also might add an option to have your kit cut from light balsa on some kits.  I have a good stash of 6# and under wood that could be used on certain kits.  Also, JetCat wings are another place where I could have a “light” option.  Thick AND light balsa is definitely expensive (National quotes nearly $7 for a 36″ sheet of light 1/8″ and about $8.5 for a light sheet of 3/16″!!!)

Anyway, I can’t afford to give away the wood in my kits, so prices will need to go up (another sad face).

VACATION – I’m going to see my dad Tuesday and Wednesday.  I haven’t been down there due to COVID since my mother’s funeral in February.  We will be doing a bit of Studebakering and also spending some time in the Prop Factory (actually working on a custom made torque meter for a customer).

A year ago, we had put together plans for 2020 where we would spend several weeks together over the spring and summer, planning on doing a double engine swap in our Studebakers.  Well, that hasn’t happened yet.  But yesterday, I pulled the McCulloch supercharger from my car to take it down to Myer’s Studebakers in Duncan Falls, Ohio for a rebuild.  Eventually, we will get that swap done and my Lark will be back on the road.  Here’s a shot of it from 10 years ago – before I got back into Free Flight.

As for the torque meter, with any luck we will have an 8 in-oz torque meter available for the K&P 10/4:1 winder.  That’s a little light compared to the maximum capacity for the winder, but it is what the customer wants.  We will also think about a larger capacity torque meter, closer matching the winder.  This is basically the Rees Torque Meter adapted to the output shaft of the K&P winder (which is almost certainly built with metric dimensions).

Anyway, if you have an order placed, be patient, I’ll be away for a couple days and by that time, I am sure I will have balsa waiting for me and I will get back to cutting and shipping.



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1 Response to Balsa Prices – and Vacay for a Day

  1. FS Gilbert says:

    Not happy with National Balsa at all! They shipped the wrong sizes and then refused to do anything about it and said it was what I ordered. Repeated emails go unanswered. Beware of what you order from them.

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