How old is too old for Balsa?

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How old is too old for Balsa?

Postby KrzyInuYasha » Sat Jan 22, 2011 7:48 am

I currently have a Sail Plane that my father got He started it and got 80% finished before stopping work on it. I would like to finish it but I'm afraid the balsa might be too dry and brittle. The plane is around 15 years old and was stored in a basement room that was so dry it took 3 gallons of water in a humidifier for 2 days to get even a little humidity back into the room. So is there a way to rejuvenate the wood, is the plane a lost cause, or am I worried for nothing at all here. Any help would be grateful especially since I also have 2 other kits from him that have never been opened that are from late 70's early 80's and where stored in the same room.
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Re: How old is too old for Balsa?

Postby RCModelReviews » Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:01 pm

You raise a good question.

I've found balsa (unused) which has become very brittle -- almost crumbling to powder when stressed due to old age but I've also got other stuff that's more than 20 years old and still looks and feels just fine.

I guess you'll just have to "stress test" some small samples of the wood to see how it holds up.
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Re: How old is too old for Balsa?

Postby KrzyInuYasha » Sat Jan 29, 2011 9:00 am

Yea it isn't at the crumble to dust stage just a bit dry and seems to have half the flex balsa usually has before breaking. Will probably finish gluing it up then take a few of the scraps and try a light misting of plain water to some sort of wood rejuvenator. Hopefully i can find some thing that will work well before i cover it, if not well it's a electric sail plane so i won't loose too much if it has a KATO.
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Re: How old is too old for Balsa?

Postby iflylilplanes » Sat Jul 07, 2012 10:45 am

I have a 2 meter glider I dust of once a year to fly, it's just hit 30 years old and still handles highstart launches well. It was built with a little carbon fiber ribbon sandwiched between the fuselage sides and the doubler then into the corners of the box tail section, in competitions I drive the nose into the ground in spot landings without any damage, I also glassed the wing roots with 3/4OZ fiberglass, strong and light. It dose not hert to add a little strength in the places where needed, the only thing I can sagest is the critical is the wing, if at all possible replace the main spars or laminate a strip of carbon fiber on the top of the top spar and the bottom of the bottom spar the ribs should be OK they only keep the leading and trailing edges and skin out.
Many Thanks,

Dave W.


Dead Stick Glide Distance: Half the distance from the airplane to the nearest emergency landing field.
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