Basic information about various hobby and craft topics.

Friday, November 14, 2008

HO Scale Electric Model Toy Trains


HO scale is the most popular size of electric model train available to hobbyists. And for good reason. At 1/87 scale it is small enough to pack a lot of detail into a small amount of space. A four by eight foot sheet of plywood can contain a lot of different scenes for the train to roll through. This popularity has produced an amazing amount of track, figures, buildings and other accessories to be produced for the HO scale train. Indeed, there are more accessories for HO electric model trains than there is for all the other scales combined. Add to this the sheer fun of layout building and then watching as the little electric model toy train rolls along through towns, farms, forests and parks that you, the builder, have created. In HO your imagination is the only limit when it comes to modeling a train layout. You can model any era in time and just about any type of terrain in HO scale. The electric model train can be a logging operation, industrial spur, passenger line, coal train, grain transporter, or any one of the hundreds of uses the modern train has come to be employed at. HO electric model trains are versitle and fun. You can relive the early days of railroading with the historical train sets from Bachman or build a circus with a circus train from IHC. The articles of this website will endeavor to supply you with the information you need to properly choose the train which suits your needs. You will find links to various retailer who are selling the HO scale electric model train products you desire. Happy railroading! HO Scale Train Landscape Accessory Index

HO Scale Buildings and Structures

HO Scale Train Track Back to Electric Toy Trains

© 2012 Hobby Hobnob

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Guillow Easy Build-By-Number Balsa Model Airplane Kits


Guillow Easy Build-By-Number rubber band powered balsa wood airplane model kits are fun to build and fly! Building and flying balsa wood model airplanes is a fascinating and fun hobby. The wood model airplanes may be flown or simply hung for display. Many enjoy leaving the paper covering off and displaying the wood framework of the plane hung from a ceiling. The wood frame is beautiful with just a coating of sealer to protect it.

The plane may be flown with the rubber band supplied, or powered with a gas or electric motor. The balsa model airplane kit is designed as a free flight model. This means that the plane is powered up and released and the plane goes where it will. There is not enough room inside most of these airplanes to m mount the servos and other things needed for radio controlled flight.

Back To Balsa Wood Airplanes

© 2012 Hobby Hobnob

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Beer Making Supplies



Most of the supplies for making beer can be found in the average kitchen, though the beer making process is easier if you collect some of the more specialized accessories you will need. A good beer making kit will have most of the supplies needed for making beer. You will need a boiler which will hold at least one gallon of water. A fermenting container is needed which is large enough to hold the quantity of beer being made. Most malt extracts will produce two gallons of beer, so the fermenting vessel is needed. Some of the kits have fermenting vessels which have a spigot. This feature definitely makes bottling easier as it eliminates the need for the finicky, messy siphon hose.



You will need bottles to put the beer in when the primary fermentation is complete. Plastic soda bottles which have been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized are ideal for this purpose. They will handle the pressure which builds up during the secondary fermentation, are commonly available and reusable. That's it, for basic beer making that is all the supplies you will need. As you go along, you may want to add more stuff, like a bottling hydrometer, nicer bottles, etc. But these supplies will get you started making beer.

© THC Toys, Hobbies and Crafts 2012

Back to Home Beer Making

Step by Step Beer Making Process


Beer Making Step 1 - Start the yeast in a glass of warm water which has had two teaspoons of sugar dissolved in it.

Beer Making Step 2 - Sterilize your equipment with a good sterilizing agent.

Beer Making Step 3 - After the yeast is fermenting, place the can of malt extract in a bowl of warm water to soften it.

Beer Making Step 4 - Boil one gallon of water.

Beer Making Step 5 - Pour in the booster and up to two pounds of sugar and stir until dissolved.

Beer Making Step 6 - Pour in the malt extract, stir until dissolved.

Beer Making Step 7 - If the malt extract is not already hopped, or you want more hops, now is the time to add them. Boil the mix with the hops for at least one half hour.

Beer Making Step 8 - Allow the wort to cool, then pour it into the fermenting container. Top up with water and add the yeast starter mix.

Beer Making Step 9 - Put the fermenting vat in a cool area, between sixty and seventy degrees. Fermentation should take between seven and ten days.

Beer Making Step 10 - After the beer has cleared somewhat and there are no more floating colonies of yeast on top, it is time to bottle the beer. Place one teaspoon of sugar in a twelve ounce PET bottle (plastic soft drink) after sterilizing it. Siphon the beer in until the beer is one inch from the top. Screw on the top and place the bottle in a cool, dark area. Secondary fermentation should take about seven to ten days. Squeeze the sides of the bottle. It will be very hard to press in the bottles sides when fermentation is complete.

Beer Making Step 11 - When the secondary fermentation is complete, refrigerate the beer, then uncap it and pour slowly into a glass. Don't pour the last half inch or so of the beer or you will spoil the effect of the clear, bubbling beer. The sediment at the bottom will also impart a yeasty taste to the beer. There is nothing wrong with the sediment, indeed it is quite nutritious, so you may drink it. Some places serve the sediment with lemon.

This step by step outline is for a beer making kit made by Mr. Beer. Other kits or recipes may use a slightly different step progression, but this is the main sequence used.

© THC Toys, Hobbies and Crafts 2011

Home Beer Making

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Beer Making Process


Modern brewing involves many steps in the transformation of grain, hops, yeast, and water into the sparkling, invigorating beverage we call beer. The following is a greatly simplified outline of the process a commercial brewing company uses to make beer.

Malting is the first step in the process of making beer. This involves soaking the harvested grain in water and allowing germination to begin. This, by a complicated chemical process, creates sugar, a necessary component to fermentation.

The partly germinated grain is now kilned, or heat dried, and it is called malt at this stage. Different kilning methods will produce different types of beer.

Milling is next - the malt is re-mixed with water to complete the conversion of starches in the grain to sugar, then the grain is milled to create the proper consistency to the malt, now termed grist.

The grist is subsequently mashed. This involves re-mixing with water and boiling it in a series of steps. Finally the wort is separated from the grain residue by a series of spinning and filtering steps

Next the wort is transferred to a copper vat, hops are added, and the mixture is boiled for a period of time. After boiling, the wort is subjected to a process by which the spent hops and other residues are removed.

The wort is transferred to a fermenting vessel and yeast is added. The wort should be about ten percent sugars in solution at this point. The fermentation process begins now, and the wort will be transformed into beer by the yeast cells.

Once fermentation has completed, a secondary fermentation is induced to rid the beer of impurities and improve the flavor. This step, in the ‘homebrew’ process, is completed in the bottle to add carbonation to the beer. The carbonation gives the beer a fresh flavor, and helps the beer keep longer. The home beer making process is almost complete.

Maturation of the completed beer follows. The beer is stored cold for a period of time, allowing the flavor to mellow and certain chemical processes to complete. Once this is complete, commercial breweries filter the beer and package it for sale. Draft beer is placed in metal casks and sent out to market in refrigerated trucks. Bottled and canned beer are pasteurized after bottling and sold.

© THC Toys, Hobbies and Crafts 2011

Home Beer Making

Beer Making Kits


The easiest way to start making is to purchase a beer making kit. The kit will contain all the necessary items needed to brew your first batch of beer, except, of course, the water.

The first batch is ready in 14 days; the second batch can start just seven days after the first batch, allowing continuos production of beer. Alcohol content is equivalent to commercial brews, and it is produced by the natural fermentation of the yeast. Since the beer naturally ferments in the bottle, no CO2 cartridges are needed to carbonate the beer.

You can save up to 75% off the cost of commercial beers, and the equipment is all reusable.
You need only buy refill packs of beer mix, and this is available in a large variety of
different types of beer.

Home Beer Making © 2012 Hobby Hobnob

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Home Beer Making


Making beer at home was illegal in the United States before 1978. In November of that year, President Jimmy Carter signed the bill which allowed the brewing of up to 200 gallons of beer at home. Since that time interest in the craft of home brewing has been increasing steadily and many home owners have taken up the craft. High quality ingredients are available to the home brewer, and excellent craft beers can be made in the home with the investment of just a little time.

Making a batch of beer in the home can take as little as two to three weeks from the time the brew is made until the bottles are carbonized and ready to drink. Modern equipment and beer making kits have greatly simplified the home brewing process, creating a fun hobby for many people. Home brewed beer can be cheaper than commercially brewed beer, but the real reward in brewing beer at home is the ability to customize your brew to your own taste. Fruits, herbs and other ingredients may be added to the wort, imparting different tastes to the finished brew. History of Beer

Beer Making Process

Wine and Beer Making - The Yeast

Hydrometer – For Wine or Beer Making

Beer Making Supplies

Preparing Wine Yeast - The Starter

Step by Step Beer Making Process

The Fermentation Lock

Beer Making Kits

Back to Hobby List

© THC Hobby Hobnob 2012

Friday, September 05, 2008

Thomas the Tank Engine Music

Reverand Awdry's timeless stories have spawned many songs and music videos about Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends. CD's and MP3 downloads can be played in the car on long trips, at the beach or wherever young Thomas fans want to listen.

Sheet music is also available so young musicians can learn to play their favorite songs, as well as the lyrics to all their favorites so they can sing along.

Live videos can also be played online for entertainment and a much more intensive Thomas the Tank Engine Experience.

Back to Thomas The Tank Engine Wooden Railway Train System

© 2011 Hobby Hobnob

Thomas theTank Games

The Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends stories have inspired more than toys. There are also many different games to play featuring Thomas on the Isle of Sodor. Educational and fun games allow children to learn while playing offer a double benefit.



Games include Thomas the Tank Engine board games, card games, dominoes, and many more. Great fun for the entire family with these great Thomas Games.

Thomas the Tank engine games can also be plated online. These interactive games include railway games, puzzles and matching games.

Back to Thomas The Tank Engine Wooden Railway Train System

© 2011 THC Toys, Hobbies and Crafts

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Thomas the Tank Engine Sets

Thomas the Tank Engine sets are popular toys for pre-schoolers, offering a great way to get into the Thomas the Tank stories first hand. There are several different types of sets on the market, and choosing one can be difficult.

The most popular and extensive line is the Wooden Railway series. This series has been around for a number of years. The wooden track is two sided, so it can't be put together wrong. The wooden rolling stock has durable plastic wheels and magnetic couplers. The play value on this series is extremely high.

A newcomer to the Thomas the Tank Engine scene is Lego. In true Lego style, the large pieces of plastic track snap together easily and the train cars roll effortlessly around the track.

Tomy manufactures a pretty large line of plastic Thomas the Tank Engine train sets. The plastic blue track is double sided, hooks together easily. The battery powered engines roll easily along the track. The track is not compatible with the Wooden Railway, but the cars will roll on the track. There are sets, track packs and vehicles available for expansion.

Electric Thomas the Tank Engine sets are led by Bachman's Thomas and Friends series. These HO scale electric train sets includes Bachman's EZ Track which can be set up virtually anywhere because the track bed is bonded to the track. The locomotives roll along, eyes rolling from side to side as they scan the countryside around them. This fairly extensive line runs on standard HO track, so it can be incorporated into any HO layour, and there is a lot of different components to the EZ Track system, so any set can be easily expanded.

Lionel also manufactures an O Gauge Thomas the Tank Engine set which will run on its three rail system. The sets include Lionel's Fast Track, which snaps together easily and can be run on carpets, floors or tables. The sets are easily expandable. Back to Thomas The Tank Engine Wooden Railway Train System © 2011 Hobby Hobnob

Day Out With Thomas On The Strasburg Railroad

Day out with Thomas Strasburg, Pennsylvania is located in Amish country in Lancaster County. The rail line is an old one, established in 1832. The East Strasburg Station is located near the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania which features the rich railroad history of the area.

The rail line has a full size, operating Thomas the Tank Engine which the whole family can ride. Click the link for full operating schedule and special events of the Day out with Thomas.

Back to Thomas The Tank Engine Wooden Railway Train System

© 2011 Hobby Hobnob

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Thomas The Tank Engine Toy Train

Thomas the Tank Engine is the creation of the Reverend Wilbert Awdry who carved a wooden train engine for his son when he was small, then wove a myriad of stories about the engine to entertain the young boy. Reverend Awdry wrote the stories down, and eventually they were published. The stories have become quite popular and have led to all sorts of Thomas the Tank Engine toys, videos, games, clothing and much more.

Thomas The Tank Engine was the subject of a very popular television show which has entertained millions of children over the years, and he was even the star of a full length movie. Thomas has many friends, characters like Toby, Henrietta, Gordon and Duncan. Thomas and his friends have brought a lot of joy to many children since his inception and is now remembered fondly by many adults as the think back on the television show and the toys they played with as children.

But toys and television shows are only a part of the picture. A full size Thomas the Tank Engine makes its rounds, providing rides and opportunities for children to have their photos taken with Thomas. The destinations for Thomas changes constantly, as the Thomas chugs around the countryside looking for new places to hang out.

The Thomas the Tank Engine experience is one of the joys of childhood, the games, toys, videos creating a lifetime of memories. The Reverend Awdry probably never guessed the extent of his contribution to childhood when he composed the first story for his son many years ago.

Thomas the Tank Engine Music

A Short History Of Thomas The Tank Engine Train Thomas the Tank Engine Sets

Day out with Thomas

Thomas the Tank Games

Back to Electric Toy Trains

© 2012 Hobby Hobnob

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Short History of the Coin We Call the Nickel

The nickel, as we know, is worth five cents, which is half the value of a dime. This is what the coin that preceeded the nickel was called, the half disme. The "s" is silent, so the word is pronounced "dime". The half dime was made of silver and was very small, making it hard for people to use and very easy to loose. Today a nickel isn't worth much, but in the early 1800's, a nickel might represent a day's work.




So in 1866 the United States Mint began issuing nickels with a composition of 75% copper and 35% nickel. The nickels were the same size as the coin we are familiar with today, but the design was much different. The obverse featured the United States shield, the reverse a large "5" surrounded by thirteen stars which represented the original thirteen states. These coins, because of the design, proved very hard to strike. So this series of nickles was discontinued in 1883.



The Liberty, or "V", nickle began production in 1883 and continued until 1913. The obverse pictured a Liberty head surrounded by thirteen stars. The reverse had a large Roman Numeral "V". The first coins minted in this series did not have the word "Cents" on them. This nickel was the same size and design as the five dollar gold piece in use at the time. So some enterprising persons plated the coins gold, then passed them off as gold pieces. The Mint soon added the word "Cents" to stop this practice.

In 1913 the Liberty Head Nickel was replaced by the Buffalo Nickel. This coin has a buffalo on the reverse, hence the name. It also is called the Indian head nickel because of the American Indian bust shown on the obverse. This coin was minted until 1938 when it was superseded by the currently used Jefferson Nickel.

© 2012 THC Toys, Hobbies and Crafts

Back to Coin Collecting


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Jefferson Silver War Nickel


Jefferson Silver War Nickel





During World War II nickel was needed for the war effort. So the alloy of the nickel shifted from the 75% copper and 35% nickel composition to one consisting of 56% copper, 35% silver and 9% manganese. These mint mark was moved from under Monticello to over it, and it was made very large. The Jefferson nickels minted during the war will usually have a darker look than the standard alloy. The coins were produced from 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1945.

© 2011 THC Toys, Hobbies and Crafts

Back to Coin Collecting


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Indian Head Nickel




The Indian Head Nickel is also referred to as the Buffalo Nickel. The coin, designed by James Earle Fraser, features and Indian bust on the obverse (front) and a buffalo on the reverse. The alloy used in the Indian Head Nickel is 75% copper and 35% nickel. It was minted from 1913 until 1938 when it was replaced by the Jefferson Nickel. Three American Indian chiefs served as models for the obverse, Iron Tail, Two Moons and John Big Tree. The buffalo on the reverse was probably an American bison named Black Diamond, who resided at the Central Park Zoo in New York.




© 2012 THC Toys, Hobbies and Crafts

Back to Coin Collecting


Monday, August 11, 2008

What President Is That On The Nickel?


Since 1938 the President featured on the nickel is Thomas Jefferson. His is the second longest Presidential visage in use on United States coinage, Abraham Lincoln being the longest. The reverse of the coin shows Monticello, Jefferson's Virginia home. The composition of the nickel in its early yearswas 75% copper and 35% nickel. The composition was changed during the World War 2 period to a 56% copper, 35% silver and 9% manganese alloy. This composition was used in nickels minted in 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1945. In 1946 the nickel reverted to the prewar alloy. In honor of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which Thomas Jefferson authorized, the reverse of the coin was changed four times from 2005 - 2006. In 2006, Monticello returned to the reverse and a new, modern depiction of Jefferson made its debut.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Fermenting Wine - The Blueberry Wine


The blueberry wine made earlier this week is bubbling away. The yeast works on the sugar in the solution converting it to alcohol and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide bubbles away, leaving the alcohol behind.

Monday, August 04, 2008

How To Make Blueberry Wine - An Easy Recipe



Blueberries make and excellent wine which is very easy to make. How to make blueberry wine? Here are the ingredients:
3 - 4 pounds of blueberries
6 ounces of grape concentrate
One teaspoon of wine yeast (You may use bakers yeast, but it may impart a "bready" flavor to the finished wine.)
2 1/2 pounds of sugar.
Start the yeast ahead of time to allow it to be in full ferment when it is added to the wine must. Add one teaspoon of yeast granules to a warm 8 ounce glass of warm water in which one tablespoon of sugar has been dissolved. Then dissolve the remainder of the sugar by adding it to 1/2 gallon of boiling water. Stir until clear. When the sugar solution has cooled and the wine yeast is fermenting, you may continue the recipe. Dump the blueberries into a bowl which will hold at least one and a half gallons. Do not use metal. Use plastic, glazed ceramic or glass. A clean water bucket which has not been used with any type of cleaning solution will work. I have a two and a half gallon bucket which I used exclusively for making wine. It is used for nothing else. Use a potato masher to thoroughly crush the blueberries. Next add the grape concentrate. This will impart what is called "vinous quality" to the wine. Now add the cooled sugar solution. Top up with 3.5 quarts of lukewarm water. Then add the fermenting yeast. Cover the bowl with a loose fitting cover like a dishtowel or elastic food covers.
Allow this to stand for three to four days, stirring three or four times a day. It should start fermenting vigorously after a day or so. Next pour the blueberry slush through a plastic colander and press the residue with a potato masher, extracting most of the juice. Pour this into a gallon jar to ferment. Top up with cool water and place in a dark location which stays around sixty five to seventy degrees Fahrenheit. Use a glass jar or thoroughly cleaned plastic milk jug. Do not put the screw top on. The bottle will explode due to the pressure buildup of carbon dioxide as the yeast ferments. Place a piece of plastic food wrap over the opening and secure with a rubber band.
This blueberry wine recipe will yield a semi-sweet wine. For a sweeter wine, add a more sugar. For a dryer wine, add a bit less. You may also sweeten the wine if it is too dry by adding a bit of sugar to it when it is done fermenting.
After the wine has fermented about two to three months, it should be siphoned off, using clear plastic, food quality tubing, into a clean gallon jug. Be careful not to disturb the sediment at the bottom. It should be done fermenting by now and the screw top can be used to protect the wine. Don't turn it tight, just leave it loose for a week or so in case the wind starts to ferment again. After the blueberry wine has aged for a few months it will be ready to drink and enjoy.

This simple recipe shows you how to make blueberry wine in just a few steps.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Here are ten easy steps to making wind from a fruit concentrate.

Step 1
Assemble your supplies - see post below

Step 2
Start your wine yeast - see post below

Step 3
Dissolve the sugar in boiling water - see post below

Step 4
Pour the fruit juice concentrate into the bowl, add the yeast and sugar - see post below

Step 5
Allow this to ferment five or six days

Step 6
Pour into a gallon jug, cover jar mouth with plastic wrap and seal with a rubber band

Step 7
Allow this to ferment for two to three months

Step 8
Siphon the now fermented wine into a new, clean jug

Step 9
Allow this to stand at least a month to age gracefully

Step 10
Drink the wine

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wine Making Supplies

To make a gallon of wine you will need a few supplies, most of which can be found in the average kitchen. You will need a large glass, plastic, or glazed ceramic bowl which holds one and a half gallons to put the wine in during its initial anaerobic phase. A loose fitting cover, which can be simply a clean dishtowel to cover this container. You will also need a stainless steel or plastic spoon to stir things with and a measuring cup.

You will need a clean gallon jug of some kind. A plastic milk jug, thoroughly cleaned, will work. Don't use bleach or other jugs which may have held some kind of cleaner. The plastic may not be approved for food products and it will prove almost impossible to get the odor out of the container, which would ruin the wine. If you use an old vinegar jug, make sure it has been cleaned thouroughly or you will have vinegar instead of wine. A small piece of plastic food wrap and a rubber band can be used to cover the opening while the wine is fermenting. Be sure to save the cap for use when the wine is finished fermenting.

A short piece of food quality plastic hose, like the type used for ice makers, is good to have to siphon the wine after it has finished fermenting. And of course and wine glass to drink the wine with when it is done. It is best to gather all the wine making supplies before you make it to make sure you have what you need when you need it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Home Wine Making

According to Federal law since 1978 a homeowner may make up to 200 gallons of wine and beer for their own consumption. Home wine making before that was illegal, but many people still did it. Since it has become legal, there has been an explosion of new supplies, concentrates, yeasts and other supplies needed by the home wine maker.

Making good wine at home is not only legal now, but easy and fun as well. It is not for the person used to immediate gratification, though. Fermenting the wine will take a minimum of a couple of months, and most wines benefit from aging for at least a few months before consumption.

There are many choices out there for the home wine maker as to ingredients used to make the wine. You can use fresh fruit, dried fruit or frozen concentrates. Certain flowers, like dandelion, make excellent wine as well.

Any online wine supplier will have many different types of yeast, cleaners, bottles, corks and anything else you need to make your own great wine at home. And best of all, after you have learned a bit about the home wine making art, you will be able to craft your wine to suit your own palate.

Making Great Wine From Frozen Fruit Concentrates

Standard Sugar Syrup

Making Wines From Grape Concentrate - 4

Making Dandelion Wine - Part One

Dandelion Wine - Part 2

Making Wines From Grape Concentrate - 2

Back to Hobby List

© 2011 THC Toys, Hobbies and Crafts

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Lincoln Head Cent


The Lincoln Head Cent is approaching it's 100th birthday and as such, it is the longest running coin in continuous production in United States History. From 1909 until 1959 the reverse bore an impression of two sheaves of wheat, from which originated the term "Wheaties". From 1959 until present the Lincoln Head Cent reverse bears and engraving of the Lincoln Memorial, so they are called "Memorial Cents".

From their inception until 1942 the coins were composed of a bronze alloy, 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc. During the War year 1943 the coins were composed of zinc coated steel. From 1946 the composition changed to brass, 95% copper and 5% zinc. After the War, the composition changed back to the pre-war alloy until 1962. From 1962 until 1982 the composition was brass again. From 1982 until present the coins have a 97.5% zinc core and are plated with copper. © 2012 THC Toys, Hobbies and Crafts Back to Coin Collecting

Monday, June 23, 2008

Small Cents - The Indian Head Penny


The Lincoln Head Cent is approaching it's 100th birthday and as such, it is the longest running coin in continuous production in United States History. From 1909 until 1959 the reverse bore an impression of two sheaves of wheat, from which originated the term "Wheaties". From 1959 until present the Lincoln Head Cent reverse bears and engraving of the Lincoln Memorial, so they are called "Memorial Cents". From their inception until 1942 the coins were composed of a bronze alloy, 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc. During the War year 1943 the coins were composed of zinc coated steel. From 1946 the composition changed to brass, 95% copper and 5% zinc. After the War, the composition changed back to the pre-war alloy until 1962. From 1962 until 1982 the composition was brass again. From 1982 until present the coins have a 97.5% zinc core and are plated with copper. © 2012THC Toys, Hobbies and Crafts Back to Coin Collecting

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Flying Eagle Cent



The flying eagle cent was designed and produced to fulfil a need. Coinage in the United States in the 1840's through the 1860's was a confused state of affairs. Large cents were being produced, but were not considered legal tender. Thus, many merchants would not accept them as payment. There was also a large amount of foreign money circulating, most of it Spanish. It was also costing the US Mint more to produce the Large Cent than it was intrinsically worth.

So in 1856 a small number of the first Small Cents in US history were produced. These were supposed to be sample pieces and returned to the mint. But most weren't. In 1857 the first Flying Eagle cents were minted for circulation. These would continue in production until 1859, when it's successor the Indian Head Cent would be minted.




The Flying Eagles would consist of an alloy of 88% nickel and 12% copper. The main problems with the Flying Eagle was in the design, which allowed the two high points in the obverse in the same area of the coin, causing a weakness in the strike. In addition, the designer, James B. Longacre, was by trade a painter and not a sculptor. He had trouble carving the dies out deep enough, which caused more production problems. Thus, the Flying Eagle exited the stage after a run of only two years. © 2012 Hobby Hobnob Back to Coin Collecting

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Penny - 1857 - 2008


The penny has had a long and distinguished history in the annals of United States coinage. The small penny we know has its beginnings in the Flying Eagle cent which began production in 1857. This penny was produced for three years.

In 1857 the US Mint began production of the Indian Head Penny, which was circulated from that year until 1909 when it was superseded by the Lincoln Head Penny, which continues in production today.

The Lincoln Penny was produced from 1909 until 1959 with two sheave of wheat on the reverse. These are the so called Wheat Pennies, or Wheaties. Although the Lincoln Penny has been changed in composition over time, the design has remained basically the same since 1950 when the Memorial cent came into production.

The small penny we know today has circulated for 151 years with only four major design pages. © 2012 Hobby Hobnob Back to Coin Collecting

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wine and Beer Making - The Yeast


The yeast used in wine making and beer making is similar in appearance and function. But there are different types of yeasts for wine making and beer making and each type will impart its own particular flavor to the finished product. Wine made with a beer yeast may have a slightly "beery" flavor as a result.

Most yeasts are sold in packets of dried yeast. This yeast will remain viable for a long time, but it will lose its vigor after awhile. Opened packets in which not all the yeast has been used may be stored in the refrigerator for a while, but it will only keep a few weeks to a few months stored like this.

The yeast should be introduced to the unfermented wine or beer only after it has been "started". Do this by dissolving the yeast in warm, not hot, water and adding some sugar. Stir the mix until all is dissolved. Allow this to stand in a warm place for a day or so. The yeast should start to ferment. The container should form a brown scum on the top. This scum should be removed and the fermenting starter added to the wine or beer.

Yeast converts the sugar in a wort (unfermented beer) or must (unfermentated wine) to carbon dioxide and alcohol. The bubbling of fermentation is the carbon dioxide escaping from the mix. About half the sugar is converted to alcohol, and about half is converted to carbon dioxide.

If you are out of yeast, some fermenting wine may be removed from its container and, with some sugar added, used as a starter for a fresh batch. Make sure you siphon your starter from the bottom of the fermenting wine, as most of the yeast is located here. Back to Home Wine Making Home Beer Making © 2012 Hobby Hobnob

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Fermentation Lock


The fermentation lock serves as a tool to keep fermenting wine from being invaded by fruit flys and other pests. The fermentation lock is not indispensable, and any way which can be found which blocks the fermenting vessels mouth, allows the carbon dioxide being produced to escape can be used.

One way to do do this is by simply putting the screw cap on loosely enough to allow the gas to escape. Another is to plug the opening with cotton or a clean cloth. But there is something soothing about hearing the bubbling of the fermentation lock as the wine ferments, especially in the early stages when the ferment can be quite vigorous.

Just make sure, if you use one, to replace the water in the fermentation lock periodically, as it can get quite nasty and become a source of contamination to the wine.

Home Beer Making

© Hobby Hobnob 2012

Hydrometer - For Wine or Beer Making


The hydrometer is used in both winemaking and beer making and is an essential instrument for both hobbies. Most hydrometers are made of glass, with a weighted bulb on the bottom and a graduated scale on the top. A trial jar is used to float the hydrometer in either the must of the wine, or the wort of the beer. The hydrometer measures the sugar content of the unfermented media and will help determine the final alcohol content of the mix.

Because sugar saturated liquid is denser than liquid after the sugar has fermented out, by taking a measurment before fermentation begins and after it has been finished the final alcohol content can be determined. You can also determine if you need to add more sugar to the brew to bring it up to desired levels, or to dilute it if there is too much sugar. In this way you can make your wine or beer to your specifications using the hydrometer.

The hydrometer is also used to determine if home brew is ready to bottle. If the sugar level is still too high, then bottling must be put off or you may burst the bottles. Similiarly, this same method can be used to make sparkling wines at home. If you are even semi-serious about wine making, you will want to have a hydrometer.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

History of Beer


The brewing of beer is an ancient craft, believed by many archeologists to be over 10,000 years old. The first domesticated grains were wheat and barley, with archeological evidence of these crops first being grown in Mesopotamia around 7000 BC. Beer making, as it depends primarily on these grains, surely made its entrance to human history shortly after the domestication of these important food crops. The first beer could have been accidentally produced. Stored grain, becoming wet, could have fermented naturally, producing beer. And the resulting brew undoubtedly both smelled and looked good to someone, who tasted it, and experienced the first hangover in history.



Before 6000 BC, beer was made from barley in Sumeria and Babylonia. Reliefs on Egyptian tombs dating from 2400 BC show that barley or partly germinated barley was crushed, mixed with water, and dried into cakes. When broken up and mixed with water, the cakes gave an extract that was fermented by microorganisms accumulated on the surfaces of fermenting vessels.

The first beer making process was very simple, given the limited technology of the time. The grains would have been fermented only a short time and this beer would not have been carbonated.

The basic techniques of brewing came to Europe from the Middle East. The Roman historians Pliny (in the 1st century BC) and Tacitus (in the 1st century AD) reported that Saxons, Celts, and Nordic and Germanic tribes drank ale. In fact, many of the English terms used in brewing (malt, mash, wort, ale) are Anglo-Saxon in origin. During the Middle Ages, the monastic orders preserved brewing as a craft. Hops were in use in Germany in the 11th century, and in the 15th century they were introduced into Britain from Holland. In 1420, beer was made in Germany by a bottom fermentation process; before that, yeast rose to the top of the fermenting product and was allowed to overflow or was manually skimmed. Brewing was a winter occupation, and ice was used to keep beer cool during the summer months. Such beer came to be called lager (from German lagern, “to store”). The term lager is still used to denote beer produced from bottom-fermenting yeast, and the term ale is now used for top-fermented British types of beer.

Since beer was a popular beverage among our ancestors, techniques improved over time. The basic principles of brewing were developed in the Middle East and gradually spread to Europe. In the first Century BC Roman Pliny reported that the north Europeans - the Saxons, Celts, and Nordic and Germanic tribes drank ale. Indeed, many of the brewing terms used today are of Germanic origin. And the history of beer in Europe was largely written by these hardy folk.

Beer making was kept alive as a craft by monasteries during the Middle Ages. By now techniques had improved further. Nettles were used to flavor the beer, giving it a tart flavor and aroma. The grain was heated over open wood fires. This resulted in the final product having a very dark color, and smoky taste.

Germans started using hops, a relative of the nettle, to flavor beer around 1300. Hops were imported into England, but met with much resistance. Acceptance in England was slow among many, and as late as 1512 a churchman forbade the use of the "wicked pernicious weed, hops" in the brewing of ale.

Brewing in these early times was a family chore. Throughout the middle ages, and before, part of the tax paid by serfs was a quantity of beer, or ale, paid to the lord of the manor. Gradually this changed. In villages, a family would emerge as having a superior beer recipe. Neighbors would purchase beer from them, rather than indulge in the laborious process themselves. In this way alehouses were born, the brewers selling their beer to fellow villagers and travelers passing through. There developed literally thousands of different types of beer, each alehouse producing its own distinctive brew.

Scientific instruments did not exist during these early days to control the quality of the brew. By the fourteenth century an official post was created in many town - the al-conner, or ale taster. His task was to taste the brew produced by an alehouse. If it didn’t meet standards, he could downgrade the beer, reducing its price. He usually wore leather breeches and sat on a wooden bench. A tankard of ale was poured on the bench, and he sat for half an hour. If the bench stuck to his breeches, he ruled that the ale contained too much sugar, not enough alcohol and was downgraded. If he could stand up unhindered, the beer was of good quality.

In England, colleges brewed their own ale. This was continued through the 14th century. After this time the practice gradually went away, by mid 18th century only four remained. Queens College in Oxford brewed continuously for 600 years, until World War II.

Until the early fifteenth century beer was made by using a top fermenting yeast. The fermenting yeast was allowed to overflow the fermenting container, or was skimmed off with a wooden paddle or spoon. The Germans around 1420 developed a bottom fermenting yeast, which produced a beer which would store for longer periods than the previous beers. As beer making was primarily a winter occupation, and the beer was stored using ice procured from lakes, rivers, and ponds during the winter, this was an important development. The German word "lagern", meaning, "to store" caused these beers to be called "lagers". This is the primary type of beer drank in Germany and US today. English ales are still produced using top fermenting yeast.

The nineteenth century saw a general increase in scientific study and advancement. These new technologies launched the Industrial Revolution, which touched every aspect of life, including beer making. Heated rotating bins were developed to improve drying the malt, producing a lighter, golden beer. Refrigeration enabled the brewing process to be scheduled year round, instead of seasonal production. This also allowed beer to be shipped greater distances. A direct result of this is the existence of the larger brewers today shipping their product all over the world.

Also developed during this period were two important instruments for brewing - the sachrometer and thermometer. With the thermometer the precise temperature of the beer could be determined and controlled from start to finish. The sachrometer is a glass instrument which floats in the liquid. By the level at which it floats, the graduations on the side of the instrument indicate the sugar content of a liquid. It was now easier to ascertain when a brew was finished fermenting, and the alcohol content could be determined accurately.

Most important was the research of Louis Pasteur in the 1860’s. Previous to Pasteur, it was believed that fermentation was caused by organisms created spontaneously in the fermenting brew. He proved that yeast were the creatures responsible for fermentation, and that they, along with other organisms, were present in the air to which the fermenting brew was exposed. The other organisms sometimes contaminated the fermenting brew, causing it to go bad. With this knowledge, brewers could now isolate the best yeast cultures and have more control over the brewing process.

The Industrial Revolution brought the mechanization of brewing. Better control over the process, with the use of the thermometer and saccharometer, was developed in Britain and transferred to the Continent, where the development of ice-making and refrigeration equipment in the late 19th century enabled lager beers to be brewed in summer. In the 1860s the French chemist Louis Pasteur established many of the microbiological practices still used in brewing. The Danish botanist Emile Hansen devised methods for growing yeasts in culture free of other yeasts and bacteria. This pure-culture technology was quickly taken up by continental lager brewers but not until the 20th century by the ale brewers of Britain. Meanwhile, German-style bottom-fermented lagers fermented by pure yeast cultures became dominant in the Americas.

Brewing has become very big business. Modern breweries use stainless-steel equipment and computer-controlled automated operations, and they package beer in metal casks, glass bottles, aluminum cans, and plastic containers. Beers are now exported worldwide and are produced under license in foreign countries. During the late 1970’s the large brewers in the US bought out or forced out of business many smaller, regional breweries, resulting in less variety in beer types available. By the 1990’s, in response to consumer demand, smaller microbreweries and brewpubs began operations, producing handcrafted local brews on a smaller scale, mimicking the small alehouses of long ago.

Technology has also made brewing simpler for the home beer maker. Modern kits allow the home brewer too easily and conveniently produce their own brew in their homes, like our ancestors did many centuries ago, when home beer making was a family craft. The history of brewing and beer making is a fascinating field of study.

© THC Toys, Hobbies and Crafts 2012

Home Beer Making

© Hobby Hobnob 2012

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Home Beer Making


The brewing of beer is an ancient craft, believed by many archeologists to be over 10,000 years old. The first domesticated grains were wheat and barley, with archeological evidence of these crops first being grown in Mesopotamia around 7000 BC. Beer making, as it depends primarily on these grains, surely made its entrance to human history shortly after the domestication of these important food crops. The first beer could have been accidentally produced. Stored grain, becoming wet, could have fermented naturally, producing beer. And the resulting brew undoubtedly both smelled and looked good to someone, who tasted it, and experienced the first hangover in history.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

2007 United States Mint Silver Proof Set™(V70)


Coin collectors can purchase the complete 2007 proof set now at the United States Mint web site. This set has the Lincoln penny, Jefferson nickel, Roosevelt dime and all five issues of 2007 State Quarters. In addition to this, it has the Sacagawea gold dollar and the Kennedy half. There are fourteen coins in this set, including seven silver ones. Back to Coin Collecting

Monday, May 12, 2008

US Mint - 2007 First Spouse Series



The US Mint has begun a series which I am surprised wasn't done a long time ago with the launching of the First Spouse Series. This series honors the spouse's of Presidents. These gold dollars are available in uncirculated and proof conditions. This first years offerings include Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson’s Liberty and Dolley Madison. Available now singly or in a four piece set are Dolley Madison and Abigail Adams. Back to Coin Collecting

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Building Balsa Airplanes



Building and flying stick built model airplanes is a fun and fascinating hobby. The Build and Fly series of beginner suitable model airplanes is a good place to start. There are four models in the series, starting with the easy to build Goldwing. You progress through the next three, the Cadet, Cloudbuster and Flyboy model airplanes. When you finish the series you will have learned enough to build any of the model airplanes from Guillow's.

Back To Balsa Wood Airplanes

© 2012 Hobby Hobnob

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

2008 Sacagawea Golden Dollar




The 2008 Sacagawea Golden Dollar is now available at the US Mint web site. The gold dollars are available in rolls and bags. The obverse of this beautiful coin is engraved with a likeness of Sacagawea, the young American Indiana woman who guided the Lewis and Clark expdedition. The reverse features an eagle soaring among seventeen stars, one for each of the states which made up the United States at the time of the expedition.
The Sacagawea Golden Dollar is legal tender, and may be used as money, if you so desire. The coins were minted at the Philadelphia mint, thus feature the "P" mint mark.
© 2011 Hobby Hobnob
Back to Coin Collecting

Monday, April 28, 2008

Dandelion Wine - Part 3


The dandelion wine was ready for the next stage in the wine making process - straining the pulp and putting the fermentation jug.

Today I used a plastic colander to strain the raisins and other pulp from the must. Then I used a plastic spoon to squeeze the excess juice from the material in the colander. The must didn't quite fill the gallon jug, so I added one half cup of sugar syrup to the jug and topped it up with water.

Then I fitted a fermentation lock on the jug and put it on a plate on the kitchen counter. This is a precautionary step, in case the fermentation goes crazy and overflows. In a day or so, if it stay relatively quiet I will move it to the wine cellar.

The color is a bit more pink than I wanted. I used grape wine as the starter for the yeast, so the normally golden colored wine will probably have a tint of pink to it. Back to Dandelion Wine © 2011 THC Toys, Hobbies and Crafts

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dandelion Wine - Part 2


That evening I placed the raisins in the bucket I used to pick the blossoms. This bucket is only used for wine making. I squeezed the juice from the two oranges and added the juice from a lemon. I added three cups of sugar syrup, the equivalent of one and a half pound of sugar. Then I topped up the water to the four quart line on the side of the bucket. I used a hydrometer to measure the sugar content. It was only around 1065, equivalent to about 8.5% alcohol content. Since wine should be at least 10% to be good, I added another cup of sugar syrup. This raised the specific gravity to around 1085, which is just over 10%. Since the raisins add sugar and this is impossible for me to measure, the finished wine should be around 11% or so.

I then added my fermenting wine yeast culture which had been previously prepared. You can add the dried yeast directly to the must, but it will take a bit longer to start. I then covered the must with a clean dish towel and let it stand in a warm area. By the next morning the wine had started fermenting. This should sit for around five or six days, fermenting on this pulp. Stir is two or three times a day with a plastic or stainless steel spoon.

Back to Dandelion Wine

© 2011 THC Toys, Hobbies and Crafts

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Making Dandelion Wine - Part One


On Monday I picked the blossoms for a one gallon batch of Dandelion wine. My mother made a mean dandelion wine when I was a kid, and I have her recipe.
About two quarts of picked dandelion blossoms. Pick off the green base of the flower, it will provide a bitter taste to the wine.
Two oranges
One lemon
One one pound box of white raisins
One pack of wine yeast
Four cups of standard sugar syrup or two pounds of sugar
One tea bag.

The first step in making dandelion wine is to pick the blossoms. Choose a sunny day when the blossoms are at their fullest. Pick the blossom, then pluck the base of the flower off and discard. Place the blossoms in a clean container. I have a water bucket which had quart graduations marked on the inside. This bucket is used only for wine making, so it is not contaminated with anything.

Once the dandelion blossoms have been gathered, boil two quarts of water. Place the tea bag in with the blossoms and pour the boiling water over the blossoms. The tea bag will add tannin to the wine, improving its flavor. Allow this to steep for several hours. I let it stand overnight. In the morning, I didn't have time to make the wine, so I strained the blossoms using a plastic colander. Don't use a metal one, which may impart a metallic flavor to the wine. Press the soggy blossoms with a plastic or stainless steel spoon until most of the juice is removed. I then placed the mixture in a plastic pitcher, sealed it with the lid and placed it in the refrigerator.

I would make the dandelion wine that evening.

Dandelion Wine - Part 2

Back to Home Wine Making

Dandelion Wine - Part 3 © 2011 THC Toys, Hobbies and Crafts

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Making Wines From Grape Concentrate - 4

Add the grape juice concentrate, the two cups of sugar syrup and three quarts of water to the bowl and stir them well. Next, add the fermenting yeast starter. Cover the bowl with a clean towel or other covering and allow to stand for four or five days. The ferment, in its initial vigor, will froth up, possibly overflowing the bowl if it is not big enough.

After the ferment has calmed down, using a funnel, pour the still fermenting wine into the gallon jug. Fit a piece of plastic food wrap over the mouth of the jug and secure with a rubber band. Place in a cool, dark area to ferment. The wine will take about two to three months to complete the fermentation process. Back to Home Wine Making © 2011 THC Toys, Hobbies and Crafts

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Making Wines From Grape Concentrate - Standard Sugar Syrup

It is helpful to dissolve the sugar in water before making the wine. To do this, you may use a recipe for standard sugar syrup, used by many home wine makers. To make sugar syrup, dissolve the sugar at a rate of two cups of sugar into one cup of water. Bring the water to a boil, then slowly add the sugar a cup or two at a time. Stir the solution until the syrup clears, then add more until it is all added.

The sugar syrup will clear when all the sugar has been dissolved. Allow the solution to cool. One cup of standard sugar syrup is equivalent to one half pound of sugar. Back to Home Wine Making © 2011 THC Toys, Hobbies and Crafts

Monday, March 31, 2008

Making Wines From Grape Concentrate - 2

The first step in making wine from a grape concentrate, or any other fruit concentrate, is to gather your materials. For a one gallon batch of wine you will need twenty four ounces of grape concentrate, one pound of sugar, one tablespoon of wine yeast and about a gallon of water.

In addition to the ingredients you will need the following supplies. A plastic or glass bowl or other container safe for food products which will hold more than one gallon. A plastic or glass funnel. An eight or twelve ounce drinking glass, a one gallon glass or food rated plastic jug, a bit of plastic wrap and a rubber band. Save the cap from the jug for use later. If you use a vinegar jug to make the wine from concentrate in, make sure it is rinsed very, very well.

Once you have these materials on hand, make up a yeast starter. Dissolve one tablespoon of sugar in the drinking glass filled with warm water. Make sure the water is just lukewarm, and not hot. Now pour the wine yeast into the glass and cover with a paper towel secured with a rubber band. Place this glass in a warm spot for a few hours. After the yeast has begun fermenting you will see a white foam on top of the water. Now you are ready to make your grape concentrate wine. Back to Home Wine Making © 2011 THC Toys, Hobbies and Crafts

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Making Wines From Grape Concentrate


Drinking wine is a very pleasurable experience, and making the wine you drink can be even more enjoyable. After a long hiatus from this wonderful hobby, I recently began making wine again. Since I started in January, finding grapes to make wine with, I opted to make wine using a frozen grape concentrate. Since wine grape concentrates are not readily available locally, I decided to use frozen Concord grape juice concentrate from the grocers freezer display.

I have done this before, but it has been a long, long time. The wine made using this procedure is quite acceptable for a vin ordinaire. Making wine from concentrate is a pretty easy process, and you don't need a lot of fancy equipment. The next several entries will cover this fun little project in detail. When finished, you will be able to make wine from grape, or any other fruit juice concentrate, quickly and easily.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Coin Collecting - American Eagle Silver Dollar


The United States Mint has announced that American Eagle Silver uncirculated coins are available to buy on their web site. The coins have the "W" mint mark, testimony to their striking at the West Point mint. The American Eagle Silver Dollar coin is billed as the collector's version of the bullion version of this silver dollar and has a similar finish. The 2008 American Eagle One Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coin's official beginning sales date is March 17, 2008 and any orders placed before that time will not be honored. You may buy this new coin issue at the United States Mint web site. © 2011 THC Toys, Hobbies and Crafts Back to Coin Collecting

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Kite History - World War 2


As late as World War II, kites had a role to play in warfare. Sauls' Barrage Kite was a sort of double box kite which was a strong, stable flying kite. A man named Harry Sauls designed the kite to be used to fly advertising banners over tourist areas. The kite found a use during World War 2 as a means of protecting merchant ships from enemy airplane attacks. A wire, similar to piano wire, was used to hold the kite aloft over the ship. The wire was invisible to enemy warplanes and was strong enough to destroy the prop or cut off a wing. Strategically placed, these kites deterred enemy dive bomber attacks. In addition, explosives or bombs were attached to the wires to further deter attack.

Lieutenant Commander Paul E. Garber served on the aircraft carrier USS Block Island during World War 2. An avid kite flyer, he watched as the carriers gunnery crews practiced target shooting using clouds as targets. He decided to find a better method, so he built a kite and threw the gauntlet down to the gun crews. Hit the kite, was the challenge. The gunnery crews found this to be a difficult task. The ships captain, seeing the improvement in the accuracy of the gun crews shooting, ordered Garber to build more kites for target practice. He eventually came up with a design which allowed him to mimic an airplane's movements as it approached the ship. It became standard practice for gun crews to use kites to practice and much credit is given to the target kites saving many ships due to the gunnery crews improved accuracy.

Another device used during the war was called the Gibson Girl. It consisted of a box kite, antennae, and hand crank radio. It was packed in with life rafts, to be used in an emergency. The kite both acted as a beacon to signal rescue aircraft to the location of the raft, and as a support for the antennae. The hand cranked radio, of course, was used to signal rescuers. Back To All About Kites History of Flight and Avaition © 2012 Hobby Hobnob

Monday, March 03, 2008

History of Kites - World War I

During World War I, kites were used for various military purposes. The French assembled a kite corps which consisted of a trailer, car and a motor driven winch which was used for observation. Kites were used by infantry divisions of all the combatants to observe enemy positions. When the airplane came into general use, these divisions were disbanded.

The kite continued to be useful at sea. Germany devised a box kite which would fit in a U Boat to be used at sea. An observer elevated on a kite to an altitude of 400 feet can see almost 250 miles over open ocean. Similar systems were used on sea going warships of other nations.

Back To All About Kites History of Flight and Avaition

© 2012 Hobby Hobnob

Friday, February 29, 2008

History of the Kite - The Wright Brothers


In 1899 the Wright brothers designed and built a special box kite to use to test and develope their theories about controlling the flight of an aircraft. This was a biplane box kite about six feet long, fifteen inches wide and about fifteen inches tall. All the framework was hinged to allow it to twist. The kite was controlled from the ground with four strings tied to strategic places on the frame. Using this system, they developed ways to control the kites ability to bank right and left, dive and climb.



They designed and built several kites using this design, always perfecting the design and gaining more control. Using these kites as models they constructed a glider in 1900. This glider had the capacity to carry a man, but the brothers decided to test it before flying in it themselves. They did not want to suffer the same fate as Lilianthal, who died flying one of his gliders. The glider was flown like a kite at first, using the ground control system they had developed for the box kites.

All of this experimenting led, of course, to their eventual success on December 12, 1903. History of Flight and Avaition

Back To All About Kites © 2012 Hobby Hobnob