The 48 inch Dowel Barn Door Kite in Flight

by Bill
(TN, USA)

My MBK Dowel Barn Door in Flight

My MBK Dowel Barn Door in Flight

This is a picture of my Barn Door kite.

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Spar thickness
by: Tim Parish

Yes Bill, 1/4" will be too thin. In fact, my original 48" Barn Door used 1/8" dowels, which proved too flexible, so I upped them to 3/16" which turned out to be ideal.

Doubling 3/16" gives 6/16 = 3/8". You've got 1/4" = 2/8" for comparison. In other words, you need an extra 50% dowel width to get the ideal strength.

*** Try again with 3/8" dowels and it should feel a lot better :-) ***

Regarding sail material, do you have 'drop sheet plastic' in the shops over there? Painters use it to keep floor coverings protected during jobs. It comes in a regular thickness and also 'heavy duty'. My huge 8' Sled uses the 'heavy duty' thickness and it flies fine even in quite light winds. In fact, I don't dare take the thing out in anything more than a light breeze!

Keep at it - your final success will be all the sweeter...

Oh, regarding flying line - 150 or 200 pound Dacron should be adequate for this kite.


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Building the 8 foot Barn Door Kite
by: Bill

After building and flying the 4 foot dowel barn door kite I decided to try building a monster 8 footer. I decided I would keep a running commentary on my successes and failures in this endeavor.

I decided (with some help from Tim and others) that I would use 1/4 inch diameter, 48 inch dowels linked together with copper tubing, glue and tape for the framework and use a portion of a roll of construction-grade plastic I had left over from building a cold frame for the sail. I knew this would just be a "prototype", since I was bound to make some mistakes and I wanted to use the least expensive materials on my first attempt. I followed the instructions for building Tim's 4 foot barn door kite scaled up 2x. Once I had it put together, I realized two things: 1) the plastic material for the sail is too heavy (very thick plastic) and 2) the frame is extremely limber.

I haven't had a chance to test it yet, as the wind has not cooperated, but it seems to me that it is much too heavy and much too limber to fly well, if at all. I will try it soon and see, but my guess is I will need to go back to the drawing board. I may try to find some larger diameter dowels and just go with the basic garbage bag material for the sail. I will keep you posted.

Any and all comments and suggestions are welcome.
One other thing - I really was amazed at the size of this kite! It is quite impressive. I really did not fully grasp its dimensions until I had it put together and in front of me. If I can ever get one to fly, it is going to be a real treat to see. I wonder what pound test line I should use for this behemoth?

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Fishing and Flying
by: Bill

Yes, it is a surf rod and reel that I use to fly the barn door. I had the rod anyway and it makes reeling in easier. I also enjoy setting the drag so that if I get a gust it will sing out like a fish running with the bait! I suppose it satisfies my other passion: fishing.

One college student walked up to me the other day as I was flying it near the University soccer field and he stared at me the whole time in a strange manner. As he approached, I knew he was puzzled by something, so I said "hello" and he immediately said "What are you doing?" (I was holding the rod which was bent from the kite's pressure and was occasionally slipping the drag.)

I told him I was flying a kite and pointed to it in the sky. He looked up and said "Whew, you had me going there, I could have sworn you were fighting a fish on dry land!" I intend to learn as much as possible about kite fishing from the shoreline and eventually combine both of my favorite hobbies into one.

Yes, the kite flies beautifully without the tails - I just put them on for effect. I was flying it without the tail in a steady breeze at a park the other day, and a young woman drove up with her young son in her car and asked me where I got the kite. She said at first she thought it was something strange, because it was so perfectly still and steady against the sky that it did not look real. The little boy was very excited when I told them about your site and that they could build their own by following your easy instructions.

Happy flying!

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Fishing rod?
by: Tim Parish

Is that the tip of a fishing rod that is anchoring the kite? Takes me back to outback N.T. where as a child I used to fly crude and heavy Diamond kites from a rod!

Looks OK with those twin tails, even though it doesn't need them...

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Wind Speeds


Light air
1-5 km/h
1-3 mph
1-3 knots
Beaufort 1

Light breeze
6–11 km/h
4–7 mph
4–6 knots
Beaufort 2    

Gentle breeze
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3    

Moderate breeze
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4    

Fresh breeze
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5    

Strong breeze
39–49 km/h
25–31 mph
22–27 knots
Beaufort 6

High Wind
50-61 km/h
32-38 mph
28-33 knots
Beaufort 7