Dowel Kite Posts—Barn Door

(Oak Dowel Spars)

It's an archive of sorts, although there are no dates and times. Kite flying is timeless, don't you agree?

I trust there is plenty in here to educate, inform, and often entertain!

These short flight reports once appeared as posts in the site-blog page, although that page is no longer present on this site. Below, the latest posts come first. Just scroll down and stop at any heading that appeals :-)

Dowel Barn Door Kite

Dowel Barn Door Dusted Off

Winds were light down at the coast, but big thermal gusts were heaving branches around further inland.

For example, inland as far as our back yard! Hence the kite to select would have to be good in light winds but tolerant of stiffer gusts. And it would be nice to pull out a Dowel Series kite that hadn't flown in quite a while. That all pointed toward the Dowel Barn Door!

The MBK Dowel Barn Door kite in flight.MBK Dowel Barn Door

After some attention to dodgy tape at the tips of the horizontal spar, out I drove to a nearby reserve. The place was baking in the last heatwave of summer. However, there was a nice shady tree perfectly positioned for the current wind direction.

Setup was a bit fiddly with the long insulation-tape ties that are peculiar to this MBK design. But soon the kite was in the air. It wasn't long before some of the newly applied tip tape softened and gave way in the extreme heat and gusts, causing a list to the left. The kite went all the way to the ground.

With insulation tape replaced with some much more satisfactory packing tape, up the kite went again. Some video was taken with just under 30 meters (100 feet) of line out. At this length, the kite was in and out of rough air caused by the quite large shady tree upwind.

Finally, the flying line was let out to 60 meters (200 feet) to really let the kite roam free. The pale-orange Dowel Barn Door put on a show, surging in gusts and doing the "falling leaf" thing in sudden lulls. All the motion put long bends in the flying line while it was slack, before tension would come back on suddenly. The air was very active up there!

A couple of times, excess wind speed would force the kite way over to the right—forcing me to jog left some way to avoid potential kite-eating trees!

It was good to see the tailless Dowel Barn Door doing its thing again, on plenty of 50-pound Dacron.

On this site, there's more kite-making info than you can poke a stick at :-)  Want to know the most convenient way of using it all?

The Big MBK E-book Bundle is a collection of downloads—printable PDF files which provide step-by-step instructions for many kites large and small.

Every kite in every MBK series.

Dowel Barn Door Refurbished

Yep, the old Dowel Barn Door kite hadn't flown in quite a while.

The horizontal spar tips needed a little attention with old electrical tape peeling away. Otherwise, the kite was in fine condition, having remained rolled up and stored in a shed.

Out at the field, a gusty light breeze was blowing across the thick green grass. This (school) oval gets some watering I suspect, unlike some other fields in the area.

The kite was rigged soon enough, despite the breeze trying to flip it over several times.

Some flying was done on a short line as a rough check on the trim. Then several flights were done on about 30 meters (100 feet) of line to further refine the trim. The kite was being pushed hard at times in the gentle-strength gusts. Hence I tended to overcorrect, moving the sliding knot a few mm too far each time!

On one of these flights, the flying line brushed against a 20-meter (60-foot) lighting pole but came free without catching the lights. Whew. Eventually though, the barn door soared up straight and true.

With the warm conditions and this light-wind kite under plenty of pressure, there was more trouble with the electrical tape. A spar tip came free and down went the kite in big lazy circles to the right.

The tape these days seems less sticky than it used to be! With more tape, a bit of extra length seemed to fix the problem. Now the barn door was flying about reliably on 90 meters (300 feet) of 50-pound Dacron.

Finally, with the kite behaving well, I let the 120-meter (400-foot) marker come off the winder. The kite wandered around and soon topped out at a 60-degree angle. That's about 350 feet off the grass, perhaps helped out by a little rising air. I could certainly feel the kite pulling while it was up at that steep angle.

If you've ever made a big diamond kite, you owe it to yourself to go a step further and make a big barn door "three sticker"!

Dowel Barn Door Trimmed to Perfection

With the Dowel Barn Door instructions due for an update, it was time to create a new kite from scratch. Some new photos and measurements had to be taken. The original 1.2 meter (4 feet) span Dowel Barn Door met a sorry end in a tree one day, more than a year ago now. On that occasion I should have brought the kite down earlier to readjust the bridle.

Today, winds were very light but rather gusty low down. Up higher, the wind speed seemed somewhere in the gentle range most of the time. That's in the mid-to-high teens, in kph.

A couple of very short flights were first required to get the bridle knots in roughly the right position. Further, much higher flights showed up a lean to the left and then to the right as I zeroed in on the perfect position for the upper bridle-loop Prusik knot.

Finally, there it was, a dramatic vertical climb to full height from ground level, on 60 meters (200 feet) of 50-pound line. Beautiful! The wind died and surged, burbled and swung, but the barn door was now rock solid in the air, flying smoothly and predictably. Within minutes, it had gone way overhead in light lifting air. Later, it hung lower, straining away in sinking air but staying almost perfectly upright.

Since the kite was flying so well, I backed away to the extreme edge of the grassed area and let out just over 90 meters (300 feet) of line. More great flying followed, with the kite at 70 degrees for much of the time. Finally, it was time to pack up, so down came the Dowel Barn Door kite helicopter-fashion, throwing the occasional lazy loop above my head as it descended from the almost cloudless sky. 

The wind averaged 3.1 kph and gusted to 12.5 kph at one point, close to the ground. Winds were probably varying between 5 to 15 kph or so, higher up.

Dowel Barn Door Over a Hot Roof

I got a bit game today and decided to take the big Dowel Barn Door out for a backyard fly around midday. There was a gusty moderate breeze and who knows what kind of thermal contributions wafting up from the hot roof!

The wind seemed to be a warm northerly, judging by the movement of treetops. But the breeze swirling around the yard came from all directions! Getting the kite lofted was a bit of a lottery. But eventually I succeeded in popping it up just high enough to grab a scrap of faster-flowing air from the NNW. From there it easy—almost too easy—to let the kite up further.

Then ensued a short white-knuckle flight as I kept the barn door on 10 meters (35 feet) of line or less. The kite got blown this way and that in the gusty winds that swirled around trees and over nearby roofs.

Several times, high wind-speed pushed the kite over to the left, taking it within centimeters of our roof. Each time, it was stable enough to recover by itself in the slower air lower down. Side stepping was necessary once or twice to keep the kite away from another property.

After a few minutes of this extreme single-line flying :-) a lull brought the Dowel Barn Door kite all the way down. As I took in line, the kite ended up dropping right into my hands from above.

Dowel Barn Door Rides Inland Gusts

Well, it was the same reserve and a similar time of day. Perhaps it was a bit closer to sundown. Only the kite was different—the Dowel Barn Door this time, chosen to suit the gentle-strength wind gusts of between 15 and 20 kph.

The first flight went well, with the kite soaring straight up on around 45 meters (150 feet) of line. The late-afternoon sun glinted off the panels as the kite moved about at steep line angles. In the gusts and lulls, the kite had a tendency to pull to the right at times.

As I was taking the kite down to do a bridle adjustment, the main problem became apparent. The horizontal spar had pushed through the tip tape on the right corner of the sail, drastically reducing the sail area to the right of center. It was actually surprising how well the kite was still flying, given the gross problem with the sail!

On a second flight, with the tip repaired, there still appeared to be a slight pull to the right. So, after taking some video footage of the barn door's antics, it was brought down once again. This time the bridle knot was taken across by about a centimeter (half an inch). That was better! The 1.2-meter (4-foot) span pale-orange kite shot right back up, showing much less tendency to pull across when under pressure.

After some more video was taken, with the kite soaring around almost directly overhead at times, it seemed safe enough to let out more line. It was surprising to feel the flying line touching my jeans while it was anchored underfoot! How much rising air can there be at this time of day? At the time, I was concentrating on keeping the wandering kite in-frame as I took video.

Finally, after enjoying the kite doing its thing on over 60 meters (200 feet) of line, it came time to pull the Dowel Barn Door down. When within 30 feet or so of the ground it started to float and sink face down. Then it was an easy matter to pull in the remaining few meters of line, keeping the kite flying until the bridle lines were in hand.

Weather stations were reporting around 10 kph average wind speeds with gusts almost to 20 kph.

T'was a Barn Door on Boxing Day

We spent much of Boxing Day with friends down at Horseshoe Bay here in South Australia. Breezy conditions were forecast, gusting over 30 kph so the Multi-Dowel Box kite was selected as the most likely kite to fly well.

With the wind coming straight off the ocean it was much smoother than what out kites usually fly in. Even so, the wind strength tended to vary up and down as the day wore on.

The wind meter initially indicated gusts in the mid-to-high teens. This seemed within limits for the Dowel Barn Door kite which I had also brought along. And it's a much simpler kite to rig than the huge box. Soon, the light-orange Dowel Barn Door was in the air. A few minutes were spent making tiny adjustments to the sliding knot on the bridle loop.

When pushed hard, this kite starts to lean one way or the other. Trimming the kite straight gets a bit tricky when it is close to its wind-speed limit, but it finally started soaring around overhead.

And then a tip started to poke through its tape cap. The imbalance made the kite lean over and descend all the way to the grass. But it was soon fixed with a couple of short pieces of tape, and then I moved down onto the sandy beach to continue flying.

It was one of those situations where the kite would behave and go overhead during every lull. At other times, the excessive wind speed would force the kite into instability, so it went one way or the other, right down to the sand. There comes a point where no amount of trimming will fix it! The wind was not getting any softer, unfortunately.

Despite the unwanted landings the kite still provided a small spectacle for plenty of kids and onlookers—all of whom had never seen a barn-door kite before, I'm pretty sure.

By this time, the beach was crowded and so the Multi-Dowel Box stayed in the car. I need to make a decent sand anchor too, for these beach-flying situations.


The story or stories above document actual flying experiences. My write-ups are definitely "warts and all" since things don't always go totally as planned. However, half the fun of kiting is anticipating the perfect flight. When it happens, it's magic!


As mentioned earlier, there's more kite-making info here than you can poke a stick at :-)

Want to know the most convenient way of using it all?

The Big MBK E-book Bundle is a collection of downloads—printable PDF files which provide step-by-step instructions for many kites large and small.

Every kite in every MBK series.