Maley or Bow




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Site Contents

By Leslie Hunt

FIG. 29. 
Both the spine and cross stick are to have brackets.

Bow kites are those having the cross sticks sprung into a bow while the spines are nearly straight.  The convex (outside) curvature is next to the flier, although, now and then, one sees a curious kite with the curve turned the other way.  They are probably poor fliers and the curiosity lies in the fact that one cannot tell what they are going to do next.

The purpose of the convex bow is to take advantage of the spine for a keel, and to keep the kite surface properly shaped to catch the wind.

The people of the Malay Peninsula have used this kind of kite for many centuries, but it is thought that they borrowed the idea from the natives of Java who were, for a long time, the most expert kite-makers in the world.

Eddy, Woglom, Kirby, and others in the United States either independently discovered or perfected the Malay kite until its performance is little short of marvelous.  Each professional kite maker has some little detail that distinguishes his kite from the others, and which was probably worked out with much thought and experimentation.  

It is said that Eddy made his cross stick longer than the spine, that Woglom held invariably to the depth of the bow being 10 per cent of the length of the spine, and that Kirby made spine and cross equal with a greater bow, and called his kites "bird kites" from their proportions being like those of a bird.  The kite described below is somewhat generalized from the various makers and is a most satisfactory flier.  

Prepare two sticks 3/16 by 1/4 by 26 inches and slit the ends as described in the Two-Stick Kite.  Select a stick that bends uniformly for the bow.  Both sticks must be straight and free from weakening imperfections.

From each end of the cross stick, measure 12 7/8 inches, and mark all around.  From the top end of the spine, measure and mark at 5 and 5 1/4 inches.  You will note that the length of the kite, inside of the slits, is 25 inches, and that the distance from the end of the slit to the top of the cross stick is 4 1/2 inches or 18 per cent of the effective length.

From a stick the same width and thickness as those of the kite, cut four pieces an inch long.  Lay one of these, flat side down, on a board, square one end and bevel the other making a little bracket about 3/4 inch in length.  Using this piece as a model, shape the other three sticks like it.

Lay the spine and cross stick in position, making sure the marks are right, but do not glue or wrap.  Spread a little glue on the long face of a bracket and place it on the top mark of the spine as shown in Figure 29.  Wrap well.  Now lay the cross stick in place and fasten the bracket below the cross stick in the same manner.  The brackets are to prevent the movement of the cross stick up and down, but they are to be free enough to allow its ready removal.  The proper degree of looseness may be secured by wrapping a piece of paper around the cross stick and fitting closely.  

When the brackets are in place, the cross stick is withdrawn and the paper discarded.  The paper allows enough play, and prevents the glue from getting on the cross stick.

Wipe off all excess glue, and bracket the cross stick in the same manner.  Now tie the sticks together crisscross, finishing off with a knot that may be easily untied.  You now have an intersection that is firm, but easily taken apart for carrying or storing.  Start wrapping the ends of the sticks.  The cross stick is not wrapped outside the framing string, so it may be finished off with an extra turn.

FIG. 30. 
The top view shows the proper amount of bow.  The small sketch to the right shows the cloth reinforcement at the stick ends.

Frame the kite, making the necessary adjustments to make the sides equal.  Do not draw the framing string tighter than is necessary to keep it straight.  Take a stitch through the framing string 3/4 of an inch inside the slits so the kite will present an outline as shown in Figure 30.

Paper the kite, spine next to the paper, and let it dry.  Clip the stitches taken in the framing string and pull out the threads.  Finish wrapping the ends of the spine.

Lay the kite paper side down.  Attach a strong bow string securely to one end of the cross just inside the framing string, tying so it will lead off from the center of the stick.  It should be considerably longer than the kite is wide.  Make a square loop of wire that will slip over the other end of the cross stick, but will not slide down the stick when a pull is exerted on it at an angle.  Twist the ends of the wire together six or eight turns and clip off. Now run the bow string through the wire loop, slip the wire over the cross stick and bow the cross stick until the distance from the string to the stick at the center is about 3 inches.

Catch the string and wire together with thumb and finger and remove from the stick.  Tie the string to the wire in this position.  Replace, and see if the distance from the stick to the string is between  2 1/2 and 3 inches.  If not, readjust so the bow will be as near these limits as possible.

Let down the bow, and prepare to attach the bridle.  Use elastic bridles on tailless kites, whenever their shape will permit.

Run a string through the paper at the intersection of the sticks and tie securely around the spine and bracket just below the cross stick.  The string must lead off from the front  center of the spine.  Tie a loop in the string so the distance from the kite to the knot will be just 13 inches.  

Run the end of the string under the wrapping at the lower end of the spine as described for kite No. 1, and bring the length of this end of the bridle to 21 inches measured from the knot in the loop to the kite. 

Preserving the lengths, tie in the rubber band about 4 inches from the bottom.  Be sure to attach the safety string. You will need it more on this kite than on those heretofore described.  No horizontal bridle is required.

The paper just inside the stick ends should be reinforced with a strip of cloth as wide as the finger.  Paste the cloth, lay it in position on the face of the kite, and turn it over the edges.  If the color is objectionable, cover it with kite paper.

The place where the bridle passes through the paper should be reinforced with a circular patch clipped to allow the string to lead through it.  This may be put on the back of the kite.

When dry, you will have a kite that will fly in any breeze, and with a bit more bow in a strong wind.  No tail is needed, although streamers and flags may be attached as described in Chapter VI.

I have made a large number of kites from the above specifications, and every one was a strong flier.  Crepe paper makes the flight more steady.  For a kite this size, crepe paper weighs but 1/7 of an ounce more than plain tissue, and gives a much better performance.  The crepe-paper kite rated .42 ounce and the plain-paper kite rated .44 ounce per square foot.

25 Kites That Fly






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Last modified: October 15, 2016.