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The Tonking Kite

As its name implies, this kite is of eastern origin. It has a very simple structure, about which brief comment may be made. First, it is light in weight, because there is a broad wing or cover area with a minimum of framework. This is known as low wing loading, and it is important if the kite is to be successful in flight. Secondly, the kite is bow shaped. This upward inclination of the wing is known as positive dihedral. It improves stability; and in the third place, this stability is further aided by the use of a two-piece bridle, which provides side-to-side balance. Fourthly, the extended backbone permits the effective bracing of the framework. The framework is formed by three strips, comprising a backbone, A, and two crossbars, B and C (Fig. 1). The backbone is 2 ft. in length and is cut from 1/4 in. square hard stripwood. It is notched at the ends in the manner shown at D (Fig. 1). This piece should be straight and smooth and fres from knots or splits. The crossbars are each 2 ft. in length, and are made from split cane, about 1/4 in. thick. Failing this, 1/4 in. square stripwood may be used, though it is not so strong or flexible as cane. The crossbars are also notched at the ends (E, Fig. 1). These notches are for the bracing strings, which are added later.

The crossbars are now shaped to a curve. The method of doing this is described in Chapter 7 under the heading 'Shaping Wood and Cane'. The depth of the curve at the centre is 2 in., and the crossbars are held in shape by bowstrings, after the manner of making a bow for archery. The bowstrings should be taut, otherwise the crossbars may spring out of shape. Secure the crossbars to the backbone, 3 in. from each end. The bowstrings lie clear of the framework on the underside. Use glue and strong thread to make the joints, and make sure that these are really firm and do not move from side to side.The framework is braced with thin strong string. See the notes on string for kites in Chapter 7 under the heading 'Materials'. Begin by tying the string to the top of the backbone, and pass it in turn round the ends of the framework. Bring it back to the top of the backbone, and tie securely. There should be an even tension on the string, but do not bend any part of the framework to secure this. The backbone must be straight and the crossbars parallel to each other, if the kite is to fly successfully.

Now cover the framework with paper. Tissue paper, pure unbleached greaseproof or pure ribbed kraft may be used. See the notes on paper in Chapter 7, under the heading 'Materials'. Cut the paper to the required shape (F, Fig. 1) this allows a 2 in. margin at the top and bottom for overlapping the crossbars. Cut narrow V-shaped slits at regular intervals along the margins. The cover may now be decorated. Suggested designs are given in Chapter 7, in the section on 'Accessories'. The cover is secured to the framework with thin glue, the margins overlapping the crossbars. It will be seen that the cover is not an exact oblong, being wider at the ends than in the middle. This means that when it is fixed in place, the middle area will be tightly stretched, and the ends will be rather loose by comparison. This slackness should be equal at both ends. Take care not to wrinkle the paper. Paper strips, 4 in. in width, are glued over the crossbars and the short sides of the cover, for strengthening.

The bridle (G, Fig. 1) is formed in two parts. The string for the top loop is 2 ft. 6 in. in length. It is tied to the top crossbar, 6 in. from each end. The bottom loop requires a 3 ft. 6 in. length of string. This is tied at the centre of the top loop, and also to the backbone just below the bottom joint. Glue a small block of 1/4 in. stripwood to the backbone, just below this tying point to prevent the bridle from slipping. It will be realized that the cover will have to be pierced when the top loop is being tied.

The Tonking Kite

Glue thin cardboard washers to the cover at these places to prevent the paper from tearing in flight. The kite line is attached to the bridle by means of a bowline knot and a reef knot. See H (Fig. 1) for an illustration of these. Further notes on knots will be found in Chapter 7, under the heading 'Methods'. These knots will permit the line to be adjusted on the bridle, so as to obtain the best angle for flying the kite. A kite flies at an angle to the wind and the most effective one is found by experiment. A few optional extras will enhance the appearance of the kite. For example, fringes may be fastened to the top and bottom bracing strings, and a tassel suspended from the bottom of the backbone. Such extras are described in Chapter 7, under the heading 'Accessories'.

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