Keil Kraft [EeZeBILT]

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E. Keil and Company Ltd maakte oorspronkelijk reproductiemeubels. Het bedrijf is opgericht door Edward Keil. Hij werkte tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog aan de productielijn van De Havilland Mosquito. Zijn zoon, een andere Edward die bekend staat als “Eddie”, kwam op het idee om balsahouten modellen te produceren na een bezoek aan Amerika.

In 1954 verhuisde het bedrijf, omdat het meer ruimte nodig had, van Hackney Road in Londen naar Russell Gardens in Wickford. DE kits van vliegtuigen en boten waren in de jaren 50 erg populair bij jongens.

Het bedrijf Keil Kraft bestaat niet meer, maar een bedrijf dat bekend staat als “The Vintage Model Company” produceert nog steeds replica’s van de originele balsahouten modellen.

The EeZeBILT range comprised seven boats – three small and four large. The Small range were each 10 3/4″ long – approximately 1:72 scale, while the Large range varied between 14″ to 17″ long, and might be 1:36 to 1:24.
CurlewSmall Fishing Launch. Rather small - almost bath-toy, but nice superstructure. The bow was nearly vertical, so it tended to plough through the water rather than slide over it....
OtterTug Boat. The 1960s box illustration oozed character, but operating the boat was a disappointment. A very flat, almost pancake hull with no depth gave the boat no stability, and the motor tried to push it far too fast for realism. No depth to the hull meant that the battery had to be carried high up in the cabin which gave a high CG. Mine overturned on its first outing in a canal..

TerrierMotor Torpedo Boat. This was the goods for a young boy! Attractive lines and a good performer, but it was a bit disappointing to find that the torpedo tubes and twin machine-guns shown on the illustration were not included, and the instructions just showed a way to make them with pins and paper!

NeptuneBeamy Day Cruiser. The hull was straightforward, and the superstructure was simple, with a flat front. I thought it a bit uninteresting with a large uncluttered foredeck, but there is room for a lot of fittings...
MermaidOcean-going Cruiser. Lovely streamlined superstructure, and a deep curvy bow which looked spectacular on land but made the boat bob up out of the water at the front. This caught the wind so much you could never steer a straight course! It was priced as part of the Large range, but because it was a model of a very big boat the scale was about the same as the Small range...
CrestaAn outboard motor boat which needed an expensive specific model outboard motor to be bought, at considerably more than the price of the kit. I never made one because of this, and the model was removed early from the range - probably it did not sell well for this reason!
TritonA Cabin Cruiser which could easily be a fishing/work boat. The Big Daddy of the bunch - 17" long. You got a lot of boat for the money, including a little dinghy, which really enhanced play value for me...
This is cine film transferred to VHS in 2003 of the Keil Kraft model factory shot in the 1960s. Keil produced balsa wood model aircraft kits some of which were gliders, some were powered by model diesel engines and other powered by rubber bands. They were also agents for the Superquick cardboard model buildings for use with model railways. I had been familiar with their products from being a child but during the 1970s, along with my father and then brother-in-law ran a model shop in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, UK and stocked a lot of their products. Keil’s representative at that time was Fred Westerman and I believe it was from him that I obtained the VHS copy from where this video comes. Pure nostalgia for those of us born in the 1940s, 1950s and possibly 1960s. Sorry about the music but it was the soundtrack put on, I’m guessing, by the company who transferred the cine to video.

Geoff Milnes