LED lights and the occasional sound system have become popular accessories on our aircraft. One of the
oldest and largest suppliers of these items is
RAM Products, owned by Ralph Warner.
Ralph was interested in aircraft from
an early age, partly because his father
worked in aircraft recovery during World
War I. Ralph began modeling aircraft using
cardboard that he salvaged from shoe boxes
to copy the penny gliders available at the
corner candy store.
Living on the northwest side of Chicago,
near Naval Air Station Glenview, afforded
him opportunities to see naval aircraft
in flight, which further spurred his interest. Ralph built
all of the model airplanes he could get his hands on from
companies including Comet Models, Joe Ott, and Cleveland
After World War II, the family moved near Leonard’s
Hobby Shop where Ralph spent much time and helped out
in the store. “If my mother couldn’t find me, she would call
the store and tell me to come home,” he recalled.
Ralph met many people who would have a lasting
connection to our hobby, including Carl Goldberg and Wally
Simmers. He spoke fondly of the interesting conversations
and insight they provided him.
Ralph joined the Model Nuts Free Flight club. He won a
number of local contests and qualified to attend the Detroit
Plymouth Internationals three consecutive years, competing
in CL and FF events. He met Roscoe Turner, a famed air
racing pilot, who presented Ralph with an award.
Ralph started working part time for his friend and club
member, Joe Stanton, who bought the hobby shop from
George Leonard in 1954. Together they began a company to
manufacture a wooden airboat kit, the RaBoat, which was
sold through the hobby shop and Ace Radio.
As RC flying became more prevalent, Ralph built and flew
his first RC model in 1956, a modified Esquire with a Galin
radio and Babcock escapement. Radios were regional in the
early days, and Ralph said, “If one worked, everyone in the
club got one. The gold radios were popular in Chicago.”
As did many of us who began modeling at an early age,
Ralph pulled away from the hobby to apply himself in
college, but he still managed to construct an occasional CL
model. After graduating, he taught science and history, then
became a school principal, a position he held for 22 years
until he retired in 1991.
Still interested in the hobby and wishing to develop a
business in which he
could be involved
after he retired from
the education system,
Ralph decided to
again manufacture the
RaBoat. An industry
friend from Lindberg
Models suggested that
it be constructed from
vacuum-formed plastic for easy assembly, and the Quickee
18 was born. He molded the models using his friend Orv
Broberg’s machines at DuBro. The parts were trimmed and
packaged in Ralph’s basement.
Encouraged with his new product, Ralph reserved a booth
at the 1977 Toledo Show in Toledo, Ohio, under the name of
Radio Controlled Models. The boats proved popular and Don
Anderson of Hobbico bought a couple of cases as did others.
Ralph began advertising in modeling magazines and Radio
Controlled Models became RAM Products. Encouraged by
sales, two other boats were produced as well as vacuum-formed radio boxes to house the radio gear.
Looking to expand the business, Ralph purchased the
prototype carvings for pilot figures from Lindberg Models.
They were used to develop five pilot figures.
The O Bee 30 boat was an electric conversion that
allowed an Astro 25 motor to be mated with a K&B
outboard bottom end. In need of a reversible ESC for the
boats, Ralph began working with an electronic engineer who
produced two designs.
The engineer presented Ralph with an idea: why not sell
lighting systems to be used on RC aircraft, cars, and boats?
A few systems were produced and taken to the 1979 Toledo
Show to determine interest in the product.
Throughout its 38
years in business,
RAM has produced
more than 250,000
77 Model Aviation MARCH 2014