Confederation Marine Modellers

Getting started in RC model boats

Styrene has become well-established as a modelling material. It is uanffected by water, has no grain, and can be painted. It is available in flat sheets and structural shapes of different thicknesses and sizes. The most versatile is the flat sheet from which almost any part can be made. 

These tips have been proposed by some of our members.

1) Measure 3 times before cutting anything.
2) Make a paper template to check the actual fit - cut to the outside of the scribed line on the work and fit with final sanding of same.
3) Where possible, "spot glue" with just enough to hold your piece, check and then final glue.
4) Never let anyone make anything for you that you can make yourself. You’ll get a lot of satisfaction from doing it yourself; but don’t rule out getting help or buying something if you run out of patience.
5) Never try to make anything you can’t make. Don’t be over-ambitious, small steps are the key; build on success.
6) Drawings are often wrong - go to step 2.
7) Aim for the highest accuracy you can; it saves enormous time and effort and leaves a correct result with fewer bodges.
8) Admit early in the process when you f*****d (fouled) up; stop, as it will only get worse. All is not lost; when the word 'Oops' escapes from your lips refer to the “Oops process” below.

Building and operating tips.

Most bow thrusters consist of a tube into which is inserted an impeller, driven by a single motor, to force water from one end to the other. The tube is permanently glued into a hull with the ends open to the water. The control of the motor must allow rotation in either direction, to push the model to either side, and be selectable. There are two basic ways to do this, with a few variations. The two basic ways are: one, use a speed control or two, use switches.

Detailed articles on aspects of model building are shown on this page. For "Quick tips" refer to the topics shown in the drop-down lists.

Building Tips

Need to make an electrical connection in a location which is hard to get to, or where you can't even see one of the connectors? Magnetic connectors may be a solution for you. I found what I needed on eBay. They are 2-wire, have an outside diameter of 5/16" and use  a ring magnet. Though a current rating is not quoted they are probably only suited for a small current, say for LED lighting circuits, using fine gauge wire. I am using mine to connect the motor drive on a removable radar scanner. If one connector is fixed in position and the removable connector is suspended on a flexible wire, it is not necessary to line up the two connectors; if they are close enough the magnetic attraction will pull them together. 

Scratchbuilding your first hull

Magnetic Connectors by Roy C.

Hints and tips - 8 golden rules of modelling - and what to do if you break one.

If you want to understand more about the electronics that you need or want for your boat, this article on the website of the Model Boats magazine is a good place to start.

Methods of wiring a bow thruster

Winter storage of batteries.

Because our batteries get no exercise during the winter months, here are some care tips.

​You’ve built your first model boat from a kit, and now you’re ready to scratch-build a scale model. You may find what you need as a ready-made hull. Alternatively you may decide for reasons of cost or simply for the satisfaction of doing so, to make it yourself. Where to begin?

If you'd like to get some guidance in scratch-building, join a series of club workshops that will lead you hands-on through the scratch-building process. Read here about the content of the workshops currently under way..

I prefer to drive my prop shafts using a belt. I like toothed belts but others have had good experience using O rings. Belt drives have the advantages that they eliminate couplings, can have a speed ratio other than 1:1, allow variations in motor positioning, and simplify alignment. I typically mount my motors ahead of, and in line with, the prop shafts, as shown in the picture. If it were necessary, the motors could be mounted above the shaft, or off to the side. A 1:2 speed ratio, for example, provides better low speed control.
Even when I have the motors straight in line with the shaft and use a coupling, I use shims to set the vertical alignment of the motors. When I am glueing the mounting block for a motor into the hull, I leave a gap of, say, 1/8" under the motor mounting bracket. So when I come to adjust the tension on the drive belt, I adjust the shim thickness to get the tension correct. 
The picture shows the motors and belt drives in my "Empress of Canada" model. You can see several thicknesses of shim under the motor.

If you are not yet involved in the hobby, but want to be, read on here.

Aligning Drive Motors by Roy C.

Hints and tips - 8 golden rules of modelling - and what to do if you break one.

Working with styrene

Electronics for your model