Jump to content

T24 RC Tugboat by mikiek - RADIO - FINISHED - Tippecanoe Boats

Recommended Posts

I posted a question on the Questions forum and everyone seemed OK with me doing a log for an RC tugboat. So here goes.


The kit is made by Tippiecanoe Boats out of Washington state. The owner, Will Lesh, designed all the models for sale there. They focus primarily on RC sailboats. Will is a good guy and almost always available by phone for questions. You can't beat that. I have already built one of their RC sailboat kits. I had the itch for one and it seems like you can either buy one RTR (ready to run) or build one. Given what we do here, building one seemed the natural choice. I did not do a log for the sailboat but here are a few quick pix.


Yes it's really that big - 37" in length and a little over 5' tall.



Does the decking look vaguely familiar?





Both the sailboat and tug kits are made from top quality materials. Deck & hull parts are marine grade ply with a mahogany veneer. Marine epoxy is used to fasten all parts. Instructions are extremely detailed. It comes with everything needed to complete the model except paint & varnish. That includes the electronics, epoxy and additives.


The tug is not a rendition of an actual boat, rather just a generic model. The looks are pretty basic. So why in the world would I want to build this kit after building highly detailed models? Mostly because I need it. I live on a big lake. Several places where I sail the RC are open water. If something were to go wrong with the sailboat, it would be a long swim to get it back. The water is pretty cold right now - even in Texas.  The tug has a rescue arm - a big hook that can snag a disabled boat and haul it back to shore. Also, people race the sailboats. That's usually several floating markers out on the water that the boats sail around. The tug can be used to drop the markers. Lastly, I'm sure it will be fun just motoring around :)


Normally I wouldn't post pix of the kit - we've all seen them right? I'm guessing not too many have seen this one so here are a few.





Very detailed instructions including 3 pages on how to use the epoxy. More on that in a sec.



Some of the plywood parts



The electronics. This kit even included a battery pack & charger in addition to the servos.



The epoxy kit. This stuff is way different than the 15 minute stuff we use. Mixing the resin & hardener produces something about the viscosity of molasses - it's self leveling. In fact it is used to "clear coat" the wood in some areas. If you want it thicker (and you will for some applications) you add a thickening powder to the mixture. Needless to say I learned a heck of a lot about the correct way to use epoxy while building the sailboat.



The motor



RC controller.



So there it is. I plan to begin the hull this evening. If I'm lucky this will take about 6 weeks to build. The epoxy slows down the process somewhat. It's not CA - it takes overnight to dry so there is some wait time involved.


Thanks for reading!





Link to comment
Share on other sites

This will be a fun build to watch. I have not seen that style of tug before but I can honestly say I have not really studied up on them either!  ;)  I do enjoy seeing R/C builds and getting to see a new to me ship design is even better. Looking forward to this build!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I got a decent start on the build this evening. Epoxied the hull and lower cabin parts. Gotta wait for the to dry now. This was the first 4 steps of the instructions. What I like about them is you first get a good explanation of what you are about to do and then an explanation of how to do it.


Here are the parts - laser cut. A little sanding required. For some reason this wood really smells good when you're sanding.



They even supplied some work paper the instructions saying to put plastic under the paper if you are working on the dining room table. I'm fortunate to have a work bench I guess. I still used the paper. The idea here was to draw a square corner for a guide. I ended up using machinist squares instead.



The parts are taped together on the outside









Now comes the fun part. Gluing all this together. Will is very serious with his epoxy - he has a system. Even down to supplying measuring decals for the syringes.





So here's the materials - 1 Phenol powder used for thickening; 2 Hardener; 3 Resin; 4 Pre-thickened resin



I will be using a thickened epoxy in a bit but before that you mix a small amount of regular resin and hardener together and paint that on the joints. This mixture is the consistency of syrup. The idea here is that the thickened epoxy will not bond well to the wood grain so you do a quick "wash" with the thin stuff. That gets into the wood better and the thick stuff will bond with the thin stuff. Pretty smart B) . This wash is called clear coating. One thing I learned epoxying the sailboat is to wear gloves. The epoxy is not caustic but it is really difficult to wipe off if you get it on your hands. Then everything you touch leaves fingerprints.



Now I'm mixing up a thickened epoxy. I'm going to be applying it to the joints (which are standing vertical) and we don't want the epoxy to start sagging while it dries. This is the thickening powder



The common description in the instructions is creamy but not drippy. The test is to pull up a brush full and hold it for 30 seconds. If it sags at all add more powder.



Slather on a good helping to each joint.



Then using a plastic spoon (also included) smooth out the epoxy to make a thick fillet. The final result





I promise I won't get this detailed again. A lot of the gluing steps are the same as this - clear coat then thick stuff. I just found it kind of interesting and thought I would share - all the theory behind what you do. Especially since the only expoying I have done is dabbing the 15 minute stuff here and there.  Will actually made a 24' sailboat from plywood and epoxy and did a trans-atlantic voyage in it so you know it's sturdy.



Edited by mikiek
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow - small world Per! My hull number is 2815.  There is a club in town but they seem to be mostly retired and sail during the week. I'm the only T37 owner among them. Also I live out in the sticks on a big lake and can walk one street over and drop her in the lake. So it's kinda tough to get motivated to drive in to town.


This tug construction seems to follow along the same principles as the T37 so I'm hoping to knock it out fairly quick. I've had my eye on the Tippiecanoe trimaran But I'm already running out of space for the fleet, various rigs, etc. :( But it would be cool to watch the thing up on only one hull just screaming down the winward run.


I'm glad you stopped in.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Carl. That's one of the reasons for the log. It's a pretty simple design but all the epoxy work is quite different than what most of us usually do. I've learned a lot of new do's and dont's regarding epoxy. When I start my next model ship It could come in handy.


Grant welcome aboard! Rescue was a big reason for me doing this build as well. I went out this morning to check the hull. The epoxy is not quite cured completely but it's already solid as a rock.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



If you have your ways around the neighborhood of WA, specially towards the Canadian boarder, make sure you pay Will a visit.

I did so many years ago together with my father visiting from Sweden.

Wills facilities are just amazing and he is very helpful.

Anyone that is thinking of getting into RC check out his website.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You answered my question about a good sailing site. I was wondering if your epoxy mix stays in place. I've had trouble with mixes like that flowing,no matter how stiff I mix. Your kit manufacturer may have the answer for that though..Looks like fun for sure. You can get that tug to push you around in your skiff on the lake.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bill, you can get the epoxy resin and thickener from West Marine.

I bought more for future use. The trick is how to use the thickening powder to create the right "soft butter feeling".

Takes a little trial and error, start with little and add on until right consistancy.

The epoxy products being used in Tippecanoe kit are: West System 105, 207-SA, and 406 colloidal silica.

I didn't have any problem.

Edited by Nirvana
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Per - that would be so cool to go up there. I chatted with Will regarding the T37 quite a few times. He is always helpful and thorough. I will be talking with him again soon. I have my eye on that T50 trimaran but I need more information from him.


Bill - as Per says, if you get the right thickness it doesn't sag. Interestingly with the T37 sailboat build there were a couple of places inside the hull that needed epoxy and you apply it so that it does sag down to an adjoining surface. The epoxy was mixed a little thinner for that.


I checked the hull this morning and all the epoxy is right where I left it last night. Will has made 2 Youtube videos on the T37 build - almost 10 hours of instruction. There are great instructions on mixing and applying the epoxy. That's where I picked up most of my knowledge. He's a real wizard with the stuff.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll have to check out his youtube videos. Years ago when I lived in Alaska I had a freind who made several stitch and glue rowboats and a couple small sailboats.The stitch and glue method involves wiring the main components together and filleting the joints with epoxy putty. Then cutting off the ends of the wires. This guy was a fast builder. Went at it like he was killin snakes but his boats turned out really nice. As chance would have it he moved within 40 miles of me and is now building another skiff. Well hes on hold due to cold weather but hes at it again. I'd sorta like to build an R/C sailer but I promised myself to stay focused on what I already have in stock for large models. A Syren and a model expo WWI plane.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Outer hull was completed today. Taped on the bottom last night but didn't feel like doing the gluing. This one was a little tricky. But first here's a pic of a joint from the first nights work. Epoxy is hard as a rock and you can see it didn't run or sag. Remember this joint was vertical when I applied the epoxy.




Here's the hull with the bottom taped



Gonna have to lay a fillet all the way around.



Adding a piece to the lower cabin. I suspect this tug was designed more recently than the sailboats. I can see how the instructions have matured a bit. One thing they are doing is while a big epoxy job is the main step the instructions will say something like while your at it and have the epoxy out go ahead and glue these unrelated parts. I believe that's going to speed up this build.



I promised I wouldn't repeat all the epoxy steps again. It was mostly the same - clear coat and then the thick stuff. The difference this time was the amount of epoxy required. As you may know epoxy doesn't harden or set from being exposed to air. The hardening is a reaction between the resin and hardener. A lot of heat is generated during the reaction. In fact a cupful of the mixture will get almost too hot to hold. Heat is part of the hardening process. If you want to help your mixture set a little faster you can hold it next to an incandescent light bulb for about 30 secs. The more you mix up in a small container the more heat is generated and the faster it will begin to set. For this gluing I mixed the largest batch I have ever used - 2 of them in fact. In these little plastic bathroom cups. The way to "beat the heat" is to get the mixture out of the container and on to the surface quickly. The heat then radiates out and is not contained by the cup and the hardening is slowed down. So I was slopping stuff everywhere and then went back to smooth it out and make the fillet. The result.



Did that this morning and by this evening the epoxy was set enough so I could take off the tape. CAREFULLY! You can see here the tape (3m blue masking) pulled off some of the grain.



Sanded down all the edges.





Looks like the next few steps are building the cabin structure.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Per - I got my T37 back around October. While I did use the instructions, I probably got more from the videos. Watching it be done then running out to the garage to do it. Especially when it came to the epoxy, I had no idea at first. Watching him mix it and test it made a world of difference. That said, I have no complaints with the instructions. Everything is described in great detail. Too bad we can't get a model ship with instructions like that. Of course that would probably be a book instead of a pamphlet. Although I will say I think Chuck's instructions are right on par.

Edited by mikiek
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Plugging right along. Glued parts for the rear cabin and the other elliptical piece for the forward cabin. Tape, clear coat, thick stuff.


The laser cut piece that will be the deck has a rectangle cut thru it in the center. I will be adding a coaming into that and the rear cabin will be set around it. This will be the access to the electronics.




There is actually an epoxy technique to fill in spots like this.








Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I've been busy with other projects so not much has happened with the tug. I did get a sense of urgency last weekend. Tippiecanoe Boats offers (and I bought) a nice set of racing buoys that you put out on the water and those become the marks that you race around. They have a technique where you sling them underhanded out on the water from shore. They claim you can get them about 30' out - the buoys have a line that comes back to shore so you can retrieve them later. However 30' ain't much really. To do it right you put a marker on top of a barge that is towed by the tug. When the tug gets where you want the marker you tug the land line and the buoy plops in the water. Kinda cool. And yes I will be building the barge after the tug.


Tonight I assembled the coaming on the main deck. While it was another clear coat and then thick stuff, it was a little different as the coaming extends partially above the main deck and partially below. The epoxy is applied against the coaming on the underside of the deck.




The top side. X's mark the bad side of the plywood which you want facing inward. Not that the bad side is all that bad.




The lower cabin assembly will slide down on top of the coaming. Several more decks will be built on top of that. The electronics will be placed on a decking in the hull and accessed through the nice big opening.




Just one problem. :angry:  The inside of the lower cabin has a huge fillet of epoxy in the corners and doesn't come close to sliding down on the coaming. Guess I misread the instructions :o  So a good part of the evening was spent filing & sanding those fillets smooth. I'll tell you what, that epoxy is hard stuff. I ended up using a full size metal file to smooth it out.






It's a lot closer to fitting now but I will still have to round off the corners of the coaming. Now off to the hammock factory :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Per - I bought the buoys and barge as a combo. The barge looks fairly simple. The buoys are well thought out and very reasonably priced. There is a manual retrieval method explained in the instructions but I am waiting to complete the tug and rescue arm before I float the buoys. I don't know what's on the bottom of the lake I sail and I'm nervous about the land lines getting snagged in something. With the tug, I could use the rescue arm to haul a buoy in.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My coaming came out OK - well almost. It sits well in the deck but the lower cabin structure doesn't fit over it. There's still some epoxy from those corner fillets that I wasn't supposed to do. It's sanded down to a thin layer but it looks like I will have to get every bit of it off. Not sure if it will fit even then. It's gonna be close. If it doesn't I guess I either sand down the inside of the cabin structure or the outside of the coaming. I need to lose some material somewhere. :(


I will say that epoxy is impressive as an adhesive. I really stretched that cabin structure to try and fit it over the coaming. I don't think PVA or CA would have held up. With the epoxy it looks like the wood around the joint would break before the joint did. Very strong stuff!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Seems like I have been sanding that coaming down forever. Tonight I broke out the big guns. Enough is enough.  Fitting the coaming is complete!






I picked up this attachment for my flexshaft a few weeks ago. Was wanting to get a small belt sander. MM had one but it was out of stock. I kept searching and came across this. I like the idea much better. Very comfortable to use with good control. Of course with the flexshaft the speed is infinitely adjustable with the foot control.






It took off the last of that epoxy fillet in seconds. Just a few seconds more to thin down the coaming strips. Pretty neat! It would take some practice to get good with it. I had to even out some spots with a block sander. But the small tip of the sander could get in some places that a regular belt sander (even a minature one) could never reach.


That was a big step tonight. Work on the tug had come to a halt until I could fit the cabin over the coaming.

Edited by mikiek
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...