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Old Apr 03, 2013, 04:14 PM
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Joined Apr 2013
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Static Blasa Wood Tall ship conversion to RC

Hi all,

I just recently purchased a static balsa wood tall ship model from an opt shop and was wondering if it would be possible to convert it to a RC model. I have successfully built around 5 static tall ship models ranging in sizes.

The model is fairly old but was purchased rather cheaply so I'm not too concerned if the model is broken in the progress. I believe it is a model of a brig but i could be mistaken. From the pictures provided I was wondering if anyone had any ideas/suggestions on a possible method of converting it or better yet a link to a website/shop that sells wooden RC tall ship kits.

any help would be awesome
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Old Apr 04, 2013, 03:42 AM
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Brooks's Avatar
Bozeman, Montana, United States
Joined Aug 2003
3,411 Posts
Jay221, there are several threads on converting wooden squarerig models to RC. Search for any of Meatbomber's threads here. A conversion is easiest when the RC gear is added before the deck is glued on, so you might have to do some chopping of your model to get access to the hull. My Pamir uses exposed servos, if you are looking for a minimal chopping scenario.

There are no wooden RC squarerig model kits that I'm aware of. There are some beautiful fiberglass hull RC model kits, see DanL's and Paratrooper's threads on this forum for museum-quality builds. DanL added many beautiful details, and is a great inventor of squarerig RC methods using winches (he's also an inventor of RC firing cannons methods).

The easiest way to RC the yards is the "parallelogram method." This uses regular airplane servos. A more realistic, albeit more expensive, method is to use RC winches; see Danl's threads. I'd recommend parallelogram for the beginner.

Some of Meatbomber's threads, very informative (using parallelogram method):
Conversion of wooden ship model kits to rc:
Bounty, 3-masted ship
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1224940
St.Helena, brigantine
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1174628
Larne, brigantine
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1110506
Scratch built model:
Sommers, brig
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1124958

My threads on using the parallelogram method. I shoot for easy build and rigging, minimal scale detail. All sail very well, duplicating real ship maneuvers:
Pamir, 4-masted barque
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=743611
Aldebaran, 2 masted topsail schooner/brigantine/brig (converted to different rigs)
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1096365
BottleBaltimore topsail schooner (uses juice bottle for hull)
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1071509
---------------------
Over on model boat mayhem, a British forum, there are more threads for squareriggers. Jimmy James, sadly now deceased, invented some neat ways to RC yards using winches. He uses a winch within the hull, running a capstan on the deck. The capstan operates a continuous loop on deck, to which braces and fore&aft sail sheets are attached. This might appeal to you since it would require minimal cutting of your deck. You could search for his threads here:
http://www.modelboatmayhem.co.uk/for...318&board=99.0
One of Jimmy James' threads:
http://www.modelboatmayhem.co.uk/for...?topic=11955.0
-------------------

I'd call your model a brigantine: squarerigged on foremast, fore&aft rigged on mainmast.

Welcome to the forum, you will have a lot of fun with rc squareriggers :-)
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Old Apr 04, 2013, 04:32 AM
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Bozeman, Montana, United States
Joined Aug 2003
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I'd like to see photos of your static models (and I'm sure other's here would also be interested). Please reduce the photos in size so they don't take forever to download on my phone line connection, if you can, thanks.
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Old Apr 04, 2013, 05:36 AM
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Klatovy, Czech Republic
Joined Mar 2004
3,354 Posts
Hello jay! Welcome to Rcgroups !

I think this will be a rather difficult conversion to do, as the hull is already fully built up, and the hull looks to be rather smallish and of light displacement. But nothing ingenuity and a good dremel can`t overvome

First thing will be to get access to the insides of your hull, so you can remove as much weight as possible and gain access for rc installation below decks.
I doubt you will be able to split your hull horizontaly and still be able to maintain hull integrity, so probably your best course of action is:

a) remove all masts / rigging etc.
b) remove everything mounted on deck
c) open the deck and start removing as much bulkheads as possible using a dremel and or any other tool you can come up with.

why the weight obsession you might ask ? well you must maximize the amount of balast available that can be then mounted on a fin keel to give you enough righting moment. As is she will probably float but won`t be able to handle much additional ballast and thus be way too tender and tip over too easy to sail.

happy cutting
MB
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Old Apr 04, 2013, 06:55 AM
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thanks for the quick responses! @brooks those links were very helpful and i will continue to peruse them to help me get an idea on my next step.I will upload a picture or two of the static models i have made. @meatbomber i'm not too concerned if this model is damaged in the progress so i think ill follow your suggestion and remove sections off the deck. My first thought was to slice the deck in half from stern to bow and removing the top half of the ship. in doing this i would have full access to the frames (if it has any). But I'm not too sure if the ship would survive it so perhaps taking the deck off piece by piece would be a better option. In regards to water sealing which product would be appropriate for the keel?
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Old Apr 04, 2013, 04:27 PM
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Joined Aug 2003
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Fin keels are necessary, both to provide a lifting surface to counteract drift to leeward (the normal function of any keel), and to provide a long lever arm for the ballast. As such, they make transport of the model to the pond difficult -- so don't install them permanently, but make them removeable. I bolt my plywood fin keels to the hull, using a simple L of aluminum as the permanent keel (available at hardware stores). Transport is with fin keel detached, keel is bolted-on pondside. Since all my ships use this method, any of my threads will show you details. But ask if you have questions.

For waterproofing your hull, ask the other modelers here. My hulls are simple, either cut from solid pine, or built up from styrofoam. Thus, they need minimal waterproofing, and latex paint or spar varnish is sufficient.

Balsa, on the other hand, soaks up water like a sponge. So you will want very good waterproofing, inside and outside, if you wish the hull to last any length of time. Perhaps epoxy resin (w/o the fiberglass) would do the trick for the outside, you will have to ask others. Regular paint would work, too, provided you promptly repair any scratches or cracked paint. Spar varnish would be lighter than epoxy, I think, and useful inside.

As MB says, you don't want to add more weight to the hull than you have to. Due to scale effects, small models don't have the buoyancy of their big prototypes. Not sure what the size of your boat is; my Aldebaran has a 24" hull, Pamir has 36" hull. MB's conversions are smaller, so following his suggestions would be a good idea. Every useless oz. you can discard topside will be another oz. of lead you can put on the bottom of the fin keel, where the weight will be useful.
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Last edited by Brooks; Apr 04, 2013 at 04:33 PM.
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Old Apr 05, 2013, 06:50 AM
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Yes that advice sounds good Brooks! Ok as this is my first attempt at a conversion the simplest way is probably the best way. I did some measuring of the hull today and from bow to stern the ship is 35 inches. I'm going to water seal the hull tomorrow and test if the ship is stable in the water, once this is done im going to start opening the deck up, ill post pictures ( small sized ones ) of the deck being opened so that we can see what is under her deck .
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