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Old Aug 27, 2013, 04:50 AM
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Old Radio controlled boat

Hello,

I have just purchased an old radio controlled boat - per attached files and was wondering if there was anybody who could help me to get it going as I would like to keep it original.

Regards

Tony
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Old Aug 27, 2013, 11:51 AM
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Wow! that DOES seem to be a find!

Otarian Electronics were based in Chicago in the 1940/50s, but I have never seen their R/C products - they were famous for hearing aids.

You have a commercial radio and, I would guess, a commercial servo/actuator for the rudder. The boat might be a one-off design - the hull looks a bit boxy for a commercial offering... Is it carved from solid (which was a common way to build hulls in those days)?

You don't show the motor or motor mount, which might be quite helpful in dating it. And an 'overall length' would make it easier to look up in lists. The superstructure is rather modern for a 40s boat - it's an intriguing item.

Thanks for putting it up. Anyone got any better ideas about what it is?

As for getting it going - you have three things to worry about:

- hull integrity
- motor
- radio

Old hulls can split or come apart at glue seams. You probably want to identify and value the boat first - it may be worth a lot in original condition, and any repair might detract from the value. Assuming that this isn't an issue, modern glues will certainly mend any problems, and modern paints can make it look like new. Check it over, mend as necessary, and float in the bath to check watertightness...

We haven't seen the motor yet. Again, old motors can be valuable, and they will be less efficient than modern ones. You might want to replace whatever's there with a new motor. If you want to keep it authentic, it would be a good idea to remove the motor, refurbish and lubricate, and ensure it is electrically suppressed before replacing.

The radio and actuator! Here you will want to gather expert help, the old radio could be worth serious money, and you will almost certainly want to replace it with a modern set. If you want to run with the old one, you will probably need to have it checked out and tuned, Luckily, it's not a valve system, otherwise you would need to source high-tension batteries.... If it's a super-regen, you will only be able to run it on a pond if there is no other radio boat there, and even if it's superhet it will probably be much more prone to interference than a modern system.

HTH - I'm sure others will contribute their two-pennyworth....
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Old Aug 27, 2013, 01:00 PM
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More images

Thanks for the reply. The hull is made of metal. Its about 40" long.

As you suggested it might be easier to replace the workings with more modern technology whilst I investigate its age etc.

The transmitter uses a large DC connector - not sure what type of battery I need

Tony
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Old Aug 27, 2013, 04:48 PM
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That hull looks commercial. Since the radio is all-transistor, I would now guess that we are talking late 50s-early 60s, and perhaps a ready-to-run boat made for selling in a store. In the UK that might be Gamages - in the US perhaps Sears? They started in Chicago too, as I recall. Does anyone have some old Sears catalogues to look through?

Most Transmitters of that era used 9v or 12v, but don't start acting on my guess! Is the Receiver powered from the accumulator? That looks around 6v.

That receiver is odd - it looks as if it has a tuning capacitor in the top left! You might try a Radio forum on RC Groups to see if they can help. It all looks in good condition - I wouldn't be surprised if it worked when power was applied! Do you know how to operate a single-channel radio?
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Old Aug 28, 2013, 05:14 AM
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OMG! An actual "tone" transmitter. I thought they were just a myth. I would guess that the age is probably EARLY 50's. This thing should be in a museum.
What an AWESOME find! If we could see the inside of the transmitter, maybe could get a better idea of the battery needs for it. I wouldn't even know where to start with the main drive battery. Perhaps the motor has some writing that will give a clue to its voltage and you could take it from there.
It would be nothing short of miraculous if you could get the original gear to work again.
If you want to run her, I would suggest upgrading the radio gear and putting in an ESC.
I will have to keep an eye on this thread. This is just too cool. Good luck my friend.

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Old Aug 28, 2013, 06:06 AM
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Do you mean the "Other" top left Dodgy? The one near the Copper coil? That "Receiver" panel looks oddly Transmitter, Crystal in bottom LH corner. Has a distinct look of the "Simpletone", old RCME build it.? which would account for the tuning cap/coil area.

OP's location might help (Country) as a picky has appeared on the UK site.

Regards Ian.

Think it's an internal view of the TX.
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Old Aug 28, 2013, 03:41 PM
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more pictures

Al,

Thanks for the feedback/interest!! This is totally new for me ...

The battery connector is slightly large than a standard D cell - not sure what type of battery would work here. I know nothing about this technology.
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Old Aug 28, 2013, 04:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Circlip View Post
Do you mean the "Other" top left Dodgy? The one near the Copper coil? That "Receiver" panel looks oddly Transmitter, Crystal in bottom LH corner. Has a distinct look of the "Simpletone", old RCME build it.? which would account for the tuning cap/coil area.

OP's location might help (Country) as a picky has appeared on the UK site.

Regards Ian.

Think it's an internal view of the TX.

Hmm, yes, I'm jumping to conclusions - you're probably right. Simpletone was late 60s, but the outside Tx box looks like a professional bit of kit. Otarian Electronics were US, so I guess that's where the OP is. The actuator looks professional to me as well - perhaps 1968?
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Old Aug 28, 2013, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by balmoral58 View Post
Al,

Thanks for the feedback/interest!! This is totally new for me ...

The battery connector is slightly large than a standard D cell - not sure what type of battery would work here. I know nothing about this technology.

Ah.

In the early days of radio control they did not use a proportional transmitter which sends a constantly varying signal to a matching receiver and which then works one of several servos.

Instead they used a simple transmitter which sent a single pulse (operated by the button you see on the Tx box). That pulse could be picked up by any receiver tuned to that frequency, and the receiver would then output one pulse to an 'actuator'. These actuators could be complicated mechanical devices, designed to throw a lever first one way, then another, on receipt of a single pulse. There were several different actuator technologies - a lightweight device for use on aircraft was known as an 'escapement'...

What this meant in practice was that your boat would be turned on and would run in a straight line. If you pressed the Tx button it would turn to the right for as long as you kept the button down, straightening up when you released it. The next time you pressed the button down the boat would turn to the left. If you wanted to turn to the right a second time, you would have to key in 'press-release-press'. Some sophisticated actuators used a very short press (a 'blip') to turn the motor through a 'forward-off-reverse-off' sequence as well. Yours looks as if it might be one of those.

They did have more complex transmitters which could send several of these pulses simultaneously at slightly different frequencies. That would be 'multi-channel'. Your transmitter is a 'single-channel' one. In those days R/C was complicated! This site might help a bit:

http://www.singlechannel.co.uk/

The battery was probably a 9v PP9. They can still be bought. Are the snap connector centres 35mm apart? Here is a reference page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_battery_sizes

But I would chat to the people on the Single-Channel & Vintage RC page for detailed help before operating the radio!

I still reckon that the boat is a department store RTR model, and that a specialist in Sear's catalogues might well be able to identify it...
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Old Aug 28, 2013, 05:00 PM
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Thanks, I live in London.

The battery connections are 18mm apart.

Ill see if I can do some research into the Sears catalogs. Note the upper deck housing is timber and reasonably detailed.
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Old Aug 28, 2013, 05:18 PM
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May be PP7 - but looks like they are not made any more...
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Old Aug 28, 2013, 05:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by balmoral58 View Post
Thanks, I live in London.

The battery connections are 18mm apart.

Ill see if I can do some research into the Sears catalogs. Note the upper deck housing is timber and reasonably detailed.

Sounds like a PP7 - http://www.maplin.co.uk/9v-pp7-battery-82

Did you pick the boat up in the UK? I've been assuming you were US-based.

The SIngle Chanel site is run by a good radio lad who will be interested in your kit, and, I would guess, very helpful. Read the different headings there for an explanation of the way these radios work...

One minor point - looking at the crystal it seems that the radio is 27Mhz. Worth checking that it's not 72Mhz, which is a legal US frequency but not a legal UK one. Not that anyone will notice an occasional illegal transmission, I would guess...
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Old Aug 28, 2013, 07:40 PM
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Hell, it's like pulling teeth. 27.255 moggies is Blue on AM. UK frequency.

Balmoral, is the PCB shown the Transmitter?, that's the box with the red button on it?????

Now we know approximately where in the known universe you are, the battery in the boat is a 6V motor cycle Lead acid type.

Any pictures of the receiver? that's the bit in the boat with an aerial fastened to it.

JHC. Sherlock died years ago.

Regards Ian.
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Old Aug 29, 2013, 03:26 AM
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Guys - thanks for the help.

See attached pictures - the receiver was tucked up under the front cabin. You were right! Ill go to Maplin and see if they have the batteries.
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Old Aug 29, 2013, 05:42 AM
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That Minimac doesn't fit with my belief that this is a store-purchased ready-to-run boat - unless the receiver was changed at some point. It was not unusual in those days to have a Tx, a Rx and an actuator from three different manufacturers. Or maybe the old Rx gave up the ghost and this was a replacement..?

That Rx will almost certainly work - and you could buy a MacGregor Tx very easily from ebay if you wanted to preserve the Otarion (which I think is very rare).

I find the actuator most intriguing. It looks like a professional installation - I still think this is a RTR boat, but it may be worth looking through a Gamages catalogue as well as a Sears...

I think that all parts of the boat are there, and it can be made to work. But I suspect that nothing will happen if you just put a 9v battery to the Tx and a 6v battery in the boat. Apart from anything else, the wiring needs to be understood and the switches/solder joints all checked. You will need to go about it in stages, checking each piece of kit and making sure that it works and you understand it before going onto the next. A good start might be to remove the motor unit, clean, lubricate and test with 6v...?
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