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Old Sep 05, 2005, 09:58 PM
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Bristol Bay Rescue

Well, the Bristol Bay seemed like a pretty neat deal at first- a complete ready to run scale r/c boat out of the box for less than $200! Fiberglass hull (and really nice fiberglass too!), reversible proportional ESC, 2 ch radio, lights, big 600 motor, what more could you ask for?
Well, I played with mine a couple times and I found out what else. The single crotchety u-joint made enough noise that you didn't need a old clanky diesel sound system... the direct drive 600 was ridiculously fast, I didn't want a hydroplane! The boat was way too light, it bobbled all over. The toy-like details were really starting to irk me. And that was all within the first 30 minutes.

So I decided to fix it. Inside and out. Not a totally perfect scale fisherman on the outside, because afterall, it is just a Bristol Bay (and besides, I don't know squat about fishing boats). So what follows is a stream of consciousness dump of what I've done so far... a few things left to do still.

The boat is now called "Natalia" and hails from Gdańsk, Poland, in honor of a niece who happened to be visiting at the time I needed to choose a name. The Bristol Bay is actually a ripoff of the Graupner "Elke", a northern European style fishing boat, albeit bigger (and beamier). A fun feature found on many of these boats is the stylized bow wave. You'll also find a port code on every Euro-fisher as part of the boat's reg number... I had to guess at GD for Gdańsk.

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Old Sep 05, 2005, 10:16 PM
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First things first

First step:
Gut the sucker. Not so easy. I started by stripping every detail off the deck, even the coamings off the deck and the ribs off the insides of the bulwarks. Don't worry about saving the pretty deck, you can't, and it's not worth it. The laser scribed deck lines are silly, they look more like bricks than deck planks anyway.

The hard part is inside. I installed a geardrive and proper double u-joint driveshaft, along with 6 lbs of lead ballast... this meant none of the neat laser cut and permanently bonded in place motor mounts etc. could stay. Getting it out was much like extracting an impacted molar from a large animal. Much grinding, crushing, sawing, cursing, and extracting of small bits from deep inside was required, and I even used a mirror on occasion!

Even the old stuffing tube for the 3mm prop shaft had to come out, as I wanted to put in a bigger prop, and 4mm threads were the smallest available. I could have machined a shaft to work, but I figured I'd do this in a way that someone without a lathe could manage. So Dremel in hand, I ground out the glue that held the tube in place and finally was able to tap it loose.

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Old Sep 06, 2005, 04:19 PM
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Pat, I'm sure that many of us who follow these threads have been tempted by the price and RTR-ability of the Bristol Bay, especially when we read the Scratch-and-Dent section of that well-known hobby shop's ad. We have needed someone like you to show the real potential of this model to those willing to invest some time and - yes, money - in one. Thanks for taking the initiative and showing us a thing or two. We'll be following your progress carefully.
Bill
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Old Sep 06, 2005, 05:17 PM
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With everything gutted, first thing to go in was a new stuffing tube. Everything revolves around the choice of prop (pun intended). The original prop is some sort of gold toned die cast pot metal thing on a 3mm shaft, at least they had the decency to drive it with dogs. I wanted bigger, and went with a 45mm Raboesch 3 bladed prop from Loyalhanna, tapped 4mm.

Get your calculator out, and you can find that 4mm is almost exactly 5/32 inch… so I used 5/32 shafting and put 4mm threads on it with a simple threading die.

The stuffing tube is built up from brass tube… short pieces of 3/16" tube make bearings on either end, and 7/32" tube makes the stuffing tube itself. A stubby tube was silver soldered on in the middle to accept an oil drip tube.

Only tricky bit is the coupling. I used the good old Dumas dogbone, which is only available in 1/8 and 3/16" bores. No problem for me, I have a lathe, so it was easy to take a 1/8" coupling and ream it accurately to 5/32". You can try drilling one to 5/32", but it will probably not be true. An alternative is to use a metric coupling.

The new tube was set into the hull with polyester body filler (Bondo). I was a little careless grinding out the old tube, put a hole in the side of the hull. The Bondo filled this, just like a dentist filling a cavity. All is good. A rubber oil tube was attached from the stuffing tube oil fitting up to a convenient point at the hatch opening.

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Old Sep 06, 2005, 05:23 PM
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A main goal of this refit was to install a speed reduction unit. I'm actually working on a review of various reduction units, but here I'll install a 3:1 Master Airscrew spur gear unit mounting the original 600 motor driven on 7.2v (3300 mAh NiMH). Master Airscrew has a right angle bracket available which I should have ordered, but instead I whittled my own out of a piece of aluminum sheet. Important to allow for the cooling slots into the motor! The bracket allows the unit to be mounted with 4 screws straight down into a piece of wood fitted into the bottom of the hull.

The wood block was shaped to fit the hull and to align the gearbox output with the propshaft. Perfect alignment isn't necessary, but close is good. And perfect spacing isn't needed either, because the Dumas dogbone can be cut and extended with a piece of tubing and some drive pins. But what needs to be understood is that two fixed shafts with a single u-joint can never run smoothly… the two axes would need to intersect PERFECTLY, with a PERFECT joint… never happens. But take two fixed shafts, with a third intermediate shaft and two u-joints, and you can accommodate all kinds of alignment sins.

Another point- Many folks think gears are noisy. That's true if you start with flimsy Erector-set style build-your-own gear sets, from you-know-who. But good quality gears, with good bearings on well supported properly aligned shafts, run very quietly.
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Old Sep 06, 2005, 05:25 PM
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Electronics: Space is an issue… actually, there's lots of space, just hard to get to it through the small hatch opening.

First solution: Mount the steering servo on a bracket UNDER the deck on the starboard side. Works like a charm.
Second solution: On the port side, a vertical power panel attached to blocks glued under the hatch coaming. Receiver velcro'd to one side, ESC to the other, power switch mounted in between, space used efficiently, all removed easily with 2 screws.
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Old Sep 06, 2005, 05:26 PM
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To fight the boat's bobblehead tendency, I adjusted the waterline and ballast. The line was ok forward, but the boat was floating too high. The line was too low aft, I raised it a full inch. To get the waterline to meet the water, six pounds of lead went into the beamy hull, in addition to the chunks of steel that were already bonded inside.

BTW- Aquacraft/Hobbico seems obessed with flotation and waterproofing on this model, an issue perhaps with their speedboats, but really not a problem for the Bristol Bay. The hull is stuffed with styrofoam (mine is all gone now), and the ESC and radio were wrapped in balloons… hey, I'm really not expecting high speed flips with this thing. I also had no problem discarding the tie down for the cabin, which really isn't going to fly off in high speed maneuvers.
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Old Sep 06, 2005, 05:28 PM
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Deck: At first, I had some thought of saving the deck. Not for long. After scraping off the various details that had been super- and hot-glued onto the deck, it was a loss, and besides, the planking just looked funny. I decided to clean it up and replank in 1/4" wide by 1/32" thick bass strip. This also required new ribs inside the bulwarks from 1/8" square stock, and opening up the scuppers and hawse pipes. All new hatch coamings went on, and the gratings were sanded and stained as mahogany.

Another issue- The masts are stepped into blocks glued under the deck. High tension in the shrouds is capable of popping these blocks loose (this I know). Before putting down the new decking, I placed countersunk wood screws into the blocks.
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Old Sep 06, 2005, 05:34 PM
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The hull received a good sanding, priming, and a new set of colors. The big registration numbers were done with handcut stencils and airbrushing, but vinyl lettering could work. The transom lettering was dry transfer onto clear decal film.

Rudder- Found it to be binding a bit. Relieved the top side a bit to allow for a bit more throw if needed, then found that the lower pintle was long enough to foul on the screw holding the brass footing in place. Also found that screw to be a bit on the short side, a longer one provides a bit more security.

Probably overkill for this boat, but I couldn't resist the Graupner 1401 anchor winch. Intended for fancy yachts, I painted it the ugliest deck equipment green I could find. The big silly anchors were replaced with a couple scratched Danforths.

The trawl winch on the Bristol Bay is also a joke. I scratched a new one, pretty much a figment of my imagination, but better than what we started with. What I don't know is what it's connected to! I know I need a pile of nets, but I'm sure there's other equipment needed to get the net up over the side. Graupner has a #598 "shrimp net winch" which looks correct, and may be the correct scale, but you'll likely need to order from Germany.
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Old Sep 06, 2005, 05:37 PM
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Cabin: Just a few upgrades here. The Hansel and Gretel railings at the sides had to go, as well as the flimsy ones on top… all were replaced with 2-hole 38mm flat stanchions from Robbe, with silver soldered 1/16 brass wire, and a ladder was added aft.

The floor was surgically removed, and the lights and wiring were removed to allow replacement. I like the promise of LEDs- low current, long life… but they just don't have the view angle of incandescents. 3v grain-of-wheats went in the nav light positions, and a high intensity flashlight bulb went into the searchlight. The 3v battery holder and switch was moved into the cabin to save confusion in the hull.

I also put stained scribed siding and a Robbe ship's wheel in the pilot house, and a couple respectable Robbe life preservers on the outside.

On lights- the bluish lights on the masts should be white, I put white grain-o-wheats there. The foremast has both a red and a green light above the white… both shouldn't be on at the same time, if CG Bob is watching. Red over white means one kind of fishing rig, green over white means another, just white is a boat running with no rig deployed.
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Old Sep 06, 2005, 05:40 PM
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Sails & Rigging: I elected to do away with the main and jib, partly out of laziness, partly rationalizing that a somewhat modernized fisherman would likely only use the mizzen for stability.

The Bristol Bay comes with an odd mix of rigging, mostly out of expediency in setting up the model… but they have the standing and running rigging mixed up- if you were let go the mizzen sheet, the masts would fall down!

I took a stab at making a believable set up by moving the mizzen shrouds aft a bit. All the standing rigging is 0.018" stainless steel necklace stringing wire. Brass hoops with silver soldered eyes were made to fit the mast tops to accept the shrouds. I used the original "turnbuckles", which are only marginal for adjustment, as they are only 2-piece, not 3, so the wire is twisted when adjusted… and it tends to untwist very easily!

The original string rigging was secured to the mast by wrapping and CA'ing. I built cleats to properly secure the halyards instead. Also made up a gaff atop the mizzen mast to fly the flag from.

Oh, big issue- the sails aren't connected to the masts! That just doesn't work. One needs mast hoops. I made C rings from 1/16" brass tube, and soldered brass eye rings to each. The C rings were soft enough to open and close again around the mast, and then were sewn every 2" along the sail.

2009 EDIT: Statement above is wrong! See further below, these sails' edges really should be unconnected from the mast and boom.
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Old Sep 06, 2005, 05:47 PM
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What else? I jettisoned the tiny toy lifeboat, and the random coils of line that were hot glued all over the deck. I'm keeping the colorful net floats, those are really found on fishing boats, (no, they aren't fenders), and the liferaft cannister. The boat scales somewhere between 1:20 and 1:25, I should look for some crew. Haven't decided whether to weather.
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Old Sep 06, 2005, 05:55 PM
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Old Sep 06, 2005, 06:08 PM
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Here's a real French fishing boat with a little yawl rigged mizzen on the transom and those round rubber net floats. Also see the nets laid on the pier.

And a classic white "bow wave" on a boat at Oostende.
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Old Sep 06, 2005, 06:56 PM
Grumpa Tom
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United States, CA, Los Angeles
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Man, that is the nicest rendition of the Bristol Bay I have seen!

Oh, and Pat, don't sugar coat your opinions. Tell it like it is! lol...
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