HMS Beagle 1:36 - Page 6 - RC Groups
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Apr 24, 2011, 11:06 PM
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Jpop Andrew's Avatar
(I'll go ahead and post my weekly update from my website. We've talked past most it already.)

After the knockdown of my mainmast in the wind last week, I think it's time to give up on the rotating mast idea. I figure it's about a four week setback, but a lot of experience was gained in the process.

The new plan will be to use a more conventional fixed-masts-with-servos-down-in-the-hull configuration. So lots of running rigging connecting the spars down through the deck to the servos, and lots of standing rigging connecting the masts to the hull to keep everything in place.

Goodbye to my pipedream of simplicity. Hello to (let's hope) a highly rewarding venture into the functional reality of historical sailing ships and their gazillion details. Its a good time to have received my copy of the much revered "Seamanship in the Age of Sail".

So I tore up the deck down to the deck support with its two big openings. Haven't seen that pear wood in awhile. Lots of research needed now before I progress much more, but thanks to all the help from the people at Scale Sailboats forum at, its coming along.

On a side note, the people who run the HMS Beagle Project, an attempt to build a real version of the historical ship, were nice enough to mention my humble build in their April 18th blog. It put a smile on my face:

18 APRIL 2011, by Peter Mc

"J Smith (bosun's mate, HMS Beagle) would have been proud of Andrew Smith (they've got to be related...) of the Indianapolis Smiths for his splendid 1:36 scale radio control model of the Beagle. Do go and have a gander: Mr Smith is recording progress by the week as he builds. He carved the hull from a pear tree bough using an axe. Most gonzo. And most recently disaster has struck as the 2011 Beagle suffered a main mast collapse on her maiden voyage.

"Obviously we want to see more Beagles of all sizes in the world, so we here wish Mr Smith well in his rerigging of the Indianapolis Beagle and will be awaiting details of her next voyage.

"J. Smith of the 1831 crew should be looking on with approval."

Thanks Peter. That was a much needed pick-me-up after my little setback.
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May 09, 2011, 03:09 PM
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Jpop Andrew's Avatar
Drilled the holes in the deck for the new masts, and then smaller holes for the rigging to pass through. Inserted brass screw eyes into the new fore and mainmast for hanging the spars and rigging guides. Next I inserted a nail into the base of each mast and added a 1/4 inch wood base to the bottom of the hull before hammering them home.

Despite a lot of testing I somehow ended up with a bit of a backward rake on the foremast once it was settled in. Ah well. We'll see how she looks once all the standing rigging is in place.

Drilled a hole into my tiller and inserted a screw eye in the bottom side. Then I made several small dowel sections to mount the screw eyes that will guide the rigging from the tiller to the servo down in the hull. Assuming wood glue can hold them in place, I figure that will be an easier way to made changes to the rigging plan in the future.

Cut small sections of small copper tubes and secured inside the deck's rigging holes, sticking up a bit. Hopefully that will reduce water getting down in the hull. Ran the carpet thread through the rudder system. Seems to work, but with a bit more tension that I had imagined.

May 10, 2011, 04:13 AM
Damp and Dizzy member
Brooks's Avatar
Couldn't tell from the photo, but be sure to put a drop of medium or thick CA on the joint in all screweyes used for thread to keep the thread from jamming or jumping out.

The rudder system will have tension on the threads. I manage it by putting a short piece of elastic (from the sewing shop) inline with the thread&servo arm. This keeps thread taut enough to work, but allows some automatic adjustment as the tension builds/releases when the servo arm swings (it's a geometry thing when linear and rotary motions are combined). Also helps preserve the rudder from shocks (which mostly occur when bumping the rudder while setting down the boat).

As an alternative to copper pipes, I use thin teflon tubing from McMaster-Carr. The tubing will abraid away the cotton wrap on polyester carpet thread, so I prefer pure polyester carpet thread in this case. Remember to CA the knots with pure poly thread.

Looking good :-)
May 11, 2011, 10:36 AM
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Jpop Andrew's Avatar

Yup I'm working on the elastic, but still have to figure out how to use buttons or something to adjust the tension. I'll be sure to use a drop of CA on the screweyes.

I debated between the plastic tubbing versus copper tubbing they had at Lowes and decided to go with the copper, thinking I could keep the thread right in the middle. That was hard to do for the rudder system, since the holes in the deck are pretty far away from the access opening and the hull was curved there. Had to use a mirror to place the bottom guides.

I think I might switch over to a plastic for the sail rigging holes. I found the teflon at the McMaster-Carr site, but I wonder if its any better than whatever plastic Lowes carries? (Arg, another week waiting for parts then lol!)
May 11, 2011, 02:16 PM
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Brooks's Avatar
Probably any tubing would work. The SH&C ships use copper, so you are in good company there.

For the rudder, I just tied off the elastic in a loop, with the rudder lines tied to the loop: ----------O--------. No button adjustment (no room in my hull). Ashley's constrictor knot works great for choking anything, you could just set some tension in the loop, and choke the overlapping elastic ends to each other with a constrictor knot, rather than tying them. For adjustment, cut the knot holding the circle of elastic and try again. My loop is actually tied to the servo arm, with the rudder lines heading out port and starboard. It's not critical, you only need enough tension to keep the rudder from flopping at the slackest portion of it's travel (can't remember if that's centered or hard over).
May 24, 2011, 03:41 PM
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Jpop Andrew's Avatar
Well I've had some slow progress with several problems the last two weeks. My attempt to unscrew the servo mount from the rudder servo resulted in the tiny screw stripping. Now I can't get it off to screw on a different servo arm. Arg. So, I ended up making a wooden arm and gluing it on top of the wood rudder guides that were still on the servo.

After trying to figure out a better way of installing the rudder's servo using wooden blocks and screws, I decided to just marine epoxy it to the not-entirely-flat hull. I coated the bottom of the servo and the plug with the waterproof epoxy, so hopefully it won't be an issue.

As I was working on the brass screw eyes for the mainmast to hang the spars from, three ended up breaking off . Arg. Apparently you can't put too much pressure while screwing them in, or bend them more than once to secure the spar's eyehooks.

I cut and installed copper tubing through the deck next to the fore and mainmast. Ran carpet thread through the tubes, over each mast's guides, and over to spars on each top sail. Nice to see some sails back on and working after a couple of slow weeks.

Btw Seamanship in the Age of Sail is a great read. Lots of details that really help to explain the how and why of sailing ships of this kind.
May 24, 2011, 03:43 PM
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Jpop Andrew's Avatar
Brooks: "My loop is actually tied to the servo arm..."

Yeah I think that's what I'll do also. I'll see if my wife's elastic hair thingamabob will do the trick or not.
May 24, 2011, 07:31 PM
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Brooks's Avatar
When I had trouble with breaking screweyes, I started drilling larger pilot holes in the mast & spars. I also lube the threads with a swipe of candle wax. Some brands of screweyes are just not as strong as others, perhaps you got a bad batch?

Progress is always slow with a scratch build *smiles*. I am reminded of this each time I make a boat or plane :-). Glad to see your ship taking shape again.
Jun 03, 2011, 10:44 AM
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Jpop Andrew's Avatar
Quick question: I'm making a pvc pipe to fill with ballast that I'll attach to a Plexiglas fin under the keel. Is there an optimal length I should make the fin? The keel is about 24 inches long. A 9 inch deep fin seems to "look" about right, but is there a big ballast advantage to being deeper or more shallow?
Jun 03, 2011, 10:51 AM
SCALE Sailor
JerryTodd's Avatar
How deep is the water where you're gonna sail it?
Jun 03, 2011, 10:55 AM
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kotori87's Avatar
I used an 8" deep keel on my 1:96 USS Constitution. Just like you, I went with what "looks right". It works well, but is too deep for some of my local ponds. Make sure your keel is not too deep for your intended sailing locations.
Jun 03, 2011, 01:40 PM
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Jpop Andrew's Avatar
There are a couple of places around Indianapolis I'll want to eventually sail the Beagle, but I'm not sure how shallow some of them are. I'd assume they are all at least three feet deep -- but I might be wrong.

I guess my question is, will a six inch difference in the depth of the ballast pvc pipe make a major difference in preventing a full tip over? The bottom of my keel in six inches bellow the waterline. Would having the ballast pvc pipe 21 inches bellow the waterline make a huge difference over 15 inches?
Jun 03, 2011, 04:01 PM
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Brooks's Avatar
righting force=weight X lever arm. So, 1 kg weight @ 21" with have 1.4 times the effectiveness as 1 kg @ 15" ( 21/15=1.4, ie 40% better). Whether that's significant to your boat is your call :-). One advantage of the deeper keel: you will be able to carry more sail because you have a bigger righting force.

You can increase righting force by either making the keel deeper, or by making the pvc weight heavier. If you end up with excess buoyancy in your hull, then you can have a short keel with lots of weight. And vice versa :-)

You are always better off with a deeper keel...up to the point you run aground. If your pond is deep enough, then the only limit on keel depth is the amount of hassle you want to undergo every time you launch or retrieve your boat.

Squareriggers need an aerodynamically effective keel (one that generates a lot of lift) because they move slow and have lots of windage drag, compared to a racing sloop. A longer (deeper) keel is more aerodynamic (hydrodynamic in this case) than a shorter keel. That is, a deep keel will generate more lift than the same area spread over a shorter keel.

Keels are easy to make: they can be just a sheet of 1/4" plywood. You could make up several, and try them out on your boat to see which one you like best. I personally think it's a mistake for a scratch builder to try to achieve perfection w/o experimentation. I know a lot, and I still make mistakes in my calculations *grin*....which I correct by making my boats easy to modify.
Jun 03, 2011, 04:36 PM
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Jpop Andrew's Avatar
Yea. Numbers. So it is a pretty big difference.

Well the nearby Lowes has clear sheets that are 8x10 inches. So 6 plus 10 plus the pvc pipe would put it about 17 inches below the waterline. With a deck at only 1 1/2 inches above the waterline and bulwarks about 3 1/2 inches, that seems pretty deep. I'll try that for the first go. Last I weighed her she was 16 pounds and it looks like it will take about seven pounds of ballast to get down to her proper water level.

Now I just have to figure out how to make an adjustable attachment rail for the my oak keel. Looks like drilling holes into the plastic and matching it to holes in the keels is the common way to go.
Jun 03, 2011, 09:38 PM
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Brooks's Avatar

Pamir's righting moment is 32cmkg. So, your equivelent would be 32/3.2=10cm length (depth) for your keel. This righting moment would be suitable for your ship if you have the same sail area & heeling force (which I don't know).

You can see the calculation behind the 32cmkg here (Post#9):

Following the procedure in the above post, you could calculate a ballast weight & keel depth that would make your ship perform like my Pamir, if you wanted.

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