Sinking model boats - RC Groups
Shop our Airplanes Products Drone Products Sales
Thread Tools
Sep 23, 2003, 01:20 PM
Sea Dragon-Lover
Umi_Ryuzuki's Avatar

Sinking model boats

"OMG!! my boat has sunk and every thing is ruined!"
It is what many model boater fear could happen.
However, water logged equipment is not the end of the world.

Here is the video,...
Scirocco Sinking during 2002 Nationals (0 min 10 sec)

You must also note, that the ship ran three more sorties after this before it was disassembled and dried out. The first sortie was a mere 8 minutes after it was recovered. However, that is not recommended. My water tight box allowed the ship to continue to fight.
If your electronics are wet, then cutting the power to them as soon as possible is essential.

As I mentioned in another thread,
When one of our boats goes down, one of the first things that is done, is the dissassembly of the electronics. Rubbing, or Denatured alchohol is then poured thru the circuit boards. The the alcohol and water are then blown out using canned air.
(The alcohol displaces the water, and evaporates faster.)
After a good period to let them dry the electronics can be reassembled and run.
Many people, including myself, are shocked at how long a typical servo will hold water after it has been submerged. Opening up your electronics is required to thoroughly dry them out.

This is almost a science for our club. The image below is how our ships will typically look after sailing together for 15 minutes.
Pumping and listing,... those ships are full of water.

While recovery of a ship in deep water can pose problems, water in you electronics can be overcome.


Caught again on video 2005...
Ran three more sorties before being sunk Again, and retiring for the day.
Last edited by Umi_Ryuzuki; May 21, 2011 at 07:45 PM. Reason: update links
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Sep 23, 2003, 01:55 PM
Sea Dragon-Lover
Umi_Ryuzuki's Avatar
What brand of ESC are you using?

Over the years I have used Tekin Titans and Novak Roosters and Super Roosters, when they got water on them I got large amounts of smoke, burned cases and wires. Not enough left to even attempt to salvage them. I still have that foul smell of burnt electronics in several of my boats after 2 years. All of that from just water in the boat, not enough to sink them.

I am considering coating my ESC's with 3M DP270 Epoxy over this winter, it is what Andy Kunz from RC-Hydros uses to waterproof his units, and seems to do the job. One of our club members has coated his Hacker brushless ESC's with this material and it solved the problem of water soaked units.

The 12, no 15 year old speed control is an old Hi-tec.
An orange anodized aluminum box...
The one that you see sinking in the video,
was a Duratrax blast. As cheap as you get.

I am currently switching most of my ships to 12 volts, as the water sensor circuits we use function better on that voltage.
One of the speed contols I have been using is a cheap 12v car ESC. Mc-Car 30. It has it's own set of idio syncracies. The BEC does not like 12 volts, or trying to run more than two servos. I can't recall correctly, but I believe it may have been sunk once. I know that it has experienced moisture exposure with out a problem, but I can not say for sure if it has been submerged.

The ESC that sunk with the LST was a Graupner Nr-2763.
I actually held the boat just under the water and asked people to get a camera and take a picture after it sunk. Everyone else was screaming to pull it out of the water.

I did exactly as recommended above, and everything ran fine later.

I will take note of your experience with the "super rooster". As I have considered this an option for my ships. But if they hate the water that much, I may buy more of these graupners, or maybe try these Schulze ESCs that I noticed on another BBS.

[edit] I wanted to note, that the trouble you may be experiencing may be due to amp draw. We try to run low amp draw motors in all are ships. Typically when stalled our motors draw less than one amp. Running time and reliablity is a factor to winning competitions. If your boat motors are drawing high amperages, that may be the difference between getting a salvageble ESC, and a burnt biscuit when the unit gets submerged.
Last edited by Umi_Ryuzuki; Sep 24, 2003 at 03:23 AM.
Sep 24, 2003, 09:44 AM
Edina Model Yacht Club
I agree with your methods for reviving water soaked electronics (not burnt). I have seen it work. We had a Nikko sub disappear in our pond for over 3 months last year, it was finally retrieved, and the owner did what you are suggesteing, the following week it was back on the water, without buying any new parts.

I tend to run big motors (Mabuchi 800's) and big props (4 blade, 4 inch diameter) and I draw a lot of amps (30 plus). That is probably why mine self destruct when in contact with water.

The Schultz units that you pointed to appear to be aircraft, and probably don't have reverse(?), don't you need reverse for your applications? That is were I find the short comings, that is, finding ESC's with reverse, they are pretty limited.

Saw an article the other day on a new unit from Model Control Devices in Canada, as I recall it was both water proof and water cooled. It looked very promising.

Sep 24, 2003, 12:47 PM
Sea Dragon-Lover
Umi_Ryuzuki's Avatar
I haven't looked too closely at the schulze ESCs, but they look very similar to the Graupner ESC that I am currently using. So I was hoping to find a forward and reverse ESC in that list.

The Voith Schneider drives only need forward so they could be used in that application. So the Los Angeles Fire Boat #2 might be able to use them. The prices of the Schulze did look a bit "too good to be true".

The guys that run the heavy cruisers use these huge
"tomato soup can" sized pittman motors. The ships easily
weigh over 100lbs(220kg) and they can really get up and go.
We constantly have to verify their operation speeds, and slow them down during competitions. At 1/72nd scale, I am guessing that their propellers are about 3 inches in diameter. However the amp draw is absolutly at the minimum. We have yet to find an application where we need to use any high amp draw motors like an 540, or 800.
We have one battleship running, and about 3-4 more being built. These are all just under 12 feet (365cm) long and weigh a ton. And they are also run on just two of these pittman motors. There is talk of using four of the motors, only in reverse, just to stop the ships in a timely manner.

If you are intrested I can find out exactly what these motors are.

MCD are good speed controls. The only idiosyncracy that our club has noticed is that no one remembers how to set one up when they need to be adjusted.

Vantec is another ESC that we have used, I think that these are the ones that "whine" when at slow speeds.

[edit] In an ESC, if it is only the Mosfets that have burned out, then those can be easily replaced and the the may be salvagable. A good electronics store, or "Frys Electronics" should carry replacements.
Last edited by Umi_Ryuzuki; Sep 24, 2003 at 12:55 PM.
Sep 25, 2003, 02:06 PM
Tachikaze's Avatar
After a little thought I think that what Umi mentioned with regards to amp draw is the best explaination for the magic smoke release from an ESC when it is wet.
In my combat R/C career I have fried three ESC controls. In all three insidences it has been because of rookie errors ( there is a high learning curve in Combat R/C ) and not a fault of the unit.
I currently use a Duratrak Blast that is exposed in the hull of the 1/72nd Scale Schnelleboote. The boat does not have enough room in it for me to place a water tight box in it. This boat has been sunk twice. At the Nationals it came in with two large holes in the hull and an inch of water in the hull.
Sep 26, 2003, 07:53 PM
Tachikaze's Avatar


Here is a picture of the bow of the Schnellboote with the two holes in it. These were the result of friendly fire!
The German Pocket Battleship DKM Graf Spee was engaging the USS Louiseville, a Northampton Class heavy cruiser at the time. I was trying to manouver between the boats to get a shot on the cruiser. Guess I got in a little too tight and picked up a hit from Gary driving the DKM Graf Spee.
Note on the more aft hole the torpedo launcher inside the hull. This lower aft hole funnelled the water into the boat nicely when under way. I had to bring her in slowly to keep the wake down off of the bow.
Oct 05, 2003, 09:13 PM
Registered Useless
scififlyer's Avatar
What scale are y'all fighting? I used to combat in 1/144 IRCWCC and started to build for a new 1/96 club before my priorities got changed. Now that things are settling down and I am allowed to enjoy my life I'd like to start sailing in harm's way again.

What are some clubs that still operate in the SE USA, besides MWSC?
Oct 06, 2003, 12:29 PM
Tachikaze's Avatar
We fight in 1/72nd scale. This allows us to produce far more detailed boats than what one usually sees in 1/144. It also allows us to build a much larger variety of boats. This past season Umi built a Japanese LST that launched an amphibious tank to capture one of the islands in our game. A conquest that the less than creative allied side could not recover from.
Check out the section on other 1/72 scale clubs. Mike Boschetti was trying to drum up some interest in the FLorida area. He was with us for a couple of years before heading south. Last I heard he was driving a Polish Destroyer the HRMS Grom.

Thread Tools