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Mar 19, 2005, 06:07 AM
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DanL's Avatar
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Too much fun - Vac-U-Tug

The Calypso build has been very challenging. Taking a long time...
The recent tug threads here were a great diversion - too great. I wanted to build a tug after the Calypso, especially since the best idea for retreiving a disabled Calypso was throwing a tennis ball with fishing line at it!
Saw the Vac-U-Tug - looked easy and I needed a break from Calypso complexity, so I bought it from
The Vac-U-Tug should have been my first RC boat. It's great - simple, great instructions, great looking (and it can be finished/detailed at 1:45 to match the Calypso).
I got the box today and have the hull, drive etc finished already. Plan to modify and detail out the top to look like an ocean tug. It's really a great kit -more sturdily and logically designed and built than the Billing Calypso and has the potential to be built into a nice looking scale model.
Highly recommended for a fun build.
Pics: a Vac-U-Tug and a Vane Bros tug Charles Burton
Last edited by DanL; Mar 19, 2005 at 06:16 AM. Reason: add pics
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Mar 19, 2005, 02:40 PM
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Here's a line profile of the hull and superstructire of the Vacutug and a tug called the Patapsco. Looks like detailing the hull and building over the cabin structure of the Vacutug can give a very close match to the Patapsco.
New project underway...
Mar 21, 2005, 09:05 PM
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danl, I have been seriously thinking of getting one of these. How do you rate the kit? Is the vaccum forming flimsy or rather stout? Thanks.......Greg
Mar 22, 2005, 12:15 AM
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Rather stout.
The styrene is thicker than the styrene hull on the Billing Calypso I'm building. Not only that, but there is a "motor tray" of the same thick styrene that form fits into the hull, giving you a double thick reinforced hull. In addition, the tray forms reinforcing ribs along the sides of the hull. This thing is very strong. Filling the area around the shaft thru hole with epoxy beefs up that area. For the money, you can't go wrong. Tough to make the hull really scale and detailed, but the deck areas and superstructure can be finished nicely in 1:45 or 1:48 scale based on the length/width of the hull and height of the cabin molding compared to real tugs in the 90 to 100 ft range.
Mar 22, 2005, 09:15 AM
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After running one of the Vac-U-Tugs for a year, I've mannaged to mess up the paint and nick the hull in several places. That includes dropping the boat onto a hardwood floor. Other than knocking the funnel off (not the original one), there was no 'big' damage except to my nervous system - lol. The V.U.Tug isn't 'flimsy', but then again, it isn't built to be a soccer ball either. I really wouldn't worry about that part of it.

Most of the corners/edges are 'rounded, not 'square' with sharp edges. I understand that it's because of the molding process, and removing the parts from the mold. If you're looking for sharply defined edges, they just won't be there. It isn't a problem, but just something you should be aware of.

Phil is very conservative with designing the V.U.Tug. The supplied motor(s) can be 'pushed' further than he recommends before getting hot enough to cause damage. Which is a good practice for the manufacturor, certainly better than the other way around! The first few hulls were of thinner material than the later ones, but unless you specifically ask for one of the thinner hulls, you'll never see one (if he still has any left, no idea).

This thing was designed as an 'entry' boat for R/C'ing. As such, it's very simple, or 'plain'. That doesn't mean that you can't make it more 'scale' looking. The main thing is that it's simple and easy to get together, requires only a minimum of user supplied 'parts' and tools, and is fun.

- 'Doc

PS - This sounds like a 'commecial' and I'm sorry for that. I wish I ~did~ have some interest in the company! But I don't - LOL...

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