Hen Long/Dickie RC Tug - RC Groups
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Mar 30, 2005, 08:55 PM
Mmm, tugs...
patmat2350's Avatar

Hen Long/Dickie RC Tug

I mentioned the Dickie RC tug on some other threads, here is my modification on this modern toy tug boat. And there's no escaping it- it's a toy. But not a bad looking one, and it offers a fun and relatively easy platform for experimenting with r/c mods.
You can buy this boat under the Dickie name from several sources in the US including Tower http://www2.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...&I=LXGUU8&P=ML , about $100. BTW, it's not 1:12 scale, more like 1:48.
Dickie has offered it in several schemes- tug, fire boat, Coast Guard Cutter, even a Marines craft of some sort in camo grey! http://www.simbatoys.de/world_of_toy...g.php?id=boote
It seems to be made by Hen Long in China, who also market it directly. I found mine, a Hen Long, on ebay for $9.99 + $40 shipping (!), still a deal. Mine was grey market- had a 40 MHz radio, illegal in the States. No prob, I was going to convert it anyway from bang-bang control to full proportional with a new radio set.
Boat is 23 inches long, and weighs in at a bit over 5 pounds the way I ballasted it... probably sits a bit lower than stock, but that's good for stability.

Has a 380-type motor running on 9.6V 1000 mAh NiCd radio pack. A single sloppy u-joint connects the motor noisily to the shaft... I considered upgrading to a better quality double cardan, but got lazy and left it stock... motor would have to be relocated forward to fit everything in. I did yank the NiCd and substituted a homemade pack of full C cell NiMH from www.batteryspace.com, 4 AH total and the better part of my ballast.
An Mtronics ESC runs things... these are inexpensive, work on a variety of voltages, and have a simple reverse with no funny stuff like many car ESC's have. See my ESC review at http://geocities.com/y2patmat .
A big plastic 3-bladed prop moves the boat along smartly in the bath tub. The water has just softened up around here, hope to have the boat outside soon!

The boat has a sealed free flooding compartment for ballast, which also serves as the pick up point for the squirter pump's suction line. I sealed the openings, and modified the compartment to mount the battery pack. The compartment's lid was a nice mounting surface for several other items.

The stock pump is a messy recipricating thing, mine spritzed all over the inside of the boat and didn't move much water. I replaced it with a 12v universal replacement windshield washer pump, moves lots of water even on 9.6v. I like to modify servos to work as on-off switches... instead of mechanically pushing a switch, I hack the servo's motor lead to operate a relay for the pump. A new water pick-up fitting was installed low in the hull.

A moveable pseudo-Kort nozzle does well in forward, a little iffy in reverse. The bang-bang servo was replaced with a real one, which was easily mounted to some of the posts molded inside the hull.

I'm using a Traxxas TQ3, 27 MHz 2-1/2 channel http://www2.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...?&I=LXTG62&P=7 . Easy to find cheap on ebay. Has a switch for operating a single function, perfect for the squirter.

At first I built a wiring harness to connect everything... made for a real rat's nest. So I installed a terminal strip and connected everything that way, much neater. There's a big power switch on the back side of the cabin... doesn't look too bad, and is easier to operate once the silly rubber boot is removed... I left the switch there. The port & starboard nav lights come on with the power, I didn't bother with a separate switch. It would be easy to add more lights.

After fully disassembling everything (mostly with screws, but some items had to be nipped off where they were heat-formed in place), I primed and painted everything... even the white cabin was repainted white, just to avoid that plastic look. In honor of Heritage Park and the City of Canton in Michigan, where our club is hosting the Seaways' 2005 Great Lakes Regatta http://michiganmodelboats.com/2005GLSMBSR/ , I made up decals for the Canton Fire Dept., and named the vessel "Heritage Park". This was done with Woodland Scenics dry transfer lettering on clear decal sheet.

The deck is attached to the hull with a bunch of screws. A groove is molded into the deck with a foam gasket installed. I didn't do anything extra here, I hope it works! The deck also has a drain hole at the fantail, and I mounted the electronics high, so a wet bilge shouldn't be too much trouble.
There's a section in front of the cabin that comes off for access to the insides... not enough to work inside, but good enough to grab the wiring pigtail I use for charging the battery in place.

All in all, looks like a fun little boat, and a possible starter project for someone not quite ready for a full-on kit job.

Pat M
Last edited by patmat2350; Mar 30, 2005 at 09:02 PM.
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Apr 02, 2005, 10:25 AM
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Looks good! Did you recut the nozzle corners to enhance the steering? With the new servo, mine hits the hull - I cut it back a bit but not enough. I'm going to redo the hull as well and fill in the holes. (Paid $190 cdn or so for mine!!) Before they were as common on e-Bay.
Apr 02, 2005, 05:45 PM
Mmm, tugs...
patmat2350's Avatar
I'll have to check the steering once I get to the lake... hopefully it has enough angle already. I set the steering arms up with about a 3:1 ratio, so the full servo throw just pushes the nozzle to its full travel.
Pat M
Apr 09, 2005, 07:18 PM
Mmm, tugs...
patmat2350's Avatar


Steering with the pseudo-Kort nozzle in forward is fine; in reverse, the direction appears to be random! Useless! Oh well, still fun. Action shot attached.
Pat M
Nov 19, 2005, 09:44 AM
Registered User

Need Some Help

Hi, my son has this Dickie New York FD Tug. He left it with water inside and the motor and steering servo no longer work. (the pump and the lights still work) I am not sure how to order new parts. I canít find a part number on these two items. Any ideas on how I can get replacement parts that "bolt in?"


Nov 19, 2005, 10:03 AM
Registered User
You may find it easier and less costly to find another on e-Bay and keep that one for parts possibly. At least for the extra battery pack.
Nov 19, 2005, 12:28 PM
Registered User
Thanks I will check it out...
Oct 25, 2006, 11:46 PM
Mostly harmless
Capt_Christo's Avatar
Hi Pat,

Just got a Dickie tug from Ebay for my son. Boat $9 plus $78 postage...Oh well.

Have stripped the boat down and will use your post as a guide for rebuilding.

I have cut a new deck and will retain the hull and bulwarks. Will build new superstructure along the lines of the LA Fireboat.

Complete with water cannon and siren she should make an impression.

Will post more pics as build progresses
Oct 27, 2006, 09:12 PM
Registered User
wolf66's Avatar
Yeah i agree its a fun to modify and cheap starter tug, seems to handle the waves OK too, I cut scuppers in mine though...
May 24, 2008, 02:01 AM
Registered User
While running my Hen Long Tug, I had a drive line problem in which the supplied u-joint melted a bit from an uprated motor. I fixed that by going old school and installed a section of fuel tubing from the motor shaft to the prop shaft. Still had vibration and noise though. I tracked that down to the prop shaft itself. The shaft in the toy has a very loose fit between the prop rod and the stuffing tube, creating a lot of racket at certain speed settings. I'll finish this in the morning, just a tad tired and it's 11pm.

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