Atlantic Harbor Tug - Page 5 - RC Groups
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Jul 10, 2007, 09:13 AM
Capt.Crash's Avatar

Ready for paint.

Progress notes on the Tug. Last night I got her sanded down and ready for new paint. I completely sanded her to remove all the shine I could and prep her for the grey after I bondo filled the holes and blemishes from the removal of all the plastic junk parts.

I made some structual changes. I moved pilot house forward and cut and moved the stack forward. This will give more room to walk behind the pilot house and more room for a fire monitor behind the stack. Aft, next to the main bollard, is the first attempt at a winch made from a wooden thread spool and some balsa. This covers the power switch.

I would love to add a sound mod but since I can't remove the ballast forward, I don't think she will handle the extra weight.

Captain Slick
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Jul 17, 2007, 09:41 AM
Capt.Crash's Avatar

Another update.

Here are the latest progress notes and updated pics on my Atlantic Harbor refit. This weekend I managed to install a Turbo Diesel under the hood. I decided to mount the speaker and JJC Turbo Cat Diesel sound module to the overhead of the main house. The speaker is bolted to a hardwood frame which is epoxy’d to the overhead. The sound module is velcro’d to the overhead…both are removable and the connections are all plug in. I also drilled a small hole in the hardwood frame to run my receiver antenna through, allowing me to run it up the inside of the stack and into a ˝ ‘’ tube near the top of the smoke stack where the end of the wire is bent over after going through this holding tube to keep it in place during operation. I decided against cutting and placing a connector on the antenna. I may want to change receivers down to road and not want it cut up. I’ve also heard of reception problems that can be caused by changing the characteristics of the length and/or resistance properties of antennas. So I chose to not mess with it at all. Everything is painted flat black in the stack, to include the wire, to hide it from the eye. This thing sounds awesome now! Oh…I ended up going back to the factory ESC, weak reverse and all, after trying 2 different ESC upgrades and not being satisfied with their performance. I can live with the weak reverse for now.

This tug is a day to day, with no real final look in mind. I’ve changed colors a couple of times already and what you see in the pics now, is the way it looks now, but not necessarily the way it will end up. I moved the wheel house forward then moved it back cutting off the aft end of the wheelhouse deck overhang flush with the bulkhead. I plan to install brass railing and stanchions (on back order) around the wheel house and around the 01 deck. I’m still struggling with ladders. I’m not going to use the cheesy ones that came with this boat and so far what I ordered from Harbor I’m not too crazy about either. Then there is the problem of where to place them. Do I cut out place/places in the 01 level over hang for them to go up? I don’t know how to make my own ladders, but I may have to learn. Aft you will find my 2nd attempt at a capstan made of a modified wooden spool and some wood filler. I am on a huge learning curve with boat building and trying to learn how to paint too. I want the tug to look used. I don’t have an airbrush so everything will look like it has multiple coats of paint (which it does) and I want it to look like it’s patched as it would if it needed to keep the rust at bay without a total new out of the shipyard look. This is my learning how to do everything boat, and I am having a lot of fun with it. I have some Rustall and will get to play with that too. When I get good at everything I will go back to my schooner with upgrades and weathering.

Here is additional info on the matched 15 watt speaker and 15 watt Module:

The JJC Master Module incorporates a 15 Watt audio amplifier, advanced power management (so you don’t have to disconnect from the power supply) and of course the master unit also has its own sounds.
A speaker is connected to the master unit via a screw down terminal block, with connection to the RC receiver using a standard servo lead.
To connect additional sounds (and mix them through the master unit), Slave units are connected via a 3.5mm plug.

Master Specification
* Directly connected to a spare receiver channel (or to a Y connector on the same channel the ESC plugs into so you dont need a extra channel to use this)
* The pitch control allows you to personalize the sound to your model.
* Individual volume control for each unit.
* Amplifier power supply range ( 6 to 18 volts).
* Integrated high quality 15 watt audio amplifier with thermal protection and automatic power-down function.
* Low power consumption from the receiver battery (>5 mA)
* Light weight (32 grams)

FRS7S High Performance 8ohm Speaker
This speaker is only 2.5 inches in diameter with a frequency response of 120-20,000 Hz and 15 watts of power.

This thing has a built in electronic starter sound that also engages the engine sound upon just one click of the transmitter stick...the engine sound throttles up and down and as you throttle up and down...then it slowly idles down and completely shuts off the engine noise after while when at all stop. Way cool!

My thanks go to everyone here for all the help and ideas for this project.

Captain Slick
Last edited by Capt.Crash; Jul 17, 2007 at 11:25 AM.
Jul 26, 2007, 01:31 PM
Capt.Crash's Avatar

Yet another progress report...

Ok…I was going to wait until I finished her, but with parts on back order that may be a while, so I’m going to post now.

Starting from the bow, here are the changes (so far) to the tug. Keep in mind weathering is still to come. Removed a ton of plastic parts from all over this tug. New bow fender. New winch…moved bow bitts aft a little and straightened them up. Removed wood block (front latch). Added small plastic speakers fore and aft. Replaced plastic railing with brass…aft railing on backorder. Added wheel to wheel house…total buildup of inside of wheelhouse is planned for later. Added radar cover on top of wheel house. New mast built up (from wood dowel, tongue depressor, tooth pics and brass). Rotated navigation lamps to correct position. Placed fire extinguisher on aft bulkhead of wheelhouse…still have to make a holder for it. Cut overhang off wheelhouse deck. Cut and moved stack forward an inch or so. Added fire monitor…all plumbed and ready for pump later. Fire hoses added to housing bulkheads. Aft is a new capstan made up from a wood spool and putty used to hide power switch. Added bottles and barrel and rope coil. New paint. I’m waiting on decals for the name, new tire fenders, railing, and an American flag. I need the railing before I do the ladders and some other details. I would like to have everything in place before I start the weathering, but I may start without it if the stuff doesn’t come soon. I'm sure I missed some stuff and there is still a lot to do, but it’s making progress and looks heck of a lot better than it did.

Captain Slick

BTW...that is Captain Sunshines "Motley Crew" visiting the tug.
Jul 27, 2007, 08:10 AM
Capt.Crash's Avatar

More pics

Here are some better quality pics from last night after I added tow lines forward and replaced the small "1mc' speakers with the larger ones.

Captain Slick
Jul 27, 2007, 10:48 AM
Grumpa Tom
Kmot's Avatar
Cap'n Slick, you have certainly enhanced this tug nicely! I like the little chain. What gauge is it? Where did you find it?
Jul 27, 2007, 11:13 AM
Capt.Crash's Avatar

Thanks Kmot... first bash job...I'm havin fun!

Sorry on the chain...I looked but it was not one of the parts used items listed on my schooner site...I think I got it from tower...not's brass...but that is all I can remember.

I just ordered the horn mod for the tug today too...I just found out that the replacement tire fenders are on a 6 month backorder...gee I wish I had been told that 5 weeks ago when I ordered them. So I ordered some others. Still waiting on the railing too.

BTW... I need to build a floating boat dock next. I like the one y'all any construction pics?

Captain Slick
Jul 28, 2007, 01:09 AM
Damp and Dizzy member
Brooks's Avatar
Your tug is really looking nice.

Re rescue of becalmed Prince: I think, based on my experience ship-handling John's steam tramp, that it might be easier to push the Prince back to shore with your tug than I thought. That is, you might not need to hook her with a towline. The long hull and the inertia of the tramp change the pushing characteristics in a good direction, compared to trying to push the light, short barges I have. It is relatively easy to get the tramp moving forward by pushing a little behind center of the tramp. Steering is accomplished by letting the tug slide aft or scooting it forward of center, depending on which way you want to the tramp to turn. The inertia and long hull track well, making the system less flighty and making it easier to control. I'd think your Prince's hull would track even better.

There is even a sweet spot aft near the counter where the tug can push with it's hull aligned mostly with the tramp's hull, and you can build up some speed. It takes practice, of course, but that is fun in itself....Something to do if the wind dies :-)

I use a wetted fiber bow bumper, but a soft, sticky-ish rubber bow bumper would work too, I bet. That silicon rubber used for hot-plate pads to protect the table top might do the job. You could temporarily mount a piece of this material over your scale bumpers before you set out to push the Prince home.
Aug 02, 2007, 08:18 AM
Capt.Crash's Avatar

Latest installment on the tug

Another trip to the pond with some mixed results. I still have major reception issues. Even with the antenna routed up into the stack…she was cutting out at as little as 50 feet. At one point, when trying to retrieve a marker buoy, she lost signal and restarted at full reverse on her own. This caused her to back over the tow line and wrap it around the prop. She then blew her 10 amp fuse and need to be rescued by the Bristol Bay. The Bay has no bumpers so she beat the tug up pretty good.

After I got her home I field tested her with the transmitter from the Bay swapping out crystals…no change…she would lose signal, with the transmitter antenna down at only 30 or so feet. That eliminated the transmitter. I then swapped out the receiver with the Bay. She still cut out at about 30 feet. That tells me it is not another bad radio, (I received a bad Hitec transmitter and had to get it swapped out).

So…I routed the receiver antenna up through the wheel house and up the back of the mast. I notice even a 1 ˝ inch difference in antenna height makes a big difference in the field tests. At 7 ˝ inches above the wheel house I still had a little glitching. I now have about 9 inches of height above the wheel house roof and it seems ok…only another trip to the pond will tell for sure. I don’t know how some are able to just route their antenna in the hull and get it to work…mine sure don’t.

I still have JJC sound module problems too. It cuts out. I think it is a bad chip recording allowing a small pause between sound loops. Any way…another one is on the way along with a 3.5mm patch cord to link the new horn slave module to the master module. The site I bought these from did not mention or even list the cord. Be sure you get one if you get a slave unit for your master module…they do not come with it evidently.

I also placed a piece of Saran Wrap across the speaker to protect it, between the speaker and the overhead it bolts to. I notice no real difference in volume or sound quality. The sound is plenty loud, and I don’t even have it turned up all the way. It sounds way cool.

I attached a couple of new pics showing the antenna mods and the new tire fenders, before sanding and after. I cut the tires back off last night as I have decided that I don’t like them…at least not right now. I’m still waiting on the railing and have to do some ladders.

Captain Slick
Aug 02, 2007, 11:19 AM
Damp and Dizzy member
Brooks's Avatar
I think your tires would look better if they were not evenly spaced. The photos I have of tugs show the tires bunched up (touching each other) at the bow, closely spaced, (though not touching) along the forward quarter, and spaced out further apart farther aft. There are no tires aft of the cabin. No doubt one could find photos showing a different spacing. I find the lack of symetry to be more aesthetically pleasing, though.

Deans makes a compact antenna, perhaps you could install one to increase radio range w/o needing a wire dangling topside? I don't really notice a black wire running up a black mast once the tug is 10' offshore, however. Separating the antenna from electrically noisy items is important. The ESC and motor would be the culprits here, I think.
Aug 02, 2007, 12:22 PM
Registered User
Antennas. In almost every case, longer is better to some extent. Like using a bigger net to catch fish, probably not always needed, but it certainly doesn't hurt (except the looks maybe).
You can make an antenna shorter if the received signal is strong enough. 'Compact' receiving antennas require stronger signals (or shorter distances) to work. There are no 'miracle' antennas, unfortunately, only those who's properties you might not be aware of.
Got glitches? Do all the noise suppression you can possibly do on any frequency band except 2.4 Ghz, sort of. UHF/SHF bands just aren't as susceptible to man made noises (yet) as lower ones. At least from an RF point of view! They are just as susceptible from the power side.
Have fun!
- 'Doc
Aug 02, 2007, 06:32 PM
Damp and Dizzy member
Brooks's Avatar
If you are getting only 30' range with your regular Rx antenna, then something is seriously wrong (most radio manuals will tell you that the Tx retracted-antenna range should be greater than 30')

Deans makes base-loaded, compact antennas for 72 and 75 mhz.

It *was* my understanding that the base-loaded Deans antenna did not affect radio range. However, these 2 sites feel otherwise:
This guy actually tested antennas:

I think that boaters could use Deans antennas w/o fear, but that's just an opinion. I run Spektrum in my tug, and antenna appearance and radio range are not factors, at least on the pond I traverse.
Aug 03, 2007, 07:17 AM
Keep her steady as she go

Deans Antena

I installed the Deans antenas on two of my tugs and I cut the antenea wire like they said in the instructions and they work fine. They also add some realism to the apearance of the tug. Most tugs have atleast three anteanas on the top of the roof.
Aug 03, 2007, 09:15 AM
Capt.Crash's Avatar
I may try the Deans if this last attempt doesn't work. I have the anntenna higher now the the Deans will put I would think it would get better reception the way it is now. I ran it up a tube in the house so I don't have to remove the wheel house from the deck house to route it each time. I never had so much reception problems in any RC model.

When I turn on the receiver and go to the first notch on the throttle, that is all it takes to get things glitching...the prop is not even rotating until the throttle is moved several notches.

Here is a newby there a signal booster available....light and cheap?

Capt. Slick
Aug 03, 2007, 11:45 AM
Damp and Dizzy member
Brooks's Avatar
Sounds like a dirty, electrically speaking, ESC. Try wrapping it in Al foil to see if this stops the glitching. If so, then a metal screen wrap may intercept the RF crap, yet still allow the ESC to get cooling air. Hardwares sell plastic screening, too, so be sure to get the metal kind if you are going to try this fix.

Tx output is regulated by law; I have never seen a signal boster, but there's lots I have not seen :-).
Aug 03, 2007, 11:57 AM
Capt.Crash's Avatar
Hey Brooks...I will try that foil wrap. I've tried 3 different ESCs to include the stock one. I don't have enough current draw to heat them up much with the set up I'm using right now (stock motor/prop) , so I don't think heat is even an issue. Would wrapping the wires (servo and power) in foil help too?

I hadn't thought about the FCC transmission rules. I guess I was thinking along the lines of cable TV boosters and trying to help boost from the reception end...must be Friday!

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