Hints & Tips

If you have a tip or a hint let's have it, as it could help a fellow model boater. 

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Adding Bouyancy to RC Yachts

SeaWinds (and most RC yachts) do not have any positive bouyancy. If enough water gets into the hull the ballast at the bottom of the keel will pull the boat under water and it will be gone in seconds, never to be seen again. But it's quite easy to make your boat survive such an accident by adding bouyancy. Read more here...

Starting with your first boat...

Remember practice makes perfect, so after your sixth or seventh boat you should be getting good at it (these are merely suggestions as your wife might kill you and we cannot be held liable!)

Here is a good starting point for beginners: www.modelboatmayhem.org.uk Go to the bottom of the page and click on "starting out". 

For the more adventurous or those really keen to learn, this site has a step-by-step wooden ship build: www.shipmodeling.ca

For anyone wanting to start sailing here is a very good site for tips, etc. www.theamya.org

Here are a few good sites worth browsing

Get a comprehensive listing here of suppliers of goods and services related to RC model boats.


Many of the hobby shops in Gauteng have model boats, bits and pieces, so you will need to do a treasure hunt to find the parts you require. If you spend the time though you could be well rewarded. Some shops will order parts for you too.

There are so many sites on the net and the same applies - time spent browsing will reward you with the knowledge needed.

There are many theories out there and preferences. You need to find what you like and what works best for you and your budget.

The guys at the club and in the shops are very willing to give advice. One of the best ways to find good advice is to come along to one of the club meetings and chat to the guys - they have learned the hard way and this could save you a lot of time, money and frustration.

Remember no boat is perfect, no one has it all correct and perfect all of the time, so find something you really enjoy and spend some time on the design, don't be in a rush, chat to the other guys in the club.

Ready to go into the water

It is best to do a few quick tests at home (in either the bath or the pool) before going to the dam.

Remember at the dam the water is a bit more choppy and if the boat is not floating correctly water could splash over the side and sink it - in deep water.

If you are not on the new 2.4GHz radio systems, don't forget to check and get the frequency flag before switching on your radio, to prevent damaging someone else's boat or your own.

Nothing much beats the feeling of watching your hard work, design and detailing, cruise off across the water (and not sink) in front of all the other guys watching. It really is very rewarding after launching your newest creation.

A Simple Smoke Generator

Here is a simple design for a smoke generator that you could build from parts you probably already have, or can easily source. Get the details here.

Easy LED Lighting System

Remove the PCB from an old or broken servo and unsolder the wires going to the motor. Connect the LED on those wires. The potentiometer has to be in the centre position. You can either glue it in position or read the values of the centre position with a multimeter and replace the potentiometer with resistors. Also works with a relay. Remember to check voltages and current levels or damage could occur. Thanks Dean for a simple and bright idea.

Lead for Ballast or Keels

I had been searching all over Gauteng for lead shot for my sail boat's keel. i had been told to try gun shops, fishing shops, curtain shops, you name it, even to make my own. The costs were also through the roof, so I nearly gave up, then by chance I popped into a diving shop and guess what, they have a new dive belt weight that is made of material and has lead shot in small plastic bags inside. It was R70 for 1kg. Hope this helps! You can also get used lead balance weights from tyre fitment shops. They are filthy from road dirt, but after melting and pouring you can get cleam, bright lead again. Because of environmental concerns, lead weights on car wheels are being phased out. Remember that lead is highly toxic so handle it with care.

Your First Boat

If this is your first boat build, a good idea is to choose two boats, one inexpensive simple one to learn from and to get you on the water quickly, as well as to have some fun whilst building the more fancier, costly, time consuming and detailed one. You learn a lot by getting a boat on the water, from design, costs and layout, to where all the bits need to go and the weights, centre of balance, etc.

We hope this has helped, please drop us a mail and let us know. Feedback helps us to grow and change accordingly.

Most important is to have fun! 


This boat was built from a basic plan called the Streamlinette as printed in a model boat magazine from the UK. This is a very simple balsa wood construction, but has a resin coating over a stocking stretched over the hull, making it a lot stronger than just plain balsa and keeping it very light. (for more on how to do this please come and ask us). This also keeps the costs very reasonable.

For help building your own boat come and chat to the guys at the club they are only too willing to help.

Thanks again to Willem. 

This sketch may be of interest to other club members.  The object of the exercise is to determine the length of the lever required on a servo. So first scribe an arc of the unit that you want to move through an angle. In this case the steam valve that has a 17mm arm and travels through 90 deg. At the intersection point of these two lines (Arc of 17mm and 90 deg angle) draw two parallel lines. Now draw the arc of the servo angle (normally 120 deg) The length required on the servo arm is now determined (in this case 13.84mm)

Thanks Owen, good one.

More to follow as the tips and hints roll in. Please feel free to send in your ideas to help others learn and thanks to all who have sent in these useful tips and hints.

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