Building a model boat is a long-term project that can provide major results once complete, giving you something to be truly proud of.

Unlike a train or car, a boat is a much more intricate design as it needs to be able to float on water and not topple over when the engine is full flow. Getting the right materials together is a starting point but one of the most important aspects is ensuring that the balance is spot on. This is a make or break decision and something that needs to be thoroughly thought out before any action is taken.

While many modellers do not test the balance of the boat until it is complete, it is advisable to take a moment to adjust with additional weights wherever possible. The last thing you want is for your completed, varnished and painted boat to simply capsize as soon as you let it out into open water, it will result in having to go straight back to the drawing board and thus ruining months of hard work.

The basics

The buildings of a boat is fairly straightforward with the model including a short prop shaft that is as a small as possible in order to maximise the torque. Once this is achieved then you can start at looking at how you can make sure the boat is balanced. Firstly, the engine needs to be situated at the back of the boat, which reduces the distance between it and the propeller.

Place the boiler in the middle as the water level can change throughout its use. This is important as if the boiler is on the port side it can become unbalanced as water levels fluctuate. The next step is to simply balance it on the water and see how it sits, this is a hugely trial and error phase so you need to be able to assess which parts may need additional weights.

Varying factors

There are numerous factors that can play a part in whether or not the boat will float and not fall over at the first attempt. The stern is a component that needs to be counterbalanced. Due to its heaviness it will need something else on board to compensate. In the past modellers have opted for either pebbles or stone weight but they can move about so sand may be more appropriate or, if you are confident it will stay balanced, cement can also work.

Another factor that can affect the boat's balance is the propeller torque. This can play a part in the boat rolling and needs to be addressed before the model is completed. In real boats, with the propeller is rotating clockwise there will be a slight anticlockwise opposing force potentially causing a tip. This can be combated by putting the driver's seat on the starboard side to offset the rotation, the same method can be applied to models.

Remember, weight distribution is absolutely key if you care to make a boat that will stand the test of time and not just capsize at the first opportunity.