Building a boat: Engine and finishing touches

Building a boat: Engine and finishing touches

Putting together a model boat is an intricate task and one that will require you to put a number of hours in to make sure you get the look you want.

Following on from the previous guide, it is time to start looking at installing the main components of your boat. Once the hull is prepared you need to be looking at placing an engine and any other additional items you desire on the boat. The engine will provide that authentic feel and whether you are building a military style vessel or a steam paddle boat, reminiscent of those that ran up and down the Mississippi River in years gone by, it will look highly impressive.

When the engine is installed you need to be thinking of other aspects such as the servo and what type of paint scheme you want to use. The latter will allow you to make your own personal mark on the vessel when it makes its first maiden voyage on a nearby lake or park.

Here is the second part of our guide to building your own model boat.

Installing the engine

First you need to identify which engine you want to power your model boat. Mamod has a range of specially designed marine engines that would fit the bill for anyone looking to build a nautical vessel. Once selected you can get with installing the engine onto the hull of your boat.

The mounting block for the engine needs to be in the middle of the boat and as low as possible. Ensuring it has a low centre of gravity will ensure that it stays balanced when being floated. It will also help to accommodate both the engine and boiler which are the two heaviest parts. Having the engine as low as possible will, in turn, keep the prop shaft horizontal – should it be on an angle it could lose forward power.

Both the engine and boiler have base plates meaning they can be easily screwed into the hull but the gas tank is freestanding so needs to be secured by copper pipes and a recess in the wooden base. The latter will allow for more flexibility when designing and can be altered if you are working with a smaller hull.

Connect the boiler to the engine by using an inline lubricator. If you have chosen a slide valve engine this will have an inline lubricator already built in but the oscillating version will require you to install it.

One key thing to remember is that a model boat does not have a double hull so do not nail through it when fixing parts in position. Instead opt for a glue that can firmly secure it in place.

Mounting the servo

Moving on from the engine, the next step is to install the servo. This component is only available on the oscillating engine as a slide valve is not able to change speed or direction. The servo is normally placed at the stern of the vessel but make sure you do not create a large gap between the servo and direction lever as this will cause flexing in the road and ultimately causing inefficiency.

Ensure that the linking arm between the servo and control rod are straight to avoid putting pressure on the latter. Next use two bits of wood spanning the width of the hull at the correct height to make the servo look as if it is hanging, this will allow the installation of the battery pack. It is highly important that the battery is placed somewhere where it will be kept dry but also needs to be accessible. Placing it in a plastic box in its own bulkhead is recommended.

Remember that servos vary in size and strength and you will have to decide which servo matches your engine.

Next move on to the propeller. As with the servo, this needs to match your engine and also needs to be placed at an angle where it will be most effective. A shallow pitch mean the boat will go slow and an acute pitch will make it go much faster. Bigger blades increase the speed but require a lot more power so you need to assess what type of propellers you should use on your specific model.

The finishing touches – painting and varnishing

So you have everything in place: a completed hull, an engine fixed in position, a servo ready to go and the right propellers. Now there is only the final touches to go. Varnishing the boat will give you an impressive finish and make it look really professional. Make sure you have removed any dust or miscellaneous dirt from the boat and then you can get on with the fun part – the painting.

This is the part where you can really get creative. It is a time when you can put your own personal mark on the entire project and make sure that when anyone sees they instantly know its yours. Whether you want to build a military style vessel, a cruise ship, a Viking longboat or even a steam paddle boat, a good paint job will ensure that your boat stands out when it makes it maiden voyage.

Following these helpful tips, you can be well on your way to building a model boat with working steam engine.