DAVE ABBOTT reviews the Metcalf Mouldings Replica Pond Yacht kit
As can be seen in Photo 1, the hull comes as a one piece moulding in GRP, with plywood printed sheets for the superstructure and the deck, and styrene sheet for the rudder parts. A plywood CNC cut sheet for the deck beams, bow pieces etc. is included. All fittings are of white metal, with wood dowel for the masts. A large quantity of brass rod, spruce, rigging cord and sail material is also included as well as a comprehensive building manual covering the tools to use and general notes on masts, spars and fittings. Two full-size plans showing the profile and deck and suggested radio control installation, together with a half-size plan of the sail and rigging layout, plus the sails, mast and spars drawn full-size. Also on request a CD can be obtained showing the construction of the Moonbeam in approx 150 photos which will be of great help during construction.
The first step and the most important thing is to make a stand for the model. Due to the nature and shape of the hull it will need to be supported during building. In the instruction manual there is a full size template showing the shapes that fit the hull, with suggested sizes of timber. Although this can be seen in Photos 2 and 3, I did change the design of the base, but conformed to the stand upright templates. The shapes of these were traced onto card which made it easier to transfer to the timber and Photo 4 shows the hull safely mounted on the stand and consequentially much easier to work upon.
Although the GRP hull moulding had a very good finish, it was rubbed down with fine wet and dry sandpaper and then washed with clean water with a touch of washing up liquid added, mainly to provide a good key for the paint at a later date. This will also show up any imperfections in the moulding, which there werent. It is also a good idea to file down the top of the hull at deck level to smooth clean line, in preparation for fitting the deck.
The deck edge support strips were the first items to be fitted and the inside of the hull was marked for the ribs and a line drawn around the inside of the hull with sufficient space left for the main deck to fit flush with the top of the hull. Double strips of 6mm x 3mm spruce were used for these deck edge supports, but before gluing, the inside of the hull was scored with course sandpaper where the strips were to be fixed. This improves the surface for adhering the deck supports and deck edge strips and these are held in place with clamps as required. I used 24hr Araldite two part epoxy to glue the strips in place, see Photos 5 and 6.
The cross beams were the next to be fitted along with the bow and stern pieces, and also the mast plate, rudder servo plate and the winch servo plate. All these parts were CNC cut from plywood and only required releasing from the plywood sheets with a small razor saw or similar. Some of these can be seen in Photo 7.
The positions of the deck beams and plates were measured from the full-size drawings and transferred on to the inside of the hull and then they were fitted, again using 24hr Araldite epoxy. These can all be seen being held in position by a variety of grips and clamps in Photos 8 and 9. Once the key ribs and stringers were in position, all the rest could be added as in Photos 10 and 11. Before fitting the main deck I found it best to install the rudder servo and the sail winch. The detailed drawing has suggestions on how to fit and install the rudderpost control horn and the kit supplies the material to make this, but I decided to use a purchased control horn which can be seen close-up in Photo 12. The servo used was a Hi-Tec HS 325HB and the sail winch was a HI-Tec HS-785HB, Photo 13. Photo14 is a view from the stern of the r/c installation before the deck was fitted.
The large rudder, its post and tube were assembled at the same time as the installation of the ribs and deck stringers. The rudder is laminated from styrene sheet with the rudderpost and frame of brass rod soldered to shape as on the full-size drawing and sandwiched between the outer faces of the rudder within a shaped centre piece. Once the glue was fully cured, the two outside rudder shapes were fixed to the centre section using a plastic solvent glue, EMA Plastic Weld, and clamped together until dry. The rudder was sanded and shaped to an aerofoil section, and the rudderpost bottom bearing block was the fitted into the bottom of the keel and then the whole assembly was fitted into the hull, Photo 15.
The deck is a one-piece section of 1.5mm printed plywood, which requires cutting out from the large printed sheet, but first I found it easier to cut out the superstructure openings first and then the outer deck shape. I then trial fitted the deck and trimmed it to fit as perfectly as possible. When satisfied with the fit, the deck was permanently glued in position, again with 24hr Araldite, while being held together with masking tape and wooden blocks as can be seen in Photo 16. This was left for a couple of days for the glue to fully cure, before continuing the cabins and skylights.
Cabins and skylights
The cabin and skylights were assembled, all their parts being cut from a sheet of 1.5mm printed plywood using a fresh blade in my Stanley knife and a steel rule to keep the cuts and edges nice and clean. These parts are shown in Photo 17 and were now ready to be assembled. Being of plywood, these parts were all glued together using R/C Modellers Craft Glue, a white PVC glue that has a quick grab time and superb strength. The assembled parts can be seen in Photo 18. These have been stained prior to adding fittings and can be seen again, but completely finished in Photos 19, 20 and 21.
Painting the hull
It was at this stage I decided to paint the hull, but first the waterline had to be marked. After measuring the waterline on the full-size plan, the hull was positioned on the stand and placed on a table long enough to accommodate the it. The deck was then levelled, both by length and beam, with a small spirit level and then with my marker gauge the pencil was run along the length of the hull both port and starboard sides, Photo 22. It was then out to the garden to mask off the waterline and then spray the upper part of the hull using Humbrol green enamel paint and it was also the ideal time to spray the white metal fittings. Some of these can be seen in Photo 23, and the hull is in Photo 24. The lower part of the keel was sprayed in a light bronze colour and then the whole hull was given four coats of Humbrol clear enamel satin varnish.
Mast, booms and bowsprit
The next important task was to start on these. The mast and other spars were already drawn out full-size on the drawing, so all that had to be done was to cut the dowels to length and taper them to the shapes required as indicated on the plan. I used a small balsa type of plane and finished off with sandpaper before varnishing the masts, making sure that all the white metal fittings did actually fit, especially those on the bowsprit, which needs to be removable. Photos 25 and 26 show fittings on the masts prior to painting.
Before starting on making the sails I ballasted the model. The hull and masts were placed in the domestic test tank (bath) and using lead shot I poured into the keel approximately 10lb of this and then with a length of wood I levelled out the lead shot until the waterline was correct. When happy with the result I carefully carried the hull into the garden where I have an inflatable pool filled with cold water and placed the hull in this and then poured fibreglass resin onto the lead shot. Fibreglass resin gets very hot whilst curing in an enclosed space and the water will keep the moulding cool. If required more lead shot can be added at a later date. It is better to underdo it, rather than overdo it. Photos 27 and 28 show the hull in the bath and the lead shot in the bottom of the hull.
Full-size patterns of the sails are provided on a separate sheet and the material for making the sails is also included. This is where I must admit that I am not brave enough to operate a sewing machine myself and have to say that my wife did the honours and made the sails for me. Included in the instruction manual there is the name and address of a commercial sail maker who can make a set of sails for Moonbeam and he is Brian Wiles, Apex Sails, 8 Grange Road, West Huntspill, Somerset TA9 3SB, tel: 01278 785938. The patterns and the sails can be seen in Photos 29 and 30.
The fitting and the rigging of the booms and sails was not too much of a problem, as a half-size rigging plan is shown on a drawing together with the masts and booms etc., and if followed correctly all will fit into place. The rigging cord is supplied in three different sizes, the shroud cord (heaviest weight), standing rigging (medium weight) and running rigging (lightest weight) were all boiled, stained with strong coffee, dried and then waxed. Photos 31, 32 and 33 show the bowsprit, the lower parts of the mainmast and the booms and Photo 34 has the complete set of rigged sails. The drawings and instructions suggested using a loop system from the sail winch and this is very well detailed, but I decided to use my own method of a separate line from the sail winch to each of the booms. Either of these methods could be used, as long as it works well for you.
Radio control could not be simpler, with one channel for the sail winch and one channel for steering servo, so a two channel receiver and a set of four rechargeable high capacity AA batteries and a switch is all that is required as a minimum in the model.
Transportation and sailing
Such a tall model is always a problem to transport, but Photo 35 shows that it can be de-rigged and re-rigged for sailing in a matter of minutes. Note the extra packs of lead shot if required for lake side ballasting.
I have never really sailed yachts before, but with a little guidance from my local club members the bug has really got me. The Moonbeam sails perfectly as can be seen in Photos 36 and 37.
A very well produced GRP hull moulding with little work required to produce a fine model. The white metal fittings are well produced and the instruction manual and set of drawings easy to follow and in my opinion it is great value. The sails can be made to order as mentioned in foregoing text, so there is really no excuse for not building the model. With the large sail area she performs well, even in the slightest breeze, so well done Metcalf Mouldings.
moonbeam? By keenpilot