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Member postings for Richard Simpson

Here is a list of all the postings Richard Simpson has made in our forums. Click on a thread name to jump to the thread.

Thread: Maybe a bit ambitious?
07/09/2020 10:31:34

Do a search for Aerokits. Your hull looks to be very much along the lines of some of their models, which could be used for a little guidance and inspiration for your own build.

This is a start:

Thread: Machine Tools
03/09/2020 12:37:38

Many years ago I had a good look at all the lathes on offer at the Harrogate Model engineering show. There were around five 12 x 7 mini lathes on offer, not surprisingly, all were of identical castings and varied only in the paint and the level of accessories. Nowadays the norm tends to be a 14 x 7, but again, they are all the same basic castings. Decide on what level of accessories you need so you avoid buying anything unnecessary. i.e. do you need digital readouts and do you need digital speed displays?

I find my lathe absolutely invaluable for a huge range of requirements and could not live without it.

When it comes to milling machines again decide what level of add-ons you need and look for something that matches your requirement. Just remember that a milling machine can be used as a pedestal drill but a pedestal drill will struggle if used as a milling machine. In fact I would recommend that you don't.

If I only had the space for one machine it would be a mini lathe. Mine are from Chester but, the first thing you do with them is strip them down to give the gearbox a good cleaning and greasing, I also replaced the bearings, and clean all the ways, gears, bearings, gibs and slides, oil them and refit carefully. It should be more than capable for hobby use then.

Make sure the area is very well lit, do not use a single flourescent fitting, and make sure you have good clear access around the machine.  You need to be able to stand or sit comfortably in front of the machine and access all controls.  I strongly recommend that you do not by-pass any safety interlock, despite being tempted and do not bother with cooling systems unless you are really into production machining.  They can be more trouble than they are worth. 

Edited By Richard Simpson on 03/09/2020 12:41:21

Thread: A decent kit for a beginner
24/08/2020 08:12:58

Just worth mentioning if you are seriously thinking of a Slipway kit, on their web page it now announces that they will be ceasing trading on the 1st September 2020. They will be honouring all orders received before that date but there is already a significant backlog. I would give them a ring now if you are interested but do not wait until after the 1st September as you will not get one after that date.

Edited By Richard Simpson on 24/08/2020 08:15:12

Thread: Newbie looking for best boat for mini steam marine engine
22/08/2020 09:15:30

Derek, I've sent you a PM. If you have any further questions just ask.

21/08/2020 16:54:55

I have just had a play and, as I suspected, the control valve works just as well in any one of four different positions, at 90 degrees to each other.

Simply rotate the valve through a complete 360 degrees with some air pressure on the engine to find the position of the valve that best suits your needs. One you have located your preferred neutral position your servo should be set to its neutral and the two arms joined together. The servo should then operate the engine giving full control in speed and direction.

Edited By Richard Simpson on 21/08/2020 16:55:13

21/08/2020 09:39:09

Hi Derek,

To answer your questions,

1) As manufacturers are continually developing their plant and the article was now 8 years ago I would go by the latest documentation. I have checked with the Miniature Steam Web site where it confirms that the 3 inch boilers are tested to 60 psi and are quoted as having a working pressure of 35 psi. Technically according to UK rules this should be no more than 30 psi, unless you want to put your boiler through a hydraulic test of 70 psi. I am sure that if your engine works fine at 35 psi it will work as well at 30 psi, although slightly slower! Don't forget your safety valve cannot be set any higher than 30 and your pressure gauge should be marked with a red line at 30 as well.

2) Without getting my own Clyde out and having a play, which I might just do on compressed air this afternoon, I seem to remember that the control valve works in more than one attitude. If you have a supply of compressed air have a play, otherwise I'll see what I can find out. I am sure it works in more than one attitude though, in pretty much the same way as the Cheddar engines did. Therefore all you need to do is to rotate the control valve disc to a more convenient attitude.

3) My Borkum uses a very simple 'dog' clutch. When I first saw it I decided immediately to change it for something more sophisticated however as soon as I started to use it and, when I first removed the plant, I soon realised that it was extremely simple yet efficient and very convenient. I will try to dig out a picture but it consists of basically a pin located in the flywheel, offset by a few millimeters and parallel to the main shaft. The pin has a plastic sheath over it. On the end of the prop shaft is a small collar with a screw threaded into it, also covered by a plastic sheath. The length and position of the pins allows them to interfere when the engine turns. The collar on the shaft can also be adjusted to ensure no end play in the prop shaft and the plastic sheathing ensures quiet and smooth operation. Highly recommended.

I hope this helps and gets you a little closer to getting your Borkum on the water.


Thread: plans
17/06/2020 09:53:45
Posted by Pierre-Jean Caron on 17/06/2020 08:37:16:
Hello, when we intervene in a discussion, we introduce ourselves and say "hello"

I think it is a little unreasonable to consider a comment as intervening in a discussion on an open forum. Everyone is free to add their opinions or comments at any time, which is what we would actively encourage. If you prefer to engage in a private conversation then using the Private Messaging system is probably better.

Thread: Newbie looking for best boat for mini steam marine engine
15/05/2020 08:27:26

Hi Derek, Glad to hear you are enjoying the build. I'm sure you will also enjoy the Miniature Steam plant and find it well matched to the Borkum.

I actually really like the hull in one solid colour and it saves having to get the boot topping perfect! It gives it more of a workboat character which suits the model.

I'm looking forward to seeing what you make of the plant and how it looks in the boat.

23/03/2020 10:27:14

Hi Derek, Tools is a whole subject in itself, in fact I did an article on tools for model boat magazine a couple of years ago. Just some suggestions:

Steel Rule, 6" and 12"

Knives, I would go for a Stanley knife with a retracting blade for the heavier ply and a scalpel handle and a few packets of blades for finer work. Best blades are number 11s and number 10s.

Good pencil, plastic and very cheap, propelling are good with a 0.5mm tip and medium lead inserts.

Abrasives, massive range of ready made abrasive tools but a packet of assorted wet and dry grades is a good start. You can cut them up and glue the bits to pieces of wood to make sanding boards and tape pieces to a flat board to make useful sanding surfaces.

Good cutting board, self healing mats are good, I would go for an A2 size.

Glues, for wood to wood I always use some form of PVA, either a woodworking glue such as Resin W or one of the very good model railway general purpose PVAs such as Speed Bond. For wood to ABS and metal to ABS a two part epoxy is good, I always buy Araldite, which is more expensive but I know it is reliable and good quality. Roughen the surface up with some course wet and dry before assembling. Avoid the rapid variety as that tends to not be as water resistant plus the normal variety gives you much longer to adjust the positioning of things before it fully cures. Leave overnight.

For the steam plant if MSM can give you exact dimensions of the base you can start to design the bearers to go in the base of the model. I would strongly advise that you design the model to allow everything to be removed on a single base. You then need just four simple screw fasteners to hold it down onto captive set screws. I would also use a very simple pin arrangement on the drive shaft so that does not require disconnection and a connection to the control valve and the servo using a clevis means that the plant can be removed in a couple of minutes.

That should start you off.

Thread: Who will test my boat’s steam plant?
06/03/2020 15:35:34

So having now dug out my old Cheddar crib sheet,

Proteus Vertical, Total capacity, 300ml, Working Pressure, 6 bar so a bar-litre figure of - 1.8 bar-litre

Proteus Horizontal, Total capacity, 650ml, Working Pressure, 6 bar so a bar-litre figure of - 3.9 bar-litre

I did not realise they made a Proteus Vertical so it very much depends on which one you are considering. These numbers come from Cheddar themselves when they were in business.

06/03/2020 15:23:03

Its only an assumption, don't quote me on that, you may well be right.

06/03/2020 13:19:20

No, I just suspect it will be above the 3 bar-litre limit so would require pressure testing as well as the annual steam test.

Thread: Newbie looking for best boat for mini steam marine engine
24/02/2020 23:29:34

Derek, Firstly I missed your question regarding the attenuator valve.

Personally, and I admit it is only my personal preference, I would always use some form of either electronic or mechanical gas control valve. I agree that gas saving may be minimal but I much prefer my own steaming to be slow and controlled rather than rushing around the pond simply to prevent the safety valve from lifting. I really do not like to see the safety valve lifting as it is not only wasting your gas but also your water and it just doesn't look like you are in control to me. I would far rather be able to manoeuvre around nice and slowly and yet push the throttle forward if I want. Also lifting the safety can spray hot water all over your model.

As regards the African Queen, I saw the movie only a few weeks ago and, as many have done before me, fell in love with the boat. It would make a lovely steam model subject but probably open up the arguments for and against weathering. There are advantages and disadvantages with the main advantages being cost and the ability to be able to use a smaller steam plant in it. Against that the Clyde, being a little bit bigger, possibly lends itself easier to modifications in the future and I think you will find that a Krick kit goes together a little bit easier than a Billings kit. This might make the build a little easier for a starter model.

Thread: Who will test my boat’s steam plant?
22/02/2020 23:14:02


I am around one and a half hours away from your club in Lincolnshire. You are welcome to bring your boat here to have it tested. We also have a Steam Day at The Kirklees Model Boat Club in April, which is about one and a quarter hours away from your club, where we test any boats on the day. They are only steam tests though, if you want a pressure test doing you would have to visit Kirklees on another day or bring it here. If you have the original certificate it is all very easy, if not it still isn't too bad with a Cheddar unit.

I have sent you this message as a PM with my phone number.  What ever you do stay with steam, it is not as difficult as it might all seem and a Cheddar plant, as long as it is not a Proteus, will only need an annual steam test once we have it sorted.

Edited By Richard Simpson on 22/02/2020 23:15:43

Thread: Newbie looking for best boat for mini steam marine engine
13/02/2020 10:28:01

Excellent news Derek, you will learn a lot from the club just by looking at the models and asking questions.

Miniature Steam are also extremely helpful and, I am sure, will be able to suggest the right plant for the Borkum. I actually did a review in Model Boat Magazine a few years ago of the Clyde plant and fitted it into my own Borkum for a test run. If you cannot find the article when you gain on line access to back copies let me know and I will find out which issue it was in.

09/02/2020 22:33:20

Derek, I used to work on merchant ships between the UK and Montreal. I once had to look after refueling on deck in -32 C, a memory that has always remained very clear in my mind!

I'm looking forward to hearing which direction you decide to take.

Good luck

09/02/2020 20:07:51

Hi Derek and welcome to the forum. Starting from nothing is not easy to guide someone through as there is so much unknown on both my side and yours however a few basic thoughts might help. As Colin says a subscription to Model Boat Magazine to give you access to back issues and a large number of steam related articles would be useful reading. There are some useful books as well and, as Dave mentions, joining a club with a resident steam enthusiast is invaluable.

Failing that we are here as well!

Very basic thoughts to give your research a bit of direction.

1) Go for an open hull as opposed to a closed one for your first model. It is easier to operate and maintain and is an invaluable learning tool. Progress to an enclosed hull as a future project.

2) Use a kit to get you off the ground. The Krick ones are perfect for the beginner while still allowing plenty of scope for personalisation. I am a great fan of the Borkum however the Anna is even simpler to build but you might find it a little restrictive sooner. The Victoria has huge potential and can be made into a beautiful model.

3) Start with a simple plant, preferably all on a common base and provided as a complete plant by the manufacturer. Have a look at the Miniature Steam range in Australia. For the Borkum the Clyde plant is perfect. Avoid the complications of feed water but consider controlling gas consumption with an attenuator valve.

4) Learn as much as you can about the gas cooling effect and how it can be accomodated in your model. Disposable gas tanks are more flexible to use for a beginner but your plant may already be fitted with a refillable tank. You will have gas cooling challenges with a small gas tank and the lower temperatures found in Canada.

5) When you get your complete plant on a base play around with it on your workbench to get familiar with operating it. Then take it outside and play around with it again in different temperatures to see how differently it behaves. Learn why and what you can do operationally to minimise some of these effects. An attenuator valve and disposable gas tanks both play a big part in this.

That, in conjunction with some article reading, should give you enough to be thinking about for a while!

Any more questions feel free to ask here.

Edited By Richard Simpson on 09/02/2020 20:08:13

Thread: airbrush question
08/02/2020 20:16:13

I'm afraid you are probably not going to get an answer to the total coverage as I suspect it is very rare for anyone to use an entire bottle of acrylic paint through an airbrush. The trouble is that, while a wide brush might give a good coverage they are really best for fine detailed weathering and small area coverage.

As has been said a Halfords primer is perfect for the larger areas of a significant sized RC model boat. I would not use an airbrush for a large area as the chance of an uneven finish is too high. I have done a Dean's Marine Cossack with grey primer, red oxide primer and matt black for the boot topping. I have also done a Krick Anna hull with a gloss green car body paint and got a very pleasing result.

Think of it this way, if you were to brush paint a small pot of paint what coverage would you expect to get from it? Maybe half a square metre? Thinned down for the airbrush isn't going to make a huge difference as you will have to give it sufficient coats to get the coverage you want so you should end up with approximately a similar thickness of paint to get a similar opacity and therefore a similar coverage.  The only thing that matters is the pigment so, no matter how much you thin it, at the end of the day you need the same amount of pigment over the same area. 

Rattle cans are perfect for large areas and don't forget that some vendors such as Tamiya do a range of their own acrylic paint colours in a rattle can.

Edited By Richard Simpson on 08/02/2020 20:18:31

Edited By Richard Simpson on 08/02/2020 20:18:46

Thread: Request advice for my first boat build challenge!
21/01/2020 22:28:04

I'll start the ball rolling by adding some preliminary thoughts as I am sure there will be more ideas to come.

First up it is important to realise that a rudder works in exactly the same way as an aircraft propeller by generating 'lift' at the expense of 'drag'. The shape and design of your rudder will be dependant on the use of your model and consequently whether manoeuvrability or speed is more important for you. At one extreme a speedboat will sacrifice manoeuvrability and reduce drag by having a relatively small rudder whereas a tug will sacrifice speed for the best of manoeuvrability by having a large rudder. Have a look at typical speedboat models such as a Club 500 here at:

and compare that with a model tug such as a Mobile Marine Models steam tug or a Model Slipway Envoy Class.

Your next main concern is placement. Looking at your hull you basically have two options, you can either have your prop shaft coming out of the bottom of the hull, with the rudder mounted on the bottom directly behind it, as per the Club 500 arrangement, or you could have the propeller mounted on the transom, again with the rudder mounted behind it. Unfortunately with your flat wide based transom you will have a great deal of difficulty in getting a good flow of water around the rudder so really your only options are either to have the tube exit the hull through the keel and the rudder mounted vertically behind it or an outboard on the transom with the propeller extending below the transom. I would use the Club 500 arrangement for guidance. Offset rudders are only really used in high performance boats, in your case you need the most effect so the rudder may be best mounted directly behind the propeller in the best flow of water. If you use a flat brass rudder, as used by the Club 500, you will have minimum drag and mounting it directly behind the propeller will give you maximum effect.

You haven't said what the dimensions of your model are but taking the proportions of the Club 500 and scaling them up or down should give you an idea of what size and shape of rudder you need. To meet criteria A) you do need performance as well as endurance so you should be looking for as light a construction as possible combined with the 'V' hull. If your model is fairly close to the size of a Club 500 you might want to consider buying the motor, shafting and running gear as well as the rudder unit from the manufacturer.

Anyway just some ideas to start the thinking off. Good luck with the competition!

Thread: Prop shaft vibration
30/12/2019 16:19:49

An interesting thread, despite its age, and one that has a lot of valuable potential for builders.

As has been mentioned a double UV joint should not cause vibration problems in itself and is the only mechanical way to ensure correct transmission if the two shafts are parallel but offset.

What noticeably doesn't seem to have come up in the discussion are two significant points.

First vibration is caused by an out of balance force, not necessarily misalignment. This could be anything from a poorly manufactured UV joint to a badly machined or cast propeller. These should have been changed out individually to see if the vibration disappears, thereby eliminating the source. As an example I have seen UV joint grub screws replaced by excessively long hex headed stainless steel screws in the past. Realignment should not have been necessary. Being basic if you have to perfectly align a UV joint, what is the point in having it?

Secondly I am surprised that vibration is being caused in a transmission system that is powering a model of the Titanic. At the revolutions the shafts should be rotating I would not have expected much vibration to have been experienced so I suspect that the shafts were rotating too fast. Bearing in mind scale speeds and performance, even with a little poetic licence to get out of trouble, shaft speeds should not generally create vibration unless the out of balance weight is considerable. Speed will amplify the vibration, it does not cause it. The cause is back to the first point, find the out of balance force by a process of elimination and remove it.

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We welcome well written contributions from Website members on almost any aspect of Model Boating with a particular emphasis on practical hints, tips, experience and builds.

In order to maintain a consistent standard and format, all suggestions should first be sent to me by Personal Message for approval in principle. Only a very limited amount of time is available for editing contributions into a suitable format for placing on the website so it is important that the material is well presented, lucid and free from obvious spelling errors. I think it goes without saying that contributions should be illustrated by appropriate photos. I shall be happy to give advice on this.

The Member Contribution area offers space for short informative mini articles which would not normally find a place in Model Boats magazine. It is an opportunity for Website Members to freely share their  expertise and experience but I am afraid that virtue is its own reward as there is no budget to offer more material recompense!

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