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Eilean Mor

Building a 1:24 generic Clyde Puffer from the

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Banjoman26/10/2014 17:50:11
1142 forum posts
2414 photos

Hello all,

I though I might start a build thread to describe my current work in progress (already mentioned in a few other threads), namely the "Eilean Mòr" – a generic (i.e. not based on any specific prototype) Clyde Puffer based on the Mountfleet Models "Highlander" kit.

Before I get going on that, though, perhaps a few words about the builder might be in place?!

My name is Mattias, and I am a middle-aged (born 1965) bloke from Sweden, living in Belgium. In more youthful days, I was a fervent modeller of both plastic kits à la Airfix et consortes and of kit or scratch built r/c model boats.

In my early 20s, though, I gradually abandoned the hobby – not so much for the classic reasons of family and work, but because (a) I got more and more fed up with not having a dedicated space for building (i.e. continously getting work and toools out and then packing them away again after each building session), and (b) my other significant hobby of playing music (I play banjo in trad jazz bands, hence the monniker) took up just about all free time I had beyond getting on with life in general.

However, in 2008 my wife and I were given the opportunity to rent the kitchen part of the old porter's lodge (just one floor down from our apartment) in the block of flats where we live. The initial idea was to use this for extra storage, but I soon realised that it would also make a perfect indoors shed: it has heating, electricity and a sink with warm and cold running water, and thus the thought was born that maybe I ought to give my old love of model boats another spin?!

For my first project, I decided to go with something reasonably small, and also a static model, both to keep initial expense down (my old 4-channel O.S. rx/tx-job had long since given up the ghost) and to help avoid getting stuck part way on too large a project if I found I no longer enjoyed it as of old.

Also, I was quite set upon it being a sort of trial of myself in my own eyes: as a younger modeller, I was too often impatient to get a project finished, and would therefore cut corners left, right and center, with ensuing quality issues in the finished product. In other words I wanted to find out whether or not adulthood had brought the virtue of patience to my personal makeup?

For that first project I settled on HMS Pickle from Caldercraft, and although (for family reasons that I won't go into) it took rather longer than foreseen to finish (almost five years!), I got there in the end, and to my absolute delight found that I had the bug again, and how!

My apologies for the above rant being almost only about the builder and not about the puffer build; amends will – I promise! – be made in the next installment!


Edited By Banjoman on 26/10/2014 17:52:40

Colin Bishop26/10/2014 18:22:59
4548 forum posts
6070 photos
399 articles

Hi Mattias,

Welcome to the forum, we look forward to hearing your progress. An interesting workshop you have by the sound of it!

I think you are right that as you get older, the hobby becomes more relaxing and you don't mind the time spent to get things the way you want them.


Banjoman26/10/2014 20:41:16
1142 forum posts
2414 photos

Thank you very much, Colin! And indeed – these days my only real criterion for success or lack thereof in modelling is getting things to where I'm satisfied with result!

So! On to the build … which of course began by deciding what to actually build. For any project, I like to give some thought beforehand to what I want the challenge(s) to be, and this time I knew early on that one such would be to get back to r/c boating, pretty much exactly 30 years on from my last efforts in that direction.

I have also for quite some time been keen to try my hand at airbrush painting, and decided that the time for that would be now.

Taken together, this meant looking for a subject that would be large enough for and otherwise generally suited to r/c (without it getting so large that it would be difficult to handle or fit onto the work top) but also one where the prototype is largely made from metal, as I believe that airbrushing really comes to its forte on what purports to be a metal surface.

One challenge I did not wish to face this time, though, was scratch building, so a kit it would be. Given that I'm generally speaking much more drawn to prototypes pre mid-20th century, and also that I'm more inclined towards civilan vessels, I thus began looking at kits of fishing boats, tugs, smaller merchant ships and similar. I had no previous acquaintance with puffers (their popular culture significance as in Vital Spark, Maggie etc. never made it across the North Sea to Scandinavia), but quickly became drawn to their sort of pug-nosed, cutish charms. I also realised that the hull type would be close to ideal for easy driveline and r/c installation, with two large openings available in the deck and an almost box shaped, very roomy hull interior.

Thus looking at kits, I decided that my third and final main challenge would be a glass fibre hull/white metal fittings-based kit, as I had absolutely no previous experience of that type of construction.

In early 2013, I'd finalised my research and decided to go for the "Highlander" kit from Mountfleet Models, and happily typed their URL into my browser with my credit card at hand, only to discover that they had just suffered a devastating fire!

After some more thought, and getting a very strong impression that they would try their utmost to get back in business, I decided to wait, and in the meanwhile spend the money I'd laid aside for the model (and a bit more) on getting a good quality airbrush and compressor, so as to be ready (and have a bit of practice) on that front when the kit once more became available.

This happy day finally arrived on June 1st 2013, and I promptly put in an order that arrived the following Friday.

I'm sure you are all familiar with the mix of anticipation and trepidation that comes when one opens a new model kit box for the first time … and this was quite some box, too! In it were plenty of wood and other materials ...


… and of course the hull …


… not to mention plenty and then plenty more white metal fittings:




Other than the hull, there were also glass fibre parts for the engine room, the jolly boat and finally three crew members cast in resin.


I spent the next couple of weeks just counting parts and reading the instructions backwards and forwards, but on July 1st 2013, having thoroughly washed the hull in soap and luke warm water in the bathtub (and also, as per the instructions, left it to dry connected to ground in order to get rid of any residue static electricity), it was finally time to bring everything downstairs to the workshop ...


To be continued … 


Edited By Banjoman on 26/10/2014 20:42:35

Edited By Banjoman on 26/10/2014 20:45:03

Banjoman27/10/2014 12:04:00
1142 forum posts
2414 photos

The very first jobs I tackled were to drill the necessary holes in the stern for the skeg, the rudder pintles and the propeller shaft, and also to file down the sternmost section of the rubbing strake to create a free passage for the rudder post.



I also drilled for the anchor and hawse holes, and glued their external white metal fittings in place.


I then prepared the motor installation in the shape of a couple of wood blocks onto which the motor mount could be screwed down, with a small square of rubber matting added to (hopefully) help dampen any vibrations.


With the motor mount ensemble dryfitted, the propeller axle was glued in place using 24 hour epoxy.


Once the epoxy had set fully, the skeg-and-rudder assembly were up for fixing in place. I was not as happy as I felt I ought to be, though, with the proposed method for fastening this fairly essential piece of kit, and therefore decided to add a few strengthening elements:

  • To keep the lower forward edge of the rudder from catching on the outer tip of the skeg, I lifted the rudder a few millimeters with the aid of a couple of nylon washers. These also act as a simple but quite effective form of bearing by producing less friction than white metal against white metal would do.
  • To strengthen the bond of the lower pintle to the hull, I cut M3 threads on its shaft, and added two nylon nuts (one inside and the other outside the hull) to the epoxy fastening.
  • To keep the rudder from jumping its bearings I screwed a collar onto the post just below the lower pintle.
  • Finaly, instead of the rather small, easily bent and hard to properly fasten white metal servo arm included in the kit, I decided on the (perhaps somewhat over-engineered) use of an aluminium double (as my plan was to use two pushrods) servo arm fastened with a stop screw instead.


To be continued ...


Edited By Banjoman on 27/10/2014 12:04:22

Edited By Banjoman on 27/10/2014 12:07:37

Banjoman28/10/2014 14:10:11
1142 forum posts
2414 photos

With the propeller and rudder assemblies in place, the hull was again watertight, and it was time to check the general ballast needs.

As seen above, I'd opted for an Eletronize 543-12 motor to be run on 6V and for which I'd gotten a 10Ah SLA battery, weighing in at 1,9 kg. The box of white metal parts in its turn provided an additional (and fairly hefty) 1,3 kg, but a bathtub test with a cargo of tins, cans and bags from the fridge and larder made it clear that I would still need to add some eight or so kilos of ballast to get everything down to the approximate waterline!


Next up, I built and painted a wooden framework which, together with the blocks under motor mount, was epoxied into place at the bottom of hull. The idea here was to create a "holding pen" for an initial load of lead shot ballast weight at the very lowest point of the hull, but also a framework to which a general fastening system could easily be fixed.


For that fastening system, I decided to go with three lengths of aluminium curtain rod, picked up at a local DIY shop. I also added a low bulkhead aft of the motor mount. The idea here was to create yet another pocket that could be filled with lead shot, both to help bring the stern down properly into the water and to create a vibration absorbant dead weight just below the propeller shaft.


Already at this stage I had decided to make the battery moveable along the fore-and-aft axis, to provide a simple way of adjusting final trim. For this purpose, I now began building a battery sled from a piece of plywood, set on gliders of more curtain rod, and fixable against the fore-and-aft curtain rods with the help of some broadheaded brass bolts and wingnuts. The heads of the bolts fit nicely under the turned-in edges of the lower curtain rods.


First, though, a load of lead shot (bought in bulk from a diving equipment shop) was poured into the bottom frame and secured in place by pouring on epoxy resin.


The sled furthermore does the job of getting the battery a few centimeters up from the keelsoon, to mitigate against the risk of smaller quantities of water getting into the hull (e.g. via the propeller shaft), while still keeping this fairly large weight below the waterline.


When finsihed the battery sled included the below component parts, by which it is possible not only to fix the sled to the boat but also the battery to the sled. The whole thing was designed to sit smack dab on the center line, but just in case, the short white glass fibre strips will function as shims, and by moving one or two from port to starboard or vice versa the battery can be adjusted sideways by 2,5 or 5 mm respectively. If even finer adjustment turns out to be needed, it will of course be possible to replace some or all of them with thinner shims.


To be continued ...


Edited By Banjoman on 28/10/2014 14:10:42

Edited By Banjoman on 28/10/2014 14:11:20

Banjoman29/10/2014 12:01:35
1142 forum posts
2414 photos

Once the battery sled was finished and installed, I went on to put in most of the additional ballast. Some more lead shot was added in the forepeak, kept in place by a bulkhead similar to the one in the stern, but the main part was added by filling a few lenghts of left-over copper tubing with even more lead shot. This created a series of sealed-off containers (with the container also contributing to the total weight) that would fit neatly at the bottom of the central part of the hull (thus lowering the CoG as far as possible), would be removable if needed but when installed could be easily and solidly fixed to the curtain rod rails previously mentioned.

In the picture there is also a loose 1 kg sack of lead shot just aft of the fore bulkhead (while the box of white metal fittings has taken out for the photo) but this will probably not be (fully) needed in the end, given the weight of the various building materials used to construct the top side structures.

The observant observer will also notice a MTronik 15A ESC next to, and a band of copper around the back end of the motor. I found that my soldering iron would not heat up enough to provide secure solder joints on the motor can for the RF-suppressing capacitors, and I therefore instead clamped the capacitor legs against the can with a strip of sheet copper. This clamp also holds the green-and-yellow wire that connects to a similar clamp against the propeller shaft tube, thus earthing (or should that be watering? ) the can into water. II checked with a multimeter and there is indeed a connexion between the can itself and the outside tip of the shaft tube, which therefore will be left unpainted.

Finally, the rudder servo were not yet in its final and proper place as seen here (duh!), but only included as part of a general radio set-up test ...


To be continued ...


Edited By Banjoman on 29/10/2014 12:04:09

mike farrell29/10/2014 18:26:14
378 forum posts
6 photos

Hi Mattias ,What a nice build you have taken on .Some neat ideas which I am sure will be picked up and use by builders on the forum

Like your sled idea,will keep in mind for the future .Keep your build coming winkMichael

Banjoman30/10/2014 08:32:38
1142 forum posts
2414 photos

Thank you very much, Mike, for your kind words!

Here are a couple of more detailed photos of the battery sled as I made it.

Obviously the principle of a movable battery (which is the key idea here, as it allows one to use the fairly substantial weight of the battery for adjusting the trim) could be equally well achieved with a less elaborate construction, but I rather enjoyed going a little bit overboard (in the figurative sense only, of course) on this one ...

The rubber sleeves on the upright bolts, by the way, are the outer sleeve material from a length of microphone cable (as a musician, I prefer making my own microphone and instrument cables from bulk cable and connectors, because that way one gets three or four times the quality for a given cost per metre of finished cable; I thus often have 40 or 50 metres of bulk cable around the house anyway...)




Edited By Banjoman on 30/10/2014 08:33:32

Banjoman31/10/2014 09:17:11
1142 forum posts
2414 photos

With most of innards sorted out, time had come to put a lid on things, i.e. to install the decks!

The kit instructions give good and detailed guidance to how the main deck support frame should be constructed and installed. However, before actually putting the frame together I decided to check that the suggested width of 23 cm would be suitable. To this purpose I cut off three 23 cm lengths of square dowel and put these between the midship bulwarks.

At 23 cm, I found that the sides of the hull tended to be pushed out just a tad too much, and I thus cut down the three lengths dowel to 22 cm, which to my eye looked much better.


With the key measurements verified, it was time to start gluing the framework together, using a trysquare to keep things at right angles ...



The basic frame, including the opening to go under the cargo hatch, was then reinforced at the corners, while forwards of the hatch a piece of 10 mm plywood was glued in to strengthen the bit where the mast will eventually pass through the deck.


As instructed, the outer lengthwise stringers were cut halfway through, to allow them to follow the bulwark sheer when installed while keeping the hatch frame square.

The first dryfit showed that this would work nicely, but made apparent two (minor) issues.

Firstly, I had at an early stage decided to cut out openings for the scuppers. Not because I intended to make the freeing ports work, which I didn't and haven't done, but because I think that if there is a freeing port visible on the outside of the hull, it looks rather nice to see a corresponding opening in the bulwarks behind it when looking from the inside. So far, so good. However, it turned out that I'd made a schoolboy error when measuring for cutting out those openings from the rubbing strakes below them, as it now became apparent that the hull was not all that symmetrical, with the port rubbing strake some 5 mm higher than the corresponding one on the starboard side! This would thus have be sorted out, but more about that later.

Secondly, the dryfit showed that the deck support frame would sit partly on, partly just above the indent in the hull made by the moulding of said rubbing strake.


In other words, I realised that it would be better to put filler into this indent in order to get a full and solid joint between the frame and the hull, and I therefore decided to to all the smoothing out of the bulwark insides at this stage, rather than after installing the decks as suggested by the instructions.

Out came thus the Isopon P38 and the wet-and-dry papers ...


The one job involved in modelling that I've always had the most trouble doing properly must surely be sanding, so for the final stage of smoothing the bulwark insides, I divided the job into four sectors (port midships, port bows, starboard bows and starboard midships), and went over each sector with in succession 1200, 1500 and 2000 grit wet paper, setting a five minute timer on my phone for each sector and each paper. It was a rather dull hour, but an hour well spent ...


To be continued ...


Edited By Banjoman on 31/10/2014 09:17:55

Edited By Banjoman on 31/10/2014 09:20:08

Edited By Banjoman on 31/10/2014 09:21:04

Edited By Banjoman on 31/10/2014 09:22:14

IAN_I31/10/2014 14:54:18
391 forum posts
180 photos

Hi Mattias..

Great looking build, the work in progress is showing some very detailed design.

Look forward to seeing more pics.


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