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David Kearns07/08/2017 14:27:29
7 forum posts
9 photos

As you will see I am new to model boat building !!

I recently obtained a huge 60in vintage scratch built model of USS Tennessee / USS California / USS West Virginia !!!! I am sure it is one of these !! Although my research was limited to Jane's fighting ships of WWII. However, I am unsure which of the three she is. The ship has no ships number or reference material and she is in need of some TLC, because a previous owner plastered the ship with thick glossy paint.

Before I start any restoration I would like to obtain further reference material about the class and I would appreciate any pointers in the right direction.

Dave Kearns, Retired RN

Paul T07/08/2017 14:57:44
7335 forum posts
1229 photos
2 articles

Hello David

Welcome to our sedate little backwater, if you post some pictures of your model we will do our best to pin it down.

All the best


David Kearns07/08/2017 21:07:49
7 forum posts
9 photos

Thank you Paul,

I will take a few photographs and list them tomorrow.

Regards Dave

David Kearns08/08/2017 20:39:32
7 forum posts
9 photos

dscf1045.jpgdscf1043.jpgdscf1042.jpgdscf1040.jpgdscf1038.jpgdscf1032.jpgdscf1030.jpgdscf1028.jpgdscf1027.jpgHad problems working out how to upload the pictures !!

Now I have created an album I will try again !!

The hull is made of grp, superstructure from balsa lined plastic, possibly styrene, deck made from ply.

The motor is a whopper !, any idea of type, voltage and age would be of great help.

If it is West Virginia, California or Tennessee did any of these ships have one level upper deck perhaps during refits !!

Any help please.

Dave Kearns Retired RN

David Kearns08/08/2017 20:42:22
7 forum posts
9 photos

Sorry, forgot to add , the hull is approximately 62 in long , to give an idea of size the pictures were taken on my extra large king size bed.


Colin Bishop08/08/2017 21:49:54
4961 forum posts
6110 photos
411 articles

These three ships were all reconstructed after Pearl Harbour to essentially the same design with minor differences. The model is obviously simplified and the hull is incorrect as the forward part is not indented below weather deck level where the embrasures for the old secondary armament were mounted.

I have done a quick Google search on each ship i.e. 'USS West Virginia rebuilt' and it looks to me as if the model was probably intended to represent the USS California looking at the disposition of the 40mm AA armament and the superstructure arrangements around the bridge and funnel area but it is difficult to be certain.

There are profile and plan drawings of the rebuilt ships on Google and you could try to match these with the layout on your model which might confirm that it is supposed to be the USS California.


ashley needham09/08/2017 08:59:03
7353 forum posts
156 photos

David. Very nice. A bit of damage, not much. A rub down, fill where necessary and paint, you should be good to go!!

​Hazarding a guess, that is a windscreen wiper motor, a commonly used item years ago. In which case it will be 12V. HOWEVER, unless someone positively identifies it, it could be anything!! Unlikely to be more than 12V I would have thought. A ploy would be to get a wattmeter on it, on 12V and see what current it draws to give an indication of output (when in the water). Is there an ESC in the boat or is it on/off or does it have a resistive board?

​If it runs OK I would leave it there as doing something else is probably not worth the effort. HOWEVER, it is a very large and heavy boat and the performance on this setup may be poor. It takes a long time for something this big to slow down, and it has considerable momentum when hitting the bank/other boats/geese etc, so I like to have "sufficient" power available.

​Probably worth getting the insides right first, sorting out hull cracks and so on, then attention can be paid to the paintwork. It is all too easy to damage the finish when doing industrial grade repairs to a boat this chunky!


Charles Oates09/08/2017 11:41:13
638 forum posts
52 photos

I agree with Ashley, it's probably an old windscreen wiper motor, and very satisfactory they are for this kind of job. I too would leave it in, at least to try out. One thing I would do is solder a bar across the two stern tubes, just behind the pulleys, they seem to be unsupported against the pull of the belts, and will probably flex. If soldering doesn't appeal, a hardwood bar epoxyed in will do the same.

Only the rudder servo is connected, so some speed control is needed, and it's worth getting a modern 2.4 gig transmitter / receiver as well, they are much less prone to interference from these old motors. The old capacitor on the motor can be changed, or removed, that one is long past it's best. I suspect the relay is not now connected to anything, and might have been for reversing. It too can be removed.

My only concern is that the motor might be a wound field motor, i.e coils instead of permanent magnets, that might explain the relay. If it is, forget the above and swap it. They can be used with modern equipment, but it's not a simple plug in and use thing. If you can't recognise a wound field motor, hold a screwdriver on the motor case, if it sticks strongly, it's a normal motor.


Malcolm Frary09/08/2017 18:11:44
1035 forum posts

According to my Janes, West Virginia was a Colrado class which was rebuilt after Pearl Harbour and given a profile very similar to California/Tenessee, but retained its 8 16" guns in 4 turrets, so a major spotters clue there. I suspect that it could be either of the 12, 14" ships, and the main thing will be to get the numbers and paint job right.

The capacitor on the motor looks like an electrolytic type. If it is, it is likely that the motor will only tun one way, electrolytic capacitors are polarity sensitive, the sensitivity showing as smelly smoke when connected reversed. Or it might be a field wound motor with the capacitor just across the brushes and the field winding controlled by the relay. It might be a good idea to pull the motor and fit a pair of more modern ones. A couple of 545s shouldn't break the bank and should give realistic performance on 12 volts.

David Kearns09/08/2017 18:51:09
7 forum posts
9 photos

To , Paul, Colin, Ashley , Chas and Malcolm,

Thank you all for your much needed help and advice. I've certainly got much more research to do before starting this project. I will just keep any changes in keeping with the original model and Tennessee class ship.

The hull looks sound but I will see what I find below the layers of paint !! I've got a retired Reme electrician next door so I will throw the motor at him and see what bouncers back !!. The superstructure is in three sections and all three sections are thick with gritty dog hair paint and probably too far gone to strip and restore, so probably a superstructure rebuild is in order.

I acquired 4 ships in total from a carpenters estate so I have plenty of work to keep me busy.

Thank you again.

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