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Disarmodel Vanguard tug as RC

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Petr Osipov26/03/2018 15:26:29
19 forum posts
4 photos


I am a static ship modeler for many years by now, both resin, wood, and plastics, mainly in small scale. But, recently, my daughter challenged me to build an RC model ship. Well, a challenge is to be completed!

I looked around a bit for a not too complex kit of a tug, and found a nice looking paddle wheel tug Vanguard from Disarmodel. I had a few gos to RC many years ago (and the broken twisted RC plane remains, destroyed drone, and incomplete plastic RC HMCS Snowberry from Revell are a silent reminder ), so I have the equipment (receivers, power controlers, etc) for that. But, I still have a few questions:

First - how is the quality of Disarmodel? I never encountered their kits so far, and nearly no reviews or mentions online...

Then, waterproofing the hull - how to do it? Would a layer of yacht varnish outside, and brushed-on epoxy inside suffice, or would it be too little? Or some fiberglass mats, etc needed?

Paddle wheels - would driving them with a T-like reductor gear motor (from Aliexpress like this **LINK**) be adequate? I have seen people using a chain drive, belt drive or cog wheels for that, but are there any points against a worm gear? How many RPM should I plan for the paddlewheels?

Would you place a sensor-driven bilge pump into the boat? I have such one in my snowberry, so I can just reuse it

In a long term I consider using a live view camera, LED lighting, and some servo units based on Arduino/WLAN (I am an IT guy, so programming it all is not an issue for me), but probably not in first iteration of the project.

John W E26/03/2018 17:32:37
276 forum posts
272 photos

Hi there Petr and welcome to the Forum here.

It is a lovely looking kit - but - after I have done a good search on the Web - I cannot find any information where someone had motorised this kit. I have a feeling it is meant to be a static kit. Do you have any information or viewed Forums where someone has motorised the kit? If so, that may be a lead for you. There has to be someone on this planet who has motorised this kit but maybe they aren't people who frequent forums.

If it turns out to be a static kit, it may be a little difficult to motorise it and ballast easily on the water. Hope it can be motorised cos there are various ways of sealing the hull with epoxy resins on the outside and also numerous ways of driving the paddles using belts etc.

Let us know how any progress - try other kit manufactures from the UK - such as Deans or Model Slipway. Just to name but two. Also if you look up a Company called Cornwall Model Boats - they list numerous amounts of kit manufacturers.

Also on the Home page for this forum - look on the right hand side for advertisements for kit manufacturers.

Happy Modelling.


Colin Bishop26/03/2018 18:33:48
4961 forum posts
6110 photos
411 articles

That does look very small for a working paddle steamer model. A lot of top hamper and not much underwater hull to hold it all up. As John says, it definitely appears to be a static model and the construction will probably reflect that.

Even if the hull is hollow, I think it would be difficult to accommodate the weight of all the running gear and radio etc. From the image shown I rather doubt if a working model would be practical.


Paul T26/03/2018 19:19:18
7335 forum posts
1229 photos
2 articles

Hello Petr

The person who might be able to help is Bob Abell. Bob is a member of this forum and an accomplished paddle wheel builder and if anyone could apply RC to your model he can.

Good luck


Malcolm Frary26/03/2018 20:49:00
1035 forum posts

Some of my club members have a liking for paddlers. All of the working ones are larger than this. All either have a wider hull in proportion or are naturally deeper, or have had some extra hull depth added. A lot of real paddlers were marginal on stability, so there might be a clue there - a small model will suffer from the weight distribution not being as it needs to be, and the sailing conditions get multiplied by the square root of the scale. A real world 10Kph breeze becomes a 70Kph blow for a 1:50 model. The considerations of achieving the required stability and ability to handle sailing conditions applies to all scale boats, not just paddlers.

Whatever size or scale of paddler, 120-150 rpm seems to be favoured to get reasonable performance. The top limit is probably something to do with keeping the paddles intact in operation, but that is just a guess.

Petr Osipov26/03/2018 23:12:04
19 forum posts
4 photos

Thanks! Lots of great info!

I have a problem of storing a larger model then around 80 cm, so I guess I might give it a try.

It is of course narrow and flatbottomed, but my calculations say it might work out... Assuming width of 15 cm (without paddles), 3-4 cm draught and 50% fullness (it is probably more, but no lines plan to calculate it, i mean a combo of prismatic and midship coefficients here), it gives me around 1.5-2 kg displacement. Not much, but the kit box is listed as 2.8 kg, with manuals, plans, boxes and other stuff. Receiver, power controller, etc are just a few grams, LiPo battery of 6000mAh around 350 grams. Speed of 12 knots results in mere 2,8 kmh, and its a goal I want to get, no need to race here...

Are there any reasonable alternatives in terms of price and look? Being a model kit dealer here in Germany, I can get this kit very cheap, as well as most others, but would like to restrain my budget to max. 200 Euro or so...I can of course go with a "usual" screw tug like Occre Ulysses or Disarmodel ALTSU MENDI, but these are similarily dimensioned...

Malcolm Frary27/03/2018 09:33:31
1035 forum posts

A similarly sized screw tug will probably be more stable - side wheels do nothing for stability.

If it is currently available, the Lindberg harbor tug in their "classic" series is easier to store at about 13" long, but probably a bit more fiddly to do. If I remember right, in your size range, there was a downloadable plan via a well hidden link on the Moalboatmayhem site. It had three alternative superstructures to allow it to look "European" or "UK" or "US".

Petr Osipov27/03/2018 11:14:04
19 forum posts
4 photos

I know the Lindberg kit, it sat a while on my store shelf Not the easiest kit to build due to old tooling...

In fact, I was given an Idea by a colleague who is RC guy now - I already produce 3D print tug kit in 1/200, 1/350 and 1/700 (1898 Thames tug Simla) - why not to scale it to i.e. 1/72. I can quite easily take the hull form, make it 1.2-1.5mm thick, drop in some ribs for stability, add a deck to be planked, basic superstructure boxes, and run it through a 3D print service. In 1/72 it would be a small (44cm long) sexy looking tug and one where I have a myriad of photos, postcards, plans already in posession. With 3D printed base, it would also be lightweight, even after planking the deck with thin wood planks and adding the details made of PS, wood or resin - so enough displacement reserve for electronics, ballast or battery. An economical motor with a battery pack borrowed of my trashed RC plane and 2.4 Ghz controls could round this up... Definitely worth to think about...

Another RC guy in my team suggested to use MENG Models "The Crossing" passenger ship. Not a tug, but a very rare and attractive kit, never seen one built in Germany, but well structured for my purpose, with clip on superstructure taking the entire middle part, with an opening below it.... Hmm, much to think about

Petr Osipov27/03/2018 21:30:37
19 forum posts
4 photos

Just for fun and to try my RC gear, I just ordered such a small funny plastic paddler, 1/150 Paddle Tug Strongbow. Of course low detail, but nothing I cant either scratch build or superdetail as a small test drive. The kit is designed as a first motorized model for chinese teenagers, and I have been told they build them at school lessons, so low price and easy to do.

Barry Gibson01/10/2020 10:52:53
38 forum posts
17 photos

Looks like it can be done.

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