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Motors/prop for model warship

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T Thurlow29/08/2020 13:52:17
4 forum posts

Hi, New member here.

My soon to be 9y old son has asked for a model warship for his birthday that could go in the bath/lake and be remotely controlled (having watched too much youtube on historic sea battles...). I'm not shelling out for an expensive plastic thing so having done some dabbling in modelling in my youth I've decided to use this as an opportunity to build something with him.

I've purchased plans for HMS Embling ( from Sarik Models (although not the wood kit). The plan is to make it free running now and upgrade it to RC later if he is still interested - is this a viable route or should I be planning it all in one go?

I was looking at this motor and a 5" shaft. Would I be better with something else?



Chris E29/08/2020 16:53:32
168 forum posts


Have you seen this article

HMS Embling Build

Ray Wood 229/08/2020 17:27:56
2164 forum posts
755 photos

Hi Toby,

Looks like an ideal model, radio gear is so cheap these days, I'd put the steering servo in when you build the hull, fairly awkward to retro fit.

Good luck with the build 👍

Regards Ray

T Thurlow29/08/2020 20:48:50
4 forum posts

Thanks Chris, It was the article which made me choose the HMS Embling - something I could follow along to. Considering my last boat (and effectively only) was a Vic Smeed plan from the book 'Model Magic' back in the late 80's I need something to guide me.

Ray - if fitting the steering servo is preferable now, what is a good option to go for?



Ray Wood 229/08/2020 21:30:19
2164 forum posts
755 photos

Hi Toby,

Just a standard servo, no more than £5.00 should do the trick, some Carson radio sets I use come with a standard servo for around £40.00 for the whole thing rx & rx on 2.4mhz.

Regards Ray

Malcolm Frary30/08/2020 09:05:02
918 forum posts

My first go at building from a plan was HMS Quickstep, probably a GG plan. A few changes were made as it was built from ply panels recovered from a dead kitchen door. It ened up a bit shorter (missed out a set of torpedo tubes) and a bit deeper (about 1/2" which heped stability and payload. The ply probably helped make it strong enough to minimise bank damage.

With a free running boat, you don't get to choose which bit of bank its going to slam into. You have to guess and get there first. Remote steering helps. Getting a speed control as well was a revelation.

Charles Oates30/08/2020 11:46:38
593 forum posts
50 photos

Hi Toby, you asked about the motor and shaft. As long as the shaft is long enough to get the propeller in the right place and at a gentle angle to get the motor to align with it, it will be fine.

As to the motor, it's an old joke on here that if you ask 5 people about the best motor for a model, you'll end up with a choice of 5.!

I noticed on the model boat bits web page, the 280 motor they sell is rated at 12 to 24 volts. The 280 designation just refers to the motor length, and many motors are made to different voltage ranges. The 280 motors I've used in the past were rated to 6 volts, which would work in the model, but not ideal as it would be running at the top of it's range. My personal choice would be a 385 motor, they're rated 6 to 15 volts, and are quite touquey so will drive a decent propeller. You'll only need to use 6 volts to make that model go well.

With that motor, a 30mm or 35 mm propeller will be fine, check for sufficient clearance at the stern. As to a coupling, you can buy a huco or similar one, but with low powered models like this, I just use a piece of neoprene tubing, such as is sold for model fuel tubing or fish tank pumps. It's cheap, forgiving in the alignment, and lasts forever. My 30 inch Corvette has had the same piece in for 20 + years and is still fine.

I hope that helps a bit.


Chris E30/08/2020 11:52:03
168 forum posts


You have picked an interesting model with lots of detail to keep you occupied.

Having had a look at the article I note that the model is quite narrow at just over 3in. This is absolutely fine bit it does mean that if you build the superstructure heavy it could be very "wobbly" and even possibly unstable in the water. Add lightness and it will be just fine. I know that "beefing up" can be seen as a good idea by a new builder but in the superstructure of this model it is not. The extra cm of under water hull depth mentioned above by Malcolm seems like it might be a good idea although if Glynn posts I am sure(??) that he will say that it isn't necessary. Just make the bow 1cm deeper and extend the ramp at the stern until it is 1cm deeper. The bottom of the hull will now be 1cm deeper in the water. You will obviously need to make all the bulkheads1cm deeper than the plan. When fitting out the hull keep any weight as low as possible.

If you go with this idea I would suggest fitting a 385 motor and allowing space for a 35mm prop even if you fit a smaller one to start with. You can regulate the speed of the model by both the propeller fitted and the voltage applied to the motor. 


Edited By Chris E on 30/08/2020 12:11:01

Ray Wood 230/08/2020 16:01:28
2164 forum posts
755 photos

Hi All,

Having just finished Vic Smeeds Tribal class destroyer which he deepened for stability, it's not really required, it just needed 4 lbs of steel plate as ballast, and anyway destroyers lean over quite a lot when turning 😀I

Toby I guess you built Sea Rider back in the 80's a Leander class frigate, I have the plan.

Regards Ray

Malcolm Frary31/08/2020 11:14:56
918 forum posts

The main reason that the one I mentioned earlier wound up shorter was the free wood panel size. The reason for it being that bit deeper was that in that magazine issue there were two plans. One for a retro Bowman look-alike launch, the other the Quickstep.

I started on the launch and decided that I would rapidly get bored with it. A bit of pencil work, a few bits missed off and there was a slightly shorter, wider and deeper "frigate". It got called "Troutbridge". Despite the lack of any actual prototype, it didn't stop the occasional passer by claiming to have served on one, or something very similar. At least, until they got a close view. They were all polite enough to not mention the missing rack of torpedo tubes.

A boat this size will work well with a 385 on around 3/4 the volts it says on its label. A much smaller 280 will be working far too hard. A longer shaft lets you position the inboard end higher, hopefully above the water line, while keeping the angle shallow.

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