Volvo Open 70 Class Racing Yacht

DAVE BRUMSTEAD reviews this A.R.T.F. model from Hobby Engine



R.T.F. (Ready to Float) and A.R.T.F. (Almost Ready to Float) models are playing an increasing role in introducing newcomers to our hobby. For many years I have built scale model boats and on occasion have fancied having a go with a yacht, but couldn’t fit one in with my other activities. With the Hobby Engine Volvo Open 70 Class yacht I was able to go from box to pond over a weekend.

The model comes complete with everything needed except the batteries for the radio. The hull and deck are moulded in GRP and already bonded together. The keel is supplied complete with ballast and the r/c equipment comes with a rudder servo and sail winch. There are some numbered bags of small parts, including a bag of tools and adhesive in addition to a number of plastic sprues of fittings. Two ‘slot in’ stabilisers are also supplied, which slot through the deck in line with the keel. In other words, everything required is in the box with the exception of the batteries. The box art shows the model in action in addition to its basic specifications which are 950mm long, 1550mm high and 3050gms weight. In addition, the particular frequency of the supplied r/c system is marked on the box. Photo 1 is of that box and Photo 2 shows the well packed contents that are securely retained with wire ties. The instruction book is first class with line drawings used throughout the construction stages. Each stage quotes the bag number for the small parts required.

Getting started

The first task was to assemble the stand, Photo 3. The construction technique used for this was also used throughout the assembly of the model. Steel screws were screwed into unthreaded predrilled holes in the aluminium parts. This technique worked as long as pressure was kept on the screw while it was cutting its own thread. Insufficient pressure would result in the screw turning ‘on the spot’, thus making a hole without a thread.

With the stand now assembled the hull was unpacked and placed on it, Photo 4. Access is by two hatches at the stern of the yacht and the hull is pre-drilled for the various fittings. The various cordage from the sails to the sail winch is also in place. As you can see from the photo, the hull base colour is white oversprayed with a satin black finish complete with ‘Life at the Extreme’ decals on the side.

As everything was new and clean, I began construction in the lounge in front of the television. The first stage was to fit some of the deck fittings followed by the radio tray and the mount for the sail winch. The rudder tubes were fitted prior to the rudder servo mount as this locates on the top of the tubes as well as being screwed to the deck. The tubes and the winch mounting can be seen in Photo 5.

Radio equipment installation

Before going any further, I decided to check the radio, winch and rudder servo. I assembled all of the relevant parts outside of the model and fitted batteries (rechargeable) to the transmitter and receiver battery holder, Photo 6. Turning on the transmitter and there was no sign of life whatsoever! I checked the batteries for charge and yes, all were okay. On closer inspection the problem was caused by the positive ends of the batteries failing to make firm contact with the contacts in the transmitter. This was caused either by the plastic moulding in the transmitter being too thick, or the positive contacts on the batteries being slightly too small. I had used these batteries for several years without a problem, but to be fair I will say when I tried a different set, everything worked fine. It could be that the transmitter was designed for use with non-rechargeable batteries which may have a slightly larger positive contact.

With everything now working, the neutral position for the rudder servo was checked. The left-hand stick on the transmitter which controls the sail winch has a spring loaded bias to the centre position, so I checked that the winch had equal movement in both directions. Normally for yachts the transmitter control has a ratchet fitted allowing the winch to be set to any position without the transmitter stick being held in place.

With the sail winch installed on its mounting, the lines from the jib and mainsail were attached to the winch drum and I wound on the required number of turns, Photo 7. The winch drum is removable to make this task easier. This winch assembly was now fitted to the other part of its mounting previously fitted to the hull, Photo 8.

The fittings for the rudder servo and the twin rudders were prepared, Photo 9. The two tiller arms were checked for fit on the rudders, Photo 10. These would be held in place with a spring pin through the rudder shaft. With the rudder servo screwed to its mount, the brass rudder linkage was fitted to the rudder arms and the rudder servo, Photo 11. The rudder servo sits in a small plastic tray, presumably to prevent any ingress of water should there be any in the bottom of the hull. The radio receiver was now connected to the sail winch and rudder servo and the switch harness and battery box connected. The receiver and battery box were placed in a plastic bag with a rubber band around the emerging cables to keep out any water and the aerial was lead out through the deck by a piece of cord already in place for this purpose.

Completing the hull

The keel was fitted in place by a single screw. The rest of the deck fittings, which primarily give a scale appearance to the model, were removed from various sprues and fitted in place, Photos 12 and 13. This last picture also shows one of the access hatches in place. The fluorescent orange radome is fitted to the after hatch, Photo 14. When fitting the stanchions along the edge of the deck, a piece of brass rod was used to ensure the holes in each stanchion were in line with the hull edge, Photo 15. The required fittings were added to the two booms and then the mast was assembled. For packaging purposes the mast is in two parts, having a small section at the top, Photo 16. With the mast on the bench the various spreaders were screwed in place and the shrouds fitted, Photo 17. The mainsail was fitted to the mast followed by the boom and the foot of the sail, Photo 18. The jib sail was treated in the same manner. All of the cordage used for attaching the sail was left over length to allow for adjustment if required.

Included with the instructions was an information sheet on how to set up the radio and in the back of the instruction book were basic set up instructions. Sailing guidance was also included, Photo 19.

Sailing

At the lake, the mast which had been removed for transportation, was fitted in place and checked to ensure it was vertical. The sail winch was set fully in and the lines attached to the booms. Also, the rudders were checked to make sure they were in line with the centreline of the model and then into the water!

With our esteemed Editor at the controls (so that I could take the pictures) the model sailed reasonably well around our club lake at Brentwood, Photos 20 and 21, bearing in mind our total lack of experience about setting up a model yacht. The wind varied considerably from a light breeze to zero and was not strong enough to require the stabilisers also provided with the model.

Not unsurprisingly, some adjustments had to be made. The plastic bag around the r/c equipment was fouling the winch lines so that problem was solved by repacking the radio equipment. The winch lines also crossed each other, which I should have noticed during assembly. This was rectified by pulling the mainsail sheet back through the deck, uncrossing it and feeding it back through the deck. This gave a much smoother feed to the main boom.

A follow up sailing session took place two days later and on this occasion I was accompanied by my neighbour, a keen dinghy sailor. He made a few adjustments to the trim of the model and we had a more successful sailing session, but still in light winds.

Conclusion

If you want to get sailing with a semi-scale racing yacht, then this is as good as any. You can be on the water quickly and although not a thoroughbred model racing yacht, it is a good sailer and an easy way to get a ‘model yacht’ on the water rather than a ‘toy yacht’. The r/c had perfectly adequate range on our Brentwood MY&PBC large lake and the servo and sailwinch are decent quality and ‘fit for purpose’. As with all model yachts, setting up is most important to ensure good sailing qualities and that can only be gained with sailing experience.

Our thanks go to CML Distribution for providing the review model. More details can be found on their website: www.cmldistribution.co.uk. Retail price (at the time of writing in late February 2009) is £192.99.