Archive for the ‘RC Boat’ Category


Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

I took the boat out again last weekend and we did some more tinkering to get more speed.  The trim tabs did not improve performance, they hindered if anything so I pulled them off the boat.

It was flowing nicely, the copper pipe helped with the heat in the coupler but i’m going to change it for something a little smaller to get more surface area contacting the header pipe.

The level in the pond is getting really low now, too many shallow spots etc.  It’s probably time to either find another spot or possibly shelve it for now.  Might still see maybe one more installment but i think i’ll end up waiting for some more rain to fill the pond rather than going back to the salty river.  Time will tell.


Octura Coupling still not quite good enough

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

So we took the boat back down the pond for another shot.  It went superb!  I would have to say that it was the fastest it has run yet.  With no real problems causing us to take it home it gave us the opportunity to give it a bit of a tune and get some more speed out of it.  The latest video shows it going significantly faster and now on 98 octane fuel and a different plug there is no missfire.  It was truly singing!

The water level was getting a bit low in the pond now uncovering 2 ‘islands’ in the middle.  It proved to be a little hard to negotiate between them so i stayed in the bigger area.  It looks like i’m just doing circles but infact the back run is quite straight.

The boat flipped a couple of times, the last one got caught on video but the first one was much more spectacular.  The boat held up well tho and once the water was out of the engine it started fine.

So, on to the coupler.  Well, i would say that it’s still the best solution so far but it’s still not quite up to the task.  After a full tank of juice (first time!) it was a bit melted. The problem is that most gas powered boats have water cooling the exhaust header so any product that i get is likely to only take 200 deg or so.  Mine does not have any cooling at the moment.  So, what i have decided to do is wrap some 1/4″ copper pipe around the header about 4 times.  I am going to run cooling water through it from the rudder and see what that does.  Hopefully this will help reduce the temp of the pipe and therefore preserve the coupling.

I have also got some stainless sheet to put on the back of the boat as trim tabs to help get it out the water a bit better.

I’m working on trying to get an onboard cam going too :)

Quick update

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

With the leg now complete, i moved back to the exhaust.  This has been a problematic area from day 1.  The problem is associated with the poor balance and vibration in the motor.  Basically, the exhaust is shaking itself to death…


Originally it was solid all the way through but the thinner stainless of the pipe fatigued and cracked from vibration.  So, in the last run i tried a silicone coupling i got from rcboatbitz but it only lasted the previous run before splitting and that’s what caused the boat to stall at the end.  It was not really good for the job as it is designed for much smaller pipe and it was stretched to go over the 1″ pipe of my setup.

I’ve now just fitted a product that is made by octura.  This one is still silicone but it’s reinforced with 4 layers of fibre as well.  This one was 7/8″ so it’s still a slight strech over the pipe but not as bad as the other one.  I have since found that octura do the same part in 1″ as well so if this one splits i’ll order one of them.

The bigest problem is the heat – it’s classed as a ‘high temp’ coupler but i have no idea on the actual rating of it.  I tried to find some specs via the oracle that we know as google but it turned up nothing so far. With any luck it will actually hold up…


Skeg/Leg redesign

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

So after the last run I saw the need to redesign the bush/bearing setup in the leg.  the original design simply used 2 collars of teflon around the shaft.  After visiting a few sites and seeing how some other ‘DIY’ designs were done i settled on one developed by the guys over at Oxford County based on some K&S brass tubing.

The outside is 5/16″ and the inner is 9/32″.  The 1/4″  shaft perfectly slides inside the 9/32 and that slides perfectly inside the 5/16 tube.  The smaller of the 2 tubes is cross drilled to allow for lubrication between the shaft and larger tube.

The bearing holder is a little bigger as well as now going for a stainless ferrule.  No real advantage here but the only reason i went for brass on the original one is because the tradition is to solder the flex shaft in.  Instead, i ended up using Loctite shaft lock.  This is super strong stuff and never even hinted at breaking loose uner the torque of the ryobi.  So, to keep it looking nice this time, i used stainless.  Also, this time i have used a roll pin to atttach it to the shaft rather than grub screws (which were a little problematic last time).

Almost ready to rock…

Another run with the boat

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

I’ve been getting all my RC toys back in working order over the last couple of weeks.  One being my Traxxas T-Maxx monster truck and the other is the boat.  I sorta stripped the radio from the Maxx to put in the boat so i got another RX and a couple of servo’s to get the maxx running again.

The boat also needed a new radio box and some other minor repairs.  With a little work and some help from Tim, i got it back up and running.  I also found a new/better site to run the boat.  It’s the old (now abandoned) Lakeside Leisure park site.  There’s a nice little pond in the middle to run the boat on.  It has a couple of downsides like limited access to the bank and a shallow spot in the middle but the huge plus of it being FRESH water and not salty onkaparinga river water far outweighs them.  It’s not all festy and stagnant either like one might suspect.

I’m not 100% sure on the legalities of using the pond since it is infact private land but there are no signs up telling me to stay away and i did not even have to jump a fence or anything- just walk straight in.  Not only that, other locals seem to be using it extensively for riding motorbikes on. I don’t think i’m going to have too much to worry about.  That is, until the land gets sold off and subdivided as the land is for sale…

So, we got the boat in the water and even remebered the camera this time!  There’s a couple of problems with it after the run.  Mainly the fact that the rubber/silicone header -> pipe joiner split which caused it to stall (no back pressure).  I’m going to have to find something else to do the job. The engine also seems to either detonate or misfire every now and then – you can hear it in the video.  I think with 98 octane fuel and a bit more oil it should go away tho.  I’ve also made up a stand for it now.  Makes transport and use so much easier.

I’ve also now decided to make up a new skeg.  The current one is not ideal, it uses teflon as the bearing and wears too quickly.  I’m changing it to use brass and to have more bulk. More on that later.

In the mean time, enjoy the vid…

Moving forward

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Ok so over the last couple of weeks i’ve been tinkering with the boat trying to get some more speed out of it.  With the 280 prop and some luck we got a really good run out of it with some decent speeds.  Unfortunately on that run the exhaust cracked from vibration for the second time.  I decided that i’d take the oppotunity to now make a new pipe that was tuned for this engine’s port timings as well as reduce the power band for the pipe by about 1500 revs (bringing it to about 8500 rpm).  I also decided on a flexible silicone coupling.  The new pipe is all stainless too.

The first vid is slightly older and it was getting along better than in the second one…

 The radio box keeps getting water in it so i’ve got to make a new one of them too.  Hopefully soon i’ll be giving it a shot with the new pipe and some more tinkering it should get moving nicely..


Monday, February 25th, 2008

Ok so i painfully re-keyed the other flywheel during the week and reassembled the engine.  It wasn’t until Saturday that i got it all mounted in the boat ready for another try.

Started fine but once again, it would not rev.  I would say that it was marginally better but still only about 60% revs of what it was doing before.  Now, last weekend, Tim’s first thought was that it was the coil.  Something that i didn’t thhink would be the cause (blaming the timing seemed more feasable at the time).  But, as it turns out, i was wrong and Tim was right – We swapped the coil from the original engine and it was perfect!

I’m now even suspecting that this is a deliberate thing – Perhaps MTD/Ryobi deliberately rev limit thier engines to prolong thier life??  Not sure but it would make sense.  The coil is a standard walbro part on the newer ones so i’ll do some research.

I got a new prop – A prather 280.  It’s the biggest they make (AFAIK).  I spent hours sharpening and balancing it so it was bolted on for the trip to the river.

We took the boat down the river Sunday arvo to give it a shot.  It seems that the boat does not like the ‘throw’ launching technique – Every time it seemed to just stall just after it hit the water.  We suspected the prop was just too big so we went back to the 275 but it done almost the same thing but it was  tad better.  In the end we tried a technique of just placing it into the water (much, much harder to do without getting wet…) and it was off!  After some tuning of the high needle we got a reasonable run.  Still more tweaking to do but at least it’s a good starting point.

We never got to putting the 280 back on but that is definately in the next installment.

Check the vid….

So close it’s painful

Monday, February 18th, 2008

Ok, so i spent some time prepping the new engine for the boat – machining the flywheel and the head. I also replaced the fuel tank with an airplane tank to make sure water doesn’t get in again – it’s lighter too so that will help with balance of the boat. I even done a ‘double vent’ on the tank, the vent from the main tank goes to another smaller (2oz) tank to make sure water can not get in.

So, i got it all together ready for a run Sunday arvo but there was something strange happening with the engine. It started and revved lightly but with more than about 1/2 throttle it just sounded as if it was on a rev limiter. It’s hard to explain but it was like it was only firing every 2nd rev of the engine. I messed with the mixture screws a bit but it made no difference.

Some closer inspection has found what i think is the problem. It seems that the ‘key’ that keeps the flywheel in a certain spot in relation to the crank sheared off. I don’t know when it done this but that’s what i suspect the problem was since this is what sets the timing of the engine. It was probably really out.

The simple solution there is to swap flywheels, well one would think anyway… But this revision is keyed to the crank differently. This one has the key cast into the flywheel and is thicker by about 1.5mm. So, to use the other flywheel, i have to make a key and file out the keyway on the original flywheel (while trying to keep it symmetrical so as not to alter the timing). Oh what fun!

More to come…

Happy again

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Ok, so as per previous post, i found myself pondering how long this motor was going to last.  I figured ‘what the hell, i’ll just run it till it breaks’.  So i popped into the mower shop on my way home from work to grab a head gasket for the motor (I damaged the other one when i pulled it apart).  They were cheap so i grabbed a few.  The sales guy was a bit confused as to why i wanted more than one.  I explained to him that the engine was in a boat etc and that i’m tinkering with it a bit still.

 We got on to the subject of ryobi’s line trimmer division now being owned by MTD, build quality/power when compared to chinese built engines and with that he popped out the back with a ‘just a sec’ and returned with an MTD line trimmer (the 31cc model) and said ‘here you go, it’s yours’.  It was a ‘repair’ that did not go ahead. I wasn’t going to complain – at worst it was probably good for a spare flex cable or something like that.  So i thanked the man and off i went.

Once i got home i just had to check this thing out.  Closer inspection showed the engine wasn’t ceased or otherwise anythng detrimental.  The repair docket still attached to it had ‘Starter broken’ and sure enough it was but that seemed like the ONLY thing wrong with it.

I stripped the trimmer down and it had super compression, much more than my other engine ever had.  This engine (remember still a Ryobi but newer) had 2 piston rings instead of one, no mid support in the exhaust port, longer transfer port timing and these unusual extra ‘mini’ ports on the transfer ports.  The exhaust port is a slightly different shape but that i believe is because of the lack of the mid support (it keeps the ring on the piston).  The extra bits on the transfer ports were weird.  They are like ~1mm gouges up the bore and are about 7-8mm long.  They start from the end of the transfer port.  It’s very odd, i have never seen this in an engine before.

There were also some other minor differences but this engine has done even less work than my original and is better so i’m going to mod this engine to accept the cooling head, machine down the flywheel and shorten the crank so it’s the same as the original engine and give it a shot!

 One problem now is that the tuned pipe will not be so tuned anymore with different port timing and area.  I’ll punch it it to the calc and see what it comes up with…..

Not happy jan!

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Ok, well we took the boat out again on the weekend.

Saturday: Bolted on a new prop (Prather 275) for testing.  Took it down the river and managed to get a brief run out of it before the exhaust manifold developed a crack.  While it still ran as such, it was leaning out etc and so we decided to head home.

 Sunday: Repaired exhaust and we decided to have another shot at it.  This time i was much more hopeful that we could give the new prop a good test.  We got it started and went to throw the boat in but Tim slipped a bit (almost going with the boat) and it didn’t hit the water overly nice.  Water went over the bow, tracked the plug and the engine stalled.  We fished it out for a reset.  Started her up and off for another shot at it.  This time it went well.  I managed to give it a squirt down the front straight but then i went to turn and it stallled again.  So, we went to fish it out again but this time we were a little less than successful.  When Tim snagged it with the rod, it was by the rudder so it came in stern first and so did all the water!  The boat was pretty much under water by the time we got it to the bank.  Bugger!  I tipped it up and out came all the water and the fuel!

It seems we had a problem the first time round that we might have got some water in the fuel.  If you look back at a previous post, you will see that i ‘plugged’ a hole in the top of the tank.  It seems the 1/2″ grub screw (which was loctited in) came loose and managed to vibrate down and drop into the tank.  This allowed water in and probably caused the issues.

So, with that, we packed up and headed home again.  I pulled the plug and turned the motor over with the starter to try and clear out all the water.  Lots of oil, turning it upside down etc.  It wasn’t until last night that i looked at it again and oh dear….Seems i didn’t get all the (salt!) water out.  The engine was a mess!  The bearings had started to corrode, the inside of the crank case had started to corrode, surface rust on the rod etc. It was not a pretty sight.

I’ve now cleaned out the engine ready for re-assembly but this is a set back.  In the future, i need to make sure all the water is out if it takes some on but i’m not sure on the best way to do this.  It’s also making me think i need to find an alternative place to be running it.  The salt water just seems to be so harsh on all the components.