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General Construction Tips

General Construction Tips
(Original Article by Phil Sensibaugh, edited by Bill Pickl)

Begin with the end in mind. Install the systems in the proper order. Many skippers end up installing the hardware several times because they get ahead of themselves. It’s common to complete the hull and install the drive motors, only to discover that the stern cannon won’t fit in the hull because the motors are in the wrong position. The rules mandate that the cannon must be located in the same position as on the real ship. Other systems, to include the motors may be installed anywhere in the hull, so the cannon must be installed first.

Think small and think light. You can always add more weight if needed and if added late in the building cycle the weight can be placed where it is needed to accommodate balance. Keep hardware close together – pack it in, but keep it modular so it can be removed easily for maintenance. Open spaces inside your hull don’t hurt anything and allow for future flexibility. Keep hardware in the smallest space possible. Don’t spread it out in the hull just because it looks like you have extra room. There is no such thing as extra room in an RC combat warship.

Think about maintenance when building your ship. Make all systems modular and removable and never install any component of you ship hardware permanently in the hull. For instance, don’t glue the cannon down to the bottom of the hull thinking that you’re saving time and likewise with other hardware. Sooner or later you will have to remove it for maintenance. Think ahead. Think simple. Make repairs easy and timely.

Build modular systems to make life simple. A warship has many operating systems to include motors and drive gear, pump, weapons, flotation, electrical and pneumatic plumbing, to name the predominate systems. Such a maze of hardware, electrical wiring, and plumbing can baffle even an experienced modeler on first glance. To keep it all manageable just consider each system as a stand-alone item, and build it accordingly. Use quick disconnect fittings on CO2 lines and connectors on electrical wiring. When you look at your ship don’t view it as a maze of components, but as a group of independent systems. Remember that each system by itself is really pretty simple and with some common sense you can figure it out, but if you build your boat so systems can be isolated trouble shooting becomes that much easier. This means that during construction you must avoid “daisy chaining” systems together and build each system as a stand-alone item. Bundle the wires together and put a cable tie around them to make it look neat and take up less space. Cut off any excess wiring (shorten wires as needed), but allow a couple of inches of extra wire for future service. Do likewise with the pneumatic plumbing. Following these steps will make your boat a lot easier to work on. For instance, if a motor fails and is isolated the rest of your systems will still be operational. Whereas the opposite is having your whole system go down without any idea of where the problem occurred would take a long time to diagnose and fix.

Keep weight low in the boat. If you have ever stood up in a canoe or watched what happens when someone does you will appreciate this advice. The key to a stable weapons platform is keep all possible weight below the waterline and minimizing the weight of anything located above the waterline. Lie batteries flat on the bottom of the hull keeping total mass of batteries below the waterline. Mount cannon low in the hull and extend barrel riser tubes to proper barrel height, don’t raise the whole cannon. A low center of balance is imperative to achieve ship stability.