Frequently Asked Questions


FAQ Table of Contents

  1. How do I install the antenna mast so it can be removed for storage?
  2. Can I install a larger "550" motor into a Vac-U-Tug, Jr. for MORE POWER?
  3. Should I install Scuppers? (Deck drains)
  4. Do you have decals in color?
  5. Should I use lead shot or BB's for ballast?
  6. Do mice have  tails?
  7. Can I paint the rubber Rub Rail?
  8. How many "turns" does the motor have? (speed control question)
  9. What can I do to make sliding the antenna wire into the antenna mast easier?
  10. At the Lake Sunday , a fellow suggested attaching the main deck with some kind of RTV, maybe automotive gasket type - thus allowing removal of the Deck / Hull  without damage, should that seem necessary sometime. I'm thinking with the fire pump - that might be a prudent idea . What do you think ?
  11. Is epoxy really waterproof?
  12. My tug motor whines at low speeds. Is something wrong with it?

How do I install the antenna mast so it can be removed for storage?

Don't glue the antenna mast to the inside of the cabin. Instead, glue a slightly larger piece of tube or straw. Once it is set, just insert the antenna mast through the hole you drilled into the larger tube. 

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Can I install a larger "550" motor into a Vac-U-Tug, Jr. for MORE POWER?

Yes. But I don't recommend it. The motor and prop are matched to the hull. It runs at an efficient "hull speed" that gives the greatest speed with the least effort. The included motor runs cool. The stock prop is too large for a "550" motor. A smaller prop would give better performance. Over-powering a "full displacement" hull wastes energy. There is a point where additional energy to the prop has little effect on the speed of the boat. The stern will "dig in" and it will throw an awesome wake but the battery will give out in only a few minutes. The included motor draws 0.45 amps at 7.2 volts (6 cells) and approximately 0.54 amps at 8.4 volts (7 cells). (Static draw, boat held in water with motor running.) First try the optional 4-blade prop. It will give you "7-cell" performance with a 6-cell battery. With 7-cells, the 4-blade prop does even better. If you need EVEN MORE POWER, for very large sailboat recovery, you may consider the Motor Upgrade Kit for the tug. It contains a more powerful motor and smaller prop that interchange with the kit motor and prop. The Motor Upgrade kit will more than double the power of the stock tug setup. Be sure to tape over the rear hatch opening. Since the stern digs when the hull is over-powered, it will take on water. For more information, go to the Drive Modifications (More Power) section.

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Should I install Scuppers? (Deck drains)

Just for cruising in a pond, they are not necessary. If you play competitive games with the tug or run in rough water, you could install a couple of them to keep the deck clear of water. I found that it is easier to just tape over the rear hatch with some 2" packing tape. It will prevent water on the deck from getting into the hull. Only a few ounces of water will accumulate on the deck. If you must, you can do an easier job by installing them before you attach the Deck & Cabin to the Hull. Drill through the Bulwark. Insert a tube or straw through the hole. Trim to fit and epoxy in place. Turn over the Deck & Cabin and spread filled epoxy around the tube where it passes through the Bulwark. This will reinforce the tube and seal it to the Bulwark to prevent leaks.

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Do you have decals in colors?

Yes. Black decals are included in the kit. Decal sets in colors are available separately. See Kits, Parts & Accessories for colors and availability.

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Should I use lead shot or BB's for ballast?

Either one works great. Lead take up less space and sits lower in the hull. Using lead shot will make the boat's center of gravity a little lower. However, unless you know someone who reloads shotgun shells, you have to buy it in 25 pound bags for 75 to $1.00 a pound. In our club, the South East Boat Modelers, one of us may buy a bag to split up with others at cost. If you have no one to share the expense of lead shot, BB's are available in 5,000 and 6,000 cartons for less money than a sack of lead shot. Since the epoxy coats them, they should not rust. If I was building a top-heavy Vac-U-Cam Camera Boat, I would use lead shot for the lowest center of gravity to avoid capsizing and soaking the camera. 

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Do mice have a tails?

Yes. They do.        Well.... except for those three who live with the farmer's wife.

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Can I paint the rubber Rub Rail?

Yes you can. Most "hobby enamels" that stick to plastic will stick to rubber. After installing the Rub Rail, remove it from the boat. Wash it in warm water and detergent to remove any oily residue. After it dries, make a hook from a piece of wire to suspend the rub rail from the Stern end. To keep it from rotating on the hook and messing up your paint, take the "point" of the hook and bend about 1/2" of it sideways. Engage the bend into the groove of the Rub Rail and hang the wire on something outside. Remember to spray a light coat of enamel and to let it "flash" (See the Painting Tips in the instructions.) before adding a 2nd coat. Two coats will cover in most colors. Yellows,  Reds, or other bright colors will look brighter if you put down a first-coat of white. Don't over-flex the rubber when installing onto the boat or the paint may crack.

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How many "turns" does the motor have?

The included motor has 130 turns of copper wire on each pole. It is rated at a much higher voltage and speed that it gets from a 7.2 or 8.4 volt battery. As a result, it runs cool and can be controlled by any speed control rated for half of an amp at 7.2 or 8.4 volts (6-7 cells). All speed controls made for "stock" motors will work fine. Since even the least expensive car or boat speed controls are rated for 30 amps or more, the 1/2 amp this motor draws is not a problem.

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What can I do to make the antenna wire slide into the antenna mast easier?

Pull the wire between your fingers to smooth out some of the large kinks. Put some talcum powder on your fingers. Pull the antenna wire through the power while pinching the powder against the wire. Do this 3 or 4 times to rub the talc into the plastic. It will now slide into the mast. Let it stick out a tiny bit (1/8 inch) and bend the wire to the side to keep it from sliding back down the mast. Avoid some baby powders that are mostly corn starch. Use any powder with a primary ingredient "talc". Don't use graphite. Although it is a great dry lubricant, it will conduct electricity and may actually shield the antenna from your radio signal. 

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At the Lake Sunday , a fellow suggested attaching the main deck with some kind of RTV, maybe automotive gasket type - thus allowing removal of the Deck / Hull  without damage, should that seem necessary sometime. I'm thinking with the fire pump - that might be a prudent idea . What do you think ?

It would make some long-term maintenance easier. For example, when changing the stern tube lubricant, it is a pain to get the set screws out of the prop shaft coupling under the rear deck, but it can be done. A removable deck would make the job much easier.
 
RTV would probably be great, and peel-able. Test an RTV product on two scraps first, to make sure it doesn't affect the styrene, and that it will separate when you need it to.  The RTV would be more impact resistant than a brittle seal like epoxy. Epoxy makes a good temporary bond for Styrene as it doesn't bond well with styrene and will pop apart if you need to separate the two pieces. RTV would be less likely to split open on impact. Since RTV is silicone based, you must paint the boat before assembly. With the long cure time, you may have to leave the clamps on 24-48 hours for maximum strength. RTV on your fingers will contaminate a surface you plan to paint. Use RTV that is "safe for oxygen sensors" as it gives off no corrosive gasses as it cures. Do not use aquarium sealant, or any silicone caulking that smells like vinegar as it cures. That vinegar smell is acetic acid, a byproduct of the curing silicone. It will corrode your electronics quickly. Those familiar with this call it "Black Wire" because it will turn brass and copper black by action of the acid! Use care.
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Is epoxy really waterproof?

Most 5, 15, or 30 minute epoxies are not truly waterproof. You can use them inside a boat, to mix with the ballast, for example. This stays dry or, if it gets wet, it will dry out in storage. If you check the inside of the boat for moisture, and leave the roof of the cabin off for a couple of days so any hidden dampness can dry, it should last a long time. If you leave water in your boat, and don't allow it to try after use, the epoxy will become rubbery and gooey in a couple of years. If you keep it dry, it can last years longer. Never use epoxy for a bond that is continuously immersed in water. Use epoxy resins that have a 60 minute or longer cure. All products can vary. The tiny amount of epoxy that is at the hole where the stern tube exits the hull is usually sealed with paint so it should not suffer any deterioration. 

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My tug motor whines at low speeds. Is something wrong with it?

The high-pitched whine is not the motor, although it is coming from the motor. It is a normal sound transmitted by a "High Frequency" electronic speed controller. The current pulses, at maybe 1,500 cycles, creates a speaker-effect with the armature. All high frequency controllers do this, although depending on the frequency of the device, and the wave-form of the pulsed current, some are louder than others. It is much quieter when the boat is in the water.

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