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 Author  Topic: RC conversion of Italeri PT boats
Arjan Wiskerke

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Arjan Wiskerke  Posted on: Mar 29, 2019 - 3:25am
Since there do not seem to be any general threads here about the issues involved in converting these plastic Italeri boat kits into rc models I hope some of you will find my experiences helpful.

I've been a fervent modeller for well over 40 years but some years ago I got fed up with static modelling and started converting plastic kits to rc models. I love the added challenge of finding a compromise between scale realism and rc practicality. Ideally an rc model should be capable of achieving scale speed , it should handle well (steering/reverse) and the hull should be easily accessible . Also of course the parts and details shouldn't be too vulnerable, although one must accept that sometimes parts do get broken and might vanish into the water.

Achieving a model boat's scale speed is basically a matter of combining suitable motors with properly sized propellers. Also it's not just the top speed that counts, a model boat should also be able to run smoothly at low speeds (some brushless motors do well at high speeds but perform miserably at low ones (and vice versa).

For proper steering one has to install rudders that are vastly oversized in scale (the laws of physics do not leave much room for compromise here). Also the model boat should be able to reverse. Especially when using brushless motors this demand limits your choice of suitable electronic speed controllers.

The hull of an rc boat should be easily accessible because you have to change batteries, make adjustments to the hardware and carry out maintenance. Also you don't want to damage parts/details when accessing the hull.

In the past winter I revised my PT 596 rc model I had been running for over three years. I changed the brushed motors for brushless ones, fitted bigger props and new rudders and I also improved the accessibility of the hull. Finally, I also had to repair some damage and replace parts that had disappeared over the years. Now I only have to replace the rods operating the butterfly valves of the exhausts by metal wire and touch up the model a bit.

Originally, I had fixed the deck with screws and left the dayroom and rear superstructure detachable for battery access. Unfortunately, the foredeck leaked at the seam and battery changes were fiddly and likely to cause damage to surrounding parts. For better accessibility I decided to cut the deck in half (I know this is sacrilege but it's simply the best solution) and glued the foredeck to the hull (no more leakage here now). The other part of the deck is fixed with 3mm neodymium magnets. Fortunately the rocket boxes hide most of the cut.









I cut the deck of the PT boat I'm currently building in the same way. Unfortunately, the cut cannot be hidden here but once the deck has been painted I'm sure it won't be too noticeable :







Arjan


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Lew Zee

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Lew Zee   Send Email To Lew Zee Posted on: Mar 29, 2019 - 9:36pm
Arjan,

Your model looks real good. Have you tried the RCGroups forum? They have just about anything on almost every model (not just boats). Lots of great information out on that site.

I found this: https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?705033-Italeri-PT-boat-build. There might be more.

Although many say the third (middle motor) is not needed for RC operation I found it made a big difference on my PT-61. I really notice it when it kicks in. All motors are on their own speed controllers - just changed this two weeks ago. Perhaps the difference is that this model is 1/20 scale and is heavy (just like the real PT-61 as a gunboat). It also looks a lot better with the third prop.

Also, these boats need a good crew. I see you have one but a handful would look much better, especially if you are going RC.

Lew


Lew Zee

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Arjan Wiskerke

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Arjan Wiskerke  Posted on: Mar 30, 2019 - 12:55am
Thanks Lew, I have often visited the site you mention. The Italeri boats are also heavy, the hull and especially the deck is made of rather thick plastic.. Weight is no doubt the biggest issue and it's one of the reasons I didn't include a third motor. Personally I don't like rc boats that sit much deeper in the water than the real thing. I realize that in real life later PT boats, with increased armament were much heavier (although the steel torp tubes of the early ones must also have been rather heavy).

To keep my boats at the original scale waterline Im rather obsessive about every gram of superfluous weight .I cut lightening holes in the deck wherever I can (underneath the various gun platforms, engine room hatch etc). I even drilled out the torsos of the crewmen I've been working on . Weight was also the most important factor in my choice of motors, speed controllers and battery. A lighter boat doesn't only look better, it also helps to keep the deck dry . As I see it, the only advantage of heavier boats is their better cornering performance.

Regards,

Arjan


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Jeff D

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Jeff D   Send Email To Jeff D Posted on: Apr 7, 2019 - 7:03am
Very cool Arjan! I used to love my R/C boats so I have a special fondness for PT ones.


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Arjan Wiskerke

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Arjan Wiskerke  Posted on: Apr 7, 2019 - 9:24am
Thanks Jeff , if you no longer have any rc boats why don't you get yourself a new one. Technology has improved vastly in the past decade or so and the rc stuff I use is really cheap (thanks to our Chinese friends ...)

I also use my PT boat for steering agility competitions at our local boating club because it really handles well. The aim of the competition is to complete a course marked by buoys. It's not about speed but about steering agility (if that is the right word, I don't know the English vocabulary associated with these types of activities). One has to pass in between pairs of buoys in a certain sequence and sometimes the buoys have to be passed both in a forward and in reverse direction .Of course the boat mustn't touch the buoys. Two pics :




Some pics of my PT boat with its original brushed setup (with its current brushless setup it'weighs about 100 grams less and the top speed is about the same). The boat can take quite a bit of abuse :






Regards,


Arjan


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Jeff D

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Jeff D   Send Email To Jeff D Posted on: Apr 8, 2019 - 7:29am
Interesting Arjan, I would have enjoyed running an agility course although the reverse was beyond the capabilities of the gas boats I ran. I did have one jet drive boat with a gate that came down for reverse but it was too slow for my taste. We ran a 300' oval course with the occasional offshore event that had another buoy 300' out to form a triangle. My favorite boat was a Rossi .90 powered chopped Dumas Scarab 60 that my club buddies teased me about, calling it a Dumass and saying it would never be competitive. I proved them wrong! I won more trophies than anyone in my club. It also attracted a lot of new members, when the chase boat went out to pick up dead boats I'd have fun jumping the wake which amused spectators and potential members. The top cover which most other boats lacked also let it submarine a few seconds and pop up still running:

jV9Hw.jpg

Most race boats had shallow V's as opposed to the Dumas's deep V, unwary competitors found out the hard way to not follow too close. And after a few laps the pond would get choppy enough that most of those almost flat bottom boats couldn't run full speed. But they tried, I took out many an opponent this way:

jVAMs.jpg

Most of these are from my Dumass:

jVtht.jpg

Back in the 80's electric wasn't big except for slow scale boats. I tried playing with sticking R/C car 540's in a few but the results were disappointing. Nowadays I've seen vids on youtube of electric boats that make my jaw drop! Especially cool is the fact that you don't have to buy 40% nitromethane fuel at $40 a gallon to fill your need for speed, my .90 would go through a gallon plus on the average Sunday.

Thanks for bringing back some very fond memories Arjan1



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Arjan Wiskerke

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Arjan Wiskerke  Posted on: Apr 8, 2019 - 9:25am
An interesting account Jeff, what an impressive array of trophies ! I'm not a speed demon myself, I invest so much time into building my models that it would break my heart to crash one . Nowadays, at least in Holland, combustion engines for rc boats are frowned upon because they are so noisy. At my club they are banned, we mostly run our boats on Sundays and although I don't live in a protestant part of Holland Sunday rest is generally respected.

Nowadays there is such an enormous range of brushless electric motors available that there is indeed not much need for combustion engines anymore. My only boat that still has brushed motors is my Chris Craft Constellation (it doesn't have to go fast) :



My Chris Craft Sport Fisherman is pretty fast :



My other boats :







Regards,


Arjan


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Jeff D

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Jeff D   Send Email To Jeff D Posted on: Apr 9, 2019 - 4:35am
Wow nice Arjan, you do beautiful work! Although I think the lady should be more appropriately dressed in, say, a string bikini. heh... I love the natural mahogany decking. I definitely wouldn't run them in a race! Although one time when I was running alone a turtle got me, it turned my shaft, strut, prop, and rudder into a pretzel. Then there was the old guy at a race that had a reputation for running into others which I didn't know about at the time. As I was passing him on the front straight he swerved right into my lane. I kept running with minimal damage thanks to the deep sea fishing rod thick rope of fiberglass I had epoxied into the sheer but he was knocked out with the side of his boat caved in and the entire deck almost completely separated from the hull. After the race he came to where my club was set up and seemed offended that the only damage my boat had was a few shallow gouges and some scratched paint. I gave him a wide berth after that whenever I had to run with him.

I hear you about the noise, even back in the 80's they were pushing for muffled tuned pipes. Especially those clubs with running sites located near residential areas.



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Arjan Wiskerke

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Arjan Wiskerke  Posted on: Apr 9, 2019 - 6:47am
Great stories Jeff . From my club members I have heard about close encounters with feral waterfowl and one member's tiny 1/72 scale boat was attacked by an angry pike .

Regards,


Arjan


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Jeff D

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Jeff D   Send Email To Jeff D Posted on: Apr 10, 2019 - 1:31am
Geez, I thought scale boating was safe not subject to attacks from air and sea. That pike must have thought he found a tasty morsel!


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