Dave Milbourn


This model was born from a chat I had with Craig Talbot (Action Man) about how small a model could be made with all of his micro-electronic gizmo’s on board. A puffer seemed an obvious choice because of its relatively large displacement c/w overall size, and also because I could add various scale-ish bits and pieces without reference to a definitive “type” (‘cos there wasn’t such a thing!).

 I scaled the lines from Vic Smeed’s Lochinvar plans, making the hull 12 ins (320mm) from stem to stern; this is around 1/66 scale. A plug was carved from jelutong and then a vac-formed styrene hull produced, split into two halves along the keel and stem. The deck, hatch and superstructure are all made from 1mm styrene sheet and the various fittings from brass wire, dowel etc. I bought the stanchions from Squires and the dinghy is a 1/72 scale Quaycraft resin casting from Westbourne Models; all of the rest is scratch-built. I used the photos from Dave Abbot’s Mountfleet Highlander kit review in Model Boats magazine as a source for the finer details. The model was finished using Halfords acrylic spray paints with Humbrol enamels for the smaller details. The pictures show the small size of Puffer – that cutting mat is A4.

 The model is powered by a 6v cassette motor which drives a three-bladed 30mm plastic prop through a 2.3mm shaft. I used 4 x AA sized 1600 mAH NiMH cells as the power source for everything on board. Radio is a 40 Meg Hi Tech Ranger (converted to 4 channels) with one of their “Feather” receivers and an HS55 micro servo for the rudder. The ESC is an ACTION Pico P68 micro-computerised job, while there are two prototype Pico Twinswitch units to control the navigation and wheelhouse lights, a steam whistle and a 6v smoke generator unit inside the funnel. There is also a P64 Micro Steam Engine sound unit connected to the ESC which powers a thin Mylar waterproof micro-speaker glued under the hatch-top. All of the electronic units were supplied by ACTion - details are available from their website www.actionkit.co.uk.

 Puffer looks a treat on the water with a plume of smoke streaming from the funnel, as anyone who saw her sailing at the Leamington show will agree. There are plans to produce a kit for the model, complete with brass etchings and cast white-metal fittings, but don’t hold your breath because I’ve two other kit projects to finish first. Meanwhile ACTion have taken delivery of this little model and will use it to demonstrate their units at next year’s shows. Now he’s talking about a twin-engined tug of the same size…….!

 Dave Milbourn