Terry Rowsell -
Good day Mayhem!
I am a huge fan of your web site. My own Dickie tug conversion (inspired by you) is 99% complete! I have even re-engineered the prop and kort nozzle. She can now turn in a circle in a boat and a half length! And there is a proper reduced chart on a chart table in the bridge. I have repainted every thing and added LOTS of detail.
Having been in the Canadian Navy for three years I began to explore the possibility of having a shipyard or harbour scene for my model trains. I found Model Boat Mayhem on the net and saw Martin's Dickie Tug conversion. I never thought much of it until I saw the very same tug at BC Shavers and Hobbies here in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The boat was cheap by comparison (to other radio control boat kits + radio - Mayhem)
The gaudy plastic parts and shiny paint did not deter me as I could always slap a dab of new paint here and there. A scale ruler showed the little plastic men onboard at a scale 6 feet tall in 1:48 scale! BONUS! As I have O gauge trains at 1:48 scale I decided that I could use this boat in the future as a static display in dry dock. I could also run it on a pond here and there!
Straight out of the box
I ran the boat a few times on a pond and quickly tired of the simple full-on full-off, full left rudder, full right rudder, etc. I also realized that I was becoming a model boat enthusiast! I revisited Martin's Dickie conversion article and got everything I needed for nice three channel control!
The radio conversion has been discussed by Martin. I did reshaped the prop and re-engineered the kort nozzle for much much better performance though! I cut the forward part of the nozzle away and cut into the skeg to allow MUCH a better rudder angle. The little tug now turns around in a boat and a half's length! I also filled in the holes to the water ballast tank and installed weighted ballast in the hull. This spread the weight more for and aft and lowered the centre of gravity. With the ballast tank the tug had a tendency to hop around and roll a lot. The tug is now a very stable and a solid runner! WOW!
Here are other modifications:
I repainted the shiny red hull flat red and while doing so also corrected the painted waterline which was way off!
I repainted the shiny blue upper hull flat black.
I painted the superstructure flat white to cover the shiny plastic white.
I painted the upper decks a similar colour green as the main deck.
I added a Danforth anchor and anchor cable (chain to the non-nautical folk).
I got rid of those HUGE tires and replaced them with more scale like tires.
I cut away all that silly rubber skirting covering the lower bow that looked unrealistic and caused a lot of drag when there was a wake.
I got rid of the HUGE on-off switch in the aft superstructure and built a simple door in its place.
I got rid of the now non-working unrealistic fire monitor on the top mast.
I got rid of the battery hatch twist locks and replaced them with simple home made hatch covers.
I filed off the obvious and embossed wording on the battery hatch.
I trimmed the ship with solid Christmas village crates which was easier than trimming another way and looks not too bad.
I could not find a decent replacement for that ugly unrealistic ship's boat, so instead of scratch building one I covered it with a painted cloth to represent a tarp.
I added some shoring wood aft of the superstructure. A small thing but mariner types do comment.
I made a cross beam for the mast and added removable halyards. One carries the Canadian Flag and the other the flags Bravo Zulu, which is a Navy signal meaning "Well Done".
I deleted a large conduit in the wheelhouse thereby opening up the entire wheelhouse in a realistic way.
I painted a beard on the guy at the helm because one is actually moulded there.
I painted and detailed the inside of the wheelhouse and built a chart table. I scanned a portion of an actual nautical chart, reduced it, put folds in it, and glued it to the chart table. This simple act had caused the most "ooos" and "awwws". I now have a whole chart reduced with proper edges that I may replace it with.
I named the tug after my wife: MARIE. :) Which she loves. (Sensible move! - Mayhem)
In that vein I also added a nice photo portrait of the tug's namesake in the wheelhouse along with a picture of HMCS ORIOLE, the Canadian Navy's historic sail training vessel (1921) which I sailed 8 months on.
The 76 on the repainted funnels stands for 1976 - the year my wife was born. I could have put 69 for me but... You know.
I slapped on weathering designed to look good at a distance out on the pond.
And most of all, I HAD FUN!!!!
The bottom line is that I have a nice little ship that has cost a LOT less than typical semi scale RC boats.
Things to do:
Build a post with three proper towing lights.
Get rid of those silly tire chains and replace with proper line.
Get back to the pond!!! :D
Finish my French Naval Tug TENACE conversion from the AMSTERDAM kit, which is now 90% complete! (I *am* becoming a model boat enthusiast!)
In our Naval correspondence we capitalize the names of ships, so it is like a habit.
Any questions or comments? Email me at: - firstname.lastname@example.org
You don't need to be a rocket scientist to have a nice boat. I've proven that! (actually I went to high school with a guy who is now a rocket scientist and he say's it really isn't all that hard! - so much for the
A/Slt. Terry Rowsell
Hi again Martin,
Just when I send you pics of MV MARIE what do I do??? I go and make an update! I promise it will be the last.
I got bothered by the lack of stern, tow, and masthead lights. As the tug is stand off scale (meaning not fine scale) but nominally 1:48. I thought that I would make some modifications that "looked good". Here are the results. Now I can sleep at night knowing that the little ship is decked out according to the Rules. :)
I made door handles for the bridge wing doors. There is a slight moulding to show a door but now with the handles it is obvious that the guy in the bridge has a way out to the wings. Doubt you'll see those in the pics.
I made a masthead light mast out of dowel and some miniature wooden spool thingys from a knitting type hobby store. Not a bad effect on the cheap (6 spools for $1.49 Canadian). A nice feature is that the mast slides tightly down the holes life behind by the now extinct fire monitor water tube. So I can take out the mast to make moving the ship easier (such as closing the trunk of my little car on the boat when it is in its cradle).
I made a stern light with yellow towing light above on a short mast from the same spools on the upper rear superstructure. This is a normal spot to put them on towing vessels for obvious reasons.
I painted funky wooden tubs from the same kitting type hobby store boxcar red and glued and tied them in place on the stern. Just adds a little visual extra to look at.
I added extra tires all round the hull. Got rid of the original silly looking plastic "chains" that the original oversized tires came on. I used a variety tires to be different.
Having discovered that all my antenna whips on my French Naval Tug TENACE were in fact totally incorrect (I was following the AMSTERDAM kit instructions) I cut them all off. Two of the shorter ones became recycled railing and the other two were repainted and added via drilled hole and glue to the upper forward superstructure of MV MARIE.
By the way, RHM TENACE is almost complete. There are no ladders between decks yet and some signal flags will go in the halyards as will a small Canadian Flag (as it will sail in Canadian waters). The bridge deck is not painted yet but you can't see that from the pics!
I wonder if anyone else has modified the AMSTERDAM kit into one of her French Naval Tug sisters? I'd be curious to see.
Whenever the rain holds up WHILE I have a day off I will officially launch TENACE. When I do I will be sure to take lots of pics of both of my ships on the water, and even some short video clips!
Your site continues to inspire and the link to your jokes page has made its rounds around the offices here at Maritime Forces Pacific HQ!
A/Slt. Terry Rowsell