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Our  Models

Virgin Atlantic Challenger I

Everyone was disappointed when the news broke that Virgin Atlantic Challenger I had hit an underwater obstruction and sunk, just a few miles short of the record. [Read more...]

 


Virgin Atlantic Challenger II

Inspired by Mr Richard Branson crossing the Atlantic in record time, we thought it would be nice to have a model of the Virgin Atlantic Challenger II. [Read More...]

 

H.M.S. Norfolk.

F230 Duke

Class Frigate.

A world record holder.

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MTB488

Motor Torpedo Boat  [Read More...]

 

VIRGIN ATLANTIC CHALLENGER II

The Birth of the Model

Inspired by Mr Richard Branson

Inspired by Mr Richard Branson crossing the Atlantic in record time, we thought it would be nice to have a model of the Virgin Atlantic Challenger II.

We had started to call ourselves "Challengers in Model Power", in order to encompass all the other challenging models to come. The problem was how to afford to buy the hull that was on the market at the time. Yet even as we were thinking about it, Virgin Ltd decided to take it off the market due to lack of interest, as the hull was nearly £130.00 to buy. Peter and I were stumped yet again, and we had come to expect that the odds were against us!

However, we soldiered on with the project. We had already written to the firm that originally produced the hull for Virgin Ltd, explaining to them who we were and that we were in the process of writing a book about our models. We needed to have a model hull of Virgin Atlantic Challenger II so that we could finish the book.
The company director enquired if we could prove who we were, so we suggested to him that we should bring down our photographs and the model of Virgin Atlantic Challenger I, which we duly did. When we arrived he was in his workshop. We introduced ourselves to him and then we showed him our model. He said that he would have a word with Virgins Ltd and promised to contact us with in a week.

First Mould

This he did and said that we could borrow the FIRST MOULD so we could make two hulls from this, one for Peter and one for me. We had a local model engineer, to make us the hulls, which he did in due course. Then we returned the moulds to Virgins Ltd, London.
Peter was going to use his hull for general racing and I was going to use mine for a long distance record attempt.
This attempt would be called "THE GREAT CHALLENGE" and we were to use my boat for it.

OS46 engines

Peter and I had a long discussion about all sorts of engines, and decided to buy 2 x OS46 ABC engines, as we felt that these would most likely last longer and be able to give greater speeds.

Dimensions

The hull was 53 inches in length, at 3/4" per foot scale. As to the remark we made about Virgin Atlantic Challenger I, “if its not made of wood, it`s not a boat!”, we had to go with the flow on this occasion. As usual, there were no plans for this model, so we had to result to using the official magazine and some films and photos that we had.

Brooke Marine

We also had the opportunity to go and see the nearly finished Virgin Atlantic Challenger II with Mr Peter Birkett. Peter and I arrived to find Brooke Marine in tumult with lots of workmen crawling all over the hull.

Peter Birkett took time out to show us around the boat, starting at the rudders and then going down into the engine compartment. There was not much room down there; it was totally packed with engines and sundry equipment. We were then taken up on deck and into the cockpit. It seemed very cramped, but more comfortable this time. He invited us to sit at the controls and have a look around. It was awesome!

Peter and I took a great deal of information in and ended up wearing LARGE GRINS!

We thanked Peter Birkett for his time he afforded us and went home very satisfied, to begin the model ourselves.

Sliding Roof and WindowsCabin top with the H plastic channel
(sorry for the picture and the state of the top)Cabin top with the H plastic channel (sorry for the picture and the state of the top)

The sliding roof windows were made in same way, but we used H girder shaped plastic for the middle, around the sides we used plastic channel and 1mm clear Perspex for the windows throughout the model cabin top. The glue that we used to glue the channel and H girder on to the polyester cabin roof was polyester based.

The window frames were made of thin ply and the Perspex clear windows were glued onto the inner frames. We found it very hard to buy smoked and red Perspex, so I went hunting and as the saying goes "If you don’t ask, you don’t get". I found this at local firm called Amari Plastics.

Cabin sides & panels

The red side panels were difficult to make as they had to have red painted on to them but it was easily scratched, so we decided to spray the paint on to the inside of the Perspex side panels. This was a difficult job as we had to put on a few layers and then leave them for a few days to dry. Then we were going to araldite the finished side panel on to the side of the cabin. The paint was on the underside, so it looked much more genuine and wouldn’t scratch.

Flying bridge & Main aerialAft part of the cabin roof ladder I know its a poor picture, but I have no otherAft part of the cabin roof ladder I know its a poor picture, but I have no other

The main flying bridge cross member was made of birch wood strip 24mm wide x 5mm thick x 177mm wide.

We pinned this to the upright ply that also supported the red side skins and I glued and screwed these on to the main cabin sides.

It was also supported by the main back ladder that went up to the main aerial array which I made out of brass rod 2mm thick.

 

 

I silver soldered 7 small pieces of rod for the steps in a ladder form and bent the bottom in towards the cabin back wall where I again bent it up inside of the cabin wall and glued it on with Araldite glue.

The main cross member to the aerial array was made of 5mm brass box section and was 60mm long with 2 x 45mm and 2 x 25mm x 2mm stainless steel rods inserted through the top layer of the brass box and then silver soldered into place.

 

 

The flying bridge and the aerial, the picture was taken when I had just re-silver soldered the aerials on againThe flying bridge and the aerial, the picture was taken when I had just re-silver soldered the aerials on again
To make the flying bridge very strong I welded two further 20mm horizontal rods that were inserted into the Birch and glued, and a 50mm strut at a 45 degree angle which was also welded and glued. 

The radar domes were made using plastic bungs as moulds that I found at work, as these were filled with P38 Isopon and when hard they were extracted with a great deal effort.
The only thing to do then was to lightly sand them down, this down I drilled a 10mm hole in about 5mm as this would give a good bond the wood plinth that was also glue to the bridge.

Ventilation & Buoyancy foam

I made a ventilation shaft immediately behind the aft cabin under the flying bridge, I had taken an old transistor radio apart for odds and ends and I used part of the front grill as a vent front and glued it in to the hole that I had cut out.
On the inside I used a piece of thin marine ply rolled to a shape of a tube, I also cut out a section to the shape of the grill that I already glued in.
This would allow warm air out as it was over the engine bay. We had to make the interior of the cabin completely separate as we were to fill the remainder with buoyancy foam as we did not want to lose the cabin.
To stop the cabin from popping off the hull I installed a tongue shaped piece of aluminium as this would clip under the forward deck skin. This I glued onto the underside of the cabin skin. To make sure of good contact I drilled a few holes through the aluminium and then scored the GRP with a very sharp knife as this would help you to glue it well.

Interior & instruments

All the interior was painted with white except around the inner sides of the windows and these were painted black and the paint that we used was good old Humbrol enamel paint.

We thought that we should try to make the inside of the cabin a little like that on the real Challenger so we made a panel with monitors and some hand made instruments all made out of scraps of wood. We made steering wheels out of brass rod bent and soldered. These were not fantastic creations but served a purpose. The seats were made ply and balsa wood and we found a couple of small figures which we painted and glued them to the main floor. Then made the engine control levers and put them between the figures.

Rear decksPhoto showing the aft section of Vac IIPhoto showing the aft section of Vac II

The rear deck sides immediately behind the cabin needed to be strong so we used red hardwood strip and we attached them to the decking by drilling into the bottom of the wood. A 4mm drill was used to drill holes to a depth of 5mm into the red hardwood strip. Also we scored the GRP deck, so when we glued the sides on with Araldite it would make it stronger. To make it stronger still we put stainless steel screws from below up into the wood. It was a MESSY BUSINESS!

We had to be able to get under the rear decking to get at the rear fuel tank and exhaust outlets, so we carefully cut out the decking immediately behind the rear of the cabin. This done we found that it was very flimsy and we had to attach a couple of aluminium strips and these were about 30mm wide x 2mm thick. The only way we could get them on was to glue them on with Araldite. We again had to drill out lots of 5mm holes through the strip plus score the GRP underside of the deck and we found that it made it very stiff!!

To stop the rear deck plate falling through we made lips by glueing strips of spruce to the underside. This done I made the catches like I used on Challenger I as these were easy to make and would last a long time.

On the rear deck top we made the two ventilators that we hoped would take some hot air away. We also put a dummy hatch at the rear of deck plate. To hold the deck plate onto the forward deck of the cabin we used two simple pieces of brass rod that we glued on to the underside so the rods would slot under the front deck section.

Inspection of hull for imperfections

The main hull received a very close inspection for any imperfections and we found a few that we filled with P38 Isopon and then sanded it all again.

Rudder linkages & postsAs you can see we had chop out the whole back for us to make room for the rudder linkagesAs you can see we had chop out the whole back for us to make room for the rudder linkages

The aft section of the hull had to be modified as the original mould did not have the extra propeller storage platform as the commercial hull had.
So Peter and I had to cut out the platform and this was ruddy difficult to do with a lot cussing and groaning. We had to do this because we were going to need to get at the rudder posts and linkages.
We then filled the open inner sides with plastic sheet which we glued in and finished off with P38 Isopon filler. The cover over the linkages was made of 2mm plastic sheet.
We had to use spruce square wood for the supports as then we could screw the plastic top onto them. The supports had to be absolutely flat, so we could seal the plastic top with grease, that’s after we had painted the wood with enamel paint. The wood sections were 12mm square as this would give us good clearance for all the linkages.