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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.

[Read More...]



Motor Torpedo Boat  [Read More...]


Trials and Enjoying

Trials begin.The first time on Eaton Model Boating pond for trialsThe first time on Eaton Model Boating pond for trials


The very first time we tried out the model was on February 5th 1989. It was a lovely day, but we ran the starboard engine for only about two minutes because we found it had servo chatter and it would not give the engine a good run.
The port engine was run for about 10 minutes and seemed all right. This trial was a tethered run as we were at Eaton Park on our club's pond which has concrete walls and models have a distinct disliking for this very hard substance.
The fuel system worked very well and the silencers were very quiet. We had a small problem with the water pick up, but this would be easy to put right, as they seemed to be too far down.
The rudders worked very well.


Conrod Problems

We found that the engines had to be run in for about 5 hours as they had very close tolerances on the crankpin and conrod. We found this out when to our disgust, a conrod seized and we had to replace it, as you will read later.
The time approached very quickly for the second run. It was on February 26th 1989 and this time we were to let it go as we were at Earsham Pits, a very large area of water.

You would have thought that we learned our lesson from the last time with Virgin Atlantic Challenger I, but NO! It seems that you just can’t get a scaled down offshore boat to work like the real ones. On the last model we had to cut out the prop shafts and put them down further. The same thing needed to be done with this one.

Propeller shafts & couplings

We used SHG propeller shafts with bearings at the engine end. They were 260mm in length and because we had to insert them deeper, I made a sleeve from copper tube and I silver soldered a piece of flat brass to the middle of the tube.

This would make fixing of the propeller shaft into the hull very much stronger. I used Prestwich rubber engine couplings as I had found them a very good product. As you all know, testing a model is trial and error most of the time, with some knowledge thrown in as well.
This comes to light when you build unusual or experimental models. It seemed to skip out when turning, so we put in a skeg right at the back about three eights to half an inch in depth.
The next few trials went well enough with some further alterations.
As the months went by with the third, fourth and fifth trials the modifications and improvements began to shine through. Until then we had been using SHG bearing blocks, but we found that they could not stand up to the punishment that we gave them.

Aluminium bearing blocks & Propellers

Not saying that they don’t work in other boats but they were not cut out for this model. We asked Bryan Ames to make us two out of aluminium. This he did and very good they were too.
We decided to use Octura propellers so we borrowed them from one of our friends. These seemed to go much better so we bought two x450/3 blade Beryllium-copper propellers and converted our model to use the dog type drive studs.

Sixth & Seventh Trials

The water pick arm had to be moved back to make removal of the props far easier.
Peter and I found that this size of prop worked well and we continued to use them for the sixth and seventh trials.
Also we had just started to use 10% Nitro in our fuel as this made the engines perform much better with less `CRAP` floating around inside the hull. Fortunately we were being sponsored for our fuel as this was quite expensive.
The gentleman who sponsored us wanted to remain behind the scenes as he said that he was an eccentric who recognises another eccentric when he sees one.

WeatherTrials taking place on Earsham Pits near Bungay, SuffolkTrials taking place on Earsham Pits near Bungay, Suffolk

By the way, the weather in the east wasn’t always nice and pleasant with calm water; it could be RUDDY AWFUL with driving rain and a persistent North East wind that could go right down to the bone.
The pits at Bungay in Suffolk could become very rough indeed, between 6 and 15 inch waves were not uncommon.

Just before the seventh test run we had entered the model in the preliminary rounds of M.P.B.A. National Records on the weekend of April 29th to May 1st 1989.
The weather was FOUL and wasn’t very kind to any of us on Saturday as it was very rough and windy.
The Virgin Atlantic Challenger II went up and down the course, but only achieved an average of approximately 10 mph each way, 16mph with the wind and much less into it, but later we found that the starboard engine had a faulty con rod, so we had to change this.

Continued problems with the Con rod

The new con rod was modified with a very shallow slot cut in the back of the big end to allow more oil to reach the bearing. We reassembled the engine ready for Sunday and hoped it would work fine. Sunday started out fairly well, but that North East wind was back again.
This time Challenger II went much better with an average speed of 19.22mph and we think one way we were doing some 25mph.
 Considering this model was about 34lbs in weight and not made for speed, but for long distance only, it did very well.

Eighth & Ninth test trials

The eighth and ninth test trials went very well with all major problems having been sorted out. We used a pair of x448 BECA propellers which were much faster with less revving and were then running continuously for 70 minutes on each run. This was with full tanks.

The Real test off Canvey Island

The day finally arrived for the 'real test' and it was to be held offshore on June 14th 1989. It was the meeting at Canvey on the Thames estuary in Kent, over a large course of about 31/2 miles, so it was necessary to use chase boats.
The sea was a bit choppy in the morning, but as slack water approached it became much better, although we still had large tankers going down to Canvey Island, throwing up swell in the region of 2 to 6 feet depending upon size of the tanker.
This not only made it very rough but very exhilarating!
You must think that we are all nuts, but it was worth it. Just after lunch it was my turn to go out, so I started up the Virgin Atlantic Challenger II with Clive Roulston hovering nearby just in case I needed some help.
I quickly donned my life jacket and got in Mick Newham's ski boat, while Peter and one of the lads put the model into his water.

Where's the model, Peter?

Then Peter gave me the transmitter and I asked him where the model was. He replied that it was going towards a moored boat. Whoops! I quickly steered Challenger II away from it. PHEW! That was close a close shave.
We were then off up the channel towards the first buoy with Mick in close pursuit. The model sounded beautiful and looked like the real boat as it flashed over the waves at about 20 mph. We were then through the first set of buoys and down a long, long way to the second big buoy.
 I thought it would never come! Yet it did and Challenger II swung around it and into the wind. Here was a lot of choppy water, but Challenger II swept over it well. She seemed to like this choppy water and looked very impressive.
Mick Newham kept saying that he wished he had a camera as we moved down to the penultimate buoy. Then we were round the final buoy and coming back. Here I had to slow down a little as it became more than a little choppy and I wanted to finish the race. I had been quite tense all the way around (AND HOW!)
And when the finish line came into view, I yelled "Oh boy!" What a relief, I'd made it. It had taken 14 minutes 48 seconds to complete the course. I was awarded third position and class 'C' trophy as well as the coveted Concours d'Elegance-Canvey offshore 1989.

Specification of the model.

Type: Mono Hull. Length: 53 inches. Composition: Polyester Fibre Glass.
Propellers: Octura x448 (Twin) Becu. Fuel: 10% Nito, Methanol & Castor Oil. Radio: Nautical Commander 6 Function 40MHz (made by World Electronics on behalf of Ace R/C Inc, USA).

Sponsored by the following.

Multicell, Battery Specialist - Varta, London - Virgin Ltd, London
Matt Graphics, Lowestoft, Suffolk - Aeropak Ltd, Gt Yarmouth, Norfolk
 Amari Plastics, Norwich, Norfolk - Costain-Dowmac Ltd, Lenwade, Norfolk
White Cap Leisure of Willen Lake & Anglia TV

Special Thanks

"With Special Thanks" go out to "all" the friends who have helped us:

Bryan Ames - Paul Johnson - Mick Newham - David Shaw - Rod Vicery - Harry Pinder
Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme, Norwich - to name but a few.