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>> Home > Boat Building Blogs > Hobby Engine 'Richardson' Tug Upgrade
>> Permalink
Hobby Engine 'Richardson' Tug Upgrade Print Booklet
Author: NPJ   Posts: 8   Photos: 61   Subscribers: 2   Views: 2043   Responses: 61   |   Most recent posts shown first   (Show oldest first)
Power Cabling - Posted: 27th Nov 2017
So following a long away week-end of Astronomy, now trying to get a bit further before going away for a couple of days.

As I start to wire up the power circuit I realise how important it is to think things through first!

Made up the link from the Battery to a ‘choc block’ distribution point which for space reasons is under the ‘control’ platform which will fill the bow area. (Pic 1)

The fuse boards were obtained from Component – Ltd in Bangor which is a good source of all sorts of electrical bits for us and is in Wales! (Pic2)

The Dual Esc/Mixer, from the same place, a P94 9Lite), I have secured with Velcro (Pic 3) and I hope to keep the battery on top of this with a little air gap.

It is at this point that I really came to appreciate the space limitations (Pic 4) and I do not have the motors wired in yet which will have fuse boards on the ‘platform’. (Pic 5).

Next time hope to wire in Motors and Fuse Boards, Sound Generator and Receiver. Then see how it sits in the bath.....!


Attached Photos - Click To View Large

Response by NPJ on the 3rd Dec 2017
RN and others .............I have changed the fuse to 20 yellow for the battery and found it difficult!

Are all the spade fuse holders as tight as mine?

It took considerable force to remove the fuse from the holder and I wonder whether that is normal.

I understand that looseness is not good but the force needed seems excessive and a threat to the circuit board etc.

Response by jarvo on the 3rd Dec 2017
NP, have a careful look inside the fuse holder, check to see if the contacts have corroded or been burnt, also look at the fuse blades they should be shiny and scraped after removal, possible they are just tight, if you look in your car fuse box you should find a little removal tool that clips around the fuse to remove it.
Response by NPJ on the 3rd Dec 2017
Thanks for that Mark.

Fuses new and clean looking.

I will check car during daylight tomorrow.

All the best.

Battery Power and Servo Mounting 6 - Posted: 17th Nov 2017
Only a short one, as I have realised that dealing with Battery Mounting means I need to deal with changing the Rudder Servo first! (Pic 1)

So to remove the servo was easy as was replacing with the better unit. It is by the way much easier to remove the Servo Bracket and then the Servo than leaving it in. Same naturally applies when fitting (Pic 2/3)

I had to remember to have the lead coming out on the correct side though! (Pic 4) I had been thinking about whether I should be using proper metal linkages to the rudder mechanism and issues about ‘slop’, but now it looks like there will not be a choice, but let us leave that until later as this is going to be a short session. (Pic 5)

In fitting the battery I was conscious that it has to pass in and out of that rear hatch, stay on the centre line and avoid fouling the Rudder Servo......................

So I cut a base plate of Balsa to stick in the bottom of the Hull so making it reasonably flat for the Battery and a Balsa Plank to stop the Battery accidentally moving towards the gear boxes.

Before gluing them in place I attached Velcro/ hook and eye patches to hold the Battery in place. (Pic 6 )
There appears to be at least two thicknesses of this stuff, very rigid and strong and the other softer, more flexible and slightly less ‘grab power’ (Pic 7 ).

I opted for the lighter stuff as it could be a struggle getting in and out of the Hatch! (Pic 8) I may need to put a loop of something around the battery to assist in removal, but that is for later. I just glued the Balsa in with ‘Gorilla’ glue and laid the battery in to add weight whilst drying (Pic 9/10/11)

Next time I hope to concentrate on getting the forward platform loaded and the power linked up.


Attached Photos - Click To View Large
Electronics Down Below (5) - Posted: 16th Nov 2017
This time I will try to remember to put in the ‘source’ information on the bits and pieces I use...........

In the most recent piece I should have included exciters/transducers are Dayton Audio DAEX 25VT -4, 4 Ohms – 20 Watt pair, obtained from Sound Imports Netherlands and very quickly as well. The sound unit is a Mtroniks Digisound 5M diesel sound, available all over the place.

Now to look at where I am at.

Exciters are in place as high up the Hull as possible, but remembering the Deck level. Used the adhesive pads as supplied after wiping that part of the Hull with Meths and Silicone adhesive to keep in place as well as using the wiring tidies from Modelsport Ltd., for the cabling. (Pic 1+2)

Before I start the motor and controller wiring I changed the platform ‘up front’ (pic3) with a piece of thin ply which I have given a couple of coats of varnish to waterproof. Then I thought to myself “why am I waterproofing this when, if it gets that wet, it will have gone to the bottom and be useless anyway”! (Pics 4)

However, the platform gives a little more choice in terms of layout of other components and my plan for them is not really settled yet. I am concerned about the stern and possible swamping, but it currently seems the best place for the upgraded battery. (Pic5 )

Whilst talking batteries, I have gone for a separate battery supply for the receiver and hope to use the Bec supply for running other less critical items.

Also the fitting of the battery in the stern bay drew my attention to the rudder servo for a couple of reasons. First is I am still considering increasing the size of the rudders and I am assuming that will increase the strain on the servo.

The servo supplied is a standard issue and not water resistant so I have gone for an upgrade as shown(Pic6) That gives torque increase of 17Kg/cm over the Hobby Engine S1040C and has metal gears, metal control arm and waterproof for 20grams extra weight.

Second is the closeness to the new battery position. So I was going to alter the servo arm setup anyway and the new metal arm suits this well. Maybe my ‘tutors’ will consider all this to be a little ‘over the top’ but I do so enjoy messing......................... New Servo DS 3218 by AYANI from Amazon. (Pics 6/7 )

Following that distraction, back to the front end and the Motor/Mixer placing and wiring.

Now a little time ago I drew a plan to see what could go where and it came out that most of the ‘bits’ would go in the front bay with motors to be wired once power was brought forward, followed by the Esc/Mixer. (Pic 8)

At that time I bought a P94 dual esc/mixer from Action Electronics and got the 20 amp version to be on the safe side................. My ‘guardians’ did point out this was ‘over-kill’ but I had already got it.

Now, when placing the unit on the mounting board I found that the heatsinks made it too high to fit in the Hull! So being a spoilt brat only child I ordered the 10 amp version and as usual it came very quickly from up here in Bangor. ( Will keep the other one for the next project............Happy Hunter??)

Unboxed it and it looked just the same, heatsinks and all. (Pic 9/10 )
So at that moment there was a bit of a set-back so I rang Component Shop at Bangor, they said “take the heat sinks off and you have a P94 lite”! Such a simple answer and such a nice chap. (Pic 11 )

Now a quick 'measure up' before I have a glass of wine (Pic 12) and does it all fit...? Well it appears to at the moment! (Pic 13)

Next time really going to screw down the components under the forward hatch and wire it up.


Attached Photos - Click To View Large

Response by RNinMunich on the 17th Nov 2017
Hi Neil, You read too much!! 😉
Before you give yourself the work of altering the rudders see how she performs with the twin ESC & rudder mixer. For slow manoeuvring, especially in reverse, I'm pretty sure the rudders will be almost irrelevant, apart of course for controlling the mixer and hence motors.
If you use the P94 in Mode 3 you can spin the boat on it's axis😉
The guys with small rudders in front of the props most likely don't have twin ESCs and a mixer.
Two maxims:
Why complicated when simple works!
If it ain't broke don't fix it!

I intend to 'suck it and see' first.
Whatever you do have fun with it, but don't 'over engineer',
cheers Doug 😎
Response by RNinMunich on the 17th Nov 2017
In my humble opinion the rudders in your pic look just plain daft 🤔 and spoil the whole look!
Each to his own 😉
Ciao Doug😎
Response by NPJ on the 17th Nov 2017
You are great Doug..................Keeping me 'rooted' and stopping me getting carried away!

I am having a pause this afternoon, but will work on 'non contentious' bits a little later.

Mark, Jarvo and you keep me enjoying this when I know I should be doing something else!

Sound System Try Out - Posted: 9th Nov 2017
Well, back now from a wet Scottish break and with lots of little parcels to open.....

Just before I left I tried to load a video and failed. My 'tutors' are going to help me with that but for now, the photos will do the job.

The first image shows my temporary power setup and the layout of the components (1). Exciters sourced from ............. and the sound unit is a ............. Note the way they are wired up. I hope, when fitted properly, the cabling will run across the bottom of the Hull.

The positioning was very much dictated by the space available between one set of 'ribs' (2). This seems to be just perfect. Note the position of the solder tags(3). There is little space left at the top when fitting the Deck, so keep as high as possible bearing that in mind.

So I put the exciters in place, and attached my power supply (4). I could not wait to put the Deck back on before I tried, but at least I had sound of Motors and Horn and adjusted the volume control to 75% (5) Volume control being the white block with the cross head.

So after I had my fun, I tidied it all up and put the deck on. Not screwed down but just to check sound levels. Did not work first time because of the lose wires, but second time was good and a great depth of sound.

So that has confirmed the sound system fits and can work in that position. However, that is without motors running and that may make a difference.

Next time I hope to be doing the trials of the mixer/escapes and motors, then I will see how the sound presents with motors running.

All the best.


Attached Photos - Click To View Large

Response by marky on the 9th Nov 2017
Rain in Scotland , now that's a rarity hope you enjoyed our national drink or even our other national drink and the midges didn't bite too much .👍 Cheers Marky
Response by NPJ on the 9th Nov 2017
Fortunately too late for the little beasties, but the Astronomy stuff I took with me stayed in the car! The Galloway Forest was very clouded and misty.

I failed to put the sources in for the bits I am using. Will do that on next post.

All the best

Layout and Limitations (con) - Posted: 16th Oct 2017
I pressed something I should not have here are the extra images. Follows on from the 'Silicon Treatment'......



Attached Photos - Click To View Large

Response by NPJ on the 18th Oct 2017
These are what I have available.

I was going to kept the Futaba for the Yacht, but I believe they are both 6 channel.

What do you think?

Response by RNinMunich on the 18th Oct 2017
I agree Neil😉 The Turnigy is a good set and the RX nice and compact and light.
Cheers Doug 😎
Response by NPJ on the 18th Oct 2017
OK thats it then.

Now need to read up on the Turnigy settings.

All the best.

Layout and Limitations - Posted: 16th Oct 2017
Layout and Limitations

Although I am really quite desperate to get on and put a few bits in, it did strike me that before I mess the current systems up on the Tug, maybe I should find out how they work.

So although I am leaving the Bridge/Wheelhouse until after the Hull layout is resolved, I need to check out what connections are made to what before I detach it from the Hull.

So having a look in you see a busy circuit board and a plastic bottle! Pic 12 -16

What is needed is to determine which leads activate which features before I start chopping leads to separate Hull from Bridge.

To this end I attached the standard battery and fired up the Tranny. I reconnected the leads that I had unplugged and switched the boat switch to on. Pic 17/18

Action of motors, lights in three sets and ‘smoker’ cables were identified, but I have not found the ‘horn’ yet.
So that established what leads went to what and also raised the question for the future ‘what can be used later’.

I noted that some cabling groups and routes from Hull to Bridge where given the ‘silicon treatment’ which I intend to reinstate before replacing the Deck.

Having established how the setup works and what can possibly be retained, I removed the ‘standard’ battery, unplugged it all again and loaded potential ‘extras’ into the Hull to see how it would sit in the water.

Now I can separate the Hull from the Bridge completely which enables me to have a good look at potential layout and consider weight and its distribution. I did in the early days mark the waterline as it was with standard equipment and also the CoG point fore/aft, for later comparisons. Forgot about Lateral but I assume centre line.......................

Maybe pointless, but I made a drawing of the Hull and also laid out some of the components that may be used in the Hull itself. Pics 14/15.

Currently the weight of these ‘extras’ amounts to 562 grams 19.8 ozs, from which must be deducted the ‘standard’ battery weight 104 grams 3.6 ozs, when considering real differences, so 458 grams, 16.2 ozs and still below waterline

So I now have all these bits, the boat in three pieces and I am considering putting up a banner in the garage which would read... All the gear and no idea!

Next move will be trial runs on the new motor control set up and checking out the sound system using the Transducers.


Attached Photos - Click To View Large

Response by jarvo on the 17th Oct 2017
If you are keeping the smoker, follow the leads into the circuit board and mark them same with the lighting.
Cut close to the board and the same with the plug leads from the hull. Join them together (solder is best with heat shrink) that way you retain the plug and play to the superstructure. Also by removing the radio board a little of the top weight is removed.
Removing The Deck - Posted: 11th Oct 2017
Should have said before, note when removing these screws, they are not all the same size so keep separate.

Although they appear to stay in the deck, they do eventually fall out so, with them being so small, I removed them at the start by poking a small screw driver up the holes.

Also when lifting the deck, it is attached to the bulwarks and requires very gentle separating if you are not to mark the hull. I used an old thin kitchen knife to apply some leverage at various points.

You will find something like Vaseline, or light grease all, around the joint. I make note to replace this when rebuilding.

First things I noticed, no receiver visible and only one ‘tray’, that being forward. Looks like a lot of space for ‘extras’. I removed the tray so far as I could without removing any of the wiring.Pics 8/9.

I assume receiver and smoker is in the Wheelhouse/bridge and will need to check the wiring setup before going much further there. But that can wait until further down the line. Pic 10

What can been seen well now are possibilities for the layout of new components that may end up in the hull. I am thinking larger battery, sound generator, escape/mixer etc.

What can been seen well now are possibilities for the layout of new components that may end up in the hull. I am thinking larger battery, sound generator, escape/mixer etc. Pic 11.
At this point I need to start considering weight, CoG, balance when planning a layout.

Am I in too deep already!

I did place the tug, with all its standard bits, in the bath before I started and marked the water line for a comparison!

Next time I hope to be looking at 'lay-out' in the hull and sizing up the space some of the hoped for extras would need.

Attached Photos - Click To View Large

Response by NPJ on the 12th Oct 2017
Understood you two (maybe three!) but you should remember that I am an only child, spoilt brat, therefore waiting is never the first or second option.....................

I can live with not having smoke (sad) but I must have something else so probably radar rotating!

I can understand not charging Lipo's in situ, but thought NiMh were so much safer? If not, that could be a way of reducing weight as has been suggested.

Good news is that exciters have arrived ( incredible service) and they actually measure 2" or 50mm. Now there is progress.

There is one space one rib back from the front of the motors that would not require surgery. Maybe not good from noise pick up but could be worth a try.


Response by Dave M on the 12th Oct 2017
Only way to see if it works is to make a test rig and hold the exciter in place to see what it sounds like. Don't use the glue pads for now just hold in place with light pressure.
Radar should be ok weight wise.
All batteries should not be charged in a model, ever! They all contain chemicals and if a fault develops or they leak explosive gases the last place they should be is in an enclosed environment.
There are high power NiMhs that may be suitable as they can be had in different formations. Component Shop will make up a pack to your specs.

If you rush the only thing being spoiled will be the boat!
Response by NPJ on the 12th Oct 2017
Thank you Dave.

I will follow the advice re charging.

Hope this week-end to do some trial fitting and some drawing out of possible layouts.

I am away in a weeks time for ten days, so hope to progress before then.

Will post it.

However I will try and curb my impatience .................!

All the best.

Hobby Engine 'Richardson' Tug Upgrade - Posted: 7th Oct 2017
This is the beginning of a ‘diary’ of events. It involves a small Tug, the Hobby Engine Richardson and my attempts to improve its performance.
This is my first attempt at such a project and would not have been possible without the assistance of certain members of this site.

For those not familiar with this model here are the basic details......... Pic1&2

At 1/32 scale ( 1 metre = 31.25mm; 1 inch = 2 feet 8 inches), it has a Length of 54cm (21.25 inches) beam 17cm (6.75inches) height to radio aerial top 37cm (14.5inches) and weight at 1924grams (4.5 lbs) with standard battery and fittings.
It comes with 2.4 digital radio, 7.2v 800mAh rechargeable battery and charger.

Features include:- Twin 280 motors, functioning internal lights, external lights, smoke and horn.

So some (such as Rallyst) have quite rightly said “Why change it”? My answer is that I can never ‘leave well alone’ , that I found the transmitter controls rather ‘rough’, the battery life too short, the horn sound very weak and the smoke almost non existent. Plus the fact that it has been reported elsewhere that the steering when going astern was very hit and miss.
So I started to take it apart! Pic3

It is easy to remove the Wheelhouse by sliding the dark grey locker at the front of the wheelhouse/bridge and the stairway.
Once the unit is released, the white electrics connector underneath can be difficult and needs very gentle prising with a small screw driver. The other two plugs come easily.

This is where members ‘Jarvo’ and ‘RNinMunich’ came to my aid.............

However, some of the screws are obvious but others have been well hidden. They are to be found under some of the fittings on the deck. Pic4,5,6,7.

The next move will be to remove the deck, but that is for next week.

What am I hoping to achieve.....well from zero knowledge I would like to have engine sound connected to the throttle control, good horn sound, better control of steering when going astern and a six channel receiver with new transmitter that feels good to use!

Attached Photos - Click To View Large

Response by RNinMunich on the 19th Oct 2017
Hi Neil, you can't 'take up' anything from the original board as the receiving and decoding is all done in that large IC, which you are going to replace with the new RX. So you will need switch boards plugged into the new receiver.
Response by NPJ on the 19th Oct 2017
Having to clear up before going away for a while. Table top to clear and case to pack.

I have tried to load a small video, my first one, but this is my fourth try at uploading.

I would show that, thanks to the help of so many of you, I have made a trial setup of the sound unit in the Hull using the exciters. Had to have a go before I left (spoilt Brat).

It works! Happy with volume, even with decking off but volume control only half advanced and can function horn separate to engine sounds.

Dave M and Doug to name a couple have really helped me through to this point.

When I return, I will install properly and take images as this video does not seem to want to play with me.

Next challenge...the Esc/Mixer

Cheers to all.

Response by RNinMunich on the 19th Oct 2017
Good news 👍 Well played Sir 😉
BTW: you can't upload video directly to the site. You have to go via You-tube, which means creating an account if you don't already have one.
Have a good break, cheers Doug 😎