Site updated:

20th August 2019

Tips, tricks and traps.

We are all on a learning curve, and its a sorry day when we don't acquire some new knowledge. This page contains some tips, tricks and traps which I've stumbled across in the past and which may be of some interest to others. Enjoy the read, and I hope you get something useful in return.


When building Janus (Model Slipway Range Safety Craft) I wanted to replace the 2 bladed plastic (nylon) props with 3 bladed brass equivalents. The clearance between the skeg and the rudder was limited, and all standard brass props were too long. Workaround was to carefully cut the boss (spinner) off the prop, then remove the head from a brass 'Victorian style' picture hook. Epoxy was used to glue the pin head to the rear of the prop. This reduced the prop length from 18mm to 13mm while retaining efficiency and cosmetic appearance.

Glues and rubber matting.

One of the most pleasant surprises has been discovering the model boat materials stocked by Wilkinsons (Wilko). Their own-brand epoxy was reliable, efficient, predictable and 40% the price of many equivalents. Likewise their Loctite thick superglue gel was 30% cheaper than in other outlets. Mouse mat (rubber matting) is currently 99p for 2 mats removing the need to get it right first time.

Value for money.

You can find a lot of 'goodies' in your local Pound Shop! They do some very useful clamps, both metal G clamps and small sash clamps, which are just the right size for model making. Also they sell packs of wet & dry which are good enough to use on white metal castings where the metal soon clogs the paper anyway. Green cutting mats are again £1 each! Packs of paintbrushes can also be found here, which although not good enough for quality paintwork are perfect for applying glue etc and cheap enough to throw away after use. There is often a cheaper alternative to buying through the model trade (shops like Lidl are worth a browse as well).

Shaft covers.

Although Janus is a dry boat there is inevitably some shaft leakage - particularly when going astern. Although very little in quantity (maybe a spoonful after an hour on the water) it was being sprayed around internally and looked a lot. I was worried about the ESCs and the motors. The solution was found in 40mm plastic plumbing pipe from Homebase (1metre length for £1.50). This was cut to the length of the prop shaft, then a 10mm 'slice' was cut out along the length. The 10mm slice allows the pipe to sit over coupling and shaft acting as a 'splash guard'.

Milliput and Liquid Epoxy.

I recently discovered the delights of Milliput (2 part epoxy putty). I use Milliput standard (about £2 per pack) on internal components where strength is the only requirement, and Milliput superfine (about £4.50 per pack) on external components where both strength and finish are required. If you combine Milliput and liquid epoxy then you have a very flexible and strong solution. Build a cofferdam (wall) using Milliput, heat both parts of the liquid epoxy to about 40 degrees Celsius, then mix it for about 30 seconds. Pour it into the Milliput cofferdam you created earlier. No matter how complex or awkward the shape is, you get a perfect and very strong bond. I use a 10ml syringe (38p from my local chemist) for tight spaces. As a rule of thumb at 40 degrees the liquid epoxy will set in in 25% of the usual set time i.e. 60 minute liquid epoxy at 40 degrees will set in about 15 minutes.