Thursday, April 29, 2021

Fettling Felix


Felix is an odd boat.Built from a Krick kit by my father, neither of us can actually remember any of this happening. We certainly couldn't tell you when the model was built other than "years ago". 

To make it worse, this is a really nice boat. He has detailed the interior with a captain sitting at a control desk, and cabin interior to hide the radio control gear. A few LGB people, and it really looks the part. 

Finding the boat tucked away in the corner of the space room behind some other stuff, we though it time for the boat to spend some time on the water. At 63 cm long, it's a nice size for our lake, and fits the role of boat sailed after chip buttie perfectly. 

Of course it wouldn't be plug and play. A freshly charged, or so I thought 6V jelly cell was connected up and the controls didn't seem to work. After a bit of poking the rudder moved, but the motor seemed to be trying, but not turning. I could spin the prop with my fingers, but not under power. 

A faulty speed control I concluded and swapped it for a new one. It didn't help. 

Checking the battery charger, one of the croc clips on the lead fell off. I soldered it back on, decided the dodgy joint had stopped it charging properly, plugged it all back in and gave it another charge. At the same time, we added some new batteries to an order from Howes, just to be sure.  

The results weren't great, so I tried another charger. Then when the new batteries arrived, I gave one a boost the same way. 

Back at the boat, something odd happened. Touching the speed control connections on the battery produced a spark. Plugging them in properly the battery started to get warm. Something was shorting out. 

The old battery didn't seem to give the same problem. The motor span over but only forward. Checking the programming, I reset everything (it is possible to set the control for forward only) and even tried a different transmitter. Still, forward only. 

With nothing to lose, I swapped back to the old speed control - suddenly everything was fine. Even with the new battery. 

So, it looks like the initial problems were due to a battery that had lost most of it's charge over the winter. I then put in a speed control that was either faulty, or quickly became so (Viper controls have a lifetime guarantee fortunately). Along the way, I cleaned and oiled the motor bearings and top of the propshaft which had a hint of rust. This quietened down the drive a bit.

On the water, the boat isn't fast, but it tootles silently around nicely on about 3/4 stick. With a bit more charge in the battery, I suspect we can get a bit more go out of it. Some extra weight in the stern won't hurt either. 

Most importantly, this mystery boat is now working. And it looks good doing it. 

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