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Sam Gill

Next up for an article about members from the Northern District, here is Sam Gill. If you’ve met him, I can guarantee you will remember him. He is wonderfully friendly, always seems to have time for those around him. At my first meeting with him, I was the new boy in town, but he was instantly very helpful and friendly to me – helped me find my feet. So, in in his own words, here is Sam Gill’s model yacht story:

“I came to model yacht sailing late in life after discovering I had angina, and after a short illness I retired from active work at 60 years old and started wondering what the hell am I going to do to fill in the rest of my life. We have a family business which my son and granddaughter now run and the last thing they need is a silly old bugger like me butting in.

So, I’m still searching when I bump into Barry, a mate who had recently retired and he said he had made a tug and had joined a club at Yeadon, so on the Sunday I went up to have a look. I had a go with his tug and after the third circle I thought not for me, but then I spotted a couple of guy’s sailing scale yachts. I had a chat with them and they let me try one, great 👍a lot more thinking goes with sails I thought.

Then my father who was in his 90s was getting needing care. My sister lived with him but is partly disabled, so I moved down to Sheffield. My father passed away 2 years later, and I stayed in Sheffield to help my sister, and then I found Rotherham model yacht sailing club at Harthill only 6miles from the house. There I found competitive metre boat (IOM) racing I was hooked. I will never be a top league sailor but the enjoyment and the people I’ve met and become friend’s with has filled in my retirement and my life with joy.”

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3D Printing in Radio Sailing

Joanne Sharpe has written the article below sharing her experiences in the use of 3D printing in model yacht construction.  Part 2 will follow later as the project progresses.  She sails at Askern Radio Sailing Club, and is one of a group of 4 at that club who own 3D printers.

3D Printing a Radio Yacht

Is 3D printing a game changer in radio yachting? Perhaps; the jury’s still out, but it’s looking very promising. Here are some reflections on my first couple of months using this interesting building technique, which I hope help some of you to decide whether or not it’s for you.

I was first attracted to 3D printing because it offers the promise of reproducing designs very accurately, +/- 0.1 mm or so, which is far better than I can hope to do in any other medium. It also gives a way of producing a hull, a rudder and some rig fittings in a week or so for under 50 quid!

So, I did some research, went through the temptation stage, followed by a lot more research, then the ‘shall I shan’t I’ stage and now I’m one of four people in our club who’s got a 3D printer and are at various stages in our respective developments. My target when I placed my order for a printer was to produce an IOM, ready to sail for next spring and I’m well on target to achieve that. The hull is printed in sections.

But let’s take a small step back to set the scene.

My experience so far is very much a start point that anyone might take to dip a toe into this water. This is my first 3d Printer. Prices of printers have tumbled over the last year or two and I bought the Creality Ender 3, one a rash of machines that have come out of China. This is very much a basic machine and while this is not a recommendation, I’ve been very pleasantly surprised. As an entry level printer, it does everything that I want to do very well and at the price, at £150 or so, is excellent value. It took me a just couple of hours to put together and it worked first time on my very first test print. Below is a stock image of the Ender 3 and works great in its standard form, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to print all sorts of add-ons and tweaks (yep, 3D printers print themselves – look up the RepRap movement, it’s fascinating), so mine is now a bit like a Christmas tree!
Creality Ender 3, build volume 220 x 200 x 250

A very popular route into radio yachts at the moment is the Manta IOM. Andy Hoffmann in Germany has made the design files freely available (hats off to Andy) and Zach Chan in Kuala Lumpur has done a lot of good CAD work turning Andy’s design into a kit of parts that can be printed on hobbyist machines. Is the Manta a competitive IOM? Early reports are encouraging for it as a club level boat (and maybe better with the right thumbs). I liked Zach report when he first sailed his prototype in a club race … “it’s not a sticky boat”.

In practice producing an IOM on a hobbyist 3D printer means building the boat in sections that will fit onto the i3 genre of machines (like the Prusa i3, the Ender 3 and dozens of others) which limit the height of sections to the range of 200-250 mm (the build height on the Z axis). It’s possible to get a machine that will print an IOM hull as a single piece, but we’re talking about kit that is outside the budget of most hobbyists, costing anything from the price of 2 or 3 professional IOM hulls upwards.

Manta IOM ‘Kit’ to self-print. Note the keel box, Jib rack, main post, rudder post, servo trays etc. which are all 3D printed and fit together with the 7 sections of the hull beautifully. Zach’s website is at

There’s a lot of current discussion about sticking bits together. Most of the good, strong plastics can be problematic when it comes to chemical welding. I am very tempted to go to my favourite laminating resin, but this is the next stage for me, so we’ll see how that turns out.

3D printing is not quite an ‘out of the box’ experience. It takes a bit of testing and research to hit on techniques and settings that work for you and your machine. You have to be prepared to waste a fair bit of filament and treat it as an investment. There are times when everything goes a bit haywire at first. When you’ve waited 17 hours for a print and it goes wrong in the last couple of millimetres, you have to remember that the machine was chugging along on its own for most of that time and a one kilo roll of filament is less than the cost of a suit of DragonForce sails. Investment!

Having gone through that ‘development phase’ I’ve now produced the sections of an IOM that I’m pleased with and I’ll be gluing it all together over the next week or two. Knowing what I know now, I think I can produce a lighter boat that is plenty strong enough next time. The real beauty of a printed boat is still the accuracy with which you can reproduce the designer’s intention. I’m no builder, so when the opportunity to produce prints to an accuracy of around 100 microns comes along, knowing precisely where the keel box needs to be, it’s quite seductive.

As more people have got into this building method, there are some very active forums that have developed; one that I find very helpful is the Facebook group ‘3D printed radioasailyachts’. People share their experiences quite freely and there are several boats now on the water in the UK and around the globe. One hot topic is always what filament to use? Do a Google search and you’ll be overwhelmed by the choice, so here’s a starting point that works for me and many others (I will experiment further no doubt). The filament that I’ve settled on so far, is eSun PLA+ which is pretty easy to print with (I’m happy to share the settings that work for me – please ask), gives a pleasing result, gives excellent adhesion between layers and is otherwise very strong, Judging by the experience of others, this seems to give a reasonably water tight result although, it’s a thermoplastic (specifically allowed within the IOM rules), but it does mean that leaving a boat in hot direct sunshine is not a good idea.

I bought CAD files as have many others because doing my own CAD work was a step too far. However, as I get further into this technique and I talk to others, the opportunity to self-design becomes ever more tempting. In a nutshell, you can print an IOM (or a Footie or an RG or up to a 10R – see below) in around 25 – 40 hours print time. Once the first couple of layers have gone down successfully and have stuck to the bed and you’re satisfied that you’re not going to get a heap of plastic spaghetti, that’s just waiting time. You can walk away and get on with your life. It’s exciting to go to bed and get up in the morning to another bit of your boat, freshly made, sat on the build plate waiting for you.

Back to self-design. So, you’ve done the CAD work and turned your ‘baby’ into code and it goes on the printer. You can sail it next week and the hull has cost about 20 quid. A little less beam, a tweak to the rocker? At 20 quid for a hull, you can afford to play with your ideas, develop them iteratively and test them on the water in fairly short order. I think this is an aspect of this build technique that could become the game changer.

Hopefully my Manta will be around the Northern District soon after Christmas (and I expect to see others too). You’ll be able to see how much of my aspiration has turned into reality. If you’re interested in this fascinating development, can I suggest you also take a look at a website produced by someone who’s much further down the development road than me. In Australia, Selwyn Holland  is producing 3d printed radio yachts up to 10 Raters and his website at is inspiring and well worth a read.

I’ll close leaving you with this thought. The scope for collaborative projects seems to be enormous. A group of people who bring a number of talents to the table might produce some staggering results and take our sport forward a significant step. I’d love to hear your thoughts.



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Furness MBC update

David Foster has sent in the following update on Furness MBC

Furness Model Boat Club sails on the pond in the municipal park. It has no problem with weed – large and vicious fish, branches, shopping trolleys etc. can be a different matter, but this summer, with the dry weather, the level got so low that we initially fell back to Dragon Force, then with short fins and eventually even Footies were going aground, so for a few weeks, sailing halted. The level has only just risen enough to resume IOM sailing in the last month.

Several of the MYA members are also members of another, non-affiliated, club (South Lakes Model Club, sailing at Kitridding Farm, near Kirkby Lonsdale) and race there every week, mostly IOM, DF65 and DF95. We do have a weed problem there, but have been using the food dye to suppress it. This year, the dye was unavailable when we needed to start with it and, because water levels were low due to the dry weather, the weed got a hold because of the easy access to sunlight. Once we got the dye, I spent hours hanging over the side of a dinghy, cutting the weed back below the surface and the dye then did its job well and kept the weed down from then on.

 Several members sail long keeled, traditional type boats which are almost untroubled by weed unless it is really solid and on the surface. Boats sailed are the Moonbeam gaff-rigged ‘pond yacht’ and the Canterbury/Nottingham J Class. Recently, I have obtained an example of a boat called a Mini 8, which is sailed by the Poole Club along with its bigger brother – 8 Metre, made by one of their members. It is ideal, being about 28″ long with a long keel and attached rudder and a bermuda rig about the size of the A+ rig on a DF65 and shrugs weed off.

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Margaret Barnes

In the second of the articles about people in the Northern district, we are featuring someone who actually does not sail model yachts or any boats at all.  I think its fair to say that in any ideal world every model yacht club would have a Margaret Barnes.  Sadly, Margaret’s husband Alec has only recently died, so this is not only an article about Margaret but also a tribute to her late husband.  Without further ado, and in her own words I introduce you to Margaret and her association with model boat sailing:

 “My late husband, Alec, from being a teenager was involved in sailing model boats, first being a member of Bury Model Boat Club. 

 On getting married and going to live in Lake District he bought a sailing dingy, sailing on Windermere most days of the week.  On a few occasions taking me with him but I was never a good companion, could not get my head or hands around when I had to duck, change sides etc and ended up with more bruises than anyone could imagine.  It didn’t help that I was also afraid of water not being a swimmer and suffered from sea sickness even on the Lake.

 On returning to Bradford to live he once again became more interested in modelling, mainly steam so we went to almost all model boat exhibitions and steam rallies within 150 miles radius.   At one of these shows we met up with some members of the former Leeds & Bradford Model Boat Club, sailing at Larkfield Tarn and became members.  It was not long before I was volunteered to become “tea lady” etc.  At that time the club did not have any running water which did not help, so I decided that social fund raising needed to be started to raise funds for the installation of water, septic tank for toilet facilities.  Committee at that time felt there was no way this would happen, but it did.

 Unfortunately, although too long a tale to tell, as one can imagine, arguments began with a result that the club was divided and ended up with Alec, myself and approximately another six members transferring Leeds & Bradford Model Boat Club to sail at Yeadon Tarn in 2006. 

 We did not have a clubhouse but the gardener’s shelter in complete disrepair and fire damaged was due to be demolished by the Council.  We fought this and made good the shelter, which is now our clubhouse, small but cosy.   We were in a minus situation financially in 2006 but my fund raising abilities being what they are has led us to be in a nice position in 2018.  Members say that I could sell ice cream to Eskimos!!!

Alec did on many occasions try and get me to be a skipper.  My co-ordination of starboard and port just does not justify me being on the water.   I have always taken an interest in him building the models and accompanied him on his many trips in researching the ones he built, as 95% of them are still around. 

After building the “Waverley” he wanted to build the sister ship “Balmoral”.   So we booked on a day excursion leaving Whitehaven to Douglas Isle of Man – with a trip on a steam train on arrival.  Ten minutes at sea all I wanted was to get off or die – sea sickness.  Not much sympathy from Alec when I kept asking when we would get there – saying I can see IOM – me replying that you could see IOM from Whitehaven.  Needless to say the steam train trip did not happen, we visited a chemist shop, got some tablets and laid down on a lot of pebbles for the day plucking up enough courage to get back on board in the evening and of course I would not let him build a model of the Balmoral. 

Even though I suffer sea sickness at the slightest swell of the sea, I eventually agreed to go on a cruise holiday and enjoyed every minute of it – done 20 trips to date.  Just start taking pills day before travel and each day on board whether the sea calm or not in preparation.  

 His model making continued even on holiday, taking lots of photos of tug boats, pilot boats and me standing around whilst he drew sketches.  

I love being a member of the Boat Club, supporting skippers, arranging outings, annual dinners, social functions and becoming an expert in bacon butties.   On big competition days when lunch was being provided, Alec would make a big meat and potato pie for which he became quite famous.  Standard joke within the family that I am no good at cooking – he was a Chef by trade so I have never had to cook.  However, for the past two years health wise prevented him from being able to do this so I had to think of something that I could do, which seems to have gone down well, changing the lunch menu to either Steak and Kidney Pie or Coq-au-vin.  Not hard to create these dishes but seems to be quite acceptable.

 Still don’t know about marrying up servo’s and transmitters but I do know how much they cost and how to order them, along with many other items required to create a model.  Alec had absolutely no idea how to use computer so between us made a perfect pair, especially now that most things are done online.   The same went when programming his many transmitters that needed a more electronic mind instead of using 27mg !!”

 Editor:  I can testify to the excellence of Margaret’s bacon butties and Coq-au vin.  Having just sailed in an open at Yeadon Tarn and sampled the food (including seconds – or was it thirds?) I returned home so full of the delicious food that I drove home with a happy contented stomach and a smile on my face.   Lucky Leeds and Bradford MBC, I am envious of you. 

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