Small Tugboat “Titan”


On small Dutch Tugs

Very Dutch vintage tugboat, the type of vessel originally used to manoeuvre sailing ships and tow barges in the 1930's. Today, the surviving examples are collectors' items.

The real “Titan” was owned by a colleague who let me photograph and measure her up on the quayside: 6 meters long, riveted iron construction and powered by a single cylinder "Deutz" diesel engine.

Using photo's and measurements, the 60 cm long model was made from cardboard, which is perfect material for model boats as long as you waterproof it very well ;-) Electric power (7.2V buggy motor without reduction) and radio control for rudder and forward/reverse speed. Plenty of lead is required to get the hull low in the water.

Below: the Titan model on the Zegerplas, Alphen aan den Rijn, Holland.

After two decades of dissatisfaction with the appearance of the commercial propeller and hot electrics (caused by the motor laboring at low revolutions) it was decided to replace the screw with a home-made one and alter the direct drive into a reduction system that delivers more power whilst allowing the motor to run at more efficient speeds.

An additional bonus with the belt drive is the ease of alignment: in the case of a direct connection between motor and prop shaft, alignment is very critical and often difficult to achieve. The “belt” is simply a good elastic band of suitable length but a destruction test in the bathtub is better than one on the lake!

The electrics are a bit old-fashioned – no BEC for the 25Mhz Futaba receiver but four penlights. The drive accumulator is a 6-cell 7,2V 1700mah NiCd pack but earlier on a cordless drill battery was deployed. The fancy gold-anodized box is the (Conrad) electronic speed control unit and the works on top of the Igarashi motor is for suppression of radio interference. An additional mechanical modification was the vertical lubrication tube for the prop shaft (against the bulkhead) – after two decades the original grease in the prop shaft had turned rather nasty and hindered smooth running. In future cycle oil will be used.

Long before building the 1:10 scale model, a 1:20 scale version was built powered by a 3 Volt cassette-recorder motor and featuring electronically generated single-cylinder diesel sound that drives one mad within 10 minutes (-:

Below: the old-fashioned cigarette lighter was given away to a collector on the condition that he took the model along with it.