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Construction and Set-Up of a P.I.P. 24” fiberglass shovelnose hydroplane hull

By Ralph von Eppinghoven
Metro Marine Modelers

Toronto, Canada

Photo 1: Finished shovelnose hydroplane with tail fin, decals, and scale driver


1.1   Boat Specifications:

Hull: P.I.P. 24” fiberglass shovelnose hydroplane hull

Motor: FD-EM SS1 “Speed 700” 

Hardware: Fine Design

Shaft: Octura 0.130” flex

Propeller: Octura X447 or X645

Speed Control: Astroflight 212D  (not supplied)

Radio System: Hitec Lynx FM  (not supplied)

Power: 12 Sanyo RC 2400s in two 6 cell packs (not supplied)

1.2   Project Description:

An extremely popular category of “fast electric” radio control model boat is the Limited Sport Hydroplane (LSH) class. To meet the demands of the fast electric R.C. boater, Fine Design Marine ( has started supplying complete, “shovelnose” hydroplane boat kits that include hull, running hardware, motor, motor mount, flex shaft, coupler, pushrod, turn fin and all fasteners required to put a competitive, 12-cell, LSH R.C. boat on the water.  The FDM kit is based on the Precision in Perfection (PIP) “Spirit of Bavaria”, 24 inch, fibreglass hydroplane hull.

This article describes the construction and set-up of the FDM kit, along with optional detailing to make the finished model resemble the real 1965 Miss Bardahl hydroplane. This article covers a modified version of the PIP hull that includes a tail fin, scale driver and cockpit.  These detailing modifications are optional, and are only recommended for experienced modelers. The sections of this article that relate to these optional modifications are indicated as Optional.


2.1 Stuffing Tube:

The 7/32” brass stuffing tube is installed as shown in Photo 2. The stuffing tube slot in the hull bottom is 1-1/2” long and is located 3-1/4” to 4-3/4” from the transom. The slot should be cut 1/8” wide then carefully filed to snugly fit the stuffing tube. Once the brass stuffing tube has been bent to the correct shape (see Photo 3 and 4), “tack” glue the brass tube in place in the slot in the hull bottom using medium CA glue. Glue the stuffing tube from both the inside and outside of the hull. Once the CA has dried, apply epoxy glue to the stuffing tube and hull joint on the inside and outside of the hull. This layer of epoxy glue is critical to provide waterproofing and strength on this key joint. It is best to carefully test fit the stuffing tube prior to gluing to ensure that it is lined up “dead straight” with the motor and strut. The length of the brass stuffing tube should be such that a gap of approximately 3/16” exists between the motor coupler and stuffing tube, and that the tube ends approximately 5/8” in front of the strut.  

Photo 2: Stuffing tube on bottom of hull

2.2 Motor Mount Installation:

In order to support the motor at an angle and thereby minimize the bends in the flex shaft, a small wooden wedge is glued into the hull and the composite, motor mount is glued to the wedge as shown in Photo 3.

Photo 3: Stuffing tube and motor mount in side hull 

The back end of the wooden wedge and motor mount (the end nearest the stern of the boat) should be glued 8-1/4” from the transom (see photo 3). This places the highest part of the motor within the raised part of the hatch, just in front of the driver cockpit. Test fit the SS1 motor and mount prior to final gluing to ensure proper fit and adequate clearance of the motor and coupler from the bottom of the hull and underside of the hatch, and that the motor aligns with the stuffing tube.


3.1 Bracket Installation:

The bracket and strut are installed as shown in Photo 4. The strut is installed in the bracket so that the upper edge of the strut bullet has 1/8” clearance below the bottom of the hull.

Photo 4: Running hardware installed on hull (side view)

3.2 Rudder Installation:

As shown in Photo 5, the rudder is mounted offset 1-5/8” to the left of the center line of the strut bracket.

Photo 5: Running hardware installed on hull (rear views)

3.3 Turn Fin Installation:

The turn fin is screwed to the back of the right sponson and is installed on an angle (approximately 30 degrees) to help hold the right sponson in the water and preventing the boat from flipping while cornering at top speed.  Photo 6 shows the finished installation of the turn fin.

Photo 6: Installed hydroplane turn fin


4.1 Layout:

The batteries, ESC, servo and receiver are placed in the hull as shown in Photo 7. This layout results in a Centre of Gravity (C of G) of approximately 1-¼” behind the back of the sponson (about the centre of the turn fin). This is the balance point that results in good speed and handling for this boat. The C of G can be adjusted easily by moving the battery packs forward or backward in the hull. When running the boat in choppy water, the batteries should be moved forward 1” of the original position while calm water running allows the batteries to be moved back 1”.  In this case, the battery packs are offset slightly to the right of centre to avoid flipping the boat while oval racing. 

Photo 7: Interior layout of the R.C. components 

As shown in Photo 7, a cooling coil and brush coolers were installed on the motor. This is not necessary with the SS1 motor when it is used for typical oval racing.  Also, a 5/32” plywood bulkhead was installed in front of the motor to stiffen the hull and minimize the flexing of the hull bottom. The bulkhead should fit fully across the bottom and up the sides of the hull as shown in Photo 7.

4.2 Servo Installation:

Photo 8 shows the servo installed in the hull. The servo is screwed into two, small, wooden blocks that are glued onto the bottom of the hull. The servo is mounted between these blocks. In this case, the rearmost edge of the servo was mounted 4” forward of the transom. The pushrod and pushrod boot are installed as shown in Photo 5.

Photo 8: Servo and pushrod installed in hull 

It should be noted that the servo installation as shown in photo 8 requires the radio system steering control (on the transmitter) to be set to the “reverse” setting for the boat to turn in the expected direction.


5.1 Receiver Installation:

The receiver is mounted in the rear right corner of the hull as shown in Photo 9. Note, the receiver is normally in a waterproof “ballon” but this has been removed for clarity. The separate red wire shown in the photo is the power wire from the ESC that is disconnected since a separate radio battery pack is used instead of the “battery eliminator circuit” from the ESC.

Photo 9: Radio receiver and AA batteries installed in the hull

5.2 Receiver Battery:

In order to ensure reliable operation of the radio system, it is recommended to power the radio receiver using the battery pack and on/off switch supplied with the radio system. In order to access the on/off switch when the hatch is sealed, the Du-bro Kwik Switch Mount has been installed on the transom.  


This section deals entirely with detailed modelling techniques to add a driver figure, cockpit, engine exhaust pipes and tail fin to the hatch.  Advanced modelling skills are required for this work since the pieces will all be built from “scratch”. These details are simply to provide a realistic and scale boat appearance to the model. 

6.1 Driver Figure (Optional):

The driver figure is based on the Williams Brothers 1/12 Military Scale Pilot (#17000). Arms and torso can be added by carving these pieces from ½” balsa wood and gluing them to the Williams Brothers figure. The driver figure’s hands were simply cut from a child’s toy that had hands that were approximately the correct size. Assemble the figure by first gluing the arms in the desired position and then gluing the lower torso between the arms.  Fill any undesired gaps or imperfections using Squadron putty. The steering wheel is a piece of insulated, 12 gauge, wire that is bent to shape. The final step is to glue a small piece of plywood, with a blind nut in place, on the underside of the driver figure. The blind nut should be installed on top of the piece of plywood with the opening towards the bottom of the driver torso. This allows a machine screw to be inserted though the underside of the hatch to fasten the driver securely in place. Photo 10 shows the driver figure assembled and painted. 

Photo 10: Scale driver figure details

6.2 Instrument Panel (Optional):

The instrument panel is simply a thin strip of ABS plastic that has ¼ “ holes spaced equally across its length to simulate instrument bezels, and paper instrument faces are glued in place behind the panel. The finished and painted instrument panel is shown in Photo 11.

Photo 11: Finished instrument panel in cockpit

6.3 Engine Exhaust Pipes (Optional):

The dummy exhaust pipes (supplied as an option in the kit) are attached to the engine area to replicate the real exhausts on the unlimited class of hydroplane boats. Four equally spaced ¼” holes are drilled into the engine “rocker covers” molded into the hatch and the exhausts are glued in place from the underside of the hatch. Photo 11 shows the dummy exhaust pipes installed in the hatch.  

6.4 Tail Fin (Optional):

The supplied hatch does not come with the tail fin that was found on most real shovelnose hydroplanes. In this case, a replica tail fin was cut out of 5/32” aircraft plywood and glued onto the hatch. In order to ensure a solid joint between the wooden tail fin and the fiberglass hatch, tabs on the wooden tail fin are inserted into slots that are cut into the curved rear section of the hatch. Photo 12 shows the wooden tail fin and how it is glued to the hatch.

Photo 12: Plywood tail fin glued in place on hatch 


The shovelnose hydroplane kit hull is made of high quality, gel coated, fibreglass and does not require painting. If desired, the hull can be painted to improve its appearance. In this case, the boat hull has been painted and decaled to be a replica of a real hydroplane – the 1965 Miss Bardahl.

7.1 Painting  the Black “Batwing” (Optional):

Once the hull coats of paint are fully dried (this should be at least 72 hours), the black trim paint on the bow of the boat can be applied which replicates the black “batwing” of the 1965 Miss Bardahl. Carefully apply strips of wide, low tack, masking tape across the bow section of the hull. Be sure to slightly overlap the tape strips so that a large taped surface is formed. Using an ordinary lead pencil, draw the desired batwing pattern onto the tape on the bow section. Once the hand drawn pattern is satisfactory, carefully remove the tape as a single sheet – do not remove the tape strips individually. Place the tape sheet with the pattern on a clean, dry, cutting surface such as a sheet of glass. Now carefully cut out the hand drawn “batwing” pattern, using a fresh exacto knife blade, from the tape sheet thereby producing the desired batwing mask. Return the batwing mask portion of the tape sheet back onto its original location on the bow portion of the hull. Carefully smooth out the tape sheet onto the bow, particularly at the edges of the mask. Finally, mask the lower edge of the bow to prevent paint overspray from marring the bottom of the hull. The finished batwing mask is shown installed on the bow of the boat in Photo 13.  Once the mask is complete, spray paint the exposed area black using desired Black paint.

Photo 13: Batwing mask on bow of hull 

7.2 Decals (Optional):

In this example, custom-made “Miss Bardahl” decals have been applied to the hull. These decals are available from either Fine Design Marine or the decal manufacturer, Axxent Signs in Toronto, Ontario ( Photo 1 and 14 shows the locations of the various decals.

Photo 14: Decals applied to finished boat  

In order to protect the decals, stripes and paint, and to provide a glossy shine to the finished boat, a final layer of “clear coat” paint should be applied to the entire hull surface.  


8.1 Sealing the Hatch:

The most common method of securing the hatch to the deck is to tape the hatch with electrical tape. Good results have been obtained using the 3M Colourflex brand of electrical tape (available in green!)

In this case, the hatch is secured with six, 1” machine screws and blind nuts (Du-bro socket head bolt and blind nut set - Cat No. #130), instead of taping the hatch in place. Holes were drilled at the appropriate locations in the hatch and hull and the blind nuts were glued in place under the hull deck. In order to ensure a watertight seal, Du-bro Instant Stik Foam Tape was applied to the edges of the hull opening. This hatch seal was “bathtub tested” with the boat fully submerged to ensure that it is waterproof.

8.2 Balance and Trim:

The boat, as configured in this example, will have a C of G of approximately 1-1/4” behind the back of the sponson. This is the balance point that seemed to result in good speed and handling for this boat. Generally, good results have been obtained with the strut angle neutral – perfectly level – at a depth of 1/8” below the bottom of the hull as shown in Photo 4.  This boat has been measured at 30 mph (using a Garmain e-Trex GPS) when set up as described and using an Octura X447 prop. Using a 12-cell pack of RC2400 batteries, this boat capable of racing for 10 laps on a standard oval course.   

Photo 15: The finished FDM Shovelnose Hydroplane – enjoy your fast electric boat!


The layout and set up of this shovelnose hydro was based on information provided to me by Chris Fine at Fine Design, and my fellow Fast Electric boat racers at Metro Marine Modelers in Toronto, Ontario. I wish to thank all those that helped me build this great R.C. boat.

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