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Shhhh!   Idiot at work...!

  With  installation  complete,  we  can start thinking about  getting  the  engine started. Modellers in "the good old days" used to start the engine  by  a   pull  cord 'see-sawed'  around the flywheel,  but now we all  use  powerful  electric  starters  that  will start  even  the  most  stubborn   engines. To start the engine you will need fuel, fuel pump, plug spanner,  plug power clip,  1.5 volt battery,   12 volt battery,  electric starter,  starter  belts  and  something  to carry it  all  in.  Power  panels  are  available  that supply power to the starter and glow plug and a built  in  fuel  pump.  A  small 'v'  belt is left loose under the  flywheel  during  installation,  the starter is pulled against this belt to turn the engine  over.

    By  now you will have checked the boat from bow to stern at least  twenty  times looking for flaws.  Once you are happy with your craftsmanship, you  can take all the gear out to the back garden or go for a short drive to the local boating lake. At the  lake  side you will need to do a range check for the radio first and check  that  your  frequency is clear by asking any other boaters  nearby.  Next  press-gang  someone  into checking your boat while you walk away from  it  with  the  Tx aerial down.  You should be able to walk at least  a  fifty  yards  and still have full control of rudder and throttle.  If you  can't  keep control of the boat or the servos start twitching,  don't launch. Go  home  and find what the problem is.  Twitching is usually caused by metal  to  metal joints so a couple of earth straps soldered / fixed to the  stuffing  tube, engine mount and rudder might be in order. Don't think "I'll try the  boat  anyway" because you don't want to loose or smash your new boat on it's first  outing.

    Happy with the radio? Remove the plug and squirt a little 3-in-1 oil into  the  carb,  cover the hole with a rag and then spin the engine over gently  with  the  starter.  This  will  make sure that the engine is  clean  and  well  lubricated.  Now  the easiest way to actually get your first engine going  is  by getting someone else to do it for you!  It will save you a lot  of  time  and frustration.  Starting and getting IC engines running  properly  seems  to be the most temperamental aspect of model boating.  However  if  you keen to do on your own then you might get lucky.....!    Check  the  glow plug is working and screw it in tight but don't use  all  your  strength.  (Once the engine is running the plug can be tightened  a  little  more  if you see small fizzing bubbles.) Fill the tank with  fuel  and  open the needle valve 2 or 3 turns ( don't touch it if it's a brand new engine - it's already been set).  Switch on the transmitter first  then  the receiver.

  Check the rudder swings an even amount each side  of  centre  ( Looking from the back of the boat, the rudder should swing the same way as the rudder stick on your transmitter) and  the  throttle opens and closes fully without  straining  the  servo. Check your starter is turning the right way, clockwise, and pull it  up under the belt. Set the throttle on the transmitter  about third open,  place a finger over the carb air intake and spin the engine over with the  starter  until you can see fuel being drawn up the fuel line and into the  carb.  Connect  the glow plug clip and we are ready to start the  engine.  Spin  over the starter again and with any luck the engine should burst in  to life after a second or so.  And that's all there is to it!


    OK so the engine didn't start,  what do we do next? First check that fuel  is  reaching  the  carb by using the above method  again.  Try  different  throttle  settings  while  starting.  Next open the  needle  valve  by  a  quarter turn.  The valve should be turned by very small amounts,  a small  file  mark  or  a spot of paint on the valve will indicate how  much  you  turned  it.  Repeat these steps until you get some sign of life from  the  engine.  Remove  the plug and check it still glows when connected to  the  clip,  blow  out  any  residue  fuel and try to start  it  again.  Try  a  different  plug.  If by now the needle valve is 10 turns open,  screw  it  back  to  close it and start again from 2 turns, a quarter turn at  time.  If  there  are bubbles in the fuel look along the fuel line  and  tank for leaks. If the fuel comes to the carb and then pulls itself back  to the tank, check the tank is vented properly or the pressure pluming is  correct.

     It the engine suddenly does stiff, it's flooded and the plug will have to  be removed and the fuel spun out using the starter motor,  cover the plug  hole  with  a rag or the fuel will cover you!  With the plug removed  the  engine should be able to be spun over quite freely in your fingers unless  it's an ABC engine in which case it might be a little stiff at the top of  the stroke but it's meant to be like that.  With the plug, out check that  everything  looks OK and nothing has come loose.  While you're at  it,  remove  the  needle valve and blow through the carb with a spare  bit  of  fuel  tube to check it's still clear.  Replace the needle valve and  fuel  line  and spin the engine over without the plug,   you should see a  fine  mist of fuel coming out of the top,  adjust the valve until you just can.  By  the  way,  don't  pull too hard on the starter as some  over  zealous  boaters  have pulled the engine clean out of the bottom of the boat  when  trying  too hard!  If the belt slips,  clean it and everything else  down  with a dry rag.

     After a another 'short while' YOU WILL have the engine running.  Powerful and noisy  isn't  it?  Starting becomes easier with practice and once the engine  is  run  in.  The engine can be run out of the water and without cooling  for  short  periods but   DON'T LET THE ENGINE REV  TOO  HIGH.  (For testing  at  home,  water  cooling  can be provided by syphoning from a  large  bottle  above  the  engine  to  a lower bottle via  the  boats  complete  cooling  system.)  Adjust  the throttle to see what difference it  makes.  If  the  engine is making a unhappy gurgling sound but continues running  then the  mixture  is too rich and the engine is "four stroking"  and the engine is  firing every second revolution instead of every time,  screw in the valve  slowly  until  the engine just changes to a faster steady  tone.  If  the  engine  screams  and  begs for mercy,  quickly stop it by  sticking  your  finger over the carb,  open the valve a quarter turn and restart.  If the  engine stalls as soon as you take the glow clip off,  remove the plug and  check  to see that the element has an even red glow for at least 3 turns,  if  not try another plug.  Adjust the throttle and needle valve until you  can attain and nice steady fast idle.

    If  after  a  100 attempts you still can't get the  engine  going,  don't  panic.  At  this stage,  give up,  pack everything away,  go home and get  yourself a nice cup of tea! Find out when the local boat club next meets,  (you  should  have  joined already to use the lake anyway!!! ) and arrange  to  meet with them.  Find out who is good with IC engines and seek help from him. He'll  be  able  to check re-check your handiwork and will be able to  get  your  boat  going without too much difficulty.  Joining the club will also give  you third party insurance on your boat, but not against other model boats  unfortunately.

More about starting engines....

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Before going to the lake.... wait till it starts raining!

   Great,  your engine is now running sweetly and 'sounds right'.  Now stand  in  the water up to you shins.  Of course,  if your feet are suddenly all  wet then you should have put your wellies on first, do I have to tell you  everything!   Now  lift  the  boat off the stand,  being mindful  of  the  propeller   and  place the boat in the water with the bows  between  your  shins. The boat should stall, it always does the first time it touches the  water, put the boat back on it's stand and restart with the throttle open  a  little more.  If it stalls even at a high throttle,  open the valve  a  couple  of  clicks and/or try a smaller prop.  When you've got  the  boat  running steadily in the water,  rev the engine via the transmitter to see  if  you  can achieve a smooth acceleration over the whole range  but  not  worrying  too much about the top end.  Adjust the valve a little bit each  way  until  the engine can be revved quite high without  stalling.  Check  water is coming out of the cooling outlet and everything is still secure. If your  boat  has surface drive then it's mainly trial and error over many  short  runs to get a good needle setting.

    You are now ready to let go of your boat on it's maiden voyage. Leave the  hatch  off for the first few runs.  Turn the boat around and hold it with  one  hand,  near the transom and  pointing outwards towards the middle of  the  lake.  With the transmitter in your other hand,  make a final  check  that you have full rudder and throttle control and let go!...

Hydrafibe Predator - "Raving Mad" - what a great boat!!

    Having  fun yet?  Good isn't it!  Don't accelerate just yet,  you'll have  enough  to  worry about just steering the thing as it may cover a lot  of  water very quickly.  Don't take your eyes of it for a second whatever you  do.  Try  a  large circle to the right and then to the  left,  still  OK?  EXCELLENT! 

Don't  be  tempted to accelerate just  yet  for  three  reasons. 
1) A new engine needs to be run in over a couple of tank fulls. 
2) Let everything settle down and bed in. 
3) You need to get to know how  your  boat  handles. 


My AMPS Boat.      Formula One?   Ha! 

After a few minutes bring your boat in,  stall  the  engine,  pat  yourself  on the back and try to calm down and regain  some  sort of composure.

    How  do  you bring your boat in safely?  Never head the boat straight  at  yourself  or  the  jetty as sooner so later you'll have  an  embarrassing  accident.  Bring the boat in slowly and at a shallow angle so in case you  mess  it  up you can veer off and go around for another attempt.  If  you  engine  is set-up like mine (see above) then you can shut the engine down  in  the final approach or while passing close the along the front of  the  jetty.  If  you don't have access to a jetty or landing stage choose your  bit  of bank very carefully as you don't follow your boat into the  water  when  launching!  After each of the first few runs,  completely check the  boat over again from bow to stern looking for any possible faults.

Well  all of this is just my opinion,  but what do I know!

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