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Author Topic: Sea Lite/University Club RTR yacht rebuild - Completed photos  (Read 6738 times)

Edward Pinniger

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The "Sea Lite" RTR yacht is the current incarnation of the "University Club", also sold by Lidl as the "B-Squared" a while ago. The main difference, apart from the rather tacky-looking  bright red + blue colour scheme, is the addition of a working outboard motor, to (theoretically) allow the boat to move without sail power.
Though the boat (and control unit) looks much like your usual cheap RTR, with a pitifully short-ranged radio system rendered completely unusable when any proper R/C boat is running nearby, it actually has a proper crystal radio with a specific frequency, and a fairly large operating range (I've run this boat at Black Park along with many other sail + powered boats and it has remained under control even after sailing right out into the middle of the lake)



The boat has a hull length of 55cm and overall height of about 86cm (as supplied; mine now has a shortened mast). It has a basic two-channel control setup, with proportional control over the main + jib sail (not separately controlled) and a non-proportional three-position "servo" for the rudder.

However, the RRP of 70-80 is extremely steep IMO given that the materials + R/C hardware quality isn't particularly good (even if it has a half-decent radio). You'd be better off buying something like a Victoria or Micro Magic plus radio. However, I managed to pick up a second-hand example on eBay for about 30. Not bad value, I thought, as I've heard the "University Club" sails reasonably well in light winds, and a good starter R/C yacht before moving on to something larger.

However, my first experiences with sailing this boat (or attempting to) weren't very encouraging. The first time, with light winds (very light at times) the boat was very hard to control, drifting sluggishly about and extremely hard to turn, especially into the wind. I had to recover it using the outboard motor. The second time, with much higher winds, the yacht sailed more quickly but was still hard to steer and control, and when the wind picked up, the boat heeled over and was completely uncontrollable. I had to wait for it to blow over to the other side of the lake (thank goodness the hull was fairly watertight - but I still had to drain quite a bit of water out after recovering it!). The outboard proved to be completely useless except in near-dead calm conditions, even when the boat wasn't heeled over.

Overall - based on my limited knowledge of R/C yachts, the advice of fellow club members, and info found online on the Sea Lite/University Club - the boat seemed to be top-heavy and under-ballasted, and, I thought, with too much sail area for such a small boat. Since it was virtually unsailable in its current condition, and probably didn't have much resale value, I thought I'd try my best at modifying it in an attempt to improve sailing performance. If nothing else, I'd gain experience with how R/C sailing models work.

Firstly, I made new masts and sails, 25% shorter than the original, with new booms to match the mast. These are wood dowel; aluminium tube would also be usable, but I didn't have any to hand at the time, and the wood spars look very nice when stained + varnished. The spreader + jumper strut are the original plastic fittings, reinforced with brass wire and painted black; eyebolts and gooseneck are brass wire.
The sails are synthetic dacron, bought on eBay for 5 per square metre (not much of this was needed for Sea Lite - there's more than enough left over to make sails for several more models, including the ketch "Inga IV" which will be my next sail project). Sail fittings/hooks were taken from the original RTR sails.
Rigging lines and adjustment "bowsies" are as supplied.

Secondly, I removed the near-useless outboard. This adds a significant amount of topweight, not only the motor + wiring, but its substantial lead counterweight at the bow (the drag of the prop doesn't help, either). All of the associated wiring + plastic fittings were also removed and deck holes sealed up. Removing all of this lot ended up making a considerable difference to the yacht's stability.

Thirdly, I deepened the rudder. Probably the best approach (particularly in terms of finished appearance) would have been to make a completely new rudder from thick styrene sheet, with a post made from brass rod. But, not wanting to risk damaging the existing rudder servo setup, I simply extended the rudder using a three-piece "sandwich" of styrene sheet. This looks a bit awkward, but isn't visible on the water!

I also added a telltale/burgee flag, this is just a piece of red carrier bag plastic tied to one of the stays, but is invaluable when sailing to tell the wind direction! Carrier bag plastic is the best material I've found for this, as it's light enough to be moved by the slightest wind (even winds that won't move the sails much).

Another important "fix" was to seal around the edge of the battery holder, using epoxy glue. There is a noticeable gap here, and if the model heels over enough for water to get into the battery compartment, some of it will end up running inside the hull itself. I also sealed the join around the ballast keel, (water can't leak into the hull itself from here, but can leak into the keel moulding and is a tricky job to drain out) and I added some packaging airbags inside the hull for buoyancy (in the event that water still managed to find a way in) as well as a couple of silica gel sachets taped near the radio gear + battery compartment.

Finally, I decided to give the model a repaint + some extra scale detailing. Despite its toylike plasticky appearance, this boat is actually a fairly decent scale model of a modern cruising/racing yacht, in about 1/24 scale. More by luck than anything else, I managed to find out the exact design it was based on, the Adams 13E. This site - http://adams13e.blogspot.com/ - has quite a few good photos which I used as a reference for detailing + painting my model. (As this site is a "blog" and may not be around indefinitely, I'd recommend saving or printing any photos you think may be useful, if you're planning on using them for modelling reference!)

I didn't attempt to represent every detail of the real yacht, as too many small + fragile details can be impractical on a sailing model, and I needed to keep topweight to a minimum. The hatches and window framing (replacing the stickers on the original model) are made from styrene sheet + rod. Railings - replacing the flimsy vinyl plastic ones originally supplied - are aluminium tube, which looks convincingly like the chrome railings on the real boat whilst adding very little topweight.
The wheel/binnacle assembly is the original part (with aluminium handrail added) as are the mooring cleats.

The hull was then sprayed with a coat of grey primer, then the topsides were painted Revell acrylic satin white and the lower hull Revell blue. The hull (not the deck) was then painted with satin enamel varnish to give a more water-repellent + durable finish.

Here are some photos of the rebuilt yacht, out of the water. The extra detailing + painting was only a couple of days work but, along with the new mast + sails, gives the model a much nicer and less toylike appearance IMO.

























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Edward Pinniger

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Re: Sea Lite/University Club RTR yacht rebuild - Completed photos
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2010, 05:50:20 PM »

I then gave the rebuilt yacht a sail at Black Park when the weather conditions were suitable. In the sheltered area near the shore, it still sailed sluggishly and was very hard to turn into the wind. However, once I managed to get it into the higher winds in the middle of the lake, I was very impressed with how it performed. It responded very quickly to rudder steering, and with suitable sail trimming could sail at 90' and 45' to the wind just as well as with it (sailing the boat back to the shore was easier than getting it out in the first place). It did sometimes heel over in strong gusts, but righted itself quickly.

Overall, I'm pleased with how the boat sails after its rebuild. The only thing I'm not happy about is the sails, which need to be "flatter" - I erred on the side of caution when cutting them out, as it's better to cut down an oversize sail than cut it too small and have to make a completely new one - so I'll reduce their width slightly before I next sail it. This might improve the boat's poor performance in very light winds.

Here are some photos of its first successful sail. Note that most of these are in fairly calm conditions, as it's hard to steer the model and take photos at the same time! For the same reason, I didn't get any worthwhile videos. (Next time I'll ask another club member to take some photos/video whilst I sail the boat)
















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wizza

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Re: Sea Lite/University Club RTR yacht rebuild - Completed photos
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2010, 08:18:47 PM »

Hi i have one of these and have managed to get it sailing quite well first mod was to put a 4 ounce lead fishing weight on bottom of keel and flatern off the sails a bit notice youres are quite baggy to will improve no end. yours looks good though!
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Edward Pinniger

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Re: Sea Lite/University Club RTR yacht rebuild - Completed photos
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2010, 01:44:08 PM »

I've now flattened the sails considerably, shortening them by about 1". Hopefully this should improve performance. I plan to take the boat to Beale Park tomorrow so should be able to try it out if I get a frequency slot free!
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Edward Pinniger

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Re: Sea Lite/University Club RTR yacht rebuild - Completed photos
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2010, 12:59:12 PM »










The yacht (with adjusted sails) got a brief sail at the Beale Park show yesterday. It definitely sails (and looks) better with the flattened sails - and definitely seems to be easier to turn and sail into the wind - but unfortunately there wasn't a lot of wind when I sailed it, so the boat spent most of the time drifting about trying to make the best out of the few random gusts there were! Photos 1 and 2 are more typical than 3 and 4.

The larger boats on the lake at the same time (including a huge, and beautifully scratchbuilt, sailing barge) didn't fare much better. I can't really complain about the weather, though, as it was far drier and sunnier than expected - certainly glad I went yesterday rather than today...
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Jimmy James

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Re: Sea Lite/University Club RTR yacht rebuild - Completed photos
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2010, 08:31:55 PM »

She looks much better with the sails recut...  For wind tell tails try using a bit of tape from old Video or Cassetts ...most people have old cassetts kicking around the house  and if you take the cases apart the guide pullys make nice barrels for winches...
Freebooter  :-))
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Andy2No

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Re: Sea Lite/University Club RTR yacht rebuild - Completed photos
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2012, 12:12:25 PM »

Did you have any trouble getting the deck off, and resealing it afterwards, Edward?

It's a shame all your photos have disappeared.  They don't seem to survive for long on the Mayhem site.

I've had both the SeaLite and the B-Squared for some time.  I extended the keel on both by relocating the bulb lower down on the end of a piece of steel gate hinge.  I found the modified B-Squared sailable, in the right conditions, but hard to turn.  I've given it to a friend, but we sailed it yesterday.  I've been meaning to upgrade the Sea Lite.

Given how hard it is to turn, and keep on track, I don't know how you managed with the non-proportional rudder on the Sea Lite.  The 2 CH proportional gear in the B-Squared makes it a lot more useable.

I thought they both suffered from weather helm, but maybe I've got that the wrong way round.  It's certainly hard to turn from sailing one way across the wind to come back the other way.  My friend was a bit better at that than me.  The outboard could help with that - if it loses all momentum in the turn, the outboard could push it round.  I used it to back away from a bank t get back under way, the last tme I tried the Sea Lite.
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