June - 2005
LAYING OUT EQUIPMENT FOR EASY MAINTENANCE & REPLACEMENT
The topic this time around is the layout of all of the items you are trying to pack into your hull. Of course, you have to worry about weight distribution and physical size, but those are the factors we automatically think of. Instead, this installment of our helpful hints will look at two other factors that need to be considered when packing electro-mechanical gizmos into our models. Those factors are maintenance and replacement. I suspect many readers are now thinking “What the heck is he talking about?” “Why do I need to worry about maintenance and replacement?” Let me illustrate my point by telling you of an experience on of our club members had a few years ago. It was one of our monthly Club meeting and this member brought in his partially completed model Tug. At that point in time, the motor and drive train had been installed and the deck fitted but not yet glued into place. With the deck in place, the motor could not be reached from any of the deck openings. (Main cabin or engine room). I asked the builder how he would ever get to the motor to replace it when the time comes. I was told that was not a concern as the motor would last the life of the boat. I explained to him that in a lot of cases the “Right” Motor can last the life of the Model, but the Motor he selected was too small for the Model. Also, what if the boat ever tipped over in the water, or another electrical problem burned it out? I suggested that to be on the safe side, the motor should be moved forward a few inches to fall under the main cabin opening. The builder decided not to do this and continued on with his work. The Tug, when completed, looked great and ran wonderfully for a season and a half. Then the motor died and the builder was faced with a nightmare. If this Tug was going to continue life as an operational model, then a big hole was going to have to be cut through the deck. Eventually, the decision was made to retire the model and turn it into a static display. All of this could have been avoided if the motor had been moved a few inches or possibly mounted differently.
Now that you see the importance of a careful layout, let’s take a look at the factors involved. Obviously, in a perfect world, we would be able to arrange everything for easy access. Since that is not the case, some components will have to be mounted in these restricted access places. A good starting point for this selection is the life expectancy of the part. This is rather subjective as you won’t find this data enclosed with anything purchased for a model boat. Common sense is the best tool in resolving this. Anything that moves to accomplish its task (such as a drive motor or servo), will eventually wear out. Whereas, something totally electronic, like a receiver or speed control, may easily last the lifetime of the model. I would consider batteries in the same category as motors and servos as sooner or later they will go bad and need to be replaced. It would be a good idea to create two (2) lists for the items you plan to install in your model. One lists those items that will wear out or need frequent maintenance, while the other lists the items that can be installed and forgotten about. The goal now is to find a home for all items on the first list such that you will have easy access. Once this is done, you then try to do the same for those on the second list. If all of the easy access space is used up, then you start placing the items from list two (2) in the restricted access locations.
Hopefully, this article has you thinking about the many factors involved in producing the ultimate layout for the interior of your boat. Over the next few months we will look at some of the problems that may be encountered and some tricks to get around those problems. Stay tuned, as I hope you will find the next few months interesting.
If you have any questions about electronics or the layout of them, feel free to contact me.