Mid-Day Break Club

Dear All…

I am a primary teacher and was thinking of setting a a mid-day break club with 11/12 year olds to produce a footy fleet which we can sail in a nice place very close to school. My background is very technically limited in RC Sailing. I have been into model sailing for the past three years and have built a 1/12 replica of +39. I also have a one metre which I sail in regttas at the local club. I am capable of following a plan and in fact i am buliding a razor but when it comes to measurements (layout of mast, keel etc) I am finding it difficult to find more information. Another problem I am encountering is that I don’t know which type of servos to use… what torque etc…

If anyone would like to help I would really appreciate it! This is a way to get students to produce something and have fun at the same time.


My email is translate@enterprise.net. This is very much how I thinkm we should be growing the class. Anything I an do to help, I will.

I’m in UK

Thanks for your willingness to help…

I will be formulating some sort of difficulty list in the coming days and will forward it to you. I will put some photos of my boats too so you get an idea of what I am planning.

There is a system by which we get funding from our government for projects of this sort because the promote technical design, choice of material, alternative energy and so on. If I manage to get this funding I plan to have at least a fleet of 8 footies. I have a group of interseted students (who attend sailing lessons) and therfore I envisage a good response.
Will keep you posted!



Also see my last posting to Nearly Finishied First Razor. I’m sure Roger Stollery would be prepared to give advice. His Bug 3 design was produced for precisely this purpose.

See amendment to peviois post. Sorry

I have spoken to the school administration! The are very interested in the project and will back me all through the way! That is great news for me… Now I can start working on the funding bit of the project. As explained earlier I am trying to get funding from the Education Division. This would make it easier and more accessable for kids!!

I have Uploaded a couple of photos which show the construction of my first footy . . . . zerOne (which will act as a marketing tool for kids to join) and other yacht I own. I have also uploaded a number of photos taken during the past 3 years depicting the RC scene here in Malta.


Now for the questions side (I think I will ask a lot now that I know I will set-up the club!!)

I usually use resin to waterproof and make the hull more durable… I wouldn’t like to use that at school… is there any other system I can use? (keeping in mind that the hull will be of balsa (I tried to use UHU on zerOne but it’s diffucult to sand)

Thanks !

Resin is a broad term. Would a water based Polyurethane be an acceptable substitute? I’ve used Polyurethane on my hulls and it appears to give enough strength for Footy sized forces. I also coated a nylon stocking on my first Razor but it feels like overkill. Balsa, Polyurethane, and paint should be enough.

Good luck with your project, it sounds great.


pardon my ignorance but is this a sort of varnish… how is it applied??


Yes, it’s a varnish. I used the oil based spar varnish on a hull. The water based would clean up better in a school situation. Here’s a link to one brand

I’ve used the water based floor products on floors, duh, and it gives a good hard finish. I’m fairly confident it will strengthen balsa like the spar varnish.

Applied with a brush. Light sanding between coats gives a smooth, hard finish. I spray primer and enamel paint for the final covering but if I had prettier woodwork it could be left with just the polyurethane finish. I also like colorful boats.

You could use old fashioned model aircraft tissue and dope. It’s pretty inflammable, but otherwise innocuous. One possible problem: if you are going to end up applying it in the heat of a Maltese summer without air conditioning, it evaporates and dries extremely quickly.

Another possibility (which fits a Razor as well as the Stollery Bug it comes from). Use corrugated plastic sheet taped together with insulating or duct tape as the permanent joint.

Hope this helps

Thanks for the replies…

Angus I have used dope before and as you well noted… evaporation is a bit of an issue here! Apart from that, being in a school environment, I would prefer to stay away from inflammable liquids…

Therfore I think that the ‘varnish’ option is better for my case! Will see what is available at the hardware stores and will let you know!!


I don’t know much about modern water-based varnishes - I’m getting ancient.

If you end up using traditional yacht varnish you probably ought to dilute it a bit with the appropriate thinners for it to get well into the balsa. The thinners is more or less by definition flammable. Solution: issue the kids with pre-thinned pots of varnish. Fire risk should then be minimal (balsa burns quite well too :slight_smile: )

Hope this helps

Angus… was thinking . . . . you are very right about varnish and thinner… so going back to dope… is it sandable after application… because if I manage to work during the first months of next year, evaporation of the dope might be less and therfore it might work ok… after all it would be more of an educable experience using tissue … its closer to CF application in mould production for bigger yachts!!

As I remember it as a kid, yes. Graham Pugwash is your man. I’ll comtact him

Your next question is what you are going to do about keel bulbs? The Maltese equivalent of the health and safety man is presumably going to have a duck if you have 11-year olds casting lead. Brst answer might be to get them made or do it yourself: a good kitchen stove will melt the stuff quite nicely.

Sold correctly this also adds realism and knowledge of the world. No yacht builder actually casts his own ballast from metal. :slight_smile:

The water based varnish can be thinned with distilled water, very little fire danger. I’ve also read about somebody using thinned white glue and paper to skin a hull. He said it sands nicely and can be waterproofed with spray enamel paint.

Fishing weights are your best bet for ballast. A file or hammer can reshape them to a hydrodynamic shape. The kids should probably avoid handling them though. Maybe if you make them and coat with paint first. I would avoid casting lead.

Have fun

Dunno about Maltese weights but what Talastro says about fishing weights doesn’t work well in UK. The weights that our fishermen use that are big enough are totally unsuitable shapes.

If you’re careful, casting lead is no problem. 40 years ago every teenage kid did it for one purpose or another and they didn’t seem to go particularly mad (maniacal cackle) or get blue lines round their teeth.

Ahh, your google-fu is weak. Try these

Also, don’t underestimate the power of a hammer. I used a 6lb sledge as an anvil and another small hammer and reshaped a sinker quite a lot.

Hello nicmifsud… Angus kicked me and said I should pop in.

Are you are planning on balsa chine construction over formers or as an open ‘formerless’ hull? Either way dope will most likely be a problem. If you use 1/16" or even light 3/32" balsa and tissue/dope cover, the shrinkage of the balsa will most likely cause what we aeromadellers call the ‘starved horse’ look. The shrinkage can be very powerful.

Two solutions… use ‘banana oil’ or cellulose based sanding sealer instead of dope. Same process, slightly less adhesion initially but these are both non shrinking products. Once the tissue is coated and sealed it is perfectly sandable. I can supply full proceedure instructions if you like so that you can try it first. Like all these things a good finish comes with experience.

If these hulls are not going to be bounced around you would probably be ok with thinned sanding sealer as a coating.

Don’t use PVA (water soluble wood glue) and brown paper on balsa. The balsa will buckle… I knew this but still had to prove it to myself again earlier this year :rolleyes: The method is for use over foam.

Lead weights… do you have ‘lead flashing’ there?.. if so you could go the MYA Footy route and cut a number of torpedo shapes from the sheet and stack them (contour like) either side of a wooden fin base. Fair with filler and your done. There is a place that makes basic footy leads…


Dear all…

Thanks for all the hints… I honestly don’t know how I could have even start thinking to embark on such a project without the help of all you guys!!

for your update; I am building my first footy… here I am attaching some of the photos. As I explained earlier I had to ‘legalise’ my zerOne beacause it was too long! ;




As you can see (especially Graham) I am planning to use balsa and a chine hull shape. I learnt that its easier to build a hull of this sort when working with my kids (remember that they are still in the primary school :slight_smile: )

Whilst reading your replies to my queries I learnt alot because I did not immagine that there are so many different ways to do this ‘waterproofing’ procedure. The only probelm I envisage is the availability of the materials. From my own experience, I am getting too many blank faces when I go to the major retailers around the island (an believe me I am not exagerating when I say all around the island) and ask them for particular products!! Nevertheless I will obviously not give up… I am taking notes and sometime this week will try and scavange for them!!

As regards to the weights… It never crossed my mind to cast the bulbs myself with the kids!!! As Angus pointed out… I always bought mine. As regards to thefooty class, considering (from what I read) that the balast varies between 250grms - 300grms, I was planning to get similar weights I use for my counterbalance weights with my 1/12 AC (+39 - ITA59) and one metre (8.97 bay Essa - MLT 33) i.e.

+39_sails_0326 weight.jpg

My local fisheries supplier, have these sort of weights and actually have a very good range… from 10grms to 500grms, so I think that I should manage to find a suitable weight for my needs. I also envisage to use tallastro’s method, that of filing, but that is not a problem… they don’t need to much shaping! What so you think of the shape of the weight is it good enough??

That’s it for today!! just one last note! I uploaded some pictures on my flickr site, you can see my yachts and other photos taken during regattas here in Malta