Model Skiff`s or Balmain Bug`s

If you want something done, then do it yourself.:scared:
This thread is to allow Bugs to be discussed without upsetting the FOOTY folk.
Here we can plan our renaissance of the "Model Skiff " movement. :graduate:

Great idea for sure!
I have an A600 Skiff kit from the UK that I ordered really as a TRAVEL model, it will fit in a backpack and I can spend a LITTLE bit less time in the beach bars when we do our sailing vacations in the BVI’s.
The performance, thrills and spills look like a fun model for bashing about a bit.

I’d love to build a Bug to my own design as well, lots of fun for sure.

There is an Aussie Skiff model that is awesome but really big bucks and too large for a travel model.

Bring on 'Da Bugs!!:zbeer:

What we need is a free plan for a 12inch or a 24inch Balmain Bug to be published here in this forum accessible by all on the internet.
When Brett McCormack did it with his “BobAbout” for the FOOTY class it was the thing that set the world alight.

That is what will get the enthusiasm to get these craft sailing again.

I don`t know how it can be done without infringing copyright laws but it is the only way to get these craft out to the masses.

I might be able to help with that Ian. I’ve been playing with a 12 inch (can’t get away from the Footy thing) plan in hullform. To be confident of it, I need to know the typical displacement of a 12 incher. I’m guessing. Once I have that, I can refine the hull plan. Then I could do a rig plan for it without too much trouble.

Given the popularity of Razor, I wonder if it would make sense to design a simple chine Bug, too. It goes against the history, but it might encourage building.

I’ve attached a couple screenshots of my Bug as Word docs. Let me know what you think.

Bill H

Looking good Bill can’t wait to see this one and try my hand at one.

I found a nice article on the real skiffs…“Reviving Sydney’s Skiffs” in Wooden Boat magazine from June 2005, number 184. It includes a lines and sailplan for Britannia and discussion of the building of a replica.

Bill H

Well done Bill.
That is exactly what is required to fire the world up to these amazing craft.
Likewise for your “RAZOR” plan, it has been a huge influence in getting many new builders started in the FOOTY class.
Without such skill and generosity on your part we would not be where we are today.
It may not be often said, but I can assure you, that many of us greatly appreciate your efforts and wish you well in life and model yachting.
More power to your elbow mate, "Go for it " :zbeer:

Based on the info from Steve and on iandunmore’s calculations, it seems I overestimated the displacement of a 12 inch Bug. In spite of my incredulity, they may have been closer to 3 pounds. So back to the drawing board.

It sure would be nice if someone found a plan for a 12 incher that stated the displacement, or if someone who owns one of the real thing could weigh it for me.

Thanks to all…I’ll be back with a revised plan or two.

Bill H

Here you go, guys. This one’s based pretty closely on one you’ve seen around. Displacement is 3.5 pounds. Thanks for the help.

If anyone is interested in building her, I can develop it a bit more.

Cheers…Bill H

And here’s the first one again, but revised to 4 pounds displacement.


And here’s a chine version of the 4 pounder.

I can adjust displacement on these pretty easily, and now that I have a couple of them in hullform, variations are not difficult. So let me know what you’d like to see and I’ll work on it.


Bill, you are such a clever guy my friend. :graduate:
Here is my suggestion for what it is worth.

Is it possible to develop the 4 pounder into a plan that could be followed by a medium experienced builder ?
You need not show construction detail as that should be left to the builder to sort out for themselves.
The heavier version allows for all levels of skill and methods of construction.

Your plan does not have to be free.
A charge to cover your costs of printing and postage would be appropriate in my opinion.

I have a generic 12 incher sailplan that has appeared elsewhere that I will attach here for all to see.

All the best to all the good folk here for the new year.

Ian, I can do a basic construction drawing for the hull…I’m thinking of something along the lines of Bantock’s plans That he does without construction detail. I’ll do it as a .pdf so we can post it for free download…I’ll need a bit of time to get it done, though. With that, the sail plan you posted, and some pictures of Bugs, a reasonably skilled builder could make a freesailing bug.

I’d really like to see us figure out the R/C application, though…how to make a sliding keel. The general concept could work like my sliding mast, because it moves the mast based on the amount of change in the attitude of the sails. Converted to moving a keel, the keel would move forward going upwind, and back going downwind.

I think we have to overcome a couple of difficulties, though. First, the keel will have to travel farther than my mast does, so the geometry will be somewhat different. Second, the keel is a long thing with a very heavy lump on the opposite end which will resist moving…so I think some engineering will need to go into the slide to make it smooth and easy.

Any clever engineers out there who can help us with this?

Bill H

Here are a couple of photo`s showing deck details for potential builders to consider.

I’ve been thinking about the sliding keel…and wondering if it might be better to mount the winch servo on the top of the keel (so that it’s fixed to the keel) and make the hull, in effect, slide back and forth in relation to the keel…rather than the more obvious solution having the servo fixed to the hull.

Thoughts anyone?

Bill H

I posted this in the Footy thread as well since both threads seem to be getting posts. I wanted to share a thought that occurred to me while I was out running this morning. Please feel free to make suggestions. This might be a simple way to sort out the kinks of a design before committing to a bug of more beauty. If the sides of the keel box were lined with thin teflon moving the keel for via RC might be possible.

Take care,


A very logical approach, Brent. The sides could be carved from foam or balsa based on the buttocks from the plan, so it’s a natural.

I’ve been thinking along the same lines (great minds and all) but with R/C firmly in mind. I’ll try to sketch something, but picture what you’ve done with a servo mounted in the thick upper part of the keel. The servo arm would have a link to a fixed point on the deck. When the servo is activated, the arm pulls or pushes the hull Back or forth around the keel.

I think getting enough movement of the hull without a huge servo arm is challenging. I’ll bet someone could figure out appropriate linkage, though.

It would be fun if we could work out a prototype to play with in Orlando.

Bill H


I like the direction you are heading. If we only needed all forward or all back you could use the small Hitec retract servo with a drum or arm. It has 180 degrees of rotation.

Take care,


Could you cant the keel?
I know its not ideal from the keel point of view but you can move the ballast a hell of a long way simply, by just pivoting it near the bottom of the hull. A minimal rubber gasket could seal an open hull design. Top of the keel is attached to a servo arm.

Rusty, the reason that the keel is moved in the fore & aft plane is to maintain the correct balance of the skiffs with the enormous sail plan they carry.
That`s balance in the yaw rather than the roll.
For skiffs or bugs canting is not an option that would be required. IMHO.
Do you sail R/C in Auckland?