Getting Started with the Twin Cities Model Boat Club

What you should know BEFORE you purchase your new boat.

  1. Do you plan to 'race' your boat either now or in the future?
  2. If the answer is NO, then buy something you think looks good and you will enjoy.

    If the answer is YES, then you should buy a boat that fits into a class we race. If you have a boat that does not have a class for it, you may not be able to race.

  3. I want to race, what kind of boat should I buy?
  4. First determine what kind of power you want. We race nitro powered boats, gas powered, and electric powered boats. If you buy a RTR (ready to run) the initial cost for both nitro and electric power is about the same, while a gas RTR can be more expensive.

  5. Which one is best?
  6. They all have good points so lets go over each of them.

    GAS: Gas boats are more expensive up front and are larger than the nitro and electric boats. You do not need as much support equipment as they are usually a pull start motor and use a spark plug instead of a glow plug. This eliminates the need for a starter, starter batteries, and a glow igniter that are used to start most nitro engines. The spark plugs last a long time and a gallon of gas is cheap compared to a gallon of nitro. The downside is they are large and we run them in an OPEN class. This means that although you can buy a RTR gas boat you will probably have to change out a few of things if you expect to be competitive.

    NITRO: These boats run on alcohol based fuel with oil and nitro methane added. Fuel has different amounts of nitro. The more nitro you add the faster the boat may go. However fuel cost also goes up, engine reliability deceases, and engine tuning is more difficult. Most racers run about forty to fifty percent nitro. Nitro racing requires the most amount of support equipment. You will need a starter battery, a starter motor, and a glow igniter. Maintenance is also a little higher as you should remove all fuel from inside the engine and add some 'after run oil' into the engine at the end of each day of racing. Alcohol attracts water and if you don't do this, the motor bearings can start rusting in just a couple days. Consumables are also higher priced: glow plugs can run from three to eight dollars and a gallon of fuel can cost from thirty to fifty dollars. Last but not least, these engines can be difficult to tune. Weather plays a role in carburetor adjustment and as the air density changes throughout the day, you may need to change your carburetor setting/needle to keep your engine running at peak performance. However, these are fast because of the excellent power to weight ratio. Nitro is the most popular engine class in our club and we have a lot of good members that are willing to help you. It may try your patience at first, but once you get it figured out, it is very rewarding.

    FAST ELECTRIC (FE): These boats are electric powered and rely on batteries to run them. They need very little support equipment. You will need a good battery charger and that is about it. Some members charge their batteries between races and others bring with extra batteries and just change them out so they don't have to charge at the pond. The plus side of these boats is they run about the same speed as the nitro boats with the same hulls but have little maintenance and do not need to be tuned as the weather changes. 4s-lipo power is about the same as .21 nito power. The down side is they do not run as long on a set of batteries as a nitro or gas boat will run on a tank of fuel and you have to recharge or switch out the batteries. LiPo batteries can start to burn and need care. With a nitro or gas boat, you pour in some more fuel and are ready to go again. None of this comes into play if you are racing, as you have time between races to re-charge or replace the batteries. But if you are just going to the pond to play and test, you have more down time with an electric.

    Ok so which power is best? They are all good you just have to figure out what is right for you.

  7. HULLS: There are four basic types of hulls that can be raced in our club.
  8. Tunnel boats: These boats are by far the most popular boats in our club. They are outboard powered and have two sponsons connected by a center section. They rely on the air that is trapped between the sponsons and the bottom to provide lift. The boat rides with just the rear tip of both sponsons in the water. They are fast and fun to drive.

    Monos or Vee hulls: These boats have a hull that is shaped like a V. Kind of like a fishing boat. They do not rely on the air lifting them so they run deeper in the water instead of flying on the top of the water. This makes them more stable and allows them to handle rougher water better than the other types of hulls. These are great boats for someone getting started as they handle well and are easy to drive.

    Sport Hydros: These boats look like real limited and unlimited hydroplanes. They also trap air to create lift. They look cool and are a little faster than mono's and tunnels. They are fun to drive and handle well.

    Rigger/Hydros: These are the baddest boys on the block. Their whole purpose is to go very fast and turn on a dime. If you are reading this trying to figure out what boat to get started with - THIS IS NOT IT!

    There is also a boat called a catamaran. Simply put, a 'cat' is an inboard version of a tunnel boat. At present these boats are seldom raced in our club but a gas cat could be run in the open gas class and an electric or nitro RTR cat could run with the other RTR's as we will have a mix of hulls in the RTR class.

  9. Classes of boats that we currently run at our club races:
  10. Power Class Motor Size Comment
    Nitro A-Hydro/rigger .12 Fun & quick
    Nitro B-Mono .21
    Nitro B-Hydro/rigger .21
    Nitro Sport Tunnel .21 Most popular class!
    Nitro B-Tunnel .21 Similar to Sport Tunnel, but this class allows you to make more engine modifications, like adding a tuned exhaust pipe.
    Nitro Sport 20 Hydro .21  
    Nitro D-Tunnel .45  
    Nitro D-Hydro/rigger .45  
    Nitro Sport 40 Hydro .45  
    Nitro E/F-Hydro/rigger 1.83  
    Gas LSG-Large Scale Gas Open 27, 36cc All types of hulls and engine sizes run together, including gas RTR's.
    Gas LSG 36 - Rigger 27, 36cc Gas outrigger hydros up to 36 cc (Will Combine in LSG open if Less than 3 entries)
    Gas LSG 36 Sport Hydro 27, 36cc Gas sport hydros up to 36 cc (Will Combine in LSG open if Less than 3 entries)
    Gas LSG 36 Mono 27, 36cc Gas Monos up to 36 cc (Will Combine in LSG open if Less than 3 entries)
    Fast Electric (FE) P-Limited Tunnel

    The P-Limited classes are limited by the motor, length of hull, and battery.
    * Accepted motors include: Aquacraft 36-56-2030 - this is a motor from the UL-1, ProBoat A3630-1500 - this is the Blackjack 26 motor, or ProBoat Stiletto motor, and TP motor spec 36-30 1950KV.
    * The hull must not exceed 34"
    * The battery can not exceed 14.8 volts (4S lipo).
    * Any ESC

    Great classes for FE beginners. Get yourself an Aquacraft Revolt and come Play!

    Fast Electric (FE) P-Limited Sport Hydro
    Fast Electric (FE) P-Limited Mono  
    Fast Electric (FE) Barbwire / mono-X Great class for FE entry. 2s or 3s lipo.

    RTR (ready to run) is a developing class we have run for a couple years. It is a class for boats that can be purchased from your local hobby shop or mail order house. A RTR boat comes with everything you need to start racing the same day. You can purchase a RTR powered by gas, nitro or electric, in a full range of hull types and sizes. We run different hulls together in this class in an effort to let anyone who brings a RTR boat to the pond, have a chance to race.

    (NOTE: We may race electric and nitro RTR's together if there are not enough of them to seperate. However, a gas RTR must be raced with other gas boats.)


  12. Let me say that this is only a recommendation that will hopefully get you off to a successful start in model boat racing with minimal problems, if any. You should also do some research before you buy your boat. Keep in mind that you must buy a boat that has a class that we run if you expect to race it. See the list of classes (above) that we currently run in our club.

    All of the following RTR boats can be raced at our pond.

    If you see a boat you like that is not on this list, call us, and we will let you know if it can run in the RTR class.

    The UL-1 can also run in P-Limited Sport Hydro. The Stiletto can also run in P-Limited Tunnel

    You can Google any of these boat names to find a lot more information, including where you can purchase them.

    So now you have it. As you can see, the RTR boats are a great way to get into racing. They are reasonably priced, user friendly, and you can be on the water the same day you buy them. I hope this has been helpful.