Mobile Marine Models
  Mobile Marine Models The Hobby About Us Starting in Tug-Towing Building Mobile Marine Models Boats The Budget Building System Calendar of Events FAQ Products  

Starting in Tug Towing

Starting in Tug Towing

Do I need to be a Member of a Club?

No...but; The advantages of belonging to a Club in starting-up a new project are obviously far greater than struggling along by yourself, for, in the main, Tug-Towing is very much a team effort.
Do I need to be a Member of a Club?

Do I need a Special Boat?

No... At least not in the early stages... Any boat that you can fix a tow line too is sufficient to give you the feeling.
As your experience and knowledge grows, you will find that the Modeller's choice of Tug is limitless. However, there is a certain amount of boats available that are more suited to model Tug-Towing. By doing the favourite past-time of all Marine Modellers, talking to others, you will quickly formulate the type of Tug to suit your individual needs.
Do I have to use a Modern Tug?

Do I have to use a Modern Tug?

No...You can use ANY model Tug: Steam; Electric; Paddle: Screw; Kort; Old; Ultra modern... for...the one advantage the Modeller has over their real-live counterpart is Power.
The average modeller struggles painfully to create an exact scale model of the prototype... and then, fits a motor equivalent to 50,000 hp!, which raises the question; Do I need this power?
The answer is a resounding YES... (see Power).

Is there a particular Scale for my Tug?

No...though, in general, 1:32 has proved to be perhaps the best scale for Tug-Towing. Smaller scales tend to lack grip in the water; bounce around in the wind & waves; and tend to be on- the-small-side for cold fingers to carry-out running repairs.
Larger scales become transport problems!!!
Is there a particular Scale for my Tug?
( 1:12th is without a doubt the best possible scale for Tug-Towing... but who wants a 15 ft model?!!!)

No... even in 1:32 scale, there is a vast amount of boats available to the Modeller ranging from aprox. 20 inches ( 500mm) through to 6ft (2m) long.
What Power do I need?

What Power do I need?

The simple answer to this question is: As much as Possible.
Though there is quite a number of successful Tuggers around using live steam, the majority use electric motors... and this is where perhaps the biggest bone of contention in marine modelling comes into play... Scale speed vs. Pulling Power... Wind is wind; Water is water, and nature will not allow us to scale them down;
plus... a model tug, putting 'it' in perspective, is liken to that of a 40ft. lorry, (compared to a family car), and as such the size of motor needed for a model tug should be likened to that of a lorry... hence the larger the motor the better... car heater fan motors have been a firm favourite for years now, but these motors are becoming more difficult to obtain, especially new ones at sensible prices, and scrap-yard ones can be very unreliable,... so ... the morale is :- GET THE BEST ... it pays in the end !! .... and in way of a bonus... this type of motor; not only delivering the power, are very economical on juice! ... And if the tug is running-free, you don't really have to drive flat-out all of the time!!!

Do I need a Gearbox

Using a gear-box in Tug-Towing is the subject of much debate. We at Mobile Marine Models believe that, apart from being expensive, gear-boxes are not needed if the correct size motor is fitted in the first instance.
We work on the assumption, and draw your own conclusions, referring to the liken-to-a-lorry, one can take a motorbike engine, fit various gearboxes, and install the unit into a lorry and hey-presto the vehicle moves, but how practical is it!.

Do I need a Gearbox
We, (Mobile Marine Models) would never argue with, or criticize anyone wishing to use a smaller motor & gearbox configuration, it's just that we do not like spending a pound when a penny will 'do'.

What do I use as a 'Tow'

Though there is New classes being introduced to the National Tug-Towing Championships, the majority of Tuggers opt for Team Towing. Team towing is two tugs tethered to the stem and stern of a Tow, usually a model representing a tanker or large cargo ship, with an optional third
tug to act as a 'pusher'.
What do I use as a 'Tow' (part 2) The Tow need not be an exact scale masterpiece. Important factor being the size: Too large and you run the risk of only a few model tugs, especially if that wind is blowing, capable of manoeuvring it: Too small and the whole exercise is wasted, because, again talking in car-language, it is like sending two heavy duty break-down lorries to rescue a mini off the motorway. (The models must be made to work!). The ideal being aprox. 7 feet (2.1m) x 15 - 18 inches (475mm) x 12" (300mm) deep. Made from plywood & using water (bottled) ballast to give a deadweight of aprox 80 to 100lbs. It's worth mentioning at this stage: Just like in real-life, don't expect your tug, or the tow to react straight away when you open that throttle. The art of Tug-Towing is to anticipate the reaction of weight & power.

Have a Go

Having selected a suitable Tow, (a Log will do at this stage), connect one boat to the stem of the Tow and one to the stern, using tow-lines of aprox . 18inch (500mm) clearance between the boat & the Tow. Experience soon tells you the ideal length of line to use, and as to whether you wish your 'tug' to be stem or stern 'on' to the Tow, (the choice is yours). Open the throttle(s) and away you go...
Two very good exercises, often used for a warm-up, is to:-

In a straight line, from the side of the pond, go out into the lake aprox. 20 metres, and without stopping turn the tow around, on a sixpence, 180 degrees and head for the shore. Keep repeating.
It will soon become obvious that it is the stern tug that actually controls the steering / turning / braking of the whole Tow.

Another exercise is to:-

From broadside to the edge of the pond, pull the Tow away; turn through 180 and dock the tow broadside to the jetty.
Have a Go (part 2)

Advancing On....

Having decided upon the Tug of your choice, and got-it-on-the-water, it would be wise to carry-out a Bollard Pull Test, as this determines the pulling power of your craft. - (ask for leaflet Bollard Pull Test).
Forming a Team

Forming a Team

Tug - Towing is very much a Team sport, and as with all team sports a captain must be sought, who's word is Final!!!

The rule of thumb, as in real life, is :-

The most powerful tug (see Bollard Pull Test) goes onto the stern. The weakest tug to the stem, and used for pulling only.

In the case of mixed boats; i.e. - single & twin screw; - Irrespective of power; The single screw boat to Stem; the twin screw to stern.
Now the Crunch!!!... The Tow-Master / Captain of the Team is the skipper of the tug attached to the Stem of the Tow....... Now you know who your friends are !!!!

The images & contents on this page are the copyright property of :-
Mobile Marine Models, The Boat Shed, Highcliffe Park, Ingham Cliff,
Lincoln LN1 2YQ. ................ tel: 01522 730731