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An Elco RC PT Boat project a€“ Learn step-by-step how to scratch-build a semi scale radio controlled model PT 109 on a budget. Here I leave the paper template on the "chine shelf" until the station locations have all been transferred. At this point I placed a few weights along the length of the assembly to hold the balsa to the work surface. Next I turned my attention to the shear stringer that defines the deck outline of the first third of the boat.
As you can see on the picture, I took good care to make sure the stem support piece (on the hull center line) is evenly tapered to the left and right.When sanding balsa, you have to be careful not to take too much. A PT 109 RC PT Boat project a€“ how to scratch build a semi scale radio controlled model PT boat from plans.
Every project needs goals set in the beginning, so here are the goals for this project:Quick construction a€“ Like many people, Ia€™m busy and have a family and a day job. Hull - Balsa: It is inexpensive, is relatively easy to cut and glues like a dream with CA glue. Without going into too much detail, the plans had to be reworked for simpler and speedier construction. I made the mistake of printing out some of the longer items on small pieces of paper and taping them back together. After printing out the bulkhead, false keel, chine and shear templates they were attached to the balsa sheets. Here is a trick I was told by a model airplane builder many years ago:When making two identical parts the old fashion way was to use pins to hold one balsa sheet on top of the other. After lining them up so stem and stern were even from side to side I taped the two halves together. These turned out to be a bit tricky mainly because (as it turned out) the foremost bulkhead was not perpendicular to the center line. The bulkheads should be prepped for the stringer to sit flush and even to the outside edge of the bulkheads.This is easily done with a razor blade or X-acto knife. I want to finish this model in a matter of weeks spending evenings mostly.Semi scale a€“ should look accurate to most people familiar with the PT 109 at 3m (10ft). I felt it was important to maintain the shear of the fore deck a€“ a characteristic feature of the Elco's.This makes construction a little trickier, since the common practice is to build the hull upside down and set the bulkheads flat on the table. They would inevitably shift and the parts would come out trashed.Instead, put CA glue down in a few spots (six to eight places on a 4 x 36 inch (100 x 1000mm) sheet).

Here I'll focus on the assembly of these parts and preparation for the side planking.For a recap of part one of this PT 109 build, follow this link. With a sharp pencil and a straight-edge, I extend the bulkhead location to the opposite half (onto the balsa).
No need to go too crazy yet with the glue.Before beginning work on the bulkheads all center lines need to be transferred to the balsa.
I figured they can protrude passed the second bulkhead without hurting anything.Since the transom is at an angle it is important to have the deck stringers overshoot the chine shelf by a couple of inches.
Slow and steady does it.It is also better to stop too soon and finish up with a long sanding block. To work around this issue, I instead flattened out the knuckle line using a balsa sheet as a chine stringer.With this approach the number of bulkheads can be reduced without jeopardizing the integrity of the hull as its being built.
It is near impossible to piece it back right, and get them onto the balsa without getting distorted. For long and spindly parts, like the false keel and shear templates, leave more (a lot more even, if possible).
Make the spots as tiny as you can make them a€“ a droplet is way too much a€“ just a touch is enough.Also, if you pay attention when laying out the parts to be cut on the wood, try and place the dots so they hold the parts together after they have been cut out. I typically end up getting blisters on my index finger, so I cut the pieces out over several nights to let my poor finger recover. For curved cuts I typically cut straight cuts first and clean-up with a small model plane - one of those that take razor blades.If you have access to either a band saw or scroll saw, you'll finish this step in no-time. That I deemed "flat enough".The most important is to stay away from any building surface with a twist in it. Once all stations were marked, I removed the paper template.I'm a bit anal sometimes, so I extended the pencil lines across both halves. I lined up the upper edge until flush with the upper edge of the deck stringers, and the lower edge lined up with the chine shelf. It may seem like you don't have enough hands sometimes, but the benefits are definitely worth considering. It may be tempting to cut a corner here and half-fast the sanding step, but believe me, you'll suffer for it later.The balsa is thin enough to show through a lot of imperfections if not properly dealt with in this step. Also, a straight chine profile is nowhere near as noticeable as a flat deck would have been.Some curve can be worked back into the chine by careful sanding once the hull is planked. If they are too narrow, no matter how careful, the templates will not maintain their shape.I use an adhesive in a spray can that essentially turn the template into one large sticky-note.

This can be a challenge, but well worth the effort.After cutting the parts out, you can carefully separate the two identical pieces by carefully prying or by cutting using a razor blade. If there is a bow or bias side to side or front to back - nobody will ever know.A twisted board will transfer into the hull and could ruin the entire RC PT boat project. Once that's all done I removed the paper templates.Next I dry-fit the stem piece and two foremost bulkheads together and placed them on a flat surface to check it.
A dab of glue - it seems to have worked out well enough.After the glue was set, I inspected my work so far. The forces induced act symmetrically on the assembly and balance out, thus avoiding the assembly to warp. For instance, the sweep of the front third of the deck as seen in profile has to be there.Inexpensive to build a€“ The target is to be well under what Ia€™d have to pay for a Lindberg PT 109 kit a€“ about US$100.
If all else fail, the spray strip can be attached to give the desired illusion of a bent chine.
I happen to have the Krylon brand "Easy-Tack", but 3M's adhesive #75 is the original (3M is more money though). Similarly, avoid material that are twisted, especially for early assemblies like the frame. I'd say it's still worth it 99% of the time.On this model the two chine and shear templates were cut out this way.
The best way to fix it is to extent the slots that interlock the three pieces just a fraction and go back and forth - fit again etc.After a little fiddling it sat flat. This approach is often more practical.The way I did it was by attaching them (lined up symmetrically) in the stem and fixing them as usual with a dab of glue.
At this point I lined up the foremost bulkhead in it's position (taking care it was centered) and placed a small amount of CA glue on either side -left and right. Balsa is very forgiving in that the CA wicks well and cures quickly.This is a good point to let the assembly rest for a while to ensure all the glue cures. The benefits including more material, thus less risk sanding through, and less prone to show bumps etc. Just enough glue to secure it, but no more than what I feel I can recover from if I change my mind.Once happy I gave the stem piece and second bulkhead the same treatment.

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