Neville Wades' Radio-Controlled Squareriggers

Neville Wade's Radio-Controlled Square-riggers

There are many people who build much better models than I. They are craftsmen, who spare no effort in the attempt to attain perfection, and often come close to achieving it. I approach my models from a slightly different standpoint; I want them to look real on the water, to sail well, and handle like the original ships, and to be robust and simple to operate and maintain. I also love the moment when a new vessel sails for the first time, so a building time of 400 hours, over six months, allows me to see a new experience on the water about once a year. The descriptions of the details of my models, that you’ll find here, should be read with that in mind.

Construction of the hulls

The hull of the “Catherine Louise” after initial tidying up. The planks are of lime wood, 8X2 mm., and the flat sections are made of plywood.

My keel attachment method in the interior of the boat.

My removable sailing keel. It is adjustable fore and aft; side to side, and in weight. Once finalised, it is coated with resin, and painted black.

A keel attachment block in the “Ann Louise”, seen from inside.

The keel attachment bolts in the “Judith Kate”.

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The hulls of the “Judith Kate” and "Elizabeth Ann", with keel attached. The legs of the stand allow attachment of the keel at the side of the water.

The oversized rudder of the “Judith Kate” before painting.


AB56Sep09_web.jpg Overall dimensions are determined for the model to fit the boot (trunk) of a typical European car

Length is from bowsprit end to stern rail
Height is from keel to main truck

Model Name Source Plans Scale Length (mm) Beam (mm) Height (mm) Std keel (g) Light keel (g)
Catherine Louise Mozart 1/74 1296 160 730 7110 4700
Ann Louise Joseph Conrad 1/40 1140 190 740 4700 3900
Elizabeth Ann Fame 1/43 1227 184 848 3900
Judith Kate Herzogin Cecilie 1/87 1320 160 720 7000 4700
Anne B Penang 1/73 1347 172 744 7000
Lauren & Rachel Potosi 1/116 1070 120 530 2000
Linda 2nd Peter Rickmers 1/86 1390 160 720 6200
Poetic Licence Carl Vinnen 1/68 1450 200 720 8200
Noah Jack Preussen 1/116 1180 127 530 2850
Queen Margaret (Underhill) 1/68 1360 190 775 8200
Mount Stewart (Underhill) 1360 170 860 7000

I made some trials earlier this year, using lighter keels, from my smaller square-riggers, on the larger ones. The objective was to see what they looked like, higher out of the water, and whether or not they were any "handier" on the water. The results were very encouraging, to the extent that I very rarely sail the "Judith Kate" or the "Catherine Louise" with their original, heavy keels.

In the case of the "Elizabeth Anne", she wasn't a cargo carrier, so I made her original waterline a little lower anyway, to make her higher out of the water, and more lively, and, with the "Anne B", she seems to need the heavy keel from the "Judith Kate" to perform to her best.

Sailing area

North Tyneside, England
View in Google Earth

Before getting to the description of the sail controls, here are the ships in the water:

Anne B (Penang)

Ann Louise (Joseph Conrad)

Catherine Louise (Mozart)

Elizabeth Ann (Fame)

Judith Kate (Herzogin Cecilie)

Lauren & Rachel (Potosi)

Linda 2nd (Peter Rickmers)

Poetic Licence (Carl Vinnen)

Noah Jack (Preussen)

Four Masted Barque, “Queen Margaret”

Three Masted Ship, “Mount Stewart”

Yard and sail bracing system

SC01.jpg Drawing of the servo and brace arrangemment

SC02.jpg Schematic of servo and yard movement

The interior of the “Catherine Louise”. On the left is the sail arm servo, used to control the sheets of the fore and aft sails on the main and mizzen masts, and on the right is the same type of servo, this time with a centrally pivoted servo arm, which is used to control the yards on the foremast. The braces, which control the yards, are attached to the ships’ sides by the side of the main mast in the centre of the picture. They are then led forward, to the ends of the servo arms, and then aft, to lead up through the deck, next to the main mast, en route to their yards.

This is the interior of the “Ann Louise”, a full rigged ship, with square sails on all her three masts. The servo on the left controls the yards of the main and mizzen masts, and braces can be seen leading both forward and astern, to the main and mizzen masts respectively. The servo on the right controls the yards on the foremast, and braces can be seen leading astern from it to the main mast.

These servos are those for the fore and main yards of the brig “Elizabeth Anne”, that on the left for the foremast, and on the right for the main. As you see, the main mast braces run astern to their yards, as in a real brig.

Four of the five yards for the “Catherine Louise”, with their bent wire pivots glued in.

The tube, into which is fitted the pivot, on the fore side of its mast. The tube is clamped to it’s mast, using the brass strip illustrated.

The assembled yard pivot, in situ on it’s mast. This arrangement allows the yard to be positioned ahead of the mast, vital if the yard is to swing to within 30deg. of the centreline of the hull.

This is an easily removable sail, suitable for “shortening sail” quickly for windy days. There are hooks sewn into the bottom corners of the sail, which engage in “goalposts” on the yard below. Simply unhook them, and lift out the yard from it’s pivot. See a “goalpost” in silhouette, on top of the yard.

As the yards are braced, a single "sheet", connected clew to clew, simply moves with the sail, holding it against the wind, when from astern.

This is a port side view of the “Judith Kate”, showing the endless sheet running aft from the mainsail, through two ring screws in the deck in front of the mizzen mast. The purpose of the sheet is to hold back the sail, into the wind, no matter the angle to which the yards are braced.

The courses, the lowest square sails, are fitted with stiff wire, sewn into their sides and bottoms, to allow the sails to be set without yards beneath them, and to allow them to use the wind from ahead, without wrapping themselves around the mast.

How to sail model square-riggers

See article published in Marine Modelling International in April 2008.

See PDF of article published in Marine Modelling International in June 2012 (by kind permission).

See YouTube VIDEO


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