Archive for June, 2008

Yesterday morning saw just myself and Mark at the SAMYC lake in Kohler, WI. Winds were light and quite variable so we decided not to race with two regulars missing. It was one of those pleasant warm days when messing about with boats is the perfect pastime. Now Mark’s Kittiwake hasn’t been the fastest in our fleet and I am sure that it is not the skipper so I took the opportunity to watch it carefully and try to understand why.

After a while we swapped boats so that Mark could try out my Pond Sprite and I could get my hands on his Kittiwake… trusting soul that he is. What was obvious was that his boat just would not settle on a course and maintain drive. Not that it was wandering like it was badly out of balance, just that it would keep popping upright and losing drive for no obvious reason. I put some extra curve in the foot of each sail to suit the light conditions and tried to bring it back to the starting point I discuss on the ‘tuning your sails’ section here. That had little effect on the problem. It seemed that the mainsail was unwilling to swing very easily and the jib didn’t respond well either to light puffs. I checked the mast rings to see that the mainsail cleared the mast when pulled back, it did. Main luff tension was ok too, just enough to hold the luff straight. The jib seemed to swing easily enough in the hand but it didn’t have a balance weight at the front so I thought that was why it was reluctant to go wing on wing downwind.

The overall effect was that the sails were stuck in the middle and didn’t respond to the light puffs which saw Mark and the Pond Sprite sailing happily by me. Then after a half hour or so I found it, the Jib swivel was standing nice and straight due to a pretty tight forestay, I slackenned that a little and saw the mast relax. The jib sail luff tensioner was also tight so I slackenned that off so it was just enough to hold the jib luff (front edge) straight. Everything freed up at once, the mast bend was clearly causing the mainsail to stick.

Back on the water the Kittiwake was now much more responsive and able to maintain drive. I added some jib leech line tension to twist the jib off a little so as to soften the luffs in the occasional gusts and then she was sailing well. A footy needs to be able to respond on it’s own to the slightest wind  speed or direction change and to do that both sails need to be able to move very freely. Even at the cost of a little forestay tension.

It was a fun morning, I hope that you got a little sailing in too.

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Photos from our customers generally go into the ‘gallery’ pages at www.scalesailing.com but I just had to show you these here! Makes me want to get out on Lake Michigan and tackle the big stuff. Luke wrote…

Dear Graham-
I received Kittiwake hull # 252 (now known as Logix) for my birthday a 
few weeks ago. I have to say, it is incredible. The kit was easy to 
understand, and sails absolutely beautifully. Here are some pictures 
of it sailing at home in Narragansett Bay. And as an added plus, 
It is almost completely waterproof- No worries about swamping!

Looks like great fun Luke 🙂

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Over the last two days I have been making a batch of the ScaleSailing Gooseneck & Vang upgrade kits. So now I have a whole heap of them!

These brass fittings make a really nice upgrade to a Kittiwake or of course they can be used on your own design footy.  The assembly only weighs 4g (modified turnbuckle, carbon mounting tube, cotter pin, crimp, silicone tube). A small weight penalty considering the ease of making small adjustments to your boom height which it allows. Fine boom control translates into fine main sail twist control which can be vital to good tuning. With this turnbuckle based vang you can sail in, make a half turn and be off again in moments.

The solid brass turnbuckle is a German made item which I modify to suit this use. It has a left and a right hand thread so turning the body of the turnbuckle causes the ends to both move out or in. Shown below is the assembly bound to an extended mast socket. The gooseneck and vang can also be bound to a mast in the usual way too. Find them at http://www.scalesailing.com/product.htm

and I am looking forward to doing some sailing this weekend, either a footy or my Victoria. I hope that all of my readers in the mid-west are keeping dry though. If your basement is full of water the last thing you want to think about is sailing I am sure. Here’s hoping the rain is over with for a while and that the water can go back to where it should be, in the lakes and rivers. Take care and stay dry, until next time.


All content of this blog including text, photographs and the model designs are the sole property of Graham McAllister Designs.
Copyright 2008 by Graham McAllister Designs.

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The Blue Bird BMS-380MG has blown me away with it’s potential as a racing Footy sail winch servo. A well respected footy sailor mentioned these on one of the forums so I decided to try one out. I fitted it in my new Pond Sprite design which I knew I would be carrying more sail area than I have tried before. To say that I am impressed would be an understatement.

This little beast only weighs 15.6gm (0.55oz) and delivers a whopping 50oz/in of torque on 4.8volts. Dimensions are 26x13x26mm (1.16×0.51×1.02 inch) so this is genuinely a micro servo.

But does this matter? Well yes, I think so. If weight can be saved anywhere above the waterline in a boat then it increases the righting moment of the boat. This is because the bulb weight percentage of the whole boat increases as the rest of the boat is lightenned. Where a Footy is designed around lightweight servos like the Pond Sprite then the saved weight can also be added to the bulb weight to further increase the ‘stiffness’ of the boat. This stiffnes translates into the ability to carry more sail at less heal angle, all other things being equal.

The other good news is that I have been able to add this servo to the ScaleSailing product range at only $19.95 so it won’t break the bank either. Incidentally, if you are thinking of buying a Kittiwake kit then you won’t need this servo. The Kittiwake is designed to use a ‘standard’ size servo. But if you adjust the radio mount tray to take this servo it will allow you to carry a bigger sail and save a little weight as described.


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I was suprised to realise that it is already a little over two years since I made my first ‘foamy footy’. A lot has happened in that time and it has been great fun to supply so many kits and hear reports of how much fun they can be to build and sail. Kittiwakes have been footy racing all over the USA and beyond and have made a good showing despite originally being designed as an introductory boat rather than a racing boat. Several club footy fleets have been started with the Kittiwake ‘fleet builder’ 3-packs and they continue to be ordered in good numbers.

The foam core concept I introduced back then has made first time boat builders of many people. I just can’t stop building them myself! The newest boat in my fleet, the ‘Pond Sprite’, is going well. It took second place in it’s first open footy regatta, the Sheboygan Footy Fest, a couple of weeks ago. This is my second serious racing ‘foamy footy’ and will be kitted this summer. I have learned a lot about using the cores in these two years and the Pond Sprite will go together really well as a result. Relatively slim in the current style she is a quick and easy to sail boat. I am looking forward to making the kits available. Long live the ScaleSailing Foamy Footy!

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The Pringles ™ lid hatch experiment has proven to be very effective. Pond Sprite with the hatch has been sailed in some windy and choppy conditions including the 4 1/2 hours at the Footy Fest and stayed bone dry. Our Kittiwakes with a well taped down deck cover were always dry boats but the Pringles ™ lid hatch makes access so convenient that I love it!

The laser work I just received has a set of cut rings for test. When the size is perfected this system will be included in the Pond Sprite kit to come. I will also be offering the rings as a laser cut set to be used on your own decks. The forward hatch is sealed over with a patch of sticky back plastic (Fablon to we Brits.) and gives occasional access to the sail servo and receiver. Depending on your layout you might have the rudder servo under there too. The snap lid then should be positioned to give you access  to the battery, charging lead if you have one and receiver switch.

I won’t be eating loads of Pringles ™ to supply the lids, you can do that and only need one tube. It will be extra business for Pringles ™ and a way of recycling the otherwise discarded plastic lid! More news later when I have the parts finished.


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from many parts

I took delivery of some kit parts over the last couple of days. Rudder stocks from a mountainside in California and laser cutting from up a mountain in Colorado. These are Kittiwake parts and now that I have them I can start putting together some more kits. Good news for those on my temporary waiting list at the moment.

I spent the afternoon casting a batch of keel weights today. These are the 7oz weights again for Kittiwake kits. Cast, filed and painted with primer, fifteen pairs. When they are dry tomorrow these will be matched for length which can vary slightly and bagged up ready to go in the kits.

The laser cutting included another 25 batch of Kittiwake wood parts and a sample cutting set for the Pond Sprite kit which is in development. I am very pleased with the Pond Sprite and it’s sister boat the Harpy. Since being launched a month ago Pond Sprite has won the first round of the SAMYC monthly Footy series and came second in the Sheboygan Footy Fest open Footy regatta. Second only to a very experienced sailor in a fleet of thirteen boats. Not a bad start for a new prototype.

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