Miss Adventure is an outstanding model of a mahogany-constructed Flyer class racing hydroplane from the 1930s. The full-scale beauty was only 13-1/2 feet long, sported a 91.5 cubic inch engine, and was capable of speeds over 45 MPH. It must have been a wild ride!
This kit has been out of production for a few years, but Model Expo is bringing it back to meet the growing interest in radio-controlled scale model ships and boats.
The Miss Adventure kit design results in a solidly built plank-on-frame model; laser-cut frames and keel are tied together with numerous basswood stringers covered in mahogany planking, making it a quite sturdy and fairly large (27” OA) craft.
Although the laser-cut frames and basswood members fit together with precision, and the model has sleek and uncomplicated lines, this kit is for experienced builders. The 8-page builder’s manual is quite good but does not contain basic instructional content and level of detail that would be found in typical manuals for beginning shipwrights. The Miss Adventure instructions tell the builder what to do, but not always how to do it, and the builder must draw on their own experience and knowledge for selecting and applying techniques, tools and materials.
Prior planking experience would be helpful, as planking techniques are not detailed in the instructions. This is a kit for which it is critical to understand how everything will fit together before beginning construction.
In planking, follow the guidance in the instructions and get the planks as tight and evenly surfaced as possible before sanding. Lots of clamps and rubber bands will be needed. Mahogany planking is harder than basswood, so sanding it smooth takes more time. I progressively used grits of 80, 100, 150, and finer to get a smooth surface. This creates quite a bit of mahogany dust that can introduce sensitivity reactions, so take care to protect your skin and wear a mask. And be careful not to sand through the top layer of the plywood margin strake, as the lower layer might be a different color.
I used Titebond III Ultimate glue for all wood joints and Model Expo’s Quik-Cure Epoxy for installing metal parts (Mid-Cure would work also). For my build, I used Model Expo’s Finish Epoxy to coat the inside of the bottom, transom and side planking. The hull has to be waterproof, and I wasn’t confident that all my plank joints were tight enough to seal with varnish alone. Maybe this was overkill, but it works and is easy. There are other epoxy or polyester resin products that will do this job. I drilled holes in the lower breast hook to pour epoxy into the bow section, which is vulnerable to water leaks and would otherwise be unreachable.
I made a clamp-style motor mount using the supplied brass sheet, cut into two strips about 3/4" x 3”. The mount consists of two parts, top and bottom, with side flanges for mounting. Form it to clamp around the motor rigidly when screwed down to the top slanted edges of the keel parts, leaving the motor case vents free. Following the directions, I aligned the prop shaft tube as precisely as possible, then epoxied the tube in place. The prop shaft may or may not have to be shortened to adapt to the length of the coupling provided.
Today’s radio systems are quite cheap and reliable, and the MStyle 2-channel system offered by Model Expo is perfect for this application. This was the radio I used, but I assembled some items differently, so the photos accompanying this blog may show details that aren’t in the kit.
For the rudder assembly, I inserted the rudder post through the previously installed rudder tube, and then soldered the servo crank arm to the top of the rudder post inside the hull (the interior construction would not permit installation if were soldered outside the hull). I then installed the servo and pushrod to check the correct angle for the servo crank arm before attaching the rudder to the post, to make sure the rudder would turn equally in both directions.
The cockpit construction was straightforward.
For radio installation, as shown in the photos, I glued two shelves on top of the keel members forward of the motor to seat the speed control and receiver using the supplied stick-on pads. I glued a small wood plate on the bottom of the forward frame of the hatch for the stick-on power switch, and made a saddle for the battery from two pieces of scrap glued vertically between frames F and G. This keeps the battery stable and above the prop shaft.
For my exterior finish, I applied Model Expo Finish Epoxy with a disposable foam brush for durability, appearance, and protection from water. Then I sanded the hull and deck smooth and applied multiple coats of varnish. This was my first time using the Finish Epoxy method. I think it was a striking choice to highlight the mahogany wood, but my technique would, I hope, improve with more experience. For example, I think it’s important to make the thickness of the epoxy uniform, which might require more than one application.
A creatively colored paint scheme would look great too; builder’s choice. The excellent supplied metal fittings and cockpit coaming went on last.
Time for launch! The closest water is my swimming pool, so that’s where the maiden sea trials occurred. Miss Adventure floated exactly right, and my first impression was how fast she was. I thought the small propeller wouldn’t produce much speed, but I was wrong. The 40-ft pool length was hardly big enough for a full speed run. Fortunately, what I thought was a relatively small rudder was quite authoritative, so turns around the pool showed what she was capable of. She stayed perfectly dry inside, but since the cockpit is open and the hatch isn’t watertight, rough water is out of the question. In summary, I was very happy with this project and am sure other builders will be too.