Good morning Phil, I have been building RC model boats for over 45 years now. I must tell you that I'm so very pleased and impressed with your kit. The instructions are just super clear, and the kit was designed very well. I have paid MANY more dollars for kits that were not half as nice and clear as yours. Bravo Phil and thank you. I'm having a wonderful time building this. May want to get another of your kits before too long! Fred
Phil, I received my Tug Jr., and after carefully looking it over and reading the instructions several times--I'm impressed. You obviously put a lot of thought, effort and talent into both the design and execution of the kit and created what is probably the best value anywhere in scale boating. Regards, Bob
I found another tool box that fit the vac-u-tug perfectly. It's a Stanley 28", available at both Amazon and Lowes, if you'd like to note that on your site: Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Stanley-028001L-28-Inch-Structural-Toolbox/dp/B000KN470Q/ref=sr_1_7?s=power-hand-tools&ie=UTF8&qid=1497039401&sr=1-7&keywords=stanley+tool+box Lowes (not sure why lowes lists as a 12" box; but their specs show it's "depth" as 28"): https://www.lowes.com/pd/Stanley-12-in-Black-Plastic-Lockable-Tool-Box/3037055 It fits the boat on it's stand (with pilot house deck removed and to the side), a futaba pistol grip radio (had to cut into the tray handle a bit with the dremel tool to make room for the trigger), spare parts and hardware, a small lipo charger, and a couple batteries. It is quite literally a fully self sufficient "boat in a box" :) Matt
Hey there Phil. It has been over 10 years now and I need my first part for one of my boats. Could you please invoice me through paypal for one M115 rudder arm? Thank you for your wonderful kits. I may be buying another tug here soon too!!
We were sailing our RC's in November and at the end of the day my Tug sank in about 7 foot of water. I was rescuing a couple of sailboats, and when that was finished, I made a mistake and thought chasing some ducks would be fun with my new found power. They had been laughing at us when the wind died and we had to perform the rescue. Quack, Quack, Quack sounds just like laughter. Well, I didn't know that water was finding it's way through the hatch so it looked like the Titanic sinking. Bow up and down it went. We could only laugh, cause crying would have been unproductive. My little buddy (who is building his own vac-u-tug) was one of the guys with us, and laughter was a must. He's 12. It sat at the bottom of the lake for about three weeks. I tried to find it with a rubber raft, but the wind kept blowing me away form the site. So, my little buddy and his Dad, two Uncles and another friend, and all of their families, went to the lake on Monday, December 22nd (COLD) and all filmed the rescue. Braydon's Dad asked his two brothers, and their buddy to put on their scuba diving equipment and rescued my tug. I had no idea they were doing this. I thought I had lost my tug. Christmas eve they brought my boat to me wrapped up in a gift box. They made me open the box that night. You should have seen their faces of joy, when I opened that box. My wife and I were really surprised. This was a great day for memories. Rich
Phil, I just wanted to let you know that I have reread the instructions for the Vac-U-Tug, and I can't believe what a great job you have done. I expected to have to go out and purchase the little spring clamps at a local office supply store but no they were included in the kit along with every thing but the glue, radio, battery, battery charger and speed control. This had to be one of the greatest values in the hobby world. Now I understand that you are reworking the Vac-U-Tow and the Vac-U-Tow2 , I was hoping that you could e-mail me when they come back in stock. Thanks Again I am one very happy customer, Andre
Phil, I tried the new rescue today. The wind died and my Seawind sailboat just sat there in the water. The Seawind is a pretty large Sailboat. Length 39 in Width 8.9 in Height 72.8 in Sail Area 605 sq in Weight 7 pounds. I tied a 15' x 5/32" hollow-braid poly cord (that has a stainless steel magnetic floating ball tied to the other end of the rope) and attached it to the back of my vac-u-tug boat. I circled the Seawind once and brought it back to shore. The little Tug struggled, but it brought it home. I did not have a video camera with me, but cheers rose from the crowd (4 people) when we reached the shore. I'm going to increase the size of the rope so it floats better, but I think we have a winner. Rich
The new boat performs very well with the 3 blade prop and the high powered motor, but I had to set the EPA on my radio down to about 60% from 125% that I used to set my ESC with. I like having that extra power as an option for when I am towing I can move the EPA up slightly to give the tug more power to move a heavier tow. The instructions being online made building the boats a little more difficult than when the paper is right there on the table with me. All and all a great kit, I love it, and today while at the lake I Had a kid ask about my boats. I told him where to go to get his own! His dad really liked them as well. They just spent $100 on a boat that could not even make it 50 feet away from the dock and it was a "speed boat" that was slower than Kate was! My Tempest (Burgundy) and my son's Tomcat (blue) were captained by at least 3 different skippers today! The kids loved the boats and so do I. I have attached a couple of pics for you to use on your website. The Group shot is with my friend's Mickey S. that is named after a neighbor and friend that recently passed away from Cancer (burgundy and green boat) I built all 3 boats but sold the one to my friend. Keep up the great work on the boats. Mike. Build page for the "new" tug kit (August 2014) http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2225063
Hello Phil Well I finished up the tugboat today. See pictures attached. My dad came over and saw it, loved it so much that I had to give it to him. Why, I don't know. So I would like to order another one. Great product, loved it. My girls told me how to paint it and they applied the stickers. They were okay giving to grandpa as long as I built them another one. Take care, Douglas
Hi Phil, I bought a Vac-U-Tug kit off a young fella here in Australia that hadn't got around to building it and wanted some funds to get into FPV (first person view, if you're not aware of FPV yet) and being a young lad of about 15 yo it was going to be hard to raise enough money to purchase the required equipment so I pretty much bought it as a favor to him and it sat in my garage for a few months before I had a day if doing nothing that I could dedicate to building it. The actual build time was probably longer than most people as I made sure I did a good quality build job and I even sanded back all edges for a smooth finish and professional standard! I had to download the instructions for it and hats off to you Phil, they are the most informative and easy to follow instructions I've ever had the pleasure to read! The included color photos were a HUGE help and made it an absolute pleasure to build! I decided I would go completely away from the usual drab black and white that most tug boats are styled with! And to make it easier to see on the water as my eyes aren't as good as they used to be (though I'm only 36!!!). The young fella I bought it off included a waterproof ESC and a 4000mah 2s (7.4v) lipo so everything bar the receiver was included. I have used a HobbyKing 6 channel Orange receiver of about $6 value so I don't have to worry about range as the tug will be out if sight before it loses signal. I'm running it off my JR DSX9 Aircraft transmitter having throttle in the left stick (elevator) and the rudder on the right stick (ailerons) so controlling is easy. I haven't yet maidened her but am super excited to do so! I had to add 800g of lead fishing sinkers to get her to sit in the recommended water line and your suggested final running weight. The paintjob you see in the attached pictures were a combo of tin spray paints and airbrush paints and was easy to do. I did a few coats of color then a few coats of clear to protect the color. I used Tamiya acrylic paints and they have stuck to the boat really well, I only used a bit if wet and dry sandpaper between color and clear coats to give it a smooth to the touch finish and it worked really well! All the supplied equipment for the tug is if great quality but I did however find the dog bone shaft with one tooth missing however it works well anyway. I'll eventually get an aluminum one in its place when I decide to put a quicker motor into her. I have given her quite a fitting name as every boat needs a name and this girl is called "Just Tuggin". Anyway, I just thought I would let you know that one of your tugs is here in Australia and looking great! I will take her with me every time I fly one of my float planes as my recovery tug! My main hobby interest is planes but I have another boat that is a 12" Yacht which I use in my backyard in-ground pool where the Tug will have her maiden voyage. I'll get it on video and send you the link. Feel free to use this email as a customer testimonial if you like and you can use the pics for whatever you like too but send me a link to wherever you use them. So thanks for making such a fun little project and I'll look forward to your feedback! Cheers, Alan.
Hello Phil, Well it's been awhile since I purchased my Vac-u-tug December 2011 to be exact. I was building an air boat for seaplane recovery,12 months later I am still modifying it. Two weeks ago I got the Tug carton out and basically built in about 3 days took another week to rig a reversing switch (couldn't buy a brushed reversing controller) so used a 6 pin rocker switch connected to a micro servo, esc is a 30 amp aircraft leftover wrapped in a zip lock bag with a couple of absorbent bag out of pill bottles. Two recoveries so far ,the air boat threw a prop and an offshore cat that barrel rolled . Everybody loves it, I will get a photo to you when somebody stops watching long enough to get a camera out. Thanks for a great product, I enjoy it as much as flying. Regards , Noel
Phil; I've been assembling kits for over 60 years, mostly model boats and electronics, and working on your Vac-U-Tug has been one of the most enjoyable projects I've undertaken. The excellent instructions remind me of good old Heathkits, and I appreciate the quality and completeness of the materials. Yes, this is fun! Thank you; Stan
Hey Phil, I received that tug kit yesterday and I must say I am completely delighted!!!!!! It is everything and more than I expected. I was a bit unsure of the strength of a suck molded plastic hull as I have seen some of the kits Dumas has made. Just let me say they should take lessons from you. That hull dispels any fears I had and will be a joy to work with. I can't wait to start it and am already drooling over the Vac-u-tow. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!! Greg BTW, I can see why you have a hard time keeping these babies in stock.
Hi guys, I bought a Vac-U-Tug kit for my son's 13th birthday this past winter. We'd worked together on a couple of other RC projects previously, so he'd gained some basic experience with model construction. The vac-u-tug kit was exactly as advertised, and my son did 100% of the construction and painting, with only some guidance and advice on my part. We ordered the heavy-duty motor since it was his intention to build a tow barge, and that has worked out very well. He gets many, many positive comments and admirers when he's operating the tug in the local lake. We've both been very pleased at how robust and sea-worthy the tug is in wind and waves. Ken & Alex.
Checked it out today, everything is there and in good shape. I'm really impressed with the hull, really smooth and follows the lines, not like some others I have built including Kyosho and Graupner! Art
I'm still having loads of fun with my Vac U Tug. I have been taking it out to the pond pretty much every morning, before it gets too hot to play. It's like learning seamanship all over, on a reduced scale, but with the same physics. I always wanted to become a tugboat skipper, and now I can fulfill that wish :-). Some photos and simple barge info: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=714083 I am still working on the steam powered vac u tug. Thanks for making such a great product. Sincerely, Brooks
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Here are a few pics of my little Vac-U-Tug the Kate Massey. I bought this boat to use as my hydro recovery boat and she has quickly become one of my favorite boats in my fleet. I built a tow rig out of a foam bobber and some brass rods soldered together to make a grappling hook. I just run out to the stranded boat and make a quick loop around it and the hook will grab the rudder or turn fin and pull the hydro back. I use the 4 blade prop and 2 3000mAh NiMH wired in parallel for power. I can get about 5 hours of run time including some towing of my hydro, stranded boats or my barge that measures 48"x12" and is usually ballasted with about 20lbs of weight. The only other modification to the kit was the addition of the towing bollard and reinforcing the deck below the bollard. Massey
The package arrived yesterday. It's even better than I had hoped. What a great kit for kids! My son is a little hesitant to do the cutting/trimming, so I cut, the assembles. First gluing steps tonight. We'll be in the water next weekend for sure, even it's still white before painting. Thanks, John
Great user friendly website…I have to tell you, I recently acquired one of your tugs at a garage sale. The individuals wife was selling it since her husband passed away. Believe it or not she was selling the little boat with radio and all for ten dollars. Even though the little boat was in poor health I gave her thirty five dollars since I couldn’t take advantage of her. (Besides that’s all I had in my pocket.) So I spent the next several weeks lightly sanding and re-gluing the little boat back together. This past weekend was the first sea trial…It did awesome…the little boat saved three boats its first time out. That boat has become a local hero around here, saves us from getting in ponds with water moccasin snakes and baby alligators here in Florida. You will notice I keep calling it the little boat, since its repairs were completed it has not been re-painted or named…It has been out on the water every weekend for the past three months. And talk about easy to control, when I am not using it for rescues, My four year old son is scootering it around the lake. We sail with a local group of modelers and they just loved it. If it wasn’t for the careful record keeping that Mr. Newsome (previous owner/builder of the little boat) kept I would not be able to write you this letter. Tom
My son and I took the tug to the local RC boat club's annual show. It got a lot of favorable attention, and I gave your web address to some of the members. Also, the tug got it's first work call during the show. A nicely built three-motor PT boat was cruising along and suddenly lost power in the middle of the pond; my son used the tug to move it back to shore. Do you happen to have a chart of salvage rates, or is that for an admiralty judge to decide? Once again, many thanks for producing such a fine kit. Cheers, Steve
The Vac-U-Tug should have been my first RC boat. It's great - simple, great instructions, great looking (and it can be finished/detailed at 1:45 to match the Calypso). I got the box today and have the hull, drive etc finished already. Plan to modify and detail out the top to look like an ocean tug. It's really a great kit -more sturdily and logically designed and built than the Billing Calypso and has the potential to be built into a nice looking scale model. Highly recommended for a fun build. Dan
This is a quick note from a happy customer. I have finished my tug, the bathtub "trials" were successful, and I am waiting for warmer temperatures here in NJ to paint it and take it to the local pond. The kit was a pleasure to assemble, and the instructions were crystal clear: all the hard work that you must have put into them makes the Vac-U-Tug a very enjoyable and rewarding project for a first-time RC boat-builder like me. Cheers, Steve
I was able to easily push soggy driftwood around that weighed over 8lbs so I think it will do fine with the Seawind. The wind picked up to almost 20mph. I ran the tug in waves up to 4". It pushed right through them. Running parallel to the waves in the "trough" was scary because the tug rolled. But it never went over. I don't think it can roll over with the ballast so low in the bilge. I was amazed to find it completely dry below deck when I finally brought it in. I highly recommend the Vac-U-Tug as a great winter project and a potential rescue boat. The standard motor and optional 4-blade propeller is suggested. So is an 8.4V battery pack (or larger). I had lots of fun with the tug and look forward to playing with it on those windless days. Bill
Phil, Thanks for the quick shipping, I received the kits on Sat. They are by far the most complete kits I have ordered, and I have ordered car and plane kits in the past. I can't wait to get started building. I will send some photos and try to post them on the yahoo site after they are built. Thanks again for the quality tug kits. Steve
Despite the warning not 'to try this at home', I did. Three 'fishing' trips later, I finally caught one! Wish I'd taken a camera, but... oh well. Just another 'fish story', right? Also just tickled me to death, dang! No one at work believed me either. Paul
Just a quick note to say that I got the mighty tug finished and in the water at my local pond for shakedown runs. Again, it is a great build. Everything fits together so well it is a dream to build. I ended up carrying two 6 pack sets of cells from my car racing days so my ballast at each end is not very much. I also glued a piece of ply across the hull near the front and put my receiver and ESC up there. This way they aren’t low in the hull but they are well above any potential water that might get inside (none has so far), hence the antenna running up the front of the cabin. Not very rough water anytime yet but it kind of just bobs its way over the little waves we have had so far and kind of just makes you smile or even laugh a little. What a great fun kit. -Barry
(This was so nice that I had to show the entire letter!) Dear Philip, Enclosed are a couple photos of my Tug taken on its first shake down cruise. I must say your kit and instructions are the best and most complete I have ever seen. This is the first tug I have ever built and while it was more work intensive than it first appears I had no problems in its construction thanks to your great instruction book. The finished Tug is well worth the effort in building. Your attention to detail in the kit made it pleasure to build. I particularly liked your inclusion of all the clamps required in joining the deck to the hull. The tug floats right on its waterline and sailed right off the building board. At full throttle it settles into its bow wave trough at what appears to be hull speed. I may try your hopped up motor for some heavy towing. So far the only mods I have done are the addition of two bollards mounted on the forward and aft decks. Whenever the Tug is out on the lake it brings favorable comments and questions on What is it? and Where can I get one? All in all I am very pleased with my Vac-U-Tug and am looking forward to many years of fun with it and then passing it on to my Grandson. Best wishes, Charlie, San Diego
I'll send you another couple of photos by separate email. I
really like the tug. It handles even better than it looks. The 4-blade propeller
and 8.4V battery push the bow to hull speed in less than 2'. Thanks for the
great model. Bill
I've come to appreciate your drive shaft and stuffing box
after seeing some other examples. Thanks... Paul
I've dropped one of the 'Vac-U-Tug's before. Not onto rocks, but a floor. Other than breaking the stack off (not the stock one), and causing near heart failure, there was no damage at all. I think it would be kinda difficult to hurt one. Paul
I'm elated with the boat . It performs perfect as I see it. No leaks, just does everything right. I did the fire nozzle and that all works great too. I want to order a duck as soon as I get this boat completely done. Two of my friends have them and they're more fun than canned beer. Just wanted to touch base & let you know how much I like the boat. Wally
Hi the tug is done...the first tests i made in a pool...no wave...but the tug with the 4 blade prop could handle the seawind...the wind was about 5 mph...the tug was dry...^^ was happy...as i say i use the 4 blade prop with 8.4 v batteries...i use 2 more mah...think i could use the tug for...hmmm at least 3 hours...don't know yet...and i don't care...its just for saving my seawind anyway.. i ll keep posting about the tug when i sail in rough waters... have a nice day Hi well the tug can handle the seawind in usual conditions...worked fine...happy cause now i know i dont have to swim anymore have a nice day. wis
I started with a Dumas kit on which you plank and then glass the hull. It was a tuff job and resulted in so many mistakes, that I became discouraged. I got one of Phil's Vac-U -Tug kits, which to an experienced model maker is about a days work, but to me was more. It's a good kit to learn with and inexpensive, plus it gives you boat to play with at the pond while you are tackling the Darby. Now I'm back to finishing the Dumas with a much better attitude! Ryan
my kit yesterday, looking forward to assembling this boat. I
have never done this before and from what I can see it's a good choice for
Kudos for fast response . It got here much faster than I would expect. I usually figure about a month when I order something. Thanks - Wally W.
Pay Pal was very easy to use. Understand I am a new computer user as well as this is my first time ever using Pay Pal. It has been a real pleasure. Thank You, Andy
I completed the boat and it is great! Very pleased, some of my RC sailboat friends are also impressed, You may get a couple of more orders!!!!! You have a great kit, it is extremely well engineered and the most complete kit I have ever built. Hope to get some better pictures in the future, just could not wait to share my boat with you. I will be using the tug to recover wayward or broken sailboats, will post a picture on the Victoria Resource Center. It has a forum for the Victoria RC Sailboats. (thread on General Discussion / "recovery" Craft) Carl
I've just finished it and it came out nicely. Took me an evening to build it and the following afternoon to paint it. I've run it at out local pond and it's nice, relaxing fun. I'm using a Focus 2 radio with a HiTec SP520 speed controller. Power comes from two 7.2v 1500ma batteries connected in parallel... (read that as 3,000ma @ 7.2v). It will run for hours with this configuration. Your instructions were flawless and the little details you add to the kit (like sandpaper, binder clips, drive shaft lubricant) make a HUGE difference in the "build ability" of the kit. I've been building RC planes, cars, and boats off and on for 20 years, but I could easily give this kit to a raw novice with full confidence that they would have a successful outcome. Sean
While testing the installation of the speed controller on my bench, I thought there was something wrong with it since I didn't here any noise. I found that everything was working perfectly, it's just that the driveline is so smooth on these boats, they don't make any noise. Dean
Just a note to let you know that your Vac-U-Tug made a hit with our four grandchildren this morning. I towed 4 buoys on the subdivision lake for them to race my ODOM and Victoria around. They marveled at the little fella chugging along, pulling the kickboard, dropping off a buoy, then returning to shore to pick up another. Great fun for the whole family! Thanks. Frank
I was so impressed with the instruction manual. Every detail was covered in every way. I must have ten different boats and this Tug is one of the most fun that I own. I just love it! When I placed it in the water, I couldn't believe how well it performed and looked. My buddies made comments like "I have to get me one of these!" Thanks again for such a wonderful and creative boat! Kevin
I finished building my tug this week and sailed it for the first time yesterday. I just wanted to let you know that you have made a wonderful product that is easy to build and even more fun to use. I only have one complaint, that is, when are you going to design Vac-U-Tug Sr.? I love the tug, but cannot wait for a larger version. Thanks again for a great product with easy to understand instructions. Rob
I have inspected the kit I bought and have bought all the necessary radio equipment. Now I just need a little time to build it. Biggest problem is what color? It is the most complete kit I have ever seen. You have a quality product. M.M.
I got the kit Friday and it looks great! Nicely done!
I look forward to
having my first slow RC boat project on the water. D.B.