Remote control (RC) cars, planes, and boats are popular hobbies. Enthusiasts are able to purchase fully assembled units or kits that will allow them to build one. Like most hobbies, RC boats are easy to get into but open up endless possibilities. As soon as you get your first boat in the water, you’ll probably start thinking about how to make it go faster for even more fun.
How do you make your RC boat faster? There are many areas of an RC boat that can be customized to deliver more speed: from the engine and propeller that moves the boat through the water to the batteries that supply the power, there are many factors that affect the boat’s aerodynamics and maneuverability. For many hobbyists, trying different upgrades to get the best results is half the fun.
If you’re new to RC boating, you’re probably just getting your sea legs. It’s never too early to start thinking about the next upgrade that will make your days on the water more exhilarating, more challenging, and more fun. It’s best to approach upgrades in steps so that you can evaluate each change on its own before changing something else. Over time, you can build a unit that will do some serious cruising.
Making Your RC Boat Go Faster
It’s pretty easy to get your hands on a stock RC boat that can do 25 knots (about 29mph). When you’re just getting started, it can be pretty exciting to have a unit that will do those speeds. Over time though, you’ll probably find yourself wishing that your boat could go faster and run longer. When that happens, it’s time to start shopping for upgrades.
There are two main categories that upgrades to your RC boat will fall into. The first is the power plant, which comprises the battery, motor, and propeller. The second category has to do with the hull’s aerodynamic and surface tension characteristics. By investing a bit of money, time, and effort in these areas, you can quickly break the 25-knot barrier. From there, it’s just a question of how fast you want to go.
When you’re working on upgrading the power plant of your RC boat, one of the biggest things you’ll need to watch is the temperature that the batteries and motor produce. You can install cooling units to help control the temperature, but you’ll still need to ensure that you aren’t setting up a power plant that will heat up to the point where it damages itself or other components of your boat.
When you’re thinking about customizing the hull of your boat for more speed, you’ll need to keep the conditions that you run the boat in at the forefront of your mind. In most cases, when you’re looking for more speed—lighter is better. At the same time, running in high winds or choppy water can make a light boat more of a liability than a benefit.
The Specifics of Speed
One of the great things about getting involved in RC hobbies is that there are plenty of other enthusiasts out there. That means that you won’t have to reinvent the wheel. You’ll just have to ask for advice from other folks who’ve gone before you. Take that advice and put it through some trial and error to figure out what will work best for your boat and the conditions you run in.
Consider the following elements of your RC boat for upgrades that will give you more speed.
You can replace the stock propeller with a larger or more efficient one. The battery and motor in your boat will determine both the limits of how far you can go with this upgrade and the optimal solution that will give you the most speed. Choose an aftermarket propeller that is made of a strong and durable material that is also lightweight.
A rear spoiler will increase the down-force on your boat at higher speeds. This will help to keep your boat in the water – especially during high winds or rough conditions. Since the spoiler is at the rear of your boat, this will still help even if your boat is on smooth water.
Getting a higher-discharge lithium polymer battery will give you a great power source for your power plant. If you have a little bit more money to spend, you can get all of that power in a lighter package by going with Lipo batteries.
Lipo batteries will require you to make sure that your ESC supports them. You’ll also need a balancing charger to ensure you don’t overcharge your new battery and damage it.
Balance and weight issues will be the elements that determine how big you can go with your boat’s motor. A .28 cubic-inch motor is pretty standard for most RC boats. If that is the size that your stock motor is, you can probably upgrade to at least .35 cubic-inches without running into any serious negative consequences on balance or weight.
Going bigger on the battery, motor, and ESC will likely lead to higher running temperatures. You can install a water cooler to mediate the higher temperatures. In general, running at 100-110°F is okay. Temperatures above 150°F threaten to harm your RC boat’s components.
How Fast Are RC Boats?
As we said above, factory stock RC boats commonly reach 25+ knots (about 29mph). Any time that your upgrades get your boat over that line, you’re heading in the right direction. Of course, there are RC boats out there that can reach speeds over 85 knots (about 98mph). So, there is a lot of room for improvement between the factory standard and the top end of the spectrum.
As your boat gets faster, you might find that you need to make changes in the controls to make sure that you’re still able to control your boat at those speeds. It will also become more difficult for you to find appropriate places for you to run your boat at full speed. 85-knots is nearly 100 miles per hour, so you will want to be sure you have a large enough area as well as full control of your boat. You certainly don’t want to crash into a swimmer when going that fast!
At speeds over 50-55 knots (57-63mph), the use of a rear spoiler and other aerodynamic considerations will become essential to keeping your boat in the water and making sure it is maneuverable. You’re also going to need to pay particular attention to the cooling system in your boat if you want to run at these speeds for any amount of time at all. The faster your boat is going the more heat the engine will put off so keeping it cool is vital.
When you run an RC boat at these speeds, you need to exercise extra caution. Even though RC boats aren’t very big, when they move at those speeds, they can be a danger to anything else on the water. If you don’t have complete control of your boat at those speeds, it can pose a danger to anyone on the shore as well. It goes without saying that an accident at those speeds will do serious damage to your boat even if nothing and nobody else is involved.
Check out the five fastest RC boats in the video below!
RC boats are a great way to spend time outdoors. They can be an exhilarating pastime when you have them on the water. If you enjoy tinkering, getting more speed out of your RC boat can be a big part of the enjoyment that you get out of the hobby. When you’re making upgrades to your boat, it’s best to make adjustments to one component at a time so that you can make a clear assessment of the benefits of the upgrade before you change something else in the system.
If you’re the kind of hobbyist who needs to have the best, you know that 85-knots (about 98mph) is the target that you’re shooting for. But even if your boat doesn’t reach those speeds, you can still have a lot of fun by making gradual progress from 25-knots (about 29mph) up to the maximum speed that you’re comfortable with.
For most people it makes sense to upgrade the battery first. In most cases, upgrading your battery will not only get you faster speeds but it will also increase the amount of time your boat can be on the water before needing recharged. Having an extra 30 minutes of fun per charge is well worth the investment and the extra speed is just a nice added bonus.
After you upgrade your battery then moving on to upgrade the other components makes the most sense. If you are interested in learning more about batteries and the best one to upgrade to you can read an article that I wrote all about batteries here