Chris Herzog. There’s a name that’s as known throughout the bayou as it is around the globe when it comes to RC Boating. I don’t know about ya’ll, but several things come to mind when it comes to RC boating and Chris’ name and they’re all good. We’re a lucky bunch to have guys like Chris around.
As most in the racing circle and sport boater world know this is not Chris’s first boat. We’re well familiar with the Hurricane and the beginnings of what I think will be one of the great line of products that Chris will bring to the RC Gas boating world throughout his involvement. At least we should hope so!
When I heard the rumblings that Chris was going to build a thunderboat class shovel, I was all eyes and ears. I was encouraged when he first displayed his rough plug and I could tell from his design he was going to try some new things. I have been a fan from the beginning yet my expectations were high, and the boat delivered for me. Most builders seemed to be favoring the drop sponson design, so I was pleased to see Chris do the full deck style.
I asked Chris to share with us some background of how this boat came to be and his inspiration.
In his own words:
1/8th Scale Hydros have always been some of my favorite boats to watch race. I’ve owned a couple and have run them a few times but that class never really caught on in my area. Years ago Carlo and I started racing the Gas Sport Hydros in LA, way back when there were very few people fooling around and running them. We had a blast and like the 1/8th scale boats they looked really good on the water. Unfortunately over the years people stopped painting them up and putting decals on them and I think it has hurt the class. I can’t tell you how excited I was when I saw the Thunderboats on the internet and then read about what was going on out west with NAMBA. I just knew that this class was going to take off so I started doing some research as to what hulls were available and who had what for sale. I quickly realized that no one had a glass hull on the market. Having already been down this road before with the Hurricane Mono, I bought three sets of 1/8th scale plans from Newton Marine of three very different type hulls and started playing in the shop. The result of three months working almost every night in the shop is the Herzog fiberglass Thunderboat. I had been looking at what other guys were doing all along seeing things here and there that I liked and didn’t like and I then tried to incorporate all the things that I liked in this one hull. To top it all off I built two additional cowls which now allows this hull to make four very different boats, you know, something for everyone.
There are so many new things to talk about with this whole rage over the Thunderboats. The vocabulary has expanded, all kinds of new areas to discuss and dissect. New products are being developed at breakneck speed, and that is a concern. It’s been my experience that fast isn’t always good when it comes to product development. That’s not a worry in the case of the Herzog Thunderboat.
The quality of this boat is on the upper scale of the industry. This is a purpose built boat, built to last. Chris did a lot with the woodwork on the inside of the boat. It features full length ¼” 5-ply marine grade plywood stringers tied into two main bulkheads and full width ¼” 5-ply marine grade plywood transom. All the plywood is glassed in full length on all the edges and all the wood was covered in resin. There are also lightening holes in strategic places in the ply. The boat is joined with a shoebox design and the joint is thicker than any I’ve seen which makes for an incredibly strong and durable joint. I think the joint on this boat will be one of its greatest strengths.
I received one of the first production boats so I expected it to be a little on the heavy side, but it wasn’t. The lay up is good and solid, the edges sharp and straight. The sponsons are one of the most important parts of the design when it comes to hydros. To produce the high level of precision required for optimum performance takes considerable skill and experience. Honestly I couldn’t want for anything more in fit and finish. Chris had the intention all along that the buyers of his boat would prep it and paint it and logo up like a previous racer or one of their own creation!
There are several hatch designs and you are encouraged to experiment! Part of the fun of a thunder boat is throwing your own ideas at it and making it unique to you. The idea of this class is to represent an era of boat racing that in it’s time was the racer they came to see! Open rear cockpit, forward engine and lots of horsepower! You can do a lot of things with the different hatches for the Herzog Thunder.
The hatch opening (8”X35”) is wide, lots of room for working inside. It’s easy to get around inside this hull for setup and building. I did do some sanding and shaping making space for the tuned pipe. I used a sanding drum on a Dremel and made quick work of what I needed to do. You must seal any sanded area with resin to waterproof it.
Of course everyone will do things a little differently. The way I did this build will vary from what you may want to do.
Thunderboat rules state that the pipe must be inside the hull and I chose to run it down the side. Getting it placed correctly took a 2” offset 90 degree header. I tried a 3” offset and it was too much, a 2” not really enough. Oddly enough a 2 ½” offset would have been perfecto! But a 2” 90 with a degree or two added gets it done.
To get that exhaust out of the transom, some method using silicone and aluminum tubing might be used. I received a transom exhaust outlet piece, milled by my good friend Ron Cook, that bolts to the transom. This piece makes exiting the exhaust out of the boat a breeze.
I used HTM style engine mounts and dropped the engine as low as the isolators allow. Chris designed in a dropped center section that runs the length of the front half of the boat. There’s plenty of clearance under the hatch for everything without cutting.
Installing the stuffing tube is typical fit and bend, cut and glass and glass again. I installed a piece of 11/32” and slipped the 5/16” inside of that and went double wall to the strut to give the tube some strength.
Any combination of good quality hardware will take care of the business end of propulsion and control. I selected mostly Speedmaster for the hardware in this build including the turn fin. I also used a modified strut from Rich Ballantine that I’ve waited for a special project to use. I setup basic controls using an RC Boatworks box and one of my favorites, a carbon fiber rudder push rod.
At this point we don’t know that it’s decided as an absolute what the very best hardware and setup is for the Herzog thunderboat. As is the case some times, more than one idea will work equally well once studied and tuned for that particular setup. Strut setting is for a flat ride measured at the bottom behind the sponsons and the transom and zero trim.
The hatches are a two piece design with a front and a rear. Chris has designed them to mix and match to create your own style and look. Starting to appear on the market are the scale engines to match the scale of the current Thunderboats. These are some “knock em’ off their feet” finishing touches that move the Thunderboat into scale status.
Securing the hatches requires planning. Any combination of push locks, pins and magnets can be used. There is plenty of flange and lip material to work with for any combination. I used a combination of aluminum tabs and rare earth magnets. Be careful playing with these super strong magnets, you will end up with blood blisters from pinched fingers! Ask me how I know!
This was an exciting, challenging and fun boat to build and it runs like a slot car on the water. It’s an impressive boat with lots of creativity built into it. You are only limited by your imagination!
Chris signs the transom plate and numbers each one...make sure yours is an original Chris Herzog Thunderboat!
Here are a few pictures of a Herzog Classic Thunderboat in action!
Here is a fine example of how beautiful the Herzog Thunderboat can be when all dressed up...this boat was built by Chris Herzog - Miss Slo-Mo-Shun V
The Herzog Classic Thunderboat is sold exclusively through CC Racing Engines. The hulls (as the one reviewed in this article) were initially being laid up by RC Boatworks, but a decision was made by Chris to change manufacturer. The hulls are now being laid up by Richie and Paul at Rico Boats in Florida. When we asked Chris about this change, here is what he had to say:
Both companies do a great job. The guys in FL have been more willing to work with my strict requests more so than Rigo (RC Boatworks) was. No changes have been made to the hulls, we are still using the original molds that my dad and I made. We are also currently working on a new label to go inside the hull.