As long ago as 7 years (think way back) the ready-to-run
boat scene was limited to a handful of quality hulls. The rest
of them were nothing more than ABS-constructed, 540-powered pool
toys. In order to be competitive, or at least break the 25
mph barrier, you had to build a quality boat. This could involve
anything from purchasing running gear to glassing a hull built
from a box of wood.
In recent years new breeds of ready-to-run boats have charged
the scene and the leader of this high-performance flotilla has
to be Proboat. Sporting more vessels than a Chinese fishing village,
Proboat covers the spread with everything from sailboats to offshore
cats to super-fast hydroplanes. This brings me to ask you one
question: What's your weapon of choice? For me, the Formula
Hydro RTR was a perfect fit.
The 1/12th scale hydroplane is nothing new to Proboat, yet the
Formula Hydro has been outfitted with a larger .18 engine, improved
propeller and a redesigned hull in comparison to its predecessors,
which enhances the owner's overall experience. With a top speed
over 30 mph, I'd say mission accomplished.
During the course of the review, I treated this boat as a newbie
would, making common rookie-like mistakes in an attempt to break it
of it's prowess. That proved to be a tougher task than I expected
as the Formula Hydro took quite a little beating and still ran
strong. Even though it has a few faults, it's still a top notch
RTR boat. Now without further ado I give to you the Proboat
Formula Hydro 1/18th Scale RTR Price: $299.99 retail price Length: 26" Beam: 8.3" Engine: Dynamite .18 marine engine with tuned pipe Receiver battery used: 4 AA batteries Radio equipment: (Included) 2-channel 27MHZ AM, receiver,
throttle servo, steering servo
Flat head Screwdriver
battery pack for the hand held starter
Battery Pack (Receiver)
water pickup, prop, and strut
The Formula Hydro comes packaged very well with
styrofoam and cardboard used to keep the bright red hull safe
during shipping. It arrived without a dent, scratch, or so much
as a fingerprint on the hull. Upon initial inspection you'll
find a well built fiberglass-composite hull with no signs of thin
spots, which was a problem that seemed to plague previous 1/12th
scale Proboat hydroplane hulls.
The first thing you see when you open the hatch is the new Proboat
Dynamite .18 marine engine. This engine is an update from previous
.15 sized marine engines and sports a Sullivan Tiger Drive starting
system and hand-held starter. The .18 has the standard water-cooled
head found on other models and does an excellent job of keeping
temperatures down. One item worth noting about the water-cooled
head; if you remove the head, make sure to leave the 4 screws
in the head. If you remove them the rubber o-rings can shift
causing a break in the seal and water to flood the hull when underway.
If this happens, just pull the head apart and re-align the o-rings
with the screw holes and sandwich the head back together. The
motor sits in a metal cradle attached to the hull by 4 rubber
mounts. It does a good job of reducing most vibrations but does
not eliminate them. I didn't think the vibrations were excessive
by any means.
Moving aft (that's rear for all you land-lubbers) we see Proboat
has given the Formula a flex shaft which attaches to the engine
via the collet. Make sure you remove the flex shaft and grease
it after every 2 hours of run time. Doing so will ensure a long
life for the shaft. Depriving it of grease will kill it, and I
know your not that type of person. The shaft exits through the
hull and meets the strut at the ferrule. The ferrule attaches
the flex shaft to the prop shaft which extends through the strut
to the drive dog, which holds the propeller to the prop shaft.
There, now that we've covered that little bit of nautical knowledge,
lets move on. But in case you got lost, it's all explained with
pictures in the Proboat manual!
The strut is a fixed design, which
was a little disappointing. Considering the growing popularity of stock racing classes, it only makes sense to give the racer
a means of adjusting the depth and angle of the prop for fine
tuning. Fortunately, there are a few aftermarket struts that are
a direct fit for the Proboat 1/12th scale hydroplane. At the end
of the boat is the composite 2-blade prop and is an update from
the original Octura Y534 plastic propeller. Proboat claims it's
more durable then it's predecessor and I will agree with that
statement, but I did break one during the review. Luckily, Proboat
includes a replacement prop just for such an occasion. The stock
prop provides great speed and acceleration, but if you decide
to upgrade to a metal propeller, I suggest the Octura Y535. The
result will be a noticeably quicker boat with a higher top speed.
.18 with Sullivan Tiger Drive
Fuel delivery onboard the Formula Hydro consists of a plastic tank located
in the nose of the boat. The pressure line exits from the header
and enters the center of the top of the tank. The cap screws on
and remained tight throughout the review. Aside from a low speed
needle that's a little hard to reach, I experienced no problems
with the fuel system. Fuel consumption is decent with run times
over 10 minutes noted when tuned for performance and I always
seemed to bring the boat in way before running out of gas, just
to take a deep breath!
The turn fin and rudder on the Formula are worth noting; they
have been sharpened just shy of your favorite steak knife and
they cut down on induced drag through the water. The turn fin
hooked well and allowed for full throttle right-handed turns with
no risk of flipping. I experienced no issues with their performance
throughout the review. If I were to upgrade, I would opt for a
break-away rudder and turn fin just incase your hydroplane kisses
a turtle shell at 30 mph.
The cooling system works well as I expected it to; water is picked
up on the transom and is pushed through the hull to the head and
is expelled out the left side of the hull. The water discharge
hole is nothing more than a rubber grommet with the tube sticking
through. Be careful not to accidentally push the tube into the
hull because it only sticks out 1/16th of an inch. Also, when
running the Formula, make sure there is a steady stream of water
being expelled from the tube. This will guarantee a cool running
Proboat has included with the Formula Hydro a 2 channel AM radio
on a frequency of 27mhz. The radio looks sleek with the antenna
at the front of the case and ergonomically felt good in my hands.
The flush trim knobs were a little bit of a pain to adjust while
underway because I had to rest my thumb on the knob and rotate
my whole hand to turn it. Again, pretty easy to do when at the
dock but it can be a bit tricky when running laps. There is also
a battery level indicator in the form of 3 LEDs which is always
good to have on a controller. The radio box seems to be one area
that needs a little work; the rubber boots for the push rods can
leak water, the servo tray was loose, and the plastic lid was
only taped on the sides. Addressing the servo tray, when the throttle
is pulled, the torque of the servo moves the tray forward enough
to turn the rudder slightly. This means you must trim the boat
at full throttle for it to run straight. My other complaint is
the plastic lid. It is held on by two strips of tape on either
side. You must remove the lid to install the batteries in the
receiver as outlined in the manual, so why not include some tape
to reseal it? The manual does give you a part number so you can
order tape to complete the prep work, but luckily I had some packing
tape to fully seal the lid. I feel Proboat should include a roll
of tape (part number ABC53009) for your convenience.
The receiver and servos included with the Formula Hydro functioned
flawlessly. The steering servo is quick enough to keep you one
step in front of the boat; this is good because positive control
is key to having a good time. The throttle servo also operated
as expected. Battery drain is minimal and I am still on my original
batteries after a few weeks of average use.
2 channel radio
box w/ cover removed
The engine is set from the factory for break-in which is very rich. I had to
lean it out 1/4 of a turn to prevent the motor from hydro locking.
The boat was broken in on a bench with water being fed to the
pick-up tube. I installed a valve on the tube to control the flow
of water. The engine was heat-cycled at high-idle with short blips
of the throttle used to clean it out. As the engine approached
200 degrees, I opened the valve to allow water to the engine.
As the temperature dropped to near 130 degrees, I closed the valve
to allow the engine to heat back up. This method was repeated
for 4 tanks and then it was off to the river to tune it for performance.
Please note the Proboat manual included with the Formula suggests
you break-in the boat at the lake and unless your are comfortable
with the bench method, take her to the water for break-in.
I arrived at the Chattahooche River
around 5:30 pm. There was a nice breeze out of the East which
resulted in a direct headwind, and the river current flowed at
3 mph which meant my upstream pass would be against the current
and the wind. I brought my kayak along for retrieval purposes
and after carrying everything to the shore, readied the boat for
her maiden voyage. This included a range check and a double check
of servo throws.
The .18 engine included with the formula is honestly the easiest
starting engine I've ever had. I attached the starter to the Tiger
Drive and before I realized I had pushed the button, the engine
was already purring at idle. After securing the hatch with the
two knurled aluminum nuts, I let the motor warm up for about 30
seconds, scanned the river for any ducks, and gave the Formula
Hydro a toss into the water. What happened next was no surprise,
the Formula instantly planed out and rocketed away from me in
a cloak of rooster tail so fast, that I almost forgot to turn
right! Regaining my composure, I began setting up an imaginary
track by running a few laps and following in the previous laps
wake. You will soon learn through trial and error where the sweet
spot is on the high-speed needle. If you are too lean, the boat
will run strong for a few seconds and then begin to slow as the
engine starves for fuel; this is called a lean bog. Bring it in
and adjust the needle in 1-hour increments until it runs strong
and puts out a fine line of exhaust at high rpm.
The hydro carries a lot of speed with the new .18 engine, getting
airborne ever so often but always settling back down onto the
sponsons. I'm unsure if the new hull design, in which the rear
"winglets" have been removed, presents any real improvement
in handling but it does turn very well and holds it's line in
the straights so it's safe to say that no performance was lost
due to the hull change. The Formula throws out a 3-foot rooster
tail that definitely attracts attention, just in case the sound
of the screaming engine doesn't! I felt at times that some park
patrons were a little annoyed by the sound of my little red nitro
boat running wide open at the river's edge. That feeling disappeared
when a couple brought their 4 year old son over and asked if I
would run it again.
Running a race track pattern is what the Formula Hydro does best,
and a clockwise pattern should be observed at all times. If you
turn left too quick, the Formula will flip like Mary Lou Retton!
When you do make the correct right-hand turn, you will see that
the Formula Hydro can take them wide open without shedding a lot
of speed. If you really tighten the turn, the propeller may slip
so keep the turn sharp, but not too sharp; you'll soon get the
feel for what the hydro can and can't do.
After burning a few tanks of fuel and seeing what the hydro was
capable of, I put the controller into the hands of my girlfriend,
and instantly began biting my nails! She has never piloted an
rc boat, much less a nitro hydroplane although she does have a
little time with my nitro trucks. She surprised me with full speed
laps right from the beginning and control like she had done it
before, no coaching required!
Overall, running the Formula Hydro has been great fun. It speeds
along at or above 30 mph and corners like a on-road car with foam
tires. The motor has performed above expectations, and that's
on 20% nitro. I look forward to increasing the percentage for
even more performance. Since the review, I have added a sharpened
and balanced Octura Y535 prop with a noticeable increase in top
is the leader in ready-to-run boats for many reasons; they're
boats are affordable, they require little-to-nothing to get on
the water, and customer service is top notch. The Formula Hydro
is the latest example of Proboat's dedication to bringing you
quality without breaking the bank. Although I found a few flaws
with the radio box, I feel they can be solved in the factory by
securing the servo tray better and including tape to secure the
plastic cover. Other than that, the Formula Hydro is the perfect
boat for the beginner, novice, or professional rc boater and promises
to keep you on your toes with high speeds and sharp turns. Thanks,
Proboat, for another great hull!
Hobby 4105 Fieldstone Rd.
Champaign, IL 61822
Support Phone: (877) 504-0233
Web Site: www.dynamiterc.com
The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.