Monthly Archives: October 2013

The 18th Century English Longboat Kit – A Kit Overview

Before I get into the construction of my longboat model, I’d like to talk a little about the kit itself. The kit was designed by master modeler Chuck Passaro, who has designed I believe four other kits for the ship model kit manufacturer Model Shipways.


Photo of Chuck Passaro’s prototype model.

The 18th Century English Longboat kit is a very tiny model of an open boat – the type of boat that would have been carried aboard large sailing ships of the period. The model is of a 26 foot long boat circa 1750-1760 and is based on contemporary models found in England’s National Maritime Museum.

Fully rigged and at a scale of 1/4″ = 1′, the model is just under 12″ long and 9″ high. The hull itself is only a tad over 6-1/2″ long. At this size, it is not a beginner’s model. I would say it’s best as a model built by an intermediate or advanced modeler who wants a small project to work on, maybe as a distraction from large sailing ship models. That doesn’t mean that a determined beginner can’t build it. It’s just that I think a larger model will probably give a beginner better results.

Construction of the kit is all basswood with laser cut frames and other major parts. Plenty of extra wood, wire and brass strip is provided in the kit, so there is a lot of room for errors with plenty of stuff to spare. The only thing that I found a rather bare minimum is that there are four very tiny belaying pins and all of them are needed, so don’t lose one. Of course, if you do, Model Expo is good about replacing them.

The instructions are great. Model Shipways has a tendency to change their printed formats over time, but when I got mine, the book was 19 pages and printed in color. I don’t know if the current version is in color, but the downloadable pdf version available from their website is only black and white.

There are a couple sheets of plans in the kit, one of them in color. The boat’s decorative friezes are simulated with the use of color printed paper that you cut to fit the model. The one issue I ran into is that the printed artwork was too big for the model. Perhaps this has been fixed since the initial kits went out, but mine and others I know were off by 10% or so. But, fortunately, the kit designer, Chuck Passaro, was ready to assist on the website Model Ship World where he is an administrator. He can be found there and has posted downloadable pdf versions of the artwork that you can resize and print on your own printer.

The most difficult part of construction is the planking. The planks are thin 1/32″ basswood that has to be bent as well as edge-bent to fit into place. That’s not easy with basswood this thin as it has a tendency to kink and buckle. The wood requires soaking, heating and lots of patience to fit. Then, working with the masting and rigging on a model this small takes a steady hand and more patience.

But, all in all, I found that this was a really nice kit. Initially, I thought it was only okay, but as I got farther along, I started to feel better about the model and really began to love this little kit. Ω


18th Century English Longboat by Model Shipways, Part 1

With all the projects I work on, progress in any one of them can be a bit slow. Every now and then I start to get antsy to finish something. This is one of those times, so I decided to finish up my 18th Century English Longboat. I’ve had this small 1:48-scale model (1/4″=1′) project since about January of 2012. Though I’ve primarily worked on scratch projects over the last few years, I decided to pick up the kit as something straight forward to build, something that didn’t require lots of research or decision making – just something to work on when I didn’t feel like working on something else.


Over the course of almost two years I worked on the model here and there and pretty well finished up the hull. After the recent ship model display at the Good Sam Showcase of Miniatures, where the model was displayed “in progress”, I decided the model was close enough to being done that I would go into high gear on it and finish it up. I hope to finish it up in the next week or two and will post more about it as I go.

Good Sam Showcase of Miniatures

While this event has already come and gone, I thought I should make a mention of this annual event that takes place this time every year in San Jose, CA. This is a big showing of vendors, primarily serving the doll house miniatures enthusiasts, of which there are apparently many.

IMG_0009 IMG_0014

Every year, one of the members of the South Bay Model Shipwrights club is invited to display a couple of his models. This year, there was more room, so the club was asked to participate. Three large and three small models were provided by club members, giving some great public exposure to ship modeling. I participated with two models, my Mary Taylor model and my in-progress 18th Century English Longboat model based on a kit from Model Shipways.


IMG_0023 IMG_0024 IMG_0025 IMG_0018

In addition to the models, the club provided a human presence to answer questions about the models and about ship modeling in general. It was a two day event and it was fun to work a shift meeting people who were interested in knowing more about the models.

I worked a few hours one day and discovered that a couple of the vendors were ship modelers. One of them, Steve Goode, has a mail order wood supply business that I’ve used many times in the past. I forgot that he was a friend of ship modeler Lloyd Warner, who also used to sell milled woods for ship modelers and still sells linen rigging line and some of the best rigging blocks available.

I’d never met Steve Goode, so it was nice to finally get a chance to meet him in person. I looked as his sample of wood again and realized that his is about the best modeling wood available. As he put it, he is more concerned with quality rather than price. So, his stuff is a bit pricier, but the quality is top notch. I’ve included his contact info on my Resources page in the menu above.

In any case, I’m looking forward to participating in this event again next year.

October Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights Meeting Update

Well, the government was back in business in time for the Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights to meet up… But then the BART strike began. Since people didn’t want to face additional traffic that would result, we still didn’t end up meeting.

But, in any case, I’m sure there will be people in the workshop on Saturday mornings now. And, hopefully all will be okay for the November meeting.

Government Shutdown – October Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights Meeting Cancelled

With the U.S. government shutdown, many people are feeling the effects, many good people are just left in limbo while congress can’t agree to fund the government. For myself, the first direct impact, as minor as it may be, is that our ship model meeting on Saturday had to be cancelled. Our meetings normally take place in our workshop which is on national park property. That’s not that terrible as we could always find another location to meet. But, the worst part is that we are barred from entering the park to get to our stuff in the workshop.

Luckily for me, I don’t really have much I keep there. Also, I have all the tools I need at home, so I really don’t need to use the shop. But, some of our members are working primarily on projects in the shop and also have their model there as well. So, until things get worked out in Washington, we’re stuck.

Hopefully, things will get worked out soon.