AL’s Independence – New Hull Details and More

The biggest issue holding me back right now is what to do about the headrails and figurehead. I’m no carver, so I don’t foresee putting some grotesquely lumpy monstrosity below the bowsprit. I considered trying to dig up some existing figurine I could modify to put into place, but haven’t really come up with any good ideas for that. At least, not yet.

However, I did manage to add some more detail to the transom to make that more to my liking. I’ve shown this to others and most generally agree that the transom looks much better. Basically, all I did was to add some molded columns between the stern gallery lights using some boxwood strips.


The added transom detail can be seen from the side in the above photo. Also the next item to discuss, which is the quarterdeck railing.

This was a mental challenge more than a physical one. Actually building it was far easier than thinking about building it. I basically did a paper tracing of the caprail along the quarterdeck and used that as a guide for the shaping of the rail. For the rail itself, I wanted a molded shape so that there was a lower portion slightly narrower than the upper portion. I achieved this simply by making out of two separate layers of wood.

As I have been using pear wood throughout the build, it was easy enough to soak the wood and bend it to shape with the help of a little heat. I used my electric plank bender to steam the water in the strip and then gently shaped the piece by hand. I also used some plastic clamps that wouldn’t mar the existing work, and clamped the pieces right onto the bulwarks caprail until the pieces dried out, after which the two layers were glued together.

As you may notice, the stanchions have a bit of shape to them. I didn’t have much I could think to do to make these except to shape them by hand, one-by-one. But, there’s only a dozen of them, so once I got started, it didn’t take long to finish. I made a few extra just in case.

To mount these, I tried a method of simply marking the positions on the rail I just made, laid it down on top of the caprail and drilled them through so that the holes lined up. I’m not sure if I’d do this again because there was enough variation in positioning that the holes in the caprails weren’t perfectly centered. So, I had to end up re-drilling some. It wasn’t too much of a problem as the bottom of the stanchions were large enough to cover any small error.

To fix the stanchions in place, I used 1/32″ brass rod for strength. The brass shows through the top of the rail, but I figure that when the brass tarnishes, it will turn brown and then won’t stand out much. Plus, I could help it along a little with some Brass Brown or Blacken-It.

Mounting the Cannons

The question about how I wanted to fix the cannons to the deck was easy, as I’d been thinking about this for some time. Commonly, the deck guns are glued down to the deck. But, the only part of the cannon carriage that makes contact with the deck are the trucks, or wheels. This means the glue either shows, or the mounting is a bit weak. If weak, an accidental nudge of the barrel can knock the whole assembly loose. So, I decided to pin them into place.

I considered adding a pin to a pair of the trucks, but thought it would be simpler to use a small piece of brass rod through the front axle. Because this is well under the carriage, it should be pretty well invisible. I drilled corresponding holes in the deck and it looks like that will work fine when I come to permanently installing them, which I will do a little later on.



Masting and Rigging

I haven’t done too much more along this line, though I did experiment with using pre-cast bullseyes in the futtock shrouds. However, I never liked how they looked. They were too large, plus they had to be painted on a model that is otherwise pretty well devoid of paint, and just never seemed quite right. So, I’m going back to the simple wire futtock shrouds that I had started with.

Meanwhile, I did take care of rigging the footropes on the yards. It might be questionable as to whether footropes were actually needed on the yards of a small topsail schooner of the period. But, Harold Hahn put them on his Colonial Schooner models, so that’s good enough for me!

I used .015″ line for the footropes and stirrups. I pre-made the stirrups, tying the bottom of the stirrups around a sewing pin to form the hole for the footrope. While I try to avoid its use elsewhere in rigging, I used a tiny dab of thin CA to harden the loop. When dry, the pin pops loose without much effort and leaves a nice small hole, which is easy to thread the footrope through.

DSC04131 DSC04132

It might not be correct, but for the upper yards, they seemed small enough that I didn’t put stirrups on them, so just put them on the lower yards.

The next thing I’m working on, besides fixing the futtock shrouds, is to find the rigging line to use that I’m going to be happy with on this model. I have some different kinds of line on-hand, but I’m not really happy with any of it. I think on this model, I want to use model rope that looks right. I’ve been figuring I’d have to make my own, which I’ve done in the past, but if I do that, then it’s time for me to make a new motorized ropewalk. I’ve done some rope making by hand in the past, but I don’t want to do that any more. I have the plans for a very nice setup that was drawn up by ship modeler Jerry Blair, and I have all the parts necessary.

But, that’s yet another project and I’m feeling a bit lazy. So, I’m considering finding the guy who sells the stuff called MoRope. It’s expensive, but looks really good. I inherited some of what I believe is MoRope and it looks awesome, but I’ve never tried working with it. It would be much easier to get model rope from Syren Ship Model Company, which looks really good. But, I tend do notice thinks like z-layed versus s-layed rope, most rope being z-layed, while Syren’s is all s-layed.

Aside from that, I still have to figure out what to do about the figurehead. Also, there is a question as to whether I’m going to add sails. I’ve gone back and forth on this. Initially, the idea was to have furled sails. Then, it was going to have no sails. But now I’m thinking about full sails, especially after I recently picked up my model of the privateer Lively from the shop it was in. The sails looked really good the way I had done them. So, I’m thinking again about doing a set for the Colonial Schooner.


Sails on my scratch-built privateer Lively.

I don’t have to decide on the sails quite yet, but I’m getting awfully close. While I contemplate some of these questions, I’ll be moving forward by making some more cleats. I actually recently started this process and made a batch. Then, I discovered new laser-cut cleats being produced in a sheet by Syren Ship Model Company. These look really good on Syren’s website, so I ordered some to check out. I’ll post some info about those soon.









3 thoughts on “AL’s Independence – New Hull Details and More

  1. catopower Post author

    Hi Dave, glad you have been enjoying the blog.

    I’m a little nervous about inspiring you to buy the kit. I like Artesania Latina kits because I’ve found that they go together very well. Beginners can build them, unmodified, while more experience modelers can make a lot of changes to the wood, the fittings, rigging, etc. I think this is my fourth Artesania Latina kit.

    I myself have changed just about EVERYTHING on the Independence, so I really hope you’re not disappointed by the kit not being like my model.


  2. David Blake

    Hi Clare! I plan to heavily bash the kit as you are doing. I took this approach with my Armed Virginia Sloop and AL’s “Swift”. Much of the kit wood was replaced with better hardwooods (boxwood, swiss pear, bloodwood, holly, cherry, rosewood etc.). Lots of added details not in the kits. Your mods are what I’m interested in doing. Here are links to my build logs at MSW:



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