AL’s Independence – More Hull Details

Just dawned on me that I should be writing about this model today being that it’s Independence Day here in the USA, so first off:

Happy Independence Day!

And if you don’t celebrate American Independence, well, you can celebrate that I’m finally posting some information about my colonial schooner Independence build!

The first item of major importance is the fact that I’ve finally added scrollwork to the beakhead. Not being too great at carving, I found an adequate substitute in the form of sculpted polymer clay – I used the brand called Sculpey. The clay was rolled very thin and shaped to fit the area of the beakhead. It was then baked in the oven according to the instructions, cooled and then glued into place.

Baked Sculpey isn’t stiff unless you bake it too long. It retains a bit of pliability allowing you to bend it to fit. It can also be cut and carved to take away it’s natural roundness. The particular stuff I used was called Super Sculpey, which comes in many different colors and can be blended together as needed. I played around with a mix until I got something that was close to the color of the boxwood on the model.



The next step at the bow will be to add the head rails, which doesn’t seem as daunting a task now that the scrollwork is done.

Progress was also made at the stern of the ship with new moldings laid in between the gallery lights. To do this I used boxwood strips and made a new scraper, which I’ve learned is pretty easy to do. To make the scraper, I simply took an old single-edged razor blade and use a Dremel with a cut-off wheel inserted, then just ground out a rounded “W” shape in it. The sharp point in the middle cuts a nice line in the center of the molding as the rounded shape rounds-out the beads on either side. You can see the results below.



As you can see, I also added the preventer chains on the rudder. These kind of hang low and I considered pinning them up under the counter so they wouldn’t hang down so far, but it would have limited rudder movement, so I decided to leave it alone.

I completed the quarter gallery rails some time ago, but didn’t post a picture since then, so I’ll do that here. But, I’ve since also cleaned up the hull and given it a final coat of natural finish Watco Danish Wood Oil. This brings out the final color of the model. In particular, the accent strip of Peruvian walnut below the quarterdeck rail now show a nice contrast with the rest of the hull.




From the above image, you can also see that the cannons are now fixed into place. I have yet to add the gun tackle, but the breech ropes have been added and the cannons are permanently fixed in place now.

For the breech ropes, I had been planning to get my rope walk together by now, but I’m still looking for a few parts. My ropewalk is based on plans drawn up by ship modeler Jerry Blair maybe 10 years ago. I’ll write about that whole project at another time. In the meantime, I decided to go with quality model rope. I ordered a selection from Syren Ship Model Company and finally got around to ordering some European made Morope.

I won’t go into a lot of detail on the two. Both are very nice. Syren’s product only comes in S-laid or left-handed twist. Morope is easiest to get in Z-laid or right-handed twist. Though Morope is available with left-handed twist, the order form warns that it may not be in stock and can take a while to get. No matter, most rope is right-hand laid, so I decided to go with the Morope this time except where left-hand twist is called for. Hopefully, different types of material won’t be too much of a problem.

Now, getting back to the cannon breech ropes, those are S-laid, so I used Syren’s rigging line for that and it looks really darned nice on the model. Real turned rope looks so much better than most of the stuff put out by the kit manufacturers.

IMG_1179 IMG_1180

For the lashings at the end ends of the ropes, I decided to go for art over authenticity. I chose to use thin black thread, which normally would represent tarred rope. That would have only been done if the lashings were intended to be permanent, which they were not. For this model, it just adds some visual accent.

I was recently part of a discussing on tackle blocks for cannons. It seems that the number of sheaves in the blocks was dependent on the size of the cannon. Larger cannon might have a single block and a double block. But, the guns on the Independence are small, 4 pdrs, so they probably would have used a pair of single blocks for the tackles.

For that, I’m using Swiss pear blocks from Syren Ship Model Company (note that these are no longer offered for sale). More on this later. For now, I’ll end this with a side profile photo of the Independence as she looks now.



And once again,

Happy Independence Day!

4 thoughts on “AL’s Independence – More Hull Details

  1. Dr. Bob Gordon

    Hey Al….thanks for posting. I’m new to ship modeling, but I’m a rather experienced wood worker and wood carver. I am doing the Independence, and I am just getting started and the deck planking has no number to follow in this kit. Lots of planking, but don’t know which stack to use. Any ideas. Your work looks great and I will follow some of it if you don’t mind. Dr. Bob Gordon My e-mail is

    1. catopower Post author

      Hi Dr. Bob Gordon, welcome to ship modeling. It’s not easy and you’ll find that you’re expected to do a lot of interpreting from plans. Few kits are going to guide you through builds. I think in wood there are just too many variables.

      By the way, my name isn’t Al, it’s Clare. AL’s Independence is short for Artesania Latina’s Independence. I should probably clarify that from time to time since I think that description only appears in the initial post.

      Hope you enjoy the hobby!


      1. Dr. Bob Gordon

        Sorry Clare….I was going by the internet reference. I think I found out how to start the deck planking. Not an easy task….but if I wanted easy, I would have bought a plastic model. I know the intricacies of wood very well as I am an avid wood worker and carver. You are right….the instructions are very vague in these kits….but I have start somewhere to learn how to put these things together. Probably will do another one before I attempt to build one from scratch. Anyway, thanks for returning my e-mail. Dr. Bob

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