Monthly Archives: October 2016

Buying the Tosa Wasen Kit


If you’re looking to buy the kit, there is good news! There is a faster, less expensive method than trying to get it through Amazon-Japan where I got mine. I found out that manufacturer will sell direct to the USA for a very good price. To buy from the manufacturer,  send an email to the company: For buyers from other countries. I don’t know what his policy is, but you can always ask.


Price for the kit is 13,000 Yen. Shipping is via EMS (A Chinese Express Mail Service that ends with a USPS delivery) for 2,400 Yen. Payment has to be via Paypal, sending to the email address above.

This is a really good price. Makes the whole thing with express shipping only about $150. I went ahead and ordered a second kit.

The only thing that I’m not so sure about is that the kit is shipped in its own box, but wrapped with a bubblewrap bag. It’s a long box, so it seems like it would be easy to bend in half. But, I received the first kit this way and it was delivered just fine. Then again, I generally have good experiences with the US Postal Service here.

It looks like I might have been their first international sale of this kit, as the owner posted a picture of the kit shipping out to the USA on their Facebook page.

When you order one, please feel free to mention where you heard about it. Ω

Amati Swedish Gunboat Build – Part I

While I haven’t really considered this among my list of current builds, I am continuing this project for our local build group project. There are still 5 of us, each working on his own model. We last got together back in late August, and I have hardly touched it, hoping that those who are a behind will have some time to get caught up.

Here are some photos showing the early progress on my model.

This kit’s hull is supposed to be single-planked using 1mm beech wood. This seemed awfully thin for a single planking layer, so we decided to use some balsa filler blocks to fill in between the frames. This worked out quite nicely. I think it was the first time any of us tried the technique.

One of the first things I did was to cut away the exposed portion of the strongback/keel. My original plan was to glue down a narrow strip of wood along the keel and then fashion a stem post and keel and attach it into place, forming a natural rabbet.


The deck sheet was used to aid in the alignment of the bulwarks. At this stage the hull filler was completed and filed to shape along with the bulkheads.


There was a slight droop in the deck sheet on one side, so I used a piece of scrap glued in place to provide support.


Before planking started, I used the top deck sheet to help in shaping the bulkhead tops so that the sheet would lay in a nice fair curve. I also used this to help align the upper hull planks.


The hull planking is beech wood, which bends nicely with a little soaking and heat. I decided somewhere along the line to forgo adding the keel at this stage. I added the narrow strip along the line of the keel, and just
butted the planking up against it, figuring I’d add a keel afterwards.img_0805

After adding a few planks on each side, I then added the deck planking and the lining of the bulkheads at each end of the deck. To simulate caulking, I edged the deck planking in pencil, which I also did with the hull planking.


I could have actually waited until a later stage to plank the deck, but I always enjoy deck planking, and wanted to make some headway before getting back to the hull planking.


Previous post on the Swedish Gunboat build: Swedish Gunboat Group Build

Finishing Up the Year

My Japan trip and the NRG conference have together taken about 2 months of my time this year, what with the events themselves, plus all the planning, re-planning, and preparations. So, with the trip and the conference behind me, it’s now time to look at where I’m at on everything.

Higaki Kaisen Article

The first thing I needed to get back to is my article on building Woody Joe’s Higaki Kaisen kit that I’m working on for Seaways’ Ships in Scale. I just went through and made a set of additions and corrections that I’ve been working on. And today, I’ve finished working out what photos I’m including and my recommended placement within the article. I don’t know where they’ll actually appear – that’s up to the editors. But, I can make suggestions.

I still have to write my captions for them, but that’s about it. Then, I’ll make one last set of formatting corrections – I’m told that foreign words should be italicized. I’ve been reluctant to do that because when you’re writing about a model of a Japanese ship manufactured by a Japanese model manufacturer, that’s an awful lot of italicized words. To me, it’s a bit distracting. We’ll see what happens when I get to that final stage.

One thing I didn’t do this time around is to add a bunch of phonetic pronunciation the way I did with past articles. It seemed too much this time. But, after talking with people at the NRG Conference and hearing some people struggle with pronunciation, maybe I’ll include some of the words phonetically spelled out in table form.

HMS Alert Article

My next writing project really should be a write up on building the paper model kit of the cutter HMS Alert. I was reminded of the potential interest in this at the NRG Conference. One very experienced ship modeler that I have a lot of respect for had enthusiastically pointed out my model to others. He has expressed an interest in building the model himself, which is the best complement on my model that I can think of.

The Nautical Research Journal also just included an article on the building of a Dutch ship from paper, and I know that was because of the editor’s interest in the subject.

I’m not sure if I’ll target an article for the Journal or for Ships in Scale yet. If I do something simple, it would be nice to have another article in the Journal. But, seeing as how I’d really like to see more people building these wonderful kits from Poland, I have an interest in Ships in Scales larger circulation.

Hacchoro Build Article

The final article in my list is one on building variants of Woody Joe’s Hacchoro kit. Having visited the two replica Hacchoro in Japan last month, I have a strong incentive to do this. It will be a bit more involved than the Alert article though, as I haven’t built a variant yet. However, I did purchase another Hacchoro kit to use, and maybe I will purchase a second one.

I will have to build them and take lots of photos if I’m going to write about them. But, the kit is very easy to build, and the modifications I’d make should be pretty straight forward.

I may not actually do anything on this until after the first of the year. Certainly, I won’t start on it until after I complete my HMS Alert article.

HMS Victory Commission

Of course, while all this is going on, I need to put most of my effort into working on the HMS Victory. If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve probably seen this brought up from time to time. I’m now at the stage where I’m trying to finish up the planking using boxwood that I milled from a large board I purchased a couple years ago.

The gun ports gave me a run for my money. But, I finished those months ago and have been planking ever since. I’ve now planked around the upper and middle gun decks and hope to finish planking around the lower gun deck this weekend. Then, once I get down to the waterline, it will be smooth sailing, as the hull will be coppered below.

I’m really looking forward to getting the planking done, so I can finish the stern galleries. Then, once I get the headrails done and the bottom coppered, I can mount the hull, at least temporarily, and focus on the upper works, get the guns mounted on the upper gun deck and get the forecastle deck in place. Lots of work yet!


My side project when there’s time is to work on the Urayasu Bekabune and get a scratch model built. It’s a very simple boat, but building one from scratch is a whole new experience for me. I took my work in progress to the NRG conference, where I showed people what I’m doing with it. But, it would be nice to be able to add that to one of my Japanese boat models displays in San Francisco’s Japantown.

Last week, I was in Berkeley and stopped in at the Japanese tool store Hida Tools. I’ve been wanting to expand my selection of small carving chisels and bought three of them. I can only afford the cheapest ones, which are actually pretty nice and just under $8 each.

Japanese Boat Models Display

Speaking of which, the next scheduled display runs from November 1 through November 30. Because I have so much going on right now, I will probably only include the same models as last time. I might not even include the Japanese boat workshop, since I took the boat out of it to work on. I wanted to make some new folding stands so I can increase the number of models displayed and also be able to carry everything in my car in one trip. But, we’ll have to see how that goes as the display starts in just over 2 weeks.

I’d planned to print up some announcement cards like I did last time. But, being so close after the NRG Conference and all, I think I’ll scrap that idea and just get the display up. Maybe next time, I’ll get more elaborate with the set up and the announcements.

So, that’s it for now. Stay tuned to find out what changes and what I end up working on instead! Ω

Woody Joe Kits are Back at Zootoyz

Those of you who are interested in kits from the Japanese manufacturer, Woody Joe, will be happy to hear that after more than a year, Zootoyz is now carrying Woody Joe kits once again. I received word from Zootoyz owner Kazunori Morikawa on Sunday. The purchase links for Woody Joe kits on his website,, are now active again.

Japan's Online Hobby Dealer

He just made the announcement, so it may take a little time to make some corrections to the site, as there are several new Woody Joe kits that aren’t listed yet, like the new Kitamaesen, and the I400 submarine, etc. There are also some old items that may be no longer available that are still listed on the site. Finally, it looks like the exchange rate calculator may need to be updated, as the prices are off slightly.

So, give him a little time to fix things up on the site. But, if you really want to order something, I recommend just sending him an email about it, and he can give you the correct purchase info.

NRG Conference Follow-Up

It’s now Saturday evening and the NRG Conference is essentially over. I’m now just waiting for the annual banquet. This year was at San Diego and this was the first year that I was one of the featured speakers and had my own sessions at the roundtable discussions. I feel vastly under qualified, but people were very kind and many stopped me to say that they really enjoyed my talk or my discussion session.

Because boatbuilder Douglas Brooks was my presentation partner, I did benefit greatly from the association, and feel very fortunate for the opportunity. Douglas Brooks has been studying actual Japanese boatbuilding through several apprenticeships in Japan and is also an accomplished American boat builder. He’s also an excellent speaker. We gave a combined talk on Japanese wooden boatbuilding and model building, my portion being on model building. As my portion of the talk followed his, I can tell you that he’s such a good speaker that it was very hard to follow him.

I would have been nervous anyway, not being a skilled speaker. But, my part of the 50-minute talk was short – only about 15 minutes. So, it couldn’t go too wrong anyway, and then it was done.

For the roundtable sessions, I bought the Urayasu Bekabune model I’ve been working on, along with notes, jigs and tools I’ve been using. I also brought a couple Japanese kits I had, so I could give people a first-hand look at what these kits are like.

There were supposed to be 5 roundtable sessions, and each presenter was supposed to get a break and skip one of the sessions. However, not having done this before, I had no idea how I was going to find out which session I was going to skip, and by the time I figured it out, that session had already passed. So, I pretty much talked for 2-1/2 hours straight. It wasn’t so bad, though, and I worked hard to repeat my presentation as completely as possible 5 times.


Vendors and Models

As I mentioned, there wasn’t much activity in the vendor room, but there were vendors, and there were models, models and more models. I’m told there were about 50 in all. Some people had indicated that it was the largest number of models they’d seen at an NRG conference. I personally had three on display. I signed up to bring a fourth, but then discovered I couldn’t fit them all in my car.

img_3051 img_3052 img_3054 img_3064 img_3085

The vendors this year included Train Troll, with some neat new laser-cut kits and parts; Sherline, which showed off their lathe and mill; Douglas Brooks, who was selling signed copies of his book on Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding; BlueJacket, with a selection of their newest kit releases; and Ages of Sail, which not only set up three tables of ship model kits and fittings, but also set up a couple tables and a tool rack for Model Craft Tools.


Conference Glitches

At this point, I’m really tired. The conference was good, but there were some glitches, and I felt really bad for the vendors who spent a lot of money, time, and effort to come and support the conference. There was a problem in that the vendor room, and all the models on display, were on the 5th floor of the hotel, and all the discussions, lunches, presentations, meeting, were down on the first floor, past the lobby and the bar/restaurant area.

In past conferences, in between presentations and talks, there were short breaks. Not long, but long enough for people to wander quickly into the vendor room to look at goodies, maybe make a purchase, ask questions, etc., before the next event. But, with 10-minute breaks, and the  vendor room so far from the events, there was very little browsing and the vendor room was, for the most part, dead. There were some sales, but it was very disappointing to me, and disastrous for vendors. I spoke up several times about it to the organizers. Some tried to do what they could to steer people up to the vendor room, but I also got some big time push back that made me rethink my NRG conference participation.

It didn’t really affect me directly, but I feel it hurt people that I was trying to help – people who are my friends. Worst part, there was some attitude exhibited that was clearly disrespectful of the vendors and what they do for the NRG. I know everyone worked really hard to make the conference happen, and they deserve much credit. But, the vendors who participate make relatively little money from the NRG membership, and spend a lot of money to travel, bring product, and pay for accommodations, etc. They deserve better.

We’ll see how preparations come along for next year’s conference, which is in St. Petersburg, Florida. I’ve been talking with the organizers for that conference. They were the ones that tried to make things happen this year when I brought up issues, so I’m very hopeful.


Speakers at This Year’s Conference

I can’t say too much about the speakers at the conference since I was mostly in the vendor area and not able to attend of the talks but my own. Most of what I know is only what I’d heard. For the most part, I heard a lot of positives and only one real negative and that was about a talk by a non-NRG member that deliberately ran long.

Sadly, one of the speakers, Mr. Michel Mantin, who came to the conference from France, and who was kind enough to come up and introduce himself to me following my own talk, had to be hospitalized before his talk on Friday. Fortunately, his good friend Don Dressel (from the Ship Modelers’ Association of Fullerton) was there and went to the hospital with him, and reported back on Mr. Mantin’s condition. Last I heard, he was improving, but would need to remain in the hospital for a few days.

I have since notified a couple friends of his in France and in Japan to let them know what happened, and I’ll be checking with Don Dressel for an update.


Next Year, St. Petersburg, Florida