Amati Swedish Gunboat Build – Part 4

Well, I did not end up finish this model for the IPMS show in San Jose in March. I decided to set it aside to let others in our build group catch-up, though I know that two of the members are at least as far along as I am. Anyway, I had work to do to for my display of Japanese boats, which ran from March 1st through the 31st.

Then, last weekend, we had a ship modelers’ get-together again at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum. It’s been the usual 3 months since our last gathering and it was good to see the fellow ship modelers and their projects again.

Only one other member of the Swedish Gunboat Project group brought his model, but he’s new to ship modeling and pressing ahead. I originally thought I would just wait for the other two members, who have been too tied up with other things to do any ship modeling. But, then I thought maybe I should keep at it for the new guy. Well, regardless, I decided to make some amount of progress as I do want to get it finished.

After adding the railing and all the eyebolts, it was time to deal with the awning pole and the supports. This was simple enough, but the plans showed the supports notched for the awning pole. The problem with this is that the pole is a single piece that runs right past the main mast, and I wanted to make sure it would clear the mast itself. The supports are slightly off of the centerline of the boat, but if I notched them, it would bring the pole closer to the mast, so I omitted the notches and just tied the pole to the tops of the supports.

As it is, the pole still will make contact with the mast. In any case, it won’t affect the mast itself, as it will be supported by stays. I’m just trying to keep from ending up with the pole having much bend in it. If this were the actual configuration, I expect the pole would have simply been tied to the mast as well.

A Look at a Museum Model

Next, it came time to look at dealing with the detail at the bow. This kit has been a very interesting build and is very similar in appearance to museum models I’ve seen on the Internet. One such model is a 1/12-scale Kanonjolle (gunboat) that was designed by naval architect F.H. Chapman, and located in a museum in Stockholm, Sweden. The museum model is clearly a larger boat design, but not by much.

Through this museum website, you can zoom in and pan around 8 photos of the model and it will even allow you to download the pictures.

One of the downloaded museum photos. The full sized photos on the site are much larger.

There are obvious differences between the Amati kit and this museum model, and I don’t know enough to say that the Amati kit is wrong and that it should look like this museum model. It is clearly of the same style of gunboat. But, there are some kit features that I think I would like to change.

First off, the rudder on the Amati kit dips down, while those on all of these Kanonjolle models run straight back. Also, the kit uses standard kit rudder hinges, but the museum model shows a something quite different. I won’t try to describe it here, but you can see it for yourself in the museum photos.

Second, the Amati kit shows strangely placed hawse holes at the bow, just underneath the deck. Clearly, such a hole would have to lead to some kind of under-the-deck windlass or come up through the deck, and there is clearly no room for that. However, the kit also has a midget capstan located immediately behind the foremast. Besides being impractical in its size and position, I think it would be unnecessary given the manpower available and the relatively small size of the anchor. They could simply haul it up.

Finally, the model has oddly shaped tiny catheads on either side of the bow. These seem hardly necessary on a boat of this size. Once the anchor is hauled up, it would be simple enough to loop a rope around it and lash it to the forward stanchion. The museum model shows the presence of chocks at the rail and bitts to which the anchor could be secured. So, I’ll probably go with a feature like this on my model.

There are other differences between the kit and the museum model, but without more information, I think the Amati kit will be fine. It’s still a nice looking, interesting model.

More Construction

While I was deciding what to do about those details at the bow, I made some progress on the masts and yards. I cut and tapered the dowels for the masts and for the lug sail yards.

Masts, ready to rig.

At the top of the masts, the plans show a ball of some type. Rather than try to shape the dowel with a ball on the end, or to make a ball from wood, I chose to make them out of polymer clay (Sculpey or Fimo). These were rolled into ball shapes, baked to harden, and then drilled out and pinned to the tops of the masts.

I colored the masts and yards with an alcohol based wood dye that I’d already mixed for another project. This also worked to dye the color of the baked polymer clay ball.

It was once a little beige ball of clay.

Looking for another simple step for now, I decided to deal with the oars. The kit provides 14 oars, which matches the number of oar locks on the model. The oar shafts come a bit thick as well as the blades, so I went to work thinning down the blades and tapering them so that the ends were reasonably sharp, as well as the edges. I used a disposable nail file to narrow down and taper the shafts and to do some clean up.

The wood for the oars is something like limewood, as it’s very white and seems to be a little fuzzy when sanded. So, I treated it with Watco Natural Finish Danish Wood Oil. When dry, I just took a stiff paper napkin, the kind you get from the fast food place, and rubbed them down with that. This kind of paper doesn’t leave behind any lint on the model, which otherwise sticks to the treated wood.

Pile O’ Oars, plus the tapered yards.

I haven’t decided if I’ll stick with these oars. I think they could actually stand to be about 1-1/2″ longer, but I don’t know if it matters that much to me. I’m going let it go for now and see how I feel about them later on.

But, since I was on the task of dealing with odds and ends, I decided to prepare the blocks and deadeyes included in the kit. I was thinking I would just use some of the nice Swiss pear blocks I’ve got a stock of, but then though maybe I’d just use the kit provided parts. I replace kit components so often, I thought it might be a nice change.

There aren’t many blocks in the kit – I think about 16 or 18 of different sizes. So, I just popped them into the Model Shipways “Block Buster” to soften up the hard edges. If you don’t have one, you’ll find this handy little item is great for making kit blocks look a lot nicer. It’s basically a high-speed block tumbler with a sandpaper lining and stirrer that chuck’s into your power drill. You could do the same thing by hand with a fingernail file, but you’ll save a lot of time using the Block Buster.

Afterwards, I treated the blocks with a dark walnut stain, as most of the blocks were a very light colored wood. While I was at it, I also stained the deadeyes, which I simply wanted to be a darker shade for this model.

Though the deadeyes came out fine, the finish wasn’t very even on the blocks, so soaked them in an alcohol based wood dye solution. The process seemed to even out the color a bit. Later, I decided to treat the blocks with Watco natural color Danish wood oil to give the blocks a nice sheen and to seal in the color. I’m not actually accustomed to using wood stain on my models, so maybe it would have made more sense to just use Watco dark walnut colored Danish wood oil from the start.

In any case, the next steps will be to deal with the rudder and work out the anchor detail and start rigging.



5 thoughts on “Amati Swedish Gunboat Build – Part 4

  1. agesofsail

    Reblogged this on Ages of Sail and commented:
    Ship modeler Clare Hess posts his progress on his group build of the Swedish Gunboat kit by Amati (Cannoniera Svedese). This is an inexpensive kit that offers some challenges as described his blog posts.

  2. Olli Wihuri

    Wondering the missing railings in the museum
    model? I’ve been fighting with those in Amati kit 😀 Any idea which is correct way? Thanks for you blog. I enjoy a lot the help you give me to build mind.

    1. catopower Post author

      When in doubt, it’s hard to go wrong following a museum model. Kits are great, but they can only go so far. Many original ship and boat plans omit various details that may not be deemed important to the boat designers, so the kit manufacturer has to come up with something complete that’s build-able. Amati came up with the hard rail solution, as did Mantua in their larger scale kit of a similar boat.

      Making modifications to match the museum model can create a lot of other issues, so I don’t recommend it unless you’re prepared to do a lot of extra research, planning and design work of your own in order to accommodate the changes. Believe me, I know, I do it all the time and end up creating a lot of extra work instead of just building what I got. But, you should do whatever you enjoy most.

      I found that the kit’s wooden rail worked out fine, but you have to do some soaking and heat bending to get it to shape. Just make sure you get the shape set before you try to attach it to the model. If you buy some more wood, you can also build it up from separate pieces or carve it out of a wider piece.

      Good luck on your model!

      1. Olli Wihuri

        Thanks of your kindly responce. I got the rails to fit ok and go one as Amati shows.

        Rgds Olli

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