It’s not officially Spring for another month, but after quite a bit of rainy weather, it’s a sunny day and the birds are happily flitting around the trees in the back yard, and my cat, Sierra, is eying them with glee. While I’m dreading the discovery of feathers all over the house, I thought it was time to provide an update on all the goings on in my ship modeling world.
HMS Victory and Clipper Ship rigging are still dragging along. Actually, these have both been at a standstill for a while due mostly to my work schedule and workspace constraints. But, they do progress a little in small spurts. I expect to be putting more effort into those shortly.
In the meantime, my Japanese boat display has one more week to run at the display window of the Union Bank’s community room in the Japan Center East Mall. I’m not so keen on all those models coming back home as I’ve kind of grown accustomed to having the extra space here.
Since my update last Spring, I’ve completed my Kamakura period trade boat and have partially completed a Kobaya, a small row galley of the Shōgun’s government, and have been developing drawings and models of a Tenma-zukuri chabune, a small cargo lighter. Being a follower of the work of boatbuilder Douglas Brooks, I’ve also tinkered with a 1/10-scale model of a Sado Island “tub boat”. These are all scratch projects. On the kit side of the world of Japanese traditional boats is the Woody Joe kit of the Kitamaebune, which you’ve probably seen posts about recently. Continue reading
Preparing the Blocks
At some point, we’re going to need to deal with one of the small details, namely the blocks. Billing Boats commonly includes pre-molded plastic block in many of their kits. I think they may use small wooden blocks for some things, but the blocks on this 1:60-scale kit come in plastic.
Now, you may not like plastic blocks and may want to substitute some 3rd party fittings instead. The blocks in the kit are 3/16″ or 5mm single-sheave blocks. Amati makes 5mm single blocks in Walnut and you can find them at Ages of Sail here, at $2 for a pack of 20. Unfortunately, shipping far outweighs the cost of the blocks themselves. Not a problem if you’re already planning to order other things. But, personally, even though I have many choices of blocks on-hand, I just decided to try out the ones in the kit.
The blocks in the kit are molded in brown plastic. If you want to use them as-is, you can, but I decided to paint mine. I used Billing Boats tan for the wooden block, and Black, #11, for the stropping. Afterwards, I sprayed them with a dull cote lacquer finish. In the end, I think they look pretty decent. Anyway, I think they look good enough that once their rigged, you won’t really notice their plastic without looking really closely.
These are then set aside until needed. My kit had 12 blocks in it and it looks like 11 are needed to finish the kit. Now, given how easily I’ve lost blocks in the past, I strongly suggest keeping these safe in a small plastic parts box or zip lock bag or something until needed.
Among the deck details are the portholes in the forward cabin. These are essentially black plastic flanges and are the same fittings used for the hawsepipe. There is one to mount on the port and starboard sides of the cabin. Mounting these requires cutting holes in the plastic cabin.
Since the flanges have no “glass”, I used some clear plastic I bought a long time ago from the manufacturer Plastruct, which makes all sorts of plastic shapes for architectural and craft projects. Hobby shops used to carry this stuff all the time, but those stores are becoming few in number. You can order direct from Plastruct if you need to, or in this case, you can cut a small piece from a clear acetate sheet protector, which you can get easily at Staples office supply.
The plastic just needs to be big enough to glue over the inside end of the porthole. If you glue the piece into place first, after the glue dries, you can then trim off as much excess as you can, to make it easiest to put the porthole into the hole you’ve made for it.
For glue, I used a product called Canopy Glue. This stuff dries fast and clear. Other glues, like CA or plastic cement, often mar or fog the clear plastic. This is another one of those things I picked up from the hobby shop. The item is specifically called “Formula 560” which comes in a 2 oz. bottle from a company called Pacer.
The portholes come pre-molded in black. They looked pretty good, so I didn’t bother to paint them.
After painting the hull and adding the prop, I went ahead and decided that I didn’t like the position of the prop. Now, you may not care enough about it to want to change anything, but it was bugging me. Now, I may be wrong, but I’m glad I made the changes.
The prop points downward. On a real boat, this would drive the bow downwards, which may be the whole point. The boat may be more stable, operating with the bow not riding up above the water. But, the images of the completed model don’t seem to have the prop pointing down quite so much.
The main issue here is really that the shape of the rudder assembly prevents you from mounting the prop in a “nicer” fashion – the top of the prop hits the wooden frame. Really, all you need to do here is shave away enough of that frame to clear the prop when it’s mounted the way you want it.
If you build the kit straight out of the box, the prop points downward considerably.
Looking at Billing Boats instructions, you’ll need to trim the wooden frame to adjust angle of the prop. Test fit the prop as you go to see how much trimming you need to do.