Building the Kanrin Maru – Japan’s First Screw Steamer – Part 2

Planking the hull of the Kanrin Maru is pretty easy. The ship has a sharp bow and the run of the planks is easy, needing little bending. You might be tempted to taper the planks at the bow, but that’s not what the instructions have you do. And, if you do, you may very well run out of planking material. If you want to more authentic planking, you’ll need to supply your own additional planking material.

I chose to build the hull straight from the kit at this point, so I simply laid the planks as is, starting at the bulwarks and working towards the keel. Hinoki, or Japanese cedar, is the material used for much of the kit, and it’s a bit brittle when dry. To bend or twist planks, the wood doesn’t need to be soaked, just wet. But little bending or twisting is required for this model.

As the model is intended for painting, the planks stop abruptly at the stern bulkhead. Here, the stern shape is provided in the form of a stack of thick pieces that have to be filed down to shape.

Note that due to the design of the kit, some of the planking is supposed to stop in the middle of the bulkhead’s edge. This is to accommodate transom planking that will later overlap the edge of the bulkhead, so precision is necessary.

Planking continues about 3/4 of the way toward the keel. After that, planking starts at the keel and continues to finish the hull. At a certain point in the process, the ends of planks are cut to a sharp point in order to fit. The last planks are shaped like long slivers to close up the hull.

This method is similar to the way nearly all European kits are designed to be planked. For my model, I intend to copper sheath the hull, so this “fake” planking style will be well hidden from view.

Now, as I believe I mentioned in my last post, some ship modelers may want to double plank this hull. First thing I’d want to mention is that it is definitely not design to be double planked, so you’ll need to do several modifications, which may include redesigning the keel and the stern areas.

With the hull planked, the stern framing is added, which includes the frame around the propeller and the pieces that form the well into which the propeller was raised when not in use. Note how the sternpost is marked with lines to aid in positioning the rudder hinges.

I glued together the stack of wood that forms the stern blocks, but didn’t glue them to the hull, as I wanted to carve and file away most of the excess first in order to reduce the chance of damaging the hull, which is lighter and more delicate than most other ship model kits.

As you can see from the photos above, my carving and filing work was without flaws, and I had to use some wood filler to smooth things out. But, when that was done, I was finally ready to add the transom. The piece provided in the kit is a perfectly shaped laser-cut piece that bends right around the stern, though again, it has to be wet in order to prevent breakage.

Next time, I’ll finish the transom and discuss the first modification I’m making to this kit.

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