Building the Kanrin Maru – Japan’s First Screw Steamer – Part 4

After the modification of the bulwarks, the rest of the model should look pretty much like the plans. The Woody Joe kit seems to be pretty well spot-on with the Dutch maritime museum plans as far as hull shape and deck layout. So, it’s basically the smaller details that I need to consider.

The scrollwork for the bow is a cast metal piece, which looks fine. There are a few artifacts from the casting process which need cleaning up, but this is pretty easy to do. I just used a sharp, chisel pointed blade to cut them away.

With the scrollwork cleaned up, I mounted it on the bow. The upper and lower molding of this piece are supposed to line up with the wooden molding strips applied to the hull. With the scrollwork in place, I decided to trim the stem so that it didn’t stick out beyond the piece in that area under the tip. I don’t know if it’s wrong, but I think it looks better.

I also noticed that with the thickness of the wood between the two scrollwork pieces at the bow, the whole tip looked oddly bulbous, and it bothered me. So, I actually separated the metal piece from the wood. It’s soft, so I could “peel” it back a little. Then, I trimmed the thickness of the stem a little, and also trimmed the thickness of the metal a bit as well.

You can’t see it in any of these photos, but when I was done, the scrollwork pieces were nearly touching at the tip, and the whole thing looked so much better, to my eye. Now, with the bowsprit in place, it may turn out that this modification wouldn’t be necessary. But, that’s what I did.

In between my time on the scroll work, I also worked on the planking of the inner bulwarks. This was pretty straight forward, so there’s really not much to say about. However, one thing I don’t think I mentioned in my previous posts is the deck that comes in the Woody Joe kit.

The deck is a single-ply sheet of very thin wood. It covers nearly the whole deck, except for the last few inches of the stern, which has its own deck section. It comes pre-cut for all the major hatches, and has openings for each of the masts and the propeller well. As with the hull shape, it is a very close match to the museum plans, which is quite impressive. Though it’s very thin, when planked, it should prove to be perfectly sturdy.

Happy with everything at this point, and with the sheer moldings in place, and inner bulwarks planked, I decided to go ahead and primer the whole hull, leaving only the deck untouched. I then masked off the area below the waterline for the painting of the upper hull.

I went through some various thoughts on paint types and exact color. But, in the end, I stuck with a simple finish of Liquitex Mars Black applied with a brush. The bottom will be coppered using adhesive-backed copper foil tape of appropriate size. But, I’ll save the coppering for later. For now, I want to focus on planking the deck.

It’s difficult to properly plank a deck with the bulwarks in the way, so I decided to use a very thin sheet of birch plywood as a base for my planking. This has the unfortunate effect of thickening the deck, so I used the thinnest plywood available, which is 1/64″. This is thin enough that it can be cut with scissors.

It took me a while to get the exact shape of the deck just perfect. I used a paper template trimmed to fit the deck area, then transferred the shape to the plywood. Then, the deck was marked off where the beams would have been. This gives me a good reference locations for the butts of the planks, since those ends need to land on beams for support.

For planking material, I used boxwood strips 1/32″ thick and 3/32″ wide. The caulking was simulated by painting one edge using heavy body, black acrylic paint. For most of the planking, I took whole strips, clamping 5 or 6 together in a stack using lot of small binder clips, and painted one edge black. As the paint is thick and the wood is hard, it doesn’t soak into the wood and there is very little seepage between the blanks, so the amount of cleanup needed is minimal. Also, any cleanup can easily be done by simply scraping the paint off the wood, as the boxwood is pretty dense, and the paint doesn’t soak into it.

Below, you can see the main reason that I didn’t want to do the planking on the model, the nibbing of the planks at the bow is hard enough to do where there’s room, but with the bulwarks in the way, it leads to a lot of unwanted cut marks and errors.

The process is much easier to do off the model. Below, I’m marking the point on the nibbing strake where the deck plank is at full width and the taper begins. The taper is then cut into the nibbing strake and the plank is then trimmed to fit it. For some reason, it’s a process I enjoy.

During the planking process, I was also working on the hatch coamings and such. There are the pieces included in the kit, but I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to use them or to make my own. If I make my own, the model will have a more unique appearance from the other Woody Joe kits, plus I’ll have the choice of wood. I’ve decided to keep the deck furniture a natural wood appearance where possible.

As you can see below, by using a separate sheet of wood for the deck, I can remove it to do the difficult work. When the planking is complete, I’ll glue it as a single piece onto the kit supplied deck.

When I get tired of planking the deck, I also work on mounting the channels into place. The Woody Joe pieces are fine, but I think they’re a little on the large side. This may be a mistake if I end up using the kit-provided rigging screws, but it’s my hope that I’ll be able to make my own that are a little improved in scale appearance.

Finally, here are some photos of the completion of the deck planking.


3 thoughts on “Building the Kanrin Maru – Japan’s First Screw Steamer – Part 4

  1. vintagemodeler

    Beautiful clean and precise work Clare. Nice sharp photos also. I also prefer Mars Black brush painted for hulls but this is the first time I have seen another modeler mention it. I really enjoy your posts and hope to make it to San Francisco for one of the club meetings when this Covd thing is over.
    Pahrump, NV

    1. catopower Post author

      Thank you for the nice comments. I’ve always preferred brush painting on my models, particularly using artist’s acrylics. Somehow, it feels like I’m putting more of myself into the model than when I spray paint. I know it’s totally subjective. If I were building a steel hulled ship, I’d probably spray paint, but I seldom build models of subjects that modern. Hope to see you at a meeting one of these days!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s