Monthly Archives: February 2022

Amati Gunboat “Arrow” Build – In the Beginning, Part 2

As I continue progress with the Amati “Arrow” American Gunboat kit, I wanted to wrap up my look at the earlier stages of this kit, which began as described in the earlier post Amati Gunboat “Arrow” Builde – In the Beginning. After the part where I left off last, the footrests for the rowing stations were added, and these openings in the deck were lined.

I found the provided wood had a nice natural look to them, so I avoided any painting of the model. I edged the planking in pencil, and I simulated the treenails in the deck by simply drilling holes for them. I found that the wood dust filled in the holes and made for a very natural look, especially after the application of a little danish wood oil.

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Cross-Locking Clips for Rigging

This week, I’ve been dealing with rigging on a Amati’s American galley gunboat kit, the Arrow, as they call it. It’s a small model with an enormous number of cleats that lines have to get tied off to. While working on this, I realized that some beginning ship modelers might appreciate knowing one of the techniques I’ve used for years. It’s nothing new, and I’m sure most ship modelers already know this, including beginners. But, just in case, I thought I’d mention it today.

Rigging the Amati Arrow Gunboat kit.

When rigging a model, especially when belaying lines, tying them off, seizing them into place, etc., you want to make sure you’re lines are taught as you do it. The problem is that it’s hard to keep a line tight as you’re working on it. If you have really good manual dexterity, you might be allocate one finger to keep a line held down, while the rest of the fingers are busy securing the line into place. For those of us who aren’t gifted with such surgical grace, what to do? Everyone who’s rigged at least one model has some method they use and it may work quite well. I titled this post specifically about cross-clips that I really like for this job, but here are some ideas that I use, including the clips.

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Building Woody Joe’s Atakebune Kit – Part 10

It’s been two weeks since I last posted progress on Woody Joe’s Atakebune kit, a 16th century Japanese warship. I took on a new modification, as you’ll see, one that I’ve been contemplating.

I’ve also worked out the modifications for the front part of the castle structure and have been working on the roofing of the whole thing.

Wasen Mokei 和船模型

Continuing with the Atakebune’s castle structure, I began looking at the little walkway and decorative railing at the back end of the structure. Considering that I’ve lowered the main deck of the ship, I needed to know how high above the deck this railing would be. So, I assembled the pieces to allow me to test fit the parts in place. While I was at it, I made one small modification here, which was to make the walkway from separate strips of wood, using the kit provided pieces as patterns for the walkways.

The completed walkway was actually all that I needed. It also needed to fit perfectly in place, which took a few minor adjustments.

While I went ahead and glued the walkway into place, I didn’t want to permanently add the railing, as it’s pretty delicate, and I was worried that it would get damaged during the remaining…

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Bomb Vessel Granado Cross-Section Plans

Recently, I was looking at some offerings from the Chinese kit manufacturer CAF Model. They are one of the few Chinese kit manufacturers that have worked their way off the piracy/do not buy list that’s maintained by the Nautical Research Guild and followed by many ship model clubs. What caught my attention, specifically, was a heavily engineered kit of a 1/48-scale cross-section of the bomb vessel HMS Granado.

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My Newest Ancre Books Acquisition – Le Coureur Monograph

I’m exited that my newest purchase from French publisher Ancre Books ( arrived at the end of last week. I have other Ancre monographs, but this particular subject is simple enough that an actual model constructed from these plans might actually see the light of day here.

I was finally in a position to make the purchase, so in the middle of last month, I placed my order. Also, I’ve had to wait for a long time for this english language version to be released. It’s been out for a while now, but when it was released, buying it just wasn’t in the stars for me. Now, it is.

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February 9, 2022

Rigging the Amati Arrow Gunboat

I have to be honest. Aside from the Bremen Cog model that I completed about a year ago, I haven’t really done much rigging. My heart just hasn’t been into it. I’ve always loved researching model subjects and hull construction and detailing. But, when it comes to belaying lines to cleats and seizing lines around blocks and all, my mind just gets tangled in all the ropes.

With Japanese boat models, there’s very little of that, and maybe that’s why I’ve done so much work on them over the past few years. But, now I’m at the rigging stage of my Amati Arrow Gunboat kit. I thought, given the size and type of boat, that rigging would be pretty simple. But, it’s far more complicated than I would have ever expected.

It seems that just about every line on this model, save for a bobstay at the bow, is running rigging. Which means that all the lines have to get belayed somewhere. But, the model has 54 cleats, and from what I can tell, all but about 6 will need to be used.

This past week, I’ve just been working on rigging the backstays that support the masts, and that alone uses 24 cleats. I managed to get a little over half way through this task, before it wore me out.

I suppose I’ve become something of a rigging wimp…


Meanwhile, the Atakebune

While rigging may be getting me down a bit this week, I seem to be taking modifications of the Atakebunbe model, the Japanese 16th century battleship, in stride. I’ve gone ahead and removed the stern section of the box structure. Luckily, I’ve been using Original Titebond wood glue, which can be soften by soaking with water. So, this actually didn’t take a great deal of work, and I managed to free up most of the parts without breaking anything.

Meanwhile, I’m working on the roofing of the castle structure. Below, you can see the rounded roof that was included in the kit, which no longer spans the length of the extended structure. More on these later.

And, so that you can see how much of the castle structure is now done, here’s a pic of that.


A Little Sick

Now, I would probably have made more progress on the Atakebune model if it weren’t for the fact that I came down with stomach cramps and unpleasant other attendant symptoms last night, which continued today. It’s not actually that bad, but periodically painful and otherwise unpleasant.

Handed Down Projects

On a completely unrelated note, I wanted to mention that back in 2013, a ship modeling friend and colleague passed along two of his larger projects to me shortly before he succumbed to cancer. He hadn’t gotten very far along on either one, and I’ve kept them in storage for the time being.

The ship modeler’s name was John Nash, and he passed away on October 13, 2013. He was a member of both the Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights, as well as the South Bay Model Shipwrights, and he was always very supportive of my ship modeling work and skills. I always figured that if I completed the models, it would really be a join project between him and me, and it gives me a way to remember and honor him.

It’s hard to imagine it’s been more than 8 years. But, I finally got myself organized to get his kits out again. Last year, I did a little bit of cleanup on one of them. Then, last month, I decided to redo some of the hull planking, which was only barely started and to reshape the bow blocks. The kit is Mantua Panart’s Spanish warship San Felipe, one of their most popular, large kits.

I haven’t done much to the model. Just took off the lower two planking strakes at the bow and started filing the bow block, which were left too bluff. I’ll also need to bevel the bulkheads and possibly add some kind of support or filler blocks between them. In the meantime, I covered the stem with tape to help protect it from stray bumps with the file.

Now the fact hasn’t been lost on me that this is a full-rigged ship with lots of shrouds and ratlines, and I just got through complaining about rigging. However, I’ve rigged a San Felipe model before and quite enjoyed it.

Anyway, who knows? I’m not trying to finish it, just to work on it in my spare time. It’s a potentially beautiful model when properly built. But, yes, I understand that the history of this ship is questionable. There’s a good post about it here:

At this point in life, I don’t really care about the accuracy of historic details. This kit makes a beautiful model. What’s more, it’s the original kit, before the manufacturer started pre-printing deck planking and all.

I found a photo on the Internet of a completed model that was posted on Interestingly enough, I know the builder, Andy Poulo. He’s one of the people who attended many of the first ship model meetings I set up at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum starting in 2013.

Anyway, I’ll post more about this project over time.


Ship Model Meetings

Having just mentioned the museum in Vallejo, last week I contact the museum’s new Director and cleared the way to hold some ship model meetings again there. I started some meetings back in 2013, with our last one in 2019. I think it’s time to see what the old gang is up to now. Sadly, we lost one member a couple years ago, and I’m beginning to think that Andy Poulo, may also be gone. Still, it’s important to try to reconnect with those who are here, and I know at least three of us are still building ship models.

Also, with Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights still not meeting in person, it may lead some new ship modelers to join my ship model meeting in Vallejo. It’s always nice when there are at least 5 or 6 active ship modelers. Ω


Wye River Models

This weekend, I just ran across a model boat kit manufacturer on the Internet. Their website shows that they have quite a large number of kits of American workboats in large scales of 1/4″=1′ and larger.

Looks like they have 15 different kits, including: Box Stern, Chesapeake Bay Bugeye, Chesapeake Bay Buy Boat, the charter fishing boat Breein Thru, a Hooper Island Drake Tail, a Chesapeake Bay Log Canoe, and many others. The prices are very nice too. Of the 15 kits they offer, only five of them list at over $100. Continue reading

February 4, 2022

I’m really trying to make some ship modeling progress, but a lot of work work has been coming in lately. Not exactly a bad thing. But, mixed in with everything else, it’s a big of a drag, especially as much of it has been hitting at the end of a week. That generally means that I’m going to be working on this things into the weekend. I’m just griping, but hey, it’s my blog. Good for griping from time to time.

Sea Watch Books

I noticed what was potentially some good news in the ship modeling world the other day. I went to look at some book titles from Seawatch Books. The owner, Bob Friedman, announced his retirement some time back, which would possibly mean an end to their existing excellent titles or any new ones.The site was down, with a message saying it was down pending sale of the company.

That would have been very good news, except that today, I see that message now says that the inventory and business are for sale. So, I guess that potential sale of the company must not have panned out. Here’s hoping somebody buys the business and continues new publications.

Syren Rope Rocket

But on the brighter side, I got my Syren Rope Rocket in the mail today. It’s shipped in a small box, only about 7″ square and less than 3″ thick. Of course, I’m not going to be able to use it until I put it together. That won’t happen today. But, maybe I’ll set aside some time tomorrow to work on that.

Then, I’m going to have to start ordering some thread that will give the best results, try out various combinations, numbers of strands, etc. Of course, others have already done a lot of this work, so I may start hunting through the ModelShipWorld for their info. In the meantime, I have sufficient rigging line for my current projects, so I have a little time to practice before I really need to produce any model rope.


Went back to do some more work on the Woody Joe Atakebune kit yesterday and made some good progress. Mostly dealing with the roof of the castle structure. Having built one of Woody Joe’s castle kits, and a few of their small architectural kits, I’m familiar with the process. The major roof pieces are done now, and I have a few of the smaller pieces left to do. So, I’m maybe 2/3 of the way through, and it’s about time to give some thought to painting. Wood Joe recommends Liquitex Neutral Gray, but I’ve found that the roofs look nicer in a darker shade with some highlighting.

The trickiest part of building the castle structure is to make the roof for the forward structure, as I’ve lengthened that structure. The kit provided roofing will not work, so I have to come up with an alternative.

Fortunately, watching Mr. Kazunori Morikawa’s (owner of progress, I’ve seen some things he’s tried and have had time to develop my own ideas. More on that in my build log on

Gunboat “Arrow”

I really want to keep pushing forward on the American gunboat model. As I mentioned the other day, I made the display base. I just need to drill it out, and then I can attach the model. I’ve pre-rigged a number of the blocks and I’m in the process of replacing a couple of the backstays I added recently. For this particular set of backstays, this will be the third set I’ve rigged.

Pretty soon, I’m going to have to make a decision on the sails. Full lateen sails are what I’d figured on from the start. But, lately, I’ve been thinking that it might be interesting to have the model shown with oars deployed. In that case, the sails should probably be furled. But, now I’m also thinking that sails that are brailed up might look even more interesting. In any case, I’m also thinking about whether cloths sails are okay or if I should try to do something in paper, which might be more scale accurate and shapable.

Well, it’s food for thought. Ω


Building Woody Joe’s Atakebune Kit – Part 9

Progress on the castle structure of Woody Joe’s newest kit, the Atakebune – a 1/100 scale model of the largest class of warships from 16h century Japan.

Wasen Mokei 和船模型

One of the features of this particular Atakebune that make it so interesting is the castle structure. Most Atakebune were simpler and just had nothing more than a single roofed house for the commander to oversee the battle. But, on this ship, the castle is very prominent. On the model, it makes for a nice project in itself.

Promotional image from Woody Joe.

Construction starts with the basic foundation structure, which is made to fit inside the opening in the deck. It was somewhat of a tight fit, so the opening had to be adjusted. You’ll notice a little piece of the base sticking out at what is the front of the structure. This is because there is a small structure at the front, which I’ve been considering modifying to more closely match the model at the Nagoya Prefectural Castle Museum of which this model is based. The design of…

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February 2, 2022

Today, I felt like doing a little writing, but I didn’t have enough to write a whole post about any one project, so I’m just writing an update for the day.

For the most part, I seem to have gotten my ship modeling mojo back after the holidays, and I’ve been concentrating a lot of my efforts on my build of Amati’s American gunboat model, as it’s far enough along to where it looks good and it looks interesting. So, I feel pretty well motivated to continue it to the finish now.

I decided to rig the model using pear wood Master Korabel blocks that Ages of Sail is now carrying. I used them to rig the gun tackles, and I’m pretty happy with how that looks.

I’m also at the point where I’m considering mounting the model before that gets too difficult to do, so I bought an 8′ cherry wood plank from Rockler a couple days ago, cut a piece of it and routed the edges.

For mounting the model, I found that those little slotted brass stanchions that you can buy from just about any ship modeling source, worked really well, except that the keel on the model is really shallow, so I had to cut them down. It gave me a chance to use the little mini cut-off saw that I inherited from the late Jean Eckert.

Original on the right and the cut-down version on the left. And, yes, the keel is that shallow on this model, but the stanchion is now a perfect fit.

Meanwhile, I finally got around to ordering a “Rope Rocket” – a nicely designed rope walk or rope making machine from Syren Ship Model Company . I’ve made my own model rope in the past, but my homemade ropewalk was really, really primitive… and I mean really primitive. I was looking making a replacement, but I finally just gave in and ordered one that works well. More on that when it shows up. Ω