Monthly Archives: March 2022

OcCre’s HMS Terror Build in High Speed

I actually have an HMS Terror that I acquired back when the kit was first introduced. I also had a nice email exchange with Matthew Betts, whose research the kit was based upon. In fact, I’m the person who alerted OcCre to their initial scale error, as it was originally claimed to be something like 1/65 scale, but turned out to actually be 1/75.

In any case, I got the kit mostly to study OcCre kit design. But, I did actually work on it. I may actually pick it up again and continue the build, especially after seeing this cool build video.

What is particularly of interest to me are the 3D printed figures that are featured here. I think I’ll try to get these made and see if they inspire me to look again at this build. HMS Terror is, after all, an incredibly interesting subject.

Ages of Sail

The latest video work from TOM’S Modelling in Motion brings us a 4-1/2 minute build of the Arctic expedition ship HMS Terror, one of two ships that disappeared while searching for the Northwest Passage in 1845, the other being HMS Erebus. The video takes us rapidly through the model, seemingly building itself, while educating us about the story of the ship and crew.

OcCre's HMS Terror

One thing that’s interesting about Tom’s build is his use of some specially designed 3D printed figures which are prominently displayed at the start of the video. Apparently, these figures are available as a file download for your 3D printer for a very reasonable price. Of course, you’ll need your own 3D printer or service to create them.

Tom’s figures are available as 3D printer files, which you can purchase, download, and print to your own 3D printer or using a service of your choice.

We don’t…

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Building Woody Joe’s Atakebune Kit – Part 12

Construction of the Atakebune type Japanese warship continues with the detailing of the deck of this modified kit from Woody Joe.

Wasen Mokei 和船模型

After some time away to work on the Oguraike boat and to get some traditional western ship modeling done for the newly restarting ship model meetings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, finally got back to finishing the sanding the sculling oars on my Atakebune model. I guess the model only needs 66 of them, but I’m sure I counted 72 in the kit. Maybe there are spares.

There’s more to do on these, as I’m thinking I’ll probably add the “heads” to them, or at least some of them that might end up visible if I leave any of the doors open in the box structure, or yagura.

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Building OcCre’s Spanish 74-gun Ship Montañes from Part Kits – Final

When I began the Montañes part kit project, I began fully aware that this was pretty well just a long term project that I’d work on from time to time, and that the cost of the Packs, as OcCre calls them, would be more than the cost of the complete kit. Unfortunately, I went online to consider again purchasing the second Pack and found that the pricing had changed considerably. The Packs have gone from about $110 each to $179 each. But, there is some savings in that OcCre has changed their shipping policy so that shipping is free for orders over 150€, about $164. So, the price of $179 for the pack is the shipped price, which before was about $130.

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The Return of Seawatch Books

Good news for scratch modelers! Seawatch Books, which brought us amazing titles by David Antscherl, Rob Napier, Gilbert McArdle, and others is back up and running under new ownership.

The previous owner, Bob Friedman, has been talking about his retirement for some time now, and earlier this year, the store went off-line pending sale to a new owner. Apparently, the early attempts at selling the company didn’t work out. But, then ship modeler Mike Ellison came along and saved the day, and the site just officially went live.

Perhaps one of the best known titles from Seawatch Books is the 4-volume series, The Fully Framed Model, HMN Swan Class Sloops 1767-1780.

To celebrate and to offer my support, I’ll probably pick up a title. Right now, I’m leaning toward either the book on building HMS Sussex, by Gilbert McArdle, or the two-volume series The Ketch Rigged Sloop Speedwell of 1752. Of course, I’ll post a write up about whatever I eventually get..



Will I ever get around to scratch building something based on one of these books? Who knows? But, it’s great “dream” material!

Check out the full range of their offerings at Ω

Building a Kit Without the Kit – Corel’s Misticque

Having been a ship modeler for around 30 years now, I have seen many models built and have built many myself. I’ve also spent a lot of time looking at the many available kits of beautiful looking ships of all kinds, and imagining building them. But, after building so many kits, I find the desire to scratch build a model. Now, I have scratch built quite a few models, mostly Japanese traditional boats, but also a few American subjects too, pilot boat, War of 1812 privateer, various hulls, etc. But, it seemed time to take on something more significant.

Now, kits still have the appeal of having already been planned out. Plus, they include all necessary decorative components. And, kits like those produced by Corel, still build into some of the most beautiful models.

Corel’s French Xebec Misticque, 1750

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Ship Modelers Meet Again at the Vallejo Museum, California

After a long hiatus, mostly fueled by the Covid pandemic, I organized a gathering of local ship modelers on Saturday, March 19th, at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum. This particular group used to meet quarterly at the museum, but haven’t gotten together in nearly 3 years.

In addition to 6 ships under construction or repair, two unstarted projects were presented. In addition, we had 3 special guests, including the new museum director, Melinda McCrary – for those that know the previous director, Jim Kern, he retired late last year. The other two guests were from a special project in Vallejo for teaching STEM skills to young people, which involves, among other things, building boats!

Our members come from as far west as Marin to as far east as Sacramento and Rocklin. We range from first time ship modelers, to experienced builders of large 3-masted warships. But, it’s not all about sailing ships. One of our members, Steve Cowdin, is the builder of two of the large battleship models currently on display at the U.S.S. Iowa Museum down in Los Angeles, as well as a restorer of the U.S.S. California model at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum.

U.S.S. California model.

Given that we traditionally meet only once every three months, our next gathering should be sometime in or around June. The amount of time should be enough to allow us all to make a little progress on our projects.

For me personally, I can definitely say that the meeting inspired and motivated me to make some good progress on my ship modeling projects. It even got me to pull out old projects to re-evaluate them and possibly resume one or two of them.

I’ll be looking forward to our next get together. But, in the meantime, a couple other local ship modeling clubs have resumed their in-person meetings, and I’ll be involved with those. I can only hope that those go as well as this one did.

By the way, if you’re in the area and are an active ship modeler and interested in coming to our get-togethers in Vallejo, be sure to leave a comment below, and I’ll add you to our group email list. Ω

HSPMS In-Person Meetings Restart

The Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights club is finally scheduled to start up their meetings again, though not aboard the Eureka, which is slated to head out for overhaul later this year…

Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights

There’s good news for the Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights. With things opening up again in San Francisco, we’re going to start our in-person meetings again!

The bad news is that the gangway on the Eureka has been pulled due to tidal conditions, plus it will be relocated for repair later this year, so we won’t be meeting aboard the Eureka any time soon. Instead we will be meeting at the Bathhouse building, otherwise known as the Maritime Museum building, with our first meeting scheduled for Saturday, March 26th.

Meeting from 2018

The building doesn’t officially open until 10am, but there will be someone to let us in early. Our Commodore, Paul Reck, says we’ll meet up in front of the building between 9am and 9:30am, and we’ll call someone to let us in.

This will be the first in-person meeting we’ve had in over a year. Hopefully, people…

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Artesania Latina’s Soleil Royal Now in Stock!

Artesania has really been working hard at releasing these new products ever since the new owners took over. I’ve always like Artesania Latina kits and found that go together very nicely. The fact that they only include digital copies of instruction and no printed plans sheet isn’t a problem for me, though I know that’s a problem for some.

What might be a problem though, is that this is true of older products that used to rely on the builder to take measurements from the plans. This might affect builders of kits like San Juan Nepomuceno and USF Constellation, etc. However, I expect those will be revised soon.

Ages of Sail

The 17th century French ship-of-the-line Le Soliel Royal was build as as a 104 gun warship name for the “Sun King”, King Louis XIV, and served as the flagship of Admiral Tourville. The “three decker” was built in 1669 and was one of the most powerful ships of her day. She was also among the most sumptuously decorated warships with wooden carvings paying tribute to the French monarch.

Artesania has recreated this ship in incredible detail with this big 1/72 scale wooden ship model kit that is replete with decorative fittings, particularly at the bow and stern. The kit features hundreds of laser-cut plywood and solid wood parts, cast and photo-etched metal fittings, as well as a full set of pre-sewn sails. To finish the model, the kit also comes with wooden base and metal nameplate, plus a set of 12 cast metal figures of the ship’s crew, ready to…

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Amati Gunboat “Arrow” Build – The Last Steps

As I mentioned in one of my ship modeling update posts, I haven’t done much rigging in quite some time, and heart just hasn’t been into it. So, it was a bit difficult for me to get back into the rigging of this model. And, for such a simple looking ship, it’s quite a lot of rigging. The ship, being lateen rigged, uses a set of backstays to support the masts, and each one requires two  two cleats. As there are 3 backstay pairs per mast, that’s 24 lines that have to get belayed to their own cleats, while balancing out the pendant blocks that are hanging in the air, so that their positioning is arranged to look visually pleasing.

The part about belaying to cleats that is not fun is that these cleats are fittings that are simply glued to the deck, and I find that tying off lines to them to be much more difficult than to belaying pins, which allow more clearance for the work. Also, it’s easy to accidentally pop cleats loose if the glue joints aren’t strong enough or if you just slip and put too much pressure on it.

I was actually surprised at how well the cleats were holding in place, until I got toward the last of the lines I was tying off. A little carelessness possibly, and I’d popped a couple cleats loose, and one cleat popped off more than once. So, I was really thrilled with I finished rigging these backstays. Unfortunately, they represent less than half of the cleats used on the model.


Make Sail!

The making of the sails gave me a break from tying off rigging lines. I wasn’t sure for a long time, how I wanted to represent sails on the model, whether to set full sails, show them furled, or just brailed up. Using one of the kit-provided sails, I tied it to a dowel to see how a furled sail might look.

It was actually pretty nice. But, then I figured that if I had the sails furled, I probably needed to deploy all the oars. I debated it for a while, but then decided I wanted to show the full sails.

The original sails that came in the kit were printed cloth, which was fine. The problem for me was more that for a 1/55 scale model, the simulated cloth seams were visually too close together. At just under 3/16″ apart, they’d be about 10″ wide in real life. On a smaller craft like this, I thought they should be closer to 18″ apart. So, I ended up making my own sails.

I considered new ways to make decent looking sails out of paper or silkspan, drawing in the seams and all. But, in the end, I fell back on my tried and true cloth sailmaking, using machine stitching to represent the cloth seams, and so on.

During the sail making process, I ended up making and remaking the sails. At one point, I had made a set I was happy with. But, when I went to iron them, the iron left some black residue on the one of sails that was so bad, I couldn’t clean it off. This is something that never happened before, and I couldn’t really be certain if there was a problem with the iron itself, or if somehow, there was something on the surface of the iron that meted and burned – I just can’t imagine what that could have been. Anyway, I didn’t want to chance that happening again, so I bought a new and better iron. But, the sail cloth was ruined and I had to sew another set.

Luckily, I have several sewn sail cloths that I had been making for another project. They were rejects from that project for a reason that didn’t have anything to do with the quality of the work done on them, and the seams were about the right size, so I cut a new set of sails for the gunboat.

For those who are interested, I basically make my sails from simple muslin I bought at the fabric store. I’ve tried unbleached as well as bleached. The unbleached is more a natural yellowish color. But, the batch of cloth I used for this project is plain white (bleached) muslin. Part of my sail making process is to use a liquid called Terial Magic, which you spray on the cloth, let dry, then iron. The result is to make the cloth stiff as paper. The whole process seems to turn the cloth a bit off-white, which is a bit more natural looking than bleached white.

First thing was to wash the cloth and iron it using spray starch. This made it easy enough to draw pencil lines the appropriate distance apart. Then, I’d use a sewing machine set at the finest stitch I could to sew along the pencil lines. It takes a lot of focus to keep centered on the pencil line, and I find it can be a bit physically taxing. But, it’s only two sails here.

When the sewing is done, I wash the sail cloth to get rid of the pencil marks. Then, I’ve been treating the cloth with Terial Magic, as I mentioned before. This stuff, makes the cloth act like paper, so I can fold it easier and make crisp seams for the tablings, etc. Also, I can use it on excess cloth to cut strips with a knife to use for reef bands, corner reinforcements, and so on, without any unraveling or fraying at the edges. Plus, you can wash the stuff out of the cloth if you need to, or you can just leave it in.

I’ve used this stuff on a few projects, but I don’t know how it holds up long term. We’ll see. I like that I can use it to form the sailcloth to help hold its shape and give it a more natural look. At least that’s what I’m trying for. On this model, it will be what it will be.

In any case, I was able to simply glue the tablings and reef bands in place using Aleene’s Tacky Glue, which holds cloth amazingly well, even when wet. I also used Aleene’s to glue the bolt rope into place, avoiding any out of scale stitching. After that, the reef points were added, and the sails were tied up to the lateen yards.

One other thing I’ll point out here about the Amati kit. I used the printed sails as my pattern for making my sails. However, I noted afterwards, that my sails were smaller than those shown on the plans. Turns out that the kit-provided sails were the culprit. So, if you’re planning on making your own sails, make a copy of the plans for your pattern, not the printed sail material.

Mounting the Model

I need to take a set back here and point out that I’d actually decided on how to mount the finished model. It’s actually useful to move the model to a permanent base before the sails go on. I found that these brass pedestals, which are commonly found through ship model fittings suppliers, had slots of perfect thickness. However the slots were way too deep for the keel on this model. So, I simply ground them down to create a better fit.

Below, you can see the original post on the right and the modified one on the left. I can’t actually recall where I bought these. But, I’m thinking they were probably from BlueJacket.

For the base itself, I took a trip over to the woodworking store. I’m fortunate enough to have a Rockler store about 10 minutes from my house, which carries boards of many varieties. So, I just picked up a cherry board, 13/16″ I think it was, cut off a piece on a table saw, routed the edges, and gave it a few coats of wipe on poly.

Below is the mounted model at the most recent ship modelers’ meeting. I’ll probably need to go ahead and order a brass nameplate for it. In the past I’ve used a place called Engraving Connection. That was about 4 years ago, but they were very good, so I’ll try them again.

By my next post, I should have the model done. Basically, I just have to rig the sails into place and mount the anchor. Hopefully, this will happen in the next couple weeks, in time for my next ship model meeting.








Building Woody Joe’s Atakebune Kit – Part 11

My build of Woody Joe’s Atakebune kit moves forward. The castle structure is mostly complete, and I’m starting to consider other modifications to the kit. After this, I’ll probably go back to finishing the modifications I started on the hull.

Wasen Mokei 和船模型

It’s time to finish the Atakebune’s castle structure. Basically, what’s left is to add the pieces that fit under the eaves of the roofs and also to install some edging pieces and then some final decorative details to the rooftops.

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