Category Archives: My General Blog

The Return of the SF Maritime Research Library

Today, I drove into San Francsico to make use of the recently re-opened Maritime Library of the San Francisco Maritime Research Center. It was really nice to see the place again after more than a year away. And, truthfully, I haven’t made use of the library for a while, even before the Covid shutdown, so it’s been longer than that for me.

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Building A Master Korabel Ship’s Boat Kit – Final

10Recently, I decided to wrap up the Master Korabel 95mm ship’s boat kit. Last time I’d left off, the hull planking was done, and the hull interior needed detailing. As you might recall, I had removed the removable portion of the bulkheads, but had a bit of trouble with a bit too much of the bulkhead bottoms breaking out.

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Normal Shipping from Japan is Available Again

Some great news for those of us who like to buy products from Japan, like Woody Joe kits and things: This Summer, after nearly a year of Covid lock-down,  Japan Post has begun allowing shipping to the United States again. In celebration, I bought a bunch of stuff from that I don’t really need just yet! After a couple weeks, I received my first package from Japan in about a year.

No, there was no ship modeling stuff here in this order. Well, not exactly anyway. I did get a new Hishika Industries Super Fine Cut Saw to replace the one I’ve worn out. That’s something I do use with ship modeling. The rest is mostly to work on some very small scale (1/150) diorama ideas.

But, you’ll also notice two kits in the photo. These I got mostly to make and share with my 96 year old mother, who is now in a nursing facility. She doesn’t have much room for personal stuff, but she likes to look at these things, particularly if there are people in the model display. And, I’m hoping it jogs her memories a little. She probably doesn’t remember anymore that I’ve visited the Kaminari-mon (the small model) or Matsumoto Castle (the larger model).

So, yes, shipping from Japan is available again, however it is more expensive than it used to be, and it was already pretty pricey. But, in reality, shipping from Japan to the U.S. was still available, even during the lockdown, via a Japanese shipping company called Yamato Transport. In fact, I used the service last year to ship a small model to Japan last year. Shipping to Japan using Yamato is a little bit of work, as you have to find a convenient drop-off location. However, getting stuff from Japan is pretty easy, as their stuff apparently gets passed along to UPS to do the actual delivery.

And, actually, this is how the above items were shipped to me, as it was a little bit cheaper than EMS service via Japan Post, which is how I’d always gotten deliveries in the past. Still pricey, but nice to be able to do business again direct from Japan. Ω

Building A Master Korabel Ship’s Boat Kit – Part 2

Here’s the latest update on building Master Korable’s 95mm ship’s boat kit, and it looks like this build log is going to be a three-parter. Last time I left off, I had finished the framing and was about to start the hull planking. I’m happy to announce that I have completed the hull planking and about ready to finish the interior of the boat.

The hull planking went pretty well, but required some pretty careful work. The planks are very nicely pre-shaped, but they still have to be bent to fit the curve of the hull. It also takes a bit of care to glue the planks only to the ribs, and not to the framework of the temporary former.

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Paper Ship Model Kits from Seahorse

Most of you who have been following my blog know that I’ve been experimenting with making paper ship models. Shipyard’s 1/96-scale HMS Alert was the first kit I attempted and completed. That was several years ago now. Earlier this year I completed Shipyard’s laser-cut model kit of a Hanseatic cog (Hansa Kogge). After completing the Alert, I started playing around with a larger subject, Shipyard’s 1/96-scale HMS Mercury kit. But, that was pretty involved with a full gun deck, lots of canons, plus a relatively long hull. Last year, I started working on a something a little more reasonable to tackle, again a Shipyard paper model kit, the fluit Schwarzer Rabe.

But, though they are quite detailed and well made, Shipyard is not the only source of paper ship model kits.  There are other makers of kits such as WAK, Oriel, and others. But one in particular has recently caught my attention, as the designer is has posted some of his scratch builds on the ship model forum His screen name and his company name is Seahorse, and while I’ve seen some of these kits and scratch work before, I hadn’t really stopped to take a look at them because I wasn’t paying that much attention to paper models. But, now that I’ve taken a deeper interest in them, I’ve started noticing his kits, and look very interesting.

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Building A Master Korabel Ship’s Boat Kit

Master Korabel is a Russian wooden ship model kit manufacturer that have been sold in the U.S. for a couple years now. They’re kits are all in a scale of 1:72 and they’re developed using Computer Aided Design, or CAD.

They have a fairly limited offering at this time with seven wooden kits of ships , none with more than two masts. But they also have three ship’s boat kits ranging from a 4-oared yawl, 2-3/4″ long, to a 10-oared ship’s boat, 3-1/2″ long. I picked up the larger of the ship’s boats kits to get an idea of how these kits go together


The largest ship’s boat kit, MK0101, is 95mm long, or about 3-1/2″. About the first thing I did after opening up the kit and laying everything out was to put it all right back in the box. I was just too taken aback by how thin the wood was, and how delicate and complex the build looked. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I took another look at the kit in detail and really read through the instructions. Once I did this, I was able to mentally break down the vast assortment of parts and start to make sense of it all. Continue reading

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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Today, I ran across some posts by an amazingly talented ship modeler on Model Ship World. Her name is Olha Batchvarov and she’s relatively new to the ship modeling forum, but she’s apparently been an avid ship modeler for quite some time. There is more to her that I can effectively write on this blog post, so I’ll just point you to her website: The site is in Russian, but there is a language selector that allows you to read most of the content in english.

Shown in the photo above is one of Olha’s models. This is a model of the St. Gabriel. It is based on a kit from Master Korabel, but with modifications, including the replacement of the kit wood with pear wood and hornbeam. The St. Gabriel was a Russian exploration ship commanded by the Danish cartographer and explorer, Vitus Bering, who was in service with the Russian Navy.

This is one of many of Olha’s magnificently done models. You should really check out her other model work on her website. Personally, I’m interested in some of her in-progress work. Namely, the scratch model of the French cutter Le Cerf being constructed from Ancre plans. I have the Ancre plans and have been itching to get started on a model based on them, so her work there, though not complete, is a real inspiration.

Apparently, she’s done a number of Youtube videos as well, so that’s something else to check out. Here’s a link to the full Youtube playlist:  Ω


Disasters in Ship Modeling: No Coffee

Got up this morning and set up my coffee machine – Filled with water, put in a new filter, added fresh ground coffee, and started it up. Minutes later, I realize there’s no happy sounds of steaming, gurgling, dripping coffee. Nothing but silence…

It seems I have gone through yet another coffee maker. I guess the heating element is out on it, or the thermostat. I briefly looked at what it takes to repair it, but this model has some weird screws deeply recessed, so that only a repair technician can fix it. Not worth having it repaired, it’s a very simple, inexpensive, Black & Decker coffee maker. It worked well when in worked – that’s the actual model in the photo above. But, I guess I’ll try a different brand next time, just in case it I need to try to fix it in the future.

It’s a hard way to start a day of ship modeling. First order of business: Improvise. So, I boiled some water and poured it into the coffee filter basket to make my coffee. Not so good – needs to be a slower process to get better flavor. Next order of business, get a replacement, and quick!

If you’re a coffee drinker like me, you understand the emergency. After spending about an hour messing with it, I decided to move on and order one off of Amazon. Having Amazon prime, I’ll have it tomorrow. Won’t be in time for tomorrow’s coffee needs, but at least I’ll be prepared – no more surprises. Now, I’ve got my manually brewed, kind of weak, microwave heated coffee, and it’s time to move on to ship modeling matters… Ω




Another Model Kit of a Ship at the Battle of Trafalgar

Earlier this month, I wrote a post listing available kits of ships involved in the Battle of Trafalgar. Well, it turns out I missed one. I completely slipped my mind because it’s rather hard to find. That is a kit of the Spanish 112-gun, 3-decker Principe de Asturias, from the Spanish kit maker Disar Model.

Disar Model’s wooden model ship kit of the 112-gun Principe de Asturias

The main problem with the kit is that I’m not aware of any online retailer that carries it. Ages of Sail carries the line of Disar Model kits in North America, but for some reason doesn’t carry this particular kit. But, it appears to be out there, so I’m adding it to my list.

Anyway, I’ve righted a wrong, and updated my post on the Model Kits of the Ships at the Battle of Trafalgar. Ω