Category Archives: My General Blog

Building a Monterey Salmon Fishing Boat, c. 1916 – Part 3

I’m happily keeping focussed on the Monterey salmon boat and making good progress. Most recently, I had primered the hull, coamings, and deck house. I felt I was far enough along to go ahead and do some full on painting. I masked off the hull and painted the whole hull with Tamiya gloss white spray lacquer.

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Building a Monterey Salmon Fishing Boat, c. 1916 – Part 2

First off, you may note that I changed the title of this project to reflect an updated date. The original photo was said to be taken after 1916. So, I changed the title from saying “c.1910” to “c.1916”, though the boat could be from a little bit later. I got a little wrapped up recently in the layout of the little deck house, which clearly shows a ventilator cowl, but also seems to show a little exhaust pipe peek out from behind it. It’s a bit hard to see in the photo, so I’m posting a close-up of the photo below.

Close up of the original image shows the ventilator cowling on the left and what looks like an exhaust pipe on the right.

Now, there’s a possibility that this is just a piece of paper in the hand of the man standing on deck. Bill of sale, maybe? But, it’s awfully straight and seems to be perfectly perpendicular to the deck house roof. Plus, at the beach like that, it’s hard to imagine a paper not curling in the breeze. So, I’m tending to believe it’s a pipe. Either an exhaust pipe or a stove pipe.

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Inheriting Classic Model Kits

Recently, a ship modeler friend contacted me because a ship model builder had passed away, and his widow was needing to clear out their house. Among the things to clear out were a couple in-progress models, and a few kits.

This is a story that most ship modelers, particularly those who are members of local ship modeling clubs, have heard often. Many years ago, I was gifted a couple large kits from a ship modeler friend, shortly before he passed away. They are part of my large and ever growing stash of kits that I would like to build some day.

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Building a Monterey Salmon Fishing Boat, c. 1916 – Part 1

If you read my ship model projects update last year, you probably already read about this project. It began with a request from Tim Thomas, the curator of a small museum in the lower floor of the Japanese American Citizen League Heritage Hall in Monterey. He wanted a model of a small, fishing boat that was used by Japanese immigrant fishermen in Monterey to fish for salmon. There was a particular boat he had in mind, a boat called the Olympus.

I originally didn’t want to take on the project, as my record on commissioned work isn’t very good. it just becomes work and something that feels like a weight around my neck. So, I asked ship modeler Paul Reck from the Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights if he would be willing to take it on. He agreed. But, when I asked him about it later, he said he’d work on it if I would work on it too. So, I initially got kind of dragged into the project.

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Ads be Gone!

If you’ve visited my site in the past, you may have noticed that ads are no longer showing up anymore. I didn’t have much issue with the ads, as they made this site free of charge for me. But, I recently had trouble viewing my own site, due to over-sized and over-active Google ads, and decided that was enough aggravation to justify upgrading the site.

So, I broke down and shelled out the money to upgrad the site. I don’t really get much out of the upgrade, other than the elimination of ads. But, the upgrade is only $4 a month. So, please enjoy the add free site! I’ll try to get some more content posted soon. Ω

Talking on Painting Paper Models

A couple weeks ago, I got a call from Paul Fontenoy, the editor of the Nautical Research Journal, and big fan of paper models. Because of my work on Shipyard’s Bremen cog model (Hanse Kogge Bremen), which required painting it to look like wood, he had asked me to join in a video presentation/workshop on the paper modeling of ships.

I’m no expert on the subject, having only completed the cog model, the HMS Alert paper model, and a laser-cut lighthouse card model, all from Shipyard kits. But, the panel needed something on painting. And while I’m not a very confident speaker, I agreed to do it. Anyway, it was only a 10-minute time slot, and the cog model did turn out rather nicely, so why not?

There was a preliminary online meeting I had with Ian McLaughlin, who was organizing the workshop, John Garnish who would handle the technical aspects of running all of our slides for us, and Jim Baumann, a miniature modeler of incredible talent that works mostly in resin/multimedia models, but would be talking about making water dioramas. All of these are incredibly nice fellows, all located in England, and they made me feel quite at home working with them. So, after thinking about it for a few days, I outlined my ideas and put together a slide presentation and a script.

Most paper model kits use printed paper for parts. For a 10-minute talk, I decided it best to just focus on my more recent work, which is with Shipyard laser-cut ship model kits. These kits are laser-cut from plain white card stock, so they need to be painted, and actually include all the necessary paints. There was stuff to say about using paint on printed paper kits, but I didn’t have enough time to say much about it, and I put the presentation together as best I could.

Luckily, the South Bay Model Shipwrights club had their meeting a week before the NRG workshop and they let me do a run through there, from which I learned a lot.

Finally, I cleaned up my slides, edited my text, did many timed run throughs, and submitted my presentation to John Garnish, the gentleman who would be stepping through the slideshows for us.

The workshop was this past Saturday and everything went really well, better than I’d expected. So, I’m grateful to everyone who helped out. The workshop was recorded and will be edited and available for viewing on the NRG website, but you have to be an NRG member to access it.

No more talks are on the horizon, but Paul Fontenoy did say he was interested in a couple ideas for articles, including one on modeling Japanese watercraft and one on the building of my Bremen cog card model. Since the card model was one of the subjects of my talk, I think that will be the subject of the first article. But, the couple weeks leading up to this workshop were really hectic, and I’m still recovering from all of it, so it’ll be a few weeks before I consider starting on that. Ω


Displaying Models at the Showcase of Miniatures

This weekend is the annual Good Sam Showcase of Miniatures, an event organized primarily for doll house enthusiasts. But, as the overall theme is “miniatures”, the organizers were happy to include ship models and boat models. The event takes place at the DoubleTree Hotel in San Jose on Saturday and Sunday, October 8th and 9th. Those interested should visit their website at This year, the South Bay Model Shipwrights club is participating, and I brought some models for display.

For this exhibit, I brought my Mary Taylor model, a 1/72 scale Japanese boats display, a 1/10 scale Japanese fishing boat, and a 1/24 scale Japanese pleasure boat. I also brought in the South Bay Model Shipwrights club’s Drakkar Viking Ship, which was a group build. I didn’t participate in its construction, but the model was on display at Ages of Sail, and I made arrangements to pick it up and bring it to the show.

My 1/64-scale scratch-built Mary Taylor and the club built Drakkar Viking Ship.

I participated one time before, back in 2013, where I brought my 1/64-scale scratch-built Mary Taylor model, along with an under-construction English longboat. This time, I thought the Japanese boat models might be of interest to the visitors, particularly the larger scale ones, which are very close to common dollhouse scales.

The ship and boat models display at the 2013 Showcase

The Yakatabune model, in particular, is in 1/24 scale, a.k.a. 1/2″ scale, which puts it right at a popular dollhouse scale. This model event sports an interior, with a table, floor cushions, and musical instrument laid out inside the tatami-room floor.

The even larger scale Tosa wasen model, is 1/10-scale, which is actually larger than the largest of the common dollhouse scales of 1/12 or 1″ scale. But, the extras and the large details will, I hope, appeal to the dollhouse crowd.

I brought the 1/72-scale models of the Tonegawa Takasebune and the Utasebune as I’ve had them on my shelf together under a single acrylic cover, and they were the first models I thought to bring, due to their easy portability and small display space.

Two other club members are bringing models for the club display. Looking back at my photos, I kind of feel like I’m hogging all the display space. Then again, these are all models that I’ve built myself, and I’ve been itching to get some of my Japanese subjects out on display again, so this was my chance.

This is a short display, and I’ll have to collect them all tomorrow. It’s about an hour drive for me each way to San Jose, plus the hotel charged me $5 just so I could unload my car (and another $5 when I go to pick them up), but it was good to put them out in front of the public again. I hope I get the opportunity to do something similar again soon. Ω

Wowed by Shipyard’s Laser-Cut Card Models

At this point in my build of Shipyard’s 1/72-scale laser-cut card model of the 10-gun snow-rigged sloop of war HMS Wolf, I’m behind on keeping my build log up to date. But, I can’t let that get in the way here. Here’s the thing, I am so in awe of how incredible this kit is, that I have to state, categorically, that I’m absolutely building not only the Papegojan kit I have, but the HMS Alert kit, and the Le Coureur kit, and that I’m absolutely going to find the money to buy and build the HMS Mercury kit.

Shipyard’s 1/72-scale HMS Mercury, laser-cut kit.

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Exchange Rates: Great Time to Buy Kits from Japan

If inflation and econimics have been getting to you, there’s one positive aspect of it all right now if you’re in the U.S. and have any interest at all in Woody Joe kits, or any other Japanese products for that matter: The exchange rate of the dollar vs. the yen is the highest it’s been in 20 years.

Woody Joe’s Higaki Kaisen

Just last year, the exchange rate was ¥105 to the dollar. As of today, July 30, 2022, the exchange rate is ¥133 to the dollar. That’s like getting close to 27% off on your orders from Japan. This makes it a great time to buy the Woody Joe kit you’ve been thinking about.

For example, Woody Joe’s Higaki Kaisen kit, illustrated above, sells for ¥28,000 on (actually a little less after the online shop’s standard discount). Last year, the price was about $267. Right now, it’s about $210. Of course, shipping costs are high, so that’s an important consideration, but the exchange rate should help to make up for that.

If you buy from Japan, you should shop from whatever vendor you’re most comfortable with, but as always, I highly recommend the Zootoyz web shop, as service is excellent, shipping is quick, and the owner is a great guy: This is a great source for Woody Joe kits

Tosa Wasen kit from Thermal Studio

Of course, Woody Joe kits aren’t the only products you might want to be buying from Japan, but they are what I know. Also, among my past projects is an excellent kit from Thermal Studio in Japan, a 1/10 scale model of a traditional Japanese boat. It lists for ¥17,600 or about $133. You can see my post about purchasing the kit from 2016 here:

Hope this works out to be an opportunity for some of you readers to try out one of these kits. Feel free to leave a reply here if you end up getting one of these kits or have any questions. Ω

Shipmodeler Ed Von der Porten Mention

About a week ago, I ran across an article from the San Francisco Chronicle about the Manila galleons. It war of particular interest because the article by Carl Nolte mentions ship modeler and friend, the late Ed Von der Porten. The article included a nice photo of Ed displaying his then-under-construction model of the San Juan, a Basque whale ship, which is very similar to the Manila galleons. You can read the full content of the SF Chronicle article here.

The exact whereabouts of the now completed model are presently unknown to me, or the other members of the South Bay Model Shipwrights club, but it was last known to be on display at the  Sonoma County Museum. I’m hoping it’s still there, so I can see it again.

I did manage to get a nice photo of the model as it was displayed. The photo was taken by Ken Lum, who is currently the  vice-president of the South Bay Model Shipwrights club.

Photo courtesy of Ken Lum.

I dug around further and found a couple photos of my own of Ed and his San Juan model, including a nice close-up I took at one of the club South Bay Club Meetings.

We lost Ed in 2018, but he and his work are not forgotten, so it was nice to see the mention of him in the SF Chronicle article. Meanwhile, I’ll be doing to some follow-up work to see if I can locate his San Juan model. Ω