Category Archives: Ship Modeling News

Ship modeling related news.

Projects Update for Spring 2022

I have to apologize, as I haven’t been writing very much about ship modeling projects lately. With tax season, rent increases at home, more work demands, and better weather, my ship modeling progress has slowed recently. But, I’ve also not been writing about some short term ship modeling work I’ve been involved with recently, the first of which is a rigging repair job I took on. The subject is a small scale model of the yacht Dorade.

Having said that this is a repair, I also want to point out that I’m really not in the business of model repair, so please don’t ask! I get enough of those requests already. This was kind of a special case.

The Yacht Dorade

The Dorade is an internationally famous yacht built by Sparkman & Stevens back in 1929-1930. This Dorade model ended up being a chew toy for the owner’s cat. The rigging itself and the hull are mostly in very good shape. Unfortunately, the masts were very chewed up, and there was no way I could fill the holes and scars cleanly. Since the model was originally purchased by the owner’s late father, it has some sentimental value. So, they were willing to have it repaired, even though it meant redoing the rigging.

The model is not an award winning miniature, but it has some interesting features. The standing rigging was done in what looks like clear monofilament fishing line, and the turnbuckles were simulated with metal tubing that looks like aluminum. The line is clearly out of scale, but being made from clear material, it actually works, visually.

I tried to replicate the use of same kind of line and tubing for turnbuckles, but just couldn’t get the same arrangement to work out, so I used some gray/silver braided nylon fishing line. Scale-wise, it’s better, but a little hard to work with.

Anyway, this isn’t really meant as a detailed report on the repair – more to inform what I’ve been up to. I expect to have the work completed in another week or so.

Monterey Salmon Fishing Boat, c.1910

The Dorade isn’t the only outside project that’s been occupying my time. Some months ago, I was asked by the curator of a small museum in Monterey, if I or someone I knew could build a model of a small salmon fishing boat, as depicted in a photo he sent me. I really wanted to work on the project for him, as I’m very interested in supporting his work and that of the museum. Also, he has been supportive of my work on the study and model construction of traditional Japanese boats. But, I just felt like I’ve been stretched too thin, and ended up asking Paul Reck, a veteran modeler of the Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights club, if he was interested in taking on the project. He said he was interested, but he wanted me to work on it with him. Well, co-working on a project should be easier than doing it all myself.

The model will be that of a small fishing boat that was owned by one of the many migrant Japanese fisherman that moved to the Monterey area around 1900. As I said, the model is based on a photo I was provided with by Tim Thomas, the curator at the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) Heritage Hall and Museum.

With no drawings of the boat available, it’s been quite a challenge. A lot of information has to be derived from this single photo. Paul Reck has drawn up a plan for the hull and has been working on it. So far, I’ve mostly been consulting with him (sometimes arguing) on the various details and measures. The model will be a small one, to include the launch cradle. At 1/24 scale, the boat model will end up at just about 13″ in length. I’ll be decking it and doing many of the small details soon enough. But, being a small, simple boat, with no rigging, this should be completed relatively quickly.

Other Current Projects

The sail re-do for the American Galley Gunboat model is done, and they just need to be mounted, so I can finish rigging the model. I don’t think I’ll add oars, not even stowed. There are just too many required, and it would end up overwhelming the appearance of the model. So, once the last of the rigging goes on, and I get a flag mounted, the model will be done. That’s coming up quickly. Probably as soon as I get the Dorade done.

The Ogura pond boat, if you’ve been following my Japanese boat model building is held up at the construction of the bow end of the boat. The construction style of the boat is very unfamiliar to me, and I’ve had a bit of a time trying to figure out how to properly build and attach the bow. It will happen fairly soon though. Then, I can deal with detailing the model and finishing it up.

The Atakebune model, another Japanese vessel and Woody Joe kit, is the next project that should be finished up soon. I have had to set this one aside as I deal with finishing up the Dorade and the American Gunboat models. With those done, my focus will be on this and the pond boat. What basically needs to be finished on the Atakebune are a few details on the yagura, or box structure, the completion of the stern area of the lower hull, and then the detailing of the various copper coverings and possibly the addition of gold/brass ornamentation.

There’s also a good chance that I will continue to add some details to the model over time. So, it may be a long while before I actually call it done and put it away for good.

Finally, there are three other projects I’ve got in mind to get to work on, but I’m going to keep quiet on these until I’ve cleared out three of the projects I’ve mention. That won’t actually be too far away, so stay tuned to hear more in the next month or so. Ω

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

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

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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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

Tablesaw Virtual Workshop, Saturday, December 11, 2021

This coming Saturday, the Nautical Research Guild is hosting an online workshop, covering the use of small hobby table saws, such as that from Byrnes Model Machines and others. The title of the workshop is “Using the Table Saw Safely”, and it will be given by NRG Director Kurt Van Dahm on Saturday, 12/11, at 10am CST.

According to an announcement by the NRG, the presenter will show how to perform rip cuts, cross cuts, lap joints, miters and other common operations in a safe and efficient manner.

Pre-registration is required in order to attending this hour-long virtual workshop, but it is free to Nautical Research Guild members. Non-members may still attend, but there is a $5 fee. For more information or to register, click here. Ω


New Model Gallery at the San Diego Maritime Museum

There have been lots of wooden model sailing ships at the San Diego Maritime Museum for as long as I can remember. But, I just saw this news item on the maritime museum’s website about   a model gallery exhibit in their newly created visitor annex, which is aboard the ferryboat Berkeley.

This is a very nice looking gallery of models. I wish we had one like this on the ferryboat Eureka (Berkeley’s sister ship). I will have to make a point of heading down to San Diego again one day soon to check it out.

Read the details here: Ω



There’s a New Titanic in Town

Last month, I learned that there was a new Titanic kit from OcCre. It’s now officially released and soon to appear in your favorite ship model shop. Now, I have to admit my first thought was, do we really need another wooden Titanic kit? We have Mantua, Amati, Billing Boats, Woody Joe… and now OcCre. But, after looking more closely at the published details of this kit, I’m thinking this kit actually looks pretty good, and it’s at a lower price point than others.

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Revamped Revenue Cutter Harriet Lane Launched

I just found out today that Model Shipways has redone their classic Harriet Lane kit, turning their 1/120 scale solid hull model into a bigger and more detailed 1/96 scale plank-on-bulkhead kit.

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HMS Sphinx, 1775 – New Kit from Vanguard Models

Chris Watton has done it again with what looks to be another hit of a kit, the 1/64-scale model of the British 20-gun frigate HMS Sphinx. The Sphinx was a sixth-rate warship built in 1775, the lead ship of a class of 10 ships, armed with 20 nine-pounder carriage guns. This newest kit is the  seventh ship model kit produced by Vanguard Models, and their largest one to date.

I don’t have any photos of the fully rigged model, as the photos of the completed prototype weren’t available when I got these pics. The new HMS Sphinx kit is a 1/64-scale kit that measures just over 31″ long when complete. The kit looks like kind of a monster in terms of detail and completeness.

Laser-cut pear wood ladders and gratings are standard, the deck is maple wood with the planking pre-etched for you, including treenail detail. Five sheets of photo-etched brass, 3D-printed cannon barrels, all planking above the wales comes as pre-cut and engraved sections. Even the wales are pre-cut and engraved with the anchor stock planking detail. The kit even has a semi-interior, and the great cabin even has a checkerboard floor.


In many ways, the detail in this kit reminds me of the Shipyard card model kits of HMS Mercury and HMS Enterprise. Those ships are larger frigates of 28 guns as compared with the 20 guns of the Sphinx. But, the internal details are similar, and are a nice feature. For the Sphinx kit, this detailing alone sets it apart from the vast majority of wooden ship model kits.

Availability has been pretty limited for this kit, as there were pre-orders being accepted by the Vanguard Models website, but the first batch of 50 sold out some time ago, and next batch has been held up by a delay in the photo-etched brass parts. However, I’m told that the kit should be available again shortly.

Update: Rigged model details are now available and the new batch of kits include the rigging instructions as well. I expect the additional instructions are getting sent out in some form to the early buyers.

The price of the new kit isn’t cheap. But, this may be the finest ship model kit I’ve ever seen. Current list on the Vanguard Models website is £689.95, or about $943.90. So, this is clearly a very high end kit. Expect Ages of Sail to have these in stock as well in early to mid October. Ω