Category Archives: Ship Model Build Logs

Building a Beginning Billing Boats Kit, Dana Fishing Boat – Part 9: And More Details

Before going on, let me make sure to define the boat’s rig for those not familiar with some of the terms. As I mentioned before, the Dana is a ketch-rigged fishing boat. This means that it has two masts: a mainmast and a shorter mizzenmast. There are five sails shown with this kit. I’ve labeled them in the image below for those not familiar with the configuration or terms.

Making the Horses

On the Dana, the horses are  metal bars on which slide sheet blocks. There are two of these on the Dana, one for the main sheet and one for the staysail sheet. You can find these illustration in diagrams E and H in the instructions. I’ve marked them with red arrows. Continue reading

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Building the Kanrin Maru – Japan’s First Screw Steamer – Part 2

Planking the hull of the Kanrin Maru is pretty easy. The ship has a sharp bow and the run of the planks is easy, needing little bending. You might be tempted to taper the planks at the bow, but that’s not what the instructions have you do. And, if you do, you may very well run out of planking material. If you want to more authentic planking, you’ll need to supply your own additional planking material.

I chose to build the hull straight from the kit at this point, so I simply laid the planks as is, starting at the bulwarks and working towards the keel. Hinoki, or Japanese cedar, is the material used for much of the kit, and it’s a bit brittle when dry. To bend or twist planks, the wood doesn’t need to be soaked, just wet. But little bending or twisting is required for this model.

As the model is intended for painting, the planks stop abruptly at the stern bulkhead. Here, the stern shape is provided in the form of a stack of thick pieces that have to be filed down to shape.

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Building a Beginning Billing Boats Kit, Dana Fishing Boat – Part 8: More Details

Stern Platform

The stern platform is a plywood piece that fits against the bulwarks behind the tiller. Being that this is a fishing boat and that this platform is to be covered with thin wooden slats, I presume that this was used for the process of bringing aboard fishing nets. The wooden slats would allow the fisherman to stand on the platform as water drains into the channels between the slats.

The platform is a pre-cut piece of plywood, but attaching the platform is a bit problematic, as there are no grooves or anything that supports the platform. It’s supposed to be attached to the bulwarks by a simple glue joint.

Since the platform is supposed to be painted white and the wooden slats or battens are to be left a natural wood color, based on the model photos on the box and in the instruction booklet, it seemed to make the most sense to paint the platform before adding the slats. I did this before gluing the platform into place, leaving the addition of the wooden slats to be dealt with later.

Having glued the platform into place myself, I strongly advise placing a small wooden block under the platform. This can be temporarily placed or glued to the underside of the platform. In any case, trim it or sand it until the platform sits at a height and angle that will allow it to fit nicely against the stern. If this is glued on, you can probably just leave it as is or paint it a dark color, so it’s not noticeable under the platform. Another option is to add stanchions under the platform, which might be more correct.

In any case, I added mine using a technique that my old high school math teacher would refer to as “brute strength and awkwardness,” just using some tape and holding the part until the glue set. The process made enough of a mess that I had to do some paint touchup, but it worked out.

Adding the wooden slats wasn’t that hard. I simply used some contact cement, which will hold well enough given that these parts aren’t under any physical strain. I’m thinking I should touch each one also with a tiny drop of CA to lock them into place. Gluing on the painted surface of the platform isn’t ideal, but the paint is well bonded to the wood platform, and I think the glue will hold to the paint well enough.

Ideally, the wooden slats should be a lot closer together, but this is about as good as I could get given the amount of wood remaining. The biggest problem for the kit modeler here is that I’ve never seen wood of this dimension on sale from Billing Boats or elsewhere. Continue reading

Building a Beginning Billing Boats Kit, Dana Fishing Boat – Part 7: Painting and Preparation

Preparing the Blocks

At some point, we’re going to need to deal with one of the small details, namely the blocks. Billing Boats commonly includes pre-molded plastic block in many of their kits. I think they may use small wooden blocks for some things, but the blocks on this 1:60-scale kit come in plastic.

Now, you may not like plastic blocks and may want to substitute some 3rd party fittings instead.  The blocks in the kit are 3/16″ or 5mm single-sheave blocks. Amati makes 5mm single blocks in Walnut and you can find them at Ages of Sail here, at $2 for a pack of 20. Unfortunately, shipping far outweighs the cost of the blocks themselves. Not a problem if you’re already planning to order other things. But, personally, even though I have many choices of blocks on-hand, I just decided to try out the ones in the kit.

The blocks in the kit are molded in brown plastic. If you want to use them as-is, you can, but I decided to paint mine. I used Billing Boats tan for the wooden block, and Black, #11, for the stropping. Afterwards, I sprayed them with a dull cote lacquer finish. In the end, I think they look pretty decent. Anyway, I think they look good enough that once their rigged, you won’t really notice their plastic without looking really closely.

These are then set aside until needed. My kit had 12 blocks in it and it looks like 11 are needed to finish the kit. Now, given how easily I’ve lost blocks in the past, I strongly suggest keeping these safe in a small plastic parts box or zip lock bag or something until needed.

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Building a Beginning Billing Boats Kit, Dana Fishing Boat – Part 6: Deck Details

Portholes

Among the deck details are the portholes in the forward cabin. These are essentially black plastic flanges and are the same fittings used for the hawsepipe. There is one to mount on the port and starboard sides of the cabin. Mounting these requires cutting holes in the plastic cabin.

Since the flanges have no “glass”, I used some clear plastic I bought a long time ago from the manufacturer Plastruct, which makes all sorts of plastic shapes for architectural and craft projects. Hobby shops used to carry this stuff all the time, but those stores are becoming few in number. You can order direct from Plastruct if you need to, or in this case, you can cut a small piece from a clear acetate sheet protector, which you can get easily at Staples office supply.

The plastic just needs to be big enough to glue over the inside end of the porthole. If you glue the piece into place first, after the glue dries, you can then trim off as much excess as you can, to make it easiest to put the porthole into the hole you’ve made for it.

For glue, I used a product called Canopy Glue. This stuff dries fast and clear. Other glues, like CA or plastic cement, often mar or fog the clear plastic. This is another one of those things I picked up from the hobby shop. The item is specifically called “Formula 560” which comes in a 2 oz. bottle from a company called Pacer.

The portholes come pre-molded in black. They looked pretty good, so I didn’t bother to paint them.

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Building a Beginning Billing Boats Kit, Dana Fishing Boat – Part 5: Hull Details

The Prop

After painting the hull and adding the prop, I went ahead and decided that I didn’t like the position of the prop. Now, you may not care enough about it to want to change anything, but it was bugging me. Now, I may be wrong, but I’m glad I made the changes.

The prop points downward. On a real boat, this would drive the bow downwards, which may be the whole point. The boat may be more stable, operating with the bow not riding up above the water. But, the images of the completed model don’t seem to have the prop pointing down quite so much.

The main issue here is really that the shape of the rudder assembly prevents you from mounting the prop in a “nicer” fashion – the top of the prop hits the wooden frame. Really, all you need to do here is shave away enough of that frame to clear the prop when it’s mounted the way you want it.

If you build the kit straight out of the box, the prop points downward considerably.

Looking at Billing Boats instructions, you’ll need to trim the wooden frame to adjust angle of the prop. Test fit the prop as you go to see how much trimming you need to do.

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Building a Beginning Billing Boats Kit, Dana Fishing Boat – Part 4

Marking the waterline

I happen to have a tool that I purchased from Micromark some time ago that they market as a waterline marker. It’s apparently a repurposed toolmaker’s surface guage, but it certainly works for marking the waterline. This marker uses a metal scribe to mark the waterline, which works pretty nicely on the soft ABS plastic hull.

Most waterline markers marketed today, like Amati’s or Model Expo’s, are fitted with a pencil. Of course, if you don’t have one of these, a pencil mounted atop a block of appropriate height will do.

Amati Model’s waterline marker

In any case, the model needs to be sitting so that the waterline is parallel to the work surface. I just used the included cradle to hold the model, though it’s use resulted in a waterline that’s not quite the same as shown on the drawings, but it seemed close enough.

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Building the Kanrin Maru – Japan’s First Screw Steamer

It’s been just about three years since I last wrote about researching the Kanrin Maru, and I really haven’t done much about it lately, but I did start construction of the 1/75-scale model based on the kit from the Japanese wooden model kit manufacturer, Woody Joe. The model is being constructed with modifications based on my research.

I started construction long ago on this model, but set it aside for other, higher priority projects. Recently, I realized that I don’t have any models on permanent display anywhere. My only models on display are my Japanese traditional wooden boat models that I put on display in San Francisco’s Japantown a couple times a year.

There is a possibility that I could build this model and have it on display at the Mare Island Museum, where they have an existing display dedicated to the Kanrin Maru’s 1860 diplomatic mission to San Francisco.

Woody Joe’s 1/75-scale Kanrin Maru kit.

The Build Plan

The hull of the Woody Joe kit is very close to the line drawings I acquired of the ship, so it’s an excellent start to building what should be a pretty accurate model. There are a few details of the kit that I will change or am considering changing:

  • The planking and shape of the hull at the bulwarks
  • The presence of a winch above the propeller well in the kit
  • The shape of the hawse pipes from the kit
  • The location of the hawse pipes on the deck of the kit
  • The armament
  • The location and configuration of the ship’s wheel
  • The size of the turnbuckles provided in the kit
  • The configuration of the fore-and-aft sails
  • The presence of mast wooldings in the kit
  • The presence of a mizzen mast top in the kit
  • The absence of coal loading ports in the kit
  • Miscellaneous small details

I’ll deal with these as the build progresses. Continue reading

Building a Beginning Billing Boats Kit, Dana Fishing Boat – Part 3

After doing all that deck work and planking, the hull work was a nice little change of pace. This kit features an ABS plastic hull that’s been vacuum-formed. It’s a bit different than working with traditional styrene plastic kits. Vacuum-formed parts usually require some trimming, which is true in the case of this kit.

The hull itself is one piece, with the deck and deck houses being part of the second half of the hull assembly. Along the edge where the hull pieces meet, the edge is oversized and needs to be trimmed even. I used a drafting compass to check the evenness of the work, trimming with a knife and finishing with a sanding stick.

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HMS Alert Follow Up and Youtube Video

At the 2016 NRG Conference in San Diego, CA. Photo by Ryland Craze.

And, since Ages of Sail needed some kind of Youtube presence, I took my review photos, construction photos, and completed model photos, and put them together into a slide show with text transitions and some classical music.

I actually put this together about a year ago and then forgot all about it. I was looking at posting some other video recently and rediscovered it. So, here it is in all its splendor, HMS Alert from the Shipyard paper model kit, with some additions…


And, just in case you want to try building this kit yourself, here’s a link to it on Ages of Sail: https://www.agesofsail.com/ecommerce/hms-alert-1777-1:96—shipyard-mk019–paper-model-kit.html

Note that it now appears as part of two other combination sets. In this one, which included Le Coureur: https://www.agesofsail.com/ecommerce/30-anniversary-collection–the-opponents–shipyard-mkj005–paper-model.html

And this one, which includes Le Coureur as well as HMS Mercury: https://www.agesofsail.com/ecommerce/30-anniversary-collection–north-europe-part-2–shipyard-mkj003–paper-model.html