Category Archives: Ship Model Build Logs

Building a Beginning Billing Boats Kit, Dana Fishing Boat – Part 1

I occasionally field ship modeling questions for the ship model shop Ages of Sail and for Billing Boats USA. Recently, a couple questions came up about the construction of the plastic-hull Billing Boats kits. These kits feature vacuum formed hull and/or deckhouse parts.

Now, I’ve never built one of these kits, but I understand the theory. Up to this point, the only vacuum formed parts I’ve ever dealt with are the sails in some of the plastic sailing ship model kits. So, I felt I should have a little more experience.

There are currently four beginning kits from Billing Boats that feature vacuum formed hulls, and I thought it would be good to do one of these, since this will also give me some perspective on how well suited one of these kits really is for the beginning ship modeler. Two of these available kits are rescue lifeboats and two are fishing boats. It was the Danish, ketch-rigged fishing boat “Dana,” which seemed most appropriate to me.

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Amati Swedish Gunboat Build – Final

Yes, I CAN finish a non-Japanese boat model!

Today, I just put the finishing touches on the Swedish Gunboat that I built from an Amati kit. For those interested it’s also called Cannoniera Svedese, and is listed as AM1550. To recap, this is a very inexpensive small model kit that measures about 13.5″ long when complete. It lists for $109 at Ages of Sail, where this one came from. There have been some challenges, but they’ve all been small ones.

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Amati Swedish Gunboat Build – Part 7

The Swedish Gunboat project is the closest I have to completion now, and it’s very nearly done, so I decided to put most of my effort there now. My ideas about using it to practice new sail making techniques or other grand thoughts have been set aside. As I mentioned before, the model is mostly being built straight out of the box, but there are a few minor modifications.

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Building a Gozabune (Kobaya) from Paris Plans – Part 1

My latest Japanese boat model project is a 1/32-scale model of a Shōgunke Gozabune – a state yacht belonging to the Shōgun. The model is based on measurements taken by a French officer in the 1860s and published in a French, multi-volume book of drawings of watercraft from around the world and through history, called Souvenirs de Marine, first published in the 1880s.

There is a model based on these drawings in the French national maritime museum.

Wasen Modeler

Kobaya-bune, or simply, kobaya, is a term for a type of military-style traditional Japanese vessel that was fast and maneuverable. The size of the boats labeled kobaya, which translates literally to “small, fast,” seem to vary widely. I have seen boats called kobaya that had as few as 6 oars, and larger ones that had 24 or more oars, but my access to details on these warcraft is limited.

The largest warships were called atakebune. They were big, slow, lumbering craft with a castle-like structure atop. The mid-sized warships were called sekibune, and sometimes called hayabune, or fast boats, ostensibly because they were faster than atakebune. War boats smaller than this seem to have all been classed as kobaya.

During the Tokugawa period (A.K.A. Edo period), which began in 1603, Daimyo were forbidden to have atakebune. During the time of relative peace, the smaller warships, most…

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Building a Hozugawa Ayubune Model in 1/10 Scale – Final

My first completed scratch build of a Japanese traditional wooden boat or wasen. This was a simple design that’s ideal for a first scratch build. While I’ve started scratch building other Japanese wasen subjects, this was the most straightforward to take to completion.

The project had it’s beginnings back in May of this year, when I started creating drawings for the building of the model. I started cutting some wood for it in June, but it didn’t really go anywhere until I developed the former for it in mid-October. Then, in mid-November, I got serious with it and decided to take it to completion. Finished December 3rd.

Wasen Modeler

This is the completion of my 1/10-scale model of the 15-shaku ayubune. This began with the cutting of the beams. I made the smallest beam at the bow, called the tsunatsuke, 1.5-sun square. The other two main beams I made 3-sun wide and 2.5-sun thick. I didn’t have any sugi of the necessary thickness, so I had to use two pieces glued together. I put the seam on the side of the beam in hopes that would make it less visible.

I used the beams as a guide to help me size the cutouts in the hull, which I cut with my Japanese Hishika, Super Fine Cut Saw, that I got from Zootoyz. It worked really well for this.

I found a supplier with the exact same saw in the U.S., but the cost for the saw was more than what Zootoyz charges, even when you add…

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Building a Hozugawa Ayubune Model in 1/10 Scale – Part 5

The Ayubune model is close to complete. Here’s the hull planking getting details and going on in part 5 of the build. The result is officially a boat!

Wasen Modeler

Progress continues with my 1/10-scale model of the 15-shaku boat used on the Hozu river, northwest of Kyoto. I’m 6 months into the build, but I have certainly not spent a great deal of time in actual construction. Mostly, I’ve been contemplating how I was going to accomplish each task of the build. Things are progressing quickly now.

Ayubune model with former clamped to the baseboard fixture

With the new fixture holding things in place, I taped a piece of cardstock into place to trace the shape of the hull planking. I rough marked the outlines of the bottom, bow plank, and transom on it. The planking will be cut oversized, so getting the exact shape isn’t really necessary, except to make sure that the wood I cut is large enough, but not too wasteful of my limited wood supply.

Next, I cut four straight strips of 3mm sugi

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Building a Hozugawa Ayubune Model in 1/10 Scale – Part 3

If you’re interested in modeling non-western boats, you might be interested in this 1/10-scale ayubune I’m building from scratch, based on research done by Douglas Brooks. This is a very simple small boat made for fishing and navigating the rapids of the hozu river.

Check out his blog on building one in Japan, back in 2014:
http://blog.douglasbrooksboatbuilding.com/search?q=ayubune

Note that this is not one of the subjects of his book.

Wasen Modeler

Counting up all the major planks, transom, and beams, this Ayubune model will be made up of only 17 pieces:

  • Shiki (bottom) – 3 pieces
  • Omote no tate ita (bow plank)
  • Todate (transom)
  • Tana (hull planks) – 4 pieces, 2 on each side
  • Omoteamaose (bow platform)
  • Tsunatsuke (lit. rope attachment) – Bow beam
  • Omote no funabari (forward beam) – 3 pieces
  • Tomo no funabari (aft beam)
  • Tomoamaose (stern platform)
  • Transom Strake

In addition to these, I made patterns in paper for obtaining the proper angle for the lay of the hull planking. I have yet to decide at this point just how I’m going to fix the hull planks to that angle. But, there’s time before that needs to be deal with.

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Amati Swedish Gunboat Build – Part 6

Following our meeting in October, it was clear it was time to finish up the Swedish Gunboat build. We’re down to three active builders of this model from the five that started, which isn’t too bad. One of our  builders decided to finish his up as a gift for someone, and the other is a beginning ship modeler who is anxious to get to his next project. I’m also ready to have a project actually reach completion.

Rigging and Sails

I shaped the masts and the two lugsail yards some time back. I originally added a ball to the tops of the masts as shown on the kit plans, but replaced them with a thinner pole after looking at the photos of the museum model. The presence of the pole creates a shoulder at the top of the mast, that helps secure the shrouds and stays. While modifying the masts, I also added a pair of cleats at the bottom end of each mast, again based on the photos of the museum model (see earlier posts).

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HMS Mercury Paper Model – The Build, Part 5

HMS Mercury’s Cannons

Before I can put too much of the interior detail into place, I really need to add the cannon carriages and probably the gun tackle too. The main reason is that if I am going to add any amount of gun tackle, I need some room to add ringbolts and blocks and such in the tight confines of the model’s interior. This will be more difficult if I try to do this after adding other interior furnishings.

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H.M.S. Victory, Mantua/Panart kit in 1:78 Scale – Part 3

Those of you who have seen my previous posts on this project will be happy to know I’m still on it. The last year has been a very busy one for me in the research of Japanese traditional boats, and that is the primary force that’s pulled me away from a lot of progress on HMS Victory. Well, that and the fact that there’s just a lot to the model and I have been adding details, straying from the original kit, and that’s been time consuming and a little overwhelming. But, progress is being made.

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