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.
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
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.
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
It took me a while looking at the instructions to figure out if the deck on this model is supposed to be planked. I’m accustomed to planking a deck that’s free of obstructions, and the pre-molded deck and deck houses seemed like they would be awkward to plank around. Also, the illustrations in the instructions don’t seem to show any indication that you are expected to plank the deck, though the photocopy-quality photos do show a wooden deck. But, the question is answered in a short paragraph in the instruction text, that clearly states that the deck is to be planked. Also, there are sufficient light-colored wood strips for deck planking.
Now, I’ve seen photos of models by people who have laid deck planking right down onto the plastic deck. But if you don’t want to deal with trying to fit the planks in between the deckhouses and such, you might try what I did.
I started by making a copy of the deckplan. Turned out to be pretty close to the molded piece. I cut out the deck and openings for the deckhouses and test fit on the model. It took a little extra trimming around the deck houses.
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.
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.
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.