Category Archives: Ship Model Build Logs

Building OcCre’s Spanish 74-gun Ship Montañes from Part Kits – Final

When I began the Montañes part kit project, I began fully aware that this was pretty well just a long term project that I’d work on from time to time, and that the cost of the Packs, as OcCre calls them, would be more than the cost of the complete kit. Unfortunately, I went online to consider again purchasing the second Pack and found that the pricing had changed considerably. The Packs have gone from about $110 each to $179 each. But, there is some savings in that OcCre has changed their shipping policy so that shipping is free for orders over 150€, about $164. So, the price of $179 for the pack is the shipped price, which before was about $130.

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Building a Kit Without the Kit – Corel’s Misticque

Having been a ship modeler for around 30 years now, I have seen many models built and have built many myself. I’ve also spent a lot of time looking at the many available kits of beautiful looking ships of all kinds, and imagining building them. But, after building so many kits, I find the desire to scratch build a model. Now, I have scratch built quite a few models, mostly Japanese traditional boats, but also a few American subjects too, pilot boat, War of 1812 privateer, various hulls, etc. But, it seemed time to take on something more significant.

Now, kits still have the appeal of having already been planned out. Plus, they include all necessary decorative components. And, kits like those produced by Corel, still build into some of the most beautiful models.

Corel’s French Xebec Misticque, 1750

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Amati Gunboat “Arrow” Build – The Last Steps

As I mentioned in one of my ship modeling update posts, I haven’t done much rigging in quite some time, and heart just hasn’t been into it. So, it was a bit difficult for me to get back into the rigging of this model. And, for such a simple looking ship, it’s quite a lot of rigging. The ship, being lateen rigged, uses a set of backstays to support the masts, and each one requires two  two cleats. As there are 3 backstay pairs per mast, that’s 24 lines that have to get belayed to their own cleats, while balancing out the pendant blocks that are hanging in the air, so that their positioning is arranged to look visually pleasing.

The part about belaying to cleats that is not fun is that these cleats are fittings that are simply glued to the deck, and I find that tying off lines to them to be much more difficult than to belaying pins, which allow more clearance for the work. Also, it’s easy to accidentally pop cleats loose if the glue joints aren’t strong enough or if you just slip and put too much pressure on it.

I was actually surprised at how well the cleats were holding in place, until I got toward the last of the lines I was tying off. A little carelessness possibly, and I’d popped a couple cleats loose, and one cleat popped off more than once. So, I was really thrilled with I finished rigging these backstays. Unfortunately, they represent less than half of the cleats used on the model.


Make Sail!

The making of the sails gave me a break from tying off rigging lines. I wasn’t sure for a long time, how I wanted to represent sails on the model, whether to set full sails, show them furled, or just brailed up. Using one of the kit-provided sails, I tied it to a dowel to see how a furled sail might look.

It was actually pretty nice. But, then I figured that if I had the sails furled, I probably needed to deploy all the oars. I debated it for a while, but then decided I wanted to show the full sails.

The original sails that came in the kit were printed cloth, which was fine. The problem for me was more that for a 1/55 scale model, the simulated cloth seams were visually too close together. At just under 3/16″ apart, they’d be about 10″ wide in real life. On a smaller craft like this, I thought they should be closer to 18″ apart. So, I ended up making my own sails.

I considered new ways to make decent looking sails out of paper or silkspan, drawing in the seams and all. But, in the end, I fell back on my tried and true cloth sailmaking, using machine stitching to represent the cloth seams, and so on.

During the sail making process, I ended up making and remaking the sails. At one point, I had made a set I was happy with. But, when I went to iron them, the iron left some black residue on the one of sails that was so bad, I couldn’t clean it off. This is something that never happened before, and I couldn’t really be certain if there was a problem with the iron itself, or if somehow, there was something on the surface of the iron that meted and burned – I just can’t imagine what that could have been. Anyway, I didn’t want to chance that happening again, so I bought a new and better iron. But, the sail cloth was ruined and I had to sew another set.

Luckily, I have several sewn sail cloths that I had been making for another project. They were rejects from that project for a reason that didn’t have anything to do with the quality of the work done on them, and the seams were about the right size, so I cut a new set of sails for the gunboat.

For those who are interested, I basically make my sails from simple muslin I bought at the fabric store. I’ve tried unbleached as well as bleached. The unbleached is more a natural yellowish color. But, the batch of cloth I used for this project is plain white (bleached) muslin. Part of my sail making process is to use a liquid called Terial Magic, which you spray on the cloth, let dry, then iron. The result is to make the cloth stiff as paper. The whole process seems to turn the cloth a bit off-white, which is a bit more natural looking than bleached white.

First thing was to wash the cloth and iron it using spray starch. This made it easy enough to draw pencil lines the appropriate distance apart. Then, I’d use a sewing machine set at the finest stitch I could to sew along the pencil lines. It takes a lot of focus to keep centered on the pencil line, and I find it can be a bit physically taxing. But, it’s only two sails here.

When the sewing is done, I wash the sail cloth to get rid of the pencil marks. Then, I’ve been treating the cloth with Terial Magic, as I mentioned before. This stuff, makes the cloth act like paper, so I can fold it easier and make crisp seams for the tablings, etc. Also, I can use it on excess cloth to cut strips with a knife to use for reef bands, corner reinforcements, and so on, without any unraveling or fraying at the edges. Plus, you can wash the stuff out of the cloth if you need to, or you can just leave it in.

I’ve used this stuff on a few projects, but I don’t know how it holds up long term. We’ll see. I like that I can use it to form the sailcloth to help hold its shape and give it a more natural look. At least that’s what I’m trying for. On this model, it will be what it will be.

In any case, I was able to simply glue the tablings and reef bands in place using Aleene’s Tacky Glue, which holds cloth amazingly well, even when wet. I also used Aleene’s to glue the bolt rope into place, avoiding any out of scale stitching. After that, the reef points were added, and the sails were tied up to the lateen yards.

One other thing I’ll point out here about the Amati kit. I used the printed sails as my pattern for making my sails. However, I noted afterwards, that my sails were smaller than those shown on the plans. Turns out that the kit-provided sails were the culprit. So, if you’re planning on making your own sails, make a copy of the plans for your pattern, not the printed sail material.

Mounting the Model

I need to take a set back here and point out that I’d actually decided on how to mount the finished model. It’s actually useful to move the model to a permanent base before the sails go on. I found that these brass pedestals, which are commonly found through ship model fittings suppliers, had slots of perfect thickness. However the slots were way too deep for the keel on this model. So, I simply ground them down to create a better fit.

Below, you can see the original post on the right and the modified one on the left. I can’t actually recall where I bought these. But, I’m thinking they were probably from BlueJacket.

For the base itself, I took a trip over to the woodworking store. I’m fortunate enough to have a Rockler store about 10 minutes from my house, which carries boards of many varieties. So, I just picked up a cherry board, 13/16″ I think it was, cut off a piece on a table saw, routed the edges, and gave it a few coats of wipe on poly.

Below is the mounted model at the most recent ship modelers’ meeting. I’ll probably need to go ahead and order a brass nameplate for it. In the past I’ve used a place called Engraving Connection. That was about 4 years ago, but they were very good, so I’ll try them again.

By my next post, I should have the model done. Basically, I just have to rig the sails into place and mount the anchor. Hopefully, this will happen in the next couple weeks, in time for my next ship model meeting.








Amati Gunboat “Arrow” Build – In the Beginning, Part 2

As I continue progress with the Amati “Arrow” American Gunboat kit, I wanted to wrap up my look at the earlier stages of this kit, which began as described in the earlier post Amati Gunboat “Arrow” Builde – In the Beginning. After the part where I left off last, the footrests for the rowing stations were added, and these openings in the deck were lined.

I found the provided wood had a nice natural look to them, so I avoided any painting of the model. I edged the planking in pencil, and I simulated the treenails in the deck by simply drilling holes for them. I found that the wood dust filled in the holes and made for a very natural look, especially after the application of a little danish wood oil.

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Amati Gunboat “Arrow” Build – In the Beginning

I’ve turned my attention back toward the completion of the Amati Gunboat “Arrow” kit and it’s coming along. I’m ready to deal with rigging and the sails as most of the hull and deck detail is done. This is a kit that I started quite some time ago, but other things pushed it on a back burner, and I mean way back, because I started it in 2014.

I’ll post an update soon. But, I’ve written a few posts now about building this Amati kit, and mostly of the middle stages of construction. For those who are interested in building the kit, since the construction of this kit is unlike most ship model kits I’ve encountered, I thought it might be good to post some photos from the early stages of construction. 

On thing in particular that makes this kit unusual is that this is a shallow draft gunboat, so it’s very wide and flat, and the lower part of the hull is built in plank-on-bulkhead fashion, but with no interlocking keel piece. Also, the upper part of the hull requires the installation of “timberheads” that on most kits are provided as extensions of the bulkheads. On this kit, they are added separately. 

In any case, here’s what is mostly a photo blog of the early stages of the build. Hopefully, some modelers will find this interesting and/or helpful.

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Building Shipyard’s Dutch Fluit Schwarzer Rabe, 1627 – Part 5

For me, it seems that there is a danger in working on paper models. I find these things to be so engrossing that I have a hard time taking a break to do other things. I’ve been working on the Schwarzer Rabe pretty steadily for a couple weeks now. Almost a week ago, I had made a comment on that I was probably posting my last update for a while, as I get back to working on some other projects. But, I never stopped this one. Here it is, a week later, and I’m still trying to make myself shift gears and get some other needed work done. We’ll see if that happens after this post.

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Building OcCre’s Spanish 74-gun Ship Montañes from Part Kits – Part 3

Having still not come to my senses, I continue to plan modifications to my Montañes model. More and more, I am considering modifying the cannons and gun ports. As none of the cannon parts are included in the initial parts pack (remember, I only have Pack 1 of the six available for this kit), I contacted OcCre about ordering some of the cannon barrels and parts.

I have to say that OcCre’s customer service seems to be top notch. I communicated by messaging them through their Facebook page, which is easy to do and replies are usually within 24 hours. I provided the part numbers from the kit and the quantities. Basically, I just wanted 4 of each of the cannons and carriages, which would be enough for me work with, and allow me to at least expand the number of full cannons on the upper gun deck. Anyway, the parts aren’t very expensive, but right now in particular, with Covid limitations, the shipping is the expensive part. I think it ended up costing me around $26 for these few parts. But, since I’m experimenting and writing about my build, I decided to go ahead.

It didn’t take me long to get the parts I’d ordered, giving me some idea of how I might proceed with the build. First off, I had a hunch from looking at the photos of the part packs that OcCre had changed their kit from the original design, to use cheaper materials. So, while disappointing, it came as no surprise that the cannon barrels were all cast metal parts, not the beautiful looking brass gun barrels that you see on all the model photos.

For me, it probably doesn’t make a lot of difference, as I usually prefer my cannon barrels blackened to appear more like the real ones. And, as castings go, they aren’t bad. On the larger dummy barrels, you can hardly see any mold seams.

But, as with so many kit manufacturers, the cannon barrels don’t look a whole lot like real cannon barrels. I don’t know who designed these cannon barrels, but clearly they either have no idea what a cannon barrel looks like, or they just don’t care.

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Building Shipyard’s Dutch Fluit Schwarzer Rabe, 1627 – Part 4

Planking of the Schwarzer Rabe is coming along well. I’ve now gotten well into the planking below the waterline. Planking the lower hull seems much easier than the upper hull. With the upper hull, the treenails show, and they need to line up along the imagined frames. Also, the gun ports and other similar features have to line up properly, so a lot of attention goes into these planks.

In above photos was taken just as I was about the reach the waterline. So far, things seem to be looking okay. All planking strips are edged with brown paint to hide the edges. The individual lines of planks have been scored as well. This serves to make the planking look a little more realistic, but it also allows the planking strip to curve more easily, adapting to the shape of the hull.

I still have a little issue with the hull flattening out a little between the frames, but I did my best to minimize this by inserting a blade under the flat areas of the plank strips and pushing them back out a little. I then fill the resulting gap between the hull and the planking strip with a little extra glue for support.

At this stage, there’s really not much to say. Below the waterline, my biggest concern is keeping the hull more or less rounded. Also, I have no way to really gauge how well I’m covering the hull.  Am I going to have any gaps or any overlap at the end. Past experience has taught me that I’m certainly going to end up with one or the other.

Since I’m cutting the planking strips along the black lines with those lines mostly showing up on the edge of my planking strips, I’m guessing that I’m going to end up with a little overlap at the end. Whatever plank I end up trimming in the end may look a little odd, but it will probably look a lot better than having gaps.

But, I am thinking that once the lower hull is planked, I’ll be treating with thin CA to stiffen the planking, then sanding the hull down a little, to reduce any burrs or ridges formed from the cutting process. I expect I’ll paint the lower hull too, or at least give it a wash of paint. That should subdue those black plank lines. The printed paper is a bit pure white, so I may tone it down a little bit.

In any case, planking the hull is somewhat self motivating. I’ve gotten so much of the hull done now, I’m looking forward to finishing it up before I take any kind of break and work on something else – Remember, this is a model I started as a filler project to work on when I’m tired of working on other things. That said, it’s feeling a lot less like a filler project right now, and I’ve started prepping the parts for the stem/beakhead and the sternpost/skeg.

As a parting pic of today’s post, the above are two of the 6 pieces that will make up the beakhead. There is a kind of scrollwork that shows through here. On the top piece, I’ve carefully cut away all the black printed areas. You can see the black printed areas in the bottom piece, which I’ll “carve” next. After I finished cutting, I treated the scrollwork with some thin CA to harden it, and keep it from getting damaged later.

As soon as I can get the beakhead and the keel all done, I’ll be able to work the mounting. On my first paper model, HMS Alert, I used simple brass rods. This has a very clean and minimalist  look, which I like. But, I’ll see how things go when I come to that.

It’s a bit out of sequence, but I’m kind of itching to work on the deck area a little. Not sure what I’ll do, but you might see some details get added – at least ones that I don’t think will get in the way or get damaged while I’m working on the outer hull.

Building Shipyard’s Dutch Fluit Schwarzer Rabe, 1627 – Part 3

As you may have noticed, I’ve now officially elevated this build of Shipyard’s 1/96-scale paper model kit of the Dutch fluit Schwarzer Rabe to a full fledged project, with its own place in my Ship Model Build Logs menu.

It seems that after completing the 1/72-scale Hanse Kogge Bremen laser-cut paper model, for which I did not maintain a build log here, I was itching to keep up with the paper models. I wasn’t really sure if I had been doing a good enough job with my Dutch fluit Schwarzer Rabe, but I thought I should give it a chance. So, I continued the build this weekend, adding more details to the hull, and starting a blog on, which I will basically echo here, or vice versa.

As we last left this build…

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Building OcCre’s Spanish 74-gun Ship Montañes from Part Kits – Part 2

Beginning the actual construction of the Montañes started with the marking of the parts needed for the first steps. The parts are all laser-cut, all nice and neat on their respective sheets, but they parts aren’t marked. To find the parts, you have to use the diagrams of the laser-cut sheets in the instructions.

Part numbers drawn in pencil.

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