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.
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.
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.