Tag Archives: Amati

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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More Musings on the Amati “Arrow” Gunboat

I made some progress over the past few days on the Amati American gunboat kit, but it doesn’t really show very well. Here are photos from my last post and then from today.

It may not look much different, but there are some 116 parts that have been added since last time! That comes out to be 56 cleats and 60 ringbolts. The ringbolts had to be assembled from provided eyebolts and split rings. The cleats are cast metal and I’d already painted them months ago.

Last time, if you recall, I said there were a lot of extra cleats and eyebolts. Turns out I was absolutely wrong. I went over the plans and instructions thoroughly, and I discovered that just about every one of these cleats and ringbolts has a line attached to it, so there is a LOT more rigging on this model than it first appears in the kit photos. Don’t be fooled.

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Building the Amati “Arrow” Gunboat

Amati Model of Italy makes a wide variety of interesting ship modelings subjects. In early 2018, I finished building their Swedish Gunboat kit. Like that one, another gunboat that has been around for as long as I can remember, and was always intrigued by, is the “Arrow” an American Gunboat from the period around the War of 1812.

The Jeffersonian era was an interesting time in American naval history in the desire to use defensive gunboats in place of large expensive warships. As a result, there were numerous gunboat designs implemented. In Howard Chapelle’s book, The History of the American Sailing Navy, several of these designs can be found. Among them is a design that Chapelle describes as a “galley gunboat showing Mediterranean influence.” Clearly, this was the drawing that inspired the Arrow gunboat kit.

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War of 1812 Gunboats

So, this past week, I’ve been having a few conversations with Mr. Paul Reck, who’s an accomplished ship modeler that runs the Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights club in San Francisco. I’ve been a member of that group for at least 10 or 11 years. Paul has been talking for some time about gunboats of the Jeffersonian navy. So, 1801 through the War of 1812. And, yes, that’s technically into the Madison presidency, but we’re talking about the gunboat navy that took shape under Jefferson.

Paul has built a model of the War of Independence gunboat Philadelphia and small galley cutter Lee. Lately, his attention turned to these Jeffersonian gunboats. This is something I’ve always had an interest in, though my knowledge doesn’t really go past a couple historical books on the War of 1812 and the Barbary Wars, and Howard Chapelle’s book History of the American Sailing Navy.

A number of years back, my interest did lead me to buy the only available kit of a Jeffersonian gunboat, Amati’s Arrow Gunboat kit. I’d started the model a long time back, but set it got set aside as many of my projects do. But, Paul has seen the model I was working on, and we talked about the boats many times over the years. But, the subject came up again recently, and it sounds like Paul is interested in moving ahead with a build of one of these boats. Continue reading

On the Horizon: Amati’s German Battleship Bismark Kit

I mentioned recently that as a ship modeler, it’s nice to see new ship model releases. Vanguard Models’ and their imminent release of the royal yacht the Dutchess of Kingston is not the only new kit on the horizon. Italian kit maker Amati Model has apparently been working quietly on a new super-kit: A big scale model kit of the German battleship Bismark. 

I don’t know much about it, except that they’ve been hinting at the kit on their Facebook page. Then, today, Ages of Sail made an announcement of the kit’s upcoming release. Apparently, there are no specific detail announced yet on the kit or it’s exact release date, but it sounds like it should be out in the next month or so, and Ages of Sail will have the kit at the time of the official release. It’s also going to be a very big kit. 

Amati's Bismark

From Ages of Sail’s blog post

Any bets on the scale of the new kit? In any case, the photos shown on Ages of Sail’s blog post show some very fine detailing. I “borrowed” one of the photos to give you an idea. To see more visit their blog post here. Ω

Amati Planking Clamp Set

Those who have been following my mosts here may recall my post a few years back on a very simple planking clamp that anyone can make from common spring-steel binder clips that you can buy at any office supply store.

One of my homemade planking clamps

Well, a while back, Amati came up with their own version of this idea that you might be interested in trying out. Their Clamp Set gives you a dozen binder clips and specially designed brass plates together to a set of very nice planking clamps.

The instructions on how to assemble them is printed right on the back of the cardboard cover, so don’t throw it out until you’ve made your set! The package includes a dozen binder clips, the same as you would get at the office supply store, plus a photo-etched sheet with 14 brass plates – I guess they figure you’re likely to screw  up once or twice.

There’s definitely a little bit of assembly required here. First the brass pieces each have to be cut from the sheet. I found you could just twist them in place until they broke loose. In either case, the tabs that hold the parts to the sheet need to be filed down a little. Also, the parts come off a little sharp, so just be careful.

You’ll need some fine pliers to assemble these, as you will need to bend some tiny tabs. The instructions are pretty clear on how to do this, and in a short time, you have a completed planking clamp assembled.

Now, it didn’t take long to figure out that there might be an easier way to assemble these, but it’s kind of hard to describe without going into too much detail. In any case, the first one, but I noticed the brass plate rattles a little when you shake it. This doesn’t affect its use, but I realized that if you just bend the tabs so that are flat on top of the clip, it would make for a tighter fit and not rattle. Again it doesn’t make the clamps any better, just quieter.

So, these clamps do take a few minutes to assemble, but they look like they will work well. Again, it’s about the same as the design I’ve been using, just a little fancier.

If you want to try these out, their available from your Amati dealer as item number 7377. Ages of Sail stocks them here. Ω

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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Amati Swedish Gunboat Build – Part 5

With another ship modelers’ get-together coming up again in just over 3 weeks, it’s time to take a look at our group project, the Amati Swedish Gunboat. Still, nobody has finished their model, but three of us are in striking distance of completion and I’ll be wrapping up my project in the next couple months.

I was partly inspired to finish up this model after seeing photos of the model built by ship modeler Junichi Yamashita of the Japanese ship model society The Rope. The model was beautifully done and was part of the society’s 42nd annual exhibition. Below are just a few photos of this nicely done model, courtesy of The Rope.

You can see more photos of this model on their website:


Just scroll down the page to model entry 42-18 and click on the photo.

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