Tag Archives: Arrow Gunboat

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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February 9, 2022

Rigging the Amati Arrow Gunboat

I have to be honest. Aside from the Bremen Cog model that I completed about a year ago, I haven’t really done much rigging. My heart just hasn’t been into it. I’ve always loved researching model subjects and hull construction and detailing. But, when it comes to belaying lines to cleats and seizing lines around blocks and all, my mind just gets tangled in all the ropes.

With Japanese boat models, there’s very little of that, and maybe that’s why I’ve done so much work on them over the past few years. But, now I’m at the rigging stage of my Amati Arrow Gunboat kit. I thought, given the size and type of boat, that rigging would be pretty simple. But, it’s far more complicated than I would have ever expected.

It seems that just about every line on this model, save for a bobstay at the bow, is running rigging. Which means that all the lines have to get belayed somewhere. But, the model has 54 cleats, and from what I can tell, all but about 6 will need to be used.

This past week, I’ve just been working on rigging the backstays that support the masts, and that alone uses 24 cleats. I managed to get a little over half way through this task, before it wore me out.

I suppose I’ve become something of a rigging wimp…

 

Meanwhile, the Atakebune

While rigging may be getting me down a bit this week, I seem to be taking modifications of the Atakebunbe model, the Japanese 16th century battleship, in stride. I’ve gone ahead and removed the stern section of the box structure. Luckily, I’ve been using Original Titebond wood glue, which can be soften by soaking with water. So, this actually didn’t take a great deal of work, and I managed to free up most of the parts without breaking anything.

Meanwhile, I’m working on the roofing of the castle structure. Below, you can see the rounded roof that was included in the kit, which no longer spans the length of the extended structure. More on these later.

And, so that you can see how much of the castle structure is now done, here’s a pic of that.

 

A Little Sick

Now, I would probably have made more progress on the Atakebune model if it weren’t for the fact that I came down with stomach cramps and unpleasant other attendant symptoms last night, which continued today. It’s not actually that bad, but periodically painful and otherwise unpleasant.

Handed Down Projects

On a completely unrelated note, I wanted to mention that back in 2013, a ship modeling friend and colleague passed along two of his larger projects to me shortly before he succumbed to cancer. He hadn’t gotten very far along on either one, and I’ve kept them in storage for the time being.

The ship modeler’s name was John Nash, and he passed away on October 13, 2013. He was a member of both the Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights, as well as the South Bay Model Shipwrights, and he was always very supportive of my ship modeling work and skills. I always figured that if I completed the models, it would really be a join project between him and me, and it gives me a way to remember and honor him.

It’s hard to imagine it’s been more than 8 years. But, I finally got myself organized to get his kits out again. Last year, I did a little bit of cleanup on one of them. Then, last month, I decided to redo some of the hull planking, which was only barely started and to reshape the bow blocks. The kit is Mantua Panart’s Spanish warship San Felipe, one of their most popular, large kits.

I haven’t done much to the model. Just took off the lower two planking strakes at the bow and started filing the bow block, which were left too bluff. I’ll also need to bevel the bulkheads and possibly add some kind of support or filler blocks between them. In the meantime, I covered the stem with tape to help protect it from stray bumps with the file.

Now the fact hasn’t been lost on me that this is a full-rigged ship with lots of shrouds and ratlines, and I just got through complaining about rigging. However, I’ve rigged a San Felipe model before and quite enjoyed it.

Anyway, who knows? I’m not trying to finish it, just to work on it in my spare time. It’s a potentially beautiful model when properly built. But, yes, I understand that the history of this ship is questionable. There’s a good post about it here: https://www.modelships.de/San_Felipe_1690_authenticity/San_Felipe_1690_authenticity.htm

At this point in life, I don’t really care about the accuracy of historic details. This kit makes a beautiful model. What’s more, it’s the original kit, before the manufacturer started pre-printing deck planking and all.

I found a photo on the Internet of a completed model that was posted on ModelShipWorld.com. Interestingly enough, I know the builder, Andy Poulo. He’s one of the people who attended many of the first ship model meetings I set up at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum starting in 2013.

Anyway, I’ll post more about this project over time.

 

Ship Model Meetings

Having just mentioned the museum in Vallejo, last week I contact the museum’s new Director and cleared the way to hold some ship model meetings again there. I started some meetings back in 2013, with our last one in 2019. I think it’s time to see what the old gang is up to now. Sadly, we lost one member a couple years ago, and I’m beginning to think that Andy Poulo, may also be gone. Still, it’s important to try to reconnect with those who are here, and I know at least three of us are still building ship models.

Also, with Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights still not meeting in person, it may lead some new ship modelers to join my ship model meeting in Vallejo. It’s always nice when there are at least 5 or 6 active ship modelers. Ω

 

February 4, 2022

I’m really trying to make some ship modeling progress, but a lot of work work has been coming in lately. Not exactly a bad thing. But, mixed in with everything else, it’s a big of a drag, especially as much of it has been hitting at the end of a week. That generally means that I’m going to be working on this things into the weekend. I’m just griping, but hey, it’s my blog. Good for griping from time to time.

Sea Watch Books

I noticed what was potentially some good news in the ship modeling world the other day. I went to look at some book titles from Seawatch Books. The owner, Bob Friedman, announced his retirement some time back, which would possibly mean an end to their existing excellent titles or any new ones.The site was down, with a message saying it was down pending sale of the company.

That would have been very good news, except that today, I see that message now says that the inventory and business are for sale. So, I guess that potential sale of the company must not have panned out. Here’s hoping somebody buys the business and continues new publications.

Syren Rope Rocket

But on the brighter side, I got my Syren Rope Rocket in the mail today. It’s shipped in a small box, only about 7″ square and less than 3″ thick. Of course, I’m not going to be able to use it until I put it together. That won’t happen today. But, maybe I’ll set aside some time tomorrow to work on that.

Then, I’m going to have to start ordering some thread that will give the best results, try out various combinations, numbers of strands, etc. Of course, others have already done a lot of this work, so I may start hunting through the ModelShipWorld for their info. In the meantime, I have sufficient rigging line for my current projects, so I have a little time to practice before I really need to produce any model rope.

Atakebune

Went back to do some more work on the Woody Joe Atakebune kit yesterday and made some good progress. Mostly dealing with the roof of the castle structure. Having built one of Woody Joe’s castle kits, and a few of their small architectural kits, I’m familiar with the process. The major roof pieces are done now, and I have a few of the smaller pieces left to do. So, I’m maybe 2/3 of the way through, and it’s about time to give some thought to painting. Wood Joe recommends Liquitex Neutral Gray, but I’ve found that the roofs look nicer in a darker shade with some highlighting.

The trickiest part of building the castle structure is to make the roof for the forward structure, as I’ve lengthened that structure. The kit provided roofing will not work, so I have to come up with an alternative.

Fortunately, watching Mr. Kazunori Morikawa’s (owner of Zootoyz.jp) progress, I’ve seen some things he’s tried and have had time to develop my own ideas. More on that in my build log on wasenmodeler.com.

Gunboat “Arrow”

I really want to keep pushing forward on the American gunboat model. As I mentioned the other day, I made the display base. I just need to drill it out, and then I can attach the model. I’ve pre-rigged a number of the blocks and I’m in the process of replacing a couple of the backstays I added recently. For this particular set of backstays, this will be the third set I’ve rigged.

Pretty soon, I’m going to have to make a decision on the sails. Full lateen sails are what I’d figured on from the start. But, lately, I’ve been thinking that it might be interesting to have the model shown with oars deployed. In that case, the sails should probably be furled. But, now I’m also thinking that sails that are brailed up might look even more interesting. In any case, I’m also thinking about whether cloths sails are okay or if I should try to do something in paper, which might be more scale accurate and shapable.

Well, it’s food for thought. Ω

 

February 2, 2022

Today, I felt like doing a little writing, but I didn’t have enough to write a whole post about any one project, so I’m just writing an update for the day.

For the most part, I seem to have gotten my ship modeling mojo back after the holidays, and I’ve been concentrating a lot of my efforts on my build of Amati’s American gunboat model, as it’s far enough along to where it looks good and it looks interesting. So, I feel pretty well motivated to continue it to the finish now.

I decided to rig the model using pear wood Master Korabel blocks that Ages of Sail is now carrying. I used them to rig the gun tackles, and I’m pretty happy with how that looks.

I’m also at the point where I’m considering mounting the model before that gets too difficult to do, so I bought an 8′ cherry wood plank from Rockler a couple days ago, cut a piece of it and routed the edges.

For mounting the model, I found that those little slotted brass stanchions that you can buy from just about any ship modeling source, worked really well, except that the keel on the model is really shallow, so I had to cut them down. It gave me a chance to use the little mini cut-off saw that I inherited from the late Jean Eckert.

Original on the right and the cut-down version on the left. And, yes, the keel is that shallow on this model, but the stanchion is now a perfect fit.

Meanwhile, I finally got around to ordering a “Rope Rocket” – a nicely designed rope walk or rope making machine from Syren Ship Model Company . I’ve made my own model rope in the past, but my homemade ropewalk was really, really primitive… and I mean really primitive. I was looking making a replacement, but I finally just gave in and ordered one that works well. More on that when it shows up. Ω

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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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