Tag Archives: ship model repairs

Photos from the Golden Hind Repair

I was just sent some photos taken last Friday during the final stages of my repair work on Raymond Aker’s Golden Hind model. The model is on display at the Bear Valley Visitor Center of the Pt. Reyes National Seashore.

The repair work is done – yes, I finally finished a ship model related project – and the model is back in its display, with a new, more colorful backdrop.

All photos are courtesy of the National Park Service.

Repairing the Golden Hind

A couple months ago, fellow ship modeler Ed Von Der Porten (you might have read his articles in Seaways’ Ships in Scale magazine), got me lined up with some work for the Pt. Reyes National Seashore. The job entailed doing some light repair work to the large Golden Hind model on display at the Bear Valley Visitor Center at Pt. Reyes Station. I’ve done some various repair work before, but this is the first work done at the a museum level. We worked out the details and the work too place over the past couple weeks, with the bulk of the work done on-site.

The model is one of the Golden Hind, built by Raymond Aker back in the 1950s. The model is HUGE, built at 1:12 scale. I don’t know the specifics of how long it took him to build the model, but it’s not an ordinary model, it’s a cut-away, showing all the interior and structural details.


Raymond Aker was an artist and there are many signs of that in this model. The first thing that’s noticeable is the use of forced perspective to make the viewer feel a lot closer to the model, almost as if one was on the deck. It’s quite a visual experience and must have required an enormous amount of planning.

While the mainmast is normal in all respects, the features of the fore and mizzen masts are purposely distorted. Below is a photo of the mizzen crow’s nest. You can see that the mast cap is skewed and also the tenon. Not only that, but if you could see the squared sections of the mast, like the heel of the mizzen topmast, you’d see that was distorted too. Even the positions of the shrouds are slightly moved.

You can also tell that the builder was an artist when you look at some of the painted details inside the ship, like the stern chaser, which is a painted cardboard cutout. All of the figures on the model are made the same way, and clearly painted using watercolors with very nice shading and highlighting.

When you look at the ladders, you’ll notice false shadows painted below each step. Also, in the above photo, you can see how the upper deck shows bright red bulwarks, which are much more subdued in the shadows of the deck below.

There is, of course, much more to see about this model, and if you’re in the area, I highly recommend taking a drive out to Pt. Reyes Station. It’s a nice drive, and there lovely scenery and hiking out there. The model itself is in the Bear Valley Visitor Center inside the theater.

As for the repair work, it’s all done, mostly some small rigging repairs, such as the spritsail sling, fore lower yard starboard lift, the fore topsail bowlines, mizzen parrals, etc. Also, the thread holding the bolt ropes to the sails is very fragile and has come off in many places, so I did some work on those.

Working on a model for a museum presented some new challenges for me. First, was doing all the work on-site, second, was that the model was so large, it had to sit on the floor, and I did most all of the work standing, lastly, due to strict standards of preservation, I had to do all the work wearing gloves. That’s something I’ve never done before, and it took some getting used to.

As it turns out, it wasn’t all that bad. Working with small parts in particular, I discovered that I never dropped any small parts while wearing gloves. And, as any ship modeler out there knows,  dropping parts is one of the most frustrating occurrences in ship modeling, as parts dropped are often never found again. I may just have to try using gloves more often.

The only problem with these surgical gloves is that my hands get sweaty. Fortunately, I had some very thin cotton gloves I could wear inside these, and that helped out a lot.

The model is very narrow. It’s designed to be viewed directly from the side, and forced perspective is used to give it the illusion of depth.


The model is now done, and around 4pm yesterday, we lifted her back onto her display cabinet, and the acrylic panels were put back into place. There is also a new backdrop that seems to really bring out the color on the model and really makes it pop. This is a neat model. Go see it if you can. Ω

Repairing the Santa Maria

One of the projects I’ve had for some time now is the repair of an old model of the Santa Maria for a client. The model was built in the 1920s or 30s by his grandfather and was not kept in a case, so it had been affected by ages of dirt buildup. Worse, the model had fallen and the whole thing was something of a mess.





I took on the project last year, along with the other projects I’ve been working on. But, it’s finally near completion. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here on the work I did on it. Just wanted to share the kinds of things that come up for a ship modeler and something that has been occupying a portion of my time.





My goal with this model, was to keep as much of the original builder’s work as possible. That meant that it was more important to repair broken parts than to replace them. Also, if there was something on the model that wasn’t entirely correct, making it more correct was not a priority. Getting it back into good shape was.

As you can see from the photos, it’s a lot cleaner, but there are still a lot of loose lines yet to be belayed. Also, I have a few parts I’d removed early, such as swivel guns, to keep them from getting lost or snagging the rigging.

With this project near to completion, I’m looking forward to having it behind me and getting back to the Colonial Schooner…



And speaking of the Colonial Schooner and ship model repairs, I had a bit of an accident a couple weeks ago and was putting the Santa Maria back on the top of one of a pair of free-standing bookcases. I was trying to avoid some things on the floor and lost my balance and went crashing into the book case.

I made a desparate and, if I do say so myself, valiant attempt to protect the Santa Maria model, which I was struggling to hold safely as I went crashing to the floor. Some of the rigging did get damaged, but fortunately, it was all minor stuff and within a day I was caught up with where I was before the accident. Oh, and no broken bones, just scraped my shin a bit.

Unfortunately, the lower shelf of the book case suffered and when I looked for the Colonial Schooner model on the top shelf, it was gone! I found it laying on it’s side on a box on the other side of the bookcase. I was amazed that it didn’t suffer as much damage as it could have. Basically, some rigging got loosened and the jib boom got tweaked, splitting the bowsprit cap. But, other than that, the model was still in good shape. So, more repair work for a little while yet… Ω