Scratchbuilding Merchant Sailing Ships, A Dying Art

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#1
Scratchbuilding Merchant Sailing Ships, A Dying Art
Now follows a build log of a miniature of the Scandinavian barquentine Barden, 32 feet to 1 inch (1:384) This small vessel was completed in 1892, and undertook international voyages as far afield as Australia. The plans may be found in the well-known, and still available book, book Deepwater Sail, by Harold A Underhill. This type of model is for those modellers who, like myself, do not have the money, space, time or patience to build large kits. The cost of materials is virtually nothing, and only a few hand tools are required. The main reason why most modellers will never undertake such models is the attitude "I could never do anything like that!" The rigging is all fine copper wire that is far easier to deal with than twine. Short lengths are stretched slightly with two small pairs of pliers. This makes it perfectly straight. The required length may then be measured from the model with a pair of dividers, and a straight section cut off. This is picked up in the centre with a fine pair of tweezers. Each end of the wire is dipped in contact adhesive, and the wire placed in position on the model. No knots anywhere! In this manner, all the backstays may be fitted in less than half an hour. The Barden model took 36 hours to build, spread over 17 days, and that included making the display case and carrying case. The model is now somewhere in the United States. The images that will follow shortly, show the build from block of wood, to completed model. Recently, I have not been very active in the ship modelling field, as I have been concentrating on writing. I have recently returned to ship modelling again, and am currently building a miniature of a large cargo liner, with an 18-inch-long hull.
For those who may be interested in the building of miniature sailing vessels, I have made available the download Scratchbuilding Merchant Sailing Ships, A Dying Art. This download is 30 pages in length, and is illustrated by 48 colour images pertaining to miniature sailing ship models, usually 32 feet to 1 inch, (1:384). This download has a small nominal charge. By clicking this link: http://payhip.com/b/RnMf you are not committed to purchase, but may read the full synopsis (scroll down a bit after the front page appears). Should you then wish to purchase a download, a Paypal button for £2.49 is provided below the front page image, on the right hand side. I have produced quite a number of similar downloads over the past two years, and they are proving extremely popular. If you would like a FREE sample, here is a link to a build log for the barque East African. http://payhip.com/b/aFVM Only a few modellers have actually tried this type of modelling, but I am pleased to say, they have all produced commendable results. As I said, it is really just a matter of trying, rather than deciding that it is beyond you!
And now - on to the build. (The last image shows what the model will look like when complete) - To be continued.
Bob
 

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GemmaJF

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#2
Got to say Bob I really like these. I might do a little Black Pearl, just to see if I can do it. I like the idea also that it could be displayed on a desk. I'm on my first kit and would love to do many more, trouble for me is sooner or later I will run out of space to display them.
 
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#3
Gemma,
Thanks. Really, the rigging is quite easy using wire. Readlily obtainable in the UK from http://www.wires.co.uk A 50 gram bobbin costs very little and has so much on it, it lasts for years. My wife paints the seas for me! As they can be held in the palm of the hand, they don't take up much room at all :D Below is a little wool clipper. I really don't know why most model shipbuilders convince themselves that they are too difficult. I moved from 8 feet to 1 inch down to 32 feet to 1 inch literally overnight, many years ago, and found them easier from the start. I find it quite amusing when modellers say that you need expensive tools to scratchbuild, and also they haven't the time to scratchbuild. When I ask how long it takes to build a kit, it is usually months, or even years. :lol: The main reason for me transferring to miniature construction was that I was at sea at the time, and it was far easier to get a miniature home at the end of the voyage. Neither do you need to start on anything complicated for a first attempt. See the small ketch Henrietta, below. Plan obtained from book Schooner Sunset by Douglas Bennett. It contains loads of plans of small sailing ships. Plenty of small plans in various books.
Bob
 

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#5
Thanks Brian
Here are the next few images on the Barden build. The deck is scored birch plywood obtained from a model shop. The planking is paper strips glued on. I made the bulwark panels on the computer using the box drawing font in the word processing section. The coppering is self-adhesive copper tape obtained from Ebay. By making everything myself, it doesn't really matter if I break a part, or lose it - I just make another! The masts are hollow brass tubes that go over short stubs protruding from the deck. I obtain perfect spacing for the fife rail stanchions round the base of the masts by use of the simple aluminium jig shown in the image. A hole is drilled for the mast stub, and two more small holes on one side only. The first two holes on one side are drilled using the aluminium jig as a guide. It is then turned over, and the two holes drilled on the opposite side, perfectly spaced. None of my techniques are secret, and for anyone interested in a FREE download of the build log of a three-masted miniature barque, here is the link: http://payhip.com/b/aFVM I also have a Facebook group titled Merchant Ships In Miniature that now has an excellent following with 69 members at the moment. Here are images 5 and 6.
Bob
 

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Joined
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#7
Here are the next five images of the build. The deckhouses are wood, faced with white styrene sheet to avaoid painting. The rope coil are fine copper wire wrapped round two needle soldered next to each other. The resulting "spring" is slid off and cut up with a scalpel, providing oval shaped rope coils. Doors and windows are printed on paper with the computer, cut out and stuck on. Boats are formed in a homemade miniature vacuum, box, and fitted with wire keels before spray painting. The rigging, as I have already said, si fine copper wire, glued on in short lengths - nothing complicated.
Bob
 

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Brian077

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#8
hi Bob,

wonderful work as usual.

Do you build warships as well as merchant ships ? For example I would love to see your skill at doing a WW1 British Dreadnought.

cheers.
 

GemmaJF

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#9
The more I see the more I like Bob, I have quite a large stock of brass tubing and polyester sections in small sizes left over from various modeling projects that can be put to good use at these scales. I think it could become a SOS challenge to see how many of us can give this a go and what we all come up with. With the potentially very short build time it could be really fun for members to give it a go between kit projects. :greetings-clapyellow:
 
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#10
I have built two warships, HMS Norfolk, and HMS Dreadnought simply because someone once suggested that I could not do it! :lol: I find naval ships as boring as most modellers find merchant ships, :lol: and find the drab grey colour rather depressing. I prefer the bright colours of the merchant navy, plus the many differents designs and classes to choose from.
The problem with miniatures, is that once you have started building them, the ship modeling world opens up to you, and you are no longer constrained to what kit manafacturers want you to build, and it is hard to stop. There is a "bottomless" pit of plans of merchant ship around, many of them in books. I only build the obscure and semi-obscure, and only seldom repeat models, and I am working on number 270 at the moment, and I only started counting them in October 1992. I have never successfully built a kit in my life, and gave up many years ago, but my hearet was never in them anyway - too regimnented for me - Cutty Sark, Bounty, Victory, Titanic etc repeated ad infinitum! When a collector gets one of my modesl, none of his or her fellow collectors can say "I have one of them!" and that is what increases the value, sentimental or otherwise. I build them mainly for pleasure, and do not take private commissions, but the hobby is completely self-financing, and all the proceeds are handed over to my wife for housekeeping. :cool:
Bob
 

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GemmaJF

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#12
Hi Bob,

Just got the free download and was very interested in your commentary of the decline/lack of interest. I'm not so sure it would be worldwide, I think there are many regions of the world that would love your work and be very interested in it. We have a broken system right now, where for too long it has been a case of 'my way or the highway'. I hope we see a lot more international cooperation rather than a continuing introspective approach to ship modeling. It is diversity across the globe that we all need to encourage and your work is a shining example of that diversity.
 
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#13
They are extremely popular amongst collectors, but very few model shipbuilders will even consider anything like this. I have been told on numerous occasions that nothing interesting happens on merchant ships, and they are not as romantic as warships. Plenty of interesting things hapenned to me during 31 years at sea in merchant ships though. When my ship was requisitioned for the Falklands in 1982, I found it was just a continual round of exercises and practice for something most of us hoped would never happen, although a minority seemed to be looking forward to some action! :eek: It was interesting enough, and didn't leave me with any physical or emotional scars, but I was jolly glad to get back to the normal, and more interesting life aboard a small passenger liner running between Avonmouth, UK, and Cape Town. Where my wife could travel free of charge any time she wanted. There are no ship model forums anywhere in the world that specialise in merchant ship models. Every so often, I try to whip up interest, but things don't really change. Here we are in Good Hope Castle, smashing through Biscay at 23 1/2 knots,40 years or so ago. That was really something :banana-dance:
Bob
 

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