Which hull style for beginner ship modeller?

After seeing the movie "Master and Commander", I thought that I might
enjoy building a model ship. Since I hadn't done any model building for
so long (about 10 years), I went out and bought a model car kit (Revell
Datsun 240Z) and have slowly been working my way through it. This was
to ease my way back into the hobby and to avoid biting off more than I
can chew.
I'm looking ahead to what I'd like to build once I complete the car, and
was looking through my Model Expo catalog for ideas.
My question: Would it be best for me to start with a solid hull
construction kit (such as the Model Shipways "Sultana" model), or go
with the more advanced plank-on-bulkhead/frame design (e.g. something
like Midwest Products' "Sharpie Schooner")?
I'm not worried about the time committment, but I AM finding that my
skills are basically those of a beginner - not very sharp. Still, I'm
happy with how things are going so far, and the few mistakes I've made
(e.g. accidently breaking a tiny part into two pieces) I've managed to
fix so they're not very noticeable (e.g. gluing the two pieces back
The Sultana model comes as a solid hull construction kit, isn't too
expensive, and seems aimed at the beginning model builder (that's me).
My chance of success would seem to be pretty good.
Still, I can't help but think that eventually I'll HAVE to plank a hull,
and that by avoiding it on the beginner model, I'll somehow miss out on
the experience.
Let me just say that I KNOW I can't build one of the big advanced kits
right now (nor would I want to spend that much time and money), but I
would like something challenging - just not so daunting that I'll get
frustrated and throw the damn thing away.
Any advice based on your experiences would be helpful.
Bill H.
Reply to
Bill H
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i just got back in about a year ago. i like planes but i think this will help. build cheap for a while. get a bunch of kits and work on a bunch of skills. i still don't want a good modeler to see my work, but i can give them away now. just practice, paint, glue, paint, detail, do a little scratching, but do a lot. then tackle what you really want to build.
Reply to
Plastic first, then solid hull then plank on frame. Note that many european saling ship kits have what can charitably be called shitty insructions. Midewest Models, Model Shipways and Billings Boats usually have good starter kits with decent instructions.
Bill H wrote:
Reply to
I definitely concur. Many hobby shop proprietors will tell you that the majority of the plank on frame (bulkhead) kits they sell are never finished. Doing a planked hull sailing ship has two daunting tasks- hull planking and rigging. Both operations take LOTS of patience. If you have to do both on the first kit, odds are you will not finish it.
Even the plastic ship models of sailing ships are a much harder task than any other genre of plastic model, due to the many hours it takes to rig even a two-master, let alone a three-master.
Unfortunately, there are getting to be much fewer choices of solid hull kits. Model Shipways is the only major kit I know of, and almost all of their solid hull kits are old ones- newer kits have gone to planked, even in the MS line.
Planked hulls are most neccessary for major warships with lots of cannon. However, even here, with most kits, many of the guns on lower decks are not full, but merely the outer part of the barrel. For a sailing merchant ship, there is no real reason why the hull has to be planked. If you are scratch building, some folks do not like carving, and prefer to plank. However, the solid hull kits have precarved hulls. They are not COMPLETELY carved- one needs to thin the bulwarks and refine the bow and stern a little, but this is really very little carving.
Reply to
Don Stauffer in Minneapolis
1. If you don't have the latest Model Expo "Historic Ship Model Kits" catalog, get that. It has more kits than the regular Model Expo catalog.
2. A solid hull is slightly easier than a plank-on-bulkhead model, but not that much if you intend to do it right. There is still a lot of carving to be done on the bulwarks, the deck ends, etc. You don't have that on the plank-on-bulkhead models, but then you have the planking -- which is not that difficult.
3. The Model Shipways ratings of "entry-level, intermediate, advanced." are quite accurate relative to each other. But in all truth, I would rate these kits as "intermediate, advanced, and expert." The entry level kits are still very challenging to a newbie modeler.
4. Personally, I feel it is much better to build a fine, simple model, correct in all detail, than to build a half-finished or botched more advance model.. That means you should keep away from models requiring extensive rigging (e.g., almost any square-rigged ship). As imposing as the rigging may seem to a neophyte, most of the kits I've seen (at the intermediate and advanced levels) have only about 1/2 of the correct rigging. Stick to a sloop.
5. I really like all the entry level America's cup yachts. The series with solid resin hulls look very good and the rigging isn't all that complicated.
6. The Amati Blue-nose schooner is an example of a half-rigged model. Besides, you should try for mostly American kits, especially Model Shipways, which have excellent instructions .. as contrasted with most European kits (Amati included) whose instructions are mysterious in all four of the languages provided.
7. Get the BlueJacket catalog.
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Superb kits, good instructions, proper ratings. Their two America's cup racers, Endevour and Rainbow are appropriate and will make very handsome models.
8. Midwest makes very nice entry-level kits that are correctly categorized. I especially like their Sharpie Schooner. It is a built-up hull, but a very easy one to make. The rigging is extensive, but not too difficult and if the instructions are the usual high quality, you'll have a handsome model when you're through. Midwest had in the past several good entry-level sloops. You might look into them.
Reply to
Boris Beizer
I couldn't agree more with the above, and can only add that if you have any experience building R/C aircraft - particularly cap-stripping wing ribs for rag covered wings - you should have no trouble with a plank on bulkhead ship hull.
Reply to
Thanks so much for the good replies. It sounds like it's easy to make a mistake and get something too complicated, so I'll stick to some of the easiest I can find for now. Maybe a plastic kit to start with, or a very simple wood one.
-Bill H.
Reply to
Bill H
keep us up on progress.
Reply to
While plastic/resin hulled models are fine for modern ships, plastic kits of wooden sailing ships are bound to disappoint in the long run. They have some very significant problems for sailing ship models that don't apply to modern ship models. All from personal bitter experience.
1. Plastic breaks. Properly rigged models puts tension on spars, masts, and the rest. If you have adequate tension, things will break. A broken plastic spar just can't be repaired.
2. Plastic gets older and brittle. If the spars don't break now, they'll break in the future.
3. Almost impossible to repair a plastic model if something breaks. Wood models are far sturdier to begin with and much easier to repair.
4. Plastic is shiny and doesn't look right. If you're going to do a good job, you should paint every square millimeter of the surface that shows. In fact, typically three coats -- primer, and two cover coats. Far more difficult to do with a sailing ship model. In a wood model, there are many more options for finishing.
5. You won't learn very much about ship building from building a plastic sailing ship model. And you may have to unlearn a lot when you do get around to building a wooden model. As you progress in building ship models, the process and techniques are more and more closer to building a full-scale ship.
Since your inspiration is "Master and Commander", I assume that your intention is to eventually build a proper model of a full-rigged man-of-war, such as frigate. Don't give up on that idea -- just see it as a step in an exciting journey -- maybe six or seven models down the road. So start with a simple wood model. Built it slowly and carefully and as best you can. Meanwhile, learn about period ships ..how to sail them, how to rig them, how to build them. Then by the time your craft skills have progressed to the point where you can build that man-of-war, your technical knowledge will have also progressed to the point that you know what you are doing.
Reply to
Boris Beizer
For plastic kits, Linberg's Jolly Roger isn't too bad and Revell's Victory is decent. The only drawback to plastic is that the yards and upper masts can easily bend under rigging stress but they are A) cheap, B) have good instructions, C) relatively simple builds and D) are good learning experiences before spedning more money on the wooden kits.
Reply to
Funny, my dad built the Revell Flying Cloud and Victory 40 years ago and they've spent most of that time on an open mantle, fireplace used regularly and they're still fine aside from some permadust.
I will agree that you need to paint every bit that shows though.
Reply to
Hi Bill..
Why not go for the SHAMROCK as a starter from
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I'm currently building it after taking advice based on a conversation on a model boats forum.
I'm hoping to put my construction on the web as I build. I've just started on the rescue craft. My construction website can be found at
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Declan Barry
Reply to
I have broken spars during building, though not as ship ages. I have been able to repair broken spars. I always insert a metal (brass) pin in broken ends.
This is less a problem for merchant ships. These were never as shipshape and squared away as warships, so one does not need to tension rigging as taut.
I do agree that one needs to paint all parts. But I do this on wooden ship models too, so that is no different. I like authentic scale, and wood on later century ships was painted, on early century ones it was oiled or in some other way preserved. A varnished walnut or mahogany hull is just not accurate.
"Boris Beizer" wrote in message
Reply to
Don Stauffer in Minneapolis
While the Revell kits are indeed excellent, Heller makes the best plastic ships. Although they do not have that great a reputation for their airplanes and cars, their plastic ship kits are excellent. The large ones, such as the Le Soleil Royale and HMS Victory are absolutely exquisite. One can make as nice of a finished model with these as with a wooden kit, and they are a lot cheaper. Also, these larger Heller kits have hollow spars for the larger spars, and these can be repaired by putting rods in them if you break a part. Just be careful with the smaller ones.
I do not use the prefab method of making the shrouds and ratlines, however. Forget that, and just find a book on how to do it the tedious but correct way. Results are great.
The Soleil Royale I am building has over 2600 parts. There are over 100 cannons, each cannon is seven parts! The molding as absolutely exquisite- rivals resin.
Reply to
Don Stauffer in Minneapolis
I avoided Heller as starter kits because of the size and parts count. Their smaller ships are somewhat hard to find while the two I did mention are in many shops. I've even seen both at Micheals, Target and Toys R Us.
Reply to
Bill, I am very far from being a resource for building a model ship (I started a double planked hull model of the Beagle 40 years ago and only have 2 planks to go - (marriage,work, kids and stuff in between) but before I did the wood model I built the Cutty Sark in plastic. To my limited mind there are two challenges in building old sailing ships - the planking and hull buildup and the rigging - either one being enough to keep you interested in the model and requiring time and effort. For a first time I'd probably go with the solid hull and concentrate on rigging it - where the results will be more apparent and the work challenging.
BTW, I will continue working on the Beagle shortly - just started on plastic armor and built my first two tanks - now working on a DragonWagon and then an M60A3 because there is one parked about a mile from me that I can use as a reference. Then back to finish the Beagle.
have fun
Jerry Isaacson
Reply to
Find the old Lindberg/Pyro "Jolly Roger" frigate. It's based on an actual French frigate ("La Flore") that's very close to the movies' "Surprise"--enclose the bow and square the stern gallery, and only an expert could tell the difference. And it's plastic, the modeller's friend!
Reply to
Tom Cervo
To my mind, plastic-hulled sailing ships (at least the high-quality ones, like the Revell 1/96 Constitution and the Heller Victory) have a much more "scale" appearance than their wooden counterparts. The detail of the engraved planking just can't be duplicated with actual wooden planking. The wood models are fine for what they are: examples of craftmanship and objects of art. It's just that they can't be confused with miniature real ships.
The other factor is the time for construction. With a plastic model, you can finish the hull in a reasonable amount of time, and get on with the rigging. Lots of wooden ship models never even get their hulls finished.
I've been building plastic sailing ships for the last 40 years, and haven't found that to be the case. In rare cases, spars might break, but they can be "welded" with plastic solvent cement. The rigging should never be under enough tension to break a spar! The goal should be only to keep it from sagging. Generally, the tension of the rigging should run *with* the spars, not against them.
I haven't encountered this as a problem. I have a Revell Cutty Sark that's over 40 years old, a Constitution that's 35 years old, and an Alabama and Kearsarge that are at least 30 years old, and broken spars haven't appeared on any of them.
Wood models may be sturdier, but I disagree that they're any easier to repair. Remember that plastic is weldable.
Painting is something that modelers do. But, IMO, it's best not to overdo the painting on plastic ship models. Overpainting actually detracts from the scale appearance. If the hull is molded in the correct color, sometimes all that's necessary is a spray of something like Dullcote to kill the shine. Years ago, Revell would prepaint the copper sheathing on hulls. Now, you have to paint it yourself -- a very simple job. Decks usually need to be painted, but spars rarely do.
The rigging is the same on both wood and plastic models. As for the hull, if you use a solid wood hull, you'll learn even less about actual ship construction than you would building a plastic model. Sure, a plank-on-frame model will teach you more about ship construction -- but the chances are you'll never finish it.
Start with a Revell/Monogram Constitution. They're widely available, they're reasonably priced, and they have excellent instructions. Two suggestions: don't use the vacuum-formed sails, and don't use the prefabricated shrouds/ratlines.
Reply to
Alexander Arnakis
Alexander Arnakis wrote in news: snipped-for-privacy@4ax.com:
The one I have has instructions for rigging the ship "in port" with no canvas showing at all. Interesting.
Reply to
Gray Ghost
A friend of mine built one of the tall ships (I think that it was the Thermopolye, but don't remember) and he took drafting linen, draped it over the vacuum-formed sails and cut out pieces. When he mounted these cloths sails (after washing out the starch), he furled the sails for a very realistic look. Now if I could only remember what I did with that roll of linen I scored from the office when they wanted to throw it out.....
-- John The history of things that didn't happen has never been written. . - - - Henry Kissinger
Reply to
The Old Timer

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