Wood decks on plastic ship models

I'm getting ready to build the Glencoe Oregon. I usually build plastic airplane kits and this is my first large plastic ship project. I have built plank-on-frame wooden sailing ships and I was thinking about using the deck-planking techniques I've learned in those projects on the plastic kit. I figure that (and a good photo-etch details kit) will make the ship look good. Has anyone ever tried using wooden decks on plastic models? If so, any advice (like don't try it:) or recommendations on what size wood to use to make it look good? Thanks

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Jeezus Ron! That was about as gra-phic as you can get without profanity.

That sounds like the voice of experience!

Oxmoron1 MFE

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It's a great way to dress up a plastic kit. Your hobby shop probably sells scale planks for the railroad guys. These are available in wafer-thin strips which are ideal for you application. Take a look. There are a variety of widths to choose from.

I've used it on sailing ships to great effect. For the Oregon you'll probably want to remove the superstructure first to avoid trying to fit to the vertical surfaces. It's not such a big deal since the superstructure is inaccurate anyway and you'll probably want to address that.

If you can do wood models planking plastic should prove a piece of cake.


Give it a try.

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Frank Koval

Midwest sells grooved basswood sheets made especially for ship model decking.

There is a cauti>

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Don Stauffer

Nah Rick, I just have a very vivid and twisted imagination.....oh experience on the planking part.....I haven't done more than play with the idea myself but I've worked wood for years and know how difficult that tpye of layup is with pieces 1" square to make butcher block. Now take that that down to 1/350 scale planks. There aren't a lot of choice in wood species either, probably bass, birch, holly or boxwood (holly's extremely soft and while best boxwood is very expensive). Next consider deck detail.....take it all off the kit deck and either do it well enough to reuse or scratchbuild replacements (don't forget to ID every little bit and make a good map). Also plan on dropping the deck level to compensate for the thickness of the wood.

It can be d> Jeezus Ron!

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The experience doesn't really translate. Fitting individual deck planks, I found, is as easy as or easier than using wooden deck planking sheets. The individual planks are slightly easier because it is much easier to fit (only

1/16th " at a time rather than a whole deck area. You have to paint the edge of the planks black before installing them in order to simulate the deck caulking and make the planks actually show. If you don't, the seams will all disappear and you'll wonder why you went through the trouble. If there's not much curvature, you don't need to steam the planks before you attach them. Use the very thin, runny cyanicrilate glues. Of course, you have not installed any deck furniture, but you have carefully marked where they will be placed. Okay to leave a whole for the houses, etc, and trim to fit after the planking is done for that deck. Once the deck is entirely planked, you smooth it out and take it down to the correct thickness by scraping -- not by sanding. Use a small wood scraper, which you can make out of the back of square X=acto blade or cut down regular cabinet scrapers. You can easily scrape down to 1/64 or 1/128 with care. That takes care of most of the additional thickness problems.

Beg to differ. The choice of wood from wide-range model suppliers (e.g., Model Expo) may indeed be limited -- however, there many model wood suppliers that will provide lots of different woods at horrendous prices. I buy all kinds of exotic woods (ebony, blood wood, obeche) from a good wood supply place. Typically 3/4" x 6" x 24" or whatever is on sale. I then cut these down in thin slices of about 1/16" with my little circular saw. The next step is to plane them down to the desired thickness using a home-built thickness sander. Then can then be cut down to the correct width as needed. I made enough planks for an entire model (sides, decks, etc.) in about a day.

Should not be necessary if you are willing to live with an extra 1/64" or

1/128" achieved by scraping. Remember, it isn't about making a perfect scaled-down miniature, but about achieving a convincing illusion. No one is going to measure the deck thickness with a micrometer or the height of deck furniture with height gauge on a surface plate. If they are, they should join the anal-modelers-are-us, news group.

Not really painful -- pleasureful and yiedls a real sense of accomplishment. Nothing dresses up a modern ship kit, even if plastic, better than providing it with realistic looking wooden decks (assuming they were correct for the period of the ship). It really sets such models apart from those that have painted plastic decks. The former looks like craftsmanship, but the latter looks like (possibly grown-up) kid stuff.


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Boris Beizer

Stevinne, I'm not familiar with the Glencoe Oregon model but at 1/240 it would be pretty small to get a good looking decking job. Depending on the level of detail in the model's cast deck, you might consider highlighting the plank seams with a paint wash. Start by spraying the entire topside with whatever gray color is appropriate. When dry, mask off everything that isn't to be the deck color. Spray the primary plank color and allow to dry thoroughly.

Now for the plank seams. Suggest a little experimentation here with varying strengths of wash - starting with a drop or 2 of black or dark gray water based paint in an ounce or 2 of water. Possibly using a q-tip, try your mixture on some scrap, textured plastic, scrub the diluted mixture into the textured plastic, let dry for a few minutes and carefully wip from the raised area of your "textured plastic". When you have an effect you like go ahead and use it on the model. Darken the mixture as necessary until you like the result.

Another approach is to spray a very light coat of the seam color on the deck after to main plank color a thoroughly dry. Let this light coat dry thoroughly and use 600 or 1200 grit wet/dry sand paper (used wet) to sand the seam color off of the planks. Makes a really nice effect without the problems that Ron suggests above (ouch).


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