View Full Version : Large-scale Models

Mike Glover
03-01-2001, 12:34 PM
I was wondering if any of the "Forum-members" have built large-scale models...I'm getting started on a Spritsail skiff using 2"=1', as a scale. This will result in a model almost 5 feet long...I've cut all the materials I'll need from 2x4's and 1x6's (pine).

The boat is built on a "jig" which will allow accurate placement of frames and to establish the sideplank curves. Using an article from an old issue of WB I've constructed a "suitably sized" WORKING Steam box, which I've tested using some of my "lumber" - transom and side planks will be 3/16" thick. Question #1: Will I need to use glue and "small screws" or will glue and nails/brads be enough to fasten "my boat"?
Question #2: Any good sources for constructing "working" blocks? Would be interested in hearing from anyone out there doing "this sort of model building"...

03-01-2001, 03:22 PM
I have done this. I'll tell you ... takes "about" as much craftsmanship as building the real thing! I have used standard wood model glue, model epoxy, and small nails. No screws ... although I would imagine they would work. My tips would be the following:

1)Have a lot of small 2-3 pound weights
2)Have a lot of 1-2 inch C-clamps
3)A small model plane (or a sharp x-acto-type knife)
4)Build your keel/frames strong enought to withstand the wear and tear of bending and clamping small section of stringers/plankings/etc. If you don't, you will most definitely break your frames.
5)Have a lot of patience and do not rush the process.

The largest I've built is three feet long- a model of an old express cruiser.


Ian McColgin
03-01-2001, 03:52 PM
I like 1-1/2" to 1' so that 1/8" = 1" - easy to work to.

Made the model for Leeward to that scale and plan to build a model of Grana to that scale (almost 8' long) for the redesign.

In the end, whatever you like.

03-01-2001, 05:45 PM
Years ago I built model Edwardian steam launch.. It was a clinker style boat and I fastened the mahogany planks with glue and small copper rivets, just the same as you would do on a full size boat. The scale was 2"= 1ft. The construction was quigte easy and I just put the planks in hot water and soaked them for a while.. The plans and data for this project came from the English Model Boats magazine. Feb 1972, March 1972 and April 1972. I still have the model and have worked on and off at making it a radio controlled boat incorporating a Stuart D10 steam engine.. If this sounds of interest or if you would like more info let me know.

Bob Cleek
03-01-2001, 06:02 PM
As I've mentioned in here before, I've been doing models for a long time. You can get as far into them as the real thing, that's for sure. My 1:12 Dyarchy is in frame right now. All 52 frames triple sawn. Glued them up out of tongue depressor stock! LOL You can get really creative solving problems with models. The nice thing about it is you can build them without getting really dirty.

Too bad there isn't a sub section in the Forum for "Models!" For my money, I like to build mine exactly to scale right as if full size. As for technology, get the "MicroMark" catalog for miniature tools. Sadly, the Unimat lathe is no longer available, but there are a ton of minature tools available and marketed mainly to the dollhouse and HO railroad people. If you have a good hobby shop around, or an architectural minatures wholesaler around, you can buy stock dimensioned lumber and all.

As for clamps, a hint: I find those black springy clips that float around the office for holding hunks of paper together, the ones with the folding arms you squeeze to open them, work great and come in a variety of sizes. Forget hammering nails or pins in a model. Split city! You have to pre-drill, using a pin vise. There is a nifty brad nailer that's made that you push to insert a brad without hammering. Those are pretty necessary too. As for a steam box, forget it. All you need to do is soak the wood in water and throw it in the microwave! Instant steambox. As seems to be recognized here, scale can be a problem. Building a model exactly as the full size vessel is limited by the size of the modeler's mantle. They get big fast. After they are done, you have to put a rigged model in a case as well and then they are really taking up space! As mentioned, working to scale is really a discipline. If you "eyeball" stuff, you better have a good eye. Nothing ruins the value of a model like an out of scale part. You have to loft the model, of course, but one trick that helps speed things up is using a xerox machine to print up patterns. Cut them out after pasting the pattern to a sheet of card stock. Use them like you would full size patterns made out of door skin. Another really helpful product is the new posterboard that they make out of styrofoam covered with plastic sheeting laminated like plywood. You can post xeroxed patterns on it and cut this stuff easily on a scroll saw. I make my molds this way. Xerox as many copies of the body plan as you need. Paste them on the posterboard and cut out your molds. You can assemble these on a flat piece of the same stock which as the lines elevation glued to it using a hot glue gun. Then you frame up on the molds upside down.

There's no end to the fun you can have with models and it is a reliable antidote for "I-gotta-build-a-boat-itis," particularly during the winter! Try to find copies of anything by Underhill, especially his "Plank on Frame Models." Davis also has a number of very good traditional modeling books with similar names. Check out the dollhouse minatures and HO railroad magazines and books for tips on techniques and tools and materials. Buy a good airbrush... have fun!

03-01-2001, 06:57 PM
Those ubiquitous black clips? You mean the ones manufactured by the forced labor of the women prisoners in Nanjing? Gather them up; we may be seeing less of them in the future.
ref NYTimes 3/1/01

Bob Cleek
03-02-2001, 07:19 PM
Come on, Foster, everybody knows nothing is made in the US anymore and it's all made by slave labor in Red China or little kids chained to looms in Bangladesh or AIDS infected orphans in Indonesia, but whattayagonnado? Let's keep it our little secret. BTW... check your clothing labels... in anyone wearing anything made in the USA... I don't think so. Food for thought...

03-02-2001, 11:14 PM
Actually, Bob, everything I wear is made in the USA, and bears the union label. I take the time to look.

03-03-2001, 09:30 AM
Is it true that even made is usa does not preclude it's having made in a U S protectorate by near slave labor? So I've heard.


G. Schollmeier
03-03-2001, 10:14 PM
I agree with Roy look for the UNION label. http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif Sorry different thread. I always build models of any boat before I build. 1": 1' is best if your are using some type cad. Mostly I just do the hulls. I usually use construction paper. Gary
PS Mike, the pine may split when it gets good and dry. Treat all surfaces with shellac, it might help.

[This message has been edited by G. Schollmeier (edited 03-03-2001).]

03-05-2001, 04:02 PM
If your ever in the Boston area
You need to check out both the Boston Musuem of Fine Art and, suprizingly enought, the model collection at MIT

The Admiralty models are something else.

These were essentially the design specs for large ships. Every plank was represented on the model for the approval of the goverment, or whoever else was paying the bill.

I picked up a book on ship model builing, a pretty good one. Right down to how to build the ships boats.

Check your local bookstore.

03-06-2001, 04:33 PM
I've designed and built a number of small boats and build models first using 1-1/2" to the foot. A standard architect's scale, available at nearly every office supply store, has a 1-1/2" to 1 foot scale and the dimensions can be read directly without any calculations.

03-11-2001, 06:38 PM
Mike Glover,
If you responded to my post re: architect's scales, your e-mail address was blown away before I could respond.
Re e-mail?

11-23-2002, 05:07 PM
HELLO CAPT. FLEMING...how's "MIKI-MIKI" coming along?

Mr.Cleek mentioned in this thread about a "Model Boat Section"...good idea...will email Scot about it... smile.gif

John A. Campbell
11-24-2002, 11:25 AM
Would really like to put my two cents worth in on the idea for a "Model Boat Section"......it would be great! great! GREAT!! Also, Mr. O....where did you find the copper rivets for your steam launch project? I am about 70% complete with lofting for Piccolo sailing canoe (full size) and my model boating background is luring me toward first building her at 1/4 scale in the traditional manner. I've got some really fine Port Orford cedar squirreled away that would be a pleasure to slice up real thin for planks. Let's hear it from the MODEL BOAT FOLKS......Scott at Woodenboat, are you listening?!!?

john welsford
11-24-2002, 01:22 PM
Just a couple of thoughts. I build mostly towing models to test design or planking models to get panel shapes and lays. I use gel type superglue to "spot weld" things in place until I get the permanent fastening in place, I use spring clothes pegs to hold things, I know a professional who builds ship models for museums and collectors, and he advises that building a fullsize one would quite often be quicker!
On cheap labour, politics aint my thing, if I think too hard about some of the injustices I come across I get so enraged that I cant concentrate on anything else, but did you consider that if no one bought the product that these people produced, that they would be unable to earn a living of any sort

John W

Originally posted by Mike Glover:
I was wondering if any of the "Forum-members" have built large-scale models...I'm getting started on a Spritsail skiff using 2"=1', as a scale. This will result in a model almost 5 feet long...I've cut all the materials I'll need from 2x4's and 1x6's (pine).

The boat is built on a "jig" which will allow accurate placement of frames and to establish the sideplank curves. Using an article from an old issue of WB I've constructed a "suitably sized" WORKING Steam box, which I've tested using some of my "lumber" - transom and side planks will be 3/16" thick. Question #1: Will I need to use glue and "small screws" or will glue and nails/brads be enough to fasten "my boat"?
Question #2: Any good sources for constructing "working" blocks? Would be interested in hearing from anyone out there doing "this sort of model building"...

George Roberts
11-24-2002, 01:42 PM
I have built a lot of small boats (20' or less) are large scale (6:12).

11-25-2002, 07:18 AM
HELLO SCOT...very small wood boats deserve their own section here ...no?..what do you think?

11-28-2002, 12:46 AM
Dave. Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society has the original drawings by Coolidge for the Miki-Miki. It sounds to me like you need the Construction drawing, which will give you the scantling sizes.

11-28-2002, 10:17 PM
I'm a (really godawful) guitarist. Ya we do go through a lot of strings. Some musicians, pro's mostly, change the strings every time they play. On average though i'd say once a month.

If you want to do something using a lot of the eyelets and buy the strings its gonna get expensive tongue.gif Strings generally run (for cheap ones) around US $6 a set. Thats a buck an eye. Used strings people either throw away or, believe it or not, theres a big widely known music charity that musicians donate used strings to. Some are given to artists who cant afford strings the rest i imagine are recycled and sold somehow.

I'd suggest you write to all the stringmakers (check out marsmusic.com etc to find them) and tell them what you want to do and ask if theyd mind giving you their supplier or selling you some. You could probably get a box of the brass eyelets for next to nothing. Its constructing the strings thats expensive.

By the way. I kinda hate my business and by coincidence the other day i thought of trying to build and sell models. Specifically to build models of peoples boats and sell them to them. Commissioned of course after theyd seen my work. I can imagine you'd get pretty proficient at it and as people are paying 250k for what in my mind are really pretty small, average boats now.. it seems to me if you charged $500 or $1000 for a large model they could show off on land or in the 'salon' of the boat they might go for it? Any thoughts? Who knows maybe i could start a fad tongue.gif

Dave Fleming
12-01-2002, 11:23 AM
Plimsol, any chance you could get me a copy of the scantlings? Expenses paid of course.

ion barnes
12-04-2002, 07:36 PM
Just to comment on two topics. The black spring clamps can be had from Office Depot or Staples and are called 'bulldog clips'. Second, I have used the photocopier method with mixed results because of distortion. Dont attemp to use the whole page, but center a single item per page and trim generously. Another way is to draft onto a piece of paper and then glue it with contact glue (spray can variety) or use white glue to plywood and trim. This worked well for me as I was able to write notes on the bulkheads.

Nicholas Carey
12-04-2002, 08:01 PM
Originally posted by Dave Fleming:
...Of course for the metal stuff a Monarch 10EE lathe and a Deckel or Aciera universal milling machine would be nice too.For miniature machine tools, check out these sites:

</font> Clisby. http://www.clisby.com.au/, Miniature metal lathe.</font> Taig.http://www.taigtools.com/. Miniature milling machine and lathe, including a CNC option. One of the Taig dealers has a page up about the Taig including links to people that make accessories: http://www.cartertools.com/</font>Jerry Howell has a list of model engineering suppliers: http://www.jerry-howell.com/Suppliers-2.html

Hope this helps.

Dave Fleming
12-04-2002, 08:13 PM
Nick, you ever check out these small size tools?

Cowells (http://www.cowells.com/welcome.htm)

12-05-2002, 12:37 AM
I will stop the collection in the next day or so and have a copy run. The cost is $15 a sheet plus reproduction costs and mailing. It will probably be about $20 all together.
The collection also contains all the other tugs Coolidge designed for the Young Bros. before and after the Miki-Miki.

Dave Fleming
12-05-2002, 01:03 AM
Plimsol, how many sheets altogether?

Nicholas Carey
12-05-2002, 02:40 AM
Originally posted by Dave Fleming:
Nick, you ever check out these small size tools?

Cowells (http://www.cowells.com/welcome.htm)Sweet. No...I just got tool porn that listed these, but I don't have a particular use for stuff like this right now, so I filed it as 'possibly useful someday'.

the Australian line I listed above has really good prices tho -- $150 or so for the base model metal lathe. Cross-slide and accessories run extra.

12-07-2002, 01:19 AM
One sheet 2'6" x 7'. Inboard profile, Plan & Midsection. A list of scantlings is included on the plan. The drawing is done in ink and is beautiful.
In addition there are plans for the lines , curves of form, stack, rudder-shafts, tanks, machinery layout, deck fittings and a very pretty 16" yawl boat. The lines for the single screw version are also available, there were slight changes made aft.

Dave Fleming
12-07-2002, 01:33 AM
Plimsol, at your convenience please contact me offline about making arraingements.

12-07-2002, 10:11 AM
Regarding Large Scale Models: The largest model I know of is the half scale model of the whaling bark(?) "Lagoda" in the Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The floor is at the water line and you can walk around it, but not on it. There are several galleries above so that you can see the upper rigging quite close. There are some other very nice models there too.

Also around Boston is the Peabody Museum in Salem.

12-07-2002, 02:03 PM
Rich, how do you scale speed through the water?


12-07-2002, 05:02 PM
To compare models of different scale one duplicates their Froude Number.

F# = velocity squared/(gravitational constantxlength)

You can drop the gravitational constant if you wish, provided you are consistant about it, and are comparing numbers.

Two models of different scale will have the same wake pattern if their speeds are adjusted to give the same F#.

Wild Dingo
12-07-2002, 05:16 PM
Rich not that it helps much I suppose but I recall seeing online somewhere some experiments a fella was doing with models...

His idea was to have his dinghy with one of them slow trolling motors attached and a couple of booms out either side {7-8ft seems to click for some reason?} one a counter balance and the other attached to the model this way the wash from the outboard didnt interfere with the movement of the model... thus he said that he was able to gain the speed through the water and many other factors... did it work? gawd knows... possibly... anyway its another method that may or may not be of help

Now this is were I screw up mate :rolleyes: ... I cant for the life of me remember where it was I saw this! :( But hopefull you get the idea

Take it easy

12-07-2002, 09:24 PM
That's what I was looking for Ahp. Thanks. Now--what is the gravational constant? 32'/second/second is the only thing I remember from 40 years ago. That does not seem to factor out.


12-08-2002, 09:57 AM
Most interesting. The acceleration of a falling body at the surface of the earth is a factor. Wife just reminded me it's been 50 years. Oh dear. No sense me even trying to cogitate on the influence of gravity at this stage in my life. What ever works, eh?