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Bottled Ship Builder

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Greetings All,

I had the idea of taking a method for making ship's boats I developed and testing whether it might work for much larger hulls. It was all experimental, so I wasn't taking photos as I worked, but since the idea worked out well I redid all the work covering it with photos to show how. Some of you may have seen my work with ship's boat hulls being made by using a plug of the hull shape, covering that plug with cigarette papers whetted with diluted white (pva} glue. Believe I have a video showing how this is done on Vimeo, do not have the URL for that but you can look it up on their site. Basically, laying the whetted paper over the plug, then using a wet toothpick to smooth it down tight to the entire plug, folding the paper over at bow and stern. After waiting 24 hours for the glue to dry/harden, adding another layer. For most ship's boats I would do 4 layers of paper. I would then cover the paper with either cyanoacrylate glue or varnish to harden it. Excess paper was cut away at the top of the bulwarks, and then the paper hull was popped off of the plug. The biggest problem with repeating for more than a single boat of the same shape and size was that cutting the excess paper sometimes cut the plug top, so I added a piece of shim brass of .005" thick to the top of the plug. Photos below show some views of this work, including finishing the interior of the boats with thin wood or plastic pieces. In some cases I used 0.015" thick maple veneer to plank the outside of the boats. These boats ranged from 1/2" to 1-1/4" long. More to follow in subsequent posts.

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Greetings All,

The next installment of my paper mache hull project is for a much larger hull. This particular hull is for a sandbagger, roughly 3 times larger than any of the ship's boat hulls I've done in the past, at 3-3/4" long and 1-1/2" wide. The plug was made from basswood, cut to. vertical cross sections spaced at 2' to the 1/8" scale. The wood was carved to shape using templates, then sanded and sealed multiple times to get it smooth and water tight. The first hull I used cigarette papers, but that turned out to be problematic as it took many papers to cover the hull, with lots of overlapping. The second time I decided to use tissue paper, the kind one often finds in gifts and such. It was white, but I used some brown wiping stain to get a color that looked more wood like, as at least some areas of the interior of the hull would be visible on the final model. I used 4 layers of paper, letting it dry for 24 hours between layers. The excess was cut off at the top of bulwarks after each 2 layers, and finally the hull was sanded to smooth out the overlaps at stern and bow. Lastly I put several coats of varnish on the paper hull, sanding lightly in between, to harden the outer surface of the hull.

Most to follow.

Anchor's A Weigh!

John Fox III

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On 3/21/2020 at 1:21 AM, Onni said:

Great idea John. I think that I'm going to try to replicate small boats using your method.

Go for it! If you have to make many boats the same size it a great way to make them the same. Also, save all the boat plugs you make, one never knows when one will need another of the same size.

Anchor's A Weigh!

John Fox III

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On 3/21/2020 at 6:02 AM, exwafoo said:

Hi John,

I tried this method successfully after seeing it on one of your CD's. I would suggest a release agent (a light rub with a candle or similar) is used as I did suffer slight problems getting the hull off the mould a couple of times. Other than that, its a great idea.

Regards

Alan

Thanks for the idea! I have tried using thin oil and petroleum jelly, but it makes it more difficult to get the paper to stay in place while smoothing out the wrinkles and overlaps. I never have an easy job removing the boat hulls from the plugs, I just work around the top edges of the paper hull with the tip of a #11 exacto blade several times and then pop them off. Haven't had one tear or break yet.

Anchor's A Weigh!

John Fox III

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22 hours ago, Spanky said:

That is a great idea for sure, thank you for sharing. So impressive you can put such detail on the inside of those.  It drives me nuts that many (correct me if wrong), when underway, were stowed upside down with a tarp over top? 

Thanks! I do try to come up with good ideas! <Grin> At first I put very little detail on my boats, but as my skills improved I just HAD to add more and more as I went along. It is true that sometimes the boats are upside down on chocks or stands, but not always. When I have covered boats on davits and such I do not add all the detail to the inside, I just cover the top with more whetted paper to make as close a simulation as I can of a tarp cover.

Anchor's A Weigh!

John Fox III

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Greetings All,

As the paper hull work continues I've made up a keel piece that includes the slot for the drop keel. It was assembled from pieces of 1/32" thick maple veneer that was hand sanded down to 0.020" thick, then glued together as shown. The cutout to match the keel area of the paper hull was then made, and the keel glued to the paper hull itself. Additionally I added a 1/16" thick cedar stern face to the back of the paper hull, it is intentionally made thicker than needed, and will be sanded down to 1/16" later in the work. I then took the same maple veneer sanded down to 0.012"-0.015" thick and cut it into 1/32" wide strips. These were then glued to the hull, starting with two planks at the top of bulwarks and two along the keel, to both sides of the hull. I used cyanoacrylate glue to glue each plank to the paper and the next plank added. I then added two more to each location, and repeated until the hull was completely planked over. At this point the planks are not even and smooth, slight variations in their thickness, so I then sanded the planking even and smooth. I should mention that this planking method is not "normal" in it's method, my only intention was to strengthen the paper hull.

Anchor's A Weigh!

John Fox III

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Greetings All,

Continuing on with my paper mache hull saga, I removed the planked paper hull from the plug. This was done by carefully slipping the tip of a #11 exacto blade between the plug and paper and tracing around the plug edge. At first I just barely inserted the blade tip, careful to follow the angle of the hull while inserting. Later I made my cuts a little deeper, where possible, the curvature of the hull at the edge near the stern is too sharp to allow much depth. The stern was reinforced with the wooden piece, in that area I used a flat chisel made from a piece of razor blade secured into the end of a piece of 1/8" brass tubing. The chisel was inserted between paper and plug, and pushed down as far as the hull shape would allow. I then used the chisel as a lever to slowly lift the stern area to remove the plug from the hull. The first photo shows the hull at this point. The second photo shows the result of cutting out the drop keel opening in the paper and inserting a piece of 1/32nd maple veneer, this was used to hold the hull during further work. Next step was to make in interior keel piece, made similarly to the method for the outer keel. The next 3 photos show what this looked like, with the caveat that after making the piece I decided to go with one made from pieces of cedar wood, which was the next photo. The interior keel was cut out in the main cockpit area and just after of the bow area, leaving the rest at bulwarks level for the keel well. The cockpit area was cut away to the level of the bottom of the deck and grating level. See how I made the grating in an earlier post in Odds and Ends.The maple piece used to hold the hull was used to align the interior keel piece by inserting the maple holder piece through the hull and interior keel. The interior keel was then glued in place.

Anchor's A Weigh!

John Fox III

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  • 2 weeks later...

Greetings All,

Further progress on my paper hull project was to make a floor piece of maple veneer. I printed out a copy of the floor from my plans and glued it to a piece of maple veneer. I carefully cut it out, then used 0.015" maple veneer cut into strips 1/32" wide pieces and glued them to the floor underside. I did sand off the print paper before adding the strips. These strips are fake frames that the grating made in another odds and ends bit I did to sit on. This floor was then glued into the hull, and glued to the inner keel piece.

Anchor's A Weigh!

John Fox III

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  • 2 weeks later...

Greetings All,

Onward and upward with the paper hull work. First photo shows the deck beams and horizontal support pieces, made from 1/16" thick basswood, 1/8" wide. The deck beams are all cut to the curve of the deck, the support pieces are just straight. Second photo shows the deck beams glued in place, they are individually cut to fit at their locations, third and fourth photo shows them at different angles. The last two photos shows the support pieces glued in place, they keep the deck beams from twisting while sanding them all even to the bottom of the deck level. There is nothing special about the spacing of the support pieces, except that some of them outline the sides of the opening for the cockpit. Last two photos show some basswood and cedar blocking that was added between the beams and support pieces at points where items will be attached to the deck with pins. The point where the mast hole will be drilled has blocking all the way down to the inside keel, the others are about 1/8" thick.

Anchor's A Weigh!

John Fox III

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Greetings All,

Last installment of my paper hull project. Lots of photos today. First few show the hull as the deck was planked over the deck beams, using 0.015" thick maple veneer. The deck was then sanded and varnished, after which it was cut to just a bit beyond the edges of the hull. I then used a small drill bit to drill multiple holes a bit inside the outline of the cockpit opening traced on the deck, and carefully cut through the veneer and beams and supports to open the cockpit area. I used an X-acto knife and #11 blade to do this, and then carefully cut to the outlined cockpit opening shape. The opening as then sanded to exact shape, the deck sanded again and varnished. This as far as I am going with this particular hull, it was only made to show the process of making the hull itself.

As part of this whole experiment with paper hulls I wanted to see if I could make a paper hull without the veneer planking. The last few photos show the results of that part of the experiment. The same hull plug was used, and the same stained tissue paper and the same white or school glue for the first experiment with this idea. I did use five layers of paper, letting the glue dry for 24 hours between layers of paper. That particular experiment did not work out well, the paper hull could not be removed from the plug without tearing or ripping it. It might work if one were to use perhaps car wax on the plug before adding the layers of glued paper. I tried another experiment, this time using unstained tissue paper. I found that the stain actually kept the glue from soaking into the paper properly, as without staining the paper it was quite a bit more flexible and also tore much more easily when soaking it with glue before adding to the plug. So, being as stubborn as I am, I tried soaking just one side of the paper in glue, then applying the glued side to the plug, and then using a small paint brush to to apply a thin coat of glue over the paper. When using the paint brush I worked out all the wrinkles and overlaps at the stern and bow. I also tried using a different glue, this time I used Titebond wood glue. This time after applying six layers of tissue paper the hull was much stronger and stiffer, and planking was not needed to make it possible to remove the paper hull from the plug.

Hope some of all this is found useful to some our fellow modelers.

Anchor's A Weigh!

John Fox III

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