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David Lester

Prince de Neufchatel by David Lester - Model Shipways - FINISHED - Scale 1:64

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Hello Everyone,

 

Here begins my build log for my Prince de Neufchatel. I've had this one waiting in the wings for a while, and now its number has come up. It's very early in my build and as you'll see below, my pictures aren't very interesting yet. However I have already encountered some dilemmas. I was never sure why this kit was discontinued as I think it's a particularly beautiful and interesting ship, but I am now beginning to believe that the kit needed a major design overhaul and rather than do that, they simply discontinued it.

 

The instructions suggest that the first layer of planking should go on before the keel, stem pieces and stern piece are installed, and no rabbet be cut. I can’t see how that would work very well. I can't imagine getting a nice edge, particularly at the stem to attach the stem pieces to. And at the deadwood area, if it’s not reduced in thickness, then the first layer of planning would add 1/16” to each side of the 3/16" false keel, plus the thickness of the second layer of planking. That means the keel, stem, stern pieces and the rudder would all have to be double planked as well, which would give a pretty thick result.

 

I decided to reduce the deadwood area, and create a rabbet nevertheless. I’ve also added the stem, keel and stern pieces prior to planking, which brings me to the second anomaly. The false keel and the stem pieces are all 3/16”, but the piece they give you to use for the keel and stern piece is much thinner and it just won’t work. So, I made up keel and stern pieces by laminating some old leftover material. I had to use a combination of basswood and walnut to get the dimensions I needed, so it looks a bit funny, but it works. My intention now is to set the first layer of planking into the rabbet, making it flush with the stern piece, but planking the stem, keel, stem and rudder with the thin second planking along with the hull. Since the bulkheads throughout the centre run of the hull extend all the way to the bottom of the false keel, I've have to reshape them slightly to allow the garboard plank to lay right. I’m hoping this will all work out ok and that I haven’t missed something that should be glaringly obvious.

 

Now, the bulkheads – the false keel is 3/16” which is fine, but the bulkheads are only 1/8” and they are basswood, not plywood. They will be easy to fair, but they are very flimsy. Furthermore, the slots in the false keel are all 3/16”! It’s very difficult to get them positioned and I’m having to shim every one of them.

I was worried that if I got them positioned inconsistently I’d never get the false deck to fit, so I did a dry fit and discovered that if I shimmed the bulkheads all in the same direction, I should be ok. We’ll see. I actually need two different sizes of shims, the parts are so poorly milled. I know there is always some tweaking to get the bulkheads to fit nicely, but this is beyond anything I’ve seen before.

 

I’m a little concerned about what further surprises are in store; I think this will be a more challenging build that I first imagined it to be.

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Adding the bearding line, contrary to instructions

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My "two-tone" keel and stern post and deadwood area reduced the thickness of the first layer of planking.

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Some shimmed bulkheads installed. They will definitely need support blocks. I hope the false deck will fit.

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Gluing in the bulkheads is always a tedious job, so while I wait for each one to dry, I’ve been shaping the masts and yards, which is going very nicely. (Some good news.) I’m always pleasantly surprised by how good a result can be achieved with just a #10 blade and some sandpaper.

 

Sorry this post is so long and contains so much griping. Let’s hope for shorter and cheerier next time.:)

David

Edited by David Lester

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Hi Joshua,

Thanks for the heads up, especially with the upper bulwarks pieces. In fact I have been thinking ahead about those gunports and wondering how I was ever going to get them in a straight row. The pre-cut openings are smaller than the actual openings and you're supposed to glue the actual frames individually on the inside between the bulkhead extensions. Working from the inside and between the extensions makes it almost impossible to ensure that they're in a straight row. I hadn't thought of scrapping them altogether, but now I'm beginning to think that might be the way to go. Thank you for that suggestion!

 

David

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Happy Saturday Everyone,

I've made a little progress over the past week, without too many problems. I've strengthened the bulkheads with some blocks. I used an old dowel I had lying around. (Now it looks like a Maris Stella kit:).) And I added the blow and stern filler blocks.

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This is nothing in either the instructions or the plans that indicate the shape or size of the stern filler blocks, so I had to infer their shape based solely on this photo in the instructions. It's literally the only reference provided:

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It took a great deal of time to get the bulkheads all level and even. The fairing itself isn't too bad on this model - the bow is not rounded, but rather comes to a point and the stern is a very gentle slope. But getting them even was a big job. The fact that there are many of them is helpful in some ways, but their proximity to each other also tends to amplify any differences among them. There was a great deal of paring and shimming required, but in the end I think I've got a pretty smooth result.

 

The false deck was cut quite accurately and was easy to fit, which surprised me in light of some of the issues I've already run into with this kit.

 

Below you can see the first plank in place in preparation for the upper planking.

 

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The upper planking for this kit entails a thin strip with the gunports and oarports pre-cut. The instructions give distances from the false deck to the top of this bulwarks plank at each bulkhead. You pin it in place, draw a line across it at the bottom from the inside, and cut it to fit. The ports are all cut a bit small. You glue frames on the inside of the strip for both the gunports and oarports and then open them to their final size. The instructions would have you add these frames after the strip is in place, but I chose to add them first, which I thought makes it much easier to locate them properly and open them cleanly. This process takes a bit of fiddling, getting them all more or less the correct distances apart, the right position up and down and trimming down bulkheads to accommodate them, etc.  

 

I contemplated the idea of scrapping these strips altogether and framing in the ports individually, as some others have done with success. However in the end, I decided I could make these strips work quite well, especially after I decided to add the frames before installing the strips.

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So next is adding the upper bulwarks strips and then framing them on the inside to accommodate the inner bulwarks planking.

 

Thanks for the likes and following along. Have a great weekend. After a staggering amount of snow this winter, we are now in a warm spell - temperatures above freezing for over a week, and most of the snow melted. This sure helps shorter the winter a bit and I have always preferred looking at my snowblower than using my snowblower.

 

David

 

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Good idea on how to work those strips David. I'm almost to the point of having to decide what to do, and that gives me one more option to consider.

 

Bob

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Thanks for your interest, everyone. I've got the bulwarks plates and the stern plate in position now and I think they're going to work out ok. Two tricky bits though - the instructions give height dimensions for the bulwarks plates at each bulkhead extension, and they are actually quite accurate, however, there is no indication of what their height needs to be at the tip of the bow. It's quite important as the bulwarks must be just a hair higher than the bowsprit at the point where they intersect. So a bit of trial and error was needed to determine that height. Fortunately I had already tapered the bowsprit in between waiting for the bulkheads' glue to dry during the process of installing them. I was able to experiment with it and determine the height for the bulwarks plates. I would hate to have tried to fit the bowsprit later only to find it wanted to sit above the cap rail.

 

The other tricky bit is at the stern as there isn't room for the rudder to clear the stern bulwark. (I honestly can't imagine who designed this kit!) I think you mentioned this one too Joshua. So I addressed the problem through a combination of widening the opening slightly by extending it forward and having to trim down the stern post slightly as well and by reducing the rudder slightly by removing material from its forward edge. Through that combination I was able to create enough clearance, without changing the appearance of anything negatively. Better to solve this one now, rather than later. 

 

I'll have some pictures next time.

 

David

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Hello Everyone,

So, here are some pictures of my progress this week. I have the bulwarks plates installed, the bulwarks framed out to match the thickness of the gunport and oarport frames, the bulkhead extensions thinned down and the bulwarks planked.

 

I had to use a small amount of filler on the outside of the bulwarks plates and also a little bit on the false deck where it tends to be a bit low between the bulkheads at the outer edges. I think I've now got an even and smooth base for the upper planking and deck planking.

 

For the bulwarks planking I used some material left over from another kit. The instructions indicate using the same material as for the second layer of hull planking, but it doesn't look to me like there's going to be any to spare, so I decided to do it this way. The planks are technically a bit too wide, but I decided by the time I have it sanded and painted and all the other bits in place, it won't make any difference to the appearance. I'm planning to paint it dark green as some versions of this ship show it.

 

Next up is either the deck planking or the upper hull planking; not sure which just yet. This kit threw a few curve balls at me at the outset, but I think most of the troublesome issues are behind me, at least I hope so.

 

David

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Hello All,

I've been making pretty steady progress, but have been negligent in updating my build log, so here is a bit of a backlog. 

 

I'm going with dark green for the bulwarks and applied a couple of coats to get the effect. It isn't actually quite as dark as it appears to be in the photo. It was too early to paint, but I was anxious to see how it would look. It of course needs another coat, but that will come later.

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I've finished the first layer of planking. This is a fairly easy hull to plank, with minimal bending of the planks required and it actually went quite quickly.

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Wood filler - my best friend.

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I've got a pretty smooth and even hull, ready for the final layer of planking.

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Nothing addles my brain faster than plotting out a planking pattern for the deck. In the past I have always started out with high hopes and even some success, but by the time I get to the end it always devolves into looking like a gerbil did it. I'm always ok on the wide open areas, but as soon as I have to start accounting for openings and other obstacles on the deck that's when I get into trouble.

 

In an effort to avoid that outcome this time, I drew the plan out on paper and I'm happy to report that I successfully followed it from beginning to end.

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There's no finish on the deck in the first picture below; I just wet the wood to try to get an idea of how it might look.

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I have to decide what to do about the waterways next. In typical fashion for this kit, the plan indicates a piece of 3/32" x 3/32" rounded over, but of course there is no wood in the kit even approaching that dimension, nor listed on the parts list. I do have plenty of plenty of spare wood kicking around, so it shouldn't be a problem coming up with something but I'm not sure if it should be quarter round or simply beveled. I have the Reed book on modeling this ship and I notice that he simply installs a beveled board.

 

The question of how to finish a basswood deck is always a perplexing one. Basswood really doesn't take a stain well at all and browns usually end up looking very blotchy. It doesn't look too bad it it's just polyurethaned (kind of like the picture above) but that always looks a bit too bright to my eye.

 

Many decks on real ships are actually grey in colour, so I've been experimenting with that. I stained the deck with a gray minwax, I think it's called weathered oak or something like that and the result is below. The basswood still looks a little inconsistent, but not nearly as much as with some brown stains and it has a natural look that I like. I think it will work well once I have all the various bits and pieces installed on the deck.

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I've made a start on the final planking and it's going quite smoothly. These very thin top planks don't even need soaking. They bend readily on the gentle curves of this hull.

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I've been working quite steadily at it but we're heading out tomorrow for a few days, so it will be next week before I'm back at it. 

 

Thanks for looking in and for the likes.

David

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Good Morning,

A little progress to report.

 

I finished the outer planking on the hull and installed the the waterways on the deck.DSCN1806.JPG.920b1085e018be0c8b85802bdec68aba.JPG

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The plans indicate a 3/32" x 3/32" strip rounded over. There was nothing close to that size in the kit, so I used some 1/16" material I had left over from another kit and rounded it over with sandpaper.  It's actually 1/16" x 1/16" rather than 3/32" x 3/32" but I think it's fine.

 

 

Earlier, as a diversion I turned my attention to the gratings. There are four of them on this ship - three on the deck and one at the bow at the rail level. 

 

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The material provided in the kit produces a grating like the dark one, lower right in the picture above. It's a very small opening size and I liked it well enough, but there was not enough material in the kit to make four. I made the three for the deck and there was just barely enough for them (and I was not wasteful.) I ordered some more material and am in the process of working on them. The three for the deck are above. It's a bigger opening, but I think it will be fine.

 

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The one at the bow level presents a problem that I had not foreseen. There isn't enough depth on top of the bowsprit to accommodate the grating. The only two solutions I can see are to either sand the grating down so that it's very thin or to notch the bowsprit to allow the grating to fit. I think I am going to notch the bowsprit as I'm sure the grating will begin to crumble if I try to sand it down to 1/16" or less. Once all is in place, the fix won't be detectable. The other problem, of course, is that there is no room for belaying pins in the area directly over the bowsprit. This is the kit that just keeps on giving - unpleasant surprises that is. I'm glad this isn't my first model or I would be quite discouraged.

 

So that's where I'm at for now. Have a great weekend everyone.

 

David

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Hi Joshua,

Oh, I think you should stick with it. I'm going to see this one through. I'm still pretty sure it will result in a handsome model. At first I was perplexed as to why it was discontinued, but it's becoming obvious to me now. They must have had plenty of complaints. I was drawn to the beautiful line of the hull, but if I had it to do over again, I would have opted for the Niagara or possibly the Syren or Pride of Baltimore II.

 

Anyway, the pleasure the model is giving me still outweighs the frustrations and like you I couldn't stand to see it left undone. 

David 

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Hello David

 

Dumb question I guess, but would it be better to shorten the grating at the bow to allow the Bowsprit to remain whole rather than run the grating all the way to the ends of the cap rail?

 

Lou

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Hi Lou,

The bowsprit sits high even at the aft end of the grating. Even here some adjustment has to be made, although not as much as at the bow. I'm still considering all of my options.

Thanks,

David

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Posted (edited)

Hi David!

 

Odd design, placing grating there.  No need for a “floor” under seats of ease since there are none!

And there is no opening in the deck to the fo’c’s’le below that needs ventilation.  Why the grate?

Edited by DocBlake

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Hi again David

I have to kind of agree with Dave. Why is the grating even there? The belaying pin railing, I am going to assume that is what the holes running port to starboard are, would in most cases be placed along the cap rail anyway or would just be an open rail with holes for the pins. But then I am not even close to being considered knowledgeable on ship design of the early 19th century.

 

Nice build either way you end up going.

 

Lou  

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I remember that gratings being problematic and crumbled easily. I ordered a different size from model expo as to keep the thickness the same as the railing. I don't recall having to sand down the grate to clear the bow spirit. I'll have to take a look at it.

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Dave and Lou - I'm not sure what the purpose of the grating in the bow is either, but it was also a feature of my Virginia Privateer restoration (picture below). Another forum member sent me some replacement parts as he had a couple of these kits. Included was some replacement grating which is simply a very thin sheet of wood, almost like paper. It couldn't be more than 1/64" thick and the square holes have been punched. Although it's a bit fragile, it's very easy to work with. You just draw the shape you want on it and cut it out with scissors. It was ideal for the bow of the VP and would have been for this model too.

 

David

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David

 

Possibly it is just a platform that allows a little better footing for the people handling the jib sails rather than standing in a confined area of the bow or out on the boom. Hopefully someone has a better answer for you. (Meaning for me also)

 

Lou

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Good Morning Everyone,

A little progress to report. I next turned my attention to the cheek rails. For some reason, these were causing me more trouble than I've had on other builds. The plans include only one poor picture, with no indication of their size or shape and the plan didn't really match my model very accurately in any case. After several unsuccessful attempts, I tried this approach: I edge-glued a piece of 1/64" x 1/8" stock to the stem, bending it to follow the contour. Once it was in place, I sanded it, leaving it at almost full depth where it meets the hull, down to almost nothing at the tip of the stem. I then added the cheek knees. This is by far the best result that I think I can achieve.

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I've also been working on some of the deck furniture. It's all just sitting in place for the pictures - not attached yet, so everything isn't necessarily sitting square. I've had to rely on several sources other than the plans for some of the details. The plans give no real indication of how the cabin and companionway should look, so the result is a combination of ideas from others' builds and my own interpretation.

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That's all for now. I'm just about ready to paint the exterior of the hull above the waterline.

 

David

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Happy Thursday Everyone,

I have a little progress to report. I've been working away at several different things, mostly because it only takes a few minutes to paint something and then you can't handle it until it's dry, so as a result I've had several different things on the go at the same time.DSCN1849.JPG.40e2c24c5854099eccc58cbb7d1c03d3.JPG

I have the upper hull painted. Next I believe I will add the cap rail and then begin coppering the lower hull.

 

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I'm simultaneously working on the gunport lids -

 

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the gun carriages and -

 

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the mast top.

 

I know that many are of the opinion that the gun carriages provided in the kit are not quite right, but I have decided to just go with them anyway, rather than make new ones. I've used brass rod for the axles and I've blackened the guns. I don't have any brass rod that's the right size for the trunnions and rather than order some in, I discovered that 1 1/4" finishing nails are exactly the right size, so that's what I used. To my surprise, the nails blackened just like the brass did when placed in the blackening solution.

 

The mast top was a bit of a mystery to make. As is the case for almost everything in this kit, the instructions do not address it, photos in the instructions are so dark as to be useless and the plans are not at all detailed. In fact, they're worse than that - they're usually contradictory and sometimes just plain wrong. While the plan is drawn full scale, the dimensions indicated (in the few places that they are indicated) don't agree with actual measurements taken from the plan and often the same component will be different sizes when it's shown from more than one perspective. So, I more or less made things up as I went along, but in the end I think it's an acceptable result and I think it's more or less what the plans are getting at.

 

Now on to cutting copper plates!

 

David

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Looking good!!

 

For me the mast tops we're not as confusing as we're the cheeks directly under the tops. These only exist as a 2D image on one of the drawings and without a reference.

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Hello Everyone,

Thank you for your comments and likes.

 

I'm getting very close to being ready to copper the hull, but I can only cut so many of the plates from the roll of tape without going completely crazy, so I've been breaking it up with a few other odds and ends.

I've finished the head rails, and I think they have a reasonably credible profile, given how derelict the plans are and they are essentially of my own design. I'm going to paint them black, so that should help disguise any deficiencies.

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I then added the cap rail. The instructions suggest using three pieces, each 5/64" x 5/64" laid side by side. I decided not to do that, but rather just used a piece 1/16" x 1/4" which I think makes it easier to get a good result. It means that I couldn't bend the pieces around the bow, so for that area I laminated some scrap billet material and cut it out using a template.

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I've also been working on the slipways which is not quite finished yet, but is going to work out just fine.

 

The other thing I've been doing is finishing off the guns and carriages by adding the eyebolts. I always find that the eyebolts provided in kits tend to be too big. Some time ago, I found a really nice small eyebolt at BlueJacket, which I have used on most of my models so far. I thought I still had lots of them, but it turns out I don't. Every time I order them, I think I've ordered plenty, but I always underestimate how quickly they get used up. So, this time I tried making my own. I never thought I'd be able to get a decent result, but after only a little experimenting, I discovered how quickly and easily you can make one.

 

Below you can see a typical kit supplied eyebolt on the left, the small BlueJacket one in the middle (inside diameter of eye is about 1 mm) and my homemade one on the right which is about the same size. It's made from 28 gauge brass wire. The secret, which I found on someone else's build log, is to drill a small hole in a piece of wood which is about 1/4" thick. Loop the wire over a drill bit (about a #60 or there about) and then push both ends of the wire through the hole. Then grab the ends of the wire with pliers, pulling the loop down tight against the drill bit and the drill bit tight against the piece of wood. When you twist the wires together a few times, the 1/4" thickness of the wood ensures a straight shank on the eyebolt.

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That's the update for the time being - not it's back to cutting copper plates.

David

 

 

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Good Morning Everyone,

Some more progress to report - I have pretty much finished the hull including the coppering and I've built the launching ways.

 

I used the self-adhesive copper tape which is what I used on my Constitution as well. I was surprised at how quickly it went, but I was forgetting how much smaller this hull is than the Constitution's.

 

I really like launching ways as a stand. This one is considerably different than my other one on the Armed Virginia Sloop, but I like it just as well. The next challenge is finishing it. Basswood doesn't stain all that nicely and I had trouble getting a satisfactory finish last time, so I'm putting that off for the time being.

 

I've just started making my chainplates and I'm really pleased to be using my new soldering iron. Earlier I had bought the cheapest one I could find, because I knew I would be giving it only light duty, but it was false economy. It was 25 watts and just didn't seem to be adequate and it caused me a great deal of frustration. After a bit of on-line research, I settled on a new one which is a Hakko FX888D and it is a real pleasure to use. It's probably overkill for my needs, but I was afraid of making the same mistake twice. This one works extremely well. It comes with a small chisel tip and I bought an extra pointed tip. I'm now trying to think up things I can solder.:P

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We're off to Ottawa for the weekend (3 1/2 hour drive east of here) for my mother-in-law's 90th birthday, but at the same time waiting for a phone call from my son in Dundas (2 hour drive west of here), whose new baby is due Saturday, so a bit of driving in my immediate future!

 

Have a great weekend,

David   

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NRG Mailing Address

Nautical Research Guild
237 South Lincoln Street
Westmont IL, 60559-1917

About the NRG

If you enjoy building ship models that are historically accurate as well as beautiful, then The Nautical Research Guild (NRG) is just right for you.

The Guild is a non-profit educational organization whose mission is to provide support to our members in their efforts to raise the quality of their model shipcraft.

The Nautical Research Guild puts on ship modeling seminars, yearly conferences, and juried competitions. We publish books on ship modeling techniques as well as our world-renowned quarterly magazine, The Nautical Research Journal, whose pages are full of articles by master ship modelers who show you how they build those exquisite details on their models, and by maritime historians who show you what details to build.

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Modelshipworld - Advancing Ship Modeling through Research
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