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About catopower

  • Birthday 06/17/1962

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  1. Yes, the Mastini planking method is fine for anyone, unless you really want to simulate actual practice, which most of the posts I've seen on this forum seem to espouse. But, when you get down to it, I would venture to say that the majority of ship modelers I have known (not online, but in person), have built models using Mastini's method or similar, which is essentially what is described in nearly all ship model kit instructions. Many extremely beautiful models have been built this way – and not painted over. Hull planking, and for that matter deck planking, fastenings, scarf joints, knots and serving in rigging, fittings, even hull framing, it's all a matter of what you want the model to be, and how badly you want that. Especially when starting off, choose the path that leads to your greatest enjoyment of ship modeling!
  2. For this model, I'd recommend just sticking with Mastini's book on the left. Lots of very useful material there. It's the book I usually recommend to new ship modelers. Of course, there's lots of info on this site, but it's nice to just thumb through a book...
  3. Definitely a good kit to get started on. It was one of my first builds, oh so long ago... Good hull form for fairly easy planking, simple rigging, relatively quick to build and learn on. I would suggest following the kit's design and plank it like they tell you in the instructions, though I know the instructions are pretty sparse. Just have a fun introduction to ship modeling! Clare
  4. Scratch-built Tenmasen from Paris drawings Something that I tried, but failed to do on my previous Japanese coastal transport, the Higaki kaisen, was to make a Tenmasen, a small lighter that was carried aboard these ships. Since the ships were too large to travel up waterways, they'd anchor close to shore, and this small boat was used to ferry crew and cargo to and from shore. The term Tenmasen (ten-mah-sen), or simply Tenma, seems to be used across Japan to refer to different types of workboats. My 1/72-scale Tenmasen was based on drawings by Paris, made in the late Edo or early Meiji periods. It differs from what I've seen in most Japanese references. It seems a bit simpler. Maybe more functional and a little less elegant than versions I've seen in books or the reproduction I saw on Sado island. I had a time trying to build this as a planked boat at such a small scale, so I broke down and carved the lower hull, then added the beams and upper hull planks and such. There is still some work to do on it, but all the structural work is done now. The boat is interesting in that it is very shallow draft and very wide. It's clear in the drawings, but you don't really realize it until you see it in 3D. Boat Builder Douglas Brooks brought a model of a Tenmasen to the NRG conference at Mystic. It's the upper model in the photo below. That one was made by his teacher, and appears to represent a canal boat, as it was poled, and had no fittings for a sculling oar. The Tenmasen replica I saw on Sado Island, Japan, was very different, and had sawed frames added for strength. It had a pair of Ro, or sculling oars, but had a couple paddles, probably just to aid in manuevering. I find it interesting that at the time Paris made his drawings of this small boat, unlike all the Japanese representations, this boat had 11 oars, and only one of them was a sculling oar. Whereas, all the Japanese representations show boats that are primarily sculled. Some, like the one on Sado, had paddles, but no apparent way to rig them to use as oars. This is something that bothered me a bit when I went to work drawing up and building a model of an Edo period boat from 1803 and earlier. This boat was illustrated in a kind of book used by tax assessors. The boat, called a Tenma-zukuri chabune, or Tenma-style "tea boat", and was one of many illustrated boats that showed no fittings for the use of sculling oars. When I drew up my plans and built my model, it seemed that most of my knowledgeable friends in Japan felt that the illustration was wrong and that it should have fittings for a sculling oar. I'm not one to ignore the only piece of actual historical evidence, but people were insisting that it have the fitting for a sculling oar, so I drew the plans with the fitting, but couldn't bring myself to build the model that way. The photo below shows that 1/20-scale model, mostly finished, but with a few details I've been neglecting. By the way, I made use of the vinyl cutter here to make those nail ends you see on the inside of the hull. I also used it to make templates for cutting those mortises in the rub rails. But, more about this particular model another time. Anyway, the point being that I'm not sure if the use of the sculling oar was as widespread as people believe today. I have yet to find anyone who knows its history of use in Japan, though I think it's widely accepted that it was a technology that was imported from China, where it is called a yuloh. In any case, the Kitamaebune looks like it will be equipped with a tenmasen. Clare
  5. Actually, I've read recently that someone was able to cut styrene up to .015" on the same machine I have. Any thicker required him to separate the parts manually with a knife. But, the Cricut Maker can definitely cut thicker. Regarding the software, I went on both manufacturer's sites and downloaded their software for free to try them out to learn how to work with it first. Being on a Mac and not a PC, I was cautious about it. As I said, I preferred the Cameo software. Though both were free downloads, I ended up paying $50 for an upgrade to the Cameo software, primarily to allow me to import files that I could create in Adobe Illustrator, since I already know how to do a lot with that software. As for the uses of the vinyl cutter, this is great for creating vinyl lettering, which one of the members of the Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights group in San Francisco introduced us to some time back. One of the members of my ship model club asked me if I could cut his ship's name for the transom on his model, which I did. It can cut pretty amazingly small details, though it is cutting vinyl, which can flex a bit. So, applying the cut vinyl requires a lot of care. I've recently some templates in vinyl, which gave me regularly spaced rectangles, which I used as a guide for cutting mortises on another Japanese wooden boat model I made. Saved me some time and kept me from drawing a lot of pencil marks, which are hard to remove from the soft wood. I've also considered using it to cut masks, so that the final product on the model is just paint, rather than vinyl. Haven't tried that yet, though. Of course, you can cut other material, like paper. And for that, it works very well. I do wish this machine were a bit tougher, though, as I would like to cut thin copper foil. Clare
  6. Hi Gary, Thanks for the nice comments. My own cutter is a Cameo Silhouette. The vinyl I use it .003" thick. It can certainly handle thicker, heavier material, but I don't think you could cut styrene with it. A more powerful cutter is the Cricket Maker. It can cut with much more pressure and can cut thin wood. I've seen mention on the Internet of someone using multiple passes using a Cricket Maker to cut 0.040" styrene. So, yes it's definitely be possible with that machine. I specifically bought the Cameo machine to cut vinyl and paper. Also, I chose it because I much preferred the drawing software that comes with it. I tried the Cricket software, but it stores drawings on the Internet, and you need an Internet connection to use it. That's certainly not a problem, but I don't like that I can't just use the machine anywhere with drawings I store on my computer. Clare
  7. At this point, it's time to look at the copper coverings on the beams and mortises, etc. The Woody Joe kit provides a photo-etched copper sheet, which must be some kind of copper alloy, as it doesn't really tarnish. Below is a photo of the one from the Higaki Kaisen kit, which is very similar. These look fine, but the metal is very bright. As you can see from the photos of the Hakusanmaru, the copper is well tarnished. It's probably very green on the ships on the ocean, but I wanted to simulate simple tarnished copper. I considered using thin copper, which is readily available on the Internet, but thought I'd try something different using a machine that I made use of to solve a recent model dilemma. In that case, I needed to make a very regular decorative pattern. I won't go into a lot of detail on that, but here is a photo of what I was able to accomplish. These are photos of an in-progress model of Edo period Kobaya, or small, fast ship that belong to the Shōgun. The decorations were made using a Silhouette Cameo 3 vinyl cutter – the poor man's laser cutter. The machine is pretty much just a computer plotter (remember those?) with a knife blade in place of a pen. The device connects to any computer, which controls it much like a printer. Included software allowed me to create the designs and to control the cuts. The above photo was taken during unpacking. I got this earlier this year, specifically for solving my decoration issues with that model. Since then, I've found a number of used for it. For the Kitamaebune, I tried out a feature of this unit, which allows me to take a photo of a pattern I want to cut out, and to import it, process it, and create the pattern in permanent, adhesive backed vinyl. The process requires the use of a special cutting mat which is created with registration marks. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the intermediate steps. But, the cut vinyl is then applied to the model using a transfer material, which is basically adhesive backed, clear plastic. The cut vinyl will stick to it, allowing you to apply the vinyl to the model, after which the transfer "paper" is peeled off. All those brown colored rectangles and diamonds were cut using the machine. The tip of the stem is also covered in this material and was creating using the PixScan mat and photographing the existing parts. The rectangular and diamond shaped mortise covers, however, were designed by myself. They weren't copies from existing copper. In the below photo, you can see that I've covered the beam ends and added many more detail pieces in vinyl. This includes the black iron parts on the rudder. Like all the rectangular mortise covers, these weren't part of the kit, so I had to draw them up myself. More of this detail yet to come! Clare
  8. Thank you for the supportive comments, Druxey. The shape of the upward sweeping stern always reminds me of a duck's tail. 🦆 Well, the main cabin gets covered over by deck planking, but not before I get the rudder installed. On this model, the rigging of the rudder is much simplified (like much of the kit). I want the model to stand up to a certain amount of scrutiny. On the Higaki Kaisen model, there is a rope that wraps around the back of the tiller, helping to hold it in the notch in the "great beam" or ōtoko. The rope is doubled and I simply tied it around one of the beams inside the cabin. The rudder's weight is supported by ropes that thread through wooden sheaves on either side of the rudder. The instructions have you hang the ropes from eyelets installed in a beam over the rudder, to be threaded through each side of the sheave, glued, and trimmed off close to the sheave. So, you basically have two rope ends terminating inside the sheave hole. This is expedient, but not a very satisfying rig for a ship modeler. I chose to use the eyelets to tie one end of a length of thread through, run it down through the sheave, back up through the eyelet, back down inside the cabin, and to tie it off to a beam inside the cabin. This much more closely resembles the actual rig. I considered hanging a block in place of the eyelet, but I would have had a hard time fitting the block inside the rudder well at this stage. In any case, the rigging is there and I'm satisfied. In all honesty, it probably doesn't look any better than what the instructions said to do. But, it's more satisfying for this ship modeler. With the rudder in place, I could cover the cabin with the provided pieces of pre-scored planking. I again find the pre-scoring of the planks a bit unsatisfying. But, it does make for a perfect appearance of planks. The biggest downside is that if anything is off in the area of the planking, there's no way to extend the planks to cover a gap. Or, if there is an error in construction and you have to re-make a piece, it may be next to impossible to make a piece that will blend in with the others. So, it's important to check and re-check all assemblies before gluing a piece into place or cutting something. You HAVE to follow directions, or you run the risk of screwing up the build. In the above photo, which I actually took during a test fitting of parts, I noted that the tab at the end of the deck piece is totally visible. That won't do. While it's not very authentic as far as I know, I'll probably just cover that edge with a thin strip of wood, like a covering board. It'll look better than that eyesore tab. The remainder of the planking went fine, though there is a slight gap at the back end of the cabin, next to beam. It's not all that noticeable except, of course, that my eye goes right to it. I will cut a thin strip to drop in there, which will help. The green rubber band you see in the first and last photos helps keep the rudder from lifting up. Later, a rope will fit in its place, as per the kit's instructions. Also, that long slot down the center of the cabin will be covered. This slot is a real part of these ships, though I believe it's continuous and not blocked by that bulkhead piece. This slot allows the mast to be stepped and un-stepped by the crew. The mast was lowered and removed when at anchor, to stabilize the ship. It was then laid across the tops of those three supports.
  9. Wonderful collection of photos from the conference! Sorry I wasn't able to join you, but I tried to be there in spirit. Thank you Tom for posting these.
  10. The next phase of construction involves mostly the framework of the main cabin area. This is very familiar, having built Woody Joe's Higaki Kaisen kit, but I do miss the interior details of that kit. You could probably make modifications to this Kitamaebune kit, to add the same amount of interior detail, but there is no way to see inside, as the doors and the windows are all just solid pieces. It would take some planning to do it, but I think it would be possible. However, there are other ways to modify the kit to consider. I think I mentioned these earlier, but these ships carried a small boat for loading and unloading cargo, which is a feature not included in either of the Woody Joe bezaisen kits (the sailor's term for Japanese coastal transports). The Kitamaebune also often had cargo piled up high on deck, covered with a heavy straw mat, or they had a peaked roof structure erected over the open deck area to shelter cargo. The boat and the deck structure are still items to consider. For now, I've added a sill to the base of each loading gate and then added the cutout portions of the bulwarks back in to better simulate the gates. You can see the starboard side gate in the next photo. If I didn't add the details, you'd only see a solid wall. One of my favorite parts of the model is the arch across the front of the main cabin. Those little square pieces are tennons on the real ship. On the model, these are little 1mm x 1mm pieces you have to cut and glue into place. This is actually a bit tricky to do unless you have a very sharp, thin blade, as hinoki wood this fine is easy to crush when you cut it. I used a scalpel blade, but a very thin razor blade would probably work best – not the hardware store kind, but the kind you can shave with. In these close-up photos, you can see that many of these are slightly malformed as the edges crushed slightly when I cut them. Finally, I started the rudder assembly, as I will be needing it soon. This is another neat piece of hardware on these ships. Through the "magic" of laser cutting, the main part of the rudder already has he individual plank pieces cut into it. This whole assembly is made up of 11 pieces. Below is a better view of the inboard part of the loading gate. I'll be scoring the piece across the top. On the replica ship I visited, and also on the Higaki Kaisen kit, this piece did not exist. There is a gap between the bulwarks you see here and the external fence you see from the outside of the hull. You can actually look down at the space between the two. I expect that the outer fence flexes somewhat and absorbs the impact of large waves that may strike the side of the ship. Below, you can clearly see this gap on the Hakusan Maru replica ship on Sado Island. A bit of a blurry photo here, but this is a view from the staircase up into the ship, passing through the starboard side loading gate. You can see the gate on the opposite side, still in place. Also, that bit of lattice work leaning against the far side is the removable section of the loading gate we're coming through here. All the wooden railing here is just for public safety. Note the slots in the bottom of the photo where that lattice work fence fits into.
  11. I'm guessing you got in touch with Billing Boats, not BBUSA. So, what is "the impossible" that Billing Boats wants you to do??? On the BBUSA email, I just checked and they are apparently having problems with spam attacks on their customer registration system. This seems to be happening to a lot of ecommerce sites and somehow affecting the email address. Someone is looking into it now.
  12. And the gate added... I felt that the bulwarks fence lacked depth, so I added a strip along the larger section under the window opening (marked with the red arrow). This then is a continuation of a similar looking part on the gate. As I mentioned last time, the forward part of this fence, in particular, is fairly fragile at the glue joints, so I've popped a piece off a couple times already.
  13. Hi Rick, Billing Boats is a kit manufacturer, while Billing Boats USA is a distributor and never made kits. Billing Boats USA went through some changes a few years back – they are still in business, but owned by Ages of Sail. Email address is customer.service@billingboatsusa.com Hope that helps! Clare

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