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Salty Dog

How many actually finish their model ships?

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With my mojo still missing, I was wondering how many of us finish our the models we start.  Seems like there are an AWFUL lot of build logs that just peter out or downright grind to a halt.  I have seen very many that just go nowhere, sometimes from just unboxing the kit.  I am guilty of this and several of my kits.  I wonder how many of you are in the same boat (pun intended).

Why did you stop?  Which ship did you quit on?  Will you ever finish it?

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Very few of mine get relegated to the scrap heap. Only one in recent memory: the Heller 1/100 Victory started in my bachelor days. After a wedding and two not-so-careful moves it was declared a Total Constructive Loss at about 40% complete and tossed. Of course, several years later, I purchased the kit yet again and it's now in the queue.

 

Though I may just have to send the kit to Dafi for him to do his magic on it! ;)

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My first scratch build self designed Friendship sloop started after a 65 year lay-off started March, 2011 and finished April 2012.  This was actually my third self designed model in wood I scratch build, the first 2 were dine 65 years ago when I was in High School in the Netherlands.

Started on a self designed 1665 era VOC ship May, 2012.  She is currently on hold because I started a model of my father's submarine of the Netherland's Royal Navy, the O19.

I started the O19 on February, 2013 and completed her May, 2015.

I build an apprentice level 2 kit of a Muscongus lobster smack during the same time as I was working on the submarine model.  This project was meant for an auction to benefit the children whose father's did not come home from war.  I finished this kit build in February, 2015 and showed it at the auction in Fayetteville, N.C., together with my other builds.

I will be tackling the VOC ship again after we return from our holiday to the Netherlands.  We leave this month on the 16th and be back July 6.  

 

As you can see I finish what I start and have no problem with "burnout."  Actually. my wife has to remind me that there are things to do around the house, so I have to drag myself away from the build docks.

 

Having build now one kit and an entry level at that, I find it more difficult to do then scratch building.  I now have the greatest respect for all you kit builders.  I don't think I would even attempt building such complicated ship models as you are doing.  My hat off to you all.

 

Please stick with it, it's good for your health, mental and physical.  You can visit by ship yards by clicking on the links under my signature.   

 

Cheers, 

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Well,over the past almost 3 years now since I have got back into wooden ship model building after over 35 years away in plastic land. I have completed

3 ships . all from Model Shipways- Gunboat Philladelphia, Union Picket Boat Number One and Armed Virginia Sloop.

 

Have started and have been working on these kits:

Caldercraft-Jotika 1/80 Mary Rose

1/48 clone of the 1/80 Mary Rose-laser cut by Rick  Shousha-he did a great jog of laser cutting for me.

Panart Royal Caroline 1/48

 

When it comes to other kits,I have over 60 started in various stages that I rotate building on as I feel like it,or when I am able to get research material thats stopped the building ot waiting for other detail aftermarket parts,or just got bored with the kit.

 

But wooden ship building has been the one thing that has got me to finish what I start over the resent years. I also belong to a building group of old and young guys who meet every 2 weeks,rotating around at our houses. Thats the real secret to completing the models. You need the feedback of others and their help.

 

Keith

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I envy you guys that are so committed.  I think part of the reason I bail on my models is the instructions.  I have been an electro-mechanical assembler for most of my life and am used to getting very detailed instructions on the assembly of whatever gadget I had to build.  I was so good that I was the only person that was trusted with prototypes since I could interpret drawings, parts lists, and written directions so well.  So when I get such crappy instructions in a kit that lack precise instructions, I get miffed.  I like perfection and want the model to come out as intended so if I have to get "creative" it bugs me.  Its one thing to have the choice of being creative, but to have to wing it because there is no clear path,  I lose patience.

I also tend to go for the spectacular kits and the more spectacular, the more the instructions seem to lack.  Dealing with the San Felipe, the Wappen Von Hamburg, The Amerigo Vespucci to name a few gets really intimidating.   The first time I saw the Wappen, I fell in love.  I waited forever for a good deal and finally got it.  Every time I get to work on it, I find it overwhelming.  Being single planked doesn't help.  Also, having such thick wood to plank with is really scary to work with.  But when I look at the quality of kit, especially the wood, I can't give up on it.  I have begun planking it and have about 6 planks on each side and am not very happy, so I think I'm going to order some wood and start over and just try to be patient with such thick wood.

Then again, I might start working on my Hasegawa 1/8 Camel again... :huh:

Edited by Salty Dog

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Instructions are a problem.  I find that a lot of the time I get to a point where the instructions don't cover what is needed doing or (sometimes) are just plain contradictory.  It takes a long time some times but I try to follow through and finish them.  On my few scratch built projects at least I can only blame myself when I screw up.

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i started a scratch built model of the Benjamin W. Latham years ago and have been working on that for years when I went to Iowa City for treatments it was put on hold.  The photos were on MSW1.  I am currently trying to get up the energy to finish the card model of the Maine that wa damaged in Iowa City.  Thing happen.  Every other model I have finished some good some horrendous.   This is not a race but something I take pleasure in doing.  So long as I enjoy the challenge I am having fun.

David B

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The best kit I have ever built was the Aeropiccola Nonsuch. Probably finished one in each of the last 3 decades.

.

It was the right size, has beautiful pressed wood carvings, presewn sails and great plans. 

 

This was in spite of the fact I have  been getting better at this hobby only very slowly.

 

Many other kits or scratch builds would be painful to recall.

 

Three important things I discovered along the way:

 

    pin-holes can be disappeared by a small drop of water

    flat water-based paint from Michael's work very well

    Chuck's laser-cut cannon carriages are good enough to make life worth living.

 

The Bluejacket America POF was  so well designed and documented that I was able to finish it.

 

Also, their 25" Steam tug with a hollowed wood hull (built 3) and their 4 stack Destroyer were all completed.

 

Dynamite Payson's Mite, Foam and Lisa are recent successes.

 

Two Bob Hunt Fubbs kits made it to the finish line too. He did a great job creating a Navy Board model a duffer like me could build.

 

I marvel at the shipwrights doing build logs here and elsewhere but am content just making dust and nice looking hulls.

 

The General Hunter after the Caustic gunboat  is hopefully in the future.

 

Dave's Oneida made it pretty far and taught me a lot.

 

Anybody passionate to own a complete set of all the issues of Model Shipwright?

Need to make a big score with that so I can afford this wonderful hobby.

 

Ed

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Here we go, confession time. 

 

Kit #1: Artesania "San Francisco". Completed hull and decks then lost interest. 

Kit #2: Billings "African Queen". Half completed hull before a disastrous planking problem made me abandon the kit. 

Kit #3: Artesania "Viking". Half completed hull before another disastrous planking error made me give up. 

 

... as you can see, up to now - the kits I attempted were less and less ambitious, until: 

 

Kit #4: Artesania "Bounty". By far the most complex build I have attempted till then. COMPLETED! 
Kit #5: Amati "Viking Ship Drakkar". Completed, build log on MSW. 

Kit #6: Model Shipways "Bounty Launch". Completed, build log on MSW. 

Kit #7: Euromodel "Royal William". My current build, see my signature. Incredibly complex, considered quitting and restarting a few times - but the sheer expense of the kit and the amount of money I have invested in it is making me push on. 

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I envy you guys that are so committed.  I think part of the reason I bail on my models is the instructions.  I have been an electro-mechanical assembler for most of my life and am used to getting very detailed instructions on the assembly of whatever gadget I had to build.  I was so good that I was the only person that was trusted with prototypes since I could interpret drawings, parts lists, and written directions so well.  So when I get such crappy instructions in a kit that lack precise instructions, I get miffed.

I hear that.  I started off doing electro-mech. assy. in high school for a robotics company (back in the days when companies used to design and build their own processors and power boards)

 

When I started college, I moved on to actually writing and illustrating the instructions and process sheets, and learned what goes into making instructions.  Sort of like that joke about laws and sausages--it can be an ugly process to go from "kinda like this, sorta..." to "exactly like this."  Consequently, I value good instructions, but tend to trust them about as much as ice in April... 

 

I usually find myself just using kits as starting points for what I really want to build--which takes time, which is one of the reasons why I don't tend to finish stuff. I design and make stuff for work, which has deadlines.  (I'm procrastinating right now. :rolleyes: )  I design and build stuff for my hobbies, but with no deadlines, so it just doesn't seem to get finished very often. 

 

And yes, I happily start new projects while leaving others unfinished, which is a different problem...

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I have finished all of my models which are numerous and well over a couple dozen. To me, I want to see the finished product and think it's a crying shame to see unfinished models and I'm sure the reasons why are as various as the models. I know from the few people that I know locally that attempted to build a ship model gave up on them some where around the planking and well before the rigging again with various excuses. But it usually boils down to instant gratification, which isn't part of ship modeling unless you are like me and take gratification after each finished section of the model that you have completed. But this is the computer age and instant gratification is just a key board away I reckon.

 

ps: I might also add here that I have bought several half finished or less models from slackers who gave up on them for quite a bit less than retail value even though I had to fix a few things on most if not all of them, it was still a great deal. So none finishers do serve a purpose, so keep not finishing those models and someone like me will swoop in and get a deal of a life time ;)

 

mike 

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I have completed all and every one of the wooden ships attempted: San Juan Bautista, Endeavour, Bounty, Vasa. Hopefully will finish my present Royal Louis,

I remember only one plastic kit which was started and never completed, and that was my 3rd USS Constitution in 1/96 by Revell. Lost interest on it after having built 2 until completion.  I built and completed too many plastic kits since my youth to list here.

I have in a box Heller's 1/100 Soleil Royal. (plastic). I have glued the 2 hull halves, and I may someday complete that one, so it's not a "not ever finished one"... yet.

 

Edit: Ooops... Sorry. I forgot that Corel Victory which I started as a first wooden project back in the eighties, and which was abandoned after an embarrassingly ugly outer hull planking job.  :huh:

Edited by Ulises Victoria

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 Dealing with the San Felipe, the Wappen Von Hamburg, The Amerigo Vespucci to name a few gets really intimidating.   The first time I saw the Wappen, I fell in love.  ... :huh:

The WVH is a gorgeous build and the supplied components are of the highest quality.... I have many images of my build stored and would be happy to forward if a particular step seems puzzling. Stick with it and you'll be glad for it in the end...........

 

 

JP

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I'm puzzled at the number of posters who have abandoned ship because of poor instructions. Surely one of the joys of this forum is the instant, and I say again, the instant and ready help that is offered by members who have either finished the model being queried, translate poorly written instructions and offer solutions that are based on real experience.

 

Perhaps one reason is the sheer volume of posts that fill the forum: do builders lose interest when the focus is so diluted?.

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I don't have near the experience that the fellow posters have here, but based on my journey of the first build that I'm currently engaged with, I will suggest the following. I think there's a tipping point that happens from a motivation standpoint, where desire and ambition will overcome the balance of frustration, indecision, and lack of confidence. I have found, now that I have reached certain significant milestones in the construction, that I'm far enough along were I MUST finish the project - otherwise it will bother me immensely. I agree with marktime that overcoming the obstacles that could potentially threaten the entire effort is tremendously enhanced with this forum. Knowledgeable people like to help, and share interest in both pursuit as well as challenges. It's very encouraging.

 

From a personal standpoint, I've found that my inflection point was completing the hull. That was a significant piece of work with many obstacles and a few steps back, but it now looks like a boat, and there are a number of varied interesting tasks that lie ahead. Now the milestones are smaller and easier to achieve, and results are visually more appealing. I also think that this inflection point can vary for both individuals, as well as for the model being built. The thought of building 100 cannons would be intimidating to me!

 

I think the best way to avoid an early departure is to just focus on the milestone. When looking at the entirety of effort of building a ship, the effort appears daunting. But for one task - even when a large or time intensive one, such as bending planks, shaping them, gluing them, over and over - the "build" is to complete that task.

 

One last thought. Is a ship really ever "finished" ?

Robb

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I don't have a problem finishing a kit. I've finished every kit I started. My problem is getting motivated to pick a kit to build and then start the kit; once started I complete it.

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I have 3 unfinished. one destroyed by our cat. One rebuild. And one new. I used to work out of a spare bedroom. But our daughters wanted a room of their own. But they were good with sharing cause daddy was having fun. But I had to get out. They are both doing so well in school. Hence the reason why I am trying to get my garage shop going.

   The other reason. Our 12 yr old is a straight "A" student going into middle school. Our 14 yr old. Taking two AP classing and just found out she made honors. So she will be going into High School taking all honors classes. They earned their own room. Our 9yr old boy is all honors also. Our oldest daughter is going back to finish college and is going to make us grandparents for the 3rd time. Our oldest son is in music producing, and has several shows and commercial with music in the background.

 

So my models will be finish because i don't like things unfinished. But my wife and i decided long ago we must help our kids to get a good start in life. So education and a good up bringing are "A" number one. We are 2nd banana right now.

 

Mario 

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I would have been interested in the Corsaro II had I still been into R/C. It would have made a really nice R/C conversion.

 

mike 

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A stroke (mild)

Being cheated out of a business

Starting a new business

 

All the above resulted in my Victory, bought in 2008, still not being finished. I hope all will go well now I have now retired.

 

 

Ray

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Greetings Salty Dog,

 

I think you need a new hobby. To me, an important, and enjoyable, aspect of ship modeling is solving problems and completing a build that does not have simple plug and play instructions. In my opinion, the better you get at this hobby the less dependent on really detailed instructions you become. I think you have to be somewhat creative and intellectually curios to build ship models. On a daily basis you will see folks, including myself, looking to this forum for answers to questions that will help them to build better models. You said that your employer gives you the prototype projects to assemble. Typically, the prototype is the first of a kind and may not have all the details and assembly instructions worked out. How do you deal with that situation, yet find it difficult to finish a ship model that may require some creativity to complete? I have finished every ship model I have ever started as I suspect most folks reading this form have done. Maybe you need to tackle a hobby that is less demanding.

 

wq3296 

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I have 4 in progress at the moment, each at a different stage.  As a newbie, I, too, am disappointed in the quality of some instructions.  Just looking at plans and then intuiting (is that a word?) the next steps is not something that came naturally.  I am learning, though.

 

My Harriet Lane has been a fun, though challenging because of the scale, build.  I set it aside when I moved cross country, and only recently brought her back to the shelf to complete the rigging.  Next up is small scale creation of the catheads and some other small detail stuff, then the cannons (but that's another story).

My USRC Ranger knocked me for a loop - it sits on the shelf (over 2 years now) waiting for me to feel I have the skill to tackle the hull planking.  In time, I will.  This is one where the instructions, while adequate for someone with knowledge and experience, leave a novice scratching the proverbial head (in my case, the scalp).

 

I have started a POB of the Frigate Essex, and while the instructions are not particularly great, I am slowly working through planning out my next series of steps.  It is a spectacular Aeropiccola kit that I am taking great care to not muck up!

 

Lastly is my Emma C. Berry.  This one I am enjoying immensely.  The instructions are very good, and the plans exceptional.  I am now at the stage of planking the hull, which has intimidated me on the Ranger and the Essex.  I WILL get this one right!!!

 

One sad off shoot of this has been that I began to accumulate reference books and downloaded documents to aid in understanding the building process (both model building and ship yard 1:1 scale building).  That has become a whole 'nother hobby in itself, and led into some very interesting side research projects - which is for me both enjoyable and relaxing. 

 

 

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As a boy, I did lots of plastic kits of cars, planes, and boats. Did one simple wooden kit with my father's help. Other interests took precedence for years and work pretty much got in the way after that. Every now and then I'd try my hand at a ship model since I never lost my love for them, but I always seemed to pick something that was more complicated than I was prepared to build and they were never finished. This was well before the days of the internet, so no real guidance available to me. Finally, one winter when I was in my 40s, I built a very simple kit of a dory and actually finished it. That proved to be a turning point and I went on to build and finish more models after that. Still, since then, I've put some models aside.

 

For instance, 2004, I started the Model Shipways kit of Emma C. Berry. At that point, I hadn't really learned how to properly plank a hull and realized I was in over my head again, so I set it aside. I picked it up again in December, 2014 and finished it at last. I started a scratch build of the scow schooner Alma in 2006 but again, realized it was beyond my abilities to do well. I took that one up again after I finished Emma C. Berry and it is my current project. Others I've just lost interest in for some reason. I started a scratch build of a POF Hannah using the Hahn plans in 2007 and it was coming along very well, but I got more involved with photography at that time and stopped modeling altogether. There just wasn't time for everything. I stopped modeling for 5 years at that point.

 

Now, I'm 4 months away from retirement and looking forward to having more time to indulge all my hobbies and interests. After that 5 year break, I feel like I'm having to relearn a lot of skills. One thing I learned on Emma C. Berry was that I was not very careful about measurements and alignments back in the early 2000s. That hull had a number of problems I had to work around in order to finish it. But I looked at it as a learning (or re-learning) experience so it didn't much matter. Alma has presented a few problems as well since that was an early scratch-building attempt. But the problems serve to remind me to think ahead, measure once, and cut twice  - wait - is that measure twice, cut once? Measure twice and still wind up cutting twice? ;) 

 

Cheers -

John

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I think it has a lot to do with the TOTAL kit - instructions as well as the quality of the kit design and components.  I am currently building BENJAMIN W. LATHAM and found the transom assembly to be a huge problem.  I finally worked through it and will post to my build log shortly.  But I think it is the place where some builders just give up.  Check out the other LATHAM build logs - most stop when they get to the transom problem and attempt to plank the hull.  Now compare that with the number of SYREN build logs that go to completion with a beautiful end product.  Even though SYREN  is supposed to be for more advanced builders, the kit is so well designed and the instructions are so good that momentum is never lost during the construction process.  (I currently have a SYREN kit on order from Model Shipways) 

 

Faulty kits with the problem described above, stanchions that break frequently, bulkheads out of alignment, warped wood, etc all discourage model ship builders from ever finishing their project.  It would be interesting for one of you retired statisticians to do a statistical analysis of which kits have build logs that go to completion and which ones don't.  I suspect we would see some patterns.

 

<<Gary>>

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I cannot address many ship's since I have only finished my first model, the Mamoli Constitution. As those who followed my build log probably remember, I began the model in 1992. However, after getting most of the hull's planking done, I put her away and she remained in a box until January last year. Then I had time, much more wood working skills, more tools, and more patience. However that all helped to finish her, but what kept me going was really being invested in the ship, her history, and how I was portraying her. I wanted to do it "right" what ever that meant. I put quotes around it because there isn't really any correct answer with the Connie. Too many unknowns. So part of the fun I had with her was researching her and deciding how I was going to present her.

 

My current ship is the Brig Eagle. I took months to decide that she was my next one. How did I decide? I was interested in her history. How her timeline was inextricably intertwined with the Connie and the war of 1812. Technically she was going to be challenging. To build her required me learning and continuing to learn new skills. I need all of this in a model to keep me engaged for several years at a time.

 

I believe that I will finish her. I am well along and everyday is fun and challenging. I believe as long as I have that, I will look forward to revealing her as I build her.

 

Anyway, that is my two cents.

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Not to wax philosophic but for me it is the journey and not the end.  Because of life I do what I can when I can but do not hold to a schedule.

 

The Druid was over 12 years.  The Lady Anne (still working on it) was started before that.  Learned a ton, relaxed a ton and still have fun.

 

Maybe this is a good thing because with our house, I have no room for a bunch of finished ships.  As it is, my first completed ship (the famous Swift) just sits in my work shop up on a shelf.

 

I think the statics are skewed just because you are on this site:  people here are generally more committed and focused to develop the skills necessary to finish a planking, let alone a whole ship.  I won't get into variables such as complexity, quality or scales involved (just like politics).

 

Mark

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Never had any issues finishing a model, scratch built or kit built. I do take pauses between sessions, sometimes lasting for weeks at most, rarely months. I have tons of things struggling to take my time: several intense hobbies and interests, then work, and research. Working on the ship models has become a major form of meditation for me. It allows me to relax, listen to good music, and focus. All good things.  

~j

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