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Bill Gormley

Help with Model Shipways kit choice

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I know this question has been asked many times before ... but I'd appreciate some help selecting a first ship model.  As the topic title suggests, I'd like to limit the options to what is available from Model Shipways.  That's a somewhat arbitrary decision on my part to prevent decision overload but it's also based on my reading of the threads on this site, which suggest Model Shipways is a solid vendor.

 

By way of background, I've never built a wood ship model but have been heavy into plastic ship modeling for the past 5-7 years.  My current project - the Japanese battleship Yamato - is nearing two years and still going strong, if slowly.  I don't mention that to impress anyone but to demonstrate that perseverance won't be an issue regardless of the kit I choose.  I'm not afraid of complexity or a long time horizon.  I've attached one of the few photos I could find of a past project to give some sense of where I'm at ability-wise.

 

With all of that said, Christmas is around the corner and my wife is open to suggestions.  I've been thinking about one of the following packages and would appreciate any input:

 

1.  MS Bluenose ($220) + LSS "prep school" practicum with photos ($120) = $340

2.  MS Fair American ($250)) + LSS "freshman" practicum with photos ($120) = $370

3.  MS Pride of Baltimore ($220) + LSS "freshman" practicum with photos ($120) = $340

4.  MS Syren ($400) 

5.  MS Rattlesnake ($240)

 

Options two and five are what I'm leaning toward based on price and personal appeal.  Option four scores really high from a personal appeal perspective but looks more complicated and is expensive without any accompanying aids.

 

Do any of the above options stand out as an especially good choice?  Am I likely to bite off more than a first timer can handle with the Fair American?  And what would you budget over and above what I have above for tools?

 

 

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Welcome!  Your destroyer model looks great.

 

Each of the kits you listed has merits, but first I would suggest that you do a search on the topic of the LSS practicums.  Opinion varies widely on them.

 

Bluenose will, in one sense, be easier than the others, in that it has an easier hull shape to build and a relatively simple rig.  Pride of Baltimore shares these features, but includes some square rigging, which will add an extra bit of complexity.

 

LSS does not offer a practicum based on Syren, but what that kit does have is an exceedingly detailed set of instructions, which are, for all intents and purposes, a practicum unto themselves.  Plus, the kit's designer, Chuck Passaro, is right here at MSW.

 

Personally, I would avoid Rattlesnake as a first kit, simply because as a three-masted man o' war it will have the most of everything to work on, i.e. masts, guns, rigging.  Syren and Fair American both have the man o' war appeal in a two-masted package.

 

Any of those kits will build into a very nice model, but since you said Syren scores well with you on personal appeal, that's what I'd go with.  Plus, the prices you quoted are MSRP.  Get yourself on Model Shipways' email list and wait for one of their on-line deals.  You'll get your dream kit for much less moola.

 

Regards

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Good advice there from Chris.  Especially the fact that Model Expo, who carries all of the Model Shipways kits, does regularly offer specials  sometimes as much as 40-50 % off.  Check their website regularly as, with Christmas approaching, they are due for a sale.

 

I'm a big fan of Syren having completed here as my first plank on bulkhead wooden ship.  Keep in mind she's at a smaller scale (1:64) versus the larger 1:48 Fair American.

 

As for 'add-ons', of course you'll need paints and adhesives and manual cutting/sanding tools.  You do not NEED expensive power tools like mills or lathes to successfully build Syren.  As you move along, you'll see these tools can improve the level of your work but they can come later once you can see their utility.  And the woods supplied by Model Expo in the kits is generally reasonable.  You can easily drop $ 1,000's of dollars on power tools and hundreds on exotic woods.  Spending that kind of money would best be done as you progress in the hobby.

 

Whatever you choose, start a build log here on MSW.  There's a wealth of knowledge and help on board.....all you need do is ask.

 

Good sailing, mate.

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Might I add one bit of advise about your choice.

Is there anything special about these ships that attracts you attention?

Are you at all interested in the history of them, be it the battles they were involved in, etc.

Being that you have built WWII ships (albeit out of plastic) I am sure you know a bit about their service in the Pacific.

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The history of the Syren is interesting in that she was built specifically to assist the Constitution in the blockade of Tripoli.  In fact she played a much larger role than that of the Constitution.

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First off, thank you all for your input.  Lots of good information.

 

Chris - After poking around some more, I'm no longer convinced a LSS practicum is the way to go.  Sounds like a good kit + good instructions + lots of help from the members here is a better bet.  And I'm happy to hear you think Syren would be realistic for a first build (since I lean toward it).  Do you think there's any real difference in terms of the difficulty relative to Fair American?

 

Augie - How many wooden ship models did you have under your belt when you tackled Syren?  And with regard to the scale difference versus Fair American, does that translate into more difficulty with the details (e.g. rigging)?  I have a lot of tools and supplies, but they're all geared toward plastic ship modeling.  Certain items such as the airbrush, tweezers, files, etc. will transfer but I suspect I'll have to get the basics for woodworking once the time comes.

 

Jay - I'm drawn to Syren because of her lines, historic role, and the fact that she's a warship.  There don't seem to be that many other entry-ish level options that meet all three criteria (although I'm open to suggestions even if it means going with a manufacturer other than Model Shipways).

 

I have to admit, after reading through the build logs here over the last few days, I'm intimidated by almost every kit option.  That jogged my memory about an orphan kit I got from my father several years ago (his eyes were bigger than his appetite).  It's the French fishing trawler La Confiance from Constructo Modelismo.  Has anyone heard of this kit?  I've attached some photos of the box, instructions, and parts.  Any thoughts on whether it might be a good place to start?  

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Have heard of this kit, but that's about all I know of it.  It's a solid-hull kit, so it will require a slightly different skill set than a plank-on-bulkhead (POB) kit.  My advice is, if it doesn't thrill you, skip it - you will not feel motivated to complete it.  OTOH, there is some merit in starting with a simpler kit, especially if you do not have any prior experience with wood.  I started by building two beginner kits from Midwest Products (they just dropped this product line this spring), and I don't regret the time spent on those kits.  They were very good kits, too.  On the other other hand (I guess that would be OTOOH), everyone who builds a POB kit has to tackle a first one sometime, and it's going to be a challenge, to be sure.  Having a kit you really, really like goes a long way in the motivation department.  Not every POB kit that gets started gets finished, but there are modelers here at MSW who have attempted Syren as their first build and succeeded.  You kinda have to decide for yourself how much challenge you feel up to.

 

As for scale, I personally do not find 1/64 difficult to work with, because I am used to working with card models in 1/250.  1/64 is a cakewalk in comparison.  Seriously, though, 1/64 is a very doable scale for a beginner.

 

Good luck!

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Syren was my 4th wooden kit.  But, in all fairness, the first was a solid hull some 30 years ago, the second a cross section 20 years ago and the third a 1:36 scale tug that, although plank on frame, lacked a lot of detail.......probably like your French trawler.  Syren was a whole new ball game but, thanks to lots of help/prodding by folks here on MSW, she came out well enough to proudly display in my home.  She taught me a LOT.  Could I do a better job now?  A resounding yes.  But isn't that what it's all about ...... improving from one model to the next?

 

The 1:64 scale is certainly doable and allows a little more detail than say a 1:96.  But you're already used to working at small scale.  It's a great place to start ..... and Chuck Passaro's instructions will guide you every step of the way.  And having him here on MSW, keeping a watchful eye, is a real bonus.

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If you go to the Syren page on Model Expo's site, you can see the instructions written by Chuck under the "Documents" tab, and read through them for yourself.  They are superior to most other instructions out there.  If you start a build log on this site, the combination of excellent instructions and the actual kit designer's oversight will give you a huge boost on tackling a higher skill level build.  Sorry if I seem partial!!

 

-John

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Well, Santa came through and Syren was waiting for me under the Christmas tree.  It's a very attractive kit although vastly different from what I'm used to with plastic kits.  I couldn't resist reading the first few chapters to see how well I could visualize the steps.  Seems do-able, especially with the build logs and ready help available on this site.  I'm definitely motivated now to finish Yamato so I can move on to this.  In the meantime, a couple questions:

 

1) Most of my tools are oriented toward plastic ship modeling.  Has anyone compiled a list of basic "must have" tools?

2) Are there any clubs in central NJ that focus on model ship making?  I'm aware of the Ship Model Society of New Jersey but it's too far away (I'm near Princeton).  If there's a group nearby, I'd like to get involved.  And if there's an experienced builder nearby, I'd be interested to discuss hands-on lessons.

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Bill,

 

As far as tools, have a look here:  http://modelshipworldforum.com/ship-model-materials-and-tools.php   There's several articles on tools and also one on what tools NOT to buy.   The best advice is "don't buy a tool until you need it".  :)

 

As for clubs, do a search here: http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/forum/43-nautical-research-guild-news-model-ship-clubs-and-exhibitions-and-events-museums-and-museum-ships/

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Welcome Bill! Here is another plastic (oh, the horror!) kit builder welcoming you to the dark side. :piratebo5: I think you will find a lot of the skills you have can be applied to wood ship kits. Mainly patience and perseverance. Oh, and the use of glue.

 

Paul

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It's been a while since my last post. I have another few weeks on my current project but then I hope to start on Syren. I realize the instructions that come with the kit are excellent - and I will start a build log - but are there any books you would recommend as a companion or first addition to my library.

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