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Poor instructions?

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How many languages is that written in?  Looks about as comprehensive as the 2 page (1 sheet) of instructions I got with my AL Marie Jeanne, except yours actually has a planking diagram which mine doesn't.  Seems the kit companies are getting pretty skimpy on instructions. :(

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I would say: It is rather like a standard Billings-tekst.....

(I did a BB statenjacht, schouw and a tug, they were pretty much of the same quality)

 

Jan

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It wouldn't be quite so bad if there were a few more assembly drawings. As helpful as it is to (potential) builders I'm not sure Billings are doing themselves any favours allowing folks to view the instructions online!

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I just remembered: I also started (but still not finished) BB's Mary Jeanne. (still in a box somewhere)

 

Although it is not a step by step instruction, BB at least has its parts numbered more or less in the order of assembly, has their parts properly labelled, has a partslist that seems to be rather to the point.

Besides: the parts that could have some interpretation problems from the general drawings (whcih also - at least in my builds - showed a number of cross sections, exploded views and assembly schemes) are shown in the instruction booklet.

All in all, their instructionqulaity was not what bothered me the most when doing their kits.  Their wood qulaity is a bit shabby, but on the upside: that makes their kits relatively cheap.

 

I am at the moment working on a Corel-kit (Prins Willem) the booklet in that kit, which is rather more expensive than a BB-kit, is not any better ('glue strips to the hull, until fully planked' ), nor is the fit of the precut parts any better than in the bb-kits.

 

Actually, I really enjoyed the bb-kits :)

 

Jan

Edited by amateur

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Many companies today don't even provide instructions other than to tell you a web address to go to to get the instructions.  I thought Amati might have done that until I saw someone selling the drawings, included with the kit I bought, for $75.00.  The Amati instructions are okay if you're experienced but if it weren't for this website, I'd be struggling and would never have made the build improvements I have.

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I have a copy of those instructions......I was helping a fellow member with his.   what I find odd about downloading these instructions,  is that they are not complete......the kit also contains other sheets.    side view diagrams.......deck layout diagrams......masting diagrams.  all you can access is the main instruction sheets.

 

I'm currently helping a person who is building the Mary Ann.   the good thing is that I've built it before and have all the kit instructions  ;)

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Maybe it's because I am so new and unskilled in this but I need very clear, step by step instructions in order to attempt to build anything. Those of you who can build the Queen Mary out of matchsticks won't understand this but for those of us with limited skills anything not explained or shown is a mystery that has to be solved. It's quite frustrating.

It would seem, especially for entry level kits, that instructions would be even more basic and explicit. I have a entry level piece and the instructions are clear but when they don't show what something should look like after a step is accomplished how does one know if it was done correctly? The few extra $ it might cost to make instructions more helpful seems a small price given the probability that the modeler, experiencing success, will build another model.

Jazzchip

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Jazzchip,

 

Stick with your build.

 

The most important thing you can do right now is to start a build log. You will get access to hundreds of great people who are willing help out with the questions that come up. I started building model ships after being fairly accomplished at building plastic models (mostly large scall Navy planes). I was caught a bit off guard when I opened my first model ship box saw a bunch of full scale plans, some instructions, and what looked like a pile of sticks. It was a far cry from glue piece A to piece B.

 

Keep in mind that a great many models follow (at least some of) the practices of actual ship building and things may become more clear as you think them through. If you've not already done so, grab some introductory books. Frank Mastini's "Ship Modeling Simplified", Milton Roth's "Ship Modelling from Stem to Stern", and Ben Lankford's "How to Build First-Rate Ship Models from Kits" are ones I recommend and still refer to frequently.

 

But again, I can't over emphasize the importance of staring a build log. It would probably be a good idea for to read through as many logs as possible especially ones which cover ships similar to the one you are currently building.

 

Good luck.

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in my opinion the company with the most helpful and complete instructions is Midwest Models - their beginner and intermediate kits are very well done with very well written instructions - all the others, Artesania Latina, Model Shipways. et al leave a lot to be desired in terms of written instructions.  The quality of the kits is not in question - it's all very good - it's the assembly instructions that have been going downhill for the last decade or so.

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I would add to the list 'Planking the Built-up Ship Model' by Jim Roberts.  Model Expo lists it for $12.99.

Planking is the most common denominator among models and this little book will go a long way to introducing the new modeler to the process.

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Too bad Midwest has stopped production of their kits - I recommended them to beginners all the time because of the instructions.  Bluejackets instructions are very good - and if you find an error (as I did) they correct the error in future printings - that's true customer service.  The newer Model Shipway kits have very good instructions.  That said, almost any kit can be found with something lacking in the instructions.  But that's what MSW is for - ask if you are not sure as it is easier to ask here than undo glue of remake a part.

 

The Italian kit instructions are horrible. I watched the guy at Mamoli in Milan who was doing the English instructions for a kit look up each word in an Italian to English Dictionary and write it down.  I had just been introduced to him via a translator as he spoke NO English and I spoke no Italian, but then I wasn't doing a translation!  Mantua's are not much better in my opinion but a couple of the people there did speak enough English that we didn't need a translator.

 

Kurt

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Jazzchip,

 

Stick with your build.

 

The most important thing you can do right now is to start a build log. You will get access to hundreds of great people who are willing help out with the questions that come up. I started building model ships after being fairly accomplished at building plastic models (mostly large scall Navy planes). I was caught a bit off guard when I opened my first model ship box saw a bunch of full scale plans, some instructions, and what looked like a pile of sticks. It was a far cry from glue piece A to piece B.

 

Keep in mind that a great many models follow (at least some of) the practices of actual ship building and things may become more clear as you think them through. If you've not already done so, grab some introductory books. Frank Mastini's "Ship Modeling Simplified", Milton Roth's "Ship Modelling from Stem to Stern", and Ben Lankford's "How to Build First-Rate Ship Models from Kits" are ones I recommend and still refer to frequently.

 

But again, I can't over emphasize the importance of staring a build log. It would probably be a good idea for to read through as many logs as possible especially ones which cover ships similar to the one you are currently building.

 

Good luck.

 

Best,

John

John, thank you so much for your thoughts on the matter. One problem for me is that at the basic level where I currently reside, the questions become quite basic. It's not "how do you open the box?" but it's close. BlueJacket provides someone connected with the company who will answer questions but in truth it's a bit uncomfortable for me to have to ask extremely basic questions. Plus, I'm afraid at some point he'll stop taking my calls.

My frustration not withstanding, I really appreciate your wise advice. I'm not giving up but it will take a lot longer than I originally thought to complete this.

Jazzchip 

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Jazzchip, there's an old expression "the only stupid question is the one you were too embarrassed to ask "  - here on MSW there are no stupid questions. There are all levels of modelers here and as everyone has said the whole community is very willing to help. So as John and others have said, start a build log, post your photos and ask questions. Someone will be able to provide answers and guidance.

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Jack, I appreciate that. I really do. For me this is like going to a foreign country where I don't know the language, the culture or the geography. I may not even know enough to know what to ask. I want to do this because I'm interested in the subject and because I believe one should enter areas where they notice discomfort. However, I didn't say I was going to enjoy it. I might do best to find a group to work with. A group who once they stopped laughing at what I did could direct my efforts, at least for the first project. I do thank you for your comments.

Jazzchip

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I agree that after several kits one has less need for good instructions. 

This is why I encourage new modelers here to stick to the US manufactured kits for several builds before they turn to the Italian stuff where the instructions are inadequate at best.  With a couple of builds under one's belt there is a much better chance of being able to make sense of the very poorly written/translated instruction in those kits.

But, this is a newer modeler asking for advice who doesn't have the experience that will enable him to just use the plans and/or photos.

Kurt

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Maybe it's because I am so new and unskilled in this but I need very clear, step by step instructions in order to attempt to build anything. Those of you who can build the Queen Mary out of matchsticks won't understand this but for those of us with limited skills anything not explained or shown is a mystery that has to be solved. It's quite frustrating.

I completely understand. I came into this totally blind.  Though I had woodworking skills, there are aspects of model building I have had to learn and am still learning.  Responsibly, every kit should rate the skill level not only on the skills needed to build the model but also on the skills needed to decipher the directions.

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i have built, or am in various stages of building, models from Billings, Corel, Amati, Mamoli and a rather large Trumpeter kit.  Leaving the plastic aside, i would say all have instructions that could be improved from an English speaking person's perspective. it would be interesting to know what our Italian friends here think of the written instructions?

 

Personally i would rather better quality in the materials in the kit itself than better instructions. As Brian said, after a few builds the instructions are really only there for a bit of light comic relief reading when you discover you are missing all stern decorations and half the second planking strips! i actually had this problem with my Mamoli Golden Hind. Clear, concise instructions written by my University English Professor would not have helped overcome my problems!   

 

I would 100% recommend Frank Mastini's book as mentioned earlier in this thread.  It is a resource i use just as much as i use this forum. i can't begin to tell you how invaluable it is to me and i think would be to almost all modellers of any ability. btw, i'm not related, i just think it is as valuable as any tool i have for this hobby!

 

cheers Chris

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Generalizing all Italian as having bad instruction kits does a disservice to kits like those of Amati's Victory Models line. And if you look at say, a Mantua kit, is it really any worse that 70% of Caldercraft kits? Only three Caldercraft kits that I am aware of have excellent instructions. The majority have 6 printed pages and half of those are parts list.

 

I think the real dividing line is between old products and new ones. Many of the newer kits have better instructions in general. However, you're almost never going to find great written instructions in a European kit because they have to be made to serve a large population of diverse languages. As a result, they have to rely on a great deal more visual instruction.

 

People in the USA are a bit spoiled because it's easier for manufacturers here to write instructions as they only have to care about writing in English. It's not the way of the world.

 

Also, there's a tendency to think that it must be easy to write instructions and that it doesn't cost much. But just writing an article or two on building a model, I can tell you that it's time consuming. It's a bit of a struggle to decide what needs to be included and what to leave out, because you can't give complete instructions on every little step. Then to have to get it translated into multiple languages and make sure the translation even makes sense? 

 

The trend seems to be to move further toward the visual guide – follow the photos. No language issues to contend with. No writing, typos, editing, translating. It's just the way things are. 

 

The best way to learn is to start with a simpler model and figure out what kinds of issues you run into a as a ship modeler. As has been said before, after a few models, you can pretty well just work from the plans. I agree that Midwest are the best to start with, but sadly they're going to be increasingly harder to find.

 

I usually recommend getting a couple ship modeling books like Ship Modeling Simplified by Frank Mastini to start with. But, of course, if you're already here on MSW, then just ask questions, post build logs and soak up the knowledge!

 

Clare

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John, thank you so much for your thoughts on the matter. One problem for me is that at the basic level where I currently reside, the questions become quite basic. It's not "how do you open the box?" but it's close. BlueJacket provides someone connected with the company who will answer questions but in truth it's a bit uncomfortable for me to have to ask extremely basic questions. Plus, I'm afraid at some point he'll stop taking my calls.

My frustration not withstanding, I really appreciate your wise advice. I'm not giving up but it will take a lot longer than I originally thought to complete this.

Jazzchip

 

Jazzchip,

 

I completely understand your frustration. Following instructions which may say "nail the knibler to the wackadoodle" can be a real problem if you don't know what a hammer is, much less a knibler or wackadoodle! The arcane vocabulary doesn't help but somewhere I have a dictionary of terms which I downloaded and when I find it I will send you a PM with the location.

 

But I stand by my earlier comments. Help is here if you ask. If you post pictures, so much the better. We've all been there. The learning curve is steep, but for me I have gotten incredible satisfaction from accomplishing small tasks which I never would've thought I could achieve. This can be an all encompassing and extremely gratifying endeavor. Like many of the best things in life you the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it (in multiples). Hang in there.

 

Best,

John

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This might help with the archaic language problem:  http://southseas.nla.gov.au/refs/falc/contents.html

 

Jeff and QA:

What the others have said about a build log and asking questions.  We all ask as no one has 100% knowledge, although some are pretty close to that. ;)

 

QA:

Those instructions seem to be very typical of Billings.  I think the Wasa's were about that simple.  :D  :D :D  But it had a great set of drawings and booklet of photos (bad reproduction problem) and excellent drawings with dimensions, etc. 

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Jazzchip,  John is correct just post what you are doing and ask for help and advice.  We are like a community of ship modelers in different materials and at different skill levels and we always like to share that knowledge with others. 

David B

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Just to add my thoughts, apart from plastic modeling, my current H.M. Pickle build is my first of this type.

Reading all the comments above, I feel I am extremely lucky to have a kit from Jotika.

 

With the kit comes a 60 page instruction guide, an 18 page parts booklet and 6 full-sized plans for the build, masts, rigging etc.

 

Yes, I agree that I have to learn the new language, although the parts booklet also contains a glossary of the main terms used, and I suddenly get pulled up short when reading an instruction, wondering what on earth was being talked about - but after a little research into the glossary and the parts-list, things usually become clear.

 

The instructions themselves?? Fantastic - the only moan to date was about the instructions to fit the deadeye strops - try "Spring the 'nubs' of the strop, with deadeye, into the locating slot" for size!!! However, a quick phone call to Jotika provided the translation - and even a more detailed instruction leaflet!!!

 

Yes, additional books are really important to get the additional info - I was even able to borrow some from my local library and road-test them before buying.

 

Finally, I read some comments that instructions aren't necessary and the ships can be built from the plans alone. I can only say that I'm sure this is possible - but I feel that a complete beginner would have to be extremly gifted to do so (depending on the model of course). Even the 'plastic model' type plans wouldn't help with many of the exciting tasks that have to be done to complete a ship model - and Pickle is classed in the 'beginner category' ......

 

John

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Jazzchip,

 

I completely understand your frustration. Following instructions which may say "nail the knibler to the wackadoodle" can be a real problem if you don't know what a hammer is, much less a knibler or wackadoodle! The arcane vocabulary doesn't help but somewhere I have a dictionary of terms which I downloaded and when I find it I will send you a PM with the location.

 

But I stand by my earlier comments. Help is here if you ask. If you post pictures, so much the better. We've all been there. The learning curve is steep, but for me I have gotten incredible satisfaction from accomplishing small tasks which I never would've thought I could achieve. This can be an all encompassing and extremely gratifying endeavor. Like many of the best things in life you the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it (in multiples). Hang in there.

 

Best,

John

John,

Your thoughts and comments on much appreciated. Forgive the frustrated ranting. I'm sure it will pass. I'll keep you posted.

Jazzchip

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