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Coppering a hull?


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hi all, is there a tutorial type page here or anywhere else that offers a first timer advice on coppering a hull? i am specifically looking at doing this on my Amati Bounty. the scale is 1:60. what size plates would i need and roughly how many would i need? 


any advice, instruction etc. would be greatly appreciated.


cheers chris



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Hi Chris:


I've coppered a few hulls, but never the Bounty, so I'm not sure I can help with the specifics, since each hull will be different. The main thing to keep in mind, depending again on the hull, is that the coppering would have gone on in sections separated by "gore lines". The gore lines define a band of copper plates working up from the keel - so start on the keel sides and work your way up. The gore will cut across the lower lines of copper plating and define a new line for the plates to follow fore and aft.


Others will be more knowledgeable about these features than me - specifically in terms of how many bands might have been used on the Bounty, and how to locate the gore line(s) on a hull....On the hulls I've coppered, the gores have been featured on the plans, so I simply measured up from the baseline and transferred those measurements to the model.....


Does the Amati kit contain a plan that shows the coppering? If it's a scale drawing (most likely a full profile) you might be able to lift the dimensions of the plates from the upper line of coppering, which should show the full plates and be at scale amidships. If the scale drawings contain a body plan that features the coppering, you should be able to lift the gore lines from that and transfer them to the model (harder to do on the profile plan, since the curves of the hull will distort the view....).....


Again - other more experienced modellers will have better (and maybe different) advice for you.


Best of luck - Coppering is a very repotting business but rewarding when it's done! Find yourself some good music or podcasts to listen to while you're doing it!


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hey hamilton, thanks for the swift reply. the amati bounty 1:60 does not call for a coppered hull. but i am lead to believe the vessel had such a hull at the time of the mutiny. this is when i want my model to depict . also i put my usual xmas order in for my family present today. Mckays anatomy of the ship. unfortunately after numerous calls to many shops throughout australia i was told the book is out of print here! one has been ordered from uk but who knows when that will arrive?


i am pretty certain i will give her a copper bottom. i just need to know what i am going before i start.


cheers chris

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Hulls of wooden sailing vessels in 18th century for the protection of the underwater part from damage by worms was covered with copper plates (also lead or zinc plates). 
Copper plates was 48X21ins to 86x64ins depending of period and country of ship origin. 
The nail heads were from 3/8 to 1 1/4 ins diameter and recessed into the plating 
in order to surface was smooth. 
Manufacturers often offer modeling kits in sets of copper plates but in my opinion they are not properly made for models in scale 1:75 - 1:100. In particular too visible nails that secure the plates to the hull. Proper implementation of coppering is very important to the final look of the model. 
For these models, a convenient solution is to use a self-adhesive copper tape, which is available in various widths. The edges of subsequent sheets of copper, we can easily do by pressing a chisel. 
This allows for the most realistic appearance performance of our model. 
Desirable was the application of the patina but far I did not have found efficient method for it. 



Coppering (The Construction and Fitting of the English Man of War 1650-1850 by Peter Goodwin)



Copper plates from kits







Coppering of Jylland


Victory only survived coppering on the rudder.



My Victory plater wtih  modified and weathered kit plates


Esplanade coppering

Happy modeling. 

My models: 
From kits 
Vasa, HMS Victory -coppered with copper plates ( flattened with a hammer ) 
Le Solei Royale, Friesland 
From scratch 
HMS Warrior 1860, 
Esplanade, HMS Speedy -coppered with copper tape 
Grosse Yacht 
Norman’s ship, La Royale 
Peter von Danzig 
Polacca 17th cent. 
Current project:  

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Good advice and tutorials above.


The AOS book by John McKay has details in the extreme, including the coppering, page 55.  You might try Amazon for a copy of this valuable reference book.  ISBN 087021280x


Good luck and happy modeling~!                               Duff

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So far I used only copper tape for coppering my hulls. I found the ones sold in "Tiffany" shops as very easy to handle. They come in different width and the adhesive is strong. The copper itself is coated. I gave it a sanding after the hull was finished. For weathering I applied a mixture of white vinegar essence and normal salt. After some hours your copper will turn totally green with verdigris. This can be removed with a wet brush or sponge after your taste. During my research I found that only coppered ships that are in drydock grow such big amounts of verdigris like in the pictures Tadeusz posted. The missing oxygen of a ship being in water leads to a slower oxidation process. I read that the copper turns more into "pinkish" when in contact with salt water.  I found the best result for me was sanding the copper, leaving it for some month during the building phase with fingerprints, fat etc. Then i cleaned it with acetone and applied the vinegar. Then washed off the verdigris that only small amounts remained in edges. The hull has a nice finish with a mixture of copper, black and a little green then. This result  was sealed with a spray of clear varnish. It stays in this appearance since years now.

Edited by Hyposphagma
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Hey Tom. Thanks for your interest.  I just browsed my photos and found only one showing the fresh verdigris on the copper after applying vinegar/salt with a brush. I wiped away most of the verdigris after that. The hull is a 1:200 clipper ship btw. I will post photos of the current status later....Harry





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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

Hi guys, just tripped over this post whist searching for tips & tricks for building my own Amati Bounty. I too want to build her with a coppered hull. It may have been said already, but Amati produce copper plating pre-"rivetted".


Vossy... Do I take it from your profile picture that you served in RAN "Leander" class FFH's? I served in several RN leanders, as well as Ton class sweepers, County Class DDGH and many others.

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Just re-reading this thread and realised that the number and size of plates for the Amati 1:60 version could be similar to my current build the Caldercraft Bounty (1:64) Supplied with this kit are 800 plates which you can get from Cornwall model boats. I bought some from them a while back for my HMB Supply build. It was actually cheaper to get them from England than buy locally - although our $$$ has dropped in value somewhat since then :(

They come in packs of 100



Edited by hornet
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They just last summer hauled Constitution out for repair.  There was a discussion of that here somewhere, with some pics.  I don't recall her copper was 'pink', but she spends most of her time tied up with no movement of the water over her plating to scour it clean.


From the museum page you can access a blog with lots of pics.



Edited by jbshan
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There is something particularly disturbing about running across ones own photos that someone else posted without so much as an acknowledgement. Worse yet, it's mixed in with copper plates from kits!


These copper plates are made from tape that I embossed using a die a created. Shown below (and the earlier post above), is the hull of my scratch built U.S.S. Saginaw hull)




I gave up on all manufactured copper plates 20 years ago as none of them are realistic - all are way out of scale. The closest I've seen to looking correct are the ones that BlueJacket makes, but they are REALLY expensive. Unfortunately, I like the look of a coppered hull, so I've had to work on improving mine ever since my first wooden ship model, the pilot boat Phantom, with its coppered hull.




However, I haven't gotten a European nail pattern down yet. That's coming up soon.


But, I've always liked using copper tape. It's available in a wide variety of sizes – not just the couple sizes regularly sold by ship modeling sites. It's also very thin and can be overlapped the way actual copper plates were applied and not unrealistically butted together. They're also much cheaper than pre-fab plates of any manufacturer, and are copper all the way through.




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Hi mates, Does anyone have a preference for plating keel up or water-line down when using individual pieces of copper. I've coppered a blunt bow ship before but I will be working on a sharp bow and was wondering if the starting point would make any difference.

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Hi mates, Does anyone have a preference for plating keel up or water-line down when using individual pieces of copper. I've coppered a blunt bow ship before but I will be working on a sharp bow and was wondering if the starting point would make any difference.


i think most if not all coppering is done keel to water line, at least on the real ships, ive seen many people start with the stern keel and work towards the bow, next line of plates stern keep to bow and so on.

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Lionfish is right.  You want the overlaps pointing aft, not forward, so the water flows over them not into.  Think if a roof had the shingles the other way and all the water could get caught under the rows instead of running from one to the next.  Stern to bow, and keel to waterline.

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I did a little looking around and found that Longridge, Anatomy of Nelson's Ships, asserts, on good authority that he doesn't cite, a top down placement of the copper plates on warships of the Royal Navy.  Other sources, equally secondary, are somewhat ambiguous.  I can see in some photos that the laps seem to have the lower plate overlapping the upper.  I do wonder, though, how the pattern of the different runs of plates could have been derived from a top down placement.  There is a run parallel to the keel which continues run by run up the hull until the runs end with a crescent shape at the waterline or just below where several runs are parallel to the waterline to finish off.  I wonder if the placement might be bottom up, but the lap not closed until the next run is placed and the lap put bottom over the top run.

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