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Silhouet by probablynot - FINISHED - Constructo - 1/60 - Dutch 'tjalk' river cargo boat

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OK, here I am, ready to go with this new kit once I've got most of the work on my Bounty Launch out of the way.

Seems to be a model of an actual boat, not a made-up, generic one.  The Silhouet is apparently berthed at Harlingen, Holland.  She dates from 1893, but was 'rebuilt as a cruise boat' around 1990.  I found this link, with pictures showing how she is now.

However, this kit reflects the 1990 configuration rather than the original workboat, which is a bit of a disappointment.  Cabins built in the cargo area, and so on.  Maybe I'll have to see if I can find some reliable pictures of how the boat would have looked in her original role, and consider deviating from Construvcto's plans.  On the other hand, she does look rather pretty with all that detail on deck ...

Here's the kit box

...and here are the contents:

The insructions look OK.  There's a 38-page leaflet with the step-by-step instructions and a parts list (seven languages, five pages each, plus a combined guide to preparing the plywood parts).  Plus a separate, colour booklet with all the photographs, and two very large plan sheets.



Kit parts look decently made, at first glance, and most of the supplied lengths of timber is good quality (though some of the thinner hardwoods might not be all that good).  Sailcloth supplied is the usual unbleached calico stuff - I might have to substitute something from my sewing box.
The keel and frames appear to be punched rather than lasered from the plywood sheets.  The ones on the thicker of the two sheets seem easy to pull out, but the bigger, thinner sheet is not cut al the way through.  So there might have to be some careful cutting and sanding.

Mike (Dowling) said:  <<Looks like my kind of kit ! Haven't seen that one before and would be interested to know where you got it from.>>
Cornwall Model Boats sell this kit for £82.94 plus £8 p&p, but I got mine from A**z*n for £72.52 including delivery.

Carl (cog) said <<If you are nice to me I'll have a look a Dutch sites for this build ;) ... just pullin' your legg, mate. If you want me to have a search, give me the word!!!>>
Yes please mate!  All help wil be gratefully appreciated!

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I am pulling up a chair as well. I've not seen this kit before, must be new as I pretty much know every Dutch ship kit available out there. I have built several tjalks over the years.

This is an interesting tjalk as she has 2 masts.


Here are some links to other builds.

https://modelbrouwers.nl/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?t=24856I don't think you read Dutch but there are pictures.


User Jack51 has a little history on this. Google translate does a decent translation job.



Little history about the ship and model.




This site has lots of info on all types of tjalks and numerous plans. All of it is free to download.


Cog (Carl) may have more info. I do have lots of articles on round and flat bottom boats, from different periods and every town in the Netherlands that was on the water had some type of tjalk. Their are many types. In the next couple of days I will go through my links on this subject and see what is relevant.



Edited by Marcus Botanicus
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I see you have the usual Constructo problem with their die pressed sheets of ply rather than laser cut. They are an absolute pig to cut out accurately which is partly why I am scratch building my Lady Jane. Anyway I shall watch with interest !


Yes, and it beats me why they managed to punch cleanly through the thicker plywood but failed with the thin stuff.


I thought Ladysmith was a Boer War siege.  Didn't know it was a boat too?


Elijah, I think you must be confusing me with another modeler.  I know there's someone here who likes to put representations of himself on pictures of his models, but it's not me!  Not yet anyway.  But now that you've put the idea into my mind ...

Edited by probablynot
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Lady Smith is a boat that Constructo don't do anymore and, after seeing the destructions and 'helpful' photos I understand why. Once finished their kits make a really nice model but why they don't laser cut stuff these days remains a mystery to me. I guess that's why their kits are on the cheaper side. Anyway, I don't want to put you off, just be prepared for not much help from the manufacturers.

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Anyway, I don't want to put you off, just be prepared for not much help from the manufacturers.

I thought, Brian, you built the Constructo models yourself ... now it seems Constructo gives a helping hand ... :P;) Can't imagine you letting anybody in the shop, and certainly not touching .. anything .!!!!



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  • 3 weeks later...

George, Jack, Marcus, Carl, Elijah, Ken, Mike, Sam - and all others who might care to look into the shipyard (or should I say 'scheepswerf' ?) -  welcome to you all!  The fridge at the back is stocked with beer and mars bars, so help yourselves!  Just don't touch the Muscadet de Sevre et Maine - that's mine!

Work has commenced.
The false keel and frames fell easily out of their sheet of plywood, and they fit fairly easily together.  First little problem - the false keel doesn't project below the frames, so it's impossible to fit it into a long clamp to hold it dead straight.
So, I'll just have to do frequent careful sightings along the keel until there's enough wood in place to hold everything still.
I dry-fitted all the frames, and then took time out to cut a length of L-shaped aluminium into 15mm slices.  These are what I'm using to hold the frames square to the keel.  I only had enough alu to cut into 10 pieces, so before closing the shipyard this evening I was only able to glue the first five frames.





If anyone wants to stay overnight, I'll rig up some hammocks ...

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Sam, Mike, I reckon you're right. Even the drying of the glue on those first five frames has pulled the keel into a just-discernible curve. Nevertheless, I went ahead this evening and glued the remaining five frames.

As Mike says, the plywood is extremely soft.

So yes, I'll be adding some inter-frame struts (not actual blocks) to strengthen and straighten the structure. Pictures when I get things that far.

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It's a shame that they made a kit of this tourist version. The originals are sooooo much better....


She would look a lot better if you resize the scond mast, it is a tad too short. And she still exists:






Edited by amateur
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Thanks for the interesting picture Jan.

Yes, my early thinking was that I ought to try 'bashing' my build, to turn it back into the sort of boat that would have been sailing the Nederlands canals and rivers in the early 1900s with who knows what cargoes. I would have had a more authentic - but, let's face it, less pretty - model.

I know the superstructure in the kit version is modern. But, it's more picturesque and has more character than a simple, open hold. There's also the advantage that the Silhouet still actually exists in the kit version. I could take a trip to Holland and stand on her deck.

Your picture shows a curious bulbous shape to the keel at the bows. What would have been the purpose of this?

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My advice Brian for what it is worth is build what you like best ! With this Lady Smith I am re-creating (!!!!) I have had to use 'builders licence' just to get a reasonable looking boat. I reckon we all know that kits are not spot on historically accurate but, who cares, we enjoy making them !


Just a thought, not being an expert on boats at all but, a lot of modern boats/ships have a bulb thingy on the hull as it does cut down on resistance and make the boat more streamilined and therefoe more economical! Like I said, just a thought.

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<< ...a lot of modern boats/ships have a bulb thingy on the hull as it does cut down on resistance and make the boat more streamilined and therefoe more economical!... >>
Yes, Mike.  I suppose it's just possible that the Dutch barge-builders discovered this by accident, without fully understanding why, and the modern ship designers just picked up on it, did the maths, and adopted it!

I've supported all the middle frames with added blocks.  I made some of the blocks very slightly over-size to correct the slight curve in the keel.  Looks OK now, I think.


Next job is to fit the filler blocks at the stem and stern.  The ones supplied by Constructo are actually of harder wood than the keel and frames.  I was planning to substitute balsa.  However, the blocks will have to hold some severely-curved planks, so maybe not!

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Luck, David?  Yes please - I think I'll be needing it.  Especially when constructo make silly mistakes like this.


The pre-cut mast hole is in the wrong place.  It even shows in the wrong place on the instruction leaflet.

(And yes, I have checked.  It's definitely the hole that's wrong, not the mast-stepping reinforcements glued to the false keel.)



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This isn't the first Constructo kit you have done by the looks ! You should know already that the cutting of parts is terrible, the distructions don't fit the plan and neither does the parts list ! So, you have to make it up as you go along. The bonus (????) is that you will be more than half way to scratch building before you have even realised it and you will have a nice looking model as well !!!! Good luck and just keep going, you know you want to !! 

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You're certain that leaflet is't in double Dutch ... That hole is a pain in the neck. If it starts with these little things, I wonder what tis manufacturers kits are worth ... Well, we just need to be a tad more supportive and stimulate your creativity even further - if at all possible ...


Cheers mate

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