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Deben 5-tonner by vaddoc - FINISHED - Scale 1:10 - a Whisstock yard design

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Dear all

Following completion of my last boat about a month ago I intended to take a break from model building. Somehow however, I found myself lofting a boat on CAD having spent 3 weeks trying to figure out the interactions of the complex curves of the hull.  So here we go again with another project!

I really would like to scratch-built a 2 masted schooner but undoubtedly one or more in-between steps are needed . I searched on the net for a relatively simple boat that would still have some of the building features of a larger ship so I could get some experience on rabbet cutting, carvel planking etc and came up with a small single mast sailboat, the 5-ton Deben. The plans and table of offsets are provided free on http://www.whisstock.com




I actually think it is the ugly duckling in the forum but then again it has been said that all wooden boats are inherently beautiful!


As my understanding of the design grew, I realised that it is not really a simple design. The wood keel is not straight but tapered and at an angle, the sternpost also is tapered aft and the above make for a complex rebate line. Also, there are many steam bent ribs and the offsets are to the outside of skin so the planking thickness need to be subtracted. Certainly I got the complex boat I was looking for!




I have not decided whether I will just built the hull or complete the whole boat. This is like a first date, you never know whether you ll end up married or drunk in a bar.

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In my previous model I attempted to loft by hand and that was a disaster. I have a huge respect for people that can actually pull this through with just a ruler and a pencil. I started designing the boat on Rhino and soon I realised that the plans were difficult to figure out and that the offsets created curves far from fair. Maybe I made mistakes or did not interpret the plans properly but I struggled a lot to get a fair hull. When I checked with the diagonals, my lines were off but not by much. I do not think there is a point with re-doing the lofting, I am actually happy with the shape of the hull.




After I had the outer skin, it took some effort to determine the inner surface of the hull and then it was very easy to determine the shape of the temporary frames. Actually, at this stage I can change the stations as I like.




There are many things to consider, including:


1. I think I will raise the temporary frames, install battens, install all ribs and then plank the hull, removing battens progressively. 

2. I need to figure out how to secure the frames to the sloping keel and keep them square without gluing or drilling the hull (not too much at least)

3. I am not sure how to bent the ribs and how to fix to the planks.

4. Some serious jig will be needed to secure all these and I think building the jig will be close in complexity to building the boat.




Edited by vaddoc
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Nice work, vaddock!  


As a Rhino user myself, I can say now that the hard work of getting the stations, water and buttock lines to agree is over, turning the hull into a water-tight solid will allow you to cut bulkheads, rebates, keel parts, deck beams,etc, as well as figuring out all of your scale material thicknesses.


Incidentally, I love the "environmental reflection" setting for checking surface continuity on hulls....


Looking forward to seeing more of your work!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Dear all, I think it is time for a quick update.


Patrick no sawdust I am afraid. Although for the last month I have devoted all my (limited) free time to the plans, I have produced only heat from the computer's fans.


Jim and Bob, you may be right, it could make a beautiful model but I am struggling a lot so far, it is a much more complex boat than I thought.


Hexnut, Rhino is great, but making it bend to my will is another matter. Your good words were, I am afraid, a bit premature. I realised that all my lines were wrong so I had to scrap everything and start again!


After 5 complete lofting cycles I think that now I do have a reasonably faired hull that seems to work well. I have achieved a smooth outer skin and defined the inner skin.




I also defined most of the temporary frames that will be made of 3 mm plywood




All bevels and the shape of the rebate have been (more or less) defined as well




By far the most difficult part of the boat is the sternpost. I see that usually this is a flat heavy timber but not in this boat. It curves on all sides in a massively complicated way. I had to do a lot of guessing as the plans are not detailed enough. Probably an experienced builder would have no problem at all but I had a hard time figuring out how things work. This photo from the internet was a great help, I think actually it is a Deben.




This is the sternpost I have to make!




The plans give the outside of skin but conversely the true dimensions of the Transom and this was particularly problematic. I could not figure out a smooth transition from sternpost to Transom. Furthermore, the sternpost near the Transom needs to widen a lot as the rebate line curves outward to meet the outside skin of the planking at the transom. This needs an added slice of wood.




I wonder if I bit more than I can chew. I will try and make the sternpost out of cheap wood and see if I can have reasonable results. If I can't, another option would be to loft again starting with a simpler sternpost. I would not like this though as I would move away from the original design.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Dear all

I now have very little time for modelling so this boat will be built at a very slow pace. Still, some progress has been made.


I managed to figure out (I think) how the sternpost will work, at least on CAD but it will be really difficult to create this very complex part in the actual boat. I made an attempt using a scrap piece of pine, it came out horrible but I now have a better understanding and I think with extra care I should be able to produce something acceptable. Quite a lot of the cutting/scraping/sanding will probably need to be done after the sternpost is erected which I expect will also be a huge challenge.


The inner skin is now faired and I have prepared the templates for all the temporary frames. I have also completed designing the transom, wood keel and the stem including all bevels and rabets. All these parts are complex and will need to be made of laminates. The following pics show an outline of the boat so far without the details.






I also finished designing the keel, which also curves in all directions. In the full scale boat it is made out of iron. It will be made in a bread and butter construction, from several 4 mm slabs appropriately shaped. 








Plenty of time before the first piece of wood is cut. In the meantime no harm in silently getting a few things that will be very useful for the built later on. Hopefully the admiral will not notice!

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The problem with this approach Druxey is that there will be a lot of wood to take out, and amongst all the battens and the building jig it will be very difficult to do it. I have accepted that a lot of the cutting will need to be done after the sternpost is installed but I want to try and get as much work as I can beforehand.    The scale is large and I will probably need to use power tools. I have very little confidence I will not mess the whole thing up after it's been glued to the keel!

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Hi Vaddoc


Great to see you back at the drawing board. I was beginning to wonder where you were at with the design work, but, as can be seen from your update, you're well and truly on your way.


I can only wish you good luck with the stern post!


All the best!



Edited by Omega1234
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  • 1 month later...

Dear all, time for another update. Not a lot of progress though, this boat will take a very long time to build.

I have finished designing the hull and I intended to make use of the summer to create most of the saw dust, as I can work with the garage door open. However, I have no free time, the garage is full of stuff that I need to get rid off and most importantly I still have not decided what wood to use. I have ordered samples from one of the German sites but communication has taken a very long time.


So, waiting for the wood I started designing the notches for the ribs on the wood keel, the shape of the floor timbers and started work on the bulkheads and layout of the cabin. 




I was lucky as only one of the temporary frames is in the way of a floor timber




The floor panels and bulkheads vaguely outline the interior.






My intention has been to built this in 1:10 scale, this will produce a model 70 cm long and I must admit I had not appreciated how huge it will be. Still, I think I will go for it as I have enough space and the large scale should make building much more interesting as it will more closely resemble the actual boat. I might even do some work on the interior. Such a huge model would make a nice RC boat although this is out of the question as planks on ribs would not allow watertight seal.

I am concerned though that all this work and expenses might go to waste. I have no faith in my 3d designs or my skills to pull through such a complex project. I will only know after a massive wood order and many months of hard work!

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I think we've all been there.   The only way to find out is try it.  And then keep trying.  I think you'll get the ship you want.


If you're not sure about something on this, build it in cheap wood or cardboard first.  It seems to work for a lot of us in figuring things out.

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This is an excellent suggestion Mark, I could just use cheap plywood and pine to see how things would come together and check the fairness of the hull prior to buying several hundreds of pounds worth of wood.

I think this is the way forward, it did not cross my mind at all.

Very grateful


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  • 1 month later...

Dear all


I have no free time any more, I could only steal a few moments here and there. I am not going into hibernation though, I will continue albeit at a very slow pace.


I decided against going for a test model with cheap materials, simply due to lack of time. I ll go ahead with the built and hope for the best.


The first step is to make the temporary frames. For this though I need perfectly flat 3 mm plywood which I could not find. I tried a few options but I ended up buying proper expensive modelling plywood and laminating it further to 3.5 mm. It came out flat enough.


I then started cutting the first 4 frames. They are huge!






The boat will be so huge that an A4 sheet is not wide enough to fit the frames so I had to cut and glue. I found out that on my A4 printer I can set the size of the paper. So I got a roll of paper and cut long pieces to print the various components.




I am about to place a large order for timber, I decided to use cherry for the hull, beech for the beams and laminates and maple for the planking. 


I have also decided It is about time to seriously deal with the fine wood dust so I bought a cartridge mask and I am about to order a vacuum cleaner and an air filtration system. 


Worryingly the admiral today asked me if I feel model boat building is an expensive hobby!

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Hi Vaddoc


Great to see that you've been able to make a start, albeit a slow one!  She's gonna be a big girl, that's for sure.


The cartridge mask which you've posted in another forum is a nice addition.


As far as your Admiral's comment, well....at least you're not out womanising and drinking!!!!  Money well spent, I'd say!


Cheers and all the best.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Dear all

Finally some proper saw dust!


My massive wood order has come in, there are some issues which hopefully will be corrected. Also all my fine dust protection is in place and I have made arrangements for insulation of my garage as the winter is not far off.


It is the first time I used cherry but I think it is a very nice wood. Holds an edge well, cuts and sands well and is hard but less hard than pear so easier to work with. It has a nicer colour and slightly more grain than swiss pair.


I cut the sheet templates for the metal keel and I think it will work out fine. There is still a lot of sanding to be done for the bevels so that when all are glued together and a final sanding is done, it will look like a solid piece.




I also think I found a solution for my complex sternpost. As it is a huge piece of timber, even in the full size boat it would need to be built up of several pieces. So it will be made from 10 sheet pieces, all the bevels as well as the rebate line will be much easier to cut.


The next photo shows all 10 pieces cut, still needing final trimming and of course all the bevels to be sanded in.






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Thanks Patrick, glad to have you along!


I have just started creating sawdust but it is clear that working in such a large scale is a challenge. My modelling tools are reaching their limit and sanding or filing by hand is difficult or even pointless in these massive timbers. My homemade disc sander is brilliant though and got the job done.


I laminated the sheets for the metal keel which was a surprisingly fiddly job. Surprisingly also, the laminate came out bent which I did not expect as the sheets were 4 mm thick! I managed to sand the base flat which needed a simple jig to keep square and then shaped and sanded it smooth. Then it was time for some fairing






And after the final sanding to 400 grit, it looks symmetrical and smooth and has I think a reasonable shape.






Now it is time for the wood keel which will be an even larger piece of solid timber! The rabbet and the notches for the ribs (most of them at least as some will be on the stem and sternpost) will also be cut.




I also started to laminate the pieces for the sternpost. Sanding it and cutting the rabbet will be much more complicated though.




By the way, cherry is a lovely wood to work with.

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Thank Druxey and Patrick, yes it was about time to start building!


Patrick, I actually do not smell the wood at all as I have taken the dust issue seriously and wear the 3M mask all the time while I work. I already had to change the filters as they clogged so I probably produce massive amounts of wood dust. Small price to pay though!


I have started work on the wood keel which will be a laminate of three sheets. The uppermost will pre cut to incorporate the rabbet (or most of it as it is deep and will continue to the middle sheet) and also the notches for the ribs, all appropriately beveled. I must say it is hard and delicate work!






I also slowly progressing on the sternpost, I laminated all 10 pieces and I have marked the intersections with the rebate line. It still needs tons of delicate work but it looks promising.









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Time for another quick update.


I now realise how challenging is to work in a large scale. First of all, all details and mistakes are very visible. Tools reach their limit. And as I just found out, any mistake is very expensive both in time and wood cost.


I did some more work on the sternpost. It looks very rough but I think the shape is about right and I have marked the rebate line which is about symmetrical in both sides. On one side I have started cutting the rabbet but the rest of the shaping really will need to be done after mounting on the wood keel.








I progressed well in making the wood keel. By shaping appropriately the upper most sheet, when everything was laminated the notches for the ribs came out very nice as well as the upper part of the rabbet with the correct angles to fit the garboard plank.






However, when I test fitted the metal keel I saw the problem. It would not align properly. 

When I initially glued the paper templates to the wood, due to their large length they rested slightly towards one side and the parts came out asymmetrical. Especially the bottom one, where the metal keel would be glued, was quite bad. As the wooden keel essentially brings the whole boat together, I had to make it again. This was indeed an expensive mistake!


So, all 3 sheets were carefully cut and checked straight. Now the metal keel sits nicely aligned.







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