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Three Sisters Schooner by David Goulden - RESTORATION


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This log is for the restoration of a model wooden schooner my grandfather made for me sometime around 1960 when I was born.

 
The following information is subject to change as I question my family, but this is what I’ve gathered so far about the provenance of the model.
 
I believe he modelled it off of the Bluenose. According to my mother and aunts after which the ship was named, he built most of it while working on a coast guard ship. He never got around to adding sails, but I remember him mentioning a few times that he always wanted to. That would be the only thing I would want to add beyond restoring it to the original shape.
 
I’m afraid most of the damage is my fault. For nearly 30 years it stood in a nook in our family living room in Halifax. Sometime in the late 80s or early 90s I asked my mother if I could take it with me to Toronto where I had moved some years earlier. I needed to take off the masts and bowsprit to be able to pack it in my suitcase, and foolishly did not think to take a photo before doing so. As you can see in the photos, a lot of the rigging was damaged as well.
 
Another 20 years and two continents later, I’ve taken it out of storage in my current home in Tokyo and am hoping to be able to restore it. I found a few cracks, the biggest one being in the bow. But I think the hardest part will be redoing the rigging. Knowing my grandfather, I doubt it is an exact replica of any one ship but more a composite of some of the ships he worked on as a fisherman and trader out of Newfoundland.
 
My first step was to photograph the model from several angles. I’ll post some of them here.
 
I think my second step should be to clean the years of grime off it. Thanks to this forum, I’ve learned the best way to begin is with cotton swaps and water.
 
I would really appreciate any advice on how to proceed further. I’ve built a few plastic model ships when I was a child, but nothing since and certainly nothing from scratch. I’m not looking to build a work of art, I just want to restore as faithfully as I can the gift my grandfather spent so much time to make for me. I know I could send it off to a professional to get it done right and probably much quicker that I can, but it is  kind of a personal journey for me.
 
Thanks for reading this. I don’t have a lot of free time to work on it, but I hope to finish the project by this time next year (summer 2017).
 
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Wow that little ship needs a lot of work.

Nice memory to your grandfather and that is in my opinion something to remember when you restore the model. Don't over do and let some parts or paintwork like they are now. So when you have a restored model, you can still see your grandfathers hand on it.

 

Kind regards, Kees

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My advice-which runs counter to the strict "Museum Restoration Protocol"- is to replace all the rigging if its not strong enough. Grasp a sample piece of rigging between your fingers and pull lightly. Does the line snap easily? if so I would recommend replacing all of it, since all of it will likely be in the same condition. If it doesn't break, use as much of it as you can! A museum restoration professional's agenda is to preserve as much of the artifact as possible. But as a practical matter its best to complete the restoration in a way that ensures the ship model will last as long as possible into the future. If the rigging is still weak and brittle after you have restored the model its only going to be a high maintenance artifact for the foreseeable future, requiring frequent restoration.

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Nice memory to your grandfather and that is in my opinion something to remember when you restore the model. Don't over do and let some parts or paintwork like they are now. So when you have a restored model, you can still see your grandfathers hand on it.

 

Kees, thank you. That is exactly my plan. I'm hoping once cleaned up and the cracks repaired, I won't have to do any painting. Or at most very minor touch ups.

 

My advice-which runs counter to the strict "Museum Restoration Protocol"- is to replace all the rigging if its not strong enough. Grasp a sample piece of rigging between your fingers and pull lightly. Does the line snap easily? if so I would recommend replacing all of it, since all of it will likely be in the same condition. If it doesn't break, use as much of it as you can! A museum restoration professional's agenda is to preserve as much of the artifact as possible. But as a practical matter its best to complete the restoration in a way that ensures the ship model will last as long as possible into the future. If the rigging is still weak and brittle after you have restored the model its only going to be a high maintenance artifact for the foreseeable future, requiring frequent restoration.

 

Frankie, good advice. There are two types of material in the rigging. Thin copper wire which seems in relatively good shape, and thread (rope? string? don't know the proper terminology) which snaps with a strong tug. I am fine with replacing the latter. Out of curiosity is it usual to have the two types of rigging on a model ship? Obviously I have a lot to learn! If someone can point me to a primer on rigging that would be helpful.

 

Cheers,

David

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David: that is a nice winter project for you! I see that you lived in Halifax: do you still have contacts there? If so, they could get you all kinds of information from the Bluenose II folk there. There is also a book of plans that someone drew up on Bluenose (I can't recall the author or title, but it is a large, landscape format, soft-cover production). It gives an amazing amount of detail of both hull and rig.

Edited by druxey
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druxey, thanks for the suggestion. Most of my family still lives in Halifax, and I will be visiting next month. If the Bluenose II is in port I'll be sure to take plenty of photos. If not I'll ask my family, and I'm sure there will be no shortage of books on her in the tourist shops! Maybe even the book of plans you mentioned.

 

Cheers,

David

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I think if someone were building a Bluenose from scratch they would not use actual wire these days, but your mode did and I think that means you should stick with wire in the restoration. But that is my opinion and I could imagine others saying wire has no place on a model. I once took a bunch of wire off a very old ship model I was restoring, but only because I determined the wire was not original to the model and was part of a slipshod restoration that had taken place in the past. Also I think if you elected to remove the old wire on your model and replace it with heavy thread, nobody would fault you for it. Wire has the drawback that once it gets a kink in it, the kink is hard to remedy and calls attention to itself. I like the look of the model you have, it has a LOT of character plus it has the family history. Congratulations on restoring it!

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Hello Druxy; I have a book "Bluenose II" Saga of the Great fishing Schooners

      Measured Drawings by LB Jensen. This is a soft-cover book  11"x14" (almost).

Nimbus Publishing 1994/2002    ISBN 1-55109-063-5   125pp.

Is this the book you're referring to?  Regards, Pollex (Calgary)

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Yes, Pollex, that's the volume I was thinking of! Thanks for providing the information. hopefully, David, you can locate a copy. Try abebooks.com or Amazon. Oh, and the author is Jenson with an 'o'.

Edited by druxey
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Hi David

Try getting hold of the book  FISHING SCOONER 'ELSIE'  by  Erik A. R. Ronnberg Jnr

 

Nautical Research Journal   ISBN   0738  7245

The Nautical Research Guild Inc

6413 Dahlonega Road

Bethesda

Maryland 20816 

In the Good old US of A

I picked up a copy in England so you should beable to get a copy you side of the pond

This covers everything plans and details for building a first class model ,it will give you all the enfo you need to rerig your model

 

Please keep us updated on your progress

Good Luck with the rebuild and Enjoy it

Regards  Reg

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The ship is cleaning up nicely with just paint brushes, q-tips and water. It is a slow process though, sure teaching me patience!

 

The Jenson book arrived a few days ago. Although I hate the handwriting-like font, there is lots of useful info in there. I now know the model is roughly 1/80 scale and rather loosely based on the Bluenose.

 

The more I work with it, the more I think I'll need to replace most if not all the rigging. The thread breaks easily, and a lot of the wire is loose or broken. I'll probably spend some time in hobby shops while I'm in Toronto next month. Any suggestions as to what type of thread I should get?

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If you are working with rigging thread, you might wish to consider the line that the Syren Ship Model Company produces. (Scroll down and click the link on the right side of the cover page of this site for the Syren web site) It is produced in many diameters and is probably the best commercial line available.

 

And you are right: patience is the word for any model work!

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Another very good book on fishing schooners in general is "The American Fishing Schooners 1825-1935" by Howard I. Chapelle. It is available on Amazon but it is not cheap - $43 new - and even used copies are not inexpensive. It is full of incredible detail in its 690 pages. Perhaps a book that is only useful to those who have a real love for this type boat. Back when I was building Bluejacket's Smuggler, I found it to be invaluable and well worth the cost.

 

Cheers -

John

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Hello David Goulden; Please look at <metromarine.org> This is the website of

"Metro Marine Modellers" of Toronto.  They usually have a club meeting each month,

on the 3rd Friday I believe. Check the site to see if you can "connect" in July or August. 

They used to have a list of hobby shops and sources most useful to model builders. 

It would be great if you could "connect" with someone either at a Fun Run or a Sunday

sailing event. There are Static, Scale & Sailing Divisions. This club was a special part of

my life during the 10+ years I lived in Toronto.  Regards, Pollex

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My thread arrived from Syren, so excited! Ordered about three times what I thought I'd need, just to be safe.
 
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But before I start rigging, and after I finish cleaning, I need to fix a few cracks. Especially the big one in the bow. Is white wood glue ok for that?
 
You can see the crack in the third photo in the first post of this thread - I can't seem to link it to this post.

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I'm sure you'll find a use for any extra line that you may have left over, David!

 

To glue a crack, white glue and clamps of some sort work well. Any actual gaps or missing pieces will need to have more substantial fillers. Softwood shaped and glued in to fill most of the gap, then a suitable filler such as Bondo would be one way to go.

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  • 2 years later...

hello from newfoundland canada,your ship is beautiful.Would you believe i just got a old model schooner from my wifes family and the name of the ship is  Three sisters,its in grteat condition with sails intact,same split in stem as your model,looks like flag is new zeland.I will send pics if u want

 

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