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Direct sunlight and its effect on the model

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Trying to find a good spot to display my model. Unfortunately, the living room faces south and have a large windows. It is really great for all purposes except displaying the ship model :)

I understand that direct sunlight is not very good, but what are the effects exactly, if the model is exposed to the sunlight few hours per day, typically in the end of the day?


I have a pinnace model in that spot, it is in the plexiglas case, made out of basswood, stained and painted, finished with WOP, white PVA as a wood glue.

It is there for 2 years already, and no signs of any issues. If I compare the side that is always in the shade vs the one that is exposed to the sun - I can't spot any differences in colour or any problems with wood joints.


So how bad would it be if I keep my Cromwell model in that spot for few years? I am planning to upgrade the apartment in max 5 years time, so it is not forever.. 

I will use the gallery grade Plexiglas that blocks a bit of UV light, but then there is a temperature increase when sun shines on a dark pear, can it cause some deformations, oil discolouration or glue deterioration? In theory it is all bad, but in practice?

Would appreciate some experience! The model in question is primarily swiss pear with tung oil finish, anybody had experienced such combination being exposed to the sun for years?

Edited by Mike Y
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Many woods change when exposed to UV.  Some get bleached, others darken.  For some woods, the color change can be very dramatic.  Take a look at this article:





Current Wooden builds:  Amati/Victory Pegasus  MS Charles W. Morgan  Euromodel La Renommèe  


Plastic builds:    SB2U-1 Vindicator 1/48  Five Star Yaeyama 1/700  Pit Road Asashio and Akashi 1/700 diorama  Walrus 1/48 and Albatross 1/700  Special Hobby Buffalo 1/32


Completed builds :  Caldercraft Brig Badger   Amati Hannah - Ship in Bottle  Pit Road Hatsuzakura 1/700   Hasegawa Shimakaze 1:350

F4B-4 and P-6E 1/72  Accurate Miniatures F3F-1/F3F-2 1/48  Tamiya F4F-4 Wildcat built as FM-1 1/48  Special Hobby Buffalo 1/48

Citroen 2CV 1/24 - Airfix and Tamiya  Entex Morgan 3-wheeler 1/16


Terminated build:  HMS Lyme (based on Corel Unicorn)  


On the shelf:  Euromodel Friedrich Wilhelm zu Pferde; Caldercraft Victory; too many plastic ship, plane and car kits


Future potential scratch builds:  HMS Lyme (from NMM plans); Le Gros Ventre (from Ancre monographs), Dutch ship from Ab Hoving book, HMS Sussex from McCardle book, Philadelphia gunboat (Smithsonian plans)

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One way around the problem is either blinds on the window or a solid back (even temporary) on the display case.  Mike gave a good link and also paints will fade in direct sunlight.

"The shipwright is slow, but the wood is patient." - me

Current Build:                                                                                             
Past Builds:
 La Belle Poule 1765 - French Frigate from ANCRE plans                             Triton Cross-Section   

                                                                                                                       USS Constellaton (kit bashed to 1854 Sloop of War  _(Gallery) Build Log

                                                                                Wasa (Gallery)

                                                                                                                        HMS Sphinx 1775 - Vanguard Models - 1:64               


Non-Ship Model:                                                                                         On hold, maybe forever:           

CH-53 Sikorsky - 1:48 - Revell - Completed                                                   Licorne - 1755 from Hahn Plans (Scratch) Version 2.0 (Abandoned)         



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UV may also provide energy and a more efficient wave length of light to accelerate oxidation of organic compounds.

Cellulose can break down. That is wood - but given the thickness, that is likely a very long process.  Cotton or linen

rigging is much more vulnerable.  If you used a synthetic polymer as rigging material, the UV light can catalyze a

further crosslinking - the reaction that produced the polymer - and turn it from flexible to rigid and brittle.

If you are getting direct sun light, everything else in the room might be happier if the glass in the window contained

a UV blocker.  I think there are two types of blocker-  one to block the high frequency waves - that are mostly destructive -

and one for the lower frequency waves that house plants use and would not be good to block if you have plants.


Another factor is IR (heat) - factors in the glass of a case and the small enclosed space itself can allow micro areas of

heat that could be much higher than ambient temp.  The rule is: the rate of a chemical reaction doubles for every 10 degrees C. increase in temp.

NRG member 45 years



HMS Centurion 1732 - 60-gun 4th rate - Navall Timber framing

HMS Beagle 1831 refiit  10-gun brig with a small mizzen - Navall (ish) Timber framing

The U.S. Ex. Ex. 1838-1842
Flying Fish 1838  pilot schooner -  framed - ready for stern timbers
Porpose II  1836  brigantine/brig - framed - ready for hawse and stern timbers
Vincennes  1825  Sloop-of-War  -  timbers assembled, need shaping
Peacock  1828  Sloop-of -War  -  timbers ready for assembly
Sea Gull  1838  pilot schooner -  timbers ready for assembly
Relief  1835  ship - timbers ready for assembly


Portsmouth  1843  Sloop-of-War  -  timbers ready for assembly
Le Commerce de Marseilles  1788   118 cannons - framed

La Renommee 1744 Frigate - framed - ready for hawse and stern timbers


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"Museum Glass" for the case is an alternative, but very expensive.  I think it blocks out a lot and certainly eliminates glare.  Providing some air holes for circulation is important as well.



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