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Skipjack interior paint colors

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Hello all,


I'm building the Willie Bennett (together with my brother-in-law, Rob the SWO who has a build log started here).  We're enjoying building two of these at the same time (and miles and miles apart).  I should post some pics in the build log section soon.


I've gotten to the place where I'm about to finish the deck beams and blocking, and so now's the time to paint the interior, it seems to me.  I'm going to build it so the aft and foc'sle cabin tops are removable.  I'm detailing both cabins.  I've done research but can't find much info on how the interior of a skipjack is painted.  I know the aft cabin is usually paneled with beadboard, and I will model that with some nice scale paneling sheets I have (from model RR days).  But how is the cargo hold painted, perhaps a protective paint like the bottom, so a kind of red?  And the foc'sle?  Are the bottom hull boards left raw?  The ceilings in the cabin and hold?  Would the frames and inside of the side planking be painted?  The framing and knees?  


I'm thinking I'll paint most of this an off white.  That seems most traditional to me.  I see Richard Bradford primed the interior of his build, but didn't paint on top of that except in the aft cabin, I think.


Any help or tips would be appreciated. 



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On one of the plan sheets that comes with the Model Expo (Model Shipways) Willie Bennett kit are some guidelines on color schemes typically used for Skipjacks.  If you notice, just about all of the models have the bright red/white hull colors seen on the box art.  I decided not to follow the box art but kept somewhat close to the color choices of real Skipjacks when I did my version of the Willie Bennett, for example, my hull bottom is Vallejo Hull Red which is more typical, with a Vallejo green for the trim.   Since I did not leave the interior exposed I didn't paint it.


There is a saying here on MSW that goes "it is your ship and you are the Captain" - translation paint it any color that appeals to your taste and sort of makes sense.  Off white for the interior makes sense to me, leaving the floor planks natural perhaps sealed with a coat of Wipe-On-Poly (flat or satin) also makes sense. Are you making this a "working" boat or "pleasure" boat version? A lot of the surviving Skipjacks were converted for use as pleasure boats.  That would also influence your choice of colors. 


Looking forward to seeing photos of your and Rob's models.

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Thanks.  Working boat, for sure.  I was planning on the duller red for the bottom.  If anyone knows a good site of reference photos for working vessels, I'd like to learn of it.  I've been to Mystic a number of times and been inside the ships there where it's allowed.  White does seem common.  

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Don't know if this book is still available Skipjacks of Deal Island


Also the Chesapeake Maritime Museum  at St Michaels MD has a nice exhibit of boats.


And all the build logs here.

Edited by Jack12477
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I did find the book, but since it's photos all appear to be black and white, I'm not sure that will help, so I'm reluctant to pony up the $60, although it does look like a great book in general.  And I'm not sure there are many shots of interiors.  I would love to visit the CMM, and perhaps one day I'll be in that area.  


I've read all the build logs here.  


Research continues.  Nothing much turned up so far.  Lots and lots of pictures of the OUTSIDE of these ships.  :-)


Does anyone know if cargo holds on these working boats were painted a particular color or used a protective paint similar to bottom paint?  Or were they just painted with regular paint or left natural?  

Edited by Griphos
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I don't know anything for sure, but I would guess at painting the interior hold a reflective white. 

Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want

Current build: Model Expo Glad Tidings, Pinky Schooner

First builds:

Midwest Muscongus Bay Lobster Smack

Midwest Chesapeake Bay Flattie

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Go to your local library and see if you can get the book through the inter library loan system.  Their network of libraries can locate a library that has the book and it's sent to your library for you to check out.  They say that sometimes there can  be a nominal charge but I have yet to run into a charge.  Great way to check out a book before buying it.


Kurt Van Dahm






Nautical Research & Model Ship Society of Chicago

Midwest Model Shipwrights

North Shore Deadeyes

The Society of Model Shipwrights

Butch O'Hare - IPMS

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I recall that interiors were painted a light color to increase the light in the cabin and make it easier to see dropped items.  I have seen work boats with off white, gray and light blue interiors.  I would guess that any old paint available would have been used including mixtures of leftover paint.

My advice and comments are always worth what you paid for them.

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The photography in the book "Working Skipjacks of Deal Island" is all black and white.


This photo of Kathryn during the recent rebuild shows the color of the paneling inside the cabin, and also shows the frames and ceiling planks left natural.




When I visited the Kathryn after the rebuild the interior planking that I was able to see was all natural, and I think I remember the cabin deck and settees being grey.


The exterior colors I'm using are Liquitex acrylics.  The white is Titanium White and the bottom color is Burnt Sienna.  The black stripe is Mars Black.  These paints will develop a shine after a few coats, so I mix Liquitex Matte Medium into the paint to prevent too much sheen.



Edited by Mahuna
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  • 1 month later...

Well, in lieu of an actual build log, I thought I'd post a pic of the results of the color decisions I made.  I decided on something like the hull red for the cargo hold, mixed up an off-white for the cabin interiors, and did a little staining of some other parts, particularly deck beams that will show when the removable cabins will be removed.  I used the photos above as inspiration for the colors I used there.  I wound up using some art markers, alcohol based, and they don't raise the grain and result in a nice, rich aged hardwood color. 


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  • 4 weeks later...

A little late to the discussion but here are some photos of the E.C. Collier's hold.  She's on display out of the water at the Chesapeake Maritime Museum.  And she's what I'm planning my next build to be.

Unfortunately the last time I was there I didn't have any plans on building her so I didn't take that many photos of her.  But you can see the hold used to be red similar to the hull color.  The cabin could literally be any color you want just keep in mind these were working boats owned by guys who didn't have a whole lot of extra money.  Probably the best way to determine a good interior color would be to go out to your garage, see what house paints you have left over from the last time you painted and use that.  Ok, kidding but not by too much.



Picture 129.jpg

Picture 128.jpg

Picture 573.jpg

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  • 1 year later...

Well, I got side-tracked by some other projects, but am back to the Willie B again.  I haven't started a build log, and most of what I've done doesn't look any different from any of the other build logs on this boat so far.  


But I thought I'd at least show some of the results of this help I received and perhaps any detail that might be interesting or different.  


Here she is with just one more deck plank to go and the skuppers cut.   I decided I didn't like the color of the stain in the main cabin, so I scraped it away on the "step" and painted it white.  I did an aniline dye of a similar color on the floor to make it look a bit better.  Then I made the ladders and installed them.  Oh, an the hatch covers are sitting in roughly the right spots.  I decided to make them all removable.  I like looking into the hold.





Edited by Griphos
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I made the stem and cutwater and drilled the holes for the tie rod.  I thought I'd like to try to replicate "nuts" in some way.  So I used a hole punch to cut a small hole in some spare sheet brass and then dimpled the discs with a punch into my cutting mat so that they domed.  Then I drilled them with the same size drill as the rod I used for the tie rod.  #76 I think.  


It's very small work, and my old eyes aren't what they used to be, so one hole was drilled off center and I had to redo that one.  I've included a photo with my glasses and a toothpick for size reference.  


They looked okayish to me. so I glued them onto the rod and then snipped the ends to what looked like the right length to simulate a bolt head and then painted to see what it would look like.  I have to say I'm fairly pleased with the result.  








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Here's where the build stands at the moment.  Have the main (aft) cabin to build and then the rest of the operating deck furniture.  Looking forward to that, actually.  Going to work at polishing up my brass soldering skills.  


I'm thinking about leaving the deck and house tops natural, or lightly stained.  I know it's not realistic per the prototypes, but it just looks so darned pretty to me.  I'm willing to be talked out of it though and paint the whole white, as per the usual practice.  



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In this case beauty is in the eyes of the builder, if natural gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling go with it. Well done so far.

John Allen


Current builds HMS Victory-Mamoli

On deck

USS Tecumseh, CSS Hunley scratch build, Double hull Polynesian canoe (Holakea) scratch build



Waka Taua Maori War Canoe, Armed Launch-Panart, Diligence English Revenue Cutter-Marine  Model Co. 


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