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Blue Ensign

18th Century English Longboat by Blue Ensign - Model Shipways - 1:48 Scale

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Thanks Derek and Steve, you're not kidding Steve, one to torture yourself with. ;) but as I found with the Pinnace once past the planking part and into the detail,  I became happier with the build.


Thinking about the waterline.

I had decided to paint below the waterline as per the contemporary NMM models, but the process caused me trouble.

The waterline should run from the top of the stern post along to the stem, but I found getting this to look good ain't that easy.



I fiddled around trying to get an even curve around the hull; I initially tried Tamiya tape for curves but it didn't seem to have much bite and kept falling off. I reverted to the usual yellow stuff which worked much better.



So having achieved what I thought was a reasonable line matched each side it was time to bite the bullet.

For this model rather than use white paint I decided to try a new 'Light Ivory' offering from Admiralty paints.



It has a less stark appearance than white and is perhaps more scale friendly.



This paint does seem to have a slight sheen on it so I will flat it out with Matt Varnish.







At this point I have also laid some paint down on the capping rails. As with the Pinnace this is a mix of paints to achieve a tone that is pleasing to my eye.

I am undecided as yet whether to paint the thwarts and cockpit seats red but this can wait.

My inclination is to dispense with painting the Caprail edges and moulding strips white, a little too fussy for my taste, but it will also relieve me of a tedious painting job.

Similarly a plain varnished edging to the Transom decoration will suit my eye better.


In the next post I will complete the exterior of the boat.




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Cheers Bob and Jason, and for all the 'likes' :)

Finishing the exterior.

The decoration along the sheer is applied using pva and a 0.8mm square Boxwood strip applied below it as the moulding.



Matt varnish is then applied to the decorative strip to seal it.



The hull down to the waterline is then coated with Ochre enhanced satin varnish of the water based kind.

Fairly happy with the treenailing effect along the hull, visible but not intrusive.


The stern decoration was a little more involved.

The kit provided patterns were far too large and would involve cutting away part of the design to fit.

I downloaded the patterns provided by Chuck and the smallest version fitted just fine.

I cropped and printed off several copies of this example on an A4 sheet to provide me with a few goes to get it right.



As it happened the first  attempt went on just fine using pva.

The macro photo's reveal a little touching in is still required. A mixed blessing the macro lens, but at least it does act as an aid to failing eyes.



The white border around the design was varnished over to match the hull.



Not entirely sure I like the transom decoration, I think it has something to do with the greater depth and width of the transom on the kit model as compared to the NMM version.


The NMM model has finer lines, a narrower transom profile, and greater depth of stern post which all reduces the impact of the stern decoration, more proportional I suppose.

Fitting the rudder should help reduce the effect, something to ponder on awhile.





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Hi BE -- That ivory really looks good; once I saw it with the decoration along the sheer, I understood why you went with that tone instead of plain white.  And your use of the ochre varnish also complements the colors & tones of the decoration/ivory combo.  And so, I agree with Steve that the stern decoration might be a touch bright.  And I also think your decision not to add white along the margin of the caprail is right, since that would have brightened the red interior (and I like that shade of red).


It's a nice little build for a man of your talents & skill.  (I say that coming off a weekend of blunders and basic mistakes of reading a ruler).





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Thanks Steve, Martin and Alde.

@ Steve - if I re-do the stern decoration I would have to remove the strip frieze as well, not something I particularly fancy doing - we shall see :rolleyes:

@ Alde - Thanks for looking in, I see you have just started this build, hope you have a smooth run, at least along the planking.

@ Martin - I have coated the stern decoration with Admiralty flat matt varnish ( how this differs from Matt Varnish I have no idea)  but it has dulled it down a little.

Good insight re the white paint, I hadn't thought about it re brightening the red paint I had so carefully toned down to give it a more 18th century look whatever that is.

There have been times of late  when the description 'nice little build' was the last thing on my mind.;)

Still I'm due to be off to the Lakes and Mountains tomorrow,..... maybe, ...... if ex Hurricane Ophelia calms down a little, may have to defer for a day or so in which case I can fiddle with my Thwarts.:D





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Thanks mobbsie, had a couple of good days but came back before Storm Brian came in. Didn't fancy 17miles of road works and narrow lanes on the M6 in bad weather.


Thwarts n'all

I replaced the soft Limewood strip with Boxwood.

In considering the thwart dimensions I would suggest that the kit instructions be ignored as their dimensions are incorrect.

Go by the plans and have a look at Chuck's log of his build.

The plans show thwart widths of 4.5mm and 6.5mm (for the wider mast thwart) I cut this out of some wider stuff and shaped the central mast support section.



Thwarts trial fitted but not finished.

As can be seen in the photo the process has resulted in some scuffing of the paint, but this is only a first coat.







Still pondering whether to paint the stern sheets or leave them varnished, but I have decided to leave the thwarts in their natural state.



Before the thwarts are fitted it is a good time to set the heel chock for the mast. I made mine from a bit of Boxwood stuff with a square cut mortise to take the mast heel.

Thwarts  one - three  from the bow can now be glued in position.

I will now leave the fitting of the remaining thwarts until I have made and fitted the Windlass.



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I think this is better made and fitted before the thwarts are permanently fixed, more room to work with.


NMM model of Medway Longboat 1742.


Rather than just stick a pin in the end of the Windlass and engage it in a hole in the Risings I followed the arrangement of a reinforced slotted  block  as shown on the NMM versions. (see above)



Windlass blocks being formed on the Mill.



I firstly had to get the overall length of the Windlass as it would fit into the blocks before I went to the trouble of shaping the real thing.

This was very much a trial and error exercise.

In practice my Windlass worked out at 42mm o/a length as compared to the plan indicated length of 47mm.

The difference is accounted for by the thickness of the risings/reinforced mounting blocks and the inward curve of the hull.



Using some 4mm square stock I firstly made a windlass of Beechwood  to practice my technique and fix the proper dimensions before I moved onto my precious Boxwood stock.

Beech is easy to carve, and is far better than Limewood at holding definition.




So far so good, onto the proper version.



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Cheers Guy's, this next post will answer your question re the Windlass holes Jason.:)


Making a Boxwood Windlass

The kit instructions don't include any photo's detailing the making of a windlass. This is my approach.



Using 4mm square stock the sections are marked off using my prototype as a guide.



The octagonal center section is formed on a jig last used for mast making on Pegasus.

A scalpel is used to carefully shape the section.



Chamfers are formed where the square sections meet the octagonal and end sections.



Beyond the square section the ends are reduced to cylindrical section to form axles which slot into the mounting blocks.

This again done using Scalpel and needle files to finish the job.



The end of a square section needle file is used to 'square up' the holes for the windlass bars. A tap with a light hammer forms the square.



Having a vertical slot in the mounting block allows for easy  positioning the windlass. A small wooden plug will be added later to secure the windlass. 







I can now fix the thwarts and attend to the paintwork and varnishing.



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Thanks Al and Steve; always a good idea to  re-do stuff Al if it bothers you, otherwise it will catch your eye and niggle away forever.


The thwarts are now fixed and some of the 'iron work' completed. Decided to take a short break from progressing the boat to consider.....

The question of oars

Chuck has fitted out the Longboat  as single banked, but my preference is towards a double banked arrangement.

I mention this because it will have a direct bearing on the length of the oars.

The kit provided oars are 125mm in length which scale to an overall length of 19'6"

With a double banked arrangement the oars are obviously shorter as they don't have to cross the boat to the Thole on the opposite side.

There is a formula for this:

Divide the span by 2, and then add 2 to this number. The result is called the “inboard loom length” of the oar. Multiply the loom length by 25, and then divide that number by 7. The result is the proper oar length in inches.

Our Longboat model has a breadth of 51mm which scales to a breadth between the tholes (the span) of 96.37"; applying the formula the length of 179.24" is given (14.9') - at 1:48 scale = 94.8mm.


Using Steel I calculated the requirements for the sections of the oar.

Section         L    scale equiv          Thickness

Handle         10"      5.29mm          0.85mm Ø

Loom           39"      20.63mm         Thick:  1.45mm

                                                    Depth: 1.72mm

Body            84"      44.45mm    

Blade           48"       25.40mm        Breadth.

                                                    Inner end: 0.73mm

                                                    Outer end: 2.91mm


                                                    Inner end: 1.20mm

                                                    outer end:  0.26mm


Square section 1.80mm Boxwood  strip and 4.50mm x 1.25mm strip for the blades was used. A prototype is made up using these dimensions.



The difference between the 'Single banked' oar length as per the kit, and the 'Double Banked' length as per the dimensions above can be seen.



The oar length positioned on the boat looks good to my eye and I will make a set to those dimensions.

I don't think I will make a full set of 16 oars, maybe six for the purposes of display.




Edited by Blue Ensign

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Building the Rudder

As with the Pinnace model I have deviated from the kit arrangement for hanging the rudder.


As can be seen on the NMM model of the Medway Longboat, there are no cut outs in the rudder to take the pintles.

Lavery (Arming and Fitting) comments on this different approach to hanging the rudder on ships boats:


The rudder was hung on the sternpost by only two gudgeons and pintles. Unlike the rudder on a ship it was likely to be hung and unhung every time the boat was used and it needed to be easily removeable. The lower pintle was fitted to the sternpost rather than the rudder. It was very long and extended almost up to the waterline. The upper one was shorter and fitted to the rudder.



A Boxwood replacement was made.

The fiddly bit with rudders is adding the straps for the gudgeons and pintles.



I used thin brass strip chemically blackened for the straps indents were drilled into the surface to give a slight impression of nail heads.

Tape was used to guide the angles of the straps.

The process of attaching the straps inevitably marks the paintwork as can be seen in this photo.



 The completed rudder.

 Work yet to do on the tiller, needs fining down some.






Moving back inboard now.





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Hi B.E.,


I see you painted the stern sheets and added a storage box and hinges, nice touch mate.


Nice job on the windlass and your oars ain't shabby either, altogether she's a lovely little boat.


Be Good





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Thanks mobbsie, I finally got over my indecision and opted for the red stern sheets, but plain thwarts. The oars will be painted red overall, and I felt it better to have a contrast across the thwarts.

I'm warming to this little boat the more I get into the detail, and previous niggles fade into the background.:rolleyes: :)




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An inboard fitting and fiddlin' session.

To finish off the rudder I added the decorative panels. I had been waiting to get some Clear Self Adhesive Inkjet Sticker Label Film to print these out.





At only 70 microns thick it shows no edge profile and gives a good  impression of a painted on design.



The lifting ring bolts are put into place and the mast support 'iron work' fabricated.



I have now made a set of six oars and the Windlass Bars, and this basically completes the boat as fitted for rowing.

Regarding the Windlass Bars there doesn't seem to be any reference to the scale length of these items either on the plan or in the instruction book.

Had difficulty finding any reference to  bar length but I guess around five feet to provide satisfactory leverage.

Finally the Thole pins were added; I deviated from the kit arrangement by setting the boat up for double banked rowing which I think was the norm for Long-boats.













This has only been a seven week build to date altho' it feels much longer.

I now move onto the masting and rigging of this fine, if not at times troublesome little kit.




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