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Roman Bireme by D_Mc - Mantua - scale 1:30 - Second wooden ship after 30 years

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   I began building the Mantua Roman Bireme kit a few weeks ago.

I’ve read and studied so many of the building logs here at MSW and the information here

was invaluable.

   This log is my thanks..


The wheel may have been labeled as “mans greatest invention” but my personal opinion is the wooden ship is not only the greatest invention but they are also the greatest work of art ever created. I feel very fortunate to have “discovered” the beauty and importance of the wooden ship through the modeling world.


     Ok, now on to the build.

     I am a beginner builder . There will be numerous mistakes and odd ways of getting things done but I am enjoying every minute of it.


Here’s the kit. Everything seems to be here. I haven’t gone through the inventory list

but so far I am impressed with the quality.01.thumb.JPG.5753c4a70a9f7fa7694339df351f2476.JPG
The laser cut sheets look accurate and clean.


I’ve built a temporary stand. The keel had a slight twist to it so I’ve added some metal “L”brackets to hold it true while the bulkheads were attached.03.thumb.JPG.ecbf0400928328fc03eb714c33f2d9bc.JPG

The first bulkhead.


Here is the decking attached. I had trouble fitting it due to the extreme bends at the bow and stern. The laser cuts were accurate but would not fit until it was all the down on the bulkheads. I ended up cutting the notches wider for an easier fit.





Ready for the first planks! (not exactly…. forgot to add the bulkhead blocking).


Bent planks ready for glue08.thumb.JPG.718028581d78dcc11665676b5c67d661.JPG

Here is my poor mans bending machine. An old soldering iron clamped to the bench and

The bass wood plank soaking in an old peanut jar. Spare no expense! But hey, it's working.


The stern planks twisted and glued.


Here, I finally realized I needed bow and stern blocking. It would have been much easier

to fit these blocks before those first planks. Oh well…not too late, I hope?


My foredoom tool will make short work of carving these blocks.


Here are the completed stern blocks. If only I would have remembered them before the planks and deck.

I am new at this and it shows.


After staining the interior that will be seen when finished, the planking begins!


It’s a much more stressful task than I had expected. I’m moving too fast and being too forceful…I have already broken four pieces.



Here I had to create something that would hold the planks at the stern.

This is a very difficult area. I’m not sure what I will do when there is no room for the screws. I’m hoping the answer will come while I’m supposed to be sleeping.

Take note of the deep dent on the plank. It looks like my finger nail dug into that

soft basswood.


My solution was to use a wet rag with the soldering iron. I laid the rag

over the dent and steamed it with the soldiering iron.


It worked! The dent is gone!

What a relief, I have many more dents to take care of.


Well, that’s it for now! Thanks for looking!


To be continued...

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  • 2 years later...

Hi Louie, thanks for digging me up!  Yes, I have continued with this build but only a few months ago.

    Not long after starting this ship and posting this log, I had a heart attack, open heart surgery, had to sell my log cabin in the mountains after 25 years and move back to the city.

Everything is good now and I’m back to model making! I have been taking some  photos of  the build and will post them here soon.

It is coming along well, I am pleased with it.

         Thank you so much for your response. 


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Sorry to hear about you getting sick; glad to hear everything's good again and you're back onto the model. 


Looking forward to seeing your photos. Galleys are fascinating vessels (though I sometimes regret having taken one on myself).


If you ever get the chance to get hold of a book called "Age of the Galley" I'd highly recommend it.

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wow, it's a difficult model! my first model Albatros was also difficult to modeling the wood,... the soldering iron & water are a great help to bend the wood, i also use it. I think the small & "simple" models are in fact more complex than larger models, because the pieces are smaller and a single piece of wood needs more bends if a differents senses, so very complicated!


keep pushing and regards, and take care! we're waiting more updates & photos 😊



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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks for all the well wishes. I feel better than ever these days.

Unfortunately, I didn’t record much of the hull planking. I do remember it being really time consuming because of the tight bends and balsa wood planks.

I managed to get through it somehow and wanted to add some decking. I had some walnut veneer strips and decided to give it a go.

I taped some masking tape down with the sticky side up. Then pressed a walnut strip down, then a twisted thread, then another walnut strip and so on.




Once they were the correct size, they were cut out, flipped over and ready for gluing to the provided deck.



Glued down with the tape side up and clamped with thread in-between each panel.




On to finishing the planking.



The deck completed w/ first coat of finish. No nails, I forgot to add them. (Maybe later…or not)


With the planking and deck completed I was finally able to move forward with the bow & stern carvings.  Lots of sanding ahead.


Sorry, I don't have any photos of the carving process. The bow and stern were roughly shaped with a carving knife and smooth sanded with a fordom tool.

I really didn't like the model  design here at all. Having a plywood edge between two pieces of balsa wood is impossible to smooth out. I ended up using an auto body filler ( Bondo)

to feather the edges and fill the dip created by the plywood. I'm painting it anyway, so maybe I can hide it somehow with paint.

I should have installed the plywood first shaped it to the bulkheads, than the planks, then the carved bow and stern. Oh well maybe next time!

Well that’s it for now. It may be a little while before my next post. It’s been a busy summer around here.

Since the virus hit, my honey-do list has gotten a lot bigger!

However, I do enjoy model making in the winter months.

Thanks for looking!

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9 hours ago, D_Mc said:

No nails, I forgot to add them. (Maybe later…or not)

You probably don't need to. Even at 1:30 scale nails would probably be all but invisible.


Despite the problems with the kit (and I'm sure you'll overcome them) it's looking good!

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