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Chesapeake Bay Crabbing Skiff - FINISHED- by dmalcolm72 - Midwest - Scale 1:20

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Obviously, with Midwest no longer producing wooden ship models, this kit is NOS (new old stock). It was given to me with the proviso that I maintain a build log of my progress. So-o-o-o-o...here goes...


I am also concurrently building the Model Shipways 18th Century Longboat - 


I am currently in the planking process on the Longboat. Because I've taken Chuck's advice to heart: "...treat each plank as a small milestone," and I'm using Elmer's white glue, my progress planking will be fairly slow. Because of the slowed pace on the Longboat, the Commodore suggested I start the Skiff and produce two models at the same time. 


So today I got started...


All of the parts were in sealed bags so I anticipate no issues with having all the materials. I am concerned about the plastic cleats and block. I'm going to have to find cast cleats and a wood single block...to scale. Also the rigging line looks a little dodgy; this may need to be upgraded too.


Here's the instruction manual. It looks like it may be a great tool to learn techniques as well as to build the model.


In preparation for assembling the building jig I cut out the bottom plank and gently sanded it with 400 grit paper. I used my granite block to try to get as close to square as possible on the edges. Then it was time to assemble the building board. As you can see below the stem and stern posts have been cut out of the blanks and sanded square on the mating surface. The center support is also on the board. The bottom plank, the two interior bulkhead supports, and the four pieces for the keel batten were stained with a 50:50 blend of golden oak and clear Minwax and are downstairs drying.


So that's the progress so far. Below is most of my work area. The Longboat is on its jig with a myriad of clamps holding the port sheer plank as it dries.


Edited by dmalcolm72
Correcting title scale
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  • 2 weeks later...

I have got to get more diligent in keeping this log updated...


I stained the keel plank, keel batten, and the forward and after bulkheads with a 50:50 mix of Minwax Golden Oak and Clear.



Per the instructions I assembled the keel batten by laying out the pieces on the plan sheet. Before gluing I covered the plans with a piece of waxed paper that was clear enough to see the plan drawing. After coating the contact surfaces with white glue I clamped the pieces together and set aside to dry as shown below:

Keel Batten Assembly.jpg

While this was drying, I assembled the building jig. The instructions call for cutting a corner from a die-cut sheet to use as a square. I opted instead to use some Legos and clamps to square the pieces to the base.


1774992909_Clamps-MidshipsSupport2.jpg.ad550709593df0823003ca369471900e.jpgI used the same technique to finish assembling the jig


When it came time to assemble the Keel Plank and the Keel Batten, I found the Keel Batten was not straight:


This was corrected by dampening the batten and "edge-bending" it. I then dried it with the Commodore's hair dryer. The result was acceptable and I was able to glue it to the Keel Plank. Below is the assembly after trimming and light edge sanding.


The next step was to glue the keel down to the jig bulkheads and the stem and stern posts. The trick was going to be to bend the keel to fit the required curve. Using wood glue for assembly meant I needed to come up with a way to clamp the keel in place while the glue dried. I played with this for several days trying to come up with a solution and then it occurred to me I could use a "bookbinder's clamp" to secure the keel in position. There wasn't a lot of slack, and I had to re-do a couple of the jig supports to get everything squared and trued, but the concept worked. Below is the Keel Assembly clamped to the jig:



The edges of the sides and of the keel have all been sanded and test-fit. Now it's time to glue the side planks...after I figure out how to align them and then clamp them to the keel. I've got some ideas but would welcome additional suggestions.


That's it for now on the Skiff. Back to work on the Longboat now...


Edited by dmalcolm72
Relocated a photo
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Now that the Keel is on the frame, and I'm satisfied with its alignment I moved on to planking. This is "way easier' on the Skiff as opposed to the Longboat. But I had to figure out how to clamp the plank in place because I'm using PVA glue instead of CA. I used black artist's tape to mark the alignment points on the forward and aft bulkheads and on the stem and stern.


Unfortunately my sanding on the the stem and stern posts left much to be desired. The wood was pretty soft and I was a little aggressive in my efforts. Also, redoing the planking a couple of times to get it right resulted in softening of the wood plank and subsequent warping. I'm hoping I can clean it up before I paint and when I install the stem and stern caps.


I never did come up with a good clamp for this activity, so it reverted to two hands and a modicum of patience.


And here's the result...



Once the starboard side was dry and cured I glued on the port side.Here's the finished planking on the frame:



The pictures below show the finished hull after removal from the building jig.



Yesterday and today I've been working on the thwarts and the centerboard case. I've elected to coat the centerboard inner faces with a gloss finish (it was already stained as described above. I'll add additional photos in the next installment...


I spent a good deal of time agonizing over what type of finish to use on the "natural" surfaces of the model. Ultimately I decided to use Minwax's Polycrylic in a clear gloss finish. This is due in part because of the ease of clean-up for my brush (soap and water) and the fact that the painted surfaces will be done in acrylic paint. Because it's acrylic I can use it for a "finish" coat on the painted surfaces, if necessary.

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Have been working diligently on the centerboard case and the associated pieces (mast step, forward and aft thwarts, king plank). I stained the mast step with Minwax cherry and allowed it to dry. I dry fitted it with the mast to be sure it was open sufficiently to accept the mast. I sanded it and then glued it into position. 


The thwarts, king plank, and the centerboard case all have 3 coats of clear on them with sanding between coats. I dry fit the pieces yesterday:


Looking ahead I saw that there are two small pieces of molding to be installed on either side of the centerboard case. The instructions call for the use of 1/16 x 1/16 basswood, but if the boat will have mahogany trim on the gunnels, it would make sense to have mahogany trim on the case. There was ample scrap to cut a piece of 1/16 x 1/16 from the 1/16" mahogany sheet that provided the thwarts. I scribed it with my knife using the "TLAR" method to determine the width of the piece (TLAR = "That Looks About Right").


In assessing the dry fit it occurred to me that I need to insure the King Plank is flush with the forward thwart. To do this I cut a small piece of scrap and glued it into the notch for the King Plank. This insures a level plank when I fit these pieces together.


I have got to get the centerboard case and the rest of the internal assemblies installed today. The Commodore and I are headed out on an extended voyage in a couple of days so I won't get any modeling done for a while. But sunshine, tropical breezes (and drinks), and scuba diving are definitely on the horizon. 🌴🌊🌴🌊🌴🍹☺️

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  • 4 weeks later...

IMG-20181212-WA0005_2.thumb.jpg.d2716f2773eb8c7264bedc11d3034239.jpgWell, I decided to come back to the States a couple of weeks early. The Commodore was not able to make the trip so I wanted to get back before the start of the Holidays. The weather was beautiful, but a bit chilly some mornings with lows in the low 50's. And the diving was great! A friend took a camera on my last dive. The picture of me above was taken inside a small grotto inside a shallow reef. The statue is of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Patron Saint of Mexico.



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OK, well now that I've completed the travelogue...


I've been busy with the Skiff since I got back:


I elected not to install the fore and aft decks until after I completed the chine batten and the frame installations. As it turned out, this was a good thing. Most of the interior of the skiff as well as the thwarts had all been coated with the clear glaze. I had assembled the king plank and forward thwart with PVA glue that did not penetrate adequately to give me a solid joint. Same with the centerboard case attachment and the rear thwart. So, live and learn.


This also gave me pause to consider the installation of the centerboard, the chine battens, and the frames. I think it will be easier to install all of these BEFORE I lock the thwarts and the decks in place.


After these pieces popped loose it was relatively easy to trim and fit the chine battens. In retrospect, I could have spent more time in sanding the battens to fit flush on the bottom. There is more more gap than I would like in some places. Hopefully most of it will be masked by the forward thwart.


I used a little thin CA glue to insure the centerboard case was firmly attached. And then I went off the rails with some personalization: I cut some 1/16" x 1/16" strips from the leftover mahogany. I elected to use it in lieu of the basswood pieces in Step #57. I also added two endcaps to the case, also in mahogany.



I then proceeded to use install the first run of frames using CA glue to attach the frames to the hull. Again, a little more care could have been exercised in insuring the frames were perpendicular to chine batten and aligned with the pre-scored marks on the inside of the hull. The frames were all pre-stained to match the hull but were not glazed. Because I didn't glaze the frames I felt confident to use the PVA glue to attach the second row of frames to the first. I then let them dry before rough trimming.


I used a clipper to do the rough trim of the frames:


And then I used an emery board to sand the frames down flush with the top of the side:


Finally, there's some scoring on the bottom of the skiff, but there does not appear to be a reason for it in the instructions. I'm considering adding a false floor to the skiff and use the scoring as a guide for location of the supports. I expect it will look something like this:


Any thoughts on this? Is this appropriate, and reasonable from a practical (real world) perspective?


More later as I get further along...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, quite a bit done since the last update. Again, I've diverted from the instruction book sequence for the sake of ease of construction (at least in my mind). I am delaying the installation of the foredeck until after I have installed the centerboard. But to do that, I need to have "other things" done first. So, here goes:


I went ahead and installed the false stem and stern post and sanded them as instructed. You'll notice the addition of some wood filler to correct some imperfections in the assembly and to facilitate fairing the sides. Below is the false sternpost (unfinished):


Finished false stem and sternpost:


You can see a small "step" that I left on top of each. This is to accommodate the fore and aft decks (1/32" thick).


I dry-fitted the aft deck and discovered that there was not enough overhang forward of the aft bulkhead (supposed to be 3/16"). A quick trip to the hobby store for a sheet of 1/32" x 4" basswood and I was able to cut a replacement deck. 


I decided to hold off on adding the stem and stern caps until after I have painted the two decks. The instructions call for painting these with the decks but I elected to cut them from mahogany scrap to provide some color contrast. I'll glaze them with clear gloss after installation.


I test fitted the gudgeons on the false sternpost and adjusted the bevel for a good fit. Then I installed the skeg. This took quite a bit of careful sanding to get the curve to meet the curve of the bottom. The instructions showed the skeg flush with the back of the sternpost. To make it match better I sanded the back of the skeg to match the bevel of the post. I'm not sure if this is correct or not, but it looks smooth.


I then cut out the rudder and marked it as the instructions indicated. A light coat of paint and it looks pretty good. Also at this time I made the tiller per the instructions. Again the pieces look pretty good. I'll stain and glaze the tiller before assembly and finish the painting on the rudder before assembly. 

20190106_213838.jpg.69215d01055ea59a9ae1b10492c8fb76.jpgDuring this time I also finished the display stand:


That's it so far. I've actually done a little more on the centerboard and the decking but don't have any photos yet. I've gotten the bottom painted so I should be able to install the centerboard, thwarts, and foredeck in the next few days. In the meantime, I'm still working on the Longboat - adding planks...one small victory at a time...

Edited by dmalcolm72
Correct a typo
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  • 1 month later...

Wow! I must apologize; I had no idea it had been over a month since my last update. Not to worry...I have been working on the skiff, albeit at a very leisurely pace. Still, much has been accomplished and I can see the final steps for completion.


I got the centerboard installed before called out in the instructions. It seemed to me it would be easier to insert the hinge pin with the thwarts out of the boat. I then added the centerboard rope. 




As I mentioned previously, I added the thwarts and the decks. After several coats of paint I also added the end caps. I elected to make the caps out of scrap mahogany and I think It adds a nice contrast to the decking. Below you can see the thwarts with the foredeck and bow cap:


And the stern cap:


During this time I've been painting the hull and decks. I'm using gloss acrylic paint for all the painted surfaces. The stained and sealed surfaces are coated with Minwax Polycrylic Gloss. I'm using an off-white color for the decks and hull above the waterline and "engine red" below the waterline. The painting has been long and slow with several detours. Having thinned the paints with water to help in smoothing the coats, multiple coats were required. Then, I had to sand them for smoothness. I found a couple of imperfections that meant sanding off all the paint and adding wood filler, sanding that, and seeking a smooth surface. It's not as good as it could be, but I think it will be alright. I still have to do the actual black waterline, but the picture below gives a good idea of how it looks so far (the black line is masking tape I'm using to paint the bottom.


In the meantime, I got the mast and sprit sanded, stained and coated with gloss. Part of that endeavor was to paint the block and the cleats. I got some gold paint and painted the cleats. I then used a VERY thin flat black wash to try to give them a worn patina. I'll let you judge my success. Below are the cleats before and after the wash:



I painted the block a flat nut-brown color and also washed it with the thin black. I added a couple of small gold-colored spots to simulate the pin through the sheave. Once this was done I assembled the cleats and block to the mast with CA using the plans as a guide. If I could do it over I would have raised the cleats 1/4" to 1/2" higher on the mast (I think they're going to be just above, and too close to, the foredeck.


During this time I also dyed the rigging line with Minwax Golden Oak stain. When it was dry I drew the line through beeswax to give it some body and to "defuzz" it. I think It will be fairly easy to work after that treatment.


Next up: 

  1. Finish painting the hull: waterline and final overcoat with clear gloss;
  2. Lay out the sail and coat it to give it some body. I'm leaning to a very thin PVA wash add the needed body. I will probably also lay it over a towel to dry so it has some billow to it;
  3. Finish laying out the rudder and get it painted to match the hull.

I'm going to try to complete it before my next dive trip. I've got two weeks....so....I'd better get going...

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  • 1 year later...

Well, I'm finally getting back to catching this back up to date. Nothing like being over 18 months behind.


We got back from our trip and I started back on the Skiff. First up was to layout the sail. Using the drawing, I laid out the sail with pencil per the instructions. I used pencil to mark the seams and then coated the whole thing with 3:1 thinned PVA and let dry to stiffen the cloth. Then I cut it out and tied-on the downhaul after punching all of the holes required. You can see the downhaul tied off to the cleat in the following picture.




2059050633_CleatDetail2.jpg.0e8adf30e6166166b105193d63d604c9.jpg   1245982085_MastDetail1.jpg.d61775279fef0b0c300a219b3063a0f9.jpg


Next was to continue painting the waterline (I think I redid this 3 times to get a sharp line). While the paint was drying I laced the sail to the mast. Included in this was to rig the sprit to the sail and the mast. The following pictures show these details and then the finished sail.


 359635129_SheetDetail.jpg.7525faa1eddf46ae8ca169afca3dccd5.jpg          2086210384_SpritDetail.jpg.c143795b3130fce1aec11c8845433eca.jpg 


And the finished sail ready to be stepped into the boat.




Next agenda item was to finish the rudder. I laid out the planks on the rudder using the plans and then used a steel rule and scribe to score the joints between the planks. I also detailed the gudgeons and pintles with a black sharpie to simulate the mounting bolts. Lastly, after hanging the rudder, I added the tiller.


1846417538_HullGudgeons.jpg.cb081498b01311bb98cb1dcec838bc6c.jpg  1230781020_RudderPintles.jpg.056e80221670b16316252af5f217a287.jpg




And now all that was left to do was to attach the painter to the bow, insert the centerboard retaining pin, and stow all of the ropes. A few carefully places drops of CA and the boat was finished.








I finished off the display with a brass tag showing the model name, scale, and finish date.


I finished the Midwest Chesapeake Bay Crabbing Skiff on February 16, 2020.


I plan to take this model to our condo in Mexico for display. To do it safely, I will remove the mask and install it when we get there. To this end, I will be making a mount for the foot of the mast. I will need to bore a hole in a thick piece of scrap and mount it above the mast step. I haven't figured all of how to do that yet, but have some ideas. I'm also thinking of building some scale crab pots to place in the boat along with some floats. I think that would set the model off really well.

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  • 1 year later...

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