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Early Swift, Virginia Pilot Boat ,1805 model

Keith Black

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 Anyone know when the kit for this model was made? It appears to be a pretty early version, the lead fittings are rotted and the only way to accumulate this much grime is with age or being stored in a coal bin.

 It's gone through at least one unsympathetic restoration, overused glue, some rigging replaced with inaccurate line, and a heavy coat of varnish on the hull. 

 It's had a rough voyage, my plan is to restore it, no ship model should go this unloved.........Keith






Edited by Keith Black
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Hi Keith,


That's a great project for some restoration practice, and an a classic Artesania Latina kit.


The Swift is what actually lured me into wooden ship modeling – there was a nicely done model in a glass case in a hobby shop that was across the street from where I used to work. I'd find reasons to visit the shop, just so I could look at the model. It was around 1990 that it hooked me.


Have fun with the model, and please bring her back to her glorious potential!



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Howdy Keith!


   I believe that there were at least two versions of the Swift and your deck furniture appears to be that of the earlier version like mine in this photo:



   The box art has a copyright of 1982 but I was unable to find a copyright on the plans and instructions. I bought this one sometime in the second half of the 1980's, I believe. The later revision has different furniture and a "dropped" section in the deck to allow a partial reveal of the hold.


 P.S. Thanks for posting this as it gave me a chance to pull out the box and think about finishing this little model.

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Hello Keith,


There are a whole lot of Swift logs on this site that can help you.  This was my first model and first build log, too.


I still have the plans and ‘instructions'(you'll understand why I put the scare quotes when you read the logs 🤣).  I could mail them to you if you’re interested.


Clear skies and sharp tools!

- Gabe


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4 hours ago, Katoom said:

were at least two versions

 Kevin, from what I've seen Googling the Swift kits, there seem to be at least four different versions if not more. From kit to kit there are different cowl vents, with and without hand pump, barrels and no barrels, no cannons and two cannons, planked and solid sliding hatch covers, sails no sails, and unpegged and false pegged decking. 

 Please finish it and share your efforts!........Keith

Edited by Keith Black
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2 hours ago, Gabek said:

I could mail them to you if you’re interested.


 Thank you for the offer but from the amount of information available on the internet and build logs here, I think I'll be fine. Should I need to take you up on your offer, thank you again. 

 Your build is fantastic! I wish someone had taken half the effort with this one as you did with yours. An absolutely beautiful job........Keith

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 Got the rear sliding hatch made. Managed to pick away most of the excess glue, still have some areas on the deck area to be taken care of. Busted off the rudder picking excess glue from around the hinges which was really a blessing in disguise as it has allowed me to get into areas I would not have otherwise had access to. Sanded through the heavy varnish on the hull and discovered why it was so heavy. The hull planking portion of the build didn't go well, reminds me of the old wood hull 32 foot Bristol Bay gill netters, more planking patches than original. Nothing like opening day watching captains play bumper boat as they set their nets.

 I think the only real option is to fill and paint. I'm inclined to go with a black hull as that is probably more historically accurate but any color suggestions/thoughts would be greatly appreciated! I acquired this model for 1) I felt sorry for it and 2) as a learning tool for rigging. My other project demands I have some rigging experience before attempting.  

 New camera, hopefully I'll be able to post better pictures henceforth.........KB








Edited by Keith Black
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 Long ago and far away when I restored cars, I could count on finding some pretty strange things but tonight has to be a topper. I had gotten the hull filled and sealed and was doing some deck work, I had the hatch covers off staining the inside and I found a broken bird's egg. I can't begin to hazard a guess but I would love to know the story behind that! 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Progress to date, still need to make two cowl vents and other fiddly details to do to get her ready for rigging. I would never have taken the paint brush to her had her original build gone better but, instead of a model showcasing the builders talent, it looks more like a working ship, IMHO. 







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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Making progress, just about ready for rigging. Made a ship's lantern, not sure of final placement, I may run a line between the mast and hang it? Got the cowl vents made and galley stove smoke stack added. Still need to purchase two anchors and the water barrel/cask. 









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Wow...and I mean WOW.  This rehabilitation is coming along beautifully.  Painting is doing its job...that hull planking was the result of frustration trying to bend veneers to a complex 3d shape, which can't be done.  All your colour choices are fine.  Black and white are  covering up the "booboo's" nicely!


The lantern is exquisite! Please tell us how you made it.  I never thought of rigging one on the mast.  So, I started pouring through all my books and so far I could only find how they rigged a stern lantern on the mizzen top of a British frigate in Petersson's Rigging Period Ships.  I think you could try installing yours on the flag mast somehow if you wanted.


Keep on trucking!

- Gabe




Edited by Gabek
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 How very kind, thank you. 

 Regarding the construction of the lantern see the following.

 As far as positioning I'm going to hang it on a running a line between the two mast. I'm currently in the process of making all the necessary items, I'll post pics as soon as the lantern is in the air. 

 Thank you again.........Keith

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 Lantern hung more simply than I first intended. The height is too low my original over designed system. The lantern can be positioned fore or aft depending on where light is most needed.  The lantern line can also serve as a clothes line. 

 The block that the lantern hangs from are the blocks that AL supplied with their kit. They seem too small except for light use like the lantern or the flag. I'm going to use larger blocks for the rigging, I hung one on the lantern line to show difference in size. 




Edited by Keith Black
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  • 3 months later...

 Surgery in May kept me out of the shipyard till a couple of weeks ago. For the most part the rigging is finished. The main purpose of taking on this project was to get some rigging experience having never done any before. Did I make mistakes, many. But I learned a lot and the fear of rigging is gone. Do I have a lot yet to learn, much. 









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  • 2 years later...
On 7/23/2019 at 4:21 PM, Keith Black said:

"But I learned a lot and the fear of rigging is gone. Do I have a lot yet to learn, much. "


Keith - great refurb! You've inspired me to attempt a lantern. I'll likely try it when I complete my Swift and am taking a break from starting on the Connie. I had the same feeling as you, but regarding planking. It was a relief to complete it, and I too have a lot yet to learn... I find though, that I have much less trepidation towards rigging. I think this is because I've been fishing since I was about 8, and I see rigging to be quite similar to rigging a fly rod; rod->fly line->leader->tippet->fly. I also spent a lot of youth time untangling line from trees so as to acquire a new lure (or saving my own). Model ship rigging line (especially waxed!) is so much more forgiving than fishing line (I rarely work with 200lb test line though). So far my limited rigging on the Swift has had a very familiar feel. What I do need to brush up on is the presentation. Though trout can be a finicky bunch, they don't typically care what type of knot you used, or if it presents well visually (so long as it's neat). The trout rig equivalent of a shoddily stropped block can still catch fish 😁 




Edited by SUBaron
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27 minutes ago, SUBaron said:

great refurb! You've inspired me to attempt a lantern


Thank you, Andre.


 The lantern was a fun little project. I've enjoyed turning items on my poor man's lathe to the point where I've just about worn out the bearings in my drill. I thought about buying a lathe but it's hard to justify the cost for the few remaining years left to me for modeling. I'll continue to use the drill for turning till the end.


 Wishing you the best on your lantern and the Swift. 

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