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Lobster Boat Red Baron by schooner - BlueJacket - 3/8" scale

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I decided on this kit for my next build because it will, if finished in time, become a Christmas gift for my daughter and son-in-law, both of whom enjoy eating lobster and vacationing in Maine. I'll probably put granddaughter's name on the finished model. I decided to do a build log because as far as I can find out this kit has never had one.

 

Bluejacket sells 3 different lobster boat kits; this one which is 12’’ long, a 23” POB/POF kit, and a 3 ft honker with a fiberglass hull intended for RC. I went with this size because it will fit neatly on a bookshelf.

 

The Red Baron is famous in lobstering circles, she won a lobster boat race a few years back, clocking in at a record 57 knots!

 

I’ll show what’s in the box but if you are interested you can go to BlueJacket’s homepage and click on the “What’s in the box” tab where a video of this kit is shown, along with some shots of the completed model.

 

Plans - one sheet of plans showing side and overhead views and the layout of the laser-cut wood pieces

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Instruction book - Bluejacket rates this kit as appropriate for beginners so the instructions are more detailed than what I am used to from their more advanced kits. The instructions tell you what to do, how to do it and provide warnings where needed to help prevent mistakes. There are also a lot of photos and drawings.

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Pre-carved hull: The hull already has its basic shape and the cockpit area is carved out so this should only take a little sanding to bring it into its final shape and then to smooth it up for painting

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Laser cut wood: Most of the wood provided in the kit is laser cut, including several templates that will be used to check the final shape of the hull near the bow and the curve of the stem.

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Metal fittings: A bag of brass and britannia metal fittings is provided, giving this kit more detail than I expected.

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Tools and supplies: The kit comes with basic tools like a hobby knife, sand paper, a pin vise with 2 drill bits, tweezers, a wooden ruler, and paintbrushes. Medium CA glue, debonder and all required paints are included. There is also a bag of white powder which I could not figure out until I read the directions - it’s wood filler that can be mixed with water.

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Lobster traps: Material and instructions to build 3 lobster traps are included.

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Shaping the stem and marking the centerline

 

 

The first steps on this build are to prime and sand some of the delicate laser cut pieces for the cabin interior while they are still on the fret, the instructions point out that they would be hard to reach after assembly so now is the time to do them.

 

The next step is fairly simple, shaping the stem. The kit provides a laser cut template for the stem.

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Since BlueJacket advertises this kit as appropriate for beginners as their first solid hull kit I thought I would explain in more detail than usual my thought process for the steps involving shaping the hull. There are different ways to do it, this is just my way. The first thing I did was to check the template against the plans and see how and if it fits. The fit was fine; the top of the template, the waterline mark, and the curve all matched the plans just fine - if they did not then I would have had to decide which one to go with. It is not as simple to check the hull against the plans but when the template is laid on the hull there was plenty of wood. The only cautionary note is that when you lay the template on the plans you can see how important it is to  keep the template plumb  when checking your sanding progress, if it is cocked just a little then that will affect the line of the stem and the height of the bow. It’s worth a little time to study how the plans relate to the un-sanded hull and to visualize what it should look like when finished.

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I used the template to mark it’s outline on the hull - it will not necessarily be the final sanding line but it  serves as a warning line not to sand beyond it without malice aforethought (i.e. make sure you really need to go that far, chances are you will not.)

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As the instructions say, go slow with the sanding and check your progress with the template frequently. It doesn’t take much time or effort since this basswood sands easily with a sanding block. When done my template fit snug to the stem (I tacked glued it in place here just to simplify trying to take a photo without have to hold 2 pieces of wood at the same time.)

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The next step is to mark the centerline on the main deck, stem, keel area and transom. While is sounds simple you really need to take your time on this one - screw it up and you will have a world of problems getting the hull to look right.  As I found out if your results don’t look right chances are they are not right.

 

I measured from side to side a multiple points along the deck and drew a line connecting them. At the bow the line was almost 1/8” to one side of where the center of the stem was by eye. After several more tries the results were the same which meant I would have to sand quite a bit more wood off of one side than the other and based on my experience with solid hulls from BlueJacket, that didn’t sound right. BJ’s hull shaping equipment has always provided me with symmetrical hulls. That’s not to say that all areas of the hull need the same amount of sanding or that all kits are the same but all of them in my experience require the same amount of wood removal port and starboard of the centerline at any given point on the hull.

 

At that point I decided to check the laser cut deck piece against the hull. By measuring from side to side and marking the centerline of the deck piece I confirmed that it was symmetrical and that the centerline intersected the sharp bow point dead center so I new that the deck piece (in effect a template at this point) could tell me if the hull was symmetrical.

When played on the hull the deck fit perfectly, it matched the side of the hull along its whole length and its centerline was about 1/8” of an inch off of my marked one, and more importantly it lay on top of the centerline of the stem.

 

Obviously my centerline of the hull was off. I tried measuring a new centerline by holding the hull between angle blocks and figured out that the source of my problem was that the deck edges on the hull were not as distinct as on the deck template. Making new measurements using the blocks resulted in a centerline that matched that of the deck template and all is right in the world again. Here is the hull with the old, wrong centerline to the left and the deck “template laying on the new, correct centerline to the right (OK, almost laying on it, it moved while I took the photo, it does lay right on it, trust me).

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Here is how I remeasured the correct centerline using the blocks.

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Well that’s enough typing, time to get back to sanding.

 

Edited by schooner

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Sanding to shape

 

 

Although it has been a while since my last post I have NOT been spending all this time sanding! I have been doing a little most days, in 5 or 10 minute increments since it bores me but all told I have probably spent about 2 hours bringing the hull into the proper shape.

 

The kit provides 3 laser cut templates to shape the bow area, mostly to impart a flare to the bow. The template stations are only about an inch apart so don’t try to do just one at a time - you need to sand the whole are and keep checking your progress using all 3 templates. The kit recommends using a sanding block and/or a hobby knife. I’m a very poor hand at carving (I’m more of a gouger than a carver) so I stuck with sandpaper wrapped around a paint bottle for the big curves and wrapped around the handle of a hobby knife for the smaller radius areas.

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The stem has not been brought to a fine edge yet because the keel must be added first and then it and the hull are sanded fair together so it blends in.

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There is also a template to shape the transom (don’t toss it when you are finished with it - you will need it later to mark the waterline location). As can be seen here some wood needs to be removed from the user and lower outboard areas.

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Now that the hull is in shape I have to do more sanding (and priming) to get a smooth finish that will replicate the look of fiberglass which is what the real boat is made of.

Edited by schooner

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