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Need Help Identifying this Ship

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My father loved building boats from kits. His first one was the USS Constitution, and it took him 5 years to build. He would go downstairs after supper every night to his workshop and spend a couple hours. I can remember him painstakingly weaving the rigging on that model with tweezers. When it was finished, it sat proudly on top of our 1960's console TV (built from a Heathkit - the TV that is) enshrined in a glass case that jiggled every time we walked by. Over the years he made more models till my mom joked that our house looked like a museum. I have the last model that my father built and I am wondering if anyone can help me identify it. It is actually a model of a ship being built, but that is all I know.

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That is almost certainly the brigantine Leon 1880, which is a popular modeling subject based on a book and plan set written/drawn by Harold Underhill. Your father was an exceptional modeler!

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I should also mention that our family once had a Heathkit TV, on which we played video games using our Heathkit game console. Our first home computer was likewise a Heathkit, featuring the blazing speed of the Intel 8086 processor.

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Wow, thanks everyone. I knew my dad worked hard on his models, but after reading all your info on models, I wasn't sure how good his were. We were actually thinking of selling it as we had to move to an apartment. After reading that it is a fine model, exceptional and so on...now we are considering re-configuring our space to see if we can keep it. Can't go on top of today's TV sets. :-).

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Yes, definitely worth keeping -- you would most likely be disappointed by how much a model fetches at sale, even a good one. Merchant ships are also not in real high demand. None of this detracts from the quality of your father's work, though. Usually the kind of model we get asked about is a mass-produced curio whose resale value is essentially zero.

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I agree with the other experts. You have a very nice model with family history. That's worth far more than its market price these days. Not only did your father do a very nice job of Leon, but the setting with figures adds a lot to set the scene. In addition, your model is well protected in a case. We so often see older models uncased and badly damaged. Enjoy your Leon for years to come.

 

On a side note, the name 'Heathkit' brought back memories! Thanks for the smile.

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Funny about the Heathkit! We had 2 Heathkit TVs before we actually got a store bought one. I also remember him building boats (real ones) from Floboat or something like that. He did two 2 man Kayaks from these kits over the years. He would have loved this site if he were still alive. He grew up sailing on Lake Erie and he and his twin brother would build their own boats - their dad was an architect and they were Dutch heritage. It must have been in their blood.

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In the late 60’s there was an “urban legend”  circulating around our command in the navy that the VA approved TV repair course involved building a Heathkit color TV set and of course the cost of the kit was folded into the course tuition that the VA paid for.  In those days, active duty military personnel could be reimbursed for taking VA approved classes.  As a result, we had a number of guys with Electrical Engineering degrees applying to the VA to become TV repairmen.

 

Roger

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Roger, 

There were quite a few of those courses around for techs, etc.  Some courses had O-Scopes, others TV's.   I had a friend who took 3 of them (paid by the VA) who did the TV, O-Scope, and signal analyzer.  A few years later, the VA came back on him and made him repay them for 2 of the courses.

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On 10/21/2019 at 1:54 PM, ccoyle said:

Your father was an exceptional modeler!

    I would heartily agree with that assessment!  It appears to be a scratch built plank on frame model of the Leon, the most difficult version of a ship to make.  That is also a very well made launching way diorama including figures working on her that really gives the viewer a good idea of the actual size of the ship.             

    What you have there should be a family heirloom to pass on to future generations that would be a fine reminder of your father.  We have several handmade furniture items in our own home built by my grandfather back in the 30’s that we also prize.  The fact that it is in a protective display case will help to preserve it for quite some time to come.  I would recommend having someone make up a small brass label to attach to the case with the name of the ship, that it was built by your father and date it. 

    I do think however, that it’s more than likely representing the ship hauled up on shore for repairs to the hull rather than just being built, as the hull would have been completed long before any of the upper structure and rigging was installed.

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