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Cheers Guys,


Thanks Bob, and Michael, I’m pleased you like what you see.


@ Glenn

Thanks BE, that makes sense. I wasn’t thinking like a fisherman 😊


It’s nowt to do with me Glenn, a few weeks ago I’d never heard of a Fifie, but I’ve done a load of speed reading.😉


@ Richard – ask away no problem. To some extent it depends on the tightness of the bend, but I tend to use cold water for a few minutes only, and then use a hair dryer on max heat to fix the shape I  formed.


I don’t think Chuck even bothers with water, just bends by degrees and uses heat alone to fix the shape.





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I’d never considered a fishing craft before, but thanks to @chris watton great design and seeing what you’ve done with it I’m going to add it to my list. I’m off big models, cutters and brigs for me...and now a fishing vessel or two. Maybe I’ll even go for the th pink sails. 

Your metal work On the steering gear is inspirational. 

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On 7/2/2020 at 10:06 AM, Blue Ensign said:

I don’t think Chuck even bothers with water, just bends by degrees and uses heat alone to fix the shape.

I think Chuck just wets the wood slightly with his fingers and then uses a travel iron for heat when he's edge bending and dry heat from a hair dryer for flat bends and twists.

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I was pondering with Mrs W the other day about how to dye the sails, I've no experience of dyeing anything, except perhaps standing rigging in wood dye.

I have the Rit stuff which reckons one packet dyes two large tee shirts, but to double the dye for a deeper colour.

How this equates to two small sails I've no idea. I guess it's a case of suck it and see.

I certainly won't be doing the hot cook method on Mrs W's induction hob, that could end in divorce, in fact I'll probably sub-contract the job to her and keep well away from the whole process.


My Scottish reference work says that  north of the border a deep brown colour was the tradition, whereas the English preferred a reddish, dare I say even pink hue, as favoured by James.😉


Movin' on...






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Good evening Maurice,very nice mods you've made to improve your model. Super job. Just catching up as I'd lost your build due to this new system,just my

opinion but I think the old system was better,now I have to jump from century to century to find the builds I follow. C'est la vie.


Kind regards,


Dave :dancetl6:

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Thanks Dave,  I think an unintended consequence of the new system is that  as more time is spent  in our current build era, the other eras tend to get overlooked, and unless I spot something in the latest posts section that catches my eye, things are missed. Under the old system I tended to see more as I scrolled down the build section looking to find my build to update.

One of the objectives of the new system was apparently to reduce the incidence of the same old builds hogging the limelight. Well I'm now on a guilt trip  as my current build seems to be nearly always towards the top of the list, simply because I am progressing quite quickly, and the pond I'm in is so much smaller.🤔


On with the build, and I may I request that folks don't turn my log into a pro's and cons discussion forum on the new set-up.


Post 22


Looking at the masts and booms


The Foremast on these large Fifie’s seem almost over-scale but are very stout timbers, necessary to withstand the pressure from the enormous lug sails carried.


The kit mast represents a height above deck of 52’6” with a 15” square section at the deck, and 9”ø at the masthead.


This is fairly modest by comparison with recorded dimensions given by Edgar March.


The True Vine also a 70 ft Fifie had a foremast with a 22” square section at the deck, tapering to 9”. This would equate to 8.75mm at 1:64 scale, something that would not fit on the ‘Lady Eleanor’


Time to get the lathe out.



Walnut square section (6mm) is provided for the mast. Walnut is a good choice I think, as the masts do seem to have been of a dark hue, apart perhaps from a white section to the Mast head.


To make the mast I roughly take off the corners above the square section using a micro plane and a ‘V’ jig.




I then use the lathe to create the taper.

I use a gauge at marked points along the length to check progress.


The Mizen mast more closely follows the given dimensions of the True Vine (15” at deck, tapered to 9” at masthead.)

6mm Walnut dowel is provided.


The Mizen boom is a length of 3mm Walnut dowel slightly tapered. This looks a little thin to my eye by comparison with the boom on Reaper. Altho’ I have given lengths of this boom I have not found details of relative diameters as yet.




The Mizen mast was set with a forward tilt, and wooden wedges were used to trim the angle of the Foremast to suit the preference of the Skipper. I intend to display my Fifie with the mast vertical. This seems a common arrangement as seen in a large number of the old photo’s I have looked at.





The yards need only a little adjustment to the 3mm dowel and are shaped by hand.



What a pleasure it is to only deal with a simple lug rigged two master, no tops, crosstrees, or mast caps to consider.




The masts are a snug fit and I won’t need to glue them in.

A wedge aft of the mast will be required to hold it firmly against the baulk. (not necessary if you prefer some rake aft)




The kit provides brass etched ‘mast rings’  which perform two purposes, the first to gauge the mast taper at the mast heads, and the second where one of the six eyes that form the ring are the attachment point for the Burton stays of the masts.


A hole is also drilled thro’ the mastheads to take the yard halyards.

I feel a slight enhancement coming on to this arrangement.


I now need to familiarise myself with the rigging set up and attachment points before I proceed further.








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5 hours ago, Blue Ensign said:

I then use the lathe to create the taper.

It looks like your lathe set up can accommodate very long rods. Are ways and bed of your lathe set up custom built or were you able to buy it like that?

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Hi Bob, I bought a bed extension piece for the lathe which adds just shy of 18" to the working length.

I've never needed the full length, but I have often used  beyond the original length of the lathe, including for the Foremast of the Fifie.

The advantage is that the full length of the mast can be worked without having part of it within the jaws of the lathe chuck.



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Hi BE,


New member here.


Once I finish my Dallas Cutter I have a Vanguard Model's Fifie waiting in a box downstairs 🙂


I also received my Proxxon DB250 lathe on Saturday from Hobbies Ltd. 3 Jaw Chuck, Tailstock Chuck and Woodturning tools sourced from Amazon UK.


Dare I ask a couple of questions about your lathe set-up? Not Pros/Cons Qs but....


1) are you using woodturning tools to taper the mast, or just sandpaper? 


2) do you steady the long mast 'by hand' to prevent it whipping between the collet and live centre, or do you use a Steady of some sort?


Your Fifie looks great, by the way. And the paint colours bring it all to life.


Best regards,




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Hi Richard, thanks for looking in.

I just use sandpaper to taper, with regular checking  of progress with a gauge.

I’ve not experienced any whipping between the centres, I just use my hand to steady the stick as I work along it. I am careful not to put too much lateral pressure on the stick.





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Thanks for a rapid response, and that information is very useful.


I'm quite impressed by the Proxxon lathe, bearing in mind it is what it is.


Only slight niggle is the tailstock base can rotate slightly on the bed (as others have mentioned) meaning the live centre (or drill) doesn't line up automatically with the centre of the collet. But I can manage that. And it's not metal we are 'machining' so the tolerances of the workpiece can be a bit slacker.


Anyway, now that I've found your Fifie build I'll be watching it with great and admiring interest 🙂


All the best,




PS: I live quite close to Scotland's East coast and am hatching a devious plan to see if I can visit relevant local museums, preservation societies, harbours etc to hunt down some Fifies. From Googling I see there are a still few about. But that will have to wait till CV Shielding is over. In a perfect world, I'd like to get some pics of one taking to sea in fairly rough (but not dangerous) weather.



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Hi B.E.


Anstruther is a lovely little town and I've walked around the harbour many times. Little did I know that one day it would have a new interest for me. Anstruther also has a famous Fish and Chips shop, with lengthy queues during the summer, but worth the wait.


I have friends near St Andrews that I visit a few times a years and Anstruther is only a minor detour .So no excuses for me now to not have another visit to the harbour and have a look at the museum. Thanks for the heads-up.


If/when I do find anything of interest I'll post pics ect on this website.


All the best,





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Post 23


Colouring the sails


This is the description as given in the Sailing Drifter book.


Sails were ‘barked’ a rich, dark brown, almost black colour. They were seldom tanned the warm Red of the English drifters.



This is the sort of look I was after.


To replicate this effect, I am using Rit brand (cocoa brown) dye powder, as mentioned and used by James in his ‘Zulu’ log.


One issue that arose for me, new to this process, is that the quantities given relate to articles of clothing, not two smallish cotton sails so the question of proportions comes to mind.


The recipe’ and procedure I used was as follows.


Into a plastic bowl I poured 4 pints of hot water.


4 teaspoons of dye powder (virtually the whole packet) were dissolved in a 1pint jug of near boiling water from the kettle.


This was added to the bowl followed by a sprinkling of salt.

The mixture was well stirred, and the sails added.


I stirred them around for approx 20 minutes which gave me the depth of colour I thought was ok.


The sails were then rinsed in a bowl of cool water three times, until the water ran all but clear.


They were then hand washed in warm water with a mild detergent added, rinsed and put to dry flat on an old towel.




The completed sails set out to dry, a slightly lighter hue should ensue.




I think this is as close as I will get to the shade I was after, so I can put them aside now until needed.


For some reason the sail stitching and bolt ropes remained stubbornly white.

 I used a fine point waterproof marker to colour these and take the starkness out of the white.


An interesting snippet I came across during my subject reading:

Early in the 20thc two men, each sewing for a 9-hour day completed a Foresail in a week, a Mizzen in 4 days, 2 jibs in 6days.

Finished price – Foresail £30, Mizzen £15, Large Jib £10.





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Hi B.E.


I had found this website a few days ago .... https://www.stbfportsoy.org/boats/


I can understand the need for the restorers to seek sponsorship, but I imagine the fishermen at the start of the last century wouldn't have had whisky ads on their sails, but you never know!


The pics on the website tend to show a browner colour (as you note) to the sails, so I ordered Rit dye for when I get round to working on the Fifie.



Your sails look great, as does the boat.


I can't really think of a proper way to 'brown' the white stitching ...but maybe a running a black or brown indelible marker pen down the stitching would somewhat push it into the background?






PS: Does anyone know if it is possible to reduce the size of images in my posts using the supplied webpage editor? Or do I need to use PS/Paint.net etc to do that before posting?




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Thanks Richard,

That's what I did, the stitch lines don't show up in reality as much as on the photo's, but I'll  go over them again with the permanent marker before use. Used carefully I didn't get any bleed onto the sails.

I can't answer the photo size question, but for me you can't beat a nice large photo.🙂


The Isabella Fortuna is a smaller Fifie, but a beautiful boat.

Note the white painted mast tops, yard tips, and blocks. This is an old tradition, not a modern decorative effect, made them easier to see in the dark.


I will probably use that scheme on my build, but not sure about painting the blocks white.





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Post 24


A little backtracking.


I have been having another look at the ships wheel.



It is of the same dimensions as the kit provided wheel but whilst looking at a photo of a figure standing next to the wheel on Reaper I have come to the conclusion that it is somewhat overscale.


I came across a description of the wheel dimensions as relating to ‘True Vine’, another 70’ Fifie of 1905.


A wooden wheel, 20” outside diameter., with a 2” rim, 6” boss, 2½” thick, has six spokes 4” by 1”, and is connected by a worm gear.



I did a scale mock-up in card to these dimensions, and this is the result, quite a difference.


The scale wheel measures 14mm o/a diameter including the spokes.


Amati do a 14mm wheel which I ordered as a suitable replacement.




A much better scale fit I think.





I have also created a Skipper for my Fifie.



Willie Buchan is a little rough around the edges, but he is a good 1:64 scale to help me judge relative size.








A re-think on ring bolts

Having gone to some length to make ring bolts for the hatch boards, I’m now undecided whether I like the look, or indeed if they are an authentic fitting.


I’m beginning to think from looking at mostly unclear old photo’s, that the boards didn’t have such fittings.




This is re-enforced by this finely detailed model of a Zulu.

The cover boards as seen both on the hatch and stacked up behind the coamings are free of such fittings.



I remade the boards from Pearwood sheet and they suit my eye better.










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On 7/6/2020 at 8:07 PM, Blue Ensign said:

That's what I did, the stitch lines don't show up in reality as much as on the photo's, but I'll  go over them again with the permanent marker before use. Used carefully I didn't get any bleed onto the sails.

If you're really unhappy with the stitching and the permanent marker doesn't do the job, perhaps you should consider making a new suit of sails and sew them with cotton? Sometimes it's better to do over than to live with something you're not happy with. Another idea - get thread that's already the colour you want, and sew the sails after you've dyed the fabric?


Good work on the wheel, and I do like your skipper - I always find a figure or two (or in my case over 50!) adds a lot to a ship model. What's he made of?


The whole build is looking good. A very atractive model.

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Thank you Bob and Richard, for me researching a project is a major part of the pleasure of a build.


@ Steven, Thanks for your input. - Re the sails, I am rather reluctant to ditch the expensive but beautifully made sails provided for the kit. The material used is so fine, and the stitching so neat, the best I’ve seen for  sail material @1:64 scale.


It is a slight disappointment that the stitching stands out quite so much, but the permanent marker route seems to work.

Perhaps Chris could discuss the stitching thread with his supplier, given that these sails are traditionally coloured, rather than left undyed.


I don’t think the Skipper will make the final cut on the model, but I do find such figures useful for scale purposes. He’s a chopped about plastic figure built up using modelling paste.





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Thank you Christian, good to hear from you.


I have seven square rigged models in my house, four of them fairly large.

I've sort of reached the stage now where it's time to move away from such models which really need casing to protect the rigging, and house room is becoming an issue.

These smaller fore and aft rigged vessels  still have a lot of interest  particularly if you delve into the detail and history, and importantly they take up far less room on completion. 🙂





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Willie is a cool looking dude, I like having scaled figures to stand around on my models during construction to get a sense of size.


Enjoying your research on fishing craft and the modifications to Chris' design.  I'm like you, no more large models for me - these small craft are more enjoyable and a lot less repetitious tasks. My head still spins from the 3,000 or more copper plates I put on Vanguard. 

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Thanks Glenn, it does help having a scale figure when making fittings, but I'm afraid Willie is far too rough looking to remain as a display feature.

It is almost a sort of relief, no more extensive plating, ratlines, gun rigging, and tackle make-ups, and a whole new field to research. 😃 Having said that it is only a few months since I applied 2500 copper  nails to the lapstrake planking on the cutter Alert.😉



Post 25


Bits and pieces


It seems it was practise to have the name of the Registered port on the Starboard aft quarter, and the vessel name on the Port side.



The name Fraserburgh (why didn’t I choose Wick) was made up with 1.5mm brass letters from Scale-link, ca’d to a board. Given the tiny size the process went better than I had imagined.


I used the name boards to cover the now defunct steering rope ports.


At the stern Port side an iron ring is required to retain the Mizen boom. One isn’t provided in the kit but they are easily made by various methods.



I silver soldered a ring to a base plate, secured to the thwart using ca.


At the bow the kit provides a brass etched Bow plate, very nicely done, but I hesitated to fit it. Not that there isn’t evidence for such a fitting, the Reaper has one, but I had concerns that if I blackened it the result would be too stark against the varnished hull, and the lower sections would need to be painted.



Nevertheless it is a nice feature so I thought I should at least give it a go.

The Brass was prepared by washing in soapy water, rubbed with  fine wire wool, rinsed in distilled water, and immersed in diluted blackener, before rinsing again. Buffed up before a second dip, a stable colour was obtained.


On reflection I decided to add it.


The manual suggests that this part be glued to the stem and that short pins be inserted in shallow holes to represent the retaining nails.


I didn’t find this necessary and simply pinned the bow plate to the stem using blackened pins only. (shortened pins for the top two)


I was conscious of the fact that any stray ca getting on the Bow plate would spoil the look.




The top of the plate did need a spot of ca to hold it secure to the stem top before the provided brass eye (PE12) was inserted.





The lower part of the plate is painted with metal primer, to take the follow thro’ paint lines of the lower hull.















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