Jump to content

Advice needed - model ship made by my Grandad

Recommended Posts

Hello all


Apologies in advance - I am not a modeller, but I'd be grateful for info and advice that I am sure you can offer.  Following my Father's recent passing, I have inherited a model ship made my by Grandfather of a schooner named Leon (photos attached - I hope).  He completed it perhaps 25 years ago; as an avid part-time modeller he completed a total of only 3 ship models (to his satisfaction!) over his lifetime.


As previously mentioned, I have no idea about such models; to me it looks lovely and I remember the many hours Grandad spent in his shed diligently building it.  I'm now left in a bit of a quandary.  Firstly, I have no space at home to store it.  Secondly, whilst I am planning to store most of Dad's possessions, something like this model is likely to not react well to being tossed in the back of a Transit (everything for storage will be taking a 100 mile journey).  Finally, I do not wish to sell it, or worse still - dispose of it.


As such, I have two questions for you experts; hence me joining this forum - flattery get you everywhere :)!  I'd be happy for it to be loaned (perhaps a permanent loan) to an organisation, society or museum who would enjoy it being displayed.  Alternatively, if I did need to transport it for storage, do you have any pointers as to how best to prepare, transport and store it?


As an aside, if anyone has any info on the history of this ship, I'd love to hear about it.  Please do point me in the direction of any online resources etc


Many thanks in advance for any guidance offered






Leon 1.jpg

Leon 2.jpg

Leon 3.jpg

Leon 4.jpg

Leon 5.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Harold Underhill built a model of a BRIG, Leon, and described the construction in a 2 volume work entitled Plank-On-Frame Models first published in 1958. Your grandfather's work is identical except the foremast would need 5 yardarms to complete. Is it possible that he hadn't finished his work? Leon was a real ship, built in Norway in 1880 (the model is flying a Norwegian flag). Underhill doesn't give much history of the vessel, so I can't help you much there. Judging from the pictures you've supplied, I'd say your grandfather knew what he was doing! First rate work. Also, it looks like it's 2-2.5 feet long? Are you sure you have no place to display it. How about hung from the wall, like a picture?

Tom Black

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So often we have people come on here with a similar story or wanting to know what something is worth, hoping no doubt to find out it is worth a fortune. Usually, when you look, it is an awful seaside souvenir, badly made and worthless.


However, what you have here looks to be a skilfully made scale model that your grandfather took a lot of care over. For that very reason I think you should keep it. I wish I had more from my grandad that had a real reason to remember him by, you have memories of watching him build this.


As for transporting I would put it on your passengers lap or trap the hull upright between two cushions. Masts in free air.

Current Build(s):

  • H.M.S Diana 1794 - Caldercraft 1:64 Scale


Completed Builds:





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your grandfather did indeed do a fine job on this model. I think, though, that he may have inadvertently done you a disfavor by choosing to rig it as a schooner, as that makes the model a little less visually interesting than it would have been with Leon's brig rig. That and the model's large size may make it more difficult to temporarily re-home. But I do wish you success in your search, because as was pointed out, we usually get asked about not-very-nice models, and this one is definitely worth hanging on to.

Chris Coyle
Greer, South Carolina

When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk.
- Tuco

Current builds: Brigantine Phoenix

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome Stee,

I agree that your grandfather's model of the Leon looks to be very nicely done and is well worth preserving.  I find that the best way to transport a finished model is to secure the base to a flat piece of wood large enough to serve as the bottom of a box.  You will also want to ensure that the hull is well secured to the base.  The sides, ends and top of the box can be wood (if your only interest is in shipping it safely) or plexiglass (if you want to build a permanent display case).  If you are shipping it commercially, make sure the box is clearly marked as being "fragile" and "this end up".


Your grandfather's model is almost certainly based on Harold Underhill's "Plank on Frame Models", a two volume treatise for serious modelers, which takes the reader, step by step, through how to complete a model of a very nice little Norwegian sailing ship.  It also happens to be the source for my first attempt at scratch modelling many years ago, so it was enjoyable seeing another modeler's version of this ship.   According to Underhill the Leon was built at Larvik in 1880, with a home port of Porsgrund and she spent most of her life rigged as a brigantine, but was later cut down to the schooner rig as shown in your grandfather's model.  She spent most, if not all, of her life sailing the North Sea until October 30, 1915 on a passage from Granton to Porsgrund with a cargo of coal, she developed a leak which could not be controlled, and she quietly sank from under the crew with no loss of life.


Jim Hastings

Rapid City, SD, USA

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Your model does not look to be particularly affected by dust...yet.  The main source for damage and destruction for any wooden ship model is in the failure to place it in a proper case.  They can vary from an elegant piece of wooden furniture with glass or clear plastic sides and top to a glued plastic box.  All choices will involve some cost.  If you wish it to last, a case is pretty much necessary.

Keep it away from direct sunlight and allow for filtered air exchange.


It is a worthy icon for your grandfather's memory.  Keeping it and keeping it safe would show great respect.  He spent no little time and energy building it.  If you do case it, attach a narrative with as much information about him and it as you can gather to the bottom.  This way when this is passed on to a later generation,  more than vague and mostly forgotten stories will be with it.

NRG member 45 years



HMS Centurion 1732 - 60-gun 4th rate - Navall Timber framing

HMS Beagle 1831 refiit  10-gun brig with a small mizzen - Navall (ish) Timber framing

The U.S. Ex. Ex. 1838-1842
Flying Fish 1838  pilot schooner -  framed - ready for stern timbers
Porpose II  1836  brigantine/brig - framed - ready for hawse and stern timbers
Vincennes  1825  Sloop-of-War  -  timbers assembled, need shaping
Peacock  1828  Sloop-of -War  -  timbers ready for assembly
Sea Gull  1838  pilot schooner -  timbers ready for assembly
Relief  1835  ship - timbers ready for assembly


Portsmouth  1843  Sloop-of-War  -  timbers ready for assembly
Le Commerce de Marseilles  1788   118 cannons - framed

La Renommee 1744 Frigate - framed - ready for hawse and stern timbers


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Excellent advice above! I second the motion to have a protective case made, if you can manage it. Wall mounting on a shelf might be an option for you? 


Transporting delicate models is always an issue,. If you can possibly do this yourself, it would be the safest way. A regular commercial carrier is always risky. An expensive option is a carrier who specializes in moving art objects. Yes, you have an art object!


Nice paperweights and amethyst crystals, BTW.

Be sure to sign up for an epic Nelson/Trafalgar project if you would like to see it made into a TV series  http://trafalgar.tv

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome to MSW. I'm in agreement with the others on your grandfather's ship.  You didn't say where you are so specific recommendations on finding a new home her will hard.   I'd suggest you check with your local library as many of them love to have things like this to excite readers (particularly young ones).  

"The shipwright is slow, but the wood is patient." - me

Current Build:                                                                                             
Past Builds:
 La Belle Poule 1765 - French Frigate from ANCRE plans                             Triton Cross-Section   

                                                                                                                       USS Constellaton (kit bashed to 1854 Sloop of War  _(Gallery) Build Log

                                                                                Wasa (Gallery)

                                                                                                                        HMS Sphinx 1775 - Vanguard Models - 1:64               


Non-Ship Model:                                                                                         On hold, maybe forever:           

CH-53 Sikorsky - 1:48 - Revell - Completed                                                   Licorne - 1755 from Hahn Plans (Scratch) Version 2.0 (Abandoned)         



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am assuming you are in the UK due to the passport, or, due to having it out, you have had to travel overseas to get to the house, hence why the travel dilemma. If you can give basic area there may be a model boat club in the area that can help or we may know of a local museum. Lots of small seaside museums in the U.K. that might take this. Some have kit built in them and sure they would prefer this scratch built model which would show the type coastal trading vessel. They often put plaques on with builder and donation / owner details.


Then you can visit the museum and see others enjoying it.

Current Build(s):

  • H.M.S Diana 1794 - Caldercraft 1:64 Scale


Completed Builds:





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Firstly, thank you all for taking the time to comment; and also for the compliments on my Grandad's skills.  


With regard to finding a suitable home for her, I'm in Cambridge, although the ship is in Staffordshire.  Ref keeping it on display, yes I'm sure I could find a space (although not quite sure where!) and I understand the comments ref a display case (Grandad had a display case for one ship at home, another was in a case on display somewhat randomly at the local sports centre next to an unusual collection of stuffed birds before a move to a museum somewhere on the coast - I'll find out where); and this is the third of the trio.


In reference to the books mentioned, Grandad did hold a collection of ship-related literature - so likely (I'll check). Whilst in all honesty I do not have a deep interest in sailing ships I was fascinated by these books and their sheer size to me as a youngster.  Upon his passing I was gifted the collection and I have them safely stored in my loft.  Probably approx 50-60 including a series large hard-backed white covered books - googling it would appear that they are in a series who at least some were written by an author called Basil Luddock? Once again, something I would not sell but would be happy to loan as a collection if an organisation would benefit from their content.  Sorry for the thread drift - I know this isn't a book forum :)


When I do come to move it, I think after your comments that it would certainly merit a dedicated journey in my own car, safely secured in the back.


Thank you all again - I'd be happy to keep you posted with updates on her travels if you wish!





Link to comment
Share on other sites

A very nice looking model that I would certainly hold onto particularly given the family history.

You are lucky in one respect; as she is schooner rigged, the model will take up far less space width ways, than if she had been square rigged.

I think she would sit very well on a specifically made shelf.


ps . Your Grandfather followed in a fine tradition, there's quite a few ship modellers based in Staffordshire, I'm one of them. 🙂





Link to comment
Share on other sites

It would be nice if all of his ships were back together but understand on space.


one good place to put a ship on display without taking any space is the wall facing you as you come down your stairs. Then you get too enjoy each morning as you come down.


Not many places in Staffordshire, Kedleston hall just over the border in Derbyshire did have some ships on display but not sure if still the case.

Current Build(s):

  • H.M.S Diana 1794 - Caldercraft 1:64 Scale


Completed Builds:





Link to comment
Share on other sites


Building: 1:64 HMS Revenge (Victory Models plans)

1:64 Cat Esther (17th Century Dutch Merchant Ships)

On the building slip: 1:72 French Ironclad Magenta (original shipyard plans)


On hold: 1:98 Mantua HMS Victory (kit bash), 1:96 Shipyard HMS Mercury


Favorite finished builds:  1:60 Sampang Good Fortune (Amati plans), 1:200 Orel Ironclad Solferino, 1:72 Schooner Hannah (Hahn plans), 1:72 Privateer Prince de Neufchatel (Chapelle plans), Model Shipways Sultana, Heller La Reale, Encore USS Olympia


Goal: Become better than I was yesterday


"The hardest part is deciding to try." - me

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...