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Yesterday went to visit the local hobby shop without any clear intention to purchase a new kit but if I saw one I just couldn’t pass up…

Came away with the Amati Chinese Pirate Junk.  POB so my first planking kit. 

Opened the box when I got home, perused the drawings and instructions, boxed everything back up for the evening and started doing some research.  1st impression was that Amati’s instructions, while clearly written, are a bit sparser than the ones that came with my first build (Corel Line’s Mayflower) and the drawings are also a bit sparser.  Second impression was that this should be an interesting build.  And then the old saw – take your time.



Too nice a day to spend inside today so not much accomplished.  Have the keel piece and bulkheads cutout and the first 2 bulkheads mounted to the keel.  Enough for today.





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Finished installing the bulkheads to the keel piece yesterday and began working on the rudder assembly.  Part of this is sanding a notch in the end of the keel piece to accommodate the rudder post and a corresponding notch in the aftmost bulkhead (called bulkhead 0 [zero]).


I didn’t go easy enough with the file and cracked bulkhead 0.  Repair was non-eventful but I still have a bit more filing to do to get it where it needs to be (there’s a decorative piece that covers bulkhead 0 so I’m not concerned over the minor crack that exists after the repair). 


Have installed the first lashing holding the rudder to the rudder post; this also affects how much filing needs to be done in the keel’s sternmost area.  (I used Google Translate to make sure that what I thought the Italian said was in fact what it said.)









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Yesterday evening I finished the rudder.  I decided not to stain or paint it but to leave it the natural wood color.  To lash it to the sternpost, before gluing the rudder to the post, I drilled 5 x 0.8mm holes just off the edge of the post.  After the glue dried I used a small sewing needle to pass the smallest diameter thread that came with the kit through each hole so that I ended up with 4 loops around the post.  I pulled the thread tight and then glued the thread close to the post on both sides of the rudder letting a bit of glue fill-in each hole.  I held the threads taut with some clamps and once it had set trimmed the ends close to the rudder. A drop more glue and the ends of the threads disappeared.  Most of the stern post is hidden by what I’m calling bulkhead 0 (the instructions call it frame 0) so not using any paint on the sternpost allows it to move in the grooves filed in the stern-most part of the keel and bulkhead 0.  I decided to use the lighter of the two colors of 1mm x 2mm wood strips to finish framing the rudder.  This morning, after letting all the glue dry overnight, I sprayed a light coat of clear acrylic on the rudder, lashings and lower portion of the post.  I’ll give it one more coat this evening after a light sanding.


Having time this morning before I had to be in the office, I glued the false decks in place.  The false decks needed a bit of minor work (dry fitting, sanding, nibbling, and repeat as needed) to get them to fit right.  No major issues here.  The aft (upper) false deck overhangs the stern just enough to cover bulkhead 0 when that is installed later today. 


Will start thinking about the hull planking after I get the rudder and bulkhead 0 installed.










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Rudder installed.  Used some filler to create a smooth transition between bulkheads 0 and 1 as a  gluing surface for the planks.  Have the first 2 planks on each side installed.  Before I go any further I’m going to fix a floor for the area directly under the main and fore holds hatches.








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Going slow with the hull planking.  Have the first 4 on each side done; looks like I’m starting to enter the ‘interesting’ portion with planks curving in several directions.  Should be fun.

While waiting for planks to dry I’ve been working on other pieces so that they are ready to go.  Have the cannon trucks painted and the barrels mounted.  Also, have started putting the decals on the thin wooden backings so they will be ready to mount. 


Have been looking over the instructions, drawings and the model as she takes shape.  Have decided that the decals around the cabin area will need to be mounted before I get the bulwarks planked and the bow /stern decals will be mounted as I finish planking the hull in those areas.  Decided to paint the edges of several of the decal mounting boards red to match the edge color of the decals; looks better than burnt wood.  I’ve also been thinking about planking the main deck before I plank the bulwarks as I’ll have more room to work without the bulwarks in place.


Writing will slow down as I work on the hull planking.





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Have gotten the side of the hull planked; will start on the bottom tomorrow.  In between planking the hull I’ve finished the cannons, mounted all but 2 small rear quarter decals onto their thin wood backings, finished the forward hatch cover ‘hut’, and started the deck planking.  My plan is to finish the hull and deck planking tomorrow.  I will then start glue on the rear cabin decals and start work on the bulwarks.  Once I have the bulwarks completed & the cannon ports cutout, I’ll start on finish sanding the hull.  Will report as work progresses. 







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Made progress over the weekend.  The first picture shows where I was Saturday morning, the next where I was that afternoon and the third where I was by Sunday evening (all pins removed; pin holes and gaps filled; sanding started).  Along the way, as breaks in planking the hull, I planked the forward, aft and side platforms and started on the decking above the cabin.  As I continue to sand the hull to get it the surface where it needs to be, I will continue planking the decks.  Once the deck planking is completed there is some ‘interior’ planking (inside of forward and aft bulkheads) that needs to be done before moving on to finishing the cabin and planking the bulwarks.  I’m also trying out different finishes for the hull on some small pieces of scrap. 







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A week of slowly sanding the lower hull and planking the deck.  I also painted the upper frames so they look like frame members as well as painting the undersides of the false decks at the rear of the ship.  Will be working on the upper bulwark planking this weekend along with sanding the deck and adding some trim pieces that go around the various deck elements. 



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The weekend went well.  Due to not so great weather I was able to put some time in on finishing the hull.  Have the bulwark all planked and the cannon ports cut out.  I may have gotten carried away with the planking as I planked up the exterior of the aft most part of the ship adjacent to the tiller.  We’ll see how it looks as the week progresses; I can always cut side viewing ports into that part of the upper hull. 


Cutting the cannon ports did not turn out to be as difficult as I expected.  After getting two of the bulwark planks installed and making a template that located the ports centrally between the vertical frames I was able to mark the locations and cut away the needed wood.  I then installed the remaining two bulwark planks.  The result is cannon ports that are just a bit taller than they are wide but they look serviceable.  I still have to trim them out; will do that this week.

As seen in the photos I decided to paint the portion of the hull that is at or below the waterline.  So where is the waterline on a junk?  I looked at lots of photos of late 19th century through modern era junks and some drawings of older ones and noticed how much of the rudder is typically out of the water – based on that I locate the waterline on the ship. 


I wasn’t sure if I was going to paint the inner side of the bulwark but noticed when I was dry-fitting planks that the tops of some of the vertical frames weren’t high enough to allow the last plank to be glued to them.  I made extensions from some of the plywood that the major parts were cut from, glued them to the tops of the frames and then painted the frames and inner side of the planking to match the paint that I had already put on the frame ends. 


This week will be given over to doing a bit more sanding on the upper hull, adding the remaining deck platforms forward & sides, adding the fore and aft decorative panels, and assembling the anchors and windlasses.  Once all of that is done I’ll start locating the eyebolts and rigging anchor hardware.


Still lots to do but I’m happy with the progress so far.














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I realized after looking at the ship for a bit last Monday that I have the bulwarks one plank higher than the plans/picture on the box.  Decided it looks fine and decided to leave it that way.  It makes the sides more than head high; I’m thinking I’ll add some steps in a couple of places on each side to offset the side height. 


Added the gunwale.  It was a bit of a pain bending the plank against the grain but patience, brass pins and rubber bands seem to have done the trick.  I decided to leave the pins in; just painted the tops red as additional decoration.


Finished sanding the hull & painting it.  I added the trim around the cannon ports (inside and out) and painted that as well.  I installed the rear side platforms and bracing then installed the wales (which I had previously painted).  Added the forward hull platform along with the fore decorative panel and bracing, then added the aft decorative panel and the small rear side decorations. 


Installed the cannons, the catheads and the anchor hardware for the rigging. 


Next up will be the anchors, windlasses, various ladders, deck railings, arches and aft framework for the sampans. 


















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Interesting week as I was able to get a couple of long days in on the ship (I had the past Monday off from work – yea!) followed by the nightly 1-hr after work session.


Started by assembling the capstans.  The instructions seemed to make it a relatively simple, straight-forward item; however, reality hit when I opened the sub-kit and realized the parts were a bit different from the instructions and that the vertical supports were too thick to allow access to the holes for the inner set of handles.  Several hours of X-Acto knife work, files and sandpaper and I had the units assembled.  Having now installed them, I’m thinking it would have been better to have wrapped the anchor ropes around the forward one before gluing it in place.  Oh well, live and learn.


The anchors were straight forward although I will do a bit of shaping work on this weekend before painting.  I also assembled the stand that came with the kit (painted the letters on the sign so they stood out a bit).



I installed ladders in the main and forward hatches, installed the 3 arches along the deck, installed the small boat hangar at the stern and glued the forward hatch cover in place.  I will work on the remaining ladders and the aft deck railings this weekend.


In the evenings I started work on the rig for holing the sampan to the stern framework.  I decided that I would construct a couple of snatch blocks from the wooden pully bodies that came with the kit and some excess brass eyelets left over from the last ship build.  After some bending and twisting I came up with a workable model; a touch of black paint completed the illusion of a pully held in an iron framework.  I didn’t pin the rope to the aft framework opting instead to use a jam knot (painted the knots red as decoration).  When the second (smaller) sampan is placed on top of the aft framework how the boat-lifting rope is attached to the frame cannot be seen anyways.  Once both snatch blocks were completed, I hung the large sampan from the framework.


Next I decided to tackle the installation of the upper block attached to the port cathead.  A bit of patience with the drill making a slightly elongated vertical hole (the horizontal hole was pre-drilled) and I had a means to pin the rope tied around the block into the cathead.  One of the excess pins from the last kit and a tiny bit of gel super-glue and the block is pinned in place.  Today I’ll finish the block & tackle on both catheads.


Continuing to make progress.



















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All ladders are installed along with the two gangways.  Cathead rigging is completed and the anchors are hung.  Sounds like it was simpler than it was given the small size of everything.  More work to come as the railings are created and installed followed by masts, rigging and sails.  Enjoying all of it – even the occasional ‘oops’ followed by a few unseemly words.  Learning something every day while doing this.







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  • 2 weeks later...



Slowed down on work on the ship so I could start tackling some craft work on Christmas ornaments & decorations for the grandkids.  Completed all of the deck railings today and will start shaping masts this week.  Hope to have the masts installed by the end of the week so I can start on the rigging.



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Finished the Christmas ornament project this morning and went to work on the masts for the ship this afternoon.  Have them all cut, tapered, assembled and stepped.  Will start for on the rigging tomorrow evening.


On top of each mast is a smaller diameter ‘flag’ mast.  At the base of each ‘flag’ mast is a large bead; a smaller diameter decorative bead is located a bit higher on the ‘flag’ masts.  The beads that were supplied had holes that were about 1 mm in diameter; too small for the 2 mm ‘flag’ masts.  While drilling out the holes I – oops - dropped one of the smaller beads onto the floor.  No idea where the bead went and after several minutes of searching, I gave up and made a replacement from some of the excess mast stock.  The right side of the ‘flag’ mast photo shows the small bead provided; the left side shows the replacement I made.  (Not too bad a job in my, obviously biased, opinion.)



DSC7165 - Mast tops.jpg

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Finished the standing rigging on the main mast and after spending some time looking at it, and the plans of the sails, decide that I would hold off on the standing rigging for the fore and mizen (wonder if that is proper terminology for a junk?) masts.  I finished the main sail this week (hand-stitched so the battens could be easily incorporated) and then had an interesting time attaching it to the main mast with needle & largest (0.75 mm) thread while working around the standing rigging (had to ‘unsew’ a couple of times as I accidentally caught the rigging in the sail hold-downs).  I’m pleased with the end result but definitely will wait to install the standing rigging on the other two masts until after I have the sails installed.

One thing I found out is that the Amati plan seems to be a bit larger than 1:1. When I used the plans to measure the ‘bamboo’ battens and then cut them to those lengths they turned out to be about 6 mm too long for the supplied sails; not enough to be concerned with but still a bit annoying.  I’ll cut the rest of the battens to length against the fore and mizzen sails to avoid further wastage.  My masts are also about 6 mm too tall but I’ll just leave that; will give me some room for masthead pennants.


This week I’ll finish and mount the fore and mizzen sails and then start to work on the rest of the rigging.




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Making progress today during a 6-hr session drilling out blocks, threading line, tying eyes and tying knots.  Finished prepping the mizzen sail yesterday and mounting it to the mast.  Started today fixing the standing rigging to the mizzen mast then working the running rigging through the various blocks and eyes down to the eyes, cleats and upside-down ‘L’ brackets.  Finished off the day with the two main parts of the main sail running rigging.


The blocks have been interesting.  None of them had holes large enough for even the medium size line (0.5 mm); the holes seem to be a tad smaller in diameter (maybe 0.4 mm).  I’ve been drilling them out to 1 mm as I need them; this is a big enough hole for the medium and large (0.75 mm) line and leaves plenty of wood around the hole.  Trying to get them threaded is a pain so I fixed a loop of thread to a sewing needle and use that to pull the line through the holes in the blocks (just have to make sure that the knot in the thread goes through the hole in the block first or the line gets jammed in).


This week will be finishing the main sail running rigging, finishing assembling the fore sail and then rigging the fore mast & sail.  Goal is to have the ship completed by the beginning of December.










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Finished rigging the mainsail on Monday evening; assembled the fore sail with foremast standing rigging on Saturday; completed the fore sail running rigging & added a homemade pennant today – end result:  work complete!  This has been a fun project.  As for what’s next I haven’t decided yet – I have the Revell 1:72 Stearman Kaydet and the Model Shipways 1:24 Grand Banks Dory waiting.  May do the ‘Yellow Peril’ first just for a change of pace but expect to start work on the dory before Christmas.






Edited by JohnRC
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