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Galway Hooker by Gbmodeler - FINISHED - 1:48 scale - a small Irish fishing boat from the late 1800s


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Started a new project: a "Galway Hooker."  Evidently, these boats have been numerous in Ireland since the early 19th century, and are still being built today.  In the past they were working boats, used for fishing and transporting cargo along the coasts of western Ireland.  Today's boats are mostly used for pleasure and racing.

 

The hookers range in size from around 20 to 44 feet (6 to 14 meters), and are broken into four classes, based on size or rigging.  There are a lot of information on the internet about Galway Hookers, including plans, drawings, and photos.   

 

My model will be a fictional 26-foot (8-meter) boat from the late 19th century of the "gléoiteog" class.  Gléoiteogs appear to have been the "real workhorses" of the era because their smaller size made them more affordable (Smylie, Mike. Traditional Fishing Boats of Britain & Ireland. Kindle ed., Amberley Publishing, 2012).

 

Gléoiteogs generally appear to be "open" boats (i.e. no deck), although they sometimes appear with short partial decks (more like shelves) fore and/or aft.  Even the larger classes only had half-decks, from the mast forward.  I plan to have a short fore deck.  The big construction challenge for me will be making a boat that is mostly "open."  In 1/48 scale, that is only about 6.5 inches (165mm) long.


Model construction began with the keel, made from 1/16 inch (1.6mm) basswood sheet.  I added notches for placement of bulkheads later.

 

 

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The bulkheads were sawn from thin (2mm?) basswood plywood and attached in the notches with CA glue.  Braces between the bulkheads were added later.  

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Everything was aligned by the "eyeball" method, which relies on a lot of luck...

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I will be following your gléoiteog build with interest. I have a Galway Hooker on deck for my next build, a larger gleoiteog or a smaller leathbhad, if i ever can get my shop reorganized. I've done the research and, compared to other types, there's precious little available on the hookers, really, and some of the sail plans published aren't accurate at all. I can count the number of reliably accurate published plans drawings on one hand. (Notably, Chapelle's "Boston Hooker's" sail plan is nothing like the distinctive rig of the hookers and, contrary to his description in American Small Sailing Craft, there was no difference between the Galway Hookers and the Boston Hookers, the latter being built at Boston by a transplanted hooker builder from Galway.) If you can afford the astounding prices they're asking for a used copy (as much as $675 for the out-of-print 160 page paperback, but it can be found for much less if you search for it) Galway Hookers: Working Sailboats of Galway Bay, by Richard J. Scottwill be found invaluable. It is the only authoritative source detailing the methods employed for building these boats, for which no plans were ever used. They are built "basket style," by setting up four molds: a midship mold and one forward and aft of midships, a transom mold and the stem. These molds were made from patterns handed down through the generations, perhaps as far back as the mid-Eighteenth Century, by the handful of boatbuilders on the coast of County Galway and enlarged or reduced to suit the size of  the vessel to be built. Scott's book gives all the other proportional scantlings and measurements which were dictated by oral tradition, all being derived from the length of the vessel. (e.g. "the mast is as long as the boat is long; The bowsprit is half the length of the boat," sort of thing.)

 

With the backbone laid down, the patterns were set up and battens run from stem to transom and the frames were then built to fit inside the "basket" formed by the battens which, together with the patterns, The framing method of single futtocks alternately lapped was unique to our experience until the recent archaeological find of a Sixteenth Century Basque fishing boat, which more strongly evidences that the evolutionary genetics of the Galway Hooker may have been Iberian than was previously known.

 

Traditional Boats of Ireland, History, Forklore, and Construction is another great book, but it only briefly covers the hookers, giving them equal space along with all the other Irish working watercraft, of which there are many. While the hookers have enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in recent decades, they remain something of a local phenomenon. The best connection is probably the Galway Hooker's Association: https://www.galwayhookers.ie/  Padraig O'Sabhain's 304 page thesis The centrality of the Galway hooker to dwelling in the island and coastal communities of south west Conamara is linked on the Association's home page and, while I haven't had time to read it all, looks to be a something fun to curl up with on a rainy night.

 

One catch about researching the Irish hookers is that everything about them, from the names of their variants to the parts of the vessels are expressed in Irish Gaelic which uses Roman letters, but does not have the same phonetics as English. While I grew up in a home where Irish was spoken, we never learned it as children because it was the language my grandmother and mother spoke as "code" when they didn't want the kids to know what they were saying! That was only natural for my grandmother from "around the corner" from Galway in County Cork. When she was growing up, the British did all they could to stamp out the language. Children were forbidden to speak it in school. In today's Irish Republic, Irish is taught in all the schools and far more widely spoken than during the British Colonial period. Who'd have ever thought I'd have had any need to learn it later in life!

 

(I figure you know this stuff, but others who may have an interest in modeling the hooker might not.)

 

I plan to build a static model to a larger scale, perhaps 1:24, to permit depiction of all the classic details. 

 

Good luck with your build!

 

 

Edited by Bob Cleek
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The planking has begun.  Planking is not my strong suit, and hope I will improve as I gain more experience.  All the wood in my model, so far, is basswood.  The planking is 1/32" (0.8mm) thick basswood sheet cut to about 4mm (5/32") wide.

 

The outer edges of the bulkheads have been coated with beeswax to prevent the planks from sticking to them as they are glued on with CA glue.  The bulkheads give shape and support during planking, but will be removed later to create an "open" hull.  Therefore, each plank is only glued to the previous plank.  This makes it very important that the garboard strake and upper wale are positioned very accurately.  Planking goes down from the wale, and up from the garboard strake until they meet in the middle.
 

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On 12/9/2020 at 8:49 PM, Gbmodeler said:

Thanks for all the information, Bob Cleek.  Lots of good stuff there.  Have you seen the "Traditional Boats of Ireland Project" web page.  Lots of info there too. http://tradboats.ie/index.php
 

Of course! The "Traditional Boats of Ireland Project" web page is from the same people who put together the book of the same name I mentioned. The book isn't cheap (or wasn't when I bought it new,) but if you liked the web page, you'll love the book. 

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50BFAF87-CE2D-4AE0-8D3C-8F8FED915F0D.thumb.jpeg.64ae7e0a1eff0580f7c13b4b93d4cbe7.jpegSo, the next part of construction had me worried the most. That was removing the interior bulk heads (which is really destruction, not construction).  Damaging the hull after expending all that time, effort, and materiel, was a major fear.  
 

Removing the bulk head frame started with clipping the cross-braces with wire (sprue) cutters.  For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and the violence rendered by crunching the wood braces between the bulkheads was a legitimate concern.  Fortunately, all went very well!  With the braces clipped, all the bulkhead fell away with a little twist.  In fact, one fell out without any encouragement.  Since the bulkheads were only attached at one small spot along the keel, the beeswax impregnated edges must have worked.  There was little or no glue stuck to the bulkheads.  
 

Earlier, I did not fully explain the process I used for applying the beeswax.  Before attaching the bulkheads to the keel, I rubbed the wax into the edges (except for the one small spot that would attach to the keel).  Then, one at a time, I heated the edges of each bulkhead with a blow dryer to melt the wax into the wood.  This requires using tongs or tweezers to not burn your fingers.  Another coating of "cold" wax was applied after the bulkheads were attached and braced, just before planking begun.

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After light sanding... and a strip of basswood for a keelson was applied.

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Edited by Gbmodeler
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Installing the false frames was the next order of business.   I used 1/32" thick basswood sheet cut into 1.5mm strips. The 1/32" thickness is a little skimpy, compared to the real frames, but thicker wood is harder to bend.  I made this compromise, and the results appeared passable to me.

 

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I created a jig from a discarded bulkhead, reshaping it to the curvature I wanted for the frames...

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The basswood strips were soaked in water for a few minutes to soften the wood.  Then the clamps held the jig and the strip so I could use a steam iron to form the curve...

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The steam from the iron really softened the wood, and made it very pliable!

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The steam travels far, and it would be easy to get a nasty burn.  I used a hemostat to hold the wood and keep my body parts safe!

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The resulting curve allowed me to form frames that conformed to the curvature of the hull.  The curve wasn't an exact fit, but it was made "tighter" than the curve of the hull.  During the gluing process (CA glue), the frame could be flattened to conform to the curve of the hull as needed... 

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First futtocks (so to speak) installed...

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Second futtocks installed.  I didn't bother with lower futtocks because they would be covered by floor planking...

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The last step was to trim up the ends of the upper frames.  A shelf running parallel to the planking will be installed on top of the frames.  Then more false frames will be placed above the shelf (a very short distance!) up to the rail cap (yet to be installed).

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Edited by Gbmodeler
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Very clever approach to planking first and removing the bulkheads! Your hull has a nice shape.

 

I'm not sure to what extent you are planning to display your framing, but you might want to take a closer look at the framing detail. While there is one set of construction drawings on the internet done by Nick Branson (https://www.boatdesign.net/threads/26ft-galway-hooker-pucan-to-build.40781/) which shows a simple half-lap scarf to join futtocks to create a single frame, these plans have been "modernized" and do not employ the traditional, and very distinctive, framing and other construction methods and scantlings of the traditional Irish hookers. There are no steamed frames in a traditionally-built Irish hooker.  Hookers have sawn frames.The molded depth of the frames is perhaps twice their sided width.  Peculiarly, the futtocks are staggered. There is a floor timber (no keelson) from which which three overlapping futtocks rise, alternating to one side or the other.  Their ends are cut at an angle and fastened with a bolt and four nails holding them where they overlap. These overlaps are lined up in a fair line fore and aft. Frames far forward and far aft are canted and, where their shape allows in the bow, may be sawn from a single timber. One might overlook this detail for the sake of "artistic license," but as it is so distinctive a construction feature, and one that reaches back in a straight line perhaps as much as 300 or more years to its likely Basque antecedents, you may wish to depict this feature accurately in your model. 

 

This series of three videos contains a fair amount of detail on the construction of the traditional hooker. You can hit "pause" when you see a hooker in frame and study how the futtocks are placed. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3R4ZdW3trY

 

 

 

 

Edited by Bob Cleek
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Thanks for all the information Bob Cleek.  You certainly have a depth of knowledge on these boats!

 

I must confess, the process of removing the bulkheads was learned from fellow member Javier Baron.  He does beautiful and amazing work in much smaller scales!


The youtube videos you shared are great! I have been studying still photos of boats, and trying to copy (generally) what I see.  There appears to be a wide variety (probably due to the different classes and ages of boats).  I'm trying to focus on historic photos from the internet, but those pictures are scant for close-up detail, so I examine all eras.  These videos  really help!
 

 

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7 hours ago, Gbmodeler said:

 There appears to be a wide variety (probably due to the different classes and ages of boats).  I'm trying to focus on historic photos from the internet, but those pictures are scant for close-up detail, so I examine all eras.  These videos  really help!

 

You are correct. The "Irish," "Galway" or "Connemara Hooker" is a type of boat and those are broad generic terms for the type. Locally, however, they are referred to by their size classes, Bad mor ("bad more"), leathwad ("la-wad"), gleoiteog ("glow-chug"), and pucan ("poo-con.") They were never built to plans and each has it's own unique details, but what they have in common is their general shape, rig, and construction details. The only accurate plans in the modern form are those taken by researchers from existing tradtionally-built vessels. Joe Murphy has done a set, as has Richard Scott, who's now deceased. If you can find a used copy of Scott's The Galway Hookers at a price you can stomach for a small paperback, I'd urge you to get it because there's a wealth of information in it.  Unfortunately, the drawings for two hookers in Scott's books are printed very small and would have to be enlarged and then redrawn to get much use from them for building anything.

 

The Galway Hooker Association has a good website that's worth keeping an eye on. https://www.galwayhookers.ie/ Someone in the association may be able to connect you with a source of accurate traditional hooker plans, as this association has been involved in building new hookers in recent decades but, as I mentioned, they never were built to plans, so they may be doing it the old fashioned way, since the "hooker revival" is all about the revitalization of Irish culture and language following centuries of British colonial oppression.

 

Most valuable to you would be a copy of a small book called The Galway Hooker (Huiceir na Gaillimhe in Irish, it's text is in both English and Irish on facing pages.) It is one of a three volume set called Shipwrights (Na Saora Bad), the others being on types of currachs. This book is self-published by Cian de Buitlear.  In a pocket within the book is a set of 3 drawings of complete plans, 16 inches x 24 inches at 1/2 inch to the foot scale, with a narrated step by step DVD video of Joe Murphy's building of the gleoiteog, Star of the West, from start to launch. It was published in 2005. I couldn't find it anywhere online. You might want to contact the publisher and see if you can get a copy: Cian de Buitlear, Sruthan, An Cheathru Rua, Co Na Gaillimhe, Ireland. Telephone number: 087 2557 444. Email: ciandebuitlear@eircom.net  This is the only available set of accurate construction plans for an Irish hooker to be found published anywhere.

 

I did notice that there is a new "coffee table" pictorial book out, Huiceiri / Galway Hookers which is described as "mentioning the main building features of this craft, but is probably more "boat porn" than a building manual, although there's nothing wrong with boat porn. At $25 euros, it wouldn't break the bank, but I do have to email them to inquire if it is bilingual or not. ("Huiceiri" means "Hookers" in Irish.)  Check it out if you want: https://www.seanchaieditions.com/our-publications/books/huiceiri-galway-hookers

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37 minutes ago, Gbmodeler said:

Great info Bob Cleek!  Kind of mind boggling.  My course is pretty much set for this "build."  With all the new data, I hope others can research the building of a fabulous model!

 

 

 

Yeah, as the sayings go, in full-size boatbuilding, "You can never have enough clamps." and in ship modeling, "You can never have enough research!." at some point, you just have to start building. You're way ahead of me on that score. :D  I enjoy the research as much as the building, though. 

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Over the last two days, I was able to complete the upper part of the frames, construct the "shelves," prepare the floor, and start working on the bulwark rails.  The shelves and floor were fashioned from 1/32" basswood sheet.  The shelves are colored with chestnut wood stain, while the floor is scribed to look like planks, and stained with a mixture of India ink, isopropyl alcohol, and water.

 

I do not know if there is a name for what I call the "shelves."  It appears that all classes of Galway Hookers have them, and they are connected with cross pieces (I have yet to build the cross pieces).  The final structure appears to serve as bracing and/or seats - almost like the framework for decking.

 

The railing done so far is a 1/16" basswood strip set interior and above the planking and the tops of the frames.  A 3mm  wide strip of 1/32" basswood sheet was attached interior to that 1/16" strip, covering the tops of the frames a little bit.  I still have to fashion the outer (exterior) trim to the rail.

 

The shelf and floor pieces are not glued in yet.  Once the railing is done, I plan on painting the whole hull black before installing the floor and finishing the shelf and other interior features.  I read somewhere, that the hulls of these boats were heavily tarred, hence the typical black color, inside and out...

 

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Edited by Gbmodeler
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So yesterday, the hull was painted flat black with Testors' enamel paint via airbrush.  Then, the interior received a light "dry-brushing" to accent the highlights.

 

I had previously built the floor and shelves that run along the interior bulwarks.  Today, both were installed.  The cross "seats" were built in after the side shelves were set.  Now, I'm designing the short decks...

Since this model is not based on an actual boat, but is meant to be representative of the type, I have a lot of leeway in choosing specific details - like deck furniture, winches, cabin style, etc.   I enjoy studying lots of photos of real boats/ships and then incorporate features I like in my construction.  So, I just "build up" the model as I go. 
 

In this case, the fore and aft short decks are being tested for fit, and are not yet attached.  They were made of 1/32" basswood sheet, scribed, and stained.  The scribed plank lines were "filled" with a ultra fine point Sharpie marker.  
 

I need a main cross-beam at the end of the fore deck, but like where this is going so far.  Stay tuned...

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Ooops, didn't look at this part of MSW for a week and this neat little project progressed already that far !

 

By accident I just got a copy of Scott (1985) The Galway Hooker, but the parcel in which it came together with some other books is still in 'COVID quarantine' (we leave non-urgent things for several weeks in case it has been touched by an infected person ...).

 

I will follow this project now.

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