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Fifie by GBModeler - FINISHED - Scale 1:48 - Typical late 1800s Scottish Herring Drifter


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I have been researching the famous Scottish Fifies, and am inspired to try building a model of a small to medium sized boat of 42-feet (12.8 meters).  
 

Detailed information about these boats is hard to find.  Evidently, the real boats were mostly built by sight, without the help of plans or half-hull models, so there is not a lot of documentation to discover.  Most of the sources I did find focus on the large Fifies (60 to 80 feet loa) of the early 1900s.  However, from various historical photographs and writings, I am under the impression that smaller boats were more common-place during the late 1800s.

 

In addition, there are very few surviving Fifies left in the world today.  One smaller boat, the "Isabella Fortuna," survives as a Scottish National Historic Ship.  She was built in 1890 and is 43 feet loa.  
 

By using written descriptions, historical photographs, and the plans of larger boats, I have developed my own paper line-plans of what I think would be a typical boat in existence, circa 1870 - 1880.  Here are some of my sources:

 

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Making progress by cutting out and assembling the false keel and bulkheads...

 

Paper templates glued to 3/32" basswood plywood.  A "gap" in the false keel and some bulkheads will become the main hold.  Another gap will accommodate the fore (main) mast.  All the parts were cut out with a table scroll saw...

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More building-up the frame today.  I added curved strips to the tops of the bulkheads to create camber for the deck.  Also installed walls for the hold and a foundation for the decking (i.e. a false deck).  The false deck is cardboard made from a repurposed cereal box.😬 

 

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Edited by Gbmodeler
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Deck planks were made from 1/16" basswood sheet cut into 3mm wide strips.  The strips were lightly sanded and then stained with a mixture of India ink, isotropic alcohol, and water.  The stain goes on dark but dries to a "weathered wood" appearance.  The more you dilute the stain with water and alcohol the lighter the color, of course.  Trial and error finds the right mix you prefer.  The strips were then glued with white PA glue to some off-white cotton "business" paper.  I have also used black construction-paper in the past, but wanted to try something different, and a little thinner, this time.  The planks were cut off the paper and installed over the false deck, starting from the middle and working out toward the sides.

 

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The deck planks were stained prior to installing because the gluing process (with PA white glue) is very messy (at least the way I do it).  Even though I plan to sand and re-stain the deck, any residual glue would block the second application of stain and give an uneven finish...

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After sanding and shaping.  You can see almost all the original stain has been sanded off...

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The re-stained deck.  Now on to planking the hull!

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Edited by Gbmodeler
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I decided to try my hand at "clinker" (lapstrake) planking, since most of the historical photos of smaller (and older) fifies have that feature.  I have never attempted clinker planking before, but it seems easier than carvel planking, so far.  Also, the planks are being stained, rather that painted, for a more natural wood appearance.  Again, the wood is basswood cut from 1/32" sheet.  
 

I find planking a slow process, but if it works well, it is very rewarding.  The hardest part of clinker planking is getting the ends near the stem and stern posts to transition from clinker to edge-matched carvel-like planking as the planks fit into the rabbet.  Fortunate for me, there is no real rabbet, as I will install the keel, stem post, and stern post after planking😬.

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22 minutes ago, Gbmodeler said:

transition from clinker to edge-matched carvel-like planking

Depending on how sharp the bow (and the stern here) are, the overlapping section of the lower plank would be sharpened out to near zero over a distance of several plank widths - is it that what you did ?

 

I agree, that clinker-planking can be a bit of challenge, but if it worked, it is very satisfying.

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2 hours ago, wefalck said:

Depending on how sharp the bow (and the stern here) are, the overlapping section of the lower plank would be sharpened out to near zero over a distance of several plank widths - is it that what you did ?

 

I agree, that clinker-planking can be a bit of challenge, but if it worked, it is very satisfying.

I am beveling the lower edge of each upper plank to near zero for about 5 or 6 plank widths.  It seems easier to do it that way (modeling-wise) as the plank is fitted and applied.

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Added a plank along the top of the interior bulkhead to form a flat surface.  This eliminated the "step" formed by clinker planking.  Then the "false" frames (timberheads) were installed flat along the interior wall, including four taller/thicker timber-heads, presumably used as bollards.  Finally, an outer gunwale strip and an inner "bearer" strip were added, and the scuppers were drilled out.
 

After installing the frames and gunwale, some painting was necessary before the bearer was installed (because I wanted it a different color - blue).  The gunwale will eventually be blue too, which should be a nice contrast with the (now) white bulkheads.   
 

Painting was done with an airbrush using Tamiya flat white acrylic model paint.  The masking was done with both Tamiya and blue masking tap.  It took a few hours to set-up the tape, but this seemed easier and promised better results (maybe) than brush painting.  The blue paint was brushed on the bearers before they were glued to the timberheads.  

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Edited by Gbmodeler
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Today I worked on the hatch coamings.  Basswood strips were used for the coamings and hatch covers will be built later.  I plan to have the main hatch partially open, with nets visible and sowed.  The smaller fore hatch will be closed.

 

The sides of the coamings that go across the width of the deck need to be filed down to accommodate the camber in the deck.  I use a half inch dowel with sandpaper glued to it and round files to help create the curve.

 

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The coamings are glued in placed with PA white glue.  I also use a mixture of acrylic wood putty, PA glue, and a little water to make a sealant for the seams.  The blue masking tape protects the surface of the deck when I sand everything smooth.

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Work continues on the deck fittings.  The first major item after the hatch coamings was the "baulk."  On Fifies and other Scottish luggers, the baulk was a heavy transverse beam that helped support the fore mast.  
 

Just aft of the foremast was a slot in the deck called the "skegs."  The foremast could be lowered backwards into the skegs (not to be confused with the term skeg, which is a projection on the keel).  The fore mast was lowered after the nets were "shot" to minimize rolling as the boat (and nets) quietly drifted toward the wily herring 🤫.  When lowered, the mast was often supported by a Y-shaped "crutch" (yet to be installed) mounted toward the stern of the boat.  

 

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A "thwart" (traverse seat) was added aft.

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Cleats were made and affixed to the "bearer."

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Edited by Gbmodeler
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1 hour ago, wefalck said:

So the fore-mast sits in a kind of tabernacle ? How is it going to be locked against the 'baulk' ?

 

Did you pin the cleats to the bearer ?

 

Nice job overall !

Thanks Wefalck!  From reading "Sailing Drifters" by Edgar March, the fore mast was stepped into a tabernacle under the deck mounted to the floors.  It was kept upright by a heavy chock and wedges aft of the mast (which I have not yet built).

 

Yes, the cleats are pinned with copper wire that runs through the bearer and into the frame.

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Today a "crutch" was carved and the masts were assembled (but not yet glued in place).  The fore mast is lowered down into the crutch during drifting operations and, judging from historical photos, when the boats are in port.  The masts are dowels.  I tapered them by locking them in an electric drill and sanding as they spun.  The masts needed square bases, so those were added after the masts were tapered.  I glued strips of wood around the base of the masts with CA glue, and then sanded them square.  Lastly, most Fifies had hooks on the stem post where the tack of the fore lug sail was attached.

 

 

 

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The last picture is really good. Just need some photoshopping on the stand 😉 

What kind (type and nuance) of paint is that blue btw?

I just bought myself a set of artist acrylic paint since I've read here on MSW that others use that also.

 

Keep it up!

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1 hour ago, Wintergreen said:

The last picture is really good. Just need some photoshopping on the stand 😉 

What kind (type and nuance) of paint is that blue btw?

I just bought myself a set of artist acrylic paint since I've read here on MSW that others use that also.

 

Keep it up!

Thanks Wintergreen!  The blue paint is an unmeasured mixture of Tamiya flat blue and flat white acrylic model paint.  Trying to look like the colors in the Scottish flag (Cross of St. Andrew).  What's wrong with the "highly-engineered" stand?😇

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On 1/30/2021 at 6:38 PM, EKE said:

Just discovered your log, Gb.  This is looking so great!  I'm following with interest, as I am completing my build of the Vanguard Zulu.  Thanks for the inspiration!

-EKE

Thanks EKE.  I definitely will look for your Zulu!

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Over the last few days I have been able to work on a lot of little fiddley-bits (built the rudder and tiller, finished the  hatch covers, installed rings, bitts and/or chocks for the bowsprit and jib, added a stove pipe to the fore room, and masked and painted the lower hull).  I also have been doing further work on the masts an spars.  Rigging should be starting soon!

 

The rudder works, using brass tube and copper wire for gudgeons and pintles.  The hinges are heavy paper with three-dimensional resin decals for rivets.

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Hatch handles are copper wire...

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Styrene plastic tube for the bilge pipe and smoke stack...

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