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Muscongus Bay Lobster Smack by cbeckenb - Model Shipways - 1:24 Scale

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Hello everyone,

This is my first build log (and first post!) on MSW, for the Muscongus Bay Lobster Smack by Model Shipways.



I have been a plastic airplane modeler for several years now and a few months ago decided to try my hand at model ships, starting with the 1:48 18th Century Longboat, also from Model Shipways. I thought I would hate the tediousness of planking and rigging, but wanted to at least say I've tried it. Turns out I loved it! And now I'm hooked.

Since the Longboat, I also have also finished the Model Shipways Norwegian Pram a few weeks ago, and decided to give this one a shot next since I purchased them at the same time.


To start off, I did the usual checking of inventory against the packing list to make sure I had everything.



After reading through the directions a couple times, I got started. First things first, I stained the centerboard since I plan on using stain for the darker part of the hull.




Followed by getting started on the spine:






I had a lot of trouble trying to make a hook for a moveable centerboard; perhaps I do not have the right tools. Thinking about the final result, I don't expect to move the centerboard once the model is done, but I want to keep it out of the way during construction. In the end I decided to just glue in two short brass rods to keep it moveable without disappearing into the hull. I can easily move it with my fingers, which is good enough for me.




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I have been working on this for a couple weeks or so before starting this log, so I will continue on with another post.


Next step, attaching the bulkheads.

As I have seen on other build logs for this model, the slots of the bulkheads for mine are wider than the spine of the ship. I found that strips of index card glued on either side of the spine provide enough width to make the bulkheads fit snugly. Time will tell if wood glued to index card can take the shear as well as wood on wood. Not like this model will be experiencing any loads higher than sitting on a shelf somewhere anyways...

The center notches in the #4 bulkhead halves were not deep enough either, so I had to file those quite a bit deeper.




For bulkhead #6 I tried using strips of basswood instead of index card since I think that is a more robust solution, but the amount of tweaking and sanding required to get it to the right thickness was a pain so I went back to paper.






Once the spine and bulkheads were on, the transom and cockpit seats went in (which I neglected to take any pictures of).

I applied a couple coats of Wipe-On Poly for the cockpit.




I then glued on the deck halves. These took some work to get aligned and try to match the notches in the bulkheads. I added some spacers on top of a couple frames to try and get the sheer smooth, and honestly I should have spent more time on it before I started planking.





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Finally for my progress so far, after fairing the hull and getting the keel/stem/sternpost pieces on, I have just about finished the planking. I forgot to take photos during the fairing and early planking unfortunately.




My process has been to remove the plank and sand off the char, soak it, and rubber band or clamp it to the model to get the twist and any edge bending right.




Once I am at this point I will use a hair dryer to dry it into place and let it cool for a few minutes, before using CA to glue the plank on a couple bulkheads at a time. This has been pretty efficient and has so far made the planking fairly easy (besides the crazy twist and gaps at the top of the sternpost).


Now I have run into an interesting problem though: my sheer plank is not tall enough to come flush to the deck!








I am at a loss for what I have done wrong. I have used all the planks from the laser cut sheet and counted and recounted.

I did not trim the planks width-wise besides removing the char and adding a bevel on one side..

And if anything I felt like I took too much off the bulkheads while fairing, so much so that I totally removed the laser etched tick marks and had to extend them with a pen. Turns out they were of no use anyhow.




As you can see, the problem started early on and I expected this could be a problem when I got to the sheer strake. Alas, here we are.


I have some leftover 5/32" x 1/32" strips from the Longboat, so I think I will have to spile and bend an extra plank to make up the gap before adding the sheer strake.


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You have done a fantastic job on planking!!!!  Mine looks like crap compared to yours, well done.

If you haven't solved your sheer stake problem yet, I would look at taking the total distance from the #9 plank to the top of the deck and divide by 2 to make two planks (a new plank 10 and a new sheer plank) to replace the sheer plank.  Good luck

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Thanks! At least your planking fills the space correctly 😁

I used your model as reference for how the heck those planks at the top of the sternpost are supposed to look. I'm not sure how I'm going to fill in those gaps... particularly since I plan to stain the part below the waterline and I'm not sure how well (or if!) putty takes stain.

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Planking completed!


I ended up using some spare 5/32" strips to add a 10th plank before adding the sheer strake. You can see the color difference:





I will be painting the hull above the waterline so I am not concerned about the color difference.

Once these planks were added and trimmed, I trimmed everything at the transom and sanded the hull.






I have some putty arriving today (ZAR  Wood Patch) that supposedly takes stain fairly well. I will use this to fill the nasty gaps around the sternpost and smooth things out above the waterline. The stain I am using below the waterline is pretty dark so I am not too concerned about that part of the hull being totally smooth. I would prefer that the color looks consistent so I will use as little putty as possible.


While I wait for the putty to arrive, I filled in the slot for the centerboard hook/rod thing with some scrap wood and applied a couple coats of Wipe On Poly to the deck.




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@bobandlucy  the key is to take as much time as needed to bend your blanks to match up so you don’t have to put a lot of pressure on them when gluing. Also, don’t put very much pressure on the plank where there is not a bulkhead behind to support, thus avoiding all the depressions that I ended up with, especially fwd and around the aft stem.

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Good progress this weekend so far.

I received my wood patch on Friday and got the sternpost and some other areas patched up.






It sands really well, though it makes a bit of a dusty mess.






After sanding the hull a bit more, I bent the toe rails, put together the cabin bulkhead, and stained them along with some other items. I decided to stain the toe rails off the model to avoid getting any stain on the deck.




I also glued on the rub rails, which didn't require any wetting or heat to bend into shape.

Next up was the coaming and cabin walls. This was much easier to bend than I anticipated, although I did crack the coaming that came with the kit and had to make my own from some scrap.




I soaked it in fairly hot water for a few minutes and set it in the model, clamped in place, and used a hair dryer for a minute or two to dry it. Once it's dry I held it in front of a fan to cool it off and then let it sit for half an hour or so just to make sure it was dry. As you can see, it held the shape very well.




I repeated the process for the cabin sides, and then painted the two pieces off the model before gluing them in place.




I'm using the ModelExpo MS4831 White paint that came with the 18th Century Longboat. I really like working with this paint since the wood takes it very well and it's easily sandable. I thin it with some water and brush on a few coats, let it dry for a while and then sand with 400 grit to knock the grain down.


I used MS4830 Hull Spar Black for the roof, with the same process. This required several coats to get a smooth finish.

When I revisited the model this morning the roof had curved the wrong way overnight, so I had to rubber band it to a glass and ran the hair dryer over it for awhile to get it curving the right way again.




Once this was done, I installed the wet well covers, cabin bulkhead, roof, sliding hatch and rails:






Lastly I installed the beakhead. I sanded the stem too much when I installed it so I had to add a little spacer to get the beakhead flush with the deck.




Sanded smooth and with a little filler, you can't tell it's there.


Next up is to get the base assembled so I can mark the waterline and move on to painting the hull.

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@SkiBee Here is the stain: 




For the deck, I had planned on leaving it natural with just Wipe-On Poly.

Now that I have added the cabin pieces, I am not sure that was a good idea, but I may have glued on too many things to go back at this point.. I should have at least not stained the wetwell covers.

With the hull painted white and the rigging attached it may not look as bad.


While we are on the topic of stain, I can report that the ZAR filler takes stain excellently (look at the planking at top of the sternpost):




Obviously it is not as good as real wood but the color matches very well so it should go unnoticed.

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This week I painted the upper part of the hull. I used the MS4831 white paint, brushed on. I used Tamiya masking tape for curves to mask the waterline.

It took several coats of paint, wet sanding, filling some low spots, painting again, wet sanding, etc. to get a nice smooth finish but I am happy with it.

That is two heavy coats of satin Wipe-On Poly on the stained portion of the hull.




After painting the hull I finally glued on the toe rails. They are a tad bit too long which will take a little trimming and some touchup, but no big deal. I still think it was easier to stain these off the model.






I am happy with the contrast between the white and the stain. It is exactly what I had envisioned.

Next up is adding some deck details, the trailboards, and getting started on the rigging.

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Plenty of progress this weekend.

I got the bowsprit, mast, boom, and gaff made as per the instructions.

A miniature block plane makes adding chamfers a quick job, and I use a sanding stick to fine tune.



The bowsprit took a couple tries since I misinterpreted the instructions the first time around. The first try is on the top here:




The problem was that I misinterpreted which sides to taper. In case anyone watching this thread has not done this part yet, the profile of bowsprit as seen when looking at the laser-cut sheet is from the side. I thought this was the top view of the bowsprit as it is with the boom and gaff.


So when tapering 'both sides' as written in the instructions, you're tapering the front and back of the piece, as seen when looking at the sheet.

The bottom of the bowsprit is not supposed to be tapered, which I found out the hard way when I fitted my first bowsprit on the model and realized it was not flat along the beakhead.




After a coat of Wipe-On Poly I fitted it to the model. I needed to add a little wedge underneath the end against the samson post since the beakhead and deck aren't totally parallel on my model. You'll see I also added the trailboards.




I also made the chainplates and added them along with the fairleads.




I put the mast halves together and tapered the assembly per the instructions.




I took a swing at making the chamfers and rounding it all off, but as with the Norwegian Pram, I had trouble making it circular rather than elliptical. It was taking way too much time trying to get the lower part circular enough to fit through the deck, so I gave up and just shaped a 1/4" dowel I happened to have on hand (I think it's from the Norwegian Pram kit) using a drill and sandpaper.


Personally I think the method of starting with a square piece as done in these two models works okay for things like booms and gaffs as long as the thickness of the sheet is reasonably close to the diameter you want. But gluing two halves together that are supposed to taper as much as the mast does... I think it's just a waste of time since you have to remove so much material and it's really difficult to get a circular result.


Here are the mast, boom, and gaff all shaped and drilled, with the stops and boom saddle fitted:




The model so far is turning out pretty well, despite all the mistakes and corrections.




I have not decided what I'm going to do with the base yet... I stained the base for the Norwegian Pram but I think it turned out to be a little too monotone, especially considering I used the same stain for most of the model..



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I have not had much to do outside of work the past year which leaves plenty of time for construction 😉

I am however finally vaccinated and just about ready to rejoin the real world again, starting with flying home to visit my parents for Mother's Day. I haven't seen them since Thanksgiving 2019 so this should be a great weekend.


In the meantime, however, work continues on the Lobster Smack!

A short update today. I have managed to get the sails made over the past couple nights.





As with the Norwegian Pram I have found that the method of brushing on diluted white glue produces a very nice result. Areas with more layers (i.e. the corners) required a dab of CA to make sure it was all held together nicely and won't come apart.

Where I need to cut holes for rigging, I will use a dab of CA on each side before using a sharp drill.. I find that produces a nice clean (and strong) result.


A note to the other Lobster Smack builders out there: be frugal with the cloth. I had hardly any to spare in the end.


Not much further to go... Plan to start rigging the mainsail to the mast hopefully tonight. 

I expect I will be done with the boat this week or next. Still need to decide what to do with the base, but the model itself is nearly there.

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Yesterday I got the main sail rigged to the mast, boom, and gaff.

Here it is with the reef points and mast rings:



And here it is all rigged:





It appears that I got the wrong diameter rigging line.

See above, for example the reef points, lacing along the boom, and the halyards are using too large a diameter.

The kit is supposed to come with 0.4mm and 0.7mm line, but it appears to have come with 1mm and 2mm:




On the left is some 0.7mm I had left over from the Norwegian Pram.

I used up the rest of my spare 0.7mm rigging the gaff and mast rings in the above photos.. and rigged the rest with the provided 1mm line to mock it up. Once I have some line of the correct size I will have to redo the boom lacing, reef points, and the running rigging, but that is not a huge chore.


I have submitted a parts request to Model Expo. Interestingly the part numbers match the parts list, but the parts list must be wrong because WP1244 and WP1235 are definitely not 0.4mm and 0.7mm as described on the parts list (and in the instructions).


Anyhow, I plan to make a run to the fabric store later and see if there is any suitable bead cord available.. if not I will have to wait and hope that Model Expo will send the right sizes.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Well, it has been about a month since my last post!


Model Expo kindly sent the replacement rigging line which took about 3 weeks to arrive.

In the meantime, I found some suitable black bead cord to do the standing rigging. 



A couple of the turnbuckles broke when I tried to drill out the hole a little, so for those I had to file off the broken part, drill another hole, and file that down to resemble the original shape (you can see the result on the top of the bowsprit). Not ideal, but nobody will notice unless they know to look. 😉


Here is the standing rigging, with some different line used to temporarily rig the main sail.



After this it was a waiting game for the new rigging line to arrive, then another couple weeks working on other things, until today I finally got her finished up and a couple rope coils added on. 

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Fantastic work, I like your lighter deck more then mine. 
How do you compare this build to the 18th Century Long Boat?  I really appreciated the Long Boat schematic, it answered a lot of my build questions.

What is you next build?

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51 minutes ago, SkiBee said:

Fantastic work, I like your lighter deck more then mine. 
How do you compare this build to the 18th Century Long Boat?  I really appreciated the Long Boat schematic, it answered a lot of my build questions.

What is you next build?


Thanks, SkiBee!


As for comparison with the Longboat, I found the planking a lot easier on the Lobster Smack due to the fact that the planks are already spiled and do not require much, if any, edge bending. This is also easier, I think, due to the larger scale of the model. I enjoyed the higher complexity of the rigging on the Longboat, though. The other construction is difficult to compare since the two are so different, though I would reiterate that I do not like this method of making masts out of flat laser-cut pieces.

The Longboat may be better for total newbies since there are dozens of references and build logs and the instructions are more clear, and I agree that full-scale drawings would be very helpful, for both this build and the Norwegian Pram. While the instructions are fairly thorough, the photos are really no substitute for drawings.


My next build is the Corsair from Occre:


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