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Billing Boats Zwarte Zee - rare find


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I was browsing through my favorite web site a couple of weeks ago,  and I saw a kit of the Zwarte Zee offered for the ridiculous price of $89.00.............naw....must be an error.  figuring that they might correct it on their own,  I looked into it again last week..........they did not :)   I turned to my budget director and told her about it,  and after a brief discussion,  I was ok'd to order it.  snail mail came through better than expected in receiving the package sooner than it was said to arrive.  even though there is a bit of a let down,  I'm very happy with the kit!

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this is the Zwarte Zee #486,  an older kit of the model that Billing Boats offers today.  being an avid Billing Boats modeler,  it was easy to see that this is an older kit,  and even though there are a few bits of hardware,  it is missing the fittings.  with older kits,  these parts were sold separately.  in the past,  I have acquired two kits of the Nordkap..........the first being the first wood kit I've ever built {along with the Cux 87},  and the second one being older that the first, the use of mahogany wood being the big give away.  I have begun some research to locate the fitting kit,  and so far I haven't seen any available.  the furthest back I have been able to go with this kit is around 1963.........these kits were not laser cut,  and the parts were printed on basswood billets.  all parts need to be cut out by hand.........they are a lot more work,  but so much more fun to work with,  since having a couple of these kits under my belt.  the kit also went through a few kit number changes since it was first produced............#486 {I'm thinking the fitting kit was #487}........per a 1977 catalog - #422 with #423 being the fitting kit............and per a 2005 catalog - #592,  the fitting were included in the kit by this time {likely,  it was also laser cut}.  I'm not sure if at this time it had an ABS hull,  but the kits offered today do.  it also went through scale changes.......the #486 kit is 1:50 scale and the newer kits are 1:90 scale.  I arrived with this due to the older Nordkap kits being 1:50 scale,  having an overall length of 32 inches long.  there is no scale listed on this kit at all,  but has an overall length of 30 inches long.  considering the estimated age of the kit,  what makes me happy is the overall condition of the parts.......they look very good :)   the wood doesn't look like it's been subjected to dank cellars or musty attics......darn thing looks as fresh as a daisy.  I'm going to continue the search for a fitting kit........Billing has expanded their selection of fitting kits.......only the one for the Smit Rotterdam is shown.  I'd have to weigh out the pros and cons using it.

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Score!!! This is such an interesting kit and you are so lucky to get your hands on one Popeye. A beautiful old school deep sea tug with lots of interesting features and nice lines to boot.

Have a great time putting this beauty together!

I wonder if Billing might still have the odd fittings kit kicking around. It might be worth your while to send them an email with photos of your "new" Zwarte Zee to ask after a fittings kit.

Good Luck!!

Peter

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Let me know if you ever find a Kearsarge. Also let me know if you find a 1/96 scale schooner Atlantic. It's an extremely unknown kit (very rare) i assume it never really sold well. I had to do some serious digging in order to find out what it even was. It was produced by a little-known toy company who had a model sub-company. I've only ever seen one on ebay. 

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thank you Peter.......funny....that's how I met Tom Richards,  the fellow that had a Billing's franchise in Hayward Wisconsin :)   I had a super time back then........I was kind of working with him and his site,  but I was supplying him with build logs of the Nordkap and the Cux 87.   I became such a blog nut........I now have blogs on three sites!  I did try to correspond with the Billing's home site at one time,  but I never got a response.  I might try to contact Roger @ Ages of Sails about it,  since they were the folks who bought out the Billing USA site.  it's still a functioning site........used to have condensed blogs of the logs I sent Tom,  but I think the last time I looked,  they were gone {I still have a copy of them to enjoy :) }  so far,  I haven't seen one in my searches.....I am still trying.  I will have to check in on where you are with your Cutty........I have a catalog with the Billing's Cutty in it.   a truely old kit...........mahogany wood and such  ;) 

 

hello Ferrus..........I believe I saw a Revell Kearsarge on the old model kits site.  it's over $300.00 though.....not for the faint of heart {cost wise}.  there are the wood kits........off the top of my head,  I forget who makes it.........just in cast you want to get sawdust under your nails  ;)   I used to be daunted looking at those kits........but after building my first,  I don't know why I was so apprehensive :D   the Atlantic sounds like a Lindberg {Lindberg lines] kit.......I'd have to do some checking ;) 

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It was a company called Ideal Toy Corporation. The kit looked like it was from the 50's or early 60's, and looked to be in the same general line build-wise as the one i am working on now. I might just up and start a new project while i am waiting on sails. I have only seen the 1/96 Atlantic (plastic) once on ebay. OldModelKits had it, but it sold. The Bluejacket Kearsarge is probably above my level- i have never done a wood kit. 

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I did some checking on the Atlantic..........I've seen only prebuilt three masted schooners in wood.........no kits so far.  you may have to lay in wait for one to come along.  in regards to wood kits.......you sound a bit like me when I was young..........I can safety bet that there are folks here who are building a model that is above their level.  how else does one gain knowledge and experience,  if no chances are taken?  I had to have one dropped in my lap to give it a try.........and 'Ole Nordie sits on the shelf in our living room as testament.  now,  I wouldn't suggest to you to go out and buy a Billing Boats kit as you first,  but there are kits that could give you a decent introduction.

   there are small kits,  like dingies,  whale boats.......or even a sail boat that could get you started..........single masted boats.  the hardest part to master is planking.......and there are a plethora of tutorials and books that can help you there..........there are also folks on this site that can and will help you along the way...some really good people :)   every new comer to the medium has something to offer,  and sharing knowledge is one of the core principles that we follow here.  you have yet to find yours  ;) ..........and you will,  one day.

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7 hours ago, Ferrus Manus said:

i have never done a wood kit. 

One series of wooden ships is just really for beginners designed by David Antscherl, modeler extraordinaire, and a member here.   

 

There's two of these, one without tools and paint https://modelexpo-online.com/Model-Shipways-Shipwright-3-Kit-Combo-Series_p_5465.html

 

 And one with tools and paint.  https://modelexpo-online.com/name

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GrandpaPhil, i do not know if you were talking to me or someone with more experience. 🤣 My next build will be the Revell 1/96 scale Golden Hinde, and i would certainly like an audience of experts. I plan on getting Kirill4 (the Galleon expert) and Woodrat (the Carrack expert) on the case. 

 

EDIT: I now realize you were talking to Popeye. Yes, his work is extremely professional, and i personally hold him in high regard as one of the most senior and experienced members here. I actually ended up choosing him as a mentor, and we talk regularly. 

Edited by Ferrus Manus
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we all do what we can :)   the one single 'art' that anyone can learn in the beginning,  is scratch building.  I figured that out right from the start........the parts that I could cut out correctly with the Nordkap,  I had to make the part.  I was quite satisfied with how well the ship built up,  considering the age of the wood.......the scratch build parts were created from the cast off wood.  I intend on doing the same thing with this one,  just as I have been doing with the Progress,  which is being built from the second Nordkap kit I got.  the second kit came with mahogany planking,  which I did not use.......I'm saving it for something else down the road {haven't quite figured that out yet}.

   I had a closer look at the strip wood that came with the Zwarte Zee.  while the parts panels are definitely basswood,  the planking might be Obechi.  older Billing kits had mahogany wood in the early days,  turning over to basswood........taking a guess,  I'd say around the 60's or 70's.  Obetchi is a soft African wood....a lot more forgiving than basswood,  but doesn't sand as smooth.  I like it though as a planking,  because it behaves better and you can get better contours, especially around the stern area.  there are also the thicker pine strips for the framework and trim mahogany.  the planking is 1 mm thick,  so getting it to lay down good will be critical.......sanding might create thin spots if one isn't careful ;)   I prefer the 1.5 mm for the extra thickness,  but it's not a game changer.  will I need to order something like a fitting kit?..........probably not......just figure out what size the screw needs to be,  order the required railing posts......maybe a few other things.  I think I have enough in my inventory to fit her out.........I most likely will modify a few aspects too :)   

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I guess it is a late seventies/early eighties version. Have been looking at it quite often, but slightly out of my budget (in those days). And once budget was abvailable the shop had the other Smit-tug on offer :)

I only had (long ago) a paper 1:300 version.

 

the wood in my kit was not basseood, it was all obechi, a bit dry, a bit brittle (fun to cut the windows :) )

 

With respect to fittings: Billings in those days had almost no ‘specific’ fittings. It was standard railing, standard anchors, standard bollards, standard everything. (And a lot of cheap plastic). Checking on the drawings what you need and just buy/make it is easier than scouting an old box of fittings. 
 

Jan

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Ps: billings shows the ship (dating from 1963) in her post 1971-livery. For the older ships I do like the original style better:

 

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Although pre-internet, there are quite a lot of pics (mostly general overview) available, as this one was once the pride of the Dutch tugs: largest and strongest on the seven seas :) . On every model-exhibition in the Netherlands there was a separate section ‘zwarte zee’, next to the sections: ‘smit Rotterdam’, Furie and ‘Happy Hunter’

 

Jan

Edited by amateur
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   Ahoy, Popeye !   You are truly a handy man - having seen some of your builds (the first being that 1:124 Thermopylae ... what a challenge).  The Zwarte Zee looks sharp, and I'm sure you'll do just fine with her.  Fair sailing !   Johnny

Edited by Snug Harbor Johnny
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thanks Johnny :)   the Sergal Thermopylae is definitely not for the faint of heart.......I still have it on my main table.  I was going to continue with it when another gentleman here on the site decided to build it.  as I recall,  he did a fairly good job of it,  being his first wood build.  I would never advocate that particular model to anyone wanting to start out in this hobby,  but as I've said,  there are many who have selected models that are over their experience level and have gone on to create a really nice model :)   what I see are folks who want to excel,  and it makes me glad when they do!  I'm not a stranger to these older Billing kits.....I got my start on one

Nordkap.JPG.349a4437f554a6704b0a50e4abf424b2.JPGI can't wait to get started on the Zwarte Zee,  but first I gotta finish the Progress,  which is from the second Nordkap kit.

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hello Jan.....I've had different experiences with older Billing kits.  the fitting kits used to be mostly metal.......some parts were duplicated in the boat kit in wood.  the winches were all metal,  the cranes and a few of the pulley parts were in the kit,  printed on the parts billets { I was terrible at cutting them out}.  thankfully,  the pulleys were available in metal from Billings and I was able to order them for the Nordkap.  I ordered some for the Progress,  but I had to get them from somewhere else,  because at the time Billing didn't have them {I think they were discontinued}.  there were limited fitting kit offered at the time I built the Nordkap,  and the Nordkap wasn't one of them.  so with the help from Tom,  he scarfed some of the parts together for me.....at the same time though,  Harold found the fitting kit that he had and passed them along to me.  I had double the booty to outfit the Nordap!  what I found is,  the older the fitting kit,  the more metal parts.  Billing's expanded their fitting kit selections to include the Cux 87,  the Mary Ann,  and the Nordkap.  in these fitting kits though,  there are more wood and plastic parts..........not what I would have wanted.........but at least I now have the parts for the Progress.  I built the wood parts from the kit too...........the crane for instance..........it's in wood from the kit,  and plastic from the fitting kit.

  the winches are a mix of wood and metal........the original metal winches can be had though......I think they are still listed in the Billing's parts.  I'll be sure to list the wood parts that would also be found in the fitting kit when I start to build the model.   I'm sure that I can source out most of the parts for this model....just for a chuckle,  I did another quick check.  B B USA only lists six of them......only the Smit Rotterdam is shown.  Ages of Sail shows the same six.  I'd have better luck at Cornwall......they list the Rotterdam and the Bankert {they are almost sold out though}.   but for folks who find and purchase one of these older kits,  it is hoped that the original fitting kit comes with it.......one,  you'll have the entire kit......and two,  you'll be more satisfied with the contents :) 

 

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I checked: You are right: the bollards and winches were metal, as well as masts and details.

It was the ship boats (wrong size and model), the screws (even worse, as they provided the 3-bladed, large pitched ones for the RC), the nozzles, the bulls eyes and the lifebuoys that were plastic. Evidently, the frustration on the boats is what influenced my memory :)

(and in their kits of sailing ships, they added ugly plastic blocks and deadeyes)

 

Jan

 

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yea,  some of the parts led to be desired,  but other model companies did {and do} the same thing....even more so now in today's kits.  some of the metal stuff kind bit the big one too........the metal ornament for the Sergal Thermopylae is so thick,  that it is near impossible to bend.  I haven't done it yet.....nor have I binned the model.....it sits on my table still {one day I'll get back to it}.  I've gone to far to trash it ;)   back it the early day of my being a member here,  I use to hear of so many who didn't like the plastic stuff..........now,  not so much.  when I was helping Tom,  in the days of the 'real' Billing USA,  I would field some of the customer service complaints,  and actually I heard more about the printed wood,  than anything else.  Tom passed along my name to a gent who was having issues with the masting of the Cux 87 {mainly the aft mast,  because there wasn't a hole provided for it}.  as I did,  I connected it to the back of the pilot house with a bracket and made a pot for it in the back of the pilot house base.  I hear from him from time to time..........   the plastic blocks aren't that bad actually.  on a sailing vessel,  they would look ugly,  but on fishing vessels,  they seem to fit better.   that is what I use the for.  the 'power' reel blocks used to be metal.....a good look for them.......but in today's kits {and in the fitting kits},  they are the metal pulley spool with wood sides.......you assemble them..........YECH!  the wood used is also a good barometer as to the age of the kit.  the first Nordkap I built had basswood parts panel billets that the parts were printed on.  the second Nordkap that I'm building the Progress from,  had mahogany billets.  the Cutty Sark that Peter is building was produced around the same time frame as the second kit.  the parts that I'm not using,  I'm saving for when and if,  I ever purchase the the recent production of the Nordkap.........curious to see how much of treat it is,  to build it with laser cut parts ;)   the other reason,  is that I will be able to trace out the hull parts and build a ship that looks almost identical....the Nordepic

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she's a bit longer than the Nordkap,  and making doubles of the mid ship bulkheads should do the job.  the parts I saved are for the aft cabin structure.

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I also have the wrap around parts in the hard plywood,  that is seen in these kits.  I also have some of the helm parts that I recut using basswood.

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you can see the deck pulley parts on one of the thin plywood pieces.......I didn't do well with the other pulley parts,  so I sourced out some of those 'power' pulleys....I think from Cornwall Model Boats.  they still need to be assembled,  but they are made of metal :)   for the Zwarte Zee,  the parts are printed on plywood,  instead of regular basswood....I believe them to be pine.

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the crane parts are here....there are other parts elsewhere on the billets.

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on this particular model,  the dotted lines are a reference to where structures go...........some dotted lines are done due to any sign of shrinkage.  I don't see nay here.....as mentioned,  the wood is in pristine shape ;) 

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for the wood sections of the deck,  I will have to measure how wide the planking is and go from there.

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note that there isn't that much cast off wood in these billets.........utilized quite well!

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and there is one small sheet of thinner plywood........this stuff is hard to cut.  this is a smaller scale than the Nordkap,  being 1:50 scale.  one observation I've made,  is that I will need to bevel the cabin parts,  since the billets are plywood in nature.....the outer corners will look terrible if I don't ;)   looking forward in starting this one!

 

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