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Muscongus Bay Lobster Smack by Dee Dee - FINISHED - From Midwest to Chapelle - 1:24 - Small

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To better describe this build, I've re-titled this build log and made some changes in my opening post. 


While the Bluenose is in drydock, this would be a good time to do my second build of the MBLS.  The objective of this build is to get close to what the original MBLS looked like.  I'm using the drawings in Chapelle's book and adding details as described in the text and other information I have found on the web.   Also, I'm using these builds to develop my skills before I start the kits I have on the shelf.


Bluenose update:  The kit Bluenose build has been terminated.  The kit scale was 1:100 - a really terrible scale!  Everything is way too tiny ---  1mm in scale = 4" in life.


These are some of the changes I will be doing in this build:


March 8, 2014 update of changes made:


DONE!   Keel will have a working rudder and centerboard. 

DONE!   Hull will be single planked in walnut

DONE!   Decking will be basswood and the only light color wood in the build

DONE!   In the cockpit, the kit floor will be replaced with planks that lay on the frames

DONE!   Bench will be smaller and closer to print.  The cockpit bench has been eliminated

DONE!   Fish well covers will also be smaller and will fit flush

DONE!   Access opening for the centerboard line will also be smaller and a flush fit

DONE!   Cabin flooring will be one laid on each side of the centerboard trunk

DONE!   Fish wells will be redesigned so the post side berth can be added

DONE!   Windows will be rectangular in shape and will have sliding covers

DONE!   The cabin will be enlarged by removing the first bulkhead

DONE!   A shoe will be built for the mast.  I always called it a 'shoe', more commonly known as a 'step'

DONE!   Hatch cover will be widened and the cover will be fully functional

DONE!   Bow sprit will pivot on the sampson post

DONE!   Mast, boom and gaff will be built with yokes and need to order some better quality blocks  

DONE!   Mainsheet horse will be much wider


TO DO!  Rigging will be corrected by adding lazy jacks 


As for cost, in the 1890's, a 25 foot friendship sloop sold for $675 and a 28 foot complete for sea sold for $780, or $18,800 and $21,200 in today's dollar.  The price was kept low by using low cost labor, local materials and short cuts in construction.

I found this quote on the Apprentice Land and Sea website:  

            "It ain’t a piana. Hurry up, a man wants his boat.” ~ John Gardner



Questions, comments, suggestions are welcome. 




(Edited to add update on changes to be made 4/22/2014)

Edited by Dee_Dee
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So, here I go!


The kit keel was replaced with a three ply sandwich of two 1/32" birch plywood and one 1/16" basswood.  These were hand cut slightly oversized and will be sanded to print when all three pieces are glued together.   


To build the center board trunk, some of the 1/16" basswood was removed.  After the bulkheads are added, I will remove the shaded areas on the keel. Then, when the planking is completed, I'll remove the area with the 'squiggly' lines.  The final keel will then look similar to the keel as shown in this photo on the Apprenticing Land and Sea website:  http://i1302.photobucket.com/albums/ag122/Arista81/Muscongus%20Bay%20Sloop/38054afa-85ab-4c2b-9186-226e151813d1_zps2509a6bb.jpg






The centerboard was made from 3/64" stock and has 1/64" clearance.  At scale, this is 3/8" clearance, a little tight for a wood centerboard, but more than enough for an iron centerboard.  I'm going to remake this centerboard, so the extended centerboard will be 6" longer.  Then I'll paint the inside of the trunk brown, add the hinge pin and glue all three pieces of the keel together.  Then, I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope I don't accidentally glue the centerboard while planking!


You can see the opening for the rudder post.  This will be reinforced with another layer of wood on both sides. 


Again, this build will be quicker than my first MBLS.   


Questions, comments, suggestions are welcome. 





Edited 11/24/2014 to add photos that went missing....

Edited by Dee_Dee
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That's really going to open up the cabin. BTW, what thickness of planking will you be using? and using PVA or CA?

I don't think the forward bulkheads and false keel removal will effect the overall structure once its all glued and planked. Plus it should be a nice frustration release. Like tearing out a wall in the house. Just don't use a chain saw. :D  I was amazed when I built the canoe how rigid the shell was after former removal.


This should almost be in the scratch built section. Can't wait to she the progress.

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Thanks for stopping by!  


For the planking, I have some 1/32" x 3/16" stock that would be close to scale, but since I am only doing one layer of planking, I will use 1/16" x 1/4" and will be doing a lot of trimming to get it down to scale.    


When gluing, I'll use PVA as often as possible, but occasionally I will use CA.


On the bulkheads, I've figured out where I want to remove and where I will have to ADD.  I'll show this in my next post later today.   


This build is a 'mega bash' of a kit and even though I am making a lot of the parts, it is still a kit build.


And I am still looking for that part that went flying!  

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My best advise. Look where it couldn't have possibly ended up...or looking in the last place you'd look... you ever notice that's where you always find it...of course you usually stop looking once its found :D

and I hate to say this but Tuxedo looks like the cat that ate the windlass. :o


I think the thicker 1/16" planking is a better idea with the bulkhead removal. Nigel (NMBROOKS) did some Extreme bulkhead remove in his SotS build. I think he stated there's only about 12 sq inches of kit left in the build now. I just love watching kit bashing.

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Keith, When I was painting the pieces of the windlass, I used clips to hold the pieces.  They were sitting on my desk when I heard one of the clips go 'PING' and fall over and then I heard something hit the wall.  YEP!  It was the main piece for that blasted windlass.  I looked everywhere for it.  I figured it would just be my luck it fell into the printer.  So I decided to humor myself and look inside the printer and guess what I found inside of the printer!  (It landed on the paper and slid down.)  

I don't think this windlass likes me.


Tuxedo is a sweetheart.  He will jump up on my work table to inspect everything I am working on and he will not touch any of it.  Instead, he looks for one of his toys that I keep on the table and he starts playing with that!   


Thanks for the info on Nigel's build.  I'll check it out before I finish making my bulkheads.


HI Popeye!  Nice to have you stop by!  I really like your Moe, Larry and Curly build.  For a Christmas theme, I was thinking about building the Rouse Simmons, AKA the "Christmas Tree Ship."


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The kit keel is 1/8" or 3.2mm thick.  After I glued the layers of the keel together, it ended up being 3.45mm thick.  I sanded off the laser burn marks on the bulkheads and they fit nice and snug.  On each bulkhead, I ID'd where I want to remove material and where I will have to add material.  Removing material will be done after the planking is completed, but I need to add some of the material before planking. 



The area in blue will be removed.  I've replaced the 3/4" x 3/32" kit bracing with two strips of 3/32" x 3/32".  When I remove the excess keel I'll add one more strip on the other side of this bulkhead.  




Again, the area in blue will be removed and the kit supplied bracing was replaced with two strips of 3/32" on the other side. 

The fish wells are per Chapelle's print.  I am also including the port side berth which is shown in the Friendship Sloop prints, but not shown on the prints for the MBLS.


The top edge of this bulkhead was lined with a strip of walnut to prevent the basswood from 'wearing away' while planking the hull.  I learned this in my first build, where the starboard side was almost 1/8" shorter than the port side.     




The only change on this one will be to omit the brace for the cockpit floor. 




If this is your first build, just before you add the cockpit combing, remove the bulkhead shaded in red.  This will significantly improve the appearance of your finished model.  The blue AND red area will be removed.




Next up is install the bulkheads and transom, add the shoe for the mast, fair the bulkheads and start planking.   

Edited by Dee_Dee
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Hi Jesse, thanks for stopping by.  I'm really enjoying this build! 


Keith, The book I'm using is Chapelle's "American Small Sailing Craft, Their Design, Development and Construction."   The MBLS is in the 'Sloops and Catboats' chapter, which also includes the Bermuda Sloop, the Newport boat, Providence River boat, the Noank Sloop (Emma C. Berry) and many other boats.  It's heavy reading but extremely fascinating.  

I figured out the mast shoe after I saw one detailed in the drawing for the Providence boat.  Throughout the chapter, I've penciled in lots of notes and underlined lots of tidbits of information.  Also, Chapelle references other books and articles where he found information. 

My only complaint about this book is the drawings are very small.  In my first build log, I scanned and posted one of the drawings of the MBLS so I could compare my build to the actual drawing.  Many others have found this photo helpful as I have seen it posted on many other places.  

I'm also looking for information on pilot boats, so will be checking out other Chapelle books. 

Edited by Dee_Dee
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As far as my research goes on the pilot boat I really liked Cunliffe's - Pilots: the world of pilotage under sail and oar.
I haven't purchased it yet as there a google version but it is not complete and It's one on my list to have in hard copy.

It has some really great pic's, both art and photos. 






and here's the 2nd volume, I haven't seen it but assume its as nice a text as the 1st.



Has anyone seen or own this vol 2? I'd love a review and assume Dee Dee wouldn't mind the information. Cunliffe also has a new book titled. PILOT CUTTERS UNDER SAIL: Pilots and Pilotage in Britain and Northern Europe


I'm also curious about this one



Edited by themadchemist
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The three layers of the keel have been glued up and the keel is stiff and straight.    


I used wood blocks to keep the bulkheads square while gluing, however a bow and a twist developed in the keel.  Spacers between the bulkheads fixed the bow, but the F4 bulkhead is still slightly twisted.  I'll fix this by planking both sides simultaneously and the first plank will be 1/16" x 1/4".  The spacer between F3 and F4 will be removed before planking and all spacers will be removed after planking.

LOOKING FOR ALL PHOTOS...................................................................................... 



I have already removed a lot of the keel and added a lot of strength in the keel.  After the first two planks are on, I'll remove the balance of the keel between the first and second bulkheads (and refine the shape of the centerboard trunk.)  When the planking is completely done, I'll remove most of the first bulkhead and parts of the second bulkhead so I can add the port side berth. 


The centerboard pivot pin is in the false keel and is about 2" (scale) from the bottom planks of the hull.  This is going to be a tight fit, so I will hold off adding the CB until most of the planking is done, then use some wax paper to keep it from getting glued.


I also added a peg to hold the rudder and secured it with two pins.  It's final length will be ~1/8" or 3" in scale.


Planks will be laid on the frames and planks to make a 'floor' in the cockpit.  At the lowest point, the cockpit will be 24" below the deck and ~27" below the combing. 


In the forward section of the cabin, I've added a shoe for the mast.



The framing for the fish wells is from Chapelle's drawings and answers half of the question of "where" were they located.  In this photo, I've added the kit fish well lid and it fits right on the edges of the framing.  At scale, the lids measure 15" x 21".



Next, I'll start the planking, remove more of the keel, add veneers and framing to the centerboard trunk, install centerboard, add the garboard, finish the planking.   


Comments, suggestions are welcome.


Thanks for stopping by


Dee Dee


(Edited 11/26/2014 to add back photos......)


Edited by Dee_Dee
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looks great......you've removed quite a bit of material.......would it be beneficial to do a couple rows of planking,  mainly the bulwark planking,  to help alleviate some if not all of the  warpage your experiencing?   I did it on the Harbor boats.....mainly to save the bulwark posts from getting broken,  and it did very well in reducing the amount of  'twist'  the frames had.

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That was the plan, but it is near impossible to get even one row of planking on due to the twist and turns.  The F4 bulkhead is square, but the port side is 3mm lower and the transom is level, but it turns to the starboard side almost 5mm.  There is so much torque on the glue joints that they kept on snapping off and I was still not able to get the frame straight.


So, I'm going to PLAN B.  I'll lightly glue on the deck to the bulkheads.  This will help me to square up / straighten the bulkheads and get the planking started.  Then, when I have a few rows of planking done, I'll snap off the deck and continue as planned. 

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I prefer to build small boats, as these boats tell the history and life of the people that plied the waters in small towns and cities along the water ways. 


I went with Plan B and temporarily tacked on the deck to straighten out the keel.  After I had three planks on each side, I removed the deck, temporary spacers and a lot more of the false keel.  When I'm done planking, I'll remove most of the first bulkhead, part of the second bulkhead and the balance of the fourth bulkhead. 


This is the my fourth build I've planked.  This build is a single planking, using 1/16" x 1/4" walnut.  With four planks done on each side, I am happy with the results.  


It's been cloudy and snowing the past few days, the next sunny day I'll add a better photo.






In the cabin, the centerboard trunk has been finished.  After the bulkhead is removed, I'll plank the top of the keel and add one floor board on each side of the keel. 


Before I started planking, I used some Minwax gel stain to even up the color of the various walnut planks.  Three days later, I had to scrape it off because it was still 'sticky' and 'gummy'.  THAT was a mess and that can of stain is on it's way to the recycling center.  


The mast shoe is sized to use a 6mm square blank for the mast.  I'm making the shoe similar to the one on a friends old "E" class sail boat that was built in the 1930's.  It's was rectangle in shape and "T" shape blocks were used to get the desired mast rake. 


The excess false keel between the 1st and 2nd bulkheads has been removed. After the planking is complete, the remaining false keel and most of the first bulkhead will be removed.


The center board trunk is finished.  When the bulkhead is removed, I'll finish the keel, mast shoe and add one floor board on each side of the keel.   


The interior of the 2nd bulkhead has been planked with walnut veneer.  When planking is completed, part of this bulkhead will be removed to make space for the port side berth and storage.  The distance from cabin floor boards up to the top of the fish wells is close to four feet.  Will add a 'step' on each side of the centerboard trunk and one more on the bulkhead along with a brass handle.  




I painted the inside of the fish wells and transom to match the walnut color.   


The bulk of the fourth bulkhead has been removed, after planking, I'll remove the balance and replace with something more in scale.    The top of the keel will be finished and will add floor boards.  




I have the 18th Century Longboat on the shelf and I this planking has given me more confidence to start that build.


Thanks for stopping by


Dee Dee  


Edited 11/24/2014 to add back photos that went missing....

Edited by Dee_Dee
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Nice work. She has a lovely sheer line. It's good to see progression on a great project.


I wonder what the fascination with this little boat is caused from. This kit has seen some heavy bashing, which I'm loving. For me its the hull shape plus that it is a vessel that is capable of one person sailing her. That walnuts is going to look great also, it's a nice coffee brown, which I really like.


Thanks for the updates.

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On 12/26/2013 at 7:27 PM, themadchemist said:

I wonder what the fascination with this little boat is caused from. This kit has seen some heavy bashing, which I'm loving. For me its the hull shape plus that it is a vessel that is capable of one person sailing her.




That's a great question!   


For me, whilst it's a very pleasing hull shape, I'm using this build to learn some of the skills I'll need for the kits I have on the shelf.  This is my second MBLS bash build and when it's done, the only part that will be sort of original to the kit is the third bulkhead.  But I am also challenging myself to build a MBLS that looks close to like it did back in the day.  I've done a lot of research, Chapelle's book is fantastic and there is a lot of information out there.  Also, the kit is reasonably priced, so if I really mess it up, I can call it a learning experience and move on.   


Here are some of the skills I am learning on this build and where I will use them on kits I have on the shelf:


The 18th Century Long Boat is single planked hull and uses 1/32" x 1/8".  I'm learning about single planking, including measuring and shaping the planks, beveling the edges and gluing.  


The Corel Sloop is a great little model, but it's not very accurate and a lot of changes need to be made.  Redesigning the bulkheads and keel to lower the cockpit floor and adding doors in the bulkheads to access storage under all three decks are just two of these changes. 


The Corel Dragon is double planked and the kit walnut is some of the nicest I've seen.  The hull is supposed to be painted, but it would be a crime to paint this wood.  Also, I will need to redesign the keel, so the hull can be completely planked.  The walnut planking is 1/16" x 3/16" and no will filler will be allowed!

Edited by Dee_Dee
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I just found this build log , intresting  it seem you made alot of extra work for yourself ,the frames can be opened up from the begining just add the deck clamp and it will keep the hull straight , without twist  Take a look at my scratch build log for keels # 3 & 4, it will also show how I did the centerboard box the way Chapelle explains it in his book on boatbuilding. ( I will say I have experience in full size boat construction ) I am just doing it on a smaller scale


Best Regards,




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I just found this build log , intresting  it seem you made alot of extra work for yourself ,the frames can be opened up from the begining just add the deck clamp and it will keep the hull straight , without twist  Take a look at my scratch build log for keels # 3 & 4, it will also show how I did the centerboard box the way Chapelle explains it in his book on boatbuilding. ( I will say I have experience in full size boat construction ) I am just doing it on a smaller scale







Best Regards,




Pete, I've checked out your build log.  IMHO,  since your keel does not run the full length of the hull, your hull will have no strength, it will twist and be prone to leaking and it will sink like a rock.     


This photo from "Apprentice Land & Sea" shows the centerboard trunk is an extension of the over sized keel and the centerboard drops down from a thin slot in the keel. The keel / center board design in post #2, is based on this photo and the drawing from Chapelle's book.  FWIW, when I posted the photo of the drawing (that you've been using) from Chapelle's book in my first build log, I deleted / added numerous lines.       






YEP!  They are contagious, but I got a shot before I started this one!   ;)  Happy Holidays to you too!


Bob and Bug,

Thanks for stopping by.  There are a lot more changes coming, the first one will be in the following build update.  I'm learning a lot that will carry forward to future builds and I'm having fun!

Edited by Dee_Dee
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With just two planks to go on the planking, it was time to install the centerboard.


Centerboards were made from solid white oak (or similar dense wood) with iron rods or wrought iron straps to weigh it down.  But these would rot, swell, jamb and eventually cause catastrophic failure.  Half inch boiler plate steel or black iron were also used, but prone to rusting.  The best material was brass or bronze – but that was very expensive and these are work boats. 


My centerboard has less than 1/128" (0.007") clearance inside the centerboard trunk.  I tried making the straps out of thin rag paper, 0.004" thick, but that was too thick.   So adding black iron straps was not an option.  The centerboard moves freely inside the trunk, but in the summer with humidity, it might swell up a bit and start to bind. 


In this photo, you can see the brass pin that goes through the oversized keel.



This is is fully working centerboard, a wide view with the centerboard drawn up into the trunk.  



And a wide view of the centerboard dropped




The centerboard is operated by pulling up on a short black iron handle (brass is incorrect, as its too soft and too expensive.) The black iron handle is attached to a short length of black chain and the chain is connected to the centerboard.  The black iron handle acted as the stops for both the raised and dropped centerboard. 


After the hull planking is done, I'll start work on the cabin and cockpit and there will be lots of changes there! 


Thanks for stopping by, suggestions and comments are welcome


Dee Dee


Edited 11/24/2014 to add back photos that went missing

Edited by Dee_Dee
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it is hard to make a feature in a model kit,  that is movable.   in the early days of plastic,  you had pyro and lindberg line,  that had the best luck with this.   Revell made some feeble attempts ;)    your problem is compounded by the scale of build your working with.......hard to go into that much detail.   I'm sure there is a mechanical and functional means to actuate this,  but I think as long as you can make it work reasonably  enough....you'll have done what you set out to do.    you've definitely put a interesting aspect into this build  :)

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