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Willie L. Bennett by PineTar - Model Shipways – Scale 1:32

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First, let me say I have already found this forum to be an invaluable resource for both the neophyte ship modeler and the experienced builder. To that I offer a big...


...to the owners and administrators of Model Ship World and everyone else who has taken time to share your knowledge, experience, and wisdom on this forum. Thanks Folks!


Now on to some business...


Although not my first boat build, this is my first wooden sailing craft build. I've been working on a scale model Dodge Runabout (Legend Model Boats) for several months now (see link in my signature). Its coming along nicely but I still wanted to try my hand at a sailing boat.


As for experience, I've been into model building in general since I was a kid and have been fooling around with model railroad stuff for nearly 40 years – mostly HO with a smattering of On30. I prefer working with wood and build mostly kits, but do a little scratch building too.


In choosing my first sailing craft build, I thought something rather basic might be in order, so after looking over a lot of stuff I decided on the Willie L. Bennett Chesapeake Bay Skipjack by Model Shipways. Why the Bennett? First, Model Shipways and Model Expo seem to have a topnotch reputation in the model ship business. Second, I like the larger scale, the smaller price tag, and it does seem to be a tad less complicated than, oh say, Nelson's Victory or something on that order...


So we'll start with the obligatory “the box and what's in it” shots...









After unpacking, ran through the parts list – everything looks good there. I retrieved the plans and instruction booklet and will spend the next week or so studying this stuff and getting a little more familiar with the pieces, parts, and process. Should get started on this thing for real in a week or so. Until then...

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Spent the last several days looking over the instructions, plan sheets and parts list, plus went through every Bennett build thread here on MSW. Lots of fine work by some talented folks! Thanks to all of you who have taken time to post your build progress.


Got started with the build by setting up the build board and attaching the hull moulds. Built up the keel assembly, cut the rabbet; cut, fit, and attached the remaining keel parts and transom. Fit it all into the hull moulds and secured it to the build board at the stem and stern posts. Cut and attached the chine logs and carved and sanded them to shape.


Next thing was to cut the hull side planking pieces and fit and attach them to the chine logs, stem post and transom. Sanded and faired them along with the chine logs. Checked the tick marks for the sheers and looks like the hull side planking is just about wide enough to cover them.
















Just a couple of bumps so far; I misinterpreted the plan sheet and cut the aft skeg a tad too short leaving no clearance to attach the transom between the stern post and the aft skeg. Had to remove the stern post and put a short 1/8” strip between the two pieces. Problem solved. Next, had a wrestling match with the chine logs. Finally epoxied those little buddies to the transom and let it set up, then formed them around the molds and clamped and epoxied them to the stem post.


So far, so good... Should get along to the bottom planking in the next few days.


Thanks to all for your interest and comments!

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Tim, Gerty, Russ & Dave B – Thanks and welcome to the fray!


Started the bottom planking. The NWSL Chopper makes cutting the angle on the planks simple and accurate. Towards the bow I glued the planks into the rabbet, let them set, then clamped and glued them to the chine log to get the little “twist” they needed. I used Zap-A-Gap medium CA to glue the planking down. Trimmed the chunks down a bit and glued them in place. Next was some basic shaping and sanding. The planking was a little rough in places so I used a bit of Minwax filler and more sanding. Being the hull will have a painted finished, it seemed important to get a smooth finish rather than trying to preserve the wood grain for staining. Did a bit more sanding, pulled the hull off the moulds and clamped it up in the keel clamp.




Thanks again to everyone for taking time to look and comment!

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Thanks Russ!

I checked out your other builds - excellent work!  I especially like the Biloxi schooner.

I have a research trip planned to Galveston later this year to try to dig up some plans, drawings and photos of early fishing craft on Galveston area waters.


Thanks again for interest and comments.

Edited by Ol' Pine Tar
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Thanks for the kind words.


Check Chapelle's American Small Sailing Craft. There are plans for a Texas scow sloop and a scow schooner, both of which were very prevalent along the Texas Gulf Coast. Those plans can be gotten from the Smithsonian.



Edited by russ
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Thank you gerty. Your Bennett is coming along quite smartly!


After a bit of thought, I decided to go with non-scale “fake” framing. I know my framing does not look like the plans and instructions, but its all going to be covered by the deck planking. With that in mind, I placed the longitudinal battens, strongbacks, knight heads, side framing and clamps. Next was the “fake” framing for the deck spaced about 1”. I faired the deck framing for the bit of crown of the deck. Added plank sheers and log rails. Sort of cheated on the plank sheers; instead of using a cutting several pieces from single 1/2” width I used 4 pieces of basswood, soaking them and laying them in 1 at a time to make up the width of the sheers. The log rails, after soaking, were no problem and went on nicely. A bit more sanding and we're ready to start the deck planking using the basswood from the kit. I'm going to try to stain the deck planking instead of painting it, depending on how it looks after I finish sanding it down.






I am subscribed to all the Bennett build logs I could find on MSW. A lot of very nice work by some of very talented folks! So, Bennett builders, keep posting those updates – I need all the encouragement I can get!


As always, THANKS ! To everyone who has taken the time to look and comment.

Edited by Ol' Pine Tar
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Thanks David, Russ for your interest & comments.


Completed the deck planking, sanded it smooth, and stained it with Minwax Ipswich Pine stain. Topped that off with a couple of coats of Minwax Wipe On Poly. Still got a lot to learn about fairing and planking, but we're getting' there... I do like the way the deck stain came out so I think I'm going to leave it as is.


Next I cut out and shaped the cutwater and stem and epoxied it to the inner stem. Cut out the basic bowsprit and began shaping it.




One thing I forgot to mention and show a pic of; I did put a couple of blocks under the decking for the mast and samson post. I'll drill these out and shape them accordingly when I get to that part of the build.


Also, in response to another topic I saw regarding glues; I use Titebond II for most of the wood stuff and some 5 min or 12 min epoxy. I do use a bit of CA but not much.


And, as always, THANKS everyone for your interest & comments!

Edited by Ol' Pine Tar
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Thanks Russ & David for your comments.


David, I only stained the decking; the discoloration on the hull itself are remnants of the filler I used to smooth it out. It will get painted later. I used the Minwax Ipswich Pine stain on a couple of model railroad projects, mainly the interior of the HO scale sawmill I built a few years ago. I just like the way it looks on basswood.

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Nice weather, baseball season, and the ever-expanding “honey-do” list means not a lot of time at the workbench, but did get a bit done.

Sanded and primered the hull and bowsprit. Began constructing the deck cabins, hatches and winder motor cover.




I've also been putting in some time reading a couple of Howard Chappelle's books, American Small Sailing Craft and The American Fishing Schooners 1825-1935. Looks like when I finally do retire, I'll have a whole new genre of history to delve into...

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Another busy week away from the work bench, but managed to get the hull primered and the first finish coats done. I used Walmart brand gray sandable primer and Krylon satin ivory. Yes Russ, I'm going to paint the bottom red.  Maybe boxcar red...  I seem to have a surplus of boxcar red...   :rolleyes:


I also started constructing the various deck structures.



That's about it for this week. 

As always, THANKS to everyone for your interest and comments!

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 I just jumped on the log, Len, and everything looks fantastic.

 I recently ordered the kit, so I can't wait to see your progress.

 I was planning to give it a hard used look, but I really like you "clean" look.




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