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Zuiderzee-Botter by wefalck - FINISHED - Artitec - (Resin)

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A Botter in the Zuiderzeemuseum (Enkhuizen, The Netherlands)


History and context

Looking at old maps it is amazing to see how land and water intertwined once in the northern part of the Netherlands, Noord Holland and Friesland in particular. It is even more so, when one drives through Noord Holland and reminds oneself that this once was a patchwork of islands and shallow stretches of sea. The Dutch fought - and continue to fight - the sea and at the same time a good part of the populations lived off the sea. The Zuiderzee (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zuiderzee'>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zuiderzee) once was a vast bay of the North Sea, reaching deep into the country, nearly down to Amsterdam. It served as throughfare for transport and as a rich fishing resource. However, pressure on  the scarce land was high and the sea was a constant menace to the low-lying shores and islands. As part of their struggle against the sea, the Dutch dammed up the bay by a large dike, the Afsluitdijk (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afsluitdijk), completed in 1933. This put an end to much of the fisheries. The already in its southern part brackish Zuidezee finally turned into a large freshwater lake, the Ijsselmeer.

Over the course of history there have been various types of sailing fishing vessels with numerous local variants. The best-known is probably the Botter (and its larger variant Kwak). At one stage it was estimated that there were over 1000 in operation at the end of the 19th century. The places around the Zuiderzee with the most botters were Enkhuizen, Volendam/Edam, Monickendam, Marken, Bunschoten and Urk. Spakenburg was an important building place.

Man's tools to win a lifelihood constantly change and are being adapted to changing circumstances, new needs and fashions as well. Thus methods of fishing evolved in order to increase efficiency and in response to changes to the fishing grounds and other environmental circumstances that influenced the availability of the resource 'fish'. The history of the botter is not easy to trace as no artefacts have survived and artistic renderings are not so reliable bevore say the late 18th century. As with all small boats, they were built without any drawings well into the 20th century. The botter or its somewhat larger version the Kwak as we know it today developed over the past two hundred years.

Sizes vary, but a typical botter has a keel of about 34 feet long.


There are quite a number of comprehensive printed works on the botter and its history (see below). These include also drawings. Some original drawings are preserved in various museums in the Netherlands. However, like so many traditional small boats, botters were usually built without any drawings. The museums also preserve various model built from about the early 19th century onward. There are also surviving quite a number of original botters, the oldest being from the last quarter of the 19th century.

These boats survived because they have been adapted as pleasure craft. Obviously a lot of concessions had to be made in this case to accomodate the modern leisure-boaters and therefore these boats are not useful for a reconstruction. In more recent years some of these have been reconverted into a state that is more like their original workday appearance. Also, from the end of the 19th century onward some botters had been built als pleasure craft for private owners. They usually deviate somewhat from the work boats and are often fitted with a cabin, as is found e.g. on boeiers.

The Zuiderzeemuseum (http://www.zuiderzeemuseum.nl/home/?language=en) in Enkhuizen preserves a late botter in its boat-hall. The Zuiderzeemuseum also has a large collection of ship- and boatmodels, including several botters. Some of the models appear to be contemporary, while others have been built in more

recent times.

The Model

The model is based on the resin kit produced by Artitec ( http://www.artitec.nl[/url]) in 1:90 (HO) scale. This company has developed a real mastery in casting complex and large resin parts. In addition to the hull, the kit contains castings for the mast and spars, for rigging blocks and, somewhat strangely perhaps, the taken-down sails. Of course, these kits are mainly meant as accessories for model railway layouts and people not knowing a lot about these craft. The kit also contains a small fret of etched parts, mainly for the ironwork of the rigging. While the etched parts are well made as such, they are for the most part not really useful for representing the forged ironwork. For instance, masthoops are, of course, flat in the horizontal direction, while they should really be short tubes. Other parts simply lack the needed plasticity. Hence most of the etched parts will not be used. Similarly, the cast rigging blocks will be replaced by home-made ones and 'real' sails will be made. I bought the kit 'second hand' and the at some stage the characteristic high stem head was broken off and a new one will have to grafted on. Various other details will be improved for better definition of the shapes. Although the casting is well made, there are certain limitations due to the casting process. A company policy of Artitec is to limit the number of parts and to cast-on as many details as possible. Thus for instance the spill is cast onto the foredeck. There are limitations to undercuts in the silicone rubber molds, hence the barrel is not completely free. I shall have to remove the material underneath the barrel using a scalpel etc.



The main cast resin item, the botter’s hull

Not only are Artitec masters in casting kits, but also in painting them as is evidenced for instance by the diorama of the

Texel Roadsted (http://www.dereedevantexel.nl) and models in various other museums around the Netherlands.


To be continued ....




Edited by wefalck
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Actually, I didn’t do so much with the resin apart from cutting off bits and pieces, but the resin is quite easy to work with, though a bit brittle.

The building begins with removing the casting pips. It appears that the model was cast upside-down, so that excess resin is found only at the bottom of the hull. This excess was cut off with an abrasive disk in the hand-held powerdrill. The bottom was then ground flat onto the waterline on a piece of wet-and-dry sanding paper. It is important to hold the hull securely during the various building steps. To this end two 2.5 mm holes were drilled into the solid part of the hull and tapped for M3 screws with which it can screwed down on a piece of wood for safe handling. The tapped holes will also used to hold down the model in its dioramic setting


Hull with mounting screws

The hull casting was then inspected for any flash and it removed with a scalpell and files. Luckily, there was hardly any flash. As the next step the hull casting was compared with drawings from the literature, mainly BEYLEN (1985) and DORLEIJN (2001), as well as pictures taken of a Marker botter in the Zuiderzeemuseum while I was living in nearby Alkmaar from 2006 to 2009. As is discussed below, the model will represent a botter from Marken. Botters from different regions differed in some details and these should be represented as true as is reasonably possible at this small scale. When going over the casting, a number of 'problems' were noted: a) the spill lacks some definition of detail, although the general shape is well represented; also a pawl bit is modelled, while normally the pawl would be pivoted on the inside band of the bow; B) the horse for the traveller of the main sheet is foreseen as an iron bar (an etched part), while the more common arrangement is a wooden horse integrated into the slightly raised stern-platform; c) the leeboards are meant to be glued onto wedge-shaped protrusions on the main bollards; on the prototype, the leeboards are suspended on a pin that ties into a band that is laid around the bollard; d) the horizontal wooden knees left and right of the stem-head are missing, but the whole stem-head has to be rebuilt anyway. In addition, holes for thole-pins etc. have to be drilled through. There are other little bits and pieces that need to improved, but they will not all be listed here.


Model on working stand

to be continued ...


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The hull casting was then inspected for any flash and it removed with a scalpell and files. Luckily, there was hardly any flash. As the next step the hull casting was compared with drawings from the literature, mainly BEYLEN (1985) and DORLEIJN (2001), as well as the above photographic images. As is discussed below, it will assumed that the model represents a botter from Marken. Botters from different regions differed in characteristic details and these should be represented as true as is reasonably possible at this small scale. When going over the casting a number of 'problems' were noted: a) the spill lacks some definition of detail, although the general shape is well represented; also a pawl bit is modelled, while normally the pawl would be pivoted on the inside band of the bow; B) the horse for the traveller of the main sheet is foreseen as an iron bar (an etched part), while the more common arrangement is a wooden horse integrated into the slightly raised stern-platform; c) the leeboards are meant to be glued onto wedge-shaped protrusions on the main bollards; on the prototype, the leeboards are suspended on a pin that ties into a band that is laid around the bollard; d) the horizontal wooden knees left and right of the stem-head are missing, but the whole stem-head has to be rebuilt anyway (it was broken off in this second-hand purchase of the kit). In addition, holes for thole-pins etc. have to be drilled through. There are other little bits and pieces that need to improved, but they will not all be listed here.


The cast-on spill



Sketch of a botter-spill in BEYLEN (1985)

In between, the hull-moulding was freed from cast-on belaying and other pins as well as the collar for the leeboards. All parts were replaced in metal for better definition. The respective holes for belaying and thole pins were opened up properly. The missing stem-head was fashioned from an off-cut piece of polyurethane resin. Bands and rubbing strakes for the forestay haliard were added from styrene sheet and copper wire.
On close inspection it was found also that the stern piece was too narrow to accomodate the pintels for the rudder. It was widened with a piece of resin stuck on. The tiller from the kit didn't look quite like what I had seen in the literature and on real boats.  Consequently a new one was rough millled from a piece of plexiglas and finish filed to shape. The tiller was completed with the band from styrene that holds it together in the prototype.


New tiller and improved rudder


The horse for the traveller was also fashioned from a piece of Plexiglas that had just the right thickness. All seams were filled with putty. From putty were also sculpted the stem knees. The horse also received rubbing strakes from thin copper wire.



The stern of the resin botter model before the alterations.


Sketch of a stern from a Marker botter by BEYLEN (1985)



Stern with improvements

To be continued ...


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Given the problems with the spill, it was cut completely from the moulded hull in order to be rebuilt as a separate item. Square holes and recessions cannot be easily machined from the solid. Therefore the spill was built up from a number of parts that would allow machining, The

0.5 mm x 0.5 mm holes for the handle bars were cut as slots into a section of 4 mm round brass bar.





The ratchet wheel was cut on the milling machine with a dividing attachment:




All parts had a 1 mm hole drilled through to take up a 1 mm brass rod. Brass was chosen in order to be able to soft-solder all parts together for the subsequent machining operations and to provide an axle.



The cigar-shape of the spill was turned with the Lorch free-hand turning device:



The piece was then transfered back to the dividing attachment (http://www.wefalck.eu/mm/tools/dividingapparatus/dividingapparatus.html)
on the mill and the eight sides of the winding drum were milled on.



Here the completed spill stem:



And installed in the hull:


to be continued ...


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The leeboards are cast in resin, but due to the casting process in an open mold, their back is flat and without any sculpting. In reality, they are not just flat boards, but they have a cross-section almost like a propeller. In fact they are hollowed out over some part to create some hydrodynamic lift that counteracts the leeway and also pushes the leeboard against the boat. Using files and diamond rotary burrs the appropriate shape was given and also the separation of the individual boards of which the leeboards are composed were marked out.


There are various belaying clamps distributed around the hull. The kit has photoetched parts for these, but somehow they appear rather flat. In addition some or all of them would have to be of the single-horned variety, rather than the more common double-horned one, as
forseen in the kit. Replacements were milled raw from a strip of brass and sliced off on the lathe. They were finished using the hand-held power-drill using small grindstones and polishers.




Again, the casting of the hull is nicely done, but Artitec were a bit overenthusiastic in depicting a rather worn state. If there were such big gaps in the hull, the boat would sink to the bottom of the Zuiderzee like a sieve. To counteract the rather rustic appearance, fly-tying silk was glued as 'caulking' into the gaps using varnish.



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  • 2 months later...

Continuation ...


The cast mast was nicely done by Artitec - in principle, but was too short for a boat of this size, did not have the right chocs for a boat from Marken and above all was warped. A new mast was fashioned on the lathe from a piece of steel rod - I did not have suitable stock of boxwood or similar and brass, aluminium or plexiglas would have not been stiff enough. The mast was turned in steps on the watchmakers lathe. This also allowed to turn-on the mast bands. It was then transferred to the dividing attachment (http://www.wefalck.eu/mm/tools/dividingapparatus/dividingapparatus.html) on the milling machine to mill on the squares. The various eyebolt and cranes were fashioned from copperwire and soldered or glued on.







As the mast, the boom was turned on the lathe from a 2 mm steel rod. The flexing of the rod was utilised to obtain the taper towards both ends.



Again the bands were turned on and the boom was tranfered to dividing apparatus for drilling the holes for eye bolts etc. The goose neck was turned from steel and the square, where it attaches to the boom, milled on using a very small end-mill.



The gaff has a rather odd, pear-shaped cross-section. In addition its longitudinal shape is rather crooked. It was fashioned from a piece of brass wire that was tapered off and bent to the right shape.



A piece of brass sheet was cut to follow the curve of gaff and hard-soldered to the brass wire. The pear-shape was filled-up with soft solder. Then the claws that were fashioned from brass were soldered on. Finally, the 0.2 mm holes for the line with which the sail is attached were drilled. The gaff was completed with various bands fashioned from partially flattened copper wire.



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Thanks, ssd.


No botters and boeiers are different types. Botters are fishing boats, while boeiers where originally used for local (market) traffic and as pleasure boats (a use that continues until today). Boeier tend to be much more rounded and have a lower length to breadth relationship than the botters. Also their leeboards are much broader, almost a quarter of a circle.


Here is picture of the boeier DE SPERWER in the Zuiderzeemuseum in Enkuizen:




More pictures here: http://www.maritima-et-mechanika.org/maritime/zuiderzee/zuiderzee.html




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Ofcourse they are not the same: why use tow names for the same ship (more often in Dutch, different ships share a common name)


Botters are fishing ships (see-going, originating from the southers parts of the former Zuiderzee)Bottermetaap.jpg

Boeiers were originally small freightships, in later years (i.e. from the 18th century onwards) mostly build as yachts.




However, the shiptype called boeier did evolve quite a bit, as can be seen in this 17the century pictureboeier1.jpg.....


Different rig, different hull, different everything.

Still: same name..... :)



Edited by amateur
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Here a couple of interesting books on botters and boeiers, albeit in Dutch:


CRONE, G.C.E. (1926): Nederlandsche Jachten, Binnenschepen Visschersvaartuigen en daarmee Verwante kleine Zeeschepen 1650 -1900.- 309 p., 85 Abb., Amsterdam (Swets & Zeitlinger, Nachdr. 1978 bei Schiepers, Schiedam). - with English translations.


BEYLEN, J. VAN (1985): De botter - Geschiedenis en bouwbeschrijving van een Nederlands visserschip.- 223 p., Weesp (De Boer Maritiem).


DORLEIJN, P. (2001): De Bouwgeschiedenis van de Botter. Vierendertig voet in de kiel.- 168 p., Lelystad (Uitgeverij Van Wijnen ).



KAMPEN, H.C.A. VAN, KERSKEN, H. (1927): Schepen die Voorbijgaan. Een verzamling Afbeeldingen en Beschrijvingen die de Nederlandsche Binnenwateren bevaren.- 351 p., Amsterdam (A.N.W.B. Toeristenbond voor Nederland).



OSTROM, C. van (1988): Ronde en platbodems schepen en jachten.- 144 p., Alkmaar (De Alk b.v.).



SOPERS, P.J.V.M. (196?): Schepen die verdwijnen (bearbeitet von H.C.A. van Kampen).- 162 p., Amsterdam (P.N. Van Kampen & Zon).


VERMEER, J. (2004): De Boeier. – 528 p., Alkmaar (De Alk & Heijnen Watersport).



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Thank you for the book suggestions guys! I noticed that the 1st book had English translations but do any of the others have lots of pictures and drawings that someone who doesn't read Dutch would benefit from? I would like to see boeiers and botters but want to know about hoogaars and zeeschouws too. I'm sure there are some other really cool Dutch boat types I don't know about too.

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Jules van Beylen (I think he was the conservator at the museum in Antwerp) has written many books on Dutch/Flemish boats and ships. There is also a monograph on the hoogars:


BEYLEN, J. VAN (1978): De hoogaars, geschiedenis en bouw.- 184 p. (De Boer Maritiem). 


Most of the books cited above are packed with drawings. Van Beylen's books are actually written for modellers and have very detailed description for building a model in a 1/20 scale. Full size drawings seem to be available separately. Dorleijn's book contains also folded plates, but seems to have become extremely expensive over the past. I have almost all of the books cited in my library.



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Thanks, gentlemen, for the kind words. Back to the subject ...


This building-log is a recreaction of the one started on MSW 1.0, so that the updates now may follow in short intervals, while the actual work was spread out over a considerable time. There were several delays due to some technical difficulties and the work was further delayed by some tool-making projects, numerous travels and too much work in general.


I have been thinking very hard on ways to make really convincing rigging blocks of late 19th century model. Some of the blocks would have to be as small as 1.6 mm long, while the typical block would be just under 2 mm long. Most of the blocks would have to have external ironwork. The ropes for the running rigging typically would have a diameter of somewhere between 0.15 mm and 0.25 mm in 1/90 scale, depending on the particular rope. This would mean that quite a large number of holes of equivalent diameters would have to drilled to a depth of around 1 mm, which is a bit of a challenge. I wanted to avoid this by cutting slots into the material and inserting real sheaves turned from brass. The slots at the bottom would have to be filled in later.



Shape-milling of blocks with a fly-cutter



Set-up for shape-milling the blocks in a dividing head on the milling machine


The outside shape of the block was to be milled in the dividing head from round stock. A table was prepared that calculated the exact distance of the cutter from the centre-line for each pass, so that eventually the oval shape would emerge. This raw part then was transferred to the lathe for cutting the slots. While perhaps a good idea from a theoretical point of view, the slotted material proved to be too flimsy for further manipulation.



Slotting the blocks on the lathe



The set-up for slotting on the lathe


Therefore, a different method was devised, for which the material was changed from brass to Plexiglas. The outside shape was cut as before, but instead of using a flycutter, a dental burr was used, which due to its smaller diameter exerts less force on the part. Then the holes were drilled at pre-calculated positions. The cross-section of the future blocks were positioned in the round Plexiglas stock in a way that the axes of the sheave would coincide with the rotational axis of the dividing head. This arrangement allowed the sheave to be milled out of the solid. The holes then were drilled through with a miniature drill.



Milling of the sheaves from the solid stock


Many shipmodellers just drill their blocks and perhaps, if they have a thin enough tool, attempt to file the edges of the hole round to give an indication of the sheave. However, this never looks quite right, with the ropes sort of sticking out sideways from the hole, rather than running around the sheave.

These blocks then were cut off from the stock on the lathe. It should be noted that the stock was turned down at the end, so that it could be inserted into the collets against a shoulder, ensuring repeatable positioning. The latter was needed, as the dividing head on the lathe and the one on the mill use different types of collets.


The botter has a variety of rather special blocks that also needed to be made, such as the sheepshead-block for the foresail. They were produced the technique described above, but in some instances were 'eyeballed' from the stock in the dividing head. One violin-block was also built up from hard paper with real brass sheaves and filed to shape by hand.


The blocks were completed with 'ironwork' from copper wire. On the prototype this ironwork is forged from different sizes of bars. The blacksmith shapes the cross-sections as needed either flat (around the shell of the blocks) or round/oval for the hooks. This process was repeated up to a point by flattening the round copper wire used. In order to flatten the wire in a controllable and repeatable way another watch-repairing tool was adapted: a so-called jewelling press. This tool has a piston the movement of which is controlled by micrometer stop. In watchrepairing it is used to set bearings, i.e. the ‚stones’ or ‚rubies’ to an exact depth.

I made some anvils and pistons for it that allow to squeeze the copper wire to a preset thickness over a particular length. The thickness is set with the help of a feeler-gauge.



Jewelling tool with die for flattening wire



A selection of unpainted blocks


The results from all these labours are by no means perfect, but I think better than what I have seen around in this size.


I am not certain, however, whether I would go down the same route again. It would be useful to be able to solder together the straps, which is out of question for blocks made from Plexiglas. Using hard paper/Pertinax would be an option, but drilling this material is not so easy, considering the small sizes of drills required. Perhaps one should use boxwood. In both cases round rods would have to produced first from the available stock. Or at least one would need to turn-on a round end, so that the stock can be taken into a collet – square collets for watchmaking lathes don’t exist ! (this is another of my future projects, to make a set of square-holed collets. 



Edited by wefalck
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First of all, thank you very much to all well-wishers  :cheers:



With many parts of the boat actually now completed, I turned my attention to the sails. I did this before painting the model, as various fitting and shaping actions will be required that may damage the paintwork.

The plan is to show the sails in a sort of semi-set stage, as they would be when the boat is in harbour, in order to allow them to dry. This going to be a much bigger challenge to represent convincingly than fully set or furled sails. As the boat will be shown in its winter rig, there will be only two sails.

The raw material is a very thin tissue paper that I found in my stock. The first step was to draw a sail plan 'as built', i.e. with the actual dimensions of the mast, boom and gaff.



Sail-plan ‚as built’



Sail-plan ‚as built’ (detail)



The shape of each panel of sail-cloth was pencilled in also with the help of a french curve. The drawing then was backed with a piece of stiff cardboard and covered in clingfilm. Based on this pattern the individual sail-'cloths' were cut from the tissue paper with the addition of 1 mm for the seam. This is rather wide at this scale, but inconsequential as the sail will not be translucent, being tanned and dressed (i.e. soaked in a broth from bark and smeared with a concoction of tallow, oil and ochre) on the prototype. This treatment prevents the formation of mildew and permits one to furl the sails when still wet.



The ‚cloths’ of the mainsail.


Using the drawing as a template, panels were stuck together using wood-filler (CLOU Schnellschleifgrundierung) as glue. The tissue paper soaks up the filler, turning it into a sort of compound material. I prefer wood-filler over diluted PVA-glue because it does not swell the paper and the joints can be loosened and re-adjusted by applying a drop of thinner. After completing the basic sails, outside margins and doublings were added in the same way, based on the detail drawings in VAN BEYLEN, (1995) and DORLEIJN (2001).



Glueing together the sail cloths


To be continued ...



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