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Grand Banks Fishing Schooner by Rick020763 - Restoration - Finished

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Hello Everyone:


This build log is a bit unusual because the model is almost complete but I only discovered and joined MSW a couple of weeks ago.  However, I was encouraged by several kind souls in "welcome to new members" to start a log nevertheless.  Had I had the advantage of the expertise and experience available on MSW from the outset, the result would have been much better than it actually is.


In April of last year, I was given the incomplete and damaged model of a Grand Banks fishing schooner by the grandson of the man who built it almost 50 years ago, a retired boat builder from Campobello Island, New Brunswick.  The grandson told me he had an early childhood memory of his grandfather steaming the side planking -- 0.5" oak -- in his driveway.


It was forty inches long and had a very heavy fin keel (lead or iron I suspect) attached to the regular keel.  This, plus the single-piece masts, led me to concluded that it was probably intended as a pond yacht.   The top plank on each side had snapped right at the beam and, sometime during that 50 years, someone -- I'm sure it wasn't the original builder -- had inflicted a very sloppy paint job on the bulwarks and along the edges of the deck.   The attached picture shows the boat as I received it.  


The builder being a former professional boat builder as well as the story of the oak plank steaming and bending led me to believe that it was probably a scratch build, although there were certain signs that it might have been a kit.  Comments from those in "welcome to new members" come down on the scratch-build side and I'm even more inclined to agree.  However, if anyone can shed any light on this question, I'd be grateful to hear it. 


Since last April, I've cleaned, repaired and painted the hull, built topmasts, built and rigged the sails, and am now at the point where almost all of the running rigging is complete.  I now face the challenge of shrouds, ratlines (which I've never done before), and running backstays.  Throughout all of this will be a more-or-less constant process of adjusting the shape of the sails.


I wanted to create the look of a hard-working, old fishing boat, under way, with sails drawing wind.  While the main and foresail were made from cloth from another kit, the other six were made from an old and very used piece of cotton sailcloth given to me by our local sailmaker.  Hence, the beaten up look and varied colours of the sails.  The various stains, partial footprint, and other irregularities on these six sails look a bit peculiar close up, but the effect from beyond a range of six feet is close to what I was trying to accomplish.  Given its eventual display position -- on top of a half wall at our family cottage, safely out of range of my three young grandsons -- no one will be able to get that close anyway.  The boat is on a close reach on the port tack.


Given the special provenance of the hull, I decided to do little to it beyond necessary repairs and the running rigging necessary for the sails.  I may decide to add some more deck furniture, but first wanted to see the lines of the running and standing rigging.  Any comments or suggestions on what might be added would be very welcome.


I'll leave this initial post at that and attach a picture of the boat in its current state.   I didn't take a lot of pictures of the build, at least until I joined MSW, but will attach some to additional posts to show progress to date.  I'd also like to seek advice on the question of shrouds and ratlines as well as other things that will undoubtedly still arise.   I should explain the peculiar background in the pictures: this model came with little advance warning and I don't have any proper workshop; hence, my boatyard became the dining-room table. 


Comments, suggestions, and advice all welcome.







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Hello Again:


One of the first challenges I faced, after eliminating many years' accumulation of dust, dirt, grease, etc. , was the break in the top plank on both sides, visible in the first picture above.  I tried injecting cc and clamping, reinforcing with a top rail (which I was going to do anyway since the top of the planks were exposed and quite rough), and adding a rub rail.  None of this worked and the breaks continued to widen as the planks pulled away from the deck at the point of fracture.  I finally resorted to gluing pieces of 0.25" stock to the deck and bulwarks for most of the length of the deck: this did the trick and had the additional benefit of almost hiding the very sloppy white paint job someone had attempted along the edges of the deck.   Unfortunately, any semblance of realism and scale was lost as a result.   I've attached a picture showing the 0.25" stock and the white paint it almost covers.  It also shows the small afterdeck I ultimately built to screen the white paint on the deck at the stern, an inch fore to aft and particularly horrible.   I'm sure there were probably other less-unsightly ways I might have dealt with the fractured-plank problem and certainly would be interested in hearing any.


The next big question was what to do about the iron or lead fin keel.  It's an interesting look in some ways and some people actually like it, but it's highly unrealistic and I hated it.  I was tempted to try to remove it but, given its age, the fact that I had no idea how it was attached, and my own skill level, I decided to leave well enough alone and live with it.  Part way through the build, however, I made two pieces to modify the display stand to screen the fin.   Debate continues within the family as to which way it looks better.


All for now.   Suggestions and comments welcome.




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Hello Again:


Having only joined MSW a couple of weeks ago, I don't have many pictures of the build up to that point.  However, here are a few which show the partially-painted hull, the masts with topmasts added, gaff temporarily in place in order to begin the process of deciding the size and shape of the main, the mainsail  temporarily in place, and the main and foresail, which was progress to early January.  Late January through to the present was a process of designing, making and temporarily rigging, adjusting and fixing, the rest of the sails, the current state of which can be seen in the last two pictures. 


Not knowing if the builder had intended it to be a scale model of an actual vessel (but believing he had not) and not having any plans was, in a sense, liberating: I could simply try to design the most attractive rig possible.  So what you see in the pictures of its current state reflects my own sense of the Grand Banks fishing schooner rig, a bit of Bluenose (which we Canadians grow up with because it's on our ten-cent piece), Gertrude ThebaudColumbia, and other attractive schooners of which I could find pictures.  Thanks to our PVR, I also stumbled upon a great source of actual film footage of the Gloucester fishing fleet in the 1935 production of Kipling's Captains Courageous: it's filled with absolutely wonderful shots of these beautiful schooners on all points of sail, with many different sail combinations, and in different weather conditions (it's also a great story and film!). 


While my sense of the boat evolved as I made progress, right from the outset I've been trying to achieve the look of a working boat with beaten-up sails; this also harmonized with the look of the hull after almost 50 years in a garage, even after repair and painting.  Hence, six of the sails were made from an old piece of sailcloth, and I'm working on the main and foresail (made from cloth in a kit) to give them more of a weathered look.  The last two pictures above, both of which are partially backlit, show the overall effect with the varied colours and imperfections.


I've now started shrouds and ratlines -- a daunting prospect, on which I'll be seeking help -- and there are still many, many other small things to adjust, fix and add. 


Suggestions and comments welcome.














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Here are some close-up shots of the various sails as well as the current state of the whole rig taken in indirect early-morning light.   Given the fine work so evident on MSW, I put these up with some trepidation and with the reminder that I'm aiming for the overall effect of the rig, viewed from a distance of eight feet or more.


Comments, observations and suggestions all welcome.









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I really like the look of those sails.  Have you described anywhere how you've made them?  The curvature, the barely visible panels, the boltropes and corner reinforcements all look quite nice.  When I get to making sails on my schooner I hope they look half as nice as yours.





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Thank you, Michael, Bob, Elia, and Pete.  Mark, I too have noticed that the further back I stand, the better it looks (reminds me of a great line from "Tootsie").


Elia: Let me add a couple of things to what I said about sails on in the new-members' page.  But first, what is the schooner pictured on your profile?  She's a real beauty.


In order to counter the effects of gravity, in addition to reinforcing the edges of the sails with wire (see, for example, the fisherman's staysail, where all but the luff are stiffened), I also use very fine stainless steel wire to help the sails "stand up" the way they would when drawing wind.  So on this model, both the jib and the jib topsail have such wires.  They're obvious close up but beyond six or eight feet they almost invisible and, at a couple of thousand miles, completely invisible!  See the attached picture.


To get the gaff topsails to stand out from the gaff, the sheets are supported by heavier wire painted the same colour as the sheet.  The attached picture of the main gaff topsail shows this -- it also shows that the sheet got beaten up in the process and is now on my rapidly growing list of things to correct or do again. 


As I work on and shift the boat around, the shape of various sails often needs adjusting.  If they can be taken off, the ironing method of course works well; if they can't be removed, then a portable hair dryer on low speed can be effective.


I'm currently working on shrouds and ratlines -- a humbling if educational experience -- and so have the fisherman's staysail off.  I've attached a picture to show it like this.


Many thanks again.










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My avatar is the Schooner Virginia, a replica 1916-17 (I think) pilot schooner.  Her home port is Norfolk, Virginia.  I had the pleasure of sailing on her some years ago BC (before children).  She is a beauty.


I now see the thin wire on the jib topmast staysail - I had wondered how the sails stood off the model.  I like that approach.  Really nice set of sails there.





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Hello again:


I'm in the process of working on the standing rigging and doing a lot of little things that needed fixing or completion.  Parrel balls were added to the gaffs and booms, which I think look all right.  I've also completed running backstays on the mainmast.


In trying to create a boat underway with the sails drawing wind, it's important to have the mainsheets stiffened, which I do with cc (although I'm extremely allergic to it and can only use it very rarely and with strict safety precautions).  While the cc works well to stiffen the sheets, it leaves them shiny.  I tried eliminating the shine with flat clear acrylic but as can be seen in the picture, it didn't work very well.  If anyone knows a better way of doing this, I'd love to hear it.


I've started doing ratlines for the first time, a tedious and humbling experience.   This first set is really both an experiment and learning experience.  I hate the way they look at this point but till reserve judgment until this set is finished;  I'll probably end up doing it over again, avoiding the first-time mistakes. 


I've attached some pictures of the above. Comments and suggestion as always welcome.








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  • 3 weeks later...

Hello again,


Here is an update on my painful ratline education.   After numerous attempts, I just couldn't achieve anything remotely acceptable in terms of neatness or scale by tying knots, so I reverted to another method I had read about on MSW: sewing the thread directly through the shrouds.  I've been using a course waxed black thread for the standing rigging, so it was relatively easy to pierce the shrouds with a small needle and fine beige thread that I'd run through beeswax.   I then put a tab of clear flat lacquer on each of the joints and, after it dried, clipped off the excess thread. Finally, I dabbed some flat black paint on the ends of the beige thread.   This worked reasonably well, if not quite up to the normal standard of this section of MSW, and the mainmast ratlines are now done.   Please see the attached pictures.


Now it's on to various deck fittings, foremast ratlines, final adjustments of the sails and rigging and, finally, the name.











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  • 8 months later...

Hello again:


The restoration of the Wm. H. Batson is now complete; progress impeded by a health problem.  The name is that of the gentleman who built the hull, almost 50 years ago. 


Because of my limited building space (and metal fabricating skills), I used Model Shipways parts for the metal deck fittings and also for the blocks.  The sails, masts, running and standing rigging, and cabin hatches, are all scratch built.


I still have to make fishing dories, which will replace the two plastic dinghies on the after cabin top.  The longer boat on the forward cabin top came with the hull and will stay there, since I like the effect. 


It's been great fun, even more so because of what I've learned from MSW.


















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