Jump to content

Skipjack by Kevin from Hampton Roads "Terminated" – Scratch Build 1:24

Recommended Posts

The skipjack is a traditional fishing boat used on Chesapeake Bay for oyster dredging. Skipjacks vary in size, usually 40 – 60 feet in length. They were not built from plans. Almost every dimension of the hull and rig is a ratio of the length of the hull.

Several weeks back, my wife and I went to the Reedvillle Fisherman's Museum in Reedville Virginia. They have a skipjack, Claud W. Somers, a deck boat, Elva C., a replica of Captain John Smith's barge (circa 1608) and what remains of a Chesapeake Bay Log Canoe. It is a small museum with lots of models, model train layout and a boat yard. While perusing the gift shop I came across Steve Rogers, Patricia Staby-Rogers  book “Model Boat Building: The Skipjack” and bought it. I was already working on MS Phantom, but I kept going back to this book.

So here is my build log for a 45ft skipjack. This is my first scratch build model. My primary source is the book “Model Boat Building: The Skipjack”. For reference and additional information I am using the plans for the MS Willie Bennett, Ben Lankford's  book “Modeling Guide for Model Shipways Kit willie L. Bennett” and a spreadsheet I found on line at http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~lebelp/Miscellany.html. The spreadsheet has the dimensions ratios used to build skipjacks and has come in very handy. “Model Boat Building: The Skipjack” talks about the ratios that are used to calculate the skipjack dimensions, but no where in the book are they listed.


The books I am using for reference.


Cutting the keelson.



Gluing the keelson.



Adding the stemliner and the transom.






Attaching the strongback. The strongback is nailed in place and will be removed after the bottom planking is completed. There was no specific location given for the strongback so the placement was based on the Willie Bennett plans.


Adding the first plank. This is where you determine the shape of the hull.




The side planking completed.








Edited to add links

Edited by Kevin from Hampton Roads
Link to comment
Share on other sites



Good luck on your first scratch built model.  I have always loved the skipjacks the plowed the waters around the Chesapeake Bay.  At 1:24 scale, this should build into a very nice model.  I look forward to following your build. 


Also, thanks for the information on the Reedville Fisherman's Museum.  Sounds like a nice place to visit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, for all of the comments. The Chesapeake workboats are some of my favorites. During Oyster and crab season I see several of the Chesapeake Bay Deadrises on my way to work. I think it says a lot about a wooden boat type that is still being constructed today. The same construction method that was used to build Skipjacks is used to build the Deadrise workboats.


I am leaving for Texas and Louisiana to attend a family reunion. Sorry, I will not have any updates for a couple of weeks. I will be logging on occasionally to check on other member's build logs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 months later...

Hi everyone. Sorry I have not posted in a while. With all of the warm weather that summer time brought, I could not seem to find the time to work on my models. But now that the weather is cooling off, I have resumed work. Yesterday I completed beveling the keelson and today I started planking the bottom of the hull. I will post some pictures soon.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had about 8 planks on but did not like how it looked. I started by aligning the planks with the transom. This put the planks at an angle to the keelson. I tried tapering the planks to get them perpendicular to the keelson but it looked worse. So I ripped out the planks and started over on the bottom planks. I have 3 rows in and it looks much better. Symmetrical. I will post pictures tomorrow.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I prefer to use clamps, but I could not get them to work, so I am using pins to hold the planks in place until the glue dries.


The first set of planks were aligned with the transom. This created some odd angles to the transom. Now the planks are 90deg to the keelson and should make planking faster. It also looks better to me.



Link to comment
Share on other sites


I check with my square after each plank. So far I have not had to taper any, but I am watching.



Actually the skipjack is a simple design, that is why I picked it as my first scratch build. Skipjacks were not built to a plan. The dimensions are all based on the length of the skipjack. Skipjacks were built in back yards, in some cases by the local carpenter with no boat building experience.


*Edited to clarify my meaning.

Edited by Kevin from Hampton Roads
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I have completed the planking on the Skipjack this evening.






I still have a lot of sanding to smooth out the planks and shape the blocks at the bow. The planks were purchased from National Balsa. The dimensions of the bass wood strips are not consistent and leave a lot to be desired. You get what you pay for.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cap-n-Bob, Thanks for the complement. The cross planking is something different and it is a lot easier to install.


I have been working on the Centerboard Case and the midship deckbeams. When I started I ran into some problems with the plans and instructions by Steve Rogers. The Center Board case is suppose to be 1-1/2 inches (3 feet scale). The deckbeams are 1/2x1/4 inch strips. The deckbeams are suppose to be notched to fit over the shelf clamps (deck beam supports). The shelf clamps are installed 1/4 inch below the top of the side planks. When I started laying it out, for the deckbeams to be even with the top of the Centerboard Case, they would have to rest on top of the shelf clamps. This would also make the height of the deck camber 1/4 inch (6 inches scale). At the time 6 inch camber seemed excessive so I shortened the center board case by 1/8 inch and notched the deckbeams.


I notice today in the photos in the plans, that the shelf clamps looks like they are installed 1/8 inch below the top of the side planks. I also noticed that the deck will have a good rise at the bow. Re-thinking the 6inch camber now, it does not seem so excessive for a boat with a 14 foot beam.


I believe that the error was in the placement of the shelf clamps. They should have been placed at 1/8 inch vice 1/4 inch.


Now the big question is do I scrap the centerboard case and deck beams I worked so hard on this weekend or keep going with what I have? I had a lot of fun and learned a lot, this weekend working on the inside of the hull. I also believe I could do a better job if I did it all over. The Centerboard Case and deckbeams are just dry fitted so replacing them would not break any thing. The shelf clamps are glued on. I could cut them off and place a new one in the correct location. I have also thought about just running a 1/8 inch strip right above the current shelf clamp.


Now for the photos.







Edited by Kevin from Hampton Roads
Link to comment
Share on other sites

OK, I decided to redo the centerboard case, sort of. The aft support had not been trimmed to size yet and the forward support was the correct height already. I just needed to replace the top planks. That has been done and as soon as the glue dries I can cut the top planks to the correct shape and size.


I need to decide how I am going to address the shelf camps next. Replace them or just add a 1/8 inch shim.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Marty Thanks for looking in and the complements. I will be at the meeting on Saturday. You can get a better look then.


I had some free time earlier today and was doing some reading online. I found the Historical Survey of the Skipjack E. C. Collier. It gives a great description of the construction, it's history and the history and development of the Skipjacks.



Here are the pictures and the detailed plans.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...