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michael mott

Bristol Pilot Cutter by michael mott - 1/8 scale (POF)

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Thanks all

Before finishing the forward bulkhead location and fitting in place I needed to add the hinges to the door, this requires more substantial hinges than for the cupboards so I followed a slightly different approach without annealing I folded some .016" brass in the same manner as before but I cut off one side of the fold with my old No 45 Eclipse razor saw I only cut 90% of the way through then bent it away and down a couple of times to released it through work hardening it.








Then instead of using a wood support I used some 1/8th brass.







The three hinges are now roughed out time for some lunch.



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I'm not sure where you are going with this, Michael, whether you have construction plans for a specific vessel or you are presently building conjecturally, designing as you go along. I've had a fair amount of hands-on experience with this type of layout, owing a small British cutter for many years and having sailed on several larger British pilot cutter types, including one very similar to what you are building.  While I have no idea of your present intentions, I'll pass along the observation that the type of saloon door you are building here, in my experience, invariably is hung to swing forward, rather than aft into the saloon. This maximizes the sole space in the saloon, particularly if a table is set on the centerline. Frequently, there will be a second bulkhead with identical doors forward of the saloon bulkhead. The distance between the two bulkheads is the distance of width of the forward and aft bulkhead doors. The doors in the forward bulkhead swing aft, such that the edges of the forward and aft bulkhead doors meet when when opened all the way to right angles with the bulkheads, edge to edge, and form a short paneled companionway between the saloon and the forepeak.  (There are hooks or barrel bolts that hold them open in this position.) With the doors of both bulkheads closed, the space between the bulkheads will become the head compartment, with the commode to one side and a hanging locker or even a shower on the other, each being concealed when the doors are fastened in their open positions.


I don't know if this comment is helpful or not. It's not intended as a criticism, to be sure. The work you're doing is really beautiful and inspiring! Thanks for sharing it with us. I realize the time commitment involved in providing a build log of this magnitude and it's most appreciated.

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11 hours ago, Bob Cleek said:

I'm not sure where you are going with this, Michael, whether you have construction plans for a specific vessel or you are presently building conjecturally, designing as you go along.

Hi Bob thanks for your comments, they are interesting. For the purpose of this conversation regarding design I will add four pictures of the interior  of Integrity  built recently by Stirling and Son These pictures are from web over the last few years some of these pictures were originally on Stirling and Sons site and a yacht brokers site and do not appear to be there any more. so they have the copyright.  and I credit them for that. If this contravenes the law then I will remove them, my only intent is for clarification of this conversation.

This is a plan of the yacht Integrity






I have been using these images as my guide for the interior of my Model cutter which is a rough example of the cutters of the late 1800's early 1900's it is not a model of any particular boat but draw upon things that I like that are on various cutters. When I began this model back in 2012 I had no idea about plank on frame model boat-building although had many years of commercial model-building going all the way back to 1966 when I built the mechanical arms for the Movie 2001 while working for a small model-building company in Acton called All models Engineering so I figured what could be so difficult about building a model of a sailboat.........Yeah right! did I have a lot to learn, and it is a continuum that is still unfolding everything that I have learned about model boatbuilding I have really learned in these last 8 years. I spent so many years build very accurate models for other people following their plans that were challenging but not in a way that was totally satisfying and during those years I did not do much in the way of model-building as a hobby that was the last thing I wanted to do.  My goal is to learn and to stretch my skill level by taking on challenges that I have not done before (probably a character flaw that was programmed at birth) but I have fun following these rabbit holes. 

Back to this model if you go back over the build log you can easily see that I have redone many things and had to re-thing all sorts of areas this is a result of not having a working background on this particular type of boat. I have designed and built a yawl which I sailed successfully for a few years using an old fiberglass hull as a starting point. This has given me a better understanding of the physics of sailing. Because i lived at the lake when I started building this model.

Tthe hull is based on the Model Maker Plans for a fishing smack called Kingfisher which I purchased in 1972 the plans called for the model to be about 18 inches long. Well as soon as an 18 inch model gets 10 feet off shore it looks like a toy I wanted a model sailboat that had some scale to it (I also had lots of room and a 12 foot ceiling) So I chose a scale that would bring those plans up to about 5 feet the hull from stem to stern is 63 inches the bowsprit is an additional 21 inches I chose a scale of 1 1/2 inches to the foot because I knew it would give me the opportunity to make working details and use real nuts and bolts (at least the big ones) 1/32" = 1/4 inch so the ratio 1:8 it is also much easier on my aging eyes.

In the beginning I also was going to radio control this model, so the interior didn't matter this was a model of the outside of this boat. As I continued this journey my ideas changed (the beauty of not being restricted to a model of a particular prototype) and so the elements on the model had to change, none of this model is precious its all just stuff that is the foundation for learning what looks good to my eye (sort of like an abstract painting) If I need to change something it get changed I don't have any qualms about that at all. That stuff goes into the used materials boxes whether it be metal, wood, cloth, to be recycled into something else down the road.

So I moved away from the lake and back to the city, and the model was put aside for a while while other challenges tickled my mind (now the loco is aside, but it is of a particular prototype even so one has to make compromises because you cannot sale molecules) now that I am back to sorting out this cutter I realized that it will spend far more time on display than in the water why don't I put some interior into it, but it has to be removable in order to put the lead ballast into it when I do get to sail it. As long as it can sail and I sail it at least once or twice That will be good.

I looked at many pictures of cutters and smacks and the Gentleman's Cutter by Stirling and Son which is a modern cutter drawing upon tradition values of design and integrity just hit a chord for me in many areas. So I am using its aesthetic as a guide for my own ideas and the limits of what I have to work with.  I hope this answers your question Bob about where I am going with this..... its a moving target to coin a phrase.


Now that that is out of the way

I began fitting the hinges to the forward bulkhead door



They are fitted into some chiselled recesses and taped down ready to drill the holes, then when the hinges are complete I can work on the door lock and handles




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Thanks for your detailed explanation, Michael! 


Yes, Stirling and Sons' Integrity is a traditional pilot cutter design in hull and rig and well-respected. She's a beautiful boat. Her interior accommodations are not at all traditional, however. They've built the interior with period cabinetwork, but the layout is thoroughly present-day. This makes her far more marketable today of course. The number of berths is a dead give-away. These may please the owner who expects to be asked over and over again, "How many does she sleep," but the shortage of space for sail stowage, provisions, and other gear handicaps her as a truly practical cruising boat. Ironically, the traditional pilot cutter would have had close to the same number of berths, but these would have been the distinctive "pilot berths" to port and starboard above and behind the setees in the saloon. "De gustibus non disputandum est!"


I see where they've installed one of the somewhat rare and highly desirable bespoke Pascal Atkey and Sons (Cowes) "Pansy" charcoal cabin heaters, theirs being the copper version. (to the left in the photo below) That's a nice traditional touch, to be sure. (I've got a stainless steel one with all fittings, in excellent condition, sitting on a shelf in my workshop and for which I have no present use. If anybody's interested... :D )



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A small update

I began sorting out the door lock this sketch gives a general overview of the design


First some 1/2 inch diameter hard brass was prepped on the mill by cutting a slot across the hole which is .106" in diameter the slot width is .193"



The pawl or central spindle was checked for clearance the square 1/16th tube was soldered into a disc of 3/16 brass that had been turned down to create a 1/32 inch flange that was shaped to create the teeth.




The slider that will become the latch part was prepped again on the mill  creating the tabs to engage with the pawl.



The slider was fretted out with the jewelers saw.



after some filing the slider was test fitted into the base plate of the lock, I have a watch holder for Bulova watches that I acquired with a bunch of watch making stuff about 10 years ago


The pawl was rotated with a watch winding key to check to motion of the slider which has to move .062" back and forth.




Then the top plate was fitted to further check that the slider will not jam here the slider is out or in the lock position, the latch will be soldered between the forks 




And in the open position



Still a ways to go but I am confident that it will work.



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3 hours ago, wefalck said:

I like these modifications to the movement holder, particularly the downhold fingers.

Eberhard the holder is as it came in the small case I have not changed or added anything, and it also came with a separate set of nylon posts for holding watches in their case the posts I am using are for movements that are not in their case

7 hours ago, mtaylor said:

Working door latch at scale.  I'm in total awe.

Mark thanks but this work is crude compared to a watch mechanism, think of a ladies 21 jewel Swiss watch.

5 hours ago, G.L. said:

you are really going far into detail.

Geert this is absolutely why I enjoy this scale so much, it does allow me the flexibility to try to make parts that otherwise would be too small.

5 hours ago, Bob Cleek said:

That door latch is a great example of the joys of working at larger scales!

Yes Bob and really for me the work is the joy whether it is a hinge or a set of shackles or the rigging for the topmast this scale allows me to try things that would be extremely difficult at smaller scales.


I also enjoy the process of documenting the work and being able to share the ways I work, it seems only fair to me because of the immense amount I have learned from following many build logs and other areas on this amazing forum.



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Splendid woodwork and machine work Michael - everything looks so very nice!


On 1/30/2020 at 9:59 AM, michael mott said:

My goal is to learn and to stretch my skill level by taking on challenges that I have not done before (probably a character flaw that was programmed at birth) but I have fun following these rabbit holes.

Not a character flaw - a special personal attribute.


9 hours ago, michael mott said:


I also enjoy the process of documenting the work and being able to share the ways I work

And I thank you for doing so.


Looking forward to what’s next.



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22 hours ago, Bedford said:

And here's me bailing on the idea of creating 1:8 scale shackles!

Mind you the full size ones only have a 6mm pin

Steve sorry I missed replying to your comment, I actually did a lot of work on different ways of making shackles earlier on the build I cannot remember where in the sequence 6mm is basically a 1/4 inch no problem that's only 1/32"



14 hours ago, Kurt Johnson said:

 A book wouldn’t be bad idea either.

Kurt I have thought about a book, it would need a fair bit of work though because of all the two steps forward and one back that seems to be my way forward. LOL


Thank you Druxey and Gary for your kind words.


A bit more progress on the lock, first I turned a bit of hard brass to the width of the slot in the slider part then  sliced a bit off on the mill then used the jewelers saw to cut the small bit to fit between the ends ready to solder in place.




After the slider was filed to shape, it was placed into the body to position them ready to be glued together for drilling and tapping then I used a Walthers 00x90 tap for the screws to clamp the body halves together.





  I cheated and turned the 00x90 hex bolts into some small head flat head screws


Next the lower body plate and the slider were drilled for the spring, I ended up with about half a dozen springs before latching onto the correct design.



With the spring in place (.011) music wire spring I have miles of the stuff in anyone needs any.




the door is mortised and the retaining plate is ready to be slotted and drilled then be soldered to the lower body plate.



And the pencil for scale




Good night Michael 


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Yeah Michael, 1/32" isn't impossible but with my tooling it's not yet something I want to take on.

I might get to them at some point though, never say never!


Meanwhile I'll just watch your beautiful workmanship

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Ok Mike now  in the interests of modeling accuracy - I await the modeling of the heads and their position against the chainlockers !!

I was used to them being full forrad between the lockers - sneaky introduction on new crew mwmbers was to let the anchor chain run out while the new hand was seated!


But lovely lovely work one feels one could sail her away - except she is just too clean and smart!!

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8 hours ago, gjdale said:

That is just outstanding Michael. Where did you find the giant pencil? 

Grant it is part of this set that I made back in 2006 for my son in Victoria. LOL





I actuall only made a couple of giant HB pencils for a display at the Edmonton Science Center that framed a customer comment station, at the end of the display I was able to keep the pencils, my son is an artist so I gave them to him he now has a studio in Whitehorse and has it hanging as a sign.


I like to draw as well here are a couple of my drawings that my son has in Whitehorse. They are imaginary gourd type harps loosely based on the instruments that were catalogued in a book that was of the instruments of the peoples of the Congo area in Africa in the early 20th century




Every once in a while I will sit and draw .

So there really are giant drawing tools out there.

4 hours ago, Gaetan Bordeleau said:

Impressive brass work Michael, Bravo!

Thank you Gaetan, I have drawn inspiration from your own work.


Steve, when you get round to making shackles let me know I have a lot of pictures of the process.

4 hours ago, SpyGlass said:

sneaky introduction on new crew mwmbers was to let the anchor chain run out while the new hand was seated!

Ah but then I would need to install a sound system and electronics is one of those mystery subjects all I know is there is a + and a -


And thanks to all who have added likes and a are following along.





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Hellppppp! someone pick me up off the floor.  I am still stunned with the level of machining and manual skills you display here Michael.  Between you and KeithAug, a collation of your various works would make the best Video/Image based tutorial for us 'apprentices'.  That is some excellent work!


Thanks for taking the time to document your processes.  





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Thanks for all the nice comments and likes.


the oblong plate has now been attached to the lock body and the lock is now fitted to the door next is the handle.

when filing the hole for the slide plate (Latch) in order to be able to file just the right amount ie file only a particular amount away it occurred to me to use something of a known thickness as a guide. (The jaws on my Grinding vice are hard, not cutting tool hard but hard enough that they only need to be dressed occasionally.) I put the blade of the thickness gauge ont the jaw and pushed the piece to be filed down to the surface of the gauge with a flat block then tightened up the vice leaving just .008" to be filed down to the jaw. 




when filing the actual hole I used a different thickness the photograph was to show the principle.


After getting the plate shaped and drilled I set it up in the third hand to be soldered to the main plate of the lock.




Then rotated the set up over so that I could add the solder to the back side .


a small sliver of solder placed with some cleaning type flux (duzall)


After heating with the air soldering gun rotated it back up and released



A couple more 00x90 screws to hold it into place.


I IMG_9020x1024.jpg.9ecad325c5f80a4d077b6d1c3e44024a.jpg

I have been thinking about the handle and I am leaning toward an oval shaped one not a lever, the oval feels a bit less harsh than the lever .





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Well, what can one say ... a lock-smith apprentice could have done this as his test-piece (in German we have a much more impressive word: Gesellenstück)


I understand that knobs are preferred on boats and ships over handles, as lines or clothing can easily get caught in handles - which kind of shows the pervasive maritime tradition in Britain, where doors usually have knobs.


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