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Model Shipways Lifeboat


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I picked up one of these little kits in a plastic bag at my LHS. Marketing material reads as follows:

Lifeboat - Plank-on-Frame Construction
by Model Shipways


Lifeboat is built upside-down on a set of formers, just like real boats.
Kits include keel, sternpost, rudder and basswood strips for framing, ribs, and hull planking.
Complete with construction base, plywood parts for building jig and
illustrated instructions.


Well...  the illustrated (photocopied) instructions leave a lot to be desired as the images are so dark as to be unreadable.


Has anyone here built one of these little guys? Any advice, hints (better instructions)?


I'm just finishing a scratchbuilt Banks Dory 1:24 scale and this looks right up my alley.



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Hey Pete,


I am just starting on building the ship's boats for my USS Constitution and would seriously love to see your build to help me with the details.


So, please, upload some pics.

Current Build:  HM Granado Bomb Vessel (Caldercraft)

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Pete - you may want to contact Model Expo (maker of the Model Shipways line of models) and see if they can provide you with a better set of instructions.  They tend to be very responsive and exhibit good customer service.  They have several sizes of the kit listed when you search for Lifeboat.


Good luck!


Neither should a ship rely on one small anchor, nor should life rest on a single hope.

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Thanks for the suggestion Wayne.

I contacted Model Expo via email and received a pdf version of the instructions the next day. Great customer service.  It's still the same file but I was able to print it in (somewhat) higher quality.

I don't know if the instructions alone are sufficient for my first plank on frame kit - although at only $9.00 I guess it's worth a try.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Pete:


Send me the PDF and I'll try to help.  Send me a PM and I'll reply with my email address.  I'm pretty much a rookie, but I enjoy a little challenge.



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  • 4 years later...

I have two of these sitting on my bench as replacements for the cast metal ones on my Bluenose II. Both with the same crappy instructions. I started one and decided I needed to get some bending experience on something a little bigger. I could not manage the tight radii of the bends without splintering no matter how I tried.


Best Regards

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Steam is the secret but...  the wood for those kits is a problem as the grain runs every which way and will break.  

"The shipwright is slow, but the wood is patient." - me

Current Build:                                                                                             
Past Builds:
 La Belle Poule 1765 - French Frigate from ANCRE plans - ON HOLD           Triton Cross-Section   

 NRG Hallf Hull Planking Kit                                                                            HMS Sphinx 1775 - Vanguard Models - 1:64               


Non-Ship Model:                                                                                         On hold, maybe forever:           

CH-53 Sikorsky - 1:48 - Revell - Completed                                                   Licorne - 1755 from Hahn Plans (Scratch) Version 2.0 (Abandoned)         



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I tried to build three of these. I always steam bend but this was just to tight and the wood kept splintering so I shifted to plastic. The plastic bent fine but then the notches in the bulkheads broke out ....I’m still picking the pieces out of the wall. As I recall Ken W had some good pictures of one of these builds in his Rattlesnake Log.


Jim Rogers


Damn the Torpedoes , Full speed ahead.   Adm David Farragut.

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  • 2 months later...

Wish I would have found this post and petehay’s log before I started building these boats. A couple of comments to those attempting to build these. 

[NOTE:  Subsequent to my initial post, I discovered the kit build log Ships Boat by JSGerson. It is a superb log that covers this kit and problems with it. I realized that since the time of his build and now, Model Shipways has eliminated the boat plans and consolidated the two pages into one reduced page, which is probably the source of most of the problems I describe. 


[Another NOTE:  In my post below, I sound like I’m dumping on MS. Like others, I (unreasonably) expect perfection from my kit suppliers. I paid nine bucks for each kit, considerably more than what the kit went for in recent past. But, even at $9, there is probably not much profit margin for the seller on this little kit. Even with the inconveniences, I’ll probably purchase a couple more, and I’m glad that someone is selling such a kit. If nothing else, I have a better appreciation for those in this hobby who model at very small scales!]


If if you want one finished boat, I suggest you buy two or three kits, because you will likely ruin two of them in the building process. This is NOT a beginner’s project.


Soaking and steaming the 1/16x1/16 wood still doesn’t prevent splintering of them when attempting to form the very tight radii of the main ribs. (Count this as the reason to throw away one of the kits you bought!). Suggest laminating each rib from two layers of well soaked 1/16”x1/32” pieces. 


Despite the years between petehay’s original post and now, MS hasn’t improved the quality of the instructions. The photos in them are still not readable (in any of the four kits I purchased).   Even if you could clearly read them, the figure number referred to doesn’t match the text. Also, the “Hull Frame without Planking” drawing is tagged “Scale: 1=1” ... it isn’t (but, it is still the most useful illustration). 


This kit comes in several sizes. For any but the largest size, MS has included an addendum to the instructions recommending the buyer have the instruction sheet reduced by photocopying to proportions they list.


There is nothing useful on the figures in the instructions that would benefit the modeler by doing so. The one thing that does benefit by reduction based on the listed proportions is the statement in the text that says “Draw ... crosslines 1” apart” when building the hull building jig. This 1” dimension applies only to the largest kit. It must be reduced for smaller kits. (If you have followed this instruction and set up your hull building jig to 1” for any but the largest kit, count this as reason to throw away another one of the kits you’ve bought). Instead of using the listed proportions reductions, I suggest marking these crosslines (which establish the main rib spacing) directly off the laser cut Keel piece. 


The instructions say (referring to forming the main ribs over the jig forms) “At the keel position in the center there should be a 1/16” gap”. This means the modeler should NOT form the rib tight to the jig at the location of the keel ... but, while forming, that gap doesn’t naturally occur at 1/16”. Suggest either adding material to the jig to complete the curve of the hull while leaving a small notch at the keel location. The laser cut main rib formers have been truncated ( so much so that only about half of the former actually provides the “form” of the rib) in an attempt to create this gap, but if the hull curve of the former is continued it results in much more than 1/16” gap. It would have been nice if the former would have continued farther around, with a small notch to prevent improper glueing ... as they did where the rib ends are glued to the forms. 


Conclusion:  I purchased four of these kits, in two different sizes, neither the largest size available. I am hoping to have one complete, good build and maybe one salvageable build. You can decide if something less than 50% meets expectations. 

Edited by Srodbro
Added Another NOTE



"If they suspect me of intelligence, I am sure it will soon blow over, ha, ha, ha!"

-- Jack Aubrey



Yankee Hero, Fannie Gorham, We’re Here, Dapper Tom (x3), New Bedford Whaler, US Brig Lawrence (Niagara), Wyoming (half hull), Fra Berlanga (half hull), Gokstad Viking Ship, Kate Cory, Charles Morgan, Gjoa

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been building this boat over the past little while as part of the Model Shipway's Prince de Neufchatel.  I've had some significant frustrations and some small successes.  I've documented them in a few posts starting here.




Current BuildsBluenose II - AKrabbenkutter / Prince de Neufchatel / Essex Cross-section / Syren / Barque Stefano / Winchelsea / Half Hull / Maria HF31 - Dusek / Bandirma - Turkmodel

On the Shelf: Santisima Trinidad and Cross Section / HMS Cutter Alert / Tender AVOS / Confederacy

Suspended Build: Bluenose II - Billing Boats Nr 600 

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Threw them in garbage, not worth time money effort.

John Allen


Current builds HMS Victory-Mamoli

On deck

USS Tecumseh, CSS Hunley scratch build, Double hull Polynesian canoe (Holakea) scratch build



Waka Taua Maori War Canoe, Armed Launch-Panart, Diligence English Revenue Cutter-Marine  Model Co. 


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Ultimately got two boats that I’ll live with. Planking turned out okay but required some slivers to be added to fill gaps. 





Dark stain hides lots of problems. 



"If they suspect me of intelligence, I am sure it will soon blow over, ha, ha, ha!"

-- Jack Aubrey



Yankee Hero, Fannie Gorham, We’re Here, Dapper Tom (x3), New Bedford Whaler, US Brig Lawrence (Niagara), Wyoming (half hull), Fra Berlanga (half hull), Gokstad Viking Ship, Kate Cory, Charles Morgan, Gjoa

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