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Bluenose by 7Provinces – Billing Boats – 1:75 - first wooden ship build

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I have started this kit in 1994. At that time I was used to do some plastic modeling (aircraft, tanks) mostly in 1/72, some RC cars and wooden sailing planes.

Also, at that time I took the contents of the kit as they were without judgment.

I built the keel and the bulkheads, planked the deck, painted the waterways and did most of the planking of the hull. This was done by December 1998.

Then it sat on shelves and tables (always in my vicinity making me feel guilty) for around 12 years when I decided to pick it up and finish the planking of the hull. By that time I saw that the hull is warped, but there was no way to correct this at that point without having to rebuild the whole thing.

Another 3 years later, last summer, I decided to start working on it again. I did some research, joined this forum and drilled the holes fort he masts. Then it sat on my desk again…


Around two months ago I have taken up work again. I started with creating some space where I can work. This helped ;-).

Again I did some research and made some decisions:

  • There are some building mistakes I made early on (2 decades ago). The result is that the build is not quite like I would have liked it to be. Examples are the warped hull and the planking to which I will get back later on. I have decided to go on with what I have so far. I will try to make the best out of it, but I will not rebuild anything.
  • The kit is very limited. The instructions are abysmal, a number of parts are made from plastic and not very detailed and on a number of accounts the drawings are just plain wrong, as is the color scheme. I have decided to just enjoy this build for what it is and not be too strict about historic correctness. Still I will use the information at my disposal to correct the kit where I feel comfortable that this is done relatively easily (this is my first build after all). Examples are the colors and the placement of some deck structures.


Picture 1: looking at the hull from front to aft you can see that the hull is warped. Looking at it any other way this is not so apparent however. I have decided to leave it like it is.






Picture 2: planking was done 16 years ago and 3 years ago (the newer part is still light of color).





Picture 3: planking mistake at the bow: somehow 16 years ago I planked onto the center keel as it was. No word about bearding lines or rabbets in my kit’s instructions…




Since I am going to fill and paint the hull I think I can fix this with a Dremel and some filler. I’ll save that for later. First I want to get the deck, waterways and stanchions, etc. in shape.

What worries me a bit is all the nails in the hull. I remember it was great fun planking using a dot of wood glue and fixing the plank with little nails (like in the instructions) because it added to the sense of "building" something (of wood). However I am not sure what I am going to do to make sure one does not see the nails through the paint as some most heads have not been sunken into the wood (this would split the planks).

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I figure the deck and the stanchions, waterways, scuppers, etc. need to be done first before mounting the rail and finishing the outside of the hull, so that is where I’ll start.


Looking at the deck and the stanchions, there are several issues which I noted (picture):





1.      Deck: I have planked the deck with the mahogany supplied. I have done this as neatly as I could, with long strips fore to aft, and was happy with the result. Now I have come to realize that:

a.       No plank is that long. I will try to find a way to cut the planks even though they are already glued in place, maybe with a narrow chisel?

b.      The strips are mahogany. The real Bluenose deck was of Douglas Fir. Not quite the same color. However, on pictures of the Bluenose (black & white) the deck appears almost black, suggesting it to be fairly dark and on (color) pictures of the Bluenose II (a different ship in many ways, I know) the deck has quite the same color as mine. So I will leave it like it is.

c.       In instructions of other manufacturers I read about nibbing. Not in mine as you can guess so there are no nibs on my model. Looking at pictures of the real Bluenose I can’t make out any nibs either so I will leave this like it is as well.

d.      According to the instructions the waterways are grey. In fact, they were natural, like the deck. So I will plank these with the same mahogany with which I planked the deck

2.      Stanchions:

a.       The bulwark stanchions are too massive. According to the drawings this is correct and there was no hint in the instructions to reshape these before planking. Since it will be near impossible (for me) to reduce the width (fore to aft size) without collateral damage, I will only adjust the depth (hull to deck size) in order to be better able to fit the waterways

b.      There are only the bulwark stanchions (11) per side and, according to the drawings, that’s all there is. So I will have to create fake stanchions from scratch. Since I have no real reference as to how many there should be and mine are too wide anyway, I will place 2 or 3 between each pair of bulwarks, whichever looks better.

3.      Aft section and transom:

a.       There is a gap between the transom and the horizontal piece lying on top (picture 5). I will fill this with a piece of wood (picture 6).

b.      The deck should run all the way to the transom. The kit instructions show it stops about 1 cm in front of the (inner) transom piece, leaving room for a waterway (picture 6). On pictures of the Bluenose I saw that there is some sort of construction underneath the horizontal piece (a winch?) and that the slope seems to reach more forward to meet the deck. I will fix this by making a new slope.

c.       The horizontal piece itself does not have the right shape and there is no construction underneath, so I will need to draw and make these from scratch.


Picture 5:



Picture 6: the strip to fill the gap on the transom and the deck not running all the way to the transom


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Hi there, I also have this same and identical kit. My neighbor began this kit 25 years ago and gave it to me this past weekend to complete as he was not interested in this hobby. I am also at this same exact stage as you and have this inherited the same concerns. I am optimistic that it will turn out OK with a bit of detail work and simple scratch buildup. My problem is I have another build log on the go and not sure when I will have time to do this kit justice. I may create a log for this model and then let it sit for a while. Nonetheless I look forward to any work you get done as I am right behind you.

Edited by mrcc
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Hi mrcc,


looking forward to sharing tips and experience on this kit with you!

I am actually a slow builder given the fact that I can only spend few hours on it, so I do not expect my build log to make quick progress. Actually I did not start a log at all up to now for this very reason...

I hope you'll share your progress anyway ;-)

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I have started to work on the stanchions and the transom.  I have reshaped the stanchions first with a power tool with cutting disc for the rough work and then I made them nice and even with sanding sticks I made. Now they are less deep (size from the hull towards the deck) and I can start to create the fake stanchions.


Overview of the resized stanchions. Now there is more room for the waterways.



Close-up on the work I did on the stanchions



Also I have created a new slope between the deck and the transom which, in my eyes, better matches the pictures of the original (from Nova Scotia Archives).




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By the way: as a preparation for this work I have downloaded a lot of pictures from the Nova Scotia Archives and printed all of them in A4 size. This really helps, the pictures are a great source. Sometimes in this log I refer to pictures, and then almost always these are meant. Sometimes I would have liked to post these pictures with circles around the items I address in the text, but the pictures not mine to post so I will refrain from that. Anyway, I think these would be a great help to any Bluenose builder.

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Jan, If I can give you some advice before you go any further.  The warpage in the stern could proabably be corrected with a great deal of work.  However after you finsh this model it will come back to haunt down the road.  I speak from hard experience and going to shows.  As for your deck planking you could try a wood bleach to tone and grey it out.  Make up some test strips first.  I am not familiar with the Billings Kit.  If it comes with a second plank for the hull just take a small nail punch to the brads that you have in.  You can also use a wood filler on the hull if single planked and once painted it will look great.  Best of luck on your build and do not be afraid to ask for help.  Also check out the forums this may help you out as well.

David B

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Thanks Jan-Willem for the note.


I as well am extremely slow at this hobby and given I have a current build going on with my HM Granado (my first), I am certainly not sure how much time I can devote to the Bluenose. I will though start a Bluenose log in the next week or two and show some pictures of where I am at. To be honest with you, your first few posting and pictures are "identical" to the model I inherited.


I have seen the Bluenose II docked in Lunenburg 3 years ago while it was undergoing some restoration in Nova Scotia, Canada, and it is such a beautiful ship. The lines obviously so similar to the original. Who knows, I may just shift my focus on this ship, and complete it first.



Edited by mrcc
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Thanks for your input, it's always welcome. As to the warpage I think it originates from the deck. As far as I remember the deck was warped before I mounted it and the rest was straight (I might be wrong though). At that time I did not think that the warped deck would warp the whole hull so I did not soak it or anything and just put it together. I did not heat and bend any plank either for that matter... Everything was put together straight out of the box  :o

Anyway the warpage is not that bad and is hardly visible when not looking along the length of the ship. I'd rather try to get it right on a next ship as to take this one apart and start over. 

As stated in my second post I do not really mind that the deck is dark. Sure I have seen a few very nice light or multicolored decks on this forum, but, looking at the pictures of the Bluenose I have the feeling that this color cannot be off by far. Pictures of the Bluenose (black & white) show the deck (almost) black and pictures of the Bluenose II show the deck almost the same color as my model. So I'll leave that for now. I do plan to do some sanding and probably varnish in semi-gloss, but I am not sure yet. And that I will test first  ;) More of that later in a future post.

The kit comes with one layer of planking. I also thought of using a nail punch. Any holes this leaves are easy to fill. Do you think this will work? I am not sure this will not cause damage like splitting planks or so and the angles are not so easy at some points. Easy to slip off the nail or worse. Still if I leave them they will at some points look through the filler (and filles sands down easier than nails) which is not nice. Alternatively I could sand the nailheads off with a dremel and then put on the filler. And hope the planks do not come off :D.


I do have another question to you or anyone who reads this: the kit comes with a lot of ugly plastic parts which I look to replace with better parts or scratch built parts. The first I will need to replace are the dead-eyes (and the bocks for that matter).



The blocks and dead-eyes in the kit are all the same size (6mm; and all wrong I suppose). So basically I am looking for the right sizes for the blocks and the dead-eyes. I have searched the forum but did not find an answer yet. From pictures I derived that the dead-eyes would have been about the size of a man's head. On my model this would mean no more than 4mm. But is that practical? And the blocks have different sizes but in the pictures I do not realy have references (like a head) for an estimation.

I would really appreciate some tips on this as I have no experience whatsoever with rigging and the instruction booklet... well they seemed to have run out of paper by the time they got to rigging  :huh:


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Yes it is a beautiful ship. That and the fact that I thought it would be a good model to learn on made me choose it as my first wooden ship. I hope you do get to building it and to creating a build log.


Whatever you do, enjoy it!

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If you are painting the hull you can countersink the nails, fill then prime- sand back then repeat till smooth.On my billings victory i pulled the nails out using side cutters then filled the holes and gaps between planks with P.V.A. then sanded back.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Today I was looking at sizes and scaling down to model size for the length of deck planks for instance. I would like to cut the deck planks to a more normal size even though they are already mounted. I think I can make a tool for that. However, I am not sure how long the deck planks should be. This brought me to compare the manuals of Billing Boats and Model Shipways again. Apart from the fact that I did not find any information about the length of deck planks, I did find something else which startled me and made me question the whole concept of trying to make anything on the ship correct to size: the MS model is 1/64 and yet it is shorter (by about 5 cm / 2 in.) than the BB model at 1/75! :o  However, the overall height of the MS model surpasses the BB model by 1.6 cm (5/8 in.) and the width is roughly the same  :huh:. so I looked up the original sizes and did my own calculations.

Billing Boats claims that the model is 1/75. However when looking at the original size the overall length of the model is roughly 1/56 and the width is around 1/59. The height is somewhere in between. This means that, apart from the fact that the scale is closer to 1/57 than to 1/75 (a typo made by the manufacturer?? :D ), the proportions are not correct either. This means in my case that the deck should have been around 5% or 0.8 cm (5/16 in.) wider  :angry:.

The scale of the MS model would, according to my calculations, be around 1/59 (except for the height which I think is around 1/55). Anyway not the 1/64 displayed on the box.


From now on I will treat all sizes (plank length, deadeyes, boxes, …) as somewhere between 1/55 and 1/60 (whichever is more convenient for that part). I will have to ignore the proportional issues though...

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Hi Jan-Willem... funny that you noticed that as well. This kit seems out of scale to me - not the 1:75 as stated on the box and limited  documentation that we got. It is hard to believe that Billing Boats would get it wrong???

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Even though it is (again) a bit disappointing, I cannot say I am really surprized, given the other "inaccuracies" like the color of the hull and the bowsprit, the place of the grate at the steering wheel, the lack of fake stanchions, the form and size suggested for the scuppers and so on. I got the feeling that this has been a quick & dirty release without caring about being true to the original. The name "Bluenose" seems like a lure where "early 20th century schooner" might have been more approriate.

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I have started to create and shape the fake stanchions. So far I have created around a quarter of the stanchions I need assuming 3 fake stanchions between two bulkhead stanchions. I have placed them where they should go but did not fix them yet, just to see what the effect is. I think it looks better with 3 fake stanchions between two bulkhead stanchions than with 2. I will adjust the height when they are mounted and before putting the rail in place.


Unfortunately I have no pictures of the stanchions on the front of the ship (in front of the first bulkhead) In the instructions of the MS model I saw a drawing of a knighthead, hawse timbers (what are these?) and a chafe block. However, I have no idea where exactly to place them. I do not have a drawing to scale or even a rough plan. Ideas around this would be greatly appreciated!  ;) 


The stanchions, 3 fake stanchions between two bulkhead stanchions:



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  • 4 weeks later...

Over the past weeks I have been busy with two things: creating the fake stanchions (three between each pair of bulkhead stanchions) and sanding the deck.

With the stanchions I am around 2/3 done. The smaller they get the more often little edges of the wood splinter off (the wood is very dry and not so dense) which I then have to glue back on to get the right shape. This is a lot of work all in all.





I have started to sand the deck next to creating the fake stanchions because I think I would damage the fake stanchions when hitting these with a sanding block, so the deck must be done before gluing the fake stanchions in place.

I wanted to sand the deck not only as a preparation for varnishing, but also because the strips of wood where the deck is made of are not all of the same thickness. I discovered that some are (almost) twice as thick as others. Now first it looks better when the deck is (more or less) even, second I found out that the waterways (which are made of the same wood) are to be around twice as thick as the deck. This gave me the idea to sand down the deck to the thinnest planks and use the thickest deck planks I can find in the kit to make the waterways.

The pictures show some of the sanding progress and the difference in thickness of the planks which shows through the sanding. The pictures are made between sanding when I was changing the sanding paper on my sanding blocks.







While working on the deck, I also took some time to do some experimenting: I am thinking of shortening the deck planks to a more realistic length using a chisel, I need to cut out the places for the structures, I need to select a varnish (gloss or semi-gloss) and I am thinking of drilling holes for the trenails.

First test I did was to cut a few planks with a chisel. For this I took an X-acto chisel and cut it back to 3 mm. with a Dremel. Then I cut a few planks with the chisel and a small hammer. The chisel however is so sharp that it goes through the deck like through butter and when I pull it out I can hardly see the cut. These are the two cuts on one plank in just below the middle of the picture. For the second try I cut twice right next to each other. This is the cut just left and above the other cuts. It shows light on the picture, filled with dust from sanding.

To be honest, I do not yet know what to do with the results of this experiment…




The last picture shows my sanding blocks in need of fresh sanding paper and the modified chisel. especially the small triangle shaped sanding blocks are very handy as these can be held very well in different ways and are small enough to be able to maneuver on the deck. I cut the triangles from a 30x30 mm. construction profile and glued the sanding paper on it with white wood glue like I do with all my sanding blocks.



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Good progress Jan-Willem,


I think the stanchions look great. I was lucky enough to have the planks staggered when I assumed the build from my neighbour.


Any thoughts on the darkness of the mahogany? Do you think it is too dark? I personally love the richness of the wood, which will look even better once clear coated. Are you aware that the original ship was likely not this dark? I just recently found this out. I have a local mentor who has built 3 Bluenoses, and has advised me that it may be more accurate to lighten with a paint or even bleach the wood. It would be such a shame to paint over the mahogany decking.


Cheers, Julian

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Thanks Julian.


Yes the deck planks are bothering me a bit. It's a lot of work to sand down to the thinnest planks, I can drill holes for trenailng but what do I use as trenails when the deck is so dark, etc. ... But not the color. I would have chosen a lighter color if I had to choose right now, knowing that the wood used was Douglas Fir. But, apart from the fact that I like the mahogany color I have seen a lot of pictures of the Bluenose and the deck always looked black or close to black on the B&W pictures. I may be wrong but I attribute this to influences from weather, sea, lots of fish (she was a fishing vessel after all) and a lot of scrubbing and waxing or whatever wasdone to clean up and preserve the deck. Then, there are pictures of the Bluenose II. Not quite the same ship, I know, but on the Bluenose II the deck looks quite dark as well. Not quite as dark as mahogany maybe, but the hue is definitely not that far off. No, I am not doing anything to change the wood, I like it.

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I agree Jan-Willem...


I love the wood and it will look great once varnished. At the end of the day, it is always what you like best or what you think looks best.

PS I will have an update in the next day or two as well for you.

PSS I certainly would not worry about treenails.

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Hi Julian,


What do you mean not to worry about the trenails? Would you say the scale is too small to consider doing these? I was wondering: with a pin vise and a 0.3 mm. drill it would be easy enough to drill the holes and the size would be about right. I read that the holes can be filled with way as well but I have no experience with that (or any other technique for trenailing for that matter ;) ).

Looking forward to your update!

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Thanks guys for your valuable input. I tend to agree with you but still the idea won't leave me. So I will build a test stand this weekend. There is more than enough wood in the kit anyway :-)

I want to test trenailing (or treenailing or tree-nailing (sorry I am not a native english speaker and I have seen these 3 spelling varieties), varnish (gloss and semi-gloss, possibly a mix and do some further tests on cutting the planks to size. I am thinking of planking a piece of scrap wood with an area of around 5 x 20 cm for this sole purpose this weekend. Let's see what happens...

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  • 2 weeks later...

During the past weeks I spent some time doing research and asking questions on MSW (mainly to Bob aka bhermann; he has been helping me a lot) to find out what I can do in terms of deadeyes, chainplates, blocks, etc.). I want to have a concept for this soon since in my opinion I need to fit the chainplates and the deadeyes before painting the hull: the chainplates need to be fitted through the rail and sunken into the hull at least partly.

In addition to this my time during the weekends has been very limited so I have only little progress to show for.

First of all I continued creating the fake stanchions. 75% is now ready for mounting, which I will do only after the deck is finished.

Then I have also continued sanding the deck. I found that the mahogany deck is quite something else in terms of hardness than the other wood in the kit. The sandpaper on my sanding blocks was wearing thin so fast that I decided to create another 6 blocks bringing the total to 8 (3 100 grit and 5 120 grit). After another hour or so of sanding these were worn down and it looks like this:




The dark spots have not been touched by the sanding paper yet and I think I can eliminate these in the next “sanding session”.



Sanding is done when there are no more dark (untouched wood) or light grey (barely touched/lightly sanded) areas anymore, which means the deck is level across a few deck planks. I put a sanding block on the deck to “check” this. In fact the deck is more level than it looks. When I glued the deck on some 20 years ago I did not think of (and the manual didn’t mention to) sand the sides of the planks or making fake caulking. So now some planks have rough sides which cause gaps between planks. It’s not very bad but it makes some planks stand out like they were not level with the rest.



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The other thing I started to work on but did not achieve the progress with which I would have liked to) is the test stand for the deck. I have identified 4 areas to test: cutting already mounted planks to size, trenailing, caulking and varnish.


I did not get to the testing itself, but I was able to create the test deck on a piece of scrap wood. The deck is 16cm long and 11 planks (33mm) wide.


The test deck:



As with the deck on the model, this deck was made of planks of different thickness:




As with the deck on the model, I have sanded the deck down to get an even, level deck:




I hope I will find the time to begin the testing soon…

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