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Pilot Cutter by Michael Mott - 1:500 scale

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I thought that a challenge to build a small model at 1:500 scale similar to the ships in bottles might make a satisfying change from working in 1:8 scale





the hull is carved from a small piece of the English Boxwood




I decided to use the larger part of the block as a holding jig so I carefully fretted out the profile and plan with a jewelers saw, by not completing the cuts I was able to hold it easily until the end.




The hull blank was reatached to the cut along the deck line saw cut with a little acc glue.




The beginning carving most of the actual carving was done with the #11 blade then some files.




Some .024" holes were drilled for mounting to a board and a similar hole was drilled for the rudder.




The first trial assembly to get an Idea of how it will look. I think that the mast is a bit big in diameter yet and the hull still needs a bit of fairing in a couple of spots.




Three quarter from the bow Still a fair ways to go but I am satisfied with the progress this evening.




The brass tiller is just a placeholder it is a bit on the big side. Next the bowsprit and topmast gaff and boom.



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Bob Thanks for looking in on the tiny build. I have a whole new appreciation for Donald McNarry let me tell you. It took me an hour to make a new mast that is a scale 12 inches in diameter at the base. .024" it is bamboo I used a draw plate and a sanding stick but did most of the final sizing by scraping with a knife blade. It looks like the mast now needs a bit of tapering, it is definitely tricky working with these big splinters.


The photo shows the mast to be smaller at the middle than the top I did not see that while working on it I will try some other woods for this small stuff.


Here is mini sitting on the stem of the 1:8




and a shot in daylight with the thinner mast. I took out the 12 inch thick tiller handle.





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John, thanks, it is fun, and break up the tasks which gives my mind a variety of focus.


Mark, absolutely, the small cutter works out to a scale 12 inches long LOA as a model in the big one.


Harvey, thanks for your kind comment


Druxey, thanks for the compliment and actually it is quite the opposite I find it easy to switch scales, I have been a "rubber gauger" all my life. (Sorry about the reference to railways)




the top off cut looked promising for the proper rudder.




Fretted out and ready for shaping,




The rudder was a little tricky to hold and it took five minutes to find it after dropping it, I think it did a sycamore seed thing as it fell. When it was almost finished I snapped the shaft which was carved as an integral part of the rudder. I glued it with some ACC and since it is hidden inside the hole through the hull, and there will not be any sideways torquing pressure I will leave it. At the moment it is just a very light push fit and it does swivel from side to side. I was reading that Donald McNally actually planked the decks of all his ships with actual strips of planking. ...... I'm thinking about it.






I Also shaped a new mast out of maple and tapered it to .010" at the masthead and .024"  at the base, I am pleased enough with it now.



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Popeye, Bob, Tim, Thanks for stopping by.


Well working on the rudder I did resort to using the optivisor, I try not to use one if I can get away without it. I think that is why I mostly work on large stuff these days, but this was just too much of a fun challenge. The next task that will need some figuring out is to reshape the sheerline to accommodate the bulwarks and to leave the stem proud a little.



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  • 3 weeks later...

Håkan, thanks for the compliment


I did a little more work on the mini pilot cutter today I worked on the final shaping of the deck.




Tricky little devil to hold. Then I remembered the Milton Bradley mock up clay.




Heated up an exacto blade to cherry red and let it cool down so I could file the notch for recessing the hull to accept the bulwarks.




I cut some .005" apple and also some white lilac so I will see how each look before deciding. The white lilac smelled like aromatic cedar which surprised me.



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Mark, Harvey, John, Popeye, and Matt,  thanks for your kind words.


Yes Matt the translucence did surprise me a little because the apple wood was quite dense. I measured the thickness and it was scraped down to .005" which in scale is still way to thick. if it were blown up to full size it would be 2.5 inches thick.



I cut the curve out with a pair of regular scissors and then the curl by pulling between my index finger and thumbnail. the hardest part was getting the glue on. I used a dental pic and put the glue in the tip of it, I could have used a pin as well I suppose.


Once the glue was good and set I used a tiny sanding stick with 600 grit and gently stroked back and forth lengthwise to get them down to the right size above the deck I also used it to shape the transom once it was glued on.





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I love it!!!  This is very cool.  Your craftsmanship is incredible.  The lines look great.  Planking will be a nice touch.  Have you thought about getting her into a bottle?  At that size you may even consider a pocket watch similar to what John Fox III has done.  http://www.mosaictelecom.com/~jfox3/forshow.html

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Michael,


Oh me, oh my, what a wonderful build. Who says a solid hull vessel cannot be elegant whatever the size.


Looking forward to more!



Hopeful aka David


“there is wisdom in many voices”


Completed: Sharpie Schooner (Midwest) Reposting the build log at present

On the bench: Sultana (MSW) Reposting the log and keeping on with the build


Next: Lady Nelson (Amati Victory)

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