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New Bedford Whaleboat by ziled68 (Raymond) - FINISHED - Model Shipways - Small

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Greetings to all,

Please excuse the fact that I have been away from the ship yards for a while. It’s been pretty busy over here with the move and having to fix a leak under the sink that I could not find until after I broke under the concrete slab.

Well as most of you know, I had the New Bedford Whaleboat kit a friend of mine gave me for the assistance I provided him on the back porch of his house. For starters let me give you a brief history lesson of the New Bedford Whaleboat.

“From 1720 to 1920, nearly 60,000 whaleboats were consumed by the American whaling industry. With a useful life of no more than three years, whaleboats were discarded on the spot throughout the costal U.S. and around the world. Remarkably, only a dozen or two have survived to become part of today’s museum collection.

In 1916, the Dartmouth Historical Society commissioned the building of a half-sized model of the bark LAGODA. Local whaleboat builder Joshua Delano was retained to build seven half-sized model whaleboats needed for the project. Delano built these models according to the design of the full-sized boats he had built for the whaling industry for more than 40 years.”

Now that I have brought you up to speed, let us begin into my journey of the New Bedford Whaleboat. Well the first thing one should do is inventory all supplies within the Model Shipway’s kit. I did so and realized that there were a few missing items that I was able to acquire at my local Hobby lobby.

After that was done, I looked over the plans and read, “To Build A Whaleboat, Historical Notes And A Modelmaker’s Guide” by Erik A.R. Ronnberg, Jr. I must say that this item is invaluable to the person who wants to tackle the whaleboat. After reviewing and reading everything, I tackled the whaleboat’s form by assembling the profile and section molds. Before you begin gluing the section molds to the profile mold, it is best to make your bevel for the battens and planks to section molds 1, 2, 4, and 5. Once complete, mark the areas on the section molds were the battens will be placed and the water lines that will coincide with the profile’s waterlines. Keep in mind that these marked areas are just a rough guide that will assist your placement of the battens.

Upon completion of the form, I tackled the horses that will have the form mounted upon. I must say that Model Shipways tries to do their best by these models but there are certain places that need to be tweaked just so for a proper fit of the form upon the horses. I made a construction board in order to glue down my workhorses. First you will have to establish the centerline down the length of the board and place the midship horse, widthwise for form section 3, as carefully as you can due to the fact that the bow and stern horses will take their measurements from this one. Upon the proper alignment of all 3 workhorses, I placed and glued my form on top and let it dry. The following three photos will show you what I have thus far. Until the next episode, here’s wishing you and yours a happy voyage home.






Edited by ziled68
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Greetings to all,

Let’s start by saying that I have good news and bad news. The good news that I have made some progress on my whaleboat and the bad news is that I have lost some photos documenting each step. Now don’t be alarmed, I’ll try to narrate the steps I’ve taken and take photos of certain aspects of the plans to show you what I am talking about.

Upon completing the form, it was time for me to tackle the bow and stern post along with the keel. Now the process is a lot easier than what you may read within the book, “To Build a Whaleboat”. The bow and stern post is pretty much a lamination of 1/32” x 1/8” strips of timber that are placed along the bow and stern areas of your form. The total amount of strips used for both posts are six strips. The process I found easiest for me was to use my wife’s fabric steamer on each individual strip. After steaming it for approximately 30 seconds, I placed it on the form and held it in place with rubber bands until it dried. Once dry, I went ahead and repeated the same process for the second and third strip (glued to the previous one once completely dry). After the third strip has dried, it was time to bevel the rabbet onto the posts as seen in the first photo below.

Once I was satisfied with the bevel, it was now time to turn my attention to the keel which consists of an upper and lower layer. At this point I was only concentrating on the upper layer which is a 3/64” x ½” strip of timber. The keel is pretty straight forward to make, as the second photo below will show you, so I’ll not bore you too much in the matter. Now the fun stuff was ready to begin, adding the posts to the keel. While it seems like a simple step, it requires a bit of finesse and a little bit of measurement. In order to fit the upper layer of the keel to the posts, I had to scarf the posts and upper keel and ensure that I had a smooth and continuous flow from bow to stern as the third photo below will show.

After making the preliminary union of posts to keel, it was time to beef it up via the lower keel and final three strips of each post. The lower keel layer is 5/64” x ½” and gets its measurements from the plans. Once I cut my lower layer, I added it onto the upper layer, and prepared for the remaining three strips which is a repeated system of my first three strips. Yes; steam, form, dry, and glue. Once the last three layers dried, I continued the bow’s rabbet along the keel until making it meet with the stern’s rabbet. I then  removed the whole assembly from the form and lightly sanded the posts edges to get rid of the fact that they were laminated pieces. (NOTE: The only exception to the keel is that you will need to cut the centerboard slot on the lower layer and wait until after your model if framed as a means of maintaining the strength of the keel as a whole.)


Until next time,








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Greetings to all,

Upon completion of the bow post, stern post, and keel it was time to add the garboards along the keel. Care must be taken into account when dealing with the garboards. First you will have to bevel the garboard section that rests along the keel. It is crucial to properly support the garboard on a thicker board when beveling so as not to accidently snap your garboard. Once you are happy with the bevel along the keel it is time to bevel the opposite edge of said garboard to accept the first strake which must overlap the garboard by 1/16”. Once the bevels are done, it is time to dry fit the garboard along the keel to ensure you are happy with the seam. If not, now is the time to tweak the bevel so as to get a tighter fit. When you are finally satisfied, it is time to glue the garboard in place. This is where my wife’s fabric steamer comes into play again. The garboard will rest flatly along the section molds but will drastically bend almost 90 degrees along the bow and stern posts. I steamed these sections for approximately 40 seconds, placed the garboard back on the form and held it in place with rubber bands until dry. Once the bow side of the garboard was done I tackled the stern side and repeated the same procedure. Afterwards, it’s just a matter of time to allow it to dry and glue onto the form.

The first strake is the first one you will need to bevel until you get to the sixth strake which I’ve not come to yet. After the first strake has been added to the model, subsequent strakes are joined to it with a seam batten beneath. In the event you are not comfortable gluing these sections over the section molds, it is recommended to use paraffin wax on the section molds to avoid accidently gluing your model to it. The book actually states that once the strake has been glued down, it is time to add the seam batten by lifting the strake slightly to accommodate the seam batten. I found it easier to pin the seam batten on the section mold and glue the strake to the previous seam batten and the new one. I’ll continue this process until I get to the gunwales. The following three photos will show what I have thus far.






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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello everyone, I realize it’s been a while since my last post so let’ me see if I can bring you all up to speed. I last left off adding the strakes and batten seams to the form. I continued this process until getting to strakes 5 and 6 where these strakes need to be cupped to follow the contour of each section mold. The process is pretty simple in which you can either wet or steam these strakes attach it to a 5/8” x 5/8” quarter round molding and clamp in place until dry. Once dry, you add these strakes to your form. After the sixth strake the strakes no longer butt up against each other but start to lap. This can be seen when it is time to work on the sheer strake that needs to be completely beveled with the last inch heading towards the bow. Once the sheer stake is glued in place it is time to start working on the gunwale strake. You will notice that the gunwale strake is 1” shorter that the sheer strake due to the fact that gunwale strake will be placed 1” from the bow.

Once your strakes have been given enough time to dry, it is time to pin the temporary retaining batten to the cap strip to protect your gunwale from harm. Once the retaining batten is in place, you can now remove the hull from the horses. Removal is really simple. All you do is pry off the gluing tab that holds the jig to the bow and stern horses. Once done, you score along jig and the amidships horse to separate it.

Once the hull is separated, you can now go through the process of using the mold forms and a compass to draw your lines for your frames. You will get your measurements from the “Plan Views – Inboard Construction” on sheet 2 of your plans. The laminated frames are a simple process of steaming your frames, pinning it in place until dry, and finally gluing them in place.

I’ve also had enough time to carve up a scaled man to show relative size of the whaleboat. I my carving of a man to be 5’ – 8” tall and at this scale he came out to be 4 ¼” tall. I also could not help but notice that he had a barrel chest making him look like a tank hence being dubbed “Hank”. The following photos will show you how everything is coming along.










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Greetings to all,

Well this past Labor Day weekend I did not do anything to my whaleboat so the progress that I have to report is small so I’ll post them tomorrow. On the other hand, I did go to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon with my wife and just enjoyed my time off to take in the sights. I want to share the following pictures with all of you and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.









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Hello Everyone,

As promised, here is the latest update to my whaleboat. The plans and guide state that the first strake to be placed inboard is the thwart riser followed by the adjacent ceiling. Care must be taken to ensure that the thwart riser is 5/8” below the gunwale between stations 1 ½ and 4 ½. Forward and aft of these point the measurement is 11/16” giving it a gradual slope. The thwart riser starts from the most forward most frame and will continue aft up to the second from the last frame. Once you have placed the thwart riser, it is time to tackle the adjacent ceiling. The adjacent ceiling needs to be trimmed and/or sanded to get a nice tight fit along the thwart riser. Also, you will have to cut and install short wide pieces which cover the frames at the bow and stern.

Once that is complete you can go ahead and trim the slot along the keel to accommodate the centerboard trunk and mast step. The plans are nicely drawn and it is a simple process of getting the measurements for both of these items. Now I must point out that the height of the centerboard trunk is level with the thwart riser. I found it easy to add a strip of timber from the port thwart to the starboard thwart and use that as a guide to get the correct measurement for my centerboard trunk. Now before you glue it into place, make sure that you bore the pivot hole for you centerboard. The mast step is a simple affair so I’ll not go into it with the exception of pointing out that you will not bore the mast hole for it at this time.

Since it was raining today, I had plenty of down time to concentrate on the deck’s ceiling. I started the first plank near the centerboard trunk and work outwards. The first 4 ceiling planks are easy due to the fact that they only receive a 90 degree cut at their ends. The fifth and sixth planks are a little more time consuming because they have extreme angle that need to be cut just so. After the installation of each ceiling, I marked my boards where the simulated treenails would be placed above each frame. The following photos will show you how she’s coming along.










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Thank you Curtis, I hope that my build will give you inspiration for your build.


Hello Everyone,

The latest progress to my whaleboat is in the form of cheeks, inwales and gunwales, and paint. Well for starters, the cheek pieces were a little difficult due to the fact that you only get overall dimensions for them but not how to go about it. This is where your artistic abilities come into play. The rough dimensions of the cheeks are 1/” x 3/8” x 1 ½”. The guide is where you will get a better feeling for the construction of the cheeks so pay attention to it. Once completed, I added the cheeks to the stem and realized that I had not placed brass roller between the cheeks. It was a simple affair to address via cutting the 1/8” brass tube filling it with a wooden dowel and passing a pin through it to hold it in place.

After the cheeks were installed I worked on both the inwales and gunwales. These are pretty straight forward but I must say the gunwales that lie against the cheeks must be sanded to follow the cheeks profile.

Upon completion of these items, the guide states that if you wish to paint your whaleboat, now is the time to do so for the interior of the boat. As for choosing a paint scheme that would give my whaleboat any justice, let’s just say that I suck at it and did some research online. I came across this website, http://www.muffyaldrich.com/2014/04/charles-w-morgan-launch-minus-23-days.html, which talks about the preparation of Mystic Seaport’s Charles W. Morgan. After reading and looking at pictures, I came across its whaleboat and was immediately drawn to its color scheme which I will follow as best as I can. The following photos will show how she’s coming along (keep in mind that the first three are of the Morgan’s whaleboat).











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Hello Everyone,

The newest progress to my whaleboat is the addition of thwarts, thigh board, cuddy board, and lion’s tongue. The thwarts were an easy addition to my whaleboat via getting a rough dimension of the size per thwart and using scrap timber to get the correct angle for the sides. The inwale will tend to impede progress a bit but is not really an issue. The guide states that the thwart risers are notched slightly so as for the thwart to have better contact. An interesting tidbit of information in regards to these notches was that it was done as a “cure” for thwart risers that were fitted to high on one or both sides.

The thigh board was next on the butcher block which was a simple affair to work on. The guide states that you should get the width of your thigh board from the model itself rather than the plans due to the fact that the bow may have tapered more than expected. It also states that if you have not already added nails to your model, you should at least nail the thigh board down for added strength. What I did was add a bead of carpenters glue followed by small dabs of super glue to where the thigh board will rest and finally place the thigh board on the gunwale.

The cuddy boards and lion’s tongue followed similar fashion as the thigh board with one exception. The stem post that protrudes above the cuddy boards were laminated strips of timber. At the beginning of its construction, the guide made no mention that this area had to be longer so I made it long enough to where I believed it had to go. Bad idea. Since I was not happy with it, I had to perform a minor operation to remedy this fiasco. I am now one happy camper. The following photos will show how she’s coming along.









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Hello everyone,

It’s been slow going since my last post but one that had to be done to get great results. I added the rubbing pieces outboard, just below the gunwale strakes. The guide states that this piece is made from 1/16” x 1/8” timber which I believed did not do justice for this important and noticeable aspect of the whaleboat. I decided to use the 1/8” x 1/8” timber I used as a retaining batten when I separated the form from the horses. I used the measurements from sheet 1 of the plans and tapered the ends to its specification.

After completing the rubbing pieces, I started working on the thwart knee filler blocks. These filler blocks are a simple affair but extremely time consuming if you want it to look great. Once the filler blocks were installed, I went through the procedure of steaming1/32” x 1/16” timber to form the thwart knees which is a laminated procedure similar to the frames for the whaleboat. As I finished up one set of thwart knees I immediately added pads to the areas mentioned by the plans.

I finally put the week to an end via the construction of the box just forward of the thigh board. Once complete. I went back and went through the procedure of adding all my simulated tree nails to the areas that required them. The following photos will show you how she is looking.








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Hello everyone,

Here’s the latest update to my whaleboat. I’ll start off by saying that the new details I added are small but gives my whaleboat a lot more character and the more I add the more I learn about the functionality of the whaleboat. Since the majority of the items are small, I’ll just blurt them out and let you look at the photos below. The new items added are, bow chocks, preventer cleats, standing cleats, foot brace, three small cleats at cuddy area, logger head, lifting straps, row locks, and peak cleats. I also added and finished the details for the centerboard. What I like most about the centerboard is the fact that its lifting strap is functional and I can raise or lower the centerboard. I also painted the thwarts brown with yellow edges to continue following the paint scheme I showed everyone on a previous post. For those of you who plan on purchasing this kit and for those of you who already have it, I must say that I am having a blast as I know you too will enjoy it.












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Hello Tim,

Thanks for looking in on my log. I too like the color scheme and I was inspired by a whaleboat that someone ordered to be made following his color scheme. If you look at my log entry dated 8 September, you will see the first three photos I am refering to.



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I bought this kit along time ago at the last Western Ship Model Conference. Great memories. You make me want to take it down and start on it even without my workshop.

David B

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Hello Everyone,

The latest update to my whaleboat is the addition of the whale gun box which was optional but decided to add it on. Also, I added the rudder and the tabernacle which was not part of the original plans. Lester, who has actually worked on the Charles W Morgan, was kind enough to send me lots of information on whaleboats. One such detail that I enjoyed was the tabernacle which seemed an ideal concept in aiding whalers to safely seat the mast into its step without getting their fingers crushed. I also went ahead and painted the gunwales and rubbing pieces black. I originally planned on painting the hull white but decided to leave it unpainted because I actually like the bare wood. If you’ve seen my previous builds, you can tell I fancy this aspect. Attached you will see photos showing you how she looks and I’ve also added the variations of tabernacles in the event someone would like to add it to their whaleboat.








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I'm also building the MS whaleboat. Altho' I normally do only scratch building I thought this would be an interesting change. Also,  I had no interest in learning the art of photoetching the 2000 or so fastenings and other brass fittings that are needed to build as Ronnberg describes in his book "To Build a Whaleboat."

Like Ronnberg, I will only apply a coat of clear varnish rather than painting; this means all the copper fastenings will be visible and must be present if the model is to be accurate..


However, only 100 photoetched nails were included with the kit.  I assumed this was an error, but on calling MS I was told that this was all that was provided as few people construct the model as Ronnberg did; i.e. with 2000 nails and a varnish finish.


The price of additional etched nails was $10.00 per hundred., or about $190.00 to complete the model. This was of course out of the question.


How to produce the fastenings without etching was my problem.


I obtained a spool of 20 gauge soft copper wire (.032" dia.). I then used a nail clipper to incise notches every 1/64 inch or so. (This was to give the glue a  solid hold on each nail.)  The process was speeded up by folding the wire so that three lenghts were notched with each squeeze of the clipper.

To put the nails in place  I pre-drilled each nail hole with a .036 inch bit.  I inserted a lenght of my notched wire in a pin vise,  used a silk pin to press glue into about six holes at a time and the;n inserted the wire and clipped the end with the nail clipper.


The nails provided by MS, are quite well done and would produce the appearence of square cut nails in the finished model.  But in e xamining the Mystic Seaport book on whaleboat construction it's clear that, whether square cut  or round nails were used in the Mystic produced full sized boat, the appearance after being clinched was not visibly different than if round nails were used. Thus, the appearance of my model is very satisfactory.


Even tho the MS supplied laser cut wood parts are remarkably accurate,having found that I would have to put that much time into the model I decided to turn it into a scratchbuild model by making all the wood parts from pearwood (to represent cedar) , holly )for oak), and bass (for pine). I'm also fabricating the metal tools.


I hope this is a help to those of you who wish to use Ronnberg's construction method but cannot afford to purchase a full supply of nails.

With or without the all the nails the MS kit is an excellent one and produces a beautiful model. Ronnberg's book describing construction is, of course, his usual superb clarity..

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Hey Chauncey,

I really appreciate your input and giving me ideas as to wear to go from here. Like you, I prefer to scratch build then go off of the supplies found in kits. Well as to the nails provided in the kit, let's just say that my tool box does not contain the smaller diameter drill bits needed in this hobby. I plan on purchasing a set of dental drill bits in the near future.

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Really crisp, seems like your build is shaping up quickly. Do you plan on mounting the mast and sail?


- Tim

Thanks for the kudos Tim. I will make all the needed items on my build but am unsure if the mast and sail will be rigged. More that likely I will stow the equipment on the whaleboat as if it were getting ready to be hoisted out of the water.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello everyone,

Yes it’s been a while since my last post due to the fact that the majority of the main construction of my whaleboat has been knocked out of the ball-park. Now is the time to actually go through the ordeal of constructing the whalecraft and minor details. The minor details were oar locks, steering oar rest, compass box, waist and stern tubs, lantern keg, lantern, water keg, piggin, bucket, and coopered drogue. I’ve also tweaked the mast and oars to include the steering oar and tiller. These items are small and a person can easily finish them without realizing it. I should point out that there were a few items that I did not follow religiously from the guide. The guide book states that you can add the hoops to the buckets, etc… made from copper which I did not. What I used was 1/16 wide strips of card stock that I painted black with a sharpie and am happy at how they came out. The guide book also points out the details for the mast as follows, “mast hoops are usually a permanent feature of the mast and so should be present. After the hoops are on, add the wooden cleat for the spritsail tack”.  Keep in mind that I stressing the important fact that the hoops go on before you place the cleat. My hoops are not made from copper but rather from a piece paper. What I did was wrap a piece of wax paper a few turns around a dowel of similar dimension in order to get spacing between the dowel and the soon to be made hoops. I then glued a strip of paper about 4 inches wide around the wax paper and let it dry overnight. Once dry, I slid the paper off of the dowel, cut it down to the size I needed and finally took a sharpie to it. The finished result looks quite convincing as the photos below will show. I still have a few more items that need to be made before I can finally dress up my whaleboat and call it good.











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Wow, it looks stunning. I keep thinking I should pull this kit off the shelf every time I read you log, but I have too much on my plate right now. Beautiful build. Looking forward to the next update.


- Tim


Thanks for your kind words. I would highly recommend you take the kit down and start working on her. She is a rather simple build and quite enjoyable due to the fact that she is not of the normal build as many others on this site. What I find most interesting is to step out into the unknown and work on projects that not many people try to tackle. I believe it makes for a better challenge. Looking forward to your build, Ray.

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Beautiful detailing. I often wondered if I should buy this kit and give it a try and after seeing your build I think I will. Yours is an excellent example of how to do it. 

Well done sir!

Thank you Randy,

I believe that sometimes a person should go through the process of starting from the beginning and work on simple projects such as this whaleboat. I know that many people like the elaborate works of full ships and wind up neglecting simple things like a ship's boat but If a person masters the simple things, than when it comes time for something truly amazing there will be no issues.


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a great good looking build, many fine Details, very nicely done




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