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66 foot Motor Cruiser 'Lullubelle' scale 1/12. by Overdale - Finished


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A couple of years ago, I was asked to build a 1/12 scale model of a 1929 'Consolidated' cruiser by the owner of the original vessel. He had invested over a million dollars in it's restoration and wanted a large model of it for his home. Not having much experience with 'doll house' scale I was more than a little anxious!

 

The model would be five feet long and at that scale pretty much every feature on the real boat would have to be shown. My client insisted the interior furniture would have proper drawers, there would be exact replicas of the light fixtures, instruments, doorknobs etc. He even specified which navigational chart he wanted shown on the chart table..!

It was a large project which took me about a year starting with a complete photo survey and a visit to Mystic Seaport museum who hold the Consolidated shipyard plan archive. Unfortunately a large part of the archive isn't catalogued yet and the researcher couldnt guarantee when they would turn up the hull lines I was looking for right away.  I sent her and her colleague two large boxes of Nantucket chocolates and I had the plans in a week along with a little note that said "we work twice as fast for chocolate"..!

 

A couple of days studying the lines, and I was ready to start. I had the plans enlarged to 1/12 size and stuck the bulkheads to a keel.

I added large wooden blocks between the bulkheads to ensure there would be as little twisting of the keel as possible and the bulkheads would stay rigid with such a long keel.  I planked the hull in basswood using planks of the same scale size as the original. When that was done I cut away the bulkheads  where the lower deck and interior were to fit. and then fibreglassed the entire interior to ensure there would also be no movement of the planking over time.  Finally, I added the fore deck formers and cut the deck from 1.5mm plywood.

 

(To be continued)

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Edited by overdale
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Part 2.

After I got the decks fitted, I installed the port holes in the sides of the boat. I drilled the openings with progressively larger drill bits and finally lined the hole with brass tube of the correct diameter. I did this because the glass on the boat is recessed and not flush to the hull sides. As the lower deck interior wouldn't be visible, I used acrylic rods about an inch long for the porthole glass and painted the ends black. This allowed a certain amount of light to bleed into the porthole through the sides of the rod but the black paint on the end didn't allow the viewer to see into the cabin.  Finally, I sprayed the hull with primer

 

Next, I started work on the deck  structures. The wheel house windows are very large and every detail of the interior is visible. There are a couple of fold-up bunks, chests of drawers, chart table instrument panel and throttles etc. even some 1920's light fittings that had to be copied from photographs. This came as a welcome break from all the planking and sanding and I soon had all four sides laid out and framed then joined together at the corners. The superstructure wood was Basswood, carefully selected for grain that looked like scale Teak. I spent quite a long time mixing oil paint and penetrating wood dyes together to get a good match for the existing teak on the actual vessel. Then I stained all the basswood sheets in one session before I cut them so I could mix the sheets together as I used them ensuring the different grain patterns were evenly distributed and I didn't wind up with one wall of the deckhouse darker than all the other three.

I built all the furniture separately and added it to the interior walls of the wheel house bit by bit. The drawer handles being particularly difficult to turn due to their tiny size. I built the rear deck house and then began dry fitting all the pieces in order to see if I was at least somewhere near the mark..! It all seemed to fit so I began building the instrument panel the throttles and planked the interior deck of the wheel house.

 

At this point I was nearly ready to fit the wheel house permanently and I decided to include my customary greeting card to any model maker in the future that finds himself below decks in the forward cabin! I usually write a little about myself and family, what day it is, what's happening in the world and a wish for them to have as pleasant a time fixing it as I had building it..!

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Edited by overdale
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Part 3.

 

As the superstructure grew it was time to paint the hull before anything was fixed permanently. Several rub downs with wet and dry, a wipe over with a tack cloth, and then I painted the waterline area satin black. I marked out the waterline with the usual 'block at the right hight with a pencil stuck to the top of it' method and then masked off the waterline with masking tape of the correct thickness.  I sprayed below the waterline the same shade of blue as the anti fouling paint on the original vessel matched from a paint catalog. The topside hull was then sprayed white in several coats using Valspar acrylic spray cans. 

 

When the hull was dry, I peeled off the waterline tape leaving a nice neat black waterline. (Much later in the build when all the superstructure was on, I got a call from the client telling me they had repainted below the waterline with a green anti fouling paint and would I mind repainting the model to match.? :o  

I almost fainted at the news, but it actually went pretty smoothly and I was a lot more worried than I needed to be. Things that seem impossible often go smoothly. It's the simplest things that can sometimes give the most trouble!

I moved on to the stern which was varnished teak on the original and had a set of name decals for the various areas of the boat made up. Josh Mumia at Bedlam creations is the guy I use and he is amazing.

I just have to give him a photo of what I want and the sizes, and he can match any kind of lettering in any color.

 

After that, I added some more details to the wheel house and built the roof and the prop shafts and rudders. Finally I built the Dinghy.  As this was going to have a canvas cover over it like the original, there was no point in building an interior. I carved the hull from a laminated block of Basswood and shaped it by hand. I added the keel and then marked out the positions of the clinkered planks. The planking went smoothly and started on the rear deck and roof structure.

(continued) 

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Edited by overdale
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That is a monster ship, isn't it?   Sweet lines.

 

It was huge. The case was six feet long.

 

The client called me up just after I got the hull planking finished. "How's it look?" he said,

 

"Like a canoe for a dwarf" I replied.

 

"Good, that's just what I wanted to hear." he said. :huh:

Edited by overdale
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And finally, after the hull was painted I finished the interior details in the wheel house and added the glazing. I chose clear polystyrene because it was available in a thin enough sheet to work as scale thickness glass. What I hadn't bargained for was how easily it scratched and marked. I ended up replacing a lot of it several times due to inadvertent dings and scratches.

 

On to the fixtures and fittings. Pretty much all were scratch built from wood. I had hoped I could get at least some aftermarket parts like anchors or cleats and other deck fittings but almost everything on the boat was unique and converting a commercially available part would have been more trouble than it was worth. I did manage to find a pair of left and right propellers that were a perfect match and the stern flag. That was it, the rest were scratch built.

 

I asked the client to have a  good look at all the photos I'd taken to see if there was anything I'd missed or something else he wanted added before I finished it. He asked for his personal pennant to be added to the top mast and the New York Yacht Club pennant added to flag post forward. Also he had a tiny NYYC pennant pained on a storage locker on deck and he wanted that painted on. That was one of the most awkward parts of the entire project..! Finally he wanted a fender shown on the deck to indicate the boat was still a working vessel. So I obliged, and then packed it into it's large case. I set off for Greenwich Conn. to hand it over, not wanting to see another 'Dollhouse' project for a long time only to be handed the drawings of a Gar Wood speedboat to be built in 1/12 scale and told to "get to work" :o

 

Thanks for your kind comments everyone. I'm glad you like it.

 

Dan.

 

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Edited by overdale
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