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Muscongus Bay Lobster Smack by Dee Dee - FINISHED - Midwest – 1:24 – Kit Bashed - Small

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Once upon a time, this build log contained a lot of high quality photos showing lots of detail.  

But many photos have gone repeatedly missing - The photos in this first post have gone missing / been replaced three times.  It's more than just a glitch.  I try to keep up with restoring the photos......  There are lots of photos on pages 3 and 5!  

Most of the build photos, I also posted on Picasa, so if you have a specific question, please send me an IM and I will send you the link to Picasa.  


Midwest models are amazingly close to the drawings in Chappelle’s book, they’re fun to build and learning.  Following Mario’s lead, I’m adding lots of detail to my Muscongus Bay Lobster Smack build and having fun!


I’ve added the fish wells, a cabin with floor and centerboard trunk.  The rudder will also be a working rudder.  At this point, I checked the instruction book to see just how far along I was – It was a shock when I realized I was only on step 17.  

These fish wells are too deep and the cabin floor should have been lower.  This would have given the space to add the bunk on the port side.   



I added a second layer of decking and fish well covers.   The original deck consisted of three pieces of wood:  the deck and two well covers.  This deck consists of 68 pieces of wood. 



There will be full access to the cabin.  You can just barely see the centerboard hinge pin at the base of the trunk.  Also added a ‘step’ for access.  If the floor was lower, I could have added the bunk on the port side.



It was fun adding the fish wells, centerboard trunk access and the covers.  The covers will be held secure with a piece of chain.  These wells are much too deep.  I painted the wells with silver paint to simulate tin lining.  For the centerboard trunk, I carved away some of the keel, then added some sides and painted it black.  I attached an eye hook for the rope and I’ll attach the handle. 





In almost all Midwest sailboats, the cockpit floor is too small.  First I added planking to the kit floor, then added width to the kit floor, but had to sand a lot off when fairing the frame.  Now this cockpit floor will fit tight against the sides of the hull. 



This brings me current.

At this point in the build, the kit calls for ~20 individual pieces of wood.  So far, I think I am close to 180 individual pieces of wood used in this build.   

I need to install the rudder and tiller before finishing the hull.  I think I should have done this before I added the deck.  

As for the hull, I’m thinking about doing the hull in lap-strake planks. Any suggestions would be appreciated.. 


Thanks for looking, your thoughts, suggestions are always appreciated


Dee Dee


(Edited on 5/27/13 to add photos again)

(Edited on 9/07/13 to add 'SMALL' to title)

(Edited on 11/26/14 to add back photos - again!)

(Edited on 4/09/15 to add back photos for the third time)


Edited by Dee_Dee
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Awesome work, Dee Dee.  Great tip about the cockpit floor.  I especially like the way you handled the well hatches, positioning is much better than the stock locations.  I've been dithering about it for weeks, now I think I will do more or less what you did. (You don't charge hefty royalty fees, do you?)


As far as the rudder/tiller, It looks like you have it sorted by cutting away the "c" section aft of the stern seat.

 I also decided to upgrade after I had the deck and battens on, but there was still space to put a dremel end mill to hog out the area. (I also left a slight step so that the seat planks will end up flush.) I taped a short length of brass rod to the keel as a drill guide for the rudder pivot, grabbed the very end of the drill w/ the pinvise.  Even though the angle had to deviate a bit from "true" to accomodate my pinvise, the slop won't be noticable once the lower pintle is installed. (I'm going to remove a portion of the keel for the angled pintle rest, right now it's just taped in place.)


Do you think they used any gudgeons on these rudders, or just nailed cross plys?


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As I have said the Smack is my next build. In doing preliminary research I found these plans available. Does anyone know if they are applicable to the Midwest kit?




Muscongus Bay Sloop Lucille (R22)
Built in New Harbor ca. 1905. Length 22’. Lines taken from boat in MMM collection.
Profile from borrowed half-model.
Price: $12.00
One sheet of lines. Scale: 1”=1’.


Lobster Smack Satellite (RS13)
Gasoline-powered smack measuring 60’ in length; built in 1916 in East Boothbay by Frank C. Adams. These lines and offsets were drawn by James P. McQuaide from measurements taken by himself, John Bloemendaal and Lynn Riotto in 1995 for MMM.
Price: $12.00
One sheet of lines includes a profile, half-breadth, body plan and offsets. No drawings of superstructure, scantlings, details. Scale: ½”=1’

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Mario, your Smack build was my inspiration!  And yes, Chapelle’s “American Small Sailing Craft" book priceless!  


Wayne – Adding detail is the fun of Midwest kits.  


Keith – You are the eagle eye!  Yes, the well covers are 1/4" wider and 1/4" longer (1/8" on each side).  Hers’s a pic of the underside, that solid piece of wood is the original well cover. 





Buck – Thanks for looking


Pete – Yes, the deck planks are 1/8" x 1/32” basswood strips, sanded to half the thickness, clear coated with Krylon Matte Finish Spray, (craft specific & available at Michaels), then buffed the finish with a paper towel.  My first wood boat was also the Sakonnet daysailer – that little model taught me a lot!  

As for the blueprints being compatible, the Midwest Muscongus Lobster Smack kit is for the centerboard smack which went out of favor in the mid 1890’s and quickly replaced with a keel hull design.   Per the info on the prints, Lucille was built in 1905, so I think these prints are for a keel hull boat.  Same thoughts with the Satellite which was built in 1916.  You will definitely enjoy building this boat!       


Bob – I dithered about too with the position of the well covers, until I started thinking in “life size”.  Per the blueprint, the fish would be two feet (life size) from the cockpit and 2” from the cabin door: that would make it difficult to reach or see into the fish wells from the cockpit and awkward footing at the cabin door. 

For the rudder, I modified the keel by cutting out a 1/8” strip in the keel (before adding the bulkheads), then sandwiched the keel back together with two layers of wood (grain running 90*).  The picture on page 268 of Chapelles' book shows the rudder rests/sits on a keel extension and no gudgeons used.  I’m going to cut out a section of the keel and add a strip to form a keel extension.   

My dilemma is how (in life size) would I install / remove the rudder when the boat is in dry dock.  The obvious is lift the rudder post into the opening, then drop the pin into the keel extension.  But when the boat is in the water, I need some means to prevent the rudder from lifting up / or floating off the keel pin.  Does that make sense?  To think this through, I need to make the keel first.      

Thanks all for looking and your comments! 


Dee Dee


(Edited on 5/27/2013 to add back photos)

(Edited on 11/29/2014 to add back photos)

(Edited on 4/09/15 to add back photos for the third and last time)


Edited by Dee_Dee
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If I recall, Midwest gives you 4 large pieces of basswood for the hull planking. When I did mine, I was concerned that the place where they come together at the turn of the bilge would be a hard chine, despite the bulkheads being round.


That said, you may want to consider planking the hull the traditional way (I think it would be about 15 planks per side). To me, that would be more satisfying (and I will do that should I build a MBLS again). Also, it would be a good primer for a more complicated build.


Regarding the differences between Friendship Sloops and Muscongus Bay Lobster smacks, Friendships are fixed keel and Mucongus bay boats have a centerboard. Frienship Sloops are also bigger (most out there now don't exceed 31' on the waterline, but older ones would run 40-45' LWL). And Friendship Sloops more often than not have 2 headsails-MGLS have 1.





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Dee Dee,


For rudder retention, maybe a block of wood or bar that picks up a groove in the shaft?  It could be as simple as a swivel at the top of the post and a line with a tautline hitch into an eyebolt on the seat... Or maybe just a small set pin to pick up a groove at the bottom?  Apparently,  these boats were simply beached at low tide to work on them, so access might not be an issue.


One very interesting thing I read in "The gaff rig handbook" by John Leather (available online) on p. 86, he talks about a "knife and comb" arrangement to lock the tiller at a given angle while luffing in to pull up lobster pots. You haven't found any pictures of such an arrangement, have you?

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Mario!  Yes, that rudder!  I really like the color and finish on that beautiful model!


Michael!  I really appreciate you stopping by and checking in!  Your Bristol Pilot Cutter build is inspiring!


Buck, Your whale boat is stunning!  A 1927 Martin D-18 – Wow!  I love my 1970 Martin D-18S.


Harvey, Thanks for the input on the planking.  I think you’re right, caravel/traditional planking would probably be better (but the lap planking would look really kewl, maybe on the Flattie.)  I’ve built the Corel Sloup which has a similar shape and each plank had to be beveled to get a tight fit going around the chine. 




I’ve been dinking with the line drawing Chapells’ book and I think I have a plan to install the rudder as if the model was life size.  


This is the line drawing of the MBS from Chapelles’ book – Even with a magnifying glass, detail is difficult to see.  



I scanned the page and zoomed in on the rudder area.



Then removed excess lines, connected some of the dots and added a bit of color for clarity and VOILA!  My interpretation of this drawing! 



It appears a ‘collar’ (in red) was used to secure the rudder and the top of the rudder post butts up against the underside of the deck.  On the

unaltered kit keel, the slot for the tiller is at the same angle as the collar which now makes sense.



Here’s my ‘Game Plan’ –

A new rudder was made from 1/8” square basswood strip and a bamboo skewer for the post.  But will be remade once the hull is planked so the lines will follow the hull better. 

The opening for the rudder post is being enlarged similar to how Bob did his in the photo above.  In the pic above, (top green arrow) the space

behind the rudder post will be a bit over 1/16” to accommodate a ‘life size’ collar 1½” thick (drawn in red). The bottom of this opening will be at 90* to the rudder post.  Yep!  I should have done this before I added the chine and deck!  Oh well!

The bottom green arrow shows the section of the keel that will be replaced with a longer section to form the keel extension which the rudder sits on. 



But this will have to wait as ‘PLAY TIME’ is over until sometime next week.  In the AM I’m off to Colorado Springs for a USA Cycling Officials Summit Meeting      

Hope everyone has a great weekend!


Dee Dee


(Edited on 5/27/13 to add pictures back in.)

(Edited on 11/26/2014 to add pictures back - again!)

(Edited on 4/9/15 to add pictures back - for the third time)



Edited by Dee_Dee
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Bob, - Our posts crossed!  You are right about rudder retention – it’s very simple.


As for the ‘knife and comb’, I think this is correct, if not hope someone will correct.

I’m borrowing these two pics from hamilton’s build of Pinky Glad Tidings. 


The knife fits into a slot on the comb to lock the tiller.  


Have a GREAT weekend!


Dee Dee



That's the ‘knife’ hanging off the tiller



And that's the 'comb' on the deck


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Hi Dee Dee!
I'm sure glad you are paving the way with all the details you're working out. Really nice work!

Thanks for the nice words about my whaleboat. Hope you enjoy your trip to Colorado Springs.


P.S. After reading your comment I realized I had made a typo, the Martin was a 1927 OO-18 instead of a D-18. A really sweet tone. It was tough to return that one to its owner after the repair! :(

Edited by Salty Sea Dog
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  • 2 weeks later...

Back from Colorado Springs and it was a great to meet up with colleagues in a relaxed environment! 


The rudder, tiller and collar are done and I’m happy.  The tiller was carved from a block of 1/8” basswood stock glued up. The collar was made from a thin strip of paper cut from a dollar bill and made just like a mast hoop, glued up with CA then sanded smooth and to thickness.   And as expected, I broke off a section of the chine, but that was easily fixed. 


A picture is worth a thousand words… 


These three photos compare my rudder / tiller assembly against Midwest blue prints and Chapelle’s drawing. 


Yep!  I Need to add wood filler to the keel.   


I did a sloppy job on sandwiching the keel for the rudder post.  Next time, I’ll make the ‘keel sandwich’ from one piece of wood on each side (shown in YELLOW).  The PINK is the keel strip and the GREEN area will be cut away for the tiller and collar. 



Compare Midwest’s blue print to Chapelle’s drawing. 




Love them or hate them, there is no denying that Midwest has done a great job to preserve our history.  


Dee Dee 


(Edited on 5/27/2013 to add back pictures) 

(Edited on 11/26/2014 to add back pictures)

Edited by Dee_Dee
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cool boat Dee Dee.......these midwest kits have great bones for bashing!  I suppose they supply balsa sheeting for the hull planking,  but with the looks of yours,  you could go both ways.......plank over the sheeting,  or simply plank over the ribs.   you've added some nice features that really enhance the build....you'll have a nifty craft before your finished!   nice job! ;)

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Hi Dee Dee,


Thanks for stopping by my Sharpie Schooner build.


 I wanted to see your current build. I read through your log and am enjoying what you are doing with the build.  Very nice work, DEE DEE. The good thing about Midwest kits is one can go with their directions, or, bash the kits for all there worth adding lots of original details without a multi year commitment. They make really nice models.


Will send you a PM answering the questions you asked about gesso and slider windows.





Hopeful aka David


“there is wisdom in many voices”


Completed: Sharpie Schooner (Midwest) Posted on kit build log.

Current: Sultana (MSW) Updating the build log and continuing on with the build


Next: Lady Nelson (Amati Victory)

Edited by hopeful
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Seeings how your part of the reason I purchased this kit, thought I should say Thanks for providing the details. I love the bashing your doing and the rudder looks great. I notice both the midwest and Chapelle drawings have the tiller extend farther and higher then yours. They are also thinner. Doesn't matter because I find yours more aesthetically pleasing.

I was just comparing the structural differences between your rudder and mounting compared to the picture hexnut posted on the first page. I'm assuming his is OEM (kit). Looks like you've done quite a bit of structural work, more then just rudder and tiller. it may be the angle of the 2 pictures but your stern appear to have more upward sweep, which I like and appears closer to the Chapelle drawings also.

Great job... and by the way I'm taking notes for my build. :dancetl6:

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Harvey, Thanks for chiming in on the book info for Pete.


Pete, The book Harvey referred to is the one!  This book is a fascinating read and filled with detail.  You can find it on Amazon (5 star reviews) and also on eBay.  Check out the reviews on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/American-Small-Sailing-Craft-Construction/dp/0393031438/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364258059&sr=8-1&keywords=chapelle+American+small+sailing+craft


David, Thanks for the info on the gesso and sliders.  I’ll pick up some gesso and experiment.  I’ll also experiment with layering for the window covers.  Thanks again! 


Popeye, Thanks for stopping by.  I have been struggling with the planking.  I decided to use the kit supplied planks as the first layer and walnut strips for the second layer.  Three of 4 planks are done and I was close to abandoning the idea of a second layer.  But I went back to the prints from the Corel Sloop that I just built and I think I figured it out.  The second planking has no place to ‘land’, so the cutwater needs to be added before doing the second planking.  I taped the cutwater on and dry fitted a couple of strips and that works!   So now I need to decide to remake or veneer the cutwater and rudder / tiller!  

Great point about the rudder being the same thickness as the stem post / keel.  The kit rudder is only 1/16” thick while the keel is 1/8” thick. 


Keith, I’m having a lot of fun building this boat.  

I took a bit of ‘artistic license’ with the shape of my tiller.  Measuring the tiller on the drawing, it starts at 3” at the rudder post and tapers down to 1½”.  This is a working boat and IMHO that is just too thin.   In height, my tiller starts at 4” and tapers to just over 2”.  

I did not make any structural changes.  The difference is I have already faired the bottom of the transom and hexnut has not.  Hexnut’s hull will look the same after he fairs the transom.  I reposted the two pictures together for easy comparison.  Follow the line of the keel strip and you will see what hexnut’s hull will look like.   


I appreciate all who stop by to take a look.  I appreciate any and all help / suggestions / guidance. 


Dee Dee 






Dee Dee


(Edited on 5/27/2013 to add back photos)

Edited by Dee_Dee
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here's a used book seller that has the Chapelles for as low as $19.60 US.



@Dee Dee the point i'm making is if you look at hexnut vs yousr from the last bulkhead to the transom and follow the keel strip and the deck line. His look more parallel where yours appears to narrow towards the stern. Of course this may be due to the picture angle variations. I thought it might be due to the inner structural difference in the rudder/stern post assembles. It could also be the illusion that the outer strake on his build has in tricking my not so good eyes also, on your build that strake is not on yet. Hope I'm using the correct terminology. I like your use of the nautical terms, it forces me to learn what everything's called. I have ZERO prior knowledge of sailing or sail boats and am loving lerning the new info and lingo.

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