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Building Boats


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I've been looking for a small boat to sit in the scene on my On30 layout. I searched for a kit, doable but not a cheap option. Then twigged on that a child bath toy could do the trick but nothing really worked. Eventually I came across a children's craft kit for making your own boats. They're very basic, but provided me with the shape I needed.


I bought them, dismantled them into their three parts, confirmed they were what I needed and then did nothing with them as while procrastinated for a few months.

I mucked around with my plotter-cutter to get the shape of the deck sorted. Then struggled to work out what I wanted to go above deck. One morning I was staring at the Jim Edwards painting that hangs in our living room and received inspiration. I've always loved the simplistic, blocky way that Jim paints boats and realised that the structures on my On30 layout are simplistic and blocky. I now had something to copy.


Several plotter-cutter prototypes later and I had a boat structure that fitted together and a few lessons on working in 3D had been learnt. I chopped up some cereal boxes and set the cutter to work producing 6 boat kits. IMG_8006.thumb.JPG.4b724f76df8512f5201a4f3e83838e3b.JPG

All I have to do is build them...

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The first job was to give some of the shiny surfaces a quick prime. The boats only needed an external coat and not all the cereal boxes required the attention of the aerosol, just the bits that will end up visible.



The next stage was to start construction. The deck is a tight fit and pops in. Close inspection showed that one of the fold down flaps was fouling the sides and required a small trim of the corners, just visible here.


The lower deck attaches to the main deck to create a well effect. The cabin will sit in the front of this well.


Making 6 of these meant taking before and after photo's a real breeze. I often forget to take photos during construction. On this build, I could snap an important stage while making the next kit.

I designed the cab to be unnecessarily complicated. I should have made it rectilinear, with simple 90º angles. But I made the back a couple of millimetres wider than the front which was a pain to design and tricky to construct.


Once the glue had set hard I needed to trim off the base which was protruding out on both sides. This was a design error, but proved to be handy as it was a lot easier to glue than two edges meeting on a flush corner. I may start to design glue and then trim into my structures in the future to make assembly easier.

The roof was a very simple square. I decided to add some offcuts of card to build up the gluing edges. Rather than my usual Deluxe Materials Roket Card Glue I used a Pritt Glue Stick. This allowed me to slide the offcuts around to get the edges aligned before the glue set. I did have to leave them a few hours to make sure they had stuck properly.


The roofs only took a couple of minutes to Roket glue together. 

With the main four elements of one boat complete, today I'll repeat the process for the others. I have 5 boat hulls, but I've made 6 kits. One is a reserve. I'm away on holiday this week and don't have access to the paper-plotter so thought an extra was wise precaution. 



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Great to see you back with another project Chris and pleased to see you're still getting use out of the plotter-cutter.

A simple idea using basic materials to produce something unique. I really enjoy seeing people being creative and making things for themselves - probably because I'm not and feel unable to do so.

I'm looking forward to seeing the completed boats in position on the layout in due course.

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More painting. But save time I came up with a cunning idea to reduce the amount of painting. I want a white stripe along the top of the hull and this would have taken many coasts of paint and careful masking. I decided that with would be better around if I cut strips of paper, paper those and stuck them on. The strips were tricky to cut because I don't have a guillotine, a steel rule or  cutting mat with me. I had to improvise.


I attached them with Pritt Stick and they look the part.

Next job was glazing. Clear plastic packaging was re purposed and again stuck Pritt Stick. It will be interesting to see how this holds up long term. It was a lot easier to keep the glue off the glazing area rather than a liquid glue.


Next up was construction. The prototype build of a cabin showed that I needed to make an alteration. I had cut tabs which would fold to 90º and create a surface to glue the roof to. These tabs lifted the roof half a mill higher that the walls and I didn't like the gap. I trimmed the tabs back and folded them the full 180º glueing them to the walls. This is an effective solution which doubles the width of the gluing edge. It's another feature to include in future designs.

With the cabin built I trimmed back the floor (mentioned earlier). Heres and before and after photo.


Now on to the final stage, assembly.


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Using the plotter cutter means that all the parts are very accurate fits. This means that the hull, the deck and the cabin push together and don't need to be glued. The slight wedge shape of the cabin, although a pain to build, has really helped as it can slide into place from the rear rather than pushed in from above.


I have glued the roofs onto the cabins, but used Pitt rather than Roket so they should be able to be removed if required. A couple of the cabins were built without the rear panel in place. One has an open Cabin and another has one of the doors ajar.

Once assembled they look the part, especially when placed on a deep blue towel.



The remaining challenge is to get them home. We've been staying at a friend's house in Pickering this week. I don't think they will survive the journey home to York if they travel with me on my bike. I'll probably leave them for my friend to transport in her car. This means it could be a while before one of them makes it on to my layout.

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