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  1. #1

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    back to boat building after a long absence - scale questions

    I’m back to boat building after a long absence, and want to take what I’ve learned and build a beautiful ship model.
    I’ve been building RC airplanes (WWII) for a number of years, and am taking a break and going back to building ships.I’m tired of watching every single once of weight limiting my scale options, fidgeting with flaps and damaged landing gear.I think that for now I enjoy building more than flying.
    Anyway, I’ve started a rc 1/55 scale model of the SS Shengking, a 1931 300’ Scottish built small passenger-cargo ship.The hull is roughed-in, beginning to get ready for fiberglassing.Watching YouTube videos of similar ships leads to ideas about scale features, particularly promenade deck planking, state room doors and porthole details.
    What features have you found that take a model “to the next level”?
    1. Lights within cabin areas
    2. Davit details (what to include and where to get decent pics of bolts/pulley placement
    3. Life boat details, life boat covers?
    4. Exhaust stacks
    5. Real-looking deck skylights and cargo hatches
    6. Working smoke stack, how is it done so it looks real?
    What type of railing construction to use?I think this particular feature needs to be correct for the era.I attached the plans I have, they’re good enough (with some tweaking) to the get the ship built and ready for detailing, but show little details.
    What do you think?
    Always on a tight budget, thanks
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  2. #2

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    RE: back to boat building after a long absence - scale questions

    Yes to all of them.  1:55 is an odd scale, so you will likely be making rather than buying parts.
    Smoke units are readily available, you get white "steam" rather than black smoke.  The particles that make smoke black tend to be full of carcinogens, so their use is not generally encouraged.
    If cabins are to be lit, make sure that the light doesn't shine through the structure.  Good lighting looks great, bad lighting makes a model boat look like a floating table lamp.

  3. #3

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    RE: back to boat building after a long absence - scale questions

    thanks for the lighting tip. what about hand rails, what's a good wat to make those?

  4. #4

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    RE: back to boat building after a long absence - scale questions

    Depends on just how good you want them.  Some folks like shaping split pins, some buy PE brass, some make a jig and lay up tinned copper wire and solder it, some just jig up brass wire and solder it.  There will be a preferred alternative for everybody who answers, but I suspect that, since your chosen scale falls between commonly used ones, there will be nothing commercially available the right size, too tall or too small.

  5. #5

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    RE: back to boat building after a long absence - scale questions

    the model is all scratch - no funds for the kits. Ilike the idea of laying our a jig. what is PEbrass - tinning copper wire may lead to lumps. btw, on teh old 1930s ships would the top rail be painted steel or wood? any ideas?

  6. #6

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    RE: back to boat building after a long absence - scale questions

    PE - photo etched.
    If you get lumps tinning, stroke it again with a hot iron - failing all else, most modelers have a file.  The jig is just a means of making sure that the holes line up.  I tend to use panel pins in correctly spaced holes in the wood (liberally coated with something to stop the solder fixing to the pin).  The elephants foot at the deck is just a wrap of wire with the ends poked down the hole.  Fast, easy, cheap and strong, but obviously not as pretty as machined or etched ones when closely inspected.
    The top rails on merchant ships were almost certainly wood, or at least, the visible capping would be.

  7. #7

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    RE: back to boat building after a long absence - scale questions

    have any pics?

  8. #8

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    RE: back to boat building after a long absence - scale questions

    Sorry, no pics on this forum since the easy upload option was removed.The wire I used was the tinned stuff as found up the inside of telephone extension cable, with the insulation removed. Easy to shape, easy to solder. My boats are for sailing and looking OK at a safe distance, rather than for close inspection.


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