Every now and the I get a creative inspriation and do something.  This time I decided to build a model of one of my favorite boats.  All the credit goes to Chesapeak Marine Design as it is one of their designs.  I bought the study plans so I have a pretty good guide as to how to build the model.

Here is a picture of the cover sheet to the study plan.

Cover Sheet of Little Island Trader

You can see the webpage for the company in the picture.  Take a look - Mr. Strambaugh has a lot of good boat designs.

For my models I get started by redrawing the study plans into a scale I can work with.  In this case - I went for 1"=1' and resketched the shape of the boat onto grid paper that I get from Office Depot.  Then I transpose the plan view and the elevation view to establish the 3-D shape of the internal elements.  In the picture below I have cut out several of the bulkheads that define the shape of the hull.

Cut out the bulkheads

The next step is to build a keel.  The Little Island Trader 30 has a "box" keel.  I did have to build a regular stem and a stern attached to the keel.  I used 1/2" by 1" balsa for these parts.

Start with the keel

You have to glue several pieces to gether to get the general shape of curve elements.  Later - I will sand the leading edge of the stem to fit the shape of the hull sheathing.

Detail of the stem

The rudder shoe is on the bottom and will eventually hold the bottom of the rudder.  I glued it to the back of the keel bottom with a slight angle.  The keel rises as you move forward.  I also added the angled edge to the keel extension to make it easier to build the transom on the hull.

Detail of the rudder shoe

Time to glue in the bulkheads onto the keel.  Notice that you have to keep track of whats angled and whats vertical.

Mount the frames

I'm sure there are hundreds of ways to build model boats but I prefer to add stringers that help hold everything together while you are handling the model.  The stringers also help me see where I need to adjust the bulkhead to make the lines flow as the designer intended.

fit the stringers

With the stringers in place - you can begin to see the shear line of the boat.  The upper edge of the stringer is the level of the deck from stem to stern.

Stop and check your progress

Now the sheathing is on.  The balsa needs a little help to flow around the shape of the lines.  I use ammonia based cleaner to wet the wood and then bend and glue (update - at this stage a problem developed that I have been fighting...  the tension of the bottom sheathing slightly twisted the frame.  I have to measure carefully to keep the remainder of the work square).

Add the sheathing

Now you can sand the seams of the sheathing smooth.  Check out that "box" keel.

Smooth in the seam between the sheathing

Next up is the deck.  I had to join two six inch pieces of balsa to span the beam of the model.  I also tend to cut off large chunks of excess material before fitting the part to the model.

Begin Cutting in the deck

Web Page Update from May 15, 2006

The first few pics are from earlier in the week.  I cut the deck and added the gunwales.  Then I cut in the trunk cabin hole.

Deck on Boat

Here is a better shot showing the angle of the gunwales.

Front of Boat

Next up is building the cabin.  I started with the back wall.  Also notice that I have added trim around the upper edge of the gunwale.

Begin building cabin

After fitting the front wall I cut in the side wall.

Begin working on sides of cabin

After the side walls I worked on the roof.  This is one area that I deviated from the plan.  The plans roof has some type of sun visor that would be difficult to build in small scale with balsa - so I just made it a simpler way.

Work on roof

Thats the idea.

Fit the roof

Here is the side view with the cabin top in place.

Fit the roof

Time to cut in the windows.  Notice that I used a second piece of trim on the roof.  Makes it look thicker even though its only thick on the edge.

Begin cutting windows

I used a bit of trim along the layout of the window to make it easier to cut.  Also makes it look like a window frame.

Side windows are cut

It's coming together.

Window cut

A few more hours of work and then you have the windowd on both sides as well as the front of the cabin.

Cut the Door

Here is a different view.  Gotta work on the back wall of the cabin and then the trunk cabin up front.

Door is cut

Looking good.

Door is cut

May 27, 2006 Update

I did a little more balsa wood work by adding the trunk cabin to the front deck.

With the Trunk Cabin

Next comes the mast...

With the Mast On

Time to paint the model.
I used two coats of grey primer and 600-grit sanding between coats.  I went with the grey primer because it will be the deck color on the final paint scheme.

Primer Coat

Next comes masking for the white paint that is the primary color for the model.

Masking for second Color

Whoosh.  Lots of paint on that model...  two spray cans of primer and two cans of pure white.

Now its White

Next to mask it off and paint in the other colors...


The next chore was to add a mast, boom, and a little rigging.

Looking really good.  Cleaned up all the paint smudges and it is ready for display.

And so it goes.  Love that green gunwale.  Till next time!