The Internet Craftsmanship Museum Presents:

N. Roger Cole
1936 - 2019

Added to museum: 1/20/10

Highly detailed wooden ship models based on extensive research

Roger Cole takes a break during the framing of a model of the Santa Maria. (Click on above photo for larger picture.) More photos of Mr. Cole's work can be found at the conclusion of his story and articles.


Roger Cole first came to our attention through a conversation with Craftsman of the Year Award winner for 1999, Wilhelm Huxhold of Canada. Mr. Huxhold, while best known for his beautiful steam engine models is also a very accomplished ship modeler. I asked him who was the best ship modeler he had run across, and his first recommendation was Roger Cole. After taking a look at his work, we immediately agreed that Roger should be represented here. In addition to the excellence of his models, Roger is also an outstanding historian and writer who has written many articles on the ships he has researched and built in miniature.  The foundation values this sharing of information by craftsmen as an extra level of achievement above and beyond the skills of making the project itself. Roger is a popular speaker at maritime conferences, symposiums and meetings.

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About N. Roger Cole

Roger Cole was born in Plymouth, Devon, England in 1936. Unfortunately, his father was killed shortly after his birth, so he grew up never knowing his father. Growing up in Plymouth, one is never far from the sea, ships, and boats, which is where he learned to appreciate all manner of vessels from warships to fishing boats, with the latter interesting him most. As he developed, he also took a serious interest in the ship models in the Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery including their collection of Napoleonic and War of 1812 Prisoner of War models, a life-long study of his, along with a good variety of other models, including what are known as Navy Board models. These were framed boxwood models of major sailing warships.

Attending Devonport Technical College, which was just around the corner from the museum, the curator soon noticed Roger’s frequent lunch-time visits and his interest in the models. Time permitting, he would often meet with Roger, and they would eat their brown bag lunches together while he explained the histories of the actual vessels and the techniques involved in the construction of the models, although at that time they were subjects to sketch, not model.

At sixteen Roger was apprenticed as a machinist in Plymouth, specializing in all aspects of engine reconditioning machining, except crankshaft grinding. He emigrated to Canada in 1955 with his tools and exactly $13.00 to his name, $10.00 of which had to go to cover his first week's room and board. Fortunately, he was immediately hired in his field and continued to work as an automotive machinist.

Roger and his wife Jean were married in 1958 and moved into a bachelor apartment, and then into a one- bedroom, which provided room to build kitchen-table models starting with a Sterling kit of the Cutty Sark. This was never completed, as one day Jean felt that it needed dusting, after which, badly damaged, Roger consigned it to the garbage chute. It was the only kit model he ever tried.

In 1960, he was hired by IBM, starting in field service in the electric typewriter division in downtown Toronto. In 1968, with a family that now included three youngsters, he moved into his current home where his youngest son was born. He also finally had room for a dedicated workshop, albeit only ten by six feet, but it was sufficient. There are now two shops; the other one is outside the house and is seven by fourteen feet and can be heated for winter use. (In Canada that's important!) For seventeen years his work at IBM and family considerations kept him too busy for model building and associated interests.

In the mid-seventies Roger decided to pursue his ship model interests again and started researching prospective models. In order to do so he amassed a considerable library; which has often been used by other researchers looking for information. He never ever had a mentor and is entirely self-taught. So, harking back to the time spent with the curator of the Plymouth museum, where he suspects a seed was planted, he gave up on kits and decided to scratch build, and in polished Boxwood.

One vessel that had interested him was Benjamin W. Latham, a 1902 mackerel seining schooner built in Essex, Massachusetts in 1902.  Latham was available as a kit with plans developed by Erik Ronnberg Jr., with a solid, machine-carved hull for Model Shipways. Wanting to scratch build the model, framing the hull and planking it in Columbian Boxwood, he simply ordered the plans and the Guide in Modeling. Erik Ronnberg Jr. arranged for him to research fishing schooner framing at the Francis Russell Hart Museum at M.I.T. where he spent four hours with its curator, the late William Avery Baker and his assistant, who was also his wife, Ruth, reviewing an enormous amount of pertinent material. Following this research trip, the framing plans were drawn and construction began. When the hull was completed, Roger was invited to enter Latham as an unrigged model in a show at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut called “Model Building Today. This was at the bidding of Portia Takakjian, who at that time, he recalls, was a director of the Nautical Research Guild. After the show ended, the model was completed. While studying the other models in the Mystic show, he decided to enter the completed Latham into the Mariners' Museum Ship Model Competition in Newport News in 1980 where she won the Bronze Medal in the Scratch Built Division. Not a bad start to scratch building, but it came with some valuable help from a number of great people. It may well have been their help that started him on his life of mentoring.

Lizzie J. Cox, a Chesapeake Bay Bugeye, followed Latham and garnered an honorable mention, despite the fact that it was a more complex model. Many of Roger’s projects developed into a series of articles on the various models; including the Santa Maria, Benjamin W. Latham, Lizzie J. Cox, and the Beetle Whaleboat. Many other articles discussed specific techniques related to model building.

After 31 years in a very varied and interesting career with the bulk of his time in either management or staff positions, ending up as the Emergency Response Coordinator for the 58 acre manufacturing and laboratory site, Roger retired from IBM in 1991 to pursue a career in model building, writing, lecturing, teaching small classes at his home and mentoring, the latter being an ongoing and most rewarding experience, and one that continues today.

Roger was a member of the Nautical Research Guild for over 42 years. While he never thought of mentoring as “giving back” that's what it's called today. As a member of the Nautical Research Guild's Technical Assistance Network he answered many questions for the Guild, but these have been far outweighed by individual requests he has received for information on various vessels, models and on his techniques. While many queries have been limited to a single answer, many have gone well beyond that, including one that has been ongoing for years. Many of the individual requests for information stemmed from the approximately eighty-five articles he has had published or from lectures at either Nautical Research Guild Conference presentations or Symposiums, and from the time he spent at the Ontario Science Centre.

Later models included Santa Maria, a commission, which was based on the plans by Martinez Hidalgo which were ordered from the maritime museum in Barcelona. As is often the case, those plans left a bit to be desired; nonetheless the client was totally delighted with the model. He and his wife were the guests of the client for the unveiling of the model in Puerto Rico.

Alert was another commission and was based in large part on the work by Peter Goodwin. Once again a considerable amount of additional research was required before he could complete the plans for the model. Alert has taken three international awards along the way; a literary award for the article on her clenched-lap or lapstrake planking and a hypothesis on coppering a lapstrake hull. She also took a Silver Medal in the Mariners' Museum Ship Model Competition in 2000 as an unrigged model and, when completed, a Gold award in the advanced scratch built category at the Manitowoc Maritime Museum Competition in 2005.

In addition to his own model building, Roger also worked part time for several years in the Ship Model Shop of the Ontario Science Centre. Unfortunately serious illness brought model building activities to a halt several years ago. However, with his health now as good as it will ever get, he is getting back into model building and writing, starting with a model of Smith K. Martin, a Chesapeake Bay centerboard schooner built in 1899 in Pokomoke City, Maryland by E. James Tull. While building the model he will be photographing and writing about the processes involved. This will cover the model from the research stages, which were put on hold for several years due to illness, right through to the final installation in a display case.

Notes regarding the Construction of the British Naval Cutter Alert

 By N.R. Cole

Roger Cole is seen at work in his shop working on the almost completed Alert. (Click on photo to view a larger image.)

Alert was entirely scratch built by me to a scale where 3/16ths of an inch represents one foot. While generally following Peter Goodwin’s book, The Naval Cutter Alert - 1777, considerable additional research was incorporated during construction, including belaying, hammock nettings, and shroud trucks, none of which was discussed in Goodwin’s book. Some deck layout and rigging details were changed because they were either not covered or, in my opinion, were more likely and workable as modeled. Alert is shown as she was after her 1778 refit at Plymouth as she moved out to Cawsand Bay, where she was to remain at anchor for a week, awaiting orders. Her sixteen-foot longboat, carved and hollowed from two pieces of Columbian boxwood, blind dowelled to the keel assembly, and then fitted out, is shown under tow, with equipment stowed and secured.

Alert is rigged “Cutter-style”, meaning that her topgallant mast is mounted aft of the lower mast, normal on Cutters of the period. She also carried a running bowsprit, not the fixed bowsprit of a sloop. The bowsprit is mounted to port of the stem head and can be used in any of three positions, fore or aft. Because of this, the forestay and preventer stay were mounted to the stem head, not the bowsprit tip. The two stays were not laced because the foresail hoops ran on the forestay which is rigged Cutter-style, meaning that the stay is turned back on itself around its deadeye, not as a shroud which is fitted with the bitter end seized to the shroud above the deadeye. Cutter-style allowed the foresail hoops to run to the bottom of the forestay. While totally adequate, the work done by yard riggers never ever satisfied a Bos’n; it was generally untidy, with no fancywork such as nettling of the forestay mouse. Once underway, the crew would be put to work eliminating “Irish Pennants”, loose ends on splices, seizings, line, etc., with many being redone to suit the Bos’n. As displayed, the rigging cleanup is done; once at anchor in Cawsand Bay, under the protection of Rame Head, the forestay would be eased off to permit nettling the mouse.

The completed model of Alert including the longboat, which is in its towing position on the quarter, off the stern. In actual use she would have been on a longer painter to keep the boat further aft and rudder lashed to keep the boat tracking. (Click on photo to view larger image.)

Cutters built before 1800 were anachronistic in that they were clench-lapped and copper fastened over a full-sawn and trunneled frame, as is Alert. My approach to the planking was published in the Nautical Research Journal, with a hypothesis on the coppering of a clenched-lapped vessel. The woods used in the model were as follows: Hull framing and planking - Columbian boxwood; Decks – Virginia holly, including the dowelling to create a subtle and more natural deck; Spars – degame, (lancewood/lemonwood). The windlass barrel, wales, stern fashion pieces, half the cap rails (they are two-part boxwood/ebony) are Gaboon ebony. Deadeyes, block sheaves, thimbles, shroud trucks, etc., are lignum vitae. Mast and foresail hoops – Apple.

Metal fittings, except those that were turned, were hand cut from flat brass sheet, silver-soldered where necessary, filed, polished, and then oxidized as appropriate. The cannon and swivel guns were turned on a Unimat lathe using a pattern-turning device I designed/built to create repetitive turnings using flat templates to guide the tool.

All the line is linen; almost all hawser-laid and all the cable-laid line were made on my ropewalk, as were the wire-cored sheets that hold the sails out in a filled position.  The sails were made from 50-year-old tracing linen, moulded over formers. Boltropes were hand stitched by me, with 26 to 28 stitches per inch. Cutter sails of the period were loose-footed, meaning that they were not laced to spars at the foot. Her number 2, or General Service Ensign, indicating that she has no specific assignment yet, was made from raw Chinese silk, dyed with French dyes.

Where used, Floquil paints were blended to represent the effect seen when viewing a vessel from a distance, where the colours are muted by atmospheric haze. Clear Floquil finishes blended to give a soft satin finish were used on the natural areas, then polished with Renaissance Wax. I etched the nameplate from plate brass, polished it, and then oxidized it antique bronze.

To read a more complete 12-page illustrated article on the research and processes involved in the building of Alert, CLICK HERE. (6.72 MB PDF file. Allow time to load.)

Awards related to the building of Alert

While the original vessel took two prizes during her short career: the American Brig Lexington on September 19, 1777 and the French Lugger Coureur on June 17, 1778, the model has taken three awards. They are:

1. The Nautical Research Journal Editors Essay Contest Award for 1998.

This was for the essay entitled "Clenched-Lap, as Applied to a Framed Hull—A Hypothesis Regarding How Clench Lap Hulls were Coppered." The essay was published in the Nautical Research Journal in two parts: "Clench-Lap Planking Over a Framed Hull: Building the Naval Cutter Alert" (Volume 44, No. 3, December 1999, pages 204-212) and "Coppering a Clench-Lapped Hull: Building the Naval Cutter Alert" (Volume 45, No. 1, March 2000, pages 33-34)

2. The Mariners' Museum Scale Ship Model Competition and Exhibition, 2000.

Silver Medal, Division 1, Class A—Scratch built models of ships propelled exclusively or primarily by sails or oars. At this time the model was unrigged and simply fitted with a stub mast, bowsprit and boom.

3. Wisconsin Maritime Museum at Manitowoc

Gold Award—Advanced Scratch Category, Midwestern Model Ships and Boats Contest, 2005.


To read a brief history of the real Cutter Alert as described in Roger Cole's research, CLICK HERE.

To see a list of articles on ship modeling by Roger Cole, CLICK HERE.

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Here are photos of some of Roger Cole's projects:

(Click photo for larger image.)

The Cutter Alert

An overall view of the finished model of Alert

The Plinth-Mounted Nameplate

The etched, raised letter plate was made in my shop from brass plate using Letraset® as a barrier to the etchant. Once etched, the etching process was stopped, the plate was polished and then was oxidized to an antique bronze finish to complement the period of the vessel modeled. The plate is then protected with two coats of satin Krylon® paint. Regrettably, with the advent of computers, Letraset is now virtually unobtainable, so this approach is no longer feasible.

The Stem, Keel and Sternpost Assembly

This view shows the stem, keel and sternpost assembly, along with the aft deadwood, and the apron inside the stem, mounted in the assembly jig. The assembly seen here was constructed with Columbian boxwood and includes detail such as the holes for the forestay lanyard. All aspects of the assembly are glued and doweled using bamboo dowels. The jig holds the model absolutely true during construction.

Hull Framing and Ebony Wales

The hull framing is almost complete. It, like the keel assembly, was made from Columbian boxwood. The ebony wales were fitted with hook and butt joints matching what was probably used on the original vessel. The wales were doweled using ebony dowels. The angle at which the hull is displayed matches the drag seen on the original vessel.

Port Side from Ahead—Planking Nearing Completion

Planking is completed up to the fifteenth strake. The sixteenth and final strake will be left off until the hanging knees for the deck structure have been installed. Once finished, the hull planking was polished and protected with a clear finish, followed with two coats of Renaissance™ Wax.

Positions for the Carlins Marked and Cut

Initial work on the deck structure started by locating and fitting the deck beams. In this view the positions for the carlins have been marked and cut, and a few carlins and ledges have been installed. Once the deck framing has been complete, the deck will be laid using individual quarter-sawn Virginia holly planks. These will be doweled to the deck beam structure using holly dowels. This creates a deck that closely matches the appearances of a holystoned deck where the caulking seams are to scale and the bungs in the deck are unobtrusive, in fact, almost invisible.

The Plinth and Marble Insert

The mounting plinth and the sacrificial marble insert are installed to absorb the acids originating from the wood used in the baseboard, plinths and model. The plinth was made from black cherry, painted flat black. It presents the model so as to show the waterline level. The slice of Boccaccino marble absorbs and neutralizes acid that would otherwise damage the materials used in the model. This is based on research done by Mr. Dana Wegner, Curator of the United States Navy Ship Model Collection. This view also shows the starboard planking to advantage.

A Look at the Hull Planking

This view, with the model inverted, shows the symmetry of the hull and planking runs. The cutout on the port side reveals the framing with the double or mold frames visible among the single or filler frames. The client requested that part of the hull planking be left off to reveal the framing.


During her refit in Plymouth in February, 1778, Alert's armament was upgraded from ten four-pounders to twelve six-pounders and twelve half-pounder swivels. The six-pounder gun shown here with one of the swivels was simply a trial horse, built to prove out the tooling and jigs used in the manufacture of the various components required. This included developing the pattern-turning system to allow accurate replication of the gun barrels. While the gun barrel shown here is close, the six-pounders used on the model were patterned precisely on the John Robertson pattern of 1776, reflecting what was probably used for her upgrade.

A Look at the Deck Detail Forward

Here we see the windlass details with the working ratchets and check pawls, the detail in the hammock nettings, guns and tackles and the hatch and companionway gratings. Also seen here are the somewhat muted colors used on the model, reflecting the atmospheric effect that would have been evident had the original vessel been viewed from a distance.

Headwork and Rigging from Forward

Seen here is a wealth of detail including the masthoops securing the mainsail to the mast; the wooden hanks securing the foresail to the forestay, which is cable-laid; and the lacing securing the topsail to its yard. Also visible high up on the shrouds, level with the lower edge of the gaff-jaws, are the shroud trucks used to lead lines from above down the inside of the shrouds and ratlines to belay on the shroud-mounted pin racks. Oddly, once a shroud truck has a line through it, it becomes a fairlead.

Masting, Rigging and Sails from the Port Quarter

This view shows a wealth of detail aloft. The tablings, gussets, reef bands and reef points can be seen on the mainsail. The mainmast hoops, foresail hanks, ratlines and cable-laid shrouds can also be seen. There were no footropes on Alert—her spars would have been far too light to support the weight of a man. The spars, shown here finished with shellac, would have been lowered to the deck to replace or unrig sails, and to make repairs to equipment.

Masting, Rigging and Sails from the Starboard Bow

This view shows the mast, with the luff of the mainsail seized to the mast hoops; the backstay tackles; and, just underneath the gaff jaws, the shroud trucks (fairleads) leading the various lines down behind the shrouds and ratlines so as to avoid interference with crew going aloft. This also provided a lead for the lines to the appropriate belaying pin in the shroud-mounted racks. The cable-laid forestay is clearly seen in this photo along with the mouse and collar.

An Overview of the Model

This view shows the anchor cables leading in through the hawse; as the cables were too heavy to pass around the windlass drum, they pass underneath it enroute to the hatch. A messenger would have been rigged to haul the cable. Lines can be seen belayed to cleats on the mast, and to pins on the shroud-mounted racks and windlass pin racks. Everything seen on the model was constructed in my shop: blocks, deadeyes, gratings and shroud trucks were made of various woods; anchors, guns and all the metal fittings were made of brass, oxidized to represent ferrous metals. Cable-aid line, most larger line, and wire-cored line were laid-up on my ropewalk; eye splices were made in all line over .021" in diameter. Where required, line is served. Boltropes on the sails were hand stitched with 26 to 28 stitches to the inch. The nameplate and casework were also produced in my shops.

A Look at the Molding in the Sails

This view shows the molding achieved in the sails while still leaving them on the soft side. The headsails are held out with wire-cored sheets. The mainsail boom and gaff are pinned in place due to the heavier sail and spars. The reef-points on the mainsail are tacked in place with a touch of glue. This view also shows the high gore cut into the topsail to allow it to clear the forestay and preventer. Also seen are the mast hoops securing the mainsail to the mast and the wood hanks securing the foresail to the forestay. The use of hanks prevented the usual snaking where the forestay and its preventer were lashed together in a zigzag pattern.

Flag Details

The ensign on the model was made from raw Chinese silk, dyed with French dyes. This process, while long and at times tedious, produces a flag through which light can be seen. Alert would have carried a complement of five different size ensigns or flags ranging from her number one, down through number four, plus a Jack. In size, the fly of the number one was generally about equivalent to the molded beam of the vessel, the hoist was 5/9ths of the fly at this time. The other ensigns were proportional and stepped down where the hoist of one became the length of the fly on the next smaller ensign. The Jack was equal to the canton of the largest ensign.

A Look Inside the Longboat

The longboat is fitted for sailing with the second thwart pierced for a mast; eyebolts used to support the standing rigging used when sailing are fitted to the caprails. The third thwart is not fitted with supporting knees to allow it to be removed when necessary, such as when transporting water casks, supplies, guns or ammunition out to the cutter. The oars have been secured to prevent their loss should the boat be swamped while being towed.

A Close Look at the Longboat from Port

The longboat was carved from two blocks of Columbian boxwood with a false keel sandwiched between the blocks. Once the outer profile was finalized, the three pieces were separated, holes for blind dowelling were drilled and the two sides were hollowed out using rotary burrs and rifflers. With the inside carved out, the final keel and the two halves were assembled and the inside of the boat was fitted out. The boat is in its towing position on the quarter, off the stern. In actual use she would have been on a longer painter to keep the boat further aft. The rudder has been lashed to keep the boat tracking rather than wandering with the risk of having her broach in a cross-sea.

Represented as Sailing in a Fickle Breeze

Seen here with her sixteen-foot longboat rigged for towing, the longboat serves to provide a balance to the very long bowsprit. In all probability Alert would have been forced to tow her boat while under way; it is also highly unlikely that she could have lifted the longboat aboard as the weight of the boat would have been too much for the light spars to handle. Even if the boat could be brought aboard, it would have seriously hampered Alert's abilities in an unexpected engagement.

The Cased Model

Displayed in her walnut and Acrylic case, the model is complete. The upper part of the case was designed to present a lower profile than the base assembly, thus avoiding a top-heavy appearance to the display case. The upper assembly contains a lighting system.

Other Models and Details
















Lizzie J. Cox

Photo 1—Overall view: Lizzie J. Cox, a Chesapeake Bay Bugeye, was built at Fishing Island, Maryland by John Branford in 1905.  The model was built to a scale where ¼ inch represents one foot.  From the tip of the anachronistic longhead to the stern is about 19 inches. The model was awarded a Certificate of Commendation at the Mariners' Museum Ship Model Competition in 1985 and was the subject of a fourteen-part series of articles in Ships in Scale magazine.

Photo 2—Bow and longhead: The longhead supporting the bowsprit was a continuation of the days of figureheads. In fact, Cox did carry a small figurehead, that of an eagle head at the tip of the longhead.  The anchor windlass seen here was manufactured locally and, while extremely durable, was not a finely-finished piece of machinery.  The hawse holes and chain controllers are located ahead of the windlass and its heaver.

Photo 3—Anchor windlass: This photo was exposed to highlight the detail in the windlass and anchor handling gear with no regard to the exposure of the background.  The whelps and rims seen on the barrels were protected with a resist while the barrels were etched to remove unwanted metal.  Once cleaned and polished, the whelps and rims were left standing proud of the barrels. The heaver is located on the front of the Samson post while the handles are laid alongside the bowsprit heel.

Photo 4—Amidships view: This shows the oyster dredge gear aboard the Cox.  The Hettinger winder, used to haul the dredges which are shown either side of the fore-hatch, is located in  the centre of the photo.  There is also rough sheathing  laid  to protect the deck from the abrasive oyster shells.  On either side there are heavy steel rollers over which the dredges were hauled aboard.  The angled roller and bracket at the aft end of the horizontal rollers was there to protect the hull from the steel cable connecting the dredges to the winder.

Photo 5—Hettinger Winder: While extremely rugged and durable, the Hettinger winder was not highly finished. The machinery end of the model, without the end supports going to the left, is only slightly larger than the tip of a man's thumb, from the quick to the tip and about as wide. The finish is an oxide sold as Win-Ox, used in very weak concentration to be durable. Once oxidized it was protected with a satin lacquer finish.

Photo 6—Bilge Pump: A version of an Edson diaphragm pump consisting of about twelve individual parts.  While many of the parts were machined, others were sawn and filed to achieve the desired shape, e.g.  the bowl with its lip. Virtually all my fittings are made from free-turning brass which, in this case, was given a bronze oxidized finish, although I am sure these pumps were primarily cast iron.

Photo 7—12-inch Block: Among the faults seen on many models are incorrectly sized hooks.  This block was scaled from a 12-inch block in my collection and is correctly proportioned. The assembly consists of  twelve parts and is internally stropped. The finish on the metal parts are also oxidized and lacquered for protection. All my blocks above 1/8" long are built up; those below that are cut from solid wood.

Photo 8—The stern and the push boat: While Bugeyes were built as double-enders, the lack of space aft was a serious handicap. A local man then developed the squared platform seen here and patented it, which solved the space problem aft.  The push boat was used to get to and from the oyster beds as the law demanded that oyster dredging be done under sail to protect the beds and the resource.  The steering wheel is a Lake wheel, machined and etched in my shop.








Santa Maria

Photo 1—Overall view of the model from the Starboard Quarter: Santa Maria, Christopher Columbus' flagship on his voyage of discovery in 1492.  The model was commissioned and now resides in a Corporate Boardroom in Puerto Rico.  It was built from plans prepared by Martinez Hidalgo ordered from the Maritime Museum in Barcelona. This model was the subject of a six-part series of articles in Seaways Journal of Maritime History.

The hull framing and planking are Columbian Boxwood, the deck is Virginia Holly and the spars are Degame. The darker wood used extensively for trim items is Mountain Mahogany. Very hard and slightly brittle to work with, nonetheless it does an excellent job. The sails are 50-year-old tracing linen and all the rigging is linen line, laid up on my ropewalk and appropriately coloured.

Photo 2Quarter Deck view of the model: This view shows the quarter deck with four Lombards, early versions of cannon. These interestingly were breech loaders. The external futtock riders seen here as vertical frames on the outside of the hull were reinforcing timbers. The mainsail carries a bonnet laced to the lower edge of the mainsail. This would be laced on when more sail area was required, or removed to reduce sail. The aft sail was a lateen and was changed when tacking by casting off the lines, placing the lateen spar in a vertical position and swinging it around the mast and re-securing the sail handling lines.

Photo 3—Sails, Rigging and Flags: As mentioned earlier the sails were tracing linen with the starch soaked out in lukewarm water and many rinses. The sails were formed over carved wooden formers and then airbrushed with a wet blend of Floquil clear finishes. When dry, the sails were taken off the formers and the back surfaces airbrushed   The crosses on the sails were cut out of Frisket, which was applied as a mask and then airbrushed.  The flags were made from raw Chinese silk with the colouring done with French dyes. .

Photo 4—On-deck view of the model: A look on deck revealing the capstan under the front edge of the quarter deck and the ramshead block immediately aft of the mast, which is heavily reinforced where it enters the deck. The Mountain Mahogany used for accent purposes can be seen to good advantage in this view.  The main shrouds and their elongated deadeyes, and additional small bulwark details can also be seen.

Virago (half model)—A very small model with a hull length of 8 inches, modeled on a ferro-cement boat built in Nova Scotia. To represent the teak deck and furnishings I used Red Gum, a wood commonly found in older buildings in the Toronto area for trim work such as door frames, moldings, etc. It finishes to a very good representation of a miniature-grained Teak.

The paint finish was air brushed using Floquil finishes to create the desired effect, masking off the various parts of the hull while doing so.

Nova Scotia Pinky, circa 1875 (half model)—The term "Pinky" comes from the distinctive up-sweep to the stern bulwarks; this was known as a pink (pinque—denoting its European origins) stern. It also provided a protected seat-of-ease for the crew. Pinkies were used extensively on the Canadian and Northeast coasts, normally for inshore fishing. They were extremely seaworthy boats.

This model is 13 inches long overall, excluding the bowsprit. It was laid up with 1/4 inch Basswood lifts with each cut to its eventual shape.  Once glued up it was carved using templates to verify the true shape.  The bulwarks were added later. The finish consists of  four coats of white shellac which was rubbed down and waxed with Renaissance wax—a conservators' wax. The tiller was heat bent to the desired shape. As with all my name plates, this one was etched in my shop.

Sirius 28 (half model)—This model was built to represent a production fiberglass boat and is 14 inches long. The model was laid up and carved in the traditional manner from Hard Yellow Poplar, a beautiful carving wood, which cannot be used for naturally-finished work as it has an objectionable yellowish hue. However, it is  superb for work that will be painted. The finish consists of 14 hand-rubbed coats of lacquer, with the different colours blended so as to avoid having the traditional raised edge where one colour begins or ends. When a hand is run across the finish on this model,  there is a continuous smooth finish.

Edith Cavell, a tern schooner (half model)—Edith Cavell was named after the WWI nurse. This was a large schooner and, as I recall, the hull length of the model was 26 inches. She was also laid up from Basswood lifts ¼ inch thick with each lift or layer cut to its shape on the hull. Once glued up, the hull was carved and checked with templates to ensure accuracy. Cavell is fitted out beyond the normal half-hull with turned stanchions  (individually fitted), a half-wheel, etc. and three stub masts. The tern schooners were all Canadian and had all three masts exactly the same height, hence the term  tern, meaning three.

 This hull was finished with a blend of three coats of clear Floquil finishes and was then waxed with Renaissance wax and polished to create a soft sheen and to provide protection.






Beetle Whaleboat

Photo 1—Port side view: This was a Beetle whaleboat, so-called as they were built by Charles Beetle, a whaleboat builder from New Bedford, Massachusetts; in fact, the name “Beetle” was burned into two places on the completed boats. This model was built to a scale where 1/2-inch represents one foot and was the subject of a two-part series of articles published in Seaways Journal of Maritime History. The model was based on the last boat Beetle built. On completion, it was shipped to the Mariners' Museum where it can still be seen today.

Photo 2—Midships and a look at the gear: The gear aboard a whaleboat was highly specialized and included not just harpoons used to fasten to a whale and the lances that were used to kill the creature, but also the line tubs. In this case the tubs were built with individual staves, as were the baling scoop and the fresh water keg. The harpoons and lance tips, the boat knife and hatchet head were made from nickel silver, oxidized to a soft patina representing age, and the edges were then polished to simulate having been recently sharpened.

Photo 3—Interior detail: Whaleboats were ceiled inside, meaning that they were planked inside and outside the frames. This model is also an example of a painted model as opposed to being polished Boxwood. At the right-hand end of the last photo of the interior of the boat the compass can be seen, required for situations where a boat lost sight of its parent ship. The compass in this model boat was gimbaled as were the real ones. There are paddles in the bottom of the boat used when quietly approaching a whale on the surface.  All of the equipment has been aged to represent usage. 

While this model was built to be displayed on a regular base and mounted on posts, Roger decided to see what it would look like set up on a simulated beach. This was done in his basement, on a piece of cardboard with a layer of sand scattered on it and two different coloured backdrops.

The model is fourteen inches long.








Benjamin W. Latham

Photo 1—Hull framing: The hull  was framed in sugar maple with the keel, stem and sternpost of Columbian Boxwood. The planking rabbett has been cut into the keel and sternpost, along with  the cutouts for the gudgeons, and the top of the sternpost has been hollowed out to accommodate the rudder plugstock. The  framing and deck have been faired and are  now ready for planking.

Photo 2—Overall view from the port side: Built to a scale where ¼ inch represents one foot, this model was Roger's first scratch built  model after an absence of seventeen years. All fittings were also scratch built, including stud-link anchor chain. The hull is planked in Columbian Boxwood, the deck is individually planked with Virginia Holly, the spars are Degame, also known as Lancewood and False Boxwood. Planking has been left off to reveal the hull framing; part of this cutout can be seen behind the seine boat in photo 3. Latham was the subject of an eight-part series of articles in Seaways Journal of Maritime History.

Benjamin W. Latham was awarded the Bronze Medal in the Scratch built Category in the 1980 International Ship Model Competition held at The Mariners' Museum in  Newport News, Virginia.

Photo 3—Showing the deck and Seine boat detail: The planking thickness and framing can be seen in this view. The dory is stowed on deck, while the seine boat is shown secured to the boat boom. The deck is laid in individual holly planks which, in this case, were not dowelled. On-deck detail includes the dip net used to lift mackerel from the seine boat to the deck of the schooner, and the barrels set up ready to clean the fish before they were packed  ready for market. Including such detail in a Boxwood model is not traditional but is an important part of telling the story of the vessel.

Photo 4—Seen from the starboard side: Benjamin W. Latham was a small mackerel seining schooner built in 1902. Designed for Captain Henry Langworthy of Noank, Connecticut by Thomas McManus of Boston; she was built in the yard of Tarr and James in Essex, Massachusetts. Small, she measured 72 tons gross. This view reveals her lines to advantage along with the fact that her hull planking is trunnel or dowel fastened.

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