Phantom NY Pilot Boat – Model Shipways

First ship build, first build log, first post…here it goes.

All of my experience has been with static plane models like the Sopwith Camel from Model Airways, and I absolutely prefer working with wood models over plastic.  Given the relatively small number of plane model kits out there, I thought I’d take the dive into ships.  It seems like there are enough ship models out there to keep me busy for years.

Since I have no experience with rigging or planking, I thought I’d start with a kit generally regarded as good for beginners.  My Model Shipways Phantom kit arrive last Friday.  The days leading up to the arrival were spent getting my workspace back in shape (it has been a year since my last plane build), getting some additional tools, etc.

Photo Oct 09, 6 21 20 PM

I’m generally following Chuck Passaro’s excellent practicum, and referring to the kit instructions only as necessary.

The first day was spent checking kit contents, labeling the wood, bagging and tagging all the metal bits (I like to have everything really organized before I start).

Photo Oct 09, 6 22 22 PM

On Saturday I started shaping the bow and stern, with an extended pause for some college football.

Sunday I moved on to shaping the rest of the hull.  All the hull shaping was done with sanding, since I have limited experience carving and was worried I’d take off too much material too fast.  The results were very close to the templates, but not perfect.  The evening was spent installing the sternpost, stem, and keel.  I left some extra length by the rudder – will trim and shape when I get to installing the rudder.

Photo Oct 09, 6 20 25 PM

There’s a little more sanding to do, but I think I’m getting close.


Monday evening was spent working on the deck’s step and cleaning up the stern.  This required some actual carving, which got considerably easier once I realized I had more than just a standard #11 blade in my toolkit.  (Turns out using the right tool makes a huge difference.)  But, more work is needed to clean these areas up before I can move on.

Impressions so far:

  • I had read that some people find solid hull kits to be tougher than just starting with POB, and I can see why.  If I were starting over, I’d probably jump right to a POB build.  Setting up the bulkheads would be similar to the work I’ve done on my planes and I think I’d have an easier time with it.
  • I’m eager to get to the ‘fun stuff’ and have to keep reminding myself to slow down.
  • I’m already noticing that the scale of this ship is impacting construction.  Everything is very small – and I expect I’ll notice this even more once I get to all the various fittings.
  • My workspace, which was significantly downsized over the last year (while I had half a wing sitting untouched on a building board) needs an upgrade.  I’m already running out of space, and missing the extra few feet of room I had last year.
  • Generally impressed with Model Expo / Model Shipways.  I’m very familiar with their Model Airways kits, which made this ship kit feel very familiar.
  • Struggling with all the terminology.  Coming from years of plane building and having zero knowledge of ships is proving to be a learning curve.

So far I’ve got about 7-8 hours in this.  Next steps are to finish cleaning up the deck, the start in on the ‘step’ around the top.