Phantom NY Pilot Boat


March 21, 2016

After a few weeks of feeling a little frustrated, my hopes were lifted when I got the bowsprit installed.  The rigging for that turned out to be very straight-forward, and I was finished within a couple hours.  What to do with the rest of my weekend?  Masts!


I got the fore mast shaped, stained, and painted on Saturday.  I was able to assemble the various fittings pretty quickly.  Since staining takes place out in the garage, I shaped both the lower and upper fore masts before staining – and stained them both at the same time.  So, once the mast cap and bands were installed, it was trivial to mount the top mast.

The main mast was assembled on Sunday morning.  This one took a bit more work.  I encountered a few things that slowed me down.  First, I ran out of kit-supplied eyebolts.  I think Model Expo included enough, but I’ve lost a few to glueing mishaps.  I’ve also lost a couple because I didn’t have a tight hold while trimming the excess off the stem, and the eyebolt went flying.  These things are tiny, and once they go flying, they will never be found.  So, I would need to start making eyebolts myself.

I used a technique I saw in a post somewhere on here (I’d love to give credit, but I can’t find the post now).  I wrapped wire around a drill bit of the right diameter, and used pliers to twist the wire until the ‘eye’ was tight around the bit.  They take a moment to make, but making them myself means I can control the size of the ‘eye’.  This would become important once rigging started.

I also had problems with the mast hoops.  The instructions recommend wire, and the practicum recommends using bands of manilla folder.  I started with the folder technique (I’ve learned to trust the practicum).  However, I couldn’t get them looking good enough.  Since I had to go buy some wire for eyebolts, I decided to also pick up some larger wire suitable for making mast hoops.  They ended up a little thicker than they should be, but they were way easier to make.  (It might help that my wife has a jewelry business, and wire mast hoops are basically ‘jump rings’ in the jewelry biz, so I’m very familiar with them).  I went with fewer hoops than suggested because of the size – I didn’t want the hoops to be too clunky and I’m already way off the ‘historically accurate’ path.

Additionally, I made several attempts to shape a boom rest for the main mast out of 1/32″ thick stock.  Every attempt failed with the piece being split or cracked.  After some searching around my pile of materials, I found a wooden dowel that was the right diameter, matching what I was trying to cut from 1/32.   I cut a 1″ long piece, and used my drill press to put a hole for the mast through the center.  Then I just cut off a thin piece, and I had my boom rest.

I had left the deadeyes on the cap rail the reddish wood color as they came – it matched well with the color I chose for the roofs of the deck buildings.  The blocks, however, were an assortment of shades.  Single, double and triple blocks were all different colors.  The thought of individually brushing stain onto several tiny blocks was just depressing.  Instead, I strung them on a length of thread and dipped them in stain.  I had to carefully wipe them down, but they turned out great, and with very little effort.

I was going to stop Sunday afternoon, but my wife needed a few more hours of jewelry-making (odd that we both have hobbies requiring working with tiny, tiny parts…).  So, I went ahead and mounted the masts.

It seemed like I could get away with a little more time, so I started in on rigging.

For me, the entire project changed once I was the first bit of rigging completed.  I’m not sure if was just the significance of moving on to a completely new part of the build, or if it was the way that even a little rigging completely changes the look of the ship.  Either way, rigging changed my whole outlook on the ship.  Previously I only saw the mistakes, but now I’m seeing the ‘ship’.

I’ve had to replace some eyebolts, as the kit eyebolts are little small when they need two lines attached.  My new custom eyebolts work great, and I can set the size based on the number of things that need to be tied off.

I’m slowly getting better at seizing and working with blocks.


I’ve also gotten the first shroud installed (not shown).  I used the method described in the practicum to set the length of the shroud and position the deadeyes.

I’m feeling renewed and happy with the build…and the end is in