Bluenose Canadian Schooner

The Waterway

April 23, 2016

Day 22.

Okay.  So, I really screwed up the waterway on my first ship.  The Model Shipways Phantom is 1:96 scale, which is really small.  The practicum recommended using cut manilla folder for the waterway (on top of pre-scribed deck planking).  I thought it would be more ‘real’ to use wood, but all I could find was 1/32″ material.  I did not understand what the waterway was or how it related to the deck, and what I ended up with was way out of scale.  That added material threw off the rest of the build.

So, second ship, second waterway.  I want to get this right, so let’s talk it through…

According to the Model Shipways Bluenose plans, the waterway is completely different on the fore deck and quarter deck.  The fore deck has three parts to the waterway, the quarter (rear) deck has only one part.


On the fore deck, there are three ‘strakes’ to the waterway.  Seriously, how much water were they getting on the fore deck?  The first strake is 3/32″ thick and 1/8″ wide.  It is not a continuous piece – it is cut into short strips and installed between the stanchions created by the bulkhead extensions.  Makes sense – those extensions are 1/8″ wide, so use 1/8″ wide strips for the waterway.

The second and third waterway strakes are 3/32″ x 3/32″.  They go right up against each other, and against the stanchions.  The third (inner-most) strake is slightly tapered, since the waterway is taller than the deck planking.

On the quarter deck, the plans indicate that the waterway is only between the bulkhead extensions.  I guess the quarter deck just didn’t get as much water.  The next thing inboard is the nibbing strake, which is really part of the deck planking and not the waterway.

This is different than what the practicum does – it uses a strip placed inside the bulkhead extensions on the quarter deck, just like the middle strake on the fore deck.

I’m gonna follow the plans.

The front waterways are pretty straight forward, at least if you start with the middle strake.  I dropped in a 1/32″ x 1/32″ strip along the bulkheads.  The tip (at the bow) had to be trimmed to an angle so it will butt up nicely against the piece from the other side.  I used small clothespins to hold it in place while I worked.  CA glue was used to attach the strake.  I know that PVA would have been better, but the curve required holding or clamping this in place.  Using CA was easier, since I could hold it in place for a few seconds while the glue sets.

Photo Apr 17, 12 52 37 PM

The first waterway plank installed.  This is the middle strake on the fore deck.

Both sides were added pretty easily.

Photo Apr 17, 1 49 21 PM

The middle waterway strake installed on both sides of the fore deck.

This gives me the general shape of the waterways.  I need two more strakes – one inside (tapered) and one outside (cut into strips between the bulkheads).  But first, let’s take a look at the quarter deck.

On the quarter deck, the plans call for a single waterway strake, between the bulkheads.  This means that I can’t run one simple strip.  And that makes this a lot more complicated. If I just start gluing in pieces between the bulkheads, I’m gonna end up with something uneven.

Plus, the bulkhead extensions only provide a ‘shelf’ on one side – the other side doesn’t have any support for the waterway.

I’m thinking that I should tackle this with a few steps:

  1. Clamp a temporary strip along the bulkheads, mimicking what I did on the fore deck. This will give me something to align to.
  2. Cut and glue in a bunch of short support strips.  I’ll probably use some extra strip stock I have laying around.  These can be lined up using the temporary strip, and will form a ‘ledge’ that I can glue the waterway on.  Using the temporary strip to line these up should provide a continuous, straight curve to follow, resulting in a nicer line for the waterway.
  3. Cut and glue in the actual waterway strips.

So, let’s get started.

Photo Apr 17, 2 08 43 PM

First attempt on the quarter deck – temporarily placing a strip to use as a guide for installing the waterway sections between the bulkheads.

The temporary strip was put in place.  I used the small clothespins to hold it in place, except for a few spots where I needed a little more force (so I used some metal clamps).

The ‘ledges’ were cut from some existing 1/16″ x 1/4″ stock.  These don’t have to be precise lengths – as long as they are wider than 1/8″ (the width of the waterway back here), I’m fine.  We need 7 per side.

Photo Apr 17, 2 11 41 PM

Small pieces to be glued to the bulkheads to create a ‘shelf’ to attach waterway sections to.

Each one was then glued on, lined up with the bottom edge of the temporary strip.  I tried to avoid having the ledge stick out over the end of the bulkhead, but a few (mostly at last couple bulkheads) were unavoidable…after the glue dries those will get sanded back.

Photo Apr 17, 2 13 47 PM

Small ‘shelves’ getting installed on the bulkheads to support the waterway sections.

The ledges were clamped with clothespins and the temporary strip was removed.

Photo Apr 17, 2 16 50 PM

Another view of the shelves.

Now that those supports have set, let’s drop in the first section of the waterway.

The plans indicate that the quarter deck waterway is flush with the deck planking, and tells us to use 1/16″ x 1/8″ strips.  This is the same stock we’ll use to plank the deck.  I cut a short strip and fitted it to the first section.

Photo Apr 17, 3 18 29 PM

One section of the waterway installed between bulkheads.  Note how it looks a little too straight, when it should be slightly curved.

Looks good.  I’m a little concerned that some of the sections might need to curve so I don’t end up with a profile that seems like several segmented straight lines.  I think I’m going to cut and install all the strips and see where I end up.  If it fails miserably, 1/16″ x 1/8″ basswood is fairly easy to source, so I’ll just buy more to replace what I lost in my trial.

On a positive note, my ‘ledges’ will allow me to dry-fit the pieces.

With the pieces all dry-fitted (not glued), I was able to step back and take a look at how everything lined up.  As I suspected, it looked more like a series of straight lines rather than a smooth curve.  I considered a few different ways to get these to curve, and concluded that the best way was to go ahead and install the nibbing strake on the quarter deck.

The nibbing strake is really part of the deck planking.  It is the outermost deck plank, and it ends up getting a bunch of notches cut into it for the tips of the planks. I wanted to avoid installing the nibbing strake until I planked the deck because I plan to stain the deck planking before it gets installed.  I’m not quite ready to pick the stain color or start staining.

Since the waterway is going to be painted, I think I can stain the quarter deck’s nibbing strake later even though it is a already installed.  I’ll just stain before I paint the waterway so the waterway paint covers any bleed from the stain.  This will require some careful masking with tape to ensure I don’t get paint on the nibbing strake.  Detailed work, but not difficult.

So, the nibbing strake was installed on both sides.

Photo Apr 19, 7 03 22 PM

Installing the nibbing strake on the quarter deck and starting to install sections between the bulkheads.

I picked up some binder clips from an office supply store to use as clamps.  On the far side, you can see I left the small pieces between the stanchions in place so I could see if this was allowing me to get a nice curve.

After the nibbing strake was set on both sides, I glued in the pieces between the stanchions that form the actual waterway.

Photo Apr 19, 8 03 32 PM

Completed waterway on the quarter deck along with the nibbing strake.

Some of the outside lines still don’t have quite the smooth curve I’m after.  I’ll do a quick sanding – kind of a mini-hull-fairing session – to smooth those out.

I decided I would go ahead and finish out the waterway on the fore deck as well.  The different instructions and such have these strakes going in at different times, but I think I’ll get them all out of the way now.

I installed the little ‘ledges’ for the pieces between the stanchions, followed by installing the waterway between the stanchions.  Finally, the third strake was added on the inside.  This strake is tapered down on the inside edge.

Photo Apr 23, 7 18 41 AM

Completed waterway on the fore deck, consisting of three strakes.

You can see in this picture that the outside plank below the stanchion in the lower left doesn’t quite extend out to the edge of the bulkhead.  I think that will need to be fixed.  However, I’m going to wait until I get the hull planked so I can see exactly how big the gap is.  Since this area will be pained over, it may just need some wood filler.  Or, it may need a small wood piece.  We’ll see about that later.

Now that all the waterway strakes are in, I added some wood filler as necessary around the stanchions and sanded everything down to get a smooth waterway around the ship.

The waterway is now complete, which means I can move on to hull planking.

Photo Apr 23, 7 18 30 AM

The entire waterway completed.