Bluenose Canadian Schooner

180+ Days, Status Check

October 2, 2016

Day 185.

I’m over 180 days, or about 6 months into the Model Shipways Bluenose kit build, so it seemed like a good time to review where I’m at.  A while back, I did some planning and put together a spreadsheet of the various steps.  As I’ve worked, I’ve continually updated that, marking things done, adding additional things, and reordering things.

There have been a number of things that I originally had listed as a single step that I’ve now broken out into multiple steps.  Sometimes this was because having one step over simplified things.  Sometimes it was done because I decided to tackle different parts of a given step at a different times.  For example, I originally had one item for ‘rudder’.  I’ve since broken that into two parts: the rudder, and the pintles and gudgeons.

I also used this opportunity to adjust my plan for the next few stages.

So, to review the first 6 months, let’s look at things I’ve completed, things I’m working on now, and things I’ve still got to do.

Completed Steps

I have managed to get quite a bit done in the first six months.  Some people would go faster, others would go slower.  Overall, I’m fairly happy with my progress.  Taking a look at the individual stages…

Stage 1 – Framing

Photo Apr 11, 5 54 40 AM

The first stage involved building out the keel and bulkheads.

# Step Completed Days
1 Keel 4/4/16 3
2 Rabbet 4/7/16 3
3 Sternpost 4/8/16 1
4 Taper stem 4/8/16
5 Trim bulkhead extensions 4/9/16 1
6 Bulkhead installation 4/11/16 2
7 Bulkhead supports 4/15/16 4
8 Fair the hull 4/16/16 1
9 Horn timbers 4/16/16
10 Stern blocks 4/17/16 1


The first stage was the build out the keel and bulkheads, and get the general ‘backbone’ of the ship build.  This went fairly quickly, and this part took only a couple weeks.

The biggest mistake I made during this stage was with the bulkhead supports.  When I installed those, it caused the keel to bend, which required some time to fix.

Another issue, which I didn’t noticed until later, was that when I shaped the stern blocks, I should have paid more attention to the size and shape of the stern.  I didn’t round mine off enough, and as a result, the caps for the main rail didn’t fit.

Stage 2 – Lower Planking

Photo May 01, 5 14 10 PM

The next big project was planking the hull.

# Step Completed Days
11 Great beam 4/17/16
12 Waterway 4/23/16 6
13 Plank hull 5/10/16 17
14 Sand / fill hull 5/15/16 5


My ‘lower planking’ stage included getting the great beam and waterways installed, as well as planking the hull below the deck.

This part took about 4 weeks.

This was my first time planking a hull, and I’m fairly happy with the results.  In hindsight, I should have been better about fairing the hull (I had a number of places where planks didn’t lay correctly).  I should have used less wood filler when I was done.

Stage 3 – Upper Planking


Stage 3 switched to the area above the deck and finished out the planking.

# Step Completed Days
15 Mast slots 5/15/16 1
16 Transom framing 5/15/16
17 Transom tumble 5/16/16 1
18 Knightheads / hawse timbers 5/18/16 2
19 Cable chafe block 5/20/16 2
20 Clean up stanchions 5/21/16 1
21 Scruppers 5/22/16 1
22 Plank bulwarks 5/25/16 3
23 Plank transom 5/26/16 1


Upper planking involved getting the planking above the deck installed.  Before I could do that, I had to finish out a number of different things.

This stage went pretty quickly – a little under two weeks.  I didn’t really encounter any problems with this, although I should have caught the problems with the shape of the stern during the point.

Stage 4 – Deck Planking

Photo May 31, 7 05 27 AM

Next I planked the decks and add the stanchions.

# Step Completed Days
24 Plank fore deck 6/1/16 6
25 Plank quarter deck 6/18/16 17
26 Stanchions 6/19/16 1


Planking the deck took a little over 3 weeks.  Some work into creating a clear plan for the plank layout before any deck planks were placed.  The fore deck went a lot faster than the quarter deck, as the quarter deck requires tapering planks.  This stage was pretty smooth, with no major problems.

Stage 5 – Hull Preparation

Photo Jun 25, 8 48 19 AM

Stage 5 finished off some details before the hull could be painted.

# Step Completed Days
27 Transom fashion piece Omitted 0
29 Hawse pipe holes 6/20/16 1
28 Mooring Chocks 6/25/16 5
29 Waist cove Omitted 0
30 Mount the hull (holes) 6/25/16 1


My ‘hull preparation’ stage was a grab-bag of miscellaneous things that needed to be done before I could paint the hull.  These were pretty easy, although I skipped the two harder steps.

I decided to leave out the transom fashion pieces.  From the plans, it wasn’t 100% clear how those went on.  I’ve figured it out since then after seeing photos of the original ship, but at this point I think I’ll just leave them off.

I also skipped over making the waist cove an actual groove.  The plans call for a very small groove along the waist in the bulwark planking.  I tried to add this groove as I was doing the planking, but it was so small that it disappeared as I sanded the planking after install.  I wasn’t confident in my ability to do it by hand, so I left it off.

Stage 6 – Painting


Stage 6 involved painting.  Lots and lots of painting.

# Step Completed Days
31 Primer hull 7/2/16 7
32 Paint waterways 7/3/16 1
33 Paint bulwarks 7/4/16 1
34 Paint hull 8/7/16 34
35 Bulwark / waterway touchups 8/12/16 5
36 Stain deck 8/13/16 1
37 Mooring chock plates 8/15/16 2
38 Waterline / cove touchups 9/1/16 17


Here we are – the stage that felt like it took forever.  Painting the hull took me 68 days, nearly 40% of the time so far.  Painting really, really shouldn’t take that long.  Most people finish this in a couple days.

What went wrong?

The main reason for the stall was simply logistical.  I paint with an airbrush, and I only use the airbrush in the garage.  The ship is too big to fit on my normal painting bench, so I have to set up a small workbench in the middle of the garage.  This means I could only paint after moving the cars.  My wife and I both work all day, and it was hard to get time in to move the cars and paint after a long day at work.   This meant that painting was mostly confined to weekends, and there are only so many coats you can get on in a weekend when you allow for drying time and sanding.

So, that wasn’t really a problem, it was just how the timing worked out.

However, I did have all kinds of problems with getting the waterline painted.  I tried to follow an approach I’d seen others use, and it didn’t turn out well.  My water line didn’t have a clean edge, and it was a little wavy.  So I ended up spending a good chunk of time (over 2 weeks) trying to fix that.  The lesson?  Don’t follow my original plan for painting.

Stage 7 – Rails


The main rail, buffalo rail, and monkey rail were installed in stage 7.

# Step Completed Days
39 Bowsprit hole 8/27/16 1
40 Main rail 9/4/16 3
41 Aft buffer platform legs 9/7/16 3
42 Buffalo rail 9/16/16 9
43 Monkey board and rail 9/25/16 9


Doing the rails took longer than it should have.  A big reason for this was that I had to remake the end pieces for all the various rail sections instead of using the kit provided pieces.  The main rail’s bow and stern pieces didn’t fit.  The buffalo rail’s end piece got over-sanded.  The monkey rail’s stern pieces didn’t fit, and broke anyway.

During this stage I also made a bad decision about paint color, which is now slowing me down again (and throwing me back into painting hell).

When I started planning for this build, I purchased a practicum (course) for this kit.  I haven’t really been following it (as you can see by this plan), but some elements of that course have stuck in my head.

In the practicum, the instructor paints the main rail black.  As a result, almost everyone following that practicum also paints the main rail black.  It looks nice, and that’s what I did.

However, if you look at the plans, or look at any photos of the actual ship, you’ll see that the main rail was definitely white.

I should have went with white when I built the rails.  Instead I painted them black, and now I’m working on stripping and repainting them.  Would have been way easier to get it right the first time.

Current Steps

Six months in, I’m still not to the point of building deck furniture, masts or rigging.  Recently I’ve been working on various smaller details.  After all the time spent on painting and rails, where things moved slowly, this next stage has been fun so far.

Things are moving faster, and there are a larger number of small projects to work on.  The pace is picking up, and when I hit a stall on one thing, there is something else for me work on the meantime.

Stage 8 – Hull Details


Stage 8 is a grab-bag of random work to finish up the hull.

# Step Completed Days
44 Rudder 9/26/16 2
45 Hawse pipe lips 9/29/16 1
46 Bow star
47 Scroll work
49 Seal hull paint
48 Pintles and gudgeons
50 Name plate – rear
51 Name plates – bow


I’ve started in on the rudder, which has turned out well.  I hit a snag on the pintles and gudgeons.  My test run, which included my first ever attempt at soldering, went great, but I wasn’t happy with the alignment of the holes in the brass strips.  I had drilled those by hand, and wasn’t able to get them aligned well.

To resolve that, I’ve put the pintles and gudgeons on hold until my new drill press and compound X/Y table arrive.  That setup should allow me to position the holes more accurately.

While I wait for that, I’ve gotten the hawse pipe lips installed, and I’ve started working on a method to get the name plates made and installed.

While looking at photos of the actual ship to finalize the name plates, I decided that I needed to correct the main rail paint color as I mentioned earlier.  So this stage includes a few days of work to strip the paint off the rails and repaint them white.

Once that is done, I’ll finish up those name plates.  I’ll also seal the hull with some clear coat, and build those pintles and gudgeons.

Future Steps

Then what?  My plan for the remainder of the build is a little more loose.  I recently made some big changes to the next few stages, and I’ll probably make many more changes as things progress.

The remainder of the plan should be taken with a grain of salt.  Especially the stages on rigging, which are lacking in any detail.  When I get closer to those stages, I’ll itemize out the individual lines that need to be run, blocks, deadeyes, etc.  For now, that work is so far off that I’ll just leave it as ‘rigging’.

The biggest change to the next few stages involved re-working my plan to tackle the deck furniture.  I had originally planned to do all the structures on the aft deck followed by all the structures on the fore deck – two stages of work.

However, at some point I need to seal the deck with some clear coat.  Once I do that, wood glue won’t work on the deck anymore.  I’d really like to use wood glue for the main deck structures (hatch, companionway, etc).  So, I’ve decided to build all the bigger wooden structures in one stage, mount them, then seal the deck.

Once that is complete, I’ll work on the aft deck’s remaining stuff followed by the fore deck.  Many of those pieces are metal, and I’d be using CA glue anyway, so those should be fine to install after sealing the deck.

Stage 9 – Deck Structures

# Step Completed Days
52 Cabin
53 Steering wheel box
54 Aft hatch
55 Companionway
56 Skylight
57 Fore hatch
58 Unidentified object
59 Seal deck
60 Mount structures


In this stage, I’ll build and mount all the various larger deck structures.  Many of these are detailed, so I expect this to take some time.

Stage 10 – Aft Deck

# Step Completed Days
61 Battons
62 Fife rail
63 Mast coat
64 Main boom crutch
65 Fore boom crutch
66 Crutch pad
67 Quarter bitts
68 Bilge pumps
69 Stern chocks
70 Main / fore boom sheet buffers


This stage will finish out the quarter deck with the remaining structures and pieces.  There are number of things to build and install, but they are all fairly simple.  This should go fairly quickly, with lots of progress, but the number of items to install may make this take some time.

Stage 11 – Fore Deck

# Step Completed Days
72 Galley stack
73 Dories
74 Achnor pads
75 Catheads
76 Bow chocks
77 Mast coat
78 Downhaul fairlead
79 Anchors
80 Jumbo jib sheet traveler horse


Similar to the aft deck, the fore deck has a number of things that need to be built and installed.  Most of these should go quickly, but the dories will likely take some time.  The dories are the small fishing boats, and there are four of them that need to be built.  Making these is a very specific side-project – as you’re basically building 4 additional small boats.

Stage 12 – Machinery

# Step Completed Days
81 Countershaft assembly
82 Windlass
83 Hoisting machinery
84 Jumbo jib boom crutch
85 Engine box
86 Samson post
87 Bowsprit bitts


I broke out machinery as a separate stage, rather than including it in the fore deck work.  This was done mostly to keep the scope of each stage contained.  The work involved for the machinery is different from the other structures as it uses lots of cast metal pieces.  There will be a lot of detailed work here to get things cleaned up and looking good.

Stage 13 – Rigging Prep

# Step Completed Days
88 Eybolts / rings / cleats
71 Chain plates


To finish up work on the deck, there are a ton of tiny details.  I’ve simplified them here into just a couple steps, but there is a lot going on here.  There are dozens of belaying pins and eyebolts to install.  Chainplates have be made and installed.

Stage 14 – Masts

# Step Completed Days
89 Main mast
90 Main top mast
91 Fore mast
92 Fore top mast


I’ve given the masts their own stage.  Each of the Bluenose’s two masts is made up of multiple parts.  Each mast has a number of bands, hardware, and structures involved.  These are built off the ship and not installed until they are complete.

Stage 15 – Booms and Gaffs

# Step Completed Days
93 Fore boom
94 Jumbo jib boom
95 Main boom
96 Main gaff
97 Fore gaff


The various booms and gaffs are like mini-masts.  There are a number of these, and like the masts they will be built off the ship and set aside until they are needed during rigging.

Stage 16 – Bowsprit

# Step Completed Days
98 Bowsprit
99 Bowsprit rigging


The bowsprit will likely get moved up the plan at a later date.  It can’t be fully rigged until the masts and such are installed, but the bowsprit itself is nice little project that starts to make the ship ‘pop’.  I might build and install that after machinery, and before the masts.

Stage 17 – Rigging

# Step Completed Days
100 General rigging
101 Standing rigging
102 Running rigging


Finally, there is rigging.  Obviously I’ve grossly over-simplified rigging here.  Rigging will take quite a while, especially if I stick to doing it ‘correctly’ and don’t take shortcuts.  I would expect that by the time I’m doing rigging, this stage is broken out into 3-5 different stages, each with a dozen or so steps.

By this time, I’ll also have to decide if I’m going to install the sails or not.  Cloth sails are one of the things that I liked about this model, but the instructions and practicum don’t cover it in detail.  As I get closer, I’ll have to research what’s involved with sails, and make a decision on what to do.  The rigging is done a little differently if you’re doing sails than if you’re not adding them.