Bluenose Canadian Schooner

Steering Wheel

November 17, 2016

Day 230.

The newly completed wheel box still looks unfinished without a steering wheel.  This should be very easy, as the Model Shipways Bluenose kit provides a cast metal piece for the wheel.


The wheel provided by the kit, smaller than a penny.

As with other cast metal pieces, this wheel needs quite a bit of cleanup.  Things need to be filed down and the entire piece needs some polishing.

Unfortunately, this did not go well.

During the cleanup, I accidentally broke off one of the handles.  And when it broke off, it went flying, never to be seen again.  So now I have a wheel that is missing a handle.


While cleaning up the wheel, I broke off a handle.

I’ve got two options.  I can repair this one, maybe by carving a small handle from wood and glueing it on.  Or, I can build an all new wheel.


After doing all the stuff described below to make a new wheel, I ended up repairing the one provided by the kit.  I filed down the remaining bit of the broken handle, then drilled a hole into the rim.  I glued a small piece of brass rod into the hole, the painted the entire thing.


The repaired wheel.


The repaired wheel installed on the wheel box.

So, that is what I ended up doing.

Below is my original entry, detailing how I built a new wheel that I ended up not using.


I’m probably crazy, but I’m going to try building a new wheel first.

A few months ago, Syren Ship Model Company released a new ship fitting – a laser-cut ship’s wheel.  I picked one up when they came out.  The size is pretty close to the wheel on the Bluenose (although a little bigger).

This kit is a set of laser-cut wood pieces that you shape and assemble to form a wooden ship’s wheel.  It is very, very small, and the pieces are very delicate.


The ship’s wheel kit from Syren Ship Model Company.

The first step is to assemble the jig, which is made from the two largest sheets.  These are glued together to create a template that everything will be built on.

Next the spacers between the spokes need to be cleaned up.  These are very, very small curved pieces.  Since they are laser cut, they need to have their inside and outside edges sanded down to remove the char.  This was a time consuming task, as each piece had to be held with tweezers and lightly sanded with a flexible sanding stick.


Very, very tiny pieces.

The wheel uses 10 of these, but the kit provides 18 in case some are lost or damaged.  I went ahead and sanded down all 18.


A cup full of very, very tiny pieces.

These small pieces are then placed into the corresponding slots in the jig.


Assembly begins.

Next the three curved pieces that form the rim of the wheel are sanded down and glued to the top of the small pieces in the jig.


One side complete.

While this dries, it is time to begin working on the spokes.  These go from the center of the wheel out through the rim.  They form both the spokes and the handles on the outside.

The kit provides laser cut pieces for these, but they need to be shaped to round them off.  The instructions recommend placing them in a small drill or Dremel so that while they turn, you can sand them down.  I have a small lathe, so I decided to use that.


Each spoke gets a turn in the lathe to finalize its shape.

The pieces are very, very small.  Each one was sanded using a combination of needle files and sanding sticks.  The results weren’t great, but they will do for my purposes.


One of the spokes, rounded off.

With enough spokes made, the wheel is flipped over and the spokes are glued into place.  I really should have used wood glue for this, but I was having trouble keeping everything positioned while the glue dried, so I used CA glue instead.  This was only an option because I plan to paint the entire wheel – if I were actually needing a wooden wheel, CA glue wouldn’t work.


Spokes are then glued into the wheel.  I really shouldn’t be using CA glue here.

Once all the spokes were in place, three more rim pieces were glued onto this side, completing the wheel.  The whole thing was then sanded down lightly.


The completed wheel.

To mount this on my wheel box, I used a short length of 1/16″ brass tubing.  I glued a small disc onto it that the wheel will sit on.


The wheel box gets a shaft added to support the wheel.

The wheel was then painted and installed.

The actual wheel on the Bluenose was made of steel, with wooden and brass-tipped handles.  Some reports call for the wheel to be left a silver-ish steel color.  Some reports and photos show the wheel painted black.

I decided to go a slightly different route.  I will be leaving many of the metal fittings on the ship as brass (eyebolts, belaying pins, etc. are provided as brass in the kit).  I decided to try to match the brass look on the rods that form the spokes on the wheel.  I painted the rim and center of the wheel black.  I painted the spokes with a metallic brass paint.  The handles were left as wood and stained, then given a small tip with the brass paint.


The painted wheel is installed on the wheel box.

The overall results are far from perfect.  I’m not thrilled with the quality of my paint job.  The wheel is also a little too big.  My spokes are not shaped consistently.

I’ve left this wheel sitting in place, but it isn’t glued on.  I’m going to move on to other deck structures, and keep an eye on the wheel as the deck starts to fill up.  If it stands out too much as the deck comes together, I’ll try something different.