Bluenose Canadian Schooner

Random Fore Deck Pieces

December 9, 2016

Day 252.

With the quarter deck’s stuff complete and the fife rail assembled, attention turns to the fore deck.

The fore deck has a lot of stuff, but most of it is machinery and equipment related to the bowsprit, windlass, etc.  Much of that is a very different kind of work – focused on a bunch of cast metal gears and pieces that need to be precisely assembled.  So instead of tackling everything on the fore deck now, I’m just going to focus on the things that aren’t part of that machinery.

That means I need to knock out the dreadnaught head galley stack, jumbo jib sheet traveler horse, anchor pads and catheads.  I installed the bow chocks previously.

Dreadnaught Head Galley Stack

The galley stack is essentially a chimney that comes up from the lower deck of the ship.  The Model Shipways Bluenose kit provides this as a cast metal piece, so it is easy to install.

Like all the other cast metal pieces, the galley stack part needed to be cleaned up using a needle file to remove seams and rough spots.  Like the bilge pumps, the galley stack had a rather large ‘stub’ on the bottom that is intended to be seated into a hole on the deck.  I don’t want to drill a hole that big on my deck, so I cut that off (making the bottom of the galley stack flat), drilled a small hole, and glued in a piece of brass rod.  The rod was left a little long to serve as handle during painting, and was later trimmed to be shorter when it was glued into the deck.


The galley stack is cast metal piece.  It just needs cleanup and painting.

The entire galley stack was painted black.  Once it was dry, I drilled a small hole in the deck for the pin, and glued the galley stack in place.  This part goes right next to the companionway on the fore deck.


Completed galley stack installed on the fore deck.

Jumbo Jib Sheet Traveler Horse

The sheet horse on the fore deck is exactly like the one on the quarter deck.  Just like the other one, this one was made by bending some brass rod and gluing it into holes drilled into the deck.

The horse on the fore deck goes just forward of the mast hole.


The sheet traveler horse on the fore deck.

Anchor Pads

The anchor pads are a very small detail that I think gets left out of some builds.  Depending on what the ship is out doing (fishing, racing, etc.), the Bluenose might stow its anchors in different ways.  One common way when fishing is to ‘hook’ the anchor over the rail and tie it in place.

Obviously a big metal anchor might damage the wooden rail, so the anchor pads provided a little protection.

I think these get left out on some models because they are very small and on the original Bluenose they were painted white…matching the rail.  In many photos of the original ship they are not noticeable unless you know what to look for.

The practicum I have (which I haven’t actually been using that much), appears to make these out of brass strips.  The practicum leaves these as unpainted brass.  While these would have likely been metal plates on the real ship, I don’t want to make them out of brass.  I know they were white on the ship from old photos, and it is hard to get paint to stick to brass.

I decided to make these out of some 1/64″ thick birch sheet material I had laying around.  I picked this up at a hobby store a year or so ago, and it is the only 1/64″ thick sheet I’ve ever found.


Anchor pads are drawn onto a 1/64″ thick birch sheet.

The sizes for the two pads were transferred onto the 1/64″ thick sheet.  The width of the pieces was taken from my actual ship since these need to fit on the thin top side of the buffalo rail.  The length was taken from the plans.

The pieces were then cut out and sanded down with some 400 grit sandpaper.


After being cut, a quick comparison against the plans.

They were given a test fit on the ship and adjusted as needed.


A test fit of the unfinished pads on the rail to ensure the width is right.


Once the fit was finalized, the two pads were given a coat of primer, sanded again, then painted white and glued on.  I used CA glue to secure them, and kept pressure on while the glue dried so they would conform to the curve of the buffalo rail.


One of the completed anchor pads.


I thought the catheads would be a half-hour project.  They ended up taking three hours.

The catheads are basically poles that rise from the deck and bend out over the rail.  The ‘head’ has a sheave, a ring, and a hole, all used to help hold up the anchor.  Exactly how all this stuff was tied/chained together on the Bluenose is still a mystery to me.  The plan’s drawings don’t have any clear detail on the rope/chain layout, and photos I’ve found of other models haven’t been from a clear enough angle to precisely tell what is attached to what.

So, I’m going to build out the catheads, but not glue them in place.  This will allow me to remove them and make adjustments later when I install the anchors.  For now, I’ll prepare the parts I know I’ll need.

The catheads are provided as cast metal pieces.  It is hard to describe just how thin and bend-y these pieces are.  The long ‘stem’ of the cathead is about as thick as the stem on an eyebolt – about a #69 micro drill bit.


Catheads are provided as very thin cast metal pieces.

The pieces were cleaned up a bit with a needle file.

Each cathead needs two holes drilled.  The first hole goes all the way through the head, from the top to the bottom.  This hole is towards the back of the head, and is where the chain going to the anchor would be secured.  This was drilled with a #69 drill bit.

A second hole is drilled into the side of each cathead.  This hole does not go all the way through, with is quite a feat given how thin these pieces are.  The hole needs to be on the side of the cathead that will be facing the bow of the ship.  This hole will be used to glue in an eyebolt that will attache to a rod that keeps the cathead from swinging.

While I had the drill out, I also drilled holes in the appropriate places on the main rail, allowing the catheads to slip into place.  The stems of the catheads were then bent to allow them to hang out over the rail.


The catheads slip into a hole in the rail and bend over the railing.  Holes are drilled into the head for a ring and the anchor chain.

The practicum and instructions seem to indicate that the base of each cathead can just be placed on the waterway, but the detailed drawings in the plans show a socket that it sits in.

While not necessary, I decided to try and simulate these sockets.  Aside from being a nice detail, since my catheads are going to be removable until the anchors are installed, these sockets should help hold the catheads in place.

To make the sockets, I started with a thin dowel rod that was about the same diameter as the sockets.  I cut a short (1″ or so) long piece and locked it down in a vise.  I used my pin vise and a #69 drill bit to drill a hole through the rod.


To make the sockets, a hole is drilled into a thin dowel rod.

Then I used a needle file and some sand paper to round off just the very top (maybe about 1/16″ or so).  I positioned the rod in the vise so the jaws of the vise were even with where the rounded part stopped, and used a razor saw to cut the top off.  This top part is a thin, rounded piece with a hole through it.  This will be one of the sockets.  Then I raised the dowel back up in the vise, rounded again, and cut again to make the second piece.


The top of the dowel rod is rounded off, then cut to create a thin, rounded piece with a hole.

A quick test fit proves this might work, then the pieces were given a coat of primer and black paint.


Test fit of a socket on the ship.

On the side of each cathead, I need to install a ring that will attach to the bar.  I assume the kit wants me to use the provided eyebolts, but holding one up next to the cathead leaves me thinking they are way too big.

So, I used some wire I had handy and made some smaller eyebolts using the ‘twist around a drill bit method.’  These are probably still a little bit, but much closer than the ones provided in the kit.


The kit’s eyebolts are too big for the catheads.  I made my own by twisting some wire.  (Bad photo, but these are very small.)

The stems of these were trimmed very, very short, and they were glued into the holes on the sides.


Eyebolt installed on the side of the cathead.

The catheads then got a good coat of black paint.  To make painting easier, I ran some wire through the remaining hole on each cathead, and wired the pieces up to some pins.  This lets me paint the entire piece easily.


Catheads are hung from some wire while they are painted black.

While the paint dries, eyebolts are installed in the rails, just forward of where the catheads are mounted.  These will hold the other end of the bar that stabilizes the cathead.


Eyebolts mounted in the rails will be used to hole the catheads in place.

Finally, the painted cathead is dropped in place.  The bar is made from brass wire included with the kit (the thicker of the two wires provided).  One end of the bar is bent into a ring and closed around the cathead’s ring.  The other end is bent to hook into the eyebolt on the rail.


A bar is fashioned from metal wire, running between the ring on the cathead and the ring on the rail.

And that completes the catheads (for now).  Later, when I build out the anchors, I’ll make any final tweaks needed to handle the anchor’s rope/chain before gluing these in place.


Two catheads installed

This completes the work on the fore deck aside from the machinery.

Before I start the machinery, there are few random things I want to finish up.  I need to apply a clear coat to a few of the recent additions.  I also forgot to add ‘snatch blocks’ to the sides of the fife rail (two little places to tie off rope).  I’m also going to go ahead and install many of the various rings and belaying pins on the rail before the deck gets more cluttered.