Bluenose Canadian Schooner

Engine Box

December 17, 2016

Day 260.

The original Bluenose had a hoisting engine located on the fore deck.  The actual engine isn’t built on the Model Shipways Bluenose kit, but I do need to build the box that held the engine.

The engine box is two fairly simple box structures joined together.  One is larger and has a door on the top.  The other is a smaller box with three holes for the various controls and connections to the engine.

This should have been simple, but I ended up building it three times.

The first attempt seemed good until I got it all painted, then I wasn’t happy with the finish on the wood.  There were too many imperfections.  I tried to fill them in and repaint, but I still wasn’t happy.

The second attempt never made it past initial assembly.  It wasn’t ‘square enough’, so I tossed it and started over for a third time.

Here’s the third attempt, which ended up working.

I used some 1/8″ square strips, along with some thinner material, to frame out the interior of the larger structure.  An important detail here is to deduct the thickness of the outer walls, so the size of the box ends up correct after we install the exterior.  In my case, I’m building the outer walls of 1/16″ thick sheet material, so I made the box 1/16″ narrower on all four sides.  The bottom wasn’t reduced (since it won’t get a panel), and the top can be ignored for now since the top was going to be built separately anyway.


The inside of the larger engine box is framed out.

Once the frame was glued together, it was sanded down with careful attention to get it squared up.  Then I cut and installed the panels on all four sides.

One of the longer sides has a lift-out panel that can be removed when the top door is opened.  To simulate this, I used a razor saw to cut into the panel for that side.  I didn’t cut all the way through – just enough to make it look like there are two pieces.


1/16″ thick sheet material is used to make the walls.  One wall has a lift out panel, simulated by cutting halfway through the panel.

All these panels were glued in place.  The outside edges of that lift out panel were simulated by exaggerating the joints between the panels I was gluing in.


Panels are glued on.

The entire thing then got sanded down again, and is now finished except for the top.


The larger box, before the roof is installed.

The smaller box was made similarly.  The interior was framed out, then panels were glued on.  This smaller box has three holes where various ‘things’ stick out.  To accommodate these, the interior frame left some open space where holes will go.


The smaller box is framed out similarly, but some empty space is left where the holes will be positioned.

The panels were all glued onto the smaller box, then the holes were put in.  I made the holes by drilling a few holes with a pin vise, then using needle files to square them off.

The roofs were built using the same 1/16″ thick sheet material I used for the walls.  The roof of the larger structure got a line sawed in to simulate the ‘door’ that opens up.

The two pieces were then glued together.  As as become customary, I glued a thin brass rod into the bottom to serve as a handle during painting.


The boxes glued together with roofs installed.

The entire box was sanded, primered, and airbrushed white.


The assembly gets airbrushed white.

I could stop here and glue it on the ship, but I might as well make things more difficult for myself.

The door on the top is actually a hinged panel that folds up.  I’d like to simulate those hinges.

To make the hinges, I cut three pieces of thin brass strip. I laid these out and placed a thin brass rod across the top.


To make the hinges, some brass rod was soldered onto brass strips.  I need three hinges, so they were made as one piece then cut apart.

Then I soldered the rod onto the strips, and cut them into three individual pieces.


After being cut apart, these will need some cleanup.

Each piece then got some cleanup.  I stared by using a needle file to file down the solder (I’m horrible at soldering and always make a mess).  This removed a lot of the solder around the brass rod, which returned it to more of a ‘hinge’ shape.

I cut each strip to be much shorter, and gave them a bit of a taper.

Finally, I used some brass paint (paint colored to look like brass) to paint over the solder and get a more consistent color across the piece.

Each of my three ‘hinges’ were then glued on the top.

I also made a small handle/latch out of some brass wire that came with the Model Shipways kit.  Nothing fancy here, just some wire bent into a U shape and glued onto the front.


The hinges are glued on, and a handle/latch is made from brass wire.

The engine box was then glued onto the hull.  I positioned it so that the holes in the smaller box lined up exactly with the plan, using the bowsprit bitts and samson post as reference points.  Since the machinery will run from the samson post to this box, we need these to be positioned correctly.


The engine box is positioned using the samson post as a reference point.


The hinges and latch look pretty good next to all the other brass on the ship.


Now I just need the windlass and machinery.