Bluenose Canadian Schooner


January 1, 2017

Day 275.

When I first started looking at build logs of the Bluenose, long before I purchased the kit, all this machinery up at the front looked intimidating.  The windlass was particularly scary.  It is a big metal tube with a bunch of detail work.

If I had tackled this six months ago, I would have made a mess.  However, I’ve gotten a lot more confident as this build has progressed, and the windlass ended up being pretty easy, even if required some very detailed work.  Overall, it took about a day.


The kit provides the windlass barrel as a cast metal piece and the stands as laser cut pieces.

There are a lot of parts to the windlass, but the barrel is the biggest piece.  The Model Shipways Bluenose kit provides this as a single cast metal piece.  It also includes laser cut pieces for the stands.

The large size and general shape of this piece mean that it has plenty of detail, but the quality of the piece is very, very rough.  It will need some considerable filing and sanding before it can be painted.


The cast piece for the barrel requires a lot of cleanup.

Once the piece is cleaned up, the entire piece is airbrushed black.  A few places will get the paint scraped away (so that glue will stick better), but I found it easier to simply paint the whole thing and scrape away later, rather than mask things off.

The windlass barrel has two distinct ends.  I saw somewhere that the two ends are designed for different purposes.  One end is optimized for working with chain, while the other is optimized for winding rope.  That may not be correct, or perhaps I had been drinking when I read that, but it seems reasonable.

The overall design of the windlass’s ends aren’t easy to figure out from the plans.  Perhaps if I was a little more experienced with reading plans it would make more sense.  It wasn’t until I saw an old photo of the windlass on the Nova Scotia Archives that it started to make sense.

It is common on Bluenose builds to paint parts of the windlass barrel with a wood color, as most of the windlass was made from wood.  However, I’ve always felt that wood-colored paint doesn’t look very good, so I’ve decided to paint the whole thing black, then add some wood pieces.

The port side is simpler, so I started there.  I believe this would have been for chain.  This side has a series of bars round it.  To simulate this, I cut some short lengths of flat brass strip, bent them, and glued them to the barrel.

To make it look a little better, I applied a little bit of filler just before painting to take care of any gaps.


Brass strips are glued to the barrel.

The other end of the barrel is more complicated.  After seeing the Nova Scotia Archives photo, the plans finally made sense.

This end has a bunch of wood.  I simplified the layout just a bit since I’m not going to be able to reproduce everything at this scale.

I started by gluing on four 3/32″ square strips.  These run the length of this end, from the ratchet gear to where it meets the stand.


Wood strips are glued to the other end.

Next I carved four small pieces.  These are taller, but not as thick.  They each have a curved shape.  These pieces only run about 1/3 the length of the other pieces.


Carved pieces form the whelps.

Next I filled in the gaps.  Small ‘V’ shaped pieces were cut and glued between the the smaller and larger pieces.  These were eye-balled for size, then sanded until they fit.

On the other end, near the stand, longer pieces with angled ends were used to fill in the space between the long strips.

For all of these I didn’t try to make them flush with the strips – I just let them stick up.  I’ll sand them all to fit when everything is securely in place.


Small filler blocks complete the wood structure on this end.

Once all the glue is dry, the pieces are all sanded.  This gives everything a smooth, consistent shape.  A little wood filler is used to fill in the joints, and the entire thing is stained.

I used the same stain I used for the roofs on the deck structures, since that is my chosen ‘above deck’ wood color.


Sanding, filling, and staining greatly improves the look of the wood.

With the barrel complete, my attention turns to the stands.  The kit provides the stands as laser cut pieces.  There are two stands – one for each end of the barrel, and each stand is made up of two parts.

The parts were sanded down to remove laser char and smooth them out after doing a quick test fit.  As is customary, I glued in some short brass rods to serve as handles while painting.


The parts for the stands are cleaned up prior to painting.

Once the pieces were primered and airbrushed white, they were glued together around the barrel.


The painted stands are glued together, and the windlass now stands on its own.

Now that the windlass can literally stand on its own, it is time to revisit the counter shaft assembly.

The counter shaft was prepared previously, but wasn’t actually glued together.  Now that we can line it up with the windlass, we can glue all the pieces together.

After the gears are glued onto the tube, the tube is slid onto the rod that will serve as the axle, and the rod is glued into the stands.  The whole thing is airbrushed black.

Now we can see the smaller gear lines up with the main gear on the windlass.


The counter shaft assembly is glued together and painted.

With the barrel assembled, attention turns to the other parts that complete the windlass assembly.


The kit provides a cast metal brake beam.

The brake beam gets installed near the samson post, with brass rods connecting it to the ratchets that apply the breaks to the windlass.


The two quadrant pieces are provided as cast pieces.

The quadrants are the casings that contain the pawls for the ratchets.  The brass rods from the brake beam connect to the holes in these quadrants.


The tiny pawl actually looks really good for a cast metal piece.

The pawl goes right onto the samson post, and the teeth fit into some notches on the windlass barrel.

All these pieces were cleaned up and painted in the normal fashion.


All the little bits are cleaned up and painted black.

The two quadrants were glued onto the ratchet gears on the windlass barrel.


The quadrants are glued onto the barrel.

The brake beam was glued on top of the bowsprit bits near the samson post.


The brake beam is installed.

The windlass itself can now be glued into place.


The windlass is glued into place on the deck.

Once the barrel is installed, the pawl is glued onto the samson post so its teeth touch the barrel.


The pawl is installed on the samson post.

For the final touches, the counter shaft assembly is glued in place.  The brass rods between the brake beam and the quadrants are installed.

Finally, a strip of brass was bent into the right shape to make a guard for the gears.  This was installed on top of the gears and glued to the deck and the samson post.


The counter shaft assembly is installed.  Brass rods connect the brake beam to the quadrants, and a brass guard for the gears is shaped and glued into place.

Turned out pretty good.


The windlass is now complete.


Only the winch equipment remains.

Next up will be the winch equipment that connects the engine to the counter shaft assembly.