Fair American

Black Strake and Wales

July 21, 2018

Day 78.

With the waterways installed, the next step is to add the black strake and the wales.

On the Fair American, the black strake is a think black (obviously) strip that runs along the exterior of the hull.  The top edge of the black strake lines up with the lower edge of the waterway.

Just below the black strake are two thicker black planks that form the wales.  Together, the black strake and wales divide the hull planking between the upper and lower portions.

Since I’m replacing most of the kit’s wood, I’ll continue that trend with these strips.

The black strake and Wales will both be black, and while they could be painted, I wanted to try a different approach.  I read on Model Ship World that Swiss pear looks great when dyed using black leather dye.  I did a test, and really liked the results.  Since the dye basically stains the wood, it does a better job of maintaining the ‘wood’ look than normal paint.

So, I’m going to make the black strake and wales out of Swiss pear.  I started by cutting the strips from 5/32″ pear using a Byrnes table saw.


Strips were cut from a 5/32″ sheet of Swiss pear using a Byrnes table saw.

The strips were cut using a slitting blade, and they look great even before they get sanded.

The black strakes are thinner than the wales, so they were cut to be 1/16″ thick, while the wales were cut to be 3/32″ thick.


The slitting blade on the saw gives a great finish.

Like the waterways, these strips need to be bent to match the curve at the bow.  This was done just like with the waterway.  The strips were soaked in water, clamped into a curved jig and left to dry.

Swiss pear doesn’t bend as easily, and these are fairly thick pieces.  It took a few attempts to get them curved.


The strips were soaked in water and bent to fit the curve of the bow.

Once they were curved and sanded, they were dyed black.  I used Fiebing’s Black Leather Dye, which was recommended by the Model Ship World forum.  The dye was applied with a cotton applicator and left to dry.


Instead of painting, the strips were dyed black using leather dye.

The photo below shows the ends of wales compared to the end of a black strake.  You can see the difference in thickness.


The difference in thickness between the black strake and the wales.

The black strakes were installed first.  They go on the outside of the hull, and the tops line up with the bottom edge of the waterway.


The black strakes are installed.

Once the strakes are set, the wales are glued in right below them.  There are two strips on each side for the wales.  The first goes right below the black strake, and the second goes right under that.


The wales are installed below the black strakes.

I left the ends long during installation, and trimmed them to fit after everything was dry.


The ends of the wales were left long until the glue was dry, then they were trimmed to fit.

With both completed, there is a nice black band running down each side of the hull.  The difference in thickness between the black strake and wales is easily visible.


The completed black strake and wales.


Now it’s time to plank.

And now the next step is to plank the lower hull.