Model Shipways Bounty Launch Build – Part 01

 Model Shipways Bounty Launch Build

This Model Shipways Bounty Launch Build, whose end result is pictured above, uses the Model Shipways™ kit designed to reproduce launch used by Captain Bligh after he was set adrift by the mutineers on HMS Bounty some two-hundred odd years ago.

Now, those familiar with the kit, or the actual vessel itself, will immediately see that my model looks nothing like a Royal Navy launch of that era, but this is by design. I wanted to learn the basic construction technique that is used here and I wasn’t wedded to reproducing the actual Bounty launch and I made quite a number of modifications.

Those modellers who wish to see a build log faithfully detailing the construction of the kit as intended may be a little disappointed, but the hull construction follows the plans faithfully, and my modifications (notably installing only one mast instead of two) aren’t all that extensive. I changed the painting scheme, of course, but the non-standard additions are pretty much in the way of accessories which you may, or may not wish to include. Ultimately, my boat, instead of being a Naval craft, attempts to reproduce the sort of boat used to ferry passengers and , small cargo loads across the Thames, or to ships moored in mid-stream.

In any event, I hope my photographic record of progress will help some people who have bought the kit and are looking for tips and explanations…

I actually purchased the Model Shipways™ kit you see above some 10 years ago. In fact, there was such a good deal on the kits at the time that I ended up buying two of them.

I wasn’t especially wedded to the idea of making an exact replica of the launch for HMS Bounty when I bought the kits, rather, I wanted to build two different configurations of the vessel and finish them with paint schemes and fittings of my own choosing. I actually think the Royal Navy paint scheme of the time was unattractive and the paint job on the model on the front of the box is quite ugly

I began one of the kits almost immediately after purchase and had progressed to almost the planking stage when life intervened and I had to pack the model away in order to move. Unfortunately, the partially built model was damaged during the move and I had to abandon it. It was a good ten years, and two more moves later, when I got around to starting again, and I discovered that I had lost a little more than the partially built model.

Here you can see a picture of the first box I opened right when I first bought these models. The arrow points to a little case containing some materials, such as rigging twine, and some fittings, such as barrels, rigging line, grappling hook, and belaying pins.

Now, presumably, each kit contained one of these little plastic cases but, now, ten years down the road, I seem to have neither of them. I can’t think what I might have done with them, but I am not especially dismayed. The materials are easily substituted, and I don’t mind making the fittings myself. In fact, a month or so before starting this project, I finished the Model Shipways Bluenose Model, and I found the fitting supplied with that kit to be rather poor quality. I replaced some of those with creations of my own and I am happy to do that here…

The Model Shipways™ Bounty Launch is a plank on frame model which provides pre-cut strakes (hull planks). In order to construct the frame, you need to first make a jig over which the frame will be built.

Above, you can see the center piece, referred to as a ‘false keel’, and 15 cross-pieces which are somewhat like bulkheads. The false keel holds the bulkhead sections which, later, will be the molds for the inner ribs of the frame. The bulkheads easily slide into the slots cut into the center piece.

All the pieces shown above are laser cut pieces, which need to removed from their respective sheets of wood. This is generally pretty easy, but I had a couple of pieces snap at the mid-line during the process and I had to repair them. In the picture, you can see bulkhead #1 (the small piece on the metal plate) after I glued it together.

Before attaching bulkheads to the false keel, you need to add some strips of wood to each side of the bulkhead. These strips, known as ‘sheer-tabs’ will later define the ‘sheer’ of the boat, and provide attachment points for clamping. The placement of these strips is marked by a horizontal laser cut ‘sheer’ line.

For those unfamiliar, the ‘sheer’ is a nautical term which indicates the curvature of the upper portion of a hull. On ships, this roughly equates to the main deck, while on smaller, open boats, as here, it is the curvature, along the horizontal plane, of the gunwale.

Above you can see a hull cross-section. As is commonly the case, the upper plane of the hull is lowest at about amidships, and rises towards both the bow and the stern. The line which describes this curvature is referred to as the ‘sheer line’.

Typically, the jig is assembled on a flat board of some sort (I am using a piece of ‘wood’ laminate flooring). The plans indicate that you do not ‘need’ to glue the jig to the board, but I decided to go ahead and glue it down in order to make it sturdier and easier to work with. I will speak to this choice again a little further on.

I have slid the middle bulkhead (#8) into its slot but have not glued it yet. It is merely there to provide support for the false keel as it is glued in place. The orientation of the false keel on the base board is not especially important, but it is critical that the piece be squarely vertical. Engineer’s Squares are invaluable for this and, above, you can see I have used three of them to ensure the proper vertical rise as the glue sets.

Here is the center bulkhead after being glued in place. Again, Engineer’s Squares are used to ensure that the piece is perfectly perpendicular to the false keel. As you can see, I have also added a scrap wood brace along the base for additional support. This is not called for in the plans, but I have just added it out of an abundance of caution.

There are now four bulkheads glued in place. I also added a support along the base of bulkhead number nine. I had first thought of bracing all the bulkheads but I decided that the remainder, being much less wide than the two center ones, don’t really need it.

Here is the jig with all the bulkheads glued in place.

The plans suggest that longitudinal braces are added between the bulkheads. The idea here is to provide extra support to stop the edges from moving too much when the bulkheads are being sanded.

As you can see, the braces are placed atop the sheer tabs and, if you look closely, you can just make out the curve of the sheer line they define.

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