Building the Kamakura Period Umi-Bune, Part 8

I must confess that I haven’t done much on the umibune model itself. I’ve mostly been working out details on how to make or modify figures for it. I’ve been using wire frames, modifying plastic figures, etc., trying to develop some skills that will work for me. More on this later.

I’ve also been testing out a way to make the large square sail for it. It’s a little different from other sails because sails weren’t made from cloth at that time in Japan. Instead, they were made from straw mat. They were heavy and bulky and you certainly didn’t want to get them wet. I’ve been looking at how these have been modeled on museum models and one large scale 1/10-scale model that someone sent me photos of.

Model that was on display during Douglas Brooks’ work at a museum in Kobe in 2016.

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Building a Gozabune (Kobaya) from Paris Plans – Part 8

So, I drilled out the rogui on which the ro, or sculling oars, pivot. I used a sharp point to start the hole and finished up using a small drill in a Dremel rotary tool. Because I’m starting to consider painting the model, I’m going to hold off on adding the pins to the rogui until some later time.

Also, I found more structural work to complete before I have to deal with the rails, so I’m putting that assembly off for the moment.

Finishing Mortises

Today, I finished the remaining mortises. I did these the same way as the ones done earlier, laying out strips of tape to maintain even spacing, but the mortises at the todate (transom) and the miyoshi (stem), were a little smaller and slightly closer together. 

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Shimizu Port Terminal Museum (Verkehr Hakubutsukan フェルケール博物館) – Another Museum of Interest

This last week, I just learned of another museum in Japan that might be of interest. It’s not a large museum, and for most people, it probably wouldn’t make for an important destination. But, for a ship modeler interested in traditional Japanese watercraft, particularly ones of the larger variety, this one has something of special interest.

The museum apparently consists of a lobby entrance with some exhibition areas that surround a large courtyard. There is one main level and a smaller exhibition space upstairs. But, it is on the main level that there is a collection of what I believe are eight 1/10-scale models of sailing ships from Japanese history.

Among these are a few bezaisen, or coastal transports, a later period ship that, from photos I’ve seen, appears to be a schooner, a pair of Edo period warships and a pair of gozabune.

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Kumanogawa Hayabune (熊野川の早舟)- Model by Kouichi Ohata

1/10-scale Kumanogawa Hayabune model by Kouichi Ohata

Kouichi Ohata is a Japanese model builder who lives in the southern end of Mie prefecture, near the Pacific Coast. He runs the family orange orchards, and in his spare time, creates some magnificent works including a large 1/35-scale RC model of the Flower-class corvette H.M.S. Compass Rose, from the film and the book The Cruel Sea.

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Building the Kamakura Period Umi-Bune, Part 7

One of the detail features of this vessel is that the railings are fastened to the beams by rope ties. There may have been more to it than that on the real boat. I have seen where a wooden key is used to keep two parts in alignment, while a rope binding holds them together. That may be the case here. But, all that really matters is what can be seen, so it’s important that the bindings make sense and they are all the same.

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Building a Gozabune (Kobaya) from Paris Plans – Part 7

Mortises

While I’m waiting for the urushi, there is still more work to do on the hull, as well as more design problem solving as well. The main feature needed next are all the mortises. Mostly these are along the bottom edge of the upper hull plank. In addition, for the lower planks, there are mortises at the bow and stern edges. Technically, there would also be mortises at the bow edge of the upper plank and ones all along the bottom edge of the lower plank. But, these apparently do not have metal plates covering them. Most likely, these are plugged and painted over, so you wouldn’t see them anyway.

These mortises measure out to be approximately 5mm long at this scale, with a 4mm separation between them. To help position these evenly, I first lined the edge of the plank with tape, tryng to keep and even alignment about 2mm from the edge of the plank.

I then took some more tape and cut two long strips, one 5mm wide and another 4mm wide. From this I cut short strips crosswise and laid them into place, alternately, to create a pattern for the positions of the mortises. To cut the mortises, I used a 5mm wide Japanese carving chisel and a second chisel that I ground down to a width to 1mm.

Below, you can see some of the mortises I cut and the pattern of tape I used to create the proper spacing. the section on the right has been completed and the tape removed. On the left, I have yet to start cutting.

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Building a Gozabune (Kobaya) from Paris Plans – Part 6

The Paint Scheme from Paris

Having made some great progress on the model, it’s time to begin consideration of the paint scheme. From the very start, as a gozabune, it’s been very clear that this is a highly ornate ship, painted in black and vivid red lacquers, and decorated with gold trim.

Model of a large gozabune I found on the Internet.

I’ve noted that modeler Yukio Nakayama’s gozabune models, as well as those made by other Japanese ship modelers, are painted inside and out. Pretty much everything except the decks. This left me wondering how I would end up finishing this model.

I’ve been in a quandary because I do like the look of the interior painted bulwarks and beams with the bare wood deck. But, I recently looked more closely at the notes on the Paris drawings and discovered that interior painting information is actually there in addition to the exterior info.

Another gozabune model found on the Internet.

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Building a Gozabune (Kobaya) from Paris Plans – Part 5

The Rudder

One of the sub-assemblies that can easily be worked on at any time is the large rudder. The detail in the drawings is very simple, but I felt that it should be very similar to other large rudders used on larger vessels. With the

I made mine from three planks glued edge to edge and cut to the shape of the plans. I then attached a rudder post that I cut round and then tapered toward the bottom. To hold the planks of the rudder together, I took example from the Woody Joe Higaki Kaisen kit I built a few years ago, and added three cross-pieces as shown in the following photo.

I don’t know what amount of detail to add yet, so I just left the rudder assembly as is. Continue reading

Building a Gozabune (Kobaya) from Paris Plans – Part 4

More progress on the model and I’m on something of a roll now, as the trickiest questions I had I’ve now managed to pretty well answer. Let me begin by posting a translation of the French text that accompanied the drawings in Le Souvenirs de Marine. This is something of my own interpretation based on direct translation of the text using Google Translate and my own knowledge of French, and of a Japanese translation of the text that I found on the Internet, which I then translated into English, again using Google Translate. Correlating the translation, and the translation of a translation, I then went and rewrote the description based on the drawings and on my knowledge of Japanese watercraft. The notes in square brackets are my own clarifications.

From Paris:

No.15-1

Japan, Small Galley Measured in Yokohama in 1868 by Mr. Armand Paris, Ship’s Lieutenant.(Drawing No. 15-1)

This kind of small galley belonged to the Taikun [ “Great Prince,” the Shōgun Tokugawa]. The construction of extreme lightness is very careful and the method of assembly of parts is the same as that of other boats with a single layer of planks. The stern differs in that it is closed by a panel [false transom], and it has bulwarks raised at the back. The beams are in pairs and placed one on top of the other the lowest one carries the joists, on which rest the deck planks.

The upper beam protrudes and carries the galleries, which are supported by the beams. Between these are short hanging beams mounting the oars like aboard the great galleys [sailing ship], but at their short length, only one rower is on each oar.

On the deck near the bow is a lowered section, above which is placed a flying hut [a framework covered over by an awning]. In the galleries on the side there are no oars here. Instead, boards for walking are placed.

The mast is square and set up as on other boats. Sails are not known, but they must be of little use for a boat so well made for rowing.

In Yokohama there were three such ships, but the dimensions of the largest ship are shown in the layout diagram.

 The dimensions of the two smaller:

    Maximum length             12 m 81             12 m 62

    Ship width                        2 m 96              2 m 52

    Maximum width               3 m 80                3 m 30

    Mold depth                     0 m 93                0 m 79

These ships were abandoned and in poor condition, like other Japanese ships, the days of these ship have passed. Continue reading

Building a Gozabune (Kobaya) from Paris Plans – Part 3

If you look at the Paris drawings, you will see that there are seven pairs of main beams across the hull, not including the otoko, or great beam, at the stern. In each pair, there is one beam above and one below. The lower beam runs between hull planks. The upper beam goes through the hull planks and supports the rail assembly, which supports the yokes for the sculling oars.

Below, you can see a general cross-section of the hull. There are actually three beams running the width of the hull. Since I already have the internal framework, I don’t need the lowest most beam, so I’m calling the one just under the deck the Lower Beam.

There are also several short longitudinal beams show in cross-section below, but I’ll be dealing with these later when I begin dealing with the deck.

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