Building a Gozabune (Kobaya) from Paris Plans – Part 12

Work on the Kobaya is moving forward again. While coming up with a way to deal with the decorative patterns on the hull has held me up, I did have some ideas. But, the best I could think to do required the use of a new tool, and it took me a while to bight the bullet and buy it.

Note the pattern of the chain of hexagons and what look like little sunbursts in the Paris drawings.

The solution I came up with was to either create a mask for painting or possibly for the application of gold leaf, or to simply cut a pattern that was itself gold leafed. This probably sounds more complicated than it turned out to be. The central part of the solution turned out to be the use of a vinyl cutter, like those used in scrapbooking.
After looking at a few of the leading models, I finally made the leap and bought a Silhouette Cameo 3. I found one for about $200 online and spent another $150 or so on materials and accessories.
The closest competitor to this was the Cricket Maker, but it was more expensive and the drawing software was only usable online, requiring an internet connection to use. Having Internet is not an issue, but requiring it to use my own hardware or even to create drawings was not an idea I like supporting.
I was able to test out Silhouette’s drawing software for the Cameo, which was available as a free download from their website. That allowed me to determine that I would at least be able to create drawings of the things I needed it to cut.

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Rice Glue?

Someone on the ship modeler’s forum Model Ship World recently posted a link to an article about making rice glue. This is an interesting idea as it is completely natural and reversible, plus it is apparently ph balanced as well, meaning that it won’t chemically attack the glued materials over time.

http://islandblacksmith.ca/2015/10/making-sokui-rice-paste-glue/

I don’t have any plans to switch to it instead of the off-the-shelf commercially available glues, but it does get me to thinking about building something with it. What could be more Japanese than a wasen model built with Japanese woods held together with rice glue?

My Latest Tool Addition – Cameo 3 Vinyl Cutter

A new vinyl cutter is allowing me to move forward on my Gozabune model.

The Ship Modeler

Last week, I received a new addition to my ship modeling tools. This one is a little more specialized that many that I have. It’s a Silhouette Cameo 3 vinyl cutting machine.

The unit is software controlled, and connects to a computer, in my case, a Mac. The software is a free download from the maker’s website and it’s actually a bit more sophisticated than I expected. Upgraded versions of the software, called Silhouette Studio, provide more specialized features, including the ability to import files from other programs, such as Adobe Illustrator and others.

These desktop vinyl cutters are basically the size of a computer printer and are essentially glorified plotters (if you remember those), with a blade mounted instead of a pen. It is capable of cutting vinyl, paper, cardboard, and various other similar materials.

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Building a Tenma-Zukuri Chabune (伝間造茶船)

I completed what I believe is a good final draft of the Tenma-zukuri Chabune from the Funakagami, and I’m now working on my model. However, it appears that I am already late to my own game. Model builder Kouichi Ohata has already completed his model in 1/10 scale, and he’s done a beautiful job with the boat as well as with all the added details!

Kouichi Ohata’s model

With the help of fellow modeler Kouichi Ohata and my mentor Douglas Brooks, I’ve gone through several revisions of the plans – seven major ones, so far.

Tenma-zukuri chabune, from the Funakagami.

The biggest difficult has been in analyzing the single wood-block print of this type. Compared to other boats in the Funakagami, this one has a very flat bottom, showing no real rise at the stern, which may be possible, but it’s really throwing people, as it seems very unusual for a Japanese style boat. Continue reading

Building a Gozabune (Kobaya) from Paris Plans – Part 11

A yakata for the kobaya?
I’ve been looking at the yakata, or deck cabins, on the paintings of kobaya. Also, there is one from a larger gozabune that was removed and restored and on display at the museum at Kumamoto Castle. I’ve been in touch with ship modeling colleagues in Japan and they told me that it is from a ship called the Naminashi-maru (波奈之丸).

The restored yakata from the Naminashi-maru at the museum of Kumamoto Castle.

I’m still very confused about the dimensions. To me it looks very low, but I’m told the lower level is 1.7 to 2 meters high on the inside. Part of this, I assume is because the floor is below deck level, which is the case on my kobayabune.
To aid in design of the yakata, I’ve fitted a removable cardboard structure. This gives me a sense of size and appearance. I can’t really add the structure without the attendant framework over the whole ship for an awning.
I drew in some outlines for sliding doors and a railing atop the structure. Apparently, the passengers would also sit atop the structure. I’m not sure how they would climb up, but I’m assuming it would be with a “leg up” from one of the attendant samurai on the deck.

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Building Woody Joe’s 1/72-scale Kitamaebune Kit – Part 4

After some early troubles with the hull construction, the model has been coming along very nicely. With the addition of the outer bulwarks fences, I began my next modification of this kit. The main deck of the sengokubune (the common term for this type of ship) has a pair of gates which are removed to allow easier loading and off-loading of cargo. On this kit, the inboard part of the bulwarks is a solid sheet of wood, with no indication of such a gate. So, I took my Japanese razor saw and cut openings for the gates.

I then lined the base of these opening with a sill of sorts, and then used the cutaway sections and glued them into place so that they were more clearly gates. Completing the outside of the bulwarks fence, I decided to add one strip of molding just above the main rail as a continuation of the one on the gate. You can see this in the photo below. The left arrow shows the one on the gate, which is part of the kit. The three arrows on the right point out the strip that I added. It’s not necessary, but further differentiates my model from others. Continue reading

Wasen Models at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival

The Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festivalis a big annual event up in Washington state for lovers of wooden boats, and I believe it’s one of the largest events of its type in the world. Now, I’m not personally a big wooden boat enthusiast, so I never had any intention on going, but it looks like I’ll be displaying my Japanese boat models there this Fall.

This is all coming about with the suggestion of Douglas Brooks, who will be doing a Japanese boat building workshop just prior to the festival. The organizers want to make something of an event out of the completion of the boat.

Douglas had the idea that the organizers would be interested in some Japanese boat related displays, which they are. They offered a table and to look for some accommodations for me, so it looks like I’ll be making the drive up there at the end of August with a car load of models and display paraphernalia.

Of course, now I want to make sure I have some more interesting models available, so I put in a little time again on the new Woody Joe Kitamae-bune kit and the colorful Kobaya model, and I’ll have some progress reports on both of those sometime in the next week or so. But, I can’t help but feeling that I need more on display there, so who knows what subjects I’ll end up attacking in coming months.

If you’re planning on attending, watch for updates on where I will be and what days and times I’ll be manning my table. It’s a 3-day event, and I’ll probably be dying if I can’t take a break from my table regularly.

In Search of Biwakobune (琵琶湖船)

As you may recall, I’ve been reading about the Marukobune of Lake Biwa. In the book, there are some small drawings of various boat used in and around the lake. Besides the Marukobune, which was a cargo and passenger transport, there were fishing boats and rice field boats, the latter often being used for various tasks.

Marukobune on Lake Biwa

I was intrigued by the many small wasen types, so I’ve been on a hunt for better drawings. The ones in the book are nice, but they were scanned and printed at a fairly low resolution, as they appear pretty small in the book. They also have no scale.

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Building Woody Joe’s 1/72-scale Kitamaebune Kit – Part 3b

This is just a short update on the Kitamaebune build.

I added a couple pieces to the transom to simulate the plank that seems to show up on every benzaisen model or image I’ve seen.

In the above image, the red arrows point to the plank that I’m referring to. The blue arrow points to the very tip of the side planking at the stern. The piece in the Woody Joe kit is truncated close to where the dashed blue line is, and actually a bit lower than that, really.

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Building Woody Joe’s 1/72-scale Kitamaebune Kit – Part 3

Now is the time I find out how I did in the earlier steps of construction. The biggest challenge of kits with laser-cut parts, particularly hull planking, is that if you don’t get it exactly right, you end up with gaps or parts that don’t fit quite right. Even worse, it’s a sign that something else is off and may cause you more problems down the road. You just have to consider it a challenge.

So, the next steps involve adding bulwarks pieces that contains holes for all the beams. These nicely aligns all the beams. There are two pieces for each side of the hull that fit together end-to-end, with a neat, pre-cut scarf joint betweent. The diagram in the instructions, makes it look like you’re supposed to glue the pieces together, so you have one full-length piece for each side, but don’t do it. You’ll have problems fitting the pieces into place over the beam ends and, in the process, the glue joint at the scarf will likely pop loose. As with all hull planks and such, it’s always a good idea to wet the pieces and bend them to shape prior to installation.

Another tricky part about installing these pieces is that they need to fit flat against the first bulwarks sheets that were installed earlier. Not a big deal except at the stem, where the glue joint between the stem and the very thin bulwarks sheet is pretty weak. If you apply any pressure while trying to get things to fit, this glue joint may fail. I’d suggest using a heavier bead of glue, but I believe this area inside the model will be visible when completed, and the glue will probably show up well.

I don’t have a good photo of this step, so I used a later photo and added arrows to illustrate the position of these pieces.

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