Building a Gozabune (Kobaya) from Paris Plans – Part 13

An update on this model is long overdue, and while I haven’t really been working much on the Kobaya model, it is a model that I’ve been very happy with. I’ve recently been researching old drawings, looking for atakebune information, but mostly finding sekibune and other small ships. As a result, I’ve found something of a renewed interest in finishing my kobaya model, and started working on it again.
The model keeps inching closer to completion, with the biggest hold-up being the making and mounting of the ship’s 28 sculling oars. Given the size of a person on the model, the deck would have been crowded with oarsmen. With such a sharp hull and relatively small size (17m) in comparison with the largest of ships at the time (30m, give or take), those 28 oars must have made her very fast.
However, Japanese sculling oars are more complicated in shape than western-style oars, so this project involves cutting and shaping 56 pieces of wood, plus the addition of bindings, handle, and mounting yoke onto each oar. So, I have my work cut-out for me.

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Building a Tenma-Zukuri Chabune (伝間造茶船) – Part 5 – Final

First off, my apologies for taking so long to post an update on this project. The Tenma-zukuri Chabune is actually done. It sat for a long time with all the construction work done, needing only the coppering detail. I finally got the nerve to get back to it and it is now finished. But, when I last posted, there was still work to do, so let me take a step back to go over what was done.

Last we left off, the nail mortises had been cut and I was ready to add the decks at the bow and stern, or the omote and the tomo.

I don’t know if the boards that make up these decks were removable. Underneath, I left the ends open, so things could be tucked in there for storage, but only for smaller things, as the support posts of the beams cut the openings in half. If the deck beams were removable, there should be finger holes in at least some of the deck boards, so they could be easily lifted up. Sometimes, there was also a V-shaped pattern inscribed across the boards to make it easier to identify which boards go where. This is less important at the bow, where the boards lengths vary greatly, making them more easily identifiable as to which one goes where.

At 1/20 scale, I decided to keep things simple and didn’t add either finger holes or the alignment inscription. This would be more important on a larger scale model, like 1/10 or 1/15. So, adding the deck boards was just a matter of laying them down.

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Building a Himi Tenma in 1/10 Scale – Part 6 – Final

One of the features of this model is something that appears on many Japanese wooden boats, and dealing with it has been on my mind since this project began. I’m talking about the mooring bits, called the kanzashi. On this boat, they are tapered square posts with a faceted knob at the end.

On the real boat, these were made of honiki, but for a 1/10 scale model, I decided to use a harder wood that I have on hand, some Castello boxwood, which I use in ship modeling all the time, as there is no grain, has a nice tan color, and carves beautifully.

As it turned out, these were pretty easy to make. So much so that I made a pair and decided they were too short and quickly made another pair.

These were large enough that, rather than trying to carve a post to fix them into the mooring beam, I drilled them out and inserted very small birch dowels. These then fit easily and securely into holes drilled into the mooring beam.

The final stage was to lash the mooring beam down to the bow beam directly underneath it. This I did using some excess rigging line from a completed Woody Joe kit. I took about 6 turns around the beams and then wrapped around the waist of the lashing and tied off. I then secured the knot with a little glue and trimmed off the excess line. This holds the mooring beam very securely.

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Building a Himi Tenma in 1/10 Scale – Part 5

Since we’re still under the stay-at-home order and I have time, I’m plowing ahead with the Himi Tenma. I did manage to get some measurements from Douglas Brooks, but mostly, to verify that my beams are fairly close. Not all exactly like the boat built last Fall, but close enough for this project.

With the beams, or funabari, in place, I went ahead and added the decks at the bow and stern. I don’t recall off hand what the term is for the stern deck, but the bow deck is called the kappa. I fit both decks by first making a templates that I cut to fit as best I could in place of the planks.

I cut three planks to make up each of the decks. For the stern deck, I installed a simple strip of wood onto the transom, or todate, to serve as a shelf for the lower plank ends. That wasn’t necessary at the bow, due to the shape of that deck, which held the planks in place better.

The aft deck turned out well, but I realized later that the bow deck angles downward too much, and is probably smaller on the actual boat. But, it looks fine and I don’t really think there’s any need to redo it.

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Building a Himi Tenma in 1/10 Scale – Part 4

I started working on planking the hull of the Himi Tenma shortly after my last post. The first thing to do was to cut a cardboard template to the approximate shape of the hull plank.

This was done by taping a piece of cardboard into place on the model. The bottom edge was traced with a pencil onto the cardboard. The shape at the bow was approximated, and the stern end was cut off a little bit long. The top edge was derived by marking the top edge at the ends of the model. I then used a thin wood batten to create a fair curve and traced that shape onto the cardboard template. The template really does not need to be very accurate. It just has to be big enough to work, and a bit oversized is best.

The template can now be used to help select the wood. I try to be efficient as possible and  find a way to get two planks out of the smallest sheet of wood that will work, since the wood I’m using is hard to come by.

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Building a Himi Tenma in 1/10 Scale – Part 3

I’m making decent progress on the Himi Tenmasen model and am now working on the kanjiki planks. These are the bottom planks located either side of the heavy, central bottom plank, called the chyou. As I mentioned before, my model will have two kanjiki planks on each side, much like in the tenma drawings, though the boat built last fall actually only used one plank per side. But, this way allows me more efficient use of my wood supply, and if I screw up a plank, I lose less wood. And, while it means more mortises to cut, it also means there is more detail on the model.

Measurements of mortises given are at full size.

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Building Woody Joe’s 1/72-scale Kitamaebune Kit – Part 11

Sailmaking is at somewhat of a standstill, as I’m experimenting with different techniques for representing the large sails of the kitamaebune in 1/72 scale. There are number of possible things I can try,, including simply stitching the seams as one might do for a western ship’s sails, but I’m still hoping I can show some of the characteristics of the Japanese sails.This is something of a long term process, so in the meantime, I decided to move ahead with some of the other model details.

One of my sail making attempts still being tested and considered.

It had occurred to me that might make the most sense to go ahead and build the various components of the main stay. It took me a while to figure out this is called the Hazuo in Japanese.

Dealing with the stay, or hazuo, requires making/rigging four different parts. Here’s the section of the instructions that deal with this.

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Building a Himi Tenma in 1/10 Scale – Part 2

Reviewing photos of the Himi Tenma that Douglas Brooks worked on last Fall, I’ve been comparing them with the drawings from the Himi City Museum. There are a number of differences which I’ve marked on a copy of the drawings.

Modified copy of the Tenma drawings provided by the Himi City Museum, shown here with permission of the Himi City Museum.

To match the Himi Tenma built last Fall, the features that I’ve marked with red arrows will need to be omitted from my model. The blue rectangles represent the approximate size and location of beams which will need to be added to the model.

Photo showing the positioning of the overlapping frames. Photo courtesy of Douglas Brooks.

In addition, the other main difference is that if you look at the frames in the drawing, they are offset so that the starboard frames aren’t directly across from the port side frames. However, in the boat built last Fall, the tops of the frames actually sit directly across from each other, but since the frames still overlap one another, they are canted slightly. For now, I’m just making a mental note of these things, and will deal with them when the time comes.

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Building a Himi Tenma in 1/10 Scale – Part 1

You might recall that In the Fall of 2019, boat builder Douglas Brooks had developed a project together with Nina Noah of an organization called The Apprenticeshop, to go to Japan and build two traditional Japanese boats with two different Japanese boat builders.

I wrote about modeling the first of the two boats, the Niigata Honryousen, which he had built with Mr. Nakaichi Nakagawa and Nina Noah. But, it’s the second of the two boats that was the main subject of the project. The second boat was the Himi Tenmasen.

Photo by Ben Meader

The Himi Tenmasen, or Himi Tenma, was built by Douglas Brooks and Nina Noah, under the guidance of Mr. Mitsuaki Bansho, a Japanese boatbuilder who was the only one of five brothers to follow in his father’s trade, who was also a boatbuilder. After his father’s passing, Bansho-san primarily built fiberglass boats, but in the past 20 years, he began building boats in traditional Japanese fashion for museums.

The Himi Tenmasen is a typical small boat that was used in fishing and as a general workboat. Similar types were used to ferry cargo and passengers between larger ships and the shore.

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Building the DNB Maru – A Niigata Honryousen – Final

The Honryousen model is done and been sent to its new owner in Washington state.

The blocks at the ends of the hull turned out to be somewhat challenging to make due to a combination of the way they fit notches cut into the hull planks, plus the angle of the tateita, or the bow and stern planks. Also, the blocks have a peak in the center that look best if they are roughly level with the waterline. That’s not always the case in these types of boats as I’ve seen in photos.

The small deck at the stern wasn’t too much of a problem. I began by making a funabari, or beam, which I notched into the hull planking. As there are no fasteners used, the shallow notch I cut was helpful in holding the beam in place. The inward pressure of the hull planks also help to hold it in place. I used a small amount of carpenter’s glue to help secure it, just for good measure.

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