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Member postings for Bob Wilson

Here is a list of all the postings Bob Wilson has made in our forums. Click on a thread name to jump to the thread.

Thread: Model Boats November 2020
10/11/2020 16:36:27

Just me being fussy, I guess.surprise


10/11/2020 13:40:44

Yes - Surprised it got through! Also surprised no-one commented earlier.


10/11/2020 09:53:40

Never heard of a "Colonial Cutter!" surprise

Thread: Drumblair
04/10/2020 19:04:34

Drumblair -

drumblair sail plan (large).jpg

Thread: Covid update
30/07/2020 14:29:55

That would explain it - The amount of rubbish they left was dreadful - We are now averaging about 15 new cases a day up here. Haven't been in town since March. The supermarket scene is better than normal as long as I am there when it opens at 0800. Practically deserted and no queues at that time. In the unlikely event of things going back to normal, I will carry on with this early morning shopping.


29/07/2020 16:47:51

I have already done that. They went to the beach on the 26th June last, it is now one month and three days!

Thread: British Aviator
29/07/2020 15:29:34

I didn't actualy work for Furness Withy, but was rented to them from the marine radio company AEI, but I would have joined them if they started taking radio officers direct. Perhaps just as well they didn't, because my next company was Union-Castle, and the passenger ships were more to my liking than cargo.

Edited By Bob Wilson on 29/07/2020 15:30:19

Thread: Covid update
29/07/2020 14:13:49

I have been watching the new cases every day in Bournemouth ever since 500,000 of them went to the beach. The most new cases have never been more than 6 per day, and most of the time, it has been one or two, with lots of no new cases at all!

Here in Preston, we are still hovering around 20 new cases a day.

Figure that one out!

Thread: British Aviator
29/07/2020 14:08:51

Yes, but that was directly connected to the London outbreak. After the fire, it never appeared on a massive scale again. But there was a case recently, forgot where - so it is still around -


29/07/2020 11:09:44

The Black Death died out with the great fire of London that burned up most of the rats! I believe this thing is being spread by aircraft more than anything else! And zero chance of them phasing that out!

29/07/2020 08:31:03

Thanks Bob,,

It isn't radio stuff for the most part. The radio aerial is across the two mastheads with the downlead going to the radio room. Below that is a traitic stay with a number of halliards hanging from it. At certain times in port when the tanks were empty, huge canvas "sails" would be hoisted on these, to funnel the wind down the tanks to clear the oil fumes. There are two flag halliards going from the yard to the bridge wings, and the one going down to the forecastle head is for the "anchor ball," that should be hoisted when the ship is at anchor.

I am not planning on building British Aviator. In fact I am not doing much model shipbuilding at the moment. It is not safe to send models via couriers anymore, because of breakages. Due to Covid, no-one can come and collect them personally, and I have a feeling that this "lockdown" can now be regarded as more-or-less permament. So I have turned to drawing. This is one I did of a ship that I spent two years in - the iron ore carrier Sagamore. I superimposed a photograph of the real sea over the lower part, and added a few storm clouds with photo editing software -.


sagamore in sea with storm clouds(large).jpg

28/07/2020 20:56:42

BP tanker British Aviator - 1924 -

british aviator coloured & labelled.jpg

Thread: Mintanic
23/07/2020 09:45:30

Yes, as far as I can remember it was a blue tarp. Although we were essentially a passenger liner, with hundreds of 1st class and tourist class passengers, we carried thousands of tons of cargo as well. The 1st class swimming pool was inside the ship, quite low down and forward of the funnel.


21/07/2020 20:21:06

Swimming pool.

In the photograph below, the swimming pool on the left aboard the RMS Edinburgh Castle, on the after tourist deck, appears as a normal outdoor pool with rails and wood surround, whilst at sea. In port, the canvas lining was removed and the steel bottom hinged upward revealing the cargo hold that lay beneath it.. From a certain angle, when working cargo, it was possible to take a photograph looking down into the gaping hold, and include in the frame the red notice "It is dangerous to dive!" surprise

edinburgh castle deck.jpg

Thread: Barque Christine - 900 tons 20 Feet to 1 inch
23/05/2020 16:24:54

Hi Pete,

It all worked out OK in the end. I can just enter the proposed book details, such as page count, size, binding etc on the online site, and get an instant free quote valid for a couple of months. When I order, I send the whole thing via the internet, phone them up and pay. About three days later, I get an online proof, and after I have accepted it, it takes a week to ten days before the books all arrive, and delivery is included in the quote. Downloads are even better. I just put them in the site without any charge to me. If anyone purchases one, they take their 5% commission off it, and immediately deposit the rest in my Paypal account.

I suppose someone made quite a lot of profit over your paintings. I think the biggest problem with the mainstream nautical book publishers is that they seem to think that the merchant navy consisted of only Cutty Sark and Titanic, whilst the Royal Navy consisted of only Victory and Bounty.

Yes, the last Ships in Focus was 2018!

If anything, I enjoy writing more than ever before, because I am fully in control of it, and have never lost out. I usually start with 46 books Six are the freebies that authors have to send to the British Library and their "hangers on" Then we keep one for ourselves, and sell the remaining 39. That usually makes a profit even if sales are slow and it takes a few months to get rid of them. But sometimes, the whole lot will go in a few days, and a second print run is a lot cheaper. Of course one has the inconvenience of packing them up and poiting them, but we live very close to a Post Office.


22/05/2020 12:44:14

Hi Pete,

Sorry to hear about the printer. We have had a Brother J480DW for a couple of years now and it is great. Compatible ink cartidges cost £12.99 and last for about three months on heavy usage. It will scan, copy, resize etc and is the best printer we have ever had. Costs about £130.

The St Helena did not bother with a ship's newspaper at all, just an 1800 news broadcast once a day. With one radio officer and two pursers, it would have been too much. On big ships, it probably comes in on teleprinters, but we didn't have such things in Union-Castle. Strange really that the tiny St Helena of 1963 had far more sophisticated communications equipment than a ship like the Windsor Castle including two teleprinters and satellite communications etc.

I know John Clarkson personally, he only lives a few miles away, bu they discontinued their excellent Ships in Focus Record quarterlies several years ago, and went on to annuals, but have now stopped doing them. I also know the President of the World Ship Society personally, as he was managing director of Curnow Shipping who managed St Helena. he has all my St Helena books, and we are still in touch. But after taking up self-publishing, I would never try and get a conventional publisher to take on a full-sized book, as I have been double-crossed too many times. Usual thing "Re-write it to our specifications and re-submit it!" Several months later -"Here it is!" Reply, "We have changed our minds, but wish you the best of luck finding a publisher!"

Conway still publish maritime, but no longer produce any model ship publcations as far as I know.

Another thing that book publishers dont' say is that if the Royaties to the author is 12% of the selling price for every book sold," it is 12% of what THEY sell them for, and often that is about 50% less than the recommended selling price if they sell them to large booksellers. Writing articles for magazines is the best, but the only drawback of is that I have sometimes had to wait over two years before they published and paid. I tried to get round it by sending one to a US magazine, who proudly declared "payment on acceptance." A short letter soon arrived acknowledging receipt of the manuscript! Two years then passed, until I finally got a letter of acceptance, enclosing a cheque! surprise


Edited By Bob Wilson on 22/05/2020 12:45:21

Thread: 900-Ton barque
21/05/2020 18:54:53

It is now mounted on its base, and I have even completed the display case. Not a great success in the popularity stakes, but I really like this one, and feel it is one of my best so far. No flash clipper, but a typical workhorse of the sea that, as Conrad said, "knew no triumph but of speed in carrying a cargo, no glory other than that of long service, no victory but that of an endless, obscure contest with the sea!"

And that is what appeals to me most of all about these obscure ships that are now virtually forgotten.

Bob completed 2 (large).jpg


Edited By Bob Wilson on 21/05/2020 18:55:41

Thread: Barque Christine - 900 tons 20 Feet to 1 inch
19/05/2020 11:48:26

Hi Pete,

I sometimes wondered why they didn't send me a book of rejection slips to cover my next couple of dozen manuscripts!laugh I suppose I started when I first went into passenger ships in 1965 and was involved with producing the ship's newspaper that was received unpunctuated every evening betwwen 2145 and 0230 in morse code. It then had to be typed out corrected and edited onto stencils by the radio officers, and was collected by a junior purser at 0600, who then printed hundreds of copies on a Gestetner machine, clipped them together and gave them to the Bell Boys for delivery. Then the passnegers would spend about ten minutes reading them at breakfast, and discard them!

I got fed up of chief radio officers continually complaining that I had "no command of the English language," and took out a British & American School of Wrting correspondence course that cost me £10 - quite a lot at that time. My first accepted article was with Navy News, when I got £3. I the tried Sea Breezes, and although they published quite a number, the waiting time was abysmal, and the payment even more abysmal. I then moved onto Model Boats Magazine, where I rpuduced quite a lot in the 60s and 70s and the payment was exceptional, But eventually the editor changed, and I was dropped. But wrote for them again in the Special edition not all that long ago, and then one in the monthly mag. By that time, they had gone onto full-colour of very high quality, and the pay remained exceptional. For ten years, I ran a Ships of the Past column in The Telegraph (Not the Daily Telegraph, but the montly journal of the Merchant Navy & Airline Officers Association), illustrated with photographs of models. I stopped eventually when my output of models fell below 12 a year, so I couldn't maintain one a month! Then I moved to Conway Maritime Press where I wrote regularly in every quartely publication for several years, and then in their hardback annuals from 2010 until 2013 when they ceased publication, probably because of the death of editor John Bowen, at the age of 99.

I did get my first book about RMS St Helena accepted by a Scottish publisher, but they edited more than half of it out. It sold out quickly, but they were not interested in reprinting, and at my request, I was free to have it reprinted myself. So I doubled the size from A5 to A4, and increased the pages from 136 to 154, and the photograph content from 77 to to 218, with 94 in colour and 124 in B & W. That was an astonishing success, and was sold on the ship and reprinted a number of times. Next I followed it up with another St Helena book that just covered our 13 months in the Falklands, with the same result. I am not really into this navy stuff, and I only wrote the Falklands book because one of our RN petty officers wrote a book of his experiences onboard during the South Atlantic campaign that was far from my liking, referring at the start to my beloved St Helena as a "rust bucket!" and many other derogratory remarks about the merchant navy in general. Again, it was a great success and was reprinted a number of times. That was followed by "The Voyage is Done & The Winds Don't Blow," "From Good Hope to St Helena," and "Miiniature Sipbuilder 2015". In 2014, my wife and I set up Shelterdeck Publishing, which, in addition to the above mentioned books that although sold out, are still available has about e-books of varying sizes. I would never consider trying to have a book published in the conventional manner now, so it is just articles for anyone who requests them, or they come out as e-books,. with maybe one or two a year being published in printed form by ourslves. So, whether I make models or not, the income from writing is now steady.


18/05/2020 16:53:31

Hi Pete,

What you say is exactly spot on with my experiences, and I am glad someone else understands what it is like. I do a ,lot of writing on the subject (merchant navy non-fiction and model shipbuilding), both in printed books and e-books, and I find that occupation the best of all, because the downloads cannot get damaged in transit and can go all over the world at the click of a mouse. Printed books are a bit more work because they have to be packed up and posted. I took to "vanity publishing" because most of the mainstream book publishers rejected just about every manuscript I sent in ,usually saying that "no-one is interested in boats these days!" When I paid for the printing, and sold them myself, I found that they were all successful and they all sold out very quickly. Then I joined Payhip, producing e-books and articles, and they are even more successful. The arrival of the digital camera also opened up the field to such as myself.


18/05/2020 14:09:03

It was an average of 2.44 hours per day, but I wouldn't have spent that much time if we had not been confined to the house most of the time. Making the deadeyes was very simple and didn't take very long as I wound them on the frame already mentioned and stuck the paper circles on them. As the lanyards were tinned copper wire, I just soldered each one to the end of each stay before putting the stay and deadeys on in one piece. They looked a lot better when painted black. This is quite a big enlargement, but they look much better in real life, as they are so small. Most if it is just illusion in miniatures and most modellers add to the mystique by declaring they could never do it, re-nforcing the idea that it is difficult. When I used to take these models to the local ship model society, eyes just tended to glaze over, and they rarely got more than a casul glance, so I stopped taking them, and now just pass a photograph around, that rarely brings out any comment, good or bad. But I am continually being pressed by collectors all over the place to produce more, but when I did take private commissions, I found it became too overwhelming, and in the year 2000, we had 24 models on order! I find it difficult to deal with them when they are often asking what I am building next, and offering to pay for them in full before completion. Nowadays, I only build what I feel like building, and nothing is ever for sale until it is complete, and even then, I do not advertise them, but just wait until someone asks. But we will probably be keeping the barque.


tiny deadeyes -  (large).jpg

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We welcome well written contributions from Website members on almost any aspect of Model Boating with a particular emphasis on practical hints, tips, experience and builds.

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