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Advice and idea's needed please

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John Johnston 617/11/2019 19:44:28
7 forum posts
5 photos

Hi guys,

I have a model (toy) boat that was given to me when I was a young boy nearly 70 years ago. It was picked up in poor condition by my father who painted it and fashioned a rough mast, and my mother sewed some material to make a very rough sail. It has never been on water (during my lifetime) and I doubt it ever worked properly, but the sentiment behind it is immense and I can't bear to part with it.

Recently I have brought it down from it's lifetime in the attic and decided, rightly or wrongly, to re-fashion it and make some sort of display model out of it. I like shiny varnished wood and so that is the direction I'm heading. I am in the process of stripping multiple layers of paint off and sanding the hull ready for staining and varnishing, however, for reasons of space, I think I would like to do away with the mast and sail and maybe add some sort of cabin superstructure to try and move it one small step nearer to being 'model' rather than 'toy'.

This is not your normal type of modelling in so much as I'm not concerned about functionality or realism but I'd be hugely grateful for any comments, hints, tips and idea's to help me make something nice out of this featureless hull. Thanks in advance.dsc_6401.jpg

Colin Bishop17/11/2019 20:03:11
4297 forum posts
6051 photos
394 articles


That is a yacht hull and you really cannot realistically convert it to something else. You need to retain the mast and boom etc. but no reason why you could not add a cabin and cockpit to make it look like a scale cruising yacht.


ashley needham18/11/2019 09:11:17
5908 forum posts
193 photos

Hello John . I would go with Colin on this one. It is yacht hull and has to be a yacht.

it may be difficult to strip the hull properly to get an all-wood shiny varnish finish.

As a suggestion, I would smooth the hull nicely, refinish it in the original colour, stick a nice shiny wood deck on it (for the wood bit) and go for the traditional “pond yacht look”, as that is what it is.

To retain the nostalgic element a new mast finished in blue paint (assuming this is how it was originally) could be made and perhaps a better sail, from material matching the original. A fabric shop would be able to match that, if not perfectly, then almost the same. Most toy yachts might have had demountable or pivoting masts, and this would be very easy to do thus alleviating the space issue and would give a better look to the hull when on display.

no reason why you could not only have a nice model to look at, but one that sails as well. I would have thought the sight of the model on a pond after a 70 year gap would be most rewarding. Hankies at the ready!



Edited By ashley needham on 18/11/2019 09:14:17

Edited By ashley needham on 18/11/2019 09:15:35

Edited By ashley needham on 18/11/2019 09:16:59

John Johnston 620/11/2019 21:00:33
7 forum posts
5 photos

Thank you both very much and my apologies for not getting back sooner but my wretched internet has been down.

I don't know if there are recognised proportions to boats (I guess there is) but this hull is 30" long and 7.5" wide. I'm thinking that a mast would have to be something like 30" tall and that makes for a big model. That said, I'm not one to ask for advice and then ignore it so, since you're both of the same mind that this is unmistakably a sailing boat then that is the way I need to go.

Before posting here I had already begun the paint stripping process and have now stripped back to bare wood. I'm loving the grain and thinking that I'd like to try and stain and varnish the boat. Given that it isn't going to be floated I needn't worry about waterproof treatments or the likes.

2019-11-17 16.01.11.jpg

ashley needham21/11/2019 08:28:53
5908 forum posts
193 photos

Brian. It looks like the hull has cleaned up well! A stain and varnish will have it looking great. Acrylic varnishes do not yellow with age which will keep your initial varnished colour the same over the years, however the darkening of polyurethane varnish can also look nice, and give it that well-aged look. Almost any varnish will be ok for the odd sail..🤔

Regarding the’s a bit heretical, but, look at pictures of pond yachts..get a bit of bamboo, make some paper sails and see what looks pleasing to the eye for you size wise if you do not intend to sail it. As I said, there is always the option to make a much smaller mast and have it folded down.

pictures ont’internet should also give you an idea regarding fittings etc.


Tim Rowe21/11/2019 21:44:15
304 forum posts
359 photos


I go with Ashley's first post. You have a rather nice little pond yacht that was clearly built to sail with that lead ballast in the keel. It wouldn't be that much harder to make it sail again and a first for you, as well as having a lovely ornament.

I will be blunt. If you stain and varnish that hull I think you are in danger in turning it into the sort of nondescript, and ugly lamp base, the sort of which you can find in a charity shop.

You will get plenty of suggestions on here and you could varnish the deck to your heart's content.

I tell you what. If you promise to restore it as a working pond yacht, I promise to make two sails for you.

Tim R

Colin Bishop21/11/2019 21:59:32
4297 forum posts
6051 photos
394 articles

I agree with Tim. Staining that grain pattern will simply produce an ornament. It needs to be painted.


neil howard-pritchard22/11/2019 00:38:39
1156 forum posts
181 photos

lovely hull, and like what has been said there is nothing that one could do to change type of rig and vessel from a yacht.appearance. have a look at this, a Morecambe bay prawner……..she would lend herself top side to one of these with a cabin rather than the old well decked vessel. just google Morecambe bay prawner and look at images.

ashley needham22/11/2019 08:30:59
5908 forum posts
193 photos

A Morecombe bay prawner. There’s a name to conjour with!

googled that and a fine looking boat. Your work sanding the hull should enable a great painted finish. I use lots of undercoat, well rubbed down, as a liquid filler to fill the grain, if required, but yours may not need this as it has been painted already.

Brian. I would go with this suggestion and take up Tim’s very generous offer to make the rags, as this for you would likely be the tricky bit.


John Johnston 622/11/2019 18:15:34
7 forum posts
5 photos

I don't know who Brian is but my name is John. wink

I can't thank you guys enough for your comments and suggestions (and Tim for his generous offer), all of which have been taken on board (pun intended), however I feel I'm going to disappoint. When registering to the forum and asking for help I hadn't considered the fact that model boat enthusiasts aren't going to suggest anything that detracts from this hull being anything other than a functioning model sailing boat. Staining the wood to produce an ornament would be sacrilege to you, and yet I would be very pleased if it turned out well enough for this old toy hull to be on display at last. (I can hear you all cringing from here - LOL).

It's important to point out that I have zero modelling skills and 'craft' work is completely beyond me. Neither do I have the interest to use this as a starting point for a new hobby. As a result, my decision is to varnish the hull and, if I can get that bit right, decorate it with some railing round the edge of the hull, some bollards, and maybe a few other bits and pieces from the hobby shop. It's clear that I will be creating a frankensteins monster in the eye's of modellers and boat enthusiasts, but if I can make this more appealing than the nicely shaped block of wood that it is right now, then I shall be pleased.

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