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Barque Christine - 900 tons 20 Feet to 1 inch

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Bob Wilson18/05/2020 12:52:06
1678 forum posts
180 photos

Total building time - 66 hours spread over 28 days. Scratchbuilt, and no machine tools used

Today, I fitted the twisted wire edging around the inner base, and put the model on it for a trial view. Everything is looking OK, and the polished base really enhances the model. As it is a fictitious ship, built to the normal specifications of the era (about 1870), I will be calling it Christine, after my wife. I am very pleased with this model, considering the fact that I never meant to complete it beyond the empty hull. It was just intended to be used as a basis for an article on how to make hulls the easy way - no saws or machine tools involved. It was made from thin slices of balsa wood, cut to shape with a scalpel, and then glued together. I then experimented with an easy method of copper plating, and I was so delighted with the result, that I decided to push on and complete the model. The masts, spars, and rigging are 100% metal. The furled sails are white airmail paper.

At the moment, I am now almost out of glue, and today the postman did not deliver the order that I placed on the 13th, so I guess I can now take a rest, and maybe tidy up a bit! smiley


christine completed 1 (large).jpg

christine - waterlines (large).jpg

pete graham18/05/2020 13:31:45
39 forum posts

Yes Bob, you must be very satisfied with this one and rather special for you and your wife. I was amazed at the figure of your total construction time at 66 hours ...that is very quick for the amount of work involved... an average of over 4 hours a day is good going and of course allowing for "rest days" ( if you ever take any) your daily output will be well in excess of 4 hours. Some of my own miniatures could take about 9o hours which embarrasses me a bit because I didn;t involve rigging. My main inhibitor was just simple mental fatigue and probably eye strain. You just have to stop sometimes.

Lanyards. I noted your reference to fitting these and was staggered that the scale would make it possible, but how did you integrate them with your pre-made dead eye assembly.


Bob Wilson18/05/2020 14:09:03
1678 forum posts
180 photos

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

pete graham18/05/2020 15:52:58
39 forum posts

Hi Bob,

Yes 2.44 hours and I was supposed to be a navigator . No wonder I never arrived on time!

I know what you mean by eyes glazing over . I noticed this when showing models to perhaps a potential buyer who obviously didn't know one end of a ship from the other and I became very circumspect at the mention of a special order so I didn't accept any. Someone once suggested that he could be interested in a Tyne built ship that everyone locally would recognize like, say, the Titanic!!!. Then my eyes glazed over.

I started watercolour painting (landscapes) about 40 years ago and made quite a success of it but I very much regretted EVER taking on commissions . I make a bit out of my work but I found that the enjoyment of painting evaporated to absolute zero with a commission hanging around my neck so stopped accepting them.....I invariably found that my interpretation of the subject was always at loggerheads with with what the customer had in mind.


Bob Wilson18/05/2020 16:53:31
1678 forum posts
180 photos

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.


pete graham19/05/2020 10:01:34
39 forum posts

Hi Bob

It must be a bit soul destroying to have a rejection from a publisher and especially on the grounds that nobody is interested in boats "these days". That is rubbish, and I would say that the maritime book market is flourishing as evidenced by your success in selling your output yourself and also , the monthly seafaring mags. like Sea Breezes and the like abound with information on books from the marine publishers. Have you approached these people by any chance?.

You said recently , in passing, that you were a writer but didn't expand that and I would be most interested to know something about the "merchant navy non-fiction" that you produce. .

On the subject of commissioned watercolours quite a few years ago before I had come to my senses over this, the husband of a lady who had just bought my rendering of the river at Durham, rang me late at night to let me know that his wife was having "attacks of the vapours" over the appalling error she had made. Next day I refunded her outlay. In a completely obtuse way, you know, I felt really flattered that one of my works could have such an affect on someone. Attacks of the vapours : not to be sneezed at!


Bob Wilson19/05/2020 11:48:26
1678 forum posts
180 photos

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.


pete graham22/05/2020 11:52:33
39 forum posts

Hi Bob

Bit of a bind when the printer goes south......not exactly young but it worked well a couple of mornings ago but later developed a rash of flashing lights and an error warning which according to the instruction sheet is a death knell.. Feeling very disconsolate !! . Selecting a new machine is very daunting and time consuming and ain't done yet.

I suppose a ships newspaper is quite common on passenger liners and very obviously takes a great deal of effort and time by quite a few people, what with the decoding, re writing , editing and finally printing. And that was every day ?? Gosh. A bit deflating though to see passengers making only a brief scan over breakfast. Its a bit like that here.

It seems most high handed to me for a publisher to edit out some of the content of a manuscript and then print the happened to you. The person doing the abridgement (?)could well have altered the factual basis of your writing and presented a completely different viewpoint. Your decision to go it alone with a restyled content resulting in great success must have been most satisfying for you.

I didn't know that Conway had ceased and on that theme, I used to be a member of the World Ship Society and periodically used to get notice of their publications.......wondered if you had approached them . The Clarkson nautical publishing company advertise through Sea Breezes....although oddly, they have not appeared in the last two editions .


Bob Wilson22/05/2020 12:44:14
1678 forum posts
180 photos

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

pete graham23/05/2020 15:20:44
39 forum posts

Hi Bob, What an effort it takes to organise a new printer......presumably because of the virus lockdown and the numbers of people now having to work from home the availability of printers in the lower price region is zero. Yesterday drew a complete blank with all the main online people . Tried again this morning and was very lucky indeed to find a Canon at a nearby Argos.....but they cannot deliver which raises more problems. And not collectable until next week end.

The Clarkson Ships in Focus was indeed excellent and I had not realized that they stopped this so long ago and I stand corrected !! The last SIF I have is January 2018. . I couldn't find a reference but I seem to remember John Clarkson's name in connection with a large ship photo collection

Your description of involvement through the book trade via publishers seems to show that they have no appreciation of the interests of their authors and contributors and one wonders how they maintain any sort of continuity of business. I am shocked to hear of your own experiences and have no wonder that you became so disillusioned . It seems a strange and rather negative way to treat an author ...... to manipulate the royalties based on the publishing discount to a bookseller instead of being based on the price to the booksellers customer. Could be a massive difference in figures if volume sales are involved.

I had some disillusioning experiences in the 1990s with my painting business. I was over the moon to be invited to show samples of my work to one of the big city stores in Newcastle ....A London based HQ and I had an interview with their head buyer. All went well, he liked what I showed him and made notes of my own gallery selling prices . About 3 weeks later back again for another meeting....I was offered an order for 10 quarter imperial sized paintings ( about 14 X 9 ins) .......... at one third of my own price . My friends thought I was nuts but I took the work on and supplied about 30 paintings over 2 years . The firms accounting system released payment of my invoice every 3 months. I didn't make anything on this at all but I suppose a lopsided bonus would be that I did get some publicity which brought several successful private enquiries to my gallery .


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