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A couple of years ago I received my copy of the Fall/Winter 2001 'Sn3 Modeler' and in it was an article by Geoffrey Stippes on an 'S' scale model of the "KERRYLEA" he had built (seen here above is the one photo from the article). I immediately fell in love with this quaint coastal ferry with it's beautiful proportions and stored the idea away until I had a place to berth it. Geoff had used the hull from  Revell's 1/64th scale tugboat kit. There were no plans with the article and the only dimension given was the hull length of 46 feet. As  I was going to build it in 'O' scale (1/48th) this would prove an interesting and challenging project.


While Geoff had a plastic hull from the kit to start with, I had to start from scratch. All I had was one piece of 1/2" balsa left, which measured 84 feet long by 12 feet wide by 2 feet high (in 'O' scale feet), and wanting to make a start, the hull would have to be 42 feet long, 12 feet wide and 4 feet high (from the waterline to the highest point of the deck at the bow and stern). My finished effort can be seen at right. The smoke has been digitally added, and is a nice effect.



Now for the really tricky part - getting the hull shape correct. I drew a rectangle on some paper to the dimensions of the deck, drew a line down the centre and started to sketch the shape of one side of the hull. No easy method here. Just keep drawing lines until it looks right. My finished shape can be seen opposite. Once I was happy with the half shape, I measured and drew the mirror image. The shape was transferred to the balsa and cut out with a jigsaw. Using a course rasp, I filed the final shape of the hull. I used scale 12" x 1" on the deck and 8" x 1" on the side. The narrower the timber on the side, the easier it bends to the shape.


Opposite is the finished balsawood hull blank. Onto this blank, comes the long boring job of  holding each board to the double curved shape while the glue dries.



What plans! There were no plans with the article, and rather than waste time with trying to achieve  very complicated curves on paper, I decided to just start. With my trusty scale ruler in hand I just started to add bits as seemed logical. The lower deck engine house and toilet and the upper deck pilot house I mocked up in card paper and when I was happy with the size and proportions, I attached 6"x 1" to outside of the card.



The upper deck was a bit tricky. I wanted it to be removeable - at least until the model was near complete, so I could add details at a later time. How to make it stay curved? I had some 1 ply sheets of timber that were 0.8 mm thick and cut 3 pieces just bigger than the deck size required. I brushed white glue onto the top of the first sheet and laid it on top of the lower deck walls. I did the same to the second sheet and laid it on top of the first, and then laid the third sheet on top. Before the glue dried I placed some heavy lead weights on top of this now 3 ply which curved the sheets to match the curve of the lower deck walls. After leaving this to fully dry for a couple of hours, I used the lower deck walls to mark the shape required and cut it out. I then glued 12"x 1' strips of timber to the top of the deck, which further held the deck to the right curve. The curve can be seen in the photo opposite. the colourful flags are paper cut to small squares and triangles and edge glued to a piece of brown cotton. The flags were then painted various bright colours and added a nice touch to the model.






If you plan to build a model of my model, or someone else's model, you can use a computer to help you get the proportions right. All you need is a square-on photo, like the one above, that you can scan into your computer - a digital camera is also great for this. All you need now is a program that can open pictures and enlarge or reduce them.  Microsoft WORD, Microsoft PUBLISHER as well as programs like PHOTOSHOP have all there facilities. Open the picture up in the program, and if the program will allow you to, draw a line to the length of the actual model - say 25.0 cm (or 10" if your computer is set to imperial measurements). Place the line over the top of the photo, click on the photo and drag the corner of the photo until the length of the boat (in this case) is the same length as the line. Print out and you have a good plan view to the exact size you want to build it. If it's bigger than the paper in your printer, do the same, but say half size and then enlarge it on a photocopier.


Below are some other photographs of the "MARY LOU"