Jim Cowels' - Boston Trawler  Mountfleet Kit


Beer & Boats

I'm Jim and I am a member (erstwhile treasurer and Vice Chairman) of Anglia Marine Model Club, based in Northampton, a bunch of nutters - well not everybody, I think there was this one chapů.

I'm a stickler for detail myself, and this is my downfall. Can't seem to accept anything if it ain't just so and I do tend to go to the most extraordinary lengths in search of realism. Take my Boston Typhoon, it started out as a diversion to keep me out of the pub. No chance! - frustration and complications set in from the start and for the 4 and a half years it took to complete, I've not had a day out of the pub because of it!

Lead ballast. It needed plenty, 'cos I calculated the displacement at 45 pounds. Best to keep this low in the hull, right? Slapped a load of lead sheet in the base of the hull and resin-ed it all in under a nice flat ply base. Trouble is with lead, it doesn't look as if it weighs as much as it does, until you try and lift it - 25 pounds and that's just the bare hull, but the resin has set! Time for another pint.

Spraying. I just love it, especially when the white acrylic spray can nozzle disintegrated. Paint everywhere, all over me fleece and face and glasses. Took it back to the shop looking like I'd been caught in a blizzard. Laughter all round, except me. Adjourned back to the local.

Printed kit decks. I hate them, so proceeded to cut individual planks - hundreds of the little devils. Great idea, but it took so long I was beginning to despair, 'til a mate came round and suggested we go for a drink. Sanity was restored.

Then there was the 24 hour model boat marathon. Two in the morning and I was parched. Wandered around and found a can of beer somewhere. Started back to resume my steering duties only to trip a over in the pitch darkness and hit my head, blood all over the place. Still holding the can, I am branded a drunk but I hadn't touched a drop, so I down the beer anyway, had another and then crashed the ship into the far bank. Time for another beer, but where can I get another one at this hour?!

Superglue has changed modelling so much. What a fantastic invention. We were just about to go out to a restaurant one night, but thought I'd glue a couple of bits onto the half built Boston Trawler before I left. A doorbell rings informs me that the taxi has arrived, I turn to go, but me best shirt, which is by this time glued to the bench, does not go with me. OK, it's only a shirt, but then I realise I've got all this missing skin.. Luckily I managed to replenish the loss of blood by an urgent transfusion from the restaurant bar.

What about keeping 'er indoors happy? Not a chance I hear you say, and so is the way of life, but where modelling is concerned it's even more of a problem. I accidentally sprayed part of the kitchen once with Halfords red primer (I thought it looked quite good - lovely finish). Once a meal had a distinct taste of white spirit. There's just no arguing in these situations and I have found it best to adjourn to the local.

I actually got the missus interested in model boats. Built her a nice little Customs launch and sunk it on it's first outing in our clubs six foot deep lake! OK, I'd had a couple of pints, but it wasn't my fault, I didn't see the 9 foot long battleship bearing down on me - it's the camouflage!. Anyway, it was me birthday and so I took refuge and solace in the beer tent.

To finish off the Boston Trawler I got permission to put it on the dining room table for a few days. I went out for a quick spin on the motorbike. Wrote it off, nearly wrote myself off, but with all my broken parts, the boat stayed on the table for five months. That went down really well, but I did manage to complete it by doing all the rigging with a broken shoulder (now that's dedication) - but only due to all the special medicine I was able to get down - luckily my drinking arm was undamaged!

For the technical stuff:

A 1948 Fleetwood Trawler

This model is based on a Mount Fleet Models kit, with GRP hull, superstructure mouldings and ships boat, wood sheet, strip and dowel, brass and steel rod and over 1300 cast metal fittings. It is 55" x 11" (1400 x 280mm) and displacement to waterline is 45 pounds (20.5 kg).

It is fitted with a 12 volt Pittman electric motor and two function radio control for rudder and electronic speed controller. Three separate lighting circuits feed grain of wheat bulbs (25 in total) for Navigation Lights, Interior Lighting and External/Deck Lights.

Building spanned four and a half years up to July 2003 and total time on the project is estimated at well over 1200 hours. I just lost count.

The kit has been enhanced by a number of modifications, additional detail and internal fitting out. The fidelity to the original has been maintained and improved where possible, by reference to a number of publications, shipbuilders plans of similar vessels, historic photographs, web sites and internet discussion forums. A full set of trawl gear and exact scale nets is also included.

Paint is generally airbrushed Humbrol enamel and various types of acrylic. Undercoats are from Halfords acrylic spray cans, as is the hull below waterline. The entire ship is finished with Ronseal Matt Polyurethane Varnish, thinned 50/50 with white spirit and airbrushed, the number of coats varies between 1 and 4 depending on location.

The kit has been modified as follows:
1. Decks.

All printed plywood deck sheets are replaced with individual planks to scale size and stagger, with caulking represented by indelible ink. Plank ends are correctly joggled into margin planks, with trim planks around major deck fittings.

The method of construction was to glue individual planks, 1/32" (0.8mm) thick onto 1/64" (0.4mm) plywood deck sheets which were cut to size from card templates drawn from the 1/16" (1.5mm) sub-decks. Individual planks were cut from varnished sheet wood and clamped together before sanding to uniform width. The pre-varnishing preventing the spirit based caulking ink from running into the surface grain.
The three completed deck sheets (fo'c's'le, welldeck and main deck) were then epoxy glued to the sub deck after the painting of it's margins. Approximately 400 individual planks were used.

2 Wheelhouse.
I required the wheelhouse interior to be fully fitted out and lit. For this reason, the GRP moulding supplied with the kit was discarded in favour of a plastic card fabrication. Two were produced before I was satisfied with the result. This allowed scale thickness of the construction, greater accuracy and consistency in the representation of the prominent window array and also gave a smooth, flat interior surface. External rivet detail was reproduced by pressing a centre punch into the plastic plates that make up the structure.

Interior fitments, beyond those supplied, include duck boards, scale tea mugs and shelf, charts and correct scale dial faces to the ships telegraphs (photo-reduced from internet images).

3 Engine Room.
Within the engine room and visible through it's skylights (made with opened and stayed vents for this purpose) is a model of a Triple Expansion Steam Engine, typical of the type used in trawlers of the period and constructed to true scale.

This has all cylinder head bolt detail, inlet and exhaust pipework, steam valves etc. as well as high level access walkways with open mesh flooring and handrails. Two lamps provide illumination.

4 Galley.
Inside the rear casing door is a fully fitted out Galley kitchen, the layout of which is taken from ships plans of a similar vessel. The range is fitted with pan restrainers, necessary in rough waters, and a variety of pots and pans, cooking utensils, and a clock with roman dial (again from an internet image).

The checkered tile floor (scale 4" ceramic tiles) is varnished printed card produced using a simple imaging program (MS Paint). Further lamps illuminate the galley.

5 Cod Liver Oil House.
This is the structure at the stern. Supplied as a GRP moulding, I have fitted it out with a Cod Liver boiler and its' steam pipes and a large container of cod livers ready for boiling.

The toilet with lid in the raised position indicates a male crew!. Note the toilet roll. Further detail has been excluded in the interests of good taste!

6 Fo'c'stle
Through the door can be seen the lobby leading to the forward living quarters and store rooms. Note the mop and bucket.

7 Trawl Nets
The trawl nets laid out on the starboard deck will open out to a scale replica of a full size trawl complete with floats, bobbins and all the brackets, equipment and warps required to shoot the nets.