Album: Mary J Ward

Schooner Mary J Ward This page documents the construction of the Fishing Schooner Mary J Ward, a Radio Controlled model sailboat kit sold by Victor Model Products.

Parts Here is how it came out of the box.

Lots of parts The Mary J Ward was a fishing schooner that sailed out of Scituate, Massachusetts during the 1880's. I was drawn to this model in part because I grew up in Scituate.

More small parts I also own a Victor V-32 (purchased fully assembled) and I scratch-built an RC sailboat that I patterned after the V-32. Despite having all the parts included, I'm somehow more intimidated by this kit than I was scratch-building my other boat. Maybe it's because I can see everything laid out in front of me all at once.

Precut wood

Beams Curved beams and balsa shear strips are installed to support the deck. You can also see the keel trunk, thwarts, and mast steps installed

Outside keel work Keel and cutwater installed

Staining trimwork I used Minwax Polyshades "Olde Maple" stain. It is stain plus polyurethane in one

Staining masts & spars

Spar Jaws closeup These had to be carved by hand.

Spar Jaw scale The spar jaw retainer is made out of pipe cleaner. I'll probably replace it with something more realistic later.

Out of alignment The bowsprit will be installed flat across the foredeck, throuch a slot in the bow, and across the cutwater, which is the wooden extension of the keel shown. When I got to this point, I realized that the factory-cut hull had a defect -- the bow cut-line was 5/16" too high. The shear strip installation line measures DOWN from the top of the hull, and the cutwater comes UP from the bottom, to within 1/16" (the thickness of the deck) of the shearstrip. As you can see, though it actually came up 1/4" ABOVE the shear strips. This is a major problem!

Bow re-cut This is a major problem, since the bowsprit needs to lie flat across both. Even worse, it throws off the curvature of the deck, forcing a convex-to-concave transition just forward of beam #1. After much consideration, I decided to rip out the shear strips forward of beam #1 and reinstall. This picture shows the aftermath of ripping out the shear strips

Planking The instructions recommend scribing pencil lines into the plywood deck to simulate planking. I decided to go one step further and install 1/16 x 1/4" planking on top of the whole plywood deck. Here is the deck, with hatches cut out, with the first plank installed.

Bow planking I used CA glue and lots of clamps to install the planks

Stern hatch The stern hatch, post-planking and sanded

Stern hatch

Bow hatch

Fully planked The whole deck, fully planked

Masthead Two mastheads connect each mast to its corresponding topmast. The provided mastheads were made of a soft wood, and ended up breaking, like this one. I replaced them all with much stronger ones that I made out of oak.

Lining the hatches The hatches are all lined with small strips of balsa or plywood. The deck is not glued in yet in this picture, only clamped to force it into its proper curvature. I won't install it until the hull is painted.

Looking like a real ship! Here is the painted hull, with the masts, rigging and sails temporarily installed

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Rudder detail

Installing rails The deck is now installed and I am installing the first strip of the three-part rails

Scupper and rail Here is the rail, fully installed, with a nice view of the scuppers.

Marking off The deck outfitting is really free-form. Here I am measuring a long strip of wood to use in the hatch frames.

Deadeye I didn't like the looks of the dacron standing rigging and "bowsie" blocks provided in the kit, so I made my own "deadeye" style blocks with 3/8" dowel plugs and hemp line.

More deadeyes The "seizing" is done by wrapping the shroud line tightly with smaller line, and then sealing it with CA glue. Not in the background, you can see my custom hatch grates.

Hatch cover The plans call for a plywood, glued-in hatch cover. I really wanted to install grates, but I liked the idea of having a solid hatch for use when sailing in rough weather. So, I decided to make both! Here is the solid cover, which I designed to be removeable.

Hatch grate Here is the grate-style hatch over. I'm also going to try constructing a canvas cover to go with this grate.

Grating jig I used a few pieces of basswood, glued together, to form a jig to get perfect spacing on my hatch grates.

Dory mockup I decided that I really needed a dory. Here is the paper mockup, along with some of the frames. Thanks to Shearwater Boats for publishing great, and FREE dory plans.

Frame detail I rough-cut the frames out of stock 1/8" basswood, then sanded them to shape. The paper templates are attached to the frames with "Post-It" style gluestick.

Shaping up Here is the dory with one row of planks installed.

Planking and clamping

Staining I put on a coat of stain before I installed the rails & seats. I ended up replacing the 2-piece oars in this picture.

Rails installed

New oars I decided to try to carve one-piece oars

All done! With the dory, at least...

Cabin frame The cabin is built around the hole in the deck that allows access to the keel bolt and radio tray. Here you can see the plywood walls built snugly around the watertight risers, forming the sides of a sort of removable "lid" over the hole. I'll deviate from the kit plans by planking the sides with basswood strips once the roof is on.

Cabin roof The plywood for the cabin roof is actually the piece cut out from the access hole in the deck. You can see my "bending jig" here -- I simply clamp the piece to a strong scrap of wood, and force a small wedge in between the two, an the center of the arc. Notice that I didn't take a lot of care to cut the basswood strips to length until after the piece is fully planked.

Planked with hatches Here the roof and sides are planked, and roof and door hatches are installed

The hatches really slide! The plans called for simulating "hatches" by gluing down a piece of plywood, with stripwood rails. It took a bit of extra effort, but I actually cut out the hatches and made them slide.

Removable hatches Here is a view of all 3 of the functional hatches that provide easy access to the radio control gear. You can see one of the canvas covers I made pulled back to the left.

Rudder access hatch This hatch covers over the rudder access hole. It will be stained to match the deck, and will have a steering stand bolted to it.

Progress so far The cabin and hatch covers are now all painted

Samson post Here is the samson post (which would brace the bowsprit in place), and bow rail cap, before finishing.

Samson post Same thing, after finishing.

Getting close Most of the deck structure is complete. I still need to finish th steering box, chart stand, and trailboards, plus the radio control system.

New sails I made new sails, including topsails, out of artists' canvas (very cheap -- $6/yard). I think that they'll be fine in light winds, but in stronger winds, I think I'll lose the topsails, and switch to the stock dacron sails. I really like the way the new sails look, except for the edges. I sealed them with a tiny bit of superglue to prevent fraying, but I'd really like for them to have a real hem. Another project for later...

Mast hoops I made mast hoops out of a couple of loops of rigging line, glued together.

Fore quarter view

Fore quarter closeup

Cabin A nice view of the cabin, through the rigging

Aft quarter view

Aft quarter closeup

Painted rails I painted the dory rails to match the schooner's hull, installed oarlock pins, and wrapped protective line around the oars.

Helm assembly The helm assembly that came with my kit has spokes that were WAY too long. I discovered this once I went to install the fully-finished wheel, and realized that the 2 1/2" diameter wheel was supposed to be mounted about 1" off of the deck. I called Victor Model Products' 800 number, and they sent me a new wheel kit with spokes of the proper length (on the left).

Helm Schematic This diagram shows how the rudder is rigged, and how the helm moves in sync with the rudder. (Click for more detail)

Sheeting This diagram shows how the sheets are arranged. As the sail servo turns, the three sheets are simultaneously tightened or slackened. (Click for more detail) I used a Futaba S3801 high-torque servo that I modified for 180 degree motion by modifying the control circuit (as described here and in these plans.

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Photo album generated by album generator a MarginalHack written by Dave Madison on Thu Apr 7 15:21:50 2005