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Author Topic: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien  (Read 4776 times)

Steve Mahoney

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WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« on: January 08, 2017, 01:46:41 AM »

I have a couple of weeks before the last parts for my Hikurangi tug arrive so I’m starting another project to work on at the same time. The build is also on a couple of other forums but it may be of interest to some of you.

During WWII  30 YTL tugs were built for the US Navy by various yards in Auckland, New Zealand. They were 75’ YTLs and 41’ YTL Sea Mules. Most saw service in Pacific.

17 were built by Steel Ships Ltd in Mechanics’ Bay, Auckland and three 75’ YTLs were under construction when the US Navy cancelled the contracts towards the end of the war. All 3 were stamped with their YTL numbers on the bow.

YTL622 was completed in August ‘45 and delivered to the USN but did not leave Auckland. It was given to the NZ Marine Department for disposal and was used for harbour work servicing the large fleet of laid up surplus vessels in Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour. Tug 622, as it was known, finished this work in late 1946 and was handed over to the Royal New Zealand Navy, in October ‘48, being renamed Manawanui (brave hearted). After many years service as a dive tender she ended up in a maritime museum (1979) but sprung a pinhole leak under the keel about 5 years ago. The current owner of 625 tells me that the leak was not terminal and could have been easily fixed but a decision was made to scrap it.

YTL627 was 40% completed when the contract was cancelled and lay rusting until ‘46-’47 when it was launched incomplete and towed to the RNZN depot at Devonport for completion. It was named HMNZS Arataki (to tow or lead) and was used around the naval base for many years, with a civilian crew.
After leaving naval service 627 changed hands a few times and eventually fell into serious disrepair in Dunedin. It was stripped and finally scrapped after being laid up, derelict for many years. Some of its parts were used to repair 625.

Only one of these fine little vessels (YTL625) lives on.
In 1946 YTL625 was launched and passed on the RNZN, renamed Kawatiri and then handed over to the Marine Department for distribution to one of the smaller regional ports – the coal town of Westport on the west coast of the South Island. Kawatiri (deep and swift) is the original Maori name for the Buller River which flows through Westport.
Just prior to the tug’s arrival in Westport, the Minister of Transport, the Right Honourable James ‘Briney’ O’Brien (miner, engine driver and social reformer), who had organised the deal, and was also the local member of parliament for Westport, died.
YTL625/HMNZS Kawatiri was renamed in his honour.
She stayed in Westport for many years as a harbour tug and pilot boat. In those days coal was still important and Westport was a busy wee port with colliers heading all over the country. And any tug in a port at the mouth of a river with a bar gets plenty of work. Sold in the ‘94 to new owners who did a very poor job of trying to convert it to a trawler, before leaving it half ruined. The current owner is a marine engineer but certainly has his work cut out to restore it.
Looking its age but still runs like a charm despite the previous owner’s attempts. Takes a lickin’ but keeps on ticking’.
The engine (Atlas diesel 320 shp) and electrical gear are quite basic even by 1945 standards.

The other YTLs built in Auckland ended up scattered around the Pacific Islands after the war, surplus to USN peace time requirements and donated to local territories.

The photos show: Steel Ships brochure (1&2), Atlas engine (3), YTL 618 in Okinawa (4), YTL Hong Kong 1967 (5), HMNZS Manawanui (6&7), Arataki at Devonport naval base ( 8)
, YTL 625 James O'Brien (9&10)
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2017, 02:05:44 AM »

I'm not sure where the original boat design came from but the GA is from the Commonwealth of Australia Dept of Munitions, Small Craft Director. The Aussie versions have a slightly different superstructure arrangement to the NZ built boats. The design is unlike any other YTLs, or any local commercial tugs of the period. They were designed so that they could be pre-fabricated in sections at various locations around Auckland and then assembled at the harbour – similar in concept to the TIDs but totally different design.

The other type of YTLs built here at the time were 41ft 'Sea Mules' – no idea what they were. There is very little information on either type of boat.

Up until the war New Zealand’s tugs had all been built in the UK. The steel work needed for these during the war probably lead to the start-up of the local tug building industry that would have its heyday in the 1970s – early 2000s. Then the global cookie cutter tugs took over.
Tugs are still made in NZ, and very good ones too, but they can’t compete with the Damen and Allen yards in Vietnam and Turkey.

I’m hoping to build a 1/50 James O’Brien and the owner was happy for me to get on-board and get as many photographs as I need. It is now based in Picton, a 3 hour ferry trip from my home.

I’m not sure what colour scheme to go for.
A – You don’t get too many tugs with tiger camouflage. Would need modellers’ licence as it never enter USN service and most of them were plain grey anyway.
B – Kawatiri in post war RNZN light grey, and it is a very light blue/grey.
C – As a pilot in Westport
[/size]D – in civvies as JO’B, as it was 1949 and is now.
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2017, 02:14:45 AM »

I started this in early December so I'll bring you up to speed.

Started the project by drawing up at the hull and superstructure components and had them laser cut. If you have seen any of my other builds they all follow the same process. The laser cut pieces arrive clean as true and slot together pretty easily.
I was able to knock up the hull and frames in about an hour – the wonders of CA glue! Packed out the stern and bow sections so that the ply would have something to form around and adhere to. Then I skinned it up with 1mm birch ply. It's a very simple hull design and luckily it came together really quickly – and problem free, no warps or twists.
The next day I was able to spray on an undercoat, start the fill/sand/rinse and repeat process.
The weather has been great for quick drying so I got in 2 sessions of fill, sand and paint on the hull.
Nothing Like an all white hull to show up any flaws.
Early days but you can get the picture. Still plenty of remedial work to do on the hull.
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2017, 02:17:54 AM »

The stern end of the keel/skeg has a fine, delicate edge to it which will take a bit more care and attention.

While the primer was drying I started on the superstructure.
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2017, 02:25:00 AM »

I have had a little bit of time over the Christmas break to do a little bit more on the build. Having the worst summer weather for years has also given me a bit more time at the bench rather than the beach.

So far this build has been relatively straightforward and trouble free – touch wood.
The first coats of primer showed up a few flaws in the hull so they have been filled and smoothed, and re-sprayed. I added the hate/gate (not sure what the correct term is) in the bulwarks , added the capping rail around the bulwarks and attached the rails in the suppers. The photos of the real boats show either 2 or 3 rails depending on the boat, I've gone for 1 as the gap is quite small. Hey – I'm a modeller not a photocopier.


Also added the deck hatch bases and windlass mounting plate on the fo'c's'le. These will be the same colour as the deck.
The hull number is PE brass that I had done with the portholes, etc. It sits a bit proud at the moment but it should fade back after a few top coats.
The holes along the hull are for mounting the timber rubbing strips. They have been made from basswood, been stained, and will be attached after the hull has been painted. Same with the panama chocks/fairleads and the anodising plates.


Haven't figured out how to glaze the portholes in the hull yet. Might have to glue the 'glass' directly to the porthole frame but that's never very secure, and usually always ends up fogging.


Also started on the funnel.
I forgot to take any progress photos but if you've seen any of my other builds you'll know my method for making a funnel: laser cut spine and frames skinned with 2-3 layers of 0.3mm styrene.
Here's the rough funnel prior to its first coat of paint.
And the components, so far. Still a long way to go but you can get the idea.
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Mark T

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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2017, 04:35:47 PM »

Thats a lovely job there Steve.  When I opened the post I thought that it was a fibreglass moulded hull and was amazed when scrolling up to find out that its made of wood  8)   I'll be watching this build as thats a fine looking tug to be making  :-))
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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2017, 06:52:06 PM »


what a lovely and unusual model.


very nice indeed.


Jim.
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2017, 02:46:10 AM »

Thanks for the comments guys.Well, the summer weather hasn't got any better for one reason or another I haven't had much time at the bench.My propellors finally arrived but the stuff from Shapeways has been lost in transit since mid December. Can't do too much until I get those parts. I need the panama fairleads to finish the YTL hull and the warping drums to finish the Hikurangi windlass. I've also got a selection of ventilators and capstans in the order as well but they aren't holding anything up just yet.
It has been very wet and extremely windy (and that is something when you live in the windiest city on earth) so I haven't been able to do much painting either. Tried it one day and got so much dust on the paintwork that I had to re-sand it and start again. Anyway, I did manage to skin the superstructure with 0.2mm styrene and added the window trim in styrene strip.
A few sessions of filling, sanding and undercoat and it's starting to get there. Now I can start adding threesome of the PE brass detail parts that I had made earlier. Started with the portholes, the handrails are brass rod.
And yes, the portholes are very large. That's how they are on the original. People must have been smaller in 1945 as the doors, ladders etc are very narrow by today's standards. The bridge door is only 600mm/24inches wide, the ladders are 15inches wide. The portholes aren't huge but they look large in comparison to the doors and ladders.
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2017, 11:48:15 PM »

I've finally got back to work on this one.
My parts from Shapeways took a little longer to arrive than anticipated but now I just about have everything I need to complete the JO'B and also the Hikurangi, which has been sidelined.
This was my second attempt at producing parts at Shapeways and the results have been OK.
I've had some ASD units printed in the past but this time I tried some smaller, more detailed items: lights, ventilators, capstans, winch drums and panama fairleads.
I started by drawing the items up as profiles. I am trying to learn a 3D drawing program but it is not as easy as it sounds so I found a 3D designer on the Shapeways forum who converted them to STL files for a meagre fee.
The finished product are great. As they are printed in Ultra Fine Detail material they cannot be painted with enamels – it never dries. Using acrylics has been a new experience – not convinced about it yet. It doesn't have the same feel as enamel, not as tough or as resilient, and a much thicker coat as well. Luckily I only have to use it on a few areas that won't get too much handling.
In hindsight the panama fairleads/chocks could have been a little smaller but I wasn't sure how fine I could go with the thicknesses or details. Not bad for a first go.
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2017, 11:53:50 PM »



...and we have a winner!!
The hull is now completed and we've reached the stage where I need to decide on the colour scheme.
I've posted this build on two other forums and the votes for the preferred colour schemes has been strongly supporting the 'tiger' camouflage version, closely followed by the 'pilot' version.
However I've decided to go for the Royal New Zealand Navy post war grey.
Sorry, boys – here's why:
I really liked the 'tiger' scheme but I have on my wish list a model of the Saint Class tug Toia (ex St Fregus/Boniface) that served my home town for many years after WWI – and that tug did come with a dazzle paint job.
I aslo liked the green pilot version – but also on my wish list (it's a long list) is a tug from the South Island port of Timaru, and all of their tugs are the same pale green.
The traditional black/white/buff funnel JO'B has in civilian life looks good too – but I have a few tugs in the same colours already.
So I've gone for post war pale grey.
My reasoning is that 625 was initially handed over to the RNZN as the Kawitiri and I'm thinking that it would have been finished the same as 627 which also went to the navy and was run by a civilian crew. So pale grey with buff stack and ventilators.
Hey, it was immediately after the war so they had a lot of spare grey paint lying around.
I wanted to show the JO'B's naval heritage and I also like the way the black on the lower hull curves up under the anchor/bow.
However, the main reason for this choice is that my father was in the navy around this time and I like to think that he may have seen 625 somewhere around the navy base.


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Steve Mahoney

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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2017, 11:56:02 PM »

The fenders/rubbing strips on the original are some type of hardwood, probably Australian or Fijian as teak from Asia would have been unavailable during the war. These ones are basswood with several coats of a very diluted, warm grey wash.
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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2017, 03:48:42 AM »

Nice choice of colour scheme!  :-)) :-))


Mind you, I'd have been happy with anything other than sickly Timaru green.  %)
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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2017, 08:46:27 PM »

Ha ha. Don't let the Brown boys here you say that!!
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2017, 05:10:30 AM »

Now on to the superstructure. The engine room hatch is ply and styrene. Primed and top coated.
The funnel has a ply spine and ribs/formers with a 0.2mm styrene skin. The styrene is wrapped around 3 times to give it some strength.The wiring conduit is styrene rod, and the light shutter is also thin styrene. Still needs the base/pivot for the derrick and a small wing drum on the side.The ventilators were printed at Shapeways. They look great but I'm not too happy with the finish of the acrylic paint, as I mentioned in a previous post.They need to be the same colour as the funnel so had to use the same acrylic on the funnel. You need to be super careful with the paint as it marks very easily.
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2017, 04:48:29 AM »

Have been make some progress lately – managing to get in an hour or more a day in the evenings while the light is still good.Made up a jig to help solder the ladders together. The rails are PE brass and the rungs are 0.25mm brass rod. Soldering them takes only a few minutes but filing and cleaning them up took ages. Made the 5 sections of railing at the same time. Once again, the stanchions are PE brass and the rails are 0.25 for the lower 2 rails and 0.4 for the top rail. Spent all Saturday morning fettling – I don't get to say that often!!Also got the mast ready for final painting (minus lights). It too, is brass with the tapered top section made from a spare bit of dowel – a kebab skewer actually.The railings have now been painted and I just about have all of the components completed and ready to glue in place.I was able to knock out the winch quite quickly – surprisingly. The usually take longer than planned and involve plenty of reworking and bad language.It is all black so it hides a few blemishes.Same story for the tow hook.Only the fire hydrants and derrick to worry about now.
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2017, 10:35:07 PM »

Things seem to be falling into place pretty quickly now. I made up the anchor windlass from styrene (frame), PE brass gears and wheel/handles (from my sheet of etchings) and brass rod. The warping drum I had 3D printed at Shapeways, along with a the capstan and panama fairleads. Quite happy with the result.

The life buoy racks are also PE brass, the life buoys are laser cut ply with 3 thick coats of paint.

The railings are brass rod an PE brass stanchions.

I broke my usual rule of not applying the name until the very last act on the completed model. When it is all finished there will be too much chance of snapping something off while applying the rubdown names and hull markings, so they went on now. Hope I haven't jinxed the project by breaking with tradition.
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Daleb

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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2017, 11:30:53 PM »

Cracking build and one lovely looking Tug, I'm following this to the end and can't wait to see your "James O'Brien" on the water...Keep up the great work  :-))


Dale.
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #17 on: March 09, 2017, 03:48:41 AM »

Thanks Dale, this one is display only. At 1/50 it is tiny and probably wouldn't sail too well.

I've tried to speed up the build and I've given myself 2 weeks to get this and the Hikurangi finished. Off on holiday after that so if I don't get them done now I never will.

All of the components have been completed apart from the display stand and the binnacle.

As usual there is an order in which the parts need to be assembled. For this build I had to glaze the windows first (especially the galley porthole at the rear of the wheelhouse wall, you can't even see it behind the funnel!), then attach the galley chimney (first image), then attach the funnel. Then I could put in the funnel stays. They are cotton thread. Very delicate work and took a lot longer than I thought.

The MOT (Ministry of Transport) crest is a rubdown from Allout Graphics in Vancouver. They are very delicate so I'm paranoid about touching them for fear of scratching them off.

That MOT crest disappeared from use over 30 years ago and even finding reference of it was quite difficult. I ended up finding one on an old school road safety certificate and redrew it to allow for a huge reduction in size. Turned out OK.

The MOT also included the traffic cops, who were the bane of my life 30 years ago. I should have kept some of those speeding tickets with the crest on them.
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #18 on: March 09, 2017, 03:53:03 AM »

The funnel stays went on without too much drama so I got straight into assembling the derrick.

Why didn't someone warn me! They are so complicated.

I made the mistake of making the pulleys/blocks from PE brass components. 3 components for a single fully, 5 for a double pulley.

When I came to rig it all up I realised that I should have made triples, but I had used up all of my components so the purists will just have to look the other way.

I used a slightly thicker cotton tread to represent hemp rope, it is still a bit furry but a thin coat of PVA should smooth things out a bit.

Just to rig it up took about 3 hours. That sounds like a lot of time but I think I got off lightly. It is very confined and I did most of it holding my breath.

The photos have highlighted a couple of areas that need a paint touch up. I'll add some rope coils later.
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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2017, 03:01:19 AM »

Steve,

It seems an engineering contradiction, that the funnel requires stays for stability, yet is supporting the cantilevered "block" pulley load, of the derrick.  %% %%

Nevertheless still a nice model. :-)) :-))
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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #20 on: March 10, 2017, 06:59:21 AM »

Top class! :-))
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #21 on: March 15, 2017, 09:16:36 PM »

Thanks Danielle.

Good point RAAArtyGunner. Must have been the Aussie input in the design – ha ha.
The wartime boats had a crane on the port side instead of a derrick. The boats completed after the war had derricks. I assume that the post war funnels were strengthened to take the derrick. The current JO'B has stay cleats on the funnel but none on the deck. My stays might be overkill and incorrect but removing them would be a pain in the ****.

Well my speeding up of the build started by cleaning up my bench and resulted in throwing out the tiny turnbuckles needed for the mast stays. Next I managed to destroy my airbrush. Luckily it is a very cheap model and a replacement cost even less than the original. It arrived in the post on the same day as the replacement turnbuckles, so I'm now back on track - almost.

Now that the funnel and derrick rigging is in place I can position the ventilators and start attaching the rest of the element.

The dinghy is a modified 12ft wherry boat from Di Stefan's Shapeways shop. He reduced it to 10ft, I just had to put a cover on it. He's great to deal with and very quick with any requests.
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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #22 on: March 15, 2017, 10:28:39 PM »

Steve....as always, the crispness of the build and detail....together with the surface finish is superb  :-))

The ablative coating on the deck surfaces outby of the bridge deckhouse ....very realistic  O0

Whilst I understand the light aft of the chimney [as per the original Blueprints] is not a navigation element, its effect would certainly be greatly reduced/blinded if the derrick were luffed further back

Derek
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #23 on: March 16, 2017, 09:58:33 PM »

Dead right Derek. I had wondered about that and had a look through my reference photos. On my trip onboard the derrick was stowed this way so I checked again with the owner and he tells me that usually it is always hooked up to/over the dinghy, and angles away from the light. Just my luck to get a photo on the one day it's not rigged properly.
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: WWII USN YTL Tug / James O'Brien
« Reply #24 on: March 26, 2017, 05:48:35 AM »

All finished.

It's missing a couple of anchors and only has a temporary stand but it's finished at last.

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