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Author Topic: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea  (Read 4018 times)

Steve Mahoney

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Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« on: March 29, 2018, 08:35:38 PM »

I started this build over at my usual haunt ]www.modeltugforum.com but sadly, activity has been quite slow there lately so I thought some of you might be interested. I'm still trying to finish the last 1% of the little Hikurangi (only the pudding fenders left to make) and started this as a side project.

It's the steam tug Kumea.

There isn't a great deal of information about the Kumea – just one old photo and not much else. Built in Britain, probably in 1928, she spent time in Auckland, Wanganui on New Zealand's North Island, and Greymouth (down south).

There aren't many navigable rivers in NZ, they are all either to swift, too shallow or don't go inland far enough. The Wangaui is one the few that is navigable for a long way upstream, and has a port a mile or two from the mouth of the river. The entrance to the river can be quite dangerous and the tugs had a busy time. Quite a few ships had a tough time trying to get in there – the Port Bowen being one of the largest to come to grief. The Harbour Board had its own dredge and the entrance was continually being dredged but it didn't prevent regular disasters. The port isn't used much these days but up until the 1960s it was a busy little provincial port.

The only photo shows the Kumea steaming down the Wanganui River in the mid 30s. It is from Russell Ward's site: tugboats.co.nz. I can't visit that site without finding another tug that needs to be built.

So… not much to go on. I can sort out the hull based on typical British tug hulls from that era. From the photo, I'm guessing around 80ft LOA, steel hull, wooden wheelhouse. In fact pretty much everything will be guesswork – even the colours. Wanganui's provincial rugby colours are royal blue and black hoops (the 'butcher boys' win the 2nd division on a regular basis and always turn down promotion) so that's the funnel sorted. The hull is obviously not black and at the moment it's looking very Union Castle lilac, from this angle. Wanganui port is in the suburb of Castlecliff so that's close enough for me.
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2018, 08:45:28 PM »

So... the model will be 1/50 and display only. I settled on 80ft (1/50 = 490mm). I have subsequently found out she was 75ft but I had already started by then. I can live with it.

Anyone who has seen any of my previous builds will know the drill by now. I began by adapting a plan of the 1900 steam tug Flying Foam down to the dimensions I figured to be equal to the Kumea. It is a very narrow beam thing – a real racing snake.


The adapted plan was then turned into a vector file for a set of ribs, keel, deck and basic superstructure components to be laser cut. The ribs and keel are 3.6mm Meranti, and the deck and superstructure parts are 1.5mm Birch. The 1.5mm ply in the photo still has the backing paper attached. This holds all of the pieces in place as it is being lasered. It peels off very easily and leaves no residue.

After a quick scrub to remove any laser dust/ash, the pieces slot together very simply and quickly. All glued together with CA and plenty of bracing to keep everything square and straight. Used 2 complete 3mL tubes of glue on the hull so far, so none of the pieces are ever going to move. Luckily the CA glue is very inexpensive.

Drawing up the plans and parts takes about 3-4 evenings, assembling the hull carcase takes only a couple of hours. The bracing might be a bit over the top but I've had hulls warp and twist at this stage so now I over-compensate just to be on the safe side. Plus I'm working in a very sunny room and that doesn't help with any warping.

Before I get stuck into the planking I needed to pack out the bow and stern with some balsa blocks and to fair it. 

The planking is pretty straightforward and shouldn't cause too many problems but the curves in these areas are quite tight and complex, so the more surface area for the planks to be glued onto, the better.

The packing only needs a rough sand – it'll all be covered eventually.

The timbered sections of the deck were stained as well, and they'll be covered in masking tape for the duration so I don't spill any glue or paint onto the stained areas. The decking lines are laser etched into the ply. The stain highlights the etched lines, paint would cover and hide them. Not sure about the colour at the moment – might be a little light.

So far so good. Next step… planking.
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tassie48

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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2018, 09:10:13 PM »

Well done mate great to see some one building the boats that no one else tackles following this build as I shipped out of Wanganui many years ago you build some great models keep up the great work tassie48
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2018, 06:48:24 AM »

Thanks Gregg. Small world. Not a lot of traffic out of Wanganui these days. A friends' father worked at WHB in the '50s and he 'salvaged' quite a few items from any boats that were being scrapped. He has a piece of timber from the bridge of the Kumea (he thinks) which I'll be using for the stand.

I laid out the first plank and found that one of the frames needed a little remedial work to smooth out the curves. A thin strip of ply to pack it out and then sanded back did the trick. The rest of the frames were sorted out with a light sand to fair them out. Then the first plank could be relaid and both side looked pretty even and symmetrical.

My planking is pretty messy compared to many of the fine examples on the forum. Mine are more swiss cheese than watertight. I tend to see planking as a means to an end, and rely on filling and sanding a little too heavily. I usually use balsa but after seeing some of the fine examples here I might try using Lime/Basswood for my next attempt. Unfortunately it is about 4 times the cost over here so I may need to tidy up my technique.

Anyway, I'll spare you the gory details of my hamfisted planking progress, and hopefully in a few days I'll have something looking more like a hull.

Let the planking begin!
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2018, 09:47:12 PM »

Well, that wasn't too painful.

The planking is done (first 3 photos), it's had a coat of resin (next 2), and the first session of primer, filler and sanding (last 2).

Early days yet. I usually need to repeat this process many times. Hopefully I'll have something I'm happy with in another week or so.
Regular viewers will notice that I've managed my usual trick of snapping of the rudder post. Not such a disaster this time as I couldn't get the prop shaft in with it there. Not thought out too well.

Whenever I see a model boat my first instinct is to check out the hull. The detail topside is fine but, for me, the real work is in the hull. Getting rid of any bumps, dips, funny curves or flat spots might take ages but It's something I'm very fussy about. I can spend days on it, I think I had 8 sessions on my last build. Being obsessive is just part of modelling, I guess.

Anyway, it beats gardening.
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tassie48

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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2018, 09:15:43 PM »

Steve that is great like the way you fit bracing tween the frames it is great to learn different things I see the sense in doing this good to see a couple photos of the old home port and the old dredge Wanganui digging in the Harbour remember as a kid in the early 60,s visiting the port and going on a old naval ship a bathurst class corvette that was in port .Your planking is good filling and sanding getting that shape well done mate do enjoy your builds great to see small tugs you must have a fleet by now Gregg tassie48
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2018, 10:02:16 PM »

Thanks Gregg. Yeah, as this one is display only I could go overboard with the internal bracing.
As for the planking – when you're spiling, you're smiling. Ha ha.
Yes, the spare room is starting to fill up with tugs: Kupe (Wellington 1970), Te Matua (Tauranga 1992), Parahaki (Whangarei 1964), Rangi (Otago 1974), Hikurangi (Gisborne 1962), James O'Brien (Westport 1945), Koraki (Picton 1986), Christian Reinauer (NY ATB), St Johns (Florida SDM), Cates X (Vancouver harbour tug) and about 6 half built hulls. As you can imagine my wife is over the moon. Luckily we have several spare rooms so full steam ahead.
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2018, 11:33:32 PM »

Between sanding sessions, I started on the bulwarks. I had pre-planned for this by laser cutting a heap of bulwark knees, and the appropriate sized base slots out of the deck. The knees slot into place very easily although on this particular model they are very narrow and will need delicate handling until the bulwarks are applied. The knees are CA glued in using a few Lego blocks to keep everything square and flush with the shear of the deck.

I started the bulwarks at the bow and stern, which have the sharpest and most complex curves. These areas are skinned in 2 layers of 0.5mm ply. Each piece is cut out of the sheet at 90Ί to the other so that the grain/layers are opposite when glued. It's much stronger than it sounds and can take quite a bit of rough handling. The mid sections are relatively straight so they are just a strip of 1mm ply, laid with the 2 outer ply layers going with the grain, along the deck.

Did that all make sense?

When cutting the ply I only worry about getting a good fit with the deck (more or less). I always leave excess above the knees and just sand it down when everything is solidly in place.

Still plenty of work to do yet but now that the bulwarks are on I can start getting the hull to a final smooth as finish.
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2018, 09:02:04 PM »

I've managed to get in a few solid sessions on the hull over the past week.[/size]Added the rubbing strakes/bands/strips (made from basswood), and the capping rail (made from 0.5mm ply). The first attempt at the rubbing strip didn't look right as I had ended it too short of the bow. It goes right around. This has subsequently been fixed without any drama.In these photos the upward curve of the capping rail at the bow is a bit too steep and abrupt. This has been extended and flattened out.I have one photo of the real boat and I really need to look at it more often – doh! I'm almost happy with the surface and shape of the hull however some of the balsa I used for the planking was very soft and even when covered with a good coating of resin the hull has suffered a few pressure dents. Easily fixed but a pain in the proverbial. Handling it with kid gloves now and I've covered the building stand with felt as a precaution. Hopefully only a few more session to go. Still need to fix that rudder post.
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derekwarner_decoy

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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2018, 09:31:45 PM »

 %)............Steve wrote

"I've managed to get in a few solid sessions on the hull over the past week.  Added the rubbing strakes/bands/strips (made from basswood), and the capping rail (made from 0.5mm ply). The first attempt at the rubbing strip didn't look right as I had ended it too short of the bow. It goes right around. This has subsequently been fixed without any drama. In these photos the upward curve of the capping rail at the bow is a bit too steep and abrupt. This has been extended and flattened out. I have one photo of the real boat and I really need to look at it more often – doh! I'm almost happy with the surface and shape of the hull however some of the balsa I used for the planking was very soft and even when covered with a good coating of resin the hull has suffered a few pressure dents. Easily fixed but a pain in the proverbial. Handling it with kid gloves now and I've covered the building stand with felt as a precaution. Hopefully only a few more session to go. Still need to fix that rudder post".

O0


Thank you Derek. very helpful. It's what this club is all about..    :-))
ken
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Derek Warner

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CJ1

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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2018, 05:17:08 PM »

This is my "apprentice piece" built when I was 16, based on a Bassett Lowke plan, with a B-L boiler, twin Stuart Turners and a single screw. I called it Kumeer as a play on words when I was calling it across the pond (come here!).... nice coincidence though, especially as it looks so similar.
Nice build Steve.
Chris



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Steve Mahoney

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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2018, 09:55:13 PM »

Thanks Derek, don't know what happened there. Looks like the back of a legal document.


Thanks Chris, ha ha – I hadn't thought of the name that way. I don't have any reference of the bow area of my Kumea so I might 'borrow' a couple of your ideas.
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2018, 12:07:09 AM »

After few more shaping sessions the hull was about where I wanted to be. Having a few really good layers of primer followed by a fine sand with 400, 600 and finally 1200 grit gets it to the 'smooth as a baby's bum' state.

For this project I thought that I might have a go at plating – well, more simulated, and just for effect. At 1/50 scale 1/2inch plate is only 0.25mm thick – that's only the thickness of a couple of layers of paint. So I masked up the hull to form plates at 4ft tall. I brushed on several coats of primer and when the tape was removed just lightly buffed the hard edges with some 600 grit paper. This took several days waiting for the layers to dry completely.

The plate lines were marked out in the same way you would do the waterline – a pencil taped to a jig, run around the levelled hull.

The final result turned out OK. I won't worry about rivets (that's a whole other story to be covered later) or plate join lines. At this size I'm OK with it as it is.

Also managed to repair the rudder post, make the rude, and add the hawser holes. The hawser hole surrounds are some PE brass that I had etched at the start of the build.
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2018, 01:41:01 AM »

The simulated plating turned out OK so the next step was to go to final painting.

The only existing photo of the Kumea is an old B/W so the boat's colours were always going to be pretty much guesswork. I had initially planned to paint the hull in a Union Castle lilac. I've always liked that colour but Wanganui is definitely not a 'lilac' kind of place. I eventually went for a warm grey. The original Kumea was probably light grey and this colour is very close in tone to the photo. I used to row on the Wanganui River many years ago and often, after a lot of rain, it was a similar colour to this grey.

So far so good.

The hull only has a couple of scuppers/freeing ports, not really much for ocean work but probably OK for a river. Most freeing ports in salt water don't have covers as the can rust shut.

The deck steel colour is some left over paint from my last project, the Parahaki. Looks OK with the grey and red oxide of the hull.
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2018, 12:33:33 AM »

The propellor arrived from Cornwall Model Boats today (excellent service and prompt delivery as usual), and that was the last item needed to complete the basic hull.

Lastly, I added a timber rubbing rail at the stern gunwale and at the other end a bow fairlead.

Haven't even thought about the deck equipment yet but it will need a windlass, capstan, towing beam and bow derrick at the minimum.
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2018, 12:40:04 AM »

Tugs of this era still had chain steering linkages so while I was waiting for the propeller to arrive I decided to try and make a chain steering system.

There are a couple of common ways that the chain systems work.

One runs down the side of the gunwales as a chain from the wheel that crosses the deck, runs through some rollers, connects to a rod that runs the length of the boat before reconnecting to a chain that runs around the steering quadrant. Mirror image port & starboard.

The other common method runs the rods through a box conduit along the centre line of the deck and where it exits the engine room housing it splits at 90Ί into chains that then turn another 90Ί to link to each side of the quadrant. The chains run through square steel channels so you don't see the chain much at all.

All clear as mud? I'm sure most of you know how it works anyway.

I went for the first method because the way the system works is more visible – and I didn't want channels running down the timber section of the deck.

There's no evidence as to which system was used on the Kumea so either could be correct, although as the tug was quite a dated design when it was built I'm thinking my choice is probably more likely.

So... here's how it looks.

Pic 2 is the deck plate that covers the chain as it crosses the deck from the bridge.
Pic 3 shows the connecting rod.

In real life the port chain attaches to the starboard side of the quadrant and vice versa. Luckily this end is hidden by the quadrant cover/duckboard.
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Martin [Admin]

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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2018, 06:19:04 AM »


Looking Good!   :-))
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2018, 11:36:07 PM »

Thanks Martin.

And now... on to the superstructure...

The basic structural parts had been laser cut from 1.5mm ply from the same sheet as the deck and bulwark knees.
They fit together with a simple slot and tab system. The 4 basic components are superstructure, wheelhouse, engine room housing and deck hatch.

The main superstructure unit went together pretty quickly and easily. I used some square basswood section to brace the corners. A baseplate and the boat deck keep everything square and solid.

So far so good.

The superstructure went together according to plan. I managed to fill any gaps and sand the corners down to the right radius for the rounded corners. After a coat to primer I was ready to tackle the next step.

I had decided to try and simulate rivet lines and had ordered some decal rivets from Micro mark in the US.They looked pretty good and the instructions were thorough and clear: get the surface as smooth as possible (paint, 1200 wet & dry), apply decals carefully, leave to dry 24 hours and then apply several coats of decal solvent, with 24 hours between coats.

The whole process turned out to be quite a disaster.

The first problem was that USPost considered the decal solvent a 'hazardous substance' and refused to send it. I had to go through a slow process of getting a detailed description of the constituent chemicals and their dangers and submit that to the USPost. After 3 weeks they decide it was safe to send. The bottle was only 1oz so not really a weapon of mass destruction. After it arrived I discovered that the same product is available in NZ at a fraction of the cost. Doh!

So here's how the decals look at the start, before any coats of solvent.
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tassie48

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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #18 on: May 07, 2018, 04:14:26 AM »

Steve you build some great looking ships mate well done do I call you a rivet counter now or just steve haha your eye for detail is really good I enjoy your builds I learn a lot from you which is great for the hobby all round tassie48
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derekwarner_decoy

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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #19 on: May 07, 2018, 05:38:37 AM »

Steve.....just thinking about the rolling of plates or riveting of corner channel

From this, you could consider an additional plate band on the to surface of the structure, and I do not understand why the concentration of rivet patterns as marked

I understand winches may have been installed here, however just a few rows of strengthening would be adequate

Derek
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #20 on: May 07, 2018, 09:47:02 PM »

Derek – the wheel house goes where the red lines are, so no need for rivets there. The mass of rivets was my attempt at a non-slip walkway. That is the area for access to the wheelhouse and between ladders to the main deck. That whole area of decals peeled off in stages so that it has now dead smooth again. Several other small sections of the rivet lines have also flaked off, even after several coats of paint. CBA fixing them.


Gregg – Thanks, after the shambles with these decals I reckon my rivet counting days are over.
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #21 on: May 08, 2018, 10:34:34 PM »

After 6 applications of solvent the decals are still not adhering to the paint. They flake off at the merest touch.

Even with 2 light coats of sealer primer they still peel away. I've had to make repairs to or replace the decals almost every time I work on the parts – and I have been handling them extremely gently and not touching the decals directly. The process has been very disappointing – and frustrating.

The instructions show it working on brass, maybe they only work on plastic or brass. I had painted the ply as per instructions and the surface was super smooth and clean – but no joy. Pretty much a total waste of time – and money – all up the decals, solvent and postage to NZ came to about $50. Arrrgh!!
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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #22 on: May 09, 2018, 10:25:45 AM »

Were you using gloss paint? Decals will normally only stick properly to a gloss surface. If the paint had been sanded smooth the surface may still have fine sanding grooves which allows air under the decal. Try a coat of gloss varnish over the paint first before adding the decal.
Jim
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #23 on: May 09, 2018, 11:29:52 PM »

Yes Jim, you're probably right – I had 1200 wet&dried the paint before application. That may be the problem.

They flake off as soon as the wind changes. I've had to replace or repair many sections and they are still peeling off. They have got me a bit gun-shy now. I'm treating everything with kid gloves. In hindsight, it might not have been a good idea to wet & dry the surface before applying the decals. Spilt milk now.


Added some PE brass parts – the sooner I get some top coat on them the better.
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Steve Mahoney

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Re: Wanganui River Steam Tug Kumea
« Reply #24 on: May 13, 2018, 01:01:28 AM »

Managed to get a couple of top coats onto the superstructure over the past few days.

I've gone for a grey and very dark red hull, dark orange deck and dark brown superstructure. The wheelhouse is teak with an cream roof. The funnel is dark red with a cream stripe and black top. The original names for these colours were: ivory (roof), chocolate (superstructure), whale grey (hull), oxblood (below waterline) and burgundy (funnel). And with the teak it's a very 'roaring twenties' sounding colour scheme. Sounds horrible but it looks OK.

Here are the first pieces to be painted. My attempt at a decal riveted non slip walkway peeled of during painting. I had to sand that area back, re-seal and re-spray. Several other small bits of the decal strips also flaked off. CBA fixing a few areas.

The decals are great in theory, I'll just have to figure out the correct way to apply them. Or stay away from riveted hulls.

Also added the hatch handles and the funnel stay anchor points to the main cabin block.

The engine and boiler room hatch portholes are PE brass frames and brass rod bars and handles. So far, so good...
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