DIY Ship Models

20th June 2009, 16:45
Retired now and a little bored at times,anyone suggest were I cay buy a DIY kit of an older type British Tanker or similar, just starting so not too difficult, already sent for Esso Glasgow to start with, but have an interest in BP from the 40s/50s/, dont like the all aft jobs, any suggestions lads. Incidently I was at sea for 43 years, retired at 59, nearly six years ago. cheers Bill.

20th June 2009, 17:42
Hi Bill,

What kind of kit are you looking for, static display or radio-control?

Besides the Revell ''Esso Glasgow'' that you already have, there aren't too many 'kits' out there for tankers, or any cargo vessels, really. Deans Marine do a fiberglass hull in 1:96 for a WWI- era tanker ( which is meant for a working model.

Building your own hull is not terribly difficult, provided you have access to A) a lines plan and B) some basic woodworking tools like a fret/scroll saw and some clamps.

jerome morris
20th June 2009, 18:09
Bill ZZ56 is right, there aren't many "kit" for the time period your looking.
Imex model made 4 ship a few years back, I believe they made a Nedloyd cargo ship, a container ship (with no teu's no less). A cargo ship with the name Trinidad and something else I do not recall at this moment. Unfortunately they were all aft arrangements. You can find them on auction sights from time to time. Revell also did a " Mission Capistrano" which I think maybe the same as the "Esso Glasgow'.
Time to learn how to scratch build.

20th June 2009, 18:45
Bill, before you go laying out scarce pounds in all directions with no target in sight, I suggest you go to your local library and have a look to see if they have any books on model shipbuilding.
Failing that spend whatever it cost to buy a Model Ship magazine at your nearest book store, in there you are sure to see ads for instruction books for all manner of types of models.
Best make sure you have the will, the way and indeed the inclination before actually getting into wooden scratch-built ships.

20th June 2009, 19:38
Have a look at this link, it may give you some direction. Regardless, its a site you can spend hours on!

20th June 2009, 21:49
Thanks to you all, I take it all in, I will check all options and start my new pastime, and Bob I agree with you about Beer but water is the best drink if taken in the right SPIRIT !!!!!

20th June 2009, 23:34
William, you have chosen a very sparce and difficult type of ship to begin your quest to become a boat modeller with.
however all is not lost.
if you pick up a copy of model boats, they have a plans service, which offers a plan for building a scale tanker called "DILYSIA" [ or something similar.
although it is a "nonsuch" ship, it is adequately detailed and easy enough with construction notes on the plans for the beginner.
hope this helps you get started, and if help is needed don't hesitate to ask.

23rd June 2009, 17:35
Hello Bill,
I am one of those few ship model builders who actually likes to build tankers, although they are not much in demand. I have built: BRITISH ENDURANCE, SAN ALBERTO, ALGOL, LOUSIANA and BOSUN BIRD (Ex ESSO DOVER).

I like them because I find the older types with split accommodation were very attractive and also because I find them easier. Whatever type of steam or motor ship you build, you have to build the accommodation, so I can only assume that it is the pipework what others find difficult. I make the pipes out of what begins as solid insulated copper wire. I first slide the insulation off and then stretch the wire slightly to make it straight. Then I cut thin slices of the removed insulation and slide them back on to represent the flanges. Personally, I find it far easier to make tanker pipework than mess about with hatches, winches, derricks etc that cargo ships are covered with.
Then spray the whole lot with the required colour and add the flying bridge later.

Anyway, here are a couple of pictures. One shows the partially completed pipework on LOUSIANA and the other is the completed model.

All hand built using copies of the plans from Shipbuilder & Marine Engine Builder.


jerome morris
25th June 2009, 14:31
Bill, I have some plans for a model builder plan for a ESSO tanker, typical midship house arrangement. There yours if you want them. I am building a tanker of a ship I was on years ago, so will never use this plan for the ESSO ship. I believe she was named Nederland.
PM me with your address and I'll send them to you.
I'll try to post pictures later today of what I'm building.

26th June 2009, 08:18
William, I have built a number of kit models and having served on BP tankers I too wanted to build a mid-ships tanker BP tanker from the 50's/60's. I never got round to building from plans/scratch building - always too busy working. I would be very interested to hear how you get on.

26th June 2009, 08:49
I suppose time is an important factor if one is very busy with other things. However, I have asked a lot of my friends at the local model shipbuilding club how long it takes them to build their kits and the answer is usually between about 6 months and several years!

I have neither time no patience for that sort of thing, so I prefer to scratchbuild because I find it cheaper, quicker and easier. LOUSIANA (See above) took 57 hours (timed on a stopwatch), spread over 27 days.


jerome morris
26th June 2009, 14:01
Here's my version of the "Mobil Aero". I am thinking another 40 to 50 hours to complete.

26th June 2009, 14:24
That is a splendid model. It will take an enormous case though. Will it be set in a simulated sea?

jerome morris
26th June 2009, 17:18
It will indeed be in a sea. I'm realizing people don't really care to see the underbody of a ship....most never do anyway. Though the sea will be on the small side, couple inches each side and a few more on each end. I've also thought of putting her on the hook, with the pilot ladder over the side.
And with the hull completely dark grey/black, it would overwhelm the model.

26th June 2009, 17:42
I would agree that a smaller sea is OK if you have the ship at anchor. That is what I did with LOUISIANA. I find that a ship underway needs a larger sea because of the wake and the wash.

Don Matheson
28th June 2009, 13:17
Bill Was looking for some information yesterday and found that the kit manufacturer Deans Marine in England have a hull for the "Imperial Transport" a war time tanker but the hull could cover the 40s and 50s with many ships falling in between.
The hull is in 1/96 scale and is 1.5m long so around 60inches. They mention they have a plan for her and a building guide with an a fittings pack available. This may be something you could be interested in.
The Imperial Transport if my memory works was the original "San Demetrio" and the Imperial Transport was her rebuilt.
Hope this may help your choice in your new hobby.

Steve Hodges
16th July 2009, 15:33
Revell made a plastic kit of one of the british-built BP bridge-midships tankers, can't remember which one though ( Reliance? maybe, memory not what it was!). The kit was only about a foot long and not very well detailed because the scale was too small, but it could easily be used as a template to scratchbuild. The kit was was later re-issued under the name "North Sea Oil Tanker" ( complete b-ll-x!). Although it is a bit rare now, you might find one with one of the specialist dealers in plastic models - they often have stands at model shows, air displays, etc.
I had one many years ago, started to make it , got brassed off by the poor quality of the detailing and chucked it away. I've been regretting it ever since, having realised I could have used it as a pattern for a larger scale scratch build. Tanker hulls are pretty straightforward due to the boxy lines, you could make a box section hull from thickish timber and just carve the bow and stern sections from solid or laminated block.
Good luck!

Donald McGhee
17th July 2009, 04:27
I agree with all said. I have been building plank on frame for some time, due to the absolute shortage of cargo ship etc models.
The amount of warships is absolutely staggering in model form, you would think that they and they alone sailed the seas! I reckon the variety of merchant men is equal if not more than the warships and see no reason why the major companies like Revell etc don't design some even to test the market. I'm sure that types like Blue Flue/Clan/Bank boats which were pretty distinctive would have a following.


17th July 2009, 08:18
Tanker hulls are pretty straightforward due to the boxy lines, you could make a box section hull from thickish timber and just carve the bow and stern sections from solid or laminated block.
Good luck!


This is great advice, it's how i personally tackled my project

Another way to do the 'curvy bits' is to make up frames but instead of planking them, fill the spaces with blocks of expanded house insulation foam and sand them to shape, then put fiberglass over the whole hull to make it smooth and strong. If you want to make an RC model, you can easily 'scrape' the foam out with a chisel.

28th July 2009, 08:34
In the past, there were a few merchant ship ship kits. Offhand, I remember J L HANNA (tanker) BENLEDI (cargo), HAWAIIAN PILOTY(cargo) SHELL WELDER (tanker). I suppose kit manufacturers lost interest in them because they didn't sell very well. They never seem to tire of TITANIC, VICTORY, BOUNTY and CUTTY SARK though. I wouldn't like to see an increase in merchant ship kits because it is bad enough now. Practically every time I show one of my models I get "Is it a kit?" Generally, I avoid building anything that is produced in kit form, although I built a TITANIC once.

What is wrong with building your own? If you have a knowledge of ships, it is not all that difficult as long as you have a good plan to work from and stick to the scale.


jerome morris
28th July 2009, 19:50
But it is nice to get away from scratch building and slam a kit together once in a while.

29th July 2009, 00:42
there is a container ship plastic model due to be released in september hapag lloyd colombo express in 1/700 by revell and judging by the prototype pictures on their website its going to be a nice model

21st November 2009, 22:33
Interesting thread but I am amazed that no one has picked up re Don's remark that he thought the "Imperial Transport" was originally the "San Demetrio".

Imperial Transport was built in 1931 by Blythswood in Glasgow. She was eventually scrapped in 1958.

The San Demetrio was also built by Blythswood but in 1938 after her famous epic she was eventually torpedoed in 1942, 19 days after I was born !!

Deans Models actually sell the Plans and a booklet on building Imperial Transport separately should you not want to buy the actual model to construct.

They are an excellent firm to get in formation from, their website is first class. They would offer more Merchant ship models of the type wanted in this thread than anyone else in the world and nearly all are for Radio Control. I nearly bought the Imperial Transport but am doing the Hudson River as that is a vessel I did a trip on for a Holiday trip whilst aboard my training ship HMS Worcester.


18th December 2009, 21:54
If you are interested in a scratchbuild, go to the following link, go to plans, Merchant Ships and then scroll down to Oil Tanker.

The main bonus with a scratch build is that a good print shop can enlarge or reduce the plans to suit your needs.

Tony Breach
19th December 2009, 09:30
The current Marine Modelling International magazine (December) comes with an interesting card kit inside together with full instructions on how to build it. Model Dockyard have a lot of card kits available & also advetise in that magazine which I think is better than Model Boats. I will probably try this model after christmas.