Friday, September 14, 2007

Model Boat Building IV: Painting the Waterline

One of the most anxiety fraught parts of making any model boat is painting the waterline. Because of its prominence, mistakes are obvious to anyone even casually looking at the boat. If done well, a good paint job can cover a multitude of mistakes made while creating the hull.

The first step is to draw the waterline correctly. Measure the points at the bow and stern where the waterline will be. The Yankee Hero kit comes with laser cut guides to help you find these points. More advanced kits often require you to figure out this point from the plans. The boat then needs to be carefully placed upside down so that the bow and stern points you drew are the same distance from the ground. Use blocks of wood to help adjust the boat (see first photo). You can tape down the boat if you need to, but it makes it harder to draw the line.

To draw the line, glue a pencil to a piece of wood that is attached perpendicularly to another piece of wood. Carefully trace around the boat. It helps to do it several times. If you have a large lazy Susan, it really helps to have the boat rest on this as it makes it easier to spin the boat around without moving it!

The best way to paint the waterline is to use thin masking tape to cover the water line and paint. The Yankee Hero has a boottop (the white stripe) and you can use decal tape that is the same size as the boottop and then retape after you paint. Paint above the waterline first. I like to paint several coats over several days. This allows time for the paint to dry and assures and attractive finish and clean line. Patience really pays off!

In the case of the Yankee Hero, I used the tape to make the boottop. You can also get special tape at an auto-parts dealer or hobby shop to make lines. While its possible to get two pieces of masking tape parallel to each other over some distance to make a line, I don't recommend it.

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