Model ship workshop

I work hard at being a member of too many model groups. Probably as a means of making sure I never get anything done. One of my favorite groups that I don’t have time for is the Hyde Street Model Shipwrights. I love models of all kinds and I’ve found that model ship clubs, on average, are easier social groups than most model train groups. That’s just been my experience, your mileage may vary.

One of my favorite museums when I was growing up in San Francisco was the wonderful Art Deco SF Maritime museum near Fisherman’s Wharf, every room bursting with model ships and ship artifacts.


When I first joined the Hyde Street Model Shipwrights we met in the basement of that museum. However, for the last several years the museum building has been under renovation so we’ve set up a small shop in a cabin on the main deck of the old Northwestern Pacific ferry boat Eureka (National Park Service , Wikipedia). There are usually club members at the shop every Saturday.

What’s all this have to do with trains? Note that Eureka was owned by the railroad I model and started its life as the Ukiah, a combination passenger, wagon/automobile, and railroad car ferry. That’s no more than one degree of separation.

Last weekend Paul, a club member who is also a neighbor in Mill Valley, hosted the annual club picnic. Paul builds model ships on commission and has also published numerous articles on model ship building. I took the opportunity to take some pictures of Paul’s shop which he has made inside his one-car garage.

Model ship workshop

Paul divides his workspace into several tool-specific stations with several general-purpose stations where model ships take shape. In this way he keeps several projects in construction concurrently.

Model ship workshop

Above are two general stations, each with a ship model underway.

Model ship workshop

A 1:24 scale model nearing completion. This was almost four feet long overall.

Model ship workshop

Model ship workshop

A small 1:64 scale model that’s been a personal project of Paul’s for some time.

Model ship workshop

At this bench Paul makes all the little fittings for his model ships.

Model ship workshop

A half-model Paul is building on commission. This will be mounted on a wall in the owner’s home.

3 Responses to “A model ship building workshop”

  1. Marty Bower Says:

    I am interested in getting into building model boats. I love sail boats but having tough time finding anything. I am searching for clubs in my area now and came across your site. Maybe I should just get back into my model trains. It’s been years since I have built any models but feel like I need to get away from technology and relax with something fresh.
    Look forward to your suggestions.
    Thanks, Marty

  2. Daniel Swearingen Says:

    Hi Marty,

    If you’re in the Bay Area, I’d strongly recommend the Model Shipwrights group I mention above. At least a couple of us are primarily train guys.

    Regards, Dan

  3. Marty Bower Says:

    Thanks for you’re response, sorry to say but I am not in the bay area. I live in West Chester, PA which is just north of Wilmington,DE. I am glad I found this site, so many interesting articles to read and great photo’s too. I have been into model trains too when I was growing up and enjoy these as well. I still have a lot of the HO, and N gauge trains I had when growing up because I enjoyed them so much. I am send away for a book from Amazon about model ship building (Ship Modeling Simplified: Tips and Techniques for Model Construction from Kits – Frank Mastini). Maybe I pull the trains out to get something started and see where I can set these up.