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Jan 10, 2020, 12:36 PM
Knot Obsessed
Thread OP
Build Log

Woodies: 1950 Chris Craft Catalina Build – Semi Scratch

Hello, I joined a while back but this is my first post.


I have built some plastic models in the past but this is my first attempt to build a wood model.
As a child, I remember seeing a wood scale model of Chris Craft cruiser on display in a shoe store and found it fascinating. Even then, I thought of it as representing an almost by-gone era in terms of boating design and model building. A while back I was on Ebay and stumbled across an unbuilt Sterling Chris Craft Catalina kit that had just been listed and for a reasonable price. I thought it would be a great winter project so I hit the “Buy It Now”.

I am now over 3/4th of the way to completion and I am pretty satisfied with the results but I’ll let you be the judge. Since this is an all new learning experience, I welcome any advice you may have. I have already discovered many things that I will do differently going forward and other things turned out good.

I originally wanted to build this for R/C with a full interior. As I progressed, I realized because of the smaller scale, I would be better off to give up one or the other. Since this is my first attempt, I decided to build this model for display with a full interior and R/C lights only. I didn’t what to sacrifice the interior on this model for a power setup. I am already planning my next build which will be R/C and scratch built from Chris Craft plans/Mariners' Museum. I have already purchased some of the hardware from Mack Products and designed the model in CAD.

If anyone is interested, I have been documenting this build and I will keep posting my progress to catch up to today.
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Jan 10, 2020, 12:45 PM
Mopar Musclecar fanatic
xx29l9's Avatar
Welcome, your work looks great. Looking forward to see more progress.

Jan 12, 2020, 07:36 PM
Knot Obsessed
Thread OP
Thanks Bob

Here is the part where I could have saved myself some time. I could have changed the sections before assembling the hull and I wouldn't have had to fill the bow cavity with resin and micro balloons. It turned out fine in the end.

Lesson # 2. Use solid Mahogany for the cabin sides. I decided to use some thinner stock that I had and laminate it to some aircraft ply to have the correct thickness. Even though I pressed it with weight while it dried, it still had a tendency to warp after I cut out the shapes. In the end it turned out fine.
Jan 13, 2020, 04:44 PM
Knot Obsessed
Thread OP
This was my last project. It is a 53" long Revell Gato Submarine. I built this one as the USS Cobia.
I did a lot of research to get the colors and weathering correct. This paint is US Navy measure 32/355-B. I wanted this model to reflect what a sub really looked like after returning from a long war patrol. My goal was make it look as real as possible only shrunk down to 1/72 scale by some alien reducing technology. Lots of airbrushing here!
Last edited by Machinehand; Jan 14, 2020 at 01:46 PM.
Jan 15, 2020, 10:40 PM
Knot Obsessed
Thread OP
I don't see much love for this project. Maybe because it's a static and not motored. Oh well, I'll keep posting if anyone is interested.
Anyway, here is some more progress.

There was no way I was going to use the reeds that came with the kit to make the hull chines. They are as crooked as a corkscrew. I wasn't going to use the brass grommets from the kit for port holes either. I originally was going to buy some of those German portholes. This was back in September but their website said they were closed until next year?!?! So I made my own. It requires patience but its worth it in the end.

I'm about a month and a half into it when these were taken and racing to get the hull painted before the weather turns up here. You can't spray this stuff in your basement!
Last edited by Machinehand; Jan 16, 2020 at 07:41 AM.
Jan 16, 2020, 11:07 AM
californiakid's Avatar

Looking Good!

Following along. Thanks for posting Machinehand.
Jan 20, 2020, 06:39 PM
Knot Obsessed
Thread OP
Thanks CaliforniaKid.
Here is some more progress. Sometimes I jump around when I work. This work was done before the hull was painted. Sometimes I will move to something else if I'm not sure how to proceed. When I have it mentally worked out, I will go back and execute. Below are images of the interior, mainly the galley and the main salon.

New Lesson learned: Whenever possible, I will use Mahogany for anything that is supposed to be Mahogany. Making Basswood and Balsa look and match Mahogany is an extra time consuming process in mixing and matching stains.
Last edited by Machinehand; Jan 20, 2020 at 09:01 PM.
Jan 20, 2020, 11:41 PM
Registered User
That looks amazing. Really nice build, looking forward to the rest.
Jan 21, 2020, 09:08 AM
Registered User
Very nice work! Love your attention to detail!
Jan 21, 2020, 11:17 AM
CaptDH's Avatar
Fantastic surfacing on the hull.

Jan 21, 2020, 01:43 PM
redlite's Avatar
Another Master-class craftsman in the boatyard is very welcomed and we're lucky you're posting. There are way more viewing than posting and I'm in this class, right or wrong. The work needs to be seen.

The Gato is exquisite and the execution is flawless, the weathering is un-real, or better put, real!...completely believable. This would have made a great build log and many would get onboard.

Thanks for your effort and keep the pics and text coming!

Jan 21, 2020, 10:22 PM
Knot Obsessed
Thread OP
Thanks guys for your kind words.

I really am enjoying this project. The challenges never end. I’m learning a lot in the process and from you guys here on this website. Some of your builds are so inspiring to say the least.

I don’t know anyone in my everyday life that has any enthusiasm for this hobby so it’s nice to know there are folks out there that can relate to this obsession.

This may be my first build but I will be doing a lot more in the future. I’ve already built my next two projects in CAD using plans from the Mariners Museum. One is my own design based on a 1940 Chris Craft hull. I’ll post some screen shots.

I wish I had more spare time. This is a hobby that I will enjoy after I retire someday.
Last edited by Machinehand; Jan 21, 2020 at 10:30 PM.
Jan 22, 2020, 11:00 AM
Knot Obsessed
Thread OP
These are the models I created using 3-D modeling software. I start by getting digital plans from the museum. I import them and scale to what ever scale I want the model to be. In this case 1/12 scale. I then build the digital model from there. My approach was to build them in terms of sections and interlocking parts as one would build the actual scale model. When complete, it's easy to layout all of the data for templates, save to a PDF and then print full size.

The first model is a 1940 42' DSEB. The model when complete will be 42". I noticed this one in the Chris Craft Essential Guide. I always liked this classic design. While digitally building the DSEB, I started exploring an original design based on the same hull. I wanted it to look period correct but something that was never built. My goal was to have the same character and design language of the pre-war period.

I don't know which one I will build first. I may build both hulls simultaneously because there is so much commonality. Most of the hull sections are identical.
Last edited by Machinehand; Jan 22, 2020 at 11:14 AM.
Jan 25, 2020, 10:37 PM
Knot Obsessed
Thread OP
Here is some more progress. Building a cabin, planking decks, playing with Aluminum, and watching TV.
Jan 25, 2020, 10:49 PM
oldtribefan's Avatar
Wow! Just WOW!!

Incredible detail and workmanship.

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