David Merriman’s 57″ Seaview part 8B – The Sail

Back to part 8A


Like model airplanes, the observer’s eye is drawn to the ‘office’ of a model submarine; that point on the model where, on the real thing (the prototype), the vehicle is controlled (piloted or conned). On an airplane model we naturally concentrate our study into the cockpit to see how well the Modeler represented all the neat stuff a Pilot uses to guide the vehicle. Same with a submarine model, we first check out the sail located bridge.

None of the studio miniature SEAVIEW’s, the full-scale stage set, nor the Art Director’s drawings agree on detail here. What I came up with was a collection of the attractive elements of the sail seen on the various miniatures and set, incorporating those features into the masters I built of the sail. In support of this ‘super detailing’ effort I produced accurate, detailed cast metal items to represent the sail bridge access hatch, compass stand, radar antenna, periscope heads, and radio direction finding ‘football’. The creation of the cast resin sail and sailplanes has been covered in a proceeding installment of this article.


The completed sail, the end game, if you will. I show this to illustrate the complete picture after all the little operations that comprise fine model building have been performed adequately. Yes, yes … I know! I goofed by representing the four sail mounted windows, more properly called ‘deadlights’. They don’t belong on the reconfigured SEAVIEW. I failed to check my documentation as I went about the task of working up the cast resin sail for this particular version of the SEAVIEW.

That fault aside, note the work I put into dressing out the interior of the Bridge well. You can make out the demarcation line within the upper well edge were the white of the bridge meets the gray of the sail. You can see two of the four interior side mounted lamps, and the center mounted compass stand. Practical green and red LED’s represent the starboard and port running lights. All masts are shown raised to further give the display a sense of ‘action’ – never miss an opportunity to show off your models dynamic features.

… But, before I go on with the SEAVIEW discussion, a few words, before I explode:

As a professional Model Builder I gravitate toward those techniques, tools, materials and consumables that serve my craft with the most efficiency; I make use of only those processes and things that have demonstrated the most utility to me. This evaluation done through experiment: Try something, if it works retain it. If not – in the purest expression of Darwinism – I discard it.

In nearly all other matters in and about my life I’m inflexible … you may have noticed in my dogmatic, confident (even confrontational) writing style.

However, when it comes to the techniques and tools I select, I practice pure pragmatism: I don’t use a tool or apply a technique learned predicated on the type of vendor supplying an item or the profession of my Teacher, I always select what best serves the craft, regardless of the source.

I buy from Pattern supply houses, Dental supply outlets, Chemical houses, automotive refinishing supply stores, hobby/craft wholesale outlets, plastic supply/fabrication houses, and hardware stores. Hobby shops are visited for the occasional magazine and bottle of glue, that’s all.

Here’s a tip for you serious model builders/kit-assemblers: Nothing covers like Dupont Lucite brand (lacquer) and Dupont Chroma brand (urethane) car paints. And the Chroma clear finish system … wow! You, the end user, have the ability with Chroma clear to adjust (or omit) the amount of flattening agent. You can achieve either a stunningly reflective gloss finish or a finish possessing the dullest of flat finishes. Can you do that with your ‘hobby’ clear coat?

You wanna get better results from your work? Then, start looking around for other sources of tools, consumables, and abrasives. I don’t have any specific beef with hobby shops or mail order outlets (hell, I’m a mail order outlet!). I simply want you to explore the other sources of supply out there – rip the blinders off and look around you!

Your work will be the better for it.

Back to the SEAVIEW project:

You’ll note later that I present a technique for cutting out and using, as model parts, Electrician’s tape. In practice a short length of tape is pulled from the roll and stuck to a scrap piece of thick plastic sheet for cutting. To achieve circular pieces I use homemade cutting punches – made by beveling the ends of brass tube to sharp cutting heads. Or, you can use knife and straightedge to cut the tape to straight-sided shapes. Substitute a French curve for the straightedge and you can cut in any shape you wish. It’s then a simple matter to transfer the shaped tape part from the cutting board to the model where the tapes adhesive alleviates the need for you to employ potentially messy adhesives.

And masks to cover circular or highly curved areas on the model can be made in much the same way, with the above circle cutters. Depending on the masking requirement you would use either the inner disc or the outer circle element of the tape to mask off the model as you prepare for painting.

You’ll also find, when cut to very narrow widths, that Electrician’s tape can be bent to very tight radius’, a useful characteristic when looking around for a masking medium that has to negotiate tight curves on the models surface.

OK, enough yakking … on with the picture show:


Here’s a method of making model parts for those circumstances where the model part is of thin section (one-sixty-forth-of-an-inch or multiples of that) and will be secured to a flat or compound model part. It starts with good old Electrician’s tape. Here you see some of that tape being used to form various sized ring parts; pre-cut circles of electrician’s tape representing Bridge control console gauge bezel rings and Bridge lamp lens flanges.

Start by cutting the outside of the ring with the bigger diameter of two brass tube cutting tools, punching out a disc of tape, which was revealed as the surrounding tape was peeled off the plastic cutting board. I then carefully positioned the smaller cutting punch in the center of that disc, pressed firmly, removed the tool, and pulled away the smaller disc from the cutting board, leaving an Electrician’s tape circular ring of the required inside and outside diameters. It’s then a simple matter to lift the work off the cutting board with a knife tip and to transfer it to the model where the ring is pressed in place with finger or tool. Note that I’ve already stuck into place five instrument face bezel rings onto the Bridge control console – the consol design specified in one of the many studio drawings of the full scale bridge set I have on hand here. For the life of me I could not find any shots of the Bridge control console anywhere in the movie or TV show episodes. So, who’s to know how the Carpenter’s actually represented the thing? I can assure you that the seventeen-foot miniatures version of the control console was nothing more than a simple unadorned angled ‘step’ at the forward end of the Bridge structure.

Onto more of part 8

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