Ketchikan Historical Museum exhibits model ships


KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) – Terry Richardson combines art, science and patience to create extremely accurate models of ships and airplanes, some specimens of which can be seen at the Tongass Historical Museum.

Richardson explained the history, process and materials involved in his passion for creating models to an audience of around 25 during a “Museum Midday” lecture Thursday afternoon at the museum.

“I love doing this, what I do,” said Richardson after being introduced by the museum’s senior curator, Marni Rickelmann. “I started around five o’clock.”

His first models at this young age were rude, he said, but he could pull them into the water and have fun with them.

When he tried to make larger, more realistic scale models as he got older, he had been surprised to learn that they wouldn’t float upright, as they didn’t have the weight in the keel like a real ship.

“Then I got more into creating static models,” he said.

As a teenager, he used his construction skills to work on cars with friends. He returned to model making later, he explained, to relax during a shift in a very stressful job.

“I could just go from my job to doing this, and it’s a whole different world on your mind,” he said. “It was great fun, lots of late nights.”

At first he offered additional models to friends.

Ketchikan local Snapper Carson initially gave Richardson the idea to start selling the models, Richardson said.

He built a model of Carson’s “Crane” fishing dinghy, Richardson said, which sparked a chain of requests for custom models from Sitka to California and all the way to Pennsylvania.

“A lot of these guys, like everyone else, are getting older and not fishing them anymore, so when they retire they can see their boats in their house,” said Richardson.

Richardson then referred to a large shot of the F / V Quaker Maid, hanging from a board on a nearby table, leaning against the wall. He explained that he uses such blueprints to design his scale models.

The Whatcom Museum of History and Art in Bellingham, Wash. And the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society in Seattle were both excellent resources for such boat plans and other documents in his research, Richardson said.

He said each boat model requires around 10 months of targeted construction and around two weeks to a month of research.

He showed the early stages of the hull of the “Westward” model of the fishing packer he was working on, using a construction method called “plank-to-bulkhead”, rather than the “plank-on-frame” method he was working on. was using it previously, which he said turned out to be a superior method.

Richardson said he would spend a fair amount of time “smoothing” – measuring the dimensions – of a ship to create his blueprint for building a model. He also takes about 500 photos of the ship, at a minimum, during this process as well.

If the boat is in the water this step may be more difficult as it has to make educated guesses about the structure of the keel area.

The hulls of his model ships are generally edged with yellow cedar.

“The Carson snapper, when he was here and had his little sawmill, he would get logs that had been marinated in salt water for as long as he was, and he would see them, make wood out of them and sell them to people. I had all the edges where he couldn’t make a board, ”Richardson explained.

He then cut those offcuts into thin strips and created tiny model-sized boards for his designs.

He showed the ladder-sized barrels, single scull buoys and halibut schooner single sculls and seine single sculls he had created using a vacuum forming machine. He described the process, in which he places a shape he makes with wood under a heating element that softens a sheet of plastic. When the plastic is flexible enough, it is lowered onto the form, where it creates a light and strong replica of the form.

“To make this boat look like what was my goal, you could get on board and sail in it, I had to do everything and put it in there,” he said.

There were seine hulls and airplane wings for a Model Cessna 185 on Richardson’s show table that he had made with this process, as well as fish tanks that he had made with a process under inverted vacuum.

One realistic detail he said he put inside his fishing boats are little books, suggested by pictures Richardson said his wife created by cutting photos from life-size magazines or books.

Richardson said he was building the models full time now and felt very lucky to have such an extremely supportive wife.

With his attention to detail, Richardson said he welcomes positive contributions from those familiar with maritime history.

Once, he said, he used the international orange color on the masts of a pre-WWII schooner model.

“An elder called me and said, ‘You know what? We didn’t have an international orange before WWII, “so I went down and painted them the right color of red,” said Richardson.

Another method he uses to create the small objects needed for a realistic model is to use an aqueous plastic compound that he can pour into two-part molds that he shapes to create propellers and other details like figures. vents. The unfinished seaplane he featured had wings made with this process, as he said the casting process preserved small details like the fine ridges on the edges of the wings.

Richardson smiled as he pointed to a small mug on one of the “log bronc” boat models he had on display, and said he liked to put a cup of coffee on all of his model boats.

He said the log bronc models, four of which he had on display at Thursday’s conference, reminded him of his many years piloting as an employee of the Ketchikan Pulp Company.

Two of the broncs were Canadian Sidewinders, which he described as a little rounder than the second pair on his table.

“And it’s a lot of fun to drive,” he said, to the laughter of the audience.

He then waved to the audience.

“Sir. Hollywood, sitting second row over there, my first day on the boom, put me on that boat,” he said.

He explained that the steering and propeller can turn in a full circle, which gives it a unique feel.

“You can go in any direction you want,” he said. “Well, I took this boat and I won’t bring it back.

“He said it was one hour, I thought it was about five minutes,” he added with a laugh.

He then showed the audience the second type of timber tug model he had created – a Nelson timber bronc.

He described this bronc as more stable, with twin fins and more deck space.

He also said he has extremely fine vision up close, which helps him see every little detail is sharp. He also uses his sense of touch to gauge the smooth perfection of his wooden deck as he strokes the model with his fingertips.

“For me it’s basically just looking at something and seeing if it’s true or not, and if the lines on the boat are good, when you build a model.”

Participant Catherine Sis asked Richardson what types of tools he uses to cut the wood on the models.

For the yellow cedar planks, he said he uses a 10 inch blade portable table saw. Once they’re cut, he runs them through a planer and then uses a 4-inch-blade table saw to cut them smaller.

He explained that the small table saw is much more expensive than the larger ones.

He also showed the magazine “Fine Scale Modeler” and the various catalogs he uses to find materials and tools to create his models.

Asked by Participant Ann Froeschle what his favorite type of boat is, he replied that he particularly liked halibut schooners because of their sleek lines.

Froeschle was also curious about Richardson’s painting process.

He explained that he used oil paints, but the fumes became so annoying for his wife that he switched to water-based paints, which he said have become increasingly popular. high quality over the years.

He said he always uses two special paints that emit fumes, like the floats on his model airplanes, so he plans painting sessions in the garage over the summer.

Currently, said Richardson, he is working on model ships to donate to the museum. He donated local Libby III and Rio Grande purse seine models, as well as the tender Amélie and a Grumman Goose aircraft model.

“I just want to see where the younger ones can come in and say, ‘OK, you can do that,’ said Richardson.

“It’s just nice,” he concluded.


News from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News,

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Patrick F. Williams

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