S S Drumgeith  typifies a type of ship common around the dawn of the 20th Century, the Tramp Steamer. Built by J Priestman of Sunderland UK for RA and JH Mudie of Dundee. She  was to change owners a number of times; becoming the “SS Matra” in 1915, “Newton Hall” in 1919.  Thereafter she became the “Maid of Lemnos” before moving East to become the “Therese Moeller” in 1931. Now based in Shanghai  in Chinese ownership she was first to sail as the “Chi Hing” in 1946 before  ending her prodigious career as the “Tien Ping”. She was finally broken up in 1954
Loa 355’
Grt 3883 tons
Beam 48’
553 tons of coal = 5000 mile range
Draught 17’7”
Speed 12.5  knots
Building the model
The model of the Drumgeith is based on the informative drawings in the  book   British Ocean Tramps Vol 1 by P.N.Thomas  a splendidly engaging, inspiring  and informative book; so much so that I bought all the other books in the series…. These fine tomes are guaranteed to make anyone a merchant ship fan!
The kit is deceptively simple, comprising the hull, some superstructure levels, winches and bollards, 4 x boats and the funnel.

The hull is a fine and flawless casting with a perfectly smooth even surface…. 
maybe too flat for my tramp steamer!  

Click images
to enlarge
Having in the past experimented with implying the plating in light grey warships by the application of Tamiya masking tape and then running a pencil line along the tape edge. The pencil lines are then lightly smudged to soften the uniformity and this has worked very well.

When I built the BFM Hog Islander I used Scotch Magic tape to make the plating runs which  worked well, however this tape  was not sufficiently pliable  for the hollow sections found on the elegant countersterned  Drumgeith.

To give the impression of the plates being of alternate thickness I laid on fine strips of BECC vynil tape following the sheerline as per the plans in the Thomas Book.

Prior to staring out on this process I drilled a hole in the underside of the hull, which was partially drilled with a 3m drill bit and then had a No 6 pozi-drive stainless steel self tapping screw inserted; this gave a good grip for the large springloaded clamp to fasten to, permitting me to work on the model without any handling.

To allow smooth runs of plating, I removed the cast-on anchor hawsepipe holes and the rubbing strips, both of which were later replaced with scratchbuilt items of copper wire.

One of the benefits of using coloured vynil strip was that it permitted me visually to  double-check that the ‘plating’ runs were smooth, parallel and fair as well symmetrical from side to side. Drumgeith-build001
I used the same tape to simulate the hinged scupper doors on the well-deck bulwarks Drumgeith-build003
Despite initial misgivings that the plating effect may look too clunky and over-scale it looked decidedly promising once the first coat of paint had been applied Drumgeith-build004
Work on the superstructure proceeded apace, the shapes are simple and the castings were true and square. I did however carve off the cast-on doors- although they were quite I reckoned I could get a sharper look using Voyager  PE doors- especially as intended  having my doors in varnished timber! Drumgeith-build005
Work on the superstructure proceeded apace, the shapes are simple and the castings were true and square. I did however carve off the cast-on doors- although they were quite I reckoned I could get a sharper look using Voyager  PE doors- especially as intended  having my doors in varnished timber! Drumgeith-build006
The boat support platform castings were thinned down with a blade- and cut back slightly--this allowed a thin styrene strip to be installed- which hid any imperfections in my paring blade-work! 
The over length ends were trimmed back in situ by holding the ship side-on to the pinted end of a small metal jewellers anvil- which gave a good cutting surface whilst permitting access without damaging the ship.
The forward and aft well-deck Bulwarks had the inside face bracing made using 1/500 cut-down handrail set at an angle of around 10 degrees, with the top being backfileld with white glue to make it appear as one piece.

 The same stock PE was used to make the reinforcing bracing on the sides of the cargo loading hatches.

The Bitumen strip that surrounds all deckfittings and bulkheads at the lower edges where they meet the deck was simulated using a very fine pencil line, with the pencil being sharpened on fine sandpaper to a chiselblade.of metal to the deck 

I wanted to show the vessel with some sails set as according to the plans... although many contemporary paintings do indeed show  cargos ships with sails set, my research led me to believe that  by 1910 Cargo vessels  probably relied solely on their steam plant for propulsion.

However I have heard and read of some of these early vessels using the fore and aft canvas as steadying sails in a following or beam sea to reduce athwarsthips rolling....

 I therefore needed to portray my Drumgeith in a quartering following sea!| The sails would be set so as to provide  a steadying  effect as well as assisting the fwd motion, so we would need some hefty  wind  and a long swell. 
Because of the sea state I also needed some lower hull showing ; usually missing in a  waterline model...! 
As Drumgeith was to have the wind on her starboard aft quarter and a gentle roll has been induced some heeling would be evident, so I needed to only make the underbelly on the starboard side

The Seascape was made using automotive polyester bodywork filler Isopon P38, often known as Bondo in the USA. It consists of a filer paste that has a catalyst added and is then well mixed. Depending on the proportion of catalyst added (the instructions suggest equal proportional amounts) one can slow or speed up the curing process—times between 2 and 35 minutes are easily achievable simply by altering the proportions…--a really fast cure can be useful when constructing larger waves and one wishes to prevent sagging or collapsing of a bow wave for example.
The downside is that it is very pungent - always work in a well ventilated area and ideally wear a mask- and the reaction is exothermic-ie it can produce a lot of heat-so always remove the model while the ‘sea’ is hardening. 

In the photos the pink parts are the bodyfiller peeping through the white stuff which is artists acrylic texture paste, this has a finer structure and sets much slower--permitting longer working times. 

With the ship safely ensconced in her sea bowling along at a heady speed I was able to resume construction of the remainder of the ship again. The first task was to make a new funnel of copper tube, as I wanted mine hollow all the way down. The first owners who commissioned Drumgeith for their fleet were R.A. & J.H. Mudie of Dundee, Scotland. The logo for the funnel was downloaded from this very interesting and useful Flags or the World website.

The logo was re-sized in Serif 8.0, copied end to end to form a wraparound of the correct size for the funnel and printed on white decal sheet on my PC . The new decal was applied so that the join would vanish neatly underneath the aft steampipe.

The two main cowl vents were the BFM items reworked, hollowed and drilled. The remainder of the vents were all made of various sizes of cored solderwire; easy to centre the drill and flare the mouth with a blunted wooden cocktail stick. These were installed into drilled holes in the deck. The kit-supplied winches were very nice, I merely sanded down the mounting plate to the minimum and later added rods and brakes. The masts were the brass-tapered items supplied. The spar bases and the block platforms were made of scrap PE; triangular gussets were made of paper.

The previously removed resin hawse-pipe mouths were remade with brass wire and the kit anchors installed. Drumgeith-build016
Many other small details were added including Navigation lights, deck edge beading to all levels, inter-deck stanchions, canvas dodgers to Bridge railing, wheel and gratings for the helmsman at the aft emergency steering position, companionways and crane jib supports among others. 

The detailing that required a lot of time was the making of the awning frames on fore, midships and and poop decks.

Uprights of fine brass PE ( cut from railing longitudinals of 1/350 fine railing) were joined using copper wire along the spines with crossmembers and circumferential framing being made of stretched sprue.

The truly distinctive feature was to be the sails. I made paper templates to match the sail-plan on the drawings and after offering them up to the masts on the ship transferred the outside dimensions to my sailmaking paper, in this instance a lightweight slightly waxed paper bag from the corner-store.

I drew upon the paper bag the cloth seam-panel-lines with a sharp pencil, taking note of the mitre seam in the staysails and flying jib; this was to ensure that the threadlines of the cloth would be aligned to the direction of stretch along the loaded edges of the sail. Drumgeith-build017
The sails were then cut out; shaped by rolling with a styrene tube on a soft paper pad to give them the twist and fullness desired Drumgeith-build018
The staysails and jib were attached to stays made of stretched thin copper wire using matt varnish which gave a high instant grab, with a drop of CA glue at each end giving the joint permanence via capillary action  Drumgeith-build019
The Lifeboats were installed using 3 of the kit items reshaped a little, covers made of white glue with liferopes drawn in pencil. Davits of brass wire were made for these afterwards. The sea-boat was left open with oars at ready-use. drumgeith-finished
Oval hawseholes were made of squashed copperwire circles cut off a spiral after winding round a drill shank

Much subtle painting and weathering took place until I was happy that she looked like a hardworking tramp. 

I did not want to overdo this--as I portrayed her,... the ship was only 18 months old!!

The sea was now painted using wet-on-wet as I have described here on the ShipModels.info forum

The watercrests, bow wave and wakes were added and enhanced using white matt acrylic texture paste.

This plucky bluffbowed little steamer is pushing some water ahead of her as she breaks through the crest of the long swell => " carrying a bone in her teeth"

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 A few off-duty stokers grateful to the 'old man...( captain) for the use of the sails to relieve some of the strain of the backbreaking work of shovelling coal into hungry boilers... enjoy the air and a smoke midships on the high side. Another group of sailors have congregated on the aft hatch coaming for yarn…

After the installation of the PE Ratlines cut from the Atlantic Models fret the job of rigging ad final finishing was commenced.

Stretched sprue as ever was used; the method is described at length here on the ShipsModels.info forum.

In conclusion Drumgeith was an extraordinarily enjoyable little ship to build, the subject and the kits simplicity ensuring a rapid and easy build.

It  made a pleasant change to build a model without any guns!!


More of Jim Baumann's work.
Updated 2009

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