Thursday, November 08, 2012

Making a barge sit flat on the water

Patrick asks: Can you suggest any way of making this barge sit flat in the water, and not curve up at the front and back. I am currently putting on layers of varnish, should I put the boat on and then varnish round it? The model comes from Sarik Vacform ( and it is a canal butty boat. It is vacuum formed, so it is probably thermosetting plastic, hollow and fairly light.
I have heard of Sarik Vacform although I've not seen any of their products in the flesh. A couple of years ago they advertised in the model boat press and I took a look at the website then. Presumably this is from the railway range which isn't listed on the site. I wonder what else they do.

To get the boat sitting flat in the water, you are going to need to sand the bottom flat. This might mean sanding the base away depending on how curved it is.

The method is pretty simple. Get a large sheet of emery paper, something around 180 grit would be ideal, and fix it to a bit of wood with glue, pins or double-sided tape. Then rub the boat on this. Using a the wood will keep the sanding flat but just watch the bottom is level.

This applies to an unpowered butty boat. If you have a powered barge, then hold the boat where the engine is. This part is heavier than the rest and sits lower in the water when the boat is empty. Holding that end will replicate this.

Finally, set the model into wet varnish. Then add another coat or two to the "water" so a little meniscus forms around the hull.

1 comment:

James Finister said...

The best 4mm canal boats were those paper kits Garth Allan used to produce. Canal boat rivet counters can be every bit as difficult as the railway variety, and a boat that doesn't look right has a real visual impact on a layout.

One small but important point I would make here is that obviously where the waterline is depends on how heavily loaded the boat is. Surprisingly little of a fully loaded canal boat is above water