Welcome to part 2 of the article on building Shipyard’s Crowdy Head Lighthouse card model kit. Ship modeler Clare Hess describes some of his experiences building this Laser Cardboard Kit.
1/72-scale Crowdy Head Lighthouse model by Clare Hess
To recap from my previous post, this is my second completed paper model. The first was the British naval cutter HMS Alert, which I build from Shipyard’s line of Paper Model kits. The Crowdy Head Lighthouse kit, I chose from Shipyard’s Laser Cardboard Kit line because it is not all that much more expensive than the other versions of this model, plus it includes paints, brushes, and landscaping material consisting of fake grass and real sand.
The kit provides all the paper parts pre-cut, which is a big time saver, and ideal for people who don’t mind paying a little more money for a simpler project. This model took me about three weeks to construct, though I only worked on it a bit at a time.
Construction begins very simply, as the thicker card stock pieces fit together quite cleanly, and your model become 3-dimensions very quickly.
By the way, don’t every punch out the card stock pieces unless you want an ugly looking model, you bend, crease, and damage the integrity of the card stock. Always cut with a sharp knife, the sharper and thinner, the better. I often use a scalpel, but for this model, I found a #1 handle hobby knife worked well, just make sure your blades are sharp.
Also, if you don’t have one, get yourself a cutting mat. The one shown is a Fiskars brand, which I picked up at Michael’s craft store, but Ages of Sail carries the Modelcraft Tools brand that includes a large range of sizes. You don’t really need anything big for this model, so the small or medium sized matts should do fine.
For glue, I used Aleene’s Tacky Glue almost exclusively. This stuff is like a thick Elmer’s white glue, and it was a pleasure to use – I highly recommend it. But, get the 4 oz bottle, not the little 2/3 oz ones that come in a the multi-packs. I picked up the stuff at Ace Hardware, but you can find it at most fabric or craft stores.
Later on, there are some other glues that will prove helpful, specifically thin cyanoacrylate or CA glue, which is useful for strengthening small pieces made of thick card stock. More on that later.
You’ll need to do some painting pretty quickly. The doors and window frames need to be painted before mounting and you can do that right on the laser-cut sheet. Don’t worry about glue not sticking to paint. I found that Aleene’s holds well, at least to the paint that’s included in the Shipyard boxed kits.
Now, on the matter of the Shipyard paint, it appears to be the same stuff they used to include in sealed tubes, which was an artist’s acrylic brand from Poland called Renesans. They’re now in jars, which seem to dry out a bit on the shelf. If this is the case with your model, not to worry. I found that adding water and stirring the paint worked very well, though it took a bit of stirring on my kit to even it out.
Now, I’ve used various brands of paints, but I have to say that I REALLY like this stuff. It dries to a matte finish and has a little bit of transparency to it, so if you paint over printed parts with a thin coat, you can still see the printing. I used it on my HMS Alert model and thought it worked very well on both paper and wood surfaces. The only problem is that the brand is not sold here. But, if you buy enough of these boxed kits, you should end up with a small supply.
You’re going to have to mix the paint a bit. The brown paint is VERY dark and you might want to lighten it up a bit with one of the provided colors. The same is true later on for the lighthouse’s blue trim.
Now for the windows, the kit includes a small sheet of clear acetate film. You can easily cut this to size with scissors. Gluing these into place, I used just a small touch of Aleene’s at the outside edges, top and bottom, keeping it from marring the window surface. When dry, I applied more to the sides. Don’t worry too much about the appearance of the edges of the window frame as they’re applied from the inside of the walls and are hidden from sight. The same is true of the doors.
The biggest issue I ran into was just making sure to double check that you got the right piece on in the right direction. There are a number of pieces that look very similar and it can be a little confusing. So, look carefully at the directions.
If you cut a part free and it does not have a part number you may want to lightly mark it in pencil on a side that will not be visible on the completed model. This is particularly true with the parts that have the same shape. Of course, you don’t want to remove anything from the laser-cut sheets that you don’t need to, but sometimes they pop loose on their own.
The instructions in these boxed kits seem to be better than for the Paper Model series kits, though I have to admit that I’ve only seen the Paper Model series of ship models.
I showed this same image in my previous post, but it bears looking at again. As you can see, the instructions have essentially no text, but outline all the steps clearly in detailed diagrams. The asterisk (*) next to a part indicates that it should be painted prior to assembly, and the letter F indicates a piece of clear acetate.
Some parts may be hard to find, but they’re there, somewhere on one of the sheets. Particularly difficult are the door knobs. But, honestly, I found them so hard to cut free from the laser sheet that I ended up destroying some and giving up. If I want door knobs, I’ll use pin heads. This was a detail I simply chose to omit.
Details like the window sills, I found to be a bit confusing, but the photos of the completed model helped a lot and it all made sense in the end.
I think the hardest features of the kit include the railing around the light and the assembly of the windows of the light. The window frames are very thin and delicate. What I learned was to use scissors to carefully cut the frames free. Cut close to the laser-cut line and the exertion will generally pop the laser-cut loose, nice and cleanly. If there’s a little extra, don’t worry about it.
Lay the frames out on the acetate piece on a flat and level surface, then take some liquid floor finish, they used to call it Future but now it’s Pledge Floor Care Finish (you can buy it at hardware stores or the grocery store, though you may have to look around for it), and drip it onto the acetate, so that it fills the frames. Let it dry as long as it takes. The floor finish will seal the frame and the glass together… and just look at that shine!
When it’s all dry, you can then use scissors to cut free the frames with their windows attached. Then, you can glue them to the model using the Aleene’s Tacky Glue. I’m sorry I don’t have any photos of the process, but it’s pretty straight forward. Just keep in mind that any contaminants in the floor finish and on the window will be permanent fixtures.
Now, dealing with the railing, the stanchions are all laser cut, as are the holes for the wire railing provided in the kit. However, getting the wire into these holes will require you to drill them out. I don’t recall the size of the bit, probably something between a #72 and a #68.
The problem you’ll run into is that the cardboard will want to come apart if you start drilling it. This is where the thin CA comes in handy. After cutting the parts free from the laser-cut sheet, carefully touch some thin CA into one end of the stanchion, just be careful not to get whatever your holding the stanchion with glued to the stanchion.
If you take a straight pin and poke it securely into the hole for the railing (do this by laying the part on the cutting mat so you don’t bend up the part), you can probably hold it enough to allow you to wick the CA into the part. After the CA has dried, you’ll find the card stock piece much stiffer and easier to drill.
Now, I used a pin vise for drilling, but still ended up bending up some of the stanchions. I suspect a high speed drill, like a small hobby drill press or a rotary tool is less likely to cut the hole more cleanly and with less stress on the part. In any case, like I said, I had a few bent stanchions, but I made due anyway. Once on the model, you can straighten those things out a bit.
Next, you can just thread the wire through all the stanchions, then space them out to fit on the lighthouse deck and glue them down carefully. You’ll need to cut away any excess wire, and try to get the ends cut close to a stanchion, so you can use some gap filling CA where it won’t be so noticeably.
I’ll leave the painting and landscaping to the kit instructions and your own sensibilities. I will just say to use light coats and don’t soak the paper, as it will wrinkle or get soggy. Let things thoroughly dry first if you intend to add another light coat.
This was a fun and interesting project and a nice, quick diversion from wooden ship modeling. It is the smallest of the Shipyard lighthouse kits, and I think it makes a great starter kit – a perfect introduction to paper models and to modeling in general.
Here are some photos of my finished model. I intend to mount it on a nice wooden base. I hope you’ll try out one of the Shipyard kits, even if it’s not a lighthouse. Check out the ship kits and the quay port dioramas at Ages of Sail, the US import for Shipyard products.