What can you build?
I can build anything. Sailing, cargo, yachts, pleasure-craft, canoes, airplanes, buildings, widgets. You name it. The more information I have (drawings, plans, photos, etc...) the better the result will be! Call or send an email with the basics of what you need and we'll start talking about it.
What if I don't even know what I want?
Browse some of the many model kit websites on the internet and find something you like. Email me the description or a link to what you want built and I'll give you a quote on it.
Model Expo is one of many suppliers but would be a good place to start. (ships, old-time wagons, WW1 airplanes, civil war guns, stone buildings, etc... )
I have a model that needs restoration or repairs. Can you do it?
Yes I certainly can. Click the "restorations" button above for more information.
Do you make them from scratch or from kits?
That depends on what a client is looking for. If you want an attractive display piece with a nautical theme, but are a little flexible on the subject and scale then a high-quality kit is usually a good option. This can save a bit of time and money. In the end I throw out most of the kit's detail parts and scratchbuild them myself so you wouldn't notice much difference between a scratchbuild and a kit-build.
If a client needs a specific vessel built to a specific size then chances are pretty good there won't be a suitable kit available. The CSS Alabama I made for a descendant of the ship's captain, Rafael Semmes is an example of a well-known subject that has been kitted many times. Unfortunately there wasn't a good kit available at the size he wanted so I scratchbuilt that one from plans and books. There are plans archives with many hundreds of vessels. Some are very complete and some are little more than hull-lines that describe the shape. I have many books that detail general practices for the day to fill in any missing details.
How much do they cost?
That's a hard one to answer but I'll try to give an idea. There are lots of factors involved including the size and complexity of the project, if it is shown with or without sails, as well as if it is to be kit or scratch built. The cost for a kit-built model would be from, say, $800.00 for a modern destroyer model with dust case to over $10,000 for a large (48") square-rigged ship with sails. A specific recent example would be the Rattlesnake model with a mixture of furled and loose sails. It is 27" long overall, is built from a kit and would be priced around $5,000.00. Scratchbuilt models cost maybe 25-50% more than a comparable kit-built model.
The best way to pay for your model is with PayPal. They provide buyer and seller protection, you can use a credit card and the transaction is done instantly. I've also accepted bank-checks but that might delay shipping while the check clears the bank.
Do you require a deposit?
Yes, I build things in the order that I receive the deposits in. Kit-built models require 20% of the final price up-front, 40% at about the half-way point (often the completion of the hull, ready for masts and rigging), and the remaining 40% on completion.
Are they all unique? Yes, they are all built individually by me personally in my specially-outfitted workshop, there are no "assembly-lines" or mass-production techniques involved. Except for rare circumstances I build them one at a time and don't overlap projects.
Each model I've made is signed, dated and serial numbered, and is delivered with a Certificate of Authenticity suitable for framing (or starting a fire... whatever you like!) I'm not sure it adds any value, but I bought a piece of Inuit art once and it came with a certificate of authenticity so I figured I'd better provide one as well!
When will it be finished?
That's another hard one because I rarely accept a firm "deadline". I have done that only twice... One modern destroyer model was promised for a Christmas present and was received by the client on Dec. 14, and the 1:100 scale HMB Endeavour was scratchbuilt for the History Channel museum and they needed it in THREE MONTHS!!!! I took this job only because the project and client was so cool. It was a VERY busy 3 months, but I finished on time and the model came out great!
I have a pretty good idea of how long it will take me to finish a job and I usually finish sooner than I tell clients I will at the beginning. Going back to the Rattlesnake example, that took 12 months to complete, but without sails (or with furled sails) would have been about 8 months.
How are they packed?
The models are double-crated for protection. Depending on the subject and if it has an acrylic dust-case or not that might be in a plywood crate that is placed inside a cardboard box with packing material in between them. The idea is if it is dropped the cardboard box will crush and absorb some impact protecting the model. So far it's worked and I've never had one damaged in shipping (although some cardboard boxes have been destroyed...). Crating the model for shipping is included in the price quote.
How are they shipped?
I've had good luck with Purolator and YRC Courier and some others, but a lot depends on the size of the crate and it's destination. My preferred method is to drop the model off myself at the shipping terminal and have the client pick the model up at the shipping terminal nearest them. The idea behind that is nobody will be more careful than the builder (me) and the purchaser (you) when handling these things so this procedure eliminates as many loadings/unloadings as possible. I have also done door-to-door shipping and it's worked out, but more risky.
For models up to about 30" in length I usually include shipping in the price I quote before the job gets going. Bigger than that will have to be quoted separately because when you factor in the packing and crating it approaches the dimensions that air carriers can easily accommodate.
What about a baseboard?
Unless you want something special, your ship model will come on a display base designed to hold a glass or plexiglass case. This is included in the price. This is usually made out of Oak but that can probably change to any type of common wood that you choose. I can also provide a plexiglass dust case to protect your model. The bases can also be built as a shelf with or without a case.
What about a dust case?
I can provide an acrylic dust case that is shipped with the model or I can source one at your location. Cost will depend on the size of the dust case and can be quoted depending on the size of the model. I will sell the dust case for what it costs me since sometimes it's easier to ship a small model with a dust case than without it. For larger models the dust case becomes a liability because they could break in transit and damage the model.
What Will I Receive?
1: Several photos emailed to you as construction of your model progresses.
2: The ship model you have chosen
3: A display base designed to support a clear case, attached to the ship.
4: A certificate with some basic information on the ship, the model and the builder (me).
Charles W. Morgan whaling ship model with whaleboats details.