This is a great piece of filming.  Right time, right minute! 

What follows below is a series of 9 videos that I would encourage you to view.  I have trawled through my personal idea’s pack and put together a compendium of videos that will give you a great ‘head start’ into the hobby.

One thing that concerns me is that people, and ‘young people’ in particular are going to miss out on some basic scratch building skills unless they are given some pointers.  That is what I do here. 

We go through the basics, submarines, arduino, tools, workshops, even through to the notion of getting a lathe. It’s a great starting point. 

Take this knowledge, and join a club, and the experts on the web. 

Also if you appreciate all this work, go to Patreon

The Best Hobby

Scratchbuilding is about making ‘stuff’ that you love without buying it.  It’s about sourcing material no-one else would think of, bringing it home, disappearing into the home workshop, which I might add is not filled with high tech gear, and bringing out a masterpiece. 

There is nothing needed to add to this.  

Making your models look superb

When you scratch build it is with the hope of creating something people will admire.  Of course, your personal appreciation is the first issue, but it is nice to have your work appreciated by others. 

The other thing about ‘looking good’ is to pick the highlights of your boat.  Riveted plates on the hull are a winner.  I have lots of info on this.  Also taking the most prominent part of the boat and making it superb.  For example during the scuffy build I planked the wheel house with individual planks.  What a finish.  Time taken to do things that can be seen, is time worth spending.   

Automate your projects

This article outlines what has been a revelation to me.  What you can do when you add arduino to your boats.  

The Arduino in particular is perfect for modelling.  The Arduino is set up perfectly for turning things on and off, point servos where you want them to point, reading sensors like pressure gauges, compasses, GPS’s, moisture sensors, temperature and so on.  This combination of inputs can be married to servos, banks of relays, stepper motors, sound, and pre-programmed routines.

The code is not that hard.  There are lots of ‘if this happens, then do that’ sequences, and the more you know of these, the more you can do.  There are three stages to an Arduino code....

Dive into Submarines

Yes, I will advise you that if you are new to boating, or scratchbuilding, don’t start with a submarine.  Start with Scuffy if you wish.

That being said, I have a crash course in building pistons and also trim tanks, the latter of which are very easy to make.  The issue then is that my systems have all of these components and then work best with an Arduino to automate them.  You don’t have to do all this.  On the Nautilus series I do have a video where we discuss simpler methods, but I have to admit, I like the way I build them.   It runs a depth sensor for depth keeping which is magic, and these systems are like hens teeth to buy!  The whole addition of Arduino to boats has cost me about $40. Most of that is the sensor!

Great Video

This is another interest of mine.  The first boat I every built is called the Fitzroy, and yes it is the same as Scuffy, but a bit above scale size.  This boat is tough and very watertight.  Plus being a tug it turns on a dime and is pretty good for it’s next use, which is to be ‘Tug Cam.’

I started this by putting a diving camera (Intova) on the bow.  (Much cheaper than a Go Pro, and lasts longer on the water).  I added a piece of aluminium plate to the bottom of the boat and built the connecting gear out of PVC plumbing.  It easily bolts on and off and then added a motor which sits underwater to turn the camera as required, and used some 'sub' skills to ensure it was watertight.  Also I ensured the motor was accessible to enable it to ‘breath’ between sails. I used a cheap 10 rpm motor and it works are just the right speed.

The Best Projects

Just recently I created a page to show off some small projects I am particularly happy with. The notion is that often the little gems get lost in a bigger project, and I wanted to ‘shake the tree’ and get some out so they formed a list of unusual and but interesting projects for you to follow.

Plus it reminded me that my real love is scratchbuilding, whatever it the project is.  So it gave me the chance to dig out some great movies from the N Gauge train build and also some interesting challenges such as the recent build of a 7 bladed prop for the Los Angeles nuclear sub.

Each of these little projects were ‘projects within another project.’



What we will look at here is the stuff we constantly need to have supplies of, plus the materials to actually build your models.

Then we get to the materials we need, and it is good to expect you will need to be a bit of a bower bird here.  (An Australian bird that steals stuff) 

You need to go to a plumbing shop for hardware.  I find the best source of stainless material rod is found by raiding their supplies of CIG welding rod at sizes, .8, 1,2 and 2 mm rod.  Lovely material and one ‘raid’ will keep you stocked for a long time. 

Tools of the Trade

So we have to start with your workbench.  This is not a hard item to source, but I think it should ether be home made or second hand.  Most new benches I see are very expensive and over the top.  Take a look at mine that is home made. 

Once you have a bench the next part is a really good vice.  Mine is perfect and it is worth spending money on this.  Take my word that the better the vice, the better your work.  But, once again, the best source is second hand.  A good vice does not age.  In fact you will hear me way that very often as we go along.

The Modeller's Lathe

I love my lathe.  My video on this covers it all, but remember that lathes can be bought new but it is much better to buy second hand.  Buying second hand however requires care as they are either like new, or worn and practically no good.  The beds, journals and slides must be stable and unworn. 

Mine was second hand and it has paid for itself so many times!  As a scratchbuilder you can use them over and over again, but you don’t need anything that is that remarkable.  Most lathes come equipped with self feeding, multiple speeds, and screw cutting.  I am here to tell you that you don’t need screw cutting, self feeding and only a couple of speeds.  It is just not needed.  The most important measures are the size of the ‘swing’ from the chuck to the bed, and the thickness of the throat that limits the thickness of the material you can fit behind the chuck.  If you get one that has these adequate sizes, the length from the chuck to the tailstock is also likely to be fine.