Preparing to Move Again

I will be shutting down most production activities for the first weeks of January to prepare for a move across town. Since I lost my beloved Kay in October, I no longer need this large and elegant house. I will be moving to a smaller house that happens to have 960 sq. ft barn that will be perfect for my workshop, with a 300 sq. ft. loft perfect for my trains and the layout that has followed me from Albuquerque to Oxford Ohio to Decatur. My appreciation to my customers who graciously experienced delivery delays during these difficult times! –Peter Nolan

How to Make Completed Models Unique

All of my models are custom built in my workshop. Most details were mastered, molded and cast here, but are now quickly being replaced by 3D printed models, with far superior precision and freedom to model the empty spaces. And less cost in the long run, as the 3D printer builds the assemblies rather than I painstaking gluing small 2D parts together.

I never like to build two models of the same ship the identical way, with the same colors and details. I like to vary the rigs and details from ship to ship, as they vary in real life, even on consecutive models from the same production line. I do this so that everyone gets a ship that is at least a little different from others. The variations keep the ships fresh. There is always equivalent detail compared to the published model and usually more.

The same goes for paint schemes and names. You can change names and colors if you’d like to–I usually encourage it, in fact. Like details, colors, names and home ports add variety. Below is an example of four of my fishing vessels with varying details and color schemes from the first versions.


Of course there are times when absolute fidelity to history is of utmost importance. A model of the Indianapolis heavy cruiser on her final mission must be faithful to every detail—no freelancing allowed here. Warships are usually very well documented. While they were updated regularly, it is usually but not always possible to find photos of every important update. Some US Navy and Coast Guard ships served for 60+ years, so there are always variations to model.

A good example is the 215’ Reliance USCG cutters, which started life without stacks for more helicopter landing area. The horizontal exhaust was difficult to maintain and robbed interior space, so the USCG modified the ships in the mid 1980s for vertical stacks.

On the civilian side, the Port Welcome of Baltimore Harbor is the Port Welcome with subtle changes in details over the years—unless you want to put it in Boston Harbor and call her something else. Still, if you are modeling an era when the Port Welcome had Navy-stye davits instead of the later quadrants or scrapped the lifeboats for the canister-style life rafts, these changes are easily made, usually without charge.

Peter Nolan

3D Printing Added for Greater Detail, Less Cost

N Scale Ships took the plunge, bought a small 3D printer and learned how to use 3D design tools. After just a few weeks many small parts and assemblies have been designed and produced. I had an advantage because many assemblies were already drawn in 2D and could be imported and adapted readily. Already done are anchors, cranes, passenger benches, masts with platforms and support structures, large and small davit mechanisms and platforms, hatches, running lights, windlasses, trawler net reels, storage lockers and many other topside and deck details like inspection covers and vents. Prices will be reduced as I revise the website (long overdue) and add online ordering.

As some have learned, I lost my beloved Kay in October 2018. Her illness required a substantial part of my time for the past two years. I can now pay more attention to this site and its products. While I doubt I will ever offer even smaller boats entirely 3D printed, the next step beyond details and assemblies is the cabin structures of some of the smaller ships where I can begin to add details like conduits, junction boxes, log desks and other details that were previously and painstakingly applied by hand. Attaching 0.5 mm squares for junction boxes, even with surgically sharp tweezers, is a challenge.

I will also be moving again, to a smaller house with a much bigger workshop. As always product suggestions are welcomed, if not always implemented.

I also changed my tag line to “Any Ship in N or Z or Thereabouts” to reflect to reflect the reality that I could not maintain an adequate supply of larger scale parts.

Good times and smooth sailing ahead!

Peter Nolan