Largest N Scale Ship Ever Built

I’m just finishing up a museum model of a Ti-class ultra-large crude carrier, currently the largest ships in the world at 441,585 deadweight tons and displacing 509,484 long tons at full load. This is the Ti Oceania. It is painted completely in flat white, as the ships colors, markings and activities will be projected onto it by 3D projectors.

In real life, it is 380 m long or 1246.75 feet, with a beam of 68 m or 223 feet and a draught of 80 feet. The model is 2.375 m long or 7 feet 9 inches, and 0.425 m wide or nearly 17 inches. The hull is MDF, medium density fiberboard, so the model weighs over 100 pounds.



Many of the details were drawn in 2D for photo-etched brass, or modeled in 3D for 3D printing. Other details such as lifeboats were mastered, then molded in RTV silicon and cast in resin.


Some retired ultra large crude carriers were a bit larger, but I’ve never heard of them being modeled in N scale. As ULCCs are actually shrinking these days, this may be the largest N scale ship built for a long time.


New Bridge/Dock for ATSF Barges in N and Z

A new bridge/dock for the ATSF barges features a positionable bridge, a bridge lift mechanism, and correctly spaced channels for mounting rails. Builders can leave off the pieces that form the channels and use sectional track on the plain decks, although extensive trimming of ties will be necessary to match the prototype’s spacing, in which the center rails are closely adjacent to the rails for the outer tracks.5616NewDockPortFront

Here a barge painted for the Burlington railroad is at the dock. With careful trimming, a slight press-fit between the barge and the bridge can be achieved.


Here’s a slightly closer look at how the barge and dock, with rails installed, match.


The bridge/dock is 180 mm (7″) long; with the integral docking wings, it is 215 mm (8.5″) long.

The kit, without rails, is $69. A built-up without rails is $169. Installation of rails for both barge and dock is $125. Installation on the barge alone is $100. The rails on the dock can not be installed separately.

Summer Update

It’s been a slow summer for new product announcements. I’ve been very busy with some large commissioned ships and getting the Ohio/Alabama situation resolved, in favor of Ohio.

I’ve had some real problems with the ship drawings I’ve purchased. None of them have been “faired.” A faired drawing means that the deck width matches the width of the sections. Let’s say there are 20 sections (or stations) marked on the profile of a ship. The top width of those sections should match the width of the deck. Well, they usually do not match.

The same goes for the waterline, if I am building a waterline model. The bottom width of the sections should match the width of the hull where it meets the waterline. It doesn’t happen often.

Making it worse, the height of the sections should match the height of the ship in profile. As you might have guessed, they don’t!

I’ve learned that there’s nothing worse than drawing the sections, the center keel, the deck and the bottom to the plans, cutting them out on my cutter, and finding that nothing matches up. I thought at first that I was misinterpreting the drawings, which is commonplace. No such luck–and I’m not that unskilled.

I’ve also been busy inventing ways to make in true scale such items as twin 20 mm Oerkilon cannons and quad 40 mm Bofors, as well as the smaller gun directors. I’ll post some pictures soon of the heavy cruiser Indianapolis, where you can see what I’ve come up with.

Which reminds me that my parts pages are hopelessly outdated. I’m going to try to update these with all of the new parts I’ve developed, with a shopping cart system.

Look for the 169′ Marin ferry from San Francisco Bay in the next few weeks. And–seven years after I first built it–a 110′ patrol boat from WW2.

Spring 2015 Announcements

After my winter hiatus to Alabama, here’s what’s coming in the next few weeks. All are available in N and Z scale (or other scales). Prices are my estimates and could rise or fall a bit as we get experience cutting and packaging them. Prices are for kits; built-ups for these are now quoted independently and will be scheduled on a first-come, first built basis.

A 250′ self-unloader for Great Lakes freighters. This will be positionable, and capable of being movable. Kit price will be about $70.

A Hulett Unloader in N and Z. Like the self-unloader, this will be positionable and capable of automating by intrepid modelers. Kit price will be about $95. The brass kit for railings and stairways will be about $35.

A 180′ auto ferry for protected routes such as the Wadden Sea in Europe or around Seattle. Kit price around $95

A 90′ passenger ferry/cruise ship that is smaller, sleeker and faster than my Port Welcome. Where the Port Welcome weighed in at 105 tons, this one weighs less than 50 tons, so it is much narrower. Kit price about $70.

A 65′ shrimper/crabber suitable for anywhere around the world. Kit price about $40 with booms and brass. Full side decals for the waterline hull eliminate the need for painting–an experiment on my part. Kit price about $60.

An 80′ fishing vessel (single hold) and 90′ fishing vessel (double holds). These also have hull decals. Kit price about $60.

A 145′ oceanographic research ship, the German Capella. Details to come. Kit will be about $200; built-ups start at $1100.

And now, for the big ships:

The C3 Beavercove is now available as a kit. The N scale kit is $545; the Z scale kit is $495. There is an enormous amount of styrene, brass, posts & booms, and details in these kits. Built-ups start at $4000.00.

The Contra Costa car ferry from San Francisco. This 433′ x 117′ side paddlewheel may be the largest ship by weight ever built from wood. The house sides, each with hundreds of window panes, will be etched brass sheets. Price TBD for kits, but probably about $600; built-ups start at $4000.00. I’m not sure how many modelers have ever attempted this model, but this will be your chance. The brass alone will be about $150. The earlier Solano can be custom-ordered; it will be more expensive due to the curved tracks and center house for the A-beams of the steam engines, and offset paddles.

I also began work on various dock facilities, such as a modular ore dock for a Twin Harbors-like scene; a container crane; stay tuned.

I’ll get pictures uploaded and posted as time permits.

My Winter Hiatus Starts November 30

My wife and I (and the dog) enjoy the warmer winters of northern Alabama over those of unpredictable southern Ohio. This year we plan to spend November 30 through about February 15 in Alabama. Obviously I cannot move my entire operation with us, so many kits will not be available during that time. I do bring a small cuttter and some supplies to fill custom orders. If you would like to order a kit or a built-up during that time, please let me know by November 28, and I’ll either ship it before we leave or bring the necessary gear to ship it from Alabama. Some of the larger ships require many sheets of styrene and extensive brass and cast parts; these can be fulfilled if I know ahead of time.

I spend my work time in Alabama developing new ships and cutting the first prototypes. The new small Cameo cutter has proven to be a delight, but has a tough time cutting through .020″ (0.5 mm) styrene, which the big BlackCat cutter devours, literally and sometimes with a great mess. The old Silhouette SD, stressed repeatedly to near death, has been retired.

Any suggestions for interesting ships for N or Z scale? I plan to do a HandyMax-size bulk freighter in both Z and N. That’s about 620′ (187 m) long by 85′ (26 m) in beam. And perhaps a modern off-shore supply vessel of about 200′ (60 m) length. Or any structures similar to the 250′ (75 m) self-unloader crane that I hope to introduce before leaving?

Thanks all!

New 180′ Coastal Freighter/Tanker/Container Ship

Small Ships that Serve Worldwide


These small ships serve thousands of small harbors all around the world. This model is based on the dimensions of a small freighter based in Juneau, Alaska. It is 180 scale feet (54 m) long, with a beam of 28 feet (8.5 m). The model is thus 13.5 inches (343 mm) long and 2.2 inches (54 mm) wide. Height to the top of the navigation bridge, minus antennae, is 2.8 inches (72 mm).


The three hatches can be modeled open and stacked, or closed. There are two main hydraulic cargo cranes, plus a forward long-reach post and boom. Custom photo-etched brass railings and stairways, custom-made windlass and rear winch, lifeboat, davits, anchors, bitts and other small parts fill out the kit. The gunwhales are raised just as on the prototype.


This is an easy kit to build. Kit prices is US $99.00 plus shipping. A basic built-up model is $450 plus shipping; a superdetailed built-up model is $650.