View Full Version : Modern ship hulls

08-20-09, 09:32 AM
Hi Guys,

Does anyone on the site make or may know who makes ships' hulls in either wood, resin, or 'glass?

In particular, I'm looking to find out how much it would cost for a hull to be made.

The ship is the USS/USCG GLACIER AGB-4 Icebreaker. I haven't committed to which scale to use yet. Thats going to be based in part on how many items such as armament and propellors,etc., is commercially available AND if a hull can be sourced for it and at what cost.

I do have a set of detailed US Coast Guard blueprints available to use for this purpose. This 'ol girl has an interesting history and was chosen as a historical landmark by the US Historical Society!

As a final note,the Glacier was one of two ships that my brother served on in 1959 to 1961.

I would be greatly indebted to anyone who could help me with this project.

I can be contacted by a personal email: mgill49@yahoo.com or an PM through this site.


Martin Gilligan

Don Garrett
08-20-09, 10:53 AM
Martin, best advice I can give you with this project is to hook up with Tim for his thoughts. I'm assuming that this is a one off project, or are you looking for a master to possibly cast a few? It can be done but "specifics" etc. need attention.

08-20-09, 11:43 AM
Hi Don,

I realize that nearly all questions need to be addressed right from the beginning such as scale size.

Unless things change, it would be a "one off" product. Over the last 3-4 years I've gotten nothing but the run around from a well known commercial resin kit maker who had expressed interest but was never upfront about its intentions.

Thanks for the advice! I have a doc appointment to go to shortly so I'll catch up with Tim later today.

Do you have his email available?



Don Garrett
08-20-09, 01:59 PM
No worries Martin, let's have a look see. If we can help you we will, if we can't you certainly won't get a run around. We'll simply say we can't. 1wthe1

08-20-09, 05:06 PM
Hi Martin, If the drawings have the hull section lines on it why not just get some basswood, make some cardboard templates of the sections and do a little carving. In my opinion for a one off this would be the way to go. All of this would have to be done to make a resin mold anyway so you'd be eliminating that cost. I have done hulls in this manner in the past and they come out great. The nice thing is if you make a small misstep you can throw a little bit of filler on it and proceed.

08-20-09, 06:08 PM
I don't know if the hull drawing has the section lines you mentioned. I have the plans put away at the moment.

The main reason I was going to have someone build the hull for me is that I have zero experience building a kit from scratch.

The flat parts like the decking look like something I can handle. Its getting the hull done properly that is the most important IMO as everything is built onto it. If the hull is messed up all the parts from there will be too.

Hi Don,

Can something like a hull for instance be done by rapid prototyping? I was thinking about this after I had heard from you earlier.

Depending on price, I had thought about going with 1/96 scale, however, I still need to get a guesstimate on price to see where I stand.

BTW, the length of GLACIER is 309.6 feet and the beam is 74 ft. . Draught is 29 ft.

Thanks guys!


PS: here is a link you might find interesting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Glacier_(AGB-4)

08-20-09, 09:05 PM
Just about anything can be done with rapid prototyping, but at over 309' long even at 1/96 scale you're still looking at almost 3.25' in length. A rapid prototype that big would be VERY expensive, especially depending on the type of rapid prototyping you want to use. For instance, I just quoted a job at work that was about 21" x 30" x 8" and it was going to be about $3000 using an FDM process, or about $5100 as an SLA. Even using a Z-Printer like TDR uses, it would still be over $1000. I agree with Don that carving the form would be much more cost effective. If you still really want to go the rapid prototype direction, I would suggest having the hull milled out of basswood, or renshape. I would think that you could have this done for much less than $1000 if you had a computer model to send to a machine shop. I hope this helps.

08-20-09, 09:20 PM
Martin, as you probably realize by now that the most tedious part and probably the most expensive part of creating the hull is having somebody create the master pattern for you, if you are unable to do it yourself. Not being all that familar with the various scales of model ships that are available, is 1/96th a popular size where the necessary parts aside from the hull are available ( ie; everything above the deck )? If not, by my looking at the photos you posted, there is a significant amount of work to create the project. Have you tried looking for any other sizes of ship models available which would have used the same hull design, or which might be close enough to your needs and could be modified to work?
Making a mold, whether it be for a fiberglass or cast resin hull, for the sole purpose of only doing a single model is not very cost effective IMHO.
To create that model in 1/96th scale puts the hull length at about 38+ inches. I can pretty much ensure you, at that scale, no matter how you create it, unless from a basswood carving it probably won't be cheap.
I have an extensive amount of experience working with fiberglass and would gladly give you a quote for creating the necessary mold and laying up a fiberglass hull, if you were able to provide me with a finished master pattern.

08-21-09, 01:38 AM
I'm going to have to do some rethinking on doing this ship. I knew it wasn't going to be cheap but I didn't realize how expensive it will be just for the hull.

REVELL made some icebreakers in the 70's & 80's but they were different. Part of the bridge looked similar but thats where the similarity ended.

These ships (USS Northwind,USS Southwind,USS Burton Island, etc) were shorter and the hull profile is different. Instead of trying to modify the existing kit you would be better off starting from scratch.

The USS Glacier was the only one in its class.

I wouldn't mind using a smaller scale to build in but I don't know which scale to use.


How much do you think an 18" to 24" hull cost (estimate)? I don't know what scale 24" is. An 18" hull is a 1/196 @ 18.98" long.

I'm at a loss how some kits get made and don't have any history or significance while many that should get made don't even rate an honorable mention!

08-21-09, 08:22 AM
Martin, I could make you a Basswood hull up to 24 inches long if you can supply the sectional drawings. I don't want to talk about a price on the board so if you want to email me at: gbritnell@yahoo.com we'll discuss it.

08-21-09, 08:36 AM
Guys, this has been such an informative exercise. Some great members have stepped up to the plate with suggestions and offers.

Thats what our little community is all about and its what makes this such a great site. I just know that Martin's going to get his hull.

Don Garrett
08-21-09, 09:51 AM
There you go Martin.....it's up to you now, see what works for you and happy modeling.

08-21-09, 01:38 PM
How much do you think an 18" to 24" hull cost (estimate)? I don't know what scale 24" is. An 18" hull is a 1/196 @ 18.98" long.

One of the limits with rapid prototyping is the maximum size of the parts. The particular rapid prototype shop that we use at work has a max build size of 20" x 20" x 20". Anything bigger has to be split up and made in separate builds which adds to the cost. The maximum sizes can and do vary widely depending on the method of rapid prototyping, and between each particular machine. For example, I have a 3D printer at work that can build a maximum of 8" x 8" x 10". Also, keep in mind that you will need to have an accurate 3D CAD model in order to have the parts rapid prototyped. If it were me, I would go the route of building the 3D CAD model and having it milled out. The main benefit of building a CAD model is that you don't have to decide on a scale until it's done.

Old Busted Hotness
08-25-09, 09:44 AM
I've got a cheap solution for you gringrin

Go down to Home Depot and pick up a 4x8x2" sheet of pink insulation foam, chop it into 1x3 sections, and carve the hull using a good sharp knife. Sand it to the proper shape and then coat it with epoxy. You should be able to do that for less than a hundred, and you'll acquire some useful skills in the process.

Pink foam is a great modeling tool, and it'll float, too!

08-26-09, 12:32 AM
Hello Martin:

My name is Javier and I am a spanish guy living in Los Cabos Mexico. I love to make ship modles from scratch. If you can provide me the hull linees blueprints, I can make you the hull in wood (no charge). At this moment I am building an 55" ELCO PT109 (+-1/17) and I have a lot of the neccesary materials. The hull lines plans is something like this:

08-26-09, 01:49 AM
The plans I have might be ok to use to build a kit, but I'm going to get another set from the Smithsonian if they are available. The Smithsonian has a catalog of plans but you must contact them first to find out if they have specific plans of what you are looking for.

So far I haven't heard anything from them. Perhaps it will take several days.

The current set of plans have alot of views some of which I'm not familar with. There is alot of information contained in the plans including where the bulkheads are located and where the hull reinforcement is .