Please visit our home site at

Anke and I live aboard WAYWARD, and wrote about it's design and construction at

Access to the net comes and goes, so I'll be writing in fits and spurts.Please feel free to browse the archives, leave comments where you will and write... I'll respond as I can.

Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirly gmail daughter com

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Models and Mock Ups

Building it isn't TOO much harder
(a LOT more expensive, though).

Shall we have an adventure now,
  Or shall we have our tea first?
-- From Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Mock Turtle Soup: Models and Mock Ups

If a picture is worth a thousand words, I'd say a model is worth a thousand pictures. I reckon that makes a model worth a million words!

It doesn't have to be a museum piece. Building in scale is important, so you can measure directly from the model. The more detail you build in, the more you'll solve and anticipate problems ahead of time. But TriloBoats are boxes... there's not so much to figure out on that score.

Note bulkheads, deck and framing lines...
almost all layout happens on sides or bulkheads.

We used doorskin (this time) and cardboard, held together by hot melt glue. Crude, but tells us all we need to know. A couple of scale models of ourselves (and a pet or two have since materialized) to picture lines of sight and boarding issues and there ya go.

We laid out the principle (side) component landings, and window cutouts.

Next step is to start marking it up with material counts:
  • Ply Sheets -- Sides, bottom, bulkheads and transoms, decks... each gets written up in place.
  • Copper Plate and Angle -- Sides and bottom; along both chines.
  • Framing -- Chines (bottom and sheer) and nailers, bulkheads and transoms, decks.
  • Nail Counts -- Parallel to framing, one or two sides... How long? How often?
  • Surface Areas -- How much for paint, sheathing, glue?
Writing our results in place beats a list by far... we can see at a glance what we've counted, and what not. Much less likely to over or under count. A different check mark for each pass through lets us check and recheck.

And we can just sit there and stare at it!

Amazing what cardboard and hot-melt glue can do!


Mock-ups are different. The trick here is to be able to get the feel of a feature in full size.

We've got a collection of chairs, tables and counters picked out that we can go to for the feel of things. We might set up a mock 'gangway' to get a feel for how tight things have become in our present state of 'middle age spread'. And maybe a (literal) fudge factor? A strip of plywood simulates the overhead.

We like to look down (not just out) from our windows to see what's happening close up. This ability is affected by the height of the lower window opening and our distance from it (the closer we sit to the window, the lower we can look over the frame). Mocking up lets us see how our furniture height and location will interact with our view.

Window height has been a big issue for us. Here, we mock up the shortest windows in prospect, in their correct location on the sides.  If these are okay, the rest is gravy.

And it's okay.

Not a bad view for below-decks in a sailboat!


Same table, different model.


  1. Another great post Dave!

    Thought I'd share my technique for building sailing models. Works great for hard chine boats like Triloboats.

    Start with a cheap piece of formica, which can usually be found at a local Habitat or other recycled building materials store.

    Outline the model pieces on the formica and cut them out with large scissors or tin snips. Scoring the edges of each piece with a utility knife helps make a cleaner cut.

    Tape the hull pieces and bulkheads together with duct tape on the outside of the hull joints. Smooth side of the formica to the outside.

    Mix some flour or other filler with epoxy to form a putty and spread that on the inside hull joints. Autobody filler, construction adhesive, etc. might work as well. Cutting the lower corners of bulkheads off before assembly allows a continuous line of adhesive from bow to stern--important for a watertight joint below the waterline.

    When the epoxy sets, add the deck and cabin pieces using more tape on outside joints. Add rudder, leeboards, etc. and some ballast. Masts can be made from wooden dowels and sails from formica.

    Now you have not just a model, but a sailing model. Take it to the water, tether it with 100 feet or so of string and go for a sail.

    A fun project and good for checking everything Dave mentions, plus stability, sail balance, etc. Also good for comparing relative speed of different designs.

    1. Hi David,

      Great method, and I never thought of using formica! Definitely would make a better looking model.

      You might consider hot melt glue in place of the epoxy, 'welding' in a continuous bead (angle tip back for fillet... we use a mini-gun and sticks).

      It, too, is water-tight, but super easy to apply and cools to set in short order.

      Surprisingly strong... we made some doorskin mockups for office, silverware and plate, and table top organizers. All turned out so strong that we never rebuilt them with full joinery!

      Definitely like the ability to sail test, too!

      A friend uses two models tied to the ends of a balanced beam, trailing in a slow, smooth current (like a waterborne mobile). The slipperier boat pulls ahead.

      There's a great modelling scene in the movie >Wind<.

      Thanks for the suggestions!

      Dave Z