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Solid Hull 1963 "Rattlesnake" by Model Shipways

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  • Member since
    September 2005
  • From: Groton, CT
Posted by warshipguy on Friday, October 21, 2022 11:31 AM


Given that this thread is old, I am curious about how far you have gotten with your model. Can you please give an update?


Bill Morrison

  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Friday, October 21, 2022 10:37 AM


I'm in the process of building the Rattlesnake of a drawing given to me me by a friend in the US many years ago. I am making a solid hull scratch model 

I've been obsessed with the Rattlesnake since first reading about it (and seeing the drawings) in Howard Chapelle's History of American Sailing Ships many, many years ago. It's a beautifully trim little design. Would love to see your model as it develops. Yes

But you might want to start a new thread. This one's a little...dusty. Wink

[BTW...I popped on Amazon at random to check that I'd gotten Chapelle's title correct...and happened to notice in the "Description" section seemed to be more to the book than I had remembered. Check it out, if you'd like a (small) grin Big Smile:]


George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."
  • Member since
    October 2022
Posted by Tuanie on Friday, October 21, 2022 7:36 AM

I'm in the process of building the Rattlesnake of a drawing given to me me by a friend in the US many years ago. I am making a solid hull scratch model 

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Thursday, June 30, 2005 10:20 AM
WIPW offered an excellent suggestion: buy a copy of Campbell's Neophyte Shipmodeler's Jackstay. Model Shipways published this book back in the early sixties for the very purpose you have in mind.

I built the solid-hull Rattlesnake a long, long time ago. My recollection is that, in addition to the plans, the kit came with a large sheet of instructions (printed in black and red ink). It sounds like that sheet's missing from your kit.

The Jackstay book should solve the problem, though. It contains all sorts of sound, basic instructions on working with machine-carved hulls. MS intended that people buying their kits would also buy the book. The author, George Campbell, was one of the best in the business; he also drew the plans for your kit. The book also contains, in a friendly, easy-to-read format, a tremendous amount of information about the history of naval architecture, rigging, and lots of other stuff. A person who memorized every bit of information in that book would be well on the way to becoming a knowledgable ship modeler.

Whoever told you to pick the American kit over the European one gave you good advice. That old solid-hull kit may not be quite up to today's standards, but it's a sound basis for a serious scale model. Most of those continental European companies don't really know what a scale model is.

You do need to bear one thing in mind. If that kit was made in 1963, the cast fittings in it almost certainly are made of lead alloy. In addition to being poisonous (best to keep your kids away from the kit - for several reasons), lead is an unstable substance. Over a period of years it tends to turn to white powder - especially when kept in a confined atmosphere. "Lead disease," however, seems to be unpredictable. (The exact content of the parts probably is a big factor. Model Shipways used an alloy that did contain other metals.) The good news is that if your fittings have survived since 1963 without "flowering," you're in luck; they'll probably last at least as long as you and I do. Buy some good metal primer and give each fitting several coats of it. And when it comes time to think about a display case for the finished model, don't make it out of plexiglass and don't put it in direct sunlight. (Strange, electrical reactions take place inside plexiglas boxes, and sunlight accelerates them.)

Good luck. It's a great hobby.

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    January 2003
  • From: Utah - USA
Posted by wipw on Thursday, June 30, 2005 10:03 AM
Ralph beat me in with the post. He's too quick!!

The Rattlesnake Model Expo has now is a plank on bulkhead kit and not the solid hull kit you have, so don't get confused by that. Good hunting to you.
Bill ========================================================== DML M4A2 Red Army ========================================================== ========================================================== -- There is a fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness". (Author unknown)
  • Member since
    January 2003
  • From: Utah - USA
Posted by wipw on Thursday, June 30, 2005 9:59 AM
Whoa, did you pick yourself a first project! Not meaning the kit, but the state of the kit.

Model Shipways is a part of Model Expo in Hollywood Florida. Here is their site:!+USID!

I'd e-mail them and explain the situation. Maybe they have an old archive of their plans they could copy and send to you. Or at least help you with the parts you are missing.

About the best solid hull book is supposed to be "The Neophyte Shipmodeller's Jackstay". It's a $12 book and is sold by Model Expo. Look in the book section.

Two other books I really like are "How to Build First Rate Ship Models from Kits" ($16.99) and "Shipmodeling Simplified" ($18.99).

Hope this helps a little. I'm sure someone who knows a lot more about this stuff than I will be along soon and give you some better advice!

Good luck with it.
Bill ========================================================== DML M4A2 Red Army ========================================================== ========================================================== -- There is a fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness". (Author unknown)
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, June 30, 2005 9:55 AM
Taken from the description of this kit on the Model Expo site (

Four sheets of plans (two by George F. Campbell outlining hull details and rig plan, plus two by Ben Lankford showing plank-on-bulkhead hull construction) and a comprehensive 48 page illustrated instruction book guide you to a memorable model. (Display base & brass pedestals not included.)

I have their Sultana kit (purchased on eBay as well) and it has an excellent instruction book, so I imagine this one is good as well. One of the reasons for getting this kit was that I saw several reviews lauding the quality of the instructions for these kits relative to those from most companies.

I imagine that a call to Model Expo will give you information on purchasing a set of instructions from them.
  • Member since
    November 2005
Solid Hull 1963 "Rattlesnake" by Model Shipways
Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, June 30, 2005 8:58 AM
I am a beginner who purchased a 1963 solid hull "Rattlesnake" on ebay. I chose the solid hull version and Modesl Shipways because I was led to believe they were easier to build, because American plans were explicit as compared to European companies.

There are pieces of wood missing from the kit as well as some metal fittings. Someone had started the kit and actually did a good job shaping the hull but I still can't believe there are no step by step directions - just plans. I'm overwhelmed and need to know what books I will need to obtain in order to complete thias ship, that is, if I can even get an accounting of what is missing.

On this last point, the keel of the Head, stem, rudder, and that ornate "thing" that surrounds the base of the bow sprit are missing, or is this something I have to build with the little pieces of wood that look like fat toothpicks?

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