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Copper Hull

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  • Member since
    October 2006
Copper Hull
Posted by Halo_819 on Wednesday, December 6, 2006 1:37 AM

Hi all,

 I am still in the planning stages of starting my 1/96 Cutty Sark. The kit is an old one and comes with the hull already painted copper. I know that putting the hull together is going to leave a serious seam along the keel. So it is going to have to be at least painted anyway. Then I got an idea and I was wondering if anyone else has tried it yet. Wouls it be possible to just gild the hull with real copper leaf? Here is a link to what I have found 

It seems like it should work and it has the added benefit of actually aging and getting a

real patina over it with time and it will cover the seam perfectly.

What do you think? 

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Wednesday, December 6, 2006 8:52 AM

First point to consider - that seam between the hull halves will only be visible, under normal circumstances, for a few inches.  Along the bottom of the keel it won't be seen unless somebody picks up the model and looks at the bottom of it; at the stern it will be hidden by the rudder (though the latter will have a similar seam in it - and isn't pre-painted).  The only visible section of the seam will be at the bow.

I don't know of any reason why any sort of repainting wouldn't work.  Beware the use of the term "leaf," though.  Actual metal leaf (gold, silver, copper, or otherwise) is, by definition, only found in sheets.  (The term "liquid leaf" is an oxymoron.  At least one company uses that term to describe its products, which are actually just fine-grained metallic paint.)  Honest-to-goodness metal leaf requires some sort of "sizing" underneath, to serve as an adhesive.  I've tried using gold leaf on models several times, and frankly I haven't been especially impressed with the results.  In my experience it doesn't actually look any better than any of several excellent gold paints on the hobby market.  (Testor, Humbrol, and Floquil all make metallic colors that are at least as fine-grained and shiny as anything the art supply stores sell.)  I've never used copper leaf, but I'd be concerned for the same reason.  Also, I'd be worried that the coat of sizing underneath the finished coat might obscure some of the excellent detail molded into the plastic hull halves.

Then, of course, there's the question of what color the stuff actually ought to be.  We've taken that up in several Forum threads recently; do a search on the word "copper" or "sheathing" and you'll find a couple of dozen interesting posts.  There's plenty of room for interpretation and taste there.  The discussion starts with the fact that the sheathing on the Cutty Sark is not copper; it's Munz metal.  Then there's the question of just how that material actually would change color - if at all.  One thing we can be sure of:  air won't have the same effect on it as saltwater.

Maybe copper leaf would be worth a try; if you do it, by all means let the rest of us know how it works out.   But I wouldn't let the problem of the seam between the hull halves be the driving force in your decision.  It wouldn't be difficult to fill that seam and paint it; just confine the new paint to the row of "plates" on the very edge.  Even if the newly-applied copper paint doesn't quite match the pre-painted hull, the difference will hardly be noticeable.

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

  • Member since
    April 2004
Posted by Chuck Fan on Wednesday, December 6, 2006 9:55 AM

Many ships uses especially thick lead sheets, arranged with their long side vertical, to protect their stem from the cutwater down to false keel.   This is a detail often overlooked in models.   I'll go back to look at my Cutty Sark photos to see if she has them.

  • Member since
    May 2006
  • From: Nanaimo, BC, Canada
Posted by Brews on Wednesday, December 6, 2006 11:25 AM

BMF have a copper foil in their range, if copper is appropriate. Chris Hall (a member of this site) has used it on a 1:100 HMS Victory.

I'd be inclined to use a copper metallic paint like Gunze Sangyo copper lacquer "Mr Metal Colour 215" which, like Testors' Metallizers, doesn't require thinning to be sprayed, and is buffable.

That's assuming that copper is indeed the colour that these areas need to be!

  • Member since
    February 2006
  • From: Boston
Posted by Wilbur Wright on Wednesday, December 6, 2006 9:56 PM

I recently completed a model of the International Space Station and had considered using Mona Lisa Gold Leaf on the solar arrays, however it would have cost around $100 to do it and it may tarnish over time, and is quite delicate.  I used Tamiya Gold leaf paint (airbrushed) and was quite satisfied with the results.


I am building the CSS  Alabama and used Tamiya copper for the hull.  I intend to use it again with the Cutty Sark which is up for next year. You can brush it on the model because of the molded plates, and not see any brush marks (this paint cannot be brushed on a smooth surface). It looks quite real and cures to a hard resilient finish.  I used Tamiya Olive Green with water and a sponge to weather the copper, after it was totally dry.  I would recommend this. ........ I recently photographed the model in progress and hope to have some photos up relatively soon.

  • Member since
    October 2006
Posted by Halo_819 on Thursday, December 7, 2006 9:01 AM

Thanks for the replies!Smile [:)]

I think that I am going to give the copper leaf a shot on a smaller model. 

I want to do the smaller model for several reasons.  First just to loosen up my modeling skills before

attacking the Cutty Sark and second to try out all of the interesting techniques that I have been 

reading here about rigging and improving the ships. This smaller model will serve as my test bed 

for the Sark. I will let you guys know how it turns out.

Thanks again! 


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