Frank Ryczek sent us pictures of his newest total stem to stern ship model restoration of the shrimp boat
"JOHN EARL" - fantastic work Frank, keep on sending us pictures of your work!
Frank's notes: I have had an extremely busy year so far as I have been restoring ship models for Julia and Mike Bray of Fernandina Beach, Florida that were built by Mike's father in the 1940's. These photos show the complete and total stem to stern full restoration of the shrimp boat that was built by John Earl Bray. The model was found in the workshop of Mike's Dad after he had passed away. Mike wanted this model named after his father, so the boats name is the "JOHN EARL". I was surprised that many of the shrimp boats in Fernandina Beach had masculine names. Shrimping is hard work and the boats themselves reflected that by being weathered out waiting for the end of shrimping season for a fresh coat of paint and a re-haul.
Having had restored nine ship models for Mike and Julia, I was presented with the shrimp boat model for repairs. The hull is extremely heavy as the original model that was built by John Bray was hand carved from a solid block of local Florida cypress and formed a solid hull for the shrimp boat model. The cabin was intact but I kicked it up a few notches by planking the entire interior and detailing it to the extreme. I added benches, tables, book shelves, overhead lighting and a detailed helm area and scratch built dials and throttles as well as overhead cabin lights. There is even a miniature 6 pack of beer I made for the crew.
I scrubbed down the entire model with Murphy's oil soap and a soft bristle brush to clean off the dust from the past 60 years. With the cabin off the model I then proceeded to re-plank her deck using walnut strip wood. I liked the look of the deck and that's when I decided to do some research into shrimp boats.
Most shrimp boats are work boats- plain and simple. I din't want this boat looking like a pristine boat, as most of the shrimp boats were weathered to the extreme and this is the look I was after.
Many of the fittings came from my vast collection of ship model parts that I have amassed over the past 40 years. All of the hull fittings are from Model Shipways and Model Expo. I can still remember when Model Shipways were up in Bogota New Jersey. Metal blocks, cleats, bitts, ship's wheel, and most importantly parts for the main winch were all picked from my parts collection.
I wanted to use the original outriggers and I did so. The model measured out to 1/32 scale or 3/8" = 1 foot anywhere on the model. A buddy of mine had some spare model truck tires that I used for bumpers. At first I had too many on the boat and a guy from my model club asked me if the model was a tug boat. I removed all but two midship on the port and starboard sides.
I found a rigging plan for this model from the St. Augustine Lighthouse Museum site and it detailed every line on a typical 1940's era shrimp boat. There was not a main mast for the boat so I fashioned one from walnut dowel and tapered it with my electric drill. I then made a ladder from wire and added it to the mast so that the crew can get to the top.
The original outriggers were attached to the model by drilling two holes in the deck. This is not correct and I made the correction to the mast to hold the outriggers to the mast. I also wanted the outriggers to be displayed either in a stowed position or swung out in trolling position.
I learned a lot about how a shrimp boat's rigging works by rigging out the model according to the museum plan. When the outriggers are in an up stowed position the lines are slack and hanging, and when they are down in trolling position the line are taunt.