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Home >> Barge Building >> Build Reports & Building Tips >> Sternboards, Bowboards & Badges “the giggly bits” - by Kimosubby

PostHeaderIcon Sternboards, Bowboards & Badges “the giggly bits” - by Kimosubby

Sternboards, bowboards and badges – or as some might say - “the giggly bits” 



I really enjoy my hobby and concentrate most of my builds on period ships, and recently, the last 3 years, have been more involved in repair and restoration of others’ models, and have somewhat left my own choices on the back burner.

I’ve completed plasticard monster vessels, re-rigged Elizabethan galleons, re-made sails for museum exhibits and restored vintage 1900’s sailing yachts from hull up.


I started some years back with a thames barge, the Metcalf kit and really fell in love with sailing barges for life. I completed her, and take her round to all the shows. Three years ago I started a new barge, the Lady Daphne and decided I would build scratch using the plans from Harold Underhill. The LD is still afloat and sails the Thames on charter cruises so is available for up to date photographic information and such. I got to the point of a completed hull, plank on frame with, totally unusual for a barge, a fully planked deck with 4 bit spacing (I wanted to know if I could do one at the scale of 1:24.)

And there she lay, some three years with no further progress, though she went to the shows. So in January 2012 I started again, the hull was cleaned thoroughly with white spirit, sealed with sanding sealer, and then sanded down. Hull sprayed red bottom, sides black. Bulwarks laminated and fitted, black and white outsides, yellow stripe, and buff inners. Top rail brown and margin board bright white. All sealed down with a coat of acrylic matt varnish.

Now to the various scroll patterned boards, more accurately called the bowboards, badges and sternboards on which there is scroll work. These are actual pictures of them.

Either side of the bow, bowboards, starboard side with hawse pipe, port side cut out for anchor chain. 1
Either side at the stern quarter, the badges 2
On the stern each side of the stern post, sternboards. 3

A complicated whirl of yellow was on each on a background of blue colouring. Name and port of registry were also on the stern. How to do these? Ah, an idea sprang to mind!

An aside.

Last year one of the boat magazines printed an article relating to a period vessel “HM Cutter Sherbourne” which had received generous plaudits from her judges [MB Sept 2011.] The sails were especially praised for their authentic look. Being into period ships and whether to add sails or not I read the article intently. A material called “lawn cotton” was used which could be printed on using a printer linked to a computer. I immediately looked into this, and discovered that the firm not only sold the material in different types for differing printers, but also produced “decal paper” for water slide decals, of which I needed some for a Christmas project, and had a product called “wood veneer” for printing.

I have used the “lawn cotton” and produced excellent results for flags and streamers of the Elizabethan period; the water decals produced went onto my granddaughters bicycle and she still believes her bike is a “Santa special” because it has her name on in stickers! Up to now I had no use for the veneer. I could see it being used for lined decks and small scale jobs but other than that what else could it do?

NOTE this veneer can only pass through into certain printers – side loaders, or slanted back loaders, NOT full bend round paper routes etc.

The giggly bits.

If I printed the scroll designs of the Lady Daphne onto the veneer could it then be applied to the hull and look authentic?

In for a penny, I had the stuff, just needed to work out the patterns and get printing.

The first job was to crop out the scrolls from suitable pictures and ensure the colours were about right.

Computer work. 

I’ve always played with the various add-on free bits of software on the computer and use “paint” frequently to get shapes, to add text to images at various scales and to splice together various “cropped” items from differing sources to achieve a composite image. It is essential when using “paint” to ensure the file type is as required. I usually have “tiff” images to work from as they have much better definition and colour properties. Paint files can be 256 or 16 but colour as wells as black and white.

Example – bowboard scroll.

Start by making a copy of the cropped image file. Using this copy, open in “paint” and make an inverse colour selection, light is then dark etc. The scroll pattern is now readily seen. Magnify the image, “image view” commands, then using the pen, select the colour gold and start filling in the pixels for the scroll shape. When saving, ensure you use the 16 bit colour format, otherwise in 256 colour format your gold becomes a variety of yellow shades again.

When happy with the now golden scroll, fill the background in with sky blue and save, in 16 bit format.

 Do the same for all the scroll patterns. For port or starboard, simply flip the image and save as port or starboard.

The sternboards.

The scroll is simply done exactly as for the bow boards, only there’s more line work.

The wording is more complicated as you have to be able to select a word font very similar to that on the stern boards and be able to use “wordcraft” or such to “banner” the name of boat and port of registry. Then that has to be slanted accordingly. On a copy of the finished stern board draw the name plate shape with circles and lines, erasing unwanted parts with fill colour.

Another stern board template is required – of your barge stern. This is made by tracing the stern quadrants onto tracing paper and scanning into the computer. This gives the true shape of your vessels stern. Ensure that it is the correct size by printing it out and checking against the real stern. Mine was about 2mm short in width.

Make two copies of the scanned file, port and starboard, and in each have the appropriate stern template, by erasing the unwanted one, and cropping down to size.

Open both this scanned file (a copy) and the coloured file. Copy the coloured file and paste to the scanned file BUT DO NOT CLICK OFF. Ensure the pasted image is in “behind other images” mode and move it over the scanned stern, re-sizing as necessary to get the correct size and shape. THEN and ONLY THEN click outside the box. Your coloured file stern board is the same size as the model stern board.

Check the size by printing out in black and white (saves colour) and check to stern again. I made mine be slightly larger which enabled me to trim back to size allowing for any error in the initial tracing.

To Print.

It is really easy to get this wrong, I did twice!

Place the finished images onto a clean new page in “word” and close them up as close as can be done without overlap and loss. Set to 100% on screen and measure the sizes with a ruler against your tracing paper templates for the areas concerned. DO NOT USE previous print outs as they may be wrong, computers do what you tell them and always shrink and crop to fit unless you tell them NO.

Once you have a printout in size (I do my trials in B/W only see above) then try and fit the veneer in the printer. This is tricky but doable!

The instructions suggest using normal print setting and matt paper, I eventually used best photo setting and best print, but with this you must start drying the veneer as soon as it is free from the printer. Remember that yellow and blue when mixed yield green and if left to dry slowly the edges of the scroll take on a greenish tinge. Seal the printed veneer with spray matt varnish, when dry, apply suitable colour around the cut edges as these show up white if left bare. (This can bleed into the veneer too!)

The bowboards and badges were stuck to the hull with double sided tape, the sternboards with UHU contact spray adhesive.

NOTE there is a backing to the veneer but it stays on as far as I am aware. Trying to peel it away resulted in the veneer breaking up – be warned.

The finished product.

The bowboard scroll work in place, the port side is marked for the chain slot.

4 5

Quarter scroll badges.

6 7
Sternboards in place. To complete them a narrow edge strip of black will be added following the stern curves around each board.


 The other decorations are air sprayed on, line and arrows etc. The hawse hole and anchor chain slot have still to be drilled/cut.

Last Updated (Monday, 07 May 2012 09:24)