Small World Models Kit Line Restoration and Re-introduction

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  • thor
    SubCommittee Member
    • Feb 2009
    • 1441

    Small World Models Kit Line Restoration and Re-introduction


    I am coming up on retirement from my Engineering Consulting firm here in the very near future. This provides the opportunity to spend more time than I've ever had before on enjoyable activities such as modeling. With that in mind, I have worked out an opportunity with Bob Martin to restore the old David Manley line of kits offered many years ago by Small World Models. The kits include: 1/96th Blueback, 1/96th Kilo, 1/96th Japanese Oyashio,1/96th Russian Sierra, and the 1/96th British Trenchant. The kit line is in tough shape right now. The molds are absolutely shot for the Blueback, Sierra, & Trenchant. I have not received the molds for the Kilo yet, but I would imagine they are in similar shape. They will be on the way to my shop next week. The hull molds for the Oyashio are missing completely, but we are still looking for them.

    I will be able to get a few kits out of each of these molds, but it won't be many. All of these kits will be available exclusively through the Nautilus Drydocks.

    Current Kit Line Status

    All of the hull masters are missing. All we have are bits and pieces of the appendage pattern masters, sails, scopes/shears and that is about it. All of the propeller masters have been destroyed but I do have the remaining bits & pieces. The original molds were nicely done by Dave Manley. They are very lightly built out of polyester cloth, mat, and tooling resin for the surface coat. Polyester has a tendency to warp and distort from age and these molds are not exception. In addition, polyester is not as flexible as some of the more modern epoxies which has left the mold surfaces with checking and cracks from use. The hull molds for the Oyashio are missing. I do have a few bits and pieces of the masters for parts of the kit, but not the hull. We are still looking for it. I am thinking I will have to create an all-new hull master so that we can keep the entire Manley line intact.

    In addition to the Manley line of kits, I was able to negotiate the return of the new SSN637 Kit that I created a few years back and then handed over to Bob Martin. It will require a complete retool of the hull molds, but I have all of the original hull masters, appendage masters, and propeller masters. The Sturgeon kit will be a follow-up to the completion of the Small World Models kit line restoration.

    Where do we go from here?

    The first step is to resurrect new hull patterns by pulling a very thick hull for each of these kits out of the molds before the molds completely fail and they are very close to that now. The Blueback will be the first to receive a full restoration. This will require a complete makeover for the hull and the kit in general. All of these kits will be re-engineered to make them much easier to manufacture using the latest in 3D printing technology to produce many of the kit parts (reduce the overall number of kit parts significantly). I want to eliminate as much white metal and polyurethane molding as much as possible. The hulls will remain epoxy-glass as always. I am going to simplify and strengthen each of these kits to keep them easy to build and easy to manufacture. This will keep the price reasonable and the time in shop to a minimum. The goal is to be able to produce an entire kit in a single day or less.

    I'm not certain where to post the restoration of these kits so I think I will post them in the "Build Threads" section as we are rebuilding an entire line of kits. Blueback is up first.....