Building a Gozabune (Kobaya) from Paris Plans – Part 4

More progress on the model and I’m on something of a roll now, as the trickiest questions I had I’ve now managed to pretty well answer. Let me begin by posting a translation of the French text that accompanied the drawings in Le Souvenirs de Marine. This is something of my own interpretation based on direct translation of the text using Google Translate and my own knowledge of French, and of a Japanese translation of the text that I found on the Internet, which I then translated into English, again using Google Translate. Correlating the translation, and the translation of a translation, I then went and rewrote the description based on the drawings and on my knowledge of Japanese watercraft. The notes in square brackets are my own clarifications.

From Paris:


Japan, Small Galley Measured in Yokohama in 1868 by Mr. Armand Paris, Ship’s Lieutenant.(Drawing No. 15-1)

This kind of small galley belonged to the Taikun [ “Great Prince,” the Shōgun Tokugawa]. The construction of extreme lightness is very careful and the method of assembly of parts is the same as that of other boats with a single layer of planks. The stern differs in that it is closed by a panel [false transom], and it has bulwarks raised at the back. The beams are in pairs and placed one on top of the other the lowest one carries the joists, on which rest the deck planks.

The upper beam protrudes and carries the galleries, which are supported by the beams. Between these are short hanging beams mounting the oars like aboard the great galleys [sailing ship], but at their short length, only one rower is on each oar.

On the deck near the bow is a lowered section, above which is placed a flying hut [a framework covered over by an awning]. In the galleries on the side there are no oars here. Instead, boards for walking are placed.

The mast is square and set up as on other boats. Sails are not known, but they must be of little use for a boat so well made for rowing.

In Yokohama there were three such ships, but the dimensions of the largest ship are shown in the layout diagram.

 The dimensions of the two smaller:

    Maximum length             12 m 81             12 m 62

    Ship width                        2 m 96              2 m 52

    Maximum width               3 m 80                3 m 30

    Mold depth                     0 m 93                0 m 79

These ships were abandoned and in poor condition, like other Japanese ships, the days of these ship have passed.

The Rails

I’m at somewhat of a loss as to what the rails are called in Japanese. They’re not exactly hand rails as they’re short. Workboats don’t have them. They mostly appear on fancier vessels, like the yakatabune pleasure boats. In fact, that just gave me an idea. So, I looked up the term used by Woody Joe in their yakatabune kit and they’re described as rankan ( 欄干 ), or railing.

I continued construction by adding the hanging beams which support the side rails. I considered putting in the deck joists next, but I thought they might get in the way while I added the hanging beams for the rails.

I made these hanging beams overly long, the excess to be trimmed off later. To keep the beams in good alignment, I used temporary rails clamped above and below the beams. The rails I’ll eventually add will look much like these, but only on top of the beams.

After the glue on these hanging beams set, I measured the proper position of the rails, clamped them into place, and trimmed off the excess of the beams using my Japanese razor saw. I know it doesn’t have to be a Japanese saw, just because it’s a model of a Japanese boat, but it’s a really nice saw – very sharp, very thin. I finished off the end with a sanding wand.

Stern Assembly

In the meantime, I decided that I could probably make the full ōtoko, great beam, as a single piece, so I just started cutting, sawing, and carving.

I also cut the pieces for the rudder lifting assembly, and test fit it all together. I still need a cross-piece roller that fits between the two small posts on top of the big crossbeam.

I also took the time to cut openings in the hull for the ōtoko and made sure it fit correctly into place. This was only a temporary fitting, as the transom doesn’t reach as high as needs to, and needs to be modified before I permanently install the ōtoko.

I glued the final rails into place and test-mounted the whole ōtoko assembly.

For the next step, I realized that the stern bulwarks doesn’t rise up enough, so I will shape extension pieces to fit. In actuality, this seems to be about the best way to deal with the hull’s shape as the line of beams follows the top of the bulwarks, except at the stern, where the bulwarks rise up.

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