Building the Peregrine Galley: Upper Decks and Final Hull Details

Continuing on with the quarterdeck, forecastle, and other hull details...


The quarterdeck is made and planked much like the main deck; you can more or less transfer lines from the plans straight to card. Note that period ships usually had a king plank on the quarterdeck and forecastle; therefore the centerline plank for each of these should be slightly wider. I have no idea why this was done.

There are a few things we need to touch up before we can install the quarterdeck. First, the fore edge needs to look like it has some thickness (ie, fake deck beams and such) since it will be visible edge-on. This is easy enough to add with bits of card trim on the top and edge-glued.

Forward edge of the quarterdeck

Note that the underside of the quarterdeck will actually be barely visible through the stern windows. We can't just leave it bare. So what we need is to install ceiling beams and the ropes that lead from the wheel to the tiller. The ceiling beams are simple strips, while we have 3 thick pieces of thread (sz8 perle cotton) placed next to each other as a simplified representation of the wheel ropes. A false tiller and false blocks round this out.

Underside of quarterdeck

We also need to install in the great cabin a cover over the center support; this serves as an additional structural support for the quarterdeck as well as representing the large beams behind the false center window in the stern.

Tiller cover in great cabin

At this time, you'll need to install the capstan. After the capstan is in place, you can install the quarterdeck.

Stern Details

First, we need to install the stern counter. This is a piece of card cut to match the inside area between the bulwarks on the quarterdeck, planked and painted red. Also cut thin (1/16 inch) strips of card and affix them to the reverse of the (already-installed) stern plate; this will ensure correct spacing. The goal is to give the stern counter some depth and thickness to it. The following picture shows the stern counter just before installation.

counter, just before installation

You should also cut out and affix a couple thin slivers of card to round out the curve of the stern counter along the sides, and paint to match the existing hull.

We should also complete the stern windows. Cut out the windows from a piece of card shaped as the stern fascia. Paint it and frame the windows themselves with black colored strips of paper. Cut out a piece of cellophane (or whatever other plastic) to form the actual windows themselves to fit to cover all of the windows. The back piece is similar and serves to sandwich the cellophane securely between the two. Note that the center window is a false window.

Stern window pieces

After attaching the stern windows, you can make the final piece for the stern counter, a 1/8 inch strip that curves around the top and covers the gap between the two pieces, giving the illusion of a solid stern counter. This image shows the completed result, albeit a litle later (after installation of the rails).

Stern counter cap


The main piece for the forecastle is simple, just a piece of card cut to the right shape and planked, with a bit of trim on the aft edge where a deck beam ought to be. The underside will not be visible, so we don't have to make any details like we did with the quarterdeck.

Forecastle piece

Simply glue into place to install it. Remember that the bowsprit, the riding bitts, and the anchor have to be installed first because they run under the forecastle.

Forecastle deck installed

The catheads are also simple, being 2 cm x 2 mm boxes. Cut one side to form a bevel so that it will be angled a little off the deck. Cover in CA to stiffen it. After painting wood brown, drill 4 small holes at the end of each one; this will be used later to run the tackle for hauling the anchors. The image below shows the catheads with two of the 4 holes drilled out.


Bowsprit Gammoning

Once the forecastle deck is in place, we might as well gammon the bowsprit. The process is very simple but difficult to describe in words; consult a book on model ship building for step by step pictures. The result is shown below.

Bowsprit gammoning


The railings are made from 1/8 inch strips of 2-ply card, painted black. The rail stanchions are made from 1/10 inch strips of 4-ply card.

The first rail to lay down is the one on the waist. This is simple enough and not shown.

The second is on the quarterdeck. Note that there is an upper and lower section of the railing. For the lower section, we mark and attach the stanchions before we attach the rail itself.

Quarterdeck lower rail

The upper half of the quarterdeck rail goes on top of that, extending out and beyond to cover the stanchions we set in the first half. This rail has stanchions of its own for the final top rail.

Quarterdeck toprail, lower half

The top rail goes on over the last set of stanchions.

Quarterdeck top rail

After the quarterdeck rails are installed, we need to install a few timberheads. These are simply 2mm box sections, painted black, and installed in the locations shown on the plans. They are installed inboard of the rails and bulwarks and are a bit higher than the rail.

Quarterdeck top rails and timberheads

The forecastle rail proceeds similarly. The lower part runs from the end of the catheads and has stanchions for the upper half.

Forecastle rails, lower half

The upperhald of the forecastle rails goes over the catheads and rests on the lower half stanchions.

Forecastle rails, upper half

At the same time, we install the forward timberheads all along the forward edge of the forecastle. These again are 2mm box segments painted black. The first six rest on the deck and are aligned with the beakhead bulkhead, while the last two are shorter and actually rest directly on the rails above the cathead (not exactly how it would be done in a real ship, but a modeling compromise to maintain the illusion that the catheads go through a solid segment of the rail).

Forecastle timberheads

Moreover, there are three more on each side inboard of the rails. These are shown below.

Forecastle rail timberheads

Quarter Galleries

The quarter galleries are simple enough. You need to make a 4-sized box that is tilted at an angle when viewed from the size and trapezoidal in shape when viewed from the top. Cut out holes for the windows and use thin strips of paper to make the window frames. Add small pieces of cellophane or acetate or whatever you are using for windows.

Quarter gallery parts

Fold these up and edge-glue them together to form the finished part. Attach these to the matching holes near the stern. Now you can look into the great cabin from the sides.

Quarter galleries, installed

We finish by adding some decorations to the quarter galleries. We make a small paper eagle, paint it, and place it under the galleries. On the top, we have the frame of a dome, made of small strips of paper and painted.

Quarter gallery decorations

Head Rails and Details

The lowest of the head rails also acts as a support knee for the catheads and is thus a complex piece that has to be formed into wacky compound curves. You have to fit this to your own ship; it is impractical to develop a template for it. Paint the pieces gold.

Headrail main pieces with compound curve

The next couple of head rails are easier, being largely just single pieces. When installed with the first pair, they look like this.

Some of the headrails installed

The remainder are easier as they do not feature such radical curves and shapes and all can be formed from strip card. The next two run from just forward of the hawse holes in a mostly straight line to the figurehead, while the final one follows the outer curve of the beakhead bulkhead and then to the stem. When all the rails are in place, the vertical supports are simply added on as strips on the side. In a real ship, these would be notched to fit, but at this scale we can omit that detail.

Headrails completed

The head gratings are made from very thin slivers of card, colored light brown (same as the decks), carefully glued together to form gratings that match the triangular area on each side of the stem between the stem and the top head rail.

Head gratings

One often-omitted detail in ship models are the "Seats of Ease" which are the toilets. It is a box with a hole cut out of the top. You go there and do your thing and the waste falls through the grating, through the head rails, and down to Davy Jones's locker. We make these with a simple 1/8 inch cube with a hole cut out of the top.

The Seats of Ease

The gratings and seats of ease are installed as below.

Head gratings and seats of ease

Forecastle and Quarterdeck Stairs

The sailors need stairs to get to the forecastle and quarterdeck quickly. We make these out of 2-ply card, colored with markers to the same color as the deck. These are constructed in the same manner as the other stairs we've built already.

Upper deck stairs

The quarterdeck stairs go on each side and terminate between the guns as shown. You will also need to build a small landing for them because the quarterdeck's forward edge is too far back for stairs to be fitted without fouling the guns. This detail is not shown on the plans but is a common addition to many period ships. The landing is 3 scale feet wide and long enough so that the stairs do not foul the guns.

Stairs to quarterdeck

Same deal with the forecastle stairs, a landing is needed so that they clear the guns properly.

Stairs to forecastle

Quarterdeck Edge Rail

We need to install a rail on the forward edge of the quarterdeck so that the sailors don't go falling off of it. The railing is made of the same 2mm box material as the timberheads. A 2-ply strip forms the cap on top, while pieces of card form the middle rail. Note that the height of the whole assembly is noticeably higher than the rail on the sides. The scale figure shows that it is not in fact unduly high (barely waist-height) but that the side railings are simply extremely low.

Quarterdeck forward edge rail


The belfry is constructed similarly. Six short posts make up the lower part. Double-ply card is used for the railing, and then the posts are extended above the railing. The center is connected with its own rail. The bell itself is made from a wad of tissue paper and painted. Two small details to include are the pivot that the bell mounts on and a small lever with a rope attached to ring the bell with.


The belfry is placed on the aft edge of the forecastle, with the posts just between the stairs, as shown below.

Belfry in position

Topsail Sheet Bitts

There are topsail sheet bitts in front of each of the masts. These are formed like the bowsprit bitts below the forecastle: two vertical boxes with cutouts for a horizontal box for a crosspiece. The largest one, of course, is the one for the mainmast.

Topsail sheet bitts


The binnacle is the box on a ship where the compasses are kept. We begin by making the outer shell of the binnacle cabinet and the interior base where the compasses are.

Binnacle, inside parts

Assemble the parts. Now add cabinet trim and make a top. The 3D effect is accomplished by cutting single-layer card to shape and gluing it on the surface where desired.

Binnacle, cabinet and top

Add plastic for the windows and then mount the top. Add a little chimny stack on top.

Finished binnacle

The finished binnacle is positioned just aft of the mizzen mast and is lashed to the deck with ropes.

Binnacle position, aft of mizzen mast

Steering Wheel

This small piece is actually very easy to make. Make a very thin stick out of tissue paper, a couple of small discs (with a hole punch) for the center, and a couple of rings out of card.

Steering wheel pieces

Assembly should be obvious: cut spokes out of the sticks, glue to the center disc and the ring. The completed steering wheel should have 8 spokes. The base/axle is made from two triangular pieces of 2-ply card with the top corner rounded off, plus a rolled cylinder for the axle, plus a couple bits of card discs at the end representing the other end of the axle. Paint everything brown to obtain the following:

wheel, painted

Take a small piece of natural color rope and wind it around the axle, with the ends going to the base. A real wheel works bu turning this rope, which runs below decks and pulls on the tiller.

Ship's wheel position


It sounds like a difficult proposition to make a figurehead from paper. but making the lion figurehead was not exceedingly difficult. Trace copies of the lion outline from the plans. Make the figurehead itself by laminating 2-ply cardstock. First, make the body and head with several layers, then the head alone by adding a couple more layers to each side, then make the arms and legs separately with layered card. Glue the limbs onto the body and head and smooth out everything with a file. Paint the figurehead gold and use something sharp to scribe in the mouth and eyes. The result is below.


Admittedly not as fine as a cast metal one or an expertly carved wood figurehead (I first attempted to carve a paper block, and discovered that paper does not carve well), but serviceable enough for our purposes.

Side Trim

Ships of the era had some amount of nice guilded trim on the side, and the paintings show it clearly. My attempts to carve or cut out acceptable trim from paper were not successful, so I simply painted the trim on the side. The result, while certainly not of the quality of hand-carved and painted boxwood like on wood ships, turned out better than expected and only took a few minutes.

Side trim

This shows the main "stripe" that runs across the ship. The placement is roughly in like with the painting, following the wale that runs at and above the gunports. It is a simple pattern of dots, flourishes, and X's between two lines.

Quarter gallery trim

You'll need some trim around the quarter gallery as well.

Stern trim

The stern trim has more flourishes. The vertical columns near the window are bits of card scored with a knife to give a bit of texture. The "coat of arms" and laurel underneath are constructed of card and string. The rest is simply paint.

Ship's Lanterns

The lanterns seem intimidating to make out of paper but are not so bad once I figured out a viable technique. The lanterns we will make are six-sided. Start by setting up a six-sided tube and cut it at an angle (the lanterns do not go straight up and down; they slant aft). On five of the six sides, use a knife to carefully cut out the windows. The side that remains whole represents a door that faces inboard that opens up to allow the lantern to be lit. You'll get a piece that looks like the following:

Ship's lantern, unfolded

Fold it up and edge-glue together. Next, make a little "cone" to fit on the bottom. Make sure the cone is angled correctly with the rest of the lantern so that it sweeps back.

Ship lantern bottom

Now we glaze the inside of the lantern to make "glass" for the windows. The windows are very small, so PVA glue actually has enough surface tension to bridge the gaps. Since it dries clear, you get a frosted glass effect.

Glazing the lantern windows with glue

There are two smaller lanterns on the side; they are built similarly to the main lantern. The tops are made out of circles of card of varying diameters laminated to give the appearence of steps; the main lantern's top is similarly constructed.

Side lanterns and their tops

After finishing the lanterns, a mount for them is installed at the bottom. This is a worm-rolled bit of paper bent to hold the lanterns at the right angle and stiffened with CA.

Completed stern lanterns, before installation

The three completed lanterns are then mounted on the stern. Note the aftward rake of the lanterns in the side view.

Stern lanterns, aft view Stern lanterns, side view


The basic shape of the rudder is made from 6-ply card, cut to match the rudder shape in the plans and painted in the same scheme as the hull.

Rudder main shape

The rudder hinge is held together on a real ship by pintles and gudgeons. You can make the same thing in a small scale. The small pins are made out of finely rolled paper stiffened with CA and are attached with thin strips of card. To make the hinge a working hinge, you must thread the part that is attached to the hull through the pin before attaching it to the hull, as shown below. If you don't care for a working hinge, you can eliminate the pin and simply glue the strips onto the rudder and hull and then glue the rudder into place.

Rudder hinge pintles and gudgeons