Basically, the kit boats are satisfactory as is but for the more adventuresome modeler additional details can be added for increased realism.

Should you choose to do so then take from the following list what you will and have fun with it.

Parts Required (dependent on projects you wish to undertake):
No. Req. Part
2 sets Duane Fowler's 1/350 Titanic decal sheet. These include the lifeboat capacity plates, name plates, flags with boat numbers, and port of origin plate. We suggest you make two sets in case you have problems cutting them out or applying them. It does not hurt to have several spares for additional work or replacement.
1 set
GMM lifeboat grab ropes, block and tackle, lifeboat safety chain tiedowns (see EXTERNAL PRODUCT SUPPORT segment for a list of the GMM sets available).

10 pcs

Small sheet plastic strips for boat seats

72 PCs

Small sprue microdots (block 'n tackle pulleys)
72 PCs Small diameter sprue or fishing line 5-6mm in length each
36 PCs Trimmed brass photoetched rectangles created from 4 bar railing panels


Item 1.

Glue all boat halves together before doing any collective work.

Item 2 (canvas removed emergency boats).

All of the boats come with the canvas covers applied. We decided to have the two Emergency boats (E.B.s) `open' without their covers.

Once you have glued the two halves together and the glue has set, remove the `canvas' cover.

Do this by using a drill bit about 1/2 the width of the beam of the boat. Drill three holes down the center line.

Once the holes are drilled into the two E.B.s use the sharp tip of a hobby knife and start cutting out the plastic between the holes, working your way out towards the gunwales. Always cut away from yourself and take out little sections at a time rather than a big sliver all at once. This allows you much better control and safety. Eventually you will be able to remove this `canvas', then clean up the edges of the boat's inside gunwales with the hobby knife or small flat file.

Next make seats, cut small strips of sheet plastic at various lengths to span across the boat's interior. Refer to photographs or Ken Marschall's painting in Exploring The Titanic on page 44. You will need to measure these out yourself dependent on how well you cleaned up the edges between the gunwales. Glue to boat.

Paint the exterior of the E.B.s flat white. When the paint has dried paint the interior and gunwales a dark brown.

Item 3 (adding oars).

If you have the E.B.s' interiors open you will need to add the oars across the seating. Apparently there were 4 pair of oars for these two boats (5 pair for the large ones).

We used the lifeboat safety chains from the GMM Skylight kit to make the oars. This kit comes with dozens of safety chains. According to photo references the lifeboat chains were only used on the inboard sides, so this leaves plenty of leftovers.

Trim them off from the GMM `tree' as seen in the E.B. diagram above and lay them across the seats using a CA type adhesive. Once set paint them a wood brown color.

Dan Cherry offers a scratch built alternative. Use Evergreen .010 rod with a piece of K-1 strip glued to the end for the oar paddle. Paint brown. Use a piece of GMM scrap railing for the lashes to these oars

Item 4 (painting the boats' hulls).

Paint the rest of the lifeboats white using Testors flat white.

As seen elsewhere in this Tutorial, make a loop of masking tape with the sticky side out and apply this to a sheet of scrap newspaper (to protect against over spray).

Press the remaining eighteen lifeboats ( 4 collapsible & 14 full sized lifeboats) upside down onto the tape so their bottoms are facing up. The tape holds the boats in place so the paint propellant doesn't blow them around or flip them over. Take this outdoors and spray paint over the boats in a uniform fashion. This will give a more uniform appearance than brush painting them. \

Leave the boats stuck to the tape. This makes for a handy `3rd hand' in the next project.

Item 5 (adding the grab ropes).

There are two approaches to this, either using the GMM kit ropes (recommended) or making your own.

GMM Method:

Paint the grab ropes while they are still on the `tree'. Once done cut them off with a sharp hobby knife.

Remove the 4 collapsible and Emergency boats from the tape as the do not have grab ropes. Keep them safe somewhere.

To mount these to the boats we used a three step process to keep the mess down to a minimum.

Take each full sized life boat and pull them off of the tape. Flip each full sized boat on to one of its sides and stick it back onto the masking tape where its 'silhouette' can be seen. We found that having the bottom of the boat facing us to be the easiest position for applying the ropes.

Apply a small puddle of CA glue onto to your gluing block. Next grab a rope with tweezers by one of its ends and dip the CENTER of the rope into the glue.

Place the center with the glue on it in the center position under the gunwale and allow to set. Make sure the rope is sitting parallel to the gunwale before it dries.

Repeat this process for all 14 boats. Don't worry about the ends of the grab rope sticking up. Once all the centers are attached to one side freshen your CA `puddle' and move on to the next step.

Now with a piece of fine pulled sprue, dip the sprue's tip into the CA puddle and then coat one of the rope's tag ends near either the stern or bow (whichever you find easiest to work with). Then press this tag end down to the boat with a wooden toothpick. Hold until it sets.

Repeat the process for the opposite end. You should now have the grab rope glued to the side of the boat at three contact points and no glue marks showing at all!

Repeat this process for the other 13 boats doing all 26 tag ends. When complete flip the boats over and repeat the center `tacking' and then tag end `tacking' all over again. There may be other or easier methods, but this is what worked for us with the absolute minimum of glue damage.

Alternative Method:

Now if you do NOT use the GMM grabropes another method is to use a very dark sharp leaded pencil and draw the grab ropes on by hand which gives the same visual effect, however, the GMM ones provide for a more 3 dimensional appearance and is recommended.

Item 6 (painting the boats' gunwales).

Remove all the boats from the masking tape and place them right side up. Paint all the gunwales of the 14 remaining boats with a dark brown trim. DO NOT do the four collapsibles!

Item 7 (decals).

We highly recommend Duane Fowler's decals for adding the bow and stern ID plates and the inboard bow capacity plates to the lifeboats. They are hard to work with so here is what we did:

Use tiny scissors (we bought for fly fishing fly tying) and trim all decals as close as possible keeping decal `flash' to a minimum. These are easy to mix up if you cut them out all at once so do each boat separately.

Apply the decal to water and wait until it is ready.

Then slid the decal off on to your wet finger tip finished side up as it would appear on the model. This is important!

Then dab a wooden flat style toothpick into the water and touch the decal so the water on the toothpick lifts the decal from your finger.

Next dab water (or decal set) on to the bow or stern of the boat depending on which decal you are adding. Then place the toothpick with decal into this wet area on the boat. This should cause the decal to pull off the toothpick and adhere to the side of the boat.

The wet section on the boat allows you to shift the decal around if needed for a few seconds.

Item 8 (gluing the boats to the deck).

Make sure that you have all other deck details installed in and around the davits (i.e. belaying bitts, pulleys, hydrants, etc.) before you glue the boats down.

Glue the boats onto the deck BEFORE you paint the canvas covers. Decide for yourself when you wish to do this but be aware that adding the block and tackle could mar the finish.

Once the boats are secured add the safety railings and THEN paint the canvas as discussed below.

Item 9 (adding the safety rails).

On the inboard side of all Boat Deck lifeboats there were three sets of removable railings to stop curious passengers working their way past the boats and into the water below. You can use Tom's Modelworks Misc set or scratch build from spare photo etched railings.

Item 10 (block and tackle).

You can make your own block and tackle or use the GMM or Tom's Modelworks sets.

Regardless of which you use, use the gluing slab to avoid unsightly glue marks. Dip one end of the block and tackle assembly in and place it into the hole in the boat. Allow it to set and then tack to the top to the davit arm. Repeat this for each and every block and tackle rig.

Making your own block and tackle:

Method 1:

Use thinly pulled sprue or ultra fine fishing line with sprue microdots. First glue a line from the canvas hole to the davit arm and allow to set. Repeat for each davit arm/canvas assembly.

Next glue two microdots to this line just above the canvas and below the tip of the davit arm. Repeat for every davit.

Now glue a small length of line from the outside edge of one microdot to the outside edge of the other microdot. Add a second for a 3D effect (actually there was several lines there but working at this scale is brutal). Add a second line on the original davit arm/canvas side but only from microdot to microdot.

  • Note: There are two methods of applying the lines. Cut each length beforehand and then place on the boat's davits or use long lengths, tack them at one end and THEN trim to desired length and secure the other end. The second solution might be easier.

Method 2:

This method depends on you having bought either the GMM or Tom's Modelworks photoetched brass railing kits. Using spare 4 bar panels (you'll need one rail panel per boat) cut the divider post between the 2nd and 3rd rails (i.e. the middle) off. This should leave you with two rectangles made up of rails 1 and 2 plus the post "ends" and another with the 3rd and 4th rails plus post "ends".

Glue a small pulled sprue pulley to the canvas of each boat where the rigging hole is. Flip the rail rectangle up so it is longest in the vertical position. Now glue this to the inboard side of each pulley. When dry, secure the top to the davit arm with CA glue. Paint this rectangle flat military brown to simulate rope.

Repeat this process for each davit/pulley assembly.

Additional davit lines are covered under the RIGGING section.


Item 11 (painting the canvas).

After the block and tackle has been installed paint the canvas covers.

The color. of these has been discussed in detail and the consensus is that they lean towards an off-white shade. We have seen models with everything from dark gray up to bright white used but to date no exact formula has been given. Dan Cherry opted for a mix to simulate `computer gray which appears to be a great compromise. Steve made his a real light gray and I used Model Master's Tan for the lifeboats. The Cork Examiner photos do show that the Titanic canvas covers were indeed light colored so a bleached white, tan, light gray, or `computer gray would all certainly fit the bill. Modeler's choice.

Item 12 (canvas cover straps).

The canvas was held down with a line along the gunwale. See various Titanic photos. Simulate this with small marks along the dark brown to show that the canvas was pulled slightly down and attached. Use the color. for the canvas itself.

Item 13 (adding the safety chain chocks).

GMM Skylight kit comes with dozens of safety chain chocks. Glue two per boat on their inboard sides roughly 1/3 down from their bow and stern. Add 4 chocks to the collapsibles on the boat deck and Officer's Quarters deckhouse roof. Paint their bottoms black and tops white to match what is seen in the Cork Examiner photographs.

Item 14 (adding the safety railings).

While examining the Countess of Rothes photo on page 79 of Leo Marriott's "Titanic" you will see that on the aft stern side of the last davit of the forward group, there was a 5-barred railing panel spanning the distance from the davit to the superstructure bulwark. This can be clearly seen again on page 76 Jacques Futrelle photo in the same book.

To fashion these cut single panels of spare GMM or Tom's Modelworks brass photoetched 5-bar railing and glue them into these locations. Paint them flat white.

We added the same type of single 5-barred panels to the forward davit of the aft boat group by the tank room. We have found no photographic proof that these existed on the Titanic due to the void of photographs of this area. We are not CERTAIN that these rail were in the engineer's promenade because there are many safety items in the public access areas that are not duplicated in 'crew only' areas. It is our consensus that they were there.

Therefore the aft railing on the forward lifeboat group existed, while the forward railing on the aft group is unknown but thought to be there.


This site was created by David Cotgreave January 2000