How-to book on building model ships: you’re never too old!

Model shipbuilder Robert Raymond, 91, publishes first book on building custom ships from scratch

Oregon native, Robert “Bob” Raymond, doesn’t let his age get in the way of his ambitions of building custom model ships in his Tualatin, Oregon “shipyard.” The 91 year old, who designs and constructs award-winning model ships from scratch in a spare bedroom in his home, now has 65 ships to his name that he meticulously constructs by hand. After being frustrated by the lack of resources on the internet on how to build certain components of the model ships, Raymond created his own practices that he perfected over time. Then last year he decided to put in all on paper and publish his first book, Bow to Stern: How to Build a Model Ship from Scratch. Last month, the how-to book was published through Pulayana Press.

Since his forced retirement as a mason contractor almost 30 years ago after heart surgery, Raymond began teaching himself how to construct model ships during his recovery. As his techniques were perfected and the models – mostly tall ships – increased in quality over time, Raymond began winning awards at the Oregon State Fair and the Washington County Fair, and gaining a loyal following of family and friends who happily “adopted” his ships.

Raymond says, “Qualifications for adopting a ship is to provide a room temperature display spot; don’t sell or barter; and keep the ship in the family. I have never sold a ship or received any remuneration. The thanks from the adoptees is my reward.”

Although not a seaman himself, Raymond’s family connections to deep water experience included two of his uncles who were commercial fishermen on the Pacific Northwest coast and Alaska, and a brother-in-law who was a boat operator for the Columbia River Bar Pilots. Most of his ships have some connection to Oregon or to the intended recipient, such as his models of the Peter Iredale, the Morning Star Tillamook cheese ship, and the pilot boat, Peacock, the original which now sits in the parking lot of Astoria’s Maritime Museum; and was the boat on which Raymond’s brother-in-law worked.

“This book is not intended to be the absolute authority for model shipbuilding,” said Raymond. “My aim is to pass on what has been a good and easy method with satisfactory results. When I start a new model I strive to keep it reasonably authentic and pleasing to the eye. I get energized by the challenges, and there has never been a time when there weren’t some challenges in this work,” added Raymond. “I call it recreation but sometimes it’s more of a battle between me and the wood!”

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