How To Make Bulkheads


Often you will find that the kit you are building calls for a bulkhead to be installed on one of the decks. Kits will usually include a laser cut part or a metal casting for these bulkheads, but they usually don't look as nice as a scratchbuilt bulkhead. This article will show you how to make your own bulkheads from scratch to achieve a more realistic and historically correct look.

The first step is to make a card stock template using the kit's laser cut part or metal casting. Be sure to test fit the template on your model because you might find that the kit's part doesn't actually fit that well. This will give you the opportunity to make adjustments beforehand to achieve a good fit of your new bulkhead.

Once you are satisfied with your template, use it to cut out a basic part from a billet of thin wood as shown in Photo 1. Depending on the scale of your model, this part should be about 1/32" thick based on a scale of 1/4" = 1'. For this example, I used boxwood for this base part milled to a thickness of 1/32".

Photo 1

Using the kit's part as a guide, the next step is to mark the location of the pillars on this base part. Most bulkheads consisted of pillars that served as the main support for the door panels which usually were located in the center and on both outer ends of the bulkhead.

After marking their location, use a contrasting wood to make the pillars. I used swiss pear stripwood 1/8" x 1/32" as shown in Photo 2.

Photo 2

An additional trim strip of swiss pear can be added across the upper surface of the base part as shown in Photo 3, however, you will need to trim the base part down slightly by the thickness of this trim strip or the bulkhead will not fit due to the add height of the trim strip.

Photo 3

As you can see in Photo 3, I have also drawn the door panels and outer end trim panels using a pencil. These were taken from the original metal part that came in my kit as seen in Photo 4.

Photo 4

Using an Xacto knife with a #11 blade, you'll need to cut out the window areas of the bulkhead base part as shown in Photo 5.

Photo 5

This photo also shows two panels beneath the cut out windows. First I cut out the area where the panels would be installed. Then I cut out two rectangles of swiss pear 1/16" thick and beveled the edges on each side. Then the panels were glued into the openings with super glue.

Continue to cut out panels with your #11 Xacto and match the openings with 1/16" swiss pear parts beveling the edges of the parts as you did on the door panels. Photo 6 shows the bulkhead with the panels cut out and installed.

Photo 6

Looking at Photo 6, you can see some lines drawn on a piece of card stock. These lines represent the window pane trim for the open window areas on the center doors. I then covered the lines with double stick tape. Thin strips of styrene plastic were first stuck to the tape over the horizontal panel lines.

Next, I used super glue to glue vertical pieces of styrene strips to the surface of the horizontal strips to form the complete window panel. The final step was to fill in the horizontal areas with strips of styrene so that the window panels were two strips of styrene thick. Photo 7 shows these steps on one window panel.

Photo 7

After making both window panels, they are removed from the double stick tape and the excess on the sides, top and bottom is cut off. The panels are glued into the window openings of the doors as shown in Photo 8.

Photo 8

The final step is to paint the panels with a yellow ocre colored paint so that they match the boxwood door frame. Photo 9 shows the finished bulkhead compared to the kit metal bulkhead. As you can see, the scratchbuilt bulkhead looks much more realistic.

Photo 9

I hope you can use this process to make your own bulkheads.


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