I get far more attention online for my build docks than my models – which is usually fair! Back in 1992 when I had some time on my hands after finishing law school and the bar exam and waiting to move back to Marshall to start my clerkship I resumed building ship models.
I had the idea of making some “build docks” to hold a model and parts being assembled, so my dad cut several pine boards and I added basswood strips to subdivide the surface. The docks looked neat, but served the practical purpose of holding a model under construction so I wasn’t constantly handling the actual model as I added parts.
The first generation consisted of two docks. The principal dock (marked #1) was laid out like a drydock with a central dock and compartments around. For many years it had a 1/700 crane attached. From 1992 until approximately 2017 it held my scratchbuilt Texas, but it was originally sized to hold everything up to a 1/700 nuclear carrier – more recently the Texas is back in it as I try to finish it up. A second board had spaces (marked 2 & 3) to hold two more ships, and for at least 25 years it held the incomplete 1940 Yorktown and 1944 Ticonderoga.
More recently I built two smaller docks which hold two other ships under construction – currently Hood and a Santa Cruz Enterprise. The smaller size is because the compartments aren’t needed as much for kits as they are for scratchbuilt or kitbashed models – and they’re much lighter and easier to handle and rotate that 1 or 2-3. So I can now hold five large ship models under construction, with three being suitable for work – other models sit in trays or in the display case. I can take the dock out of the display case and put it on the work bench – sometimes on a turntable – sometimes not.
But recently I have gotten interested in smaller ships – cruisers and (eventually) destroyers, and identified a need for more docks. Yesterday morning I noticed a board that was the same width as the Gen 2 docks, but slightly longer. I don’t need the additional length, so I subdivided it for a pair of cruisers, with the parts compartments at the end. It just barely accommodates two Baltimore class cruisers (of which I have three in my stash with two slightly smaller prewar units), so I can get started on a couple of new smaller projects without having to transfer the incomplete hulls back and forth from boxes or build trays.
A word about “build trays”. Most of my models under construction actually exist on a series of cardboard trays in a cabinet beside the workbench. The trays (tops to file boxes) hold both the model box with parts and the model under construction. But since the trays stack, this doesn’t work so well for aircraft once they have landing gear and propellors, and it will never work well for a ship model once you get beyond basic hull construction – hence the need for build docks. I’ve cleared out one of the build tray shelves so I can start putting the two larger build docks there – which clears us valuable space in my display cabinet.