Billing Boats Building Slip #397

Jul 31, 2019

Gastonia, North Carolina USA
I am prepping for a new build of the Billing Boats Esmeralda. Now in the instructions they recommend you use their Build Slip #397. Now I just so happened to have one tucked away, still in the box. Have had the thing for some time. Any how, into the closet digging to find what I know I have, but is it? I know I am not the only one! So after pulling everything under the sun out, there it was just where I last saw it. I remember opening the box when I ordered and after a brief look, closed the box up and stashed. So again the box is opened and as I set there looking at the directions, I think too myself...simple....yea right. The slip is 36 3/4's long and 6" wide. Looks deceivably simple in construction, yea right again! You get 2 large MDF base parts that you glue together with two small ply pieces, what in the cabinet business refers to as doughnuts. So, this is to build your prized next project that you want everything straight, level and plumb. So, to insure I would get a absolute flat build board from 2 pieces, was assembled on a piece of 1/4" thick plate glass. Googled for best glue f/MDF....good ole Titebond. Then onto the assembly of the components. Again everything sanded and assembled w/squares and weights. Now we are into the second day of building. One thing to note here, you add a center spine in 2 pieces that absolutely has to be dead center. Then on the top of this a wood channel is added, again 2 pieces. So let me go back and eat those famous words deceivably simple....not. The instructions have you assemble the main board and then add the spine. Here is a tip. Before you do this, assemble the moveable head keel support 1st and add the spine off of this. If you get the spine off by a 1/8th, you can not attach the side parts that slide the upper keel keeper up and down the board. Err slight modification on my part. I have built several keel keepers/slips. I have one I have used for the last few years, but this one was the toughest to build so far. But once done, impressive in the design and function of the slip. We will see how good it works soon enough.
Are the two base parts done that way for shipping and boxing reasons? It seems it would be better if it were all one piece, or maybe laminated to another sheet that was one piece. Or maybe not.
Are the two base parts done that way for shipping and boxing reasons? It seems it would be better if it were all one piece, or maybe laminated to another sheet that was one piece. Or maybe not.
They are provided as two parts because of box size. If one lays the pieces flat, ie: on a plate of glass and then inserts the ply pieces that connect. The parts stay flat for now. I have considered screwing this to another piece of board. If I were to build again, I would purchase a shelving board and just build the parts onto it. But seems to be nice and flat and I have already attached the spines and using to build. To be honest, I used because the kit recommended, dah, another item to purchase from them. One could just as easily build their own. One of the things that I do not like is the 2nd spine is a wood channel that the keel sets in. It is wide and you have to shim to hold the keel tight. Would I recommend, well that is still to be seen and I might still might have to go another route and not use if it does not look to keep everything nice and straight. I believe the current price for this slip is $77.00 plus ship. So one could very easily purchase the material from Home Depot to build their self for a lot cheaper.
Interesting review Rick.I remember when the slip first came out.It was much cheaper than it is now and back then it would have cost nearly as much to build your own from scratch.It is annoying that it does hold the keel snug.Billings kits use the same thickness ply for all their models so you thought they would have made it the correct width.

Kind Regards

Let me say this, if you are considering buying one of these, don't! It has been a major pain to make this thing work. But with some good ole country boy engineering, I got the keel in it straight and secured. The channel for the base of the keel is 2 times the width it needs to be. The stern and bow supports are too wide as well. Now they give you two pieces of strip wood to use as shims.....what a waste of wood. They are too narrow to be of any use. I purchased some strip wood from Hobby Lobby and using this as shim material, I got it all in. I am sure someone for sure has used this as designed to build with, but for the life of me, I do not understand why they designed it with overly cut slots/channel when as NMBROOK pointed out, Billing Boats use the same thickness for their keels/ply? The concept is sound, but the material as provided for the job is sorely inadequate. I never like being negative about what we as builders have available from mfg's, but this is only for someone who already has a good understanding of what a keel keeper is designed to do.
No they definitely haven't,I am a member of their facebook group.They do have a new owner.I think Ages of sail used to be their distributor up until Billings got into difficulty a few years back.
I don't know if they have a new distributor for North American but will ask;)

Kind Regards

Thank you Nigel. I finally did get a response from Age of Sails. Here is a comparison of the deference between two business's!
I purchased a Dusek Maria HF.31, when I opened the box to inspect. I discovered the ply sheet containing the parts for the keel/frame was severely warped. I fired off a e-mail to Mr Dusek and that same evening this gentleman replied back, no problem a replacement was on the way. A 1st class way to do business for sure. Now, here in good ole America, this is how it works. No contact from Billing Boats USA , after numerous attempts. Then after seeing Age of Sails address listed as a point of contact, I e-mailed them! Two days later got a reply and this was their answer to my problem: 1. Copy of sales receipt. 2. Photo of the part. and 3. Copy/address of store purchased from. See the deference here. I understand checks and balances. But before they would help, I have too prove all these steps before that help is forth coming. That is why most of my ship purchases come from EU. And now I learn Billing Boats and Age of Sails may no longer work together. But, people wonder why the hobby of model building is dying, all Hobby Shops in my area no longer open and the Web is the only source for purchases. I wonder where the Hobby will be in 20 years. Oh and one more item about Mr. Dusek, 3 years ago I purchased the brass cannons for one of his kits. The day they were delivered, I was home and the man in the little brown truck knocked on the door. Before he handed the box to me, he had me to sign for it 1st. Upon handing to me, that was when I noticed the box had been opened and re-taped. The whole end flap was missing and the box was empty! I said to the brown shirt, what's up with this. His reply was, not my problem, I just deliver and walked away. By now I was seeing red! I contacted UPS and was told to contact the person I purchased from! You guessed it, Mr. Dusek. I sent a e-mail explaining what had happened and the condition of the box. This fine honest man replaced those barrels which I might add cost $70.00 at no extra charge. Now if this had of been here in the USA, I would have had to purchased another set to get the 1st set I ordered to begin with. Greed! Sorry for the amble, just a cranky ole fart.

Thank you Daniel Dusek, your are a good man, sir.
Hi Rick
Firstly here is a link to distributors in America;
Now you will be hard pressed to find any manufacturer with customer care like Daniel's.I have dealt with him.I bought his Nuestra Senora kit at big discount before general release.Then when I studied the kit,many items were laser cut pear but the planking and other items were walnut.After discussion with Daniel,he agreed to supply me all the frets that were walnut with custom cut Pear.This was for a nominal cost.I agreed I would source the Pear planking strips in the UK as it would be more cost effective.
The guy is a gentleman and a scholar,I expect to see his business growing to be a massive player in the kit scene,he is already way ahead of any manufacturer in Europe both in product quality but also aftersales.I have no affiliation to Dusek but believe in credit where credit is due.

Kind Regards

I have also had relations with DANIEL, with the same results as above, my problems were not of materials but understanding the plans and how to (BTW HIS PLANS AND INSTRUCTIONS ARE TOP NOTCH) and he always ansewered sometimes a couple of times when i had a mental block on things, yes wonderful to deal with, THANKS Don
I would order from Daniel anytime knowing I would be taken care of if there was a problem. I also would like to point out another who I think are 1st class as well. I purchased the OcCer kit HMS Terror from the UK. Within a week I had the kit. Upon opening I discovered the keel and deck were badly warped. Just so happens, OcCer has their e-mail included with the kit. Sent a e-mail, the following week, I had the parts. No, I did not have to prove a thing (take notice Billing Boats/Age of Sails), just that as a buyer of one of their kits, I had a issue and they took care of with no questions asked. Now who do you think I will buy from. But hey, the world is not perfect and greed is greed.
And I do have a choice of who I wish to support when spending my mean green. Oh, forgot to point this out, neither one of these Company's asked for money to pay the postage, that came out of their pocket book. See if Age of Sails would do that!