A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

November 6, 2022

Pungy Fever

Replica pungy schooner in a race on the Chesapeake

The delivery of the schooner Smuggler has got me psyched to start working on other ships for the layout.  I have a list of ships that I would like to have at Aquia Landing and Burnside Wharf. They are listed below in order of the state of completion of the model.

Wish List

  1. Railroad car ferry - complete
  2. Smuggler Schooner - complete built by Brian with some help from Rob. I will rename it Miss Merritt Marie
  3. Barges- 3 including one that has masts. Paul Dolkos built one for me. Two to go.
  4. Side Paddlewheeler - I have the Mt Washington kit and need to finish it.
  5. Pungy schooner - I started work on one - see below. 
  6. Pile Driver -  I am accumulating the necessary parts. I have some of the parts already.
  7. Swift Pilot Schooner   I have a kit 1/48th Swift Pilot ship. It is a simpler schooner but the kit is plank on frame. So converting to waterline could be tricky
  8. Tug boats- 2 each - one for the railroad ferry and another along side some of the barges.
  9. Steam transport -  I see several of these in prototype photos. They are like large versions of the tugs but with at least one sail mast. 
  10. Gun boat. A smaller gunboat like the USS Couer d'Lion would be better than the Passaic. 
  11. Baltimore clipper -  I see some of them in photos of Aquia Landing.  I ordered a kit for the 1/48th scale Harvey for this. That ship was built in 1847.  That is a complex sail boat with square and fore and aft rigged sails. It would take a lot of time to build but would be a wonderful addition. 
Note the ironclad Passaic is not on the final list. It is too big for the layout. I need to think of a better way to display it short of expanding the harbor scene. Nor is the Flying Fish schooner on the final list. I bought it from a custom model builder, but they got the scale wrong. I don't think it can be salvaged or converted. If anyone needs a 1/64 schooner, let me know. 

The Pungy

The arrow points to what appears to be a pungy schooner at Aquia Landing as it has the right shape and the traditional two toned paint scheme of pink and green.

N scale Pungy

A pungy is a type of schooner that was common on the Chesapeake Bay in the mid 19th century. I built a model of one in N Scale for the Lyceum Museum in January 2016. At that time I thought it would be a good ship to model in O scale for my layout.

I based the model on a set of plans I scanned from a book on Chesapeake schooners. The one I selected was built in 1863. I enlarged  a copy of the plans and then had Staples print 3 sets of them. 

O scale hull layers
I have the drawings for laser cutting the hull from the N scale model. So I was able to scale them up and use the laser to cut parts for the basic hull using the bread and butter technique. I glued and clamped those to make the basic hull shape. Then I used my Rotex sander to get the basic shape. It took about 2 hours to cut and shape the hull.  Then it needed several coats of filler and primer. Sanding the camber on the hull top was tricky. In the future I will make laser cut parts for the camber like I used on Passaic.

Once I had the basic hull shape I laser cut the deck planking. I used the laser to engrave the planks, the joggled planks around the perimeter, and  the treenails/wooden nail plugs. By the time of the ACW, ship builders used nails and wood plugs instead of treenails. But in scale, the wood plugs almost look like treenails. They are only 0.015 inches in diameter. So the engraver could handle them and allowed me to avoid a tedious task. 

Here is a shot showing the pungy next to the Miss Merritt Marie. Although not as long, the pungy's masts are nearly as tall as the bigger schooner.  Pungies were known for fast sailing partly due to the huge sails. 

Next I need to add the low railing around the hull. Pungies did not have a large bulwark. There was also monkey rail around the cockpit area, but it was not very tall. They must have been wet sailers in a rough sea.. 

In other news, I replaced the trucks on box car 1344. It was intermittently derailing when running in a train. I suspected the cast metal trucks were the culprit. So I replaced them with the new 3D printed resin ones. We'll see if that fixed the issue. 


  1. Nice work on the pungy!!

  2. Bernie, neat models as usual, what could be better than trains & ships together? Is the image of the pungy in the bay done with some type of a photoshop filter or setting? It has that "cartoonish" or graphic novel quality about it? There is an interesting quality to this type of imagery, which I think you used for some elements on the backdrops recently? Jeff