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  • January 16, 2020 12:58 PM | David Eddy (Administrator)

    Steve Wheeler passed away on November 26, 2019 at the age of 76. Steve had been ill but his death from complications of the illness and medications was unexpected.

    Steve was a 25-year member of the NRG. He was a current member of the three Chicago area clubs, The Nautical Research & Model Ship Society, The Midwest Model Shipwrights and the North Shore Deadeyes. He was a member of the Rocky Mountain Model Shipwrights when he lived in CO.

    Steve was a Master Modeler who freely shared his knowledge of modeling and was always the first to say his garbage can was one of his most used tools. He urged modelers to keep on working until each part is correct – don’t settle for good enough. His attention to detail rewarded him with a wall at his home in Racine, WI covered in awards for his modeling. Steve won a Gold award for every model he entered at the annual WI Maritime Museums starting in 1997. During the 22 years Steve was involved with the museum’s Midwestern Models Ships & Boats Contest, he was the recipient of 22 gold awards, nine Best of Show, nine Best Great Lakes Awards, and seven times his models won the Modelers’ Choice award.

    Steve won a Gold medal and Best of Show for the first two of the three NRG photographic model competitions held. He was a judge for the third competition.

    Steve even won Best of Show three times at International Plastic Modelers Shows in IL with wooden boat models.

    The award from the WI Maritime Museum’s annual contest for the Best Novice Award sponsored by the North Shore Deadeyes club is being renamed “The Steve Wheeler Best Novice Award” to honor Steve’s commitment to educating and helping novice model builders advance their skills. Steve never won this award but the first model boat he built, the Great Lakes Tug SHARON W., resides in the museum’s main model room. It won a gold award and would have surely won the Best Novice award had it been awarded at the time.

    Steve wrote 29 articles and Shop Notes in the Nautical Research Journal and has two multi-part articles scheduled for upcoming Journals as well as several more Tips & Techniques. He wrote three articles for Model Ship Builder magazine and thirty one articles in Ships in Scale magazine with several covers for both publications.

    He also wrote two books about boat building in the Racine, WI area:

    • The boat and yacht designs of Fred W. Martin: reprinted from existing original drawings, ca. 1896-1902 Racine, WI. Published by the Racine Heritage Museum ©2009
    • An Industry Forgotten: A Half-Century of Boat-Building in Racine, Wisconsin Published by the Racine Heritage Museum ©2011

    Steve enjoyed writing about model building almost as much as building models and we discussed this many times. Steve always wrote his articles with the less experienced modelers in mind rather than the modelers closer to his level because the novice builders must be encouraged and shown how they can improve their skills, so they achieve better modeling results.

    Steve gave numerous talks on aspects of modeling at club meetings, the Tri-Club meetings in IL, the annual WI Maritime Museum’s Modeler’s Symposiums, NRG Symposiums and NRG Conferences. Steve’s last appearance at an NRG Conference was at the 2018 event in Las Vegas where he spoke on Lapstrake Hull Construction. He always had a word of encouragement for fellow modelers and when a modeler asked him to pick apart his/her model all of Steve’s comments were certain to be positive and encouraging to the modeler.

    Steve had a unique sense of humor and we swapped jokes back and forth almost daily. Steve and I traveled to NRG conferences and Manitowoc together so much that if either of us showed up at one of these functions w/o the other we were questioned about the other’s whereabouts – some said “if you see one the other is close by”. Many said that Steve and I were “Brothers from different Mothers” and we seldom went more than two days w/o talking together on the phone. The spare bedroom here was known as Steve’s room.

  • December 04, 2019 1:02 PM | David Eddy (Administrator)

    Chapter Clubs were originally part of the NRG structure but were discontinued because of lack of interest many years ago. The Board was approached by some of the members to consider reestablishing Guild Chapters and the Bylaws were amended to establish Chartered Chapters. The Board delayed the formation of a chapter system until we could offer a benefit to the Chapters.

    The Nautical Research Guild is pleased to announce the first benefit available only to Chartered Chapters...liability insurance to protect clubs during their activities.

    It is easy for any club to become an NRG Chapter Club; the biggest requirement is that five club members must be paying members of the NRG. More information can be found on the NRG Chartered Chapters page.

  • November 20, 2019 1:31 PM | David Eddy (Administrator)

    The 2019 Nautical Research Guild conference was held on October 24-26 at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, MA.

    The three-day conference included incredible speakers on a range of topics, hands-on round tables, and tours of the Herreshoff Marine Museum and the Naval Warfare College Museum.

    Read the full conference recap and view photos from the event on the 2019 NRG Conference page.

  • November 15, 2019 1:04 PM | David Eddy (Administrator)

    The Winter 2019 edition of the Nautical Research Journal is now available!

    Digital subscribers can access the digital edition here. Print subscribers will be receiving their copies by mail soon!


    • Scratch building a 1:48-scale Flower-class corvette on a Fleetscale hull, Part 7: The mast and rigging; completing HMCS Chicoutimi by Bruce LeCren
    • The Continental Navy frigate Raleigh in a bottle by Alex Bellinger
    • Reliance—historic, revolutionary and offshore patrol cutter namesake by William H. Thiesen
    • Building a nave model: His Majesty’s Ship Godspeed by Ron Neilson
    • The heavy cruiser USS San Francisco CA-38 by Chuck Bauer
    • Royal Oak: A 1:48-scale model of the 74-gun ship launched in 1769 by Magnus McLeod
    • Neptunia No. 295
    • Thoughts on bending wood by Steve Wheeler

    Columns and Editorials

    • Editorial on Modeling materials by Paul Fontenoy
    • Shop Notes, featuring Serving lines and rigging by Richard Bohlman and Making wooden thimbles or rollers by William E. Sproul
    • Tips & Techniques, featuring Cleaning brass parts for blackening, plating or painting by Kurt Van Dahm and Making eyebolts with round eyes by Steve Wheeler
    • Book Reviews
  • November 13, 2019 1:11 PM | David Eddy (Administrator)

    The NRG Board appointed Robert J. Andreotti of Santa Fe, NM as a Director to fill the remaining term of office caused by Mitch Michelson’s death.

    Bob is a 20-year member of the NRG. Bob holds a BS degree from MIT (Cambridge) in Aeronautics & Astronautics and a JD from SMU (Dallas) and has been in private practice for 26 years. In addition to building ship models for 20 years he has been a flight instructor for 20 years.

    Bob helped the NRG in the past with updating the Resources section of the web site part of which included the updating of the list of maritime museums around the world. Bob has had experience with administration of some other not-for-profits and the Board thinks he will be a good fit here at the NRG.

    The NRG Board looks forward to working with Bob who joined us at our November 5 meeting of the Board.

  • October 16, 2019 12:01 PM | David Eddy (Administrator)

    This is a call for nomination for the three (3) upcoming director positions. Nominees must be current Regular members of the Nautical Research Guild and must have been a Regular member in good standing during the two (2) years immediately preceding the election.

    Directors, Toni Levine, Phil Roach and Kurt Van Dahm are the incumbents up for reelection and will be on the ballot.

    Nominations must contain a statement of no more than 500 words signed by the candidate, describing his or her qualifications for office, and affirming his or her willingness and ability to serve and to attend monthly meetings of the Board of Directors. An endorsement letter signed by at least two regular members and including the requisite statement shall constitute a nomination.

    The term of office is three years. Applicants must have internet access. See the bylaws posted on the NRG website for further information regarding duties of directors.

    Nominations must be submitted by November 30, 2019. Mail the two documents to the NRG Office, 237 South Lincoln Street, Westmont, IL 60559-1917. Alternatively, email the documents to the NRG Office - 

    Qualifying candidates and ballots will be presented in the Winter 2019 Secretary’s Newsletter and will also be posted on our website December 1, 2019, which will allow you to vote online. All ballots must be received by January 31, 2020. Results will be announced in the Spring 2020 SNL and will also be posted on the NRG website when the voting is completed.

    Proposed Bylaws Change

    The Board is proposing that the bylaws be amended to bring our election process up to date with today’s use of emails and internet rather than reliance on the postal service.

    The amendment would reduce the time for candidates to respond with the required information to run for office and for ballots to be returned from 45 days to 30 days. This change will allow the entire election process to decrease from 90 to 60 days.

    Forty-five days was originally chosen because of the time needed to receive ballots, which were included as a supplement to the Journal. Many of our international members do not receive their Journals for several weeks or two months after our US members. This is no longer a problem because the ballots are available on-line and are returned to the office via email; they are no longer sent with the Journal. Thirty days allows sufficient time for the return of ballots.  Changing the time interval for the voting process will allow us to contact the winning candidates earlier than the day before he/she is to take office – the situation we are now in with the present 45-day requirements.

    The bylaw section below has the forty-five (45) days struck out followed by the new text “thirty (30) days”.

    ARTICLE V   


    SECTION 1 – Election of Directors

    A.  An election of Directors shall take place each year. Each Director shall serve a three-year term. A call for nominations shall be published in the Fall issue of the SNL. Nominees must be Regular Members in good standing during the two years immediately preceding the election. Nominations must contain a statement signed by the candidate describing his or her qualifications for office, affirming his or her willingness and ability to serve and to attend scheduled meetings of the Board of Directors. The candidate must also provide an endorsement letter signed by at least two Regular or Life Members. All nominations shall be submitted to the Secretary via surface or electronic mail. 

    B.  Prospective candidates shall have at least forty-five (45) thirty (30) days after the SNL has been posted to submit the required documentation to the Secretary of the Guild.

    C.  Incumbent and Appointed Directors shall have the right to nominate themselves without additional endorsements.

    SECTION 2 - The election shall be conducted in one of two ways:

    A.  Contested Election - The names of the nominees and their requisite statements shall be presented by the Board to the Membership by a special mailing (surface or electronic) or by inclusion in the Winter issue of the SNL. Voting will remain open for forty-five (45) thirty (30) days after the mailing or SNL has been posted. Ballots may be returned by surface mail or electronically at the discretion of the Board. If membership has expired, a returned ballot would be accepted only with dues renewal. The nominee(s) with the greatest number(s) of votes shall be elected to the announced vacancy (ies). The Board shall select an independent auditor to count and tabulate the ballots, whose results shall be published in the Spring issue of the SNL.

    The proposed bylaw change will be discussed at the membership meeting at the conference on Saturday, October 26 and the ballot for this proposed change will be emailed and posted on the web site by November 1, 2019. This proposed bylaw change will not affect the 2019 Director elections. If passed it will become effective on February 1, 2020.

  • September 18, 2019 12:28 PM | David Eddy (Administrator)

    As the result of the recent passing of Director Mitch Michelson, the Nautical Research Guild is actively recruiting for a new Director to help lead the NRG now and into the future. You may just be the perfect person to help the NRG remain the premier ship modeling organization in the world.

    We are seeking a motivated individual, in touch with the hobby and with some great ideas who is willing to pitch in and help to improve the Nautical Research Guild and to further advance the hobby of model ship building. The Board has many needs, including help with business administration; conference planning; membership recruitment and promotion; a variety of special projects; and many, many more activities. Currently, our biggest need is an individual with a background in marketing. If you have marketing experience, we need to talk!

    Your relative skill level as a model builder is not a factor in serving as a Director; we only seek motivated individuals who have been a NRG member for a minimum of two years, with a keen interest in the hobby and a commitment to help continually improve the NRG.

    Now, some of you might be saying to yourselves you wouldn’t mind helping the NRG board with one or more of its needs, but you really don’t want to become a Director at this time. And that’s OK. We would welcome your help with one or more special projects without the full commitment of becoming a Director.

    New Directors are mentored and guided, not thrown to the wolves to figure things out on their own. He or she will work with others before being turned loose to head up a project or committee.

    If you are interested in serving the Guild as a Director, or just want more information about this position or other activities the NRG needs help with, please contact the Board Chairman, Kurt Van Dahm no later than October 21st via email at

    Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you soon. You won’t regret it!

  • September 02, 2019 12:30 PM | David Eddy (Administrator)

    This week, we lost a passionate member of the ship modeling community. Mitch Michelson died on Wednesday, August 28 from a massive heart attack. He was 66 years old. His funeral was held on August 30 in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas.

    Mitch joined the Nautical Research Guild in 1989. He had been a Director since 2009 and served as Chairman of the Board in 2017. Those members who have attended the annual Conference recently will remember Mitch as our humorous emcee.

    In addition to his contributions to the Guild, he was actively involved in Boy Scouts and mentored many young men to achieve Eagle Scout status. He was an avid pipe collector and served on the boards of several business organizations and his synagogue.

    He is survived by three children and three grandchildren.

    Most of all, he was my friend.

    Kurt Van Dahm

    Chairman of the Board

    Nautical Research Guild

  • August 09, 2019 1:13 PM | David Eddy (Administrator)

    The NRG has teamed up with Chuck Passaro and Syren Ship Modeling Co. to make the plans for Syren's new release of the 1/4-inch scale HMS Winchelsea 1764 available to Model Ship World and NRG members.

    Access to the downloadable plans and the HMS Winchelsea group build section on MSW can be purchased in the NRG store, and provides perpetual access to the downloadable plans on MSW.  See the Syren Ship Modeling Co. web site for complete details about the project and the downloadable monograph.

    The HMS Winchelsea section of the Group Projects banner on MSW has complete instructions on how to gain access.  There are also buttons for additional information about the project and access to the member build logs.

    The downloadable plans include the four large sheets of 1/4-inch scale plans and many 8 ½ x 11 pages which contain the full-size bulkhead drawings and false keel. The large plans will need to be printed on a large format printer while the bulkhead and false keel drawings can be printed on a standard home computer printer.

    One must also be a member at MSW to access the plans - it's completely free and easy to use. 

  • August 04, 2019 12:35 PM | David Eddy (Administrator)

    The Autumn 2019 edition of the Nautical Research Journal is now available!

    Digital subscribers can access the digital edition here.  Print subscribers will be receiving their copies by mail soon!


    • Scratch-building a Maine bateau, Part 2 by Dan Brummer
    • The Narvaez Expedition barca by Steve Harris
    • U.S.S. Olympia by Edward E. Quam
    • Tips for tiny carvings by Tony Devroude
    • Neptunia No. 294
    • Scratch building a 1:48-scale Flower-class corvette on a Fleetscale hull, Part 6 by Bruce LeCren

    Columns and Editorials

    • Editorial - Piracy...Again by Paul E. Fontenoy, NRJ Editor
    • Shop Notes, featuring A development of the Harold Hahn building method by John Garnish and Securing rat lines by William E. Sproul
    • Tips and Techniques, featuring Working in tight places by Steve Wheeler and Masking tapes by Kurt Van Dahm
    • Book Reviews

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