It should be noted that there is a clear distinction between repainting and restoration. In this instance the decision was made to restore the model as nearly as possible (with few exceptions) to its original, circa 1907 appearance. As a scale model built by a toy maker, the Cecilie had unmistakable characteristics that gave her a unique quality. Every effort would be made to recapture that essence.
In regard to reproduction of missing parts, techniques employed to that end were identical to those originally used. There were almost no machine-manufactured parts on the model. Simply by matching the procedures and materials utilized by her builders the desired results were achieved. Even the Cecilie’s “duplicate” parts were not identical – they exhibited minor variations. The hand of the craftsman was visible everywhere.
There would of course be challenges and compromises as there are in any endeavor.
The model’s stamped brass portholes proved to be worrisome. No tool & die maker could be found willing to produce the tooling necessary to stamp duplicates of the existing items. Also, there would be visual disparity between old and new. Therefore it was decided to replace all of the model’s windows and ports with photo-etched brass facsimiles.
The photo-etch process was also selected to reproduce the model’s missing or damaged inclined ladders (stairways). The original items were stamped from tin and then hand-bent into shape. AutoCAD was used to create drawings based upon accurate measurements taken from surviving examples.
With few exceptions (and as luck would have it) each missing part had a duplicate somewhere on the model. The sole surviving lifeboat davit, salvaged stanchions and an example of each of the four sizes of ventilator cowls were sent to a specialty casting company to be duplicated. Antique tin toy restoration master Joe Freeman would contribute, as special skills and tooling were needed to reproduce the model’s missing lifeboats.
Prior to stripping, great care was taken to preserve samples from all of the model’s painted surfaces. Examination of the various paint layers revealed that some areas had been repainted when the model was altered after WWI. Most notably, it appeared that the Cecilie’s funnels and ventilators had been repainted with the correct shade of ochre used by the North German Lloyd. The original, underlying color was a pale yellow - more akin to the funnel color of the Hamburg-America Line. This apparent ‘error’ can be attributed to the fact that Fleischmann applied the same pale yellow color to all of their toy liners of the period. This would lead to one of the few departures from a strict, period restoration. The darker color was chosen as the final finish because it was accurate in regard to the steamship line represented, and also because it actually had been applied to the model at some time in her history.
It became clear by dissecting layers of enamel on the hull that it had also been painted with the same method Fleischmann used for their toys. The hull was first enameled white and then red overall prior to the final application of bright red and black. This sequence would be duplicated, but prior to that all metal surfaces were treated with a self-etching primer and an additional pre-enamel coating. This is a step Fleischmann had not taken but was thought prudent for the sake of preservation. The treatment also ensured a consistent and uniform surface on both original and newly-fabricated parts.
There were a number of structural challenges. Detailed disassembly instructions may not have been provided at the time of the model’s 1920s conversion and there was evidence that someone, perhaps not knowing exactly how she had been constructed, had simply attempted to pry her apart. The large steel plates supporting the model’s cradles had been removed and the model had settled under its own weight, seriously deforming the relatively soft zinc hull. Holes had been drilled haphazardly – some needed and some not. The thread count of the original German screws was consistent, but a number of these had been replaced with screws of various shapes and sizes.
Thankfully, problems due to rust and corrosion proved to be far fewer than anticipated. When one views the images from the original auction listing of the model’s aft end it is difficult to believe anything from that area could be preserved. Though minor repairs were necessary, the structure itself was intact and salvageable.
At the time of writing (April 2015) the model nears completion. Tasks still to accomplish: staining of the 50 wooden blocks, fabrication of 200 tiny rigging hooks, painting of the liner’s funnels, fabrication of the wireless aerial spreaders and hand-lettering the ship’s name and gilt decoration at her stern. In spite of rough weather along the way, the long-forgotten Kronprinzessin Cecilie will indeed complete her final voyage!