A passion for building ship replicas

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Batu Gajah, Malaysia: Black Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell was playing loudly at a wood workshop in Kampung Bakap Baru in Jalan Tanjung Tualang. Inside, a man who calls himself Captain Jack was busy working on a replica of Admiral Cheng Ho’s ship – an order placed by a customer last month. His real name is Azhar Kamaruddin. The 50-year-old is a passionate woodworker and has been building ship replicas for the past 21 years.

 

PASSION FOR WOODWORK

His interest in shipbuilding was sparked in 1997 after reading an ‘Illustrated History of Transport’. Azhar, who was then a supervisor at a supermarket, decided to leave his job and find another at a timber and steel factory in Ipoh. The following five years saw him accumulating shipbuilding skills by working in several factories specialising in the use of machines to build ship replicas. The father of three also read several books on classic vessels and their specifications to help him better understand and build more authentic and detailed replicas. His first replicas were of smaller vessels and were built using reclaimed wood and sold to friends. Proceeds from the sales were used to buy machines to be used at his workshop. “The entire process of building a ship replica is extremely complicated. It starts with the drafting of blueprints at a studio before proceeding with the rest of the process at the workshop,” he told Bernama.

 

ANCIENT SHIPS

He said that the most oft-requested models among customers were replicas of European ships and of the Admiral Cheng Ho ship which was originally built in 1403. Azhar himself is a fan of ancient ships particularly those from the Middle Ages and Ancient Egypt due to their history and the challenge in replicating the intricate workmanship. He has also built the replica of ships like the 1812 Baltimore Clipper and the 1571 Mediterranean Galley. “The time it takes to complete a replica depends on the size. It can sometimes take up to six months to complete a replica measuring between1.5-metre and 1.8-metre long,” he explained.

 

Azhar’s customers come not only from Malaysia but also from all over the world including Singapore, Indonesia and Scotland. “Some of my ship replicas are even on display in several galleries overseas,” he said. He is more than happy to share his knowledge and skills in shipbuilding as he believes that sharing such knowledge and exchanging opinions could help him better his craft. At the same time, he advises those wishing to go into the construction of ship replicas to study the history of each vessel as it is essential to the building process.

 

By Bernama

 

 

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