Selecting Fittings Sizes for Your Scale Model

The scale of a model, usually written as (for example) 1/64 or 1:64 means the ratio of the model’s size to the real-world object. If the real ship is 140 ft. long overall, a 1:64 scale model will be 140 ft. divided by 64, which equals 2.19 ft. or a little over 26” long. Every linear measurement on the model will theoretically be 1/64 the size of the same object on the real ship, although practical limitations of scale modeling require some flexibility in dimensions. Another way to write scale is (for example) 3/16” = 1’, meaning that 3/16” on the model equals 1 ft. on the real ship. Dividing 1 ft. by 3/16” gives 64.

In considering fittings for your ship model, you would use the scale ratio to select the appropriate size. If you’re building an 18th century ship model of 1/64 scale and want to buy the right size barrels for the model, you would start by determining the size of real-life barrels as they would have been used on the real-life ship, and you might have to exercise your Google skills. One excellent source for estimates of real-world sizes is In the case of barrels, you’ll quickly find there was no standard size for 18th century barrels, and unless you can find a photo of your real-life ship or specific reference, you’ll have to make a best estimate.

In the case of water casks, I think they might have been 34” to 36” tall. If you accept my estimate, a water cask for your 1/64 scale ship model should be 36” divided by 64, or .56” tall which is slightly over 14mm. As I write this, Model Expo offers a walnut barrel 14mm tall by 12mm wide, which would be about right. To select any other fitting by size, the formula is simply real-world-object-size divided by model scale!

So why don’t we just label our 14mm x 12mm walnut barrel as 1/64 scale? For that matter, why not label all ship fittings with the appropriate scale? The reason is that the scale derives from the size of your specific real-life object. If you wanted a 1/64 scale “hogshead” or “butt” for example (which were barrel sizes typically larger than water casks), you might want a 17mm tall or larger walnut barrel fitting. But the same 17mm walnut barrel might make a fine water cask for a 1/50 scale model. So it all depends!

Mailing List