WARNING! The procedure descibed in this tutorial requires applying some pressure to your LEGO hull pieces, as well as using sharp tools. If done improperly, this can result in scratching your bricks, as well as - in absolutely extreme cases - bending or breaking them. Anything you do, you do at your own risk - I will not accept any complaints or bills for damaged LEGO pieces! However, worry not - if done properly, everything's gonna be just fine and no visible damage will be done!
I'm sure this subject is not new to some members, in fact I started a similar thread myself a few years ago. However, what we were missing was a complete, step by step tutorial, so I decided to make one right now. If you are unfamiliar with the procedure, just keep reading and it will be all made clear.
Let me once again mention that the first person who described it was Richie Dulin, aka Legeaux. He wrote about this a long time ago on Lugnet, not showing any pictures though. He also used to post his MOCs here at Classic-Pirates.com, but I haven't seen him around in a while. Anyway, big thanks to him!
The thing is, the old type hulls - both wide and narrow - had bow and stern sections that were made of two parts - top and bottom. For example, 6280 Armada Flagship had blue top and white bottom:
(by old type hulls I mean the ones that were used before a new type was introduced in 2009 - first used in Brickbeard's Bounty - a type that uses different bow/stern sections)
The top parts of such old type hulls can be removed and attached to a hull of a different colour, allowing for more colour combinations. Here's how it's done!
We shall start with the narrow hulls, and use the aforementioned Armada Flagship's hull as an example. To perform this task one needs a screwdriver and a knife.
One screwdriver is enough, I just took the picture of the two that I used while checking which one fits better. The screwdriver should be of the right size (rather small), preferably with a cross-shaped tip ("Phillips screwdriver"). The knife should be similar to the one in the picture, with a rounded tip (a typical butter knife is fine).
Let's start with the bow section.
On this picture you can see where the two screws holding the top part are located. Those have to be unscrewed.
Sometimes removing the screws is all it takes to separate the two hull parts. Try just holding one part in one hand and one in the other hand and pulling them apart. The result looks like this:
However, sometimes (pretty often actually) they will not give up so easily. This is when the knife comes in handy. You gotta turn the hull piece upside down and insert the knife between the bottom hull part and an area of the top hull part that looks like a 2x2 brick:
You gotta move the knife up and down a bit to loosen the connection between the two parts. If that doesn't work, push the knife deeper, so that its tip appears in one of the two small narrow holes present on the other side of the hull:
Push it through both holes, one at a time, but not too deep - only the very tip of the knife should be visible!
It is possible that while doing this, you will cut off a very small slice of plastic from the bottom hull part - or even two, one from each hole. Don't worry if this happens - it will loosen the top hull part and make it more easily removable, and it will have no bad effect in the future, it will not be noticeable in the assembled hull either!
After this, you should finally be able to remove the top hull part. Now let's do the same with the stern section, which has 4 screws that need to be undone:
When the screws are removed, take this section apart, using the exact same procedure as with the bow.
From my experience I must say that the stern sections are much easier to work with, sometimes you won't need a knife at all. The bow sections are tougher and need some work with the knife before they give up. Anyway, here are the two top hull parts - bow and stern - after separation:
And here's the hull without them:
Someone should definitely try to build a MOC using just these as the boat's base! I'm sure this can be done with some clever building techniques and might give some interesting results!
I used the same procedure to remove the black parts from the hull of the 6493 Flying Time Vessel:
Next step is attaching them to our white base. This part is easy. Just put them in the right place and then put the screws back in and tighten them!
It's ready! Don't worry, even if you had cut those little slices of plastic earlier, the screws will hold your hull firmly in one piece. And if you want to separate the hull pieces again at some point in the future, you might find out it will not be easy either! Taking them apart is always the hardest part of the job - even if it's not their first time!
There it is, our new hull in stylish black and white:
Some more custom hulls I've made using the same procedure - this one uses the blue parts from 6280 Armada Flagship and the brown parts from 6271 Imperial Flagship (6268 Renegade Runner has them in brown too, but it has no middle section):
And a completely grey hull - bottom parts taken from 6493 Flying Time Vessel, top parts from 6271 Imperial Flagship or 6268 Renegade Runner:
This procedure allows for a number of new colour combinations for your hulls. Let's take a look at the narrow hulls and the colours they are available in:
Dark grey top + brown bottom (6271 Imperial Flagship as well as 6268 Renegade Runner)
Green top + black bottom (6250 Cross Bone Clipper)
Blue top + white bottom (6280 Armada Flagship)
Black top + dark grey bottom (6493 Flying Time Vessel)
Other possible combinations using the procedure:
Dark grey top + black bottom
Dark grey top + white bottom
Dark grey top + dark grey bottom (shown on the picture above)
Green top + brown bottom
Green top + white bottom
Green top + dark grey bottom
Blue top + brown bottom (shown on the picture above)
Blue top + black bottom
Blue top + dark grey bottom
Black top + brown bottom
Black top + black bottom
Black top + white bottom (shown on the picture above)
All right, but what about the wide hulls? Let's check those out too! The only wide hull piece I have available right now is the bow of the 6286 Skull's Eye Schooner - all the others are currently used in MOCs and sets - so let's do some experimenting on that one!
As you can see, it also has screws, so nothing new here. Just unscrew them (note that they are exactly the same as in narrow hulls). It's not willing to give up so easily just yet, so let's turn it upside down and take a look!
Instead of a 2x2 stud area, there's a 6x2 area here. Bigger means more friction, so I guess it's gonna be harder to separate!
What? Six narrow holes instead of just two! Definitely more job to be done here.
It definitely took a lot of effort and I had to use the knife a lot more in this case...
I had to insert it into all six holes several times to loosen it a bit, however I managed not to cut off any plastic from the hull.
Finally! I gotta admit it was A LOT harder than doing this to the narrow hull, and I actually got blisters on my fingers from pulling the two hull pieces apart. Nonetheless, it is possible! Note the scratches from the knife inside the hole in the bottom of the brown part - they are rather unavoidable, but they will not be visible once a new top part is put in place, so the harm is acceptable.
Let's take a look at the possible colour combinations for the wide hulls:
Brown top + brown bottom (6285 Black Seas Barracuda as well as 6274 Caribbean Clipper)
Red top + brown bottom (6286 Skull's Eye Schooner)
Dark grey top + red bottom (6289 Red Beard Runner)
Other possible combinations using the procedure:
Brown top + red bottom
Dark grey top + brown bottom
Red top + red bottom
Phew! That's the end of this tutorial. Thanks for reading and I hope someone finds it useful! Please once again keep in mind that this procedure might cause some damage to your hulls, especially if done too quickly and not carefully/patiently enough. For one, you gotta be careful not to scratch any outside surface of your hull with the knife or screwdriver. However, I assure you that once you've learned how to do this properly, it can be done with no visible bad effects, and it certainly will give you some new and exciting MOCing possibilities!