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Hull Customization Tutorial

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WARNING! The procedure described 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! :pir_laugh2: However, worry not - if done properly, everything's gonna be just fine and no visible damage will be done! :thumbup:

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, 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.


In 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:

Originally available:

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 in the picture above)

Green top + brown bottom

Green top + white bottom

Green top + dark grey bottom

Blue top + brown bottom (shown in 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 in 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:

Originally available:

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!

Edited by Dreamweb

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Thanks a lot for this tutorial Dreamweb! :thumbup:

The pictures and explanations were excellent.

I'm sure I'll be able to follow it perfectly once I screw up the courage to take apart my hull pieces - despite your reassurances I'm still afraid to do it.

This will be very useful in the future. I've always thought that the white hull of the Armada Flagship would be perfect for many ships (like the HMS Beagle) if not for that blue. Now thanks to you we can take them apart.

Great job!

Edited by Skipper

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Thank a great deal Dreamweb!

I noticed the screw inside the ship hull one day when I was working on my ship. I tried loose them but the hull parts just fails to come apart. It never occurred to me to use a butter knife on my Lego but it seems working indeed.

I'll experiment this sometime later, only after I get more spare hull pieces. :)

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This looks great! Thanks for teaching this to us! :pir-laugh: I never thought about switching the old hull pieces, clever idea!

Edited by Hiawatha

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I agree, I never even considered doing this. I guess this is where one "thinks outside the box." I was never good at doing that hah. But I can imagine the new color combinations would be neat depending on the MOC. A white bottom with a different upper would be quite enticing.

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I did this a while back but I won't do it again, I didn't damage them but I had a lot of work on the hulls. I figured the hulls are not meant to be seperated


I switched the blue part for dark grey.

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It's just a matter of personal opinion I guess. Some people use decals for minifigs, some do not. Some people remove torso printings from minifigs, which is even bigger tampering than splitting the hulls. It's only a question of how far will a person go with customization, or how much of a LEGO 'purist' you are. I for one think it's not that big of a deal, it can be reversed to original configuration after all. There was also an article on Lugnet about cutting the hull pieces in half to make building wider ships possible, which is way more extreme. :pir-classic:

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That's a very, very nice tutorial and I'm really glad to see it posted! :pir-sweet:

I also used to take prefabs apart this way and put them together differently in the past, especially for an all red hull with the RR and SES hull parts, but I didn't like how it looked in the end! :pir-blush:

It's not quite easy to figure it all out by yourself and I also guess a lot of people didn't even know that it can be done, so your tutorial comes in quite helpful!

The white/black looks really nice IMO.

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I also used to take prefabs apart this way and put them together differently in the past, especially for an all red hull with the RR and SES hull parts, but I didn't like how it looked in the end! :pir-blush:

That's exactly what I'm planning to do for one of my future ships (probably the one I'll be making after my current WIP ship is finished). Sometimes a less colourful ship just looks better, and the original grey top from Red Beard Runner is really hard to mix with some other colours (especially now that we have this blueish grey instead of the old one).

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