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Bob Cleek

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Everything posted by Bob Cleek

  1. Interesting point. And if you buy through Amazon Prime, you get free shipping. That pretty much prices out all the competition and everybody who doesn't sell through Amazon. I suppose it's time to start looking at Amazon a bit differently. Can you say, "anti-trust?"
  2. I strongly suspect that the British Admiralty dockyard models were shellacked, not varnished. Shellac will outlast varnish by orders of magnitude. "Orange" shellac (natural colored,) will darken, and its gloss increase, with each successive coat. It's easily thinned with denatured alcohol. It's also easily removed with denatured alcohol. The darkening and gloss rate of increase will depend on how thick it is. This is referred to as the "cut," expressed in pounds, e.g. "two pound cut," which would be two pounds of shellac flakes to a gallon of alcohol. Most prepared canned shellac ("Bullseye" is a good brand found nearly everywhere) is sold in "two pound cut." Thinning it 50-50 yields "one pound cut," and so on. Multiple thinned coats are the best approach. Applied to thickly will fill in detail, as might paint. It dries quickly, about as fast as the alcohol evaporates. Shellac on ship models has lasted for somewhere around 5,500 years, so far, if models found in the Egyptian tombs are any indication. Some top end woodworking catalogs sell shellac in "flake" form, which is the crushed excretions of the female lac bug. You have to add your own alcohol. Mixed shellac supposedly has a "shelf life," and hence the sale of the crushed flakes alone. I've never had any problem with the premixed canned shellac going bad on the shelf over a period of years, though. Other's mileage may vary, but I've never found the higher price, shipping cost, and hassle of ordering flakes by mail and mixing my own worth the trouble and I've used a lot of it over the years. It's a stock item in my paint locker. Varnish is more difficult to work with, primarily because of extended drying time and the need to resort to chemical strippers, heat guns, or scrapers and sandpaper to remove "goofs." Thinned shellac has the consistency of water and will penetrate bare wood easily. Not so much so varnish. If too much shellac is applied, it won't have brush strokes, runs, and sags ("curtains" in the trade). it tends to soak into the wood and dries quickly. Too much varnish and you end up with brush strokes, runs and sags, much like enamel paint. This is less of a problem with thinned varnish for "model scales," but varnish is finicky. Sometimes the gloss is dulled when it's thinned too much, especially if mineral spirits are mistakenly used instead of pure spirits of gum turpentine, and other times, it can refuse to dry and remains sticky. A capful of Flood's "Penetrol" in a quart of varnish will improve its ability to "lay down" and a teaspoon of Japan drier will improve drying ability. Like oil paint, varnish does require something of a "learning curve" to master the art of conditioning it as required to get a perfect "Steinway piano" finish. (Steinways are actually French polished, I believe... with shellac!) Most quality marine varnishes are adequate, Z-Spar brand "Captain's" varnish is a good one, as is the European and pricier Epiphanes brand (which requires the use of their proprietary thinner.)
  3. Yes, it seems they ban carrying onto a plane anything a creative mind can possibly imagine could be used as a deadly weapon. For some strange reason, though, since those restrictions went into effect, I've never had any problem at all boarding a flight with my Dearly Beloved . If they only knew!
  4. I certainly wouldn't advise "smuggling," or anything illegal, but I wonder if a passenger flying in brought a Byrnes saw over as his "carry-on" or passenger luggage on a trip they were taking anyway, could one get around the exorbitant shipping expenses? People are always shipping cars, too. You could get a lot of Byrnes Model Machines inside a car that was being shipped as container cargo. Somebody could develop a profitable little sideline importing them.
  5. I recall somewhere somebody mentioning a Byrnes saw with an extended table. I'm not sure if the extended table was a one-off "Jim Special," he did for somebody, or not. NO extended table is available as an option at present., AFAIK.
  6. You betcha! "Raising the load line," is simply "overloading the ship" and painting a new load line that hides the fact. There are no free lunches at sea. Overloading a ship places excess stress on the entire hull structure. Something's always got to give. :
  7. Everybody picks their own poison. I prefer Interlux "surfacing compound," also called "glazing compound." Interlux is a brand of quality marine paint. This is a material with the consistency of thin, creamy peanut butter that is thinned with acetone. The acetone evaporates quickly, leaving a plaster-like hardened material which sands "like butter." It can also be worked, as with dried plaster. It is not highly porus, like drywall paste, so it can be painted without problem. Tools clean up with acetone easily. A pint can lasts forever when modeling. A tablespoon of acetone added to the can and left to sit overnight will return it to its consistence if it thickens some. (Do not leave the top off the can while working with it. That will cause surface drying in the can.) For large fairing jobs, I also find epoxy resin thinned with microballoons or fairing additive works very well, although curing takes longer than fairing compound. My go-to epoxy flavor is WEST Systems products. I'm not a fan of mixing sawdust into epoxy or PVA. Some are. I've found PVA is "rubbery" and sands poorly, gumming up abrasive sheets. Your mileage may differ.
  8. Well, the blade can bite you once it passes through the cut in any event! I don't see any reason not to, other than the possibility of a minor difference ruining the cut. I've done it often on full-size table saws where the piece was too large to cut in one pass, or to reduce the resistance in thicker pieces. Keeping the blade just a bit higher than the piece is thick is proper and in that instance, there's very little of the blade exposed, during the cut, at least. Always, always use push sticks and, where necessary, featherboards. Never, ever, reach over the blade for any reason. Keep your hands behind where the blade is exposed. Always use a sled or miter gauge when making cross-cuts. Always use an outfeed table if the piece needs support to prevent it from dropping over the back edge of the saw table. Never stand in line with the blade. Sometimes that takes a bit of extra time to set up and can be a bit like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time, but it's the easiest way to keep all your fingers.
  9. Surprising. I've never ever seen such a decoration on a similar boat, although I suppose they have antecedents in the elaborate extended bow decorations of ancient Roman vessels.
  10. That and the fact that you'll want to kill any person who spills an alcoholic drink on it!
  11. Fantastic work at that scale! Can you tell us what the purpose of the painted post above the stem ... or an extension of the stem... might be?
  12. Pumice and rottenstone powder is readily available in paint and hardware stores in the US, at least. (Or used to be. We never know when a tried and true traditional product will be outlawed for some environmental safety reason!) It's not expensive. It really does produce a wonderful finish. It's best applied with some sort of vibrating pad, if one's available. Doing it by hand, while very effective, is a lot of work on a less than perfectly coated surface, as it removes material very slowly because it is so fine.
  13. It' helps! Thanks for taking the time to explain it. It was as I thought. They probably used what they had whenever a block was replaced.
  14. Thanks for the reference! Open boats are always such a challenge in smaller scales. They are a detail that often first catches the viewer's eye and so require a lot of care and attention.
  15. Do you know whether the internally stropped blocks were original to the Morgan or were added later in her long career. I've got an old Marin Models Morgan kit that I've been thinking of building one of these days. It's plans are from the 1930's and show her as she was launched carrying a ship rig. I suspect that her 1840 rigging was renewed over time with newer blocks, but I'm not sure when internally stropped and externally iron-stropped blocks came into common usage. I suppose there may be some information somewhere on her original rigging, but I thought I'd ask since you've been doing such a great job on her.
  16. I missed those two boats in the davits port and starboard until now. Beautiful details! Did you cover building them in this log?
  17. Interesting exercise! However, you will probably find that your topmasts and topsails, as well as additional headsails, are going to overpower the sailing model and, with the additional weight aloft, cause her to be very "tender." In other words, a gust of wind would cause her to turn turtle. It's a matter of balance. In light air, it's not so much of a problem, but the "weight" of the air doesn't scale down proportionately. (This is why you have that long fin ballast keel on her.) You will require greater ballast, most likely. Keep in mind that you are adding a lot of sail area up high and that is going to significantly increase the overall center of effort of the entire sail plan. The higher the center of effort, the greater the leverage of the masts and the more the vessel is going to heel in the wind. It's really a lot more complicated exercise than just adding some topmasts to an existing rig. Everything has to be balanced. If you change one thing, there's usually three others that have to be changed to keep it all in balance. As for tacking the topsails, in a simple rig, there are two topsail sheets. They pass over the gaff boom and whatever other top hamper is necessary, with the leeward sheet run down to belay at the foot of the mast, while the windward sheet is loose running over the top hamper. When tacking, the leeward sheet is cast free and the windward sheet is hauled down, pulling the tack of the topsail over the top hamper. The top hamper, primarily the gaff boom topping lift rigging, has to be simplified to accommodate this. If there are triatic stays between the mast tops, then a similar arrangement of lines have to be rigged so that the topsail clew can be brailed during the tack and hauled out again to the leeward side of the top mast stays. It's complicated! That's why you don't see a lot of RC sailboat models with complicated rigs.
  18. Thanks! I edited my post to include the URL you provided. I spent way too much time trying to find the non-Facebook URL, with no success. For those not on Facebook... don't bother! It's a huge waste of time, unless you want to be kept apprised of what some kid you went to grammar school with cooked for dinner last night. (It's also somewhat useful for occasionally looking up old girlfriends and feeling a whole lot better about "the one that got away" that you ever imagined! )
  19. That's an understatement. I've seen more than one full-sized boat's plywood skin and internal parts blown apart by somebody trying to fill an enclosed bow or stern flotation chamber with that stuff. It's like one of those 1950's science fiction "B" movies: The Killer Foam From Hell. It just keeps spreading and spreading until it's done and there's very little way to predict when it's going to stop. It produces a lot of force if it's contained in any way.
  20. I came across this interesting video today. It shows the many knots useful in tying fishing rigs. Many were familiar to me and I expect would be to others, but it occurred to me that many of them are also useful for tying model rigging as well. The knots are designed for using slippery plastic fishing line, but can be tied with any sort of thread or line. Many of the knots yield a "served" appearance with the fall wraped around the standing part. Particularly in smaller scales, some of these knots will appear as a respectable representation of a served eye splice. I thought they might be of interest to some. https://www.animatedknots.com/
  21. Whew! That was welcome news and not at all surprising. I'm only theoretically conversant with CAD. I know how it works and what it's limitations are, but I don't use it for a variety of reasons, not least of which are exactly the reasons Chuck mentions. I do my drafting "on the board" and I hang plank "on the boat" as in full-size practice. For my purposes, (okay, at my age...) I find that faster (and less expensive) than buying the really good software necessary and taking the classes to learn how to use it. (As chance has it, Autodesk's world headquarters are just down the road from my office.)
  22. Excellent suggestion! I always keep an eye out for what some of us here in the US call "old 'arn." Tools were simply much better made before about 1950. This is especially so with metalworking tools and woodworking hand tools. The iron in them was higher quality and the tolerances seem to be better. There were "second grade" tools back then, too, but they haven't lasted. If I see an old tool that I expect I'll find useful at a garage sale or an online auction site that is reasonably priced, I grab it.
  23. I would question whether in most smaller scales (1:24 and below) carvel plank seams should be visible at all. In most all instances, they certainly would not be visible at scale viewing distances on a prototype. There seems to be a determined fetish of showing exaggerated plank seams these days (and its corollary, "riveted" copper sheathing,) even when they are wildly out of scale. Perhaps after modelers go to the trouble of hanging plank to form a hull. they feel the need to make it clear that they did. I dunno, but it doesn't make sense to me.
  24. Interesting question, really. It's just a matter of opinion, but I'd say "to paint or not to paint," or somewhere in between, is a matter of the modeler's artistic prerogative. Making the right choice often makes the difference between a great model and a pedestrian one, notwithstanding the level of technical skill involved. It's been a while, but when I visited the Admiralty model collection at the NMM twenty-five years ago, I recall that most models were indeed painted where paint would have been visible in the prototype, save for where they intended the construction to show (often where the below the waterline planking or decking was omitted,) their convention was to leave the wood "bright" (i.e., oiled or varnished, not painted.) That was their builder's choice. Your mileage may vary. There are those who are capable of near-perfection in construction and who use precious wood species most of us would be loath to paint or even stain. Other's do miniature masterpieces of the carver's art that, if painted or gilded, might as well be mass-produced plastic kit parts. If the modeler's intention is to portray the actual construction details, fastenings and all, and they leave their wood bright, the effect can be very impressive. That said, it is my personal opinion that there's little point in the work such "open construction detail" models require unless the research is available to ensure reasonable accuracy in the depiction. Such a model which is based upon the modeler's understanding of generic construction practices of the period and type of vessel may be a tour d' force of modeling skill from a technical perspective and a true work of art that provides pleasure to those who view it, but, in almost all instances, the construction details are the modeler's or the plans author's own interpretation, not an accurate model of the actual vessel's construction, and so of limited value as an historical record. It's a work of fiction, regardless of how good a read it may be. Another consideration is the modeler's strengths and weaknesses. If one doesn't paint, they have to be really, really good at modeling. There's no option to slap on some fairing putty and sand a planked hull fair and paint over it to achieve a perfect result. Again, it's just my opinion, but I really think that a lot of the so-called planked hull kits that suggest they be left unpainted don't provide wood that even comes close to being suitable for that purpose and the results often appear crude as a result. They'd produce better models if they were painted. Conversely, if one's paintwork looks like it was laid on with an old toothbrush, perhaps they'd best stick with Minwax wipe-on stains. On the other hand, if one builds for their own satisfaction, "for the mantle" as one might say, then it is really purely a matter of taste. If it satisfies the modeler, who cares what anybody else thinks of it? Bottom line, for what it's worth, my rule is "If it looks right, it is right." and if it satisfies me, it's served it's purpose as far as that goes.

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