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Cathead

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About Cathead

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    Missouri, USA
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    Ecology, history, science, cooking, baseball, soccer, travel

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  1. Agreed on the fairing lines, I've seen them before too and they're great. Pros can disregard them if they like, but it doesn't hurt to have them on there. Steamboat hulls always look like some kind of snake vertebra model at this stage.
  2. You don't necessarily need a cutting mat as long as your work surface is one you're comfortable getting cut, scratched, painted, sanded, etc. One benefit to a proper mat is that it can help blades stay sharp longer, and sharp blades make a lot of work a lot easier. But they're not that expensive and awfully handy. Depending on your location, you don't have to mail order them as box hobby stores like Michaels or Hobby Lobby stock them too (if visiting a store is easier than mail-order; for me it's not). As for the yards and masts, the point to consider isn't just the current warp but how they respond to tension from different directions as you start to rig the model. Plastic bends easily and you have to be extra careful to balance all your rigging tension. Nothing wrong with that and you shouldn't feel pressure to switch to wood, just something to think about as the wood will take more rigging tension before it begins to bend. Balancing the delicate plastic yards will teach you more about the complex nature of keeping a real rigged ship operational!
  3. Regarding the warped yards, if you struggle to get them straightened out, you might consider replacing them with wooden dowels that you sand to the proper taper. Could be something to consider for the masts, too. One problem with plastic masts/yards is that they bend pretty easily under tension, meaning it can be hard to get the rigging right without deformation, whereas wood is a lot less flexible. Looking forward to your progress on this.
  4. Mark, good idea, except that I intend to leave this side of the vessel open to interior view so I need a full wheel on this side (i.e. 1.5 wheels total).
  5. To finish one wheel assembly, I needed to make two more identical sets of rings. My first plan was to build these on the paper plans just like I'd done the first one, but I was afraid that would enable too much variability. So I hit on the idea of building the next rings right on top the first one. After cutting the next 18 spokes, I clamped each one to its counterpart on the original: The end clamps made the spokes warp up a bit in the middle, so I used large clamps to hold the whole assembly in place and flat: Next, I used the same approach as before and smeared wood glue into the central area, being sure not to overdo it so none leaked down to the original ring below. This worked great; once it dried, I had a solid set of spokes following the same pattern as the original. I flipped this over, treated the other side the same way, then set about completing it just as described above. I did this a third time and ended up with three nice wheel rings, shown below after sanding. This was MUCH faster than laying the first wheel out on the paper plan using pins. In case you were wondering, I marked the end of one spoke of each piece so that I'd know where to line them up again. These look nice in the photo but they're certainly not perfectly symmetrical (I'm not that good a craftsman), so it's important to know how best to align them. Next I painted them, which took longer than I expected. There are so...many...nooks and crannies in these darn things that all have to get color! Below are two shots of the three rings temporarily threaded on an axle and placed loosely on the model just for visual interest (no attempt to line them up perfectly or join them); I wanted to see what they'd look like in place. They're obviously pretty bright and need to be toned down. I tried the vinegar/rust soak I used for the decking, but as these are painted on all sides it didn't really do anything (no raw wood to soak into), so I used a thin wash of black paint to dull the color. I don't have a photo of that but they look a lot better now. Next up, cutting and painting all the bucket boards (the horizontal pieces connecting the rings) and working out the best way to build this complex structure so that everything lines up (including both the buckets and the axle holes). I think it's going to be tricky. Also, Roger mentioned the difficulty of building half a wheel. I think that, using the methods above, it'll be fairly straightforward to lay out half a wheel on the paper plan, glue the spokes in place at the center, then duplicate that twice using the clamping method. If I then attach wheel hubs and string them on an axle, the half-wheel will naturally hang down into the visible part of the wheel housing, and no one will ever be able to see up into the upper half. That's the current thinking, anyway. This was a nice stage to reach this weekend. Thanks for reading.
  6. Wooohooo, just noticed you've officially started this. I'm fully onboard with realistic steamboat builds here on MSW. Very excited to see what you do with her, especially with regard to upgrading the decks and so on. For what it's worth, technically those boats aren't really "lifeboats", they're primarily workboats used by the crew. They could certainly be used to save a few passengers in a wreck situation, but I don't think that's their primary purpose (maybe Kurt will correct me if he finds this, he's the resident Chaperon expert). Safety wasn't much of a consideration on these boats, especially earlier in the era (the Chaperon is a bit later than my core knowledge). Moreover, wrecks were rarely deadly for lots of people as most rivers were fairly shallow and steamers that hit a snag just tended to settle to the bottom or make it to shore before truly sinking, meaning those on board could retreat to the upper decks and await developments. Most steamboat wrecks that killed lots of people involved boiler explosions, and at that point the boats were often kindling anyway.
  7. Cathead

    Hello from Missouri

    Welcome to MSW from a fellow Missourian. There aren't that many of us here. I got my start in model shipbuilding with the smaller Revell Constitution (1:196?), which still sits on a shelf in my office even though my skills have developed well beyond it. I hope you enjoy diving back into this hobby.
  8. Thanks, Roger, that means a lot coming from you. I know what you mean about building a half-wheel, but I think I've figured out a proper solution. Stay tuned.
  9. Lovely work, Daria. It's so satisfying to reach a goal one has worked toward for so long. Thanks to you and your dad for sharing your work!
  10. Working on the paddle wheel has been a refreshing change of pace. As a reminder, here's one shot of a restored wheel at the museum (with me for scale); there are many more in this post from my design thread. I couldn't measure the wheel directly, but sources say it's 28' (~8.5 m) in diameter. I know the width exactly because one of the axles is on display within the museum and I could photograph and measure it up close (see photo later in this post). I estimated the overall layout of the wheel by visual inspection of my photos, then drew up a plan on my computer that I could print out and use as a template. Luckily, the Arabia has 18 spokes, making a nice easy 20° angle between each. For contrast, Bertrand had something like 13 spokes, meaning none of them lined up properly and were harder to lay out cleanly. To actually build the first ring, I drew on techniques I used to use when building Guillows balsa-frame aircraft. I laid the plan on a piece of cardboard and used sewing pins to mark the end of each spoke along the outside circumference: I "sharpened" the end of each spoke at roughly the correct angle for all to fit together. On the real thing, each spoke's end would fit into a precisely cast iron hub, like this: But I felt that my skill set wasn't up to trying to manufacture such a detailed piece, especially having to make three identical ones (so all the rings lined up). So I decided to fudge it by assembling the wheel spokes as a solid mass and placing a flat hub along the outside. Notice how all the spoke flanges face inward on the axle; this means they'll be barely visible on the finished model anyway, so my approach should simulate the right effect. I may even draw in some faint black lines or shading to suggest the presence of the flanges separating the spokes. Given that choice, I laid out all 18 spokes on the plan and used more pins to hold them in place. I filed a slight notch at the outer end of each spoke so they'd sit against the end pins more securely. Once I was happy with the layout, I smeared wood glue within the central "sharpened" zone so it would sink into the slight gaps between spokes and bind them together. When that dried, I flipped the assemblage and repeated the process. I was careful not to use too much so that it wouldn't drip down and bind the spokes to the paper plan. I kept the glue within the rough area that would be covered by the wheel hub, to minimize any change in appearance of the finished wheel. This worked great; the wood absorbed the glue and held fast as a tight structure with no reinforcement necessary: Next, I started filling in the rings. I started with the outermost one, figuring that it would hold the spokes in the proper alignment while the rest were filled in. Starting from the inside out had too much potential to deform the spokes and end up with an uneven and unsightly pattern. This was the correct decision. I cut each piece using a combination of sharp hobby knife, sharp blade on a "chopper" type platform cutter, and a small razor saw. I used files, sandpaper, and the hobby knife to adjust the end angles until I was satisfied, then glued the piece in place. Some weren't perfect and there are subtle differences in spacing between spokes, but they're all but invisible in the collective view. Here's the wheel with the first two rings completed: And here's the finished wheel, sanded to a smoother finish: I'm quite happy with how this turned out. Of course, now I have to make at least two more. It was a fun project the first time, we'll see how I feel after repeating it. I say "at least two more" because each wheel consists of three such assemblages, so in theory I need six of these. However, I'm only planning to leave one side of the Arabia open to view, as I did on Bertrand, so I need one fully developed wheel. As the other side will be enclosed, it seems unnecessary to build a full wheel that will be 90% hidden within the paddlebox. So right now I'm considering only building the lowest part of a "dummy" wheel for that side and hiding it in fully planked paddlebox. I think by the time I build three of these, that will feel like the right decision. It took a week to build this first one, but perhaps the next two will go a bit faster now that I've worked out my methods. In any case, it was nice to celebrate my birthday today with a finished mini-project. It's raining here, so we're having a quiet indoor day with good food, which is just fine with me at 39. We're making fried rice with garden produce and homemade sweet-and-sour-sauce for lunch, then German potato pancakes, homemade breadstick-pretzels, and pear sauce (fruit from our orchard) for dinner with a coconut-lemon rum cake. Will probably open a bottle of homemade mead to celebrate. Thanks for reading
  11. I had been missing you and wondering. I'm sorry to hear that, but it takes courage and good sense sometimes to know when something isn't working. I look forward to hearing about your next project.
  12. Chris, for a scribed deck, you might still be able to use pastels to subtly vary the individual planks after painting and vinegar staining. In the deck shown above, I went back over the surface using pastel on a fingertip and rubbed a bit of darker color on a few planks where the overall color seemed too uniform. You could probably also use a cotton swab if your fingertips are stubbier than mine. I'm not sure whether vinegar staining would warp a solid deck; weighting it down might introduce discoloration to the surface as it dries unevenly. You might experience with some cheap scribed wood sheets first. Maybe if you laid the stained deck facedown on a towel so that the stained surface pressed evenly into that, and placed weights on the back? Ken, yeah, I tried the brush method first and found it tedious; quick experimentation showed that dipping was a lot faster and had no problematic effects (like warping or uneven color). Actually, looking back at the photos above, you CAN see the difference between pure pastel weathering and the vinegar weathering (plus subtle pastel in places). There's a clear strip down the middle where the color isn't quite as yellow-brown; that's the non-stained area. It's more obvious in the photo than it is in person.
  13. Chris, The individual planks are first painted with diluted Model Expo Bulwarks Gun Red (MS4802). M-E paint tends to be rather thick, but diluting it works well in this case to let some color soak into the wood. This is partly why I had to be careful not to let it soak in too much and come out the other side, at least for the guard planks that are exposed at the bottom. I'd think any reasonable shade of red would be fine, especially if you're going to weather it down some. Then each plank was dipped briefly into a staining solution I made by dissolving a chunk of steel wool in white vinegar. I didn't let the planks marinate; each got literally a one-second, in-out dip into the solution, then was laid out to dry on a cloth. I wiped excess liquid off the surface, or else it gets little droplet stains. If you leave it in longer, you get progressively darker color, but one second is enough to dull the bright red paint and give the exposed underside a suitably weathered look. You have to be careful with this solution as it stains everything; I "ruined" a pair of pants by absent-mindedly wiping my hands, creating a permanent rust stain (they're still perfectly wearable, but not for going out to dinner). As you may recall, I started by using pastels to darken the paint instead of the solution, but switched over after a few lines of planking. I still used some pastel to individually darken stained planks further, giving the deck a bit more local contrast. For this, I just rubbed a finger along a dark grey pastel stick and then along the stained and dried plank surface. I have to say, I'm very pleased with the final appearance of wood treated in this way.
  14. Thanks, Kurt. I wasn't clear on the weathering: I absolutely don't intended to leave the hull shining pristine white by the end when the rest of the model will be more weathered. I haven't done the hull weathering yet because I figured the hull's finish would get beaten up sooner or later during the rest of construction so wanted to be able to sand out or paint over any faults, which will be a lot easier before final weathering is applied. I just meant that I was still trying not to have to do that by keeping the hull clean in the first place until I was ready to weather it, and hadn't decided whether to just dull it down overall or specifically add a muddy waterline. I started laying out the paddlewheels today. They may not be as bad as I thought; the larger scale than Bertrand is already clear in terms of having bigger pieces to work with. Plus, on a sidewheeler, it's easier to turn the "bad" side of a wheel or competent inward to hide it!
  15. The main deck is planked! Apologies for no updates in a while. Planking is slow and tedious and there really isn't much to show as it progresses. Plus, August was my busiest-ever work month so I was particularly disinclined to get on the computer for any other purposes. Sharp eyes may have noticed that my deck planks are a bit wider than they appear to be in the original wreck photos. That's intentional; I knew I wanted to paint and stain each plank individually, and thought I would go absolutely crazy if I used really narrow scale planks. As it is, this deck took me over two months to complete. I think it captures a realistic feel and honestly that's more important to me than exact replication. I remain really happy with the steel wool & vinegar stain I've been using on all these planks. It darkens the paint just the right amount and gives any exposed raw wood a nice weathered tone. The underside of the deck, though it will be difficult to see on the completed model, has a nice appearance to my eye: Look closely and you'll see that a couple of red paint blobs seeped through here and here (particularly just forward of the port wheel). I tried to check each plank before installation, but obviously got sloppy in a couple places. I can't fix it, and again this is an angle that won't be seen on the finished model, so I'll live with it. Trying to keep a pure white hull clean during the building process is also proving to be a challenge; just too easy to grab her with pastel-grubby hands or accidentally smear stain. I'm considering whether to stain/pastel the lower hull brownish to simulate a river-mud waterline. Next up, I return to machinery work. I need the wheels and boilers built and installed, along with the engines, before I do any superstructure work so I can be sure they all work together properly. Gotta say I'm not looking forward to building the wheels! Thanks for reading and for putting up with the long delay.

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