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Bob Cleek

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  1. In the picture of the prototype, note that the line is led in the wrong direction (angle,) causing the serious chafe pictured.
  2. Bob Cleek

    How Realistic Can One Make Sails?

    Holy Smoke! I'd sure like to see a tutorial by whoever made those sails.
  3. Bob Cleek

    Transport of a ship

    Wefalck makes an important point: It's not just crating and securing the cased model properly that is important. (Hopefully, every model is properly cased... we won't even begin to talk about cleaning ladies with feather dusters...) Jarring shocks can damage even well-secured models, particularly their rigging. Hitting a pothole can often pop a shroud or a brace or the like pretty easily. It even happens to the pros: http://minneys.blogspot.com/2016/06/blow-out-one-hundred-damaged-ship-models.html
  4. Bob Cleek

    CA glues

    CA does a fine job of "pointing" thread so that it can be poked through holes, but in my book, that's about the extent of its value in rigging. (It is also worthwhile for "tack welding" wood parts, but I don't trust it for long term fastening at all.) It's nasty stuff with which to work and is irreversible. While nobody's mentioned it, I use white (clear, not "orange") shellac for cementing thread knots, as well as for "forming" lines which must depict a catenary or for coils. The utility of shellac, which is readily soluble in denatured alcohol, is that it hardens as the alcohol evaporates, which it does rather quickly. It is thus possible to have a "thin cut" (heavily diluted) shellac mixture penetrate readily into the fibers and then stiffen the whole knot as the alcohol evaporates and leave no evidence of its presence. A thread soaked in shellac, accomplished by simply touching the thread with a small brush, will "harden" as the shellac dries and become stiff enough to be formed into whatever shape one desires, taking a "set" when it is finally entirely dry. In the unfortunate event that a knot is shellacked and later must be untied, application of denatured alcohol will soften the shellac and permit untying, although the process may be somewhat tedious. Waxing rigging can form something of a barrier to shellac, but if one doesn't overdo the waxing, the shellac seemingly has no difficulty finding its way past the wax and permeating the entire thread. Repeated coats, relative to the "weight of cut," will build up on the surface, and will leave a shiny surface which is fine if desired and easily avoided by use of a lighter cut and/or fewer coats. Shellac, readily available at any decent paint store, usually in a "medium cut," can be thickened by allowing the alcohol to evaporate some, or thinned by adding a bit more alcohol. (Shellac is also sold in "flake" form, to which the end user adds their own alcohol. Fine furniture finishers often purchase shellac flakes because it is cheaper to buy in quantity flake form and add mix in their own alcohol and avoids "shelf life expiration" issues sometimes seen with pre-mixed shellac.) The dilution of shellac is described by the number of pounds of shellac flakes which have been diluted in a gallon of denatured alcohol. Commercially mixed shellac sold in paint stores is usually two or three pound cut. Regardless of dried shellac's "cut" or age, it can always be again dissolved with alcohol and so is very forgiving for modeling purposes. I also use thin shellac for sealing all wooden parts on a model. It is inexpensive and penetrates well. It is relatively impervious to moisture and stabilizes the wood against the movement resulting in ambient humidity fluctuation. It doesn't raise the grain and sands easily, producing a very smooth surface. It takes paint and varnish well. Shellac is a versatile material that doesn't seem to be widely understood or used in this day and age, or so it seems. Shellac's longevity is excellent. Shellacked archaeological artifacts go back at least 3,000 years. I've studied the Admiralty models at Greenwich and I can't imagine any of them were built without shellac used as described above. It's also non-toxic, save for the denatured alcohol. Shellac is sprayed on apples and citrus fruit to make them shine. It's use to cement knotted and wound thread, as described here for models, is standard practice among fly-tyers. Shellacked belayed halyards and faked mainsheet coil on scratch-built 3/4" scale 16' catboat below. All "bright" wood unstained and sealed with shellac alone.
  5. Bob Cleek

    How Realistic Can One Make Sails?

    I've put sails on a couple of fore and aft rigged models. The result was tolerable in one instance and not in the other. The more successful of the two was at a rather large scale, .75" to 1'. Aside from the difficulty of depicting the shape of the sail, which can only be approximately represented by a flat piece of cloth, as all sails have "shape" or "draft" sewn into them with panels shaped with curved edges much the same as planks do, it's impossible to achieve realism in small scales. I've done restoration work on one antique (well, maybe 90 year old) model with furled sails and, fortunately, they were apparently of linen and survived, but were extremely compromised structurally and required care in handling. I've seen many models with sails which had cotton sail material which deteriorated and with particular rapidity when uncased. The problem is that replacement of decayed sails is often impossible without considerable deconstruction that further damages the historical integrity of an old model. Certainly, "decorative" models and dioramas might demand sails, but the general curatorial consensus is that omitting sails on "museum quality" models is the preferred option. While few kit manufacturers outside the US notwithstanding their advertising even come close to "museum quality" in their materials, it seems the better practice to build with the intention that the model will last at least 100 years without requiring restoration in the ordinary course. The NRG has promulgated standards to that end and I'd encourage serious modelers to do their best to meet them. (http://www.shipmodel.com/pdfs/ship-model-classification-guidelines-1980.pdf) The USN NAVSEASYSCOM, which commissions builders' models for the Navy's ship model collection, even requires inspection of the models they commission at various points in the construction process to ensure strict compliance with their standards, which are similar to, but a bit more stringent than the NRG's standards. It's hard to believe anyone who is sufficiently detail-oriented to undertake building a serious ship model would not follow these standards if they knew of them. Save some exceptions, one of the primary reasons to omit sails, beyond the fact that they often obstruct the view of the rigging detail, is that unless they are of fine quality linen material, they probably aren't going to last all that long. Anything one does for fun is subject to their taste alone, of course, but I think ship modeling is one of those things that most agree is best done as well as one can.
  6. Bob Cleek

    Machining copper stock.

    When working to close tolerances, I'd hesitate to put a work piece in the freezer to "cool it down" before turning. Temperature dictates the size of the work piece. When a "frozen" work piece warms back up, it will be larger than when it was cold. A tool cutting a larger diameter work piece will heat up much faster than when reducing their respective diameters by the same amount because the tool has to remove a lot more material to turn a quarter inch off of a two inch diameter rod than off of a one inch diameter rod. When size matters, you can never have too much lubricant.
  7. Bob Cleek

    PE Tool Suggestion

    Good sources of quality tools are medical and dental supply houses. Many jeweler's supply houses do carry good stuff, as well, but at a seriously high price. eBay can also be a promising hunting ground, if you know what to look for. Outfits like Micro-Mark have many hard-to-find tools, but sometimes at hugely inflated prices (wait for their sales) and often at a much lower quality. For example, MicroMark sells a cheaply made pair of 6" proportional dividers made by Tasco for around $100, or as low as around $60 on sale, but you can often find a cased 10" German silver Keuffel and Esser "Paragon" model with rack and pinion adjustment (their top of the line) on eBay for the same price, and seven and a half inch dividers of similar professional quality for much less. Notably, the K&E Paragon model 10" dividers have "universal decimal scaling," accurate to, IIRC, .005 using its Vernier scale adjustment. Micro Mark 6" chromed steel: Keuffel and Esser "Paragon" 10" proportional dividers:
  8. Bob Cleek

    Bench Vise

    Ditto to that! Designed for Swiss military field mechanics, it's also known as the "Swiss Army Vise." My 30 year old Zyliss vise is one of my favorite tools. It will hold anything in darn near any position. It can even be used as a wood lathe driven by your drill motor. It's the closest thing to a good patternmaker's vise and far less costly. Portable, it can be clamped to a bench top or whatever's handy. Some time back, they subcontracted the casting to some Chiawanese outfit and went to pot metal. Find an older one on eBay and forget the "70% off" sales. They are trying to unload the crappy Asian units that keep getting returned. Or you can use it as a stationary disk sander or grinder (with a grinding wheel in the drill motor!) If you have the luck to find one and the money to buy it, there's nothing better than an old fashioned patternmaker's vise. The patternmaker's vise, while appearing like a conventional woodworking bench vise when "at rest," actually has the ability to be moved in all directions so as to provide a convenient angle of attack for the patternmaker's chisels and rasps. Really the ultimate in "planking vises." For fine work, I prefer a jeweler's vise with a detachable head so the head can be mounted in a bench vise if you want both hands free to do the work and standard machinist's vises of various sizes that are also used on my drill presses, milling machine, and lathes. This somewhat unusual jeweler's vise has pegs that fit in holes on the face of the vise to hold irregularly shaped items and will screw off the handle and fit in a larger bench vise if you want. It's perfect for holding small pieces for very fine detail painting, too.
  9. Thanks a million for the heads up, Jim! I just scored 'em. They were just used once to make a motor mount and landing gear for a model airplane. The poor fella came down with a serious medical problem and isn't able to use his shop anymore. I'll have to drive a hour and a half each way to pick them up, but that's a lot cheaper than what the shipping would have cost. What amazed me was that these had been on eBay for as long as they had, nearly a month, and hadn't been snapped up already. The seller told me he had dozens of offers at the asking price but they wanted to have him ship them and he didn't want to deal with the shipping so he turned them all down. Lucky for me, none of them thought to have somebody pick them up and ship the machines for them. Like a lot of people, I had been sniffing around the fire plug to buy a "Jim saw" for a long time, but hadn't yet lifted my leg. However, time and tide wait for no man, so I grabbed these when the opportunity presented itself. Don't worry, Jim. You may have missed this sale, but you'll be hearing from me in the near future. I'll be looking to buy tooling. He who dies with the most tools, wins! Thanks so much for passing the word!
  10. Have you tried canting the Unimat headstock towards you and supporting the tailstock end of the work with your hand for use in tapering spars "free-hand?" Another option is to remove the tailstock, cant the headstock to obtain the desired angle, support the end of the work in whatever creative fashion suits your fancy, and use the cross-slide with an appropriate wood-cutting tool to cut an exact taper. (Gently, gently...) I expect you probably have, and these are somewhat funky ways to do it, but I mention them in case you haven't tried them. Truth be told, my 10" Atlas is my usual go-to weapon for attacking spar tapering, as well as milling, given that I've got the tool post milling attachment for the Atlas.
  11. Before you get into things like lacquer thinner and paint strippers, try denatured alcohol. Back in the day, I believe a lot of that sort of coil wire was insulated with a coating of shellac and the color of the wire suggests this. If it's shellac, you're in luck. Just soak to soften and wipe off with a rag soaked in alcohol.
  12. Bob Cleek

    Proportional Dividers

    Yes, it's easy to do the math to get a decimal equivalent, but there are a lot of other settings where the chart is really handy. Older K&E 10" Paragon decimal scaled proportional dividers came with a fabric-hinged folding cardboard chart (which is often lost and missing) and the later models have the settings "cheat sheet" on a piece of metal attached to the bottom of the case. If all else fails, a bit of googling should turn up a copy of the "cheat sheet" easily enough, or, at worst, a photo of the bottom of the case with a readable settings plate.
  13. Bob Cleek

    Proportional Dividers

    I was rather surprised that some modelers weren't familiar with the proportional dividers. I find them essential. I suppose because I do a lot of scratch work and I find myself redrawing lines published in old books (Chapelle, etc.) that will be prints of larger drawings reproduced without regard to scale. With a good set of proportional dividers, all you need is a single identified measurement (a non-fractional measurement is best) and with your dividers set to your working scale, away you go! Just take a distance from the page in the book and the other side gives you the distance to the scale you've set. There are, as mentioned, a lot of other things you can do with them as well, such as drawing a square with the same area as a particular circle and vice versa, but I've yet to learn who really needs to do that. I collect fine drafting instruments for my own use. Most I've bought on fleaBay and I check for listings frequently. I'll pass on that the prices do vary wildly, depending on condition, quality and rarity. Condition may not always be a relevant factor if you are looking for a "user." Some oaf may have scratched his name into the instrument and/or the case may be in rough shape. That can mean a $100 or $150 reduction, leaving what would be a "mint" $200 instrument going for only $50, yet be entirely satisfactory for use nonetheless. The proportional dividers that you want to look for are the 10" pairs with "110 scaling" or "decimal scaling." This scaling permits setting proportions in "decimal equivalents" (e.g. 1/2 = .50) These instruments will have rack and pinion geared adjustment and Vernier adjustment to decimals out to .0005 (If memory serves... perhaps there's an extra zero in there... don't hold me to it.) These instruments will be manufactured by Keuffel and Esser and Bowen in straight point configuration and right angle point configurations (as pictured above.) You will likely never see a right angle pointed set on fleaBay. They are extremely rare. I expect that at some time Dietzgen made decimal equivalent scaled proportional dividers, but I've never seen a set on fleaBay. The most commonly offered are the K&E 10" "Paragon" decimal scaled models. "Paragon" was K&E's top of the line series of instruments and the "110" decimal equivalent scaled dividers were only offered in the "Paragon" line. They are made of "German silver," which is an alloy of nickel and copper, much similar to monel. Their "Parogon" were made of cold rolled German silver and hand fitted. (Each will bear matching part serial numbers. They were sold in silk velvet lined cases. The back of the case in newer production has a metal plate on the bottom with all the various decimal equivalents etched in it, which is quite helpful. Older models have a cardboard insert (often missing) that has the same information. (The information is easily found on line in any event.) There are also commonly 6" and 7.5" proportional dividers. The 7.5" models do come with rack and pinion adjustment but not with the more accurate Vernier adjustment feature. They are, however, useable. The 6" models do not have rack and pinion adjustment and neither do some of the 7.5" models. Don't waste your money on anything that does not have rack and pinion adjustment. While useable, the "slide" adjustment models aren't anywhere near as accurate. Similarly, pay the few extra bucks for the "110" decimal scaling. The other proportional dividers have scaling that corresponds to fractions 1/2, 1/3, 1/4 and so on, and settings in between are "by guess and by golly." Also, you will see "Russian Navy" and "Weems and Plath" proportional dividers offered. Take a pass on these because they are "navigational dividers" and, although they work the same and are useable, they are scaled for "time" and "distance" proportions for use on maps and their scaling isn't useful for modeling measurement conversions. (You can adjust them for plans measurement conversions by comparison to a rule and/or tick strips, but this is rather tedious) In summary, what you want to look for on eBay is a Keuffel and Esser 10" "Paragon" proportional divider with "110" decimal scaling. They are relatively common because they were the "professional's choice" for many years. A "mint" example with an excellent case will sell for as much as $225, but very "clean" examples regularly go for around $125 at the moment. Examples that are a bit "rough," mainly due to a work case, can be had for $75 or even $50. If you work from drawings to the scale you are building (i.e. as with kit plans,) you can live without a proportional divider, but if you are working from plans in one scale (or no scale, as in many lines drawings found in old books,) you will be amazed at how you ever before lived without them. Yes, you can measure a distance and then punch that into a calculator and then measure off the result, over and over again, or you can set your dividers once and then simply measure the drawing at one end of the dividers and have the proportional distance simultaneously provided between the points of the other end of the dividers. It doesn't get any faster or simpler than that.
  14. There's no such thing as too many tools and those pictured above are very nice, but before those were available, I just used a plain "cheapo" pin vise (the ones without the rotating knobs on the ends, etc.) into which I chucked the bit and then just chucked the whole pin vise in my drill press chuck. It worked like a charm. Unless precision drilling is required, as with very small holes to be threaded or where depth and perpendicularity is critical, I usually do all small diameter drilling by hand. I save a lot on drill bits that way! I also made up a ring clamp holder for my Foredom hand-pieces which mounts on the tool-post of my 12" Craftsman/Atlas lathe. The hand-pieces will accommodate fine size drill bits in collets or small chucks. The Foredom foot pedal can keep speeds down for delicate work (avoiding broken bits) and with the hand-piece in the cross-slide on the lathe, you can drill fine work very precisely and even use it as a tool-post grinder.

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