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Posted (edited)

Greetings all! My first post is to display the find that brought me here. I found this kit in a thrift store down the street.

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They wanted $100 for it, but gave me a military discount!

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I was thrilled, since I have been to see the ship when I was on a business trip in Boston. It really made an impression on me. I enjoyed the museum. I learned about the time during a storm when the ship came loose from its lines and was swinging around on its remaining moorings. It swung into the modern steel warship moored next to it and did extreme damage to it, while taking only scratches itself. An amazing ship, undefeated in battle (even if it required her crew to man the boats and tow her out of the doldrums.) 

My background in making stuff is mixed. Plane models as a kid, home repair, car modifications, machining, and extensive gunsmithing. I have never done anything more detailed in wood than a pinewood derby car, but I'm ex-military, and believe I can follow a manual. Looks like everything is here. We'll see!

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Edited by lowsodiumsailor
typos

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Gidday lowsodium and a warm welcome from the Land Downunder.

Looks like you have scored yourself a bargain there.

You are correct she is an amazing old girl.

You will find all sorts of support and encouragement on this site.

All the best with your build.

Mark.

 

 

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LowSodiumSailor,

 

Welcome to the Connie Builder Club. 🙂

Search this site.  There are a number of us currently building and many more that have have already completed building the Constitution.

Sooo lots of great resources, and help available to you.

 

As this sounds like your first wooden kit... and your first tall ship model... you jumped right into the deep end! 🙂

Take your time, ask for help, ask lots of questions, enjoy the build... and you'll end up with a showpiece model at the end. 

And stick with it.  Model ship building is a slooow hobby but worth it.   I expect my Connie built to last 5+ years.   I think that is typical. YMMV.

Connie really is a beautiful ship and makes a beautiful model.

 

Best and good luck!

 

Ken

 

   

 

 

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Welcome to the group. I agree with Ken. Your skills will increase as you build and figure things out. Just go slow and really plan things out. Most importantly, remember to have fun. There are plenty of good build logs to look at. I would recommend reading them before you start. 

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Thanks so much for all the kind and wise words. I have been reading a lot of build logs, watching videos, and staring at the parts the box. I think the "deep end" is definitely where I have started. Problem is, I have no interest in making a dinghy or yacht. When I made planes as a kid, it was the fighters. I have gotten older, but haven't grown up.

 

Sooo... I have discovered a bonus!! Hiding among the C.Mamoli blueprints was a set of Bluejacket plans for making her from scratch!

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I glanced through them and it's not clear how closely the two plans match. I like the idea of making an 1812 version, but would also consider doing it to her current configuration. I'm going through photographs of her now, and looking at the plans. There are several significant differences that I'm not sure I'm qualified to adapt the kit. Others have gone so far as to fabricate a new stern on a CNC router. I don't think my skill at wood fabri-cobbling would yield a result I would be happy with. 

 

My current plan is to follow the directions for the kit. The Mamoli blueprints contain the instructions in several languages. I figure Italian is the original, but the English sure seems to be written by a native speaker.

 

I started with the keel pieces and was dismayed at how the pieces did not fit together in line. I looked over the rest of the pieces and found that there was no piece that was the exact right size or shape. It dawned on me that this kit is incredibly old and would not have the accuracy of a modern lasercut kit. If this kit is to turn out beautiful, it will require a huge amount of shaping and fitting. Maybe by the end of it, my fabri-cobbling will improve to the level I can adapt a kit to a chosen historical reference point.

 

I lined up the keel against a straight edge, and started sanding all the surfaces that don't line up. A little off of each side that impinge until I can get them to slide together. Now the keel is straight, but the fit-up is not tight. I used plenty of wood glue and what little sawdust I have generated to fill some of the gaps.

 

The bulkheads slid into place easily enough but I will not glue them before straightening, balancing and squaring everything. I decided to look ahead to the next step and found out that the decking doesn't quite match up and the beam alignment makes the situation much worse. I took a long strip of wood and glued a piece of sandpaper to it. I used that to go through and find the high spots and knock them down. I am using machinists  measurement tools to figure out if the slots for the beams are aligned with the center of the bulkhead and the keel connector slot and make any changes in such a way as to maintain or improve the alignment. The channel for the beams had to be enlarged in some areas in a way that made the fitment loose in order to allow alignment in a way that would match up to the segments of the deck that were straight. I don't know if it's the machinist in me that is being so picky, or if the kit is designed to be a test of the modeler's skill in making all the parts work together. 

 

I wonder if the wood changed shape over the years. I though maybe some warping might occur, but the wood is nothing if not perfectly flat! Is it really normal that no piece is the correct size and shape or are my expectations based on tolerances that have nothing to do with wood models? I have seen in build logs where there are a lot of steps to turn down a dowel into a mast. That's fine with me, as I understand I'm starting with round stock and making the part. How close are the parts that are pre-cut supposed to be to the correct size? If I don't correct every slight imperfection, will I end up with a lumpy looking model? How OCD do I have to go on basic fitment?!

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Hi,

 

I do not have much experience, but thekits I did, used presawm frames. These were not lasercut, but just machine sawn. The deviations were, to say the least, on the large side. I guess there is a drawing that shows you how it should look. These drawings are not included for nothing.....

one of the major issues in the machine cut frames is the centerslot out of the centerline, and/or not of the correct length, resulting in the frame sitting too low or too high. Basic rule measure twice (at least), glue once. :)

 

with respect to your other question: The kit makers have standardsizes of wood. Planks/dowels etc, notmade to the specs of your model, but the other way round: the size of the model is determined by the size of the wood available.

In most cases the wood provided in the kit is the first standard size available above the measure you need. Sometimes that is really close to the final size, sometimes you need some resizing. In the kits I did, mastsizes and available wood did coincide rather well.

 

Jan

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Hmmm. Went on a inventory for parts needed for upcoming steps. Was looking for part 27 for way too long. The space it occupies is about 25mm by 120mm and it's not anywhere to be found. It's a little piece of the gun deck to be visible through holes in the weather deck. I finally went looking on the blueprints and couldn't find it. I found it listed in a table which gave its dismensions... 1.5mm x 5mm. I found a strip that matched the measurements and when cut to 5 equal lengths fit perfectly. Yay! Gotta celebrate the little victories. I didn't expect that part to require assembly. Yeah, I'm new to this. It's okay to laugh! 

 

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The beam is in. At the back of the ship, the openings in the bulkhead that the beams fit through are a whole millimeter too narrow, but they are aligned/centered well. I decided to notch the beams (instead of widen the slots) to make the fitment and also provide a lock between the beams and the stern bulkhead. The beams get cut into three pieces and move progressively inboard as they go towards the bow. I marked up the spacing and then aligned them on a flat surface. They got drilled and toothpicks glued in to make the joints structurally sound. It's a simple thing to measure the diameter of a toothpick, go to the drill index and select a drill that is 5 thousandths smaller to make the holes and then pound in the toothpick like a nail. When the completed beams were installed, the fit was snug and much of the bulkhead alignment was enforced by the new structural member. It's hard for a bulkhead to twist out of being perpendicular with the keel when it's holding onto the outside of the beams. A couple of the bulkheads had problems that resulted in them not locking on, and they will need to be squared. 

 

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If a kit contained a couple extra pieces that connected to all the bulkheads and had the same spacing as the slots in the keel, then alignment would be a snap...  Anybody know of kits out there that have more positive engagement that solve this geometry/squareness issue? I saw the survey and noticed that Mamoli got a few votes for having the worst kits. When I get done, I will certainly look to another brand that was rated better if I decide to make another model. The little extras are cool, and I am definitely glad that there are as many little parts and details as there are. I made a detour into making the deadeyes, and they are amazing. 

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Back to the regular next step: The deck, like the keel, is unnecessarily in three pieces which, like the keel, do not fit or align. The deck is much thinner and harder wood. A fine file for metal turns out to be a nice tool for the thin hard wood. Material removal is slow and precise, and a phosphor bronze brush quickly unclogs the file when necessary. 

 

I have a growing number of tools that are migrating out of the machine shop and onto my wife's art table. I hijacked her art table, laid it flat, and took one of her organizers to hold parts and tools. I will likely be sending her in at times to do the detail painting. The model was actually her Christmas present to me because she heard me gasp when I saw the model in the thrift shop. She knows I finish what I start so she's not worried about getting her table back. 

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Not gluing the bulkheads in place until the deck is on. Gee whiz... so much fitting and fiddling. Lining up the deck and using blue painter's tape to hold it together. Took it off and then glued pieces of business card over the below-deck side of the seams between the sections of deck. Now it's much more solid, and all the frames feel like they're already glued together when it's assembled. Cyanoacrylate (CA) is better at connecting my fingers to the parts than the parts to each other. Got out a syringe and blunt needle to apply mass quantities of Titebond. 

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Next step will be to predict the reason why I should have waited to glue the deck and bulkheads - ha! More parts go on the bow. They're kind of odd, but make sense after I went back to pictures. Does everybody else have this much trouble with CA or is it just me?? Grr. Back to Titebond. Seriously... advice on what makes CA so great, please! Looking at what the planks look like with tiny nails for temporary fit-up. Bending wood is not easy!

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CA glue is evil. I stopped using CA glue for wood ship modeling. I use PVA white glue for wood to wood and epoxy for wood to metal. 

Edited by Y.T.

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I agree on Mamoli kits being poorly designed. No wonder they are out of business. I also had experience with building Artesana Latina kit and it was not much better. 

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Mamoli went down, not because of poor design, but because of fire: their productionfacility burned down.

I guess that the square-business holds for almost all pre-laser kits....Mine (corel) wasn't much better. What I don't like at the Mamolis is that their research was lousy. Kits could have been much better representation of the ship without too much effort.....

 

Jan

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The blocks that fit to the bottom of the stern gallery needed a lot of material removed so I marked it up carefully and took it to the belt sander. First power tool use in the build. It also worked better because the outer face could remain parallel to the keel by laying the block flat and pushing it into the belt. The shape can be fine tuned later, but it's nice to have a consistent starting point on both sides. 

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Found out why I should have waited to glue the bulkheads! The metal pieces that supposedly line up to form the ports for the cannons on the gun deck, don't line up. Maybe waiting to glue wouldn't have solved this problem, though. I'm checking where the first plank is supposed to go and then looking 5mm away for where the tops of the gun ports are supposed to line up and nope! I should have realized something was wrong when the CA was working well to secure the ports to the bulkheads. Checking my pictures of the ship shows that not all the cannons are pointing straight out 90 degrees from the keel. Spacing of the ports also seemed a little off so I did a little research/measurement/scale project. Yeah, the kit is wrong. Short burst of foul language. Tore out the metal ports. Moving on. Glad that my epoxy tubes were dried up so I didn't have the opportunity to follow Y.T.'s advice for metal to wood connection. This model business is like chess. You have to have thought many steps ahead and checked for problems before actually committing. I think I'm going to be test fitting a minimum of three steps ahead before I reach for the glue again. 

 

I have watched every video about planking I can find. I went through three planks making kindling before finding another Mamoli build on this site who talked about how to deal with the old wood in his kit. Took a look at the pinch tools to bend planks dry, and had one of those scary thoughts. I went to the shed and found this one pruning shear that was a blade/anvil design. Tried to cut one of my newly created kindling with the pruning shears and couldn't do it one-handed with the rusty and dull tool. It sure bent the wood nicely though! One less thing to order from Amazon... I'm expecting an Olfa thin kerf saw and a box of 144 emery boards for all those places that are hard to get to and need modification.

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I've been playing with how the planks bend around the shape of the hull and getting the bends right. Next is to plan out the shapes of the planks. When I make the planks, I'll probably number them P1 through S20 (or whatever the count turns out to be.) Then I can mark them up and get them close to shape before starting any real assembly. Still haven't figured out what method I'll be using for the clamping. Think part of my clamping problem might be my unfamiliarity with getting the wood to conform to the curves. I may also need to adjust the bevels on the bulkheads. I'm not sure the angles are correct. Any and all comments on shape, technique, etc. greatly appreciated. 

 

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After thinking more about the gun ports... I'm thinking to take some 2mm x 12mm (guestimate for problem solving) thick wood strips and make a long piece of square tubing that can be mitred into the shapes needed to make the gun ports. I would have to make about 60cm of tube to have enough including the learning process. At least the Olfa saw should reduce the waste with its tiny kerf. The cannons will still need a backstop to get pushed into. Have to figure out the depth for each port independently. Oh, there's another layer of planking, and sanding. Depth needs to be something that can be adjusted. Little wood plugs can be fitted and glued in using the cannons as a handle. Maybe thread the end of the cannon and the wood plug and make them robust. A dab of glue and threaded connection would be strong enough to resist damage if the cannon got bumped. Not sure if I want to leave the cannons blacked like they are or apply the correct paint. I think they look good the way they are, but paint is accurate. Maybe it's the gunsmith in me that likes the shiny metal. 

 

Well, it seems like I have some square wood tubing to fabri-cobble. 

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On my Mamoli Victory metal gun ports never lined up either. I sealed off all pre cut slots in bulkheads and cut all new slots in line. If you want you can throw away all Mamoli metal gun ports and cut your own ports with scalpel. To support false guns you can just glue small cube chunks of wood to sides of bulk heads just behind the ports. 

Edited by Y.T.

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You can look at what issues I was having with Mamoli Victory kit at this build log:

 

 

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