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  1. DesignCAD V25 is a good solid version with a minimum of problems. It is the version I use most often, and I have them all from the latest beta versions back to V15. For the last few years they have been adding new features to position the program as an inexpensive 3D printer driver program. They have also added a lot of file format input/output features to allow files to be transferred to other programs. So, when the new programmers come up to speed (the beta testers are helping them with this) it should be a very nice program. DesignCAD has far and away the best user interface I have seen in any program, and I have been programming and using computers for 43 years! I have used TurboCAD - a "light" version. But because I was already very familiar with DesignCAD I found it very hard to use. It seemed to me that everything worked backwards from DesignCAD and it was harder to use. TurboCAD is more expensive, and upgrades can become very expensive. You can get a 30 day free trial version of DesignCAD and play with it a bit. The user Forum is free and open to anyone, and you can ask all the questions you want. You don't have to register and you appear as "guest." But registration is free and easy and allows you to create a unique "handle" to distinguish yourself from other guests. Rick is correct, however, if you really don't plan to use the program regularly. Learning any CAD program is a time sink that could be used for modeling. On the other hand, you might become addicted to CAD modelling (it's fun, and the models don't need more shelf space)! See my USS Oklahoma City CLG-5 thread listed below to see what you could be getting into! You have been warned!!
  2. I have also had problems with kits that have too wide spacing between bulkheads. You can get flat areas in the hull surface between these widely spaced bulkheads. I usually make extra bulkheads from sheet plywood and add them as needed. Then the edges are sanded down to conform with the hull shape before I start planking. You can also just fill in the spaces with blocks of balsa and sand them into shape. But it is much easier to make corrections at this point than it is after you have started planking. Another thing I do to prevent cracks between planks and uneven edges between planks a few years down the road is to paint the inside of the planked hull with clear two-part epoxy paint - just very thin epoxy cement. This soaks into the planks and bulkheads, and after it cures the hull will be very solid. I have single layer planking hulls 35+ years old that show no signs of cracks. You can see both of these techniques in my Albatros thread listed below.
  3. Ron, I have been using DesignCAD (ProDesign) since 1988 in my work and for hobbies. I have also used about half a dozen other CAD programs, and they all have a steep learning curve for someone who has never done computer aided drawing. Check either of the links below to see how I use CAD in ship modeling. The best thing going for DesignCAD (or any CAD program) is the free user forum. It is monitored by users all around the world and there are a number of us that check it daily. New users can post any question and get quick responses from very experienced users. And if the question stumps the users technical support will chime in. I would advise anyone thinking of getting a CAD program to first look for the user forum and see how good the advise is and how fast it is forth coming. Are bug fixes and upgrades available free of charge, or do they cost as much as the initial program? Avoid any program that requires an annual fee for you to be able to communicate with other users on a forum or to get tech support (some programs charge thousands of dollars a year for forum access, tech support and updates to fix bugs). **** Having said this, I must give a warning about DesignCAD right now. I am a beta tester for the program, and it is having problems. The best version in my opinion is the 2016 version (V26). The parent company fired almost all of the US programmers and developers a few years back and hired programmers in Russia! About the time those guys became familiar with the program they were fired and now the programmers are in Elbonia or somewhere. They are introducing bugs faster than they fix them, so the latest version (2019 or V29) really isn't useable.
  4. I have used Aero Gloss sanding sealer - it is basically a clear lacquer with a suspended filler. I think I read somewhere that the filler is talcum powder, but that was a long time ago! It does an excellent job of filling wood grain. Apply a coat, let it soak in and dry. I wait over night. Then sand with a very fine grit sandpaper. Apply another coat and repeat until the wood surface is glossy. I normally rub down the last coat with #0000 steel wool. Be sure to brush/wipe off any steel wool fragments as Wefalck says. The result is a very smooth and grainless surface. The instructions on the bottle say to wait at least 72 hours after the last coat before applying paint over it. I let it dry several weeks while I was applying smaller details to the hull. I second what Wefalck said about never gluing anything to paint. Attach all of the wood parts to the surfaces to be painted before applying the sanding sealer and paint. This will give you much stronger glue joints, and when you apply the sanding sealer it will fill any cracks between parts and give you a much nicer painted finish. One word of CAUTION: I would not use lacquers on any plastic parts. The solvents may craze the surface, causing it to blister and wrinkle! When in doubt, test it first on a scrap piece of the plastic. If you are planning to leave the wood unpainted you should try applying the sanding sealer to a test piece and see what the resulting grain looks like. The sanding sealer makes the wood a bit lighter. You can also create your own sealer by using clear lacquer and adding fine wood dust from sanding. This will have the same color as the wood. Or just paint the wood with clear lacquer, sand it, repaint, etc. like you would with sanding sealer. This will also leave you with a nice smooth finish after several coats, with the natural wood color and grain. I used acrylics over the sanding sealer. Unfortunately, I used "craft store" paints and they were very bad. Most experienced modelers recommend using artists acrylics. However, the acrylic paint did go on in a very smooth coat, even though I brushed it on. But it took weeks for the acrylic paints to harden enough that it didn't scratch off easily when handling - even with my fingernails - or be suitable for masking over with painter's tape. After a couple of months I still am not comfortable with masking over the acrylic for fear that the paint will lift off with the tape! So the Aero Gloss sanding sealer is compatible with acrylics - even cheap acrylics. But I would much rather have used lacquer paints on the model!
  5. Before planking the deck you might think about sealing the inside of the hull with liquid epoxy or resin. I had problems with some of the first planked hulls I built with cracks appearing between the planks after a few years of heat and humidity cycles. The edges of some of the planks rose above the neighboring planks. Looks pretty nasty! Then I used a thin two part epoxy paint that aircraft modelers use to seal balsa motor mounts. It is applied like a paint with a brush, and it soaks into the wood of the planking and bulkheads. After it sets the hull is very solid. After three decades there are no hints of cracks.
  6. I have to respond to this one - just for the sake of humor. My first "ship" was the USS Cape MSI-2, a small inshore minesweeper. I was Engineering Officer, Supply Officer, and 25 other official duties for the "ship." I was also "George," the junior officer in the Wardroom - Ensign Fuzz, straight out of Officer Candidate School in April 1969. The other officers were the CO, a brand new Lieutenant, and the XO, a LTJG surfer bum from SoCal. There were 19 enlisted in the crew. Technically, or so I was told at the time, a ship is 150 feet in length or larger. However, even though the Cape and her sister ship (the class leader) USS Cove MSI-1 were only 112 feet long, we had letters from the Secretary of the Navy authorizing us to be the United States Ships (USS) Cove and Cape. These were the only two minesweepers of this type built (although some others were built as oceanographic research vessels). They were worthless as minesweepers, and we spent most of the time bolted to Pier 9 at Long Beach. We did occasionally get underway for "training exercises" when we would circle Catalina Island and do some fishing. It was McHale's Navy, and generated memories that I treasure. So remember, there are "classes" and "types," but don't overlook the power of a bureaucratic paper shuffler to transform a rowboat into a battleship!
  7. I have about 65 years experience with artists oil paints and modeling lacquers and enamels. Recently I tried acrylics for the first time on a ship model. I decided to use acrylics because the water solvent doesn't have an odor (I was working indoors in the winter) and I can use water to clean the brushes. First I applied a lacquer sanding sealer to areas to be painted (or clear lacquer to parts where I wanted to see the wood grain). After this dried I applied the acrylic paints over the sanding sealer. The paint did not bleed into the wood. I used the "small bottle" hobby acrylics from a craft store. I never got the paint to apply evenly with my air brush and the mechanism clogged every time (even when highly diluted), so I gave up on that. Then I applied the paint with brushes. It dried slowly enough that I didn't have runs of streaks. I had to apply two or three coats to get a good color. Do not use these paints on a ship model! They appear to dry fairly quickly, but days later they were still about as hard as butter! The paint was easily scratched by my finger nails. It was impossible to use masking tape over the paint. All of the paint lifted off with the tape. This was the worst experience I have ever had with any type of paint! I will never use acrylics again! I have read several opinions about diluting acrylics with isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) or another alcohol solvent, or a water/alcohol mixture. But there does not seem to be a consensus about how to do this, so it remains conjecture in my opinion. Polyscale used to make the best paint for modeling I have ever used - especially for airbrushing. The solvent was isobutanol. It had a slight peculiar odor but it wasn't objectionable (to me). Unfortunately, like everything else, it was known to cause cancer in California and is no longer on the market. I have had much better results with lacquers and enamels. Artist oils dry very slowly - it takes weeks for an oil painting to dry enough to be handled. If you dilute them with a fast drying solvent you may get a dull finish. But I guess you could finish by applying a thin clear overcoat to give the finish you desire.
  8. Many years ago while touring the Balclutha in San Francisco I learned of another type of ballast stones. Ships sometimes filled empty cargo space with mill stones - cylindrical stones with a hole along the center axis that were used for grinding grain. These could usually be sold in areas that were developing and had a growing population. If the stones hadn't sold and the ship was loading a more valuable cargo the stones could be dumped overboard to make room. Apparently the bottom of San Francisco Bay is littered with mill stones!
  9. I used tiny finishing nails that came with the kit for my first plank on bulkhead model (in the 60s). It took a little practice to climb the learning curve, but it became easy to push them in. However, I thought the nail heads were ugly! I used a sharp pointed punch to push them down a bit below the plank surface, and then rubbed a mix of glue and wood dust into the holes. After it was sanded you had to look very closely to see where the nails were. However, I haven't used nails for a planked hull since then. For me the best way is to use a fairly quick setting wood glue (model cement) and use rubber bands and clamps to hold the planks in place until the glue sets. After the planking is complete I paint the inside of the hull with a thin two part epoxy paint like aircraft modelers use to seal balsa against hot fuel. The paint soaks into the wood - planking and bulkheads - and dries over night. After that the hull is very solid, with no leaks, and you won't have to worry about cracks appearing between the planks after a few years. I have 30+ year old hulls that are still as good as new.
  10. I used to work in laboratories where we examined lung tissue from people with a variety of infections. Long term exposure to particulates causes accumulation of crud in the lungs. For example, it's easy to identify cigarette smokers because the tissue isn't the normal pink color but is chocolate brown. Under the microscope large amounts of tar particulates crowd out the functional lung tissue. So if you inhale significant amounts of dust (particulates) - of any type - day after day you will start to accumulate it in your lungs, and this will interfere with lung functioning. But, I can't imagine anyone inhaling enough dust to cause a problem from occasional hobby work! If you are breathing too much dust your body will tell you. As it accumulates in the air passages and lungs the lining of the air passages will start to push it back up your wind pipe and into your throat. When this becomes irritating you will start to cough and sneeze. That is the sign that you are breathing too much dust! So, do you cough a lot when you are working with wood? If so (assuming it isn't caused by smoking or a lung infection), you should be wearing a paper dust mask as a minimum. You might want to get a more expensive dust mask/respirator with a changeable filter. Personally, if I am creating a lot of dust of any kind I wear a paper mask. Nothing fancy, just what I find at a paint store. An allergy is different from normal irritation, and even tiny amounts of dust can cause serious reactions in your lungs and other exposed parts of your body. In extreme cases allergies can cause fatal reactions. If you do develop an allergy to wood dust be certain to wear a respirator with filters to trap the dust particles.
  11. Everything had to be ship-shape and triced out. There is the right way, the wrong way, and the Navy way!
  12. I usually use model airplane white glue (Sig-Bond aliphatic resin) to secure knots and prevent loose ends from unraveling. It soaks into the threads and dries fairly quickly. I place a tiny drop (undiluted) on the end of a sharp metal point (dental tool) and work it into the knot. It dries clear without a shine. It can be loosed with a drop of water if needed. Some threads like silk and polyester will spontaneously unravel within a few minuted after cutting. After cutting these I poke the ends into the tip of the glue bottle or use the metal point to get a tiny drop on them. Then I roll the end between my fingers, twisting in the direction of the twist of the thread. You can also use this glue to stiffen threads/ropes to make them hang more naturally. However, I have found the the white glue darkens light colored silk threads. Many people dilute the glue 50:50 with water or rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol). This can improve how the glue soaks in with some materials, and the alcohol dries quickly. **** I have a small sharp scissors that makes clean cuts. Like others said, I use them for nothing else but trimming rigging and sails. I have some surgical scalpels, but the blades are expensive (about US $1.00 each). Instead I just buy boxes of 100 #11 hobby knife blades (US $0.10 to $0.12 each) - for the cost of a few scalpel blades - and switch to a new one when they get a bit dull. They are available locally and are more than adequate for cutting thread and carving thin wood. Beware that some of the "scalpel" blades on ebay or the Internet are fakes, or used dull blades. If you want real scalpel blades buy from a surgical supply house.
  13. I have had difficultly finding a variety of X-Acto blades at hobby shops. But recently I was looking through an art supply store and they had every type of blade and handle. I stocked up on the pieces that I was short on.
  14. "Quoin" refers to any wedge shaped object used for adjusting the spacing or angle between objects, splitting wood, or wedging things in place. I read through the Ordnance Instructions for the Unites States Navy (1860) and found the following information about quoins: Page 44. When preparing to fire the gun it was the duty of the 1st Loader to place a "chocking quoin" near the ship's side on the left side of the gun. Page 45. The 1st Sponger places a chocking quoin near the ship's side on the right side of the gun. Page 47. In moderate weather the chocking quoins are used to hold the gun in position after recoil and prevent it from running out while it is being reloaded. In this case the training tackle is not used. Page 48. If the ship is rolling heavily, or the gun is on the lee side with much heel, when the gun is run in the 1st Loader and 1st Sponger chock the fore trucks, placing the quoins obliquely on the outboard side so they may be more easily removed. The breeching line prevents the carriage from rolling inboard. Page 51. On the order of "Run Out" the 1st Loader and 1st Sponger remove the chocking quoins. **** Note: The "chocking quoin" is not the same as the quoin used for setting the elevation of the gun. Page 44. The 2nd (gun) Captain is responsible for handling "the quoin." Page 47. The 2nd Captain is the one who positions the quoin under the breech when the elevation is being adjusted. **** If you are interested in how the guns are rigged and handled you should read through the Ordnance Instructions for the Unites States Navy (1860). It is very interesting! How else are you to know that when preparing for drill or combat with the guns the "amputating table" should be prepared and the decks sanded. Looks like the producers/director of "Master and Commander" read the book.

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