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Posts posted by KHauptfuehrer

  1. Here is the complete main mast assembly with the Revell parts: t'gallant mast, t'gallant cross trees, royal mast, and sky pole.  A considerable amount of work cleaning up the castings and adapting them to the model was necessary, so it was not a total bailout.  Note the cheek blocks which have been added to the topmast head.



    I realize that my incorporating these Revell parts will raise more than a few eyebrows here at MSW, but I am happy with the result.  Others may differ, but I think they blend well with the wooden components. I did incorporate the provided metal t'gallant mast caps into the assembly.    In my mind the decision came down to whether or not I could execute the top masts as well or better than what you see here.  I believe that I could not, and, as I have said before, the final appearance of the model is more important to me than bragging rights.   Obviously, I will need to exercise the same care in tensioning the upper stays as builders of the Revell kit would due to the flexibility of the plastic masts.  By the same token, they are less likely to snap off.

    Incidentally I expect to make up all the spars.  The lower yards will be made from square stock.  Some sources show octagonal center sections in the upper yards, some do not.  I will not.

  2. Thanks so much Jeff.  I so appreciate it!


    I agree with Nic.  I will dry fit the Revell parts and see if the result does indeed look right before deciding.  If, as I said, the assembly sticks out like a sore thumb, I will have to reconsider.  The same applies to the prospective cheek blocks.  Will the model look better if I do not attempt these?  I have come across several discussions about how much detail to have in a model.  For me it all comes down to how well I can expect to execute that detail.  If I lose more than I gain where the final appearance of the model is concerned, then discretion becomes the better part of valor where additional detail is concerned.

  3. Topmast cross trees installed.



    Next task is to make up the topmast caps.  When they are fitted, I will decide whether or not to construct cheek blocks.  An illustration in the instruction book shows them but does not give scale or measurements.  The plans do not show them.  The Revell model also does not show them.  The Marquardt does show them with a scale, so I can figure out their size from that if I decide to take the plunge.  Looking at photos, I see that the ship has them at present.   It all comes down to how much the mast caps overhang the mast heads.  I may give it a try if there is enough room to make them without having them stick out laterally beyond the mast caps.  Apparently there is an option, as there is disagreement among the different sources, again.


    I have desprued the top gallant mast/sky pole unit, the royal masts, and their cross trees from the Revell model, and will prepare, paint, and dry fit them on the model to see how they look.  They exactly match the arrangement  shown in the plans.  I will go over them with 400 grit sandpaper to take off the gloss, and see how they look when painted.  If they stick out like a sore thumb, then I will have to choose between accuracy and neatness, and consistency.  I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.  The parts are more flexible than I would like, but once the royal mast and the skypole are glued together the the double arrangement shown in the plans, they should be a lot stiffer.  Making those 1/4" high octagonal top gallant hounds, and the 3/32" high octagonal rigging stops is just more than I can handle.

  4. I have completed assembly of the main topmast cross trees.




    1.  Cross trees to be made from 1/16" by 1/16" basswood stock.  Strips cut a lot longer than needed so that they can be bent in the Micro Mark plank forming jig, and so that when the holes are drilled, they will not be near the ends where accidents can happen.  Center marked to insure that the curve of all cross trees will match.

    2.  Once these holes are drilled, the bent strips are cut to length the ends rounded, and liquid CA applied to strengthen them as Nic at Bluejacket suggested.  Trestle trees made from 1/16" by 1/8" basswood stock and notches cut.  You can see a line at the bottom end of the one on the right where it split as I was cutting the notch and had to be glued back on.  Quarter round stock included in the kit make up the bolsters.  They are a bit oversize but I can live with that.

    3.  Cross trees tapered.  This is where the CA liquid reinforcement may have made all the difference.  The unit assembled.


    I am now working on the fore topmast cross trees.  I will attempt a different way of constructing the trestle trees which I will post if it is successful.  If it is not, the method will be the same as seen here.  I am trying to figure out how to do the significantly smaller mizzen cross trees assembly.  The t'gallant cross trees look near impossible to do at this scale with the tools I have.  The Marquardt leaves them out altogether, showing brackets to hold the t'gallant mast and the sky pole together.

  5. Here is a photo of the topmasts and jib boom dry fitted on the model.



    Now to do the topmast crosstrees.  These must be made from scratch.  Never having attempted this before, I need to figure out how to make a jig so they can be bent uniformly.  There is also the matter of how basswood will behave at this scale when it comes to drilling the holes in their ends.  I know I should use boxwood, cedar, or pear, but I do not have the milling equipment to get the strips down to the right size from the lumber I have so far seen at various sites.  Titebond III has very good penetrating qualities so perhaps if I diluted it and apply it to the wood, it will hold while I drill, then later rig.  If not, there is the alternative I see in the Revell model in which their ends are notched.

  6. Thanks, Sea Hoss, for the compliment and the advice.  I will indeed be very careful not only when I am handling the model, but also when I am removing the garment bag I am using to keep the dust out.

    Thanks, Jon, for the recommendation.  Bluejacket is, of course proud of their products.  This kit is excellent in many ways, and they have been wonderful in their responses to my requests for replacement materials, and have been complimentary and supportive (thanks, Nic).  The sources are often given along with each set of plans.  Many are plans gotten from the Constitution Museum.  Some are working plans from 1926, and from her 1973-76 refit, and reflect her current configuration.  Much useful information can be gotten from these sources, but the builder must be constantly on the alert for conflicts, some of which appear in the same set of plans (!).  Mr. Arnot's extensive research is to be commended, but I wish that there had been more care in the integrating of all these sources into a single unified concept that a builder could more easily follow.  To be fair, Bluejacket gives ample warning in their blurb that experience and expertise are required for this model.

  7. All three topmasts done.



    In the plans, the mizzen topmast is very close to being the same length as the fore topmast.   This did not seem right to me, as it is significantly shorter in the rigging plan, and in photos of the real ship.  I therefore replicated the mizzen topmast in the Revell model.

  8. Making the topmasts has been a daunting prospect for me due to the variety of cross section configurations needed (square, round, octagonal).  I do not have a proper lathe.  I figured out a method which I would like to illustrate here.  No doubt there are better ways of making these masts, but this is what I could figure out.  




    1.  I started with a 3/16" by 3/16" piece of basswood with marks indicating where the octagonal section, the round section, the octagonal hounds section, and the square mast head, as well as an extra section at the bottom which will be inserted in the drill chuck, and a separate piece which will be the heel of the mast.


    2.  Laying the piece one corner down in the crack between the two halves of my table, I planed the corners with a small plane.  Holding  the plane at an angle to the direction of the cut was critical in making a clean cut.


    3. The result was an octagonal shape to the entire piece.


    4. To make the round section, I first made a cut around the bottom of the hounds to make a clean division, then put the piece in my drill and held it against a piece of basswood with sandpaper glued to it (240 grit on one side and 400 grit on the other side) to get the round section and the taper.  I held the mast against the sanding surface with my left hand (not shown because I needed that hand to take the pic).


    5. Laying the piece with one of the facets which were the original square piece rather than the facet which was planed, cuts were made at the top of the hounds.  If the cut extends from the middle of the left facet to the middle of the right facet, the result when all four of the cuts made would enable me to square the top for the mast head easily.  Squaring was done by cutting a notch at the top of the hounds, then sanding or filing the top to get the square mast head the corners of which lie at the center of each planed facet, making the faces of the heads coincide with the heel alignment.


    6. The hounds were then tapered with chisel and sanding sticks.  A 3/32" hole was drilled through the heel and a dowel selected.


    7.  The heel was then glued to the mast using a straight edge to insure alignment.  Aligning the facets of the mast which were the original surfaces of the piece (identified by marks) with the sides of the heel insured an accurate match.  Using the pre drilled hole in the heel as a drill guide for the hand drill, I drilled into the bottom of the mast.  Gluing the heel to the mast before doing this  insured that, although my centering of the hole in the heel was not perfect, proper alignment of the mast and the heel would be maintained.  After taking the pic, I realized that clamping the assembly into a vise before drilling facilitated this operation considerably.  


    8.  After making sure that the dowel did indeed extend into the mast by inserting it and marking, then taking it out and comparing the length,  I glued it in. The result was a strong joint.


    9. Cutting off the excess dowel completed construction of the mast.


    10. Mast painted with MS white and deep brown acrylic.


    I still have not figured out how I will make the top gallant and royal masts which are a lot smaller and more challenging.  If I fail at that, there is the option of using the corresponding masts from my Revell model, the final appearance of the model being more important to me than bragging rights.  They are very flexible, so I would have to be super careful with the rigging tensioning.


    Addendum - 4/22/20 - Next time I do topmasts, I will cut the mastheads to size before planing the corners to get the hexagonal shape.  That may make aligning the top and the heel easier.

  9. I have just discovered another discrepancy in the plans.  The mizzen mast rises about 7/8" less above the deck in the rigging and sail plan sheet than it does in the masts and spars working drawing sheet.  I followed the working drawing sheet and now the mizzen mast and foremast both rise the same distance above the deck.  I am not sure that this is correct.  I am also not sure what, if anything, I want to do about it.  If I can somehow release the spider ring from the mast using alcohol, I could cut off some from the bottom of the mast.  If not, I would have to redo the mast completely.  Another heads up for Bluejacket Connie builders.

  10. I got the fore and mizzen tops done.  I did a better job cleaning up excess glue with a wet toothpick and cleaning up micro splinters and the fuzzy frizzies, so now my work is a step closer to standing up to macro photography.  I am learning.





    Here are all three tops dry fitted to their masts, which are in turn, dry fitted to the model.




    Now I need to decide whether to make the upper masts now, or rig what I have got and make them later.

  11. Thank you so much for your kind words and excellent graphic.  I wish the bluejacket plans were as good as these.  Those who are modeling the Constitution in her current configuration have an advantage of having plans like this one, and photos of the real thing.  In looking at the various plans from several sources, I have realized that no one really knows what the tops looked like at any given time during the early part of Constitution's career.  In some cases, there are discrepancies between the top view and the side elevations in the same set of plans!  These multiple variations in the various plans are further complicated by the fact that shipwrights at the time did not always feel obligated to follow the plans exactly.   I suppose the most authoritative source is the Hull model.  Unfortunately, I have not yet found a photo that shows her tops in any detail.  What appears in my build log is an amalgam of a number of features from various sources which I thought would be practicable to execute and would look good.  Who's to say that her tops did not look like that at some point in her history?


    The asymmetry to which I have referred is not too bad in the main and fore top plans, and I have rendered them as is.  It would indeed take a fanatical historical expert to see the asymmetry.  However, the mizzen top is another story in my judgement.  Once I had cut the shape out of a sheet of plywood, it did look quite lopsided to me.  A bit of sanding down on one side quickly solved the problem.  I just thought I could save other modelers a bit of extra work by providing the heads up.


    Your build , by the way is going splendidly.  Your lagbolt head detail is something I would not dare attempt at present, and your hanging knees look just right.

  12. I believe that you might be referring to the cross section drawing on the right.  The port side half of the drawing might be as seen from the front, while the starboard side might be as seen from the rear, or vice versa.  I am not sure which is which.  That is not what I was talking about.  I was referring to the drawing on the left which is not a cross section, but is a view of the entire top as viewed from above.  The curve of the front of the top is different on the port side from what it is on the starboard side.  If you were to cut out half of the design, flip it over and lay it over the other half, they would not match.

  13. Another heads up for other builders of this kit.  The plans for the tops given on the separate sheets are asymmetrical.  The difference is subtle for the main top ( missed it completely), a bit more noticeable for the fore top, and really severe for the mizzen top.  I recommend that you decide which half you like best, cut out that half of the pattern, then flip it over to get the second half.



  14. As promised, here are photos of the finished main top.



    1.  Falconets trimmed and painted.


    2 - 3.  Photos of the finished top.  It turns out that using styrene for the outer rim was a very good idea.  I gave it a thin coat of paint to take off the shine so that it would blend in better.  Netting was attached using CA gel.  I could not use contact cement this time because the glue does not dry clear, and the stanchions are white.  Tops are dry fitted for now because they would make doing the seizings for the shroud pairs nearly impossible.  Right now it looks like I got the angle right, or at least in the ballpark.


    Now to do the other two tops.  I will post a photo of all three when that is done.

  15. Work continues on the main top.



    1.  Cross trees were made from two 3/32" x 2/32" pieces of basswood.  They were temporarily glued together with rubber cement, then tapered together to insure uniformity.  The point at which the taper begins differs with each source I consulted.  I elected to start the taper at the outboard edge of the lubber hole. 


    2.  The two cross trees were separated and the notches were marked separately, because I failed to get the two trestle trees perfectly parallel.  The notches were cut so that the upper surfaces of the trestle trees and cross trees would be flush.  The forward cross tree was then glued to the top so that it would align properly with the forward edge of the lubber hole.  The aft cross tree was dry fitted in place and glue applied to the upper surface where needed.  Then the top was fitted into place and pressed down on the aft cross tree so that the overall fit would be correct.  


    3.  The aft gunwale and upper rail were glued together with rubber cement, then .033" holes were drilled for the rail stanchions through both pieces at once.  This insured that any imperfections in the alignment of the holes in the gunwale would be duplicated in the top rail facilitating assembly, and insuring vertical alignment of the stanchions.   The number of stanchions differs depending on which plans you use.  The plan in the instruction book show four.  The plans on the sheet show five.  The ship presently has four.  I followed the latter plans and did five before I realized there was a difference.  Once again contradictory information the the instructions and the plans complicates things.  Oh well, who's to say the ship did not have five during the war of 1812?.  Making wooden hexagonal stanchions would have been a feather in my cap, but, as described above, I could not effect it, so I used .033" brass rod instead.  The Marquardt AOS shows metal stanchions, so I am not that far off.  Upper rail installed so that the tops of the stanchions are slightly recessed.  Application of wood filler makes the top smooth.  Netting to be installed a bit later.


    4.  Britannia metal stropped deadeyes painted.  Center left bare to take the glue.


    5. Stropped deadeyes glued into the notches previously cut.   I have decided on styrene for the outer rim.  Surprisingly, Evergreen does not make strips 3/32" wide so I had to order the next larger width which is 1/64" wider.  I should be able to sand it down to size once it had been glued on.


    6.  While awaiting delivery of the styrene strips, work on the other two tops has started, employing lessons learned from doing the main top.  When gluing the scribed decking to the 1/64" birch plywood backing,  the assembly is clamped in a vise while the glue sets and cures, preventing the curling upwards of those sections which have the deals run athwart ships.  It works.


    I will post a photo of the completed top when I have the rim and falconets installed.

  16. Here are some more photos of my progress on the main top.




    1.  Floor battens (timbers) added.  As stated above they were made from 1/32" by 1/16", and tapered from 1/16" to 1/32" high.  Clearing out excess glue from this process is tricky.  I thought I did well with this until I painted the top.  Let's see if I can do better on the fore and mizzen tops.


    2.  Falconet (swivel gun) chocks installed.  This kit is unique, as far as I know, in that it includes cast Britannia falconets.  Might as well use them.  The plan in the instruction book shows these chocks unlike the plans  in the sheets.  If they are mounted on tapering floor battens, the underside must be beveled. In addition, if the taper starts at the outer rim as indicated in the plans, the level of each batten will vary slightly making their installation very tricky.  I bypassed these issues completely by beginning the taper of the battens inboard of where the chocks go, where marked.  The mounting pins of the falconets are long enough to go through the chocks and through the top itself, so I drilled the holes accordingly using a .033" bit.  This should provide a secure mount for the guns.  Before mounting them, I painted the top underneath where they would go, anticipating the difficulty of getting in there with a brush after they were glued on.


    3.  Top painted with MS medium gray acrylic.  Once again, this looks ok from a normal viewing distance.  The underside is painted white with strips masked where the trestle trees and cross trees will go.  The outer rim will be white as well. 


    The next step will be construction of the crosstrees.

  17. Thanks so much for the "likes" guys!  They fortify my determination to finish this thing.  It will be some time before the main top is finished, so I thought I would post what I have done so far.




    As with many items on this model there are many choices to make as  to design.  One feature that is common to all the designs I looked at is the overlapping of the length and cross deals.  I wanted to attempt this, but, as I would like to use the Britannia cast stropped deadeyes, I determined that they would not reach through the top if I did.  So, like the Revell model, I decided to have the length and cross deals abutting rather than overlapping.  A pity, although, if I had overlapped them, installation of the floor battens would have been a lot more challenging.


    1.  I decided to glue scribed decking to a backing of 1/64" birch plywood.  I used glued up decking for the decks on the model because I decided to leave them natural.  The deals, however are to be painted gray, so if the planking detail is to be visible, 3/32" scribed decking is the way to go.  Otherwise, you might as well use a solid piece.  The plywood backing was cut with the first and third layers of the plywood running athwart ships.

         I had a problem with the assembly curling upward forward of and abaft the lubber hole.  I may cut the fore top backing with the first and third layers running fore and aft and see if that helps.  In any case, the assembly needs to be clamped between two flat pieces of wood as the glue dries.


    2.  Backing and decking assembly.


    3.  Sling hole cut (a bit more work needed there, now that I see it close up in the pic).  1/32" by 1/32" stock installed around the lubber hole.  Rim added, made from 1/32" by 3/32" stock except for the rear batten which is 1/16" by 3/32".  As you can guess the holes are for the rail stanchions which will be brass rod.  I tried making an 8 sided stanchion out of 1/32" by 1/32" stock and ended up with a little wad of fuzz, so brass it is.   Notches are for the metal stropped deadeyes.  I am debating whether to use card stock or styrene for the outer rim.  I will also have to decide about how to mount the falconets.


    I have begun work on the floor battens.  The plan is to make the from 1/32" by 1/16" stock which is what the kit's plans show, and have them overlap the rim, then taper to 1/32" high at the lubber hole.  Wish me luck!

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