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abelson

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About abelson

  • Birthday 01/14/1949

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  1. Completed filling and sanding the hull to the point where I’m satisfied that it’s suitable for attaching the copper plates. On to Chapter 6. I decided to hold off staining and painting the hull and bulwarks. I still need to drill the treenails and fill them with Minwax Golden Oak putty. After reading some build logs, I purchased some Minwax Pre-stain to prevent blotchiness when the Minwax Golden Oak stain is applied. I will be using Model Expo MS 4830 Hull Spar Black to paint the sheer strake and hull wales down to the water line. I sanded the stern down to 3/32” thick using my Dremel, file, and sanding blocks. I decided to jump to Chapter 7 and thin down the bulwarks before installing the inboard stern planking. I made a pencil mark on the top of the bulwark and then applied painter’s tape along the line to serve as a guide, and to also protect the sheer strake. I started thinning the bulwark with my Dremel and then switched to sandpaper. I found that a 5” diameter 70 grit sanding disc folded in half was perfect for thinning down the bulwarks. I used a long file to even out the bulwarks. With that done, I decided to test fit the second layer laser cut transom piece. But, first I made a copy of the stern elevation on Sheet One, cut out the transom and taped it to the stern. As the instructions say, the laser cut piece is little taller – actually much taller - and will need to be sanded down. I cut out the stern gun ports on the copy of the stern - they match up well. I taped the laser cut transom piece to the stern and outlined it with a pencil. I neglected to remove the transom piece and, consequently, it broke while I was thinning the bulwarks. I glued it together with CA. Since the transom is not painted, I’m concerned the break lines will be visible. Ugh, I’ll deal with it later. Meanwhile, back to Chapter 6. I cut, trimmed, fitted and glued the 1/8” x 1/16” inboard stern planks and painted them with three coats of bright red paint (ModelExpo MS4835). I added some filler blocks at the bow to achieve a uniform curve and to secure the bulwark planking. Built up the sides of the stern transom, port and starboard, with 5/32” x 1/16” basswood strip as per the instructions. Sanded it down to match the curved profile of the stern transom. I fashioned the two (2) transom molding strips from 5/32” x 1/16” basswood strips, following the photo on Page 26 of the instructions. Next, the two upper counter molding strips. I made a jig (see photo) for the molding strips using a cutout of the stern. Before soaking the strips, I added a profile to the 1/16” x 1/16” basswood strips by scribing the strip with the fine point of an oval needle file (my late Father was a tool maker, so I have a collection of needle files). After soaking, I placed the molding strips in the jig and let them dry overnight. I didn’t thin down the strips as the instructions say because I like the look of them as they are. I went out-on-a-limb and painted the molding strips gold. I plan to paint the stern decorative carvings gold, too. Before gluing the molding strips in-place, I decided to fit the transom cap. I soaked the ¼” x 1/16” x 24” basswood rail cap strip overnight. I cut a length of strip long enough to wrap around the transom, preformed the strip with my fingers, and attached it to the transom with clamps. The first attempt resulted in the strip breaking. I cut another length and wet it under the sink faucet with hot water. This yielded a better result as I was able to clamp the strip to the transom without it breaking. I decided to use the broken transom piece and to paint the transom black a la rafine’s build. I like the contrast of the gold moldings with the black counter. I glued the stern cap rail on in one piece. The cap rail overhangs the stern inboard but not outboard – no big deal. Next, the fashion pieces were cut, shaped, and glued in-place. After some fine sanding, the rail cap, fashion pieces, and transom were painted black. I glued on the stern molding strips, making sure to provide at least 1/8” separation between them to accommodate the photo etched letters SYREN. I went ahead and painted the cast decorative carvings gold and glued them to the stern. I painted the SYREN letters white. I’m holding off on installing the letters until I can figure out how best to do it. I jumped ahead and drilled the opening for the rudder. To get the approximate location, I test fitted the stern post and measured the distance (4’ @ 3/16” scale) from bulkhead 26 to the rudder on Plan Sheet One. I drilled a small pilot hole first and then reamed it with increasingly larger bits up to 7/32”. I had to file the opening to fit the rudder. This completes Chapter 6.
  2. On to Step 6 of Chapter 5, completing the hull planking. I've been tapering the planks down to 3/32" about 4” to 5” from the bow. I marked the knee stem in 3/32” intervals as a guide. I typically taper 2 at time. After tapering, I lay them down side by side to check for uniformity. I run a file across them to even them out. At the bow, I cut the end of each plank at an angle to follow the curve of the stem and then chamfered the angle cut so the planks fit nicely in the rabbet. I soak them (in the bathtub) for at least 30 minutes and then attach them to the hull temporarily with push pins, Acco clips, and clamps. While the planks are drying, I continue the process. When the planks are dry, before gluing them in-place, I moisten the end of the plank at the tuck of the stern to prevent the plank from splitting. I secured the plank at the stern with my trusty Irwin Quick-Grip clamp. I’ve been alternating planking up from the keel and down from the wale on the port and starboard sides with the goal of meeting in middle. The full planks at the stern are lay nicely over the counter without having to taper them. The planking started to droop at the stern, so I Installed a half stealer 6 planks up from the garboard on the port and starboard side. As I continued planking down from the keel, I installed a full stealer 2 planks from the half stealer. The planking developed a “clinker built” look, where the lower edge of the plank bulges. From what I have seen from other build logs, this is not uncommon. I probably should have spiled the planks at some point, but I continued planking. This being my second POB build, my goal was to improve my planking skills and strive to complete the hull planking without having to use wood filler and to limit the amount of sanding. Because the planking developed clinking, I had to use wood filler to even out the planking and provide a smooth surface for the copper plating. In spite of this, I’m satisfied with the hull planking. And, I learned to make stealers, something I didn’t use on my last build. Decided to complete the counter before finishing the hull. For me, it was easier to add the counter after the stern planking was complete because I didn’t have to cut the planks that tuck over the stern to the exact length to butt up against the counter plank. I test fit the counter planks before cutting off the stern planks - I had to add 1 more counter plank than the instructions call for. I scribed a line across the stern planks at the top counter plank and cut them all to length with a mini saw. Some sanding and filing were required to even out the surface of stern planks and the counter planks. I’m satisfied with the way the counter came out Back to the hull, the closing pieces were tricky. I used a several drop planks to reduce the number of planks at the bow, a 5/32” wide correction plank, half stealers, full stealers, and a spiled plank. I’ve been using carpenters glue, but where I couldn’t hold the planks down with clamps, I used CA glue to tack the plank. Then I worked back with carpenter’s glue on the bulkheads and the edge of the planks. To fill the final gap, I tapered and fitted a “correction plank.” At the stern, I used a 5/32” wide closer plank tapered to fit the gap at the stern post on the port and starboard sides. I’m satisfied with the hull planking. Although, I’ll have to do some more filling and sanding to prep for the copper plating. Marked the water line per the instructions. I crafted a water line marker from a speed square and Acco clips. I’m holding off on installing the laser cut stern post until I paint and stain the hull. Aside from that, Chapter 5 is complete. Oh, and I drilled out the pilot holes in the deck for the masts.
  3. On to Step 4. Measured the gap between the 1/8” wale strip and the 1/8” keel strip and determined that twenty-two (22) 1/8” strips will be required to fill the space. This compares favorably with the 22 to 23 planks in the instructions. So far, its true to form (see photo). Next, I measured the gap at bulkhead “N” and divided it by 22 strips to determine the width of each plank at the bow. Each plank will have to be tapered to about 6” at 3/16” scale, which is roughly 3/32”. I measured the distance along the stern post and under the counter using a piece of dental floss. Stretched out, the corresponding length of floss is +/-29” at a 1/8” scale. So, around 29 planks will be required to cover the stern area. Added 4 planks below the initial 3 under the wales on the port and starboard sides. After tapering, I soaked the planks in water and attached them to the hull temporarily with push pins, Acco binder clips, and clamps. I held the planks in-place at the stern with an Irwin Quick-Grip clamp - this is the most difficult area for securing the planks. The plank formed nicely with the counter, which eased the horsing of the plank around the counter. I left the planks longer at the counter, as I will cut them later when I install the counter planks. Note: The Acco binder clips shown in the photo were made by taking the arm from one clip and inserting it into another clip. I got this Idea from rtopp's Syren build log. These clips are very useful. Like he and some other builders I purchased the MS planking clamps (for my prior build) and found them useless. At the keel, I added 5 planks on each side in addition to the initial 3. I added a stealer, cut into the 4th plank on each side – these are tricky. I did some initial sanding while waiting for glued planks to dry. Completed the second layer of the wales (2 - 5/32” x 1/16” thick lower wales and 1 -5/32” x 1/32” thick upper wale) and the sheer strake (1/8” x 1/32” thick). Like the planks, I cut the wale strips on an angle and chamfered them to fit into the rabbet at the stem. I preformed them by soaking them in water then clamping them to the jig. The wale strips were glued on top of the first layer of wales and held in-place with clamps and clips. I left the wales and sheer strake longer at the counter, as I will cut them later when I install the counter planks. Next, the treenails. I followed the instructions and lightly drew some vertical lines on the planks representing the center of each bulkhead. I used an awl to mark each treenail, following the general pattern shown in the photo on Page 24 of the instructions. The holes will be drilled later with a .55 mm (0.0217”) bit and then filled with Minwax Golden Oak wood putty. I made a test sample to see how the treenails will look after puttying and then staining with Minwax Golden Oak stain. Whence the treenails are drilled, I think the combination of the Golden Oak putty and Golden Oak stain will be okay. As a general note, the treenail pattern is a matter of personal design and consideration for what was common practice in ship building in the 17th century. I'm satisfied with the treenail pattern. Except for the counter at the stern, which I opted to hold-off on completing, the model is complete through Step 5 of Chapter 5.
  4. Now onto Chapter 4. I completed the stern port frames – no problems. I deviated from the instructions somewhat. I glued fillers #2 in place before gluing stern frames A in place. This supported the A frames while they were glued in place. I did the same with fillers #3. I attached a batten to the tops of the frames to secure them in place while the glue was drying. Next, I glued the C frames together and allowed them to dry before gluing them to the stern. While waiting the C frames to dry, I did more sanding of the bulwarks,trying to keep the contour of the bulwark stanchions. With C frames dried, I glued them in-place. I measured and cut the port sills from the 3/16” x ¼” wood strips and glued them in place, making sure that they are level. I set them at the laser burn marks on the inside of the frames. I added the gun port lintels and the rest of the filler blocks as per the instructions. I used my 15/32” block to establish the height of the gun port lintels. I checked the accuracy of the marks by attaching the stern template. The burn marks and template were spot on. I cut out the cannon template to double check the height of the sills - I allowed 1/16” for the deck planks. The cannon barrel just clears the gun port sill. There’s no definitive height for the cannon barrel above the gun port sill – it only has to clear the sill. I sanded the blocks flush with the inside and outside of the stern frames. As the instructions state, the stern frames are fragile, so use care so as to not sand too aggressively. I marked the outside frames with a pencil to establish the shape of the stern. Prior to doing that, a la _SalD_ build log, I painted the C frames white to better see the pencil marks. I then trimmed the frames to the pencil mark, using my Dremel first and hand sanding last to fair the shape of the stern. I decided to make two solid filler pieces for below the counter rather than using the two strips as shown in the instruction manual. I made them from some scrap pine. I developed the rough shape of the fillers before gluing them in place. When I was satisfied with the rough shape, I glued the fillers in place. Whence the glue was dry, I did some final sanding – I’m sure I’ll have to do some more shaping. Moving on to Chapter 5, I applied two coats of bright red (ModelExpo MS4835) paint on the gun ports and the sweep ports. Deviating from the instructions, to locate the upper wale I opted to make a copy of starboard side elevation view on Sheet 5 and to cut out the bulwark. I used this as a template to locate the bottom of the upper wale. I realize that there is a slight enlargement when making a photocopy but in spite of that, the template aligns almost perfectly with the gun ports (see photo). That being said, I decided to attach a batten to the hull as a guide for the placement of the upper wale. As I noted, the top of the batten will be the bottom of the upper wale. I repeated the process port side using the opposite side of the template. Again, the template aligned almost perfectly with the gun ports. As expected, the top of the batten is below the burn marks on the hull which represent the top of the wale (see photos). As a check, I made a mockup of the seven 1/8” and one 5/32” planks and placed it on top of the batten. It aligns fairly well. I made some slight adjustments to the batten. I’m satisfied that this is about as accurate as I will get with the location of the upper wale. Next, I made a jig for the wale strips using a photocopy of the deck Layout as a template. I soaked the 5/32” x 1/16” strips for the upper wales in water for about 20 minutes and then clamped them to the jig to preform them. I attached the starboard side upper whale with glue, pins, and clamps. I used nails because the upper wale with be covered with a second wale. Before planking the bulwark, I preformed the 1/8” strips in the jig. I was able to preform three at a time. I started planking the starboard bulwark beginning at the bow. The first two rows of planking were cut into segments. I used the elevation view on Sheet 5 to determine were the joints are. The most difficult part for me was holding the first plank of each row in the rabbet at the knee stem. I placed a clamp on the knee stem to hold the plank against the bow filler. The second row of planking had to be cut out at the gun and sweep ports. I scored the plank with the knife blade where I wanted the notch for the gun port or sweep port and then made a sawcut to the depth of the notch. Then, I removed the notch and finished it with a small file. Above the second plank, the planks were cut into small short lengths between the gun ports and the sweep ports. When I reached the top of the gun ports, before adding the sixth plank, I filed the ends of the planks with a small square file to achieve an even edge along the lip of the gun port. I found it difficult to get an even edge on the sweep port lips. The gun port lips are not uniform 1/32” wide around each port, but to the naked eye I don’t think it will be noticeable. The sixth row of planking was cut into segments, again using the elevation view on Sheet 5. These planks had to be notched out at the gun ports. Before gluing them, I paused to consider how I will make the bulwark sheaves. I decided to follow the instructions and make simulated sheaves rather than working sheaves as some builders have done. So, I proceeded to glue the remaining planks in place. Completed planking on the starboard and port side planking. Did quite of lot of sanding to even out the planks, while keeping the contour of the bulwarks. I’m pleased with the results. I notice in the photo on Page 20 that the bow planking is above the knee stem. My bow planking is even with the knee stem, which indicates that the wale may have been set too low at the bow. However, I noticed in other build logs that the bow planking in some logs is even with the knee stem and in others is above the knee stem. The only ramification of this that I can foresee might be the relationship of the bow sprite relative to the cap rail. Time will tell. Moving on to the counter at the stern. I decided to add the counter planking after completing the hull planking, as some other builders have done. I felt that it would be easier to trim/file/sand the edges of the planks to achieve a nice straight edge for the counter plank to abut. I trimmed the first counter plank (5/32” x 1/16”) to match the transom. I beveled the edge of the 5/32” plank that will abut the 1/8” x 1/16” plank. The transom edge was already beveled. I clamped the first counter plank to the stern frames, setting the top edge approximately 1/16” below the gun port sill. I established the center line of the first plank and the transom and then clamped the transom to the stern frames. I traced the outline of the gun port opening with a sharp pencil. To create the rabbet around each port for the lids, I cut just outside the line with an x-acto knife, being careful not to cut too much beyond the pencil line. I spent a considerable amount of time filing the opening and positioning the transom onto the stern to check the lip until I achieved a fairly even rabbet all around the port. I then glued and clamped the transom onto the stern frames, paying close attention to position the transom exactly in-place. I then glued the first plank in-place. I’m satisfied with how the gun port cutouts turned out. Soaked the first three planks (two 5/32” wide strips and one 1/8” wood strip) beneath the wales and clamped them to the jig. While waiting for the planks to dry, I added the “garboard plank” (3/16” x 1/16”) at the keel and the two I/8” x 1/16” planks above it on the port and starboard side. Added the two 5/32” wide planking strips for the wales and the final 1/18” wide strip on the starboard side. The most difficult part was clamping each plank at the knee stem rabbet at the counter. Repeated the process on the port side. This completes Step 3 of Chapter 5. So far, so good. One point of thought, I hindsight, the use of filler blocks at the bow would have made it easier to attach the planks and provided a more uniform profile.
  5. I recently completed the Fair American, which is my second build. It followed my first build– a solid hull Model Shipways Rattlesnake-that I completed 45 years ago. Looking back on the years, I had no prior ship model experience prior to the Rattlesnake. I had seen some ship models in a hobby shop, and I decided to try my hand at the Rattlesnake. IMO, the build turned out good. The 45-year hiatus was due to raising a family and making a career in civil engineering. Then, came retirement and an opportunity to try my hand at ship building again. I’m glad that I did. The experience was so gratifying that I decided to embark on a third build – the US Brig Syren. I ordered the ship from ModelExpo shortly before it temporarily closed its operations due to the Coronavirus outbreak. While awaiting delivery, I studied Chuck Passaro’s fine instructions on-line at the ModelExpo website. As I progressed through the instructions, I compared them to some Syren build logs on the Nautical Research Guild site – it helps to read other build logs and to learn from their experiences. From what I have read, I suspect this build is going to be very challenging. It’s going to test my resolve. Anyway, this is the first post on my Syren build. It starts with the obligatory photo of the ship model box. I checked the parts list against the contents and found everything to be in order. I labeled the size of the various bundled wood strips for quick reference. The numbered and lettered bulkheads (BH) were tested in their proper slots in the bulkhead former (BF). They fit nicely – no sanding necessary. The BHs will be beveled later. I soaked the 3/32” x 1/16” rabbet strip in water for about 20 minutes and then attached it to the BF, held in place with rubber bands and clips as per the instructions. After it dried, I permanently glued it to the BF, taking care to be sure that it is centered. I also glued a rabbet strip to the stern. I let the rabbet dry overnight. While the glue was drying on the rabbet, I began beveling the BHs, both outboard (first) and inboard (second). I decided to complete all the beveling before returning to the rabbet. Returning to the rabbet, I traced the laser cut bearding line and perforated holes to establish the bearding line and then carved the taper from the bearding line towards the rabbet edge. I tapered the bearding line toward the keel with a chisel and sandpaper. I completed one side when I discovered that I used the wrong size rabbet strip – Duh. So, I removed it. I decided to taper the bearding line on the opposite side of the BF before replacing the rabbet with the correct size strip. This worked out well, and it made me wonder why the tapering of the bearding line couldn’t be done before fitting the rabbet strip. For me, it was easier. You just need to taper each side evenly so as to leave a wide even plane on the bottom of the BF to glue the rabbet strip. With the taper from the bearding line to the rabbet complete, I repeated the process of installing the rabbet. I let the rabbet strip dry overnight. I turned my attention to the stem knee. I tapered the stem knee to fit the figurehead. I filed the figure to lessen the amount of taper and for her fit better. I took care not to taper the stem knee beyond the bob stay holes. I laid the BF, the stem knee, and the 3/16” x 3/16” basswood strip for the keel flat on the work bench and checked that the rabbet depth was about the same on both sides of the stem and the keel strip. I had to sand the rabbet one side to deepen the depth of the rabbet. The keel strip was fine. I glued the stem knee, secured it with clamps, and let it dry sufficiently before gluing the keel strip. While waiting for the glue to dry, I tapered the two laser cut bow fillers. I attached the false keel with blue masking tape to protect the keel. At this point, I decided to drill some pilot holes (1/8") in the BF for the masts as some other builders had done. I superimposed the BF onto the plan sheet and marked the angle of the masts on the BF using a straight edge aligned with the center line of the masts. Inserted the BHs into their respective slots, making sure that the scribed sides of each lettered BH face towards the bow and that all sides of each numbered BH face the stern. I faired the BF as per the instructions, checking the fair with a 1/8” x 1/16” planking strip. Rather than glue all the BHs permanently and then cut and glue the filler blocks, I glued each BH and cut and glued the filler blocks as I went along. I started with BHs P, N, and L, jumped to BH 26 and 24, and then completed the process from BH D through BH24. The filler blocks were cut from 1” x 2” pine stock left over from a home improvements project. With BHs and filler blocks in-place permanently, I did more fairing, outboard and inboard. Cut 1/16” x 1/8” basswood strips for the platform between BHs 16 and 20. Ran a pencil across the edge of each plank to simulate the caulking between them, and each one in-place. Opted not to add tree nails since they won’t be visible. The planks will be cleaned up and stained with MinWax Golden Oak later. Moving on to Chapter 3, I taped the framing template to the bulkheads. As can be seen in the photos, the BHs align closely with the template, except for the bow. This did not surprise me because I had read in other build logs that the templates are way off – they don’t align with BHs P and N. To check the squaring of the BHs, I cut out the overhead view template and placed it on the deck. The BHs align closely with the overhead view template. Also, as a check on my mast pilot holes, I superimposed the overhead view template on the plan sheet an marked the locations of the masts – the pilot holes are spot on. As I interpret the template, the bottom of the template represents the bottom of the 3/16” wide gun port frame. The top of the bottom yellow line would be the gun port sill. I pinned a batten at the bottom of the template on the starboard and port side of the hull. I removed the template to find that the batten doesn’t completely align with the bottom reference line etched onto each bulkhead. Considering that they aren’t that far off, and that the instructions say the bulkheads may not be sitting in their respective slots at precisely the same level, I decided to use the batten as a guide. I marked each bulkhead edge with a pencil along the top of the batten and removed the batten. The batten also serves to check the fairing. The fairing looks good as the run is fairly (no pun intended) smooth with no humps or dips. Based on the plans, the gun port sills are 3/16” above the top of the BHs (1/16” for the plank. 1/16” for the waterway, and 1/16” for the swivel bracket). So, rather than use the batten, I opted to use a 3/16” strip as a guide in locating the gun port sills. I placed the 3/16” strip on the top of the BH as a guide to align the top of the gun port frames. I think this approach should pretty much assure that the gun ports will be probably aligned with the carronades – time will tell. While waiting for Amazon to ship my Dremel 8220 cordless rotary tool, I started measuring, cutting, and fitting the gun port sill frames from the ¼” x 3/16” wood strips. I used a mini miter box for cutting the strips. Starting on the port side, I glued the frames in place (from stern and bow), taking care that the top (sill) of the frame was set flush with the 3/16” guide strip. While the glue was drying, I cut and fit the starboard side gun port frames. The ¼” wide strips require a lot of sanding – I had planned to use the Dremel. To alleviate the amount of inboard sanding, I set the frames such that they protrude just beyond the BH. The consequence of this is that it increases the amount of outboard sanding. To lessen the outboard sanding, I trimmed the frames before sanding. I sanded and filed the port side gun port frames inboard and outboard - wish I had my Dremel. Then, I glued the starboard side gun port frames, allowed the glue to dry, trimmed the frames, and sanded and filed them inboard and outboard. For the placement of the gun port lintels, I used a block cut to 15/32” to position the lintels. The process for installing the gun port lintels is the same as the gun port sills. I set the 15/32” block on each gun port sill and the lintel on top of the block and glued the lintel in-place. Whence the glued dried, I sanded and filed the lintels by hand to fair them with the hull. At this point, some the lintels are a little less than 1/8”, so I want to be careful not to over sand them. Next up, the green frames. I set up the template as per the instructions and I marked the locations for each vertical green frame on the gun port sills and lintels. I measured and cut the frames from 3/16” x ¼” stock. I glued the green frames in place using the 15/32” block as a guide. As with the sill and lintel frames, I trimmed the green frames to lessen the sanding. I sanded the outboard frames to match the BH stanchion profile. Using a 1/8” wood strip as a guide, I placed it on the port sills and marked the position of the red (horizontal) frames. I measured and cut the frames from the 3/16” x 1/14” wood strips. The frames were glued in place with the 1/4” side facing outboard – no trimming required here. I held off on sanding the red frames until after the blue frames are installed. I made a 1/8” x 1/8” block to square the sweep ports. Measured, cut, and glued sweep port frames (blue) in place. I did some final outboard sanding. The hull fairing looks good. Only one glitch so far - While sanding the lintels, BH 4 broke off. I glued it back on but didn’t get it perfectly aligned. As a result, in the last photo you’ll notice the port side of the hull has a hump at BH 4. This may not be noticeable after the bulwarks is planked and the cap rail is installed. I’m satisfied with the progress, however. Next up, Chapter 4 – Stern Framing. Stay tuned.
  6. I recently completed the Fair American. I didn’t have any problem with the scale of the drawings. I did find that the plans lack a lot of detail, especially the rigging plan. The instruction manual is also lacking in discussion on some aspects of the build. In spite of that, I’m satisfied with how my build turned out.
  7. On second glance, after looking at some other builds, I decided the flag was not too large. Using a fine point awl, I punched a small hole through each of the inside corners of the flag, and lashed the flag to one of the falls of the topgallant flag halyard. Lastly, I attached an engraved plaque (purchased from Rossi Engraving on Amazon Marketplace) to the display base. The model is now finished. At some point in time, the ship will be displayed in a case. I'm moving on to the next, more challenging build - The US Brig Syren.

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