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Brian Falke

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  1. Yes, that is correct. Being on the East Coast, it is a little difficult for me to get to the restoration project. However, I am following along through their Facebook page. The team is doing a fantastic job with the restoration. The ENGAGE was build in Stockton - think it is one of 3 Stockton built MSO's. In total, there were 102 laid down. The final MSO was stopped after the keel was laid down. After a few years of enjoying the model, my intention is to donate the model to the USS LUCID Museum.
  2. At this point, all fantail equipment was completed and in place. To complete the fantail I still needed to install the taffrail. I could not find stanchions that would work without some modification. I used the same stanchions I used on the focsle, just cut them off right at the second rail and filed flat for the rail to rest on. Though not 100% accurate, it did come close enough. Now that the fantail was completed, and for the most part, the entire ship's hull and deck equipment, I shifted my efforts to the mast. This I felt was going to be a challenge because I did not have clear pictures of where mast lights, antennas and sensor's were located on the mast.
  3. LOL!! I should have included those in my descriptions. The Otters were tough to make. It took months to get it right with all the angles and then to replicate the process three more times so all four were exact copies of each other. The Pigs were just dowels sanded down, but the fins/guides did take some time to make and glue together - but not nearly as difficult as the Otters.
  4. Roger, thanks for the story. It brought back memories of when I was OOD off the coast of Charleston, SC doing MCM Qualifications prior to deploying for Operation Desert Storm. We had a Double "O" sweep out and lost the starboard sweep. The kite snagged on the bottom and the wire parted setting the float and kit adrift. About 6 months later, they were recovered off the coast of Ireland. Was not a good day to say the least. It was about this point in the build I started to fret over a couple of detail items. The mast, four HF whip antennas, and the four egg beaters. My concern with the mast is that I could not find a decent picture which showed the detail I desired. As for the whip antennas, I tried to sand down a dowel to the right size, but each time when I would get the dowel to a thin piece it would break. And lastly, the egg beaters (receiver antennas for fleet broadcast). I never attempted to build one but I did have a number of ideas swimming around my head. So, I put these off until I finished the fantail. In other words, buying time to crack those nuts.
  5. At this point, my pictures jump way ahead in the build. For the most part, everything forward of the aft bulkhead leading to the fantail is complete - just some very detail items to install remain. I shifted my focus to the fantail where on MSO's is the business end. All the sweep gear is back there. The mine sweeping towing winch was built and installed early on in the build as well as the kingpost on the port side. From his point, I build the power crane on the starboard side with the 7 meter RHIB rigged and ready to be deployed over the side. The two noise makers (Mk 6B and Mk 4V). The 4V is the roundish, stubby one on the port side, and the 6B is the boxy one on the starboard side underneath the 7 meter RHIB. When deployed, these would mimic the noise of ships machinery (6B) or ships screws (4V). The float rigged to the port kingpost is used as the float for those noise makers. Only one is deployed at a time and it depends on the mine threat. Moving aft, right by the ships edge, all the way aft, are the port and starboard kites and depressors. These are basically about a 4' x 4' boxed vanes that when rigged with the sweep wire, depress the wire to depth and pull the wire outward to port and starboard. The depth of the sweep wire, when deployed is about 50' and width is roughly 150'. To get that width, about 1500' of wire needs to be trailed behind the ship. Just inboard of the kites/depressors are the two floats that mark the end of the sweep wire and keep the kite and sweep wire from sinking to the bottom. The port and starboard cranes rigged to the floats are there to deploy the kites/depressors and floats. It is a very dangerous evolution deploying this stuff with up to three wires trailing behind the ship basically increasing the size of the ship to an aircraft carrier. All the equipment back on the fantail were made from stock pieces of basswood - dowels and sheets of wood for the most part. I did use blocks from BlueJacket on the end of the port and starboard cranes and for the king post and power crane.
  6. Using the same jig process as I used above, I drilled a hole in the back of the Quoin for the handle for each of the gun carriages. The BlueJacket kit does not come with a handle as the expectation is to not get down to this level of detail on the build (but, I am modifying the kit to some extent) and I felt a Belaying Pin would work perfectly as the handle. The pins in the kit are 1/4", which are a little too long for this purpose. So, I purchased 3/16" Belaying Pins from another supplier and they worked perfectly. The handle part is about 3/32", which to scale is 9". As a prototype, I finished one of the 32 guns. Also, below the Quoin you will see the fitting for the Train Tackle. I will have to drill that hole by hand on the carriages since it is located just above the rear truck. Here is the prototype:
  7. After boring and smoothing the exterior of each cannon, I then focused on the carriages. Being one for details, I noticed the gun tackle loops and breeching ringbolt on each side of the carriage required holes for the small brass eyebolts supplied with the kit. I have scanned a few of the builds here and noticed that these were not included, so I am assuming that the kit does not come with enough eyebolts to do all the carriages and where needed throughout the ship - so I will have to order more. The problem that I faced was now to drill holes in each of the carriages exactly (or dang close) to each other to achieve uniformity. To do this I took a blob of JB Weld and mixed it together until it was starting to cure. I then took the blob and pressed it onto the 3/4" plywood. I then sprayed each side of the carriage with WD-40 so that the carriage would not stick and then pressed into the JB Weld each side of the gun carriage. With the impression of each side of the carriage in the cured JB Weld blob, I let it cure until it was solid. This provided me with a stationary form where I could put one carriage into the impression, drill one hole, remove the carriage and put a new carriage in and drill in the same place until all carriages had the gun tackle loop drilled and in the same place. Then I realigned the form on the drill press platform to drill the breeching ringbolt in the same place for each carriage.
  8. This point the hull and superstructure were complete. Next to dive into the deck details. On the 01 Level I used stanchions from BlueJacket. On the 02, 03, and 04 Levels I constructed the stanchions and rails - I could not find anything online that would suffice. MSO's were an odd bunch of ships. Nothing from a normal ship of the line would fit to scale; meaning deck railings from a 1:96 destroyer would be too tall for a MSO and look out of place. On the 01 Level I used black thin wire as the lifelines. Again, being unique, the life lines on MSO's were made of carbon fiber instead of stainless steel. Using carbon fiber as their lifelines significantly reduced the magnetic signature for the ship. At this juncture, I am focused on the details with the exception of the fantail. I elected to do the fantail last as that will be the most complex given the amount of equipment back there. It is also at this time that I took about a year off from the project. We moved from Texas to Japan. I secured the model in a 3/4" plywood box where it survived the trip from Texas to Japan and then to San Diego when I was able to remove it and continue working on the model. Not a bit of damage from the two overseas moves.
  9. Hi Tim, great to see another MSO sailor on here! Yes, I was on ENGAGE (MSO-433) out of Mayport from 8/89 - 3/91 (3/91-9/91 on IMPERVIOUS in the Gulf). I too spent some quality time up there in Little Creek (11/90-01/91) going through REFTRA. Was not fun at all. I was the DCA and Engineering was a disaster. We actually had to pause training for a month in order to get the strut bearings replaced. Some how the starboard shaft became misaligned and wore out the bearings unevenly causing excessive vibrations in the engines. All I can remember is the cold nights and the fight with the XO on my way back from one of the bars right outside the gate (but, that is another story for another time). I am actually finished with the model, just have to mount it. I took pictures from the 102 MSOs website, there are a lot there. But, for the most part, it is coming from memory. Thanks and glad you are following along.
  10. Keeping with authenticity of the ship, I sought to use cloth as the overhead on the bridge. I tried a number of methods and material. I just could not get the proper consistency and texture. So, I settled wood. I cut each section to fit from beam to beam, then filled in and sanded along the seams to give it the look of cloth being supported by a beam. With the bridge and pilothouse area completed for the most part, I moved onto the deck gear. Starting with the anchor windlass and AN/SQQ-14 Variable Depth Minehunting Sonar Winch on the focsle. It was also about this time that I discovered BlueJacket's website and Expo Model and ordered the life rings, fire hoses in their camelback racks, and brass portholes for the pilot house and captain's cabin. Unfortunately, I could not locate an anchor windlass for a MSO nor a sonar winch, so I set out to make them myself. For the anchor windlass I did have the ship's drawings to use, but for the sonar winch, since it was a mod in the 70's and the drawings are from original construction, I had nothing but my memory and pictures. Also in the picture below, are the port & starboard anchors - which again had to be constructed by hand and the mooring line reels. The mine hunting sonar winch is just forward of the forward bulkhead.
  11. I am going to jump ahead in the build, way ahead. But, there is a reason. If you will bear with me for a bit. My reason for building this kit was to include my father in on the build. You see, growing up, my father also built model ships and the one that I will always remember was the paddle boat ROBERT E. LEE. It was absolutely incredible. I was mesmerized by it. It now sits in my sister's house in Mississippi as my dad felt that it should reside as close to the paddle boat region as possible. I will get pictures of it one day and post them to this build. When I first received the kit I went over to my parents house to kick it off, and get my dad involved. It is unfortunate that now, in his old age he is not able to do this type of work. So, I packed up the kit and brought it back to my house to build. I still want to include my father in on the build, but with easier tasks. So, I am jumping ahead to the guns. I was already to grab the guns, the truck carriages, the trucks and the paint (thank you BlueJacket for delivering in time) and head down to my parents house to paint and build the guns. But, once I opened the guns I noticed that they required a little prep work before painting. The web between the gun and trunnions and seams along the barrel needed to be smoothed down. Additionally, the gun required boring out. So, I set my travel plans aside and commenced to prep the guns. Using my power Dremel tool I gently ground the web down rounding out the trunnion and barrel in those places. Using the wire brush on the Dremel I wired smooth the seams along the barrel and all along the barrel, breach and trunnions. My next dilemma was to bore the barrel in the center. To do this I clamped a 3/4" scrap piece of plywood to my drill press and drilled a 7/16" hole through the board. This allowed me to insert the gun into the hole with the muzzle swell up and centered. Using a 1/16" drill bit, I then bored out the barrel to a depth of about 3/16".
  12. It was about this point in the model that I decided that what is going to set my model apart from those that I have seen online is the details. What I had seen online lacked the detail or was not completely accurate. Additionally, I only saw the pre-modernization MSO models - the ones with the 40mm on the focsle, with the 26' MWB, and significant superstructure missing. And, I feel that as an observer and admirer of ship models (when at the Naval Academy, I would spend hours just looking at the ship models in the museum and around the yard), the detail is what grabs the observers attention. I have a tendency of placing myself on the model, walking the decks, etc. However, I do have the tendency to strive for perfection. As someone once said "Perfection is the enemy of excellence." I am challenged at times to step back and say, that is excellent. I tend to tweak somethings until my tweaking ruins it and have to start over. Pressing forward, I now shifted to finishing up the bridge. I needed to put the windshield and frame for the overhead tarpaulin. Using 1/16 stock, I cut the windshield with a slight outward angle. Fortunately there are no wipers on these. They were just framed plexiglass that on clear days we would raise them inward and allow the sea to blow in as we cruised at flank speed (13 knots). Below is the completed frame for the windshield and overhead tarpaulin.
  13. At this point, I had not discovered any company that manufactured the small pieces and parts - like life rings, firehoses, fire plugs, ladders etc. All the small items (ladders, big eyes, signal/search lights, life rafts, dan bouys (orange things on the smoke stack), ammo boxes - all these were made by hand. And took a lot of time and patience to construct each one. Eventually, I did discover BlueJacket Ship Crafters and Model Expo for a few of these detail parts.
  14. From the picture above, you can see the bridge and the Captain's At-Sea cabin on the 03 Level. When these ships (102 of them) were built, the bridge was open, exposed to the elements. There was the ability for the ship's company to erect a tarpaulin overhead, but no windshields. In the 70's, during the modernization, a more permanent cover was built. The overhead was still a tarpaulin, and that was for a very good reason. If the ship were to hit a mine, those in the bridge would be force through the tarpaulin instead of being smashed into a solid overhead. Because of the ability to look through the bridge windows, I decided to install the binnacle, centerline pelarus , Captain's chair, voice tube, and the SPA-25 repeater before putting in the windows and overhead. With the exception of communications equipment below the forward bulkhead, there wasn't anything else on the bridge. Very primitive compared to what is on today's naval ships. The below image is from the National Archives. It is a picture of a ROK minesweeper being blown up by a magnetic mine during clearance operations in Wonsan Harbor in 1950. That is why the overhead on the minesweeper is a tarpaulin and not solid wood overhead.
  15. My next steps were to start on the detail for the pilot house and bridge wings. This consisted of the encapsulated lifeboats and holders, the port & starboard pelarus, running lights on the bridge wings. Inside the pilot house I painted the interior bulkheads the pastel green (this was the color so those sea sick green faces would blend in). I contemplated adding the helm and lee helm consoles in the pilot house but ultimately decided that the only way some one would see them would be through the small port holes with the use of a flashlight and would only be able to see the back of them. Wasn't worth the effort. All the detail pieces were made by hand. Later on in the building process I do replace the port & starboard pelarus with manufactured ones. After I installed those, and viewed the bow on picture, I decided that what was there was not up to the quality I desired. So, I removed part of the bridge wing and 02 deck to effect some repairs and adjustments. You can tell the difference from the two bow on pictures below.

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