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Brian Falke

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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".
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Moving to the 02 Level installed the (fwd to aft) pilot house, bridge wings, CIC and stack deck. It was at this point that I realized the most important tool in my kit is my vision. I did not realize until I took the pictures and looked at them that there was a huge gap on the port side above the porthole. My near vision, before I started this project, was perfect. This is about a year into the project now, and it was evident I needed a pair of readers. 🤓 To correct this, instead of removing pilot house and bridge wings, I filled in the gap with wood filler and sanded down smooth. In future photos, this will be evident. Looking through the website, I have come across a number of ways to create the waterline. My technique was similar to most of them. I took a toothpick and taped it to a block of wood at the level the top of the boot-topping. I would dip the tip of the toothpick in black paint and, with the ship securely in the cradle, gently tapped the ships hull putting a small dot to mark the top of the boot-topping. I did this all along the hull spaced about 1/8" between the dots. I did the same technique for the lower part of the boot-topping. After the dots dried, using painters tape, I taped along the top and bottom and painted the boot-topping on. Having been on a number of Navy ships, you can tell who ran a good Deck Division by looking at the boot-topping at the bow. If the Port and Starboard sides met up perfectly at the bow, it was a good division. Of course, mine came out perfect!
  10. Hi jfinan, very nice work and I really appreciate the tips along the way. These will greatly help me on my USS CONSTITUTION journey, which has just kicked off!
  11. I purchased this model kit about a year ago while I was finishing up my second model, first scratch (USS ENGAGE). Now that I am done with that model (with the exception of building the display base) I am moving on to something more challenging. However, I am not a fan of the kits solid hull and only having the gun deck and main deck visible. There is a lot more to the CONSTITUTION than those two decks. My plan, therefore is to mix this as a kit and a scratch. The hull is going to be plank on frame. One side of the ship (probably the starboard) will be completely planked and painted; the other side (port side) will be open, so that someone can see all decks of this fine ship. Additionally, I am going to be as true to the construction of this model as to the original. I am going to use white oak and yellow pine through out the hull. I recognize this will be a significant challenge and will consume years (USS ENGAGE took me 12 years to complete, granted it sat idle for significant portions of that period). Everything else will be as per the model kit instructions. My first step in this process is the framing. Using the hull lines plan from the model instruction book I traced out one side of the frame and scanned the tracing into a PDF. I have attached the tracing for Frame "7". After scanning into my computer, I adjusted the scale to 100% (they were coming out at 139%) and took a screen shot of just the tracing from the centerline out just past the frame. I then pasted that screen shot onto a Power Point slide, increased the size to 108% (I came to that percentage after trial and error of getting the print out accurate size). I copied the half and flipped it to make the entire frame - port and starboard side (see the attached photo). Once I have all the frames and keel complete, I will glue them onto white oak plank and commence cutting. I have a concern about the strength of the frame, especially where it narrows at the top, above the main deck. My gut tells me to glue two or three planks with their grains perpendicular to then one next to it and then plane that down to the thickness of the frame. I am open to suggestions here, and welcome them as I am still tracing out the frames. CCF07272019_00002.pdf
  12. Continuing on, I wanted to get the portion of the fantail aft bulkheads and bulwark painted because once I put in the minesweep/towing winch and ladder from the main deck to the 01 level, there would be no way of getting in there. After finishing up the aft bulkhead, complete with QAWTD for the port and starboard passageways, QAWTD to go down to the electrician's shop and shaft alley, I began constructing the minesweep/towing winch. Other than what was on the ship drawings, a few pictures, and my memory, I did not have anything in detail to construct the winch. As you can see in the picture below, it is quite a substantial piece of deck equipment and did close off my access to the aft bulkhead. The aft ladder going from the fantail to the main deck was constructed and installed at this time too. The minesweep/towing winch has 4 reels of wire - port & starboard minesweep wire, center depressor wire, and the towing wire. In the picture, the green wheels were, at that time, made of wood. They were eventually replace with a etched brass wheel purchased from Bluejacket Models (where I got most of the small parts from). In addition to the winch and ladder, I also constructed and installed the port king-post and boom. With those in place, I began on the superstructure. From aft forward, the Magnetic Cable Reel room, the P&S A/C plants and uptake space, the Halon room, the the big portion includes on the 01 level radio central, admin and storage lockers, then forward is the Captain's cabin and passage ways.
  13. My next steps were to plank the main and 01 level weather decks. After completing the weather decks, I then tackled the hull. For all this I used 1/32 thick basswood where I cut the planks to 1/16 wide. That made them, by scale, 6" wide which is a little wider than reality. In reality, the decking is only about 2" wide with about a 1/4" space between them for oakum and rubber sealant. The hull planks were about 6" in reality, so 1/16 wide was to scale. Another lesson learned here. These can be purchased, the planks. Cutting from a 1/32 sheet of basswood did cause me difficulties later on. The thickness (1/32) was not always consistent throughout the sheet. Some planks were thicker, others thinner. So, to over come this, once they were all installed, I spent numerous hours carefully sanding the hull and weather decks to smooth out the differences. My intention at the time was to smooth the hull as much as possible then apply wood filler along the hull and then sand that down given me a nice clean, smooth hull. As I looked at the hull with the planking I realized that is not how those ships were, they were not smooth hulled like a frigate, destroyer, or practically any other ship in the Navy fleet. They were old, beaten and showed many scars from Junior Officers novice shiphandling skills (I put a few on ENGAGE myself). I left the hull with the planks and a few imperfections. At this juncture in the construction, I also installed the shafts, shaft struts, and thru-hull. At the time (2008), I was not planning on a log, so I am using those pictures that I took at the time to document the process and progress.
  14. Yes Roger, remember standing many hours on the deck and the unique engine orders. And trust me, you were not the only OOD that had difficulties on watch. I was the MCM Evaluator when we lost the minehunting sonar in the middle of a live minefield during the Persian Gulf war. These were difficult ships. Thanks all for the notes and likes! My next step was to install the exterior main and 01 level sub-decks. Using the booklet plans I was able to directly trace out the decks, no adjustments for scale differences. I used basswood as the decking. In addition to the fantail deck, I installed the aft bulkheads and the exterior bulkheads for the mag-cable reel room. Installing the mag-cable reel room bulkheads was a mistake. If you recall in my previous post I intentionally left space in the framing for the mag cable reel. Later on in the project I realize that with the bulkheads in place I would not be able to install the cable reel, it is bigger than the opening. Live and learn....
  15. In a couple of the views, you will notice a notch out section on the main deck forward of the fantail. That space is for the magnetic cable reel. My intention at the time was to leave the aft door to the mag cable reel open so that the reel could be seen. This was how we steamed around and in port. That door was always open. My intention was to build the model as I remember the ship, its uniqueness. The notch amidships is for the mast

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