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Brian Falke

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  1. Thanks Roger. the pelorus' were purchased from shapeways.com. I initially had made two out of wood and was not completely satisfied with them, but they were all that I had. I did stumble upon shapeways when I was looking for the eggbeater antennas. The 35' whips, the eggbeaters, the big eyes and the pelorus' were purchased from them. As for the CPP, I struggled with those. Those were made back in 2009. I looked through all the model ship building websites in an attempt to find a port and starboard CPP and could not. They were pretty much fixed screws, and right hand at that, and wrong size. Yes, they were 1:96 scale, but for a destroyer, cruiser, etc. None for a Minesweeper. So, I decided to fashion my own out of wood. I initially tried to put some forward pitch on the blades but could not get the pitch uniform across the eight blades. It was at that point I decided to mount the ship as if she is pier side with 0 pitch on the screws.
  2. Tom, DANG! Now I have to take it out of the case....just kidding. That is a great example of planning. I installed the starboard pigs and otters before thinking about the aft steering hatch. Just could not get it in between the two. As the DCA on ENGAGE, aft steering was my space, it was the DC workshop. And with two DCmen that were, well, a little on the large size, I chuckled every time they had to go through the scuttle.
  3. Picking back up on this build after finishing and placing in a display case (finally!) the previous build. As I left off, I went down to my parents house to include my father in on the build. Well, did not go as well as I had envisioned - unfortunately. Guess eventually we all will reach that point. I have a little re-work to do on the gun carriages. Picking back up, as you recall, this is to be somewhat modified. I am going to build the hull as a plank on frame construction in order to open one side of the hull, all decks for viewing. My first was to do a little research in order to get a better picture of the keel. From the National Archives, I was able to pull the drawings Samuel H. Pook drew in 1849. Though not from 1812, it is well known that the keel is the original thus I felt Pook's drawings would be accurate for this purpose. Additionally, I reviewed SCRATCH BUILDING A MODEL SHIP by Gene Bodnar (August 2007) and his build log when he built the CONSTITUTION in 4 sections. The document is located here: http://modelshipworldforum.com/resources/plans_and_research/ScratchBuildingaModelShipgene.pdf and the build log is on another ship model building website. The keel is as the CONSTITUTION's - white oak. I elected to use a single keel, not two sections. To get the proper size (1/4" x 3/16") of the keel, I used a planner. Then, using a scroll saw, I cut the forward joint (where the bow stem meets the keel). Then measuring back from that joint, I cut the stern end of the keel. I did this process just in case I fouled up the bow to stem joint I wouldn't have to re-plane a new keel all over again. The bow stem is made of two sections such that the curvature of the stem would follow the wood grain giving it the most strength. After attaching the bow stem, using the Pook drawings again I cut out the sternpost and glued that to the keel. After the glue had dried overnight, I then drilled holes at each joint just tight enough to insert a toothpick. I then inserted a glue coated toothpick into each joint providing additional strength to each joint. Once done I place the keel on the work table and saw that I was starting off with a little sagging (you can see the stern is a little off the table). To remedy this, I place a small piece of metal under the keel at midships and then clamped down the stern and bow sections. I then place a wet sock (shop rag now) on the keel and let it set overnight. This, at last check, remedy the sagging and I now have a straight keel to work from. Next step is to start on the frames - which again, will be using Bodnar's document as a guide.
  4. Down to the final details, which I have been trying to figure out how to make since I began the model. The antennas. The MSO has 4 35' HF whip antennas and the 4 Fleet Broadcast antennas (egg beaters). I began sanding a 1/8" dowel in an attempt to achieve the right size for the whip antennas. I would get close, but each time, due to the thinness, it would break setting me back to the beginning. I tried maybe 5 times until I gave up. I did look at using wire as the whips, but it just did not look right. Too thin at the base, no tapper, and very difficult to get the wire straight. As for the egg beaters, I did not even attempt to build them. I just mulled thoughts through my mind. I came up with a couple of ideas using a toothpick sanded down as the center post and then bent wire as the egg beater part. With nothing left to lose, I did an internet search for "1:96 scale model parts" and one of the top returns was Shapeways.com. My interest was piqued. I went to the site and search on 1:96. A lot of 3D designed parts and pieces for ship models came up - all kinds of pieces from USS CONSTITUTION to the latest Navy destroyer. I felt like a kid in a candy store now. I found a plethora of detail pieces that I could use. Including the 35' whips and the egg beaters. I also replace the big eyes and the port and starboard pelorus'. The whips were not smooth, however, they were a heck of a lot better than a piece of wire or a fat whip made of wood. I do not have detailed pictures of the antenna's. However, I have completely finished the build. As I read somewhere in another build, if you do not put the model in a case, you will continue to tinker with it - never really finishing the project. That was completed yesterday. The base, ship mounted and the clear enclosure. I built the base and the clear acrylic box is from shoppopdisplays.com (I do recommend them). Now, the COMMCMDIV 11 burgee and shield. That was a personal touch. In the Navy, the command burgee or pennant of a senior commander would replace the commissioning pennant when that commander was embarked onboard the ship. MCMDIV 11 was my first of two operational commands. Though ENGAGE was long gone by the time I was in command of DIV 11, she did spend some time during the Vietnam War in Sasebo, Japan (where MCMDIV 11 was homeported under 7th Fleet). So, I felt, given the linkage there, and that ENGAGE was my first operational tour and DIV 11 was my last (DIV 11 and DIV 31 merged in 2009 becoming MCMDIV 31 under 3rd Fleet which I continued to be the commander for), it was fitting that I permanently "embark" the ship. Cheers, Brian
  5. It has been awhile since I have posted, so I might as well get back to it. As I left off last, the mast was next in line for logging. Masts on MSOs are not complex, the most technical piece of equipment on the mast is the surface search radar. However, there are a couple of unique sensors on the top part of the mast. These are the earth's magnetic field sensors used to determine the amount of current for each of the four degaussing loops for the ship to remain "invisible" to magnetic mines. Then there are the two wind measuring birds. These were very difficult to construct. First, the only picture I had of these where I could closely determine their actual size and scale them down was in the Interior Communications rating book. I was able to find a picture of a Sailor holding one and guessing the Sailor was about 6', I went from there. Then I had to make two that were, to the naked eye, exactly identical in size and shape. I think I went through 20 - 30 iterations of the propeller blades until I got 6 that were close and then glue them on the hub at the correct angle for each blade. On any other naval ship model, I think I would have skipped them, but on a 1:96 scale, and with such a bare mast to begin with, they would have noticeably been missing. Now, one more unique characteristic of the MSO mast, the three green lights. One on each end of the yardarm and one right above the radar. These are used for when the ship is conducting mine clearing operations. The additional lights are, at the top of the mast, the aircraft warning lights and the red, white, red lights on the front for various possible emergency conditions while underway. And, lets not forget about the aft masthead range light. You may notice the Division Burgee closed-up on the mast instead of the typical commissioning pennant. That is MCM Division 11 Commodores' burgee. More on that later in the build log. The mast is black where in the picture of USS ENGAGE in my first post it is haze gray. Why the difference? Back, when I first reported aboard ENGAGE, all masts on all USN ships were black. This was to hide the soot that would build up on the masts in the old coal boiler ships and became tradition until about 1989/90 when it suddenly came down from the CNO that all ships are to paint their masts haze gray. The story behind the change, and I cannot vouch for this, is that the CNO was out sailing with some British friends one afternoon in the New England area when they spotted a naval vessel off in the distance. Too far to make out nationality by viewing the flag, so one of the yacht owners grabber her binoculars and quickly let the CNO know that it was a US Navy ship. He looked through the binos and could not see the flag and then asked her how does she know it is a US Navy ship. Her reply was that only US Navy ships have black masts. Thus, the order for all US Navy ships to paint their masts haze gray and that remains the standard today. I elected to keep it black to add depth and character to the ship model and that is how it was when I first stepped aboard.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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:
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.

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