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Bob Cleek

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  1. It's possible to build one of a handful of ships like the ship above from kits or written instructions, but such a build will yield simply another copy of somebody else's interpretation of a particular vessel which has been built perhaps as many as hundreds of times before. That would relegate the builder's several years of dedicated work to the level of a "decorator model," albeit, if well-done, a very nice decorator model. It could certainly be a monument to the builder's skill and perseverance and a delight to the eye of the beholder, but it could never be an "original," really, nor would it possess that quality of uniqueness and accuracy which distinguishes what, for want of a better description, is called "museum quality." Knowing how to loft would get the hull built. Then you'd need to learn the marlinespike seamanship necessary to know how to rig your model and how an Eighteenth Century British ship of the line was sailed to present it for display properly. And, of course, that all assumes you have the tools and craft skills to do the woodworking and metalworking necessary from scratch... and in miniature. (Consider that a rigged model of a ship like the one above may have close to a thousand blocks in its top hamper.) Put another way, "It helps a lot if you have a pretty complete knowledge of the full-scale building and sailing procedures and practices of the period when the vessel you are modeling was built." It's a lot easier to build models when one has decades of hands-on experience sailing and maintaining classic and historic wooden vessels. Admittedly, that's a pretty tall order and even with such experience, in order to build models of ships built hundreds of years ago, reading books is essential in any event. If one wants "to build ships like the one above," I'd advise them to start with a plank-on-frame kit, such as Bluejacket Shipcrafters' Jefferson Davis or America, keeping in mind that the manufacturer describes these as "experienced" level models. There are books, such as Davis' The Built-up Ship Model, Underhill's Plank on Frame Models (Vols. I and II,) Longridge's The Anatomy of Nelson's Ships, and lesser-known practicums which describe the building of specific fully-framed models, but be forewarned, the task isn't for the faint of heart. (See Ed Tosci's magnificent build log on his model of the clipper, Young America, at https://modelshipworld.com/index.php?/topic/3453-young-america-by-edt-extreme-clipper-1853/. I believe he is in the process of the publication in installments of a multi-volume work that should enable one to replicate his detailed interpretation of that vessel.) Frankly, the framing of a model such as the 6th Rate, Enterprize, above, is only a small part of the job. Properly rigging such a model would likely take much longer than building the hull, which is why many of the Admiralty Board models were never rigged. (The rigging schedules were also dictated by the Admiralty and one would refer to the appropriate schedule for the period when the ship was built to approximate her rig or study a contemporary model, if one exists. Again, here is where the research is required.) As I mentioned above, and as Chapelle, McCaffery, and other master modelers have lamented, there is a lack of diversity in the models which are built. What these experts fail to mention, however, is that the trade skills required to build an accurate model from extant lines drawings and limited pictorial documentation would discourage most people from attempting to build a model "from scratch." Consequently, folks focus on kits and books and publications which have, to one degree of accuracy or another, done the research work for them. That's a great way to get into the hobby and that's how most all people do get started, but compared to the number of vessels which could be modeled, but for the availability of lofting and research, the available choices for the modeler are relatively limited. As Chapelle once wrote, "Do we really need another model of Nelson's Victory?" (Or words to that effect.) In my own humble opinion, the world of workboats and yachts, for one example, for which detailed construction drawings abound in the available literature, offers a multitude of subjects for spectacular models without the need to do the sort of research required to build a model of a vessel that was built two or three hundred years ago and about which much is unknown. (See L. Francis Herreshoff's Sensible Cruising Designs for "how to build it" chapters on many exquisitely beautiful yachts which have rarely, if ever, been modeled. If one were of a mind to build an "Admiralty style" model of some of his famous clipper-bowed schooner and ketch designs, they'd be something to behold and quite unique.) The kit manufacturers are in business to make a living and I don't begrudge them their "rice bowls," but I do think some do the hobby a disservice by aggressively marketing extremely complex (and expensive) kits of vessels such as Sovereign of the Seas with the implied promise that "you, too, can build a model like this one." To that extent, some seem like the old ads for "paint-by-numbers" kits that promised the buyer a "Rembrandt" of their very own.
  2. They aren't "bulkheads" or frames. They are station lines. The stations are depicted in a standard draft at each station line on the baseline. (The lines pictured were drawn for the purpose of modeling and have some modeling-specific information in them, however.) These station lines, together with the other lines in the draft, define the shape of the vessel. The table of offsets, correspondingly, defines the dimensions of the lines. While, in smaller craft particularly, frames may coincide with station lines, that is more a matter of coincidence than anything else. In a larger, heavier vessel, such as the one above, were every frame to be represented with a station line, the drawing would be so full of lines as to be unreadable and for the purposes of defining the shape of the hull, unnecessary. Station lines have nothing to do with the construction details of the vessel. The construction of a vessel is addressed by the construction drawings, if there are any. (And in period vessels, there rarely are, as such details were left to be worked out by the master shipwright.) If you want to build a model using bulkheads, stations may be used to define your bulkheads. If you wish to build a model with frames the way the vessel was actually built, as with an Admiralty model, you will have to research the methods of construction at the time the vessel was built and apply that research to determine how the parts were fashioned to build it. The Admiralty had detailed rules for construction, sometimes called "scantlings," which you can look up in resource materials. These scantling rules dictate, based on the overall size of a vessel, the size of framing timbers and frame spacing, the thickness of planking, and on and on. The task of translating "lines," as above, to patterns for the actual parts of a vessel is called "lofting," because it was usually done on a wooden floor in a loft at the shipyards. Using the scale lines drawings and the scantling rules, the loftsman draws all the parts of the vessel full-scale and "takes up" (transfers) these "loftings" to create full-sized patterns which are then used to define the shape of all the parts that go into the vessel. If one wishes to build a model of the vessel with the lines above, they will have to "loft" the construction drawings at the desired scale and work from those in constructing the model "Admiralty style" in the same way the full-sized vessel was built. (Which, without the actual prototype available, will always be an educated approximation, since the form of the parts was often dictated by the size and shape of the raw wood available to the builders at the time.) A command of lofting is essential to using lines drawings to create scale models. With it, one has a huge selection of vessels from which they might select a subject to model. Without it, they are left to those relatively few subjects for which plans for modelers have been drawn up and offered for sale. (This is one reason why so many models of the same few ships keep getting built from commercially produced kits. Therein lies the distinction between "kit building" and "model making.") A good basic explanation of lofting is contained in Howard I. Chapelle's book, Boatbuilding. A far more comprehensive treatment of all aspects of lofting, including, for example, the methods for determining the degree of bevel on each frame of a hull, are contained in Alan Vaites' book, Lofting. (Both are readily available.) The common use of lines drawings is relatively recent, coming into use sometime in the Seventeenth Century, IIRC. Like all drafting, naval architectural drafting is a "language" which must be learned. The Lords of the Admiralty and the other bureaucrats who decided which vessel would be built were often, like most laymen, completely incapable of "reading" a set of lines on a sheet of paper. This why the Admiralty models came into being... to provide a readily understandable three-dimensional representation of the vessel proposed to be built to people who were unable to translate a two-dimensional set of lines to three-dimensions in their heads.
  3. The real question is "how old is 'old'?" Model Shipways makes excellent kits and always has, but times change and Model Shipways has improved their kits a lot over the years. Hence, an "old" Model Shipways kit of a particular vessel may well be quite different from a modern kit of the same vessel. As they say, "Don't ask me how I know this." I am generally wary of any kit on eBay because, in the first place, you really can't know if the kit is complete. I strongly suspect few are. There are a lot of parts that can be lost or broken. Plans sheets get lost. Stuff happens. There's no way to even know if all the parts are there until one goes through the entire lot, assuming there's a parts list to go by. Old Model Shipways kits will likely have cast metal fittings with considerable lead content and it is quite possible to encounter problems with "lead bloom" or "lead rot" as the lead oxidizes, particularly in acidic environments. Neither will you find any highly detailed photo-etched parts in old kits. Old Model Shipways kits will not have anything near the plans and instructions found in their current kits. Model Shipways kits today seem to often include detailed multi-page instruction "practicums" written by professional modelers, as well as very good plans drawings. The old kits provided a few plans sheets, a single typed page of "instructions," and that was it. It also bears mentioning that the standards of the art have been raised exponentially over the last few decades. In many respects, the old kits, if built as intended, will end up looking a bit crude compared to what a lot of modelers turn out today. To build a 30 or 40 year old, or more, ship model kit to present-day standards will require a considerable amount of scratch-building. The blocks and deadeyes, such as they are, will likely be unacceptable in quality. The same goes for the rigging thread. (Many purchase after-market versions of these items even when building the current kits because the kit materials aren't up to their desired quality.) In the end, there won't be much in the box of an old kit that ends up in the model when all is said and done. (Of course, there's a lot that doesn't end up in a well-built model out of today's kits, too!) I'd suggest that if you are considering a first kit, you select a modern kit specifically recommended by the manufacturer for builders who are new to the hobby. I believe both Model Shipways and Bluejacket Shipcrafters rate their kits on the basis of the experience one should have to build them. I would strongly suggest you follow the manufacturers' advice. Build a "beginner" kit, then move up to an "intermediate" kit, and so on. A lot of builders on this forum have several, or more, very expensive kits sitting on their workshop shelves waiting to be built. In most instances, I suspect, a lot of those un-built kits were "donated" by folks whose "eyes were bigger than their stomachs," as my father used to say when we didn't finish our meals. It would be a shame to bite off more than you could chew and go sour on the hobby when you might otherwise have found it a great pastime if you'd eased into it. I would not encourage someone without experience modeling ships, and particularly modeling ships in wood and metal and thread, to attempt a vessel like the Essex for their first outing. If you are interested in seeing what is involved in building the Model Shipways Essex, take a look at the build logs index on this forum and see if someone has done a build log on it. That would give you a good idea of whether you feel you have the ability to tackle challenge of that magnitude.
  4. Sure, a small travel iron solves the only real drawback to a full sized one. The only other problem is that it has a flat surface. That can be endured, however. That said, if anybody wants my old Ralt RA5 Aeriopiccola plank bending iron, "they'll have to pry it from my cold dead hands!" The operative function in bending wood is transferring heat to the wood. If that's accomplished, you've got it. (Adding steam or boiling water to the mix only serves as a heat transferring medium.) The advantage of the old Aeripiccola irons is that the heating element is shaped like a French curve (there's a technical name for the shape, which I can't remember... a spiral curve of sorts... I think it has something to do with the Fibonacci numbers... it's been a long time...) and has a small bail at one end to hold the end of the strip of wood while the other end is bent around the curve to the degree of bend required. You can't do that with a flat iron, though.
  5. Somebody probably has a more authoritative answer from a book somewhere, but I'd guess that they would attach the block on the horse with a shackle or a moused hook and remove the block when the mainsheet wasn't attached to the horse. (I'm not sure when shackles came into use, actually.) The shrouds would be attached to the chainplates similarly, with a shackle or moused hook on the bottom of the lower deadeye. This would permit the deadeye lanyards being loosened and the deadeyes and lanyards removed from the chainplates with the mast as a unit. The shrouds and deadeyes and lanyards, as well as halyards and stays, would likely have been lashed to the mast when it was stepped, and then the entire mast and gang of rigging removed with a tackle while the longboat was alongside. I doubt they'd have gone to the trouble to reeve the mainsheet tackle and deadeyes, although they may have stowed some of it below if they were "off soundings" for a long while and not anticipating sailing the longboat for weeks at a time. The spars and rigging would likely have been stowed lashed on the boat skids or spar rack of the ship. The mast is likely too heavy and unwieldy to step from within the longboat and there isn't any "tabernacle" arrangement that I expect would have been present (as in American whaleboats) if it were ever intended to be stepped from the longboat. Then again, some of the evolutions that were performed by the naval crews of that time were pretty amazing. For the size of the vessels, they carried large crews and many hands make light work. The amount of heavy work that was performed, such as stowing furniture and removing cabin bulkheads throughout the ship, when the crew was "beat to quarters" to go into combat was truly prodigious.
  6. I use 120 to 220 grit for rough shaping, 300 for smoothing primed surfaces prior to painting. I sometimes use finer grits, up to 600 when a really smooth surface is required. I prefer to use scrapers where possible on larger surfaces.
  7. That appears to be tarps covering what is perhaps the hammock racks. That is what I was talking about when I said things would be covered with tarps, but they wouldn't rig awnings in snow or rain because they'd have problems with the weight of snow and the wind with the awnings. In the above photo, there is a framework evident that would hold a tightly lashed down awning over the open hatch. Just aft of the capstan. ... And does anybody know what those "buckets" hanging from the capstan are there for? I've never run into those before. Here above is a good picture of a ship at anchor in a harbor with sun awnings rigged. These are intended to provide shade on deck and are commonly used in the tropics. The sails indicate that there isn't any heavy wind blowing and the laundry in the rigging suggests the weather was nice. I am a bit perplexed by the height of the "clothes lines, though." It does keep them up and out of the way and everything below shipshape, but rigging them appears to have been a chore. All the clothing would have to be well-tied to be secure!
  8. This is a good object lesson as to why a good model always deserves to be cased. Where would it have been after all these years without it? Beautiful model!
  9. So you were the one! A weighted monkey's fist can kill a man if it hits him in the head. In many ports, if a weighted monkey's fits hits the dock, the first thing a longshoreman is going to do is cut it off and toss it into the drink, accompanied by the sounds of some very salty language!
  10. I'd say not likely for "rain or snow." Wet weather certainly didn't discourage the "iron men in wooden ships." More importantly, the weight of snow would definitely be a problem with awnings rigged. (The nautical term is "awnings." "Tarps" are tight-fitting canvas covers to protect for deck machinery, hatch covers, and the like.) Awnings behave like horizontal sails in storm conditions. It likely wouldn't have been considered good seamanship to be caught in a blow with awnings rigged. They'd beat themselves to pieces. However, small awnings rigged over rigid frames, as sometimes seen on launches might be another matter, but these are mainly "spray dodgers" which came on the scene with the arrival of powered launches.
  11. It's been niggling at me for days now and I think I've found the answer. I think the horse below the tiller makes perfect sense, Chuck. Everything on a vessel is for a purpose and on most vessels, particularly naval vessels, things are pretty well worked out. A longboat is primarily a pulling boat. It's usually used for short trips to shore when anchored out, between vessels in a squadron, between ships at sea, or for sending armed parties ashore. Speed and maneuverability would usually be of the essence. There is no shortage of manpower on board the mother ship, so there's no problem manning the oars. By far, the most use she'd see would be propelled by oars. That would provide reliable speed and no problems with the wind being ahead of the beam. The sailing rig, as handy as it may have proven to be to Captain Bligh and his mates, had to be a pain to have to rig and was likely rarely used. It would only be of advantage on longer journeys when nobody was in a hurry and then, primarily, when the wind was abaft the beam. If so, there would be even less occasion to tack and thus to see the mainsheet running into the tiller as it came across on the horse. The tiller sets rather high. To install a horse above it would be complicated, as the horse has to be stable and the taller it is, the less ability it has to withstand the athwartships forces of the sheet block at the corners of the horse. The tiller is relatively short, which allows for the loose sheet tackle to perhaps be thrown around the tiller as the boom crosses amidships. As primarily a rowing boat, a "hybrid" approach is also obviously available. Traveling long distances to windward, short tacking under sail can easily be avoided by leaving the sails to luff on the short leg with the oarsmen taking over, and then relieving the oarsmen on the long tack to let the wind do the work. That would permit rather rapid windward progress without having to pass the boom over at all when the helm was a-lee. So, all in all, the horse below the tiller, while shocking to the eye of small boat sailors used to sail as the primary means of propulsion, and hence who do a lot of short tacking under sail, makes perfect sense on this particular boat. So from now on, Chuck, any time somebody asks about the mainsheet horse, tell thelm I said it was right and right for good reasons!
  12. Welcome! You will find a lot of people happy to help you here. Many of them are extremely talented miniaturists. Some are well-known "world class" ship modelers. Don't be discouraged. Experience starts when you begin. Take it one step at a time. Do not rush. Care and attention to detail are the prerequisites to building a respectable model. Everything else you need to know can be found in this forum and in several fine "bibles" of model shipbuilding which you will probably acquire over time. 1. Try to find a build log for this model or one similar to it. Billings has a series of working boats and I expect their building issues (and there will be some... there always are in any kit) will probably be addressed there. 2. Go to the resources section of this forum and study the tutorials there. Go to the Western NY Model Shipwrights' Guild webpage and study their "resources" page: https://www.modelshipwrightguildwny.org/ On that page, carefully study and learn these two tutorials on planking: 1) https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/226021_09487f2b95af4dfda94bcf16f7f14016.pdf (Part One) and 2) https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/226021_a1f6a3f402ae4fc38dd90fd7049c7713.pdf (Part Two.) Don't be discouraged if they appear complicated. There's no way around it. Take it one step at a time. Practice on a "mock up," if need be, before you try to plank a plank-on-bulkhead model for your first effort. I'm sure many will have more to add to your specific questions, but here's my two cents worth: Planking Gluing . I have decided to use CA type glue (medium or thick). Hopefully this will avoid pins or clamps but I will have to work fairly fast. I will practise a bit before working on the model. Follow the instructions in the planking tutorials. Read the section in this forum on adhesives. CA has its uses, but it is expensive and somewhat permanent, so mistakes may be hard to rectify. For planking, it is handy for use as "liquid nails" to tack down a plank, but I prefer to rely on good old Elmer's Wood Glue, which is removable with alcohol, for real holding power. Treenails are also good for making sure plank ends stay put where there's a lot of spring away from the rabbet. Plank Bending. I have a Hot Shot Steam Cleaner and tried bending some planks. It seems to work fairly well, but will have to experiment a bit more. Broke one board already, and I notice some separation of the wood fibres in the ones that did bend. Maybe I am trying to bend it too quickly. Steam works, but it's messy and somewhat dangerous, in that you can burn yourself easily with it. It's used in full-size boatbuilding because a whole piece of wood can be heated for an hour without drying the wood out as much and steam is a good way to get the heat to a large surface in a steam box. For little pieces of wood in modeling, getting the wood hot isn't so much of a difficult challenge. A store-bought plank bender, a steam iron (for the heat, not the steam,) or a soldering iron work just fine. Planks should be heat-formed before "hanging" on the model. Trying to bend planking directly on the frames or bulkheads before at least partially bending the plank with heat is the proper technique. You'll save a lot of broken planks that way. Plank Cutting. I can cut planks to rough length before mounting, using a scalpel or Exacto type knife. But how do you trim planks once they are installed? Let’s say that you need to trim 1/8” at the stern after installing a plank. What is the best way to do that? I imagine using a knife would be difficult. Is there a fine saw that you use? Dremmel? Again, read the planking tutorial for tools suggestions. Hobby knives are good. A small 1" iron plane is handy for trimming and beveling planks. No need to spend big bucks on a Lee Valley or Lie Nielsen piece of jewelry. The sharpness of the iron is more important than anything else on a small plane. You'll have plenty of time to collect fine tools along the way, but you can spend thousands on tools you think you must have before ever starting a model. Everybody has at least one modeling tool they bought when they started out, only to discover it was junk and they never used it. (Lot's of 'Loom-A-line" ratline jigs gathering dust in forumites' shops, I'm sure! ) Micro-Mark, a convenient one-stop source for modeling tools (although there are others offering better quality tools at better value) has a decent little micro-plane for ten bucks and they always are sending 20% off coupons if you sign up for them at the website. See: https://www.micromark.com/Mini-Wood-Plane?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=PLA_Brand&utm_term=4576304834449762&utm_content=Micromark PLA For trimming overhanging planks at the end of topsides at a flat transom, a jeweler's saw is the tool of choice. This is essentially a small coping saw. You don't have to spend $150 bucks for one, although that's what the best will cost, but don't buy the cheapo models in the hobby tool catalogs, either. Get a decent mid-price-range one from one of the jeweler's supply mail order outfits on line. There's probably been a thread in here about the best jeweler's saw. If not, start one and you'll find out what people are satisfied using. Get a good selection of blades. The jeweler's saw will be useful for cutting wood and also fine metal sawing. For straight cuts, a "razor saw" that fits in a large "X-Acto" handle (and often comes with an aluminum miter box) is a good basic tool to have. Keel Gluing. This particular ship comes with the keel split in 2 halves. Instructions say to plank first, then glue the keel together. However some people have posted that they glue the keel halves together first, then plank. I think the latter would be more difficult, but planking each half individually might lead to warping. Comments? I have no experience with that building method and it would concern me. Rigidity of the keel and bulkhead structure is essential. So is alignment of the bulkheads square to the keel where that is indicated (the "fixed frames.") I can't imagine why anyone would add the complication of making sure half of each bulkhead was perfectly aligned with it's other half, if that's what you're describing. Sorry, but if that's the way Billings designed the model, I guess you may have to dance with the girl you brought. Search the building logs and see if anybody has described doing, or not doing, it the way the instructions direct. That will probably save you a lot of grief. Hull Finishing. The hull will be a single layer of planking, and will be painted, so I will need to fill in the cracks. I have seen various methods including wood filler and glue & sawdust. Has anyone used gyproc (sheet rock) filler? This works great for nail holes, baseboard joints, etc. so why not for a model? I want to get the hull as smooth as possible – this model scale is 1:30, so a scratch of 1/32” (0.8 mm) equals a gouge of almost 1” (2.5 cm). Ouch. Double-layer planking is more forgiving. Again, read the planking tutorial. Meticulous attention to detail is required for a fair planking job. The bulkheads have to be perfect or the planking will be funky. If you pay attention to planking correctly, you shouldn't have "cracks" to fill in. If you need to fair a less that perfect planking job, drywall patch will work, but you won't get a "model scale" finish out of it easily. The product that I've had the best success with is what is used on yachts for perfectly faired topside finishing, marine "glazing compound" or "surfacing putty" (same thing,) which is thinned with acetone and dries very quickly. It is specifically formulated for sanding and comes in pint cans. It also sands very easily and takes paint well. It's specifically designed for the job. Drywall plaster is coarser and you won't get as smooth a surface as with surfacing putty. It's softer and scratches easily. Drywall putty tends to soak up a lot of paint. Bondo and other stuff like that, while it might work, is far harder to shape and sand, as it's hard. (Bondo is really for use on metal, not wood. You'd get fired if you were caught using it in a good boatyard.) Decking Glue. I have seen several tutorials on how to lay out the wood decking strips. But I haven’t seen anything that tells me what sort of glue to use, or how to fasten the decking in place. I plan to stain this decking to look like a teak deck, so I don’t want any glue residue which will not absorb stain or finish. How do you guys fasten the decking? For openers, there aren't many working fish boats with teak decks. It's very expensive stuff. Most work boats are planked with fir, larch, and similar species. It's your model. Just sayin'. Again, most use white or yellow wood glue ("Elmers" is the best-known brand.) If the deck planks are glued down, they aren't going anywhere. Many modelers will additionally fasten deck planks (and hull planks, if they show bare wood) with treenails. Care should be taken to place them where they would actually be on a real boat. (i.e at last two side by side at the ends of planks and at every intersection with a deck frame.) Wipe off glue residue with a water-dampened rag before it dries. Neatness counts in the first place, of course. Alcohol will remove any that you can't otherwise get off. If you are going to stain or paint your deck, I'd suggest doing so before the planks are laid. Painting the edges black should ensure the planking looks real, as on real boats the deck planking is caulked and the seams paid with tar. Scuppers. I plan to add scuppers to this boat. A real boat would have provisions for quick drainage of water from nets, rain, or spray in rough weather. So I will endeavour to cut some scuppers in the perimeter bulwarks. If you study your vessel carefully, or those of its type, you'll probably find a lot of details that can be added. By all means, do so if you so desire. That's what makes your boat "yours." Note that the picture of the boat on the kit box will always be of the model built by an accomplished modeler and often will have many added details. In many cases, if one built the model exactly as the instructions directed and used only the materials provided in the kit, it would look like crap. For instance, many modelers will automatically throw the planking stock and other wood in their scrap bin if it's junk, as it often is in kits, and order better wood from modeling suppliers on line. The same goes for rigging line and fittings. These are the parts of kits that are often not really suitable for a good model. "But that's everything in the kit!" you say. See, now your are becoming an experienced ship modeler! Starting with a kit is a great way to go. Most do it that way, but most quickly move to "kit bashing" and, ultimately, to "scratch-building" as they build on the experience gained by their first kit builds.
  13. Thanks for the compliment on the boat! I was a bit embarrassed to post it, particularly the unflattering "close-ups" of the rigging line. I sort of backed into the model. Someone gave me a very limited plan of a seventeen foot hard-chine catboat and I modified the design, the cabin and the rig primarily, and starting futzing around with it to see what it would look like. One thing led to another and the next thing I knew, I was taking the model seriously. I did rush through certain aspects, though. I would have spent more time cleaning up the metalwork and if I'd been harder on myself, I'd have laid up my own rope. I didn't even "flame" the thread to get rid of the fuzz! It was a cute boat in the end, so I built a case for it. Anyway, where it's necessary I did apply clear ("white") shellac to the lines in order to shape them. This is particularly evident in the coiled halyards hanging over the cabin bulkhead. It isn't natural to have scale lines coiled like a cowboy's lariat, as is often seen. Working lines on real vessels are limp and, when coiled and hung, don't lay in "circles," but rather hang down and conform to whatever they are draped over. Shellac is soluble in alcohol, which allows for changes and forming. The alcohol dries quickly and as it does, it permits forming the thread to pretty much whatever shape one desires. It's invisible, provided only enough is applied to wet the thread (one coat.) Adding further coats on top of dried coats builds up a glossy finish that isn't desirable. If "softening" for further shaping is desired, it only takes an application of alcohol to return the shellac already applied to a soft state again. I use shellac a lot, no only for treating lines to create catenaries or to seal knots (which are easily "unsealed" with alcohol, if required... there are always "do-overs," it seems,) but I also use it as a sealer on wood parts. Alcohol is quite water-impermeable and keeps wood stable. Depending upon the wood species, changes in ambient humidity can cause wood to move a lot, weakening the structure over time and causing glued parts to let go. I also use it when I want to leave wood natural. Repeated coats can depict varnished brightwork well, and when not overdone (i.e. not overly glossy,) can look quite realistic. All the unpainted wood on the model has shellac applied to it. Lastly, shellac is dirt cheap and brushes are easily cleaned in alcohol. Get your alcohol by the quart or gallon at the hardware store. That's the least expensive source. Get "clear" or "white" shellac. The "orange" shellac has an orange cast which will build up to a dark brown with repeated coats. I don't find much use for it on models. If your shellac thickens in the can, or if you wish to apply it in lighter coats than "out of the can," just add alcohol and stir. The solvent in shellac is only alcohol, so for those who are concerned about vapors, there are none to worry about. I seriously doubt that a "1940's cotton sail" from a full-size boat will work at your scale, if I understand your comment correctly. I've sailed with cotton sails of various weights, including very light spinnakers. All would have been much to heavy for model work. What you want is very light, tightly woven fabric. Something around the weight of handkerchief cloth. Hope this helps. Your model looks very nice, by the way! It demonstrates good, clean and crisp work. I'll keep an eye on how it goes.
  14. I have found that light cotton material or the equivalent is quite suitable for sails at as small as 3/4" to the foot. At this scale, a fine stitch in thin thread on a sewing machine is properly scaled for representing the sailcloth panels. It's tedious hand-stitching, but boltropes, reinforcing patches, and other "real-life" sail details are all possible. Actually cutting and sewing panels cut to shape the sail, as in full-size practice is a level of sophistication I have yet to attempt, but this also is theoretically possible. However, once a sail is bent onto the model, it tends to take the same shape as a real sail, and can be "filled" and shaped with a hair dryer in one hand and a can of spray starch in the other, right on the model. (Masking all but the sail before spraying the starch is advised, of course.) The below photos are of a yet-to-be-starched machine-stitched and hand-worked gaff sail of cotton in 3/4" to the foot scale. The photos weren't taken for the purpose of showing the sail work and the sail wasn't made with the lightest fabric available, but should provide some idea of what real cloth sails look like in larger scale models.
  15. I wonder if you've ever considered using this or another similar sculpted plastic pedestal, perhaps designed to accommodate pads of various sizes on the dolphins' tails so as to fit a variety of models, fore and aft, as a pattern for brass or bronze castings? I'm guessing their relatively small size would make them suitable for lost-wax casting patterns. Here in the US, at least, there are foundries that can turn out small sculptural castings for quite reasonable prices (usually based on the weight of the metal poured) if a pattern is provided. I'll bet such cast metal bases would be a profitable sideline internet mail-order business if one were so inclined.
  16. Trust me, you don't want to go there. At this stage of the game, I'm a lot less of a porpoise than I am a barnacle-encrusted, battle-scarred, old white whale!
  17. Wonderful rigging job! A delight to watch someone else suffer through it, but a bit daunting. Were I at the early stages of building yet another Constitution, I'd be sorely tempted to reduce the task of rigging and proceed with building her in her receiving ship days. Or perhaps an Independence (1814) as a receiving ship at Mare Island before she was burned for her scrap metal on the mud flats at Hunter's Point. As noted, the billowing sails pose decided challenges, but I think it's worth the effort because it brings the model "alive" and, importantly, I think, opens up the view to the details on deck and at the base of the mast, which otherwise are always a problem getting the amount of viewer attention they truly deserve.
  18. Sorry to have rubbed salt into the wound. I missed the first "few dozen times." As I mentioned, I expected that your version was faithful to the original contemporary model. I can accept that the "why" of it is now lost in the mists of time. As you said, "It's a model of a model."
  19. Thanks so much for sharing your amazing work! Keep it coming! (The MSW Forum "Swimsuit Edition" photos aren't bad, either!)
  20. Beautiful rigging job on the longboat in the gallery, Chuck! In its scale, the fine line and blocks certainly make a huge difference. One question, however. I'm sure that you meticulously recreated the contemporary model upon which your longboat is based, but why would such a vessel have a mainsheet horse that is below the tiller? This requires the tiller to be unshipped from the rudder stock on every tack, at the time it is needed most, in order to permit the mainsheet tackle to slide over to the leeward wide. Isn't a horse on the transom and crossing above the tiller, or a mainsheet rigged to blocks on the quarters instead of a horse, which don't cause the sheet tackle to foul on the tiller, be the proper arrangements?
  21. Or you can simply tape various grades of wet and dry sandpaper to a flat surface (sheet of plate glass, top of full-size table saw) and use the sandpaper as a sharpening stone.
  22. Sure, put them on, but now you've entered the wonderful world of "kit-bashing." Which is perfectly okay. If you think they look better with the bolt ropes, it being in scale and all that, they by all means do it. There's no shame in adding detail to make a kit model better. Most all of the really well-done kits you'll see will necessarily include a lot of scratch-built improvements and additions.
  23. Forming the "U" shaped bend in the shackle is easily accomplished with an orthodontist's loop-forming pliers. The models with stepped jaws will provide a range of loop diameters. Jeweler's loop-forming pliers will work as well, but more care has to be taken to make sure the diameter of the bend is consistent from piece to piece.
  24. I'm sorry, but time prevents me getting a drawing done, scanned and posted at the moment. I'll try for a simplified version of my description of the jig. I've amended it slightly, as well, as you will see. Imagine a small block of metal, at least a quarter inch thick and two inches square. The following dimensions will vary depending upon the size of shackle you want. It has two holes drilled in it. Their diameters are the same as the ends of the shackle you want to make. The distance between the far edges of the two holes is the same as the length of the piece of wire you want to make the shackle out of. On one side of the metal block is a "U" shaped slot machined in the face of the block, running between the two holes and in line with their centers. The depth of the slot would be the diameter of the wire you are using to make the shackle. Looking at it from the side of the metal block with the groove, the two holes and the slot would look something like a weight-lifting dumbbell. To use it, the piece of wire that is to become the shackle is cut to the length of the distance between the far edges of the two holes and annealed. it is then laid on a flat anvil (or any other piece of metal.) and the block of metal with the groove facing downward is placed on top of anvil and the piece of wire so that the wire is held in place by the groove between the outer edges of the two holes and at the bottom of the holes. Looking down at the bottoms of the two holes, one would see the wire ends running straight across the bottoms of the holes, in the same line as the groove. The metal block would then be held so the piece of wire was sandwiched between the anvil and the metal block. A drift punch (or any piece of metal with a flat end matching the diameter of the holes) is placed in a hole and struck, flattening the end of the wire at the bottom of the hole to a flat circle the diameter of the hole. This would be repeated on the wire at the bottom of the other hole. (This is the same process as hand-striking a coin.) This same process would then be repeated with a transfer punch matching the diameter of the holes. Lightly striking the transfer punch would add a "center punch" dimple in the center of the end of the flattened end of the wire for accurately drilling the hole in the ends of the shackle. The wire would be removed and holes drilled in the center (marked by the transfer punch) of the round flattened ends of the wire and the wire bent in half to form the shackle. The shackle pin would be made the same way, but only using a length of wire with one flattened circular shape at the end and a hole drilled in it. Note that the pin of a shackle should be the same diameter as the shackle itself, so the same wire should be used for shackles and pins and the hole drilled in the ends of the shackle should be the same diameter as the wire used for both. If you were working in a larger scale and wanted to be really anal about it, the shackle and pin could be threaded using a tap and die, but allowances would have to be made for the threads which would require using a slightly larger size wire for the pin and a slightly larger hole drilled in the non-threaded end of the shackle. Without threads, a touch of CA adhesive on the "threaded" end of the pin will hold the pin in place forever and no one will be the wiser. This is a transfer punch below. They are used to mark the exact center of holes in the base of a piece when you want to fasten it to another piece. They are sold in progressively sized sets, like drill bits, and are relatively inexpensive. I've not tried this technique described with the holes used as a sort of die to squash a perfectly round circle at the end of the shackle wire, In the past, I've simply mashed it with a hammer and then filed to a rounded shape, but that is tedious work when a lot of shackles need to be made and, as most know, if you are working in a scale that permits shackles, there will usually be more of them than there are blocks. Below is a past effort of mine which I hope would be more refined if I'd done it today, but you can see what you get with this shackle-making method. In the below case, a 3/4" to the foot catboat of my own design, I left the shackles to develop their own patina, which has become a good imitation of weathered bronze at this point.
  25. Yes, I've seen the Lexan tops. In practice, they really don't provide much light at all, though, unless the sun is directly above the standpipe. If getting light below is desired, a deck prism is a far better solution. They were widely used in times past, but are generally too small a detail to be seen on contemporary models. Modern designs make wide use of plastics and safety glass to let light in, particularly in hatch tops, so now the dark cabins that resulted for the need to keep glass portlights small for reasons of materials strength are pretty much a thing of the past. Traditional portlights on modern yachts are more a matter of design aesthetics than anything else. "Modern" deck prism parts. Nineteenth Century not-so-modern deck prism from below. Nineteenth Century deck prism uninstalled. Mystic Seaport sells these replicas of those on the Charles W. Morgan for thirty bucks as souvenir paperweights. Interesting trivia, perhaps, but let's not let it sidetrack us from Michael's fascinating build log. I'm waiting for his next magical trick making slotted head screws to unfold! I'm learning a whole lot here from him!

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