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  1. As far as I know this is the first log on this site for Model Shipways’ cross section of the USS Constitution. I bought the kit last summer, when I think it was pretty newly released, and when I was about midway through my Spray build. I have never done a cross section, and I was attracted to the novelty (for me), the detail, and the fact that I wouldn’t be spending many months simply building a hull. So far I am not in the least disappointed. Upon opening the relatively small densely packed box I soon realized this was not going to be a simple, quick build. There are five sheets of plans (although only two are really plans; the smaller three show the location of the hundreds of laser cut parts as laid out on their sheets of wood as well as some photo-etched brass fittings). The two plan sheets are three feet by almost four feet (that’s a two foot ruler in the photo of them laid out on my floor). I found a couple poster hangers on Amazon and hung them on the wall to better view them. The fittings are extensive, as is the number of laser cut wood parts. The only thing that seems underwhelming in volume is the number of wood strips and dowels, but that kind of makes sense for a cross section. The really amazing thing for me are the instructions. Almost 100 pages, with an average of 3 or more color photos per page! As with most Model Shipways kits, the instructions can be downloaded as a pdf from their website, which makes choosing an appropriate build a lot easier. With instructions this voluminous, it is helpful to have them on a computer and able to be searched, if there is a specific issue you want to look ahead about (as I mention below). First step is to cut out the three frames, or what I might have called ribs, which are the skeleton of this part of the hull. The laser cut pieces are securely attached with a minimum of tabs, and the laser cutting is sharp, precise and complete -- well done. All three parts are attached to a building stand, that will be cut off later in the build. Two lengthwise pieces connect those stand parts, and the slots all need to be sanded so they fit. I made those connections quite tight, as they will not be disassembled for quite some time. Eight additional crosswise laser cut pieces (identified as spacers) are provided to connect the frames and to keep them a precise distance apart at the level of each deck. These will be moved around a bit from time to time during the build, and I sanded their slots so they are a little looser. The instructions assign six of them to what seems like a random distribution among the orlop, gun and spar decks (there is also a berthing deck, which for some reason gets none of these spacers). Interestingly, I haven’t found anywhere in the instructions or the plans where the deck names are expressly identified, but it is pretty easy to figure out by looking ahead at the pictures in the instructions (orlop, berthing, gun and spar, from bilge to sunshine). Assembling and gluing the keel (which needs a rabbet cut in it), the keelson pieces, and the keelson cap is all quite straightforward. The instructions suggest, and the pictures show, writing “B” on the bow end of the keel to assure that it is properly installed. That struck me as a bit odd, until I realized that the three frames vary fairly significantly in shape and that things are not symmetrical for and aft. No big deal as to the keel, but a good habit to get into when dealing with other pieces later in the build. The slot in the frames for the keel is a loose fit, and I used a couple of rubber bands to press the keel up against the frame when gluing it in place (careful to glue it to the frame and not to the building stand). A mast step is then made out of a 1½” length piece of the remaining ¼” x ½” strip. To avoid chewing up the soft basswood with a large bit, I drilled the ¼” hole for the mast by starting with a ⅛” bit and working my way up to ¼” with the three or four intermediate bits I own. I then chamfered the hole with a Dremel tool. Note that I did not cut the mast step off of the ¼” x ½” strip until I had finished all of this -- it’s nice to have something to hang on to when working on a piece like this. Limbers (I had to look up the nautical definition) on either side of the keelson cap are shaped from ¼” square strips. Here the change in shape of the hull fore and aft makes shaping them a little like shaping a propeller. The instructions complicate that quite a bit by having the limbers slope up to the base of the mast foot where the two intersect, but the plans show the mast foot simply continuing straight down on each side to intersect with the limbers. In one of the photos below I tried to draw in red what the instructions direct. I chose to follow the plans instead, and added a 1/16” strip to the bottom of each side of the mast step to fill the gap between it and the limber below.
  2. I've finally decided to take the plunge and start my first wooden model. I don't have much experience working with wood (although a friend and I did recently complete a wooden truss-tube telescope - his 3rd, my 1st - but that involved mostly square cuts at a much larger scale), so I thought this cross section would be a good way to get my feet wet, so to speak. With this kit I think I can learn some of the basic skills I will need without getting too caught up right away with learning to bend planks, learn how to strop and rig blocks (3mm blocks! How do you work with those?) and enjoy seeing how the rigging comes together. I've already figured out things I would have done differently, but I think for the most part they will not affect the final look. You will see in some of the pictures below that the planking seems to be at an angle, and not perpendicular to the frames - in reality the spacers are not parallel to the keel but the planking is - should have scribed a line on the frames where the spacers go. I've decided to follow one suggestion I came across in one of the really excellent build logs I've come across and plank the hold up to the point where the deck beams attach and use the planking to keep the support level. One question on bending the deck beams - the plans call for gluing 2 strips of lathe together and putting it in a jig to get the right curve - I am assuming I can just smother the wood in glue and bend and place it in the jig (with wax paper to keep it from sticking to anything else) and it would keep its shape when dry (that is what we did to create the one curved piece on the telescope). Is that correct, or do I need to wet the wood, soak it, putting it in vinegar or rubbing alcohol? Thanks for stopping by.
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