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USS Constitution by Modeler12 - FINISHED

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I just bought this model. I watched your previous postings. Can't wait to see it continue!

This an honor I don't deserve, but let me begin with a few highlights of my log. Again for more details go to my web site.

The kit contains the various laser cut parts such as the bulkheads and keel pieces. The first step (besides learning what this is all about and sorting out the numerous parts) is to assemble the basic hull. Nothing new, and as many of you know this is a rather critical step because any misalignment will cause grief and lots of extra work later on.

The pictures that follow below have some comments because it gets confusing if I were to just show all the pictures I have taken thus far without a label. I may also have to split this part up into a few sections and point out some pitfalls I encountered (as well as some short cuts that I think will help). I should also add here that I started with the cookbook published by a Mr. Hunt. It really helped me in the beginning, but I soon found out that there are better ways to do some of his 'instructions'.









Edited by Modeler12
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Thanks Jim. I will have to check your progress next. But let me continue with a couple comments about the next steps on my Conny.


First a suggestion about the hatch covers. They come as laser cut pieces framed with baswood. I decided to replace that with walnut that I bought from Hobby Mill. I also used simple miter cuts for the corners. See below.


Installing the rivets for the bulwark was going to be a tedious job. The cookbook said to do this one by marking and drilling one hole at a time after the planks were glued in place. Wrong!!!]

I decided to predrill the holes in each board using the setup on my drill press with a Dremmel type tool mounted on the quill. This took a fraction of the time. I then glued four of these board edgewise and glued in the rivets. Now I could cut this into sections as shown below.


I should also have installed the outside planking of the hull before the bulwark because the alignment of the little posts and sections between the port holes was not all that great. It would have been better to have a smooth looking outside hull.






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Thanks for all of the pointers! Your changes make sense.  It seems to me that doing all of that drilling for the rivets would be much easier off the ship. 

I see that three different sizes are available for the rivets (0.20, 0.25, and 0.35) at Tichy Train which size did you use?



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Let’s continue with some ideas and pictures. I will not go through every step.

One tricky part was the gallery, the aft section with the officer’s potty and lookout windows. I had a heck of a time getting that right and am still not happy with the final pieces. For example, on hind sight I could have used very narrow white tape for the window panes. It is available in widths down to 1/32 inch. I ended up painting mine and the close-up shows it. My old hands are just not steady enough.


For more details of all of this go to my web site shown below and check the section “Hull Construction’.




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Another example of doing things a bit different was the transom. The cookbook said to install the planks one by one. I decided to make a copy of the drawing (which are close to the correct scale) and glue the planks and gun hatches to that. I was then able to trim and mount this pre-assembly to the hull.


One reason for doing it this way was that I wanted to make sure the planks would match those coming from the sides. I wanted the white trim pieces to lign up correctly.


I might add that the name Constitution was made by printing a black background on paper and then adding on top of that the letters in white. I had to juggle the font and size to match the name plate, but it came out ok.




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Thanks Steve. Here is more.


After the hull was planked and painted I had to add the copper plates.


I started by cutting each plate from the roll of copper foil that comes with the kit, but quickly got tires of doing thousands of those one by one. Along comes my wife, watches me and then asks ‘Why don’t you cut longer strips. It would be a lot faster!!!!’ Thanks for wives who are interested.


I cut strips about 7 inches long, used a seamstress dimpling tool to simulate the bolts and proceeded with the copper plating. This not only saved me a lot of time, but the alignment of the plates was a lot better. I did use individual pieces near the stern and bow where there are sharp curves.






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Those of us who have built the bow section of the Conny know that this is one of most difficult part to do right. Each piece is a three dimensional puzzle. I had to completely redo the part that goes from the bow to underneath the cathead. The frontal picture above tries to show this.


I also took a different approach with the floor of the head. The kit comes with laser cut pieces similar to the hatch covers, but I had seen drawings that showed slats and a different arrangement of the head seat. I decided to do this in mahogany. It turned out the floor slopes upwards towards the bow and the front seats were at a terrible angle. No way could anyone sit there and do their job. So it was back to the arrangement shown below.


It was an interesting diversion and a bit of scratch building.




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Let me move on to some of the deck furnishings. I will only cover a couple that I think might be of interest. Again the processes were a deviation from the cookbook.



Before I do that, let me mention something that I found useful. It has to do with the order of installing exterior parts to the hull. There are several pieces that are quite delicate and when working on the deck parts such as the cannons, it is very easy to damage other parts. In particular I am referring to the cannon lids on the lower deck, the chain plates with deadeyes, and the netting on top of the rails. I went ahead with the cannon lids and ended up damaging some of the wire ‘pull ropes’. I did pre-fabricate the chain plates but held off installing them until I was finished with the deck. Likewise I have not yet installed the netting; even though I have already started with the masts, stays and sails.



I had made the twenty cannons using the blocks that were supplied with the kit for the tackles. I was not at all satisfied with the looks of the poor blocks. They were out of shape and way too big. So I ordered some good ones (2.5 mm) from a fellow in Utah. The difference is shown below.


The second has to do with making the support frames for the two steering wheels. The cookbook suggested making the two frames by cutting them out of a sheet of styrene. I quickly gave on that and decided to make them look more like the real thing. I formed the four legs as shown below and glued them to the center post. The two blocks were pressed after soaking the piece in warm water.








Edited by Modeler12
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One more set of pictures and then I am where I left off a couple weeks ago. What I have not covered are the rope-walk I made for the rigging lines, a fixture to make rope coils, nor a lot of other details that are covered on my web site.

I have made the masts and spars using an old Shopsmith. The picture below shows how I adapted a ‘follower’ to support the center and an end plate for the thin dowels. The dowels were too flexible so I did not use gouges to form the tapers. A lot of filing took care of that. This was before I got a mini lathe for Christmas.




I made six sails for the Conny. They include the spanker, three top sails and two jibs. Since the spanker is easy to install before the shrouds and stays are in place, I went ahead with the rigging. Right now the mizzen mast is glued in place and next comes the lower section of the main. Obviously I will have to add the shrouds before the upper parts of the masts are installed.



Strangely enough I still have not made the bowsprit nor the rail netting. I will have to buckle down and get going again. But first I need to learn how to use this new format!!!!

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After the rehash above I am now working on the 12 spars. I have added jackstays to the bottom six and footropes to all.


Jackstays are the rods that run on top of the spars and are held in place by lots of eyebolts. The sails would be laced to them and they also served for the men to hold onto as they stood on the footropes. ‘One hand for the man and one for the ship’. The footropes were tied to these jackstays as well.


I used .010” rope dyed with the ebony color. Starting with the vertical stirrups, I would lace and CA glue the horizontal foot rope to these and the end. A small section of footrope was also added to the very tip of the spars. They are referred to as Flemish Horses.


Bottom view


This is the spar turned upside down and before trimming the ends of the footropes. It was the position I used to add footropes.

The end of the spars and further inboard are some large loops. They would be used to hold studding booms to the spars. I will not be using them (except for the booms stored on the channels next to the hull).

Edited by Modeler12
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Looking great!  By the way, your windows in the galleries look awesome. 

Thanks Keelhauled.

Making the gallery windows took a couple tries. The darn things are slanted, hard to measure and install. In my website section I go into a lot of details about this. But on hind site (and I think I mentioned that somewhere) the window panes could have been made using narrow white tape.

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Thanks Geoff and Carl for your comments.

I have been a wood worker for several years but never had to do such fine detail work that model ship building requires. I am having fun but lately I had to do a few other projects and my Conny has been waiting for more hands on deck.

I had to make an oak desk for a friend, got a mini lathe and scrollsaw that required some modifications and then I designed and made a thickness sander for my drill press. See http://modelshipworld.com/index.php?/topic/244-using-a-drill-press-for-other-operations/


Pretty soon it is back to work on the sails and bowsprit.


Geoff I have not yet taken a look at your Conny, but I always admired your work not only on the ship itself but also the four or five tenders and boats you made. Are you still involved with the other forum?

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I plan to build the MS Conny in the next year or so and have been following your log. I purchased Mr. Hunt's Practicum also and am glad you are pointing out the pitfalls and tips you have encountered. I look forward towards future updates.


Present and first build: Manoli Rattlesnake

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I plan to build the MS Conny in the next year or so and have been following your log. I purchased Mr. Hunt's Practicum also and am glad you are pointing out the pitfalls and tips you have encountered. I look forward towards future updates.


Present and first build: Manoli Rattlesnake

JS. The 'practicum' that you bought helped me tremendously at first. The Conny is very complicated for a first build (I bit the bullet and went ahead quite some time ago). I did do a few things a bit differently but I wouldn't call them 'pitfalls'. They were just a different way that made more sense to me.


I must also point out that I jumped around a lot and did not always follow the order of things. If you take a look at Geoff's pictures (see his post above) you can appreciate the great details he crafted. The netting on the rails, for example, are quite delicate, I am sure. So when working on the deck details I did not want to damage them with my clumsy fingers. Hence I am holding off with that and other parts along the sides until I have done a lot of detailed work inboard.


Good luck and happy modeling.

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"I must also point out that I jumped around a lot and did not always follow the order of things."

You too? I've following Bob Hunt's Practicum for the Rattlesnake and learned (sometimes the hard way) that the order in which he built his model does not work for me. I too have jumped a bit. Sometimes I should have zigged when I should have zagged but that's the learning experience we all have to go through. I have also been watching Geoff's build as well and I hope between all of these (and other) wonderful sources to produce a model approaching the quality I see being displayed on this site.



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