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Louise by owend - FINISHED - Constructo - 1:26 scale

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Louise is a smart-looking Victorian river steam launch, the type used by elegant (and rich) Victorians and Edwardians for leisurely days on the Thames. She is 46cm/18 inches long.


The kit comes with many smaller items well-labelled in neat plastic bags, and seemingly good documentation - rather brief instructions but a full-colour book of photographs.


The wood is a nightmare though - firstly some sizes don't correspond exactly with the sizes given in the contents list, so identifying them is difficult as they come in several rubber-banded bundled and several different sizes in each bundle. Then sometimes a length is used by three, four or more different part numbers - obviously the long piece has to be cut to different lengths, but it looks complex!


Anyway, I've spent a while identifying the first pieces and hoping things get clearer when I can see how things go together. Also reading the instructions and Mike Dowling's excellent log (hopefully the link is: http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/8900-louise-by-mike-dowling-constructo/?hl=louise).


I've cut out the false keel, attached the ribs and deck with no great problems, except the deck is bigger than the rest, it sticks outside the line of the ribs and it's too long at the sternpost. Not a big deal, I think, it's trimmable and it'll be hidden by planking but a bit worrying for quality down the line. The photo shows the progress so far, with the bow and stern filler blocks.


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Planking the hull: progress is very slow - the hull planking supplied is 2mm x 5mm sapele, which is difficult to bend accurately, and I'm making a poor job of it. It's doubly difficult because the inner side of the planks will be on show inside the boat, so both sides should be perfect. Also, at 2mm thick and some fairly tight curves to the hull the planks need to be filed down at one side to eliminate any gaps which is a pig to do. I'm almost too ashamed of my work at this stage to include photos, but I'll take some tomorrow!


I've had to admit defeat on the single-planking approach, but I think Constructo have had a lot of feedback on that point, as they include enough thin veneer (0.5mm) for a second planking, with a slightly condescending comment on a printed slip that it's included at the request of a number of customers who are new to modelmaking. I'll be filling and sanding down the first planking and apply the veneer, which seems very malleable and it's so thin it shouldn't affect the lines of the hull.


On the plus side, all the wood seems to be of high quality - very straight and tight bends and assorted cuts and drillings haven't led to any splitting at all yet.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been planking, as usual a slow process. I found it difficult to plank with the 2mm thick planks supplied, as I found them very difficult to bend tightly enough, and the curve of the hull meant having to chamfer the edges to achieve a smoth fit both inside and outside, and with this open hull the inside is visible. My best efforts were, as expected, wanting!




I did some filing with some effect:




and then filled, filed and stem and keel attached:




The result doesn't look too good, but feels smooth enough to the touch to act as the base for second planking.


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The veneer is easier to plank with: it's only 0.5mm thick and like all the wood in this kit it's good quality, so it bends, trims etc with no splitting, a pleasure to use. I found the single-piece transom slightly shallow, and I used the hull planking (2mm!) strips to build it up:




You can see that the second planking has gone quite well, I'm pleased with it. The small mark in the centre is actually the drilled hole for the rudder shaft - I'm using a piece of rigid brass rod rather than the soft brass supplied (which is quite thick and being rolled up will be difficult to get looking perfectly straight - a strange way to supply metal intended for straight use!).


I've now got the rudder attached, but not the propeller yet. Its hole is drilled ready but it's a white metal casting, quite rough finish, so I'll smooth it with some filing and paint it gold, and fit it quite late on to avoid knocks in the meantime.


The outer hull is otherwise finished - a light coat of satin varnish to keep marks away while I work on the inside. The two-coloured wales attached very easily and echo the deck planking and outer keel nicely.




Note the inset, slightly darker, deck planks; not sure if it works yet, I'll reserve judgement until the striped benches are in and it's varnished!




Conclusions so far: the kit has good instructions and good quality wood and hardware apart from the brass rod which is supplied rolled up. The hull planking is too thick to use as instructed. if I was to repeat the build I would aim for a neat finish inside where the inner skin shows, and complete the rest with less worry about the finish, and use the supplied veneer for second planking. It's so thin it doesn't affect the thickness of the hull and it's good quality and fairly easy to apply.



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  • 2 weeks later...

The rear benches are in: I couldn't see why the rear cross bench sat on top of the side benches, so I trimmed back the "spur" on the keel:




(note the benches, it was easier to glue all the laminates in one, then cut the three benches from the strip)


and fitted a new cross bench, with a couple of pieces of scrap glued underneath to take the side benches:




and the finished benches, with a strip of veneer to hide the cut-off edge of the keel spur:




Next up (slightly out of order, as I wanted to be able to check for size after building the cabin) was the coamings round the two wells, Problems: firstly Mike Dowling in his buildlog found difficulty bending to such a tight radius, and secondly the instruction calls for 1.5mm x 4mm, and I don't have it! It's the first missing item I've come across. I had already decided to laminate the coamings anyway, so I glued three strips of the 0.5mm veneer, using the cutout from the deck sheet as a template:




The laminates are sitting on paper, so that they get attached to easily-removed paper rather than the cutting block.


After removing, and first sanding for the bottom one, the end result looks good, I'm happy with it:




I've done some work on the cabin, mostly to the plan, but more detail later.

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Thanks, Bob, I'm on a roll (it was raining most of the day) so the next instalment already! The coamings came up OK, although one of the 1x1mm light strips wouldn't bend smoothly, causing some swearing and taking a long time:






The cabin so far: basically as plan except I didn't use a light panel for the lower part of the doors, as I thought the dark wood looked better. Also, with three benches outside I felt there was no need for two more in the cabin, so I gave them a table on which to carve the cold roast swan, serve the champagne, etc. The spurs at the foot of the front panel are because when the cabin is in place there's a gap between the vertical cabin wall and the curved hull; I'm hoping to put in a filling piece when the cabin is permanently fixed, so the spur is to glue that to. The cabin fits into the hull with a gentle twisting action!


There are also reinforcing struts inside the corners of the cabin walls; I felt the cabin needed the extra strngth because it still had some handling to come (sanding, glazing, curtains, roof) and I wasn't confident of its strngth. In the event I don't think it was needed, but they don't show from outside.




And finally a dry fit:




Next, a bit of varnishing and sanding, curtains, windows and roof, then glue in the cabin.



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Thanks for your kind words, all! Yes, 2mm planking wasn't good as a single layer, but Constructo obviously realise that, and the second layer, of 0.5mm veneer, went on much easier, so just think of it as a double-planked kit. I must say it's an elegant design, Rowan D and Patrick, and a fun kit to build (mostly!).


I've got the cabin on now, and my mistake, there are two "stops" included which I hadn't spotted to close up the gap beside the front end of the cabin - remember to fix them before the cabin goes in, unlike me   :rolleyes: !


Another piece of wood missing: 0.5 x 2mm Manzonia, which looks to be a dark brown, isn't anywhere in the kit; used for edging the cabin roof and rooflights. I replaced it with time-consumingly carved offcuts:




Which brings me to the next point: the kit has two small roof hatches. I've planked the roof with the same pattern as the deck, which I think looks quite good as-is. I don't think I want the two-hatch design, I think it looks a bit fussy. So, either leave the roof plain (no hatch at all), or possibly a single clerestory as the mock-up which would be planked and edged with dark timber:




What does anyone think? The clerestory could be larger or smaller, it's only mocked-up.

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OK, no definite feelings apparent! I'm going to hedge bets, I'll leave the cabin roof plain, but I'll make a clerestory and keep it in the spares box, and attach it later if it looks better.


Latest work has been the boiler and engine. It's not fully finished and varnished yet:




The eagle-eyed will notice the whistle on the front of the chimney: this is because I carefully drilled and fitted the two eyelets to hold the steampipe and carefully lined it up and carefully stuck it into the boiler with the eyelets carefully lined up fore and aft. And then realised the chimney was 180 degrees out :(  . The thing with instant glue is it's glue-ey and instant.


Patrick, sorry I didn't reply to your post on Hermes; you've obviously found this log as my next task! To get ahead and save me failing to answer your next query, my next project is the Thames spritsail barge Will Everard at 1/80th. I'm drawing up the plans based in outline on the Billings kit; it'll be part-POB and part-POF, and "Admiralty model"-ish, left in bare wood and with only an inch or so of masts and bowsprit but no rigging. I'll install mast steps so if I want to I can finish rigging later. It's a challenge as I've never drawn up proper plans before. Not likely to start until October/November!

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   Did not see your remark yesterday. Too busy playing with my new toys. here is mine. I think the roof of the cabin needs something. it looks better too me. But that is my opinion. And I change mine a little as you can see.




Edited by Cap'n Rat Fink
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  • 2 weeks later...

I'd seen your log, Mario, and it gave me a good bit of help - lovely marquetry!


Thanks, Bob, you're quite right of course, I deliberately set the whistle at the front so I can warn anyone ahead of my approach  :D


Anyway, a last burst of building and she's almost there. The brass wire in the kit is supplied rolled up; it's nearly impossible to get it straight, so I used some hollow brass tube for the uprights, and the supplied wire fitted in for the crossbeams, held in with a spot of CA:




And finished! I haven't put the collar (?) on the top of the chimney, I think it looked out of scale and possibly not very secure as it just sits on top. I may try an inverse-cone shape in the future.




These photos are of her with and without the clerestory; I'm still not decided. It's only sitting there; if it's permanent I'll glue it on. Opinions welcome!








Conclusion: I've enjoyed the build, the kit is basically good although some timber was missing and all the timber was hard to identify, especially as the instructions tell you to use,say, a 13mm piece of 2 x 3, but there are several other items from 2 x 3 and no clue as to cutting the 480mm length supplied (if that makes sense). Also, single-planking with 2mm strips was not the best design decision, although the extra veneer pieces were a good solution. The timber was all excellent quality as were the fittings, and the instructions, with step-by-step colour photos, were the clearest I've seen. 


And now for my scratch-build barge!

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Thanks for the comments, Brian and hamilton, although it doesn't answer the clerestory/no clerestory dilemma! I'll leave it off for now, and see if it grows on me - it'll be easier to glue it on later than to peel it off later.


Mario: yes, the original hull planking (described as Sapelly and 2mm thick) was too thick to get a good finish on both sides but its finish is very attractive. I second-planked with the 0.5mm veneer they included; they don't say what it is but it's very similar to the Sapelly and takes a light sanding and varnish well, and the end result is pleasing.



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  • 1 year later...

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