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USS Constitution by Chippa - Mantua - Scale 1:98 - Art 779

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Here's my USS Constitution kit, I got this off of craigslist for $25.00. I had to get it at that price.

So I'm taking the first step.


Step 1: - Open the Box.




Step2 : Make sure it's all there.




Step3: Get a "Dry Dock" workstation going. I went ahead and took an old aquarium stand (48 gallon) and added the 2x4 supports to hold an overhead 2 bulb flourescent lighting system. I am an old fart, and I need bright lights to help me see better.


I have nestled this Dry Dock in between my "Rockhounding" and "Lapidary"  collections.




My first chosen task - made a "Build Board". Or maybe some call it a "keel Clamp".

Well that's all for today.


According to the "instructions" my first task is to cut out all the bulkheads, and mount them. Hopefully I will get time to do this part sometime this week. I really hope I haven't started to early, cause I have a lot of other things to take of. Like looking for a job, and writing automatic stock trading programs.


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I'm chuckling at your new shipyard. I started out the same way with a small bookcase. By the time I finished my Connie 20 months later...the project had taken over an entire room! I'm going to have fun watching your build.

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Oh Brother. I am trying to fit the Frames to the Keel. But the instructions make no sense whatsoever.


Problems before even starting.


The instructions say:

"Place all the sixteen frames into the longherons 17 and keel 18; check the centre line ot framing and glue."


Haha. what in the world are "longherons"?

Italian to english translation says "backstay, frame member, spar." sheesshh

Then what in the world is "centre line ot"? Huh? what is ot?


Here's the problem: I think those longherons are supposed to be a strip of wood going through the center of the frames. But again, no instructions on what size wood to use. And it appears that there are two strips one above the other.


Oh man, this model is gonna take a lot longer then I thought.


Anybody out there understand these Italians?



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This is a problem we all have. Plans and instructions translated from a foreign language. Constructo's plans were lacking severely in many areas and I struggled like you. Ask everybody on ModelShipWorld what they would do and chose what's best for you.


As far as the keel and frames or bulkheads goes, if the keel comes in several pieces, just make sure you glue them together so the keel is perfectly straight.. You can lay it flat and put a book on it while it dries.

Next, the bulkheads. They all have to be perpendicular and level when the keel is held vertically. I used everything from my eyeballs to strings and levels. Look at it from the front, back and sides.  After I glued all bulkheads onto the keel, I added small blocks (not part of the plans) to make sure they didn't stray from perpendicular and level. 


If you do that, decks, strakes, longherons or whatever gets attached to the hull, the whole ship will be symmetrical.


I learned that the hard way since I didn't do all that with my first model and it has a built in curve! 


This model ship building is harder than chess.


Good luck

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Thanks for the hints.


I think I have figured out what "Longherons" are.

My picture shows two strips of wood up near the top. I believe those are the longherons, that need to fit into those slots on the bulkhead frames. Unfortunately, not all the frames fit. So I will have to sand those slots to get a sliding fit.


Also I can't mount one frame at a time. I will have to put the "longherons" through all the slots first, then mount the whole shebang on to the keel. It's gonna be tricky. Although I appreciate the idea that those "longherons" are there to help prevent twisting of the hull.




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If the longherons are tight, sand them so yo do not have to force anything. This way you can make tiny adjustments to make sure all is straight and true. I had the same problem with my Connie.

Good luck


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Got to spend a little time on this model.


This one shows the bulkheads with the "Longherons" in place. I'm showing this one in case someone else decides to build this Mantua model. Those longherons gave me some headscratching. There no sizes listed as to length of cut, and width of plank. The instructions more or less just sort of give me the idea of "just do it". So I "just did it", and hope all is alright.


Much filing of the slots on the keel and bulkheads to get everything to fit.


Although, these longherons do serve a good purpose. They make sure that all the bulkheads are the right height, and do help aid in preventing the twisting of the hull. But it is really tricky getting them cut to the right length. Some dimensions in the instructions would have been helpfull.


The bulkheads are just dry fit, no glue as yet. Next is to finish adding some more supports. Then find some small right angle aluminum to help square up the bulkheads for gluing.





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Hi Chippa,


You're doing all right so far :) . I did a Search of other Mantua Constitutions to see if someone else on MSW was building the same kit, but unfortunately you are the first so you won't have anyone to "follow" with this build. However, the basic techniques of building virtually any model are similar so help will come from other builders.


Pay particular attention to "fairing" the bulkheads once they are all glued in square. This is critical for getting the planking to "run" correctly. Check out the methods used by other builders - it really doesn't matter which ship they are building, the end results will be the same. Take a look further into their build logs to see whether their planking looks good or not before using their methods - some builders are more experienced than others and their results speak for themselves :) .


Have fun with the build, and don't be afraid to ask questions if you're not sure about the next steps.


:cheers:  Danny

Cheers, Danny

Current Build :    Forced Retirement from Modelling due to Health Issues

Build Logs :   Norfolk Sloop  HMS Vulture - (TFFM)  HMS Vulture Cross-section  18 foot Cutter    Concord Stagecoach   18th Century Longboat in a BOTTLE 

CARD Model Build Logs :   Mosel   Sydney Opera House (Schreiber-Bogen)   WWII Mk. IX Spitfire (Halinski)  Rolls Royce Merlin Engine  Cape Byron Lighthouse (HMV)       Stug 40 (Halinski)    Yamaha MT-01   Yamaha YA-1  HMS Hood (Halinski)  Bismarck (GPM)  IJN Amatsukaze 1940 Destroyer (Halinski)   HMVS Cerberus   Mi24D Hind (Halinski)  Bulgar Steam Locomotive - (ModelikTanker and Beer Wagons (Modelik)  Flat Bed Wagon (Modelik)  Peterbuilt Semi Trailer  Fender Guitar  

Restorations for Others :  King of the Mississippi  HMS Victory
Gallery : Norfolk Sloop,   HMAT Supply,   HMS Bounty,   HMS Victory,   Charles W. Morgan,   18' Cutter for HMS Vulture,   HMS Vulture,  HMS Vulture Cross-section,             18th Century Longboat in a Bottle 

Other Previous Builds : Le Mirage, Norske Love, King of the Mississippi

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  • 3 weeks later...

Some updates have been done. Although I don't get to spend as much time on this as I would like too.

Perhaps an hour or two here and there.


I managed to get the lower gun deck glued in. After the glue dried I had to take the Xacto knife and trim off the edges of the deck, because they extended out beyond the bulkhead frames, just a little.






Next Step was to get the lower deck cannon carriages made up, so that I could get an accurate height between the gun carriages and the dummy gun barrel mounts. Good thing to because the instructions didnt say anything about this, and If I don't do this step then the dummy gun barrels will be mounted much lower than the carriage guns.




Next up was the mounting of what the instructions call "brackets for planking" at the bow. It seems like I won't need filler blocks with these extra frames at the bow.




Much of the "fairing" has been done to. Next up is the dummy cannon mounts and frames for the cannons, once this is done maybe I can begin planking.


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I decided to recycle an old "Laser" which was originally used/attached to my radial arm saw blade. After I purchased the darn thing, I decided I didn't like the idea of having to offset all my measurements by 1/8". So I took it off a long time ago and just left it in my toolbox.


Then I decided to put it to good use as a homemade "Laser Level Guide". I attached it to my ancient, really ancient sears drill press accessory, which was originally used for mounting electric drills for use as a drill press. I also drilled out the Laser circular thingy and soldered in a push button switch.


I needed this to verify that all my lines on the hull are at exact heights relative to each other. It works great.


The picture shows a huge splash of red light on the 10th bulkhead from the stern. But, trust me, it is actually just a small red dot. I guess my eyes and the camera see things differently.









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  • 5 years later...

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