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USS Constitution by xken - Model Shipways - Scale 1:76.8

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I am off and running to continue my education of model ship building and hopefully on this one I will add sails. Like my Niagara build I will start with the small boats which are mini model kits in themselves and that my two young granddaughters like looking at the "baby boats". They are 2 and 4 years old.


I will skip the presentation of the box and contents since others have done it so well. I am starting with the pinnace the larger of the four. I started by marking the top surfaces of the laser cut parts before removing them from their parent sheet. The reason is that the laser cutting process burns a slight angle in the wood and when layering and gluing together you can use this angle to your advantage and avoid super thin areas.


I glued all the layers of all the boats together minus the bottom layer. I used the scrap center as a clamp surface to provide even compression.


Here is the reason to leave the bottom layer off and allow clearance to work on the inner walls.


Here is the finished up inner walls rough cut and then sanded.


Next I added sparingly automotive glazing putty to the inner walls for additional smoothness. This glaze dries quickly and is very easy to sand. Think of it as a thick layer of primer filler.


Here is the finished exterior 


Here the bottom layer was added and shaping started by rough cutting with an Xacto blade, sanding block and sanding sticks.


Here is the finished exterior ready for the keel.


Here is the finished sanded interior ready for keel and other details.


First I had to address the bow to stern sidewall curve which I developed using 1/4" masking tape, then marked the upper edge with a pencil and removed the tape and trimmed to the pencil line.


Here is the interior with all the details added that will be painted while the rest will be bright stained finish. The exterior keel has also been added. The ribs are .0208" square Basswood Midwest Scale Lumber item number 8000. I have used their micro cut lumber for years on airplane builds.


Next the pinnace will be primed and sanded and readied for paint per the plan scheme. 


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Ken, thanks for taking the time to show your steps for assembling the pinnace. I am almost to that point in my Syren build and it will be my first attempt at one of those 'little boats'. Your instructions will help a lot.  Your Niagara was a great build and I will be following this one also.

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Wow! You sure don't waste time Ken.  :) Looks like I'll have to pull up a barrel out here in the wings. Looking forward to this one. When you get to the bulkhead/keel assembly, double check the bulkheads for symmetry in the plans. They are a bit off on my set, but hopefully yours won't be. 

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Well I primed the pinnace and while waiting for primer to dry I looked over the plans and tried to sort out the next steps. The side and top views do not seem to match each other when it comes to the footlings and the keel; so I ventured forth with common sense.

Here I have added the internal structures based upon the side view.


Here is a closeup of the mast fitting.


Here is the sole added and I used 1/64" plywood to conserve space and scribed the joint and panel lines.


I then primed again using white primer for two reasons; first the final color will be white, second for the exterior hull sanding down will reveal high and low spots between the white low and grey the high. However, gentle sanding is needed so as not to break through the primer coats to the wood.

Also I fabricates the bench and thwarts which will have a bright finish.


Here I am edge forming the footlings which have a slight curve and a bright finish. First I cut a carrier the shape needed fore and aft and side to side using a 1/32" thick piece of wood. Next using Midwest Scale L item number #8003 .0208" x .0625" and soaking with water slowly and carefully edge formed just using my fingers. Once formed the side pieces were clamped to the carrier to dry and set.


Once all were formed and clamped in place on the carrier they were all soaked again with water and let to dry and set overnight.



Now back to work.


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Thanks for the clear and detailed explanations of your process Ken - and the good size photos.  I will be following along with this build - and I'm going go back and read through the Niagra log.  I probably won't add too many comments here (how many ways can you say "great Job"?) but will be checking in regularly.



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Thank you all for your kind words and encouragement! They make the extra effort to document worth doing. I am doing it more for those who are new to ship building like myself than those of you more experienced.


Here are two images of the finished paint work using Krylon semi-gloss white.



Here I have added the dried, stained and clear coated footlings upon their supports. 


First I masked off the inside and outside of the hull to define the bright rail. TIP: spray first with a couple of light clear coats to seal the edges and reduce the chance of the color coat bleeding through the edge of the masking tape. Once the paint was dry I then added all the rest of the bright parts and lifting rings.



Here are a couple of close up of fore and aft. In hind sight the next time I will use individual planking for the sole rather than scribing. 



Here is the set up for soldering the hinges; if wanted to make functional after all the finishing it would be sawed into two parts through the center. In this case they are fixed.



Next while waiting for things to set and dry I made a molding cutter by filing a half round into a piece of 1/32"  brass. Then using 1/16" square basswood strip I slowly and carefully scraped on a hard flat surface the half round profile for the side fenders. I have used this to make accent molding for other projects as well. These will be added to the side following the bottom edge of the buff paint.



Enough for now back to work. I have honey-dos this afternoon.




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No I use Staybrite solder and flux, softer than Silver solder but stronger than plumber solder 50/50 or 60/40. I buy it at the local welding supply shop by the roll and container of flux, much more cost effective than hobby outlets. I use  the 1/32" size. The shop may have to order it for you since it is not a standard shelf item.


Here is a link, hope this helps.


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A quick in progress update of building the captain's gig and whale boats. Similar steps as the pinnace except smaller scale. I started with the gig first because only one is needed while there are two whale boats and the gig is the smallest of the three. The three insides were developed first before the bottom parts was added then the bottom exterior was rough cut with an Xacto blade and then sanded to final shape. Then the inside bottom was shaped using different sizes of ball tools and then final sanded by hand. Next glaze was added to blend the curve of the sides to the bottom.


Here the frames are being added. I cut the frames from Midwest #8003 by cutting 2" strips in half. They were then soaked in water for hand forming. First I would take the wet frame and carefully develop a curve using the smooth part of an Xacto blade handle. Then the curve part end was glued in place and slowly formed into the hull and very carefully CA added; the opposite side was cut off against the gunwale and glued in place. Adding these frames is a slow tedious process that will try one's patience.


Here the frames are completed and the splash rails and keel added. The stern end was sanded flat and both stern and bow ends were traced to 1/16" sheet stock and cut out and glued to each end. A strip was added between the two ends and sanded to blend the completed keel.

The splash rails were cut to required lengths and soaked in water to form to the gunwales at each end. Once they were dry they were then sanded to blend to match hull sides. The ends were then filed to shape using a round needle file.


This picture show the various stages as I work the three boats at the same time and moved back and forth between them. The gig has the risings added ready to add the rest of the internal parts. Excuse the camera distortion, the bottom two are actually the same size whale boats.



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I am working away building the four small boats simultaneously, I finished the wood stand for the pinnace and moved on to the two whale boats and the captain's gig.

Here are all three in various stages of innards being added. The gig is at the top with the two whale boats below. The sole is walnut and the bench and thwarts are stained basswood and will remain bright.


Here the gang board and forward aprons with the mast holes and location for lifting eyebolt.


This shows the start of painting. The plans say grey so I used grey primer and then sprayed it with clear to prevent marring it during masking. I tried to find a reference to the shade of grey but could no find any showing the inside of the boats. The white was sprayed Satin White.


The top is the first whale boat with the half round bright fenders added and showing the walnut sole in place. The captain's gig has the walnut front apron, bench and curved seat back with access hole to the lifting point. The hole would be covered with grate.


Here is a detail of the curved seat back; this was easier to fabricate even at it's small scale than I thought it would be.


Now back to the small boats, the nice thing is being able to bounce around from one to the other. 


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Thanks! I am a great deal more knowledgeable now about ship building than when I started the Niagara. This will be a slower build with more attention to "ship" details. I also ordered the 30 cannon set to build out the gun deck and will be sticking my nose into other builds to learn more regarding the gun deck. This build will go to my son who lives in NYC and has a house at the end of Long Island. The Niagara was transferred yesterday to its new berth in my daughter's house. Her husband is a container ship Captain for Maersk and really appreciates the model detail.  


Happy Thanksgiving to all! 

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Just finishing up the four small boats and thought I would share a couple of details on them and how I made them. First is the steering oar lock that is located on the stern area port side on the whale boats. I formed a wire loop using the blackened 26 gauge copper wire using a drill bit shaft as a mandrel. I then cut the top of the loop and very carefully formed the needed bends with small needle nose pliers.


Next the thole pins were added into small pieces on the top of the rail. I then used a 1/16" square wood strip as a gauge to cut and file them evenly. The mast rings were turned using brass rod drilled and cut with the angle needed.



Here is an overview of the boats with tillers off to the side. I still need to add the hinge hardware which I will do while waiting for the glue to dry on the center keel.



Following are a side view of the Captain's gig which is 4.5" long and a couple of closeups


The rear grate is photo etched part.



Now back to the center keel assembly. On this build I will cut the rabbet cut prior to adding the bottom keel parts which should save considerable time. We will see.

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Just back from visiting what may be my first scratch build if I live long enough. The Lady Washington. It was a quick trip with the grand kids and will go back for photo details. I was able to buy two pages of basic plans. They say this was the first American built brig to round the horn to San Francisco.


Here I am with the grand daughters. The Brig Niagara is now berthed at there house.



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