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

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It always helps to have the right tools for the job. Well done.


If I were to do that same task today, I would have had to use wood stock, a saw, straight edge, a micrometer, hand files, sand paper, glue, and paint. I know it wouldn't have looked as good as yours.



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Have been working off and on with helping with the kids renovation project and babysitting the grandchildren to get them away from loud equipment. But in the meantime did some work on the deck structures and here are some progress photos of the steering wheel, binnacles and aft skylight. These are somewhat small items scratch built from wood with the exception of the cast steering wheel parts that were painted and stained.


Here I used .035" rope around the axle and into the rope leads at the deck.



Here is a sequence of the binnacle using a .032" rod for center alignment and indexing into deck.




Here are the brass shrouds with a polished finish.


Finished up ready for installation.



Here is the aft skylight that required many angle cuts and a sacrificed core for the upper framing.

This is the base unit.




Here is the sacrificed wood core with framing being glued to it.


This shows the cutting away of the core before the bottom framing is added.


This shows the individual wood parts and before the brass bars were added to the upper cap.


Here is a test fit and I think I will paint the inside of the lower base white, and the deck plate steel gray.


Now back to work.





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Joe, the wood was just a scrap piece off the basswood filler blocks for the bow, nothing special. Just used a brand new blade and a slicing action when cutting versus a straight push down of the blade.


Thank you both for you compliments.

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Happy Fourth of July to All!


Back to ship pictures for skylight rail details. I formed a circle to size using 1/32" brass rod and then cut 3/32" long 1/16" tubes and fitted on the rail and fitted the circle ends within one tube and soldered. Then six 1/32" stanchions with mating flanges soldered in place. The deck flanges were cut and will be glued in place to conform to the deck crown once the deck is glued down to the hull. Here is a sequence of pictures. Pardon my misspelling of stanchions in photos. 
















I decided to use a piece of stainless steel for the base plate; the painted brass one just did not look right. Now to add rails and cannon ball holders to hatch components and grates.

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Let me start out by saying I have images for over fifty different models and build logs of the USS Constitution. I am collecting them to help me when I start my model (when ever that may be). I checked every one of them and for those which showed a clear image of the skylight, you sir, have made the best. I found only two other builders with whom I would even consider a near second or third place. You out shined them all.



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Ditto Jon's post. Hail to the Master!


I have not seen that many photos, but I just marvel at your brass work. This skylight railing is beyond amazing. I absolutely envy what you turn out on your mini engine lathe.  You are an inspiration to us journeymen builders.

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Thank you both for your kind compliments; and yes having the right tools make a great difference. This is why I really like the precision of the Sherline lathe cutting these tiny details.  


I finally glued the spar decking in place using the cross beams through the gunports and wedges for tight fitting and allowed the assembly to set overnight. I then located the deck structures with their locating pins and drilled needed holes into the deck. I will next address the various items to be attached to the ceiling walls using locating pins. Thus the deck structures will not be glued in place for now so that holes can be drilled without their interference.


Here are pictures of the structures just set in place for now just to get a feel for how they will look.












One detail I am trying to sort out is the 1/32" raised deck area shown on the plans, but is not seen on the photos of the restored ship. It is a deck doubler extending from the companionway aft of the main mast to the mizzen mast fife rail.   Any advice or knowledge on this detail is welcomed on which would be correct for what period?

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Happy Fourth of July to All!


Back to ship pictures for skylight rail details. I formed a circle to size using 1/32" brass rod and then cut 3/32" long 1/16" tubes and fitted on the rail and fitted the circle ends within one tube and soldered. Then six 1/32" stanchions with mating flanges soldered in place. The deck flanges were cut and will be glued in place to conform to the deck crown once the deck is glued down to the hull. Here is a sequence of pictures. Pardon my misspelling of stanchions in photos. 


attachicon.gifAft Skylight Rail 01.jpg


attachicon.gifAft Skylight Rail 02.jpg


attachicon.gifAft Skylight Rail 03.jpg


attachicon.gifAft Skylight Rail 04.jpg


attachicon.gifAft Skylight Rail 05.jpg


attachicon.gifAft Skylight Rail 06.jpg


attachicon.gifAft Skylight Rail 07.jpg


I decided to use a piece of stainless steel for the base plate; the painted brass one just did not look right. Now to add rails and cannon ball holders to hatch components and grates.


super brass work Ken,



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Nils, Thank you! I also enjoyed looking at your builds and brass work as well. I see that you do a great deal of steel ships; here is a link to rivets that you may wish to evaluate for extra details on your builds.




Keep up the great work you are doing and I encourage other builders to look at and enjoy Nils builds.


Thanks again!

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Thanks so much. Your build log is very, very useful, especially the carving of the filler blocks, which were difficult to understand just looking at the plans, but your pics showed me just how to shape them!!!I just couldn't figure out the counter block shape. I'll be referring to your log many times in the future as I go along



Newport, Or



Current Build: MS Constitution

Past Builds: MS Chaperon

                    Bash build: San Felipe"

                     Mantua/Sergal HMS Victory

                     Constructo HMS Victory

                     Constructo HMS Pandora

                     AL: J S Elcano

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I rebuilt the pinnace cradle to allow for removal of grates with the pinnace in place.





Here is a sequence of making the large cleats and then the small cleats per a previous request to show.
















Here are the small cleats.







Now back to adding the rest of the cleats and then onto the eyebolts and paint touch up.



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I have a question about the ammo scuttles and hope someone can help. The plans show locations for aft and center ammo passing scuttles in the spar deck but none forward. It seems odd that there are no forward (bow) ammo scuttles. Can anyone confirm that there are only four (4)?


I also assume that they were made of brass so as not to spark so I turned them using brass and polished the top of the lid.






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I have been busy with spar deck details and the like; however I did add a billet head detail I saw in the previously posted drawings. I used copper wire and twisted it and inserted the ends into holes drilled on either side of the billet head.











I then added the gammon irons which required some careful surgery to cut holes under the steps. These should have been added before adding the steps to the bowsprit. A lesson for those who may follow. I also fitted the eye bolts and cut the two lengths of chain needed. The chains will be added once the bow sprit is permanently installed. 








Next I have moved on to the carronades and the barrel castings will require a great deal of cleanup. I built a test one to sort out the best process for a mini production line. Here is the first one just set in the gun port to check on size relative to deck.




Here I have painted it up and added the eyebolts, this one is able to slide but I am not sure if this is really needed once rigged with lines. I will also need to decide whether to add the in haul lines for the long guns. Also you can see that the belaying pin rails are in place as well.




I will be busy for awhile and here is the production process set up ready to go for the carronades. Once all are built the rigging process will be done.




After these will come the brass canopy frames for the companionways. 








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Continuing on with the building the carronades I added eyebolts using 26 gauge black beading wire and added them as needed. Next I tried a few options for bolt heads and decided the best test results were obtained using a Pilot Fine Point rolling ball "Precise V5".






Once beds and bases were marked and eyebolts added the beds were glued to the bases in the forward position. 




Next the master carronade barrel was glued in place relative to the gun port; and the master was then used to match each barrel to be tack glued into position on one side only. This allows further adjustment when trunnion straps are added and fitted to an individual gunport if needed.






Once the barrels were glued in place the trunnion straps and quoins were needed. The straps were formed over a .045" rod set in a V notch cut in a piece of hardwood. Hardwood is needed to resist the down force of the pliers during the forming. Lengths of .005" brass strips were cut and trunnion straps formed on each end of the strip, then cut off and the next one formed on the strip. This speeded up the making of the 40 needed. Once formed all were spray painted Satin Black. The quoins were made using 3/32" square basswood explained early in this build.




This shows them just set in place until next steps.





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The two long guns and carronades are finished, now I started adding all the eyebolts to the bulwarks for the cannons. The single eyebolts are easy but just a bunch of them. Then I saw the double eyebolt and thought I would share how I fabricated these using 28 gauge copper wire which is softer and more flexible than brass and once formed the shaft was soldered to join the it with the loops for strength.












Test fit of soldered and cleaned eyebolt.



Finished double eyebolt in place centered between carronades.



Next to drill the hole locations for the single eyebolts adjacent to the lower gunport openings. 

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Thank you for your kind compliments! Once all the carronades were assembled and reviewed both plans and real photos I realized that I needed to be able to attach the carronades before rigging them with tackle and breech lines. The plan drawings must be for some other ship because the sizes do not match each other in relation to the attaching brackets and the planksheer. This is where assembly drawings would have shown the issue. So I devised my own brackets that required drilling an index hole into the top of the waterway that will suggest an attaching bracket which is visible both looking down as well as through the gun ports.




Here is a closeup front view.






Once the brackets were in place the breech lines could be added. Here I am using .035" light brown left over from my Niagara build. I also realized that the tackle blocks provided in the kit were way too large. I then ordered both single and double 3/32" blocks and .008" light brown line to fit the blocks. These will be much closer to scale once rigged. These were ordered from Syren on Thursday afternoon and arrived today (Monday) Chuck is to be complimented on his customer service focus and quick turnaround!  I will now be continuing on rigging the carronades without missing a beat.




Here is a suggestion to make a drill bit depth gauge which enables drilling holes for eyebolts in the ceiling walls without drilling through the outer wall accidentally. Also in this case the 1/32" drill bit is glued into a 1/16" brass tube long enough to reach across the width of the deck.






Now back to more breech lines and then block and tackle which I will be at for awhile.

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Darrel, yes working that tiny does have challenges. I will need to make a fixture to hold the blocks similiar to what you did. I will be using the 3mm hooks and .008" light brown line and 3mm single and double blocks all from Syren. One question, did you paint or stain your hooks?

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Now that all the breech lines are fitted but not glued in place and all holes for the tackle lines drilled I have moved on to the rigging of the tackle blocks using the 3 mm hooks, 3/32" single and double blocks and .008" light brown rope, all from Syren and again Chuck is to be complimented on his quick order fulfillment. Now onto the tedious, slow and eye straining work.

First I blackened the hooks while still attached to the master carrier sheet using "Novacan Black Patina". One tip for blackening is to heat the cleaned brass sheet under a light bulb and then add the patina to both sides using a brush or Q-tip and may require up to two or three applications to attain the depth of color.



Next I made a fixture to hold the tiny blocks by gluing two lengths of 26 gauge wire into the edge of a piece of hardwood spaced apart the same distance as the holes in the blocks. One is longer than the other by the thickness of the block which makes it much easier to index one hole at a time rather than two. The hardwood strip is held at a 45 degree angle in a panavise to add the first end of the stropping rope. Next each of the block holes were enlarged using #76 drill bit, this makes it easier to add to the fixture and insert the rope ends into while rigging the blocks and also smoother to adjust in the final adjustment. I did the double blocks first to develop the technique and these were the easier to do since they only need the hook to be added.



One thing to note is when gluing the first end pinch the block and glued rope end and bend the rope at 90 degrees while the glue is still wicking in the rope; this will make it easier to add the hook. Also avoid gluing the block to the fixture wires and hardwood.



Next the hook is added and centered on the end and the rope carefully wrapped around the complete block and glued in place and set aside. The excess end of the rope should be trimmed once the glue has set.



While waiting for the glue to set drill the holes in the next double block.




Here is the finished double block and also how I made a double ended CA glue applicator to carefully add the CA without gluing the block to the fixture. The CA will build up over time on the ends and they are easily cleaned with an Xacto blade



Next can the single blocks which required not only the hook but the tackle line as well. I held a #76 drill bit in the jaws of a Panavise with the smooth shank end up to form the rope hole. I wet the end of the rope with water and bent the end and inserted the bent end through the loop formed by tying a common knot in small whipping thread. The two were then set on the end of the shank and the thread knot carefully tightened against the shank. The a half hitch can the be tied to hold the rope in place while whipping the rope end in place. The end is tied off again with a half hitch. CA is then carefully added to the whipping thread and short end of the rope (bend end away from tackle rope first) and the hole end around the drill shank last and move the rope back and forth to prevent the CA from setting on the shank. Just FYI I started with a 5" length of rope this may be able to be shortened to 4". 



Here is the rope end with formed hole.



Next the single block is rigged with the hook and then the rope is added with the stropping end inserted into the rope hole and then wrapped around to the last side and glued in place. The assembly is removed from the fixture wires and set aside to allow the glue to set before trimming the end off. Note that the hook and rope hole need to be centered on their respective ends of the block when wrapping the stropping rope. The hook should be able to move while the rope will glue in place.




Here are the first two tackle ropes in place. The were completely soaked with water before adding to the eyebolts and once added the tackle was pulled tight on each side centering the carronade in the middle of the gunport. Water can be added to both once set in place and be careful not to drip water on the deck and allow the ropes to dry in place and take a set. The end of the rope was tied off at the sled eyebolt per the reference of photos of the restored ship. It looks like a length went back to the waterway eyebolt after being tied and lashed to a rope. I am assuming that in a real scenario a rope coil was in place on the deck adjacent to the eyebolt on the sled end. Can anyone verify this assumption? 



Now back to tying holes in tackle ropes and adding to the single blocks. Glad I only have 42 more to do.








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