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Build Deck Separately

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I have been working on my Niagra model (my first).  I have a practicum for this kit and the guy building it suggests building the deck separately and then installing the completed deck afterwards. A few of the steps are:


1. Make a copy of the deck from the plans.

2. On the copy, where the bulkhead frames show on the deck plan, glue a 1/4" square strip running across the deck right behind each bulkhead. So you end up with a bunch of strips to use a platform to lay the deck planks

3. On the real model, cut a 1/4" square notch in the keel right behind each bulkhead frame.

4. Build your deck over the plan copy on top of the square strips.

5. When you are done, pull the deck with the strips off the plan copy and install as one piece on the model. The 1/4" strips will fit into the notches cut in step 3.


Does this sound reasonable? It seems like it would be a lot easier than reaching into the deck area on the model which already has the bulwark planking almost completed.  I'm trying to think of reasons this might not work.

Edited by mikiek
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Rather than settling for Denken Experimenten ( thought experiment ) do the real thing.  Basswood is available for low cost.  Joann, Michaels, even Walmart seems to have sheets in several thicknesses, so if the experiment fails, you will only be out of some time, time that will have increased your skills at worst.  Use the 3rd party stock.  I know one and done is appealing, but if you get into scratch building, you will wind up having to redo a lot.  The redo time will be less than the time taken by the nagging memory that continues to occur if you do something wrong and let it go.


Another suggestion:  place your simulated deck beams on either side of the moulds/bulkheads.  No play when you assemble it on the hull and you do not need to be precise in how much of the center spine you cut away. It just needs to be enough to clear your beams.

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The idea of an off model deck construction is attractive, mostly for the ability for edge clamping of planks, for fitting a margin plank and deck planks with hook scarfs, and for the ability to sand or scrape and prefinish without the interference of bulkheads. Even a small amount of tumblehome makes it almost impossible to install a well fitting one piece deck.  One solution to this is to build the deck in two halves or as I did on my Fair American, build it in three pieces.  This was easy with the Fair American because of the thick planks of the center strip.  The use of substitute beam does not seem like a good idea if the deck has any crown or camber. 


Building a deck on sheet stock is ok if you can reduce the height of the bulkheads to account for the added height.  If you don't do this before installing them on the false keel, you are going to have to look for very thin sheet stock.  I couldn't find basswood less than 1/32" thick but I did find a sheet of 1/64" plywood.  It is thin enough to be flexible in both directions and you can eliminate the problem of increased deck thickness by using thinner deck planks.  By leaving the plywood slightly shy of the curve of the deck plan and allowing a slight overhang of the margin plank, you have the ability to fit the installation of the deck to the bulkhead to allow for slight imperfection of the curve of the bulkhead.

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Niagara is pretty open as far as tumblehome is concerned.  I worry about the compound curves (sheer and camber) and whether your sheet stock, reinforced by the planking stock, will be able to take that shape.

I did mine as indicated in the instruction book, adding blocking around the edges of the hatches, etc. to provide a landing area for the plank edges and ends.  Doing that lets you set the structures down into the plank instead of sitting atop it

All the other concerns folks have mentioned are indeed legitimate.  Where did this practicum come from?  It is an interesting approach that seems to my mind a further complication that perhaps introduces problems in trying to eliminate problems that are not particularly there to begin with.

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It has been a few weeks since I looked at the Niagra practicum - jbshan the site is www.shipmodeling.ca (most of the access is for a fee). I did so today and there are a couple of things I didn't mention in my 1st post.  He uses 1/16" x 3/32" planks instead of 1/4" squares - no big deal there. He also uses the same strips to make a deck edging for plank ends to sit on. The edging is part of the completed deck and gets moved with the deck when it is installed in the model.


Several of you mentioned the tumblehome, which as a newbie, I had to look up.  I think for Niagra this will not be an issue. The bulwark planking either angles outward slightly or goes straight up. I think there would be plenty of room to drop in a completed deck.  This is a point I will have to remember for future models.


Jaager, your point on experimenting is well taken. What's the worse that can happen? I have to go buy some more deck planking.  The experience gained outweighs any negative.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I have started work on the Niagara decking with this approach. So far it is going very well. As a beginner I have found it easy to work with.  It also gives great access to the underside of the deck. I've posted more details in my build log.


It is a real confidence builder for me allowing freedom to move around and experience the decking process. I am using 5-7 short planks per strake instead of 1 long one. And if I happen to hose up the whole thing I can just toss it and start again.


In hindsight now, yes, I probably could have decked the boat. But I'm glad I went this route and will probably continue to use this method if the boat structure allows.




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