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Charles W. Morgan by Landlubber Mike - Model Shipways - New Bedford Whaling Bark - Scale 1:64

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The idea I had is to use boxwood for all the ochre areas (bulwarks, deck furniture, etc.), pear stained black for the black areas, and either holly, maple or a wood stained white for the white areas.  


For example, it's a little tricky in that the first planking appears to serve as the bulwark planking midship - so, I probably will plank the upper hull with boxwood for the first planking, and then plank the outside using pear.  Also, the stanchions have portions that are black - meaning I might have to laminate two woods together to create the stanchions.


You should try using other wood.  I've really enjoyed using pear, maple and redheart on my Pegasus so far.  Boxwood sounds like it should be nice to work with as well.

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OK, that sounds cool. I edited my previous post with a little bit more info for you. This should get interesting using the dyed wood. I'm looking forward to it. You'll be happy with the hardwoods. They are harder to shape, but they really do hold it once you've formed what you want. Sounds like fun. I wish I had the forethought and/or resources at the time I built mine, as I would have changed much of the basswood for probably boxwood. The Pear, according to Jason, is getting real hard to get and he prefers selling Holly and Boxwood.

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Thanks everyone.  


Ian, my girls are still quite little and play with them often.  I had to sneak them the other night - shhhh, don't tell :)


Chris, thanks for the tip.  I bought Fieblings, but have had pretty good success on my Pegasus using General Finishes black stain.  It goes on easily with great coverage, and without the "thickness" you get with paints.  I have a feeling it should last pretty well, as some test pieces still look pretty good with it.  

Edited by Landlubber Mike
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I went onto Fieblings web site but could not find "General Finishes black stain". Could you help to further identify which stain you used?






J, this is the product I have been using:





You can buy it from stores like Woodcraft, or online from Amazon from the Amazon stores like Woodcraft and maybe Rockler.  If you flip through my Pegasus and Lyme, I did some tests using GF Black stain, GF Ebony Dye Stain, and Varathane Black or Ebony:


-- In terms of coverage, the GF Black was almost like paint, without the bulkiness of paint.  It comes out the same on different woods, which is why I used it on my Pegasus (for the same "black" pieces between the MDF, walnut and pear).  No need for pre-stain conditioner or anything.


-- The GF Ebony dye stain had very nice coverage, but showed the grain more.  I'm likely going to use it on my Morgan since all the black areas will be in pear, and I want a more "grainy" look to the ship if that makes any sense.  Like the GF black, I don't think you need pre-stain conditioner.


-- The Varathane stain was very thin, and you didn't get the coverage and penetration like the GF stains.  It operated like most stains where the stain is intended to highlight the grain.

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  • 6 months later...

HI Mike, I just happened upon your build. I can't wait to see how the stains have worked for you. I'm still learning and the Morgan has been the most challenging build for me. I regret not installing mounting nuts so that I could mount the ship with pedestals. I will on my next build!


Hope everything is okay. It's been since Feb. since your last update. I'll have to check your build to see if you have been working more on the Victory. Best regards. Ron 

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Hey Ron, your Morgan is coming out really nicely!  Hope you don't mind that I've been following your log.  It's given me a lot of inspiration as I think about how I will go about doing things on my Morgan.  It's definitely a different type of build, isn't it?  Dealing with the plank sheer and the various frames and supports and rails, it's a little more complicated than the typical kit that is out there.


Everything is fine on my end, I've just been a little busy, and have been getting in some work on my Pegasus when I can find some time.  Part of the delay on the Morgan was that I have been trying to figure out how to approach the color scheme.  I was originally going to go with pear stained black for the black areas, boxwood for the ochre, and was hoping to do holly for the white areas.  Then I thought about trying African blackwood for the black areas, and took the suggestion from Dave (DocBlake) to look at yellowheart.  Well, I was thankfully able to source enough holly from Jeff's Hobbymill close-out, and to boot he had extra yellowheart left over so he milled me what I think I needed.  The African blackwood was tough to source though, and after 2 months of emailing and calling various suppliers, I got very disappointed.  Then MWB suggested a supplier of wood for inlays who works with ebony and was able to cut for me sheets and strips in the sizes I needed.  Hooray!


So after a lot of time, I've settled on ebony for the black areas, yellowheart for the ochre, and holly for the white areas.  The deck will likely be maple stained with General Finishes Antique Oak to give it that grayish look, and the waterway will likely be pear stained a dark brown.  If I can pull it off, it should be a pretty unique build.  We'll see if I can pull it off though.  I prefer the look of natural woods, or stained woods in lieu of using paints.  I was fortunate enough to find a ship in the Morgan with three main colors that I can replicate directly with wood.  There's a lot of planning that I'll need to go through, which I've started.  For example, the plank sheer may end up being comprised of all three woods - yellowheart for the interior of the ship, ebony for the exterior, and a strip for holly on top of the ebony for the white stripe.  A bit complicated, but should be fun.  Now that I have the wood, I can get back to work.


Thank for looking in!  Good luck with your Morgan!

Edited by Landlubber Mike
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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks Mike! I too actually like the look of natural wood rather than painting. I'm still new at this and the Morgan is the first ship that I've built that has a "lot" of painted wood, or should I say all! I'm not very good at the painting and there's nothing worse than seeing paint build up on poorly sanded parts (of which I do have!). The staining powders are also something new to me. I'm beginning to get anxious about finishing the Morgan and starting with another ship. I have many in dry dock, probably more than I'll be abel to build in my lifetime. I think I might build Chuck's Syren next. I really like the look of the ship and he is perhaps one of the most talented builder / designers I've seen. 


I can't wait to see your Morgan pics!!!! Take care. Ron 

Edited by homer
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  • 2 weeks later...


Me too!

Just finished running rigging on my Morgan's mizzenmast. Would go faster and look better if I'd stop snapping things when working elsewhere. Klutz.

Thinking ahead to next build which I'll likely start while working on the 7 (!) whaleboats when I finish the standing rigging. To do shelf will unfortunately likely outlive me or my dexterity.

I think Granado although also plan Echo cross section to try my hand at a smaller scratch frame project. Confederacy still muttering to me from the shelf. I Just gave away a previously purchased Victory since once I started building my own models I tired of telling people "I didn't build that one". Unfortunately I had already bought a display for the Morgan so now I have a large unoccupied case. That's the biggest argument for the fully masted Granado over the Confederacy. Must stop buying models for a while.

The admiral just smiles.

Edited by Bruce Evans
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Bruce, you won't believe what I did this Saturday. Probably should not have been working on the ship because my focus wasn't there. I was putting on the lanyard to the mizzen top gallant backstay and the holes in the deadeye attached to the stay needed to be cleaned out or made a tad bit larger. Not thinking I grabbed my Dremel with a slightly larger bit and held the deadeye in my left hand and attempted to run the drill bit through one of the holes. Bad Idea!


Somehow the deadeye got lose, started spinning around the bit and before I could turn off the Dremel, had wound up the entire backstay and my only saving grace was that the backstay snapped where it was attached to the mizzen top mast! It could have pulled the whole thing and snapped the mast in half. That would have been a terrible set back. I was so thankful that only the stay rope snapped! Yikes.  Ron

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Welcome to the multiple thumbs club.

I also snapped a davit I had to glue back together.

All back together now.

Let's see how much damage I can do when I come to rig the main yards.

I have a set of micro reamers from micromark that work well to enlarge the holes in blocks and deadeyes twirling by hand. I bought a second set cause I broke one and they're not quite as good as before (especially the finest one). They must have changed the manufacturer.

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While taking a break from my Pegasus (burnout from planking) and the La Renommee (thinking about color scheme), I turned back to the Morgan and made a little progress.  First up was creating the counter block, which took quite a long time.  It's a complicated piece that is not rectangular in the sense of having 90 degree corners.  Instead, the top of the block needs to account for the deck camber, the sides need to taper inward on a slight angle, and the aft side is rounded with an offset section for the name board.  I know folks (including me) complain about kits using gunport strips, but the benefit of the gunport strips is incredibly helpful in pre-determining the counter and tuck of the planks into it.


The stern/counter area can ruin an otherwise nice model if not done correctly, so I always have a bit of angst when working on this section of the model.  After a few hours or work though, I'm pretty happy with the final product.  I'll need to do a little touch up when it's attached to the hull, and I can work out any other issues with filler and the first planking.  The one area in particular that I need to figure out is the bottom corners on the aft side.  The plans show a rounding, but I think I'll understand better after running some test planks to that section along with the fashion pieces.  


Anywhere, here are the pictures of where I ended up in case other builders have questions on how the counter block should be constructed :







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I'm not a big fan of the use of basswood for the keel and bulkheads.  There is too much flex to the skeletal structure of the hull, and plywood, or better yet, MDF would be preferable.  To ensure that the keel and bulkheads stayed square, I inserted scrap pieces of plywood in between the bulkheads which not only keeps everything square, but also makes the skeleton very rigid.  I highly recommend taking this extra step.  It's too bad more kits didn't use the dowel approach used by MarisStella's kits - the dowels seems to be a very precise and easy method to ensure everything stays in alignment.


As I mentioned earlier, I decided to take a completely "paint with wood" approach, and will be using ebony for the black areas, holly for the white, and yellowheart for the ochre (I might have to use paint on the tryworks, but I'm exploring alternatives there).  I was originally going to go with African Blackwood for the black areas, but I couldn't find a supplier for thin milled wood stock and didn't want to buy a bandsaw.  On recommendation of MWB, I was able to source ebony from www.inlaybanding.com in the sizes I needed.


I replaced the portion of the stem above the waterline with an ebony piece.  It was a shame to remove half of the stem that I cut out in pear, but I want the "black" color to be consistent throughout the build.  This was my first time working with ebony, and it really wasn't that bad.  I used my scroll saw to cut the stem piece, and touched it up using my Byrnes disc sander for the outside curves and my Dremel in the workstation as a poor man's spindle sander for the inside curves.  The stem tapers, so I used a sanding block to accomplish that.  I was very careful and used a dust mask and constantly vacuumed up any dust (which I should probably do with all woods).  All in all, I didn't find it all that hard to work with.  Bending it might be a different story, but aside from being careful with the dust and the fact that it is a very dense wood so sanding by hand was a little more of a workout, I had fun working with it.  When sanded with fine grade sandpaper, it takes on a beautiful, almost glass like finish. 


The stem came out pretty nicely - I think using ebony for the full build will make for a very unique model:







Ebony against the white holly I received from Jeff is very striking.  I was thinking about using yellowheart for the ochre areas, and possibly maple (stained a light grey to match the actual ship) for the deck.  I knew holly had very little grain, but ebony almost looks painted.  So, I'm wondering how using yellowheart, which has a lot of grain and some figure, will look against the ebony and holly.  I might switch it to boxwood, but am curious if anyone has any thoughts on the look of grainy versus non-grainy woods together.


Thanks for looking in!


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  • 2 months later...

Happy holidays and new year to all my friends!   :cheers:


It's been a while since my last update, mostly because of work and other issues, but I did manage to make some progress the last couple of months.  As per usual, most of it was planning, with only a little on the actual building.  The approach of avoiding paint on the model has required a lot of careful planning, but so far so good.  I spent a good part of a week making sure that the bulkheads and bulkhead stubs were level with one another, and that the stubs were equidistant from the center line of the hull.  Unfortunately, the stubs weren't crisply cut and weren't identical on each side in most cases, which required some shims, etc. - to be expected I suppose from using basswood for the bulkheads  :huh:  This was a pain in the posterior, but worth the time I think to ensure that the deck planking and hull are symmetrical.  The Morgan has white pinstripes running along the hull, so the bulkheads and stubs need to be in a smooth line or the pin stripes will look wonky and ruin the look of the hull.


This kit is a little different from the Caldercraft and Amati kits in that you don't have bulwark/gunport strips.  Instead, you have to frame out the bulwarks which is a completely new approach for me (but good practice when it comes to scratch building I suppose).  A good picture of what is involved is below which is taken from the plans (actual picture is borrowed from John's website):





After setting up the bulkheads and the counter block and stem and stern filler blocks, the waterway is installed.  The waterway helped to draw water down through the scuppers out of the ship.  It's tricky in that it runs the length of the hull, sits against the bulkhead stubs, and has a bevel cut into it.  The thickness supposedly varies as well.  Here's a picture from the actual Morgan:





I decided to go with pear stained with General Finishes Antique Oak to get a nice dark brown color.  I originally tried cutting the waterway into three sections, but it just didn't look right as I wanted a nice smooth line for the waterway along the hull.  Eventually I settled on cutting the waterway as a single piece on the Byrnes saw, sanded a bevel using the Byrnes disc sander (first time I used the angle adjustment on the table which made things really easy), soaked the strips, and then clamped them overnight.  Pear is a really great wood in so many aspects.  I forget the exact measurements, but the waterway strips were like 3.5mm x 4.25mm or so.  When soaked, the pear holds the shape very nicely and I was very happy in the end with how it came out.  Here are a couple of pictures:





Edited by Landlubber Mike
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Next up is the planksheer, which sits on top of the waterway.  This is a critical piece to get right, as it helps form the shape of the hull and it extends past the outer hull planking making a decorative pinstripe or "rail" on the outer hull.  The planksheer is ochre inboard, and white on the outside of the hull.  It's the lower white stripe in the picture below:





To make the planksheer, I'm using yellowheart with a thin piece of holly for the outbound portion to represent the white stripe. Yellowheart is a tricky wood to work with.  It is a hard, yet splintery wood, kinda like walnut.  It machines pretty nicely, but I notice a bit of char at times when cutting it on my table saw.  It wasn't too difficult to construct the planksheer, which I did out of three pieces.  The first was the bow section, followed by two long strips that run the length of the hull to the stern.  


Here are some pictures, along with the start of the main rail which similarly is going to be yellowheart, except with both an ebony and holly strip laminated to it.







Right now I'm in the middle of adding the stanchions.  Not including the knightheads and timbertheads, there are 44 stanchions to add to the ship  :o   I'll post pictures later this weekend when completed.

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Nice progress Mike,really nice work.  Interested how framing up the the bulwarks goes for you.  I'm sure it takes extra time to get right but help but feel that the planking will be a little more satisfying for some strange reason.  The waterway sure is hefty on the Morgan, guessing its the super heavy industrial design to cope with all the whale gore.

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I've made some progress over the last couple of days.  Finally got the stanchions set up - there are a bunch of them, you have to account for different heights, and they are slightly inclined inbound, which leads to a lot of work.  I cut them out of yellowheart, and inserted a brass pin in the bottom to help keep them secure to the plank sheer.  The kit's planksheer pieces are laser-cut with square holes for the stanchions - no way to replicate that with a tricky wood like yellowheart, so I went with pins which worked very nicely.  I created a number of spacer blocks of different heights to help with the spacing and orientation of the stanchions, in particular, to help keep them parallel to each other.











Edited by Landlubber Mike
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Next, I attached the lashing rail, which is attached inbound of the stanchions maybe 2/3 up the way.  I used the lashing rail as a means of securing the stanchions in position, and then started to work on the mail rail.  At this point, I decided to make the opening for the starboard gangway, rather than run the rails and planking, and then try to cut it out.  Seemed much cleaner and easier to just maintain the opening at this point with a 36mm spacer block.  As a note, the two stanchions on either side of the gangway are slightly further apart than the kit's pre-cut plank sheer, and I believe one is wider than the other.


I'm making the main rail, which sits on the stanchions, in 4 pieces:  one piece to go around the bow made out of a single piece of yellowheart, one long piece for the remainder of the port side, and two pieces on the starboard side which are divided by the gangway.  The bow section was custom cut with grooves to set against the knightheads.  For the remaining sections, I cut the sections on the Byrnes saw, soaked them, and pinned them to maintain the slight curve of the hull and they ran from the stem to the stern.  I haven't glued them to the hull yet, as I'm using them as templates for the the log and topgallant rails (which is why the main rail looks a little wonky in the pictures below).











The main rail will be laminated with ebony and holly strips for the outbound portion.  Right now I'm in the process of finalizing the log rail (which sits on top of the main rail) and the topgallant rail, which sits on top of the log rail.  I'm using formers to get the bow curve of the log rail, which will be yellowheart on the inbound portion, laminated with ebony strip for the outbound portion.  The topgallant rail is entirely in ebony, the pieces of which you can see in the first picture below. 







Yellowheart takes a curve nicely with soaking.  With ebony, I found you need to soak and use heat.  You have to be really patient with ebony, with multiple soakings and hot iron treatments - but, you can bend thin pieces pretty nicely.  While I was able to bend the yellowheart for the main rail laterally to get the correct curvature of the hull, you can't really do that with ebony.  So, for the topgallant rail, first cut out wider strips than the rail itself, and sanded them back, mostly by hand, to get the curved rails.  Hours of work, but I'm happy with how things are looking so far.

Edited by Landlubber Mike
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Thanks BE!  The Morgan does have an an interesting history, and it's great that you can still visit her at Mystic Seaport.  The restoration was very well done.  


There's lots of little detail pieces on whalers which make for a fun time - a nice change from the typical warship kit that is out there, and a nice reprieve from rigging cannons with 2mm blocks :)

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Mike, I just want to say that your work so far shows your fine skills.  This is an interesting ship -- I don't know anything about her history, but the shape of the bow is intriguing to say the least.  I had wanted to attend the MSW convention in Mystic (I believe that was '15), but just couldn't get away, so missed a golden opportunity to see the restoration.  It's exciting to visit those old vessels, you can really build an understanding of the ways elements work together.


I read your account of clearing the dust when you worked with the ebony.  That's important even when working with other woods.  I'll boast that I got a dust collector for Christmas, which has already made a difference in keeping my workbench clean.  You can check it out here:




The ebony against the holly does look really good.  Bravo!


I also agree with you that building up the bulwarks is good practice.  I did that with my Rattlesnake, and learned a lot.  With the Fly, it seems that a good number of details are simulated rather than actually built in.





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