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


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Beautiful work with the ebony, Mike.  I can't wait to see close-ups.  And that is a curious planking pattern, as you say.  I've seen others on MSW build the Charles W Morgan, but haven't read enough to understand the reason behind that curiosity.  Could you offer any background?

 

Enjoy your yard work  while you can -- if it's 100 F here, I assume it will be that hot in DC soon enough!!

 

Cheers (Sweatin' in Oklahoma),

 

Martin

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Hey Martin, thanks for looking in.  We haven't hit 100 yet here in DC, but it's been close with lots of humidity.  Not a good sign to wake up and see condensation on the windows.

 

Not sure of the reason for the planning pattern.  It does seem pretty unique as you say.  I'm curious if others might know the reason.

 

I've been spending the last few nights fairing the bulkheads to get a smooth run of planks.  Even though I'm double planking the hull, spending the time now should make things easier down the road - particularly since the kit has you working with thinner planking than I've seen in other kits.  It's taking some time too because I've found I've needed to add shims on some of the bulkheads to avoid low spots.  Big temptation to throw on planks, but hopefully after the first planking goes on, I'll only have minor areas to correct.

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Slightly different hull shape, and no pesky gunports or cannons.  On the other hand, you've got 7 whaleboats on the Morgan and lots of different deck items relating to the whaling operations.  Nice change of pace for sure.  In particular, it's nice to not have to rig the cannons with 2mm blocks 😳

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I've completed the outer hull first planking to the edge of the wale.  Nothing too difficult, but I did use a little filler here and there to address any low spots.  The one thing to note is that the plans, as well as the actual ship, show the area between the plankshear and wale as seven rows of planks.  This comes out around 14mm of space to plank, or 2mm per plank.  The planks given in the kit don't seem to match that width, so what I did was end up using five wider planks and one narrower plank for that section.  Once I get to the second planking, I'll cut the ebony planks in the widths I need to get seven rows of fairly equal widths.

 

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This ship is different than a lot of ship kits you see out there as there is no independent row or rows of planking for the wales - instead, the wale line is demarked by a thicker line of planks that extend at the wale line and lower.

 

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I've been taking my time in trying to get the stern right, as I think the stern tends to make or break a lot of models.  You can see from these pictures how curvy the stern is, and how the planks tuck around the transom and up into the counter.

 

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The European kits I've worked on tend to use stern extensions and a counter piece to frame this area.  This kit (and it looks like other kits in the Model Shipways line), require you to create a framing block with a number of curves into it.  The plans are good in this regard, but it still is a little complicated if you're a relative beginner like myself and are working through it the first time.  To help others that are building the kit, here are top and bottom pictures of my block:

 

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Here is how my stern looks at the moment.  I think I've managed to capture the curves pretty nicely, and the wale will run into the middle of the name board as you can see on the plans and on the pictures of the actual ship.  I used filler to help get the lines right, but being able to sand down the first planking should help as well.  Thanks for looking in!

 

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The Morgan has lettering on both the upper hull near the stem in gold and on the transom in white.  The printer option is a bit awkward in that white doesn't print on paper, and either way, you are adding a strip of paper to the hull (and the blacks might not much up).  I certainly can't paint the letters either.

 

I've been thinking about these dry transfer letters from Woodland Scenics.  Has anyone used them?  They have Roman font in gold and white, which I think could work nicely.  I'm considering applying the decals prior to installing the various wood pieces to the model which should make things easier, though I'd have to be very careful not to accidentally rub them off while continuing work on the model.

 

DecalsGraphics

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's been a little slow going, but I've planked the next section of the hull (the area between the plankshear and the wale) with ebony.  So far, so good, no issues really.  I decided to complete the second planking at this stage, because the wale on this ship isn't a separately defined row of planks - instead it's just thicker planks from the top of the wale down.  

 

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For the next section, I'll be using a thicker first planking, which I'll sand back to the thickness of the planking above, and then add the ebony second planking so that there is a clear definition.  I won't be planking the rest of the hull in ebony because I'll be coppering the hull.  So, at some point below the copper line, I'll probably just feather the ebony planks into the first planking rather than add a second planking to the entire hull.  We'll see how it looks, as I can always throw on a second planking, not caring what it looks like since it will be covered anyway.

 

Speaking of the copper line, the plans how two levels for the copper line.  A higher line which seems to be the historical line, and a lower line from the 1983 restoration (which appears to still be the copper line for the ship currently):

 

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Most models of the Morgan that I've seen go with the lower line.  A benefit of the higher line is that the hull would need a lot less ebony for the planking - I think midships there are only three or four strakes above the copper line.  On the other hand, I wonder if the higher copper line would overwhelm the ship.  I think I have enough ebony sheets for the higher line, but not the lower line, so I might just go with the higher line. 

 

I'm curious what others think.  The first picture is of a model with the lower line.  The next few are with the higher line.  I really like the oxidized green copper look of the second model below - I'm wondering if i can achieve that with the copper tape that came with the kit.

 

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Hi Mike -- I know nothing about coppering a hull, but I agree with you that the oxidized look on model #2 looks pretty good -- no, really good.  I also would lean toward the higher coppering line because it seems to compliment the particular shape of the hull -- the lower line of the ebony planking creates the appearance of a top-heavy hull.  Just my aesthetic opinion.

 

Cheers,

 

Martin

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I agree wholeheartedly with Martin, a waterline set too low creates an unbalanced look in my opinion, a higher line, besides being more historically accurate, provides more of a sense of "heft".  On my Snake the waterline is in my opinion too low (but not horribly so) which I did in blissful ignorance, but I see it everytime I look at her.

Edited by Beef Wellington
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Martin and Jason, thanks so much for weighing in.  I really appreciate the thoughts!  That was my thinking, but being less experienced in this area, I wasn't sure if I was off base or not.  

 

Even better that I won't have to spend more money for ebony sheets since I think I should hopefully have just enough to plank to the higher water line and to the stern (which uses curved planks, and therefore uses up more wood).  Also simplifies the second planking since, as I mentioned, I think I can get away with feathering the first planking into the second planking, rather than fully adding a second planking, and I don't need to spile as many planks.

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Thanks Alde.  Looks like we have unanimity here :dancetl6:

 

Joe, thanks very much.  The nameplate came out fantastic!  I actually ordered dry transfer letters from Woodland Scenics which arrived yesterday.  I not only have to do the nameplate, but also there is small lettering of the ship's name on the log rail near the stem.  In both cases, I was planning to add the lettering to the wood pieces before installing them on the ship - would seem to be impossible to do it otherwise.

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Hi Mike,

You might want a back-up plan for the lettering. While I know some have had good luck with the Woodland Scenics lettering, I found it very frustrating to use. It's quite difficult to position each letter precisely where you want it, and even though I thought Id' rubbed each letter properly, in some cases when I lifted the sheet little bits of while lifted off with it, ruining not only that letter, but in fact the whole word to that point.  I had good results using Microsoft Word. To get white lettering on black background, I just created a one-cell table and made the background black and the lettering white. I experimented quite a bit to get the font and spacing that suited. This was for my Constitution. I think this will work well for your Morgan too. I wouldn't worry too much about the black matching, with that white strip above the lettering, it should be enough to make any slight difference not noticeable. While this is ok for white lettering, I'm not quite as sure how well it will work for your gold lettering. Metallic colours are harder to duplicate than white, but with a bit of experimenting you might be able to find one that works well enough. I hope your Woodland Scenics option works for you, but if not, I wouldn't dismiss this alternative as a way to go.

(ps I really like this model and it's on my shortlist for the future)

David

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Thanks David, I've been considering that option as well.  I have a lot of letters to get right, and I can just see getting to the last one and having to start over.

 

I think the Morgan is a great subject to model.  It's a nice break from all the warship kits that are out there, and there's lots of interesting details you can add to the ship if you choose.  Plus, the actual ship is still around which you can visit or at least see lots of pictures out there.  

 

As for the kit, the plans are very well done (at least I think so far) and the instruction manual is good.  I've compared the plans to pictures of the ship, and the plans appear to be very spot on, even down to the planking.  I'm not a fan of MS' use of basswood for the keel and bulkheads, as I think MDF provides a much better structure.  But, taking the time to put bracing blocks between the bulkheads, everything has remained square and without any flex.  The cast pieces generally aren't bad, but when you see how people here on MSW improve detail pieces like those, they seem a bit lacking (but how much can one expect from white metal castings).  

 

So all in all, I'd definitely recommend the kit.  Even though I'm replacing all the visible wood, I don't hold that against the kit.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I've made some pretty good progress the last few weeks, and have finished the first planking.  I didn't bother using planking bands, spiling, runs of planks, etc. since this area of the hull will be covered with copper plates and a few rows of ebony planks as a second planking.  But, that resulted in a little clinking, and hence some filler at the stem and stern.  The current ebony planking ends at the line of the wale, so I sanded the lime planking flush to it.  For this ship, the wale is marked by a thicker row of planks, so all I need to do is just add the ebony planks on top of the first planking and I'll have the wale.  For those planks, I'll certainly need to spile.

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In the stern picture below, I stained the top area of the transom black as the planking for the transom is curved, and I was worried about gaps potentially showing if I don't get the curves perfect.  The counter is a little tricky because there are a lot of curves that end into it, including the name board which is the area between the counter and the black transom.  I thought it was really important to get the shape right, so rather than go plank by plank, I glued a bunch of planks together, traced the counter pattern from the plans, and then cut and sanded the counter to shape using the tracing.  That was much easier, and ensured an accurate and symmetrical counter.  Once glued to the hull, I was able to use the counter to help sand the hull to get the proper curves into the counter.IMG_4058.thumb.JPG.bd61b9b8c23b1fac49af9f6cf86a3fce.JPG

I think I'm going to go with the higher water line (thanks everyone for the recommendation), so mid-hull I probably only need three rows of second planking to get to the waterline.  My plan is to go a little below the waterline, and then sand the planks under the waterline to feather into the first planking.  I'm using 0.7mm ebony, so this shouldn't be too difficult.  

 

Thanks for looking in!  Hope my friends in Florida, etc. are staying safe with the hurricane.

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Higher coppering. A hull ALWAYS looks better lower in the water. Back then, they didn't worry so much about freeboard and a lower hull provides less windage. Not to mention, when the ship is fully laden, she's bound to sit lower in the water and a long whaling voyage would mean she's low in the water for the end of the voyage so needs the copper. No question you should copper to the higher line. She's looking good. :)

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Thanks guys for the kind words.  Really appreciate it!

 

Jim, so far ebony has been really nice to work with.  It's not pear or boxwood, but it machines very nicely (it's a very hard, dense wood, so I don't use hand tools on it as much).  If you look back on my log, you can see the kinds of bends I've managed to get on thinner pieces (if trying to bend thicker stock, I'd consider starting with a thicker piece than you need and sanding the curve in if wetting/heating doesn't work). In a lot of respects it's nicer than some of the walnut I've worked with, where if you happen to bend it in an area where there is a slight pit, the walnut will quickly snap on you.  I do try to be careful of the dust, so I vacuum and wipe down the pieces after working then with a paper towel (because the wood is oily, wiping it easily gets rid of the dust).   

 

There's certainly a lot of negative commentary on ebony here.  I think like most things though, if you know ahead of time the properties of what you're working with and plan accordingly, you can make it work.  Personally, I enjoy the challenge and prefer the look of natural wood on my builds.  Paints give a plastic look in my opinion, and while dyes and stains look really nice, I still think ebony outclasses them by far.

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Sailor, I definitely agree with your recommendation.  A whaler with a full load will have sat very low on the water due to weight is my guess - the natural waterline would be much higher than where it is on the ship currently, which is quite lighter these days without the need for hauling cargo.

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In regards to the green patina on the copper sheathing on the 2nd model,I think remember reading elsewhere that the effect was created with painted paper plates as opposed to actual copper.Achieving the actual green coating of verdigris on the copper tape supplied in  the kit is not an easy matter.One approach I read involved pressing the copper against a block of wood coated with acetic acid and then burying it in dung.Well,no to that! There are others of varying degrees of practicality,but the most promising involved applying wine to the copper after some period of oxidation .At least this method allows acknowledgment of whatever the  results by consuming the remaining wine.One thing I would suggest is to hold off coppering the hull until just before you are ready to mount it on whatever sort of fixture you plan to display it on. I made the mistake on my own Morgan of getting ahead of myself and coppering the bottom before I was done with having to handle the hull to apply some of the details.I ended up having to redo some of the copper ,especially at the stem and sternpost,and had a devil of a time keeping it from looking like the dog's breakfast.

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Nice work, Mike.  I especially like the strategy you used for counter -- very ingenious!  As for the ebony, I think that if you're using power tools, you avoid many of the issues caused by oily wood.  And I definitely, whole-heartedly agree that natural wood beats out painted or stained wood any day!

 

Cheers,

 

Martin

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Just a comment on the lettering. I used a word cell with black background and white or gold letters and put it on with modge-podge stuff, then flat clear over. 

One advantage is the choice of fonts to match the real Morgan. A  styilized italic "s" with strikethru style added gives you that divider character on the transom. 

You can see the result in my build.  If your ebony is true black it should work. 

Got the idea from John's Morgan build log. 

 

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Thanks Martin, you should give ebony a shot.  It really is a beautiful wood.  I can always send you some if you want to try it out.  I think I'm using Gabon Ebony, which is jet black throughout, uniform, dense, no grain wood.

 

Thanks Bruce.  I bought some dry transfer letters and will try them out first, as I think there will be a slight difference in hue between wood and the paper.  The letters are going to be tricky though to get lined up right, particularly since the name plate on the transom has a slight curve.  I was also wondering what to do with that divider character - no dry transfer letters available for that one :huh:  A third option would be to see if I could order custom decals.  That would probably be the easiest/safest approach, though it's finding a vendor and hopefully not ending up with a high bill.

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Nice progress Mike, that  ebony finish is going to look great .

I too would take the higher copper line, and as for getting the Verdigris finish I understand urine is the way to go, who was it on MSW who made a great job using this method, having a senior moment, his name has slipped my mind.

Personally I quite like the old copper penny look. :)

 

B.E.

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