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Yacht America by flyer - Mamoli - scale 1:66 - with some alterations

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Build log schooner America

While working on HM Schooner Pickle I started to look out for a next project. As I really did like the simple elegance of the schooner and a friend of mine had long reserved some space in his office for a dust catcher in form of a model ship the decision to build another schooner was taken. This friend has family connections to the US and I always liked the elegant, innovative design of America and so this vessel was chosen. Also the Mamoli kit comes in scale 1/66 which is close enough to 1/64 to make all fittings in this scale available for a bit of kit enhancement. A decade ago I had built Mamolis La Gloire and found the kit of good quality (...for that time - I had never seen a JoTiKa kit yet).

Mamoli seems presently to be out of service but I was lucky to find a kit in a Swiss model shop.


The Kit

The first impression was quite good. A tidy box with cleanly separated parts in various compartments. The quality of the wood is only average but the cast parts look good. The plans seem to cover the whole build although the written instructions are meagre and sometimes a bit difficult to understand. The original is Italian, which I don't speak, but by combining English and German translations (by Google?) and some educated guess I should be able to get the meaning of it.


The coppering

Mamoli uses an ingenious simple way to imitate the coppering of the lower hull with small wooden tiles. The same method was used in Keith Juliers earlier books and looked to be an clever approximation.

However as the excellent copper plates of Victory Models are available I will use them. This asks for some re-planning as 0,5mm strips will be replaced by thin copper. Therefore lower hull and rudder will have to be different.


The skeleton

Keel and frames are of quite soft 3,5mm plywood and need some reworking to fit. The two deck parts equally need a rework but altogether a skeleton is quite easily formed. The slender elegant lines are now visible and I'm definitely hooked - a beautiful design.

Visible is also the that stem and sternpost need to be made as separate new parts with a strength of 5mm. Also the rudder will need a similar replacement.

Some additional wood strips are necessary to cover the lower hull and at the same time I can adjust the deck planking.



dry fit of the skeleton




Pickle's bosun standing on Americas deck is a bit overwhelmed by the sheer size of this modern schooner

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Very nice start Peter.  Both Hamilton and I are currently building the Mamoli kit.  Hamilton has done an outstanding job on his hull - You might want to take a look.

I think the little wooden 'copper' plates supplied with the kit are an interesting concept, and I've seen it done well, but I think the real copper plates are very much nicer.

I look forward to following your log.


- Tim

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Hi Nils

Did you notice? My projects are getting closer to the steam age!


Hi Scott and Elijah

Thanks for the visit. I'll do my very best to entertain you. :)


Hi Tim

Thank you. I'm aware of your and Hamilton's build and follow those logs, shamelessly profiting and hoping to avoid thus the largest blunders.





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A piece each of stem and stern are cut out and replacement pieces, made from leftover 5mm walnut wood, fit into place.

Fixation with a few nails is provisionally only to permit removal for sanding.





Now the keel, bulkheads and deck as well as the filler pieces have been glued. I'm presently scratching away with sanding paper while trying to find out how that stern should look. There are different variations in the internet and  the kits plans treat that problem with a certain Latin liberality. I should find a somehow sturdy and elegant form...

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Peter - just re-read your last post, and remembering that the stern was quite ambiguous in the plans.  I too have seen many variations on the look of the stern.  Everything from a very flat slab, to a jutting break line below the hand rail around the stern.  (sorry for my lack of nautical terminology).  In many cases, it looks like to see the eagle carving on the stern, you would have to be directly under it - well almost.

Anyway, looking forward to seeing your interpretation!

Keep up the good work!


- Tim

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Perhaps I should explain why I did only partly replace the keel and the sternpost with those 5mm walnut bits. The kit instructs to build up those parts from the 4mm plywood to the full 5 mm thickness by adding 0,5mm wood strips on each side. These will partly represent the copper plates and above them the keel itself. Originally keel and sternpost were massive timbers. A few years ago I built Mamoli's La Gloire where they do basically the same doubling up. The look of the finished keel is much less satisfying than that of Pegasus or Granado where a massive 5mm keel is used - even if you cover it with paint. The copper plates will mask the exact construction of the lower keel; so the kits way will do for this parts. Therefore only those parts above the copper were replaced. Additionally the whole rudder will be replaced.




first planking


A big question was how the planks should run on the stern. Unfortunately I didn't find any information on that for this or other vessels of the same time with a rounded stern e.g. Le Hussard. The kits plans look strange and I don't think the planks would have run vertical.   I will try to form something like a convex, oval, rounded counter where the planks run horizontally with the planks from the ships side merging into it on an imaginary frame.

It took some time to realise that the wood strips for the whale and upwards are made from a rather brittle walnut. I formed the stern with the filling parts and filler and let the walnut stripes run as far aft as possible. The definite form of the counter should become clear after the first planking is completed.

There are several variants in the internet for the form of the bulwarks on the bow. The kit lets them merge in front of the bow but this looks rather strange. I will continue the line of the plank ends from the lower bow leaving a gap which should be filled by the bowsprit.  

It's quite some guesswork needed and some try and (hopefully not too much) error compared with the excellent instructions in a Caldercraft kit - but it's still fun.




possible form of the lower counter




very elegant lines and a rather low bulwark top

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  • 4 weeks later...

The first planking is now finished and the sanding done. The definite form of the hull was given by eye and a few hours of filling and sanding. For the stern I decided to have a convex, roughly triangular counter from the rudder up to the taffrail. It will have horizontal planking similar to traditional counters of the early 19th century. The decision came after looking at several of the different America's stern pictures in the web.




The form of the stern as a rough sketch on the first planking



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second planking


The second planking was started on the stern. Then the wales and the rail were glued on. While continuing below the wales I noted that some tapering was necessary already for the lower part of the wales and the first plank. I think that trying to use straight planks as far down as possible is one mistake occasionally seen here and I try hard to overcome my laziness and continually form the planks in a way that they may follow a reasonable 'natural' run.



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  • 1 month later...

The second planking is now finished. It took some time because of the fine weather. Also my immune system resented somewhat the use of CA glue and I had to make some breaks as well as use a mask. I did stick to a nose-friendly glue but this did not fully prevent some cheerful sneezing.

The form of the hull was a bit of a challenge to follow with regular planking. In the lower part I used a lot of - rather simply formed - stealers to allow the plank a natural run. This will be covered by copper plates anyhow.

The keel was also planked with 5 x 0,5 mm strips to bring it up to its full strength of 5mm before coppering the whole lower hull.





some more sanding is needed before starting painting and coppering.

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Ach! Here you are, Peter, and it's good to see you at work.  I can definitely understand your interest in this elegant yacht -- she's a beauty!


If there's ever a choice between fine weather and ship modelling, I'm afraid I'd have to go with the weather. 


Can't way to see more (fine weather and your modelling!)





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Hi Glenn


Thanks very much. Your America looks fine. I like the keel with the false keel included. Is it the Constructo model?

I'm looking forward to the start of your build log. It helps a lot if you get the -always kind - feedback to your very own struggle. :)




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  • 3 weeks later...

Finishing the hull

The upper part of the hull was painted black and the coppering started. I use Amati copper plates. They come in sheets and the single plates can easily be broken off by bending them a few times both ways.

Starting at the lower stern the plates were glued on, overlapping from stern to stem and from the keel to the waterline. Along the waterline a single line of plates gives a clean termination. This pattern follows the one used on USS Constitution and I think it should be adequate for America.

Those Amati plates are meant to overlap. That's the reason for them being left and right. One line of nails on the upper and forward side is provided by the next plate overlapping the bald edges. The handicap of that system is the unfinished look of the terminating plates.

I also like the way the nail heads are shown flat, running smoothly with the copper. I think the prototype should have looked this way (Constitution does) and not with those heavily protruding nail heads of the Caldercraft plates, somehow creating the image of a badly shaved hedgehog.



overlapping of the plates, viewed from the bow



the waterline has to be followed only roughly



the plates are brought on in stripes, running aft to forward, each upper overlapping the lower one



a dockyard worker holds one copperplate



one side is finished - now the work starts all over again



After finishing the larboard side as well, I will have to clean the plates to remove glue drops and fingerprints.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The weather is still too fine for long working hours and I spent some time travelling in Iceland and hiking in the Swiss alps. In both places the air is rather fresh and the beer fine. On Iceland most places are at sea level and easily accessible but the country is expensive and some flight hours away. In the Swiss alps on the other hand glaciers are at 2500m the air is rather thin (you need to cook your soft eggs for 7 minutes instead of 3 and hiking is a bit straining but I can reach most nice places with a 3 hours scenic train ride. But back to serious business...



where America meets Europe...

part of the Mid-Atlantic-Ridge on Iceland

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The coppering is now completed and the plates cleaned of glue stains and finger prints with a rotating brush. (A few plates were dislocated by the brush and had to be replaced - better now, when America still is in the wharf.) In the process the patina which is on the plates on delivery gives way to a bright shine but will be replaced over the months by a natural darkening through oxidation of the copper.

A false keel will be bolted to the keel, that's the reason why I left off the copper under the keel.



The copper will lose its shine over the next months



a false keel will cover the underside of the keel



coppering seems acceptable


The Rudder

As mentioned earlier the kit's rudder was replaced by a scratch built one and then coppered below the waterline. The kit's rudder hinges were clean cast parts but the opening was only about 3,5 mm and therefore useless. I decided to make new ones according to the method used on Pickle. The hinge was fabricated with a strip of cartridge paper with the nail heads represented by pushing a needle lightly into the reverse side.

The pintle is made from a bended nail minus it's head. All is the glued in place and painted copper.

Presently I'm trying to decide if the rudder needs (a) pendant(s). One picture I found showed a single pendant hanging from the taffrail similar to that on Endeavour. On the other hand they are not found on the America replica and I have no idea when they went out of fashion...



kit's rudder and replacement



coppered with first hinge in place



kits hinge and parts for the new one: cartridge paper hinge, nail and raw pintle



second hinge not yet painted

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I can really begin to understand the interest in America -- as the copper goes on, her lines become more apparent  . . . . and she is a beauty!.


Iceland is a beaut too, but I honestly don't know why anyone would leave the Alps, especially during this time of year.


Happy equinox!



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Thank you, Eljiah!


Hi Martin

Good idea, we could make equinox another holyday. Cheers! A reason to leave the alps? Just too many cow droppings on your paths perhaps and the hunting season will open soon. Most of the time they shoot venison but you never know - they don't always really like us lowlanders up there.


Hi Michael

Thank you.

Yes, if I want to fly I have to flap my own wings (my family name translates as 'bird').

I belong now to those happy retired gentlemen which have no time for anything. Honestly, sometimes I wonder where I used to find time for work.




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The finished rudder was used to mark the hinge positions on the sternpost. The hinges were made in a similar way with stripes of cartridge paper and eyepins. All was painted copper and the rudder provisionally hanged. In my opinion it looks as good as those cast parts from the kit and is quite easily done.



raw material for the hinge



first hinge in place



the provisionally hanged rudder looks ok

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  • 2 weeks later...

OK Martin, I went back into the alps for a week of voluntary work. A few short breaks to enjoy the scenery were possible.

(I know this is a bit off topic but just too beautiful not to share with those poor fellows which have to live on a seashore. ;)  )



the Matterhorn is just visible in the background

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The deck

Back in the wharf I started deck laying. Although the quality of the wood provided by the kit was doubtful I decided to use it. I hope the imperfections in the kit will give a certain rustic charm (within small tolerances, of course).  First A 5mm waterway plank was laid along the edges. The outer part of it will be covered by the spirketing. The heads of the deck planks are cut into the waterway 'on the go'.

Caulking is imitated by painting the planks edges with a black marker.



planking has begun



first half of the fore deck is covered

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