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USRC Ranger 1819 by Cathead – FINISHED – Corel – Scale 1:64

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(Image via Model-Expo, from whom I bought the kit).


This kit is meant to represent one of many ships built in the early nineteenth century for the US Revenue Marine (fore-runner of today’s Coast Guard). However, no “Ranger” was ever built for that service during this time period, so the model only approximates a real prototype. The closest real vessels, according to my research, seem to be the two Alabama-class topsail schooners built in 1819 (Alabama and Louisiana). This conclusion is based on several factors:

  • Recommendation of the Coast Guard Modeling website
  • Comparison to plans available from the USCG website
  • Dimensions given by USCG fact sheet for USRC Louisiana
  • My own calculations. The resources above list the Alabama-class cutters as having a 52’ keel and 18’-6” beam, while Wikipedia also lists a length on deck of 56’-10”. The table below shows the kit’s measurements (taken from the plans), the kit’s size at full scale converted to feet, the actual dimensions from the sources above in feet, and the difference between the two scaled back down to kit size, in cm.


Deck: kit(cm) 28, kit(feet) 62.6, real (feet) 57.0, diffrence (cm) 2.5

Beam: kit(cm) 9, kit(feet) 20.1, real (feet) 18.5, diffrence (cm) 0.7

Keel: kit(cm) 22.5, kit(feet) 50.2, real (feet) 52.0, diffrence (cm) -0.8


The kit does not perfectly match the Alabama-class cutters, most notably in deck length, but it’s closer to those than the other options (the 56’ Surprise class or the 60’ Search class). At this scale, only a true historian of the Revenue Marine will notice that the model is a few centimeters off; as I intend to build it as a fictional ship rather than as Alabama or Louisiana, this will matter even less. The overall hull shape, sail plan, and deck layout seem reasonably similar, and I will probably use the USCG drawing of Louisiana as a guide when the kit plans are uncertain or I prefer the former’s appearance. For example, the USCG drawing shows two swivel-based carronades of different calibers, which I find intriguing, and overall it’s more crisply drawn than the poor-quality photocopy in the kit.




I could only find a few previous build logs for this kit, which are listed here for future reference (if I’ve missed one, please inform me):

  • Ranger by matt s.s.: heavy kit-bash of the model into a glorious pirate ship.
  • Ranger by trippwj: unfinished log, not updated since 2014, progress as far as beginning planking; intended to follow plans for the larger Search class vessels.
  • Ranger by Small Stuff: unfinished log, not updated since 2014, many photos missing, progress as far as bulkheads.
  • Ranger by Woodmiester12: unfinished log, not updated since 2015, progress as far as first hull & deck planking.

So it looks like I’ll embarking on a fairly new adventure here, the most challenging model I’ve tackled to date, especially with the rather poor instructions in hideous English translation. Some may ask why I’m attempting this somewhat problematic kit when BlueJacket just released what is, by all accounts, a high quality kit of a similar revenue cutter. The answer is quite simple: I purchased this kit before learning of the BlueJacket release. Both I and Mrs Cathead love the look of topsail schooners, and I thought the challenge of working with a foreign kit would be good for developing my skills. Now that I’ve bought it, I’m going to build it.


And for those of you wondering why I’m not tackling another steamboat, there is a twofold answer: one, the previous sentence, and two, it’s going to take me significant time to do the research and design necessary for a new scratchbuild. I’d like to do something that doesn’t have plans, like the Missouri River sidewheeler Arabia, and that’s a long-term project. So I’ll work on this revenue cutter in the meantime to keep my hands busy and my skills developing, and work on my steamboat plans in the background.



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As there are few build logs for this kit, I'd like to make this one as useful as possible for others who might follow it later. So I'm going to attempt to match my posts to each stage of the instructions, offering my own interpretation of the intended work. I hope to provide a clear depiction of this kit's progress.


First a quick look at the parts.





The frames are pre-cut, unlike the laser-cut parts left in sheets that I've encountered in previous kits, meaning there isn't any spare material to work with if you break something. No parts list was provided, meaning I just have to hope everything is here. The wood seems of reasonable quality to my amateur eye. The fittings are bagged, but again with no parts list, so I'll just hope for the best. I have them all divided up into my handy organizer. Many of the castings seem coarse with a lot of flashing and other mess, and I'm going to be tempted to replace or rebuild many of them, but that's a later discussion.


Stage 1 - Structure of the hull




I glued the proper walnut lath onto the bottom of the keel. Each precut frame is numbered and corresponds to a numbered slot on the false keel. While the plywood seems nice and solid, the slots weren't cleanly cut and many needed significant filing to widen them enough to allow the parts to fit together properly.


Once they all fit, I test-fit the plywood deck to ensure that everything seemed square. The instructions don't suggest this, but it's a good idea, as filing the slots wider can make some frames off-kilter without correction. Another suggestion: test-fit the masts through the deck into the holes in the keel; these holes don't line up quite right and some extra sanding needs to be done. It was much easier to do now than later. See photo above for testing of deck and masts with frames (note that the deck hasn't been bent into its final camber yet). Only when I was sure of everything did I glue the frames in place.


Oh, one other note: carefully check the deck's fit over frames 8 and 10, which stick up through and beyond the deck to form walls of the small deckhouse. I found that I needed to file down the edges of these walls, at an angle, to match the angle of the deck's precut hole. Only by doing this could I get a proper fit.


Next up: properly fitting the plywood deck.

Edited by Cathead
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Stage 2 - Deck


Now the deck needs to be fitted to the frames. I don't agree with the way the instructions approach this step, and will suggest an alternative. The plans show the theoretical location of each frame where it meets the deck (top of photo below).


The instructions want you to glue a series of short walnut laths onto the deck's underside, on either side of where the frames will go, to provide a nice secure slot. This is sensible. However, the instructions tell you to do this by taping these laths to the plans, spreading glue on them, then carefully placing the deck over them and weighing it down. I though this approach sounded overly complicated and sure to create problems, so I used a different approach.




As faintly shown in the photo above, I laid the deck over the plans and traced the outline of each frame's ideal position onto the deck. I then fit the deck onto the frames and compared theory with reality, adjusting my pencil lines where needed (a few didn't quite match up). If I'd done it the plans' way, I would have been very annoyed to discover my plans not quite fitting the walnut slots.


Instead, I glued laths onto the deck individually, so I could position each one properly instead of relying on the decking sitting on them all perfectly. I did all the aft-side laths first; when they dried I test-fitted the deck again, held it on with a few rubber bands, and added the fore-side laths so they'd be snug against the actual frames (photo below). This worked beautifully for creating nice tight slots for the frames that fitted the actual model, not the ideal plan version which didn't quite match the cut parts.




Alternatively, I could see an argument for gluing the laths onto the deck before gluing the frames to the keel, then using the pre-slotted deck to ensure that each frame is exactly where it's supposed to be. But if you glue in the frames first, don't pre-glue the laths on the deck without checking as described above. The kit isn't engineered well enough to take that gamble.




When I was happy with the slots, I moved on to attaching the deck. The instructions suggest wetting the surface of the plywood, then spreading glue on the frames and bending/gluing the whole thing at once. I was suspicious of this, so wet the deck (using a toothbrush and water dish) and fit it first without glue, rubber-banding it down and letting it dry into the proper camber. Honestly, I didn't need to do this, the deck bent really nicely with a light surface wetting, but it didn't hurt either.


Once it was dry and I was happy with the fit, I removed the deck, spread thin glue along all the frames, then re-wet and refit the deck. I wrapped rubber bands around the structure at every frame to ensure that the deck bent properly and fully through the camber. I'm pleased with the final result. The structure is strong and ready for the next step.


Next up: fairing and filler blocks.

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I have this kit and I will be following your progress. Have fun !!

Jean-Philippe (JP)



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Stage 3 - preparation of frames for first planking


Fairing the frames is pretty self-explanatory. I added thicker filler blocks at the bow and stern than those provided in the kit.


The real challenge in this stage (and the next one) is deciding what to do about the transom. The instructions provide unclear, and conflicting, information about the transom's relationship to the planking. Just look at the images below:




Upper left shows the first planking lining the outside of the transom. Upper right shows the second planking butting up against the inside of the transom, incompatible with the previous image. Lower left shows the planking butting up against the transom, too.


The written directions don't help. The first plank (along the edge of the deck) is to be installed "terminating against the transoms", clearly contradicting the photo upper left. However, in Stage 4, they say of the first planking, "these are glued under the transom", implying that the photo upper left is what's intended.


Adding to all this, the transom supplied in the kit appears way too wide (photo bottom right). Not only is it cut asymmetrically, it sticks out on either side well beyond the width of the hull, making it impossible to extend the planking along its side. Matt.s.s appeared to get around this problem by doing both; butting the first plank up against the transom while wrapping the rest around the outside.


I'm honestly not sure what's accurate here; should the transom extend beyond the hull's width at all, or be fully contained within the planking? My instinct is to terminate all the planking against the transom, which makes life much easier.




Stage 3 involves laying the first strake along the edge of the deck, so here it is. The edges pulled away from the bow a bit; I thought I had it clamped tightly enough when I left it, but now there's this annoying gap with stretched glue solidified in it. I'm trying to decide whether to attempt to re-do this or just not worry about it and allow the planking to flow from here, as this is just the first layer and I can fill and sand to my heart's desire before laying the final planking.


Either way, it's on to Stage 4, planking the rest of the hull.

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Cathead, perhaps this might help. Planking on this type of vessel usually ran up to a horizontal cross seam at the top of the horn timber. not to the transom itself as you show. This required a major twist. Possibly, the manufacturers of the kit sought to eliminate this to simplify construction. The transom sat on top of this, the seam covered by a moulding.


The attached photo shows this same construction in my model of the pilot boat Anna Maria.


Roger Pellettpost-18637-0-57671900-1468781489_thumb.jpeg

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Roger, thank you for commenting. I'm afraid I can't quite see what you mean in that image, it's too blurry for my amateur eyes to pick out what you mean. Can you explain in more detail?

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Hi Cathead,


Sorry, taking pictures through a glass case is difficult. Tomorrow AM I'll try to get a better picture outdoors.


Furthermore, my description was incorrect. The hull planking does twist up to the top of the horn timber but the transom does not sit directly on top of the horn timber. Instead, there is a series of transom knees that mortise into the top of the timber. The lower part (the more horizontal section) of the knees is cross planked and the rudder head passes through this area. The transom is fastened to the upper section of these knees. The profile of the Louisiana that you posted above shows this arrangement.


This arrangement accomplishes two things. First the structure protects the rudder head. Second, it moves the main sheet aft of the rudder head. As you will recall from building your longboat, otherwise, the sheet interferes with the tiller



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Roger, I'll look forward to your photo. After a bit more research, your explanation matches my new mental impression of how the transom is supposed to be; the filler blocks represent the lower/horizontal portion of the horn timbers, while the solid "transom" piece represents the upright framing that connects at an angle, just in a cheap and confusing way. The kit does have the stern extending out beyond the rudder post, which passes up between the filler blocks as it should, leaving the transom extending to the stern past the rudder, so I think that part is right (you can see this slot in the photo below).


Here's a quick mockup of what I think the transom framing should look like. Just imagine the lower portion of this assembly mortising into the lower horn timbers extending away from the camera, into where the filler blocks are instead:




This would then be planked over fore and after, I assume, with the aft planking extending in a gently rounded curve just a bit beyond the hull planking and the low bulwarks.


I looked at a plan for a similar William Doughty vessel, and it showed a gently rounded transom extending just beyond the hull.


The above is crude, and not glued into place or anything, just me test-fitting pieces and drawings to see if it feels right. What do you think?

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Hi Carhead,


Two pictures added, hopefully better than the last. It looks like someday, I need to take the model out of the case to dust, but not today.


I don't think that there is any way to build this kit to accurately represent actual practice without major surgery. Assuming that the bottom of your transom now sits on the horn timber, you need to erect angular knees on top of it. These knees will be at an oblique angle equaling the sum of the rise of the sheer line and the slope of th transom. The lower part of these knees should be cross planked and the transom will be fixed to the upper. Since this vessel has no bulwarks, the transom will appear perched up somewhat as shown in the Lousiana picture above.





Edited by Roger Pellett
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Roger, thanks. I think I have enough information to move ahead with something that will be better than the original, if not entirely prototypical. I'm going to try to mimic the Louisiana drawing above, in part. Hopefully I'll show some progress this weekend.


I very much appreciate your willingness to advise amateur projects like mine.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Stage 3 continued


Welcome to "How not to plank a hull", by Cathead. I foolishly decided to follow the instructions' recommendations and diagrams for planking the hull, and have now concluded that that was a bad decision. Among other things, they tell you not to start tapering planks at the stem until the 6th strake, which is definitely not the right approach. In attempting to do so, I ended up doing quite a lot of extreme edge-bending and shaping, which produced some planks far too crinkled and buckled for my liking. I should have followed more normal guidance for hull planking from the start, with a lot more tapering right from the beginning. Luckily, this is only the first planking, and I've learned quite a bit about how planks will and won't lie on this hull form, giving me confidence I can do a much better job on the second planking.


The first two photos show it in a moderately positive light, hiding some of the worst of the work. You can see the uneven run of the planks and some buckling, but once it's filled and finish-sanded I expect it'll provide a sufficient surface for the second layer.





Sticking with the positive thinking, the stern has been less troublesome so far. I cut out a smaller transom support that fits the hull, imitating where the horn timbers would support the shape of the transom. I planked around the edge of it as various resources have appeared to suggest I should do. When the second layer goes on, and I plank both sides of this support, I'll extend it farther out in a curve to match contemporary images. I'm also thinking of adding an outside structure in the shape of the horn timbers, like you see in the image of USRC Louisiana I linked to above.




I'm happy with the run of the planks here overall, but it did take some modification from the kit. The last few frames are too large, guiding the planking away from the stern, forcing a sharp bend inward to meet the end of the stern. I carved and sanded these last few frames down significantly to achieve a smoother run, and I probably could have done even more. You'll see that I still had trouble getting a couple planks to fully lie against the stern, they pulled away slightly despite pre-forming and sanding. But this is way better than if I hadn't cut down the frames. Again, I think filling and sanding here will produce a good surface for the final planking.




And here's the embarrassing part. That's some ugly work right there. For too long I stuck to the original plans, telling myself that if I just kept going it would work itself out. It didn't. Given that this will be hidden forever, I've decided to change course and just fill in the remainder with planks cut to fit, rather than bent to fit. It will look ridiculous and inaccurate, but as it'll be hidden by the second layer, it'll make the work go faster and more happily. I've learned the lesson I needed to, and don't need to beat it in any further.


For the second layer, I'll lay out proper planking belts and be more attentive to shaping and tapering planks. If I still don't do a good enough job, I'll consider coppering the hull (as shown on Louisiana), which will cover 90% of the surface anyway on this low-slung ship.


So other builders be warned, don't be like me and try to force your way through bad instructions. Just plank the thing following the better guidance available elsewhere. I'll update again when the first layer is done.


Thanks for reading, and controlling your laughter!

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The first planking is done; I simply filled in the remainder letting the planks run as they desired, not worrying about prototypical accuracy. It'll all be covered anyway. The photos below show it before any further sanding or filling, so it looks especially rough.




Next, I sanded it down to a smoother finish, and rubbed the whole thing with wood glue. This filled in the gaps, and soaked into the planks, creating a much smoother, stronger shell that I then re-sanded. I consider the final result acceptable. It's still obvious that the planking pattern isn't right, but I now have a smooth shell in the hull's shape that should be a good surface for applying the second planking. I didn't take further photos because I don't think it'll look much different to the lens, and you'll see the finished surface again once I start the second planking.


In the meantime, the next step is planking the deck, which is off to a good start. I'll post photos when the process is completed, it's pretty straightforward.


Thanks for reading.


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Stage 5: planking the deck and bulwarks





I'm not terribly impressed with the wood quality supplied for the decking. It's cut very roughly along the edges, necessitating a fair amount of sanding to get a smooth edge sometimes, which then makes it harder to arrange tight joints between deck planks.


I began by drawing a square grid on the plywood deck, to help guide my planking. The plans show a fairly short plank length, which looked too busy to me and contradicted what I'd read elsewhere about planking normally running 20'-24' in this period. So I cut my planks to about 20' instead. I started at the stern along the centerline, and worked my way forward and out. You can see my grid in the second photo. Wherever I overlapped a hole (for masts or other purposes), I stopped when one plank crossed it, filed out that side of the hole, then kept going, filing the remainder when the next plank went in. This way I didn't have to drill anything and risk cracking the wood.





Here's the finished deck before sanding. I think it came out nicely. Now I'm considering whether, and how, to simulate treenails (or the bolt and plug equivalent). The photo below shows one test, using thin holes filled with pencil, the seams gently lined with pencil, and the whole thing sanded and oiled. I'm trying to decide if it looks good, or out of scale and too busy.


While researching treenail approaches, I ran across one mildly embarrassing thing. I'd followed the plans' approach to plank pattern, just alternating butt ends back and forth. Seems that a more prototypical way is a four-stage staggered layout, which is eminently sensible from an engineering point of view, but like a fool I just followed the plans again. So the deck may not be right to an expert, but at least it's visually pleasing (to me, anyway).


Once I decide, I'll finish the deck, then construct the bulwarks. Only then do I go back to planking the second layer on the hull.


Anyone have thoughts on the test approach to treenails?

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I really like the outcome from your test-piece, CH. Although, if the plank length in the test is the recommended length, then I agree - it would look too busy. Edging the planks with pencil makes them stand out nicely. If anything, I'd try to go for smaller tre-nails.

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You could use a lighter shade if to busy ... I presume your test piece has to short a plank for the model to be used, at least for what I see. Personally I don't like very clearly visible treenails, but that's a matter of preference. I think it will do fine for the current deck




"Desperate affairs require desperate measures." Lord Nelson
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  • 2 weeks later...

Finishing the deck





Here's how I finished the deck. I embossed small holes into the deck planks, using a smaller nail than in my tests above, and gently filled each by pencil. This kept the pencil mark just below the sanding level, so I could finish the deck without smearing anything. Once I was done, I sanded and oiled the deck.


I had to decide on a treenailing pattern, and you can see what I went with. I first just did the plank ends, but it looked wrong as the lines of treenails just had too much open space between them. I assume in reality these planks were attached at every deck beam, but I thought that would look too busy at this scale. So I made a single line halfway between each line of joints. To my eye, it balances the appearance of the deck and I'm pleased with the outcome.


The only downside is that despite using a straightedge to lay out the planking, I clearly didn't do a perfect job and some of the joints wander a bit. I think this won't be noticeable once the model is finished; it stands out now because the deck is wide open.

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Bulwarks, wales, and transom


This was an interesting process of adapting my skills and intentions to poor instructions and kit layout. Lots of photos below.




The bulwarks begin by gluing two thin strips of walnut together lengthwise, overlapping halfway. You're then supposed to bend and glue these to sit over the edge of the deck, so that the lower strip forms the first strake of planking and the upper strip sits inboard atop the deck. The photo above sort-of shows this cross section, along with the beginning of my take on the transom.




Here's another view. Look at the starboard rail, and you'll see one reason why I don't like this approach: it's really easy to get waves or dents in these thin strips as you try to attach them firmly to a narrow strip of the hull. I'd prefer setting up thin stanchions first and gluing strips to those. This photo actually shows the next step, adding several more layers of thin walnut inside the outer bulwark to stiffen and thicken it.




Here's how I bent these strips, using a plastic dish with about the same radius as the bow, soaking the strips overnight, then clamping them into a curve until dry. This thin walnut is really prone to breaking, and the kit offers no extra material, which has been an annoyance throughout the build so far. I had to glue several strips back to together after they shattered, and attempt to hide the joint as I had no spares to replace them.




After you're done with this, you're supposed to have a ledge on the outboard side, along which you run two thicker square strips of walnut to widen the top of the rail. The directions show these two strips lining up perfectly with the inner bulwarks to make a nice, smooth surface. They don't. In the photo above, you see the significant gap remaining between the top of the inner bulwarks, and the much higher outer line of square walnut strips. This was most annoying, and I decided I had to fill that gap with wood to bring the whole thing level. Having no spare walnut, I had to use scrap basswood from my stash. I didn't think this would matter, as this whole assembly gets painted anyway.




Here I'm inlaying the basswood at the bow, after bending it to a proper curve. On the port side, you can again see the gap I'm trying to fill. Interestingly, by the time I'd finished and sanded everything smooth, it ended up looking really good! The thin basswood strip sets off the darker walnut nicely, and Mrs Cathead cooed when she saw it. "You're not going to paint over that, are you?" Hmmm.




So after some thought, I decided to see if I could finish the above-deck area as natural wood. I formed a transom to my liking, and laid a strip of basswood then a strip of walnut across the upper curve, which also turned out nicely, blending the basswood inlay along the rails with the walnut exterior.




I planked the stern with scraps of remnant decking, and smoothed everything to fit. It's not the transom I set out to make, but I think it works. I still can't easily envision the 3D geometry of the curved transoms some of these craft had, and since this is a fictional one anyway, I'm going with what looks pleasing to me.





So here's how she looks now, with the first line of the wales attached. I rubbed everything down with a natural wood oil I use on my kitchen counter, to protect and darken the wood (actually, the lower wale hasn't been oiled yet, so it looks lighted, which shows you the difference). I like the effect, and so does Mrs Cathead, my primary audience. I should have taken a higher-angle photo of the basswood inlay inside the rails, but you can see a hint of it.

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The contrasting woods work well, Cathead. The natural colors work.


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Help! I am really struggling to set up the second layer of planking, and could really use some advice.


The basic issue is, I can't reconcile the kit's instructions and materials with everything I've read and understood about planking. Here's a photo of the hull, with several lengths of the kit's thin walnut strips supplied for planking, taped to the hull along their natural curve.




That sweeping upward curve goes against everything I've ever read in planking tutorials. Planking is supposed to look something like the first layer I did, where each strake runs loosely parallel to the deck and wales. Yet on this hull, with its sharp bow, it requires severe edge-bending to achieve something even close to that, which is why my first layer looks so rough and required so much sanding. I simply cannot understand how I'm supposed to shape these 4mm wide walnut strips into a smooth run of planking that stays horizontal, rather than the upward curve you see here. I had thought that more tapering would be enough to do a better job on this layer, but it won't be, not even close.


I understand that the other option is spiling, i.e. taking a wide piece of wood and cutting out the unusual shape that will bend naturally into the needed curve. But the kit doesn't provide any guidance or materials to do that: it simply gives you a bundle of these narrow walnut strips and says "plank the hull", with a drawing showing nice, parallel lines of planks that are, as far as I can tell, a physical impossibility to achieve with these materials and hull shape.


If I begin to lay even the first plank parallel below the wales, it won't take the inward curve of the hull at all, just bends outward dramatically to produce a brutal clinker effect. I got away with it using the thick first-layer planks and lots of filling and sanding, but know I won't do so this time with these really thin and fragile planks.


No amount of tapering helps; I've tested a few strips tapered to half the original width, but the curve is so severe it doesn't work. All the planking tutorials I've looked at are either for ships far more bluff-bowed than this one, which seems to ease the problem, or call for spiling, which I can't do with the kit-supplied materials.


Of the few build logs for this kit, everyone that got this far in planking just did their own pattern where the planks wanted to lie, not the "authentic" run that all the guides say to do. I looked at a few similar kits with good online instructions, all of which said to spile when necessary.

What do I do? I'm tempted to just to plank as the planks want to lie, using stealers and such as necessary, and leave aside authenticity. But the accuracy stickler in me doesn't understand how the real thing was planked with a hull shape like this. Did the real builders saw out massive wide boards to spile narrow curved planks from? Did they put severe edge-bends on oaken planks and plane away the clinker afterward? Both seem doubtful to me.


So I just don't understand how to proceed. And I can't do much more experimentation, since the kit has almost no spare material included and these strips are already quite fragile. I have to get it right the first time. Or, at least, get once side marginally right then do it truly right on the "display side". But I just don't know how to proceed, and have been puzzling over this for weeks while delaying by doing other aspects that I do understand. Help?

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From my limited perspective, you've a few chooices:


  1. Go with the flow, i.e. let the wood decide for you, do a bit of spiling/cutting, and you might end up with something you may or may not like
  2. Get additional wood - wide enough - so you can cut the planks to shape. I don't know how that will turn out financially, but you'll end up with a model which hull confoms to the planking standards.

The subsequent choices: Do you want to make it conform planking techniques, and if so, are you willing to pay for it ...




"Desperate affairs require desperate measures." Lord Nelson
Search and you might find a log ...


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Thanks, cog, that's essentially how it seems to me. Are such kits really so sloppy, providing drawings that are completely impossible with the materials provided? I keep getting into trouble on this kit by assuming that the directions can't be as bad as they really are. I was expecting poor translation and incomplete directions, not blatantly wrong over and over again.


I build on a tight budget, so will have to investigate what it'll take to do this right.

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I have an old Corel kit, but the wood is ... not impressive to put it mildly.

The instructions are not good. Italian/English, at least it looks as if the Italian has been literally translated into English, and they must have had what to do in mind, but forgot some essentials whuile translating. I have to admit that the kit is 16 years old, maybe they didn't mind so much then ... and am I fussing. My problem is translating bad English into understandable Dutch. Your observations confirm my thoughts ...





"Desperate affairs require desperate measures." Lord Nelson
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Yeah, I'm not happy with the wood either. Lots of really rough-cut edges even on the thin, "high-quality" planks.


With this kit, the problem goes beyond bad translating, because the text and drawings quite literally don't match up regardless of how you interpret the text, and the drawings themselves repeatedly contradict one another. I can't just ignore the text because the drawings are literally wrong.


Can't imagine trying to re-translate again into another native tongue.


It's been a really good learning experience and I think it'll come out attractive, but this is the kind of kit that destroys beginners.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, as my approach to this kit evolves, it's becoming something quite different from what I initially intended, but also something quite interesting in its own right.


I've planked the starboard side following the "go with the flow" approach, allowing the kit-supplied planking to curve as it desires. It's obviously not accurate, but it was good practice for fitting planks, and I think it came out nicely overall other than the un-prototypicalness of it. Certainly the vast majority of viewers here will never know the difference; Mrs Cathead cooed when she saw the results. There are two noticeable errors: a couple planks which didn't quite seat properly near the bow, and a notch at the keel where I screwed up cutting out the notch for the display stand.






This was my first attempt at using stealers on any model, and I think it worked well at the stern. I had considering painting this side if the planking hadn't come out well, but after sanding and oiling it, I think I like it this way. I never intended a natural-wood model, but as that's what it's evolving to be, so be it.


The next step is to decide whether to finish the port side the same way for consistency, or to order a few sheets of wood to try my hand at spiling an accurate run of planks. This would look strange from head-on, but as it won't be displayed that way, it may not matter, and may even be a point of conversation to be able to display two different planking approaches at once.


I have time to think about it, as we're about to depart for vacation in Boston and Maine. I'm looking forward to visiting the Constitution, and hopefully dropping by BlueJacket in Searsport, ME. Thanks for reading.

Edited by Cathead
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Nice work. I like the colour scheme of the planking, it shows clearly the way they run from aft to fore. Have a nice vacation and enjoy your visit to the Constitution


"Desperate affairs require desperate measures." Lord Nelson
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  • 1 month later...

Thanks, Glenn. I haven't stopped this build, I promise, it's just been a very busy stretch for me. I think I'll be able to post an update next weekend, showing what I've been up to on the port side planking.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've finally finished the hull planking, and am fairly pleased with the outcome. I decided to give "accurate" planking at the bow a shot after all, and with much trial and error produced an acceptable result:




I really don't like the planking wood provided in this kit. I don't know what it is, I think something tropical, but it's very coarse-grained and splits really easily. It does not take bending well; over and over again as I tried to apply even a gentle edge-bend after thorough soaking, it split length-ways rather than take any curve. But I persevered and finished the hull with virtually no wood to spare.


I had tried to apply Chuck's no-soak bending method, using a hair dryer, but this wood wouldn't take it. I had to soak each piece and gently bend it, often repeating this several times, to get the curve needed, and I think I broke two or three for every successful piece. But I really do think it came out reasonably:




The stern was, of course, more straightforward, but I used this side to continue practicing proper stealer use. I kept all my joints on a strict pattern and restricted almost all of them to real bulkhead locations. The result is fairly pleasing to me. The camera, of course, highlights every slight gap between planks, but none of that is visible from more than 6" away in person.




I've been working on this hull for so long now that it's going to feel strange to change focus and start on other aspects of the build. I'm hoping to start putting more time in again; the last few months have been especially busy between a vacation, the start of a new job, and the always-busy fall season on our farm. If winter ever arrives here in Missouri (it's still over 80 F), this build will start progressing again.


Thanks for checking in on me.

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That's typical Corel hull wood ... sooner Corel wood. I'm not impressed with their planking types either. But you bought a kit not to replace all plank type woods, did you?


Nevertheless a nice result for the poor quality wood you've been working with


"Desperate affairs require desperate measures." Lord Nelson
Search and you might find a log ...


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