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San Francisco II by theoracle09 - Artesania Latina

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Greetings all! After a long, long time I'm finally able to begin working on my AL San Francisco II again. A little background: I started this kit about 6 years ago, and made it to the planking stage before I realized I had no idea what went into building wooden model ships. I took to the web, and came to this fine site. I halted all progress and opted to read instead, learning how to do things the right way, and clearly planning ahead my next steps. I began a build log and asked for some help, and before I knew it my hull was planked! I was so happy to be passed that stage, that's for sure. 


Shortly after, I went into the U.S. Army and time just flew right on by. Before I knew it, I hadn't worked on her in ages, so I broke her out and put some cannons on her. But I didn't like how AL wanted me to do it, so I did a bit of research and spent some extra time on actually rigging them up. Is it proper for the time period? No clue, but I like how it looks. Alas, I had to move again so back in her box she went along with all of my other supplies. I then moved 3 other times, never taking her out again.


Fast forward to now, I'm out of the military and hold a decent job that I enjoy and am ecstatic I'm able to get her out and work on her again. I don't have any progress from before, I guess something happened with this forum, or it got purged due to inactivity? I also lost the pictures I had of the previous progress due to a hard drive failure. Nevertheless, I'm back to working on her, and would like to document my remaining journey on my first wooden ship. I know I still have lots and lots of questions, and if anyone has any tips / recommendations please feel free to reply and let me know! 




The last few days has been spent setting up my work area, and taking inventory of what pieces and parts I still had after moving around the country a few times.





Getting her into a proper stand was first order of business, and combing through the instructions and cataloging my process to get me back up to speed. I decided my first step would be to finish the grates. The instructions said it came with metal grates, and to just glue them down. I don't remember if that were the case or not, but I had already made them I just needed to frame them out. (Except for the bowsprit grate, more on that later)



Here the framing is ready for stain. 






The bowsprit grate was pretty intimidating, so I opted to go for the cat davits. This presented a unique issue, as the instructions would have me shape them one way, but I had to cut a channel in them to accommodate the lower railing. The pics describe it better. 




Wasn't too much of a challenge though, with my handy dandy dremel. 



My next step was to figure out the bowsprit grate.



Gonna be a pretty interesting shape I had to make. I pretty much just gathered some scraps I had (I saved all my scraps from when I worked on it before) and started fitting things together until I got something I liked. 



Cutting the grate was interesting, as I lost the finer details due to me not taking my time on it. I'm 50/50 with this grate...I doubt I'll redo it (even though I probably should) however I'll be thinking of a way to cover up the bottom part that is closest to the bow of the hull. 



The last order of business for this session was to stain the rudder (not pictured) and cut the strips I needed for the ladders on both sides. 



And glued in place.





Since this is my first wooden model ship, I've definitely made mistakes that show in those pictures. But I'm happy with the progress so far, and can't wait to finally get to complete her! It's been way too long, and I'm already looking forward to what I want to do next (also the clarity of instructions on some of the better kits compared to AL.) My goal is to spend an hour a day on her, but we'll see how that actually happens, hah. Thank you all for taking a look, and again please feel free to throw out some suggestions or corrections that you may see from the pictures. 






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This makes me so happy!!!!! This was my first kit and I just loved it. It's such a sharp looking ship! You're doing a spectacular job.

I recall the bow grate being one of my least favorite parts. Figuring how to cut a triangle off of a square grid of grate was really tricky.


Worst case scenario to cover up I'd suggest a coil of rope or two. That's an easy and believable way to cover up quite a number of small mistakes :)


My log from my build still should be on here and definitely take it slow once you get to the rigging! But you're crushing it so it shouldn't be an issue.


Also: Thank you for your service.

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Thank you jl! I appreciate your kind words. The coil of ropes is a great idea! I'll play with that and see what I can come up with. I'll also gladly check your build log, it'll help me immensely for sure.


One question I have for anyone out there though. Any suggestions on scratch building a lifeboat for the model? It comes with a metal one, which I find hideous. I've got extra planking strips, so I probably could build something. I'm just not sure where to start with that.

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Some folks scratch build one through fabricated plank on frame. What I did (esp since this was my first model) is I used my extra stock to do a layer of the thin hull strips on the outside and then lay some planks over the metal and stain it. I sort of used the metal as the template and just pasted over it. You could certainly scratchbuild one!!! Model Expo sells small lifeboat kits too if you wanna throw more money at the problem.

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Thanks for the tip jl! I'll see what it looks like laying extra stock over the top of it. I'll take a look at your log (finally) and see how you did it as well. 


Jeeze where does the time go!?! I spent around 6 hours on it today, but it doesn't even seem like a whole lot got done, haha. 


Pin racks, mooring bitts, and falcon risers.





Also painted the shields that go around the hull. I first started with regular acrylic paints, but that was ridiculously bad looking. So I got some Testors model paints and went back over it. I'm certainly not the steadiest of hands, but for how small the painting needed to be I'm alright with it. 




I won't be attaching them to the hull until I figure out what I want to do with the stern channels. Tomorrow I've got a full day of work planned, hopefully completing the channels, bow pin rack, and lifeboat. I spent around an hour on the central pin rack, only to break it, twice. I glued it back and THEN realized I didn't leave enough room between the posts for the 5 pin holes. I attempted to stagger the holes (Eh, why not?) to get them to fit only to have it break from lack of material. I made some new posts, and I'll make a longer piece to attach them to. 



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Hello all,


Today was pretty productive. Biggest goal completed were the fore, main, and mizzen channels. My biggest complaint by far lately is the wire included in the kit was just so brittle, it broke about 40% of the time. Luckily it came with more than enough to get the job done.


Close up of the progress of the main channel. Note I did the dead eyes a little differently, twisting the wire around the dead eye and leaving a long enough tail. I pre-drilled holes for the nails, stuck them in half way, and wrapped the tail around the nail one time before snipping off the excess. A dot of glue on the nail, and then I pushed it in all the way.



Overall shot of all channels complete. Notice the rubbing strakes, channels, and handrails are a lighter color right now.



Next task I chose to complete was the anchor rigging. Before I boxed the kit up and stopped working on it, I had made the decision to scratch-make the anchor stocks from planking material. I had completed one a long time ago, and it was easy to make up another one for the other side. I used black thread to emulate the iron clasps.



Here I have one anchor complete. I'm leaving it loose until I can rig the shrouds; at that point I'll tie it down to the channel.



Last but not least, I finally decided what I wanted to do for a varnish. I've been building this model without varnishing anything other than what needed to be stained. So the rubbing strakes, hand rails, channels, ladders, grates, etc have all been left their natural wood colors. I have been doing a lot of research and went with using Tung oil on all of those parts. So, with about an hours time and a cheap paint brush, I went over the entire model (whatever wasn't stained already) and applied the Tung oil. I must say, I should have been doing that from the beginning! What a difference it made, and I'm loving the look even more now.



I don't have very good lighting, but before I start the rigging (here soon!) I'll try and get some good overall pics of the completed hull. 



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You  build is looking great. I'll definitely follow along as I continue with mine. Yeah, the bowsprit grating was a tricky part of the build, and a part of mine that needs some correction but I just lived with it. Older kits had all of the gratings pre-made in diecast and they had to be painted to look like wood, but more rewarding building them.

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Thanks Dave! Yeah, I'm following yours as well. It's extremely nice to be able to get ideas from other people on this site, before moving on to the next major step. Your log, with others, has definitely helped me in the last week or so I've gotten back to working on it. 


Some updates, I'm just about ready to begin the rigging, and I'm so happy to do so. First up was the bowsprit. I shaped the dowel and varnished with Tung oil. Then began seizing the two blocks that go on it. I found a YouTube video that showed me exactly how to do that, with original credit going to Bender. 




Bowsprit with two blocks. I'm not confident in the correct placement/orientation of these blocks. I'm following the rigging plan that came in the kit, and that's where it said these need to go. However, looking at others' logs, they're in a different spot. Before I get too far into it, I need to research how exactly I'm going to rig this up. But for now, these will stay. Easy to remove if I change it.



Next I added the line and the cleats. 



After that I couldn't put off the lifeboat any longer. I decided to plank directly on the die cast metal one, as I couldn't for the life of me figure out how I'd scratch build it. I didn't want to spend the time making bulkheads either, so perhaps a combination of my patience and lack of power tools convinced me to go this route. First step was sanding it down.



Garboard plank added first.



One side down. 



And both sides done, post-sanding. 



Another angle, with transom planked and first strake on the top in place.



And here we have it complete. I didn't add in the oar spokes, haven't decided if I will or not. I also haven't painted the rudder yet, I'll get to that when I have the correct color model paint. (Or I may try acrylics, but that didn't work so well on the shields, so I don't know yet.)



Last venture for the evening was 'planking' the cheeks for my masts. I had one strip of thin mahogany leftover so I'm using that to spice the cheeks up a bit. 



I've run into a pretty big problem however, the 8mm dowel that would have been my foremast has been snapped in two places. I'll either try and glue it back together, or order another one. I'll need to look into the minimum order amount though, as I don't need 5 dowel rods or whatever. I'll try and find a place I can just order one, and some blocks too...I know I don't have enough blocks to complete the model. Thanks for reading this far!

Edited by theoracle09
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Some updates, I'm just about ready to begin the rigging, and I'm so happy to do so. First up was the bowsprit. I shaped the dowel and varnished with Tung oil. Then began seizing the two blocks that go on it. I found a YouTube video that showed me exactly how to do that, with original credit going to Bender


Could you please link the youtube video? :)


I am busy with the San Fransisco's "younger cousin", San Juan.



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Could you please link the youtube video? :)


I am busy with the San Fransisco's "younger cousin", San Juan.




No problem Gif! Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUrRb66VSSE And I must say your San Juan is looking great! The darker stain on the railings and strakes is beautiful. Very well done!


I don't have pictures of the process on shaping my masts, as I had already done that prior to boxing her up for a while. After much research I found a place in Australia that I can purchase an 8mm Mahogany dowel, so that's on its way. In the mean time, I've glued in the Main and Mizzen masts, and began the first bit of rigging. (The name escapes me, and my book is across the way...my cat won't get off me at the moment, ha!)


Started seizing. Wasn't too bad to do, just time consuming.



First side complete.



Completed the longer side.



And shorter side, attached to the main mast.



And finally wove line to connect the two.



I've ordered Rigging Period Ship Models by Lennarth Petersson, and will have that next week. I've read other build logs where they've said the rigging for this type of ship is completely wrong in the AL plans, so I want to do it the right way while following along with his book. If anyone has any other resources that I can look at to get the most accurate rigging plan for this ship, I'd much appreciate it! While I wait for the book and also a new dowel to arrive for my foremast, I'll be completing the mizzen and main shrouds and ratlines.

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Not a big update, but an update none-the-less. Completed the Main mast stay, and began the shrouds on the mizzen mast.




After the main mast stay, I needed a way to gauge the distance between dead eyes for the shrouds. I saw my contour gauge laying by the side, with a single bent tine. That'll work.



Shaped it to be 3.5 deadeyes long.



After seizing the top of the first shrouds, I line up my dead eyes.



And seize those too.



Lanyard reaved through the dead eyes.



Following same process, second one is complete. 



Repeated on the port side. 



And finally an overall shot.



Thanks for looking! Until next time.



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That's looking amazing! I'm sorry I didn't see your message earlier, but I sent you back some info.

IDK what I could possibly do to help you however your work is looking incredible! So much better than mine! (This was my first build)

Great work!


Have fun living in Ratline land for the next 3 months!

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Thanks JL! And trust me, that message you sent will prove to be invaluable, especially your log pics and that rigging plan. I'm sure with those plus the book I should be on the right track. I'm hoping ratlines won't take that long! But of course we shall see. Thanks again for your kind words! I've got the starboard mizzen shrouds complete, and tonight I'll finish the port side shrouds and post a picture.

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Small update this evening. Completed the Mizzen Shrouds, and I just had to hang in there and begin the Main Shrouds.


Mizzen Shrouds complete.



Main Mast Shrouds begun.






Quick question for anyone that drops in: with my scale being 1:90, what size should my ratlines be? My shrouds are 0.5mm, any idea what my ratlines should be? My plans call for 0.25mm, but that seems way too big. Would just plain black thread (the same I'm using for seizings) be too small? 


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I hated the line I used on the ratlines for my San Fran. Actually hte line on the kit really stunk in general! I've found other kits to be much better. It was also my first kit so it was a real learning curve getting used to it. Thread would be really easy to work with, but might be a smidgen too small. I would at least use button thread if you're gonna go that route cause the gauge is a little higher, but button thread doesn't tie well. Didn't you purchase some after market line? I bet you could find something you would be happy with. COlor was also a big debate for me. Some would say greenish (wash of the sea) or brown (faded with time) or black (tared heavily) I guess it depends on your taste.

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Yeah, I agree on the ratlines. I didn't like the suggested brown shrouds, with greenish rungs for the ratlines. So, I ordered some brown thread, but it didn't match the shrouds and the gauge was a little bigger than real life scale. The knots get pretty big towards the top when it all comes together. I still like the results, but in 1:1 scale the ratlines are much thinner that the shrouds. 

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Thanks for the replies, guys. JL, I haven't purchased aftermarket line, this is the line it came with. I've read other logs that said they had to order more line, and I can see why. I'm half way done with the lower mast shrouds, and already through half of my 0.5mm brown line. I still have top shrouds and all standing rigging... So I'll need to order more.


I'll hit my local craft store up first and see what I can find, and if I have to order some online I'll go that route as well. My rigging book came in and I'm astounded at the level of details in the drawings. I've decided I'll go for a kind of half rigging plan, as I don't believe I have the room for more belaying pins. Thanks again for the tips guys! I'll look at the different colors as well, I didn't know about the greenish type color.

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  • 6 months later...
  • 1 month later...

I bought the San Francisco at a flea market for $50 about 5 years ago. I thought hey I've always wanted to build a ship how hard can it be. I've built 100s of plastic models so I figured it would be a piece of cake. Wrong!


I had no clue what I was doing and the instructions (from Artesania Latina) were as clear as mud. So needless to say it started off poorly. I have never heard of planking let alone how to do it. I got the first layer done and it looked so bad I gave up on it and let it sit till this past December. I put the second layer on and moved on. I'm thinking of renaming it to the Titanic because it looks like it has hit multiple icebergs.


Well I'm ready to do the rigging and I finally decided to look online to see how others do theirs.  First off I want to say you guys are talented an awesome. That being said you guys suck!(jk) I know my ship wasn't going to be good but seeing yours I'm embarrassed to say I'm even doing one. I was going with the excuse that this was my first attempt so no one does real well their first time. Wrong again!


But even after all of my mistakes I'm hooked. I'm going to finish this one and use it as a trainer. I have ordered the Artesania Latina Swift Virginia PILOT BOAT 1805. It seems like one more fitted for a beginner.


I'm hoping one day I can be at least half as good as some of you. Keep posting your builds so I can see how it's supposed to look.


I've even broken down and ordered several books so I actually have a clue this time.



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