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US Brig Blue Shadow by jlheureux - Mamoli - 1:64

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Greetings Friends;


It has been over a year since I have posted on this forum. For any who are interested in the travels of fellow captains I share briefly......Following my completion of my USS Constellation Model of which I was quite proud, I was looking forward to my next project.


This was delayed by the birth of my first child; a daughter Clara. Apparently it is much easier to sneak away to the Shipyard when the Admiral is sleeping off her third Trimester than it is during the first 4 months of newborn-hood. So suffice to say, sharp objects and bits of wood flying about were not in the plan for me.


Then, in mid-summer I suffered a serious accident. I don't care to get into the details but long story short I lost the use of my right eye. It was traumatic for me and there was quite a recovery before I was able to resume my regular routine. I found adjusting to the loss of biopic vision to be quite difficult and still find depth perception to pay tricks on me at close range.


By the fall I had recovered enough that I began testing my hand at some of the many activities I enjoy so dearly which require the use of my sight. I began painting miniatures again and found it quite difficult, but not impossible to manage a brush on a 28mm figure once again. I practiced a lot and am almost, but perceptively not quite, back to where I was.


Then a few weeks ago this kit fell into my lap. A friend of a friend found it in a garage sort of thing and to my surprise it was 100% in tact with even the receipt (2002?) in the box. My questions as to if I could still manage model ship building with only one eye is about to be answered. All without spending any money up front on the experiment. So without further ado......my build log for Mamoli's Blue Shadow US Brig.

Edited by jlheureux
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To start, I read another thread on this forum critiquing this kit. I would say that as my third major project I am finding this it to be pretty standard if not slightly on the easy side in terms of the build itself. It's a little smaller scale than my other projects, but it's a pretty straightforward kit. This kit also didn't come with sails (although you can get them) so it will be less rigging overall. 


The kit comes with your standard laser cut fare and a variety of fittings. I think that the selection of fittings on this kit is pretty good. Probably better than my San Fran, but not quite as good as my Constellation. However, the chain plates and some of the other hardware are already cast in black which is handy, as on both of my AL kits everything except the anchors was brass.


The cannon components are also pretty nice although it does come with the standard lump of lead longboat.





Edited by jlheureux
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I do think that while the build is pretty straightforward the instructions are not. 


It came with only 3 blueprints (double sided) with some instructions written in the margins. In contrast to the AL kits I've done the instructions are not clear at all. As such, despite the fair price I can't recommend this for a first timer. The AL kits I've done came with great books of instructions, step by step with pictures, and great blueprints to scale. (These are also not to scale.)


For a newbie that was tremendously useful. Fortunately, as my third ship when the instructions simply state "now plank the double hull" I knew what they were talking about and roughly how to do it! I don't think I would be able to feel so confident on this kit if I didn't have a couple builds under my belt. I still stand by that the San Fran was a great starter ship!


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Bulkheads: One of my favorite parts of the whole build! It's just fun to me to see how quickly a project goes from being a bunch of 2 dimensional pieces o something that looks like a ship.I sand pretty well, but I do cheat. I don't use a clamp or a jig to place the bulkheads and the purists will chastise me for that, but I just eyeball it.Its been a little while so I also got a little too excited with the dremel sander and was a bit rough tapering a few bulkheads but once it's planked it will look just fine. As someone on here once told me "wood is very forgiving."


I also threw on the laser cut decks. I forgot that I usually lay down my planks before I glue it down to the frame, but I'll make it work!



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Aft Cabin Door: I fit the aft cabin door to test the fit and once I set it in there it didn't want to come out! So....I just built up the cabin door. Made sense to do it before I planked anyhow.


This kit also calls to cut off to the deck the majority of the bulkheads so I did that as well. 


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Plank Bending Time! I used my Nana's good pasta pot and a very high tech looking Jig to bend my first layer of planking. I must say I am improved somewhat on this step as I didn't break any planks. I planked without major incident however this is where I realize that I oversanded some of the bulkhead curves and I had a few planks that sunk in a little more than planned. So I filled them out with some extra planks and got it sanded to an acceptable evenness. 




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Bullwark and Deck Planking: So on this kit there isn't laser cut bullwark plates. They are built up by hand with the first layer of planking and spanned across the section of mid-ship where I cut off the protruding bulkheads. This part was a little tricky as stuff warped a little it and it was hard to glue the planks to themselves without a great deal of structure to attach them too. A great deal of sanding however got them looking fair.


Gunports: I then cut the gunports and lined the inner sides of the bullwarks, aft cabin, and bow piece. I added some extra beams around the gunports as well. (I sanded it a bit further after taking these pictures)


Deckplanking: Lastly, I laid the deckplanking here. I marked them with a sharpie to make the seams stand out a bit and used a pencil to poke some faux trennels in them. I did something similar on my constellation and once I stained and varnished it I felt like it looked pretty good. 





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Outer Hull: Planked the second layer. I love second layer planking so much more because they are nice and thin and bend and cut so easily. A little brittle, I hear a humidor works wonders. SO I ran the second layer of planking on both sides and up the bullwark and sanded the crap out of it. The last 4-6 planks are kind of tricky to really trim right. I'm still getting a hang of that bit. (Any suggestions welcome.) I also had a couple deadspots where the first layer wasn't quit even which gave me some trouble on layer 2, but I made it work. I also snagged some finer sandpaper and gave it another couple passes and got most of the glue smear off now. Again, my experience has been once I stain and varnish it all evens out. It's amazing what a layer or two of clearcoat does to some wood.




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Gunports and Stern: Fabricated the sternpiece and got that on there. I really need to figure out what I wanna do for the windows. I'm not a huge fan of the big heavy brass Brittana style pieces that they provide for these. They just don't look right to me.. For the most part the model looks great, but those pieces look like what they are: Hunks of not quite right metal glued onto a wooden ship.


I also cut some small pieces to line the gunports before I paint and add the strakes and rails to the top of the Bull. I'm looking forward to that as it will then hide the small warp I have on it.


I've also decided to do a little painting on this one. My last 2 were just all natural and while I love the wood and want to keep it mostly natural I think I'm going to do the inner bullwark and cannon carriages red, yards black, strakes black, and maybe a few other details just to give it some pop. (Thoughts?)


Well. That's what I did tonight. So I'm caught up. I was nervous to post this log knowing it might be a disaster with my limited depth perception. But I'm far enough in now (about 3 weeks into build) that I figured I could go ahead and catch you guys up. I truly loved being on this community and there were so many supportive people so hopefully I can reconnect a little and someone will enjoy this project with me as I go.


Goodnight all.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Got a ot to update, so here we go. It's hard to find time to work on a project in between work, life, and especially a tiny one year old. But it's good stress relief when I find an hour or two here and there. It's definitely helping the project to drag out a bit. I'm expecting it to slow down even further when I get to the rigging....


So next, I decided to do a little color on this one. Using the typical Syren paint scheme as a base I did some red inner bullwarks and some black trim for the rails which are now installed. Somewhere in here I also realized I miscounted my gunports and cut a couple more.



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Got the rudder done. I like this style rudder which is more of a tiller than a ships wheel. It's got some character to it and was a fun little craft. The rudder came out ok, I think it will be better once stained. I found that I wasn't happy with it the first time around so I took it apart and re-did it which left a few small splotchy bits. I think that they will even out once I get it varnished though.



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I did the little bow-piece. This wasn't quite litke the diagram and I may play with it a little more. This is a lazy bit, so I admit that, but I'm still happy with the result.


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Did the fore and midship rails and painted them. I went back and forth on black or red for them, but I went with black to sort of offset the middle of the ship with all that golden wood. I also drilled out the pinholes on the aft rails and such. Will make the rest of the pin-rails in a little bit.





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Next was cannon day. I painted all the wheels and the carriages. I went back and forth on painting the barrels black or leaving them brass and decided to leave them. Since this kit was old and I got it second hand I felt they already had a little bit of patina on them and I liked how they looked.



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Test fit the cannons. I'm happy with how they look. My next conundrum is that this kit doesn't make allowances for tackle to secure the cannons to the rail. I'm going back and forth on if I wanna bother or not. At this scale space is kind of tight. I'm going to sleep on it and decide what I think I wanna do about that. I do think they look nice all lined up on deck.



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