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USS Constitution by Tortoise (Glenn Harnett) - Model Shipways Kit#MS2040 - A True Novice

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Hello everyone!!  I am excited to start my USS Constitution Model Shipways Kit# MS2040 blog.  I hope this blog will benefit others who are attempting to build this ship and I hope I have a blast putting it together (the ship and the blog).  I have been at it for about 6 weeks and really enjoying the build so far.  I find it so relaxing to work on because the thought and attention needed prevents me from thinking about all of life's other little problems.  I love going into "boat" mode and looking at a clock a couple of hours later and wondering where the time went.


I will try too keep this blog as simple as possible.  I have already found that I spend about 50% of my building time reading these blogs and formulating my plans and the other half actually building.  It is much more complicated and detailed than I would have thought.  I purchased the Practicum by Lauck Street Shipyards and have found it to be very helpful so far.  The directions included with the kit were not nearly detailed enough for me to have any hope in being successful.  I am still struggling to keep "stem" and "stern" straight in my head for goodness sakes!  Or is it "bow" and "stern"?  And don't even get me started on what a rabbet is - more to come on that...  So let's have fun and build ourselves a ship.  The journey of the Tortoise begins.  


Ok, I was going to post some pictures here but have not yet figured out how to upload them from my laptop.  That's why I am named the Tortoise people.  This was never going to be easy.  Photos to follow once I figure it out.


PS:  I decided to post in blue so that people scrolling through the blog could easily identify the posts that I have authored.  Let me know if the blue drives anyone crazy.


The Tortoise 9/8/2016

Edited by Tortoise
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Ok, so all I had to do was scroll down to the bottom of the screen to attach a photo.  Duhhhh... I have been taking pictures throughout the beginning of this build and will try to post them in chronological order.  Here are some shots of my workspace and initial build.  So glad I bought a Dremel.  It is the Micro model and I like it much better than the Dremel 3000.  Much lighter and easier to use in my opinion.


 It was so exciting the day the kit arrived in the mail - then scary when I opened the box.  For those that are unfamiliar with model ship building - this kit is NOTHING like the plastic models of cars/planes/battleships etc., that you may have made as a kid.  It is significantly more complicated with many, many pieces that are essentially made from scratch.  I officially bow down to those who actually do a complete "scratch" build.  I would need a couple more of these under my belt before I would even consider that!


post-25678-0-82292400-1473373047_thumb.jpg (The Micro Dremel)


Ok, let me post this one pic of the Dremel and see how it looks first.


The Tortoise 9/8/2016

Edited by Tortoise
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I learned something else.  This site will time you out of your login very quickly.  Make sure you are logged in (and your username is visible on the top left corner of the page) before you try to attach any pictures.  Otherwise it will say attachment failed over and over and you will not no why.  I wish I could attach photos up to 5mb.  Most (the vast majority) of my pictures are more than 2mb and I have to crop them to less than 2 mb and re=save the pictures before I can attach them.  No big deal, but a little bit of a hassle.


 Ok, this first picture is of my work area.  I  am renting an apartment and it has a very large granite countertop in the kitchen.  I have set aside the end of the countertop for my current plan sheet and have placed a small table next to that.  The rest of the plans are tacked to a bookshelf behind it.  I bought a "work pad" for the desk that I got at Staples.  It is designed to be a sewing work pad - but does the trick for model ship building too.  Easy to clean, you can scratch it, spill glue on it etc., and you don't have to worry about it.  This picture is a couple of weeks into the build.




Next is a picture of the keel after I glued two of the pieces together.  Be careful taking the laser cut pieces out of the form. They can break fairly easily as you will see.  Use a sharp scalpel to cut through the marking lines before you "push out" the pieces.  This will save you a lot of time gluing broken pieces back on to the model.  The really thin pieces at the tops of the bulkheads are very vulnerable to breaking as you will see in coming photos. These super thin areas of the bulkhead will form what I believe is called the Main Rail  I ended up using super glue to "soak" these tips and I think it helped them become a little less apt to break.  I got that tip from another blogger here.


 post-25678-0-69722800-1473445416_thumb.jpg  Keel


Notice I broke a piece of the keel off during construction and have glued a brace on either side of the keel to hold it in place.  This was a fairly common occurrence especially when I was attaching the bulkheads to the keel later.  Not the end of the world although I became much less "messy" at gluing these back on once I got the hang of it.  Make sure you keep all of your scrap wood - you will constantly be using it to make repairs and fill in imperfections as you go.  I also keep a cup of sawdust handy that I sometimes use as "filler" as I go.  I just mix the sawdust up with glue and make a paste that you can pretty much put anywhere you like.  I love these "Irwin" clamps, they are very strong.  I do not see how you can have too many clamps.  I bought a bunch of them as well as the smaller paper clamps you see in the pictures.  Not sure what they are called but I bought them at Target.


post-25678-0-83371800-1473447277_thumb.jpg  Sawdust Cup


I also bought some disposable scalpels.  I like having a fresh, new scalpel whenever I need one.  Maybe a bit of a splurge, but what the heck, I'm worth it.




Ok, more to come


Tortoise 9/9/2016

Edited by Tortoise
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Here are some pictures of the keel and false keel being assembled.  Nothing too tough here - really just gluing two identical pieces of wood to each other.  Until you break off a couple of pieces and make a butchery of putting the braces on.  It looks like a 6 year old put those braces on.  They look better now and I have tidied up my work a little bit as I have continued.  First try OK??  Ha!




I also put braces where the three pieces of the keel are joined.  I didn't see anything in the plans for that but it seemed like a good idea at the time.  I didn't realize how strong the wood glue was when I first started this.  Once again, you can see that my sanding/carving etc., needed to fit the pieces together could have been a little more refined shall we say...


post-25678-0-47617700-1473455387_thumb.jpg KEEL:  This piece of the keel happened to be one of the broken ones.  That is why you see two braces.  The smaller one is to repair the broken piece which I put on before I attached the three keel pieces together.  The second larger brace was for for support at this joint where two of the keel pieces were glued together.


post-25678-0-38661200-1473455439_thumb.jpg No laughing allowed....


post-25678-0-19809200-1473455558_thumb.jpg  False Keel.  Never heard of it before!




post-25678-0-97356900-1473455666_thumb.jpg Keel Braces


post-25678-0-06021500-1473455756_thumb.jpg  I did photocopy the plans and cut out a template to draw the bearding line on the keel.  I just folded up the plans and used my home office copier.  I had read on some blogs to be careful with that as the copy may be slightly smaller than the original - depending on which copier you use.  I have not noticed any problems yet. Pay no attention to the reference lines - I ended up having to redraw those lines as the ones you see were essentially eyeballed.  Obviously, that would have been a big mistake when attaching the bulkheads!


Ok, so Now I have glued the 3 keel pieces together and assembled them together into one piece.  Now it is time to attach the false keel to the keel.  After I figure out what the dreaded bearding line and rabbet are......  You can see by where I drew the arrow on the model to the rabbet that I was confused.  That is the bearding line - where the rabbet start.  More on this later for those who, like me, had no idea what a rabbet is!


This is when I made the decision to purchase Robert Hunt's practicum on the constitution.  I am glad I did!  It was worth it to me for sure.  Realizing it is much easier to cut the rabbet before gluing on the false keel was worth the price itself.


Tortoise 9/9/2016


Edited by Tortoise
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Nice work. Looks like you have hit the ground running, Tortoise ... that Hare had best beware !!


Incidentally, the rabbet line will later on provide a seating for the edges of your planking.

(I only learnt that one when I was at about the same stage of the build as you are now.)

Edited by CaptainSteve

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Excellent commentary on your progress. I like how you are describing every step as it will make life easier for future Constitution builders. Best of luck on the build! If you have questions along the way, quite a few modelers here have built the same kit and will be glad to help out. Great start!



Edited by Kelp
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One last thing for today.  I started with yellow wood glue but switched to white glue (which dries into a shiny/clear rather than the "dirty" looking yellow glue.  Here are some pictures of the glue bottles.  I am currently using the Weldbond glue.  I like it






Trying to figure out how to put these in so they are not sideways.  Sorry about that.  More tomorrow.  





Edited by Tortoise
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Thanks Captain and Kelp, I appreciate the kind words.  Here are some more pictures of the false keel and keel before I began to cut the Rabbet





Ahhh, my new Dremel accessories.  Like Christmas in a box!  









Another Ugly repair of a broken keel piece on this one.  I ended up repairing this repair because I couldn't stand looking at any more.  Next is a picture of the same spot a little later in the build.  I don't suppose the aesthetics of these areas will matter as they will not be exposed in the final build.  But, Heck, I am going to have to look at it really close up for a long time.


Tortoise 9/10/2016

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Nice work. I also use the Titebond wood glue. Better than normal wood glue as it dries faster. Good job so far

Regards, Scott


Current build: 1:75 Friesland, Mamoli


Completed builds:

1:64 Rattlesnake, Mamoli  -  1:64 HMS Bounty, Mamoli  -  1:54 Adventure, Amati  -  1:80 King of the Mississippi, AL

1:64 Blue Shadow, Mamoli  -  1:64 Leida Dutch pleasure boat, Corel  -  1:60 HMS President Mantra, Sergal


Awaiting construction:

1:89 Hermione La Fayette AL  -  1:48 Perserverance, Modelers shipyard

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