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Santa Maria by rodgerdodger - FINISHED - Mantua - 1:50 1492


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Late 2012, after a 6 year or so break from making ship models, I offered to make a model for my son for a table display in his new house.  He was quick to accept, but first I had to tell him that a model of HMS Victory was not a good idea as I wanted to complete it in my lifetime.  After searching the web as one does these days I discovered MSW, and also how easy it is to buy models etc. on the internet.  How things change.  I (we) settled on the Santa Maria.  Not too big, not too small, stacks of character, unique design, great sail setting and of historical significance, plus a chance of finishing it in a reasonable amount of time.  From the kits available I settled on Mantua because of its design although I had not built a Mantua model before. 

 

The kit was ordered and arrived Jan 2013.  I started work on it with the intent of logging progress on MSW when lo and behold MSW had disappeared.  Having worked on several models over the years in the isolation of my workroom I was looking forward to sharing the experience with others for the first time.  Not to be but I now see that MSW is back on line and I am now about to graduate from a Lurker to an Officer cadet!

 

I have been working on the model for about 9 weeks now and this is where I am at.  I intend to log my progress from the start but I can’t do it all at the one time, and anyway I would rather work on the model than spend time posting too many logs logs.  Like reading a good book, once you start it is hard to put it away.

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Edited by rodgerdodger
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Opening a new kit is always an exciting moment  - some of us just don’t grow up.  And as always there are surprises and disappointments.  There are some good things about the Mantua kit and some bad and these will be mentioned along the way.

 

The assembly of the false keel and hull frames was relatively straightforward, the laser cut components being well done in good quality ply.  However the components were fully interlocking and it was necessary to completely assemble all the components before applying any glue, making the alignment and squaring of the frames tricky.    Nothing that can’t be sorted with a bit more sanding etc.

 

The first photo shows progress after the lower deck is in place.  Note the filler blocks in the bow and stern – not mentioned in the instruction manual (pictures only) so difficult for the first time builder.  Secondly note I have used filler blocks between the frames.  These give the hull torsional strength that is valuable when planking.  Once had to recommence planking after realizing the hull was twisting out of alignment as the planking progressed.   

 

The decking was pre-printed on a thin ply type material which had a fuzzy surface and the jointing disappeared when sanded.  Anyway a printed deck is not for the serious builder so the first step was to order replacement decking that was another unwanted delay.  I wanted to build an ‘old looking’ model of an old boat  so I planned to colour the deck (and planking etc.) with stains instead of relying on the natural colour of the wood.  But this meant I had to complete each deck level as I proceeded as access for sanding colouring etc was not possible after work proceeded on the next deck level or when the hull sides were in place.

 

So in this shot the lower deck has been completed.  Planked in limewood (straight , clean edges, easy to work with), joints formed using a plastic sheet to maintain constant joint thickness, joints filled with an ebony wood filler,  sanded to highlight the joints, sealed (to prevent excess penetration of the stain), stained ‘wedge’, finished with matt polyurethane.  The problem was to get colour consistency between the decks.  Didn’t succeed 100% but my son won’t notice.

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Now working up the stern deck levels, finishing each level before working on the next, and adding details along the way (door and windows to capt’s quarters) for ease of access.  Note upper stern deck not yet replanked.  The problem as always is protecting finished surfaces as you progress and I have no easy answer for this.

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Mid and upper rear deck levels now completed and preparing for the installation of the bulwarks.   At the locations where there is a portal frame to support the mid-level stern deck and the forecastle deck the hull frames were extended to provide fixing for the bulwarks.  I removed these extensions to be able to properly plank and finish the lower deck.  I then cut out two new portal frames and fixed them in place supported by some scrap timber back to the adjacent hull frame.  This proved worthwhile as the assembly is subject to a lot of manhandling when it comes to fitting the bulwarks.

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The kit came with preshaped bulwark panels in a laminated material similar to the deck panels.  The material was very suitable for the job being flexible enough to fit the curves with out having to apply too much pressure.  Fitting the panels still required a lot of trial assemblies,  sanding etc to ensure a correct fit between the panels and the deck.  In preference to using clamps, which is made difficult by the shape of the hull and non-parallel surfaces, I used what are in effect threaded drawing pins.  I carefully located the bulwarks, marked the position and predrilled the bulwark and hull frame for each pin.   Having glued the frame, the bulwark was located in the correct position with a single pin and it was plain sailing from there on. 

The deck side face of the bulwark panels was preprinted with the planking.  I chose to plank the inside face of the bulwarks with some spare 0.5mm walnut strips.  The colouring on the outer face of the bulwarks was a trial of using stains. The material acted like blotting paper which is another reason I decided to plank over the printed layout.

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After the fixing of the bulwark panels the next task was to fix the first layer of planking below the panels down to the keel.  The material supplied with the kit was 2mm thick balsa strips, far too soft and brittle for the task, so I again ordered some replacement limewood strips.  The 1st planking was completed in the conventional manner without too much difficulty.

The 2nd planking provided with the kit was supposedly walnut strips but the colour seemed too light for walnut.  However it served my purposes as I intended to colour the planking anyway.  Instead of commencing the planking with a horizontal plank at the deck level, as is usual for most models I believe, I chose to curve the planking at the bow to keep as closely as possible in line with the top of the bulwarks.  If I had used a horizontal plank I could see myself running out of room in the bow area for a full or half plank as the planking reached below the water line.  I managed to complete the planking with planks no less than 50% full width, but only just. 

To curve the planking in this manner I had to pre-set the plank by wetting the plank (after tapering), and setting on a board to dry using the threaded drawing pins again.  It made less work when it came to gluing the plank to the hull keeping it in place while the glue set.  To pin the plank in place at the bow I use a piece of timber fixed to the keel profiled to the shape of the curved hull.  The plank fits tightly into the gap between the timber piece and the hull avoiding the use of pins or whatever.  I have used standard PVA for planking in the past but I recently discovered that there is a faster setting version of PVA ideal for this operation.

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Thankyou Marktime - delighted to hear you find it of interest and I am not talking to just myself after all.

 

After staining the hull I continued with completing the forecastle deck with no hiccups.   I used two different timbers to give the stripe effect that I have seen on another version of the Santa Maria.  Adds a bit more interest.

 

The walers (if that is the correct term – I haven’t had time to check) are from the same material as the 2nd planking.  Again wetted, set to the required curve and dried on a board before gluing in place.  Slow but worth the effort.

 

The walers were stained with coulour wedge.  It is a pain trying to draw lines on a curved hull when setting out the walers so I used pieces of masking tape to define the position of the waler before fixing into place.


The decorative arches at the stern supplied with the kit are a bit whimpy but I didn’t want to spend the time looking for alternatives.  I am keen to get the model finished asap.  Needless to say when first installed they didn’t cover the distance required – could have done with one more arch each side.  Corrected the situation by adding a 1mm sq bead between each arch.

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Edited by rodgerdodger
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Next step was building the vertical fenders (if that is the correct term – I can’t see them serving any other purpose).  The fenders are laminated in three layers from the same material as the second planking.   Laminating is necessary to form the fenders to the curved hull.  The instructions with the kit expect you to build the fenders in place, but I wanted to be able to finish them neatly by sanding the edges and sides plus  colour them in a different colour to the hull.

The attached picture shows the stages in completing each fender.  The left fender is at the stage when the first lamination is tacked glued to pieces of masking tape stuck to the hull.  The center fender has the next two laminations in place and clamped while setting.  The right fender, after allowing sufficient time for the glue to set, can now be lifted off the hull by peeling of the masking tape (gently!). 

 

The second picture shows the RH fender in position (but not fixed) after sanding etc.  The centre and LH fenders are ready to be lifted from the hull.

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I decided to add trenails to the fenders where crossing the walers.

 

I took the quick and easy route of drilling a 1.5mm hole at each location and inserting the tapered end of a toothpick until seated neatly.  I then nipped the excess off and sanded the trenail down to as close as I could to the surface of the fender.

 

I then touched up the small defects on the hull that had arisen during the building process (mainly colour corrections) and finished the hull with two coats of satin polyurethane.  I tossed up between matt and satin but to my way of thinking the sheen of the satin finish gives the boat an added antique look.  The polyurethane brought out the colours beautifully and encouraged me to keep going.  I need to work on my photographs to give a better idea of the look of the finished product.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I prepared a ‘sample board’ at the start of the project to test colouring and finishing the timbers for the deck and hull planking.  Seemed a good idea but the finished product was very dependent on the porosity of the timber (effectiveness of sealer) and a consistent method of applying the colouring or stain.  Also mocked up a piece of rigging to check on the suitability of the cord provided with the kit.  Decided that the size of the cord was inappropriate for the job and decided on a substitute mentioned later.

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Edited by rodgerdodger
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Very nice work, Rodger. You've obviously got some skills when it comes to model ship-building.

 

Looking forward to seeing this one as it comes to completion, particularly because I was thinking of doing the Santa Maria after my current build (of course, that's still about 4 years away).

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Good to hear from you CaptainSteve.  I suggest the Santa Maria will be a cakewalk after the Constitution!

 

The installation of the deadeyes and chainplates was not an easy task and the result was very disappointing.   Measuring the correct length of wire and twisting in place was tortuous.  There has to be another way and after some thought I reckon there is but that will have to wait for the next model.  I will work on straightening the wire ties when the model is finished.  Fortunately when you stand back from the model this feature is not the one that catches your eye, and my son will forgive me I am sure.   Note that I have substituted AL metal gun ports for the printed timber ports provided by Mantua.

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Edited by rodgerdodger
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Am enjoying your build, Roger. Very nice work. Picked up some good building techinque too!!!

 

Will continue to watch your progress. Wish you well as you move along.

 

BFN

 

Cheers,

Hopeful aka David

 

“there is wisdom in many voices”

 

Completed: Sharpie Schooner (Midwest) Posted  to the Gallery

 

Current: Sultana (MSW)

Current: Phantom (MSW)

 

Next: Lady Nelson (Amati Victory)

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Since my first posting on this log on April 1st I have pressed on with the model and have completed the standing rigging and completed most of the deck fittings including the rails on the rear deck which add a but of interest.  The rigging thread supplied with the model was of good quality although synthetic, but the rope size was too small in my opinion.  It might have been to scale but I reckon it is preferable to oversize the rigging, particularly the mast shrouds, as it is a major feature of most period models.  I replaced it with hemp rigging thread.  When it arrived it wasn’t quite what I expected as is often the case when you buy on the web.  But it is very nice to work with and does not have the fuzziness that I have experienced with other natural fibre ropes.  The deadeyes and blocks supplied with the kit were of good quality and in a colour that suited the model.  However the deadeyes were all one size as were the blocks.  Smaller deadeyes would have been preferable on the forward and rear masts, and I had some spare blocks of smaller sizes to use where suitable.

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Edited by rodgerdodger
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The kit comes with a sail and flag set preprinted on silk.  Since the sails are going to make a big statement in this model I don’t think the silk is a good solution so I plan to make the sails in a more suitable material that I can colour to suit the style of the model.  Now looking for a friend who has a sewing machine.  Not too sure what I can do with the flags. 

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Check out my Sharpie Schooner by Hopeful build log. I have a section there on page 3 about how I made the sails. Hope there is somehting there of help to you. You will have to search for the build by name in the kit section there is no link to the build as yet, blah! Fot a closer view of the sails go to the gallery where my Sharpie is also shown  Though the sails are diffent in shape from the ones you are making the process to make them would be the same, me thinks.

 

BFN

 

Cheers,

Hopeful aka David

 

“there is wisdom in many voices”

 

Completed: Sharpie Schooner (Midwest) Posted  to the Gallery

 

Current: Sultana (MSW)

Current: Phantom (MSW)

 

Next: Lady Nelson (Amati Victory)

 

.

Edited by hopeful
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  • 2 weeks later...

I managed to borrow a sewing machine from a good friend to tackle the sails.  If I had asked nicely she might have been prepared to make them for me but I like to be able to say of a finished model I made it all.  Making sails is fiddly but fairly straightforward and I don’t have any tricks etc. but just for the record here is my recipe.

I chose calico for this project being off white to start with to suit the model.  I washed and dried the material (to avoid shrinking problems later), tinted them by soaking in a brew of tea (it is pot luck what colour you finish up), dried it naturally, ironed out the creases, marked out the sails with an air eraseable pen (thanks to Hopeful for this helpful suggestion), cut out the sails, pressed the edges ready for sewing(very fiddly), sewed the edges using the sewing m/c (in cross-stitch) and then the vertical sheet joints.   Then I wet the sails, wrung them out by rolling up in a towel, laid them out to dry but while still damp sprinkled them with a few drops of coffee (black) to add to the aged look, and allowed to dry.   I didn’t iron the sails when dry as the wrinkles again add to the aged look.  Then I stitched on the rope edging (very tedious but was able to watch tv at the same time).  I painted the red crosses by cutting out a stencil from paper, stuck the stencil on the sail using spray adhesive, and painted with off the shelf spray can of gloss enamel.  The sails were painted front and back.  Finally I sewed on the reefing ropes.  I will straighten them out later when the sails are installed.  Finally I reinforced the corners by gluing on patches from the sail offcuts which also helped to camouflaged some bodgy sewing, as the corners are difficult to sew neatly.

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The photo does not show the colours that well, hopefully they will look ok when installed on the model.

Getting close to a finished model and I have the feeling of it being downwind from now on.

Edited by rodgerdodger
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Hi Rodger,

 

Just came across your build. Super nice. Your sails are really works of art. Capt. Steve's remarks are perfect !

 

Your ship is bringing back all sorts of memories for me. This Mantua SM was my first build about 40 years ago. I am now only on my second build. My then young wife used her sowing machine to stich the kit provided sails (:-) I will follow your build. It is looking really spectacular. Again love the sails.

 

Regards,

 

Michael D

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I decided to take a break from the sail making and rigging to add a feature to the ship that I had seen on another model of the Santa Maria.  A row of coats of arms on the sides of the bow of the ship would add some interest I thought.  It so happens that I had a book on English and Scottish heraldry.  (I knew it would be useful one day!)  I colour copied some of the samples of coats of arms, reducing them in size to suit the scale of the model.  I selected examples that looked the least like English or Scottish coats of arms for obvious reasons.  I cut them out, glued them onto a 0.5mm sheet of ply before gluing them onto the model, five aside.  I then coated them with shellac which gave them a mellow tone that matched the colouring of the model.

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I must say I am quite chuffed with the result.  Pity they are not Portuguese/Spanish coats of arms but if my son spots it I will bare my backside in Burke St as we say in Melbourne.

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After the diversion with the coats of arms I pressed on with the rigging and sails.  I noted that there are 104 blocks on the model which sounds a lot for a smallish model but when you get involved with sails there are blocks everywhere and they are certainly time consuming.  I have now hoisted the mainsail with ropes dangling all over the place.  I have realised it is difficult to tie off any ropes before all the sails are assembled as access is very limited.   I think I can billow the sails Captain Steve without too much difficulty and I reckon they have to be billowed as straight hanging sails would not look right on this model.

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Unfortunately I am about to go on a holiday o/s so this will be the last post for a couple of months.  Unlike many others I won't spend too much time thinking about what I would like to build next time but I assure you, Micahel D, it certainly won't be the Wasa!

Edited by rodgerdodger
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  • 1 month later...

Getting there.  Took me a while to get going after returning from holiday but well into it now.  Three sails rigged.  Two to go.  Two days per sail, one day for rope coils, another deck furniture, and a last for final touches.  Total 7 days.  I wish, but this is how the mind works when you get close to finishing.  Ropes hanging everywhere as loath to secure any rope until all, or most, are in position and don’t snag each other etc.

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  • 1 month later...

Finally finished and as usual took longer than expected to fix the last bits and pieces.  I used the flags as supplied as I was unable to find any alternative.  The result is disappointing as they don’t fit in with the general style of the model.  A few photos of the finished product  follow.  I plan to put a name plate on the stand (not supplied with the kit) and make a display case one day but that can wait.

 

 

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