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USS Constitution by maturin52 - Model Shipways - 1/76


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Well, here goes. This will be my 3rd build log on this site, the previous ones being the King of the Mississippi and the Bounty. Both of those projects were Atesania Latina kits. While I enjoyed building them, I did feel that the instructions left much to be desired. I was only able to complete the Bounty thanks to the full-scale plans and to the excellent advice, support, and direction found on this site. Anyway.... the USS Constitution!

The Admiral gave me the Anatomy of the Ship book last Christmas, as I have been planning this as my next project for some time. The box arrived a week ago and I've commandeered my pool table as a good spot to spread everything out and check for damaged, missing, or warped parts. As far as I can tell, everything is in the box that is supposed to be there, though there does appear to be some discrepancy between exactly which sheets contain exactly which parts. This will the subject of some investigation over the next day or so, but I suspect it is only the result of some changes and additions to the supplied parts since the contents list was written nearly 20 years ago. I've already decided on one likely deviation from the supplied instructions, based on what I've seen in Captain Al's 'Mayflower' work. The Constitution kit does provide a fair amount of balsa filler blocks, but I am going to augment what was provided with enough filler blocks to give complete gluing surfaces to both the bow and stern curves. At least, that's my current plan. Here a few shots of the sorted contents of the kit...

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So, work is underway. From reading the instructions, it is clear that close adherence to the prints is going to be critical for a good result. I expect inaccuracies and carelessness at this early stage will multiply in consequence as the project progress. Since I have little trust in my measuring and drawing skills, I wanted to devise a way to transfer reference lines from the schematic to the actual parts in question. The plan I came up with seems to be working well. In the first picture, I tape a piece of tracing paper to the plans and copy the needed features to the paper. Next, I pin the tracing paper to the part being worked on and use a tracing wheel to transfer the lines to the wood, filling them in with pencil after marking. As picture 3 shows.... Viola... reference lines successful copied from my plans to my Center Keel sections!

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Oh good, another Conny builder I can follow. You've got one more boat under your belt than me so that make you the experienced one (compared to me). I'll be watching with interest as you progress. I decided to warm up to the build by starting on the ship's boats first, so it will be a while before I start the main build. I wish you fair seas and the wind at you back.

 

Jon

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The center keel is finished, and I'm working on installing the frames. The wooden pieces match the plans wonderfully, and are well constructed.  They can be removed from their backing with reasonable effort, and with little danger of breaking. I haven't found any warping yet and, so far, have just been dry fitting the parts for fit and alignment. They fit perfectly, lining up well with the 'bearding line' cut earlier. In fact, I may have a little difficulty in removing a few of them for gluing. I'm sort of thinking that if they fit that well without glue, glue may not be needed. We'll see.

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What I usually do to glue the bulkheads to the center keel after getting them in the correct position is to take a paint and brush a nice bead of Wellbond glue (it dissolves with alcohol) on the four 90 degree angles. This is much like caulking and I have never had a joint loosen.

 

Hope this helps

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An excellent idea, Don. A bead of CA along the joint would do fine a job of locking everything in place once it's all squared, trimmed, and beveled.

 

Yes, kmart, that's the correct Maturin. I used to date a lady in Boston, we visited the Constitution together a few times, and she gifted me with several volumes of  O'Brian's wonderful series. The current Admiral graciously picked up the tradition, and I now own a complete set all 21 novels is sumptuous hard-cover editions.

 

 

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I have followed the advice received, and have been gluing each bulkhead as I proceed. I've also elected to take an 'optional' suggestion from the kit's instructions, and have been adding a reinforcement between each pair of bulkheads. This gives further insurance against shifting, and will, of course, be invisible after planking. I've also purchased a few chunks of balsa wood and I plan to fill the first 3 bow sections, and the last 2 stern sections with wooden blocks,  sanded to shape, to give me a full backing surface for gluing up the more radical curves at bow and stern. That's the plan, how reality comes out is yet to be seen!

 

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Nice start to a wonderful piece of US Navy's history.  I have looked at this kit numerous times but never pulled the trigger to purchase.  I do however have a complete and pristine copy of the Marine Model Copany's Connie.  The kit goes back to the 50's and is a very close rep of the actual hull.  Purchased a small piece of wood from the restoration of the actual Constitution.  This will be incorporated into the build.   Looking forward to more.

Rick

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, the past few weeks have been dedicated to fairing the bulkheads and to installing and carving the bow and stern filler blocks. Even using balsa wood, which I did for all but one piece, there is an incredible of carving and sanding to be done. Much of the extra work is of my own doing, however, since I decided to add a couple of extra filler blocks to the bow. They are all in place now, though much fine sanding remains to be done. I have to keep reminding myself that these parts will not visible on the final model and are only there to provide structural support. Here is the roughed in bow section:

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The stern section has been even more of a challenge, since the filler blocks are much smaller, more delicate, and more dramatically curved. I approached this challenge by roughing them out in balsa wood, gluing them in, and I'm now in the process of shaping them in place. The block above (whose name escapes me at the moment) is made of kit-supplied wood and is neither finalized nor glued in as yet. Perhaps another few days of fine sanding will see this small part of the larger project behind me.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, work has progressing, though this log hasn't been as scrupulously updated as it should be. I've been working on the bow and stern framing, as well as repairing some over-zealous sanding on the stern-post. I've most been focusing on 'rouging-in' the blocks and the framing, leaving fine fairing work to be done when the time comes to plank the pertinent sections.

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I've since finished the stern framing, and begun work on the waterways. I've decided to follow 'usedtosail's build and install part of the gun deck. I've removed the beams from bulkheads F through K and will install waterways and deck planking on that part of the gun deck. I will also order the cannon set from Model Expo to provide the extra gun-stations required. I've decided on a couple of departures from usedtosail's approach however. Rather than build decks based on planking over cut deck pieces, I am going to try to plank directly on to the bulkhead cross-members in order to reduce the amount of material added. In addition, rather than cutting holes in the gun deck for the hatches, I'm simply going to construct them from left-over material from other builds and glue them directly onto the planking, perhaps with a black construction paper backing. I'll try and get a few shots of the ongoing work as it proceeds.

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The stern framing is roughed in, but not sanded or faired yet. I've been side tracked by work on the gun deck. As can be seen, planking of the deck itself is well underway. I'm using some 1/16" planks leftover from the Bounty, blackening the edges with a soft pencil, and staggering the joints in a 3 board pattern. The cannon shown in the picture is one I've put together simply to check the port height when I get to that point. Once the planking is done, I'll sand it smooth, stain and varnish it, then add hatches sitting on top. The rough position of the hatches is penciled in on the existing planking. I'm glad I read usedtosail's build log, I think the addition of this partial gun deck is going to be a real enhancement to the finished model.

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I am glad you decided to add the gun deck too. When all is said and done, knowing that the details are there is very satisfying. Also, having complete cannons instead of the dummy gun barrels is so much better. Great job so far.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, the gun deck is in and rough-sanded.. final sanding yet to come. I've built the gratings, and stained the frames, but no varnish as yet. Work on the inner bulkhead is underway, and most of the gun deck cannon hatches are framed. Here are couple of shots of my current progress.

 

Spoiler

 

 

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I've ordered the cannons I need for the lower deck, as well as a couple of pedestals to use in building a stand. I've also order the Model Shipways set of paints for this ship. John at Model Expo has been a great help in getting these parts. Professionalism is always appreciated.

 

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