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USS Constitution by Alex1201 - Revell - Scale 1:96 - PLASTIC - Boston Strong!

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Hi.  This is my first build log.  A brief introduction:  It has been a long time since I did a model, and I jumped in feet first to this challenging one!  I had done some model cars in grade school, and then did most of one sailing ship in college (abandoned half way through rigging after the cat chewed off the top of the mast for the second time!!)   My crafting since then has varied from needle crafts, to home DIY/remodels, to painting Bob Ross style.  All those experiences are going to be useful I think!

Well, this project came to me when we were living in the Boston area for a year. We learned to sail, and spent much time at the Harbor and soaking up all the living history there in the nucleus of our country.  I’ve never been a history buff but being on location makes all the difference. After touring the Constitution, I was compelled to do this model.  I picked up a 2004 vintage kit from a local hobby shop.  


I got started but then had to move, and it has been boxed up for 4 years, halfway through step 1.  (I have lost my pictures from that early stage.)  I have gotten back to it finally!  (this post is long catching up. I promise not to be so wordy in the future.)


Decisions, decisions!! I had found AndyMech’s log (it must have been right before the great data crash) and used his excellent stern painting as a guide.  Starting again, I have read several other inspirational logs, and arguments about historically accurate details, and got pretty overwhelmed with all the choices to make!  I find too many creative choices is causing me some stress and paralysis, but getting through it!  Some ideas really appeal to me, such as furled fabric sails, lighting in the cabins, cannonballs, etc.  Finally to get unstuck, I decided to complete it (mostly) with the supplied parts per the directions, including plastic sails, with minor upgrades/tweaks.  If I do another one later I can get more creative and authentic.


Where am I now?



The hull is finally finished (I am sure there will be further touch up of the paint details, but I am calling it done.)  I had to correct a mistake:  I originally didn’t paint the black part of the hull, because it like the way the raw plastic looked with all the grain details.  Gloss or flat didn’t seem right.  … But as I got further I realized it needed to be painted and had to rewind.  It wasn’t hard to paint the main hull sections.  I couldn’t find satin paint (btw, I am using Testors enamel) so used flat.  Didn’t like it so flat, so burnished it with super fine sandpaper and it’s ok. 




Unfortunately, that meant I also had to paint the black background of the stern, and I was so satisfied with my original work.  :-(  Forgot to take a before picture this time before I messed it up.  My touch up of the black made a mess of the details and then I had to touch them up, and it's not as good now.  The one good thing is that I made the mermaid’s torso’s skin tone instead of green.  Saw that on one log (sorry can’t remember who to credit!)  Overall, I’m not thrilled with the final outcome, but it is ok.  I’m sure there will be further touch up.




On one log I learned that there are hollows in the keel for nuts to attach mounting supports from below!!  Why is this not in any instructions!?! (I have to find this again and credit source.)  This would have been GREAT information to have before gluing the hull together.  I had been very frustrated about how to mount the model, not liking the dinky kit supports.  So I got busy with the Dremel and opened up the spot for the nut, and cleared the hole in the bottom of the keel for the bolt.  This leaves a very thin wall, but it seems solid. I put some epoxy putty (from fish tank coral fragging supplies) on top of the nut to hold it in.  It’s not pretty, but it will hold, and it is ready for a longer bolt.  Still trying to find the right supports.  None of the ones I see for sale have the right slot width.  I measure 7/32”  ?  If it is bigger, it won’t provide support.  Most are too small, and there isn’t enough material left to shave the keel without exposing the bolt.  I guess that is not the end of the world if it will be hidden.  But still.  What does everyone else do?  I haven’t seen this particular issue discussed.


I had to repaint the copper plating.  With all the handling, it didn’t hold up well.  I need to coat it with something.  Someone suggested floor polish.  Gloss, satin, …?


The things I have changed so far:  (yeah, stick to the kit.  I know…)

Of course, had to paint green on the bulwarks instead of white.  I mixed green, blue, white and black (=gray) to get a softer green that I think is close to the real thing.  Also painted the bottom of the port boat this color.  The pot of it I saved is dried up after 4 years, so I hope I don’t need more. You can see the green peeking through here...



The iron straps of the rudder hinges I wanted to paint black.  So I mixed an off black for the cannons and those straps.  I really like the effect of the glossy straps on the flat black wood of the rudder.  Speaking of the rudder, the little eye bolt perplexed me.  Had not seen mention of it in logs or instructions.  But clearly it has a purpose.  It appears to want a chain.  A rudder is not something you want to lose at sea! Research confirmed it is for rudder preventer chains, dual purpose for retention and for steering if the tiller is broken.  We can see them on the real ship, the Hull model, and many of the wooden models.  I am going to try to add this.  Have to find scale black chain.


I left out the window “glass.”  After a fail of white glue to install the plastic, I took my husband’s suggestion and am not putting it in. Hopefully this will allow more visibility into the cabins, which are too nice to hide.


Other things I plan to change:

Correct the gaps in the spar deck.

Gunport lids – after much deliberation, I decided to put them all on, and leave the front ones closed.

Rigging – need better thread and more variety of sizes than the kit supplies.  I have some smaller and larger sewing thread and I may get a size or two from Syren.

Add a bell.


So, the next step is getting the gun deck painted.  I am going to try AndyMech’s technique with scoring and painting the boards separately different colors.  I am so impressed with the molded details in this kit.  Plank ends lining up where beams would be, tiny nail heads!  If it weren’t for the dang gaps between the sections!  I did a dry fit and the middle section sags.  Some reinforcement is in order.

I have painted a thin coat of black, sanded lightly, and have scored the planks.  Now on to the painting… yikes. 


[Edited.  I learned how to insert the photos properly.]


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A most excellent start.  I very much look forward to your continued progress on this beautiful kit.  I trust you are having fun.


I applaud your decision to just build the kit your way and not get too bogged down in all the possible details and minutiae.  I have stalled on my build for just that very reason, navel gazing at just which bits to 'improve'.  Be bold and continue on your course and you will no doubt have a most stunning model in time.


Thanks for sharing.


( and for reminding me to get mine back off the shelf of Doom. ;) )





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Alex - looks like you're off to a good start. I go along with DCooper's point on 'getting bogged down' on how she looks. Each of us has their own method of madness with a build. I have tried to keep mine close to the 1812 version with what skills and research I've made, but I have also taken liberties to make her mine. Keep at it and look forward to seeing more progress. Cheers!

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I've built this kit a couple of times now and both times did a few things different but for the most part I have stayed close to the instructions. Nothing wrong with that approach as it makes for a very nice model of the Constitution. It looks like you have a great start going on your build so I wish you continued success!

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Ship modeling never appealed much to me until I read this little book. Up until then, aircraft and car models were my main interests.

This book has been out of print for a while, not sure exactly how long, but you can readily find one on Ebay if you look for it. Les Wilkins does an outstanding job using old school techniques for bringing plastic ship models to life. Included in this publication is some photographic reference to his handling of the Constitution.




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I just found your build log Alex and welcome to the Connie club. I agree with the "paralysis" feeling you can get when bashing the kit...believe me I know...so use other builds as a guide and do whatever makes you happy and within whatever is in your skills. Mainly HAVE FUN with her. I will follow along with you and am glad to help where I can.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks, Fright, EJ-L, CDW, and Lambsbk, for your kind words!

Sorry for delayed response.  I thought I had notifications set up when people comment.  Haven't checked in, been swamped with work, but also made actual progress on the model. 

CDW, thanks for the book tip! That one sounds like just what I need. 


I did get the painting of the gun deck planking to a potential stopping point, lessons learned for the attack on the spar deck.  (My husband says it's fine, and time to move on from something that will not be visible! And he is tired of looking at it. Ha! My work space is on the kitchen table, so I have a critic readily available.)

I will post about that soon.


But new challenge: my tiny chain for the rudder preventers came yesterday. It's TINY!!


Scratching my head about how to attach it to the transom. This is one modification away from the plans that I have to make. That empty eye bolt on the rudder would drive me crazy! 

There is no way I'm getting any wire, or even reasonably strong thread through the links. Shown are prototypes of metal eye bolts I can make as needed (my plan was just to do these for load bearing ones. But they do look less chunky than the part 13's. And were much easier to do than I expected.)

The chain doesn't quite fit through their holes, although I could make some with bigger holes. But I don't think that would look right, and it would still need to be attached/tied/wired/glued to them to keep it from sliding back and forth messing up the drape of each segment.


 I don't see a way to work it out except by tying the chain to the bolts, or even just looping thread around the chain and through the holes I will drill. (I do have a thicker thread than in the photo.) Then can tie it off inside.  I can't see the attachment points on the real ship in the photos I can find. But assuming whatever bolts are not huge, and something low profile will work. And it will be under the edge of the transom, not terribly visible (as in the real life photos) so less is more.  ?


Life size example for reference...



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  • 2 weeks later...

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