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USS Constitution by kmart - Model Shipways - scale 1/76

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Kmart, I hope you enjoy the book when you get it. Also just FYI I noticed the way you have positioned your grates. I laser cutting the true dimension is on the bottom side of the carrier sheet which also results in minor draft which increases with the thickness of the wood sheet. If you turn your grates upside down you will have the "good" side up. This also applies when setting bulkhead frames with the angles (usually 1/4" thick wood) setting forward and rearward to get the cut angle to work with you and less sanding required. Keep up the great work you are doing, more fun lies ahead. Keep in mind on the deck plan view the stern starboard side is greater from the centerline than the port side on the spar deck. Just check the plan layout to justify the planking when you get to that point. You can see this called out in my build.

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On 5/6/2018 at 12:40 PM, ehonig626 said:

Are you planning to stick with the 8 beams or will you cut back to 5 when you complete the spar deck?



Eric H



Eric  Good question.   I haven't really decided yet. Putting that decision off as long as I can.    I'm leaning towards keeping the full 8 beams just because I like the look.  But I also realize its not accurate as the 1812 version.   So there's my dilemma. 


In the mean time...


Christmas came  in Oct.   Got two new Books.

Kens...   Just looking through it....  WOW. just unbelievable craftsmanship.   It will inspire me to do a lot more metalwork on my Connie than I intended!  I Highly recommend the book to any ship modelers.  I have to say it again   WOW!


Second Book I had on my watch list.   Normally a Very expensive book, (> $300 Yikes!)  but I saw great deal on a used copy on Amazon ($50)  so I grabbed it.  Not so helpfully on to Connie.  but will be invaluable on my next ship post Connie.  I have Euromodels Royal William sitting on my shelf for retirement.    But that a Looong way off.   10 years.    Besides it will take me that long to finish Connie 🙂



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Soo ,  back to work.

Next up.  start the planking.   At least the bands around the Gun Deck....

I plan to plank up to the spar deck to strengthen those very thin tops of the bulkwarks.   I already broke off half of the bulk-works tops and had to re glue them back on.  And then down to the first wale.   

At that point I'll figure a way to flip the hull and hold it upside down to do the rest of the bottom.


I started with the plank right above the gun-ports.   Used that gun-port spacing jig I used earlier to make sure I left 1/32 space above the gun-port.  (Sorry, didn't take a picture of it in use.)   but basically.  put 1 plug in each gun-port all along the side.  Each plug had a 1/32 strip on its top and bottom edge.  Thin I just glued the 1st plank flush on the top of the jig.  Not perfect but fairly close and consistent 1/32  spacing above the gun port


After the first one was on.  the next two were easy.

Note for these planks.  There is no tapering.  They are full with the entire length



Once above the gun-ports was done..  I had to figure out best way to keep the plank edges around the gun-ports clean, square etc.   

In past models,  I planked right over the gun-ports and then cut the openings back out.    but those were smaller scale models that didn't show the frame to support the closed lids. 


Originally, I planned to do the plank right below the gun-port next, using the same technique as the upper.  Then plank in between the  upper and lower.    Looking at the plans... the height between the top and bottom gun-port  (including the 1/32"  edges) was consistently ,  4 x   1/8" wide planks for a total width of 1/2". 


So  I glued edge wise 2 sets of 4 planks.  And then sanded them smooth.  Confirmed with calipers the with was constantly 1/2" the hole length.

Had to sand a bit as the glue added about 1/64"




Then I measures each section between gun-ports... again allowing for 1/32 on each side.   Cut the strips and glued on.




Then the bottom plank just went tight against the existing ones



Overall... they came out well.

All the ports came our properly sized and square.

The vast majority of them had a very consistent 1/32 lip on all edges, all sides.

However, the first two gun-ports  (from the bow)  on both sides,  The lower lip was closer to 1/16th"   You can see it on the first gun-port.

I cant figure out how that happened as the 4 planks are a consistent height.   Maybe it has something to do with the curve / angle of the hull at that point?


To fix, I can either add a small 1/32 high plank strip to the top of that bottom plank (for just the two ports).  

Or trim the actual ledge down  by 1/32.  


The one thing I really don't like is there is a slight wave in the run of the lowest plank.  You can see it right above the middle clamp.

It looks exaggerated in the picture.  By eye its not as obvious.  but it bugs me a lot.   

I'm hoping I can correct with some minor splining on the next plank down.    And then then with the black pain it wont be visible.


That's it for now!



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Time for an update.   

I haven't posted in awhile, but I have spent some time in the wood shop.  Continuing planking mostly.  Its a fairly slow process.

I've got a bit of a rhythm  down in terms of cutting , fitting and then gluing a given plank.   But then I need to let it set 2+ hours.

And can only do 1 plank at a time.  Then alternate and do the other side.  That keeps the planks from warping the frame.  It also allows me to check both the bow and stern to make sure the matching planks align and have a similar run.






At this point I'm my next plank will be the top plank of the wale.  So a mini milestone.

The wale has 7 planks each side.  So getting the wale done will be my next target milestone


The planking so far highlighted that before too long... I need to make some jigs to hold the hull deck down so I can plank the rest of the bottom.

And then another jig /Cradle  to hold the boat, once the bottom is planked.


For the Jig to hold deck down

Step 1)  I needed a pattern of the Spar Deck

Imported both the spar and gun deck blueprint pdf's from the Constitution CD into MS Visio.

Note each deck is split into  2 pdf's.   Deck is  too long for  a single page.


Within Visio..  through trial an error.... aligned and stitched the two halves of each deck together.

Now the fun part.

  1. Each deck spans 1 page wide by 5 pages long.  
  2. So print out the deck to inkjet printer
  3. Trim the white space edges off
  4. Tape the 5 pages together
  5. Cut out the deck
  6. Test fit on both the ship and against the Model Expo 1:1 scale plans
  7. Re scale in visio
  8. Repeat steps 2-7   5 more time until I got the scale right.
  9. Repeat 1-8 again for the second deck.

Ugg... I litterer spent a full day ...but the result.

They match in scale with both the Expo plans and with the actual deck, So it was work it.





 So... Now I cut out a copy of the spar deck.  Used that as a template to cut up a piece of pine I had.






This rests mostly on the bow and stern pieces but I'll add some spacers so its on the deck beams as well.  Now I can flip the hull over and plank the bottom.



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Part #2  The second jig/cradle  to hold the hull.


So I took another piece of pine that is longer and wider than the hull.

I cut into it 4 slots about 1/4" deep.  These will align with frames C, G, L. P




Now I kept the plywood sheets that the model frames came in.  I used that as a template for the next step

I cut each frame in 1/2 and laid it out on another piece of pine.






On the band saw... cut them up



And after they are cleaned up


Note the keel rests flat on the board.

The braces are adjustable within those slots.  So as I add planks.. I can slide them out to adjust to the width.

Once I copper the hull.  I'll add felt to the inside face of the braces to not mar the Copper.

Then when model is finished... the cradle can be used if I ever have to transport it.

That jig took me a whole day as well....   🙂


Now I can get back to planking!!











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On 11/12/2018 at 10:44 AM, kmart said:


Eric  Good question.   I haven't really decided yet. Putting that decision off as long as I can.    I'm leaning towards keeping the full 8 beams just because I like the look.  But I also realize its not accurate as the 1812 version.   So there's my dilemma. 


In the mean time...


Christmas came  in Oct.   Got two new Books.

Kens...   Just looking through it....  WOW. just unbelievable craftsmanship.   It will inspire me to do a lot more metalwork on my Connie than I intended!  I Highly recommend the book to any ship modelers.  I have to say it again   WOW!


Second Book I had on my watch list.   Normally a Very expensive book, (> $300 Yikes!)  but I saw great deal on a used copy on Amazon ($50)  so I grabbed it.  Not so helpfully on to Connie.  but will be invaluable on my next ship post Connie.  I have Euromodels Royal William sitting on my shelf for retirement.    But that a Looong way off.   10 years.    Besides it will take me that long to finish Connie 🙂


Hi Kmart,

I have the ship book too. Paid way more than you did. 😪 I am about 75% done with the Royal William and have used this book for reference occasionally. It is also great reading. You say you have the RW waiting. It should take a long time because it is a very intense project to say the least. I have over 3 years into her so far and I am retired.

Good luck,

Vince P. :dancetl6:

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Vince , 

Yes.... when I saw that book at that price...I jumped on it.   

I actually learned about that book from your log.    I've been following along your RW build for awhile now.

You have a masterpiece there.  And looks like your close to finishing as well.   

And I thought the Connie will be a large model when finished.    The RW looks Gigantic. (and that's an understatement.)

How/where are you going to display that when your done.  🙂    


Back to Connie......

Next  update.  Nothing too exciting or interesting this time.  Just added some more planks.    At this point I'm working on the wale.

The wale has 7 planks high. I'm up to number 6 at this point.  

I alternate sides to keep them aligned.


Pretty straight forward except the stern.

The planks are a consistent width for the whole length except at the stern

Starting at bulkhead R they need to b tapered  from full width down to 2mm.  (just about half there width.)

And then they make a 90 degree turn up to the break on the stern.





Clamps fit nicely in the gun ports,,, then under the plank.  So it kept pressure both in to keep plank tight against bulkhead,

And up to keep plank tight against next adjoining plank above.  It worked out well.





Above... still at 6 out of 7 planks.   I smooth out the edges between adjoining  planks after glue sets... but before the next plank. 

I find it easier to do this rough shaping now then when all the planks are all down.



The Bow.    So the planks need to fit into the slot at the bow/keel.   At this point the wale is also sanded down to the thickness of the planks just above the wale.  (but just starting the taper from bulkhead B 



The stern was the only really hard planks..  As you can see.  the last three bend around and then back up.   

To keep the run correct, I closely measured on the planes the distance from the stern post to where the edge of the last plank of the wale should end.   That's the pencil mark just to the right of the lowest plank.   As long as my 7th plank ends on that mark.... then the run should be correct.


That will allow the next band A to properly flow up to the counter to fill in the stern.


It came out reasonably well (So far).   but I will need to add some filler to clean it up a bit before I sand it smooth.




That's it until next weekend.

Back to work on Mon.




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Moving along nicely! I have this kit in my stash,so I have been peeking in on some of the connie builds occasionally.  Good luck when you get to the RW - it`s quite an adventure.



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So moving along. 


I did get a fair amount done this weekend.

1) finished the wale

2) Finished the cradle

3) put in the plank-sheer.

4)  started the framing for the spar deck gun-ports



The cradle is working out nice,  

She sits perfectly level, and doesn't move at all even when handling the boat.

Easy to move it around, spin it around, etc..  





So for the Spar deck gun-ports.


I added the plank sheer plank....the top edge of which  is level with the bottom sill of the spar deck gun-ports.

The top part of the bulwark is very thin and fragile.  Hard to really frame in the gun-ports with just the bulwarks for support..

So I'm borrowing an idea  similar to what Used2Sail did.   

I cut a bunch of basswood into strips the same thickness as the bulwarks top



I trimmed them down to be 13mm wide. 

This is the height from the top of the Gun-deck (starting just under the spar-deck beams) to the top edge of the sheer-plank  

and the top of edge of the spar lower sill.

Then trimmed them to fit between the bulwarks.


 See below.  The first one on the left is not yet done.   The next 4 are.



This does a few things

1) Really strengthens the bulwarks

2) Give a nice solid lower sill for the gun-ports

3) really strengthens the outer planking

4) Gives a solid surface when I go to do the inter planking



Finishing the rest of them.



So that's the lower sill. 


Next weekend I'll work on the gun-port sides,

For that I will just do more of the same.  I'll cut some more pieces similar to the lower sill..

This time the width will be equal to the height of the spar gun-ports.  (~4 planks high)

These will glue on top of the current pieces and butt against the bulwarks.

Once in place I can add the 4  planks that are at the level of the  gun-ports.


Then repeat the process 1 more time to make the top sill, and support the remaining planking up to the top-rail.

Like I did with the gun deck ports.. I'll make a jig to ensure the ports stay square, equally sized and spaced with the port on the opposite side.

That's the plan at least.





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General Question for all the other Connie builder.


Looking at some of the other builds logs ... (Used2Sail)  And some pics of other historic models  (see pics below)

The top rail is right at the top of the Spar deck Gun ports.

However, on the Model Shipway plans... and even in AOS under the 1812 profile view on page 47,

There is a rail over the spar gun ports, but then there are 2 more planks above that rail and then the Top rail.

Then the hammock crane on top of that rail.


Are those extra planks a modern addition?

Did the 1812 version end right at the top of the gun-ports?






Current ship does have the extra 2 planks...



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K, I do believe the extra bulwarks were added sometime after 1812. I used the Hull model of the Constitution that is in the Peabody Museum in Salem, MA as a guide for the 1812 interpretation that I did, as it is a contemporary model of the ship from that period.



Also, the Blue Jacket Constitution kit is an 1812 version, and has the rail just above the gun ports as shown in KHauptfuehrer's build log:

I hope this helps.

Edited by usedtosail

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The earliest I know of that the topgallant rail is seen is in the photograph taken in  1858 of the rebuild of that period.Presumably it had been present for some time prior to that. It was not on the 1907 refurbishment,but was added to the 1927 restoration.I see from some recent images that it has been removed again in the latest work.I gather that the intention is to return the ship to its appearance during its most active period of service.There are a large number (527) of images online contemporary to the 1927 restoration available through the Boston Public Library website.

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Thanks Used2Sail and GMO2.  I'll go with the 1812 version on NOT have the top-gallant rail.   Will just have the rail end over top of the spar-deck gun-ports.


Haven't posted in awhile but have been making slow progress.

Added the filler pieces that will be used to support the spar deck gun port frames



Used my gun-port Jig to keep them square and symmetrical


Once all the filler pieces were in.  I went and planked and sanded  the outer planking.  Cleaned up the gun-ports.


Next to prep for planking the rest of the hull.


First,  pulled out my handy planking reference book.

Supper helpful in understanding how to layout the planks


Put in the gard board strake.



Once gardboard in.. I made a bunch of tic strips.   used them to measure distance from bottom of wale to gardboard at each frame as well as stem and stern


In the process i identified that a few of the bulkheads were not quite fair .. So I needed to correct that with some strips on the low bulkheads





With the tick strips all made, measured...  transferred the info into an excel spreadsheet.


Overall the hull is quite symmetrical.   Of the 18 bulkheads + Stem & stern  ...

Of the total gaps at each frame.. 8 were identical port to starboard, 

another 8  had  only 1 mm difference.  There were only a couple  off by 2 or 3 mm .

All close enough that can be corrected within 1 or 2 plank adjustments




I divided the hull into 5 bands.  A1, A2, B, C, D

A1 and A2  together  have 14 planks.  These will cover the planks that terminate into the counter of the stern.


After calculating the bands...  I transferred the info back onto the tick trips.

Then transposed the band info from the tick strips back onto the respective bulkheads


From there....  I ran batons at each of the bands.

The battens are positions such the edge is aligned with the band closest towards the  wale or gardboard strake. 

This way I can work 2 planks per side at a time.  One closest to gardboard and one closest to wale, Working inward. 

When I get to the 1st baton,  remove it and keep working toward the next pair. 




At this point  the run of the battons look decent except at the bow.   The natural run doesn't flow up as far on the hull  as I laid out.

If I follow the natural run, then the taper will be too great at the bow.   But if I follow my marks.  I'm concerned the planks will take a unnatural bend upward and look more wavy, thain fair.


Need to play with this and figure it out before I start laying planks



Thats it for now.





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Beautiful work on the Connie. I built this kit years ago and it is one of the most accurate models of the Connie that I have found. I really like your planking graph, but I would have had that hull planked before you could have finished that graph:)

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Thanks mtdoramike.  Actually,  the xls chart didn't really take me that long.  The basic sheet I borrowed from Used2Sail.   Its all formulas,  so after taking the measurements off the ship,  the rest just calculates!  That said, there's a lot of planks on Connie..  so you must be pretty fast planker  🙂


On to my status. 

In the middle of planking the hull, so nothing really that interesting to post.  

One plank, two plank, three plank, four,  then repeat....  It seems like forever!!

I was able to finish  bands  A and D.  

Working  from the wale towards the center and then from the gardboard strake to center, Port then Starboard..

Basically sets of 4 planks at time.      I've completed 17 planks total per side so far. 

I then  re-measured the remaining gaps again at each frame and re-calculated.

Staying accurate so far.  port to starboard are  within +- 1 mm across all frames 

I have 21 planks left (per side) to go 


That's it for now.  It will probably be at least another month before I post again.   

Not much to see, document while I'm planking away. 








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Beautiful work!  Regarding the extra two strakes above the main caprail - they are no longer there on the actual ship.  The top gallant caprails have been eliminated, and the waist opened up, just as it was in 1812.360206963_CONSTITUTIONDRYDOCKSTERN.JPG.eafc7d53b19040784d08f2932864731c.JPG

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Great Reference photos.  Thanks Guys!  I didn't realize they took off the top gallant caprails on the last refit..

Now If they would just put her stern windows and quarter galleys back to one of the 1812ish various  version... 🙂


FYI,  USS Constitution Model Shipwright Guild currently  having their annual Model show at the Museum through March.

I Highly recommend to the show if your in Boston.  Some really exceptional models .... and craftsmen.

I'm going to  go see the show and this ship again either next weekend or weekend after...  depending on work and weather.

In New England.. we expecting snow storm tonight.    The good news is I can stay in tomorrow and do more modeling!!! (after shoveling)


Now for My update.

  • I finished my next set of  planking bands.   There were 5 planks in each band.     So another 10 down per side.
  • I did some basic cleanup of the planking so far.
    • Used a razor blade to scrape off the glue on the surface and the ridges where the plank edges meet..
    • Then did some initial sanding with 200 grit sandpaper.
  • Finally I  re-calculated the remaining space. and the plank widths at each frame 
    • At this point,  the gaps at each frame  (port/Starboard) are either a match or within 1 mm of each other. 
    • I'm really happy how its coming out very symmetrical.

I am down to 10 more planks per side remaining... then planking will be complete... soo getting close.

The remaining gap is definitely getting noticeably smaller...

I'm at the point where I  will only be able to do 1 plank per side at a time and not two.  So it will be a bit slower progress.


The Stand

At this point.. before I finish up the planking...I need to start thinking about the final stand.

I'm going to make some sort of cradle.  And I want it to solidly fixed to the hull.

I thinking 2 bolts that go through the stand and up into into some sort of threaded sleeve in bottom of the keel. 

If I can find such a sleeve,  I can drill a hole in the bottom of the keel now and glue it in.

Also, each of the 2 pieces of the cradle will need to be  a form fit to the hull

... and align on a frames/bulkhead.

Sooo... need to make it now,  while hull is upside down and before I finish the planking..


I'll finish the model in its working cradle  ( pics earlier in my log) ( It is much more supportive while working on her then final stand will be)   

And not attach the final stand until she is done.  But that means it needs to be easy to on the finished model.


One of the reasons I enjoy this hobby.  I have to think about and plan for something that is still several years ahead in the process. HeHe


 Some Current Pics:  



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Planking done....  not counting the stern.

Still needs quite a bit of sanding and cleanup.

Really only 1 plank (each side)  that didn't run from Bow to stern.

And not a single stealer.

Will need a bit of wood filler to fill in a few spots

Overall...  I'm really happy how she came out.



also made a prototype stand.  just to get the shape/position right..






And I found these threaded sleeves. and thumb screws


made a test piece..same width as the keel


Now I can drill 2 holes in bottom of keel.   Thumb screw will go through the stand into the sleeve in the hull.

And I'll have a secure but easily removable way to secure the stand.  (when I get to that point in say 3 or 4 years  .  HeHe


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Alright.. time for my next update



First.. I made a few templates

I printed  to scale... 

       the 5 window stern from AOS

       The side view of the hull from the kit plans.  Cut this into 3 pieces

Cut them out 



For the stern... I still need to ad the ear pieces to the side of the hull that are the back of the quarter galleys

The laser cut pieces that came with the ship are a good match for the present stern.  but is smaller/ less rounded than the 1812  5 window version


So using the template and some scrap from the kit... I made new ones that are the proper shape.



So those are ready to glue on now.  I'm holding off working on the stern and adding the ears to the hull until hull is all sanded.  Otherwise they will be in the way of sanding and sure to be broken off.



The other template.. side of the hull... I used to locate the position of the scuppers and port lights on the side of the hull  near the top of the wale.

Sorry I didn't take any pics using the template.. but here is the result after marking and drilling the holes.


The lower, but larger holes are all set to receive the port lights.   The upper holes I need to enlarge,  and make more oval to fit the scuppers.

Used same template for both sides.   but needed to look at the back side of the template when working o Port side.   No big deal.. As I did starboard first.  holes were already in the template.     


note when using the template....line up the closest gun-port.  then mark the holes.   As the blueprints are 2D  and the hull is 3D.   They dont line up along the whole length of the ship.  That's the reason for cutting into 3 pieces and doing in section.


Note in the last picture.. you can see the hull needs quite a bit of cleanup.  A good number of gouges and uneven planking.

Especially around the transition from the bottom of the wale to the lower hull.


Will need lots of filler and sanding






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Part #2


Cleaning up the hull.

So again.. I didn't take any pictures during.  not much to see.  Just pics when process was done.


Basically I sanded the hull down with 220 grit sandpaper.

After sanding..  I vacuumed the hull to pick up all the sawdust


Then I used plastic wood  wood filler to  fill in all the dings, nicks,  and low spots etc.

I was quite generous with the filler.   i.e filled in  so it was proud on the hull.


After the wood filler dried... sanded it back down to smooth again with 220. 

It actually sands quiet well and easier/softer than the wood.

So I was able to sand off the excess filler without thinning the  wood further.


Next I repeated the filler/sand  process 3 more times.  Each time the areas that needed filler were fewer and smaller.


After the last time when I was happy with the hull, I did a final sanding with 320 grit sandpaper.

Vacuumed again


And the result is....








Next up...

I'll clean and install the mettle  port-lights and scuppers fittings in holes that are already drilled out.

Then I'll be  plank the stern.   Just frame the windows.. No stern  decorations yet.


At that point I'll be ready to prime the hull.

Still have some work to do before I'm there, but i'm getting eager to see her with the black hull and white gun-port stripes...


That's it until next time.



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Jon, Jon, Cpt Steve, Used2Sail....

Thanks all for the kind works / Encouragement /Likes.


Currently  I'm working on framing out the stern window openings and and making the quarter galley lower pieces right now.

I'll post some more pics this weekend.


With us heading into Spring and warmer weather here in the New England... My time spent and motivation on Connie will go down to a trickle as I switch gears from model boats to preping and maintaining and then sailing the real sailboat..


Here is what I Imagine I'll be doing soon!!!


HMS Surprise  (Ex HMS Rose)   Which I actually did get to sail on once for 2 weeks as crew (it was amazing!)


Here is what I will eventually be doing this summer

I'm at the helm taking the picture.   Would have been better if I was  taking a picture over the stern of him chasing me with a stern chaser run out  (grin)



And here what real boating is about. And what I'm actually doing  ..LoL

Sanding , scraping, painting, fixing.


Then more scraping, more sanding, more painting and more fixing. 





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Just found your build. Great build to date/ Who would have thunk you could use Exell as a layout tool? I am so stealing that!! :)


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Excell to build model wooden boats.   

Whoda thunk.

But thats what you get when you put an IT  guy in a woodshop.  Grin


Excell is helpful. But visio is actualy great.

Scan in the model blueprints.    Then you can scale to 1:1. And draw out and then print components to scale.    Poor mans cad.




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About us

Modelshipworld - Advancing Ship Modeling through Research

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NRG Mailing Address

Nautical Research Guild
237 South Lincoln Street
Westmont IL, 60559-1917

About the NRG

If you enjoy building ship models that are historically accurate as well as beautiful, then The Nautical Research Guild (NRG) is just right for you.

The Guild is a non-profit educational organization whose mission is to “Advance Ship Modeling Through Research”. We provide support to our members in their efforts to raise the quality of their model ships.

The Nautical Research Guild has published our world-renowned quarterly magazine, The Nautical Research Journal, since 1955. The pages of the Journal are full of articles by accomplished ship modelers who show you how they create those exquisite details on their models, and by maritime historians who show you the correct details to build. The Journal is available in both print and digital editions. Go to the NRG web site (www.thenrg.org) to download a complimentary digital copy of the Journal. The NRG also publishes plan sets, books and compilations of back issues of the Journal and the former Ships in Scale and Model Ship Builder magazines.

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Modelshipworld - Advancing Ship Modeling through Research
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