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Virginia 1819 by SardonicMeow - FINISHED - Artesania Latina - Scale 1:41 - first plank on bulkhead build

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Here we go.  The Virginia 1819 from Artesania Latina.  I chose this one because it seemed like a good kit for a beginner.  This first post is just a little overview and my first impressions of the kit.


Here are a few shots of the components.  I like how the small wood and metal pieces come in a nice plastic box, rather than in bags.  The planks are... not exactly what I expected.  The planks for the first planking are thicker than what I was expecting, while the planks for the second layer are really thin.  It seems like bending the first layer of planks will be a challenge, and I think I'll have lots of questions when I get to that point.


I already spotted a few minor typos in the instructions, but the most noticeable problem is this messed up rigging diagram in the fold-out plans.  Fortunately, I found that the copy of this sheet available for download from Artesania Latina's website doesn't have this issue.


I checked through the parts list and most everything was clear, with the exception of the apple wood and mahogany wood pieces.  These came in several strips with very slightly different dimensions between them.  It took a little while to sort out which was which.  I made some labels so I would be able to identify them later.


That's it for now.  I hope to get the actual building started tomorrow.


Edited by SardonicMeow
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False keel and bulkheads are cut out.


I did a quick test fit to see what it would look like, including the masts.


I noticed that the forward-most bulkhead extends below the false keel, which I thought might be a problem.  Later, looking at it again, I realized that the back of the bulkhead just touches the edge of the false keel and that the front part that sticks out will be filed off when fairing the bulkheads.  So it isn't a problem after all, as far as I can tell.


The planking tutorials I've read make much of carving out the deadwood area in the stern.  However, for this model the deadwood area is really small.  Even so, I think I will make the effort.  If I don't, the thickness of the false keel plus the two planks on either side will be quite a bit larger than the thickness of the keel and sternpost.


Next I'll make sure the bulkheads fit in squarely and glue them in.


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Thanks, Bob.  I was careful to check that the tops of the bulkheads were flush with the top of the false keel before gluing them in.


As for nomenclature, I definitely have a lot to learn, and I hope everyone will be tolerant of any mistakes I make.  To add to the confusion, I wonder if the English translations of the ship parts in the kit manual are not always accurate.  For example, there are parts identified in the manual as "rubbing strakes", but I thought the correct term is "wales".  Or maybe I'm the one who's mistaken.  Or maybe both are correct.  As I said, I have a lot to learn, but that's part of the fun, isn't it?


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The bulkheads were glued in, making sure they were square to the false keel.


Next are the two pieces which form the area at the stern under the transom.  The first is the final bulkhead piece which will sit at an angle when attached, unlike the other bulkhead pieces that are vertical.  I marked a line at the point where the deck will sit on this piece.  Then I filed a bevel into this piece so that the deck can lay flat on it.


The next piece is to be glued to the first and will be shaped with a curve below.  It was not immediately clear how the two pieces should be glued together.  The deck needs to touch both pieces, so it looked like the second piece would also need to be filed down.  However, if the two pieces are glued together with their side contours matching up, the second piece will sit too low to touch the deck.  I checked other build logs of this ship, and it looks like the correct action is to glue the piece a little higher so that it will fully touch the deck.  Even though the outer curves of the pieces will not match, I think they will get smoothed together during the fairing step.


Here are the two pieces glued together.


And a shot of everything waiting for the glue to dry.


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The directions were very unclear about the precise shape of the combined pieces which will go at the stern under the transom.  The directions say to file / sand a curve into the piece.  In the insert on the picture below, you can see the piece as it appears on the 1:1 plans.  The flat edge to the right, above the curve, measures 10mm.  You can see how I tried to shape my piece to match.


However, while test-fitting it, I could see that the upper part of the sternpost would not fit properly.


I checked through several build logs for pictures of the same piece, and they confirmed my suspicions that it wasn't right.  I needed to remove more material, making a shallower curve that would allow room for the top of the sternpost.  After test-fitting it, it looked a lot better.


Next I cut out and test-fitted the knighthead pieces.  It was clear the these would be trimmed during the fairing of the hull, so I preemptively sanded off a little material.


The knighthead pieces were glued into place.


And the pieces under the transom were glued into place as well.


And everything is square and ready to accept the subdeck.  I am debating whether or not to add some filler blocks at the stern to help establish the form of the hull in that area.  I'm quite anxious about the fairing and planking of the hull, so I want to do whatever I can to make that go as well as possible.



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I see.  As far as I can tell, the kit is intentionally designed with the top of the bulkheads being flat, not curved.  Also, there is no step in the instructions to cut out scuppers.  I think this was a deliberate decision of the designers to simplify the kit.


At my skill level, I don't know if I can handle making this kind of change.  It would require bending the subdeck in two directions, into a saddle shape.  I think that would be very difficult.


I guess another option would be to lay gradually thinner deck planks on to the subdeck.  However, the kit-supplied deck planks are already very thin (.5 mm) so I don't see that working without acquiring some additional wood.


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With the subdeck glued in place and the glue given a day to dry, the ship is now strong enough to tolerate some rough handling.  It's time to file the edges of the bulkheads down to shape.


I was somewhat anxious about this step.  The kit-supplied filler blocks at the bow made it a little easier to work in that area.



After that, I worked from bow to stern.  The middle bulkheads, as expected, required very little attention.  I did sand off the layer of laser-burned wood, as I remember reading that glue will not stick well to the burned surface.


The stern area was the hardest.  It was difficult to figure out exactly what the right shape should be.  I used a strip of planking as a batten to test how the planks would lay on the bulkheads, but I'm still not completely confident about the correct shape in the stern.



Even though the deadwood area is rather small, I spent some time creating a taper.


The instructions call for the deck planking to be laid down next.  However, I anticipate a lot of rough handling during the hull planking, so I think I'm going to work on the hull planking first.


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At last it's time for the hull planking.


The instructions call for first marking the start of the planking 5mm under the line of the deck, then planking from that point down by securing each plank in place with the kit-supplied pins.  It wants you to insert the pins part way, then clip off the heads and sand down the pins when the first layer of planking is complete.  As an experiment, I tried doing this with one strake.  Multiple issues were immediately evident.  First, there is little flexibility to the planks.  Second, if the pins are not driven all the way in, there is not enough friction to keep the plank from sliding back up the pin.  Third, the sheer of the deck will be difficult to match, as that requires the plank to bend up.


I removed the test plank and tried another experiment.  I soaked a plank in hot water, then clamped it in place and let it dry.  This helped establish the curve at the bow.  However, I don't see how I can bend the plank up at the stern.  I think I may have to let the first strake below the deck lie where it naturally wants to and add some filler above it at the stern.


However, I noticed another potential problem. The bulwark pieces are supposed to sit on the first strake below the deck.  Viewed from above, in the area near the bow, the plank does not come out far enough to provide a ledge for the bulwark piece to stand on.  I don't know yet how I'll correct this.


So I figured it may be easier to start at the garboard plank and carefully adjust the thickness of the planks as I work upward.  Furthermore, since I didn't like the idea of attaching the planks with pins, I decided to try attaching the planks with CA glue.  I hoped the strength of the CA glue would be sufficient to hold the planks in place in spite of the necessary bends and twists.  Generally this has worked out, but in hindsight I should have been more patient.  For the garboard plank, I should have soaked it, clamped it in place, and let it dry, then glued it instead of gluing it while fighting its resistance to bend.


Here I am doing what I should have done from the start: letting a wet plank dry into the proper shape unglued.  Then I will glue it later.






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Planking the hull is going slow.  My procedure is to soak and clamp into place one plank on each side in the morning.  Then in the evening, when the planks are dry and bent into shape, I taper them as necessary and glue them into place.  This means I can complete one strake on each side per day.


In the meantime, I have been working on the deck furniture.  Here is my record of assembling the companionway.  In putting the frame together, it was a little tricky to make sure that each corner was 90 degrees.  I saw in another build log that someone added a support, and I thought it prudent to do the same.


The next step was to attach the curved roof.  However, the roof piece in the kit was cut out with the grain of the wood 90 degrees from the direction the roof needed to curve.  I could flex the piece with the grain, but it was clear that it would never bend the way the other way.  My solution was to glue a row of toothpicks to a piece of paper, then trim it down to the shape of the roof.


Darker wood was added to cover the roof and create the hatch.  I found an error in the picture instructions.  The pictures show the wood on the roof identified as part 39, but it should be part 20.



Last was adding the doors.  To assemble the door handles, it was necessary to open up the small brass rings, link them with eyelets, and close them.  Somehow I managed to put them together (plus six more for the cargo hatch) without dropping any of the small parts.


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More pictures of planking progress.  It's not as bad as I feared, and not as good as I wanted.  I hope things will look a lot better once this first planking layer is sanded down smooth.  The hardest part has been finding ways to firmly hold the wet planks in place while they dry into shape.


In spite of my measuring and tapering, some funny-shaped filler planks will be required.


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More pieces for the deck.  This time it's the cargo hatch.  Once again, there was some challenge getting the first parts to fit together at perfect 90 degree angles.


Here are the doors getting ready to fit into place.  As I mentioned in my log entry for the companionway, it was a challenge to link each ring to its eyelet without losing any pieces or bending a part too much.  Also, when I was sanding the edges of the doors down to fit, I found it hard to maintain the right angles of the edges.  I wonder if there is a good method to maintain the correct angle while sanding.


The cargo hatch is complete, but the cannonballs haven't been glued into place yet.  I don't know if it's worthwhile to paint them or leave them alone.  When I was testing the fit, I found that the cannonballs were sitting a little low, so I used some leftover pieces from the companionway roof to fill in the slots and raise the cannonballs up slightly.


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At last the hull planking was finished.  Some good, some bad.  The worst spot is at the bow, where it was difficult to hold the planks firmly in place, even when the planks were pre-bent.


Wood filler was added and allowed to dry overnight.  Then lots of sanding.  The hull looks a lot better, and nearly every surface is ready to accept the second layer of planks.  However, some issues remain at the bow.


In the meantime, it's time to take care of the deck planking.  I decided to go with a pattern that repeats every 3 planks.  I marked out lines every 33mm with the intention of having planks 99mm long.


Starting aft, I laid the first plank along the center line, then worked out and forward.  For caulking, I first tried lining the planks with a black artist's pastel, but found that it created a lot of black dust that was making a mess.  So I switched to artist's charcoal, which was a little cleaner.  The port and aft edges of each plank were marked with the charcoal.


Once all planks were laid and the glue was dry, I sanded the deck down and added nail marks with a mechanical pencil.  I found the whole process of the deck planking very satisfying.


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The bulwark pieces were soaked and allowed to dry with the proper curves.  Then they were glued into place.  I paid the greatest attention to the size of the opening at the bow, making sure it was sized to allow the bowsprit through.  At the center of the ship, the edges of the bulwark did not match the top of the upper strake of hull planks, as you can see below.  Wood filler was used to patch areas between the bulwarks and hull, then sanded smooth.


The transom was glued in place.  Because the sides of the transom piece are curved, it was necessary to clamp the backs of the bulwarks to the transom in order to leave no gap.


The bulwark pieces stuck out beyond the transom, so these were sanded down to be flush with the transom.  Below, the top piece has been sanded while the lower one has not.


I tested the position of the rudder and realized that the hole for the tiller was too high.  I checked against the plans and looked at other build logs and it was clear that the hole should be about halfway between the top and bottom of the bulwarks.  To fix it, I removed the transom, cut off the lower 5mm, and glued the piece back into place.


The kit instructions want the second layer of hull planking to be put on before the stem, keel, and stern post pieces are attached.  However, it was my impression that if I proceeded in that order, there would be no way to ensure that the final planks would lie nicely against the stem, keel, and stern post.  Therefore, I decided to change the order.


At first, I assumed that the stem should be positioned with its top level with the deck, so that the bowsprit would lie on the deck.  However, it looks like that is not correct; the bowsprit should lie above the deck and not touching it.  Therefore, I glued the stem in place with the top of the stem about halfway between the the top and bottom of the bulwarks.


Next I tested the keel, and noticed that the supplied wood piece is taller than the end of the stem.  It will need to be sanded down to match.


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The stem, keel, and stern post have been attached and the second, final layer of hull planking has been started.


The second planking is unlike the first in several ways.  The thin mahogany veneer strips provided for the outer planking are very brittle and difficult to cut or sand without splintering, so shaping them is more challenging.  However, they are much easier to glue.  I can apply some wood glue, spread it with my finger until it is thin and tacky, and the planks can be laid down like tape.  They are set in place in just a minute or two.


The outer planks cannot be laid flat except by strictly following the curves of the hull.  This has required carefully making each plank appropriately wide or narrow, and I found that it has been easier to do this by breaking the planks into many shapes, rather than trying to lay a single long plank from bow to stern.  It has been a slow process to test fit each piece, sand off a few molecules, test fit again, etc. until the piece is ready to glue.


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The final hull planks have been added.  I consider this a major milestone.


And the finishing planks were added to the inside and outside of the bulwarks.  On the outside of the bulwarks, it wasn't possible for a single plank to run end to end, as the sheer was too extreme.  I split the planks into two sections in order to manage this run.  There is a gap between the bulwark outer planks and the hull planks that will be covered up by the rubbing strakes.


Planks to finish the transom were added.  After reflecting on the recommendation from aviaamator, I removed the stern post so that I could add the final stern planks directly, rather than working around the stern post.


Next were the rubbing strakes.  (That's what the instructions call them, but is this the right term?  Maybe wales is a better term?)  They were soaked in hot water, then formed around the edge of a bowl.


I'm very pleased with how the rubbing strakes turned out.  After forming them to the shape of the hull, I drilled holes where I wanted each pin.  Starting at the bow, I placed the strake against the hull, and drilled through the first hole into the hull, then inserted a pin.  Then I positioned the piece where I wanted it, drilled the next hole through, and added the next pin.  I repeated this to the stern.  Then I removed everything, applied glue, and put everything back, pushing the pins all the way in.


The stringers (again, is this the right term?) were also bent using the same bowl, then glued into place using lots of clips to hold them in place.


I'm now near a point where I am considering applying some polyurethane to the hull.


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