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CSS Virginia by sjanicki - FINISHED - BlueJacket - scale 1:192 (1/16" = 1')

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Hi All,


After having been away from the hobby for a while I purchased the combined USS Monitor and CSS Virginia kits from Bluejacket.  I completed the USS Monitor and a build log if it can be seen here: 



Now moving on to the CSS Virginia.  It is a noticeably more complex kit than the Monitor but of equally high quality.  The hull is well formed and the various metal pieces come in a nice segregated and sealed bag.  The plans are also well drawn and quite descriptive.  Thanks to @MrBlueJacket and company for again making a great kit.  Looking forward to getting into the thick of building it.






The kit contains a number of individual metal pieces all nicely packaged.


I couldn't resist setting the completed USS Monitor next to the bare hull of the CSS Virginia for scale.

Edited by sjanicki
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  • 3 months later...

Finally getting back to this after a busy summer.



Started off by drawing a center line as the instructions recommend.  


Next cut down the extra wood on the back as well as the front.  Took the majority of the excess off with a small saw and then cleaned up with a wooden block and 80 grit sandpaper.  Not sure if this is the best method so I welcome any feedback people have.

526482775_IMG_0043copy.thumb.jpg.3bd6b770319e6cdc37f3b1883ccb0e1e.jpg  1926051090_IMG_0042copy.thumb.jpg.9f42172e8e0f95f6b6a6740082037150.jpg

Glad to be back at it making progress! 



Edited by sjanicki
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Made a little more progress this evening shaping the hull.  Filled some small pit marks with spackle and continue to take special care to keep the sharp corners the plans mention.  Specifically along where the casement meets the forward and aft decks.


Obviously a long ways to go but making progress!

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Been referencing @MrBlueJacket's build log of the Virginia and it has been extremely helpful.



Made a little bit of progress this evening on shaping the bow of hull.  Photocopied a couple sets of the plans to make the patterns out of the supplied wood.


Cut out the bow template.


My initial shaping of the hull was way off so a bit of re-work was required.


After a bit of sanding it started to look pretty good! I am still fairly inexperienced at this hobby but encouraged by my progress so far.

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Made some more progress this morning on shaping the hull.   Applied several layers of primer too, which help in sanding immensely.



For the most part the general shape is there.  Going to pick up some wood spackle to fix a few small mistakes on my part and hopefully finish the shaping by the end of the weekend.  I'll need to go over it with finer sandpaper as well.



On another note, @MrBlueJacket was kind enough to send me some laser cut parts to add further detail to the model.   I believe these are included with the kit now.  Really appreciate their customer support.

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Getting the hull pretty close. Made several successive sanding, filler, and primer passes to get the shape better as well as smooth and fair.    


Also, cut the various pieces from the flat stock in the kit. Need to do a bit of sanding on them next.  I’ll pick up some 1/16” stripping tape tomorrow for the various accents on the stack, rudder etc.  



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Made both forward and backwards progress tonight.  


Made some great progress on the rudder assembly. Happy with how it’s going together. 


Unfortunately, I also made a bit of a mistake on the hull with an exacto knife, though nothing that can’t be fixed with a bit of wood spackel. 


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So I repaired last night's mistake on the hull and mounted the main part of the keel and bow.  Also, dry fit the ram as well.  IMG_0095.thumb.jpeg.c1f5aac179e3aaf94a9dcf3605bd0073.jpegIMG_0096.thumb.jpeg.00a3aee29d9fa1e9b79ecd89988037e8.jpeg


Took a first pass at the grooves that the chains for the rudders run through under the fantail.  I'll probably make them a little deeper as well.


Up next is the armor belt on the sides, fantail, cannon holes, and anchor holes on the front.  I hope to get all of the wood parts installed and a first coat before installing the various metal pieces.  Is this usually a good order to do things in?  When working with the wood I inevitably go back to doing bits of re-work and I think it may be difficult to do with various metal pieces attached.

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Made a little progress on applying the striping tape to the rudder assembly.  Actually pretty happy with how it turned out.  Now that I am happy with how it turned out I can get started on the various other locations requiring the striping.


Also installed the armor bands (1/32 x 3/16 base wood strips) along the water line using a number of rubber bands and some clamps.  I'll really need to work on my planking skills if I ever want to attempt a POB model. 



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Made a bit more progress tonight roughing out the cannot ports as well as mounting the fan tail.  Was careful to note that the cannon ports are off center to each other from side to side.  Really happy with how it's turning out!


Up next is mounting the anchor supports, propellor guard, and a first coat of black paint.



Edited by sjanicki
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Spent some time today taking advantage of the nice weather to be able to make progressive passes of puttying, sanding, and priming.  I don't have a formal paint booth so the priming needs to be done outside.  As the weather gets worse I'll probably need to get some form of paint booth setup - I welcome suggestions people have.  Unfortunately I over sanded a bit on the bow so it took a bit of time to re-work but I think the end result isn't bad.


After a number of passes I think the hull looks fair and smooth enough.


Once the hull was ready, I mounted the cannons, cannon port covers,  pilot house, and grates.IMG_0137.thumb.jpeg.1fa0cfc592aa538d2eee7ddc85aa4cb1.jpeg 


I also added the striping tape to the stack as the instructions suggest.IMG_0139.thumb.jpeg.09f688b61e631e75efc322a4731206b8.jpeg 

Edited by sjanicki
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Had to travel this week for work and while waiting for my flight I was examining these pictures and realized I cut all of the gun ports with the template upside down. So I’ll have a bunch of re-work to look forward to this weekend. 


In retrospect I shouldn’t have just used the template blindly but verified the ports to the plans before cutting them all. 


Well I guess you learn the most from your mistakes 😜

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Didn't have much time tonight but removed the cannons and cannon covers and then put some putty in the holes.  I am glad I can cover up these mistakes so easily.


Hopefully I'll be back to making progress again by the end of the weekend.IMG_0173.thumb.jpeg.c228ad5a8efbbe1083e19b1647937826.jpegIMG_0174.thumb.jpeg.fdc964293cba5c49c5194a6858ed4fa2.jpeg


Also, I should be happy about this little mishap because I can try a different method this time on cutting the gun ports.  I used an exacto knife and a chisel last time.  Is there a better method people would suggest?

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After a number of iterations of puttying and sanding the old cannon ports I finally got them to a state where I could cut new ones.  I also labeled the template (so I didn't repeat my mistake 😜).


Instead of an exacto knife and chisel this time I used successive passes with different size drill bits.  This allowed for the internal step that the plans suggest as well as the oval holes.  The drill bit being parallel with the decking made for the oval hole because of the sloped casement.  This drilling method was WAY faster than the chisel I used the first time.



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So I finally made some more visible progress after my mistake with the cannon ports.


After a quick coat of primer I installed the cannon port covers on the for and aft sections of the casement as well as the striping tape.  

I then began installing the railing stanchions.  First I marked them one at a time with a geometry compass and then drilled a small pilot hole for the nail.  I then nailed them all in and gauged the proper depth utilizing the compass as well.

IMG_0263.thumb.jpeg.5ba8f307ca77c0025cf99b84a5a4df5f.jpeg       IMG_0266.thumb.jpeg.dd541a8014810d5ec1615328ebb2f894.jpegIMG_0265.thumb.jpeg.048261c504793ea415ca2dd454d7afa8.jpeg  IMG_0267.thumb.jpeg.a414583108533c6fa90cb3848c6519b8.jpegIMG_0268.thumb.jpeg.7096e06d0381a043037a6ba46aa19910.jpegIMG_0270.thumb.jpeg.50d2f632e2372f0e6852a4b1f77a84e4.jpeg

Super happy with how its going now that I am back on track! 

Edited by sjanicki
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Installed the air vents and galley stack as well as removed the tall stanchions with the eye loops and replaced them with similar but longer nails to the lower stanchions.   I used strait sewing needles for the nails as they matched what was included in the kit.  I also drilled holes for where the anchor chains and rudder chains go through the casement.


I also cut a round plate of wood to help mount the stack.



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Mounted the cutter chocks as well as finished the wooden base for the stack.  Still need to install the eye hooks on the stack for the stack support rigging.  


I dry fit the cutter for reference.  I decided to order some blocks as well as davits to add further details to the cutters.  Should look great once they are installed! 


Up next are cutting the forward bulwarks and installing the various chain roller guides, and mooring cleats. After that I will likely apply another coat of primer and then begin painting.


On a historical note, the plans refer to the taller pins on the centerline of the model as "awning stanchions".  Does this mean that there was sometimes an awning installed (sort of like a tent)?  I remember seeing a graphic of the Virginia (or another casement ironclad) with such an awning but cannot seem to remember where.  Would this be a historically accurate addition?  I think it would be a unique addition to the kit as I haven't seen that detail on another model of the Virginia. 


Overall I am extremely happy with the kit as well as my progress on it (especially because I am such a beginner in the hobby).


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Spent a bit of time on the Virginia this evening. 


The davits and blocks I order arrived so I wasted no time in installing the davits.  They look really good! I also installed the stack support eye hooks as well as glued down the stack.


I also installed the propellor and rudder.  I used one of the straight sewing needles cut in half to mount the prop. 



Once the various parts were mounted I took another pass with the airbrush and primer.  This is my first model to use an airbrush on and am very happy with how it's turning out.  


Next up is a coat of black paint and then some work on the remaining fittings as well as cutters.  I left off all the fittings that will be black on red in the final model (I plan on placing them after the model is painted).  


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Started masking the waterline as well. I decided to mount the bulwarks after painting the waterline because the waterline passes through them.  I used Tamyia tape followed by generic blue masking tape.  I’ll try and actually airbrush the red later this week. I bought some brass colored paint for the screw as well which should look awesome. 





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Cleaned up the remaining deck fittings and began priming them.  I’ll paint the deck fittings black and the cutters white. 


On a more technical note: The kit comes with a bit of fabric that is meant as a tonneau cover for the cutters. What is the best method for securing this to the boats while maintaining a tight fit? I have some ideas but I wanted to solicit people’s thoughts. 


Also, the March 2006 National Geographic has a phenomenal article on the battle of Hampton Roads and is a great read for anyone interested. Of note is the nice cutaway diagram of both the Monitor and Virginia to scale.  Though I suspect they may have taken some small artistic license. 

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