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Charles W. Morgan by David Lester - Model Shipways - 1/64th scale - FINISHED

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On 4/29/2019 at 10:53 AM, David Lester said:

Next up is the cutting in tackle, which in some ways is the centrepiece of this model. I'm following the advice of John (Texxn5) who suggests doing it at this point in the process.

Excellent advice. There's a lot going on in there, especially if you plan on rigging both tackles. Get it early while there's room. It is a centerpiece. It's such a different looking rig, and it's front and center. I chose the brand new rigging look with unpainted blocks. Not sure I wouldn't have liked the white blocks better. 







Edited by Richvee
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A little update. I've been working on this 'n' that.


I've finished the cutting in tackle.





Those Bluejacket cast metal blocks have great detail. They're a breeze to work with at this size (5/16") but a more difficult in smaller sizes.




The plans indicated that the two lines from the cutting in tackle tie off on the windlass head and the windlass barrel. So clearly this tackle was not in place at all times, only when it was in use. The plans don't indicate exactly how to terminate the lines after being wrapped around the windlass, so I ended one set with a coil on the deck and I imagined the other set being tied off on the wooden bar above the windlass.


I don't mind making rope coils for the deck, but I really don't like making the ones that hang down usually from belaying pins. I find them very hard to do. I have to admit to a bit of a cheat on these. I like using Amati rigging line generally; it seems to be very good quality without being expensive. I know that there is superior hand made rope available, but I find this one to be an excellent trade-off between quality and price. The problem with it is, it's a bit stiff and I can never get it to loop nicely for my vertical coils. I shouldn't tell anyone this, but I switch to a different rope here. I use crochet cotton for the vertical coils. It's much easier to get it to behave being very soft. The ecru is a nearly identical colour match and I always use a fine weight even if it's lighter than the actual rigging line. Again it's much easier to handle and the eye simply cannot pick up the slight difference.



Then I made a start at the ratboards. A feature that's a bit different for this ship and although it's early yet, it looks like they're going to be fun to do.



Still have to trim them to length of course. I find if they're trimmed to length first, it's very hard to tie them on the outermost shrouds.


In the background you can see some boat davits in place. More about them in the next post.


Many thanks for looking in, comments and the "likes".


Edited by David Lester
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Looks amazing!! Great work!!

On the Kate Cory, Ronnberg's rigging specs has the cutting tackle falls wrapped around the windlass. I imagine they stayed there as they were used to raise and lower the carcass.  For the tackle guy falls, Ronnberg says 

"The guy falls ran down to the windlass heads when used to adjust the positions of the cutting tackle. Once cutting tackles were properly adjusted, the guys belayed to cavels in the bulwarks." 

I took a little artistic liberty and ran the guys around the windlass heads and then to the cavels. 


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Hello All and thank you MicroMarine for that photo of the Scientific CWM. I've seen pictures of the ship when it had that configuration. Am I right in my understanding that it was not uncommon practice to paint gunports on the hulls of ships to make them look more dangerous than they were?


Nere's a brief update on my progress. I've been working on two things simultaneously. The first is the ratboards:

Here are some more in place, the upper two waiting to be trimmed along with the thread ends -


Here are some after trimming and threads ready to accept the next one.



I'm using a set of nail clippers to trim the boards and for some strange reason it really does feel like I'm trimming its nails.🙂

At the same time, I've been working on the five whaleboat stations. In my past builds it's just been a matter of sticking on a pair of davits and maybe a cleat or two and that's it. No so in this case. It's hard to believe but there are 30 individual parts in each of the five stations.

Here you can see the davits in place -

Here are the strips mounted to the side of the hull that serve as sliders. The thinnest wood I have is 1/32" and it looked a bit too heavy and I wasn't able to get the slight bow in them that's clear in pictures of the actual ship. So I laminated two pieces of styrene strip and that seemed to do the job. It was difficult to get the strip to adhere adequately to the top support piece that runs over to the hull, so I glued a piece of black construction paper to the top of the support piece and folded it up and glued it against the inside of the slider and that seems to secure it quite well.


The remaining parts for each station are the boat bearers and cranes which are shown below, but not installed yet. The cranes attach to the bearers with a pair of eyebolts and pins. The challenge will be to install each pair of assemblies so that the two cranes are at the same height, in order for the boats to sit level.

I resorted to vinyl again for the two fairleads on the side of the bearer. I could not shape basswood without it crumbling. Instead I laminated two pieces of thin vinyl strip together and drilled a hole near the end of the strip. Then I cut off a small square containing the hole and glued it to the bearer. When the glue was well set, I filed the round shape into the vinyl square. It's a detail that probably doesn't need to be there as the plans say that it is unknown what the purpose of these fairleads was. But they're on the plans, so I added them nevertheless.


So that's where I'm at as of today. It's time to get back down to my shop as it's Wednesday and will soon be time for the Moth Radio Hour on NPR and I really hate to miss it.

Thanks for all the likes, comments etc.


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Great work and great innovative ideas for all the pieces involved in the boat stations. 


During yhe the civil war it was very common to paint the sides to look like gun ports. I guess it worked to some extent from greater distances, but once the pirates or rebels hit close enough to see five whale boats hanging off the ship, the cover was certainly blown. 🙂

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  • 2 weeks later...

Good Morning,

With the lower shrouds and lower stays in place, it seemed like a good idea to stop work on the standing rigging and add the five boat handing stations at this point. I also added the ratboards as well.


The ratboards were fun to do and actually quite a bit easier than regular ratlines. I always have a problem with the outermost two shrouds pulling in as add the ratlines, but that was not a problem in this case.


I've also finished the five boat handing stations. While they were not difficult, it was a much larger job than I anticipated as there are many components to each one. 


The hull of this ship has an incredible number of things on it and someone had advised me to take a great deal of care at the outset and when adding any element to the hull to  be quite aware of how it would affect the placement of other components. It was a challenge making sure everything would fit in more or less the right place. I'm happy to report that everything fits properly and I didn't have to make any "do overs."


Now on to the rigging in earnest.










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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello All,

It seems I have been working and working with very little to show for it!


It's time to mount the top masts and then add their shrouds and stays, but a quirk of the Morgan is the lower and upper topsail yards on the fore and main masts are attached with metal brackets. That necessitates their being mounted to the masts before the masts can be mounted on the ship, which means a whole lot of rigging to add to the yards before anything can happen. There's a fair bit of chain rigging on this ship and it's had to deal with because you can't just snug it up by sliding the seizing; you pretty much have to get the length right from the beginning. 


You can see the metal brackets for the two yards in this photo:




While there are many benefits to adding as much rigging to the yards before mounting them, it creates a great deal of chaos, especially with the long lines. I have a bad habit of inadvertently getting glue on them somewhere along their length which I never notice until much later when it won't pass through a block and I have to get up, leave the room and walk around the block before I settle down again. But, I'm getting ahead of myself; that's all lying in wait for me. 😯




One tricky bit on this model is this piece of rigging:




It's a double iron block hanging below the two lower masts through which two chains pass.




The piece included in the kit is almost laughable. It's a small piece of sold white metal with no holes in it. It needs to be drilled through on each side in order to accept the chains. I did not anticipate being able to use it successfully and have spent a lot of time considering how best to replicate this part from scratch. I decided to try drilling it nevertheless and couldn't believe it, but I managed to get it to work - two through holes in each of the two pieces! (Paint touch up is needed on the yard as a result of dirty fingers from handling the chain.) 


So now, on to the topmast shrouds and stays.


Thanks again for looking in.



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Looks great! As for the sheet blocks, EdT had to make a bunch of these for his Young America. I have one I need to make for my KC. Being that I don't have a fitting to fall back on, I was considering trying Ed's method...Well, at least a facsimile there of... 


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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello All,

A little more progress to report -  I've finished the standing rigging! It's always a nightmare process for me as I can never seem to get the tension right among the three masts. As soon as I tension one line and it brings the mast into a more or less straight position, another line goes slack.  And, I'm always too quick to get the seizings glued and trimmed, which of course makes later adjustments all but impossible. I never seem to learn from one model to the next; it's always like I'm doing it for the first time and like deja vu all over again I went down that rabbit hole this time too!


But then I got control of myself and started over. I'm not sure what others like to do, but I've pretty much decided that the best way for me to do it is to get the lowest stay for each mast in place first before the lower shrouds go on, then move directly to the highest stay starting with the mizzen and moving forward. So my order was: 1. mizzen topgallant stay, then mizzen topgallant backstay, 2. main royal stay, then main royal backstay and 3. fore royal stay then fore royal backstay.  And I even left the seizings all unglued and untrimmed until all were in place so I could adjust each as needed until the masts were all reasonably straight. Then it was just a matter of filling in the others. At this point it was easy to apply just enough tension to each line without it having an adverse effect on the others.


Sorry if that all seems too elementary to even mention, but I'm feeling very happy about finding a system that works for me and with any luck I won't have to relearn it on my next model. I enjoyed Groundhog Day, but that doesn't mean I like living it!







I've also attached the fish tackle. This is a piece of rigging that I'm not familiar with. I assumed it was related to whaling, but according to the MS instructions it was used to help hoist the anchor. Is that correct? Is it a feature of ships of this era (second half of the 19th century?) All the other models I've built are of much earlier ships.





back stays secured

also added the running lights




mizzen topmast stay


Up next is the upper ratlines.


Many thanks for comments, likes etc.



Edited by David Lester
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  • 3 weeks later...

Not a lot of progress to report; I've been spending lots of time working outside on the house and yard. However I have accomplished a little bit on the CWM.


I'm working from aft to fore and have now finished the mizzen mast rigging. A problem I didn't foresee is that most of the lines are seized to eyebolts, rather than seized directly around the spars, which is not a problem when there's only one line. However, some of these eyebolts have more than one line seized to them and at the aft end of the gaff there are four separate lines seized to one eyebolt. I used too small an eyebolt initially and wasn't able to cram all four seizings onto it and still have it look half decent, so I had to redo that bit using a bigger eyebolt.


I always find it hard to belay lines to the pins and the ones surrounding the mizzen mast on this model are particularly hard to access, so here's a strange question. Has anyone ever considered doing much of the rigging backwards? By that I mean attaching and securing long lines to the belaying pins very early on, before almost any deck details have been added. Then run the lines in the opposite direction and seize them later to the masts and yards. I've never seen or read anything that suggests that as an alternative, and it probably isn't a viable alternative, but could it really be more difficult than belaying in a tidy manner to the almost inaccessible pins? It's just a thought that occurred to me this morning as I came close to "losing it"!


Thanks again for checking in.






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  • 1 month later...

Hi All,

I haven't posted lately, but that doesn't mean I haven't been working on my model. I have pretty much finished the running rigging and I just couldn't seem to get the model to a presentable state for photos and updates as I went along.

For some reason I found this model very difficult to rig and I don't believe there isn't any aspect of the running rigging that I didn't do over at least once. About half of the belaying pins are completely inaccessible and I seemed compelled to run lines on the wrong sides of things, only to notice it much later! I had a tendency when snipping off the line at the belaying pin to snip on the wrong side of the pin! I was continually messing up the tension with each addition line! etc etc. and there's a fair bit of chain used for the rigging which is very frustrating to work with as it usually needs to be cut to an exact length without much wiggle room. Anyway, I got it done.



I bought some internally stropped blocks from BlueJacket and used them where indicated. I think you can make them out below on the topsail halliards, which are chain.






I also managed to snap off several davits.



So, I'm closing in on the finish line. The remaining items to complete are the whaleboats, the anchors and the stage that attaches to the starboard side.

I'm really pleased with my upgraded blocks on this model. The larger ones (3/16" anc 5/16") as well as the internally stropped blocks are from BlueJacket and the smaller ones (1/8" and 3/32") are from Syren.

I don't know if any of you have ever the noticed  the paradox in model building, but this last rigging job has really pointed it out to me. On the whole, this hobby is relaxing, challenging, rewarding, fun, contemplative, meditative, satisfying and any number of other positive things. However, at the same time and paradoxically it seems to comprise nothing but a series of jobs that individually are aggravating, tedious, repetitive, frustrating, and tending to make one bang one's head against the wall! How is this possible?  I think we need a new word for this phenomenon. There's a word "synergy" which applies when the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. What would be the word when the whole is the opposite of the sum of the parts? Perhaps "frustifaction" or maybe "satistration" I don't know.


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  • 1 month later...

Good Morning All, 

Well, I have officially finished my Charles W. Morgan. (I would like to say that it's "done and dusted", but I know from experience that the dusting part has only just started.) 

Since my last post, the remaining undone bits were the rope coils for the belaying pins, the anchors, the cutting stage and the boats. I didn't post any updates as I was working through these, as they were very simple and straightforward. They didn't pose any problems, and there were no great insights that would benefit anyone from my sharing.

Here are a couple of pictures showing the finished model -








I think I've mentioned it before but it bears repeating how much I enjoyed this model. I think this has to be one of Model Shipways best kits. The plans are excellent with every detail very clearly covered, and the kit is well designed. While it's challenging, at no point do you find yourself fighting with the kit to get a decent result, which is not always the case. If you're looking for a break from naval vessels, this is a great option. 

I'm looking for a smaller project next time around and have purchased the Pride of Baltimore II which I'll be starting soon. Those clippers were very beautiful ships and I won't have to build an additional to the house to accommodate the model. 

Many thanks for your comments and "likes." 


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