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David Lester

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

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I am now launched on my latest project - the Charles W. Morgan. I though long and hard about what model I would like to build this time and for several reasons settled on this one. I was ready again for a fairly involved build which I think this is going to be, as well as a change of pace. Being a commercial vessel rather than a naval vessel it presents a vastly different set of features, particularly the deck details, and there are no cannons to rig! In addition there are plenty of resources readily available including excellent build logs and many photos on line, and of course it's always possible to visit the actual ship. So, the Charles W. Morgan it is.

 

At the outset, for some reason, my wife could never seem to remember the name of this ship and at one point said, "So, have you settled on the William H. Macy, or whatever the heck it's called?" So, we now tend to refer to it as the William H. Macy!

 

Last night I assembled the keel pieces and today have been dry fitting the bulkheads and I am quite impressed at how well they line up with the rabbet - very little adjustment will be needed. So far, so good.

 

I'll post some pictures as soon as it starts to get a little more interesting.

 

David

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I built this some years ago. It's a fine kit and you'll enjoy the build. I'm looking forward to following.

 

Bob

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Hello All,

Thank you all very much for checking in, comments, likes etc. I have a bit of progress to report. The keel is assembled, bulkheads added, mast slots readied and bow blocks and counter installed.

 

In the past I've been a bit negligent about preparing the slots for the masts at this early stage, but this time I've looked after it and I think it will pay off. I added shims to the slots to hold the masts more or less at the proper angles. It's a lot easier now than trying to measure the angle when the deck is filled with furniture etc. which is my usual m.o.

 

The bow blocks were easy enough to do, but for some reason I had a hard time with the counter. I normally have no trouble reading and understanding the plans when they are showing in two dimensions how something will look in three dimensions,  but some reason I couldn't wrap my head around how this one was supposed to look. It took a couple of tries, but I think I now have an acceptable result.

 

The stern blocks are almost finished and ready to add.

David

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Looks great David.  The counter block took me quite a while to put together, lots of curves and angles.  For the stern generally, it seemed to me that the transom, etc. have very subtle curvatures.  Take your time to get the framing right to ensure that you can capture those curves.

 

That's a cool protractor - very helpful for this hobby I'm sure!

 

If you have questions, I have lots of pictures that I've accumulated over time (including from a trip to Mystic).  John (Texxn5) has a great website with lots of pictures as well:

 

http://www.charleswmorganmodel.com

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Hi Mike,

 

Thanks. With that counter I'd make one curved cut first then find I didn't have a straight reference point for the next curve, so I'd redo it, forgetting about yet another curve in another plane. I swear this thing is from the fourth dimension.

 

I've had that protractor for years, but I don't actually use it all that often. I don't think it's especially accurate, (it was quite cheap) but it seems to be just fine for this application.

 

I've been over John's build log many times as well as his photos which are a valuable resource. There are some very minor differences between the photos and the plans, so I'll have to make some decisions when I get a little further along. Thanks for your offer. I may have to call on you to clarify something that is just out of camera range in John's pictures.

 

David 

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Pulling up a seat for this build. One of the great things I've found about modeling a whaler is the extensive education I'm receiving about the American whaling industry in general and the whaling vessels in particular. I'm sure you'll enjoy this build as I am with the Kate Cory. 

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David

 

I want to watch too.  I have a few projects ahead of this one and then want to build Kate Cory [ as a schooner] and then Charles Morgan.  I loved visiting Mystic a few years back;  there is so much information there to help figure out how everything works.

 

cheers    

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I just hope that when I'm finished it doesn't resemble William H. Macy as he appears in "Shameless!"

 

Thanks for checking in everyone. While it's still early days, I have to say that I'm very impressed with this kit so far. It's presenting plenty of challenge. I'm working on the planksheer, rails and stanchions and they're quite tricky, but at the same time the design of the kit is so good that it doesn't work against you. It's very satisfying and fun. Also, I can see that the kit provides lots of room for enhancement or upgrading which I hope to do to a certain degree. With so much reference material readily available that shouldn't prove to be a frustrating exercise.

 

David

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I have found with all info available between Mystic, New Bedford Whaling Museum and other sources, the question becomes how MUCH detail and extras do you want to add. Figuring how much is too much, how much am I capable of, has kept my interest in my build at a high level. Also can't help but think how much more detail one could add at 1/4" scale! 

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Good Morning -

Just back home after a week away for a family wedding in British Columbia and we even managed to avoid all the smoke! We were in the famous Okanagan Valley which is stunningly beautiful, but I understand that even there the air quality had been poor due to smoke for much of the summer. Nothing but clear sunny skies for us though.

 

Here is an update of my progress just before I left last week. I had been working on the bulwarks.DSCN2196.JPG.cb78ed71f1757d57661487faf1282ad2.JPG

 

The waterway is fairly easy to bevel and install, but it has an unusual profile at the bow where it meets the ceiling planks. It's not completely clear from the plans how this is achieved, but I think I interpreted it correctly as the ceiling planks ended up blending in just fine.

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The start of the bow framing.

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Here is the bow framing complete. It's a bit tricky as it spays outward, but actually easier than I have found on some other models because the laser cut parts fit very well.

 

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The bulwarks is planked only at the bow on this ship and this requires spiling which is something I have never done before. You can see the cardboard template I've made. The only way I could manage this was through trial and error until I finally got one that fit the space more or less correctly. The planks up to the top of the template are thicker than the ones above it. The plans indicate to use 3/64" stock for the lower planks and 1/32" stock for the upper planks. I don't have 3/64", so I applied two layers of 1/32" for the bottom and a single layer of 1/32" for the upper planks. I opted to apply each section as one piece and then I will indicate individual planks by scribing them.

 

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Here's the template for the upper set. The lower planking blends into the waterway pretty much as I think it's supposed to.

 

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The port side framing is in place and you can see where I've quickly drawn on planks at the bow just to get the idea of how it will look. In actuality very little of this shows as the anchor deck covers much of it. I was nevertheless happy to have the opportunity to try my hand at spiling and the fact that it will not be front and centre on the finished model is a bonus!

 

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Here the framing is finished and ready for planking.

 

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One little area that caused my more trouble than I thought it ought to was the upper rail as it rises at the bow. It takes a very steep rise at about the point where the planking ends. I had a lot trouble making this a smooth transition; I did it over a couple of times because I kept getting a sharp angle at the transition point, but finally I managed it. The next piece that goes on is called the log rail and that plank lays on its edge. As soon as I was able to lay it on the rail without a gap at the transition point I was satisfied.

 

I've just started some upper planking and one little problem has become apparent. The plans call for a certain size stock for the top rail and the kit provided stock was either just under or just over that size (I can't remember the actual dimensions just at the moment.) I opted for the undersized one but should have chosen the oversized one. I spaced the rail carefully on the inside, but as you can see the rail is flush with the outer planning with no lip. Rather than pull the rail off, I've decided to sand it smooth with the planking and then add a 1/32" strip along its outside edge. I think that will work just fine and will make it easy to get a consistent depth of lip. Already I can see that I am going to have a bit of similar trouble with the planksheer, which also protrudes and I expect that I will be sanding it smooth and adding a small strip to it as well. I noticed in John's build log (charleswmorganmodel.com) that he had this problem with the planksheer as well and used that fix.

 

So that's where I'm at right now. I'm spending the day recovering from the effects of air travel (I hate it) and will be soon back in my shop.

David

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Looks great David.  You've gotten through some of the trickier parts of the build.  For the planksheer, I also took John's approach of sanding it flat and then adding a small strip to it to ensure an even extension throughout the hull.

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Good Morning,

I have now finished planking the hull. I hesitated to include this picture, because it looks so bad, but here it is nevertheless.

 

I'm not a very good hull planker and I'm always glad to have that part of the build behind me. This hull is single planked, and there is supposed to be a sharp line along the top edge of the wale, with the planking below the line thicker than the planking above the line. I could not seem to maintain a consistent lip along its length and it completely disappeared at the stem. To solve the problem, I first sanded the area of the wales flush with the upper planking and then applied a second layer of 3/64" walnut that I had left over from a previous kit. I planked down only as far as the point where the copper plating begins (which is quite high on this ship.) I feathered it out and applied filler. It is now well sanded and sealed with some poly. I know it looks awful at this point, but it's actually a smooth, solid and reasonably symmetrical hull with a very nice crisp line along the wales. I think it will look just fine once some black paint and copper plates are added. I know my planking skills would never allow me to build a model with an all natural finish where every plank is on full display like so many of you can do so well, but as long as I stick to paint and/or copper finishes I should be ok.

 

So now, for me, the hard part is over and the fun part begins.

David

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it is a nice way to end the summer.....or should I say it's a nice way to begin the fall.  She looks great and I look forward to your copper bottom job.  I have never done that and look forward to the lesson.

 

cheers 

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David               Do yourself a favor and establish the davits and boat bearers early in your build and let them guide the positioning of other things,I am just now affixing them and having a time of it because I waited until very late to do so.Of course the addition of a forward shelter deck, as shown in the drawings in Leavitt's book ,didn't help with that. The principal difficulty that I've found is trying to establish a common reference point from which to measure the actual position of various other points. Altogether I have concluded that the Morgan ranks high in the difficulty scale of all the model kits available out there,simply because of all the stuff that has to be placed without interfering with something else.Fortunately I have a good command of Coal Mine Creole with which to coax things along.         Gary

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Gary - thank you for that advice, it's very welcome. I have been a little worried about this aspect of the build, taking note of how many different details there are to be added to this hull. With the planking finished I've been debating what to do next. Now I think I'll plot out the details on the sides of the hull and as you suggest use the davits as a starting point.

 

Many thanks for other comments and likes,

David

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I've been working a bit on the deck furniture. Here's where I'm at so far.

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Here are the two companionways, two hatches, cabin and a start on the skylight. Still some painting, touchup and small details to do. Sanding basswood is always most successful when done between coats of paint.

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The skylight presents quite a challenge. It's very difficult to include all of the detail at this scale. I've made several prototypes, trying different means of making the rods on the windows, including different sizes of brass rod or wire. My biggest problem was getting the holes for the wire or rod to all line up evenly and even the smallest wire seems too big. The plans indicate that the diameter of the rods is just .1 mm which is very small. In the end I think I'm going to go with thread. What I'm showing in the picture is just sewing thread hardened with CA glue. I can glue it in place on top of the framework and then add a 1/32" piece of wood on top. When I apply it to the actual skylight, I think I will use one thread for each of the five rods and wrap it around the entire framework. I'll do something similar for the "roof" pieces, but I just haven't worked out yet how to construct the framework. Each of the three windows on each side should also have a small window frame around it, but I'm undecided as to whether to include it or not. The overall effect might be better if that tiny detail is omitted. I'm not sure yet.

 

Again, thanks for comments and likes.

David

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David         In looking in on your struggles with the skylight ,I thought I would explain my own take on it.First thing,there was a build log on the Morgan a few years ago under the name Dragon 65.As I remember ,he managed to get all the rods in the top of his skylight.Just how he did that remains a huge mystery.When I came to it I could not imagine anything less than a cnc micro-mil and most definitely something other than basswood for the framework.At any rate my final approach was to just make concessions to the brevity of life and be content with the frame with a clear plastic backing for the lights.Now that it is on the ship down among the hurricane house ,the little cabin,the boat deck,and with the mizzen in place,it is hard for me to see that the frustration of trying to credibly fat-finger that little dude with the rods would have been worthwhile.But,that said,---to each his own.          If  you aren't already acquainted with it,there is an excellent website with about 400 pictures of the Morgan nearby.Go to the Proxxon website on the right side of this website.At the lower right of the home page is a tab for" back to the CW Morgan".On the far right of that page is a tab for "more" which opens a drop-down menu which includes John Fleming's complete build log,among other things.The entries under gallery includes "the Morgan as of August of 2015"containing a host of useful pictures.If I had that available when I first started I could have avoided a myriad of mistakes on mine. I think it will help you if it hasn't already. Your work looks just fine---keep on keeping on.              Gary

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Hi Gary,

Thanks for your comments. I am familiar with John's build log and photos, which I am referring to frequently. I think using the thread for the rods on the skylight is going to work just fine for me. It's not too difficult getting the lines to run even and parallel and I believe the scale is just about right if the plans are correct in suggesting the diameter should be .1mm. It is a bit frustrating knowing that the piece will be largely hidden, but that's often the case with much of the work on these models.

Thanks again,

David

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