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18th Century Longboat by dmalcolm72 - Model Shipways - Scale 1:48 - First wooden ship build

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Greeting All!


As I described in my introductory post a few days ago, this is my FIRST EVER build. I built plastic models when I was a kid, but that was decades ago. I appreciate the input I've received so far and look forward to learning this new skill with all y'all's help and suggestions.


Having never done this, I am starting at square one. I chose this model, in part, because of the combination package that included tools, paint, and glue in addition to the kit itself. Also, if I found I got little enjoyment or was constitutionally incapable of managing the process, my downside was limited,


So far I'm enjoying myself...unsure of lots of tasks, but having fun!


So far, I've managed to get my work space set up (with LOTS of help from my wife) and have added some tools and equipment that should help me as I proceed.


I got a little ahead of myself and removed the false keel, keel, and stem from the parts sheet and did some fine sanding to remove some of the burn marks.


A trip to the hobby store got me some spare basswood pieces so I can practice techniques to improve my skills. I also built a jig to set the hull into as I progress. Nothing fancy, but adequate (the keel pieces are fitted together but not glued):


In preparation for bearding the false keel and cutting the rabbet I practiced on a spare piece of 3/32" basswood. I found sanding to the required thickness at the stern is my best option. I will have to cut the rabbet with a knife.


I transferred the bearding line to the opposite side of the false keel by making a photocopy of the plan. After being sure that it was properly scaled I placed it on the part and marked the keel by making pin pricks every couple of millimeters. I finally used the pricks to draw the curve using a french curve.


In preparation for cutting the rabbet, I masked the bottom of the false keel with 1/16" art tape and verified my dimensions before cutting down to the appropriate depth. I believe if I cut too deep anywhere I can regain structural integrity when I get further into assembly. I then masked the other side of the false keel. Lateral cuts on the sides were done after completing the length-wise cuts.The picture below shows the masking:


I'm currently sanding the stern from the bearding line to the edge of the keel and stern. I'll update after I complete the false keel and combine the three keel sections.

Edited by dmalcolm72
Correcting typo.
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I got the stern sanded from the bearding line to the back and bottom edges and smoothed into the rabbet. I hope I'm at least close to being a smooth fit. If necessary I can sand further as I begin planking. I also stained the three keel pieces with an oak stain. My intention is to stain all of the bulkheads and planks before installation.


The pictures below show the false keel post-stain and sanding. It is sitting on the keel. I think I should wait to attach the keel pieces until after I adjust the notches in the false keel for the bulkheads.




Today I started sanding the false keel bulkhead notches to the proper width to seat the bulkheads. I used a small diamond file to slowly, and equally, file the notches to the proper width. I was using a small scrap of basswood of the same thickness as the bulkheads to check my progress. Working on my cutting mat it occurred to me that if I used a long, thin scrap I could get a good check for a square fit while I worked on each one. The following pictures demonstrate this with the first showing out of line, and the second showing the squared fit:



I got half way through the false keel notches tonight. I'll finish the rest in a couple of days. I've got the opportunity to dive the next two days so I'm gonna go "blow bubbles." On a parallel note, there's a sunken Chinese Junk 65 feet down in the lake I am diving in. Since starting my model, its construction details have become much more interesting!

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Well, the diving last weekend was excellent. 😊 Nothing like a few hours submerged to clear your head.


I spent this week adjusting the keel and bulkhead notches to give a square, sliding fit. :I then stained the bulkheads with the same oak stain I used on the keel pieces. As suggested in one of the build logs, I located the center of each bulkhead and drew a thin pencil line top-to-bottom. I think it's also advantageous to extend the line to the top of the bulkhead. to aid in alignment.


I glued the keel pieces together per the instructions, first fitting the stem and then attaching the keel to the false keel. I used white glue for this so that if I needed to redo it, I could readily disassemble it. Below are pictures of the assembled keel:




I've got some more reading and planning at this stage. I need to decide which bulkhead to start with on installation (bow, stern, or midships) and how to insure that they are all centered, square and plumb. I hope to get the first bulkheads assembled this weekend.

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I decided to start at the stem with the bulkheads. I got "H" glued in place this afternoon and it looks to be true and square. I am a little concerned that the bottom of the bulkhead intrudes into my rabbet but the top of the bulkhead is flush with the top of the false keel stem. 


From the drawing the top of the bulkhead (frame) is flush with the stem but the bottom is too far down. I suppose I can sand the bottom of the bulkhead when I fair the bulkhead. Does this sound right?




Edited by dmalcolm72
Correcting "auto-correct"
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Well, I started installing the bulkheads. I decided to start forward and work my way aft. I decided on using a combination of the slide from a carpenter's combination square and some Legos, both with spring clamps. I've marked the bulkhead section centerlines and then I "eyeball" it with the center of the keel. I use the square and the Legos to set square and plumb. So far it looks pretty good to me. I'm trying not to overthink it and fret if it's not 110% perfect. So far I get a sense of satisfaction every time I complete one bulkhead and prep another.


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While browsing "Tips & Tricks" I came across "Homemade Clamps" by fnkershner. I want to send thanks for a great idea for making clamps from clothes pins. I had three different sizes of pins and made three sizes of clamps. 


I then glued a small cross piece to one leg that will allow me to clamp planks to the bulkheads.


I used these clamps to hold the my stiffeners to the tops of the bulkheads as the glue dried.




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This past week has been spent fairing the bulkheads and thinking about how to proceed. The Commodore has been concerned because I seemed to be doing more reading, thinking, cursing, and grumbling than "actually working." But, as I explained to her, this was critical to my next steps.


Never having done this before I was exceedingly nervous about putting sandpaper and file to my delicate bulkheads. I finally elected to attempt to fair the bulkheads before I installed the bow fillers and transom. I laid a piece of planking on the frames and carefully formed it to the general curve of the hull to get an idea of where to sand. As mentioned in several of the build logs, and as was evident from the fitting of a plank, the bulk of the work was on the first 3 bow bulkheads. 


I worked both sides alternately and continued judging progress with my plank. I finally go to a point where I felt I'd gotten everything as close as I could to "right." I then fitted and faired the bow fillers. Once all of these were done I glued in the transom...twice. Once I got it in and it looked square and true I very carefully sanded it to line up with the stern bulkheads.


On the final check with my plank I found one bulkhead that appeared to have been oversanded. I spent a couple of days playing with it and trying to make a shim to install. Finally I noticed that I "might" be able to bring it in by sanding down an adjacent bulkhead. I carefully tried that and found that I was able to get a fairly true line with that minor adjustment.


As a final step before planking, and in preparation, I marked the bulkheads according to the sheer line on the plans. Unfortunately the instructions say the line is 1/16" below the top of the bulkheads amidships, but the dimension on the plans is 7/64". I ratioed all of the dimensions off the plans knowing that the 7/64th was actually 1/16" and allowing for 1/32" at the stem. I then marked the dimensions on each bulkhead. I then "lined" the top of the starboard sheer strake with 1/8" artists tape and adjusted it to give me a smooth sheer line. 


Making tick strips, I next measured the dimension from the rabbet (or bearding line) to the tape. I used this to insure that my tape on the port side was in exactly the same position so that both sides would be even.


Below is a photo of the hull faired and with the tape installed:


The photos below are of the bow and stern faired and taped:



Now, on to planking...another new task!

Edited by dmalcolm72
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Two nights ago I began installing my first sheer plank. I ended up beginning twice because the first start didn't seat the end of the plank in the bow rabbet. Redone and lesson learned. I think that this time it's gonna take.


I started by water-soaking the plank and then pre-bending the bow curve and adding a slight side bend for the sheer line. I made the side bend by producing a copy of the plan showing the sheer line and placing a thick plastic sheet over top of it. Then I clamped a wet plank over it and tried to match the curve as closely as possible. I used the Commodore's hair dryer to speed the drying and to allow it to "set." Then I started the assembly.


First I glued the end of the plank into the rabbet and then to the first 4 or 5 bulkheads and clamped into place. I allowed the glue to set and dry for a few hours and then glued the plank down another 4 or 5 bulkheads. I completed all but the last bulkhead and transom last night. Each time I glued more points I adjusted the curve slightly to match my tape. This morning I glued to the last bulkhead and the transom. Below are pictures of the first plank going in and clamped in place.


I'm hoping to start the sheer plank on the port side later today. The plan is soaking right now!


Edited by dmalcolm72
Correcting typo
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  • 2 weeks later...

It's been a while since my last update, but it hasn't been without activity...


I got both of the sheer planks on the frames and discovered the transom wasn't true...off came the planks and I redid the transom. You can see the center line is off. 


Then I redid the sheer planks. Everything looked good at this point. Next up were the second planks. Done and looked good...but...


The third plank on the port side did not lay flat with the second plank when dry fitting. It turned out I needed to sand a couple of the bulkheads some more to have a smooth transition. Got the bulkhead sanded, dry-fit the first two planks on both sides to verify a smooth transition and then re-did the assembly:


Finally I think I'm good to move on to the garboard strakes. I glued them in last night:




It looks like I need to smooth the curve on the starboard strake a little bit, but I think I'm ready to go now to lay out the remaining planks using a diminishing grid for each bulkhead. I may have gotten my sheer plank a little low on the bulkheads; I think I'll end up with 11 planks on each side. 


I expect I should be lining out the planks tonight, tomorrow and into the weekend. 


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I made tick strips for each of the bulkheads on each side...a total of 32 strips. I then went bulkhead by bulkhead and marked the free space. When I compared the spacing with the diminishing grid, it looked like I needed eight full-width planks. Rather than line everything off at that spacing, I decided to add one more plank above the garboard strake on each side and re-measure my spacing. That has now been accomplished and as Chuck's instructions suggest...I now have 4 small victories...👏👏🙂


As you can see in the pictures below, I used a pencil to darken the edges of the planks to simulate tarred caulking. I think I got this suggestion from Chuck's build log. I does look good!


Port Side:


Starboard Side:


Bow view:


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Well, I kind of slacked off this week. But I did get some work done. I'm actually working on a second boat concurrent with this one. It's a Chesapeake Bay Crabbing Skiff by Midwest.


I spent most of the week working on the skiff. I did get two more planks on the longboat, though. 


This will be the last work I get done for a while; the Commodore and I are taking a much deserved long, tropical holiday. Sun, sand, tropical breezes, and for me: lots of diving. 

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Well, I kind of slacked off this week. But I did get some work done. I'm actually working on a second boat concurrent with this one. It's a Chesapeake Bay Crabbing Skiff by Midwest.


I spent most of the week working on the skiff. I did get two more planks on the longboat, though. 


This will be the last work I get done for a while; the Commodore and I are taking a much deserved long, tropical holiday. Sun, sand, tropical breezes, and for me: lots of diving. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well, I decided to come back to the States a couple of weeks early. The Commodore was not able to make the trip so I wanted to get back before the start of the Holidays. The weather was beautiful, but a bit chilly some mornings with lows in the low 50's. And the diving was great! A friend took a camera on my last dive. The picture of me below was taken inside a small grotto inside a shallow reef. The statue is of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Patron Saint of Mexico.


I've already removed a hull plank since I've been home and re-installed. I'm going to try and focus more on this project over the next few weeks...before I head back to Mexico for another round of "therapy."

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  • 4 months later...

Sorry I haven't been updating for much too long.


To catch up, I sidelined shipbuilding for a bit and focused on scuba diving. I was still working on the longboat and was able to finish planking the hull by the end of February. Here are a couple of pics to prove myself. It's certainly a long way from expert performance, but I'm ready to move forward on the build. Oh, and like so many others I broke the stem...



The Commodore and I went back to Akumal in early March for 4 weeks. For me, two of those weeks were spent in class certifying as an open water scuba instructor. I passed my final exams at the end of March and am now fully certified to train new divers. So now, if I can find a job, I can supplement my Social Security AND have fun at the same time. I'm on the left in both these pictures:


Anyway, we're back for a couple of months and so I finally got back to the longboat last night. I started sanding the completed hull and will try to complete that task tonight. I'm looking forward to continuing the build. I want to move on to another project and apply these new found skills.

Edited by dmalcolm72
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