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USS Constitution by khauptfuehrer - Bluejacket - Scale 1:96 - First wood model build

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I tried the decals, and I prefer the method shown above.  The decal darkened the items on which it was applied slightly making a color match difficult.  With several trials and errors, I did manage to match the color of the printed design to the painted wood pretty well.

The nice thing about the whale boat castings is that the raised floor made it easy to install thwart stanchions.  Just drill the hole, insert brass rod, and paint.


1775309296_WHALEBOATCONSTR_5B.thumb.JPG.454f92b2c868190db4849c796a6b7e5b.JPGGetting the thwarts done was more challenging.  I used 3/32" by .020" planking stock from Bluejacket.



Here is another shot which shows the thwart stanchions.



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I have only recently realized that the three smaller boats that I have been working on are not whaleboats.  They are captain's gigs.  Although both types of boats are double ended, they are shaped differently, and whale boats do not have splash strakes fore and aft as the gigs do.  The  planking pattern of the stern benches and the bow decking are also different.  The pattern I have reproduced here are for whale boats.  Too late to change one of them to the gig configuration now.  Oh well... Also, whale boats have a bent sternpost essentially identical to the stem, and gigs have a straight stern post.  The cast gigs supplied by Bluejacket most closely resemble gigs, but their stern posts are only mostly straight.


1209162777_BOATSTERNS.thumb.jpg.8ffe95e1a856ad4222e40068b7769c5f.jpgAnd so the question arises - which type of rudder to use: the one pictured above for a straight stern post, or a paddle shaped one suitable for a bent stern post?  I opted for the design pictured above which is scanned from the Marquardt, imported into Corel Draw, and sized to scale, then printed out on card stock to make a template.  This design is to be used for all four boats. Mounting the rudders on the boats is problematic, because their stern posts are "neither fish nor fowl".  Fortunately, it was customary to stow the rudders inside the boats, so this is what I will do.  

Four rudders were cut out of 1/64" birch plywood, and notched to accommodate the pintles.  1/16" lengths of .020 brass rod were cut for pins and glued to the forward edges of the rudders so that 1/32" would protrude downward into the notch.  Pintle straps were made from brochure paper which had been printed black on the computer, then coated with satin varnish.  The rudder post was cut into sections and a piece of card stock painted black and cut into 1/16" strips glued to either side so that a 1/32" gap would be created into which the tiller would be inserted.  I wanted to make them so that I can either insert the tiller(s) into the rudders, or display them side by side.  The tillers were made form 1/32" x 1/32" basswood stock rounded at one end by twirling it with one hand and  holding the other end against sandpaper with the other hand.





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I ordered another casting of the pinnace from Bluejacket in the hopes that the deviating inboard gunwale strake described above was an anomaly.  As always, I found the folks at Bluejacket to be both accessible and friendly.  I appreciated the fact that they made several castings to select the best one for me.

934518138_BJPINNACENEW1S.thumb.JPG.03aaf111d459187fae03db85e36bffc5.JPGUnfortunately, as you can see, the gunwale strake deviates up and down as before.  This would not be a problem if the strake was 1/32" wide as it is in the plan.  However, the width of the strake (1/8") puts its bottom edge at the level that the thwarts are to be installed.  If the plan is to be followed,  these thwarts must therefore butt up against the bottom of the gunwale strake.  Consequently, the deviation seriously interferes with the proper installation of the thwarts.


I therefore ordered a boat shell casting of comparable size from Caldercraft.

72329483_CALDERCRAFTPINNACE1S.thumb.JPG.2d8b7c31c29a1aaef300097a9eb21d69.JPGAs you can see, this is a clean cast.  No filing, filling, shaping, or sanding needed here.  The obvious disadvantage is that now I will have to do the ribs, keelson, stemson, and sternpost knee myself.   Also, the boat is cast to a different scale, and is 1/8" too short, so, if I use it, my Constitution will have a 35' pinnace instead of a 36' pinnace.  Comparing the shape of each casting with the plans, I see that neither casting matches the plan exactly, but I think that the Caldercraft is a bit closer.  It looks like I will have a bit more room to install the foot waling strakes to get the proper number. 


The obvious disadvantage is that I will have to do the rib, keelson, stemson, and sternpost myself if I use the Caldercraft.  If I continue with my modeling, I will need to acquire these skills at some point anyway, so I might as well have a go at it.  The plan is to do these details and see which pinnace looks the best.  Accordingly, I ordered .020" by .030" by 14" styrene strips from Evergreen scale models.  Here goes...


I am almost done with the ribs.  I will post the results when I complete them.

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One thing that might help you is to grind the the clothes pin to the inside shape of the boat. I did this with my ships boats on my Constitution and it worked well. I applied the first strake and once it was set I used a spacer help out. Just plan ahead so the bow and stern will have equal spacings. The best thing about modeling is get to acquire you skills as you model. Great job and I look forward to following your progress. 

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That is great advice!  Thank you so much!  I have just finished doing the ribs on this boat, but I will definitely try your techniques on the next one.  I think I got the spacings right, but did not always get the ribs to lie perfectly straight.  I thought of using a spacer, but could not figure out a way to avoid gluing it in along with the rib with the liquid CA glue I was using.  As soon as I glue in the inboard gunwale strakes, I will post the results. 

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Here is less my less than prize winning first attempt at ribs for the pinnace.  I submit this in the hopes that another novice out there might be alerted to possible pitfalls this method may pose.



I determined the spacing with  dividers set to match the plan, which I scanned from the instruction booklet then sized in Corel Draw to match the 1/96 scale. Those plastic strips bend every which way, and I found that keeping them straight while handling the casting, the ribs, and the CA glue dispenser simultaneously was a real challenge.  One advantage of the Bluejacket casting is that you can fix the attached block of resin in a vise.  I finally found that clamping the rib on one side and holding it with my finger on the other side. worked better.  The first 5 ribs forward and the last 2 ribs aft were done that way.  I tried to free the broken rib with CA debonder to no avail.   I do not know what to call the extra ribs that help support the foot waling, so I will just call them waling ribs.  These were glued in at the center line and left extra long and loose at the outboard end, so I can trim them once I have determined how long they should be. To do this, I plan to temporarily install the foot waling strakes with rubber cement, mark the proper length, remove the walings, cut the ribs, then glue them down.  This done, my boat project will hopefully look better than it now does.   The next time I do this, I will adopt Geoff's suggestion of grinding the clothespin jaws to match the curve of the boat's hull.  While I am at it, I might also try cutting off the nose section of the jaws, so the occluding part is visible as I work.  I felt that I was "flying blind" much of the time while using the clothespins.






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I decided to install all the loose foot walings and the rising on one side first, then do the other side, applying lessons learned from the first side.  These foot walings are .020" by 1/16" basswood planking stock from Bluejacket instead of card stock, which sagged a bit between ribs in my last attempt.  The ribs in the Bluejacket casting are straighter, but these are closer to being in scale.  My 1/32" inboard gunwale strake deviates much less than the one in the Bluejacket casting, and therefore will not interfere with the installation of the breast decking, the thwarts, and the stern bench, which will sit on the rising (identified as the clamp in the instruction book).  The splash strake will be painted only after the external gunwale strake has been installed, and the oar locks have been cut.  The slightly flatter bottom of the boat shape allowed all the waling strakes to be installed more easily.



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The port open foot walings and rising strake installed.




The breast and stern foot walings have been done in the same manner as the ones in my first attempt at a Pinnace build, except that the details were first printed on  brochure paper, the design treated with flat spray fixative, and then glued onto 1/64" birch plywood as in the whaleboats/gigs.



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Stern sheet bench, thwarts, mast step, breast decking, and exterior bulwark strakes installed.  Stern sheet bench was cut out from 1/64" birch plywood.  Thwarts, mast step sides, and breast decking are 3/32" by .020" basswood planking stock from Bluejacket.    Now to cut the oar locks.  Bluejacket provides enough Britannia oars to put 6 in each boat.  Rudders will also be added.  I have sanded the outer hull with #400 grit sandpaper to take off the shine so that the paint will stick.





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After having posted a photo of the finished Pinnace, I attempted to do some cleanup on the gunwales.  I managed to get some improvement, so I decided to submit a new photo.  



I am currently struggling with the gigs/whaleboats.  I have tried several methods to get the tholes detail, so far without success.  In the real boats there are rectangular wooden plates glued to the gunwale cap rails in which square holes have been cut into which the tholes are inserted.  I do not know what these are called, so I will call them thole brackets.  I tried using styrene .020" by .060" strips, but they were too thick.  I then tried 65 lb card stock, but could not keep them neat.  I have just ordered .010" by .040" styrene strips.  Black plastic coated copper wire (.016") will do nicely for tholes, but it remains to be seen if I can use them, as I have painted myself into a corner with the prior failed attempts.  If not, I will go with just the brackets, as the boats were often carried on he davits without the tholes inserted as these photos demonstrate.




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Here are some build photos of my efforts at completing the thole details on the Captain's gig.  The thole brackets are made from styrene .010" by .040" strips.  Holes were drilled using a .016" to act as starter holes for when the holes for tholes were drilled into the gunwales.  At this scale the operation was a bit fiddley.


These were glued on the gunwale caprails which had been filed flat to receive them.  Once all the holes were drilled they were painted with wires temporarily inserted to keep the holes clear.


Once the painting was done, copper wires with a shiny black plastic coating which I found at Michaels's were glued in with CA gel.  They were cut to size using a piece of 1/32" by 1/32" basswood stock.  I found that this stock was slightly oversized, being more like 3/64" square which made them perfect for getting the correct thole height.  The tips showed the copper centers, which were blackened with a Sharpie.


So this is what I ended up with.  This gig will be hung from the stern davits.  The other two have the brackets installed now and will be finished when I hang them from the quarter davits when all the rigging is done.



These boats are not as neat as I would like, but this is the best I could do, so I will just have to fall back on this novice's favorite trope: "It looks better when seen from a normal viewing distance".

Now to hang it from the stern davits.

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This is really a NICE looking build you have going.The netting makes the ship pop in my opinion tackle looks good on the cannons and glad to see some of the lower deck is still visible :imNotWorthy: Kevin

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It has been some time since I have posted.  I have, however been at work on the lower masts during this time.  No postings have been made before because I was not sure that the ideas I had about how to do them would work, and there is no sense in posting something that did not work.  Being satisfied that what has been achieved is the best I can do for now, so I might as well make some posts on the matter.


I did manage to find some dowels of the right size that were not warped, so these masts are based on those.  Here goes...




1.  Using an electric drill and some 120 sandpaper taped to my table, I tapered the mast.

2.  The top was then marked as shown as a guide to the squaring of the mast head.

3.  Using an electric disc sander, I squared the mast heads.  As you might imagine, the squaring got better as I did more masts. I started with the main mast as it is the largest, and, presumably the easiest to detail in scale.

     I decided to make two of them and choose the better one.  Was that ever a good idea!!



1.  Rotating the mast with the drill, marks were made where the mast hoops will go.

2. The bluejacket instructions suggest using either card stock or copper coated strips from the coppering sprue.  Remembering the dire warnings about using copper, and because I wanted to use PVA glue rather than CA, I opted for 110 lb card stock.  Using a steel ruler and sharp knife, I cut strips as close to the indicated 1/32" width as I could.  The hoops meet  where the paunch will go, and so, will be invisible.


Several options as to the design of the paunch and cheeks presented themselves.  The ship presently has the paunch and cheeks integrated into one structure with the hoops passing underneath.  The instruction manual has a photo on page 58 in which the paunch and cheeks are separate, and the hoops pass under both the paunch and the cheeks.  The Revell model has separate paunch and cheeks, with the paunch extending all the way down to the gun deck, and the hoops over both paunch and cheeks.  The Marquardt AOS shows paunch and cheeks abutting but not integrated, and the hoops passing over the cheeks then under the paunch.  Also, the cheeks extend about halfway between the tops of the hounds/bibs and the spar deck both in the AOS and the present day ship. I opted for separate paunch and and cheeks, the cheeks extending down halfway to the spar deck, and the paunch extending down to the mast boots on the spar deck.   Here is how I elected to construct these.




1.  This illustration is scanned from the downloaded MS Constitution manual.

2.  Card stock is added between the mast hoops so that they would not have to take the full stress of having the strips glued over them.

3.  1/16" x 1/16" basswood stock was glued and clamped.

4.  Wood strips in place.

5. Elmer's wood filler added then the whole sanded down to size.  Several applications of filler were needed, as it tended to shrink when drying.

6. Not having a lot of confidence in my ability to cut neat grooves in the undersides of the strips, I opted to fill the gap with Elmer's.


Then came construction of the hounds/bibs, cheeks, and jeer bits.

I learned that working with these masts on a soft cushy surface was a way to avoid beating up the cardboard mast hoops, as you can see in photo 6.


1.  The hounds and bibs were made from one piece using the kit's plans.  They were fashioned from two pieces glued together with rubber cement to insure uniformity.

2.  Not having the confidence to make the hounds and bibs separately then scarph them together neatly while maintaining strength,  I cut groove with a chisel just deep enough to look like a seam.

3.  Gluing them onto the dowel with Titebond III while keeping them aligned was very tricky.  Elmer's wood filler was used to fill in the gap.  Again, several applications were need, with the first done with diluted filler so 

     that proper penetration into the joint was assured.

4.  Hounds/bibs in place, front view.

5.- 6.  Cheeks constructed using the same procedure as was used for the paunch.

7.- 8.  Jeer bits installed.

9.  Foremast constructed just as the main mast was.  AOS shows no paunch or cheeks on the mizzen mast, and there will be a spider ring installed, so I opted to omit them.

     Painting is always a Day of Judgment for me as every infinitessimal irregularity becomes a flashing neon sign.


I am now working on the boarding pikes and racks.  BJ Connie builders, be advised that the Britannia metal pikes do not fit through the holes in the upper photo etched brass racks.  Not even close!  I tried filing down the one of the pikes which made a mess, and tried to enlarge the holes in the upper racks which made a bigger mess.  I ordered replacements for these from Bluejacket.  I await delivery of 20 size straight pins to use for pikes.

Let's see how that works.


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The size 20 pins I ordered worked out well.  They are thinner than the cast ones, but I saw in a photo in the instruction book that they came in a variety of sizes, and many were quite thin..  I painted the pins with MS bulwarks brown and black after applying primer.  I wish I could have got the paint to be more even and neat.  I guess I need to further improve my technique.   If I watered it down too much the primer would show through.  Fortunately, when the model is finished, the observer will not be able to get close enough to see the anomalies evident here.   I anchored the lower ends of the pikes with contact cement, then applied CA gel to the underside of the upper rack with a pin.



Now to see what  I can do with the ship's bell.  Wish me luck!

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Bluejacket provides a really excellent brass bell in the Connie kit.  Clean as a proverbial whistle.




The real bell does not swing free, but this bell is made to do that, and I thought that if it does, vertical alignment will be maintained as the mast rake angle changes into its final position during rigging.  Anyway, here is my solution.



The brackets are brass rod (.021").  The knob at the top is Titebond III.   Here is a pic, of the masts dry fitted in place.  I think I am in the ballpark as far as the rake angles go.  I'll try to get them exact when rigging.

Apologies for the overexposure, but you can get an idea how they will look.  I am still trying to find a 1/8" dowel which is not warped for the spanker mast.  I may end up using a styrene rod instead.



In this photo the foremast does not look like it rakes aft, but it does.  I checked it with a square.

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Hi Kurt. Looking great! Just a heads-up so you don't make the dumb mistake I made:
When rigging my HMS Endeavour I accidentally put a bit too much tension on the flying jib stay and pulled the masts just slightly out of the correct rake angle. By the time I noticed the error all the standing rigging and a good portion of the running rigging as on. All lines had to be cut and refitted. What a heartbreak.



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