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

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I have completed assembly of the main topmast cross trees.

 

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1.  Cross trees to be made from 1/16" by 1/16" basswood stock.  Strips cut a lot longer than needed so that they can be bent in the Micro Mark plank forming jig, and so that when the holes are drilled, they will not be near the ends where accidents can happen.  Center marked to insure that the curve of all cross trees will match.

2.  Once these holes are drilled, the bent strips are cut to length the ends rounded, and liquid CA applied to strengthen them as Nic at Bluejacket suggested.  Trestle trees made from 1/16" by 1/8" basswood stock and notches cut.  You can see a line at the bottom end of the one on the right where it split as I was cutting the notch and had to be glued back on.  Quarter round stock included in the kit make up the bolsters.  They are a bit oversize but I can live with that.

3.  Cross trees tapered.  This is where the CA liquid reinforcement may have made all the difference.  The unit assembled.

 

I am now working on the fore topmast cross trees.  I will attempt a different way of constructing the trestle trees which I will post if it is successful.  If it is not, the method will be the same as seen here.  I am trying to figure out how to do the significantly smaller mizzen cross trees assembly.  The t'gallant cross trees look near impossible to do at this scale with the tools I have.  The Marquardt leaves them out altogether, showing brackets to hold the t'gallant mast and the sky pole together.

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Topmast cross trees installed.

 

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Next task is to make up the topmast caps.  When they are fitted, I will decide whether or not to construct cheek blocks.  An illustration in the instruction book shows them but does not give scale or measurements.  The plans do not show them.  The Revell model also does not show them.  The Marquardt does show them with a scale, so I can figure out their size from that if I decide to take the plunge.  Looking at photos, I see that the ship has them at present.   It all comes down to how much the mast caps overhang the mast heads.  I may give it a try if there is enough room to make them without having them stick out laterally beyond the mast caps.  Apparently there is an option, as there is disagreement among the different sources, again.

 

I have desprued the top gallant mast/sky pole unit, the royal masts, and their cross trees from the Revell model, and will prepare, paint, and dry fit them on the model to see how they look.  They exactly match the arrangement  shown in the plans.  I will go over them with 400 grit sandpaper to take off the gloss, and see how they look when painted.  If they stick out like a sore thumb, then I will have to choose between accuracy and neatness, and consistency.  I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.  The parts are more flexible than I would like, but once the royal mast and the skypole are glued together the the double arrangement shown in the plans, they should be a lot stiffer.  Making those 1/4" high octagonal top gallant hounds, and the 3/32" high octagonal rigging stops is just more than I can handle.

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Thanks so much Jeff.  I so appreciate it!

 

I agree with Nic.  I will dry fit the Revell parts and see if the result does indeed look right before deciding.  If, as I said, the assembly sticks out like a sore thumb, I will have to reconsider.  The same applies to the prospective cheek blocks.  Will the model look better if I do not attempt these?  I have come across several discussions about how much detail to have in a model.  For me it all comes down to how well I can expect to execute that detail.  If I lose more than I gain where the final appearance of the model is concerned, then discretion becomes the better part of valor where additional detail is concerned.

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Here is the complete main mast assembly with the Revell parts: t'gallant mast, t'gallant cross trees, royal mast, and sky pole.  A considerable amount of work cleaning up the castings and adapting them to the model was necessary, so it was not a total bailout.  Note the cheek blocks which have been added to the topmast head.

 

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I realize that my incorporating these Revell parts will raise more than a few eyebrows here at MSW, but I am happy with the result.  Others may differ, but I think they blend well with the wooden components. I did incorporate the provided metal t'gallant mast caps into the assembly.    In my mind the decision came down to whether or not I could execute the top masts as well or better than what you see here.  I believe that I could not, and, as I have said before, the final appearance of the model is more important to me than bragging rights.   Obviously, I will need to exercise the same care in tensioning the upper stays as builders of the Revell kit would due to the flexibility of the plastic masts.  By the same token, they are less likely to snap off.

Incidentally I expect to make up all the spars.  The lower yards will be made from square stock.  Some sources show octagonal center sections in the upper yards, some do not.  I will not.

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Flying jib boom fitted.

 

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I was intimidated by having to taper a spar in two directions, since I could not figure out how to do that with a drill.  It turns out that I can do it by hand reasonably well.  Now I am more confident about tackling the yards.

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A start made on the spars.  I tackled the spanker gaff and boom to start with.

 

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When it comes to the construction of the yards several alternatives present themselves as I look at the different sources.

 

The BJ plans show an octagonal center section for all yards.  The Revell model also shows this, although one needs to look very closely to see that in the upper yards.  The Marquardt shows an octagonal section on only the lower two yards on each mast, and no octagonal section for the spritsail yard.  This is also what I see in photos of the ship.  I think I will do this if I can lay my hands on dowels that are not warped to use for the upper yards.  Failing that, I will make all yards from square stock, in which case, I might just as well leave the centers octagonal. 

 

The Marquardt shows the lower yards the same size on the fore and main masts.  The plans and the Revell model show different sizes for the fore and main lower yards. I will follow the plans and the Revell model.  Having plastic yards to measure with my calipers will help me with the tapering will be a big help I thi

 

As for the battens, the Revell shows thick rounded battens while the Marquardt shows flat thin battens.  Also, the Marquardt shows narrow battens which leave more of the yard visible while photos of the ship show wider battens which have beveled edges ( I am not sure I can pull that off at this scale).  I could use bead stock from BJ for rounded battens, but I think I will use .020" thick planking stock from BJ instead.  Also, the Marquardt and the Revell show no battens on the fore and aft faces of the octagonal section, but with a long rubbing fish instead on the aft face.  The plans do not show this, but the Revell does, so I can replicate that.  I believe there is a batten on the forward face currently on the ship, but I cannot tell for sure from the photos.

 

Right now, I have a piece of square stock cut to an octagon to use for the fore course yard.  I colored the wood with diluted black paint before doing the planing in order to keep track of which faces are really true.

I will post the result when I have finished this yard.

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Here are some pics of how I built the fore yard.

 

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1. 3/16" x 3/16" square stock planed to an octagon as I did for the topmasts.  Stock painted black to keep track of which faces  have not been planed, and therefore, are certain to be true.  As i get more skillful, this step may no longer be necessary.

 

2. Yard sanded to round by hand by holding it against sandpaper on the table with one hand and rotating it and sliding it back and forth with the other.  Center marked on the ends to keep things as true as possible.  Center left octagonal of course.

 

3. Battens made from BJ's planking stock, in this case .020" by 1/16".  As far as I know, BJ is the only company that sells planking stock this thin, making it perfect for these battens.

 

4. View from aft showing the back fish.

 

5. Cleats installed.  Jeer cleats built up using pieces of 3/64" x 3/64" square stock from BJ.  Seams filled with Elmer's wood filler.  Stop cleats made from bits of 1/32" x 1/32" stock.

 

6. Completed yard painteds.

 

I will  install fittings when I begin the running rigging.  The yard is made entirely from basswood.  I plan on doing other lower yards in the same way.  Upper yards will be made from dowels if I can find any that are straight for the necessary length that I will need.  As  always, perfection is an elusive goal, but I am fairly happy with this my first attempt at making a yard.

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Looking ahead to when I cross the yards, I see a conundrum about which I would like your thoughts and advice.  It concerns the topsail yards and their associated parrels:

 

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On the left is an illustration in the instruction manual showing the size of the parrel assembly.  On the right is a photo of the real thing.  I was struck by the extreme difference in size.  Thoughts anyone?

 

 

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Here is plan US Navy Dwg. No.30651 from which the BJ model instructions based its drawing. The Navy plans reflect the photo. Therefore, I suspect that BJ had to compromise on scale a bit in order to allow the model builder to create the parrels. If they were made to scale, one might get away with a series of fine knots equally spaced which is still not easy to do.

 

Jon

30651001_1.jpg

30651001_2.jpg

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Thanks Jon for the drawings!  I do have a bit of time to decide on this while I finish making the yards and do the standing rigging.  One of my criteria for deciding how much detail to put into a model is "Can I keep the detail in scale?".

 

Thanks Bill for you kind words.  They are much appreciated!

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I found an alternative to the ribs/trucks parrel  in the Marquardt that just might solve my dilemma.  A leather clad truss parrel (13).

999922139_LEATHERTRUSSPARREL.jpg.f63b2eec81583a4a081324f7a0414d19.jpg

I wonder if 1mm shrink tubing from Micro Mark would work.  Might be worth a try.  Meanwhile, work continues on the yards.

 

 

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Thanks Nic!  That looks great, very convincing.  My Bounty paper towels  have all kinds of weave detail embossed on them, so I cannot use that to simulate the smooth look of leather.  The brown paper towels that I have seen in public restrooms would work, I think.   What brand of paper towel did you use?

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Work continues on the yards.  Here is a photo of the spritsail yard before painting, so that what I did with the fairleads can be seen more clearly.  Hopefully this will work.  They are a bit out of scale, but no more so than the ones on the Revell model.  I could not figure out how to set the strop around the thimbles (1/16" bullseyes from BJ with the centers reamed out) then pass it around the yard keeping the two perpendicular to each other without adding to the height too much, so the strop is of wire (steel annealed 34 gauge, .010" from BJ #902), and is in two pieces, one that goes around the thimble and into a hole drilled in the yard, and the other that goes around the yard.  I anointed the strop/thimble assemblies with liquid CA, so hopefully, the thimbles will not pop out of their strops during rigging.  Whether this was genius or folly remains to be seen.

 

226162980_SPRITSLYARD1S.thumb.jpg.05d38a668470d68fa6979deddb1308f0.jpg

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An alternative to paper towel might be Teflon plumbers’ tape. I have used it with some success in the past. It isn’t too hard to work with and is self adhering. 
 

Your Constitution is looking great.

 

David

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Thanks David for your suggestion and  kind words.  I will definitely give the plumbers tape a try.  I imagine that any hardware store would have it.

Regards,

Kurt

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