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USF Essex by Thistle17 - Model Shipways - Scale: 5/32 - Kit bash

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INTRO

As I open this log I find myself a bit conflicted as to what I could possibly add to curious or future builders of this admiralty model from Model Shipways. The kit was delivered in January of 2015 and as I understand it, this vintage addressed many of the early kit anomalies from the 2013 introduction. I had seen the designer's prototype version and had an opportunity to be mentored by him on his research sources and the construction.

 

As further impetus for the project I used Essex as a research subject for a group presentation. At the outset I thought I had ample sources of reference for it's build, however as I delved deeper the dissonance I discovered over a number of sources almost caused me to rethink a build. The topic and my findings are covered on our web site www.modelshipwrightguildwny.org under Topics Of Interest.

 

I opened this kit recently as I needed a subject for a January 2018 display/demo for the Strong Museum here in Rochester, N.Y. On January 12th and 13th they are engaging families with a pirate theme and one of our members, with publicity in mind, approached them to determine interest. They responded with an invite. I chose this subject for the event as Essex in some ways was a "pirate" in her last days marauding English whalers and merchant men in the southern Pacific before meeting her capture. I plan to display/demo the build from the former on up on my rendition of Ed Tosti's building jig.

 

THE BUILD

I will not spend time in reviewing the kit contents as others have done a very good job on that score but I will comment on certain aspects of the kit as I journey down this build.

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I'm glad to see you start this log and will follow with great interest to see how much better you can do to  cope with the kit's problems than I did. I will always be available to answer any questions that you may have.

 

Bob

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Thank you Bob your kind offer it is very much appreciated.

 

More on the build:

Having freed the former, bulkheads, stem, stern and keel from the pre-cut sheets I trial fitted the bulkheads and found that the bulkhead slots were over machined in comparison to the former. The slots were some 40 thousands wider than the former thickness. To correct this I had some furniture veneer that I applied to each side of all the bulkhead slots. This made for an uncomfortable interference fit so I monotonously sanded to a slip fit. This to my ire took about 5 hours of sanding and fitting. I also discovered that a number of the bulkheads did not seat flush with the top of the former so these bulkhead slot were filed to achieve a flush fit. Unfortunately they now reach into the rabbet area so further trimming is required.

 

In applying the stem, keel and stern post I discovered that I am shy the rabbet strip thickness (on the stern) such that the stern and keel interlock along the former. Looking ahead since there will be a copper bottom applied to the hull I will just cut the stern piece and add a longer keel member.

 

Let me reiterate. My title for this log has the word "bashing" in it. That did not mean I was bashing the designer or the manufacturer. I am just responding to the events of this build journey.

IMG_1076[1].JPG

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Jim I saw you were lucky enough to get in the Medway release. I tried nd will now have to be patient until I am as lucky. In the mean time Cheerful and this build will be my focus.

Joe

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At this point all bulkheads have been adjusted for the slot discrepancy and are a slip fit onto the former. In thinking ahead I thought it a good idea to add witness marks on each bulkhead for the gun port sills and headers. I am using the former topside height (basis of the gun deck) as a datum. Also observing that the bulkheads are flat (no camber) across the beam I could pull the vertical measurements off the profile in sheet 1 of the drawings and transfer them to each bulkhead image on the ensuing drawing sheets. Then overlaying each physical bulkhead I could transfer the vertical dimensions accurately to each bulkhead. Maybe a bit anal you say. Well maybe so but in so doing I stumbled onto a conundrum.

 

The forward and aft most bulkheads do not match the drawing profiles. In the stern area the profile is quite a bit off (wider than the drawing in the area from wales upward). In the case of the bow the profile is slightly off but the bulkhead is taller than the drawing. Amid ships they seem to conform much better. Something got lost in translation here. To me the design drawings are the reference!

 

Not knowing how the bulkhead profiles were translated to machining instructions I can not understand how this deviation has happened. If the drawing profiles were scanned in and "curve/segment" adjusted to achieve conformance such as in Corel Draw I might expect some small difference but certainly not what I observed. If the drawings were produced via a "CAD" system then the machining output files certainly would not create such an obvious difference.

 

Has anybody out there observed this problem? Is there yet another revision of this kit produced post 1Q 2015?

 

Joe

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I am not sure yet Jim. I have an e-mail into the designer and waiting for a reply. And I just thought I would send the text above to Model Expo to ask what they know. Here is a picture of what I think is the worst deviation.

Joe

IMG_1077.jpg

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In speaking with the original designer of the kit I am not much further ahead in getting resolution. So while waiting for a response from ME I was prompted by the kit designer to look at Portia's Anatomy of the Ship Essex. On page 34 is a body plan (reconstructed it was claimed from the Hackett drawing). It is not of the same scale but with a 1.87 enlargement I was able to come very close to the kit scale. In addition station 33 on her drawings corresponds very closely to bulkhead 22 in the kit. An overlay of the kit bulkhead 22 (the red outline) shows approximately the same deviation that is shown in the kit drawings of that bulkhead in my last post. Pushing on in pursuit of a satisfactory answer I overlaid the AOS copy onto the kit drawing and there is much more correspondence between them than the part.

 

A bit of crazy making here I know (and my grand kids will never know) but I will. Stay tuned.

Joe

IMG_1078.jpg

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Joe, if you go to my log, you'll see that I had very similar problems. I gave up on trying to duplicate lines from any drawing, and merely built up and sanded the bulkheads until I had achieved fair lines and curves that looked "right". There is no possibility IMO reconcile the supplied bulkheads with anything . They are just wrong-- even the ones that match the kit drawings The only other alternative that I can see would be to scratch bulkheads from the Takajian drawings. 

 

Bob

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Bob I guess I could have saved myself from a lot of grief had I read your complete log to that point. I will indeed do so from here on in.

 

So in summary there is discrepancy between supplied drawings, manufactured parts and Portia's AOTS book even in the 2015 release. There is some correlation between the 2015 kit drawings and the AOTS reference.

 

So where am I going with the build? Not abandoning it for sure and after some gnashing of teeth will likely do as you have done. I will hold off on gluing in the bow and stern area bulkheads until I have seen what the fairing process yields however.

 

Joe

Edited by Thistle17
Mis typed info

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Yet a bit more crazy making regarding the accuracy of the kit Essex lines. This morning I remembered this thread on another web site that was done by a Gary M who arduously reconstructed the Essex lines from the AOTS by Portia. His reconstruction to 1:64 scale makes my analysis look primitive albeit the results closely align to what we collectively have been saying herein. I am now wondering if the bulkheads within the kit were a lift of his at the 5/32 scale. Here is the site: http://www.modelshipbuilder.com/e107_plugins/forum/forum_viewtopic.php?16273.30

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Imagine in the midst of all the craziness that is swirling around us here in the US I find myself obsessing over the accuracy of body plans for a period ship model. I may need to seek therapy soon!

 

In any event I am offering this as my final input and direction forward. I make no claim as to this being the definitive word because what I have decided is based on correlation of/within two sources rather than anything more comprehensive. The two sources are the 2015 release of the Cassano drawing within the kit of the same date and the source mentioned in the Model Ship Builder posting. As I understand it both individuals have designs based on reconstruction of the Hackett plans. Which I further understand that for at least one designer admits his design has some limits.

 

Here is what I did. I replicated the body plan from the Model Ship Builder source. It was of a 1:64 scale. I enlarged it to match the Cassano body plan (1:76.8) and then overlaid the two. They do not match 100% but do show reasonable correlation. The beam is off a bit but that could be magnification errors from web image to screen image to magnification to obtain scale and then to print. The bow stations have decent correlation. Some of the difference might be accounted for by the difference in assigned station lines. The stern section is not quite as much of a match but is somewhat close (see above).

 

Now here is the strange part which I cannot explain. If I use the bow bulkhead from the kit and overlay it on the Cassano body plan it is a very good fit. If I do the similar thing with the stern bulkhead it too is a match. This is what threw me off; placing those same bulkheads on the Cassano sheet that contains each bulkhead shows the deviation earlier noted. Also noted is that the height of the bulkheads seems to be in agreement.

 

In summary I will stay the course with the kit supplied bulkheads and build out from there using not only the Cassano detail drawing but Portia's as well. I apologize if I have whipped interested parties to and fro in this pursuit.

 

And to round out the responses ME got back to me today and further emphasized that sheet 2 of the drawing pack is for reference only and does not reflect the machined parts precisely as the drawing so indicates. So why is that drawing in the set??? Blissfully I move on with all this in the rear view mirror. (12/26/18)

 

Joe

Edited by Thistle17

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Quote

Imagine in the midst of all the craziness that is swirling around us here in the US I find myself obsessing over the accuracy of body plans for a period ship model. I may need to seek therapy soon!

What you're doing IS therapy. Most of us benefit from the ability to obsess over something harmless, such as hobbies or sports, or reality can overwhelm us. Having recently visited Valparaiso, where Essex was captured, my interest in following a build of her has been heightened and I'll look forward to learning from this one.

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Joe

 

Do yourself a favor and bash the kit against a wall, on the floor , a nearby table top - any hard surface will do.

 

Whatever you decide - PLEASE leave me or any mention of me out of this. 

 

What I designed NEVER made it into production - EVER!!!!

 

Any questions, comments, or complaints should go to the kit's (proto-type, manual, plans) designer - BOB CRANE care of Model Expo

 

Sam

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Sam I should have been more discreet in my last entry here. I had no intention of entangling you in this. I just didn't know how many drawing revisions went out in 2015 with the kit. I do indeed have a query into the manufacturer as I feel that is where the dissonance lies, not in your work. If I don't hear from them I will follow the trail with Crane. Nonetheless I am moving off this sub category of the build and onto more of the build.

Joe

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As I said moving on I am preparing for the upcoming January demo/display at the museum. I will be assembling the hull at the museum.  In preparation, I have modified my hull building jig (which I had submitted to the MSW site but seems to have disappeared). I will restate this gantry style jig was a borrowed idea from, I believe Ed Tosti, who came up with the design. It is quite effective in holding the former/keel and ensuring the bulkhead perpendicularity can be easily maintained.

 

The one improvement I have made to mine, since its last use, was to add a registration guide to achieve a guaranteed centering of the gantry cross member '0' mark of the center finding ruler that is attached. The gantry lock down was a sloppy fit in the 'T' track making it easy to go astray as it was moved down the length of the platform. Adding a foot to the inboard member of the gantry that rides nicely in the 'T' track slot ensures center registration. It is hard to see in the picture attached as it rides inside the 'T' track afixed to the shoe of the gantry. Only one is needed if it is a good fit.

 

Joe

IMG_1080[1].JPG

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Continue to work on preparatory tasks to make the museum assembly proceed without episode. In this vein I dry assembled a gun deck cannon to make sure of its height in relation to the gun ports. With wheels mounted it measures 12mm from floor to top of the carriage of the cannon. The reason for this exercise was to see if the dotted line on sheet 1 of the drawing's gun port framing view, when interpreted as the top of the former and bulkheads, would allow the cannon to clear the gun port sill when the false deck/decking were added. It is indeed the reference I assumed.

 

Now that I have satisfied myself that this is a good datum(that dotted line) I will mark off the sills of the gun ports on the bulkheads in readiness for former install of the gun port elements.

 

Onto the monotonous and dirty task of sanding each bulkhead to remove the char. Since there are 22 bulkheads I opted to use the Dremel tool outfitted with a drum sanding head. At slow speed this is quite effective at the char removal albeit I broke 2 of the upper frame uprights. More work is needed as these frames still fall into the rabbet area.

Joe

 

Edited by Thistle17

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This is a good news, bad news accounting.

 

The Strong museum demo/display was this past weekend. I used Essex for my demonstration for how a kit might begin and managed to assemble about 16 of the bulkheads before the end of the 2 day session. Today I installed the bulkheads 17 through 20. At this point one has to decide if the "strong back" stiffeners are to be added as they pass through bulkheads 3 through 20. They then are glued to the "strong back" and hopefully some of the bulkheads. It turns out this is a annoying task.. I say that because of slight irregularities in the slot of each bulkhead. Theoretically they all should line up and the stiffener just slides through, in this case from the stern, one to a side. If one uses the top of the strong back as the datum slight irregularities occur in the alignment of the slot from bulkhead to bulkhead. As it turned out I had to remove about 40 thousands from the stiffeners. and chamfer the edges to avoid any glue obstructions that may have occurred when the bulkheads were glued in place.

 

Stupidly I used CA to attempt to fasten the stiffeners to the strong back. I used the very thin CA and sure enough some trickled down onto my assembly jig gluing the keel to it!!!!! It took a bit of doing but I was able to extract the hull from the jig but in so doing the keel and most of the rabbet strip stayed behind. After a few moments of self chastisement I discovered it was somewhat of a blessing in disguise. I will have to make a new keel.

 

When using the top of the strong back as a datum and with each bulkhead set flush with it I observed that about 7 of the bulkheads protruded into the rabbet area. At this point  I realized it was going to be a lot easier to sand the bulkheads at this point so there was no rabbet overlap prior to the keel repair! That's my good news. Sort of!

Joe

IMG_1091[1].JPG

Note bulhead protrusion at rule 15 3/4 and 16 1/4.

Edited by Thistle17

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This is my next build so you are paving the way. Good info on the strong back. Did you try to use CA Debonder on the keel?

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Jim I did not use the de-bonder as the keel was free about 2/3 of the way to the stern and there was tape wrapping the keel. It just snapped. I will use yellow glue and continue attaching it with the little blocks in the picture. By the way those blocks really make the bulkheads quite rigid.

Joe

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Ship board damage control  now finds the bulkheads sanded fair at the keel rabbet and the rabbet strip and keel have been replaced.

 

Time to move on, by attending to the transom frames. These are very delicate members and have to be added somewhat "in the air" as they are attached, one by one to the former sides w/o much structural support. I will describe what I did but in hindsight I will also suggest an assembly method that might be a bit easier.

 

The pictures in Chapter 3 related to transom member assembly aren't too clear but they suffice. Once again I was on a roll with the bulkhead supports I had used for most of the other bulkheads and placed them (the vertical ones) on the aft end of #22. They should have gone on the inside of that bulkhead. This is going to give me a bit of the problem when I have to add the fillers where the stern terminates. However they did give a nice landing area for the inside stern frames that were to be added. I then added the 2 inner most stern members per directions (separated by 1/8 inch spacers along the former) to yield a 7/16" spacing. I liked the support they gave enough to add horizontal members port and starboard to support the remaining stern members. These are separated by 7/16" spacers per directions. All spacers and frame members are glued one to the other across the stern. These frames should be flush with the top of bulkhead #22.

 

I am left with the problem of still having to shape the stern with fillers as one does the bow. This I perceive will be a bit cumbersome. In hindsight I should have re-enforced the bulkhead from the inside as I said and executed the following:

 

On the aft side I would have placed a 3/8" X 1/2" strip across the bulkhead port and starboard side of the bulkhead and then filled in the balance of the stern area with balsa filler.

 

Also for the more fastidious modeler I would be tempted to extend the horizontal legs of each transom frame member such that they can extend forward of #22 bulkhead  (slotting this bulkhead to accept the thicker base leg of the frames) and placing those 3/8" X 1/2" horizontal strips on bth sides of the bulkhead (i.e. forward and aft).

Joe

 

IMG_1096[1].JPG

Edited by Thistle17

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Joe are you planning on making the lower decks visible. It is shown in the plans BUT nowhere in my written instructions is it pointed out you need to remove material in bulkheads 6, 10, 15 and the bulkhead former. There is a note in the online version under the First photo of Chapter two BUT again not pointed out in the written instructions. This is most irritating as I found the note AFTER I spent three days getting everything aligned and have started installing fillers, I put balsa between all my frames. I think if I am careful I can remove the material with my Dremel and Sonicrafter. 

 

Should have paid more attention to Bob’s build log. It was right there in front of me . Arrrrrgggggghhh.

Edited by Jim Rogers

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Jim I am sorry I haven't been on this model for some time other than to repair alignment of a bulkhead that went astray while installing them in poor light at the Strong Museum.

 

I had thought of adding the extra detail between decks and then discounted it. Primarily as I am driving hard on Cheerful to finish hull planking and get on with more of the fun stuff associated with the model. I am not an accomplished plank installer but am slowly getting the hang of it so there is hope for me. I attended the 37th annual model conference in New London and picked up Syren's next kit, The Medway, and anxious to start that but holding myself in check. So things are starting to pile up.

 

Essex still intrigues me and I think when Cheerful planking is done I will pick her back up and proceed on her hull albeit at a halting pace. I may have said this already I am going to do her above the plating line in Alaskan Yellow Cedar and below that I will probably use Bass. Just for economy sake.

 

In regard to fillers I did Cheerful with Balsa fillers and ended up taking them out as planking below the wales proceeded as they just got in the way. It was useful in the fairing stage but became a nuisance thereafter. I was pleased with the blocking I installed on Essex, instead, as it made for quite stiff bulkheads.

Joe

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