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Greetings all! My first post is to display the find that brought me here. I found this kit in a thrift store down the street.


They wanted $100 for it, but gave me a military discount!


I was thrilled, since I have been to see the ship when I was on a business trip in Boston. It really made an impression on me. I enjoyed the museum. I learned about the time during a storm when the ship came loose from its lines and was swinging around on its remaining moorings. It swung into the modern steel warship moored next to it and did extreme damage to it, while taking only scratches itself. An amazing ship, undefeated in battle (even if it required her crew to man the boats and tow her out of the doldrums.) 

My background in making stuff is mixed. Plane models as a kid, home repair, car modifications, machining, and extensive gunsmithing. I have never done anything more detailed in wood than a pinewood derby car, but I'm ex-military, and believe I can follow a manual. Looks like everything is here. We'll see!




Edited by lowsodiumsailor

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Gidday lowsodium and a warm welcome from the Land Downunder.

Looks like you have scored yourself a bargain there.

You are correct she is an amazing old girl.

You will find all sorts of support and encouragement on this site.

All the best with your build.




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Welcome to the Connie Builder Club. 🙂

Search this site.  There are a number of us currently building and many more that have have already completed building the Constitution.

Sooo lots of great resources, and help available to you.


As this sounds like your first wooden kit... and your first tall ship model... you jumped right into the deep end! 🙂

Take your time, ask for help, ask lots of questions, enjoy the build... and you'll end up with a showpiece model at the end. 

And stick with it.  Model ship building is a slooow hobby but worth it.   I expect my Connie built to last 5+ years.   I think that is typical. YMMV.

Connie really is a beautiful ship and makes a beautiful model.


Best and good luck!







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Welcome to the group. I agree with Ken. Your skills will increase as you build and figure things out. Just go slow and really plan things out. Most importantly, remember to have fun. There are plenty of good build logs to look at. I would recommend reading them before you start. 

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Thanks so much for all the kind and wise words. I have been reading a lot of build logs, watching videos, and staring at the parts the box. I think the "deep end" is definitely where I have started. Problem is, I have no interest in making a dinghy or yacht. When I made planes as a kid, it was the fighters. I have gotten older, but haven't grown up.


Sooo... I have discovered a bonus!! Hiding among the C.Mamoli blueprints was a set of Bluejacket plans for making her from scratch!


I glanced through them and it's not clear how closely the two plans match. I like the idea of making an 1812 version, but would also consider doing it to her current configuration. I'm going through photographs of her now, and looking at the plans. There are several significant differences that I'm not sure I'm qualified to adapt the kit. Others have gone so far as to fabricate a new stern on a CNC router. I don't think my skill at wood fabri-cobbling would yield a result I would be happy with. 


My current plan is to follow the directions for the kit. The Mamoli blueprints contain the instructions in several languages. I figure Italian is the original, but the English sure seems to be written by a native speaker.


I started with the keel pieces and was dismayed at how the pieces did not fit together in line. I looked over the rest of the pieces and found that there was no piece that was the exact right size or shape. It dawned on me that this kit is incredibly old and would not have the accuracy of a modern lasercut kit. If this kit is to turn out beautiful, it will require a huge amount of shaping and fitting. Maybe by the end of it, my fabri-cobbling will improve to the level I can adapt a kit to a chosen historical reference point.


I lined up the keel against a straight edge, and started sanding all the surfaces that don't line up. A little off of each side that impinge until I can get them to slide together. Now the keel is straight, but the fit-up is not tight. I used plenty of wood glue and what little sawdust I have generated to fill some of the gaps.


The bulkheads slid into place easily enough but I will not glue them before straightening, balancing and squaring everything. I decided to look ahead to the next step and found out that the decking doesn't quite match up and the beam alignment makes the situation much worse. I took a long strip of wood and glued a piece of sandpaper to it. I used that to go through and find the high spots and knock them down. I am using machinists  measurement tools to figure out if the slots for the beams are aligned with the center of the bulkhead and the keel connector slot and make any changes in such a way as to maintain or improve the alignment. The channel for the beams had to be enlarged in some areas in a way that made the fitment loose in order to allow alignment in a way that would match up to the segments of the deck that were straight. I don't know if it's the machinist in me that is being so picky, or if the kit is designed to be a test of the modeler's skill in making all the parts work together. 


I wonder if the wood changed shape over the years. I though maybe some warping might occur, but the wood is nothing if not perfectly flat! Is it really normal that no piece is the correct size and shape or are my expectations based on tolerances that have nothing to do with wood models? I have seen in build logs where there are a lot of steps to turn down a dowel into a mast. That's fine with me, as I understand I'm starting with round stock and making the part. How close are the parts that are pre-cut supposed to be to the correct size? If I don't correct every slight imperfection, will I end up with a lumpy looking model? How OCD do I have to go on basic fitment?!

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I do not have much experience, but thekits I did, used presawm frames. These were not lasercut, but just machine sawn. The deviations were, to say the least, on the large side. I guess there is a drawing that shows you how it should look. These drawings are not included for nothing.....

one of the major issues in the machine cut frames is the centerslot out of the centerline, and/or not of the correct length, resulting in the frame sitting too low or too high. Basic rule measure twice (at least), glue once. :)


with respect to your other question: The kit makers have standardsizes of wood. Planks/dowels etc, notmade to the specs of your model, but the other way round: the size of the model is determined by the size of the wood available.

In most cases the wood provided in the kit is the first standard size available above the measure you need. Sometimes that is really close to the final size, sometimes you need some resizing. In the kits I did, mastsizes and available wood did coincide rather well.



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Hmmm. Went on a inventory for parts needed for upcoming steps. Was looking for part 27 for way too long. The space it occupies is about 25mm by 120mm and it's not anywhere to be found. It's a little piece of the gun deck to be visible through holes in the weather deck. I finally went looking on the blueprints and couldn't find it. I found it listed in a table which gave its dismensions... 1.5mm x 5mm. I found a strip that matched the measurements and when cut to 5 equal lengths fit perfectly. Yay! Gotta celebrate the little victories. I didn't expect that part to require assembly. Yeah, I'm new to this. It's okay to laugh! 



The beam is in. At the back of the ship, the openings in the bulkhead that the beams fit through are a whole millimeter too narrow, but they are aligned/centered well. I decided to notch the beams (instead of widen the slots) to make the fitment and also provide a lock between the beams and the stern bulkhead. The beams get cut into three pieces and move progressively inboard as they go towards the bow. I marked up the spacing and then aligned them on a flat surface. They got drilled and toothpicks glued in to make the joints structurally sound. It's a simple thing to measure the diameter of a toothpick, go to the drill index and select a drill that is 5 thousandths smaller to make the holes and then pound in the toothpick like a nail. When the completed beams were installed, the fit was snug and much of the bulkhead alignment was enforced by the new structural member. It's hard for a bulkhead to twist out of being perpendicular with the keel when it's holding onto the outside of the beams. A couple of the bulkheads had problems that resulted in them not locking on, and they will need to be squared. 




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If a kit contained a couple extra pieces that connected to all the bulkheads and had the same spacing as the slots in the keel, then alignment would be a snap...  Anybody know of kits out there that have more positive engagement that solve this geometry/squareness issue? I saw the survey and noticed that Mamoli got a few votes for having the worst kits. When I get done, I will certainly look to another brand that was rated better if I decide to make another model. The little extras are cool, and I am definitely glad that there are as many little parts and details as there are. I made a detour into making the deadeyes, and they are amazing. 


Back to the regular next step: The deck, like the keel, is unnecessarily in three pieces which, like the keel, do not fit or align. The deck is much thinner and harder wood. A fine file for metal turns out to be a nice tool for the thin hard wood. Material removal is slow and precise, and a phosphor bronze brush quickly unclogs the file when necessary. 


I have a growing number of tools that are migrating out of the machine shop and onto my wife's art table. I hijacked her art table, laid it flat, and took one of her organizers to hold parts and tools. I will likely be sending her in at times to do the detail painting. The model was actually her Christmas present to me because she heard me gasp when I saw the model in the thrift shop. She knows I finish what I start so she's not worried about getting her table back. 


Not gluing the bulkheads in place until the deck is on. Gee whiz... so much fitting and fiddling. Lining up the deck and using blue painter's tape to hold it together. Took it off and then glued pieces of business card over the below-deck side of the seams between the sections of deck. Now it's much more solid, and all the frames feel like they're already glued together when it's assembled. Cyanoacrylate (CA) is better at connecting my fingers to the parts than the parts to each other. Got out a syringe and blunt needle to apply mass quantities of Titebond. 


Next step will be to predict the reason why I should have waited to glue the deck and bulkheads - ha! More parts go on the bow. They're kind of odd, but make sense after I went back to pictures. Does everybody else have this much trouble with CA or is it just me?? Grr. Back to Titebond. Seriously... advice on what makes CA so great, please! Looking at what the planks look like with tiny nails for temporary fit-up. Bending wood is not easy!


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CA glue is evil. I stopped using CA glue for wood ship modeling. I use PVA white glue for wood to wood and epoxy for wood to metal. 

Edited by Y.T.

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I agree on Mamoli kits being poorly designed. No wonder they are out of business. I also had experience with building Artesana Latina kit and it was not much better. 

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Mamoli went down, not because of poor design, but because of fire: their productionfacility burned down.

I guess that the square-business holds for almost all pre-laser kits....Mine (corel) wasn't much better. What I don't like at the Mamolis is that their research was lousy. Kits could have been much better representation of the ship without too much effort.....



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The blocks that fit to the bottom of the stern gallery needed a lot of material removed so I marked it up carefully and took it to the belt sander. First power tool use in the build. It also worked better because the outer face could remain parallel to the keel by laying the block flat and pushing it into the belt. The shape can be fine tuned later, but it's nice to have a consistent starting point on both sides. 


Found out why I should have waited to glue the bulkheads! The metal pieces that supposedly line up to form the ports for the cannons on the gun deck, don't line up. Maybe waiting to glue wouldn't have solved this problem, though. I'm checking where the first plank is supposed to go and then looking 5mm away for where the tops of the gun ports are supposed to line up and nope! I should have realized something was wrong when the CA was working well to secure the ports to the bulkheads. Checking my pictures of the ship shows that not all the cannons are pointing straight out 90 degrees from the keel. Spacing of the ports also seemed a little off so I did a little research/measurement/scale project. Yeah, the kit is wrong. Short burst of foul language. Tore out the metal ports. Moving on. Glad that my epoxy tubes were dried up so I didn't have the opportunity to follow Y.T.'s advice for metal to wood connection. This model business is like chess. You have to have thought many steps ahead and checked for problems before actually committing. I think I'm going to be test fitting a minimum of three steps ahead before I reach for the glue again. 


I have watched every video about planking I can find. I went through three planks making kindling before finding another Mamoli build on this site who talked about how to deal with the old wood in his kit. Took a look at the pinch tools to bend planks dry, and had one of those scary thoughts. I went to the shed and found this one pruning shear that was a blade/anvil design. Tried to cut one of my newly created kindling with the pruning shears and couldn't do it one-handed with the rusty and dull tool. It sure bent the wood nicely though! One less thing to order from Amazon... I'm expecting an Olfa thin kerf saw and a box of 144 emery boards for all those places that are hard to get to and need modification.


I've been playing with how the planks bend around the shape of the hull and getting the bends right. Next is to plan out the shapes of the planks. When I make the planks, I'll probably number them P1 through S20 (or whatever the count turns out to be.) Then I can mark them up and get them close to shape before starting any real assembly. Still haven't figured out what method I'll be using for the clamping. Think part of my clamping problem might be my unfamiliarity with getting the wood to conform to the curves. I may also need to adjust the bevels on the bulkheads. I'm not sure the angles are correct. Any and all comments on shape, technique, etc. greatly appreciated. 



After thinking more about the gun ports... I'm thinking to take some 2mm x 12mm (guestimate for problem solving) thick wood strips and make a long piece of square tubing that can be mitred into the shapes needed to make the gun ports. I would have to make about 60cm of tube to have enough including the learning process. At least the Olfa saw should reduce the waste with its tiny kerf. The cannons will still need a backstop to get pushed into. Have to figure out the depth for each port independently. Oh, there's another layer of planking, and sanding. Depth needs to be something that can be adjusted. Little wood plugs can be fitted and glued in using the cannons as a handle. Maybe thread the end of the cannon and the wood plug and make them robust. A dab of glue and threaded connection would be strong enough to resist damage if the cannon got bumped. Not sure if I want to leave the cannons blacked like they are or apply the correct paint. I think they look good the way they are, but paint is accurate. Maybe it's the gunsmith in me that likes the shiny metal. 


Well, it seems like I have some square wood tubing to fabri-cobble. 

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On my Mamoli Victory metal gun ports never lined up either. I sealed off all pre cut slots in bulkheads and cut all new slots in line. If you want you can throw away all Mamoli metal gun ports and cut your own ports with scalpel. To support false guns you can just glue small cube chunks of wood to sides of bulk heads just behind the ports. 

Edited by Y.T.

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You can look at what issues I was having with Mamoli Victory kit at this build log:



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All righty. The planking is so foreign to me, I've been working hard at it. In one of the videos I watched, a guy was modifying binder clips to make plank clamps. His method is to take handles and shove them in the jaw of the spring.


I'm making a bunch of those, but also investigating the possibility of nibbling off some of the spring. The binder clips I selected (3/16") are too small to easily get a nibbler tool into the tiny gap. I succeeded, but would want bigger clips if I was going to do several.


Using the handles as clamp arms is a reversible process, which has some merit as well.


For applying planks, I also came up with the idea of clamping a block to the keel so I didn't have to use pins or anything where the boards are at their steepest angle. By using a piece of metal, I can shove a bunch of glue in there and then the plank will be held firmly without the metal becoming attached.


I start the plank by shoving it in at the bow and then bending it back around the hull. I use one of the pieces of kindling I've made as a spacer to make sure that the angle is correct to give a nice angle to the plank end. 


It may not be the best process for planking, but I'm finally having some success and think the planks I'm applying now will actually stay on. I've reapplied several planks a few times to try and get it right. Since the port side is lined up decently, I'm going to ignore the flaws at the bow since they will be concealed by the enclosed forecastle. 


It's interesting how much the length of a plank changes when you forget to take the curvature into account. I rocked the plank from one bulkhead to the next, but the plank does not take a straight line from one bulkhead to the next when everything is connected. Next is to figure out the shaping of the planks.


Do the top and bottom have to be tapered or can you just round off one side of the plank? 


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I've got an idea for a jig for planking that will work extremely well if you only shape one side of the plank. The ability to make all the planks the exact same taper would hopefully make for a smooth hull. Can I leave one side straight on the plank? They seem to have enough flexibility that it should work, but I don't want to get two thirds of the way done and discover I was in error.  Thanks! 

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Yes, tapering just one side of plank leaving other one straight will work.

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I made a cradle for the ship out of a 2x4 with my table saw. 


I just took an angle reading and set my table saw to the angle. Obviously not the final display item, but it offers great support, and I will probably glue down a rag from a t-shirt into it before getting the final planking on the hull. 


I've got the plank jig design finished and will post my first trimmed plank in a short while!

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So here's the process I have put together from all the reading and watching I have done about planking. The goal was to make a jig so my planks came out the correct shape consistently.


1. Measured the linear distance along the outside of each bulkhead by laying a paper strip against it and then measuring on the strip. 


2. Calculate the necessary height of the plank at each frame for the number of planks. 

Bulkhead Linear D 23 22
0 1.98 0.086 0.090
1 2.223 0.097 0.101
2 2.778 0.121 0.126
3 3.396 0.148 0.154
4 3.775 0.164 0.172
5 4.069 0.177 0.185
6 4.189 0.182 0.190
7 4.224 0.184 0.192
8 4.284 0.186 0.195
9 4.284 0.186 0.195
10 4.284 0.186 0.195
11 4.211 0.183 0.191
12 4.155 0.181 0.189
13 4.036 0.175 0.183
14 3.933 0.171 0.179
15 3.81 0.166 0.173
16 3.654 0.159 0.166
17 3.406 0.148 0.155
18 3.028 0.132 0.138
19 2.844 0.124 0.129

3. The sacrificial piece of wood happens to be a yardstick. I need to put nails in the wood so that the distance from the edge of the nail to the edge of the yardstick is the desired amount for the bulkhead that each nail lines up with. This is not a straight line on the plank, so the intervals must be adjusted upwards to account for the curvature of the plank. I put markings on the stick for where the plank will contact the bulkheads. You can see some pencil marks with handwritten numbers (6,7,8)


4. I needed to add half of the diameter of the nail to the measurement, so I measured the nail. It was .049" in diameter, so I set the calipers to .0245 and then rotated the dial to set that distance as the new zero. Now I can dial any desired size and the measurement will include the extra amount for the size of the nail.


5. Using the depth gauge feature of the caliper, I can put a knife mark in the wood precisely where I want it. The knife mark makes it easy to put the point of the nail exactly where it needs to be. Once the nails are installed, the distance from the nail to the edge is exactly what I need. 


6. Holding the planks against the nails allows me to sand off the excess and make the plank the exact height for each frame.


7. By leaving just a little extra wood, I didn't abrade the yardstick and throw off the measurement. It turns out the extra that I left is about .005", which after 20 planks would be about 2.5mm of extra wood, or half of a 5mm plank. A little sanding as I go along will probably solve that, and I will be taking measurements again as I go to make sure I don't have some extra error that I haven't realized yet. 


Please... Have at it! All your comments are welcome. Is this plan brilliant, mad, doomed, or something else?!

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As I was getting ready to start mass planking, I saw that I would be enclosing the hull and losing access to the bulkheads and keel. I decided to read ahead all the way to the end to see if there was anything that could bite me in the stern once the planks were on. I found two things I want to accomplish before I finish planking. 


First, I want to complete the firing apertures for the gun deck. The metal ports that came with the kit are of such poor quality metal that they sand almost as easily as wood. 


The wings on them that were the source of misalignment are fairly thick, but I have a pair of flush cutting nippers that took them right off! 


Now I can glue them into place with CA to get them aligned and then get out the epoxy to anchor them to the planks that are already in place. I counted and I have 5 more planks than I need to do the hull that I can use for filling in-between the gun emplacements. At this point, I will go ahead and number the planks I need for the hull and cut them roughly to length to get some additional planking to use for supporting the planking between the ports.


Second, I want to make sure that installing the masts is as simple as possible. If it can be a matter of clicking into place, that would be the best. There is a rake to the masts, so this will take some thinking. The location of the hole in the deck for the main mast is not quite in the right place, but it’s not off far enough for me to make a new hole. It’s only off by about ⅓ of the mast diameter. 

Adding a couple custom carved pieces of wood to the bulkheads fore and aft of the main mast created a pocket. It’s a snug fit, and will not require glue to secure the mast in place. 


I just stabbed the piece of wood to make it easy to place it against the bulkhead. 


Only one piece of wood was sufficient to make a pocket for the mizzen mast. 


The fore mast bottoms out against an angled section of the keel, so the bottom of the mast got a slight angle put on it. It was too tight of a fit between the beams, and some small flats on the below-deck portion served both to allow it to fit and to provide an index feature for alignment. 


The bowsprit was bigger than the aperture for it in the deck and forecastle. Putting a lot of care into the fit yielded another connection that will not require glue. All masts fit snugly enough to support the weight of the model (as it is now) just by tension. 


While working on the masts, I saw that the fighting tops get planking on them and a little bender board that goes around them. I wondered about the tight bending of thinner material (0.5mm) and learned that it’s harder than thicker material. The little bit of kindling I made became the start of the decking on the platform. My second try at bending was more successful. I still have to tackle the other two platforms, each with a smaller radius than the next. My wife suggested using the steam from the coffee maker, which allowed me to focus a stream of steam exactly on the section I want to bend.  


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Keep going, you are doing a great job for your first model ship! The metal in the kit is an alloy called pewter. It’s like 90% tin and some other metals like zink, copper. It’s cheap and easy to cast for the fabricator.


They will be painted over in a later stadium, so it doesn’t matter what material they are made from.





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Ah! I looked up pewter, and this kit is probably old enough that there could be lead in the mix. Good to know! 


I have followed the instructions on how to wrap the bender board around the outside, and with the help of the milk steamer I have managed to get even the tightest bends accomplished with the thinnest material I have worked with so far. 


Everything got kind of messy. Also, there was a small split that appeared on the corner of one of the platforms, so I slathered it with glue and carefully put it in a metal clamp (sitting on the deck, since I ran out of desk space.) I will tidy up now and refill my glue syringe before getting back to planking. 


I also noticed as I was going through the section of the forum on jigs/techniques/tooling, that small cups were recommended to hold small parts and save sawdust. I had bought a plastic bin to hold all the bits and bobs of the kit, as the floor is crowded with stuff and dropping a batch of tiny parts would be a disaster. For the sawdust, I hijacked a tray for makeup that had multiple wells. It's good that I was able to fill a couple tiny gaps with the appropriate color of walnut in the glue. Worked extremely well! I'm pretty happy with the results of this phase. The experience here should make the planking easier. We'll see!



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