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HMS Atalanta by tlevine - FINISHED - 1775 - 1:48 scale - from TFFM plans

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It has been a while since anything was posted but I have a good excuse.  I had installed the black strake and most of the upper planking.  When I returned the next day to finish the planking I decided that I did not like the looks of it and spent several hours of quality time with the isopropanol. :(   I hope to have some pictures of the redone planking soon.

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Ah, 'twas ever thus in pursuit of perfection.... Hopefully the re-do will satisfy you. Look forward to seeing your progress.

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It's amazingly difficult to execute a fair run of planking from fore to aft. It all starts with the black strake and wales so if you can get these right the rest should work out well.

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Thanks everyone for the encouragement.  My biggest problem was that when I took the height of the lower sills of the gun ports off the NMM plans I did not realize that these were actually the height of the lined sills.  Consequently, location of the gun ports are about 2" too high (the top of the gun port was measured off the port framing, not the plan so the actual size of the gun port is correct) and the run of planking had to be modified from the diagram shown in TFFM.  I finally figured this out when most of the planking below the sheer had been installed and nothing looked right.  After removing the planks I drew up a new planking diagram to compensate for the port height.  

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Toni,

did that impact the top of the sill (overall height)also, making the top of the gun port too high or only the bottom sill, making the gun port too small?

 

Richard

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Thank you Nils.  Richard, the sills are the correct dimension but are positioned 2" too high.  This affects the overall shape and width of the sheer strake but once everything is completed it should look ship shape.  I have a suggestion for anyone installing planks above the wales.  After the run of planking is marked on the frames, clamp a narrow spline just above the line so make sure you are happy with how the run looks overall.  I found it difficult to keep everything aligned properly with all the fenestrations from the gun and oar ports.  This helped me a lot when I replaced the planking. 

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At long last the installation of the upper planking is progressing.  After installing most of the planking up to the level of the top of the gun ports I discovered that the height of the lower sill was 2 scale inches too high.  However, I also determined that the height of the bridal port and the last gun port were correct.  To make everything perfect would have required removing all of the spirketing and the string in the waist.  Well, that wasn't going to happen so I did the next best thing.  I raised the sills of the bridal and aft gun ports one inch and lowered everything else one inch.  There was minimal damage to the appearance inside the hull with this approach.  In the first picture it looks like the aft port is too low.  This is an optical illusion caused by the narrowing distance between the main wale and the bottom of the gun port as one moves aft.  I removed the gun port liner after the outer planks were installed to get a better edge.  The pictures show some of them reinstalled.  I have tapered the thickness of the planking to 2 1/2".  The sheer plank will be 3".  I still have to finish sand the planks, reinstall the rest of the gun and sweep port liners and finish the opening for the sweep ports inside the hull.  The scrapes in the main wale paint will be addressed when all of the hull planking is completed.

 

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The sheer strake was installed next.  This is 3" thick and is let down to the top of the gun port where the width of the upper planking would have been less than 5".   There is a hook scarf amidships.  I have cut down some of the timbers to just above the sheer strake.  By leaving them a little long at this point I am preventing damage to the top edge of the sheer strake. 

 

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I ran into two problems:  one correctable and the other not.  Although it is hard to tell from the pictures, my Dremel has developed a wobble in the shaft and consequently the holes are slightly oversized.  I solved this by dipping the treenails in dilute glue before installing.  Usually I install them with pressure fit and rely on the finish to seal them into place.  It appears a new Dremel in on my horizon.  You can see my general approach for treenailing in the following picture.  I draw a light pencil line to indicate the center of the frame.  Next, I pencil in the locations of the treenails.  I use a carbide stylus to prick the wood so the drill bit does not wander.  And finally I drill the hole.  I start at the bottom and work up to the top.  The sawdust drops down so by starting at the bottom I do not have to clean off the hull after each hole has been drilled.  I sanded the aft area so show how the treenails disappear until finish (or water) is applied.

 

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Now for the relatively uncorrectable problem.   As I mentioned before, I had to correct the sill heights to get a smooth run.  This was accomplished by lowering the central gunports and raising the aft gun port and bridal port.  I have already stripped the planking twice and began to be concerned about the integrity of the frame glue joints with the repeated application of isopropanol.   Therefore, I decided not to strip the planking again even though the appearance is not perfect.  You can see my shim on the lower port opening and the height that had to be removed at the top.   I am not pleased with it but weirdly feel better for showing the problem to whomever reads this log.  I guess that means I need a life!  The wood was wet down to show off the treenails.

 

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Hey Toni,

 

Don't feel too bad, I'm sure all of the best scratch builders have these issues, and I'm sure I will come across some whoppers when I get to the point you are at.

Nice work on the treenails, bamboo??

 

Ben

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I have unglued the same area with concommitant surrounding alcohol seepage several times and the adjacent joints still seem fine. Perhaps it's possible that the glue rehardens after the alcohol evaporates? I ain't no chemist but I've had no structural failures and have gotten a bit more liberal with my ungluing. At any rate your model looks terrific Toni and it looks like your patch fits well with the grain of the surrounding plank. As you move on with construction the "glaring repaired  area" will likely recede into the background and you won't see it unless you're looking for it.

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Hi Toni,

 

What Greg said - I also believe the glue rehardens when the alcohol evaporates, as I've done the same many times.

 

Getting those gunport sills to line up was quite an exercise in frustration for me too. I had some issues with a few of them, but as Greg said the problems eventually "blended" in and are no longer as visible as they were at the time.

 

Well done :) .

 

:cheers:  Danny

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Greg and Danny, thanks for the encouragement.  Like so much of what we do on these models, the mistakes are only going to be visible to ourselves and the few other "crazies" of like mind.  Hope to finish the treenailing this week.  One thing was reinforced with this little escapade.  If David's drawings to not exactly match the model...STOP.   If I had done that at the time I installed the black strake, the rest would not have occurred.  :rolleyes:

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Dont feel to bad. Anyone building this high standart will face this kind of problems. You show that you are a great builder by facing the problem and deailing with it. The only way to avoid this kind of problems is not to build anything at all. Go on with your build because to me it looks great!

 

regards, Kees

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Thanks, Kees.  We are usually our own worst critics.

 

Now that the sheer strake is installed, it is time to attack the fixed blocks.  There are two fixed blocks that pierce the hull.  One of them has two sheaves and the other only one.  They are pretty straight-forward in construction.  First the block's shell is cut and dry-fit.  Next the slots for the sheaves are marked out, drilled and then finished with needle files.  The hole for the pin is drilled and the block is put back into the hull.  It is much easier to drill the slots for the sheaves prior to shaping the sides.  The inner and outer faces are sanded to conform to the shape of the tumblehome.  I made the sheaves from ebony that I drilled out and shaped with chisels and sandpaper.  Finally, they were sawn to thickness and installed.  In the pictures there is too much contrast between the woods to actually see the sheave withing the slot.  The blocks were removed, the sheaves and pin inserted and glued with CA, and the assembly was glued in place in the hull.

 

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The first photo shows the blocks glued and sanded in place.  In the second photo the wood has been wiped down with a damp cloth to highlight the treenails.  The slots on the inboard face need a little more cleaning up.

 

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The final appearance.  I still have to insert some of the gun port liners but overall I think it looks pretty good.

 

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Ben and Mark, thanks for the support.

 

I have reached a milestone...the upper works' planking is completed!  I left the frame ends protruding above the level of the top rail to protect the upper edge of the planking.  Now you can even tell which frames have timberheads associated with them. Because the only things keeping the starboard frames in line are the ribbands and the filler blocks above the top of the frames, this side was not cut down.  Now I have a question.  In TFFM it states that where the sheer strake "...widens down to the ports there is a change in surface level to produce a smooth, continuous chamfer line..."  I interpreted this to mean a smooth chamfer to the top of the port.  Another interpretation would be to make the lower part of the strake the thickness of the hull planking and the top part the thickness of the sheer strake.  Looking at a contemporary model of Atalanta did not show enough detail for me to tell which direction to go.  If someone could give me some direction, I would appreciate it.  I left things so that it would be easy to convert if my interpretation is wrong.

 

On to the lower hull planking.

 

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What this means is that the line of the change in plank thickness is continuous, and doesn't jog up and down with the actual edge of the sheer strake. It's your 'other interpretation', Toni.

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Very nicely done Toni, and congratulations on the "milestone".

 

On to the lower hull planking.

 

 

See you in a couple of months :D .

 

:cheers:  Danny

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Thanks for the clarification, Druxey.  It's the perfect thing to fix while waiting for the hull planking to dry.  Danny, I am afraid you are right...but I will post occasional updates so you know I haven't given up the ship. :rolleyes:

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It is time to work on the lower hull.  I pressed the top timbers, stem and counter timbers into a 2" thick slab of styrofoam. I then threaded butcher's twine through the gun port openings and secured the hull to the styrofoam in four places.  This allows me to comfortably work on the lower hull while having the ship securely attached to a flat surface.

 

The lower hull planking is holly.  I am using a different holly for the hull planking than I did for the decking.  That wood was more grey and had some color imperfections which became apparent after the finish was applied.  This is a whiter wood without any visible flaws.  (Thank you Hobby Mill.)  The garboard strake was installed first.  When you look at the plan, you are tempted to say "Oh, a straight line with the keel.  Easy."  Well, because of the twists in the plank fore and aft, that straight line is anything but.  The key is to make templates of everything and then transfer the outline of the template to the wood, leaving a little extra for fine-tuning.  The fore end of the garboard was terminated per the layout in TFFM.  Prior to gluing the planks in place, the keel rabbet was cleaned up.

 

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That's a great way to protect and stabilize the hull while planking, Toni. I haven't seen that before.

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