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Dapper Tom by AlanZL1 - Model Shipways

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Here we go, my first build log.  Been a long time since I have built a ship model, so mistakes will be made!
Any and all suggestions welcome.

This is a solid hull model.  Shaping was really close out of the box.  Vigorous block and hand sanding with 120g was all that was required to get it to match the profile in the kit.  There were many parts of the hull that were overcut by the manufacturer.  These required filler and additional sanding.  Moderate sanding with 220g revealed imperfections which required more filling and sanding.  Once it looked perfect, a light coat of primer revealed all the rest of the imperfections :) .  Several iterations of filling, sanding and priming finally got a smooth finish.  A full coat of primer and delicate wet sanding with 330g created the final smooth (almost perfect) primed surface.


Carving the bulwarks was done with a chisel, then a Dremel sanding cylinder, then 120g sanding.  I still have some fine tuning to do.  I haven't primed the deck since I am considering planking it instead of painting once I find out where to get supplies.


Last pic shows the high tech super expensive spray box I used for priming.  I tied 4 sewing pins with large heads to 4 thumbtacks.  Thread should be about the length of the box opening.  I pushed a pen through the top flap of the box making 4 good sized holes.  Drop the pin through the hole and stick it into a good place on your piece.  Adjust the height of the piece by simply sticking the thumbtack closer or farther away from the hole.  No need to create different thread lengths for each specific piece.  Also, multiple pins can be used on a single piece to position it as you like.

Small parts will fly around when you spray them which is why you use pins with large heads.  You can manipulate the piece by grabbing the pin head.  (a latex glove highly recommended)





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looking good Alan, you've done a nice job on the hull

Edited by tarbrush











future build: to finish Mary Rose




completed builds:  Constructo Steam Launch Louise

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Made a bit more progress but ran into a problem I figured I would share with others that want to try this model in the future.

I am following the instructions, and that turned out to be problematic.  After getting the hull in prime, the next step is to install the keel, stem, and sternpost.  Do NOT install the sternpost at this point in time.  As you can see in the first pic below, installing the sternpost makes it impossible to get the correct angle when trying to drill the hull for the tiller.  (unless you have a really long small drill bit).  The instructions have  you drilling the various holes in the dull a few steps later.


What I wound up doing was drilling a pilot hole with a very small bit, countersinking with a bit that was just smaller than the tiller post (2nd pic), then with a very fine exacto blade picked out a hole deep enough to make it appear that the tiller post was going into an actual hole.  I'll do the same on the deck when I get to installing the tiller.  Very tedious, and I realized after finishing that when the model is right side up you can barely see this detail.  Oh well, I'll know its there.


3rd pic is where I left it.  Its a tad long but I figured I would have to adjust things when the brass straps are mounted.  I'll clean up the alignment then.

Last pic is keel and stem.


Edited by AlanZL1
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  • 3 weeks later...

Alan, I would go at least 1/2" deep as to give you some strength for the foundation and even possibly 3/4". Also verify on the print you have the correct facing angle of each mast and drill the proper angle. Use a basic protractor on the print to get the right angle.

Current build project: 

CSS Alabama 1/96


Finished build projects 2018:

H.L Hunley 1/24

CSS Arkansas 1/96

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Thanks Jonathan11.  I wound up just drilling down in steps until the masts felt really solid.  Probably about a 1/2 inch.
Getting the angle to match the plans was an interesting challenge.  I have an angle jig for my full sized drill but because the tops of the bulwarks are different angles at each mast location I had to change the angle on the jig for each mast.  I started with a very small dowel and tweaked the angle as I enlarged the holes.  Final mast placement matches the plans and is the same for each mast in relation to the keel.  I was really sweating this since I rarely seem to be able to get this kind of detail correct.
The angle looks really extreme to me, but it matches the plans so I am just going to move forward.
Decking next then the interior bulwark details.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Injured my knee a few weeks ago which left me unable to sit at my work area for a bit (bad)  After surgery I have to rest it so I have lots of time to spend on it (good).


I needed a stand for the hull and didn't have any scrap wood around to make one.  I happened to get a delivery with two blocks of closed cell urethane foam used to package its contents.  The size was perfect and with two simple cuts made a very secure work stand!  The other half I use for pinning small bits when gluing.  It makes a very flexible work area.


I read on this forum about finishing the deck boards before laying them down and this sounded like a good idea, so I prepped the planks and put 2 coasts of tung oil on them.  This was a multi day process so I also began working on some of the deck structures, skylight, hatches. etc.  In the progress pic on these parts notice on the main hatch casting that the holes are filled in.  This would look odd when painted so I am in the process of drilling out each with a pin drill (ugh).   


Finishing the decking before laying it down was an interesting idea.  The variation of the thickness of the decking strips made for a very uneven surface once I was done, so I wound up sanding the deck smooth and reapplying the tung oil.  The deck structures are just set in place for the pic as they are still in progress (note the half drilled main hatch.  Its hard on my fingers, so I can only do a few rows at a time.  :) ).


I took some liberties with the skylight.  I didn't like the layout of the windows in the plan.  Any suggestions on how to mimic the glass on this piece?  Also, how to hid the decking inside it?  I thought about just black paint on the deck, but this seems a bit crude.



Edited by AlanZL1
reorder pics
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Just spent a lot of time looking at other build logs.  This is just a note for myself when I review this later that there is a pattern for laying planks.  I didn't want all the plank ends to line up so just went for a random pattern.  On my second build I will pay closer attention to this.  Lesson learned.

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  • 2 months later...

Been awhile, but a car accident left me unable to work on the ship for a while.

I've been working on the bulwarks, and decided to finish the canon.  I was very surprise at how rough the castings were.  Is this typical for kits?

I managed to file off the casting marks and the final product looks fine, but what a labor intensive job!


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  • 8 months later...
  • 1 month later...

Alan, It's almost a year later. Have you gone further with Dapper Tom? We are just starting one, find the instructions to be more than a little confusing (we are absolute rank beginners at this), and it is pretty frustrating. Right now we are trying to figure out how to construct the masts, which pieces connect where... Your log seems to be the closest to what we need. Are you still working on this, or have you finished it? 

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Deborah, Unfortunately a few health issues last year have prevented me from continuing.  I have not made progress much beyond the hull and decking.  Hopefully soon.  I was thinking of looking at the masts during the lockdown, I think that is something I can attempt, but we shall see.  I too am a rank beginner, so we can suffer together :).  Do you have a log?

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Hi Alan, Sorry about the health junk. Hope you get better. No, we do not have a log, are not organized enough to do that. Teresa is the builder, I am the secretary and sounding board. As a writer-of-instructions for complicated things, my frustration with these instructions knows no bounds, but amazingly, Tere is figuring things out piece by piece. I sailed some as a kid, but have had almost no contact with boats, let alone ships, since then, so my vocabulary is sadly wanting, and it seems like there are many cases of using two or three different terms for the same part. For better and worse, our brains and understanding styles are different, which means that between us one of us can most often figure it out, but we are monumentally inefficient in our guessing games. I bought this for Tere because it said it was fine for beginners. Oh well. Tere will do this, but we might need the lock down to last a lot longer. 

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I love that kit!

So glad to see a couple people are building it. It has been around awhile, and the thing I like about it is, since Dapper Tom was not a real ship, a modeler can do whatever he wants to the details, and nobody can say it’s wrong!  I got mine as a partial complete build on eBay ( the hull had been sanded) and loved building her ( I re-christened her Quoddy Bay, after the bay we have a house on in Maine, to commemorate the privateers/ pirates who sailed there) I like that kit so much , I got another partial build on eBay, and one more on sale from Modelexpo). The first kit I got was about thirty years old, and the instructions were on one page. Required a lot of interpretation. 
Here she is, just before completion. 
Will be following your log with great interest. 
Have fun. 



"If they suspect me of intelligence, I am sure it will soon blow over, ha, ha, ha!"

-- Jack Aubrey



Yankee Hero, Fannie Gorham, We’re Here, Dapper Tom (x3), New Bedford Whaler, US Brig Lawrence (Niagara), Wyoming (half hull), Fra Berlanga (half hull), Gokstad Viking Ship, Kate Cory, Charles Morgan, Gjoa

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  • 9 months later...

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