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18th Century Longboat by SandyBay - Model Shipways 1/48


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This will be my first wooden model and also my first model ship, as an ex-RAF engineer I’ve been making plastic models of the aircraft I served on. I do have a long history of working with wood though so hopefully the engineering/woodworking/plastic modelling skills will come together to result in a wooden boat I can show off with pride.

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There are plenty of build logs on MSW for this boat so I’ll omit the traditional photographs of the kit box and it’s contents and leap straight into my plans for glueing the frames on square and true. I don’t possess any of the lovely engineers squares or 123 blocks, what I do have is lots of Lego. Each Lego block is manufactured to incredible tolerances of 0.001mm which I’m guessing will be accurate enough for my purposes. 

I’ve made a build board and keel clamp from square brass tube and a sliding Lego block which, hopefully, will make the gluing of the frames easy and accurate. Time will tell.

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A little bit more progress today, I found that the joints between the frames and the false keel were very tight. Too tight to fit without sanding and as it’s so delicate I decided to work on each section in isolation. First sanding the frames and using a scrap piece of the same size wood as a go/no go gauge. Then working on each slot on the false keel using the same piece of scrap wood to check for the fit.

once each piece was sanded it was time to start some gluing. This is a critical part of the build so I asked Lego Man himself if he’d oversee the operation and ensure that it was proceeding according to the plans.

 

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Moving on... I’ve glued all the frames / ribs / bulkheads ? onto the keel using my patented multicoloured lego “Sticking Things On Properly” machine. Then Mr McDonalds kindly donated some coffee stirrers which I used to strengthen the ribs for fairing.

 

I used the Tesco £1 nail files to do the majority of the fairing and found it was much easier to hold and manipulate the file after I’d stuck a little wooden handle on the back. The fine side of the Albion Alloys flexible file finished the job off nicely and leaves a lovely smooth surface for glueing.

 

I ‘think’ I’ve faired the hull properly but would appreciate a heads up if I’ve missed or messed up somewhere.

 

The instructions would have me add the transom now but it’s so delicate that I’m inclined to leave it off, at least until I’ve fitted the garboard strakes so any tips or advice would be appreciated. I’m off to a model show in Milton Keynes tomorrow so it’ll be Monday before I can start my first ever planking job.

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When you decide to add the transom, you will need to fair it with the hull. You can brace it from the top and even the sides.  You can remove the bracing when the planking is done. Depending on how you decide to plank will determine where to place the bracing. Check out some of the logs for how people have done this. 

Steve

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Had a play with the planks today, first job was to transfer the line of the top plank from the plans onto the model. I was a bit wary of bending the planks at first but with a bit of warm water and gentle manipulation they bent and curved easily. 

I did the bow bend around my glasses case and was as pleased as a dog with two tails when the plank sat perfectly around the bulkheads touching each one all the way to the stern.

Then I realised that I had to do some side bending so made a tracing from the plans and clamped up the two top planks.

It’s good fun this boat building lark isn’t it?

 

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16 minutes ago, Tigersteve said:

When you decide to add the transom, you will need to fair it with the hull. You can brace it from the top and even the sides.  You can remove the bracing when the planking is done. Depending on how you decide to plank will determine where to place the bracing. Check out some of the logs for how people have done this. 

Steve

I’m not sure which planks to start with now I’ve had another look. On reflection I believe I’ll follow Chucks instructions and do the top four planks first. This means I’ll need to fit the transom but I will take your advice and fix some bracing to it before I fair it.

I’ve just had a look at your build of the longboat Steve and if my planking turns out as nice as yours I’ll be over the moon.

Edited by SandyBay
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I’ve been studying ErikW’s build log as well as some others and started work on the planking. One of the best tips I’ve picked up so far is how to sand the planks before starting to get a nice fair edge. Dan Vadas’ suggested taping several planks together and sanding the lot in one go.

Once I’d done that I checked the fairing and decided that I needed to improve the run on the first two bulkheads.

All four top planks went on well and it’s starting to look like a boat now.

Try as I might I couldn’t get the wire from one clip to fit into another one so I just glued some spare bits of wood in instead.

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Now we come to the not so pretty bit. When I glued the keel pieces together I hadn’t realised that the tiny difference between the front and rear keel pieces would cause such a problem but as I was fitting the garboards I couldn’t get rid of the unsightly gap. 

I tried to sand the rebate level in situ and also briefly considered accepting the gap but decided that as I’m learning how to plank a hull I should put more effort in and try and do it properly.

luckily for me Chuck put extra keel pieces in the kit so I nervously removed the old one and replaced it with one which I’d sanded properly.

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2 minutes ago, Nikiforos said:

With your Lego foreman, you can't go wrong. Hilarious. And you have a plan to work from; I bought two AL kits to start and neither have scale plans.

 

Looking forward to see how you -both- get on in the weeks ahead : )

After the keel gap incident I’ve had to let that Lego foreman go. This guys a LOT more expensive but he told me he’s more experienced.

 

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Looks good. Be careful of your clamping on the bow. The basswood will dent easily. Also, your garboard has too much of an abrupt curve. Just sand/file a bit more for the gentle curve. Before you glue, shape the next strake to see of you have the curve correct. Again, BobF and Erik have done this perfectly. 

Steve

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13 minutes ago, Tigersteve said:

Looks good. Be careful of your clamping on the bow. The basswood will dent easily. Also, your garboard has too much of an abrupt curve. Just sand/file a bit more for the gentle curve. Before you glue, shape the next strake to see of you have the curve correct. Again, BobF and Erik have done this perfectly. 

Steve

Thanks for the advice about clamping, I’ve already dented some pieces. It’s a fine line between enough clamp pressure and too much isn’t it. I’ve made two more garboard planks and (hopefully) the curve on those is is better, I’ll find out tomorrow. If not I’ve still got plenty of wood left and with the help of you guys on here I’m sure I’ll get there eventually.

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I could do with some advice if you’d all be so kind. I’ve been working through using tick marks on the bulkheads and as I found on the first bulkhead, the available space is approx half a plank less on the port side. I’ve checked the height of the planks on the gunwhale and they seem the same heights so my inaccuracies must be in the garboard planks.

 

my question is this, is it better to reduce all the planks on the small side or try and sand the garboard area so the space to plank is the same as the starboard side?

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And now you've run into another aspect of planking that must be watched very carefully, that is like many others totally obvious in retrospect, but not at all obvious before: the need to have the planking of both sides be exactly symmetric.

 

I solved this problem by drilling a hole in the bottom center of the keel, exactly square. I mounted a piece of carbon fiber rod in that hole, sticking up a couple inches. I then attached two threads to that rod, one glued at the forward center and one in the rear center. With those threads, I could easily check any point on each side against the other, and it made it easy to maintain the required symmetricity.

 

As to how to fix it, if it's half a plank width out you really can't fix it without removing at least one plank on each side and then splitting the difference between the two replacement planks.

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24 minutes ago, vossiewulf said:

And now you've run into another aspect of planking that must be watched very carefully, that is like many others totally obvious in retrospect, but not at all obvious before: the need to have the planking of both sides be exactly symmetric.

 

I solved this problem by drilling a hole in the bottom center of the keel, exactly square. I mounted a piece of carbon fiber rod in that hole, sticking up a couple inches. I then attached two threads to that rod, one glued at the forward center and one in the rear center. With those threads, I could easily check any point on each side against the other, and it made it easy to maintain the required symmetricity.

 

As to how to fix it, if it's half a plank width out you really can't fix it without removing at least one plank on each side and then splitting the difference between the two replacement planks.

I was, in retrospect, quite casual about the symmetry on each side as I built it and obviously my chickens are now coming home to roost.

 I have always been impressed by the wooden ship models I’ve seen but now I have a whole new level of respect for the painstaking attention to detail and skill which is necessary to produce a quality ship model. It is so much more demanding than any plastic aeroplane kit.

Would you happen to have a photo of your carbon fibre datum machine in action as I’m having trouble visualising how it would work?

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You are building momentum. Very nice. It’s hard to see how bad the off symmetry is in your photos. I would keep both garboard and the next streak the same shape so you have symmetry. Depends how much this will bother you. If you decide later on to redo it will be more painful. 

 

Just a point in reference many of us took forever to complete this project. It’s not about speed at all.

Steve

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This long boat was also my first wooden model. The small size of it's components makes any miscalculation stand out like a sore thumb! I believe I had some issues with the symmetry of the planks also. I just began taking down the high side little at a time until it worked. The paint at the waterline and at the shear strake tended to hide any noticeable (slight) differences. I learned quite a bit building this little boat.

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Are you sure about the location of the upper planks?  From the second and third picture above it appears to me that they are higher on the starboard side, especially toward the stern.  There appears to be less of the frames and edge of transom showing above the top plank on the starboard side.

 

Great progress, and well done to notice the possible issue and take a step back to figure out a plan.   We've all been there and those of us who rush ahead anyway (like me sometimes) regret it in the end.

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