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Portland by jbelwood and norm1116 - BlueJacket

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Posted (edited)

Portland by jbelwood and norm1116 - BlueJacket



   Pre-laser kit purchased 1996

   The 2019 Kit


This is the order of construction per the BlueJacket manual. 


The Hull

   Priming by John

   Painting by John


Partial deck mock up


Paddle Wheels

   By John

   By Norm

Paddle Wheel Boxes

   By Norm

Walking Beam
Funnel Assembly



   per John and Clarence


Stern post



   by John


Cabin Profiles and Decks
 Main deck to saloon deck
 Cabin Sheathing and Paneling
Rub Rails
Trim Moldings
Saloon Deck
Hurricane Deck and Officer's Cabins
Hurricane Deck Skylight
Deck Fittings
Davits and Vents
Masts and Gaffs
Stanchions and Railings
Paddle Box Fronts
Installation of Paddle Wheels
Final Details


Edited by norm1116

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Posted (edited)

This is going to be an interesting build log.  jbelwood started his Portland a few years back, and it is in dry dock.  I just started mine.  His build to date looks spectacular, and I am going to be in serious need of all his experience so my kit will look as good as his.


So this log will be a 2-fer.  with luck, there will be a ton of photos for future builders. 


Please be sure to post any comments/requests/thoughts/feedback/help.  I'm going to need it.

Edited by norm1116

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I have a Portland kit that I purchased around 1996.  One of the pre-laser kits.  I also have the Portland kit I received on Memorial Day 2019.  I'm going to post a few photos of both kits.  I promise that anyone who built the pre-laser Portland must be a master kit builder.  There was very little in that kit that was simple.

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Posted (edited)

Kit purchased in 1996.


My step son wanted to build this model.  Brave undertaking for a 15 year old, but I was game.  It did not work out, but he would have done a great job on it if he was able to keep going.


I found an interesting article on BlueJacket here


The 1996 box label has an address in Stockton Springs, Maine, and the instruction manual has an address in Shelton, CT.


You have to love the line "Only simple hand tools are required to build this"......



One of the first things we did was have the plans copied.  I knew it was going to take some 2-sided tape and an extra set of plans to pull it off.  You can see where the tape is and parts are cut out on the roll in front.



The kit sat in my closet for 22 years.  I'm amazed at how well it survived over the years.  It looks brand new.  The wood appears to be in great shape with no warping. 


The decal:IMG_0653.thumb.JPG.0ea38947cf46cadc3cab6f16081a3184.JPG


The hull, sponsons installed on one side.



The plans were attached to the plywood using 2-sided tape.  Here's the main deck cut out with the plans attached:



The window acetate.  I think it may have hazed over.  I do not remember how it was originally:



The wood that came with the kit:



The kit came with planking sheets. 



Here's some miscellaneous wood, and you can see another deck cut out, and the blank plywood that was supplied for decks:



Here's another shot of the plywood for the decks.  No markings, no stamping, no laser cuts. 



My step son put all the small parts in this caddy.  The 2nd photo shows the rail netting, which appears to be in great condition.





The brass has tarnished a bit, but can be shined up again.  Notice how the paddle wheel covers have red in them, as well as the walking beam and name plate.  The new kit is all brass.  I plan on using the 1996 covers and nameplate on the 2019 kit.






Edited by norm1116

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This is going to be a great build log... I'm going to be following right along, watching and learning.



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Hello there Norm,


Really looking forward to your build log. My Portland has been sitting, unattended, in the shipyard for well

over a year. I'm hoping that you will give me the needed kick in the butt to continue toward the finish. 


I took many photos of my model as I went along. With your permission, I can share them with you on this

thread and provide comments where appropriate. When you get to the hurricane deck, where my build ran

into a snag, I'll surely need your input where I can follow you to get me through this. 


This should be fun,


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Posted (edited)


Thanks, and feel free to share any experiences that may help me pull this off better.  I already got a great idea from a post jbelwood had a while back:

Porthole glazing

I'm wondering if any of those solutions would be a suitable replacement to the acetate windows. 



The photo of your Portland looks spectacular, so I would greatly appreciate having you share your experiences and photos here.  If nothing else, maybe a ton of photos will help future builders.  I'm going to be mocking up the decks in the next week or so, so I will be ready to hear your sponson solution when you have some time.


I'm also thinking if you want, we could change the build log name to include you.  Joint effort and all that.  When you get back to your Portland, keep posting here, and this might be one heck of a build log!


Portland by jbelwood and norm1116 - BlueJacket


Edited by norm1116

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Posted (edited)

The 2019 kit


This is the box it was delivered in.  It was wrapped in a layer of cardboard and taped.  This was a rock solid shipping container that arrived with no damage at all.






Here's the contents.  I think I removed the paints and display board already.  The hull came wrapped in something that felt a bit heavier than butcher's paper.  It was well protected.  The baseboard came enclosed in bubble wrap.




The plans.  They come folded.  I used an x-acto knife to trim the margins off the plans, and I cut them in half so they would be more manageable.  Flattened them out the best I could under a heavy cutting board.



The cherry baseboard.  It comes with the edge routing.  I'm glad I purchased it.  It is really nice. (Not included with kit, it was an add on).



The paint set (Not included with kit, it is an add on).



Wood pieces




The laser cut parts.  Big improvement over the 1996 kit.  These are really well done.



The brass will take your eyes out if there is a lot of sun.  It is all packed in what appears to be an airtight package.





All the little "bits"









Stanchions (Not included with kit, it was an add on).



The hull










Edited by norm1116

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As to the port holes on the bow, I used gallery glass. Of the more than 100 windows on the ship, I used 

acetate exclusively. The openings are too large to accept any "liquid" formula that I am familiar with. Also,

you will be painting red curtains on each window. Mine came out perfect. You'll see as we go along.


As to the sponsons, I'll respond with photos and comments when you are ready. I did not plank-on-frame

as outlined in the instructions.

IMG_0008 (1).JPG

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I have some Gallery Glass on it's way so I can copy your idea.  I have another product coming also, I'm going to test a few things with it. 

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Posted (edited)

The hull


I own a couple of Dremel's, and used that with a .5" drum sanding bit for most of the detailed work, but for the high speed removal of a lot of material, I used my Proxxon belt sander.  I've used it only a few times, but it has been indispensable for certain tasks.  It can be mounted in a vise or used as a hand tool.




There is material that needs to be removed at each end of the hull.  If I have this right, the excess wood is where the reproducing machine is attached to the blank.





I scanned the stem/stern profiles and a few of the station profiles from the plans and used Publisher to correct any sizing issues.  I printed them out on photo paper, which when cut is stiff enough to use to check the profiles.











Was my work perfect?  Not in a million years, but the stem and stern look close, and the overall profile is acceptable.  Even if I am off a bit, I do not have the "eye" to do this freestyle.  I needed the templates to get it acceptably close.



jbelwood mentioned that he noticed an issue with camber on his hull.  I never even considered that as a potential problem until I read his post.  So I looked.....


Yeah, that could be an issue.  Easily resolved with a sander.IMG_0728.thumb.JPG.ac1ed8381b41043db61fb22b141514c6.JPG

Thanks jbelwood!!!!


The instructions say to draw a line down the center of the hull, all the way around.  Then draw another line 1/16th of an inch on both sides of the center line.  The stem/stern needs to maintain a flat 1/8th inch for the keel.  That was not going to work out for me.  I always colored outside of the lines, hehe...  I got the hull close to the 1/8th inch stern and stem.




I spot glued a strip of 1/8th inch wood to the stem and stern.  If I had done the pencil line thing, I would have sanded the pencil marks off the hull, destroyed the profiles, and ended up with a mess.  It may be less than perfect, but I have to think ahead to prevent me from screwing things up.



To get a "close" center line, I eyeballed putting a small nail into the center of the bow.  I tied a string on it, and ran it all the way around the hull.





I felt really good that the string was centered on the hull.  I felt even better when I got the ruler out.  I slipped it under the string and moved it so the ruler showed the width of the hull as something I could relate to, say 5" or 4".  Then I looked at where the string crossed the ruler.










To be fair, there was one spot where the hull was wider on one side than the other, but it was so small, I did not worry about it.  I marked the center at a few points, then used a ruler to draw the center line on the hull.  I'm feeling good about it.



My hull came with a few imperfections.  If I sanded them out, I think the hull would have shrunk a bit.  I opted to use light weight HobbyLite filler to fill in the imperfections and sand it down.



I'm sure there will be additional filler used when I do the first coat of primer on the hull, but I'm OK with things so far.  The sponsons will cover a lot of the hull, so I can go from there.





Edited by norm1116

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Posted (edited)

Deck mock up


I drew center lines on the main deck and attached them to the hull temporarily.



I tried to check the measurements in a few spots.


I thought I did a good job lining the deck up to the hull, but missed by a bit.  Took it off and got closer on the 2nd try.



You can see by the stern marking that I'm still off by a small amount.  I'm weighing whether I should try again or let it go.



I did a quick mock up with most of the deck pieces in place.



I'm hoping jbelwood and others can give me some tips on this process.  What did you do to keep it all aligned?  How many spacers did you use on each level?  Any other hints/suggestions?





Edit -


During a more detailed deck mock up, it appeared that the "saloon deck fore" was about 3/16" thinner than the "main deck fore".  I thought they should be the same so the walls would be perpendicular to the deck. 



I attached a 1/16 x 1/8 strip to both edges of the deck from the paddle wheel end through where the two decks were the same size.





It wasn't enough, so I glued a 2nd strip on each side.




Once the glue dried, I clamped the 2 decks together.  Using an X-Acto knife, I trimmed off the excess wood on the strip that was added to the edge.  It came out very well.




A bit of sanding and it looked good.



I started to line up some of the spacers and decks, and got about this far -







The last 6 photos, everything was loose.  I attached it, didn't like the fit, took it off, re-positioned it, attached it, didn't like the fit and went in a different direction.



I used a drill press to drill holes through the spacers.  If the holes were at an angle, tightening the screw would pull the deck out of alignment, (or so my thought process told me).  I made the holes just large enough so the screw could pass through it with minimal friction.


I drilled holes in the upper deck so the screw could pass through with minimal friction.  I put the screw in the deck, put CA glue on the spacer, and glued the spacer to the underside of the upper deck.  This kept the screw upright as I adjusted the position of the deck.




I used small binder clips to clamp strips of wood on the deck edges to keep them straight.



I aligned the decks using the paddle wheel opening as a reference.




At that point in time, I pressed one of the screws into the wood below it and started screwing it in.  Did the same for the other 2 screws.  Tightened all 3.




I am really happy how this turned out so far.  But now another issue came up.  The screw heads need to be flush with the top of the decks.  I had to remove both!  Because I glued the spacers in place, it was no problem at all.  I removed the screws, countersunk the openings, and put it back together.



I measure up more decks, and tack them on with short screws, and end up with this:





This last photo just does not look correct.  I'm still happy with the center line, but it all looks out of alignment in the paddle wheel box area.  I feel I must have done something wrong.  I'm going to build the paddle wheel boxes and temporarily put them in place to be sure all of this is moving in the correct direction.


If anyone has ideas/feedback on this part of the build, feel free to chime in!!!








Edited by norm1116

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Hi Norm, you can refer to me as John, if you please.


I used the spacers as suggested but two more on the main deck in no particular area. As to the hull shaping, I used the

one from the older kit. It was beautifully shaped right out of the box. Since I don't have a Dremel I did all of the shaping

with a sanding stick and X-acto #11 blade. Also used HobbyLite filler. Over all it took me about 3 hours to finish shaping

the hull.


I was able to get an accurate, I thought, center line on each of the various decks. However, as I went along, they didn't

quite match up with the one below. I wound up measuring from the sides, where needed, to get a more precise fit.


I don't have near the amount of photos that you have Norm. Didn't anticipate a build log from the start. Will pass along

what I have and comment where needed. You seem to be off to a much better start than I.


Up next, those blasted sponsons. Will try to post my approach later today.






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I have a deck question.  Should the "main deck fore" have the same profile as the "Saloon deck fore" so the walls are straight up and down? My saloon deck fore is 3/16ths thinner at the paddle wheel end.



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I had the very same issue. Profiles should be identical. I simply added a small piece of deck material

and shaped it to fit. Another thing...I did not glue any of the decks down until I was darned sure everything

fit correctly. 


I assume that you will be adding the sponsons and painting the hull prior to working on the levels above

the main deck. Also, now is the time you'll want to pick out the deck color.

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Thanks for verifying that deck sizing for me.  I'm also going to do a full deck mock up complete with screws to get it all aligned.  I will be up to the sponsons soon and am looking forward to reading what you did.


As for deck color, I thought it was medium grey.  Did you go in another direction on that?


The instruction book mentions completing some sub assemblies prior to final deck attachment.  So here's what I think I'm reading:


Install main deck

Do full deck mock up with screws.  Mark it all and take it apart.

build and install Sponsons

Sub assemblies - walking beam, smoke stacks, pilot house, and one other (hurricane deck house?)

Install decks and bulwarks.


Sound about right?

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10 hours ago, jbelwood said:


I used the spacers as suggested but two more on the main deck in no particular area. As to the hull shaping, I used the

one from the older kit. It was beautifully shaped right out of the box. Since I don't have a Dremel I did all of the shaping

with a sanding stick and X-acto #11 blade. Also used HobbyLite filler. Over all it took me about 3 hours to finish shaping

the hull. 



WOW,  no Dremel?  you did the hull with a sanding stick and x-acto?  In a million years, I would not be able to do that.  I'm impressed.


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My decks are spray painted with Floquil Canadian National Gray. I first primed them with Rust-Oleum, 2X Ultra Cover

Flat Gray. I'm a firm believer in rattle cans. Used them on all large exterior surfaces.


I did not do a full deck mock-up. Positioned and screw attached the decks as I proceeded. I did not proceed with any

sub assemblies from the start. Although I believe I built the paddle boxes early on. Dry placed them on the deck but

don't believe I glued them down until later. Suggest you hold off building the wheel house until you get to that point

in the build. It's your call on the other subs. Walking beam has me baffled.


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Correction needed on my part. You have apparently read Clarence Borgmeyers Portland build from back in

2015. I mentioned there that it took me about 10 hours to form the hull. That seems more reasonable.

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Sponsons for the Portland.


First off, I want to thank Clarence Borgmeyer for suggesting this idea for the sponson build.



I first cut the sponson profiles from plan Sheets 1 & 3. Then traced them onto manila folder

paper and cut them out. Traced the outlines of these onto the respective hull sides and bottom

of main deck.




Here was a major problem. As you can see, the three frames are too long for the application.

Did away with frames altogether.




Here is where I established the shape of the one piece cover to come. Taking the two manila

cutouts, I over lapped them and positioned them against the sponson outlines. Then taped

the two pieces together and then to the hull to check the fit. If you look closely you can see

that there are two pieces forming this shape.


395468360_IMG_0003_opt(7).jpg.864759fd430cecb1a3733a44369deed3.jpg th

Then I placed the cutouts onto a sheet of 3/32" basswood and cut out the new sponson covers.

Glued them in place with Titebond. The "bullnose" ends were shaped with a belt/disc sander. Use

the paper forms to draw the outline on the square blocks. Carved a 3/32" notch into the bullnose

flat end and slid it under the basswood. Very little sanding and filler  needed.



I'm quite happy with the results. 


John Elwood


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John (and Clarence),


Thanks for the sponson idea.  The plank on frame would be filled and sanded anyway, and would have turned out exactly the same.  I like how yours came out and will probably do the same.



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Here's my favorite painting of Portland by Bill Muller. I phoned him when I was searching for the deck

color of the ship. He had no idea. Go to his thumbnails for some more beautiful paintings of various

side wheelers. The two deck area paintings are wonderful.



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great job on your postings .  I wish I had this when i was in the build.   Also good use of detailed pictures.

I am almost done with my Portland .    Looking forward to how yours turns out.


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This is a GREAT build log!  Thanks, guys, for posting!



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Posted (edited)



Thanks, and I agree!  John's info is going to be instrumental in my success, as is the build log Dan Evans recently started




Great paint shots.  I'm working on the deck mock up now.  I want to be sure the paddle wheel sub assembly fits in properly, so it will be a few days before I get there.  I set the salon decks and took them off as they are not straight.  Going to reset them in the next couple of days.


I have just started a part time job with the main goal of getting some exercise through work.  The other option was to join a fitness center, send them money each month, and probably never go....  I'll work on the Portland, but things may slow down a bit.


Keep the photos coming (everyone!!)  As we go along, I'll include each segment in the index for future builders. 

Edited by norm1116

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John I suggest you use tamiya masking tape when you start painting the red and white on hull.  it is very flexible and you will need it.  Also it gives a tight line when painting the hull.  Good luck.


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Norm, just got back from a 5 day stay in the hospital. Caught an Ecoli bacteria in my blood stream just in time.


Hard to believe you are struggling so much with the decks. From the beginning I struggled with the centerlines.

Apparently the laser cut decks are not all that exact. I would suggest you fit them in place as the build proceeds

instead of trying to screw align them all at once. You will have more reference marks to guide you.


Above all, finish painting the bottom, including water line and sponsons, prior to addressing the upper cabins. Also

build the paddle boxes. They will also help you in your alignment with the decks. Temporarily mount the ship on a

simple base so you can turn it around and not have reason to pick it up. 


My next post will show how I drew the water line, and painted the hull. And yes Dan I used Tamiya tape. Perfect for

the job.




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