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Blue Ensign

H.M. Cutter Alert by Blue Ensign - Vanguard Models - 1:64 scale

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Dont even think about how fast Chris can work ! He can build a hull in a weekend .

I have "suggested" to him several times that he  increases his estimates of "mere mortal " build times a bit - like ten fold !

All using a toolkit which appears to consist of a rusty pair of pliers and a stanley knife - and I am not kidding !

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I was thinking the lower hull is going to take a bit of fussing and fiddling with to get her up to your standards of planking. Are you planning on creating any special jig that you can invert her upon to hold really solid and give you the optimum control of her as you massage the planks into place and not damage that stern?



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I certainly will have to devise a jig of sorts to hold her during planking. The stern is always a worry, particularly those boom crutch extensions, which is why I have left them oversize for the present.

I have started the deck planking so that should keep me busy for a while.



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I am following your log with great interest as I am interested as to how the new Vanguard kit turns out, me being a fan of Chris Watton's work. I am temped to buy the kit of the cutter, but having already built Lady Nelson I will wait until he releases the HMS Speedy in the Autumn.  Nothing to do with you, but I find Kurt Johnsons comments a little irritating as he makes a lot of rather odd comments about you go about your build, like "are you going to do this or that" or "I was thinking that I would do ..... in my build"

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Thanks for looking in Alan, Chris's new crop of models do look really good, I loved his Pegasus designed  kit marketed by Amati, one of my favourite models.

 I'm pleased if anyone takes an interest in my build Alan, and as Kurt also has this kit I guess he's interested in my approach.

One of the great aspects of MSW is the sharing of information, and the way members give of their experience, I've learned such a lot  from others on here,  and I hope you find it as  beneficial as I have.






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Post 15

Laying the deck.

Before fitting the false deck I had marked the deck beams and planking layout in pencil. It is far easier to do this before the deck is glued into place.

Because I like the option to leave covers off I install carlings below the deck to give the impression of depth if the gratings are left off.


The waterway has already been installed so the decking can begin.


I am using Boxwood, not the provided stuff, but 0.7mm thick strips which I can get in varying widths.

I will be using nominally 4.5mm wide planks which equate to 11.3"



The first two strips either side of the centre line are run full length down the deck, marking the cut out positions for the hatches etc;

The planking then continues using the butt joint plan.



I don't sand decks , I prefer to scrape them. For this I use an old  plane blade.





Once I am happy with the deck smoothness I will seal with a water based varnish, using Caldercraft Flat Matt Varnish.


I now turn my attention to the lower hull planking.






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Post 16

Planking below the wale.

So time to get to it.

For the clinker planking the hull will need to be inverted during the whole process.



First a new support base is cobbled together to hold the hull in position.


Referring to the Alert book there is a mid ship section drawing showing the clinker boards, conveniently at 1:64 scale.



I am using 0.7mm thick Boxwood strip and I start with an 8mm wide (midpoint) Garboard plank. Marked on this is a 2mm overlap for the next strake up.


The first task is to re-mark the bulkhead positions on the hull and fix the Garboard plank.



I don't use ca for second layer planking preferring to continue with a good quality pva.



In the case of the Garboard plank the upper edge is held down using the heads of the provided steel pins.






Moving onto the adjacent plank to the Garboard the first thing I discover is that the 0.7mm strip at 6mm width is not conducive  to an edge bend at the degree required at the bow. It is too thin and buckles rather than bends.



The answer is to take a pattern and cut it out of some thin Boxwood sheet. Hopefully this is an issue where only severe bends are required.



These second planks are attached using fine brass pins along the bottom edge, and the heads of the steel pins to secure the top edge. (The hull is inverted remember)





I have not cut a rebate or a chamfer on the plank edges to  accommodate the lap, they are too thin for that. The laps will be fined down to suit later.


So that's the start of the clinkering business.

With the first two planks in place I can now try to work out the run of the following strakes. Between the wale and the overlap on the Garboard plank, there is 72mm at mid point.

Using 6mm planking with a net 2mm overlap results in 18 strakes of net 4mm planks.




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Brave, brave E.T.,

thats indeed a special task with the clinkering, and I know you`ll do a wonderful job, I love the clinkered "Alert" version in Peter Goodwins book and you`re going for it.....:)



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Thank you Nils, I wish I had your confidence, I'm very much a novice in the world of clinkering, but I hope visually at least it will look ok to the average eye once completed. 🙂





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Good evening Maurice,


That clinker planking is shaping up nicely,I'm certain the end result will be tip-top as normal.


Had a problem with the aft bulkhead on Speedwell. The transom area has no instructions as to how

one addresses the fashion pieces below the planked area. Just a note to round this area forward 4" (.084")

Plenty of info for the POF version but not much use for the POB one. After some thought I made my

fashion pieces from 3/16th pear and marked their placeon the bulkhead. Then I very carefully freehand

milled out a 3/16th deep area to fit them. Worked fine and when the transom is planked and after fairing

it will look very like the Cheerful transom. I hope :D 




Dave :dancetl6:  

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Thanks  Dave, 

Glad you have had success  with Speedwell’s fashion pieces, I modified those on Alert based on the Cheerful experience.





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Post 17

 More clinkering

For the next few planks up from the Garboard it looks like I will need to spile each one individually.



I have used tick strips to mark down the hull at the bulkheads and used those to gauge the taper required towards the bow.

The tick strip spacing is of the net 4mm width of the lapped plank.



I can then measure down from the lap edge to where the taper marks will come, and shape what is the upper edge of the plank.

Once satisfied with the shape and fit the 2mm lap line can then be drawn in for the following plank.



The tapering at the bow begins at the third plank from the Garboard, but before fitting it is used as a template for the corresponding plank on the opposite side.



The clinker at the stern.

Where the strakes approach the stern post the clinker will eventually be pared down.



I will be adding a thin veneer Boxwood to the stern post which will act as a rabbet for the strake ends.



In the midships area the clinker will remain more pronounced before being fayed down towards the bow.



This is a much more involved business than straightforward carvel planking; four strakes fitted but I still don’t really know how it will turn out.

Still it is an interesting exercise to have a go at.





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Looking good so far B.E.


What will you be using for the horizontal inter connecting of the lapped planks ? (for optical matter only)



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Thank you Nils,

If you're referring to the  copper fastenings, I'm not really sure at this stage. At 1:64 scale they will be pretty small, particularly to represent the roves. I was thinking that maybe  fine copper wire with a flattened end may suffice.

Watch this space!





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I am full of admiration for your adventurous spirit and workmanship - but you could have at least waited until some lesser spirit had finished a standard version first !:piratetongueor4:


Query - your planking seems to drop at the bow end yet you are talking about tapering - is this an optical illusion or am I missing something ?

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Hi B.E.


I`ll be in for the same tricky task with my Zeesboot a little later on. I think I`ll give up the simulated rivet connection with 0,6 mm flat headed pinswhere I wanted to slip on miniatur discs from the inside to simulate the clenching discs.

Looking at lapstrake joints in actual the copper nails pins are not even flush th the planks but sunk in so far that towards the outside the holes are plaged off with small round wooden dowels and sanded flush. Although I``m working in scale 1:24, that would be impossible for me to do in that way, although the planks are 2 mm thick.


I went Web-looking for mini brass or copper flat head pins...., best suitable are mini nails I found at Krick (Article 473842). The great benefit is that the nails have only 0,6 mm diam. and a flat head with only 1 mm diam. !!. I think I will be using these... and set them flush with the outside. An alterative could be doing only dilling the holes and fitting in toothpick points ( like treenails)


Another task is to get the borings all to align properly in row. and distance, if this ca`nt be done utmost tidy it will "look at you" for ever after....

Am curious how you shall master this, and wish you luck and good success



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Hi Nils, I’m curious about how I’ll master it too😀I note that on the NMM model of the Hawke 1777 flat nail heads are visible along the lap lines.

@ Steve,  the first strakes above the Garboard have to follow a tight curve around to the stem. Hopefully it will look better when a few more strakes are added, and I’ve smoothed out the clinker towards the bow.









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Post 18

Clinkering on.

 Time for an update, and review of progress.



A fairly slow process this clinkering business, I am doing two strakes per day.



Thus far each plank has been individually spiled, cut from boxwood sheet. I think this will be the case for all of them.



Each plank end at the bow is thinned slightly and an individual rabbet cut in the stem to hold it.

Very fine pins are used with the glue to hold the planks in place.

I use Amati (Very fine brass pins (A4136/10)) These have a flat head just shy of 1mm ø with a 0.5mm shaft, perfect for the job.



These are then removed. The pin holes aren’t a problem as the lower hull will be painted but will be re-drilled for representations of the bolts to be fitted.

Before fitting, each plank is trimmed to the tick marks and is used as a template for the opposite side.



At this stage I have completed 11 strakes and have started to fine down the lap of the strakes as they approach the stem and stern post.

All still very much wip at this point but I’m now feeling more confident that it’s starting to look like a clinkered hull.





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Good work B.E.

I knew youre going to master it :), great looking !

In the meantime ( my Zeesboot)  I drilled 0,6 mm holes for the horizontal plank connections, widened them to 1 mm, and glued (carefully knocked in) the points of bamboo toothpicks into the holes with low viscos CA wetting. After trimming and flush sanding it now looks as if all thes connectors have been plugged off with wooden plugs



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Thank you Nils and Mustafa.

@Nils -  still working out a strategy for the copper bolts and roves, but first I will need to clean up the  planking strakes.🙂


@ Mustafa - The pins are very fine and easy to remove. I use a fine blade beneath the heads to ease the pins out a little and then remove with mini pliers.





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Post 19

The end of a long and spiling road

After what seems to have been an interminable time at last all the lap strakes are in place.





The square tuck planking has also been completed.





With the last strakes in place the final shaping of the wale can take place.



The wale at the bow is also fined down a little in thickness.

This is not the end of the process, the planks have  to be cleaned up and faired at the bows and stern, and approximately 2500 copper bolts have to be inserted to ‘secure’ the laps.

I gave some thought about representing the roves as shown on the Alert book drawings but they would be incredibly small at 1:64 scale, and in any case the photo’s of the contemporary model of Hawke don’t appear to show such a feature, simply the bolts.

The bolts will be represented by copper wire ca’d into pre-drilled holes cut close and tapped with a hammer to flatten the heads slightly.

I now await a supply of copper wire to complete the task, but there is plenty of cleaning up work to do to keep me busy.






Edited by Blue Ensign

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Thank you Dirk and Dave.

The copper wire has arrived and I'm good to go.🙂



Following a trial I am going with 500gm 0.56mm diameter copper wire.

So the tiresome business begins, there are some 50 bolt holes per strake and 17 strakes per side.

I just hope I come out the other side with some degree of sanity  remaining.🙄






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Post 20

Finishing the hull

This involves scraping the boards to clean and fair them into the bow and sternpost, and then drilling the estimated 2500 holes for the securing bolts.

I have taken the measurements for spacing from the Alert book, which work out to a 7mm spacing at scale.

I am using 24swg 0.56mm ø copper wires to represent the bolts.



A week of fairly concerted effort sees the hull bolted.


With this done the tricky waterline question remains. Not one of my favourite jobs and the clinker is an added problem.

How do I get an effective waterline marked?


In marking the waterline, it seems best to me, having set the level at the bow low point, to start at the centre high point of the line and work fore and aft. That way the line runs with the lap and the pencil is not thrown off by the ridges.



Once the line is marked, Tamiya tape for curves is run along the lines to check by eye that both sides look even.



I’ve never found that this Tamiya tape works particularly well, doesn’t seem to have as much grab as the yellow version.



Altho’ I’m satisfied with the line of the waterline, inevitably I’m not going to get a sealed line to paint along, and my main concern is that the waterline line looks good with the clinker effect at model scale.

The top line will have to be painted free hand using the tape as a guide. The rub is that once committed it would prove difficult to go back to an unmarked hull.


I would hate it to look like a wobbly line, but doing it is the only way to see one way or the other, so time to bite the bullet.


I have used a basic white Humbrol  acrylic paint to lay down a base coat and assess the effect, but I intend to use a less stark  paint for the finish, perhaps Admiralty paints Light Ivory or Coral white.





I am relieved that the top line is far better than I had envisaged just a tiny amount of fussing and tweaking will be required.









I will now try to get the lower hull finish looking as good as I can before the upper hull is sealed with poly.






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Thank you Nils and Dave,  and to those who have looked in on the build.


Post 21

Finishing the hull – part 2

With a few coats of white paint applied to the lower hull and being more or less satisfied with the top line, I could at last  get some poly on the topsides above the waterline.

I quite like the combination of varnish and white paint on a model.









The inevitable stepped waterline is clearly apparent in this shot.

















So after four months, and at this point I can review the changes made to the build thus far.


   The most obvious is of course the clinker planking using thin Boxwood planks cut from sheet material. Clinkering is not an easy option, can’t be done with kit supplied timber, is time consuming, as each plank is individually spiled, and then there’s the application of copper ‘bolts’.

   My approach has been fairly simplistic but at this scale I think it works even tho’ I would have wished for better execution of the work in places.

Above the wale I used Boxwood planking rather than the supplied Pear wood.  


Scratch made Side counter timbers and extensions to the boom crutches.

     I really didn’t like the two piece add ons in the kit arrangement which to my eye looked unconvincing.


I have also tweaked the internal counter to better reflect the counter timber arrangement.


Enhancements to the hatch openings by the addition of carlings.


Creating a lower deck view thro’ the openings.


Pre-formed Capping rails replaced with Boxwood strip with thinned down width.


Sheer and Counter rails replaced with Boxwood strip scribed with a pattern.


I am now starting to feel a little happier about the build, altho’ I still wish I had replaced the stem piece with Boxwood.


Moving on to the Rudder.














Edited by Blue Ensign

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