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USS CONSTITUTION by Brian Falke - BlueJacket Shipcrafters - Scale 1:96


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I purchased this model kit about a year ago while I was finishing up my second model, first scratch (USS ENGAGE).  Now that I am done with that model (with the exception of building the display base) I am moving on to something more challenging.  However, I am not a fan of the kits solid hull and only having the gun deck and main deck visible.  There is a lot more to the CONSTITUTION than those two decks.  My plan, therefore is to mix this as a kit and a scratch.  The hull is going to be plank on frame.  One side of the ship (probably the starboard) will be completely planked and painted; the other side (port side) will be open, so that someone can see all decks of this fine ship.  Additionally, I am going to be as true to the construction of this model as to the original.  I am going to use white oak and yellow pine through out the hull.  I recognize this will be a significant challenge and will consume years (USS ENGAGE took me 12 years to complete, granted it sat idle for significant portions of that period).  Everything else will be as per the model kit instructions.

 

My first step in this process is the framing.  Using the hull lines plan from the model instruction book I traced out one side of the frame and scanned the tracing into a PDF.  I have attached the tracing for Frame "7".   After scanning into my computer, I adjusted the scale to 100% (they were coming out at 139%) and took a screen shot of just the tracing from the centerline out just past the frame.  I then pasted that screen shot onto a Power Point slide, increased the size to 108% (I came to that percentage after trial and error of getting the print out accurate size).  I copied the half and flipped it to make the entire frame - port and starboard side (see the attached photo).

 

Once I have all the frames and keel complete, I will glue them onto white oak plank and commence cutting.  I have a concern about the strength of the frame, especially where it narrows at the top, above the main deck.  My gut tells me to glue two or three planks with their grains perpendicular to then one next to it and then plane that down to the thickness of the frame.  I am open to suggestions here, and welcome them as I am still tracing out the frames.

Frame 7.jpg

CCF07272019_00002.pdf

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  • 4 weeks later...

I am going to jump ahead in the build, way ahead.  But, there is a reason.  If you will bear with me for a bit.  My reason for building this kit was to include my father in on the build.  You see, growing up, my father also built model ships and the one that I will always remember was the paddle boat ROBERT E. LEE.  It was absolutely incredible.  I was mesmerized by it. It now sits in my sister's house in Mississippi as my dad felt that it should reside as close to the paddle boat region as possible.  I will get pictures of it one day and post them to this build. 

When I first received the kit I went over to my parents house to kick it off, and get my dad involved.  It is unfortunate that now, in his old age he is not able to do this type of work.  So, I packed up the kit and brought it back to my house to build.  I still want to include my father in on the build, but with easier tasks.   So, I am jumping ahead to the guns.

I was already to grab the guns, the truck carriages, the trucks and the paint (thank you BlueJacket for delivering in time) and head down to my parents house to paint and build the guns.  But, once I opened the guns I noticed that they required a little prep work before painting.  The web between the gun and trunnions and seams along the barrel needed to be smoothed down.  Additionally, the gun required boring out.  So, I set my travel plans aside and commenced to prep the guns. Using my power Dremel tool I gently ground the web down rounding out the trunnion and barrel in those places.  Using the wire brush on the Dremel I wired smooth the seams along the barrel and all along the barrel, breach and trunnions.  My next dilemma was to bore the barrel in the center.  To do this I clamped a 3/4" scrap piece of plywood to my drill press and drilled a 7/16" hole through the board.  This allowed me to insert the gun into the hole with the muzzle swell up and centered.  Using a 1/16" drill bit, I then bored out the barrel to a depth of about 3/16".

1967466671_24PoundGunUnfinished.thumb.jpg.707d81041280b4b99a119cf8a5661f4f.jpg1102281358_Boring24PoundGun.thumb.jpg.b82eb116ce71b53a95a48c01b6c70581.jpg1979575685_Bored24PoundGun.thumb.jpg.79b612c29b58e4cf2a49d0602689249e.jpg

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  • 4 weeks later...

After boring and smoothing the exterior of each cannon, I then focused on the carriages.  Being one for details, I noticed the gun tackle loops and breeching ringbolt on each side of the carriage required holes for the small brass eyebolts supplied with the kit.  I have scanned a few of the builds here and noticed that these were not included, so I am assuming that the kit does not come with enough eyebolts to do all the carriages and where needed throughout the ship - so I will have to order more.  The problem that I faced was now to drill holes in each of the carriages exactly (or dang close) to each other to achieve uniformity.  To do this I took a blob of JB Weld and mixed it together until it was starting to cure.  I then took the blob and pressed it onto the 3/4" plywood.  I then sprayed each side of the carriage with WD-40 so that the carriage would not stick and then pressed into the JB Weld each side of the gun carriage.  With the impression of each side of the carriage in the cured JB Weld blob, I let it cure until it was solid. This provided me with a stationary form where I could put one carriage into the impression, drill one hole, remove the carriage and put a new carriage in and drill in the same place until all carriages had the gun tackle loop drilled and in the same place.  Then I realigned the form on the drill press platform to drill the breeching ringbolt in the same place for each carriage.

20190902_131630.jpg

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Using the same jig process as I used above, I drilled a hole in the back of the Quoin for the handle for each of the gun carriages.  The BlueJacket kit does not come with a handle as the expectation is to not get down to this level of detail on the build (but, I am modifying the kit to some extent) and I felt a Belaying Pin would work perfectly as the handle.  The pins in the kit are 1/4", which are a little too long for this purpose.  So, I purchased 3/16" Belaying Pins from another supplier and they worked perfectly.  The handle part is about 3/32", which to scale is 9".  As a prototype, I finished one of the 32 guns.  Also, below the Quoin you will see the fitting for the Train Tackle.  I will have to drill that hole by hand on the carriages since it is located just above the rear truck.  Here is the prototype:

24lb_Prototype_1.jpg

24lb_Prototype_2.jpg

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  • 8 months later...

Picking back up on this build after finishing and placing in a display case (finally!) the previous build.  As I left off, I went down to my parents house to include my father in on the build.  Well, did not go as well as I had envisioned - unfortunately.  Guess eventually we all will reach that point.  I have a little re-work to do on the gun carriages.

Picking back up, as you recall, this is to be somewhat modified.  I am going to build the hull as a plank on frame construction in order to open one side of the hull, all decks for viewing.

My first was to do a little research in order to get a better picture of the keel.  From the National Archives, I was able to pull the drawings Samuel H. Pook drew in  1849.  Though not from 1812, it is well known that the keel is the original thus I felt Pook's drawings would be accurate for this purpose.  Additionally, I reviewed SCRATCH BUILDING A MODEL SHIP by Gene Bodnar (August 2007) and his build log when he built the CONSTITUTION in 4 sections.  The document is located here: http://modelshipworldforum.com/resources/plans_and_research/ScratchBuildingaModelShipgene.pdf  and the build log is on another ship model building website.

The keel is as the CONSTITUTION's - white oak.  I elected to use a single keel, not two sections.  To get the proper size (1/4" x 3/16") of the keel, I used a planner.  Then, using a scroll saw, I cut the forward joint (where the bow stem meets the keel).  Then measuring back from that joint, I cut the stern end of the keel.  I did this process just in case I fouled up the bow to stem joint I wouldn't have to re-plane a new keel all over again.  The bow stem is made of two sections such that the curvature of the stem would follow the wood grain giving it the most strength.  After attaching the bow stem, using the Pook drawings again I cut out the sternpost and glued that to the keel.

After the glue had dried overnight, I then drilled holes at each joint just tight enough to insert a toothpick.  I then inserted a glue coated toothpick into each joint providing additional strength to each joint.

Once done I place the keel on the work table and saw that I was starting off with a little sagging (you can see the stern is a little off the table).  To remedy this, I place a small piece of metal under the keel at midships and then clamped down the stern and bow sections.  I then place a wet sock (shop rag now) on the keel and let it set overnight.  This, at last check, remedy the sagging and I now have a straight keel to work from.

Next step is to start on the frames - which again, will be using Bodnar's document as a guide.

 

 

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20200524_132329.jpg

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On 5/29/2020 at 1:50 PM, Brian Falke said:

Picking back up on this build after finishing and placing in a display case (finally!) the previous build.  As I left off, I went down to my parents house to include my father in on the build.  Well, did not go as well as I had envisioned - unfortunately.  Guess eventually we all will reach that point.  I have a little re-work to do on the gun carriages.

Picking back up, as you recall, this is to be somewhat modified.  I am going to build the hull as a plank on frame construction in order to open one side of the hull, all decks for viewing.

My first was to do a little research in order to get a better picture of the keel.  From the National Archives, I was able to pull the drawings Samuel H. Pook drew in  1849.  Though not from 1812, it is well known that the keel is the original thus I felt Pook's drawings would be accurate for this purpose.  Additionally, I reviewed SCRATCH BUILDING A MODEL SHIP by Gene Bodnar (August 2007) and his build log when he built the CONSTITUTION in 4 sections.  The document is located here: http://modelshipworldforum.com/resources/plans_and_research/ScratchBuildingaModelShipgene.pdf  and the build log is on another ship model building website.

The keel is as the CONSTITUTION's - white oak.  I elected to use a single keel, not two sections.  To get the proper size (1/4" x 3/16") of the keel, I used a planner.  Then, using a scroll saw, I cut the forward joint (where the bow stem meets the keel).  Then measuring back from that joint, I cut the stern end of the keel.  I did this process just in case I fouled up the bow to stem joint I wouldn't have to re-plane a new keel all over again.  The bow stem is made of two sections such that the curvature of the stem would follow the wood grain giving it the most strength.  After attaching the bow stem, using the Pook drawings again I cut out the sternpost and glued that to the keel.

After the glue had dried overnight, I then drilled holes at each joint just tight enough to insert a toothpick.  I then inserted a glue coated toothpick into each joint providing additional strength to each joint.

Once done I place the keel on the work table and saw that I was starting off with a little sagging (you can see the stern is a little off the table).  To remedy this, I place a small piece of metal under the keel at midships and then clamped down the stern and bow sections.  I then place a wet sock (shop rag now) on the keel and let it set overnight.  This, at last check, remedy the sagging and I now have a straight keel to work from.

Next step is to start on the frames - which again, will be using Bodnar's document as a guide.

 

 

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20200524_122706.jpg

20200524_131848.jpg

20200524_132329.jpg

I never would have known where to start something like you are doing.  That is truly amazing.  I'll be keeping tabs on your progress, and I am certain they will be spectacular.

 

Ron

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  • 6 months later...

It has been quite a while since I have posted.  Dealing with family issues, my own health issues, and just could not figure out how to build the frames out of wood with enough strength in them to withstand the construction process.  My first attempt failed miserably, so bad, that I threw it into the trash out of disgust without thinking to take a picture of it.  My second attempt, I divided the frame into 5 parts in order to keep the wood grain as close to parallel to the frame as possible.  Using Frame C as the guinea pig, I cut the five pieces out of white oak at a thickness of 1/4".  Using an S joint (guess that would be a good description) to join the pieces together, I glued them using wood glue and clamped for 24 hours.  The following day, went out to check on my work and it all looked fine.  I unclamped the pieces and then was checking the strength of the frame by slightly pressing the port and starboard ends together.  Immediately, the top S joint on one side snapped free, ending that test and ultimately, this process of wood frames.  I needed to find a way to build stronger frames and which did not take days just to build each one.  Additionally, the frame was not too accurate, so include that in the development requirements.  This is the wood frame:

 

Wood Frame C.jpg

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So, that attempt was back in May.  I had other ideas - try and cut the wood to 1/8th thick and glue two pieces together with the grain perpendicular to each, place pins in the  joints, etc... Each thought would resolve one issue, but would increase another, mainly time.  So, I started digging around and decided upon a 3D printer.  I am still using BlueJacket's plans and drawings to draw out each frame and from those drawings, creating the 3D file which will be then used to create the frame.  I know this is "cheating" a little, but given the time constraints and risk with using wood frames (one breaks in during construction - or worse, after it is completed), I am opting to use the 3D printer - hey, I WILL be using Wood Filament for the frames...so, I am staying as close as possible.  😉

 

Here is the same frame as above, Frame C, but from the 3D printer.  It is pure PLA filament that came with the printer.  This frame was just a prototype.

 

It is stronger - tested by squeezing the tops of the frame together - did not break.  And accurate, as you can see the tops are level, and the beam is the same on each side.

3D Printed Frame C.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

That is amazing Brian.  If the frames are not going to be seen then 'cheating' would be allowed.  As such there are many ways out there to make this 3D printed frame look like wood.  So, I guess that would work.  It is amazing to see.  I would not even know how to begin to do what you are doing.  Nice work.

 

Ron

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  • 3 months later...
Posted (edited)

I printed out all frames, with the exception of the stern and bow sections.  That section is going to be difficult to get right (more on that later).  So, I decided to check my work and plan for the next step, attaching the frames to the keel.  My initial plan was to print the frame with a toothpick size hole in the part of the timber that would rest atop the keel.  A toothpick would then go through the timber into the keel to add longitudinal strength (first photo).

1430836091_20210425_152027(2).thumb.jpg.1bfebe2ceb1f94d207bc8efcb5b5e341.jpg

 

I felt that would not be strong enough to withstand sanding and planking when the time came.  So, I slightly altered the frames so that they would have a notch in the bottom that the keel would fit into.  Next photo.

20210425_152033.thumb.jpg.91e041ab98738705a1ab6e0b233aeeb1.jpg

 

I again felt that the frames would not be strong enough for sanding.  That when I would sand them, they would flex inward, thereby rendering my sanding efforts ineffective for the most part.  So, I then decided to experiment with a "shell".  Pretty much printing out the entire hull from stem to stern, keel to top rail - well, close enough that I could effectively shape it using plastic wood and sanding.  To do this I expanded the frame line fore and aft halfway to the next frame line thereby having the frames connected thereby providing mutual support between the frames and to the keel.  I printed out from mid-ships to frame H in one section and frame J to U in another section.  I added two holes in the keel at the forward and after ends to attach the sections.  Using epoxy glue I was able to attach them with confidence that it would hold without concern.   After that, I filled in the sides with plastic wood and then sanded.  I used hand sanding, a couple of power sanders and a Dremel tool to sand them.  Because of the strength, the sanding was effective.  To test planking, I then attached a plank to the inside and outside of the hull.  Normal wood glue works perfectly with the printed hull.  Here is my test section.

20210425_152348.thumb.jpg.41db268d20273dd2959a8af47217513d.jpg

 

20210425_152336.thumb.jpg.83b11a8416cf2ed7d719424cba0afad4.jpg

 

This gave me the confidence to press forward with printing out the hull using the hull section diagram from Bluejacket's manual.  I have from the stern all the way forward to frame Y in the Bluejacket plan.  Here are the pictures.

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So, I pretty much have it all with the exception of the bow.  That is proving to be difficult.  I have printed it twice already and have significant strength issues.  The frames do not connect with each other when I expand the forward frames fore and aft like i had done with the rest of the ship.  I am now doing it in small increments, of .03".  So, it is taking awhile to get the frame designed in Tinkercad.  Once I do, will post the pictures there.  But this is where it stands now.  I am about ready to shape the hull to prepare it for planking. 

 

Regards, Brian

Edited by Brian Falke
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  • 2 weeks later...

Still no bow.  However, the rest of the hull has been rough shaped on the interior and the exterior hull has been filled in with wood filler and sanded smooth.  I used wood rasps, 60 - 100 grit sandpaper for the exterior and wood rasps, a power drill sanding wheel, and a Dremel sanding drum for the interior.  I removed the ridges between the frames down to about halfway (from aft to forward for the frames forward of midships from forward to aft to those frames aft of midships) into the frame it self.  In the pictures the four sections between the bow and stern pieces are ready to be connected and then, when the epoxy is dry, sanded and filled in with wood filler.  Once I get the stern piece shaped (in the picture below, it is basically shaped, just letting the wood filler dry before smooth sanding) and the bow completed, all pieces joined and the junction seams smoothed, I should have a "shell" hull ready to receive interior and exterior hull planking.  In the last picture, two sections are epoxied and are drying.

 

20210509_111515.thumb.jpg.df0f4d08b82533639d22eb3cba9feffa.jpg  20210509_111527.thumb.jpg.e782c78ee2c9259a07d3056f1c8af0db.jpg  20210509_111541.thumb.jpg.92c36813f6a81a4ed8bdfe95dbf30293.jpg  20210509_112804.thumb.jpg.0af4560b3a624088446938812f59f0d7.jpg

 

Making progress...slow, but moving forward.

 

Cheers, Brian

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