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Gunboat Philadelphia by Arthur Wayne - Model Shipways - 1:24

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I wasn't going to start another boat until after I moved however, the Army is slow in producing orders so.... I'm hoping by starting another build my orders will be dispatched with much haste. That's how it's always worked in the past, get in the middle of a project and it's time to move! I chose this kit for 2 reasons, it seemed a logical next step after building the MS Armed Longboat in terms of complexity and secondly, my interest in the American Revolution. So without further adieu, here's the obligatory photo of the box, or at least the label on the box:



Kit contents.




The hardware. This boat was armed with 8 swivel guns however, there are only 2 guns included in the kit. I don't know why MS likes to provisions boats for more guns than they supply, the longboat has 3 mounts and 2 guns. In any event I will order 6 more, my cursory inspection of the kit swivel guns is that they are very nice. Had I seen these sooner I would have ordered some to use on my longboat. 




The instruction booklet is very thin, however the plans are extremely detailed and I doubt I will be left guessing what goes where. This plan set is really amazing. This is just 2 of the 7 sheets. The ruler is 18" for those interested in the size of the finished model. 




I'm already sanding and gluing parts so hopefully I can post an actual build update soon. Thanks for looking!


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That is a beautiful diorama and I would love to see more photos! I picked up the book The Gondola Philadelphia and the Battle of Lake Champlain. I was hoping for more photos of the replica than what's in the book but, the text has been very illuminating and helpful. If you have a link to site please share or, feel free to post them in this thread!

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The engineering of this kit is really quite nice. The only thing to be mindful of is that the laser creates a slight bevel which for thinner parts, isn't that noticeable. For thicker parts such as the keel, it is quite noticeable. Don't count on the edge being square because it wont be. Luckily the plans are actually to scale so I was able to determine that I didn't need to square up the edges of the parts. The stem and stern have parts that are laminated to the keel. With laser etched guides it's child's play getting the correct bevel. There are 2 parts per side for the stem and stern that when shaped and glued in place, form the rabbit for the planks. 


I managed to break stem extension to the keel after epoxying it on. The glue joint didn't break, the wood did. Luckily I was able to scab in a scrap piece of basswood that will not be seen in the finished model. 


The only thing I haven't figured out how to camouflage is the top of the stem and stern. These are visible on the finished model since it isn't painted, so the laminations give a not prototypical "butcher block" look. Perhaps a faux wood paint job? If anyone has an idea I'd love to hear it. 



The bottom of the hull is simply 3 pieces of basswood sheet. Nobody is going to see the bottom of the boat anyway so makes sense to save labor here. After gluing these parts together, I laid out the center line with painters tape so that I could glue the keel in place, centered and true. I used epoxy to glue the keel and keel braces to the bottom, after squeegeeing out excess epoxy I removed the tape. 


I did use a cheap bookshelf screwed to 1x3 oak runners so that I had a nice flat surface.  I weighed the keel down to the hull bottom while the epoxy set. 


Finally another view of the stem top, showing the "butcher block" effect I want to eliminate. 


I've started fairing the formers, the bevel and planking tick marks are laser etched! How accurate these end up being we shall see. From what I've seen of this kit so far, I expect they will be pretty darned accurate. I'm not fishing for compliments, I welcome comments, criticisms or just pointing out what I may have missed or goofed up. Thanks for looking!!



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Thanks gentlemen! I've managed to make some additional progress. As I expected, the laser etched bevel lines on the bulkheads are as accurate as one could hope. Once the exterior bevel was complete, I used a compass to mark the interior of each bulkhead so that it could be beveled to match the exterior. The entire interior will have ceilings installed so the bulkheads need to be beveled. Once I had a bulkhead set shaped, they were installed using Titebond. I found machinist's 1-2-3 blocks to be fantastic for holding bulkheads vertical and 90 degrees from the keel. 


I was able to complete bulkhead installation this week, despite not having an abundance of hobby time. 



So far everything has turned out straight and true! I'm working out how I will mount the boat, I intend for it to be mounted on a couple of as yet to be determined decorative pylons so that the boat appears to be floating 2 or 3 inches above the base. 



Next up will be creating the cockpit floors, but installation will have to wait until I settle on a stain color scheme. I would like shades of a honey/amber color for the majority of the boat but will leave the decks natural with a coat of wipe on poly. Hopefully I'll be able to post another update soon, thanks for looking!




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  • 2 weeks later...

I picked up the book The Gondola Philadelphia & The Battle of Lake Champlain by John R. Bratten and I also purchased the article on the Philadelphia published in Nautical Research Journal back in 1984. I was pleasantly surprised by Mary who handles orders for past articles, what an amazingly pleasant and super fast transaction!


So having gotten some reference materials and gone through all the build logs I could find, I discovered this kit took a few minor shortcuts. To be fair, unless you study the real boat you'll never know the difference. The most glaring to me is the laminated keel. On the real boat, this was a solid timber. The keel is only visible in the fore and aft cockpits, I considered milling the keel down flush with the cockpit floors and laying on a solid suitably sized piece of wood. However this would only leave about 1/4" of the original keel in place and I'd rather not risk having a bowed hull. I'll live with it, and unless you have nerded out on the real boat you probably wouldn't know the difference. So far the only kit modification I plan to make of consequence is to replace the kits 2 narrow strakes above the wale with a single strake. I think the kit went with 2 narrow strakes to avoid requiring the builder to have to spile the top strake. That's my guess anyway. 


I completed the cockpit floors as sub assemblies. I extrapolated where the nails would go from plans and dimensions in the book/article. The nails are black monofilament. I also used a #2 pencil to color one edge of each plank. The real boat didn't have a single scupper and there's no information suggesting the decks or cockpit floors were caulked, but this helps define the planks. The rear cockpit also has a bailing well. I don't know why but the plans call for it to be smaller than it actually was, I sized the well according to dimensions from the real boat. There is also an opinion that the bailing well had a hatch/cover which makes complete sense to me (the Philadelphia replica has a hatch/cover) so I chose to create one. I also made a handle for the hatch. Once the cockpit floors were complete and sanded smooth I applied a coat of wipe on poly. This is the aft cockpit:



This is forward cockpit. 



I settled on using amber shellac to finish the majority of the boat. It is easy to apply and dries in minutes. I have quite a collection of stains and gel stains, none of which did a very nice job of staining bass wood to my happiness. Shellac can be thinned with denatured alcohol so between that and or successive coats a nice amber tones can be achieved. Below is a test strip, the left most 1 inch has 2 coats of shellac while the middle is just one and you can just see a bit of unfinished natural bass wood on the right. I also noticed that the shellac does not seem to raise the grain after application. I may feel differently when the boat nears completion but I'm kind of surprised I don't see more folks using shellac. Clear shellac is also available, I will be experimenting with that next to see if it's a good substitute for wipe on poly.  


That's all for now, I'll be starting the strakes this week and hope to post more progress soon. Thanks for looking! 

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  • 5 months later...

Hey Arthur, when are you going to post more on this one?  Your work looks superb as usual. 


I am going to start a Dusek model soon.  I have decided on the Gokstad Viking ship.  It looks like it will be fun build and its history is very fascinating.

Edited by Dr PS - Paul Schulze
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Hi Paul, we were mostly packed and ready to move to Colorado Springs when the DoD stopped all movement. Sadly this build is on hold till we get to our new home, hopefully we will be there by the end of May. Until then I'll be getting my ship model fix watching all the amazing builds going on. 

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Ah Colorado Springs one of my old stomping grounds. I grew up in Denver and I love the Rockies. I hope you get your move and house soon. 

Right now I’m working on my N scale railroad layout and have a project going which I want to finish before starting the Gokstad. 

BTW, I just finished a Model-Expo Gatling Gun for my son-in-law. These are quick and fun projects. 






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