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Copper plating any advice on the jig


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You might give some consideration to giving the "bolt heads" a pass.

They were more like nails and are not seen from a distance that is not that far away.  They are not proud, rather flush or a slight dent.

Most of the hulls with bumps remind me of an old picture of a severe case of smallpox in someone with an incompetent immune system.

Individual plates from a copper sheet?   On a piece of safety glass - score with a very sharp #11 blade moving along a steel straight edge.

Snap along the score.

Attaching the copper can be a problem. 

Old Model Shipways technique called for using a candle to darken the copper and then using Weldwood contact cement.  They did not say to scrub the glue side after flaming it.  What happened is a layer of oxide on the surface that cases the cement bond to fail.  

Treating the copper sheet to a color change before scoring may either leave the other side unaffected or allow for easier process of cleaning it.

I am a long way from actually doing this experiment, but I have it in mind to use archival paper with a smooth surface.  Paint one side with Modern Masters ME205-06 Metallic Antique Copper, before I cut plates, wondering about a  Guillotine Trimmer for the cutting,  attach with bookbinders PVA,  and use  Modern Masters PA901-04 Aging Solution Green Patina in various places.

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I'm not sure of the scale in your case. This is how my 1/50th revenue cutter looks -https://modelshipworld.com/topic/6741-early-19th-century-us-revenue-cutter-by-richardg-artesania-latina-scale-150/page/3/?tab=comments#comment-602068.

 

I used 1/4" copper tape and jigs for the nail impressions. No special tools were used but making the jigs was a little tedious. I can document the process if you want.

 

Richard.

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It's one of those things that is usually shown exaggerated and out of scale. It originated in days before modern adhesives and tiny pins or lengths of wire were used to attach the plates to models. These were already more visible than the real thing. Look at photos of the actual Victory or Cutty Sark, and you'll barely see tiny dimples. It is better to forget about them on scale models, really.

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This topic seems to pop up over and over again. A search through the various building logs might be useful ...

 

As druxey said, the 'dimples' are barely visible on the real ship from a view metres away. They are, however, one of those details that, when left off, may make the coppering look rather sterile. On the real thing you can see that there is something, but you can't really tell what it is, when you are some distance away.

 

What you can do depends very much on the scale you are working in. In scales of 1:48 or above, I would perhaps imprint lightly the nailing into the copper sheet using a copying wheel (sewing supplies) and then flatten them again from the back with a round piece of hard wood. This gives you quite realistic 'dimples' that are not proud of the surface.

 

There are very thin copper adhesive strips where you may use the same technique for even smaller scales. I have used them for rivetted plates, but not for copper sheathing yet using the above technique.

 

Always use a glue that sets by evaporating the solvent, i.e. contact cement, and not something that polymerises, i.e. CA cement. Copper ions can inhibit the polymerisation. Also CA can react with the oxide film on copper, leaving bright spots, and it is difficult to remove excess cement. Excess contact cement can usually be wiped off with a solvent.

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I used the self adhesive copper tape on the Charles Morgan 1/2X1/4 in. with overlaps on all 4 sides -with I think, good results and no need for "dimples". The tape can be purchased in variety widths and colours. I used copper plates on the Diane and Agamemnon, more difficult ,gluing and cutting, but felt the larger scale needed it. It requires careful cleaning up to avoid patchy "ageing" . The Dane I left  to age by itself, the Aggie ( after much research) I decided to treat with urine applied carefully by brush. After 3 years the result looks the same (ps luckily MY urine because once I forgot not to lick the brush)

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Then, because I don't like shiny copper.....and I wanted a real muntz metal oxidized look...I weather it.   The real muntz metal was yellow..new, but when oxidized turned brown.  Note the old Cutty Sark bottom.

post-2739-0-88835000-1483756393_thumb.jpg

post-2739-0-88771900-1468026954.jpg

Edited by rwiederrich
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12 hours ago, rwiederrich said:

Then, because I don't like shiny copper.....and I wanted a real muntz metal oxidized look...I weather it.   The real muntz metal was yellow..new, but when oxidized turned brown.  Note the old Cutty Sark bottom.

post-2739-0-88835000-1483756393_thumb.jpg

post-2739-0-88771900-1468026954.jpg

I doubt if that "old" Cutty Sark bottom ever saw the sea.  The below pictures are of USS Constitution, just out of the water and after the coppering has dried, plus a shot of her newly coppered bottom before return to the water with the previous coppering on the rudder, which was not renewed, save for one plate which is quite apparent. However, it should be noted, I believe, that Cutty Sark was "coppered" with Muntz metal, as noted, and it does turn brown, rather than the verdigris green seen with pure copper oxide.

 

569933754_5-restoration023-1024x6781.jpg.d03b229a3ddf613094ca54b4449cb094.jpg

876118103_6-EV2015-1541.jpg.340afc64691b38591e4bfd68a41efae1.jpg

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Note at the aft end of the keel how the "bleeders" (water leaking out between the seams) have turned verdigris green, giving an idea of how quickly the oxidation takes place.

 

https://ussconstitutionmuseum.org/2016/09/09/keel-hauled/

Edited by Bob Cleek
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Sutty's old bottom as of the picture I posted probably never saw salt water....but the point I was making is that the plates on her and on my Great Republic where NOT copper as was probably the Constitution...evidenced by the verdigris green oxididation, but Muntz metal....which began its life as shinny yellow and quickly turned brown...…  The Cutty image was to demonstrate the color of the muntz when it was oxidized.

 

As for the Original posters questions....I could not find muntz metal to *copper* the bottom of the Great Republic....so I treated the shiny copper foil to look like old Muntz metal plating.

 

Rob

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I understand that verdigris develops in the presence of air. Underwater, however, there is less oxygen. Scouring, as well as possible electrolytic action, takes place leaving the copper relatively bright. Only the area of copper near and above water, exposed to air, will turn green. Comparing a dry-docked copper bottom with copper submerged in water is not a good analogy.

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On 11/13/2019 at 8:47 AM, wefalck said:

This topic seems to pop up over and over again. A search through the various building logs might be useful ...

 

As druxey said, the 'dimples' are barely visible on the real ship from a view metres away. They are, however, one of those details that, when left off, may make the coppering look rather sterile. On the real thing you can see that there is something, but you can't really tell what it is, when you are some distance away.

 

What you can do depends very much on the scale you are working in. In scales of 1:48 or above, I would perhaps imprint lightly the nailing into the copper sheet using a copying wheel (sewing supplies) and then flatten them again from the back with a round piece of hard wood. This gives you quite realistic 'dimples' that are not proud of the surface.

 

There are very thin copper adhesive strips where you may use the same technique for even smaller scales. I have used them for rivetted plates, but not for copper sheathing yet using the above technique.

 

Always use a glue that sets by evaporating the solvent, i.e. contact cement, and not something that polymerises, i.e. CA cement. Copper ions can inhibit the polymerisation. Also CA can react with the oxide film on copper, leaving bright spots, and it is difficult to remove excess cement. Excess contact cement can usually be wiped off with a solvent.

Yes, this is a very re-occurring theme. I am following them as I will have similar questions later on my first attempt.  Can I suggest there is a item logged under 'modelling techniques to go along with the planking and rope already there? 

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18 hours ago, rwiederrich said:

Sutty's old bottom as of the picture I posted probably never saw salt water....but the point I was making is that the plates on her and on my Great Republic where NOT copper as was probably the Constitution...evidenced by the verdigris green oxididation, but Muntz metal....which began its life as shinny yellow and quickly turned brown...…  The Cutty image was to demonstrate the color of the muntz when it was oxidized.

 

As for the Original posters questions....I could not find muntz metal to *copper* the bottom of the Great Republic....so I treated the shiny copper foil to look like old Muntz metal plating.

 

Rob

As I mentioned, I gathered, and agree, that the Muntz would probably appear more brownish, rather than green like copper. Muntz metal is a brass, about  60% copper and 40% zinc with a bit of iron. While verdigris green oxidation on brass is not as pronounced as with pure copper, brass does form a green patina, as do also most bronzes, all due to their copper content. The green copper patina isn't very hard and wears off easily. A good example is the US penny coin, which is now made of zinc plated with pure copper. Pennies, if left out in the weather will often turn "copper green," but when handled in circulation invariably end up colored brown. 

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18 hours ago, druxey said:

I understand that verdigris develops in the presence of air. Underwater, however, there is less oxygen. Scouring, as well as possible electrolytic action, takes place leaving the copper relatively bright. Only the area of copper near and above water, exposed to air, will turn green. Comparing a dry-docked copper bottom with copper submerged in water is not a good analogy.

Yes, oxygen is required for the oxidation process to occur and there's more oxygen in the air than in the water. There will always be a green band at the waterline on a coppered bottom for that reason. Scouring or electrolysis, for that matter, don't seem to brighten the copper at all.  In my experience, upon haul out, coppered bottoms are pretty much indistinguishable from bottoms painted with cuprous oxide anti-fouling paint when viewed from a distance of twenty-five yards or more. You really have to walk up close to most of them before you realize they are coppered. There aren't as many around these days as there used to be, but forty years ago, we'd see coppered bottoms on British-built yachts fairly regularly when they'd come through the brokerage where I worked. Many were painted over with anti-fouling paint because, while the copper provided a mechanical barrier to marine borers and a somewhat inhospitable surface for barnacles to grow, it does little or nothing to inhibit marine vegetative growth on a hull which will slow a boat down as much, if not more, than any marine critters. 

 

The point of noting what a dry-docked copper bottom looks like is relevant if and when a model is to portray a vessel hauled out. I've seen my share of coppered bottoms coming out of the water when hauled out and I've never, ever seen one that looked "relatively bright." Not even close. They look just as groaty as a bottom painted with copper bottom paint and are often not even distinguishable at first glance. Even after a high pressure wash down, you don't ever see bright copper color. A "bright" copper color is only seen when the plates are first applied and that only lasts a short while before it turns brown (or green, if it gets wet.) The models which show bright, shiny copper plating all around aren't true to the prototypes. The plates on the top of the stacks, as they come from the rolling mill, are oxidized already, and the bright ones below them oxidize rather quickly, producing something of a harlequin pattern as they are applied. In practice, especially on a large vessel, by the time the last plates are nailed down, the first applied have lost any semblance of a shine. (Brass plating, as with the Muntz metal on the newly restored Cutty Sark oxidizes much more slowly, and stays bright longer, as seen in the photos of Cutty Sark's new bottom.)

 

Compare Cutty Sark's never-launched Muntz metal bottom to the photos of the newly-coppered Constitution posted above.

 

 

1024px-Cutty_Sark_stern.jpg.47714ac3a3f9442e1d1a966f6947ce78.jpg

 

By Cmglee - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19898346

 

Edited by Bob Cleek
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Indeed...these models represent the exaggerated color alterations that must have been present when exposed and unexposed plates were secured next to each other when coppering took place. 

 

At first it looks odd, but when you recollect that it represents actual representations...….it makes more sense.

 

Rob

ee56e2fe943a6d7d8d28f0a0ee05d747.jpg

comet2.jpg

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  • 1 year later...

New modeler here. I have always thought that a bright copper bottom is not realistic as your photos and discussions have shown. Is there a solution that can be brushed on a bright coppered bottom to “age” it but not oxidize the copper to green patina? Thanks.

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The key is to treat the copper before it is on the hull, not after.  Things to consider...  Are you using copper tape or individual plates?  What was the original intention of the product, i.e. is there a protective finish that needs to be removed before the "weathering" can occur?  What is the look you are after?  At launch, just pulled out of the water before cleaning and in a drydock after cleaning and repair will all look different.

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18 hours ago, Alpsman said:

New modeler here. I have always thought that a bright copper bottom is not realistic as your photos and discussions have shown. Is there a solution that can be brushed on a bright coppered bottom to “age” it but not oxidize the copper to green patina? Thanks.

You might investigate "liver of sulphur" as an option.  I used it on the hull of my America (see link below) to give the copper an "old penny" look.

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  • 4 months later...
On 11/12/2019 at 8:37 PM, druxey said:

It's one of those things that is usually shown exaggerated and out of scale. It originated in days before modern adhesives and tiny pins or lengths of wire were used to attach the plates to models. These were already more visible than the real thing. Look at photos of the actual Victory or Cutty Sark, and you'll barely see tiny dimples. It is better to forget about them on scale models, really.

 

Thanks Druxey!  Really makes a lot of sense and saved me a tremendous amount of time on my Conny coppering.

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On 11/12/2019 at 6:00 PM, Jaager said:

You might give some consideration to giving the "bolt heads" a pass.

This is a photo of the Constitution during one of her restorations. 

If you were to try to duplicate the nails at 1/78, they wouldn't even be seen anyway.

 

Clipboard01.thumb.jpg.9cbbd54f9795d1559545200c65879316.jpg

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Posted (edited)

I don’t know what scale your model is being built to but keep this in mind.  Copper sheathing was nailed not bolted, to the hull with flat head tacks.  The flat head was necessary to spread out the load from the tack against the thin copper sheathing.  The tack head had a diameter of about 1/2in.

 

Now assume that your model is being built to a scale of 1:64.  Someone viewing your model from a distance of 1ft would be equivalent to someone viewing the real thing at a distance of 64 feet.

 

At 64 feet would you see the head of a 1/2in diameter flat head tack?

 

Roger

Edited by Roger Pellett
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Posted (edited)

I hope everybody is sitting down, because this is going to cause a lot of people to gasp in horror...

 

If it's an accurate depiction one desires in the scales we usually build models, using real copper to "copper" bottoms really isn't the way to go. It is difficult to work with and nearly always produces a poor result. Model kit manufacturers include copper tape and foil in their kits because it's just one more inexpensive way to make consumers think their kits are "high quality." 

 

As many have noted, prototype coppered bottoms look nothing like what the majority of coppered bottom models look like. To achieve an accurate scale depiction of a coppered bottom, one must consider the principle of "scale viewing distance."  Scale viewing distance is the distance between a model viewer's eye and the model multiplied to full scale. In a 1:48 (quarter inch to the foot) scale model, one foot of scale viewing distance is what the viewer would see from 48 feet away from the real ship. At two feet of scale viewing distance, which I'd say was a "close look," the scale viewing distance of a 1:48 scale model is 96 feet, or a third of the length of a football field or about the length of two big semi trailers. For a 1:96 scale model (1/8" to the foot) a two-foot actual viewing distance equals a scale viewing distance of 102 feet. Can your eyes see a half inch copper tack head against a copper plate at a hundred feet? Of course not.

 

One way to accurately depict copper plating at model scales is to use paper "plates" which are of scale thickness. This is quite thin paper. (You can do the math.) Glue the plates onto the hull. Soaking the paper plates in water will allow them to be contoured to bends and curves as needed. When the glue dries, apply a coat of thinned shellac which will soak in to the paper, harden and stabilize it, and serve as a primer for painting. Then paint and weather the "copper" plates to appear, at scale viewing distance, like the real thing. Apply quality paint sparingly so as to preserve the barely visible plate edges. (If for some stylistic reason you wish to depict your coppered hull as bright and shiny, use quality copper-colored metallic paint.)

 

When plating a model hull, "Less is more." is the key.

 

I know that this method will not yield a "real copper" coppered bottom, but it will look a lot more like the real thing than real copper itself and creating that compelling impression of realism in miniature is what it's all about, no? 

Edited by Bob Cleek
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No gasping in horror from me, but I will give my thoughts.

 

I coppered my current model and am reasonably happy with the results. This was 1/50th which helped. The underlying planking was not great and no more accurate than the copper.

 

I think the problem with scale in terms of getting it accurate from viewing distance is valid. You would not able to see any specific nailing pattern. This is a picture of the Constitution's coppering.

ConstitutionCopper.png.c01d84cf7bab0cdfabce7da3b10cc0ef.png

 

So although the nailing pattern disappears, the hull plates do not look smooth even when viewing from a distance. Now I need to go out and see from how far away I can see the rivets on a semi trailer 😀.

 

The copper tape I used is 1.25 mil/31 microns which is thinner than most paper.

 

As to weathering, I decided not to. Mainly because the rest of the model is not weathered. The bright copper is now tarnishing. 

 

So my model still looks like a model and not like a real ship, from all aspects. 

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50 years ago, the old wood boats I ran still had copper bottoms.  I agree with Druxey's comments completely.  The copper on them never turned green when in use and in the water, except maybe above the water line.  The salt water cleans the copper fairly bright on an active boat.  The bottoms didn't turn green until they were on land.  They were 50-60 ft. Oyster Boats and Patrol Boats.  I know some do not believe me, but this is how I remember it. - Hal

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Bob, Richard, 

 

You make excellent points and your timing is superb: I intend to 'copper' the hull of my 1/64 schooner in the coming months and have been thinking about this for some time. I am trying to make the model 'accurate' rather than conforming to model making conventions and this has faced me with some awkward decisions. 

 

A model is a representation of reality and will always have some compromises. Some are close to that reality, for example the thickness of a rigging line or the width of a plank. Some are conventions that we accept, for example a ship is stationary in a case and is not actually sailing. The many choices in between these extremes are a balance between accuracy, artisan skill, and art. All of these characteristics are subjective to some extent. 

Accuracy: In theory we follow Admiralty drawings or information from contemporary models, but we overlay this with our own imagination and desire to represent features that might not actually be visible at a scale distance. There are nails and dents on the edges and face of a copper plate and I would like to nod towards them rather than ignore them. Similarly, I include a few figures on my models to give an indication of scale and I paint the brass buttons on a jacket. 

Artisan skill: Many models are made to demonstrate the maker's skill and there is nothing wrong with this. It does affect the choice of wood and other materials and sometimes the result looks good but is far from simulating oak planks. 

Art: I put a few sails on a ship because I like the look, as does my wife. They are out of scale but in my mind the model is bare without them. We all make our own choices because we have different preferences. 

 

I have a pack of Amati etched copper plates and might still use them. Or I might make plates from paper in the way that Bob describes. Accuracy is important for me but is it the accuracy of a hull in the water (and the model is definitely dry) or a hull freshly coppered, or in dry dock... Do I want to include weed and barnacles or is that a step too far, for me? A diorama would be treated differently. 

 

This model making is something I do for relaxation so I will make my decision at some time soon, and I will not criticize others for their decisions if they happen to be different. 

 

George

 

 

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