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18th-Century Merchantman Half-Hull Planking Kit by VTHokiEE - FINISHED - NRG - 1:48

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I ordered this kit as soon as it was released but I wanted to finish my Sharpie before diving in. Of course my father found a small boxcar kit that I was hoping to put together first, but since that kit was incomplete I plan on starting this half-hull in the meantime and learning how to plank (hopefully that will set me up well for my next full ship the Alert). So far all I have done is setup my build board:


The instructions suggest using 1/4" foam board, I had a sheet of 1/8" so I cut it in half and glued it together (hopefully all my issues are this easily solved 🙂). I trimmed the board down to the plan sheet and applied tape around the edge to stop bits of foam from following me everywhere and to make certain that the plan was firmly secured to the board (I did first glue it with Elmer's craft bond spray adhesive). Currently I'm sanding the edges of the keel, keelson, stem, deadwood and stern pieces to remove the laser char.

Edited by VTHokiEE
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I removed the basswood pieces from the sheet, sanded off the laser char and did a dry fit. The area between frame 4 and 4a didn't match up great for me and I never was able to get a completely tight fit there after sanding. I need more practice fixing the fit of parts when needed.


Before tackling the rabbet I decided to fix frame 4a (my kit is an early kit that required adding wood to the frame).




Then back to drawing the rabbet and sanding it in. The rabbet was easy on the straight pieces and where it transferred all the way over to the stem, but I felt like transitioning it between the two was a little less specific in instruction and I hope I got close enough after following Toni's log.



Finally I glued everything onto each other and the building board.



Next I need to deepen the slots on the keelson 1/16"

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On 1/7/2020 at 8:58 AM, VTHokiEE said:

Next I need to deepen the slots on the keelson 1/16"



Instead of deepening the slots on the keelson, I notched the frame pieces.  I’m not sure if it was a mistake or not, i thought it would be easier....it seemed to do the same thing in the end, but I’m not saying it’s the better thing to do. Good luck with your planking!

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15 hours ago, Duanelaker said:

Instead of deepening the slots on the keelson, I notched the frame pieces. 

I saw that you went this route and I can't see why it wouldn't work out fine in the end. After cutting the frames out I had no intention of cutting into that thick plywood more than I had to :). I wasn't too hard to notch the slots further. After opening up the slots I began installing the frames, even with the square I still managed to place one frame slightly off vertical and another I accidentally didn't press all the way flat onto the building board (doh!), guess I'll get to have extra fun fairing that frame.




I'm currently adding the spacers which has corrected the frame that was slightly misaligned.

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27 minutes ago, Duanelaker said:

I was afraid I would widen the slots and make for a not so snug fit...I marked the frames and used my saw, cut way easier then I thought!    I was surprised how much I had to fair...and I think I went to far 😞 

My slots were already too loose on the keelson. I’ll keep an eye on my fairing given your warning. Have you made more progress on your kit?


Edit: What makes you think you over did the fairing by the way? So I know what to watch out for.

Edited by VTHokiEE
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i Have been working on other projects,  and I was dismayed after I found some gaps in between my second row of planking, but I will get back to it.  I have too many boat kits and I just can’t stop lol.


the counter area I shouldn’t have faired...I’m sure I can fix it with spacers, but I might have to paint the hull lol

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Ha, I did notice that you have acquired a lot of kits :-). I’ll watch for you next post, but worse case you can always remove the planks with gaps. A lot of the remarkable planking jobs that I’ve followed seem to remove planks and redo to achieve such great results. I’m sure many are skilled enough to get it right the first time; I’m also pretty confident that there are many more that need a few more attempts.

Edited by VTHokiEE
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I finished up the framework (I think I might squeak by with a passing grade), I ran into a few small issues that I should have dealt with slightly differently. I believe my main issue was failing to completely account for the kerf of the laser cut on the frames. I have a disk sander and I should have used that to accurately flatten the edges that rested against the building board. Instead I did this by hand I wasn't as successful as I hoped which led to some tilted frames. These frames were mainly correctly by adding the spacers in, but I should have been more careful in the first place. I also failed to fully press two frame against the baseboard which, fingers crossed, should be correctable when I fair the frame (but of course this adds a a bit more work during that process).


I added the bearding line and sanding the deadwood down. This step is required as the first step in my next kit so I'm very glad to have the example here to understand what the kit instructions were getting at.




This step was somewhat unnecessary, but visually I couldn't handle the gap between the L-Piece and the Sternpost so I added in some filler:


Here is the completed framework (I added a little extra filler around Ga to account for my failings elsewhere):


Extra basswood filler to fill out the stemson:


The transom:



and finally two areas that need some significant work during fairing - frame 2 (built up) and frame 😧 




Before I get started on the fairing I'm going to take care of the topline, but I need some chart tape first.

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To smooth out the topline I marked the frames as directed in the instructions.



I had to build up frame D (a few other frames were very close, but didn't need extra material).


To trim the frames down I mainly used sanding sticks as I didn't want to overdo it and kept double checking the line as I went.





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I faired, and I faired, and then I faired some more and I think I am close to done in the stern, but frame 5a is giving me some trouble in the bow so I'll continue fairing the bow and see how things turn out. I'm only using sanding sticks and staying away from powered sanders because I didn't want to overdo it. I have had to build up a few frames which I associate with poor installation (by me) of the frames originally.





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I think I'm finally done on fairing (fingers crossed). The next step was to line of the wale and boy did I ever struggle with that. I couldn't fit my square in to properly line up the points on the plan so I tried a plethora of other objects and then finally decided that my best course of action was to attempt to use a batten and sight out the line to the best of my abilities. After I sighted the upper and lower lines out I saw in the instructions that the wale was a constant 0.28" so I cut some card paper to that dimension (roughly 9/32") and corrected my lower line. Whew, I hope this works out reasonably well because it was quite a struggle for me (spirits still high and enjoying the challenge though).


This is the original sighted wale.




And finally the width corrected wale (tops of the red lines are the corrections).



Whew, now I think I'm ready to start planking.

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I'm learning that if I did this kit a second time I would do a significantly better job than I currently am doing. Of course, as a teaching aid this is great, but my previous work is doing a great job of frustrating me here and there :). Currently I have attached one plank of the garboard strake and I realized that I didn't get all of my frames close enough to the rabbet and prevented me from getting as clean a fit as I would have liked here.


It looks a bit worse in the picture (doesn't it always?) but the plank isn't as clean around Frame E and Frame D. I'm not certain if there is any good way to clean it up later (without causing it to distract more, maybe some sawdust and glue filler), but for now I'm going to leave it alone and see what I think later in the build.



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I have finished the garboard and broad strakes. I had to replace the right broad stake as it extended too far so that area got a little dirty. Overall, I'm reasonably pleased with how these came out (at the cost of almost half a sheet of the 1/32" basswood). I would advise caution fitting the planks and to not be afraid to redraw (using the tape) and recut a plank if it simply isn't working.



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Today I started laying out the planking belts according to the instructions. I laid out what I think looks appropriate (and I am going to wait and return to it before marking it off), but since this is my first time marking the belts out I was hoping I could get a second opinion (or two).




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I marked the planking belts out:



and marked off the approximate location of the stern stealer


After creating the tic strips for the planking rows I placed the third row:




I think I should change my name to VTHokiEE, Destroyer of Basswood. My plank rate is going up though, on the third row I was two planks created for every one installed, before I was at best 3 to 1 (and there may have been a 4-1 as well 😬). I think its coming along well so far though and I am enjoying the build. I would highly recommend the kit to anyone interested (and if you're like me find a source for some extra basswood sheets, I'm pretty certain I'm going to need them before I finish).

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1 hour ago, Heronguy said:


I think it is looking good.  If I’m able to generate a bit of firewood along with planking the model then I’ll be ahead of the game😁. I suppose you you don’t need as much kindling in FL


Thanks! While I don’t “need” firewood here, I must say that I do enjoy a good fire (and the kid in me loves s’mores almost more than my kids ;-).

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This is a very small update. Originally I intended on showing how I template my planks, but then I went down a rabbit hole of changing how I host my images so I wanted to post a picture or two to see how it compared (I’m on mobile so hopefully they aren’t to big, or too small).

Here I’m adding the middle plank on the next row. I like to start in the middles because after it dries I can do one side and while that side is drying I can template out the other side without interfering with the drying side (when I have enough time to do two planks at once that it.



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Aside from poor editing of my cellphone shots I think this self hosting thing may work out but I think I need to find a smaller size or two for posts. Here is the post that I intending on doing in the first place. I'll cut out a a stern plank to fit here:



I use the side to the pencil tip to rub the edge to find the bottom line.


Then mark the bulkheads


Transfer the tape to the basswood


Mark the plank heights from the tic strips


and connect the top of the lines



Its probably a little hard to tell from the picture but there is a gap that is slightly larger than I want after a first fitting so I had to sand the bottom slightly.


After sanding I did a pencil rubbing for the caulk and clamped the piece in place



Edited by VTHokiEE
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  • 2 months later...
44 minutes ago, Old Collingwood said:

lovely work.

Thanks! I really keep thinking that I should get back to this build. I made the “mistake” of starting a second build (Alert by Vanguard) and have become consumed with that at the moment. I’m almost done the second planking and I may try to take a breather from it at that point and do another belt or two here.

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  • 1 year later...
  • 4 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

I decided to try to revive this log (I had originally decided that I was simply going to upload finish pictures) as I needed something to distract myself with lately. I just started putting the wale on so here is where I stand. I've learned a lot on this kit so far and I feel like I'm improving with every step. That being said not all planks are quite as tight as I wish they were and some of the runs have waves that I would work hard to avoid in the future. As a learning guide I decided to continue instead of starting over so please excuse my work ha!





I’ll note that I deviated from the instructions for the wale. I decided to rip planks of the proper width for wale and install them instead of making the point measurements. I tried the method in the instructions but when I looked at the plank it was no good. I used the top line of the wale that I drew earlier to guide the planks.

Edited by VTHokiEE
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  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks Lyle!


I finished up another belt before I had to store her away for a move. I'll be looking forward to finishing her up once we get settled - each belt seems to look a lot better than the last so I definitely feel like I'm making progress in my efforts. I left some extra length of the planks over the counter and chiseled a (somewhat) straight and even line with the wale once they were all installed.


My camera gear is all packed away, but here is a parting shot.


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  • VTHokiEE changed the title to 18th-Century Merchantman Half-Hull Planking Kit by VTHokiEE - FINISHED - NRG - 1:48

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