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BobCardone

Philadelphia by Bob Cardone - Model Shipways - Scale 1:24 - Kit build with modifications

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Hi all,

   This will be a build log for my second wooden ship kit. I have a lot of experience in styrene and railroad modelling, and this log will be a running commentary of my trials and tribulations during the construction process. I've read through the other Philly build logs here on the forum, and I'm really impressed with the skills and techniques the builders used to complete their amazing results.

   I've been interested in building the Philadelphia kit for a while, liking the large scale, interesting construction and unique history of this ill-fated gunboat. Over the holidays I finally pulled the trigger and got the kit. After unboxing and examining the components, I'm mostly impressed with the quality and precision of the plans and materials. The only complaint I have (and it's a big one) is the quality of the 12 and 9 pound cannons (more on that later).

   So, here's the start and first few construction pics and comments.

 

Here's the hull frame partially assembled just so I can get an idea of what I'm getting into... This thing is huge!

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Only problem I found was frames 12 and 13 on the port side were laser cut a little wonky. Luckily, fixable. I used Superglue at this stage, but will use wood glue for most of the rest of assembly. 

 

Here's the assembled and shaped bow and stern posts.

 

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Here is the framing completed and shaped, along with "the construction guy", who hasn't been named yet.... any suggestions?

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Here's my first attempt at a weathered deck piece. I sealed the wood with Minwax pre-stain wood conditioner, added nails and tar edges with a hard pencil and then stained with Minwax classic grey.

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I'm not sure what to use as a final finish coat, on this piece I used Krylon matte clear. Any suggestions and comments are greatly appreciated!

 

 

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Hi all,

   I finished the final frame attachment and shaping yesterday. I guess I got "good wood" in the kit, all the pieces were flat and squared up nicely. I attached the bow and stern assemblies last instead of first as the instructions indicated, it seemed easier that way. I'm going to firm up the frames with a few hits of hot melt glue just to be on the safe side, as I used CYA for frame assembly as I'm not convinced of it's long term strength.

   

   Today was well planking day. I experimented with a lot of different combinations of sealer, stain and pencils and finally got results I think I can work with. I found the best method was no sealer, a quick wipe with stain and then a light sanding with 1000 grit to take the fuzz off. I did a whole board and then cut the pieces as needed. After all the pieces were cut and dry fitted into place I marked my nail reference lines and then removed the pieces for "nailing". I used a .05 mechanical pencil for the nails, pushing the tip to both indent the wood and leave a black mark for the nail head. I then took a soft graphite pencil and added detail around the nail heads and board edges. I then rubbed each board with my thumb to blend the pencils, then glued them in. After assembly, I used Krylon matte clear to seal the wood and remove the gloss from the pencil work. All things considered, I'm satisfied with the results and think it will work for the rest of the deck and cabinetry.

 

   Here's the aft well...

 

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And here's the mast well...

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      As far as the construction guy's name... Slim it is. Kenneth suggested it, my wife seconded it and Snowball (the cat) finalized it. I'm going to add a last name... Pickens! Slim Pickens, in tribute to Kubrick and one of the best movies ever. Slim is now enjoying an adult beverage and preparing to watch the Superbowl.

   

Edited by BobCardone

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Hi all,

   I got the top two strakes and wale installed. Forgive me if my nautical terminology is incorrect, I'm learning it as I go... I decided to stain the wale and the bow and stern posts the same as the interior planking in the cockpits. the deck planking and cabinetry will also be the same stain. As far as the exterior hull, I'm leaning towards a dark gunstock tint, I'll experiment on scrap to get the tint I want. I believe that the contrast with the grey will be effective, we'll see...

   Mucho Kudos to the Philly builds of Brucealanevans, Elijah and others. I learned a lot and got some great ideas from those awesome builds. There is so much good info on this forum! Next phase will be the interior cabinetry. The plans don't show plank lengths so I think I'll use a four course stagger. That will break up the cabinetry nicely and allow me to finish stain and detail each board as I install them. After the interior is completed, I'll finish planking the exterior hull.

 

Here's some progress shots:

 

Bow and stern:

 

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Here's Slim, raring to keep building!

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    I found this cool video on the Philadelphia II that is interesting and informative (even if very amateur). 

 

 

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   I got a lot of planking done and started on some other subassemblies. I still have to finish the inside work and get the decks completed.  Lots of stain and pencil work to go but she's starting to look look like a whole thing instead of a bunch of parts. Slim and Snowball have been busy, it's nice to have a good crew.

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Hi all,

   Finally got the spiling done on the hull. This is the first time I've done this, and I was pretty apprehensive about how it was going to work out. I used cardstock for templates, and I was lucky that each template worked for both sides. Very fiddly and fussy fitting but all things considered I'm satisfied with the results. Now I can decide what color stain to use on the hull. I used Minwax Classic Gray for the ceilings and decks, as well as the wale, stem and stern posts. For the gun carriages and other bits I used Minwax Gunstock. I'm leaning towards Minwax Weathered Oak for the hull, but that may change.

   Now I can finish the decks and do the nailing and weathering. Getting the hull completed was a real hoot, and I'm excited to start on all the other cool stuff in the kit.

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Thanks, BobG!

I used my Google Pixel 3A for all the photos... best phone camera I've ever used.

Digital zoom at 2X to get some depth of field, than a little cropping and color adjustment.

Here's one of the "characters" supervising the build: The REAL Snowball...

 

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Yes Bob, it's a Fender Super Champ X2 head and 1-12" cab. Sweet little hybrid tube 15 watt amp that's got really good tone. I find if I'm stressed out model building (or with anything, really) a little time on the fretboard evens the strain out nicely. I take it you're a player also?

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2 hours ago, BobCardone said:

Yes Bob, it's a Fender Super Champ X2 head and 1-12" cab. Sweet little hybrid tube 15 watt amp that's got really good tone. I find if I'm stressed out model building (or with anything, really) a little time on the fretboard evens the strain out nicely. I take it you're a player also?

Yes, Bob, I play a little guitar and, like you, it's a great source of satisfaction for me for the most part. It can be also be frustrating at times when I'm struggling with a particularly wicked set of chord changes that my aging fingers simply refuse to follow what my brain is telling them to do! I play primarily fingerstyle on an Antonio Loriente, nylon, acoustic guitar. Recently began to dabble in flamenco and purchased a beautiful, handmade flamenco guitar from a luthier in Granada, Spain. I absolutely love that guitar but trying to learn to play flamenco has been humbling to say the least! I still have my first guitar, a 1967 Gibson J-50, and I also have a beautiful Ibanez electric, a cheap nylon electric and a gorgeous Kamona ukelele. Unfortunately, these spend most of their time in their cases. Taking a workshop in making a guitar is something I've been thinking about also.

 

Bob 

 

 

Edited by BobG

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   Bob, I've played electrics up until about four years ago. I got too old and burned out with the band gigs so I "retired" to an acoustic and just do beach bar duos now. I still get the Fenders out occasionally to "blow off the dust" and make some noise. It sounds like you got the bug good... nothing like it, huh? 

   Finally settled on a hull stain and did it.  I went over the hull with a #400 grit final sanding, then a quick coat of Minwax pre-stain (5 min) than a wipe. Minwax Honey was the final choice, applied with a paper towel all over than immediately wiped off to make sure it didn't get too dark. A second pass got it to the shade I wanted. I'm still waiting on materials to finish the deck (should be about a week), so I guess I'll get started on some sub-assemblies and the dreaded "nailing". There sure are a mess of them, and as others have said in their Philly builds... keep them subtle. As well as the nailing, I'm also going to do some shading and coloring to bring out depth and detail (my old model railroading habits). After all the nailing and stuff is done I'm thinking of using Minwax clear satin poly rattle can for a final finish, I'll do some tests first. No, I don't work for Minwax, there's a Lowes 4 blocks away and that's what they carry...

 

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   While waiting on deck parts, I'm starting on the weaponry. All three kit main guns were not good enough, so for the 9 pounders I got a couple of Guns of History Naval Smoothbore kits (MS4005) for a super low price (thumbs up to Model Shipways sales!) that will work nicely. about the same size and a much better casting. Things got weird in the 12 pounder hunt. Bu some cosmic coincidence while shopping at Goodwill I ran across these...

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   A trio of beasties just the right size and mostly made of metal. I believe they were meant to shoot plastic pellets, thus explaining the wonky stuff on the ends (I cut that off and used the kit one). Besides the barrels, there's a bunch of other cool pieces I'm going to use. The extra two barrels will be used for the Guns of History kits, so no waste. I built and stained the carriages with (you guessed it) Minwax Gunstock. Here's the carriages stained and barrels primered. Slim got into the armory...

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And here's Slim doing his Slim Pickens thing (BTW, he's 1:18 scale) and Snowball the cat is 1:12.

 

Cheers,

BobC

Edited by BobCardone

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17 hours ago, BobCardone said:

It sounds like you got the bug good... nothing like it, huh? 

Yes, I've got the guitar bug for sure! I picked up a cheap, nylon guitar in Kodiak, Alaska, while I was serving aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Storis way back in 1966-67. It gave me something to do when we weren't actively tumbling around the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska. There was a fellow shipmate from Texas who was a very skilled fingerstyle picker and he took me under his wing and gave me lots of pointers and encouragement. I continued to play until my discharge in January, 1970, and then through my college years after that but then I really got away from playing very much after that until I got near retirement. I was rusty but I was also amazed at how quickly it came back to me. I wish I had continued to play all those years in between but it is what it is and I'm loving it again now.

 

Your build is going nicely and your log is really fun to read.

 

Bob 

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Thanks, Kenneth... Slim is sure getting a workout. I also think he's been stealing the cat's food.

Sounds like it must have been a challenge tossing around and trying to play in those rough seas, Bob. I've also found a new appreciation of playing just for fun.

 

   I'm still waiting on the materials for the deck, so I've been working on the three cannons and the nailing. The Goodwill cannons were a treasure trove of very nice parts. I know that a lot of it is not prototype or accurate but altogether they achieve the "look" I"m going for. I used gunstock stain with oil pastel shading on the carriages. The Goodwill cannons supplied the bolts , rings. trunnion caps, wheels (for the 9 pounders) and barrel (for the 12 pounder). The rest of the bolts are Grandt Line. The 9 pounder barrels came from the MS4005 kits. I'll be doing a few more passes with tints and light weathering then final assembly. The barrels were primed with Krylon gray primer then shot with Testors buffing gunmetal metalizer. I added some highlights with Testors nonbuffing burnt metal metalizer drybrushed on and then a thin wash with Tamiya black panel accent color. 

 

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   The crates and barrels I got at a hobby store that specializes in tabletop wargaming, which I think is 28mm (1:60). They're 3-D printed and are superb castings. I started in on doing the nailing and tint work on the hull and think I have a system. I lightly draw out the frame lines with a pencil for reference on both the inside and outside, then press in moderately hard with a .07mm mechanical pencil on each nail location. After that pass, I take a fine black ballpoint pen and press it hard on each nail. The pen leaves no ink mark but creates a perfect round depression in the wood with the black pencil mark at the bottom. I know the real nails were square, but I couldn't find any square pencils...

 

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And here's Slim and Snowball kicking back after a long day... I think Slim found a keg of grog...

 

 IMG_20200215_212620.thumb.jpg.e989ed58f84eeb212e49c49c6ce12254.jpg

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That pic of Slim Pickens straddling that Gun? Are you referring to him in Dr. Strangelove riding The Bomb to thermonuclear glory?😎

Edited by ASAT
Wrong movie

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Thanks, BobG! A shame the kit cannons were so poor, but that made me get creative...

Yes ASAT, Slim just needs a cowboy hat to wave around...

The cannons and carriages are done, and the nailing is just about completed (phew!).

Because of some "unforeseen issues" (I screwed up) I had to come up with a different way to plank the decks. I'm waiting on the materials to do this, and since the deck is kinda important further work on the hull is on hold until the material arrives. This has been a blessing in disguise, as I've had time to really go over the work already completed and tweak it up.

Here's some cannon pics:

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Your work is fantastic! Were you able to figure out what happened with the level of the cannons? 

 

Also, I assume you did the nail technique after staining. Right? 

Edited by dzerbato
Add question

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I don't think there's one "smoking gun" problem with the cannon level issue (bad pun intended)... here's what I think caused it.

1) had to to widen and lengthen all three gun carriages to fit the new cannon barrels. Also, all three barrels are larger and recess deeper in the cradles and the wheels on the 9 pounders are slightly smaller than the kit ones.

2) started planking the hull and ceiling slightly higher on the frames than indicated in the plans to give myself some "wiggle room" when fitting the gunwale caps.

3) still believe that all three decks should be 1/8" planks instead of 1/16" sheet. 

By increasing the deck to 1/8" planks, lowering the gunwales a bit and raising the 12 pounder track I think the problem is solved. The 1/8" x 3/4" and 1/8" x 1/2" planks I ordered should be here this week, than I'll know if it all works together.

 

I did all the nailing after staining. The procedure slightly changed as I went along, here's what I finally ended up doing. First I lightly drew reference lines both inside and out, including lines for the "missing" kit frames. I then did a pass with a .07mm mechanical pencil with medium pressure, to leave a pencil mark and start the "nail dent" as well as outlining the planks. Second pass was with a black fine ballpoint pen (out of ink), pressing harder to emboss a nice even circular depression in the wood with the pencil mark at the bottom. Third pass with an eraser to remove the reference lines. Fourth pass with some light gray and dark brown paint to cover up and correct mistakes (I had a few...😬). 

(edited to add pics).

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Edited by BobCardone
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Deck materials finally arrived and finished. Just some minor touchups to do and then they can be attached. I went through about three iterations of how I wanted to do it before I found one I liked. I first tried 1/8" thick planking, but it was too hard to shape and didn't look "real". Second try was the kit decks with 1/16" planks but the warpage was unacceptable. Third and final method was to use the kit decks as templates to cut out some 1/16" three ply birch plywood and then attach 1/16" planks over them. No warpage and easier to fit to the hull.

Next will be the knees, supports and gunwale caps. With the hull finally done, all the cool stuff can start to go on.

Speaking of cool stuff, what about the mortar? Supposedly Benedict Arnold originally wanted to mount a mortar in the stern but the hull couldn't handle the recoil. I had this mortar (it really fires!) kicking around, and built up a carriage for it to see if I could use it. I know it's not "prototype", but I think it adds interest. Any thoughts?

Thanks for all the kudos, this is sure getting to be a fun build!

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Absolutely fantastic job on your gun carriage detail. How on earth did you make the nuts that go on the bolts? As well as all the other hardware? I'm hoping you found a place to purchase this stuff. My skills are not quite up to making something this small.

 

P.S. my Philadelphia is still on the shelf but I'm planning ahead.

Bob

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Thanks, leclaire! Most of the hardware on the carriages came from the three Goodwill cannons. The rest came from Hobbylinc, ebay and Amazon. As kurtvd19 suggested, that hardware is superb. Another manufacturer called Tichy-Train has a whole assortment of styrene nuts and bolts in different styles and sizes I use that are really nice. Grandt line, Meng, Scale-Master and a lot of other manufacturers make hardware that works great also. Hinges, brackets, grommets and lots of other stuff is available for dollhouse scale (1:12) that can also be used. For this scale (1:24) model car detail parts are a good source. I'm also using some 1:35 and 1:60 stuff depending on what fits and looks right. I have a huge stash of photoetch, brass, styrene, cast metal and wood detail parts that I dig through when I need something, so I guess I'm lucky.

   I am seriously debating using the mortar. Since I decided in the beginning of this build that it wouldn't be true to the original I have a lot more leeway in what I can do. This build is ending up being a "typical" gunboat (or gundalow) that could have been used by many nations during this approximate time period, based on the Model Shipways Philadelphia. The mortar was part of the original plan, anyway...

   Now that the decks are done, the fun begins! Slim is stoked... I've given him a grog ration...

 

   IMG_20200222_164054.thumb.jpg.dba54c2a9ce0839b358a98712b88cf19.jpg

 

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Here's the mortar with the scratchbuilt carriage. It would be fixed on the centerline (no swivel) with variable elevation only. I'll add a lot of nuts, tackle, chains etc. to detail it out. 

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