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USS Constitution Cross section by Brewerpaul -FINISHED- Mamoli - scale 1:93 - First wooden ship model


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Many years ago (25-30?), before the advent of the internet, I bought and started construction of this cross section of the USS Constitution. It may have been following a visit to that venerable ship in Boston that I felt so inspired. I got the frame built,deck beams formed and installed, and the planking done outside and in. At that time I started to feel overwhelmed,with many questions that needed answering before I went any further. With no help readily available I packed the unfinished kit away. Someday.

I never lost my love of wooden ships and had the opportunity to visit several including the CW Morgan of Mystic, Cutty Sark in Greenwich, and the Draken Harfarge Viking ship. I still felt the tug of building a ship and when we moved to Maryland 3 years ago I started reading about The Pride of Baltimore II which I decided I'd really like to build. I figured that my long neglected Constitution would be a great practice project since I already had most of the hull built,  and it only has one mast and spars, and associated rigging. I took her out of her cardboard box dry dock and started work. I made a crude working cradle to hold the hull, and gave the ship a quick coat of polyurethane as a sealer.

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The mast dowel is just inserted to check it's fit and rake. The mast step is imperfectly fitted to the hold, but I figure that it will be covered with ballast and barrels so I didn't worry about it.

I've read through the other build logs for this kit and if I was to do it over, I would not have installed the deck beams other than the ones over the hold to make it easier to install decking and deck fittings. You live and learn. Installing all the below deck items should be "fun".

In my zeal, I mistakenly added un necessary hatch cross pieces between the lower deck's beams. Oh well, it was good practice.

I'm planning on using copper foil rather than the cheesy looking green wood chips supplied with the kit. Anyone here tried simply scribing the lines in the copper tape to simulate individual copper plates? It would sure be easier, but might not look convincing.  I might try to give the copper an aged patina which could enhance the illusion I can always try a strip or two on a piece of scrap wood to see.

One thing that deterred me from working on this kit when I first got it was a dread of figuring out how to thread deadeyes and form ratlines. Now that there's a resource like Model Ship World, I'll have some guidance which is a great relief.

I need to figure out a better way to mount the hull. The kit just includes a cheap looking piece of pine and I gather you're supposed to run a couple of screws up through it into the keel,which does not sound very secure. I might build a nicer version of my crude work cradle in better wood, like cherry, for final displaying.

I thought it might be fun to have some crew members on deck and aloft, but I can't find any in 1:93 scale. Do you think figures in 1:87,HO railroad scale, would look 'way too off scale? I could probably modify some of those.

What's with the natural colored standing rigging cordage supplied with the kit? Can I somehow dye it black or would it be better to replace it?

I know I'll have tons of other questions as time goes on, and I welcome any and all criticism and suggestions.

 

 

Edited by Brewerpaul
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I replaced all the blocks, deadeyes and cordage with parts from Syren Ship Model Company - I even used Chuck's build-it-yourself double sheave block kits to make the triple sheave jeer blocks!  His parts made a big improvement on the kit furnished materials. (ignore the rigging error - it eventually got corrected)IMG_2026.thumb.JPG.bb04ee4babb28a5fec91980f0b826738.JPG

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15 hours ago, stevenmh said:

I replaced all the blocks, deadeyes and cordage with parts from Syren Ship Model Company - I even used Chuck's build-it-yourself double sheave block kits to make the triple sheave jeer blocks!  His parts made a big improvement on the kit furnished materials. (ignore the rigging error - it eventually got corrected)

This newbie's eyes don't see any error 😁
Did you dye the kit's standing rigging, or replace it? If replaced, what diameter did you use?

 

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I replaced it all - if you look closely at Chuck's rope you will see it really looks like heavy duty rope with the turnings and all.

Both standing and running rigging vary in diameter depending on where it is being used, so, for example, the backstays supporting the main mast are thicker than those supporting the top mast, which are thicker than those supporting the t'gallant mast...  Likewise for the running rigging

There is some useful information and a spreadsheet in the articles section of this website - I also made one of my own for this ship.  Since the rigging diameters are calculated first as a % of the main mast diameter for the main stay and the rest as a % of the main stay, this can be converted for any ship.

 

The ropes of the lower jeer block on the right go through the wrong hole - 

RIGGING DIAMETERS.xlsx

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  • 2 weeks later...

Some progress. I've painted the exterior above the waterline. Below will be copper clad using self adhesive copper tape. After some experimenting I plan on just laying strips of tape down and scribing the individual plates rather than cutting a zillion separate plates and applying them one at a time. On my experimental scrap of wood, it looks surprisingly good,certainly good enough for my purposes.
Inside is white. You can't see it but I've already painted the bottom of the deck beams, and I plan on painting the bottom sides of the upper deck' planks white before installing them.

The kit was supposed to include some L-shaped wood to be cut into individual boarding steps, but mine didn't have those. I made some using flat strips and they came out pretty well.

My ballast is model railroad gravel mixed with water based poly spar varnish as a binder. The barrels are not glued in place yet. The gravel paste comes up over the mast step, so I wrapped the foot of the mast with waxed paper so I can get it out to work on fabricating the mast.

I bought some 1/2 thick oak craft board to make a nicer version of my crude work stand for it's final display. As you all know,Old Ironsides got it's name from the heavy oak planking that resisted cannon balls, so oak for the stand seems appropriate.
Speaking of oak, I have a nice Buck knife that I got years ago with side scales made from oak actually removed from the Constitution during restoration. There's also a small copper ornamental inlay which was made from similarly sourced copper.

I'm really enjoying this project. The best part is the mental stimulation and exercise as I mull over the best way to accomplish the multitude of tasks that need to be done. As I near 70, mental stimulation is vital.

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Made that oak cradle for my Constitution. It has two coat hanger wire pins extending up from the cradle to the keel to keep her from sliding forward or backward off the cradle. The cradle will have black felt on it to keep the plating from scratching.

Started planking the lowest deck,working in from the sides. I simulated tree nails with holes made with a pin,so I'll see how that works out.

I laid down two strips of copper tape as an experiment and simply scribed the plate lines with the back of a craft knife blade. Most of the plating will be pretty much out of sight, so I think this will be satisfactory although purists wouldn't agree. I couldn't see cutting hundreds of little plates and trying to get them on there straight.

My plan from here is to finish each deck from bottom to top, trim the ends of the decking, then do the plating.

 

 

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Edited by Brewerpaul
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  • 2 weeks later...

Moving along. I've installed most of the lower deck items and (after I took this picture) planked the middle deck. I haven't glued the ladder to the hatch cover because,looking at the remaining parts, I'm not sure if there's enough to make the two ladders between the main and middle decks,which I think are more important than this one.

You folks have probably figured this out already, but I've found that for painting tiny items such as metal buckets and cannon swabs that are too small to hold, sticking them to a piece of painter's tape (which is stuck to my work bench) holds them nicely for spraying or brushing.
 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I got the hull copper plated and I'm pretty happy with it. The copper foil wouldn't be ideal for a full hull,but for a cross section where not much of it shows through the cradle, it's fine. As I mentioned in a previous post,I just scored the lines between the "plates" with the back of my craft knife.

The ends of the foil strips kept wanting to peel up at the slightest touch. I put some CA glue in a syringe with a fine needle and ran a tiny bead of the glue where the foil meets the rib and that seems to have taken care of that.
I don't know if they were missing from the kit when I got it years ago, or got lost somewhere along the way, but there are some parts missing. Instead of three pairs of bilge pumps, I have only two, and only one support for the axle of the pumps. I McGuyvered a replacement from some scraps of wood and painted black  to paint the real part it doesn't look too bad. I'll glue that side of the pumps towards the mast so it will barely be visible anyway. I've emailed the people who carry the Mamoli kits now,so maybe I'll be able to get the third pump and supports. The shipping from Eastern Europe may be prohibitive...we'll see. If not, I'll install something else in its place so that space doesn't look too bare.

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Our house has  black hole, where all sorts of things disappear never to be seen again. Such was the fate of one of the cannon port lower flaps. I had all 4, painted them before installation and then there were three :-(. I debated making one out of wood from the kit but realized it wouldn't come close to matching the others. Then, my many years of reading Sherlock Holmes and the like reminded me that a frequent ploy was to pirate a copy of a key by pressing the original into soft wax and using the impression as a mold or pattern for making a workable key.

I melted a puddle of candle wax onto a piece of wax paper (very useful stuff!) and when it was still soft pressed the remaining 3 port doors into the surface. When the wax was completely cool I was able to easily remove the metal parts. I mixed up a batch of JB Weld (also very useful!) and filled the mold cavities. I gave it 24 hr to thoroughly cure, then melted the wax off in a warm oven, with the wax placed on a couple of layers of paper towel. JB Weld is stable up to 500 deg so no worries. I now had three decent replicas of the original doors. I trimmed up one to remove the excess, sanded it down to the correct thickness etc then gave it a coat of paint. The result (once I clean it up a bit more and add another coat of paint) should be a very serviceable replacement. I can see this same principle being useful in the future.

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Nice job creating those missing port lids. I used the same technique for copper plating my Constitution model, although I scored the plates into the tape before applying it to the hull. Your cross section is coming out great.

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On 2/16/2020 at 9:53 AM, stevenmh said:

I replaced it all - if you look closely at Chuck's rope you will see it really looks like heavy duty rope with the turnings and all.

Both standing and running rigging vary in diameter depending on where it is being used, so, for example, the backstays supporting the main mast are thicker than those supporting the top mast, which are thicker than those supporting the t'gallant mast...  Likewise for the running rigging

 

Syren's mail order is down due to Coronavirus, but he plans to reopen soon and I'd like to replace some of the rope on my Constitution.  I'm thinking just the standing rigging,which shows a lot more prominently than the running,although I might change my mind once I start the standing rigging.
Could you share the diameters and colors of standing cordage that you bought?

 

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On 2/29/2020 at 5:14 PM, Brewerpaul said:

Made that oak cradle for my Constitution.

Very nice! really sets off the model.

   You did a great job on the painting, especially the exterior hull. The Syren blocks and rope are top shelf quality, they will be a big improvement. The copper hull looks great, the only suggestion I have is to add attachment marks. Model aircraft and armor guys use a rivet maker tool (the one I have is from Trumpeter, and comes with four different rivet spacing wheels) and would work well with your copper. They're only about $10, and are useful for a lot of things.

   Nice work on re-creating the missing lower flaps. A similar alternative I've used is to make the mold out of silicone, and use hot melt glue for the casting. This way the mold is reusable.

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My hull is about as finished as I want it for now. I've left the cannons off since they look like they'd just get in the way of doing the rigging. I have the parts for the fife rail and the bulwark pin rails cut and shaped, but I'm waiting for 1mm drills so I can drill the pin holes. In the meanwhile, I'll start forming the mast and spars.
I finally took a good look at the plans and am amazed how complex the shape of the lower main mast is. As a landlubber, I've always thought of masts as simple cylinders, but with all those flat surfaces, that mast alone will be a bit of a challenge.

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I started putting the metal strops on my lower deadeyes and discovered that the strops for the smaller stay deadeyes are missing. All of them. When I bought the kit some 30 years ago, I wasn't so careful about checking parts lists, especially if they're in Italian!
Here's my tentative workaround. If anyone has a better idea I'd love to hear it. I have an old book on model ship building which suggests this method,and soldering the twisted wires,then flattening them on an anvil and drilling mounting holes. In my test piece, the ends of the wire are secured with CA glue but if I soldered them that wouldn't be necessary except maybe as a temporary measure before I got around to soldering.
Speaking of mounting,I experimented with trying to get one of the copper nails into a spar piece of hull planking and was unable to push it through. I'm assuming I'll have to drill small holes and glue the pins in place?

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here is the relevant section of the spreadsheet:

      PCT Size mm  size "      Size to Buy mm
MAINMAST - LOWER        
Fore tackle pendant 60% 0.797 0.032  
   Tackles 30% 0.398 0.016  
Shrouds 62% 0.823 0.033 0.8
  Lanyards 30% 0.398 0.016 0.4
Stay 100% 1.328 0.053  
     Stay Collar 92% 1.222 0.049  
    Lanyard 30% 0.398 0.016  
Preventer Stay 60% 0.797 0.032  
Preventer Stay Collar 60% 0.797 0.032  
    Lanyard 23% 0.305 0.012  
         
MAIN - TOPMAST        
Burton Pendants 34% 0.452 0.018  
    Tackles 17% 0.226 0.009  
Futtock Staves 62% 0.823 0.033  
Futtock Shrouds 20% 0.266 0.011 0.25
Topmast Shrouds 33% 0.438 0.018 0.4
    Lanyard 17% 0.226 0.009 0.25
Backstays 42% 0.558 0.022 0.5
    Lanyard 20% 0.266 0.011 0.25
Topmast Stay 51% 0.677 0.027  
    Lanyard 21% 0.279 0.011  
Topmast Preventer Stay 37% 0.491 0.020  
    Lanyard 18% 0.239 0.010  
         
MAIN T'GALLANT MAST        
Futtock Staves 33% 0.438 0.018  
Futtock Shrouds 17% 0.226 0.009 0.25
Topgalland Shrouds 17% 0.226 0.009 0.25
    Lanyard 8% 0.106 0.004 0.1
Backstays 22% 0.292 0.012 0.3
    Lanyard 10% 0.133 0.005 0.12
Topgallant Stay 25% 0.332 0.013 0.3
Royal Backstays 10% 0.133 0.005 0.12
    Lanyard 5% 0.066 0.003 0.08
Royal Stays 13% 0.173 0.007  
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Wonderful work so far... as for a possible replacement for the deadeye chain plates, take a look at the Siren plans or some of the build logs here for an idea that was used. Making a simple jig to use black wire in three sections for them. Looked good when I used them. Will be watching your build log.

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On 4/1/2020 at 12:38 PM, BobCardone said:

The copper hull looks great, the only suggestion I have is to add attachment marks. Model aircraft and armor guys use a rivet maker tool (the one I have is from Trumpeter, and comes with four different rivet spacing wheels) and would work well with your copper. They're only about $10, and are useful for a lot of things.

 

I agree that rivets would be an improvement. I considered using a dressmaker's pounce wheel, which is the same idea as the Trumpeter tool but decided not to for practical reasons. Only a small amount of my copper cladding shows with the model on it's base,and since a cross section will be viewed mostly face on I didn't think this would be too much of a problem. My next ship,whose kit I already have,is the Pride of Baltimore II which does not need coppering (although it would be pretty!). If I ever do decide to make another ship which has copper plating, I would definitely add rivets.

Thanks for the compliment on the base,which I'm pretty happy with. As of now the hull is just sitting on it and when I pick up the model to move it, the base falls off. I hesitate to glue it permanently in case some situation arises which would necessitate removing it,although I can't really imagine what situation that might be. I'm considering gluing it with something strong enough to hold it in place enough for moving, but not so strong as to prevent it's removal if necessary. A dab of clear silicone bathtub caulk? Contact cement?

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18 hours ago, Sea Hoss said:

Wonderful work so far... as for a possible replacement for the deadeye chain plates, take a look at the Siren plans or some of the build logs here for an idea that was used. Making a simple jig to use black wire in three sections for them. Looked good when I used them. Will be watching your build log.

Hoss-- I found the link to the MS Syren kit plans and printed the pages that you refer to. I do think whose chainplates would work well for my kit. If I get ambitious enough, I might replace all of the chainplates for a more uniform appearance.
In looking for the plans, I found the plans Syren company's Winchelsea. Wow! There is SO much information that I'll find useful,especially when I plank my POB which will be my first "real" planking job.

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Some progress. I opted to use the hammock netting included in the kit, just spray painted it black. I can live with it as an easy solution.

I also added the lower deadeyes on one side of the hull. This was my first time dealing with deadeyes, which have scared the living daylights out of me ever since I considered building a ship.

The three larger ones use the included chainplates,using only one copper nail*. I may add the others later. The two smaller ones were done with a quick and dirty approach using a doubled strand of 28g black copper wire. I simply twisted some wire around the deadeye. When the twisted part was the length shown on the plan then wrapped the ends back around a finishing nail to make a loop which I locked with CA glue. The results wouldn't win me any points in a model ship competition 😉 in this case I'm OK with that. I still need to tuck in the ends of the black wire. From a distance and viewed head on as the ship will be displayed they don't show all that much,in the shadow of the channel. Later today I'll do the other side.

 

*Getting those copper nails in was a bear! I tried pushing them through a scrap piece of hull plank and couldn't do it. I have some tiny drills and a drill vise and I finally got the necessary holes drilled. Of course the nails are too long and hit the inner planking so I had to cut them nearly in half. I broke several of the tiny drill bits. My set is pretty cheap, and if you looked at the bit wrong it broke.Ironically, sometimes the broken end of the bit drilled better than the new bit! Any better ideas for drilling these and the many other holes I'll need to be drilling?

Looking ahead, how do you lace the lanyards in the tight space between the lower deadeye and the hull? I'm thinking glue on the end of the lanyard, bend the end of the lanyard about 90 degrees, then feed the bent part through the deadeye using a mosquito hemostat. Again, I'd welcome any better ideas.

 

 

 

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I've seen pictures of a little wire gizmo that people have used to maintain two deadeyes the correct distance apart for attaching the shrouds.

Need tips on deadeyes rigging - Masting, rigging and sails - Model ...

What kind of wire would I use that stiff enough to hold the deadeyes and still fit through the tiny deadeye holes?

 

I was speculating this morning about perhaps lacing the deadeyes off the hull using my "helping hands" device to hold the two deadeyes. I'd lace them very loosely because they would be tightened after the lower deadeye was attached to the channel and a spacer or template was used to set the proper spacing. Would this be easier than trying to sneak the lacing blindly between the lower deadeye and the hull?

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