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Bluto 1790

Cross Section - HMS Leopard 1790 by Bluto 1790 - 1:44

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As the building of my other model, H.M.S. Leopard at 1:80 took the best part of 9 years, I didn't want to take on another full-on model of a complete ship.

So, since I have basic drawings/plans of Leopard I'm going to have a try at a cross section.  As a section will require a lot less space for the finished item I wanted to exploit that and have increased the scale considerably.

. . . and to explain about the unusual scale of 1:44 - - - I had planned to have the previous drawings at 1:80 doubled and asked for that at the copy shop.  The enlarged copies didn't quite come out at twice the size.  At the widest point on the body plan the moulded breadth measures exactly 11 inches.  Compared to the 'real width' of the actual ship at 39 feet 10 inches that works out at 1:43.45 --- so, its official model scale will be called "1:44".

Okay, that's that out of the way.

As for the actual parts of the drawings and plans that I will need, some modifications have to be made before I can even think about creating more sawdust in my hut.

When I built my previous Leopard it was P.o.B. so the body plan was sufficient for creating the bulkheads but I have to modify that plan for creating frames.

All I have is this >>>


and one copy of a section at mid-ship >>>


I will need more than the 'half frames' that are available on the body plan, so, I had the image flipped horizontally and made a few copies >>>


I then cut two of the flipped copies down the centre line and pasted them onto 'right-way-round' copies and ended up with these >>>



These two copies above were the ones that came back from the copy shop at almost twice their original size. (I had 12 copies of the aft frame plan and 6 of the forward frame plans copied.)

The section drawing above is reasonably adequate as a rough guide to the basic shape of the mid-ship frame but I will have to make use of the body plan for the nine frames I intend to make.  It won't be a fully-framed section but instead the frames will equate to the positions of the bulkheads 13 to (B) shown in the plan below >>>



It will be a little longer than most sections I have seen as I want it to extend from just ahead of the companionway forward of the main mast back to the two capstans.

As a section at this scale would have a full height mainmast at around 1.6 metres (over 5 feet) I intend just to display with a 'stump' of a main mast as shown in the section drawing. (second image in this post.) 

This project is requiring a lot more advance planning than did my previous build before the sawdust stage so hopefully I'll have formulated a definite route to go by the next post.

(I have ideas -- just have to test them!) 

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Sawdust made.


Previously I had prepared a baseboard.  I had considered using MDF but I had a perfect leftover size of white melamine board.  It's very stable and flat and being white, is easy to draw reference lines on.   Here with the centreline and 3 of the 9 frames drawn on.


First sawdust came from the preparation of the keel and keelson. Cut the rebate/rabbet on the milling machine using this jig >




I didn't use the machine in the usual way by using the travelling table but kept the table still and moved the workpiece (the keel) along the jig under the spinning cutter.  The uncut length of the keel but with the rebate cut >   


. . . and 'dry placed' on the board to enable me to accurately position the screw-down locating 'lugs' > 


Next sawdust came from my first attempt at making a blank for my first ever frame.  Each of the paper copies of the body plan were cut out at the appropriate lines for each individual frame.  (At that stage only the outside of the frame is defined.)

This is the cut-out copy for frame #11  (the keel is left on just for reference purposes.) > 


After cutting out, the copy is reversed and placed over, and attached by masking tape to the laminated blank for the frame.  At this point I have to draw, freehand, the inside face of the frame >


Then it is to the bandsaw to cut out the frame.  Note to anyone who may consider this method in the future -- because I opted not to glue the paper copy onto the frame blank but used masking tape to do so, the inner face MUST be cut first.  Cutting the outer face first would release the paper copy from the frame and the line of the inner face will be no more!  (More freehand drawing would be required.)

A light sanding of the inner and outer faces to remove most of the bandsaw marks.  I expect to be doing more sanding of all the frames once set into the keel before any planking begins.

In order to hold the keel onto the baseboard during construction I used these brass threaded inserts >  


They hold the keel very securely onto the baseboard and I hope to use them to hold the model onto its permanent mounting when finished >


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In three days I've been able to make the blanks of all nine frames.  Each frame required 13 pieces to be cut and laminated in two layers then glued together.  I used beech on one side of the lamination and plywood on the other side.  

After their visit to the bandsaw each frame was lightly sanded to get rid of most of the bandsaw marks, then as they're rather fragile I glued on a stabilising piece of plywood along their tops.  A frame finds a safe place while the glue sets  >


Each frame was placed directly onto an uncut copy of the body plan in order to establish the centreline on the floor timber at the keel as well as on the stabilising piece at the top  >  


Then there were nine  >   


Building a framing jig is something I've never done . . .  don't know how to . . . and have no plans or instructions, so that wasn't going to happen.

Another means of keeping the build square and true was needed.  After considerable time spent thinking about this I decided on these  > 


An explanation may be required here.  I'll try.

These two "things" are mirror images of each other and each have two vertical pieces of ply that in turn present a 90 degree angle to the melamine base.  Hopefully the 2 following photos may make it clearer  >



This next photo shows the two 'jigs' on the baseboard along with one of the frames  >   


These two jigs ensure that the frame is perpendicular to the base in a fore to aft direction.  To ensure that the top of the frame is definitely centralised across the keel I made this (the holes mean nothing - they were there before I used the board)  >   


This piece of board has a factory cut perfect right angle corner - - the notch cut out at the bottom corner is to allow the board to be placed against the keel and is shown in the following  >


And (in theory) works like this  > 


I used these 3 jigs with each frame in turn to establish their position on the keel and drilled a 3mm hole for a 3mm bamboo skewer 'dowel' to assist with the final gluing of the frames onto the keel  >   


I wanted to see how the frames might look on the keel so dry fitted them all onto the keel and placed a dowel down through each one.  I was a little surprised that just a dry dowel held the frames in a fairly stable position  >


That's quite encouraging for the actual glue-up.


. . . and on the subject of glue-ups - - - I started gluing the frames with PVA glue and fairly quickly a few of the joints failed.  I've had the occasional failure with that PVA previously so I had to re-do these failed joints.  Having lost faith in the PVA I opted to use what I call my T.N.P. glue ---"Take No Prisoners" glue, otherwise known in the civilised world as "Epoxy Resin".   No more failures with the epoxy!

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The keel and keelson have slipped past here pretty much without mention, so I should do that now.

They're both cut from the same piece of mahogany as was the false keel.  I already mentioned the cutting of the rebates in the keel.

I should here mention the frames, as my frames do not have a cut-out/mortice that fits over the keel because I do not have any drawings of the frames.  I merely created the frames using as a guide the only image I have of Leopard's frames that appears on the section drawing.  Here's the floor timber area of that drawing  >


Since I made all the frames with floors like that, I decided to make large mortices in the keel and keelson so that the frames would have a secure place to live.  The keel and keelson were clamped together and taken to the mill where the mortices were cut  >


Since I had dry fitted the frames onto the keel it was time to do it for real.  

First frame  >


Over three days the one frame became nine  >  


First look along the outside of these frames shows that some fairing will be required but probably not as much as I was expecting.

My main concern for the frames at this point was to get them stabilised somehow.  My first inclination was to glue in fillers between the frame tops.  The exact tops of the frames haven't yet been established so I decided that I'd try to get some of the deck clamps in place.

My earlier "invention" for centralising the frame tops proved useful in helping to transfer the marks for the various deck clamp levels onto the frames.  The levels for the orlop clamps were the first  >


First mistake!

I carefully measured the level(s) of the orlop deck heights fore and aft as there is around a 4mm difference between the two, transferred these measurements to the frames at four locations and glued and clamped the first deck clamp to the marks.  While waiting for the glue to dry and measuring for the lower deck levels, I realised that I had glued the clamp at the level of the deck it was meant to support instead of the level at the underside of the deck beam.

That epoxy resin is good!  That first mis-placed clamp did not want to come off --- it had to be drilled through at each end and carefully prised off the other seven frames.  New clamp made and duly attached at the correct position -- lesson learned!

I previously mentioned that some joints had failed on a couple of frames before fitting to the keel.  When sanding some of the frames (on the keel) another frame joint failed  > 


My "T N P" glue fixed that  >


(For explanation of "T N P" glue see my previous post!)


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Hi Yves, thanks for your comment.


I intend for the finished model to have a 'stump' mast as depicted in the Section drawing in the first post above, so the final size should be around :-


Length =  13.4"    340mm

Width =   11.6"    294mm

Height =  11.6"    294mm


After my previous build at 1:80 it's good to be able to stretch myself a bit with a section at almost twice the scale!

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With orlop and lower gun deck clamps on I wanted to get the keelson on, but as I hope to have several lanterns lit at various places on each deck I led in the wiring for that first.  Because this is going to be a longer section than 'normal' I hope to have lanterns towards the aft end as well as toward the forward end so I have led wires up through the keel (but under the keelson) near both ends.

This pic shows the keelson in the clamps and the red and blue wiring  at each end  > 


. . . and after the epoxy has done its job  >


My plan is to conceal the wiring between the hull planking and the ceiling planking and bring the 'feed' for each level over the top of their respective deck clamps. (I hope it will all work eventually!)


Limber strakes next.  Before fitting these I placed each one in the mill, in the same jig I had used to mill the rebates in the keel, and ran a shallow 45 degree groove along one corner of each strake to make it easier for the limber board to locate better.   


It's not very clear what's happening in the photo above so this might make it a bit clearer  >


Then to the ship  > 


Then the outer limber strakes  >   


The first of the limber boards  > 



With its neighbour  > 


By the time I had fitted these two boards I realised it would be a good idea to make and fit the mast step before fitting any more limber boards  >



Step wedges and chocks  >


At first, fitted the step with three chocks on each side  >


But that looked like too much overkill so I removed two chocks from each side  > 



With the remaining boards and a few ceiling planks fitted.

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Upper gun and quarterdeck clamps fitted then took some time to glue in fillers along the frame tops as well as in the areas of the gunports.   


All the "Xs" on the frames above, each with a line underneath, define the rough height of the frames.


As I've never done this kind of build before a lot of thinking about the sequence of things has been going on.  I know that before I go near the orlop a whole lot of stuff needs to be done in and around the hold although I did spend time establishing the exact positions of the gunports.  (The picture above just shows their rough positions.)

In my other build I established and framed all 48 gunports before any hull planking was commenced and that worked well for me, so I'm doing the same with this section.  With the gun deck clamps in position I used dummy beams and deck planking to help with the gunport positioning.  (I know the gun deck beams are cambered but for this exercise I just used flat 'beams'.)

I used cut-outs of very badly drawn guns to mark the tops and bottoms of the gunports

(I think that every post should have something to laugh at -- so here comes this one . . . )  > 


Yes ~ I know they look ridiculous but they served their purpose.  (I hope I can make the ship's guns and carriages to look better than that!)  > 


The side elevation of the body plan gave the fore and aft limits of the gunports.  >


Staying with the frame tops for now, with the exception of the foremost and the aftmost, I eventually cut off the excess parts to make it a bit easier to work inside the hull, and these athwartship pieces of plywood were also creating unwanted shadows.

I left the two end frames uncut as they may prove useful at times when the section is upside down off the baseboard. 


The final gunport positions. 


. . . and a rarely seen feature on 18th century ships - - a channel for wiring beside a gunport  > 



Some work also done on the footwaling, thick stuff and ceiling planking down in the hold  >



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Basic parts of the frame for the lower well  >



For these parts I used softwood as my supply of beech is running low and right now with the Covid 19 lockdown there are no timber suppliers open and who knows when things will be anywhere near 'normal' again.   I have a little more oak than I have of beech so for the planking of the lower well I used oak. 


I opted to have one of the shot locker lids propped open  >


My first attempt at working hinges.  Apart from the rudder hinges on my other build, all the other hinges (gun ports) were just dummy, static hinges.



And blackened  > 



With both lids  >



I've chosen to leave the aft end of the well un-planked for two reasons --


1)   When finished, the model will probably be displayed with the aft end facing a wall so the open backed well will not be seen,  But - - -

2)   If it is displayed with a view in from the aft end, then all the business of the mast foot and step as well as the pump tubes will be visible.


A 'test drive' in its position in the hold  >



Then, it's back in a 'safe box' until time to be permanently fitted.



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A week or so ago I reached a milestone in the build - - - I wouldn't really have considered it to be a milestone but it took me so much longer to complete than I had imagined it should have taken.  I guess it was the 4 different thicknesses of the timbers that protracted the time I took to get the internal planking of the hold finished  >


I diverted to other small projects for the build during that time.  In my other build there were lots of things that I didn't have to make as the model was fully planked and nothing below lower gun deck was visible, in fact only the guns were viewable on that deck.  Nothing on the orlop deck or in the hold was made back then so this was my first attempt at making a barrel.

I adopted a method I had seen on other builds for the basic blank for turning the barrels.  This is the blank I used for the second batch of barrels  >


The first barrel I tried was made from a scaled down version of the above -- just big enough to make one small barrel  >


Although I was able to turn the blank on my lathe jig - I don't have a proper lathe, just a jig into which a drill fits, I wasn't able to hollow out the top on the lathe.  I had to do that on the milling machine.  The uncut dowel fits into a hole drilled in another jig I made to fit onto the mill table.  >


I don't move the table in the conventional way, but bring the cutter down to the barrel, move the barrel into the desired position by moving the table in/out and left/right until the cutter is where it needs to be.  (These are the only movements made to the table.)  I then slowly spin the barrel (with my fingers) on its dowel while the spinning cutter hollows out the top.  I cut the outer ring of the hollow first (very carefully!) then carefully move the table around until all of the unwanted wood is removed  >



With lid  >


. . . and with a few bigger friends  >


That's 5 barrels done - -  another 15 or 20 to go ?

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It may seem a bit early in this build to mention pumps - - but while sailing ships wouldn't go anywhere without sails and would be fairly uncontrollable without a rudder, without pumps they wouldn't stay afloat for very long.  This, being a section, won't have sails nor a rudder so I thought at least it should have pumps.

Just a few weeks ago I knew very little about pumps but my research and asking questions has turned up some good information although it wasn't the easiest to find.

The Elm Tree pumps:  Neither "The 50 Gun Ship" book nor any of the plans/drawings I have of the 50 gun ship make any mention of these pumps.  In one answer to my question on Google , one "knowledgeable" person said these were the chain pumps -- that is INCORRECT -- the chain pumps are completely different.  The elm tree pumps (or brake pumps) were used to draw water either directly from the sea (by means of a "hole in the hull") or from a watertight cistern in the hold which was filled by drawing water in through the hull.  The function of these pumps was to provide water for deck washing and firefighting if required.

The Chain Pumps:  The purpose of these pumps was to put water back where it is supposed to be -- in the sea.  These were always located on the lower gun deck, or whichever deck that was the first above the ship's natural waterline.  I'm guessing that to have added longer tubes to reach a higher deck would increase the length of the chain and, combined with the weight of the extra water that would be lifted, would add considerably to the already heavy load on the men working the pumps.

Each type of pump had a different advantage over the other -- the chain pumps could lift large amounts of water in a short time but not under pressure, so were of little use for hosing decks or fires.  The elm tree/brake pumps could deliver water under pressure and to higher decks but were considerably less efficient at drawing a large volume of water in a short time.

I always try to think ahead in the build in my attempts not to have to do something that should have been done earlier - - well, I don't always succeed in that. 

While I was recently pleased to have finished all the internal planking in the hold, I've just had the minor inconvenience of having to cut through a couple of limber boards and strakes for the holes for the sumps of the chain pumps.  These 2 cuts took the best part of 2 hours, including the repairs to a couple of the limber board and re-gluing them back in.

Drills, mini saw, files and sandpaper later >>


The 'metal' sumps I made from card and a little 'half-moon' piece of wood to hold them together >



And a grainy photo of them painted and ready for the hull  (I find it very difficult to get good photos of black or white items) >


There aren't any inlet holes in these sumps as there won't be any water in the bilges of this model for the dummy pump tubes to draw up!

The sumps dry fitted  >


And here are the dummy tubes (looking like 2 pairs of chopsticks)  >



These will be left oversize until I get up to working on the lower gun deck.

I tapered these tubes by using the belt sander - -  carefully.  The octagonal shape was attempted by hand using a block sander.

Here in 'test drive' mode  >






Next, the elm tree pump tubes . . .

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Another 'side project' I did while the hold planking was being done was to make the 'easy' orlop deck beams.  'Easy' as they're flat without camber.

Dry fitted  >



Only the outside faces of the two end beams were beech; the other 4 beams I made from softwood as I'm trying to stretch out my dwindling supply of beech as the lockdown continues and no timber merchants are open yet.   In the photos above only the closest beam had had the mortices cut for the carlings.  I cut these with a 3mm chisel but cutting the softwood beams left the edges a little less sharp than I hoped for, so I completed these on the bandsaw.  I used a stop block clamped around and behind the blade in order to control the depth of cut.


As the bandsaw cuts the full height, I had to glue in fillers at the bottom of each mortice.  


Cutting off the excess and then some sanding, and the mortices looked acceptable. 


and back in for a second dry fit before going in 'the box'   



The positions and configuration of the beams, carlings and ledges, as well as knees will be a little bit of guesswork, as, to my knowledge, there exist no 100% accurate drawings and plans for these in any 50 gun ship.  In particular, there is virtually no information about the hold area and very little about the orlop deck.  I am basing a lot of what I am building on what I see on other build logs of English ships of a similar era.

My aim is to finish with something that isn't a 100% accurate model (I don't think that is possible), but to end up with something that is reasonably representative of these 4th rate ships.

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