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I recently completed the Fair American, which is my second build. It followed my first build– a solid hull Model Shipways Rattlesnake-that I completed 45 years ago. Looking back on the years, I had no prior ship model experience prior to the Rattlesnake. I had seen some ship models in a hobby shop, and I decided to try my hand at the Rattlesnake. IMO, the build turned out good. The 45-year hiatus was due to raising a family and making a career in civil engineering.  Then, came retirement and an opportunity to try my hand at ship building again. I’m glad that I did. The experience was so gratifying that I decided to embark on a third build – the US Brig Syren. I ordered the ship from ModelExpo shortly before it temporarily closed its operations due to the Coronavirus outbreak. While awaiting delivery, I studied Chuck Passaro’s fine instructions on-line at the ModelExpo website. As I progressed through the instructions, I compared them to some Syren build logs on the Nautical Research Guild site – it helps to read other build logs and to learn from their experiences. From what I have read, I suspect this build is going to be very challenging. It’s going to test my resolve. Anyway, this is the first post on my Syren build. It starts with the obligatory photo of the ship model box. I checked the parts list against the contents and found everything to be in order. I labeled the size of the various bundled wood strips for quick reference.

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The numbered and lettered bulkheads (BH) were tested in their proper slots in the bulkhead former (BF). They fit nicely – no sanding necessary. The BHs will be beveled later. I soaked the 3/32” x 1/16” rabbet strip in water for about 20 minutes and then attached it to the BF, held in place with rubber bands and clips as per the instructions. After it dried, I permanently glued it to the BF, taking care to be sure that it is centered. I also glued a rabbet strip to the stern. I let the rabbet dry overnight. While the glue was drying on the rabbet, I began beveling the BHs, both outboard (first) and inboard (second). I decided to complete all the beveling before returning to the rabbet.

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Returning to the rabbet, I traced the laser cut bearding line and perforated holes to establish the bearding line and then carved the taper from the bearding line towards the rabbet edge. I tapered the bearding line toward the keel with a chisel and sandpaper. I completed one side when I discovered that I used the wrong size rabbet strip – Duh. So, I removed it. I decided to taper the bearding line on the opposite side of the BF before replacing the rabbet with the correct size strip. This worked out well, and it made me wonder why the tapering of the bearding line couldn’t be done before fitting the rabbet strip. For me, it was easier. You just need to taper each side evenly so as to leave a wide even plane on the bottom of the BF to glue the rabbet strip.

With the taper from the bearding line to the rabbet complete, I repeated the process of installing the rabbet. I let the rabbet strip dry overnight. I turned my attention to the stem knee. I tapered the stem knee to fit the figurehead. I filed the figure to lessen the amount of taper and for her fit better. I took care not to taper the stem knee beyond the bob stay holes. I laid the BF, the stem knee, and the 3/16” x 3/16” basswood strip for the keel flat on the work bench and checked that the rabbet depth was about the same on both sides of the stem and the keel strip.  I had to sand the rabbet one side to deepen the depth of the rabbet. The keel strip was fine. I glued the stem knee, secured it with clamps, and let it dry sufficiently before gluing the keel strip. While waiting for the glue to dry, I tapered the two laser cut bow fillers. I attached the false keel with blue masking tape to protect the keel.

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At this point, I decided to drill some pilot holes (1/8") in the BF for the masts as some other builders had done. I superimposed the BF onto the plan sheet and marked the angle of the masts on the BF using a straight edge aligned with the center line of the masts.

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Inserted the BHs into their respective slots, making sure that the scribed sides of each lettered BH face towards the bow and that all sides of each numbered BH face the stern. I faired the BF as per the instructions, checking the fair with a 1/8” x 1/16” planking strip. Rather than glue all the BHs permanently and then cut and glue the filler blocks, I glued each BH and cut and glued the filler blocks as I went along. I started with BHs P, N, and L, jumped to BH 26 and 24, and then completed the process from BH D through BH24. The filler blocks were cut from 1” x 2” pine stock left over from a home improvements project.  With BHs and filler blocks in-place permanently, I did more fairing, outboard and inboard.

 

Cut 1/16” x 1/8” basswood strips for the platform between BHs 16 and 20. Ran a pencil across the edge of each plank to simulate the caulking between them, and each one in-place. Opted not to add tree nails since they won’t be visible. The planks will be cleaned up and stained with MinWax Golden Oak later.

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Moving on to Chapter 3, I taped the framing template to the bulkheads. As can be seen in the photos, the BHs align closely with the template, except for the bow. This did not surprise me because I had read in other build logs that the templates are way off – they don’t align with BHs P and N. To check the squaring of the BHs, I cut out the overhead view template and placed it on the deck. The BHs align closely with the overhead view template. Also, as a check on my mast pilot holes, I superimposed the overhead view template on the plan sheet an marked the locations of the masts – the pilot holes are spot on.

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As I interpret the template, the bottom of the template represents the bottom of the 3/16” wide gun port frame. The top of the bottom yellow line would be the gun port sill. I pinned a batten at the bottom of the template on the starboard and port side of the hull. I removed the template to find that the batten doesn’t completely align with the bottom reference line etched onto each bulkhead. Considering that they aren’t that far off, and that the instructions say the bulkheads may not be sitting in their respective slots at precisely the same level, I decided to use the batten as a guide. I marked each bulkhead edge with a pencil along the top of the batten and removed the batten.  The batten also serves to check the fairing. The fairing looks good as the run is fairly (no pun intended) smooth with no humps or dips.

 

Based on the plans, the gun port sills are 3/16” above the top of the BHs (1/16” for the plank. 1/16” for the waterway, and 1/16” for the swivel bracket). So, rather than use the batten, I opted to use a 3/16” strip as a guide in locating the gun port sills. I placed the 3/16” strip on the top of the BH as a guide to align the top of the gun port frames. I think this approach should pretty much assure that the gun ports will be probably aligned with the carronades – time will tell.

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While waiting for Amazon to ship my Dremel 8220 cordless rotary tool, I started measuring, cutting, and fitting the gun port sill frames from the ¼” x 3/16” wood strips. I used a mini miter box for cutting the strips. Starting on the port side, I glued the frames in place (from stern and bow), taking care that the top (sill) of the frame was set flush with the 3/16” guide strip. While the glue was drying, I cut and fit the starboard side gun port frames. The ¼” wide strips require a lot of sanding – I had planned to use the Dremel.  To alleviate the amount of inboard sanding, I set the frames such that they protrude just beyond the BH. The consequence of this is that it increases the amount of outboard sanding. To lessen the outboard sanding, I trimmed the frames before sanding. I sanded and filed the port side gun port frames inboard and outboard - wish I had my Dremel. Then, I glued the starboard side gun port frames, allowed the glue to dry, trimmed the frames, and sanded and filed them inboard and outboard.

 

For the placement of the gun port lintels, I used a block cut to 15/32” to position the lintels. The process for installing the gun port lintels is the same as the gun port sills. I set the 15/32” block on each gun port sill and the lintel on top of the block and glued the lintel in-place. Whence the glued dried, I sanded and filed the lintels by hand to fair them with the hull. At this point, some the lintels are a little less than 1/8”, so I want to be careful not to over sand them.

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Next up, the green frames. I set up the template as per the instructions and I marked the locations for each vertical green frame on the gun port sills and lintels. I measured and cut the frames from 3/16” x ¼” stock.  I glued the green frames in place using the 15/32” block as a guide. As with the sill and lintel frames, I trimmed the green frames to lessen the sanding.  I sanded the outboard frames to match the BH stanchion profile.

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Using a 1/8” wood strip as a guide, I placed it on the port sills and marked the position of the red (horizontal) frames. I measured and cut the frames from the 3/16” x 1/14” wood strips. The frames were glued in place with the 1/4” side facing outboard – no trimming required here. I held off on sanding the red frames until after the blue frames are installed. I made a 1/8” x 1/8” block to square the sweep ports. Measured, cut, and glued sweep port frames (blue) in place. I did some final outboard sanding. The hull fairing looks good.

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Only one glitch so far - While sanding the lintels, BH 4 broke off. I glued it back on but didn’t get it perfectly aligned. As a result, in the last photo you’ll notice the port side of the hull has a hump at BH 4. This may not be noticeable after the bulwarks is planked and the cap rail is installed. I’m satisfied with the progress, however.

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Next up, Chapter 4 – Stern Framing. Stay tuned.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Now onto Chapter 4. I completed the stern port frames – no problems. I deviated from the instructions somewhat. I glued fillers #2 in place before gluing stern frames A in place. This supported the A frames while they were glued in place. I did the same with fillers #3.  I attached a batten to the tops of the frames to secure them in place while the glue was drying. Next, I glued the C frames together and allowed them to dry before gluing them to the stern. While waiting the C frames to dry, I did more sanding of the bulwarks,trying to keep the contour of the bulwark stanchions. With C frames dried, I glued them in-place. I measured and cut the port sills from the 3/16” x ¼” wood strips and glued them in place, making sure that they are level. I set them at the laser burn marks on the inside of the frames. I added the gun port lintels and the rest of the filler blocks as per the instructions. I used my 15/32” block to establish the height of the gun port lintels. I checked the accuracy of the marks by attaching the stern template. The burn marks and template were spot on. I cut out the cannon template to double check the height of the sills - I allowed 1/16” for the deck planks. The cannon barrel just clears the gun port sill.  There’s no definitive height for the cannon barrel above the gun port sill – it only has to clear the sill. I sanded the blocks flush with the inside and outside of the stern frames. As the instructions state, the stern frames are fragile, so use care so as to not sand too aggressively.

 

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I marked the outside frames with a pencil to establish the shape of the stern. Prior to doing that, a la _SalD_ build log, I painted the C frames white to better see the pencil marks.  I then trimmed the frames to the pencil mark, using my Dremel first and hand sanding last to fair the shape of the stern.

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I decided to make two solid filler pieces for below the counter rather than using the two strips as shown in the instruction manual. I made them from some scrap pine. I developed the rough shape of the fillers before gluing them in place. When I was satisfied with the rough shape, I glued the fillers in place. Whence the glue was dry, I did some final sanding – I’m sure I’ll have to do some more shaping.

 

Moving on to Chapter 5, I applied two coats of bright red (ModelExpo MS4835) paint on the gun ports and the sweep ports. Deviating from the instructions, to locate the upper wale I opted to make a copy of starboard side elevation view on Sheet 5 and to cut out the bulwark. I used this as a template to locate the bottom of the upper wale. I realize that there is a slight enlargement when making a photocopy but in spite of that, the template aligns almost perfectly with the gun ports (see photo). That being said, I decided to attach a batten to the hull as a guide for the placement of the upper wale. As I noted, the top of the batten will be the bottom of the upper wale. I repeated the process port side using the opposite side of the template. Again, the template aligned almost perfectly with the gun ports. As expected, the top of the batten is below the burn marks on the hull which represent the top of the wale (see photos). As a check, I made a mockup of the seven 1/8” and one 5/32” planks and placed it on top of the batten. It aligns fairly well.  I made some slight adjustments to the batten. I’m satisfied that this is about as accurate as I will get with the location of the upper wale.

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Next, I made a jig for the wale strips using a photocopy of the deck Layout as a template. I soaked the 5/32” x 1/16” strips for the upper wales in water for about 20 minutes and then clamped them to the jig to preform them. I attached the starboard side upper whale with glue, pins, and clamps. I used nails because the upper wale with be covered with a second wale.

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Before planking the bulwark, I preformed the 1/8” strips in the jig. I was able to preform three at a time. I started planking the starboard bulwark beginning at the bow. The first two rows of planking were cut into segments. I used the elevation view on Sheet 5 to determine were the joints are. The most difficult part for me was holding the first plank of each row in the rabbet at the knee stem. I placed a clamp on the knee stem to hold the plank against the bow filler. The second row of planking had to be cut out at the gun and sweep ports. I scored the plank with the knife blade where I wanted the notch for the gun port or sweep port and then made a sawcut to the depth of the notch. Then, I removed the notch and finished it with a small file.  Above the second plank, the planks were cut into small short lengths between the gun ports and the sweep ports. When I reached the top of the gun ports, before adding the sixth plank, I filed the ends of the planks with a small square file to achieve an even edge along the lip of the gun port. I found it difficult to get an even edge on the sweep port lips. The gun port lips are not uniform 1/32” wide around each port, but to the naked eye I don’t think it will be noticeable.  The sixth row of planking was cut into segments, again using the elevation view on Sheet 5. These planks had to be notched out at the gun ports. Before gluing them, I paused to consider how I will make the bulwark sheaves. I decided to follow the instructions and make simulated sheaves rather than working sheaves as some builders have done. So, I proceeded to glue the remaining planks in place.

 

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Completed planking on the starboard and port side planking. Did quite of lot of sanding to even out the planks, while keeping the contour of the bulwarks. I’m pleased with the results. I notice in the photo on Page 20 that the bow planking is above the knee stem. My bow planking is even with the knee stem, which indicates that the wale may have been set too low at the bow. However, I noticed in other build logs that the bow planking in some logs is even with the knee stem and in others is above the knee stem. The only ramification of this that I can foresee might be the relationship of the bow sprite relative to the cap rail. Time will tell.

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Moving on to the counter at the stern. I decided to add the counter planking after completing the hull planking, as some other builders have done. I felt that it would be easier to trim/file/sand the edges of the planks to achieve a nice straight edge for the counter plank to abut. I trimmed the first counter plank (5/32” x 1/16”) to match the transom. I beveled the edge of the 5/32” plank that will abut the 1/8” x 1/16” plank.  The transom edge was already beveled. I clamped the first counter plank to the stern frames, setting the top edge approximately 1/16” below the gun port sill. I established the center line of the first plank and the transom and then clamped the transom to the stern frames. I traced the outline of the gun port opening with a sharp pencil. To create the rabbet around each port for the lids, I cut just outside the line with an x-acto knife, being careful not to cut too much beyond the pencil line.  I spent a considerable amount of time filing the opening and positioning the transom onto the stern to check the lip until I achieved a fairly even rabbet all around the port. I then glued and clamped the transom onto the stern frames, paying close attention to position the transom exactly in-place. I then glued the first plank in-place. I’m satisfied with how the gun port cutouts turned out.

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Soaked the first three planks (two 5/32” wide strips and one 1/8” wood strip) beneath the wales and clamped them to the jig. While waiting for the planks to dry, I added the “garboard plank” (3/16” x 1/16”) at the keel and the two I/8” x 1/16” planks above it on the port and starboard side.

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Added the two 5/32” wide planking strips for the wales and the final 1/18” wide strip on the starboard side. The most difficult part was clamping each plank at the knee stem rabbet at the counter.  Repeated the process on the port side. This completes Step 3 of Chapter 5. So far, so good. One point of thought, I hindsight, the use of filler blocks at the bow would have made it easier to attach the planks and provided a more uniform profile. 

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On to Step 4. Measured the gap between the 1/8” wale strip and the 1/8” keel strip and determined that twenty-two (22) 1/8” strips will be required to fill the space. This compares favorably with the 22 to 23 planks in the instructions. So far, its true to form (see photo).

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Next, I measured the gap at bulkhead “N” and divided it by 22 strips to determine the width of each plank at the bow. Each plank will have to be tapered to about 6” at 3/16” scale, which is roughly 3/32”.

 

I measured the distance along the stern post and under the counter using a piece of dental floss. Stretched out, the corresponding length of floss is +/-29” at a 1/8” scale. So, around 29 planks will be required to cover the stern area.  

 

Added 4 planks below the initial 3 under the wales on the port and starboard sides. After tapering, I soaked the planks in water and attached them to the hull temporarily with push pins, Acco binder clips, and clamps. I held the planks in-place at the stern with an Irwin Quick-Grip clamp - this is the most difficult area for securing the planks. The plank formed nicely with the counter, which eased the horsing of the plank around the counter. I left the planks longer at the counter, as I will cut them later when I install the counter planks. Note: The Acco binder clips shown in the photo were made by taking the arm from one clip and inserting it into another clip. I got this Idea from rtopp's Syren build log. These clips are very useful. Like he and some other builders I purchased the MS planking clamps (for my prior build) and found them useless.

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At the keel, I added 5 planks on each side in addition to the initial 3. I added a stealer, cut into the 4th plank on each side – these are tricky. I did some initial sanding while waiting for glued planks to dry.

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Completed the second layer of the wales (2 - 5/32” x 1/16” thick lower wales and 1 -5/32” x 1/32” thick upper wale) and the sheer strake (1/8” x 1/32” thick).  Like the planks, I cut the wale strips on an angle and chamfered them to fit into the rabbet at the stem. I preformed them by soaking them in water then clamping them to the jig.  The wale strips were glued on top of the first layer of wales and held in-place with clamps and clips. I left the wales and sheer strake longer at the counter, as I will cut them later when I install the counter planks.

 

Next, the treenails. I followed the instructions and lightly drew some vertical lines on the planks representing the center of each bulkhead. I used an awl to mark each treenail, following the general pattern shown in the photo on Page 24 of the instructions. The holes will be drilled later with a .55 mm (0.0217”) bit and then filled with Minwax Golden Oak wood putty.  I made a test sample to see how the treenails will look after puttying and then staining with Minwax  Golden Oak stain.  Whence the treenails are drilled, I think  the combination of the Golden Oak putty and Golden Oak stain will be okay.  As a general note, the treenail pattern is a matter of personal design and consideration for what was common practice in ship building in the 17th century. I'm satisfied with the treenail pattern.

 

Except for the counter at the stern, which I opted to hold-off on completing, the model is complete through Step 5 of Chapter 5.

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  • 2 weeks later...

On to Step 6 of Chapter 5, completing the hull planking. I've been tapering the planks down to 3/32" about 4” to 5” from the bow.  I marked the knee stem in 3/32” intervals as a guide. I typically taper 2 at time. After tapering, I lay them down side by side to check for uniformity. I run a file across them to even them out.  At the bow, I cut the end of each plank at an angle to follow the curve of the stem and then chamfered the angle cut so the planks fit nicely in the rabbet.  I soak them (in the bathtub) for at least 30 minutes and then attach them to the hull temporarily with push pins, Acco clips, and clamps.  While the planks are drying, I continue the process. When the planks are dry, before gluing them in-place, I moisten the end of the plank at the tuck of the stern to prevent the plank from splitting. I secured the plank at the stern with my trusty Irwin Quick-Grip clamp.  I’ve been alternating planking up from the keel and down from the wale on the port and starboard sides with the goal of meeting in middle. The full planks at the stern are lay nicely over the counter without having to taper them.

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The planking started to droop at the stern, so I Installed a half stealer 6 planks up from the garboard on the port and starboard side. As I continued planking down from the keel, I installed a full stealer 2 planks from the half stealer.

 

The planking developed a “clinker built” look, where the lower edge of the plank bulges. From what I have seen from other build logs, this is not uncommon. I probably should have spiled the planks at some point, but I continued planking. This being my second POB build, my goal was to improve my planking skills and strive to complete the hull planking without having to use wood filler and to limit the amount of sanding. Because the planking developed clinking, I had to use wood filler to even out the planking and provide a smooth surface for the copper plating. In spite of this, I’m satisfied with the hull planking. And, I learned to make stealers, something I didn’t use on my last build.

 

Decided to complete the counter before finishing the hull. For me, it was easier to add the counter after the stern planking was complete because I didn’t have to cut the planks that tuck over the stern to the exact length to butt up against the counter plank. I test fit the counter planks before cutting off the stern planks - I had to add 1 more counter plank than the instructions call for. I scribed a line across the stern planks at the top counter plank and cut them all to length with a mini saw. Some sanding and filing were required to even out the surface of stern planks and the counter planks. I’m satisfied with the way the counter came out

 

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Back to the hull, the closing pieces were tricky. I used a several drop planks to reduce the number of planks at the bow, a 5/32” wide correction plank, half stealers, full stealers, and a spiled plank. I’ve been using carpenters glue, but where I couldn’t hold the planks down with clamps, I used CA glue to tack the plank. Then I worked back with carpenter’s glue on the bulkheads and the edge of the planks.  To fill the final gap, I tapered and fitted a “correction plank.”

 

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At the stern, I used a 5/32” wide closer plank tapered to fit the gap at the stern post on the port and starboard sides. I’m satisfied with the hull planking. Although, I’ll have to do some more filling and sanding to prep for the copper plating.

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Marked the water line per the instructions. I crafted a water line marker from a speed square and Acco clips. I’m holding off on installing the laser cut stern post until I paint and stain the hull.  Aside from that, Chapter 5 is complete. Oh, and I drilled out the pilot holes in the deck for the masts.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Completed filling and sanding the hull to the point where I’m satisfied that it’s suitable for attaching the copper plates.

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On to Chapter 6. I decided to hold off staining and painting the hull and bulwarks. I still need to drill the treenails and fill them with Minwax Golden Oak putty. After reading some build logs, I purchased some Minwax Pre-stain to prevent blotchiness when the Minwax Golden Oak stain is applied.  I will be using Model Expo MS 4830 Hull Spar Black to paint the sheer strake and hull wales down to the water line. I sanded the stern down to 3/32” thick using my Dremel, file, and sanding blocks. I decided to jump to Chapter 7 and thin down the bulwarks before installing the inboard stern planking. I made a pencil mark on the top of the bulwark and then applied painter’s tape along the line to serve as a guide, and to also protect the sheer strake. I started thinning the bulwark with my Dremel and then switched to sandpaper. I found that a 5” diameter 70 grit sanding disc folded in half was perfect for thinning down the bulwarks. I used a long file to even out the bulwarks.

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With that done, I decided to test fit the second layer laser cut transom piece. But, first I made a copy of the stern elevation on Sheet One, cut out the transom and taped it to the stern. As the instructions say, the laser cut piece is little taller – actually much taller - and will need to be sanded down.  I cut out the stern gun ports on the copy of the stern - they match up well. I taped the laser cut transom piece to the stern and outlined it with a pencil. I neglected to remove the transom piece and, consequently, it broke while I was thinning the bulwarks. I glued it together with CA. Since the transom is not painted, I’m concerned the break lines will be visible. Ugh, I’ll deal with it later. Meanwhile, back to Chapter 6. I cut, trimmed, fitted and glued the 1/8” x 1/16” inboard stern planks and painted them with three coats of bright red paint (ModelExpo MS4835). I added some filler blocks at the bow to achieve a uniform curve and to secure the bulwark planking.

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Built up the sides of the stern transom, port and starboard, with 5/32” x 1/16” basswood strip as per the instructions. Sanded it down to match the curved profile of the stern transom. I fashioned the two (2) transom molding strips from 5/32” x 1/16” basswood strips, following the photo on Page 26 of the instructions.

  

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Next, the two upper counter molding strips. I made a jig (see photo) for the molding strips using a cutout of the stern. Before soaking the strips, I added a profile to the 1/16” x 1/16” basswood strips by scribing the strip with the fine point of an oval needle file (my late Father was a tool maker, so I have a collection of needle files). After soaking, I placed the molding strips in the jig and let them dry overnight. I didn’t thin down the strips as the instructions say because I like the look of them as they are.  I went out-on-a-limb and painted the molding strips gold. I plan to paint the stern decorative carvings gold, too.  Before gluing the molding strips in-place, I decided to fit the transom cap. I soaked the ¼” x 1/16” x 24” basswood rail cap strip overnight. I cut a length of strip long enough to wrap around the transom, preformed the strip with my fingers, and attached it to the transom with clamps. The first attempt resulted in the strip breaking. I cut another length and wet it under the sink faucet with hot water. This yielded a better result as I was able to clamp the strip to the transom without it breaking. I decided to use the broken transom piece and to paint the transom black a la rafine’s and Dubz build logs. I like the contrast of the gold moldings with the black counter. I glued the stern cap rail on in one piece. The cap rail overhangs the stern inboard but not outboard – no big deal. Next, the fashion pieces were cut, shaped, and glued in-place. After some fine sanding, the rail cap, fashion pieces, and transom were painted black. I glued on the stern molding strips, making sure to provide at least 1/8” separation between them to accommodate the photo etched letters SYREN. I went ahead and painted the cast decorative carvings gold and glued them to the stern. I painted the SYREN letters white. I’m holding off on installing the letters until I can figure out how best to do it.

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I jumped ahead and drilled the opening for the rudder. To get the approximate location, I test fitted the stern post and measured the distance (4’ @ 3/16” scale) from bulkhead 26 to the rudder on Plan Sheet One. I drilled a small pilot hole first and then reamed it with increasingly larger bits up to 7/32”.  I had to file the opening to fit the rudder. 

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This completes Chapter 6.

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

On to Chapter 7. Before starting the inboard planking, I added filler strips along the bulwarks at the stern. I test fit the first inboard plank (3/16” wide) to make sure that there was a 3/16” space between the top of the bulkheads and the gun ports sill. I had to do some sanding of the bulkheads to achieve the 3/16”. I soaked two 3/16” x 1/16” strips and clamped them to the jig. I installed each strip in one piece on the port and starboard sides. It’s difficult to measure the exact length of one piece. I used a piece of dental floss extended along the bulwarks at the deck level from the bow to the board stern plank. The bow end of the strip was cut on an angle and chamfered to mate with the bulkhead former. I then stretched the dental floss on the strip and marked the aft end of the strip. The aft end is cut on an angle to conform to the stern planking. I test fit the strip, glued it, and clamped it to the bulwarks.

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While waiting for the starboard side plank to dry, I framed the companionway (off ship) with 1/8” x 1/8” strips. I used the framing guide as a template. I marked the center of frame along the bulkhead former and used it to position the frame between bulkheads 16 and 20.  

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Back to the inboard planking. I continued the inboard planking using 1/8” pieces left over from the hull planking.  I used a 1/8” spacer inserted in the sweep port to keep all the sweep openings consistent. Rather than plank over the gun ports and cut them out later, I decided to cut each plank. The fourth 1/8” wide plank was notched out at the top of the gun ports (see photo). I had to use a 3/16” wide strip above the gun ports to complete the planking. The top of the bulwark is a uniform 1/4”, so the cap rail with molding strip will be 1/16” wider than the plans call for.

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The instructions say to cut the cap rail from a 1/16” thick sheet. The kit doesn’t include a 1/16” sheet of basswood. I found this out ahead of time from another build log. I ordered two 1/16" x 6" x 24" basswood sheets from Hobby Lobby. BTY, I avoid ordering from Model Expo because they charge a flat rate of $9.95 for shipping. Hobby Lobby charged $6.95 for shipping my basswood order. I made the cap rail in one piece by laying the ship on top of the boxwood sheet and then tracing the outline of the outboard bulwarks profile onto the sheet. I drew a parallel line ¼” inside the traced line. Then, I carefully cut the pattern out slightly outside of the traced lines with an x-acto knife. As it turned out, the port side cap rail was a little shorter than the starboard side, so I had to add a small piece at the stern. The mistake I made is that I set the basswood sheet against the stern planking. In hindsight, I should have allowed a ¼” or so from the end of the sheet. All-and-all, I’m happy with the way it turned out; and the small piece that I had to put in will be covered by the stern davit (Chapter 14).

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I made the 1/16” square molding strips that go along the outboard edge of the cap rail in same manner as the stern molding strips. To avoid breaking the molding strips, I soaked them and set them in the jig. Because the wood swells when wetted, I had to file out the grove again. With this done, I glued the strips in-place and secured them with clamps. I should have left a little space between the top of the rail cap and the top of the molding strip - the instructions don’t say to do this. I tried to align the top of the molding strip with the top of the cap rail. In some areas the molding strip ended up being slightly higher than the cap rail. The ramification of this is, when you sand the rail cap to even out the molding strip some of the molding strip profile is lost.

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I decided that the treenails that I made with a sharp pointed awl were fine and, therefore, did not need to be drilled. I did try to even each one out with the awl. Filled the treenails with Minwax Golden Oak wood putty. After applying the putty, I wiped the bulwarks with a paper towel to remove excess putty – I’m satisfied with the result. On to painting.

 

Applied Minwax Pre-stain wood conditioner to the outboard bulwarks planking, waited two hours, and applied the first coat of Minwax Golden Oak stain. After five minutes or so I wiped the surface with a cloth to even out the stain. I repeated the process for the second coat. I’m satisfied with the finish. Before painting the cap rail, wales and sheer strake, and the hull to the water line, I applied a coat of polyurethane over the stain. I did this because I was concerned that the masking tape might remove the stain finish. I like the result. I will apply another coat later.

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Taking a break from painting, I pinned and glued the stern post to the hull. Cut the keel to length. Decide to jump ahead to Chapter 8 and work on the rudder. I added a length of 3/16” x 1/16” wood strip along the bottom of the rudder and then filed the rudder down to establish the 1/8” taper on the aft-most edge. Beveled the forward side of the rudder on both sides – I think some of the detail will be lost when the rudder is covered with copper. While studying Plan Sheet One, I discovered that rudder opening profile has a flat edge, so I refined it by filing it to match the plan. I test fit the rudder - everything fits fine.

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Back to painting, I masked the bulwarks and the hull with Frog tape (the contrast with the red paint looks like a Christmas theme color) and applied three coats of Model Expo MS 4830 Hull Spar Black to the cap rail, wales and sheer strake, and the hull to the water line, light sanding between each application.  Overall, so far, so good.  Next up, deck planking.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The laser cut margin planks did not fit well, so I decided to make them from the basswood sheet left over from the cap rails. I tried making the margin planks in one piece.  I used a paper template to get the shape of the bulwarks and then traced it onto the wood sheet.  After cutting the margin planks out with an x-acto knife, I test fit them. I didn’t like the way they fit at the bow. So, I made some tweaks to the template and re-cut the margin planks – this time from the bow to one bulkhead beyond bulkhead D. I placed the scarph joint at bulkhead D. After much sanding and refitting, the port side margin plank fit well. I cut the original port side one-piece margin plank to fit between the scraph joint the stern planking. I glued both margin planks and secured them with push pins. I repeated the process for the starboard side. Something that I’ve noticed in the instructions is that the margin plank has only one scraph joint. Like other build logs, I followed instructions and fashioned the margin plank with one scraph. Most likely, the margin plank was built with more than one joint - just saying.

 

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I spent a considerable amount of time studying build logs and reading Planking the Built-up Ship Model – the plank layout is confusing. Assuming a full-length plank of 20’+, I decided to use the “four step butt” arrangement. This meant the space between bulkheads was counted as a deck beam. Basically, with the four step butt, there is a joint in the same plank at every 5th beam, and the separation between joints on the same beam is 4 planks, i.e., there is a joint every 5th plank. I developed a joint pattern using the deck plan on plan sheet one.  I used full width planks from bow to stern instead of tapering as other builders have done. Like some other builds, I laid in the first 4 planks on either side of the center line with no butts.  I marked one edge of each plank with a #2 pencil to simulate the caulking between planks. Note: I forgot to pencil the first margin plank, so, when you start planking, remember to mark the planks before laying them - it's much easier. These planks were set flush with the margin plank. The remaining planks were “nibbed” or “joggled” at the margin plank. I rather crudely put some masking tape on the cap rail and sheer strake to protect it.

 

I measured and cut the first 4 planks and test fit them on the deck and inserted push pins on the outside edge of the last plank and taped them. I also numbered the planks in case I had to realign them. The last plank on each side aligns with the edge of the companionway. I left the planks in-place while I removed, glued, and reinserted the 2 center planks (see photo). This way, I was sure that the first 2 planks would be aligned perfectly along the center of the deck. Before the glue dried, I removed the other planks, one side at a time, and pinned the edges of the two glued planks.

 

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Thereafter, I glued the rest of the planks, one at a time. The 5th plank is the first plank with butts. I laid down the plank, marked the butt locations using my pattern, and then cut and glued the planks. The 6th plank is the first joggled plank. I cut the joggle, traced the shape onto the margin plank, notched out the shape with an x-acto knife, and filed the notch to get a relatively clean edge. I used the first joggled plank as a template for planks 6, 7 and 8. Thereafter, the diagonal part of each joggle gets longer as you work aft along the margin plank. As I completed each plank, I highlighted it on the pattern so I could keep track of the butts. I some cases I created a faux butt by scoring the plank with a knife and marking the cut with a #2 pencil. I found it easier to notch out the margin plank if you leave a one or two plank space. I wish that I had put in filler blocks across the entire bulkheads to provide a solid surface to glue the planks to -at this stage, it would be too troublesome and time consuming to add blocks. Joggling went well – once you’ve done several you get the hang of it.

 

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Completed laying the deck planking. I’m not completely satisfied with it because some of the planks don’t butt against one another as closely as I’d like. It’s not perfect, but the original ship planking probably wasn’t perfect either. The most difficult part was the last plank port and starboard. The gap was slightly wider than 1/8” so I used a 3/16” x 1/16” basswood strip. To get the shape of the closure piece, I laid a piece of parchment paper on the deck and marked the outline using a fine point awl. I transferred the parchment paper onto the basswood strip and marked the outline on the strip with the awl. I traced the outline with a pencil and then cut it out. This gave me the rough outline. After some test fitting and filing, and more test fitting and filing, the strip fit fairly well – not perfectly though.  The ends of the strip were nibbed.

 

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I sanded the deck smooth and set up for the treenails. Speaking of treenails, I notice that many builds do not treenail the margin plank. I’m sure that the margin plank was treenailed. I did notice in Dubz build that the margin plank was treenailed, so I treenailed my margin plank too. I also notice that some builds use the deck plan as a template to locate the hatches, gratings, and mast for treenailing purposes. I did likewise. I made a photocopy of the plan, cut out the hatches and gratings, carefully aligned the template with the center line of the deck, and traced the outline of the hatches and gratings onto the deck with a pencil.

 

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I punched a hole in the center of each mast on the template with the awl to check the alignment of the mast with the pilot holes that I drilled when I was assembling the bulkheads. The masts aligned perfectly with the pilot holes – phew.  I drilled through the deck planks using a small bit first and then increasing the bit size until the 5/32” dia. mast dowels fit snuggly.

 

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Next, I sanded the planks and then made the treenails by first using the fine point awl to mark the treenails and then drilling each hole with a .55mm bit. I didn’t have a push pin vise small enough to fit a .55 mm bit, so I ordered one from eHobbyTools.com. In the meantime, I fashioned and installed the 1/16” waterway along the bulwarks. I used JesseLee’s idea of making a jig for sanding the waterway strip triangle shape – it worked well.  I cut a V-groove in a piece of scrap pine using a triangular file. Then I laid the wood strip in the groove and removed the top half with a sanding block and file. I’m holding off on installing the waterway until I complete the treenails (see photos).

 

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While waiting for my eHobbyTools order, I decided to start reading Chapter 8 – Copper Plate/Rudder. I built the jig and the stamps following the instructions. I made a photocopy of the port and starboard nail patterns, cut the patterns out, and glued each one to a stamp.  I used my push pin vise to drill a hole at each nail head – no drill press used here, KISS. I used the brass nails that came with the kit. I snipped the heads off the nails with a wire splitter – it made a nice clean cut. I filed the tips of each nail and then tapped it into the drilled hole with a hammer. The difficult part here is setting all the nails at the same height and making them plumb. Once I had the nail heads at approximately the same height, I turned the stamp upside down and placed the nail side on my work bench vise. I lightly tapped the stamp with a hammer to even out the height of the nails. Satisfied with the height and alignment of the nails, I applied CA to the top of the stamp to set the nails. I ran a file across the tips of the nails, rotating the stamp as I did so, to even them out. After some experimentation with stamping the nail patterns onto the tape, I’m satisfied with the nail patterns embossed on the copper tape.

 

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My pin vise arrived, so now it’s onto drilling the treenails- lots of treenails. It’s tedious work, but easy with a push pin vise. The .55 mm bits are very thin – I broke nearly a dozen of them.  After drilling, I filled the treenails with Minwax Golden Oak putty. For filling the holes, I simply took a little putty in my hand, softened it, and pushed it into the holes. This was quick and easy – no special tools required, KISS. I wiped the deck clean with a paper towel to removed excess putty and then wiped the deck with alcohol.  I applied a coat of Minwax pre-stain.  At this stage, some build logs painted the locations of the gratings black so that the deck planking won’t be seen through the openings of the gratings. I decided to hold off doing this until I’m sure where the gratings will be located (Chapter 12).

 

I decided to stain the waterway strips to match the deck, so I installed them in one piece (no easy task) before staining the deck and before lightly sanding the pre-stained deck.  I decided to drill holes for the faux scuppers (Chapter 9). I used 1/16” drill bit – I like the look of them. With that done, I applied two coats of Minwax Golden Oak stain on the deck. The finish is too dark for my liking, but it matches the bulwarks. I’m satisfied with it though, considering all the work that went into it. I plan to apply a coat of Minwax polyurethane to the deck. This completes Chapter 7.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Moving on to Chapter 8, I cut 17” strips of copper tape (22 plates per strip) and stamped out nearly 200 port side copper plates. The stamp sheared off several times – probably struck it too hard with the hammer. I was able to repair it with CA glue. To break the monotony of cutting plates, I cut the plates on several strips at a time, applied them to the hull, and repeated the process. The most difficult part for me was separating the backing from the plate. I used a pair of bent tweezers to help position the plates on the hull. Positioning the plates is all hand/eye coordination. My jewelers magnifying glasses came in handy here. I studied the standing rigging plan (Sheet 7) to see how the plates lined up at the bow. Beginning at the keel, the first three rows of plates line up with knee plates. Thereafter, the rows of plates work their way upward towards the waterline and they don't align with the knee plates. I completed the port side plates except for the dressing belt along the waterline. Like some other build logs, I made a stamp for the dressing belt plates (the "missing plate").

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The port side stamping left an impression in the jig baseboard. So, before starting to stamp the starboard side plates, I moved the jig. This would have been easier to do had I screwed the jig to the baseboard.

 

Completed the copper plating. It’s not perfect, but I’m satisfied with result considering that it’s my first copper plating experience. As some other build logs have done, I decided to copper between the keel and false keel, but primarily because I didn’t like the look of the first row of plates along the keel. I used the dressing belt stamp for these plates. I wiped the copper plates with acetone (nail polish remover) to remove fingerprints.

 

I stained the false keel with Minwax Golden Oak, glued it and attached it with brass pins. I applied a mixture of vinegar and salt to the copper to remove the patina. Next up, the rudder.

 

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2 hours ago, Overworked724 said:

Looking really sharp, Steve!!!!  Getting that plating on nice and straight must be a relief!

Thanks. It's fairly straight. Completing the plating is more a sigh of accomplishment than relief.

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1 hour ago, abelson said:

Thanks. It's fairly straight. Completing the plating is more a sigh of accomplishment than relief.

True that...and a superb job!  I'm both looking forward to and dreading my first plating job...  :stunned:  But I deal with my anxiety by procrastinating as much as possible!

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Continuing with Chapter 8, I completed copper plating the rudder – I had previously shaped the rudder, so it was ready for copper plating. I fashioned the iron strap that the two rudder pendant eye bolts are secured to from copper tape. I doubled up the tape and cut an appropriately wide and long strip. I drilled a hole in the strip on each side of the rudder and glued the eye bolts. I used the small (0.75mm) brass eyebolts furnished with the kit. I fashioned the gudgeons and pintles from the 1/16” brass strips furnished with the kit. My approach was to follow the instructions and to "keep it simple stupid" (KISS).  I'm not into soldering, so making working hinges was not an option. Besides, I think a lot of the detail isn't visible whence the gudgeons and pintels are assembled. To get the length of the gudgeons and pintles I scaled the length on the standing rigging plan, multiplied by two, and allowed for the width of the keel and the rudder. I cut the brass strip to the required lengths and then shaped them by bending them around the keel and the rudder.

 

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I cut the pintel pins from 22-gauge wire furnished with the kit. I cut the length a little longer then the width of two 1/16” brass strips. I found that a nail clipper makes a good clean cut. I’m not into soldering, so I glued the pins to the pintles with CA glue – not an easy task.  I set the pintels aside while the glue dried and later applied a small amount of CA to further secure the pins. Next, I covered the brass strips with copper tape. I used the dressing belt stamp and trimmed it to the width of the brass stripe. I glued (CA) the pintles on the rudder, making sure they are perpendicular to the keel. To get the correct angle, I laid the rudder down on the plan sheet and applied a narrow strip of masking tape on the rudder to use as a guide. Next, I slid the gudgeons behind the pintle pins to test fit the rudder assembly on the hull. I painted the topmost gudgeon and pintle black.

 

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Attaching the gudgeons to the hull was a little tricky. I glued the topmost gudgeon to the hull stem first. Then, with the other gudgeons behind the pintle pins, I secured them a little CA glue at the gudgeon/pintel pin interface so that they wouldn’t flop around. I made sure the gudgeons were perpendicular to the stem and glued them in-place. The rudder copper has not yet been treated with vinegar and salt. You can see the difference in the patina of the copper. I'm need sure yet whether I like the patina of the hull, although it does have an aged look to it IMO. This concludes Chapter 8. At this point, I’m 13 weeks into the build.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have completed Chapter 9 – Hull Details. I began by gluing the SYREN photo-etched letters onto the transom. As a guide, I made a copy of the stern elevation on Sheet One, cut out the portion showing the letters SYREN, taped it below the bottom stern molding strip, and then aligned the letters with the cutout. I used a small amount of white glue, which allowed me to position each letter without making a mess of glue.

 

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Next, the faux sheaves. I made a photocopy of the starboard side elevation view on Sheet One and cut out the bulwarks. I used this as a template to locate the sheaves. Using my push pin vise, I drilled 0.55 mm holes completely through the bulwarks at the sheave locations - I plan to run the rigging line through the aft holes. I scribed a line between the holes of each sheave and then, using a fine point file, created a groove between the holes. I ran a pencil along the groove to darken, as per the instructions. I may paint the grooves later. While I was at it, I marked the location of eye bolts. I plan to use the eye bolts and rings that came with the kit and to darken them with Brass Black. I ordered Birchwood Casey Brass Black and a stainless-steel tea strainer with mesh bottom from Walmart.

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While waiting for my Walmart order, I decided to make the sweep port lids. The instructions call for the sweep port lids to be made from a 1/16” x 1/8” basswood strips. I made the sweep ports 1/8” square as per the instruction. With the lip around the ports, they’re 3/16” square. So, I used a 3/16”x 1/16” basswood strip for the lids. I stained the strip with Minwax Golden Oak first. I cut each lid to fit. I didn’t chamfer the back edges of the lids as some other build logs have done because the lids fit tighter without a chamfer. I didn’t paint the back of the lids red because you can’t see the back of the lids when installed. The lids fit tightly without gluing. After installing the lids, I lightly sanded them then applied another coat of stain.

 

 

 

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I used the “U” shaped hinges provided with the kit. Like the _Sald_ build log, I cut the hinges from the photo etched sheet so that the tab that holds the hinge strap to the photo-etched sheet was in-place. I bent the tab down to use it to secure the hinge to the lid.  I added the sweep port hinges to the lids. I didn’t find that leaving the tabs and using them as nails was helpful. So, I clipped them off. I’m not sure whether I want to add the 28 gauge wire to the hinges - they’re so small. For the bulwarks eyebolts I used the kit split rings and eye bolts. I assembled them using a pair of needle nose pliers – tedious work that requires magnifiers. I blackened the eye bolt/split ring assemblies. The split rings match the scale of the plan, but they look too small. The main course and main sheet rings shown in the picture on Page 36 of the instructions appear to be larger.

 

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The aft gun port lids and the forward bridle port lids where next.  I fashioned the lids using four 1/16” x 1/8” wide basswood strips per lid. The starboard side bridle port is slightly larger, so I had to use one 3/16” x 1/16” and three 1/16” x 1/8” strips. I test fit the lids and left them in-place while I stained the outboard surfaces with Golden Oak stain. I removed the lids, placed them on the sticky side of masking tape, labeled them so I knew which was which, and then painted the inboard surfaces red. The lids have handles on the inboard and outboard sides that are made from eyebolts.  Many build logs have added split rings to the eye bolts.  The instructions do not call for split rings on the handles. The kit only supplies 20 split rings which isn’t enough if you are going to add rings to the lids. I like the look of the rings on the handles and decided to add them. I tried my hand at making some small split rings by winding some 28-gauge steel wire around the shank of a 1mm diameter drill bit, cutting off the individual rings from the coil, and attaching them to the eye bolts. After making a few, I wasn’t satisfied with the results. The rings weren’t round enough, and it was very tedious and time consuming. For me, it wasn’t worth the effort, so I decided to order some split rings from Model Shipways. I assembled the eye bolts and split rings and blackened them.

 

I added the hinges and eyebolts to the bridle port lids and the aft gun port lids. The photo-etched bridle port hinges are shorter than those depicted on the plans, but I used them anyway. I decided to run the lid lifting rope through the bulwarks rather them over bulwarks, so I drilled a 0.55 mm hole through the bulwarks above the lid. The rope is belayed to a cleat along the inside of the bulwarks.  I will add the rope and cleats later.

 

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With the gun and bridle port lids complete, I turned my attention to the gun port lids. In making these, I followed the advice of some other build logs and made the lids thicker using two plies of basswood: 1/8” x 1/16” and 3/16” x 1/16”. I, like Dubz build log, didn’t see the logic for a rabbet at the top of the half-lid. The most difficult part for me was making the circular cut out. I kept it simple and used a needle nose file to create the approximate 1/8” diameter half circle. Once I had one lid shaped, I used it as template for the others. I made the port side (PS) lids first. I set the lids in the gun ports and then stained the outboard surface. Note: Other than authenticity, there’s no need to finish the outboard surface of the lids because it won’t be seen when the lids are mounted in the open position. Later, I removed the lids and placed them on the sticky side of masking tape to hold them in-place while I painted the inboard surface red. I labeled the lids PS1, PS2, etc., so that they didn’t get mixed up. Note: I later realized that it’s not necessary to label the gun port lids because they’re all approximately the same width and they’re not going to be installed in the gun ports. I repeated the process for the starboard side lids. The lid eye bolts are not shown on the plans but are shown in the instructions. They appear to be placed at the center of the lids on each side of the half circle.

 

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I drilled holes in the port side lids for the eyebolts, and then glued on the hinges. I found that the blackened hinges don’t bond well with white glue on stain. When I bent the hinges, most of them broke off. I re-glued them with CA glue. The hinges look nice, but they won’t see the day of light after the lids are installed. I bent the hinge tabs over and then aligned each lid with the gun port opening and marked the location of the tabs on the bulwarks just below the gun port with a fine point awl. Then, I drilled a 0.55 mm hole at each tab location and test fit the lids. I used the full lid hinge extensions, bent them back and inserted them the holes. Note, I drilled holes for the eye bolts before mounting the lids.

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I made the gun port lids for the transom a la the other gun port lids, expect they don’t have a circular opening. I tried gluing the blackened hinges to the lids before painting them black to match the transom. The result was the same as the stained lids – the glue didn’t bound. So, I used CA – better results. I drilled a hole through the transom for the lid pull rope. I installed the lid handles and attach the lids. I added the pull rope for the top lid - I’ll add the cleat later.

 

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Before moving on from the lids, I was wondering about the bucklers. The instructions say the bucklers were only used during the roughest weather. I’m thinking that the bucklers must have been heavy and difficult to install, especially during rough seas, without dropping them into the ocean. I’m guessing that they must have been lashed to the lower lids before they were “buckled” into position and that the ropes were always in place for this purpose – just saying.

 

On to the quarter badges. I didn’t want to match them to the color of the bulwarks as others have done. Rather, my personal preference was to paint them Antique Gold with Burnt Umber tops. I mixed a little gold with the burnt umber to tint the color. I glued them into position port and starboard – I like the look.

 

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Next up, boarding ladders, fenders, chess trees, and fore and main channels. I decided to add the fenders and chess trees first. These are easy to install. I notched-out the top of the fenders and chess trees to fit over the sheer strake. I painted the fenders and chess trees that show above the sheer strake black and stained the rest. I forgot to drill a hole in the chess trees for the fair lead. Fortunately, I was able remove the chess trees without damage, drill a 0.55 mm hole in each one, and re- glue each one in-place.

 

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The boarding ladder steps were made from 1/16” x 3/32” basswood strips.  I cut the steps from the strip in a miter box. Using my x-acto knife, I made horizontal cut across the face of each step of the approximate width shown on the plan and then made a cut across the underside of the step. I removed the notch and squared iup the cut with a file. Next, a made perdendicular cut on the bottom at each end of the step, removed the notch, and squared it up. I sanded each step with fine sanding stick. To get the proper alignment of the steps on the bulwarks, I marked the spacing of the steps on a piece of masking tape and then placed the tape on the bulwarks. The steps were then glued to the hull at their corresponding mark on the tape. To finish them, I applied Golden Oak stain to the steps above the whale and painted the step on the whale black. The fenders and chess trees were also stained.

 

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Lastly, the channels. These are relatively easy to install. I removed the laser cut main and fore channels from the basswood sheet and sanded them to remove the char. To locate the holes in the channels for the eye bolts, I made photocopies of the portside channels from the plans Sheet One, cut them out, and placed them on the laser cut port side channels (for the starboard side channels, I flopped the photocopy over),   marked the locations of the eyebolts with an awl first and then drilled a hole at each location. I drilled completely through the channel so that I didn’t have to make the eye bolt shanks so short, making them easier to glue in. The instructions say to make the eyebolts from 28-gauge wire. I used 1/16” eyebolts (MS0428) that I had from another build. I pinned the channels to the sheer strake with brass pins. I drilled three holes in the edge of each channel, snipped the pins and glued them in-place. I marked the locations of the pins on the sheer strake, drilled a hole at each location, and glued the channels in-place. I painted the channels on-ship and added the eye bolts.

 

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Oh, one more thing, I assembled the eye bolts and split rings, blackened them, and installed them on the lids.  Now, it’s on to Chapter 10.

 

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Chapter 10 - Head Rails and Figurehead.  My last post was too long, so I decided to make this post short. OK, the location of the hawes pipes concerned me, so I wanted to hit it head on. This chapter is lacking in photos illustrating the inboard hawes pipes, and there is no detailed drawing on the plans. The plan on Sheet 8 shows the hawes pipes as dashed lines. They’re approximately 12” center-to-center at a 3/16” scale. I traced the location of the hawes pipes onto a photocopy of the deck plan that I used for the deck planking. I placed the photocopy on the deck and then marked the location of the hawes pipes on the bulwarks. I measured the distance from the deck to the center of the hawes pipes from the section view on Sheet 8, marked it on the bulwarks, and made a punch mark with my awl.

 

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To get the location of the hawes pipes on the outboard side, I made a photocopy of the bow from Sheet 1, cut it out and taped it onto the starboard side bulwarks. I marked the location of the cheeks with a pencil and punched a hole at the center of the hawes pipes with my awl. At the same time, I marked the location of the eye bolt on each side of the bow.  I reversed the photocopy and did the same on the port side. This gave me an approximation of where the hawes pipes will be on the outboard and inboard sides. 

 

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I measured the distance from the inboard punch marks to the top of the rail cap and the distance from the punch marks on the outboard side to the top of the rail cap. I found that there is approximately ¼” vertical separation between the inboard hawes pipe locations and the outboard hawes pipe locations. I’m not sure if this is correct- I may have marked the inboard holes too high. So, as the instructions say, the hawes pipes will have to be drilled at an angle -no easy fete. For starters, I drilled 0.55 mm pilot holes parallel to the keel and at an angle on the inboard side and the outboard side. The difficulty with drilling the holes was trying to get them lined up. I got them to match up, so I went out on a limb and drilled the holes completely through with a 1/16” bit - success. Drilling chewed up the bulwarks a bit -AGH! Note: The section view on Sheet 8 shows a decorative piece around the inboard hawes pipes (like an escutcheon), about which there is no discussion in the instructions. I have seen this on other build logs, so I added this feature.

 

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 I decided to install the two layers of wood that are glued between the two cheeks prior to installing the cheeks. The layers were made from the 1/32” laser-cut basswood sheet WP4602-H. I like the way it turned out, although the port side is slightly higher than the starboard side. I won’t do it over. I think I can tweak the starboard side cheek slightly to give it an illusion of being level with the port side. Next up. the cheeks.

 

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Removed the laser cut cheeks from the 1/16” sheet of basswood (WP4638F) and sanded them to remove char. Test fit them on the stem knee. I was hesitant to carve the two grooves into the cheeks, but they came out fairly well. I scored each cheek with sharp x-acto blade. I needed 5X magnifier to see what I was doing. Per the instructions, using an awl, I traced each scored line several times. I ran the straight edge of #200 sandpaper along the groove to remove some of wood fiber.  It’s very difficult to carve the grooves without wondering off when you trace the score, particularly where the cheeks thin out at the volute.  It’s important to get a clean continuous cut when you first score the wood - not easy, slow and steady works well. This helps to prevent the awl from wandering off when you trace the score. There not perfect, but I'm happy with how they turned out. The photos tend to show the imperfections. On the model, to the naked eye, I the imperfections aren’t that noticeable. I did the port side cheeks first, stained them, and glued them in-place. I test fit the figure head (painted antique gold) and left it temporarily in-place while I glued the cheeks. This gave me a good guide for placing the cheeks. I think drilling the hawes pipes ahead of time made it easier to install the cheeks – I didn’t have to worry about damaging the them. The starboard side cheeks came out equally as well. Note, the lower cheek volutes are extended beyond the knee stem. The space between them was filled with a piece of toothpick that was stained. Next up, the upper rails.

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1 hour ago, Overworked724 said:

Those turned out beautiful!!  Very clean work!  

Thank you. The perfectionist in me says they could be cleaner.The volutes were difficult - such a small radius. I'm satisfied, though.  The stain makes them stand out.

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Completed the upper rails. I managed to carve the grooves as per the instructions. On these, I marked the grooves lightly with a mechanical pencil first. This depressed the wood slightly and provided a guide for the knife blade – and my eyes - when I scored the groove. I then traced the groove with my awl. Slow and steady wins the race here. The tops of the rails were filed to create the timberhead. To get the length of the upper rails, I measured 3/8” from the bridle port along the cap rail and made a pencil mark. I trimmed the upper rail accordingly and tapered the end to 1/16”. I stained them Golden Oak. I’m holding off on gluing the upper rails in-place until I fabricate the catheads.

 

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The catheads scale slightly larger than 1/8” on Sheet 8. I used 3/16” x 3/16” basswood strip instead of 1/8” x 1/8”. This gave me a little more space for the sheaves and to sand down the cathead pieces. Made the catheads in two pieces. I marked the location of the catheads on the top rail with a strip of masking tape the same width as the cathead. Before cutting out the cap rail and the waterway, I test fit the upper rails. Satisfied with the fit, I cut out the cap rail and the waterway. For the sheaves, I drilled four holes with a #67 (.0320"/.831 mm ) drill bit. I created faux sheaves by scoring the wood between the holes a la the bulwarks sheaves.

 

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The sheave for the cathead stopper cable was made with a 1/64” x 3/32” brass strip that I had left over from my Fair American build. The length was approximated based on Sheet 1. I punched holes in the brass strip with an awl and then drilled out the hole with a pin vise. The small disc to simulate the sheave was made from a 1/16” dowel that was sanded down to a diameter slightly greater than 1/64”. I used brass pins to attach the sheave. I filed down the pin heads to make them smaller.

 

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Three 1/32” eye bolts were glued into pre-drilled holes along the forward edge of each cathead. I pinned the two cathead pieces together and inserted a pin in the bottom of the cathead where it attaches to the deck. I added a 5mm cast cleat to each cathead. Before gluing the catheads, I added the cleat on the inboard side of each cathead. The catheads look good but, unfortunately, some of the detail will be lost when they are painted black. As check, I test fit the upper rails again. Next up the middle rails.

 

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Moving on to the middle rails. I decided to holdoff on installing the upper rails until I complete the middle rails. I notched the overhang of the cap rail and the shear strake to make room for the middle rail. This would have been easier without the catheads in-place, but I didn’t want to do the notching beforehand for fear that the catheads would not be in the proper locations.

 

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The laser cut middle rail pieces have a lot of char that is difficult to remove and, in the process, a loss of material thickness occurs (see before and after photos).

 

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I shaped Piece #1 and Piece# 2 per the detail on Sheet 4. The detail only shows the starboard side middle rail pieces. The port side pieces are difficult to carve without a detail of the port side pieces. I don’t have a light table, so I placed the detail face down against a windowpane and traced the outline. This gave me a good guide for carving the port side Piece #1 and Piece #2.

 

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I was able to carve the decorative grooves in Piece #1 and Piece #2. Piece #2 was angled at the top to seat against the underside of the cathead.

 

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I decided the best way to install the middle rail was to glue the pieces together and to then glue the complete rail on the ship. I used white glue to join the two pieces. After the glue dried completely, I added CA glue to the joint on the underside and back of the middle rail. This allowed me to sand the joint to make a smooth transition between the pieces. I do think the rail is too thin, though. So, I decided to do them over. I made a template of Piece #1, glued it on the 1/8” sheet of basswood, and cut it out with a jeweler’s saw. The second go-around is slightly better (see before and after photos). 

 

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The last part of the middle rail is the laser cut Piece #3, the hanging knee under the cathead. These pieces are very small, and slightly smaller than the same piece on the detail (see photos).

 

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Removing the char made them even smaller. Piece #3 was by far the most frustrating part of the head rails.  It’s very difficult to shape Piece #3 to fit the width of Piece #2 and the angles formed between Piece #2 and the cathead. Between this and dropping the piece at least a dozen times (UGH!), I don’t know which was more frustrating. There not perfect, but I’m satisfied with how they look.

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I jumped head to Step 5 and fabricated the top rails and the stanchions as per the instructions. I did this because I was concerned with aligning the stanchions and drilling the holes in the middle rail with rail in-place. I thought it would be easier to do this with the middle rail off ship, and it was.  I was able to fit the top rail to the middle rail after several iterations of cutting the stanchions to length. I test fit the assembly – it looks good (see photo).

 

Next, I made the bumpkins. The instructions say to make the bumpkins from 1/16” dowel. The kit does not include a 1/16” dowel.  I used the kit supplied 5/64” dowel. It’s a little larger than 1/16”, but not that significant to the naked eye. I drilled a hole in the hull for inserting the bumpkin.

 

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Moving on to the head timbers. I fit the head timbers between the cheek and the middle rail. They’re a little difficult to make because of the angles involved, but I managed to cut, trim, and position them to fit. I'm satisfied with the way it came out, but the timbers are not perpendicular to the keel as the drawing shows. Next up, the head timbers between the middle rail and the upper rail.

 

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Completed the head timbers - phew! The upper head timbers were more challenging than the lower head timbers. I made notches in the timbers to seat on the middle rail. This made it easier to set the timbers. I used white glue. I set each timber in-place with the ship upright and then turned the ship over so that I could align each timber with the lower timber before the glue dried. To secure them, I applied a little CA at the interface of the timber and the bottom of the head rail. Some sanding was required to thin/taper the underside of the timbers. I’m totally pleased with how the head timbers turned out. Except for installing the bumpkins, this completes Chapter 10. So far so good. Now, it’s on to Chapter 11.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Moving on to Chapter 11, I had previously marked the locations of hatches and masts on the deck using a template, so I was one step ahead of the instructions. To get the location of the inboard cleats, eye bolts, and pin rails, I made a photocopy of sections of the bulwarks elevation and cut out the ports, cleats, and pin rails. I placed them over the gun ports and then marked the locations of eye bolts with an awl and the locations of cleats and pin channels with a pencil. I drilled a 0.55 mm hole at each eye bolt location for inserting the eye bolts.

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I cleaned up the 5mm and 10mm cast cleats. I used white glue to attach them to the bulwarks at the pre-marked locations. I later applied CA with a toothpick to secure them to the bulwarks, and painted them red.

 

Next, I removed the laser cut carronade swivel brackets, removed the char, and painted them red before gluing them in-place. I only painted the exposed side of the brackets. I decide to paint the carronade sled components before removing them from the laser cut board (WP4638-G). I will remove these and sand off the char from the edges later.

 

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For the pin rails, I used 1/16” x 5/32” basswood strips instead of 1/16” x 1/8”. The extra width gives some allowance for sanding and shaping. For the pin rails, I cut out the corresponding pin rail from the drawing and used it as a template to get the end shape and the location of holes for the belaying pins. My kit came with 8 mm walnut belaying pins. These were a substitute for 8 mm brass pins, due to lack of availability. Before drilling holes in the pin rails, I did a test fit of the 8 mm walnut pins. The walnut pins are larger than brass pins which results in them being too close together on the pin rail (see photo). I’m waiting for Model Expo to replace the walnut pins with brass pins. In the meantime, I drilled holes in the pin rails to accommodate the 8 mm brass belaying pins. BTY, 8 mm is approximately 5/16”. The pin rails on the drawings scale about 13/32” which corresponds with a 10 mm belaying pin. Model Expo does not carry 10 mm brass pins. I also drilled two holes in the side of each pin rail for the insertion of brass pins to secure the rails to the bulwarks. After pin rails and swivel brackets were installed, I gave the entire inboard bulwarks another coat of paint followed by a coat of Minwax Polyurethane. I’m not happy with the finish on the pin rails – the grain of the boxwood doesn’t provide for a smooth finish.

 

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Finished up the inboard bulwarks by stropping the double block to the traveler.

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Constructing the Carronades: Note: The instructions say to drill a hole in the cast carronade for the iron ring for the breach lines. This is not an easy task. The holes must be drilled at an angle. The metal casting is not that soft and, consequently, the drill bit tends to drift. I made a pilot hole first with an awl and then drilled the hole – this alleviated the drift. I used a 0.55 mm bit. The instructions don’t say what size eye bolt to use. The eye bolts that come with the kit (1/32”) are too small. I used 1/16” eye bolts. I glued the eye bolts with CA. Before spray painting the carronades black, I glued the 1/16” laser cut brackets to the carronade lug. The laser cut brackets were all but obliterated on one side, making it difficult to glue them to the lug – there’s no flat surface to adhere to. I persevered, though, and got it done – UGH!

 

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After painting the sleds, I blackened the photo-etched sled details and glued them to each sled. I spray painted the sled wheels and, when dry, glued them onto the lower sled component. I used white glue. After the glued dried, I applied CA to the backside of the wheels to secure them. I used toothpicks for the carronade elevating screws. I turned the toothpicks to a size that fit through the ring on the carronade using my Dremel and a sanding block (100 grit). I made the screws 3/16” long. I was able to make 4 or 5 screws from one toothpick. I marked the length of the screws on the toothpick. I drilled a hole in each screw for the elevating the screw handle. I found it easier to drill the holes before, rather than after, turning the toothpick. In the process, I also found that the toothpicks break at the drill holes if too much pressure is applied in the turning practice. Patience is a virtue here. To simulate the handle of the elevation screw, I inserted a piece of scrap shank from shortened eye bolts. I spray painted the screw assemblies black.

 

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Next, I glued the two sled pieces together. I test fit one sled, holding the carronade in position to see how it aligns with the port opening. The difficult part here is gluing the carronade to the sled while maintaining the elevation of the carronade in the port and I also aligning the carronade so the elevation screw will be positioned directly over the photo etched plate. I found it easier to align the carronade screw by inserting it in the carronade before, rather than after, gluing the carronade. Thereafter, I glued the rest of the carronades using the first one as a guide. I wasn’t concerned about each carronade being aligned exactly in the center of the ports because they probably weren’t on the actual ship. Surprisingly, they were all fairly centered in the ports. I’m holding off on gluing the sleds to the deck until I figure out the rigging. In the meantime, I applied a coat of Minwax polyurethane on the deck. I misplaced one finished carronade. If it doesn't show up, I'll have to see if Model Expo will replace it. Stay tuned for report on lost carronade.

 

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Yes, thanks for the compliment. I've been struggling with eye bolts and split rings for the breach lines. I have them in temporarily now. I need to install the eye bolts for the lower gun tackles. I'll be glad when this work is done.

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