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Hi all,


I am scratch building Le Mercure from ANCRE plans.


I post some photos of my main deck. This is built off of the model and inserted later which makes working with the deck much easier. I still have further scraping and sanding of the deck - this is only rough at this stage. The centre strip (which will remain raised by about 1mm) is only temporarily held in place with toothpicks (which are not visible). Again, the ability to detach parts as needed (and not applying glue until the very end) makes working with these items far easier.


My main deck is built in 3 separate parts but when joined appears as one.


You will also see nails which I make with a syringe and Pear wood. I have several thousand of these which I will insert in to the deck in the coming days.



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It is an excellent job that you have done in laying your deck.

The darker raised strakes have an open grain that is similar to that of some Rock Elm that I have come across.  It may want filling of the pores.  I am not sure of the best way to do it though.

The blond species  looks great.  Adding trunnels is a modeler's convention that I enjoy.  On a real ship they would not be all that obvious.  They were often covered with plugs of the same wood as the decking, with  matching grain.

The end grain of any species will usually be darker.  If your trunnels were cored from the same blonde species,  they would show.  Using Pear, the contrast that comes from its end grain may be a more stark contrast than you really want.  Just a thought before you step off that cliff.

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Thank you for your comments.


@bruce d: The caulking is achieved with a thin layer of paint applied to the edge of the plank. The attached photo shows my centre deck detached and not yet scraped or sanded. It looks like a complete mess.


@Jaager: The outer edge planks are a timber called Daru which is, in fact, floor boarding that I sourced when I was in Russia from my colleagues Dr Mike and Alex Dobrenko. It has exceptional properties to the extent that it is very, very hard and stable. However, it is much harder to bend and has a more noticeable grain. I can only use about 30% of the planks I cut from this wood as I have to choose the best planks that have a suitable grain.


Pear nails on this deck work (in my opinion) very well despite the difference in colour. I have performed many experiments off of the model with various sized treenails (achieved with different gauged syringes) and different woods. I never do anything on my model unless I have experimented off of it first.



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6 minutes ago, Planet_Jupiter said:

The caulking is achieved with a thin layer of paint applied to the edge of the plank. The attached photo shows my centre deck detached and not yet scraped or sanded. It looks like a complete mess.

I see what you mean about looking a mess, however you have shown us that the end result is superb. I have started experimenting with paint/wood combinations and find enormous differences (a) in enamel and acrylics on the same wood and (b) in the results of sanding vs scraping, again depending on the paint/wood combo. You have got it right, can I ask what type of paint you ended up with?

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I use auto air colours - specifically their Black sealer which is water based. 

I have used modelling enamels and had equal success although water based solutions are easier to work with and won't react with the wax that I will finish the deck with down the track.


I have experimented with black paper for caulking and the result was also very, very clean however I find paint gives a thinner line (which I prefer) and is easier to work with. 


I think the art actually lies elsewhere - that is the thickness of the plank (mine start at 2,8mm), how the plank is prepared and the way they are attached to one another to ensure absolutely no gap between them along their length.

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I have spent the last couple of days making nails (using a syringe tip and drill press) and I attach some photos including:
> The tools used to fashion the syringe tip (this is the trickiest part)
> The Drill press and jig setup
> The final result (this photo was zoomed in 5.5 times)



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  • 2 weeks later...

I attach photos of the completed centre deck with nails inserted. The deck has been sanded and scraped. It is not 100% finished as I have not sanded it with a finer grade sandpaper nor waxed it. This will occur much later when it is inserted in to the model. Now I must turn my attention to drilling the holes on the left and right parts of the main deck and inserting nails in to those. I do this manually with my jewellers drill.








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All the nails have been inserted in the main deck which is now more or less finished (aside from a sand with very fine paper and a waxing prior to insertion in to the model).
The waterway is missing. This will be inserted only after the main deck goes in to the model which is unlikely to happen very soon.
The photos I attach are zoomed in 2x and make the nails a little more noticeable than they actually are.
Standing back from the model, at eye height the nails are only very subtly visible which was the effect I was trying to achieve. After a waxing they will get  slightly darker.
You will notice double nails on some planks. Hatches will be cut at these locations shortly.
The irony is, the majority of this deck will be covered up. Only about 1/3 of it will be visible on the final model.IMG_0685.thumb.jpg.a1e228cbccb8a3b60e7635771d152bc8.jpg









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Thank you for your kind comments.


@captain_hook: Yes, I use a syringe that has had its tip cut to a specific profile and is then polished. A syringe out of the packet won't work effectively.

I have experimented with syringes of various gauges and for my scale I use a g20 sized syringe. I find that a 0.7mm drill hole accommodates this nail size perfectly. The Birmingham Gauge provides your requested information about the internal diameter of syringes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birmingham_gauge


The photos were taken with a 2 or 3 x zoom. In reality, standing back from the deck and at eye height, the nails are only very subtly visible which is the effect I was trying to achieve.


My nails are made from Pear. I have experimented with various timbers and I like the effect of Pear on Castello.




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On 6/14/2020 at 10:25 PM, Planet_Jupiter said:

I am in Adelaide - just East of the CBD.

Please let me know if you are ever in the area.

Will do - if they ever let us in with our Victorian number plates . . .:( A pity, really. I was born in Adelaide, and when we visited a couple of years ago my wife fell in love with the place. (Almost as good as Ballarat!)


This is a very nice build. Beautifully crisp work. Pear is a lovely timber. I've been carving with it for years now. Fortunate to have a neighbour with a huge pear tree . . . and the pears are nice, too.

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Thanks and yes, I like my work to finish as if the ship has just come out of the ship yard. I pay very careful attention to every join, nail and fine detail and the techniques used. I work slowly and not as often as I'd like (I have 3 very young children and a job often involving long hours). This is my first model (aside from half finishing a kit when I was in my early 20's - which isn't actually all that long ago) so I am getting familiar with my own style of building. 


Now my attention will turn to the hull planking and I need to decide on what timber to use below the waterline. I am giving serious thought to using Myrtle but welcome suggestions. I don't want a wood that is too dark so that excludes Walnut. My inclination is not to stain. I would like to use Daru (which I used as the edge planking on my deck) but unfortunately I don't have enough left. I can visualise my ideal coloured wood but unfortunately that wood doesn't exist 🙂


I am keen to know about your neighbour's Pear. Is it red/pink like European pear? The couple of samples I have had of Australian Pear were very grey. Are you able to share a photo?

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Hi PJ. Have a look at the second-last page of my dromon build log (the link is in my signature below). All the carved crewmen are made of pear wood. The colour values might not be perfect, but you can get some idea from the post of June 25. The oarbenches are made of radiata pine (thanks, Bunnings!), so though the oarsmen are a little darker they are certainly not red or grey. There is a certain amount of colour variation between different bits of wood, but generally that colour is pretty reliable.


Now if you can just find someone with a pear tree . . .

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Lovely model PJ. Great to have another Aussie posting here, too. 


I find pear can be very variable, some is quite yellowish, too. The dark reddish brown European pear seems to be a quite distinctive type, I wonder what the pears are like? 


Keep up the great work




PS re the three young kids, I sympathise. My three are all at University now, thank goodness!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks for your comments.


My apologies for a slow reply - I have had a few very stressful and busy weeks at work. Unfortunately, I don't have the ability to do multiple things at once 🙂


@Louie da fly: Yes, the pear in your photos looks like the pear I recall seeing many years ago (Australian grown) that had more of a grey colour than a red colour. There is no doubt this might even be more suitable for certain applications.


I have also been stalling because I have been looking and looking for a suitable wood to use under the waterline. 


I managed to buy the attached Myrtle today in Adelaide which is similar to the Pear I have from Europe. It is actually an extremely clean piece with little to no blemishes or fiddleback. It is a little pinker than I would ideally like, but I will experiment with a few different waxes. I'll use this under the waterline.






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  • 3 weeks later...


After a few weeks away (thinking about the next steps...) I have been able to start the next phase which is the hull planking.
I spent most of yesterday and today dividing the planking into bands which I have drawn on the hull and labelled as: A, B, C , D , E and F. Each of these bands will have 4 planks (except for band E which will have 3 planks for reasons that will become obvious later).
Le Mercure has a relatively blunt bow and therefore quite a bit of spiling will be required on each and every plank at the bow.
I use paper templates and cut them with scissors so that when they are laid flat on the bow (exactly where the plank would sit) they follow the pencil line exactly. Then when the paper is laid flat on a table it shows the amount of "curve" that needs to be cut in to the plank. Band E has the most significant amount.







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