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Continental Navy Frigate ALFRED by Schooner - Bluejacket Shipcrafters - scale 1/8" (1:96)

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Bulwarks and Cap Rails


After add ing the bulwark extensions I added the cap rails all the way around and  the fancy rails and their associated cap rails along  the quarterdeck and around the bow.






With the rails in place I’ve started making the deck beams:




After the deck beams are done I’m going to take a crack at adding the transom.

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Deck Beams


All the deck beams have been fabricated - still have to stain & paint them, they won’t be installed until all the guns have been rigged.


A couple of notes regarding the beams and deck planking for those who may build this kit:


  • There are 2 options which you have to choose from at this point in the build 1) plank over both decks completely using the scribed decking sheets or 2) leave some planking off to view the gun deck. If you decide to leave some off, like I will, then you have to decide at some point whether you will cut out pieces  of the decking sheets (see photo from BlueJacket on post# 27) or install individual planks like I hope to do.
  • Either way you will have to install some deck beams
  • If you go with the total plank over then you can use 1 size of wood for all the beams 1/8” by 1/8”. As far as number and placement just make sure you place one on each side of the mast locations so you can install mast partners to give the masts support. You will also want to avoid placing beams where there will be any thru-deck penetrations (i.e. the 3 masts, 4 bitts, galley stove chimney and the companionway ladder). The placement of the forward most quarterdeck beam and the aft most main deck beam is very important, both for their fore and aft location and so that the upper (quarterdeck) beam is directly over the lower beam since they will form the 1/4” (2 scale feet) “step” between the decks
  • If you go with the “reveal” option then since some of the beams will be visible there are a couple of considerations:
    • although all the beams will be 1/8” high (thick) there are 3 different widths called for in the plans (but not mentioned in the instructions) 1/8 x 1/8 is needed for the main deck beams and the forward most quarter deck beam. The next 5 quarterdeck beams moving aft need 1/8 x 3/32 wood, and the 7 aft most quarterdeck beams need 1/8 x 1/16” strip wood.
    • all of the quarterdeck beams rest on the inside of the cap rail so be sure when adding the fancy rail and it’s cap rail to leave room for them
    • all the beams, but especially the quarterdeck beams, should have a camber sanded into them so that the outboard thickness of each beam is 3/32” otherwise the quarterdeck planking will not lay flush with the upper cap rail
    • The main deck beams can rest on either a shelf, like mine do which is the easy way or you can make individual knees. If you do not plan on making the beam ends visible then there is no real need to go thru the trouble of making knees


One “gotcha” or at least “gotme” is that while the aft hatches on both decks are in vertical alignment, the forward hatches are not with the main deck hatch almost 1/2” (4 scale feet) aft of the one on the gun deck. When laying out the beam locations make sure you reference them from the foremast hole, not the gun deck hatch or you will not have enough room on the forecastle for all the stuff that has to fit up there




Edited by schooner
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Painting the hull


After a lot of taping, painting and repainting the exterior of the hull is done except for the area around the bow where the instructions recommend leaving it bare wood to help the headrails and cheeks adhere better when it comes time to put those on.







Next I’ll be moving on to the transom.

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Transom preps


The kit provides a nice piece of PE for the transom. It’s easy to bring out the gilt trim and lettering by just painting over them with the background color and then sanding off the raised area. The 3 small crosses above the windows are the mounting locations for a britannia eagle and some stars that will be added later.





As far as installing the transom I’m deviating quite a bit from the directions both in regard to timing and technique. The instructions call for installing the transom after the quarterdeck planking is installed and that just does not make any sense to me - I have no idea how you cut cut the planking to length without the transom already in place so I’m going to do it now. Also instead of installing the 5 transom/taffrail timbers first and then the transom itself ‘m going to reverse those step since the PE is flexible enough that I can impart the needed curvature to the transom once it is emplace (I hope!).


I used a Dremel sanding drum to bring the aft ends of the the bulwarks to the correct shape and will have a good attachment surface for the PE. Prior to adding the transom I used a cutting attachment on the Dremel to open up the mortice points for the bottom of the transom timbers.



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Posted (edited)

Transom (cont.)


Well my mortice work did not work out, when I glued the PE in place the mortices did not line up with where the posts needed to go - I figured out that the windows are not centered on the PE, they are not off by much but enough that I had to re-do the mortices so I put them on a piece of strip wood and secured that to the deck.




The next problem was how to figure out how long to cut the posts and to make the tops a level despite the aftward slant of the posts. According to the plans the railings on the sides of the quarterdeck are 9/32” high, since the taffrail posts have to join them they needed the same vertical height -  which does not equal length, since they are not vertical. I placed some strip wood across the bulwarks that stacked up to 9/32” and used a ruler to mark where to cut the taffrail posts before installing them:




After getting the first one cut and dry fitting it I could tell something was not right - it looked too short. It is too short - 9/32” is equal to just over 2 ft high at this scale which is too low for a railing - it would not keep anyone from going over the side it would just ensure that they went over head first.  After looking at the plans I found the problem - the outboard profile shows the railing height as 9/32” (2 ft scale) but the hull section and inboard profiles both show them as 3/8” (3 scale ft) which is much more realistic so I modified my marking jig and cut the timbers for 3/8” height.




The next step is to thicken the “wings” where the transom extends outboard of the bulwarks - a typical feature on merchant ships of the period, which Alfred was before her conversion. You can see the same wings on models of the Fair American and Rattlesnake. PE is great stuff but if it can be viewed edge-on it always looks under scale due to it’s thinness.  I’m in the process of “planking” the wings with 1/16” strip wood which matches the plans and scales out at 6” thick. Fancy piecework will cover their inboard ends.



Edited by schooner
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Transom finished


The final details on the transom are in place including the wings and the adjacent fashion pieces, the trim on top of the counter and the britannia eagle and stars. The top edge still needs thickening but I can’t do that until the deck planking is in place.




Other exterior details include the sea steps per the plans. The fenders and chestrees are not on the plans but I’ve seen them on just about every model of contemporary  ships so I added them.



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Thanks! Compliments coming from someone with your skill means a lot.

Not just modeling skill either - your photos are top notch. Not sure what my problem is but when I looked at the last photo above I though "how could I get that chestree so crooked?" But when I went to fix it it is on nice and straight and parallel to the gun port. Strange. Maybe it's related to the Coriolis effect.

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It could simply be because the lens on mobile phones are so wide angle. If the object is not in the centre of the shot they will have a curve to them. The solution can be to take the photo from slightly further away and zoom in a little. Then the subject will be further in towards the centre of the shot and will be straighter in the image. I've tried to put examples below...


The first is taken at full frame (zoomed right out). This gives the biggest file, but as you'll see from the straight yellow line i added afterwards, the edges of the image are warped... making the ruler bend.




The second image was taken from about three times further away but using the camera zoom to get closer. The image quality is not so good as the lighting in my kitchen is pretty poor, but the phone effectively takes a full photo then cuts off the edges... that means that the ruler is effectively closer to the centre of the frame and the distortion is reduced... as below...




Again the yellow line was added afterwards in a graphics programme.


Hope that helps explain what is probably happening.



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Attaching the Channels


I departed from the instructions about when to file the openings for the chains/deadeyes. The instructions call for attaching the channels but not opening up the locations for the deadeyes until the masts are stepped. Given that when all the deadeyes are in place it will be pretty crowded on most of the channels which will leave little flexibility in adjusting the position of the deadeyes I thought it would be better to cut the openings now, then using a mast rake jig to determine where the forward-most shroud needs to come down to be vertical and then attach the channels accordingly.


Here’s my jury rig for determining where the shrouds will come down (the rake isn’t much - 89- 88-87 degrees for the 3 masts, fore to aft).






When I painted the hull I left the area where the channels would be attached bare wood for better glueing and also pinned all of them.


One thing to watch out for for future builders. The plans do not show that all of the channels need an eyebolt at their aft ends for attaching a block and tackle, but the belaying diagram does show it so leave some room at the aft end.



Edited by schooner
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Installing the guns and their breeching lines


After too many days of tedium with tweezers, all the guns are in place. I used a little jig to get the loop centered and the lengths equal;




I still have to do the in-haul tackles but before I take on working with 80 small blocks I’m going to take a break and work on some deck furniture.





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  • 2 weeks later...

Gun tackles


Since 9 pounder guns at 1:96 scale are really small I debated leaving the in (out?) haul tackles off since I could not find workable blocks that would look to scale. Model Expo sells 2.5mm and 2 mm blocks. cdrusn89 used the 2.5 mm blocks which you can see near the bottom of the first page of his CONFEDERACY build log and did a great job with them but 2.5mm is still too big for my needs so I bought some of the 2 mm blocks. They are very nice to look at - the shape is good and there is even a groove machined in their sides for stropping. Unfortunately in a case of taking a good thing too far for some reason instead of placing a single, usable hole in them they decided to go with 2 tiny, tiny holes even though you only use one of them.  It took me almost an hour to get the smallest sewing thread I could find thru one of them. Drilling out the holes to a more usable size was a non-starter - the walnut would not hold up to it even when strengthened with CA or PVA, plus trying to hold something the size of a grain of rice while drilling it with a pin vise was more than I could deal with.


Fortunately Nic (Mr BlueJacket) gave me a good suggestion. He said that when they get models in to restore of repair that call for tiny blocks they use beads so I went online and found a jewelry supply company that sold 1mm beads in a nice brown color. Here are the 2mm blocks on the left and the beads on the right.





Using 30 gage black wire for stropping a hook in each one and then spraying them with dull coat to remove the sheen they were easy to set up in a single block rig. In order to trick the eye into thinking these a real blocks I put the plane of the hooks perpendicular to the axis of the bead holes, that way only the sides of the beads are visible when viewing from above (which is the only way they will be visible on this build):




Rope coils were just wrapped around pins and sprayed with hair spray to hold their shape:





I can get about 4 guns done per day without too much effort so in a couple of days they should be finished and I can move on to the deck beams:



Edited by schooner
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Thanks for the likes and kind words.


Starting the Main Deck


With all the guns finally rigged I can move on to less tedious work. The first 3 deck beams are installed. I’m going to fabricate the deck furniture as I come to it working fore to aft. I’ll need the furniture completed for the next step after the deck beams are installed which is figuring out where to put the carlings and half-beams to support the furniture.



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Main Deck Beams and Deck Furniture


All the deck beams are in place:




The deck furniture for the main deck is done. The capstan is a solid piece of britannia. For the windlass the kit provides 3 britannia pieces; the 2 end pieces and the central axle with gear. The plans show  “something” just forward of the windlass axle but it’s not clear what it is and the photos show the ship’s bell mounted above the axle but it’s not clear what it is mounted on. I figured it had to be where the ratchet/pawl assembly was so I made up my own and mounted the bell. The windlass will not be mounted until all the rigging is done around the foremast because otherwise it will be in the way. The belaying pins are very nice, good shape and to scale but I will probably be cursing them in a few month while I'm trying to handle 2 pairs of tweezers in the middle of a jungle of rigging to tie off a line. The openings in the large hatch cover are for the anchor cables to pass down thru.




Edited by schooner
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Main Deck Framing


All the main deck framing that I intend to add is in place with the exception of the athwartship pieces for the mast partners - I’m going to wait on those until I have the lower masts tapered, I want to avoid having them interfere with the mast rake and ideally, help set it.





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