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


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Deck Framing and Furniture for Quarterdeck

 

 

 

The deck beams and framing are done for the quarterdeck (which really pushes the term quarterdeck since it take up just over half of the ship’s length).

 

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The deck furniture is also done:

 

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Next up will be installation of the deck furniture and fabricating the margin planks and then it will be time to plank the decks.

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Fitting the Margin Planks

 

My planking strips are 3/32” wide. I needed the margin planks to be a little wider and was able to find some 1/8” strip of the same thickness.

 

The curvature at the bow is too severe to edge-bend the strips so I had to cut it out of sheet material. I traced the forward edge of the deck off of the plans on to a piece of paper to serve as a template. I only took it as far aft as the point where the planks will run straight. After a bit of trimming I had an acceptable fit:

 

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I then traced the outboard curve of the paper onto my sheet material, used a Dremel sanding drum to get a pretty close fit to the traced line and then, kept test firing the wood onto the deck, sanding and filing until the wood had a good fit. Next I set a compass at 3/32” and followed the outside of the curve to set the inside curve and the width of the forward, curved plank:

 

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A scarp joint was cut into the aft end of the forward plank and transferred to the forward edge of the next piece moving aft:

 

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The margin planks for the main deck are now in place:

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Starting the Deck Planking

 

I’ve got the centerline portion done. It’s been a real 2-steps forward, 1 back as I relearn how to do this. It would have been easier to plank the centerline and then add the hatches on  top of it and cut holes for the bitts but it is really hard to clean up sawdust and debris from the gun deck with all the beams in place so I decided to do it this way.

 

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Next I’ll fill in the bow area back to the 3rd beam and then add 1 or 2 planks along each side.

Edited by schooner
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  • 3 weeks later...

Deck Planking Finished

 

The instructions call for making the vertical bulkhead at the aft end of the main deck from the scribed decking material but I thought that would be a hassle trying to get a good fit at the outboard ends so I used planking strips placed vertically and topped with another strip that covered the ends and served as a flush piece for the quarterdeck planks to but up against.

 

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The quarterdeck planking went on without any problems and the reveals provide decent visibility down into the gun deck.

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Posted (edited)

Things start to get complicated

 

I thought my next step would be per the sequence laid out in the instructions, i.e. adding the details along the bulwarks working fore to aft, so I thought I would start with the catheads (the davits that the anchors hang from) but I ran into a problem that will take me in a different direction and hopefully not into a rathole.

 

The problem is that the plans only show the catheads on the outboard profile (the side view of the ship) and since the catheads are located where the bow has it’s very bluff curve I could not figure out where they get placed (an overhead view would have solved this problem).

 

After a lot of looking at the instructions, the plans, build logs of contemporary models and the instructions for ModelExpo’s SYREN, which are, hands-down, best set of instructions I have ever seen, I finally figured out that the catheads need to be above the hawse bolster (the holes where the anchor hawsers pass thru the hull), which in turn is part of the whole complicated head railing assembly. (BTW, the SYREN’s instructions are available online , as are the ones for all the ModelExpo kits on their website)

 

After a lot more studying I think I understand how the head rails go together (every set of instructions I looked at said the head railings were the most difficult and complicated part of 18th century ship models) I realized I would have to tackle the head railings  but before I could do that I needed to assemble the bowsprit for 3 reasons: 1) I want to rig the gammoning (a bunch of figure 8’s  that lash the bowsprit to the hull) before adding the railings since it will be very difficult to do it after they are in place  2) I want to ensure that the gammoning is vertical which will depend on the slot in the stem the “hole” in the grating, and the chocks on the bowsprit, and 3) because I need to ensure that the figurehead, which although decorative is a key part of the head rail assembly, is not going to interfere with bowsprit which sits right above it.

 

So bottom line: I’ll be departing from the build sequence in the instructions because of all the interrelationships of the “stuff” around the bow/stem I’m going to try to stay out of my own way and avoid bad language when finding out I should have done step 10 before step 2, so to speak. I’ll try do document each step and also what doesn’t work for those who may decide to try this kit.

 

To get started on the bowsprit I had to do some plastic surgery where it will pass thru the bulwarks. When I added them I left a gap that needed filling at it’s bottom so the bowsprit will sit at the proper angle:

 

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I tapered the aft end of the bowsprit so it will sit properly (it, of course has not been cut to length yet) I also filled in the gammoning slot which had been cut in the stem early on since I will have to drill out a new one based on where the head rail grating sits. You can slo see a paper template for the the tailboards which I plan on making from scratch so they will be a better fit for my stem that the kit-provided britannia pieces.

 

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Edited by schooner
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Posted (edited)

Bowsprit & Jib boom

 

I finished up the bulwark area around the bowsprit by raising the stem to support it and then penciled in the locations for all the “stuff” that goes on the bowsprit. The height of the bowsprit cap is from the plans but I had to go to AOS Essex for the width, about 40% of the hieght is good:

 

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The instructions call for tapering the jib boom, which I did. I recommend skipping that step for 2 reasons; the tapering is not noticable on such a small dowel, and more importantly, the tapered end lost its' rigidity - it would have been a huge hassle trying to keep it straight while under tension from multiple directions, assumming it didn't break. I redid it without tapering. Here’s the completed bowsprit and jib boom:

 

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Here’s the bowsprit dry fitted in place. The paper you can see on the stem below it is a template I’m going to use to scratch the trailboards.

 

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Edited by schooner
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Posted (edited)

Starting the Cheeks and Trail Boards

 

The cheeks are large structural assemblies that help strengthen the stem. There are usually 2 parts; one on the stem and one that continues along the bow, on or above the wales. The cheeks on the stem have another layer called the trail boards which usually have some decoration, or at least some moulding.

 

The kit provides a brittania metal piece for the trail boards. It is different than the shape of the tailboards on the plans and from the general shape of my stem area:

 

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I traced the trail board from the plans, at least as much of it as was shown, the outermost part literally disappears up the figurehead's backside but the general shape can be assumed. I like this shape better so I will go with it:

 

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Since the cheek under the trail board was supposed to be trimmed to match the shape of the trail board I will effectively be combining them into one piece. I shaped it out of 1/8” stock and glued them on each side of  the stem:

 

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Once in place the stem cheeks should be tapered to that their outboard ends will fit inside the opening on the back of the figurehead. The kit-supplied brittania figurehead was a pleasant surprise. It needed no cleanup at all and the detail is amazing:

 

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The rear opening of the figurehead is well done, the lower half is slightly wider to accommodate the combined widths of the stem and both cheeks and the upper half is slightly narrower where all the rails will fit into (hopefully):

 

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After tapering the figurehead sits snuggly on the end of the stem, and although I don’t show it here, its’ top is right about 1/8” below the bowsprit, as called for in the plans.

 

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Edited by schooner
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Posted (edited)

Finishing the Cheeks and Hawse Bolsters

 

The half of the cheeks that rest on the hull were made of 1/8” thick strip wood the same width as the stem cheeks and the moulding was made from plastic rod. The hawse bolsters were placed at the outboard corners of the head grating:

 

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After painting and the addition of the figurehead the stem is pretty well set with the exception of the slot for the gammoning, which as can be seen, I’m still in the process of drilling and filing out:

 

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The instructions call for drilling out the hawse holes as one of the last steps in the build which did not make a lot of sense to me since it would have been really hard to clean up all the tear-outs on the inside of the bulwarks with all the rigging in place so I did it now. To help cover up the tear-outs I added interior bolsters which I have seen on other builds from this era. 

 

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Edited by schooner
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Posted (edited)

 

Head Grating, Bowsprit and Gammoning

 

I was going to try to fit all the timbers that support the grating befor installing it but it quickly became obvious that the easiest way for me to do it was to put the grating permanently in position and then fit the timbers individually.

 

Here is the grating in place - the aft edge is even with the main deck and it has an “upslope” as it goes to join the stem. The bowsprit has also been pinned and glued in place so that I can rig the gammoning before the rails and timbers make it harder than it has to be:

 

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The gammoning went on easily although it took me a while to understand what the directions meant by each figure 8 “crossing over” the previous one. When you rig it if you make sure that each loop over the bowsprit is forward of the previous one and that each loop thru the gammoning slot on the stem is aft of the previous one then you will be all set.

 

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Edited by schooner
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Hi Thunder, thanks for the kind words.

I had the same thoughts about the hawse locations, like you I'm used to seeing them closer to the stem and maybe on the deck below. My guess as to why this is setup this way was that ALFRED was built as a merchant ship and converted to a light frigate in a relatively short time. One of the big differences between her and purpose-built warships was that, although the ALFRED had a capstan, it did not go down to the gun deck and was apparently used just to haul the anchor hawser up from the cable tier. To actually raise the anchor a windlass was used (it will be fitted after the mast rigging is done) probably because merchant ships did not have the manpower to operate multi-deck capstans and it must have been a very slooooow way to raise the anchor. When the windlass is fitted it's heads are directly in line aft of the hawse holes, well out board of the the bits so I'm guessing they must have used some type of line stoppers to take the strain while the ship was at anchor. Definitely not the effecient set up on the ships you have modeled.

 

 

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Bow Rails half done

 

The kit provides some 1/16” x 1/16” britannia strip metal for the bow rails. It is nice stuff to work with in this type of application. It cuts and sands easily and you can easily bend it into almost any shape with no spring back. The only thing you have to watch out for is that it will not stand up to multiple bendings - if I know it will take me several tries to get the right shape I use a piece of brass rod or wire as a template and then bend the britannia to match it.

 

I was playing around with the britannia when it occurred to me that it would work well sto make the small timbers that run from the stem to the underside of the bow grating. The timbers are supposed to be concave and making them from wood involves a lot of trial and error but the britannia is exactly the width call for in the plans and it was an easy job to fit all 6:

 

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The next step was to place the lower rails along the outboard sides of the grating, pretty simple since there are no bends. The only problem is on all the period models I’ve seen they usually have some sort of decorative moulding on their outboard face which would be pretty hard to do with only 1/16” to work with. I was going to try it with some thin plastic rod like I used ion the cheeks but I found some thin u-shaped channel material in my plastic stash that fits the outboard edge perfectly. After trying several color combinations I settled on buff and black:

 

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I can’t do the upper timbers and rails yet because the upper rail fits against the cathead knee so I will have to put the catheads in first. I also needed to order more britannia strip from BlueJacket since using them on the timbers did not leave enough for the second half.

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