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For those of you who didn't catch my intro on the New Members forum, this is my very first model. I have zero experience with wooden model building and only a small amount of experience with plastic model cars and planes, but that was over 20 years ago and generally ended with my fingers glued to the model.

 

As a beginner I selected The Red Baron for a few reasons:

 

  1. The kits contains just about everything one would need to complete, including paints.
  2. The extensive instruction manual that comes with the kit
  3. The excellent build log by @schooner, which I reviewed countless times before buying this kit.

 

 

Despite the above there are a few times where I’ve already feel like I need more advice and some clarification on the instructions. Which is why I am glad this community exists.

 

Because this is a kit for an absolute beginner I am going to try to keep a very detailed build log. I haven’t decided if I will post every agonizing documented step here - as I don’t want to bore you all with the details of how I figured out how to sand that little piece where fingers don’t fit - or publish it later as a PDF or something like that.

 

One thing I have decided on is that I am going to try to do the whole build with just what was provided in the kit and if I do supplement any tools, etc I will try to make them a simple and inexpensive as possible. As someone who is brand new to this I don’t want to invest a ton of money in speciality tools which I may never use again if this model ends up flying out the window in a fit of rage.

 

That being said- is their anything you’d recommend buying now to minimize pain and maximize quality. Something like a specialty body filler, 600 grit paper, a brush upgrade in the $10 range?

 

Off to work… more to come very soon- along with my first plea for help!

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Very nice first model! I've seen some nice builds of this and I'm certain that you'll have fun along the way.

9 minutes ago, CTYankee said:

I don’t want to bore you all with the details of how I figured out how to sand that little piece where fingers don’t fit

I think these details may be very useful for the next person who chooses this model as a first build. I sometimes see the great works on this site and forget that my build log will be helping builders at my skill level so I try to include little tips that might help others along the way.

 

11 minutes ago, CTYankee said:

That being said- is their anything you’d recommend buying now to minimize pain and maximize quality. Something like a specialty body filler, 600 grit paper, a brush upgrade in the $10 range?

Tamiya masking tape to help paint those really nice lines popped into my head. Good luck!

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And so it begins...

 

The first thing I did (after the requisite review of the inventory to make sure that it matched the manifest) was to asses the state of the hull blank. I used my flexible metal scale (mine is a Starrett C331) to find the centerline of the blank. I did this by eyeballing the center of hull and putting the 100mm line at that point. Then looking down the side (at as straight of an angle as possible to eliminate parallax) I kept checking and adjusting the rule until I landed with the same number of mms on each side of the boat. For instance in the photo below I was reading ~152mm on one side and ~48mm on the other (that is 52mm on each side). I did think at a few points along the length, then before connecting the dots I used the deck ply to confirm that I was in the ballpark.

 

This step is a bitt tricker than you'd think because it is hard to know if you were keeping the scale perpendicular to the center axis of the ship. I found the best way to do this was to eye down both sides of the scale to ensure that both the top and bottom edge were measuring equal values (not to each other, but with respect to the P & S sides of the measurement; the top and bottom will be different because of how the hull tapers.)

 

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The next thing I did was mark off the A, B and C reference lines which will be used with the shaping templates. I did this from where I think the tip of the bow is going to end up after sanding based on the how the deck ply aligned to the hull blank. 

 

Now here is where I am getting into the weeds.  I took a page from @schooner's playbook and compared my sanding template to the blueprint. For the life of me I cant see how this is supposed to align. I am keeping the waterline aligned and moving the template around to different datum but to my eye the shape of this template just looks different from the shape of the hull on the print. For instance, in the right picture below, line 1 uses the bottom of the step as the alignment spot. Line 2 uses the tip of the bow. That one seems to align both with the bow-point and the line which I think denotes the keel/hull joint so that one seems right, but in general this profile seems more bulbous and less sleek than the profile on the print.

 

 

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When I try to transfer this onto the blank to give myself some guidelines (not to sand to per say but as a warning that I am getting close) I get something like the below. What I notice is that there is a point where the template departs the blank leaving a big gap. Is that space going to be filled by the keel? (In the photo I realize I am not holding the template absolutely plumb, only because its hard to hold all these things and take pictures.)

 

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So as I prepare to sand, a few questions-

 

1) Do you think the last few pictures generally describe where I should be sanding ?

2) Will I sand back the stem so that the tip of the bow is roughly at the point where the deck ply suggests it should be?

3) At this point I know I should not be sanding the stem to an edge- but do a sand it flat or round it off a bit? The blank already is quite flat at the front.

 

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Thanks for the help in advance!

 

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Hi CT, nice to know someone is looking at my old build log!

 

I think you are in good shape as regards to the bow template vs your hull. The template assumes the keel is not in place so the photo you have showing the red circle looks pretty good to my eye. As you sand off that plug on the bow things should start to look even better.

Tim 

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And it continues...

 

As I sit here to write this, the log is trailing the actual progress by about a week and change- hopefully I'll catch up over the next few days/posts.

 

Following the instruction manual like a good student (for now) I begin with sanding of various parts whilst still attached to the panel. As I had never don't this before I wasn't sure exactly how long this would take or when I would know if I was finished, but I found that it goes pretty fast and that its pretty obvious. The un-sanded bass wood has a lot of texture that smooths out nice when sanded, the burn marks from the laser cutting are also a good indication of when you are done.

 

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This will be obvious to anyone who has done this before, but this creates a TON of fine dust.  A note to the noobs (like myself) get some dust masks and wear them. In a perfect world I'd recommend N95 particulate masks, but times being what they are those are unavailable. I found some non-medical KN95 masks on amazon that appear to be just as good. 

 

Next I began prepping the stand saddles. The first imageshows one before sanding and one after. After sanding I noticed that the laser cut leaves each of the cut edges tapered- this becomes very obvious on the thicker pieces. I have a plan for how to leave it as is and deal with it on the edge that contacts the boat, but i want a flat bottom edge so I first sanded each saddle flat using the sanding block as a guide to keep it vertical. The last image compares one sanded and one un-sanded to show the bevel more clearly.

 

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After sanding both pieces and dry fitting them I discovered that the rails were not parallel to the table. This was because the rail holes were a different distance from the bottom edge. I initially assumed this was the result of my sanding job on the previous step, but when measuring the plans I confirmed that the offset exists in the prints as well. I couldn’t think of any reason why this would be the case (though i am sure there is) so i decided to gang the two saddles together on the rail and sand them flush. Will I live to regret this decision? I think I plan to add a felt strip to the underside of the stand so if the above offset proved to be important I can just apply a different thickness on each piece to revive the lean if it was by design.

 

(9/3/2020 EDIT: Yup this removal of material led to an issue. If gotten around to attaching the keel- posting on that soon- and found it now collides with the table. As I said above, I know how I'll fix this- with some green felt on both the bottom and the cradle of the stands. I think that's going to look sharp and it will boost the  model up a bit. If the aft saddle needs more height I wonder why that was added to the bottom, casing a tilt to the rails, then on the top... hmm... Anyway, I want to let anyone who was filling close behind know so they can choose to go down my path or just live with a bit of lean.)

 

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Sanding is done for now... next comes the glue-up of the stand.

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I forgot to document the glueing process. This is unfortunate because this is a point where I was totally perplexed at how to do this in a high quality way. The rods didn’t fit their holes tight so it was going to be impossible to get everything square without some fixturing, so, I came up with the following process:

 

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The above picture  is a photo-cut-and-paste mock up  (which is why nothing aligns in the picture) of what I did. First, I used masking tape to tape one side of the stand to the cutting mat, aligning it to one of the reference marks, ensuring it was plumb. This part would be the “fixture”- I won’t be glueing this one up on this step

 

I inserted the two rods so that approximately 10mm was sticking out of one side of the fixture. I stuck these ends into the other stand saddle. I used the reference marks on the mat to get the two saddles and the two rods parallel to each other, respectively. I let the rod poke out past the end of the saddle so that I could sand it flush. With everything aligned I hit the inside and outside of the joint with some CA and let things cure.

 

Then I could un-tape the fixture, align it to the glued up sub-assembly using the lines on the mat as reference and glued this up, again with a bit sticking out. All said and done things were square to less than 0.5mm, not perfect but I’ll take it.

 

Remember the tapers left on the part from the laser cutter? I oriented the pieces so that both pieces had the tapered side on the inside facing each other. Its super subtle but looks kind of neat.

 

Now, it was time for some sanding to get the posts flush and remove the excess glue. It cleaned up very nicely.

 

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The instructions say to prime the sanded panel pieces and gloss the stand, but I am going to save these steps for later when I have more painting to do as I don't have a dedicated paint station and don't want to set-up and tear down repeatedly. Also, since I will be using the stand during assembly of the boat it will probably get handled a bunch so I'll finish that when the boat is done.

 

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Time for shaping the hull, starting with the stem.

 

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This went faster then I imagined. With the exception of a small zone below the waterline I am able to match the the template pretty well- and i didn’t even remove that much material. I still cannot comprehend how I got from the first picture to the last here so removing so little material.

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1 hour ago, CTYankee said:

@MrBlueJacket - Hi Nic, you make a very good point. I'm trying to get get close as I see this as an opportunity to refine my craftsmanship, hone my patience and get tips tricks and feedback on where I went wrong. I am certainly determined not to let this frustrate me- we'll see if I succeed!

As I am building the same kit as my first build, I a green with your response to Nic. I feel the same way.
 

Great job on the hull! I’m getting ready to start shaping my hull and being a bit hesitant, as I don’t want to screw it up. Any tips?

 

Thanks!

 

Paul

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The shaping continues...

 

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I showed how I marked the reference lines a few posts earlier. It was definitely a challenge to hold the templates perpendicular to the centerline of the boat and the waterline while taking my readings. A little shift one way or the other definitely changes things a bunch.

 

My process was as follows: lay each template on the hull and mark with a pencil the area where the template touches the hull. This represents the material that must be removed to get the template to lay more flush. Then, using the coarse paper, sand each of these areas. Whilst doing so I interchanged two methods.  In one I went up and down along the line modulating my pressure to be a bit heavier in the center of the line. In the other I played 'connect the lines' sanding fore and aft- the thinking here is that in order to avoid a hull with massive undulations along its length I would need to strive for curvature continuity and the best way of doing this is to blend along the way.

 

I checked my templates frequently- well before the pencil mark fully disappeared. I was surprised to see how fast the overall shape would change; sometimes a few strokes would change where I needed to focus my pressure.

 

In the 'end' I'm getting close to the templates, with the exception of a few spots, shown in the red circles above. I'm stopping now for a bit and will reevaluate once the keel is on and I start shaping the stem to a point. I'm not sure if I should go any further as the centerline of the template is just about on top of the centerline of the boat. That seems like the place you'd want to stop, however I don't think I'd ever be able to get those aggressive scallops at the deck-line. without going quite a bit pass that point.

 

 

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Time to brave some serious body work…

 

After getting the bow shape pretty close to where I want to to be I notice that the remainder of the hull had a distinct concave curvature to it on the port side. This was well past an area where I had been sanding, so, this was not my fault (fhew- I was worried for second there). What I noticed is that this area is exactly aligned with a set of growth rings in the grain of the wood where it look like the trunk was growing a branch (though i’m not an arborist so this might be baseless speculation). It creates a really noticeable asymmetry in the hull. I don’t know if it will be visable after the keel breaks up the sight lines and the paint is on but i’m not going to chance it.

 

I broke out the wood filler that came with the kit and found it hard to work with. Putting H2O in a dropper and dripping one drop at a time to mix i still had a hard time nailing a consistency that was workable that also didn’t harden up before I had gotten it all to where it needed to be.

 

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After that coat hardened I sanded smooth I transitioned to the auto glazing putty that so many speak highly of. I used the Bondo Glazing & Spot Putty. It goes on much more smoothly, but its working time is also not super long so you need to work fast and then resist the urge to keep soothing because after some point you just start making a mess. Accept what you have and then sand it to where you want it to be.

 

I coated, sanded, checked, coated, sanded…

 

Sanding to shape is truly an art form. It's easy to sand wrong and get flat spots. You just need to go light and easy modulating pressure to help blend into the bare wood. I used the 220 grit sand paper here (any coarser would gouge). I even used 0000 steel wool when I got towards the end.

 

I learned to close my eyes and trust my fingers when trying to feel if I had god curvature. My eyes played tricks on me as they confused changes in color (between wood and two filers) with change in curvature.

 

I won’t lie- this step of shaping the hull took a long time but I am much happier with the symmetry of the hull. Its for sure not perfect. I would love to learn from the body shop folks who do this down to perfect curvature continuity.

 

Onto brave the keel. A step that I have been dreading for reasons to be revealed shortly.

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Onto the keel, but first…

 

I sanded the well deck. The guide instructs to do this after attaching the keel but given how rough it is in there I felt that I would be better doing this first as not to manhandle the boat too much after the keel was on.

 

I tried a few things to find the centerline of the hull along the bottom. This is much harder than the top where it was relatively easy to make relative measurements. Because of how the keel tapers i just couldn’t find good references. So here is what I did.

 

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I used to the centerlines that I measured on the top of the hull and transferred them just a tiny bit around the stem and the transom. I took both of those reference marks and aligned them to the lines on my cutting mat. I then taped a string to that reference line (not too close to the bow) and draped it over the boat and aligned it on the stern end. Then being very careful that the string wasn’t chasing some errant bit of curvature (it would do that if you tried to pull too tight) I marked a few reference dots on either side of the string. Then I connected the center point between those dots to create the line down my hull.

 

The reason I have been fearing adding the keel is that a) I am sure i will break it off at some point and b) in an dry fit early on I just couldn’t see how i was going to get this thing to fit. Its shape seemed significantly different than the hull at the stem.

 

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The first picture, above, shows the keel aligned to where it ‘should’ be if I placed it according to the distance that the rear or the keel should be from the edge of the transom. As you can see there is a good gap there. I don’t think that this was a result of the initial shaping of the stem as there was never material removed from that far down.

 

Instead I slide the keel back until its tip really tightened up around the stem. It means the keel is ~3mm further back than it should be. I hope it doesn’t affect the stability of the craft above 50 knots.

 

After scooting the keel back the fit to the run of the hull isn’t great. It seemed way more than I’d want to just sand to fit and certainly way more than I’d want to close by brute force with glue. I read a number of other posts about soaking planking wood to help with forming it so I decided to try that.

 

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I soaked the keel in 95° C water for 10 minutes then clamped it in place for 24 hrs to see if it work take on a more complimentary shape. I thought about glueing it up whilst soaked but I didn’t for a few reasons. I plan on using wood glue to place the hull because I am afraid that if I used the CA that came with the kit it would set before I got the keel aligned and I’d be forever staring at a cocked keel. But the wood glue i have says to apply to a dry surface. I think some glues, like one of the Gorilla Glues, actually want you to wet the surface first, but that’s not what I had.


After releasing the clamps i had some spring back but not much!

 

After a little sanding I glued the keel in place using Titebond III. The directions clearly state not to use the product for joints below the waterline, but I think its okay to make an exception in this case!

 

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In the process of sanding the keel before it was glued I broke off the tip. D’oh. After the keel was glued to the hull I glued the broken bit back on with CA. Most of that got sanded away during the final shaping of the stem and the blending of the keel but I think having it there was important.

 

I noticed some small gaps running along the seam between the keel and the hull, most likely due to the edges of the keel piece part getting rounded off during pre-sanding. I filled that with the glazing putty, which was a pretty fussy application in such a small crack. Are there better fillers for gaps like this?

 

Keeling over…

 

 

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One trick for filling small cracks is to use white (or Elmer's) glue. It has the strange property that if you are filling in a small crack or gap, say between a deck and a vertical bulkhead, the glue not only fills the gap but it tricks the eye into not even seeing the filled crack even though the glue dries transparent. That has really saved me a couple of times where I had 2 surfaces painted different colors that would have been tough to tape off and paint - white glue made the problem invisible1

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Painting is hard. Actually, the painting is easy, the thinning is hard. I cant seem to dial in the right ratios of paint to thinner even though I’ve been using a pipet to dose the material. It seems like a drop of thinner one way or the other leaves me with very different results. One time i’ll get something no better than a wash, other i leave massive brush strokes. Maybe the problem is I’ve been trying to mix ~1-2mL of paint at a time, but I am hesitant to mix more. Any thoughts on the right ratios here?

 

After coat 1, we’re just starting to build up coverage. As you can see from the detail show there is fair bit of texture left behind suggesting maybe the primer is not thinned enough.

 

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Sanding is hard, too. This first picture is un-sanded, as we go left to right we get smoother and with less brush strokes but I also start sanding through in spots. The third picture looks streaky but the finish actually feels very smooth. My current thinking is that after the first coat just lightly sand off the ‘fuzz’ and then hit it with a second coat. Maybe even lightly sand and add a third. Once you’ve got a good base built up, then start working through the grits to get that fiberglass smooth finish. If you try to make every coat smooth you’ll just keep getting back to wood. Thoughts?

 

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One note: I’ve been letting the enamel paint dry and cure for 24 hours between coat and sand. As its hot and dry right now that seems like enough. Longer is probably better if you can be patient.

 

I am going to take a break from the priming and smoothing of the hull. Its pretty smooth and I could be happy with it but I'd love to try to get it one step glassier. My thought it there is going to be a lot of handling of the craft during the subsequent steps so I'll save my final hull work until the cabin is compete and I am just about ready to finish paint everything.

 

I've actually been on the cabin for a few days now as my build log get updated in spurts with progress being made between each post. More to come on that soon...

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Onto the cabin...

 

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I started by aligning the deck to the hull and taping it in place. The deck overhung the hull in a few places, but by a small and even amount that I imagine will be sanded down to flush in a later step.

 

I traced the opening for the cabin and noticed that it didn’t seem aligned, despite my assessment of the hull being correctly placed in the previous step. This is because the well deck has not been carved dead center in the hull. Because the deck overhangs the hull on the interior I didn’t see the need to sand it to equal- the deck will be what draws your eye so it won’t look wonky when its assembled.

 

Gluing the base for the cabin former ended up being a case of “sometimes its better to be lucky then good”.

 

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In my previous dealings with the CA included it the kit it seemed to have an extended working time. It didn’t seem to bond until I got the pieces absolutely dead line to line and applied pressure- so I wasn’t at all worried about getting this piece properly aligned. I dispensed the glue as shown, flipped it over, lined it up by eye off of the piece and then QUICKLY placed it and tweaked the alignment.

 

The piece froze into place near instantly. I had no time to slide it around to get it aligned as I thought I might based on my past experience. I chalk this up to the fact that previously I was trying to glue relatively small pieces together where the volume of glue was large compared to the part and the presence of oxygen was high. In this bigger part, the glue immediately wetted out to a thin layer and due to the form the glue was shielded from additional oxygen so the anaerobic curing happened instantly.

 

Luckily, i nailed the placement. The other two pieces of the cabin former went on without drama.

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One of the very first steps of the kit is to paint one side of various parts as they will be harder to paint in place. as the face inward.

 

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Among these parts are the cabin sides.  I painted the parts on the panel. When prepping to assemble them i realized that due to how the parts are slayed out to maximize fit if you paint both of them on the same side of the panel you will have painted the inside of one and the outside of the other.

 

So now I need to go paint the other side.

 

Once painted and cured i went on to forming and placing the cabin sides…

 

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To form them i tried following the instructions, soaking and bending by hand, but i couldn’t seem to get them to keep the shape. So I soaked them again and, using a rubber band and the vial of knife blades as a jig let them dry held in shape. This worked better. Remember, if you use this method, you need to keep the insides out during this step to get the correct curvature.

 

I dry fit the port side cabin piece and was happy with the fit. I ended up scooting it back a bit from the datum on the front of the cabin former to get it to align better behind the holes which will receive the aft piece of the cabin. Before I committed to this i used a flexible ruler to ensure that id be okay with how the front of the cabin would shape around these pieces and I was pleased. More detail follows in a few steps.

 

In order to fit the aft cabin wall the instructions say to round the bottom to fit the curvature of the bottom of the well deck. As you can see in this picture I needed to also carve the back side to get the piece to nest along the curvature of the well deck walls.

 

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These pictures show how I aligned the cabin sides to the cabin former.

 

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As you can see the sides are scooted toward the aft, whereas the instructions ask you to align then flush. This alignment worked for me because of how the front of the cabin will curve. In the second photo above you can see the two yellow dots, representing where the front cabin piece will touch, follow the curve of the front cabin former.

 

With all the pieces dry fit it was time to glue it up.

 

STOP!!!! Warning!!! Read the directions carefully (unlike me) or else you will get to learn how to use CA debonder.

 

The instructions CLEARLY state…

 

Glue one cabin side into place. Then glue JUST THE FRONT of the other. This will allow you the flexibility to get the aft cabin wall tabs slipped into the receiving cut-outs in each cabin side.Once the three pieces are aligned, then glue the two remaining pieces.

 

I did not do this. I glued both sides up throughly. Then, after realizing the pieces didn’t fit i had to go debond one side and start again. Fortunately that was easier than i feared.

 

After gluing the last cabin wall in place things are starting to come together...

 

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WARNING #2: The instructions clearly state that the cabin sides at the windscreen openings are very fragile. I have confirmed through the scientific method this to be true.

 

My Hypothesis: They cant be THAT fragile.

My Experiment: Sand away without paying carful regard to how you are handling the boat.

Result: I broke the port cabin side... TWICE.

Conclusion: My hypothesis is incorrect. Heed the warnings in the future.

 

In all seriousness, both times I broke the side was when I was holding the boat in my hand or lap trying to sand at a hard to reach area. My advice is keep the boat in its cradle and pay very close attention to where your clumsy limbs are at all times.

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Now that the cabin sides are attached it was time to sand sides and the former pieces to complementary shapes.

 

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You will also notice that I painted the inside of the cabin black. I thought this would be a good addition to the model as one can easily look into the cabin and in the right light I didn’t want them to see unfinished wood. It was also an excellent opportunity to practice painting in tight quarters. This job did not come out amazing, but t was good practice and a high level of refinement isn’t needed in this particular case.

 

I debated as whether to agonize over this one to show a dedication to the process and an attention to detail that will pay forward into my more complex models in the future but I decided that in this case the return on investment wasn’t there.

 

Plus after breaking the cabin side the first time whilst trying to sand the inside of the cabin i wanted to get additional parts on to add structure ASAP.

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You are making good progress James.  Another approach you can take in gluing large surfaces is to use a combination of CA and yellow glue (Titebond).  Just put a small amount of CA to tack the surface of the piece being glued and use the yellow glue for the remainder of the bond.  This way, if the part is misaligned, it would be easier to break the bond before the yellow glue sets.  You can also use a small paint brush and water to clean up any of the excess yellow glue in the joints.

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It's coming along nicely, James. I'm about where you are on my build. I had a lot of carving/sanding to get everything to fit. I also broke one of the fragile cabin sides. I was sanding and it got caught on my shirt and broke off!

 

I will be updating my log later.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just want to let you all know I haven't abandoned my build- I've just had terrible luck painting... I've applied and removed primer twice now. I need to take about a month break due to some other projects and hope to be back to work by mid-November.

 

Take Care-

 

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On 10/15/2020 at 6:49 PM, pwog said:

@CTYankee 

 

Hi James,

 

 I’m sorry you’re having a difficult time regarding the painting. Hang in there! Have you tried calling Bluejacket? They’re very helpful.

@pwog - Thats an interesting idea. The issue I am having is not with their paint. As I mentioned in this thread or another, I used the True North Primer very quickly as I was practicing use a bit before committing paint to my boat and at the time I was not thinning it enough so it didn't last long. Both issues I had were with Testors products (model master brush on and main-line rattle can). I am going to try some HW store primer next I think as I have read many  folks, such as Schooner have good luck with it.

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1 hour ago, CTYankee said:

The issue I am having is not with their paint. As I mentioned in this thread or another, I used the True North Primer very quickly as I was practicing use a bit before committing paint to my boat and at the time I was not thinning it enough so it didn't last long. Both issues I had were with Testors products (model master brush on and main-line rattle can). I am going to try some HW store primer next I think as I have read many  folks, such as Schooner have good luck with it.

 

@CTYankee Sorry James, I guess I missed the part about Testors. I thought it was the True North primer.

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