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Robert E Lee by glennard2523 - Amati - 1:150 - Mississippi Steamboat by Glenn Shelton

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After much consideration I decided my next boat build would be a Mississippi Steamboat, The Robert E Lee which is an Amati kit.




The boat yard is now been ready for the start of this build



On opening the box I discovered the build instructions and plans were in Italian, with an English translation of the build instructions without the figures. I do not think this will present too many problems.




Build Instruction 1 - Paint the Hull

I decided that before painting the hull I would apply a sanding sealer. I am still awaiting delivery of the paints which will arrive in the next day or two.



Build Instruction 1a

Both the stern and bow sections require a tapered section added. This is accomplished by gluing together 4 different sizes to get a stepped effect which will then require sanding to get the required taper. In the two photos below I have simply identified the pieces and dry fitted then (upside down) on the hull.251506373_0012Instruction1a.thumb.jpg.8b8c3c05ba186296095ef92bd08ab68c.jpg83404402_0013Instruction1a.thumb.jpg.e4dc1fbf0c3b6277c2b1307966e4aa46.jpg


Build Instruction 4 - Rudder

Before painting the hull I thought it might be prudent to do some work on the rudder assembly. A 5 mm hole needs to be drilled in the hull. On looking at the figure with instruction 4 there is a slight issue with the positioning of the upper rudder hinge in that the top section of the hinge assembly prevents the hinging being positioned as shown. There is a simple solution to this I will simply drill a 2mm hole in rudder piece 12 so the head of the hinge can be hidden and the hinge is then correctly positioned.



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Before I get in to the build properly I felt it would be prudent to do a little bit of planning. The first thing I did was to cross reference the build instruction stages and list the related figures and parts listed. I also started to add some build notes. I plan to expand on the build notes as I progress with the build. I decided to do a cross check of the parts list with the build instructions and produced a list which shows which build instruction each part is used on.



I then decided to remove all the parts from the 1mm and 3mm sheets and to identify them with both the part number and build instruction. Just for good measure to ensure all the parts were then I did place them on the place them on plan sheet provided. I did not part 14 was missing from the kit. This is a packing piece which I could cut to size but it is a tad too thin. I will contact Cornwall Model Boats to see if they can provide a replacement part.



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Build instructions 1-4 inclusive


I have glued both the fore and aft sections, as per section 1a of the build instructions. They are now clamped while I wait for the glue to cure.



Build instruction 4

The keel has a shape edge which need to be flattened to enable the rudder to seat correctly.





After a bit of work the rudder is nearly fitting, it just a little bit more filing.



Once I was happy with the rudder / hull positioning I then assembled the two rudder parts with the hinges. This was a fairly straightforward task which didn't take too long to complete.



Build Instructions 2 and 3

I drilled a 5 mm hole in the keel as per instruction 3 for the rudder protrusion to locate in when I get around to fitting the rudder to the keel.


 I also applied a couple of coats of sanding sealer to the hull and sprayed a coat of primer to the rudder assembly in preparation for painting before I undertake painting the hull as per instruction 2.


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Build Instruction 1a - Fore and Aft Sections

I have now sanded the stepped sections of the Fore and Aft sections and I now have a nice smooth taper for these parts so they are now ready be be fitted to the hull.



I found it was very useful to mark a centre line on both the hull and both fore and aft sections which helped my ensure the parts were properly aligned.

Once the glue has cured I will sand, as necessary, any rough edges to get a nice smooth profile on the hull.



Build Instruction 5 - First Deck

I dry fitted the 4 first deck sections to the hull, noting that I made a temporary part 14, as that was missing from the kit but Amati will be sending me the missing part in due course. Again I found it very useful to add a centre line to this parts. I was very happy with how these parts fitted and they can be added to the hull once the missing part arrives in the next 3 or so weeks time. In the mean time I can now start work on the various cabin assemblies.


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Build Instruction 6a - Cabin A

This afternoon  I turned my attention to building the first of the many cabins, aptly named Cabin A.


The first tasks was to cut some lengths of planks for the supporting structures. I followed the dimensions shown on the plans and double checked, after cutting, with my ruler and Vernier gauge. I concluded, after fitting them, that a couple of the parts would have been better being about 1mm longer. In future I will slightly overcut the supporting structure lengths and then I can trim back as necessary during the assembly phase.


The long wall piece (part 18) will need to be fitted at a slight angle to ensure it is perpendicular with the water line to compensate for the tapered deck. 


Photos of dry fit of the parts, noting the 5mm x 5mm corners were glued at this stage however.



I made a slight boo boo as seen below. When fitting the three supporting pieces to part 34, I marked and glued to parts to the wrong side. Thankfully I noticed this before the glue had fully cured so I was able to correct without any problem. The pencil markings will be hidden when Cabin A is installed on the deck



The outside wall battens will need fairing so the outside wall can be curved accordingly.




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Build Instruction 6a (Cabin A) and 6b (Cabin)


Cabin A Instruction 6a

With regards to Cabin A I soaked the two side walls in warm water for about 15 mins and then clamped them to the sub assembly as so they will take the shape as the wood dries out over night.



Cabin B Instruction 6b

I then moved on to Cabin B after dry fitting the parts I then clued and clamped the parts together. On the glue has cured the edges will require fairing so the three side walls can be bent to follow the curves. The larger front wall will have to be tilted when fitted so it remains perpendicular to the water line.


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Build Instruction 1a - Cabin A

As I was preparing to complete the assembly of Cabin A I noticed a discrepancy with the size of the roof piece (part 17) when I was looking to position the front wall (part 18). When I checked the plans I confirmed that I had cut part 18 to the specified length, and as can be seen on the following photo it matched the plan drawing as well.



I then compared the roof section with the plan drawings and noted that the laser cut part was oversized. This can be seen in the following two pictures. In the first picture I placed the roof part on top of the plan and as can be seen when looking at the left had edge the parts is approx. 2 mm to wide at and tapers to the correct size at the mid point of the right hand edge. In the second photo I took a copied the plan drawing of the roof section and cut it out (badly) and overlaid of the supplied part to show the excess material that will need to be removed.




Build Instruction 7a - Housing Sides for the Paddlewheels and Housing (Cabin D)

I have also started work on the Paddlewheels and Housing. The first task was to cut some lengths of 1 x 5mm timber and to then fix them to the Paddlewheel Housing. Once fixed these planks will provide the support structure that will hold the paddlewheels in place. At this stage only the top and two side parts are glued in place. The final bottom central plank will be fitted after the paddlewheels have been fitted. I took great care to ensure these planks were correctly positions (centrally and vertically, as can be seen in the first photo. Please note I have onlydry fitted to of the bottom central planks in the second photo.




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Build Instruction 5 - First Deck

While waiting for the missing deck part I have been checking some of the alignments. The Cabin A roof piece (part 17) needs to follow the shape of the first deck piece (part 16). They clearly do not match as can be seen the following photograph so a little bit of trimming will be required.



I also looked at deck pieces 15 and 16. The should be the same width and as can be seen in the attached photo this is not the case, I will have to trim piece 15. I will wait until I receive the replacement part 14 from Amati so I can complete the installation of the first deck.



Build Instruction 8 - Cabin E

I have prepared the various sub assemblies for Cabin E. I was checking the lengths of the strips with my Vernier gauge and they all seemed to be cut to size. However I dry fitting the parts I noted that the side parts 104 and 105 are a tad to long as the two side walls 106 and 107 are slightly overhanging on the roof section piece (part 87) but they do need to sit flush. The other parts seem to line up as per the plan drawings, so I will be able to assemble Cabin E once I have trimmed the two side parts as necessary.




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Build Instruction 6a - Cabin A

I have been checking the alignments of the deck and roof parts, related to Cabin A. I'm now confident with how the superstructure parts fit, making allowances for the planking of the walls. To make sure I have everything lined up I decided to clamp the parts, as can be seen in the following 3 photos. Before I go ahead with the final assembly I think it will be easier to plank the walls of the sub structures first.




Build Instruction 7c - Paddlewheel Housings

I have now completed the assembly of the two paddlewheel housings. Prior to gluing the housing strips I pre bent them around around a cup. The strips were then glued in place using super glue followed by a watered down pva solution along the join seams for good measure. The front facing housing sides still need to be planked.





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Build Instruction 7c - Paddlewheel Housings

Today I added the planking to the two paddlewheel housings. This was a fairly straightforward task that did not take too long to complete. On reflection it would have been much better (for a neater finish) to have added the planking before I assembled the housings, but the build instructions refer to adding the planking after assembly. There is a 1mm x 1mm strip to go around the curved outer section of each housing. The housings, when complete, will be painted white.


Photo 1 - Mid way through planking



Photo 2 - planking completed, but before sanding and sealing (looks a bit rough at this stage)



Photo 3 - after sanding and sealing, looks much better



Build Instruction 8 - Planking Walls

I thought it would be interesting to see how the windows fit.  The windows contain a lipped edge so will sit nicely in recess after the walls have been planked. Great care will be needed with the planking to ensure the windows are aligned squarely. Also there are three types of windows so I must check that the correct window frames are added to each cabin wall.


Photo of a Cabin E wall with the windows roughly positioned.


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Just trying to get a sense of how the different cabin parts fit together in order to work out the correct position of Cabin E's outer walls in relation the paddlewheel house prior to planking the outer wall.


I will not be able to move forward properly with the positioning until the missing deck piece (14) arrives as I need a secure base line before the lower cabins can be assembled. For example the outer walls of Cabin E (when planked) need to be aligned with the outer edges of the paddlewheel housing which should also match the width of deck piece 14. I can go ahead and plank the outer walls before they are attached to Cabin E's framework.



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Build Instruction 8 - Cabin E

I have spent quite a bit of time checking dimensions of various pieces as there does seem to be some variations in the parts supplied compared to what is necessary for the correct assembly of Cabin E with the two completed paddlewheel housings. To this end I decided to do some detailed design work to determine what dimensions the various pieces need to be.


The width of the deck is 101mm. The appropriate deck pieces 14, 15 and 16 need to 103mm wide. The extra 1mm per side is necessary for build instruction 17 where the underside of the deck has some supporting strips. The supplied deck part 15  is 103mm wide so need no correction as the 1mm overhang provides the necessary lip for the supporting strips to rest on.


The supplied deck part 16 however is only 101.5mm wide. I think I will replace this with a new piece of 1mm sheet, cut to the 103mmW. The following photo, is a scale drawing (1:1) of the deck pieces with Cabin E's roof pieces added as well.



I then put the various parts for Cabin E and the paddlewheel housing on top on my scale drawing. In the first photo I have included the Cabin E roof parts on top of the frame work parts. In the second photo the roof parts have been removed. These drawings have shown me where to position the two outer wall sections (106 and 107) on the Cabin E roof piece 87. I have to ensure parts 106 and 107 have to both sit flush with the outer edges of the two paddlewheel housings. The other Cabin E roof piece which sits between the two paddlewheel housings needs to be 103mm W. The supplied part (88) is actually 104mmW so I will need to trim 1mm from this part.




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Build Instruction 10 - Planking The Walls.

The outer walls of the various cabins have to be planked, leaving gaps for the windows to be fitted. The panels also need to be painted black beneath the windows. Finally both lateral edges of each plank requires  a slight rounded edge appearance, i.e. each plank needs to be filed. This is going to be a very time consuming task, based on todays progress.  


As I have started to glue some of Cabin E's internal structures I decided to start with the two outside walls of this cabin that will line up with the paddlewheel housings. I have to make sure the planks sit square so that the window frames also sit square in the openings.


According to the plan drawings each window frame is separated by two plank widths and the gap required for the window width is 3 plank widths. I soon found out that the required window width gap is slightly shorter than 3 plank widths. This means one plank requires a little bit of trimming.


I have provided two photo's of the work undertaken today, the first one is without the window frames. The second photo is with the unpainted window frames dry fitted. The window frames will need to be painted white (separately) before they are glued in place. I will trim the overlong planks as necessary when fitting the panels to Cabin E's assembly.




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Build Instruction 10 - Planking The Walls

I was not happy with how my first planking was turning out on Cabin E's walls 106 and 107, particularly with how the window frames were fitting as the seating edge is only about 0.2mm wide and the depth of the window below the lip is slightly less than the 1mm think planks.


I therefore took the bold step and ripped off all the planking (I had not done to much) and decided that I would start again. I am still deciding on the best method to proceed. I am very tempted to work as follows:


a) fit all the long strips between each window (left and right sides), adding the lateral sanding to each long edge to simulate the rounding effect of the planks. I can use the window frames to ensure these planks are correctly positioned. I did look for some suitable half round planking material. There is some available in plastic but I'm not sure it will look right when fitted. I have ordered some material so I can check this option out.

b) fit the top row of window frames, ensuring they are positioned true. The slight rounding of the side planks should ensure the window frames will sit on the wall base piece.

c) fit the planking top and bottom the top window frame. In addition to the slight rounding along the sides I will also make a small taper tot he edge to enable the planks to be positioned under the window frame lip.

d) fit the bottom window frames

e) fit the planking below the bottom window frame.


If I go ahead with the above plan then the windows frames need to be pre painted as it will not be possible to do so neatly once installed due to the black background of the outer wall base piece. Therefore I went ahead and painted the 20 windows frames for both Cabin E's outside walls (parts 106 and 107). To do this I decided to make a small jig to hold the window frames, as shown in the photos below.


Photo of frames in jig



Photo of frames post primer coat added. I plan to use the white spray paint after the primer has dried.


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Build Instruction 8 - Planking Walls

This is my second attempt at planking Cabin E's outer walls (106 & 107). This time I started off by making a cutting jig which lets my cut each short plank to the same lengths. This has proved to be a great aid to the build process.


Photo of cutting jig



I then used a straight edge to help ensure the short pieces are positioned correctly. The planks are over sized and can be trimmed when added to Cabin E.


Photo of Aligning Planks



I then made a jig which replicates the window frame base which really helps to position the middle short planks as shown in the next photo.


Photo of Window jig



I am much happier with how the window frames look with the panelling. The plans show that window frames are 3 planks wide. Although the actual window frame is slightly less than 3 planks I am happy to stay with using 3 planks.


Photo of first pair of windows frame (window frames are only dry fitted)


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Build Instruction 8 - Planking Walls

I have continued on with the planking of the outer walls of Cabin E and I have now found a method that seems to work well.


As each edge of the planks requires a lateral sand I made a simple jig to make the task much easier. I had a length of triangular wood left over from a previous project. I added a shelf to one edge which allows the plank to be sanded to rest on. I can then simply sand at right angles to the apex of the triangle which provides a nice consistent lateral sanded edge.

Photo of jig



When planking the outer walls of part 106 (and 107), there should be 5 window frames fitted top and bottom on. When I did this I noticed that the gap from the last window frame to the edge of the paddlewheel houses was different to that shown in the plans. There is a photo edged letter R that is supposed to fit in this gap. The letter would not fit in the space left. The reason for this is the planks are supposed to be 2mmW, but in reality they are approx. 2.2mm, therefore for 4 to 5 planks fitted the dimensions are out by 1mm.


I have, for the time being, reduced part 106 (and 107) to only have 4 windows frames fitted top and bottom. I might revise this later on and actually fit 5 window frames, noting I will have to spend a bit more time checking the width of the planks are no more than 2mm.


In the meantime here is a picture of the planked walls, dry fitted, to Cabin E. The window frames and door are also dry fitted.



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Build Instruction 8 - Cabin E

I have completed planking the walls and have glued the various sub assemblies together for Cabin E. The window frames and doors will be fitted when I start the painting of the Cabin.


I found my little plank cutting jig (and also my edge sanding jig) to very time saving.




The paddlewheel houses shown are not glued at this stage, they will be added after the painting phase when the Cabins are to be fitted to the deck. The planked walls will look much better when painted.













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Build Instruction 11 - Cabin F

Today I made a start on Cabin F, which is a very simple build or so I thought. The front facing panel requires 8 holes so that the portholes can be fitted. In the first instance I cut the front facing panel to the correct length and then drilled the holes. As can be seen in the attached photo this was not a good idea and I had to scrap this piece. The second time around I drilled the panel first and then cut to the required length.


Photo of the first attempt.



Photo of second attempt with portholes and hatch covers dry fitted



When complete Cabin F is located on to a roof part, which will have two support strips fitted to each side. It is essential therefore, when assembled, that Cabin F fits between these support strips. Therefore I clamped the Cabin F assembly (without glue) and did a test fit. Thankfully Cabin F fitted snuggly between the support strips, without modification, as can seen in the following photo. I will add the planking to the port and starboard walls before I glue the Cabin F parts together.




Build Instruction 6A - Cabin A

I have also continued on with the assembly of Cabin A, the two outer wall have been planked and fitted to the roof, as has the rear wall which links up with Cabin E.  I did a test assembly of Cabin A with Cabin E and the paddlewheel housings to ensure everything as correctly aligned. The roof will need a little bit of trimming however.





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Build Instruction 11 - Cabin F

I have now painted the walls, hatches and portholes. The portholes were fitted without any problems. The build instructions suggested a 3.5mm hole for the portholes, but in reality they required a 4mm hole. The hatches have to be glued in place. I have clamped a spare plank in place, suitable marked to indicate where each hatch should by located. I did apply a sanding sealer before applying the paint. I also painted the inner walls black.


Photo of Cabin F



Build Instruction 24 - Cabin N

I decided to start work on Cabin N, which is the uppermost cabin. I have planked the walls. There is an external 5mmW batten to be fitted under all the window frames. I have applied a sanding sealer to these walls and applied black paint window and door frame areas.


Photo of Cabin N


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I have made a bit more progress on some different Cabins.


Build Instruction 8 - Cabin E

I have painted the wood work and added the window frames and doors. The panel work required a few coats of paint to get a suitable coverage.


Build Instruction 11 - Cabin F

I have painted the wood work and added all the potholes and hatches. The two side walls have also be panelled and painted.


Build Instruction 12 - Cabin G

I have completed this cabin. I have also planked the deck which this cabin will eventually sit on, noting the edging strips have not been added.


Build Instruction 24 - Cabin N

The basic assembly of this cabin is now complete, it just requires the window and doors to be added along with the outer 5mm batten. I am not totally happy with how this cabin turned out so I might make a new one.


Photo of Cabins E, F, F, G & N



Photo showing Cabin E, F & G roughly positioned (Cabin N is sitting on top)



Photo showing Cabin E & F roughly positioned


Edited by glennard2523
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Build Instruction 13 - Colonnade

Today I turned my attention to starting work on the Colonnade. The first task was to manufacture the 20 off supports. Each support consists of 2  pieces of 2mm x 2 mm lengths of square timbre, with one piece set at an angle to the other. To ensure I made a consist join I used a simple jig to cut the required angle, noting I was cutting each length on the long side.


Photo of Jig 1



I then used another jig to cut the straight lengths, noting I was cutting the each length on the long side.


Photo of Jig 2



The two parts of each support were then glued and clamped, as shown on the photo below.




The kit included three parts to help check the supports are assembled correctly and to the correct length. I secured these parts to a spare piece of timber so that  the supports were all cut to the same length.


Photo of support assembly




Photo of completed supports.



I then did a test fit of some of the supports to the 2nd deck, the supports fitted in to the support locating strips without any problems.


Photo of dry fit of some supports in place




Photo of dry fit of some supports in place with boiler cabin (upside down) also in place.




Edited by glennard2523
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Build Instruction 2 - Painting The Hull

I finally got around to painting the hull today. It was a straight forward task. Once the paint had dried I then applied 3 coats of a satin finish varnish.


Photo of Painted Hull



Build Instruction 5 - First Deck

I got fed up of waiting for the replacement missing deck part so I order a piece of walnut 1mm thick sheet and manufactured all the deck parts myself, using the supplied drawings as a template. My next task task will be to plank the 1st deck


Photo of 1st Deck being installed



Photo of the painted hull with the completed cabins sitting loosely (i.e. not glued) on top of the deck



0096 1st Deck.jpg

Edited by glennard2523
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Build Instructions 6a, 6b & 6C - Cabins A, B and C

I have now completed the basic build for cabins B and C. They just require the outer planking, windows and doors to be added which I plan to do once I have completed the planking of the first deck.


Photo of Cabin A, B & C



Photo of Cabin A, B & C roughly positioned on the deck



Build Instruction 9  Planking The Decks

I have made a start on planking the first deck. I am using a plank length of 80mm per plank. I made a simple jig and pre cut plenty of 80mm planks before starting the tedious task of gluing the planks to the deck. It is not taking as long as I feared so this task will be completed in the next day or two.


Photo of deck planking in progress



I have pre ordered the new Vanguard model (Chris Watton designed) The Royal Yacht built for the Duchess of Kingston. I am expecting delivery of this kit early next week and is a project I plan undertake in parallel with the Robert E Lee.

Edited by glennard2523
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Build Instruction 9  - Planking The Decks

I have now completed planking the first deck, noting I do still need to trim the outer round edges which I will do once the glue has fully cured. I will then give the planking a very light sand with 1000 or 1200 grit before applying a sanding sealer followed by a clear varnish finish.

This task was a tad tedious but thankfully it did not take as long as expected.


I will now move on to build instruction 17 which is to plank the underside of overhanging parts of the deck and to also add the various cross member support beams. This underside of the deck will not be clearly visible when complete but will add a bit more strength to the assembly.



Photo of 1st Deck Planked



Photo of Bow section with Cabins E and A positioned.



Photo of Stern section with Cabins A, B and C positioned.


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Build Instruction 9  - Planking The Decks

I have now trimmed the outer round edges. I then gave the deck surface a light sand with 1000 grit before applying a sanding sealer followed by a three coats of clear varnish finish.


Photo of varnished 1st Deck Bow Section



Photo of varnished 1st Deck Stern Section



Build Instruction 17  - Lower Part First Deck

I have now added the planking to the underside of the overhanging bow deck section. I have almost completed adding the planking to the underside of the overhanging stern deck section.


Photo of underside edges ready to be trimmed with sharp blade.



Photos of completed underside bow sections after sanding sealer application and now ready to be painted





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Build Instruction 13 - Colonnade

Today I finished adding the 20 off supports to the Colonnade. Despite using a jig to make them all the same size I ended up having make a few more as a couple of the supports ended up being on the short side. I just have to paint the supports to complete this task.




Once I have added the window frames to cabins B and C I will have completed manufacturing all the the lower deck items so I can now make a start on the cabins for the 2nd deck. My time on this build is now reduced as I have now started work on brand new build.

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My work has slowed down a bit of this project as I'm now time sharing with my Duchess of Kingston build. I must be honest I am more excited by the Duchess of Kingston project but I will continue on with the Robert E Lee.


I have started to add the 1 x 3mm strips to the deck area where cabin G is housed. I have also added the 2mm holes for the supports. As can be seen in the photo I have clamped the deck area flat and have used a support piece to hold the edging strip in place while the glue cures.



I have also made more progress with cabins B and C as can be see in the next photo



I have added the 1mm edge strip to the paddlewheel housing which are now in the paint shop along with the Colonnade. I am waiting for a new delivery of white paint as I have run out.



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