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US Brig Syren by SparrowHawk7 - Model Shipways - 1:64 - First build


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Hey guys ... I'm new here and wanted to try my hand at a wooden ship model. I cannot hope to complete anything as remarkable as the build logs I've seen but I want to try anyway and you've gotta start somewhere. I chose the Syren because I like her lines without regard for difficulty. I belonged to a yahoo group about model ship building around 20 years ago although I have no real experience building a wooden model. I did build a cross section of the USS Constitution back then but I can't say I knew what I was doing although I did learn a lot. I have started several other kits but got to hull planking and abandoned them. That was before forums (I even remember B&W TV) so I will rely on you guys for assistance in explaining things to me. I do have a fully equipped woodworking shop and experience mostly building small projects like boxes and chessboards although I have done a little furniture. I have also done some wood carving. I should apologize for the photos I will post. I lost my left leg so I am wheelchair bound now and unable to get better angles but I will do the best I can. I am retired now so time is available as long as I am not seeing that endless string of doctors.

 

I got started by gluing the rabbet strip to the bulkhead former and then the stem. From there I cut out the rabbet. I have never done that before so I hope I did it correctly. I used my scalpel to thin the deadwood area which actually was easier for me than the smaller cuts along the bottom of the bulkhead former.

 

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Then I sanded as best I could making the transition as smooth as possible. That discoloration is a result of that sanding.

 

I am now beginning to attach the bulkheads. With a background in engineering I know that the foundation is critical for the entire project so I was careful to get things square. I started with the center area because the bulkheads are larger there so it is a little easier to get the square in place.

 

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I have some leftover basswood blocks for carving that I intend to use for fillers. Cutting them on the tablesaw is next.

 

I didn't see any indication of where the masts will go so I marked one side of the BF from the plans as I will undoubtedly have to drill holes somewhere along the line. I am also undecided as to the platform for the ship when completed. I have a decent pair of brass pedestals. If I use those I will have to prepare the BF for the nuts and bolt holes along with reinforcement. That is a lot more work, of course, so I don't quite know what I want to do. Any suggestions?

 

Ken

 

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Does anyone know an easier way to remove char? I have tried scraping with a razor blade, vinegar and pumice as well as sandpaper. The sandpaper seems to work best but even with a block there is the chance of rounding edges. Thanks

 

Ken

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Been moving ahead with the Syren. I finished gluing in the bulkheads, making sure they were all square to the bulkhead former. I installed the keel and began fairing the bulkheads.

 

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They were a bit unstable so I determined to add the filler blocks first before fairing any further.

 

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Filler blocks are pretty simple using a mini table saw. They tend to be repeatable cuts since all bulkheads were squared to the BF upon glueup. I didn't have any particularly large pieces of filler to use - I have basswood available so I used that. That should be sufficient to stabilize the decking and the bulkheads I would think. We'll see as I progress ... if I need to add more I can do that.

 

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One area that concerns me slightly is with the deadwood ...

 

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The bulkheads extend below the bearding line that I cut slightly although this might not matter in that area - at least I hope I can work around any problems that might arise. But anyway, progress.

 

Thanks for the likes and for looking. :)

Ken

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If you’re just removing char, then sand paper is good.  If you’re also beveling the edge, then a chisel works well.  You've picked the model with the best instructions you’ll ever find.  Plus, there are phenomenal build logs to study.  I hope it goes well for you.

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Thank you Matt ... I've seen a few of the logs which give me something to strive for anyway. I expect to do my best but have it a far cry from what I've seen. they also give me a great way to see how people approach various problems in a build.

 

Ken

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Well, my first major screwup. In fairing the hull I found the stanchions at the top of the bulkheads were so fragile that I inadvertently broke and had to re-glue two of them while sanding. So I figured it was smarter to do the sills and lentils first so as to strengthen the stanchions then fairing would be easier and somewhat safer after that. So I proceeded to fit about 8 sills on the port side before I realized I had been gluing them with their tops at deck level - not their bases. So I have to unglue those now and fix that. More of an annoyance than a mistake but it sets me back a little. Live and learn ...

 

Ken

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29 minutes ago, SparrowHawk7 said:

More of an annoyance than a mistake but it sets me back a little. Live and learn ...

Just about everyone has done this at one time or another, some of us more than once...   its like a right of passage.

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I agree with Justin.  This is more of a minor screw-up that you can easily recover from.  But you are right that the sills and lintels will help strengthen them going forward.  Some people have also used binder clips to reinforce them while you are fairing.  They can make the hypotenuse of a triangle between the flat top of the bulkhead and the upright.  

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Thanks guys. I was pretty active in the art world not too long ago and found the same basic thing there. We all make mistakes - especially at first - but nearly everything is fixable and you go forward wiser (at least hopefully so). I used to try to get that into my student's brains - patience is "the secret" in art as it in with any skill. You have to have patience with the creation - it takes time and you cannot rush it. Some parts take longer than others and you have to give each part equal attention or it will show in the end. And you also have to have patience with yourself because whatever the skill may be it is going to take time to master as well as allowing yourself to make mistakes along the way. The trick is not to repeat the mistakes (too often anyway :)) But being human we all do ...

 

Ken

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  • 3 weeks later...

More of the learning curve ... always the hard way it seems.I put a strake along the bottom of the sill line and then glued the filler sills even with that and let them dry. Next I cut a length of wood exactly the size of the gun ports to make gluing the lentils easier. Unfortunately the sill line was too high (AGAIN!) so I am now faced with removing the sills and replacing them at the right height. Lesson learned though ... the bulkheads were cut with a laser so presumably they are very nearly the correct height. Therefore starting at the top and working down ought to give me the correct sizes for the gun ports and associated filler blocks. It has given me a lot of practice with my table saw however so that is a plus. Anyway, slow going because I keep having to fix errors but this is a good time to make them as redoing things isn't so difficult now but accuracy will show as time goes along.

 

Anyway, I'm still moving forward albeit slowly ... so anyone watching shouldn't lose hope with me. I do tend to dread planking the hull as I have never got that far before. In fact I've never done so much small work in fitting pieces before so it's all new. Thanks for bearing with me. :)

 

Ken

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Hi Ken.  I think you will find a lot of helpful hints for planking on this site.  I’m sure I never would have finished planking mine without the example, instructions, and support from MSW.  Do you have any pictures to share?

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Planking is definitely the major hill to climb when first starting out.   I would get really worked up over it and did cause me to abandon some very early projects.   What I learned is to use the right kind of glue (PVA) so you can back-track if needed more easily and to not let perfection get in the way of progress.   The nice thing about kits like Syren is that the hull is partially painted and then coppered, which means you can be a little more forgiving of mistakes as they will be more hidden.   Things like filler and sanding can make what looks to be terrible planking job much more acceptable to the eye.   Obviously it is important to TRY and do it correctly as best you can (so you will get better), but I would not to agonize over details as you go.   

 

There is always a way to correct a problem, and we are all here to help out when you need it.   Ive always felt that my best and most useful tool is MSW.  

 

 

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Thanks guys ... no, no pictures just now. Being in a wheelchair hampers my ability to get decent angles - although I am going to attend the workshop next weekend on photography so that should help. I have a nice lightbox but, of course, the ship won't fit in that. I'll endeavor to get some photos this weekend though.

 

I have watched all the Occre videos with special attention to the planking so I have a bit more confidence. One of the biggest things to get right, it seems to me, is to put the first strake in the proper place. If you get that messed up the entire planking will be off to some degree. That is one reason I am having such a hard time getting the gun ports in the right place ... but perseverance is one of my stubborn parts so I will get it at least close. I seem to prefer learning the hard way but at least I do remember those lessons for next time. Thank goodness ... :}

 

Ken

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Now I have a problem I don't know how to fix.The space between the lentils and sills isn't large enough for a gun port in all places. Lentils are about at the top of the bulkhead formers and the sills are even with the deck - more or less. I can't very well raise the lentils higher without rebuilding the bulkhead formers but if I lower the sills the guns will sit too high on the deck for the ports. I cut a piece of basswood exactly the size of the gunports to facilitate the uprights (it is shown in one of the photos) but it won't fit between the tops and bottoms of all the ports. What do I do now?

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  • 2 weeks later...

I waited for a time hoping to get some ideas here ... alas none were coming, so I put my mind to considering my dilemma. The bulkheads were laser cut so presumably they were close to accurate in height for framing the gun ports. My try at putting the sills in line basically with the deck resulted in uneven port openings which would have been disastrous for the final result so I stopped as I mentioned in my earlier post. So if the bulkheads were correctly cut I could reasonably leave the lentils glued along their tops. I had cut a length of scrap exactly the size of the gun ports so I removed all the sills and used that piece to glue the sills in place by placing it under the lentil and then simply pressing the sill against it until the glue took hold. I spent most of today in that pursuit although I still have a couple small sills to attach. I have also cut the vertical pieces of the gun port frames using my table saw so I am sure they are the same and will have at it with the vertical frames tomorrow or as soon as time allows. Unfortunately I did not get any photos today but will take the time to get some for my next post. The good news (from my point of view anyway) is that I am making headway again after getting stuck for a time. I do believe my method is going to give proper results. One fear I had was that the sills would be too low thereby removing the lower lip of the gun port so the gun could possibly simply slide out into the water which would not be realistic. From all that I can see, the sills appear to be slightly above the deck level which is more or less where they ought to be. So one major mistake (presumably) overcome and I can move on to discover new errors. Thanks for your patience in this ...

 

Ken

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Im wondering first if you used the templates provided in the kit for laying-out the lintels?   That should have helped with some of the spacing.   As well, the area at the bow seems to be sweeping upward where spacing should be uniform stern to bow.   Cutting out the templates and comparing against your current state might help point to a few places where things are going wrong. 

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Thanks Justin. There may still be a bit of a rise in my lintels/sills near the bow although I did redo all the sills from the last photo group - I will have to check that out with the templates. I got started framing the gun ports from the bulkhead that has the vertical frame tightly against it - seemed a good place to start. Nothing is faired yet so lumber is different in width but that will all get sorted. It looks much more promising at this time (compared to where I was when I realized things were amiss).

 

Ken

 

 

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