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USS Perry by EricWilliamMarshall - BlueJacket Shipcrafters - Scale 1/96


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Posted (edited)

This weekend I attended my first Northeast Ship Model Conference which I recommend for the curious. To my pleasant surprise, via the raffle, I won a Bluejacket kit of the USS Perry (launched and commissioned in 1843). My obvious thanks to the kind folks at Bluejacket for donation of the kit and the support of the conference.

More than one person mentioned the quality of this kit at the conference and Tom Ruggiero told me this should be my next kit! Who am I to argue with Tom! I just stalled on my last kit due to the rude intrusion of tropical storm/hurricane Ida into my basement workspace so this comes at a perfect time.  

The painting is the Capture of the "Savannah" by the "U.S.S. Perry", 1861 by Fritz Muller (public domain image thanks to https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.50821.html)

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Edited by EricWilliamMarshall
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  • ccoyle changed the title to USS Perry by EricWilliamMarshall - BlueJacket Shipcrafters - Scale 1/96
Posted (edited)

This is my first encounter with a BlueJacket Shipcrafters' kit. This kit comes with a carved hull carefully wrapped, a number of packages of nicely and cleanly cast metal bits, clean laser cut lumber as well as brass photo etch! The plans are new (dated 2017 and huge!) and the instructions were printed with color photos (on 'regular' printer paper). To my untrained eye, this kit has had a complete make-over in comparison to the older USS Perry kits of yesteryear lurking in the corners which may visit Ebay every so often. Here is my obligatory photo of everything before I start to make a mess of it!!

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Edited by EricWilliamMarshall
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The image is of 'U.S. Brig PERRY Captures the Slaver MARTHA, June 1850'  (public domain image thanks to https://www.history.navy.mil/our-collections/photography/numerical-list-of-images/nhhc-series/nh-series/USN-902000/USN-902981.html)  "On 7 June 1850, the U.S. brig USS PERRY overhauled the American ship MARTHA of New York, suspected to be a slaver, between Ambriz and Loanda. She was a big ship and, as the cruiser came near, hoisted the American flag and hove to. Captain Andrew Hull Foote sent his first lieutenant to examine her. As soon as the MARTHA recognized the uniform of the U.S. Navy, they hauled down the American flag and hoisted that of Brazil. Meantime, the captain threw overboard his writing desk containing his papers which, failing to sink, showed he was an American citizen and that 3/5 of the ship belonged to an American merchant in Rio. In searching her, they found 176 water casks and 50 barrels of farina. A slave deck was laid with irons for securing the slaves. The captain then admitted that, but for the arrival of the PERRY, he would have, that night, got away with 1,800 slaves. MARTHA, with her crew in irons, was sent to New York and condemned."

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The Perry had an unusual history. She circled the globe leaving Norfolk, Virginia on the 3rd of December 1843 and returning by the 17th of September of 1845. She next was prepped for the war with Mexico but was damaged by a hurricane and returned to Philadelphia for repairs. She spent the next several years suppressing the slave trade (as the images above indicate) (and a bit of gunboat diplomacy in Paraguay in 1855). She finished her career among other tasks, blocking Confederate ports during the American Civil War.  She was decommissioned and sold off in 1865.

The great naval historian Howard Chapelle was aware of the Perry. Since she was considered the fastest ship in the Navy at the time, she is mentioned briefly in each of the great trinity of Chapelle books: History of American Sailing Ships; The History of the American Sailing Navy; and The Search for Speed Under Sail. She was designed by Francis Grice and built at Norfolk Navy Yard in 1843. The lines, deck arrangements and sail plan are to be found in History of the American Sailing Navy on pages p.451 and p. 453, figures 134 and 135 respectfully.  I share these images under educational use/fair use. All rights reserved by Chapelle and W.W. Norton & Co. I recommend these books to anyone curious about American naval matters during the age of sail. They can be had used cheaply  most anywhere.
 

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I’m not sure of the best way find the middle of a solid wood hull, so I used calipers and string. I transferred lines to the deck by needle pricking through tracing paper. I have trimmed the bottom with a hand plane and so now I’m committed! It was only today that noticed the hull is a laminate of three boards.

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In the other Perry log by @sjanicki I was intrigued by his use of a flexible shaft tool. So after a bit of browsing the Foredom site, I cheaped-out and bought Harbor Freight’s $45 model. It works well and I was able to attack the hull in short order. I hope to use a little less putty than @sjanicki though. From reading his adventures, it seems very easy to remove too much material so goal one was to use the flexible shaft tool to only rough out the work and use hand tools to do the finishing work given my lack of skill, experience, etc. with my brand new toy. 
 

In playing with the flexible shaft, I could guide the shaft with my pinky and ring fingers and my palm touching the wood with a great deal of control. I’m still getting used to the variable speed though and the unit creates a tremendous amount of dust. I need some way to manage that!  It is easy to create ripples and/or undulating patches but not see them due to the dust. I hope practice will solve that.
 

I trimmed the top-down profile, reduced the carving lugs and trimmed the side profile - first with the flexible shaft and then sand paper. For the stern, I used the shaft and then a sharp chisel repeatedly checking against the profile provided by the kit.

 

I’m expecting a delivery of the copper plate and of cd-rom of build photos from the folks at Blue Jacket. While the instructions seem clear, I looking forward to seeing details of the process. It will be interesting to compare those photos to the build logs here at MSW!


Next steps - hull profiling!

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Edited by EricWilliamMarshall
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I was reviewing the aftermath of the storm, in your shop, and I’m amazed by how quickly you were able to bounce back from that.

 

It’s understandable that you might need to postpone the Dapper Tom.  In the meantime, the brig Perry will be a fun and interesting project to follow.

 

You’re off to a great start, Eric!

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7 hours ago, Hubac's Historian said:

I was reviewing the aftermath of the storm, in your shop, and I’m amazed by how quickly you were able to bounce back from that.

One is forced to move fast otherwise mold and it's friends arrive quickly - roughly 24-48 hours, so I did. When Ida hit this part of world, we couldn't find any high-powered fans contractors use to dry out flooded areas. However, we were able to score a couple of blowers used to inflate kiddy bounce houses. They worked like a charm! 

Thanks for the kind words; I hope to keep the blog informative and if not,  perhaps amusing. May the bridges I burn light the way!  

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I've started to whacking away at the hull - working on the contours of the bottom of the hull. I used a couple of gouges on one side. I may try the rotary tool on the other side. 

 

Unrelated, I did notice that the plans (General Arrangement - sheet PY1-5) don't match the beautiful laser-cut wooden deck. I didn't check the deck profile against the templates (Templates - sheet PY5-5) before cutting the hull, but luckily those match each other. The location of the masts is also different as well on the plans (General Arrangement - sheet PY1-5) than on the aforementioned beautiful laser-cut wooden deck. 

 

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Oh, great!  I love the Nich50.  It was a revelation to me, back in my Steinway days, because the teeth are particularly sharp, yet not so coarse as many of the commonly available needle rasp sets.  Those are good too, but the relative length of the Nich50 and the breadth of the rasp make it easy to handle and smooth out the bumps and hollows.

 

Also, if you are planking over, it isn’t much of an issue, but if not - medium bastard-cut files to a relatively quick job of dressing the rasp marks.

Edited by Hubac's Historian
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Just getting to this build log of yours @EricWilliamMarshall! I really enjoyed your historical references above - I may need to make a small plaque of these stories to go in my office with the Perry.

 

I am glad you were able to learn from my log of how not to built the USS Putty (great pun introduced by a fellow member on my build). The rotary shaft tool is amazing but perhaps I should have gotten one that was slightly less powerful... 

 

I really enjoyed the build and I am sure you will as well. Please tag me if you ever want to hear how I approached anything on it.  Also, I am excited to see that you will be applying the copper plates as well - I think it makes for a gorgeous look when finished.

 

Looking really good so far!

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@sjanicki welcome aboard! Thanks for the build log - they are so valuable that it is harder to go without them. (I speak from experience.) I may also building the USS Putty! I’m not great at hulls, so we will see!

 

“Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others." - Otto Von Bismarck.

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I have roughed-out one side of the hull via old-school chisels and gouges - most Henry Taylor full size: a 5/8" #5 gouge, a 3/8" #7 gouge,  a 3/8" #3 gouge and a 3/4” chisel from Garrett Wade (bought back in the ‘90s when you could examine the castings before purchasing. I also used a couple of scrapers, but they aren’t in perfect shape due to pitting from the flood. 
 

The block of wood has a beautiful fiddle-back figure which changes grain direction often. Pity I’m going to cover it up.
 

I started working the other side with my rotary tool. A few observations: the hand piece only has a chuck, no collets and cannot take 1/4” shafts. I mention this because I find I want to use larger bits with longer sweeps and the Dremel sets (and similar) are very small. If you will pardon the pun, the smaller bits don’t cut it. :)  The sand drum can be used at an angle to make scalloping cuts but it is a little tricky (for me) to do cleanly. I started looking about, most notably at larger-scale bird carvers to see what they use and not surprisingly, it isn’t what I’m using. ;)

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Edited by EricWilliamMarshall
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I received copper plates and the photo CD-Rom ordered from the fine folks at BlueJacket Shipcrafters. For the curious, the photo CD contains 84 images of in-process building and 32 of the finished model as jpegs and each image is named. For example: Main mast lower deadeyes or Masking main and quarter decks. All in the matching 'style' of the photos in the instructions and of higher resolution (better then the images in this blog). For example the image of the Main top components is about 2.1MB in space and 3648 x 2736 pixel dimensions. The files also include some embedded metadata like focal length and exposure if you are curious. The whole lot is about 242MB. 

I've attached a teaser of some of the thumbnails. The images are taking with an eye for rigging details or various assemblies and function almost as build log. I believe these will prove useful where I'm not understanding the printed English and later, when I get to the rigging. 
 

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Edited by EricWilliamMarshall
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10 hours ago, EricWilliamMarshall said:

I received copper plates and the photo CD-Rom ordered from the fine folks at BlueJacket Shipcrafters. For the curious, the photo CD contains 84 images of in-process building and 32 of the finished model as jpegs and each image is named. For example: Main mast lower deadeyes or Masking main and quarter decks. All in the matching 'style' of the photos in the instructions and of higher resolution (better then the images in this blog). For example the image of the Main top components is about 2.1MB in space and 3648 x 2736 pixel dimensions. The files also include some embedded metadata like focal length and exposure if you are curious. The whole lot is about 242MB. 

I've attached a teaser of some of the thumbnails. The images are taking with an eye for rigging details or various assemblies and function almost as build log. I believe these will prove useful where I'm not understanding the printed English and later, when I get to the rigging. 
 

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I can attest that these were incredibly helpful to the build - especially to someone with my level of knowledge (read not much knowledge). 
 

Looking forward to your progress! 

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This weekend was spent finishing the cleaning of the rest of the basement, finding some replacement furniture and getting a couple of other projects off the bench: a neighbor's 12 string guitar (which spent an evening floating in a flooded basement and had some neck issues) and a busted violin (which also had some neck issues). The neighbor as pleased as punch!

 

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I also snagged @gagliano1770's Auriou rasps as part of his downsizing. (I wish all the best in his new adventures!). The Auriou rasps have similar raves similar to @Hubac's Historian's suggestion regarding the Nicholson #50 rasp. Perhaps a bit more even, since the Auriou company has a bit of a mystical rep among those who hand-build furniture. Both have strong support and both (as far as I know) are still handmade! I have avoided buying either having never seen either 'in action' nor seen them at discount/used/etc. but now in my dotage I can spend my lunch money on such items occasionally.  So I'm looking forward to a bit of a 'bake-off' among the rasps and hopefully my worldview will shift as well that have won these rasps such fans. 

Here is woodworking vid with Chris Schwartz showing why furniture folks might uses such tools. 



I believe most modellers won't need these tools except for solid hull models or bread, butter hull models and 1:1 scale projects. But I speak as an uninitiated acolyte. ;)

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Great Video!  This brings to mind a tendency I have, personally, of adapting my technique to the tools I have on-hand, as opposed to sometimes just buying the right tool for the job.  The best example of this is my wood carving assemblage of misfit gouges and skew chisels.  I can carve almost anything I can draw, but it will probably take a lot longer than it needs to.  As this all relates to rasps - I had to ask myself:  what do I really KNOW about rasps and their differences.  Not much, sadly.  Now, the Nich50 really is a great tool, but that isn’t to say there aren’t other betterer rasps for our purposes as model makers.  Anyway, this was very informative - thanks for posting, Eric.

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4 hours ago, Hubac's Historian said:

personally, of adapting my technique to the tools I have on-hand, as opposed to sometimes just buying the right tool for the job.

I like to think this is true of everyone to some degree. The right tools are often expensive and often not here right now! And how often will you use that left-handed skewed 1/8" dogleg chisel any way? And until the advent of internet shopping, where would you find such an item? (And how long to find that item?!?)

Most of my work in the past didn't need rasps, so sandpaper or scrapers were used since the folks I worked with and learned from use those (which was for furniture making or light decorative carving also for furniture). But I never worked with "hardcore" carving-in-the-round "artsy" folks, instrument makers or pattern makers, who have differing methods. I also worked with a few folks who would work only with chisels and gouges 99% of the time and never ever 'spoil' the lustre of the wood with abrasives, files or rasps. I deeply admire that approach to the work but I don't have those carving 'chops' (and probably never will!) [Pardon the pun ;)]

My personal experiments have been few and far between (and more with metal) so I'm looking forward to trying 'em out.


@Hubac's Historian, I would also guess that you have done a lot of unique one-off work, regarding your carving. If your day job was grinding out a hundred yards of hand carved egg and dart mouldings or the same eight carved flowers for picture frames everyday, you would know exactly what tools work best for each of those scenarios!! 

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