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US Brig Syren by rtropp - Model Shipways - 1:64


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Yes, another Syren.

This one a little different from the others. I am a rank beginner who is learning kit building as I go. That means that unlike some of the other builds, this will probably be more of a treatise on what not to do. Thank goodness for the build logs on the site. I would not have gotten even this far without them.

 

While I began the kit in May, 2013, I held off on a build log until I was sure I would this was a hobby I was going to continue working on. A number of builders have been urging me to create the log and, having gotten to the point of being ready to plank, I figured it was time to make the plunge. I have been taking photos from the start of the build so I have history from the beginning.

 

I am not normally a handy person, clumsy is more like it. I work slowly to allow myself time to think about what I will be doing. At the same time as I am building the kit, I also work with fine arts projects. I bought an airbrush to help with painting the kit, but I have already begun to test it my fine arts projects. The sunroom in my house is my studio and I have a pretty nice set up with mostly hand tools and a Dremel.

 

I am converting the kit build photos to a smaller format so they will upload and should begin having something up fairly soon.

 

I look forward to not only the input from more experienced builders but also the conversations that make this an enjoyable social activity.

 

I will start with a picture of my build as it is today, then backtrack to earlier phones.

 

 

 

Richard

post-4218-0-92488700-1375822803_thumb.jpg

Edited by rtropp
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And so, in the beginning post-4218-0-56549500-1375823540_thumb.jpgpost-4218-0-94777200-1375823619_thumb.jpg

 

I was fine up to this point... not very far huh?

 

Then

 

post-4218-0-81101300-1375823928_thumb.jpg

I wish I had thought to take a photo of the other side. This is where the burn marks really showed. The center ply had been burned to the point it crumbled as I removed it. Wouldn't have been so bad but this was only the first of many. More than half of the frames had to have the small upright piece replaced. My inexperience probably made things worse. I did not realize then how this might impact gun port sills and the hull planking, Still not sure because I have not gotten to the planking yet.

 

Installed Bulkhead framespost-4218-0-14906000-1375824617_thumb.jpgpost-4218-0-13794200-1375824624_thumb.jpgpost-4218-0-67229200-1375824628_thumb.jpgpost-4218-0-91255900-1375824630_thumb.jpg

post-4218-0-66247700-1375824626_thumb.jpg

Edited by rtropp
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While I was waiting for replacement parts I tried to keep myself occupied. One of the things I did was to find a planking clamp. I tried the Model expo planking clamp. Turns out to be a build it yourself with more of those laser cut parts. I put them together but they are sitting in the draw unused. Seem to require more effort then necessary to use.

So, I did some more research and found various homemade clamping jigs. The one I settled on is pictured below. I think it was offered in one of the forums in Model Ship World. It uses bulldog clamps, any size that is appropriate to the kit. it only will work on the first layer of planking.

Remove the "handles" from one bulldog clamp and insert one each into other bulldog clamps.

 

post-4218-0-42191700-1375826267_thumb.jpg

 

Richard

Edited by rtropp
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Richard - First of all you are not alone doing the Syren as your first kit. Secondly I am so glad you started a build log. I for one am going to enjoy watching your build. As soon as I finish my current build this is my next kit. I have her sitting on the shelf and the plans tacked to my wall as motivation.

 

Last comment, Like you I bought the MS planking clamps. I was very disappointed. That is when I found out how to make the clamps you are making now. The price was right and they are much more useful. I have posted a step by step build of these clamps in the Hints and Tricks area. I have bought just about every tool MS offers. I can tell you there are quite a few I will never use. Before you waste anymore money on those tools let me know. I can either give you some of my useless tools or help you find a better solution.

 

Good Luck! I can't wait to see more. :D

Edited by Floyd Kershner
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Floyd,

I am finding it easier to build my own jigs than buy those that are manufactured. Luckily, I found this site and after going through most of the posts, I held back on buying too many. There are enough ideas on MSW 2.0 and it is kind of fun to do it yourself. More of a sense of accomplishment.

 

The only tools I am looking at are power tools, but I do not think I will need much unless I try my hand at scratch building. As I proceed to upload pictures I will also show some of the jigs I use. I am not great at creating clean, right angles, either in cutting or sanding, so my homemade set ups are geared to those at this time. When my jury rigged creations work it reduces the need to buy but... BUT I like to buy tools so I have to exercise self control.

 

Mark,

Thanks for the comment. I had been complaining about parts and finally I even got tired of hearing me. The positive side is that trying to fix the parts issues are giving me more experience. As I have mentioned before, if this continues I may try my hand at scratch building. Depending on how the Syren comes out, I may use its plans and instructions for duplicating it as scratch build. It would be interesting to see if the learning has taken hold.

 

Dirk,

You had been urging me to set this up for awhile so I finally bit the bullet. As I prepare for the planking I know that I am going to see the kit build through to the end, so I am confident that this log will not be one of those that is dropped.

I really heartfelt thanks to you for all your work on your log. Without it, and the logs of some others, I would not have gotten this far.

 

 

Richard

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Hi all,

I am working steadily on the build but the updates to the log are a little behind so I will try to catch up here. Also, have family visiting from California, with small children, so will probably not have much time.

 

The following is my build for the lower deck. I glued a few pieces together to test finishes. I used MinWax Golden Oak. I was having difficulty gluing the small planks side to side, so I used a piece of freezer paper as a base and glued some planking to it, then, after both gluing and staining, peeled the paper away. Pretty easy.

 

post-4218-0-86436300-1376312844.jpg

 

Next I made the lower deck full size. I found it easier to use the freezer paper as a glue and peel base rather than gluing each plank individually. I used a soft pencil for the caulking. Anything else I tried, watercolor markers, stain markers, etc., all allowed the color to spread through the wood so pencil worked best for me.

 

post-4218-0-33408500-1376312845_thumb.jpg

 

Next it was time for gun and sweep sills/lintels etc.

 

I found it really hard to cut and sand right angles. I was cutting a little large to enable fitting, but then my sanding ruined the angle. I tried two similar jigs.

For cutting:

post-4218-0-28882700-1376313239.jpg

 

and for sanding:

post-4218-0-03659200-1376313240.jpg

 

The piece to be cut was placed along the corner where the two jig pieces meet, then cut or sanded against the edge. These worked ok, but since I used the same wood as the kit, the jigs eventually were distorted. (I should not have been surprised at that outcome!!) And since I still was lousy at cutting right angles could not just cut away to reshape edge. (Catch 22??)

 

About this time my plastic hobby miter box arrived and that took care of the right angle cutting. Sanding was still a problem. Even with the right angle jig, the hand held sanding block was still not giving me a good right angle. So I took out the my new Dremel tool stand to see what I could cobble together.

 

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You can see the that the Dremel holder is set up side ways. This allows me to use the handle to move the sanding head forward (laterally). I am using the dremel quick release sanding head because it is smooth all the way across with no screw head protruding. I also tried the Proxxon sanding head, which I like better, but it is smaller so more difficult to use. A ruined plastic Miter box is used to hold the wood piece. After squaring everything up, all I do is put the piece against the side of the miter, move the piece a small bit so it clears the end of the plastic miter box and then use the handle on the dremel stand to move the sanding head in towards it. It is producing a nicely squared sanding that I can keep going back to until the part fits. What's nice is that this sands to a square head even if the part is not cut squarely. (I'm so proud of me!!)

Also, you will notice the hose end from my shop vacuum clamped near the sander. It really works, and since I work in our sunroom, keeps everyone happy.

 

Below is the completion of the sills.

 

post-4218-0-79884900-1376314118.jpg

 

The bad news is that I am not really happy with the result. It is not as "faired" as I would want it to be. Part the problem is skill. Part was the need repair/replace many of the bulwarks (thin pieces at top of frames) because they were burned badly enough that the centery ply would crumble. My repair job was not... well, not great. So, the gun and sweep ports are difficult to fair. Also, the top of the lintel is not as straight horizontally across the ship as it should be, not sure how this will impact that top rail. I have tried to smooth and even out as much as I can without thinning the wood too much.

After much thought, I decided not to redo the work because that would mean reworking from the beginning with the bulkhead former. Instead, I will push ahead with the planking and see how it turns out before making that decision. I also checked the other laser cut parts and, now that I know what to look for, ordered replacements for those that look bad.

 

Next I painted the gun and sweep ports. I obtained an airbrush for another project and decided to use it when painting the kit. Lots of new experiences here.

 

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And that brings it up to date for now.

 

I would appreciate getting your input, not just to the build itself, but whether this log is ok or if I am being too wordy!

 

Richard

Edited by rtropp
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Thanks Dirk,

good to know that the tweaking is possible later on. Given that this is my first kit in 40 + years, it is really a learning experience. I was tempted to start a second kit to see how much difference the new skills make, but that would be a distraction. Come hell or high water, I want to get this kit done, at least up to the rigging, before considering anything else.

Richard

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Well, the children and grandchildren are back on their way home so I can get back to the Syren.

I am at the point of adding the wales. I really took my time reading and re-reading the practicum. I think was nervous about adding the first plank... such a commitment!

 

Here is a view of my steps,

First pinning and then examining her.

post-4218-0-53299700-1376841468.jpg

 

I glued seven short lengths of planking to help gauge the position of the first wale.

 

post-4218-0-99970600-1376841737.jpg

 

Finally needed to flip the switch and just glue it. But, I had a decision to make there. I have been using CA. I liked the process of fitting, clamping then adding some CA which would soak into the joint. Since additional layers of wale would be added, the first layer of wale would not be viewed so I went ahead with CA.

 

But I am getting to the point of adding parts (planks) that will be on the surface and I am not sure how the CA, even to the degree I had learned how to use it, would effect the wood when staining. Any thoughts please let me know.

 

First wale:

post-4218-0-63200700-1376840352.jpg

 

I needed to decide on which wood bending method to use. I tried the soaking and using the jig that is described in the practicum. It was slow. More importantly, I kept breaking the dried plank when removing it. (Pretty clumsy huh??)I could probably resolve breaking the dried planks but decided to try a plank bender I bought earlier on. I like the fact that no soaking and no heat required. It also allows me to craft the bend of each plank. It will not answer any need for bending planks laterally but, at this point, not even sure if that will be needed.

 

post-4218-0-91131900-1376840812.jpg

post-4218-0-55070300-1376840812.jpg

 

This worked very well. It was quick, gave me control of the bend, and I did not score so hard that it cut the wood all the way through. I was wondering if anyone had any experience with this plank bender and could advise as to whether I might face problems down the road?

 

By the way, the red used for the gun ports appears brighter in the pictures than it actually is, but not by much. I am not sure if adding the planks will make the red appear less overpowering or if I should repaint it darker, maybe add a bit of blue to darken it. I need to decide before starting the upper planking.

 

I have seen in other posts questions about tool holders. I have found that cigar boxes make pretty good tools and parts holders. You can see one in the picture but I have a few that I use.

 

Well, that's it for today.

Thanks,

Richard

post-4218-0-91335700-1376840221.jpg

Edited by rtropp
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 Laying that first plank is a nail biter!

 

Just a word on CA.  Getting it on the outside of your hull planks is a problem.  It does not sand well (as compared to the wood itself) and it will interfere with penetration of the stain.  Those are the reasons many plank using PVA.

 

If you must use CA, use it sparingly, wipe off any misplaced adhesive immediately and if you need to wipe off with some CA solvent (acetone works).  I use the medium grade CA mostly as the thin stuff has a tendency to get all over the place and can even penetrate completely through a very thin plank.

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Augie,

Thanks for the advice.

I decided not to use CA. I am using Titebond. I would hate to go through all this effort then find the finish a problem.

But, I am just clumsy enough to disturb one plank while putting another one next to it, so, for now, I am waiting for the first length to dry for 30 minutes. There are about four planks to each strake. (Strake... hah... he can be trained.)

 

Seems like a lot of clamping, not sure if I am overdoing it.

 

post-4218-0-63950400-1376847355_thumb.jpg

 

Richard

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Dirk,

Thanks for the tips. They are greatly appreciated.

 

I have already removed a partial strake because I had damaged the planks. I have wooden clothes pins that seem to be gentler in holding and since the are wood, they do not mar the plank. Also, I realize that with Titebond type glue (PVA??) I can just hold the plank for a bit and it seems to set. (I just need to get my arms in a comfortable position.) I think I was carrying over unnecessary practices from the CA use where it had to be firmly clamped then CA was added. (Once you have stuck your fingers together with CA you really work to avoid doing it again :) )

 

The chamfer picture is worth a thousand words. Do you chamfer both edges on all planks or just one edge to fit it to the un-chamfered edge of the plank already in place?

 

Not sure I accurately understand you're point about nails or nail holes. I looked at your build pages for the above-wale planking but I did not see any pin holes, are they just too small to see? It sounds to me like you are advising to use pins but use them where I would later put the nail holes. Is that correct?

 

I will use CA in the bow and continue using wood glue for rest.

 

I am getting better at removing the excess CA. I still cause a little scratching but hope that will come out with final sanding.

 

Also wanted to ask, do you put in the entire strake as one piece then mark it to show as individual planks, or do you make and mount each plank in the strake individually?

 

Once again, thanks for the help. Also, it is really helpful to review your build before I start a new section.

 

Richard.

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Richard - What Dirk is describing is what I call CA welding. As several people have mentioned here there are inherent issues with CA on the Planking. So like Dirk I use TiteBond or Elmers almost everywhere. Yes these are the trade names for PVA. They work well on wood. And they don't set too fast. What seems to work for me is to use PVA with tiny drops in strategic locations of CA. Ie when I am planking I will run a bead of PVA the full length and just a small drop of CA at critical locations. The CA sets in 10 seconds and holds the plank in place while the PVA sets up.

 

Also I use the medium CA. The thin is too runny for me and sets way too fast. Have you tried just breathing on CA? the moisture in your breath will accelerate the setting. Same with wet planks so be careful there too.

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Larry,

Not sure I have mastered one handed solitaire with cards and don't want to get glue all over my phone :)

 

I have found that wood clothespins (the kind with the spring) are working well without marring the surface of the plank. It is proving helpful, at least with the upper planking. Since the fit is so critical, I want to make sure that a distraction doesn't cause me to move the plank once it is placed. Once I move past planking around the darn ports, I think that, as you suggest, just holding the plank will be easiest. The PVA seems to firm up pretty quickly.

 

Floyd,

I have ordered the thicker CA but, for now, I am using just PVA does seem to work so I may continue with it for the planking. It should hold the plank at the bow. I am using the plank bender shown a couple of post up and it really seems to work on the bow curves.

 

All,

I am going through what Dirk calls Deconstruction. It is not a pretty sight. Other than just cutting away the plank, is there anything that can be used to weaken the bond of the PVA so I can just pull it off without damaging the surrounding work? I have the CA de-bonder but do not know of anything similar for PVA.

 

Thanks all

Richard

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Well,

finished cutting away the really bad gun port planks and began replacing them with not really bad planks... ok, there not really good either.. not yet anyway. After removing the planks, I had to sand and repaint. Not sure if I made it worse, but since it is an internal part it should not show.

 

As I was rebuilding I thought of a quote, really a rule, that I learned with my healthcare clients. "Primum non nocere." This means "First, do no harm." It is hard to deconstruct when the outcome is potentially worse than the initial problem. Luckily this is wood and not people.

 

Once the refinishing was completed, I went back to planking. I measured using the boat itself as a template to scribe the cutting lines. I cut with a number 11 Xacto or an Xacto saw blade so that the notch is smaller than needed. Then I sand for what seems like hours with small metal files and 1/8" wide sanding sticks. (the sanding sticks have been a life saver.) The area is so fragile that I cannot see how I would use an electric sander, even my small Proxxon pen sander.

 

My metal files are very fine but they are scribed on each side. I would like to find a set where only on side is scribed so I can file down one edge without biting into another.

 

So far I have spent four plus hours and only have one very mediocre plank completed and another plank that is about 75%. I believe I am able to see some improvement as I climb the learning curve.

 

The picture below shows the replacement plank on the boat. Wish I could say that it is the one I tore out but it isn't. On the ship cradle is the second plank in progress.

post-4218-0-98956100-1377135228_thumb.jpg

 

This picture shows a close up of the in-progress plank. Is pretty close to complete but need to work on straightening out the edges.

post-4218-0-98943400-1377135227_thumb.jpg

 

I think I am hesitating a lot in working the notches to get them a little straighter because I am worried that I will cut through the bottom and break the plank. (That would be frustrating.)

 

Honestly, It's hard to believe that I am working on pieces that small. It's not woodworking, it feels more like surgery.

 

Richard

Edited by rtropp
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Augie,

Thanks for the 70% rubbing alcohol tip.  The way I am going I will have plenty of opportunity to try it.

 

Dirk

The way you cut the gun ports looks a lot simpler.  I need to get a couple of blades that fit and will try it. That method should straighten out the planks I have already glued up.   I suspect I will end up with openings that are little greater than 1/32.  Not sure yet if that is a big problem.

 

Richard

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Just a quick note. I removed the rest of the planks around the ports and am redoing all of them. I think one of the problems was that I was working too quickly. So, the progress is slow but I am learning to handle knife a little better. I should have so pictures soon.

Richard

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Mike,

Thanks for the nice words.  I have had that workbench of quite awhile.  I obtained it when I began wood sculpting years ago.  It's a nice sturdy base for working and the vises on the sides as well as the dogs on top are very helpful, especially for setting up jigs for various reasons. 

I am still considering the best use when modeling.  I am using it as a base to work on with another table for setting up Dremel and other jigs.  I am thinking that I should be doing the reverse, working on table and using the bench for power equipment set ups.  I would need to buy a heavy table to accomplish this and I really have my eye on a couple of Proxxon tools, sander and scroll saw.

 

Decisions, decisions, decisions.  Its a tough life but someone has to do it.

 

Richard

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Well, I am making some progress on the planking above the wales.  I was not cutting closely enough and the sanding was ruining the lines.  I forced myself to cut more closely and it looks a lot better, at least to me.  I almost tore it down again, but if I keep doing that I will never get anywhere.

Augie, I made use of the alcohol suggestion for removing glue it helps. 

 

Dirk, I will use your suggestion for cutting the portholes to even out the ones I have. This may leave too much space around the ports on some but I will deal with that later. Perhaps keep some of the portholes closed :) As I said, if I keep tearing down I will never get on with the next part.

 

Larry, you were right, for the small parts holding it is best. 

 

I will post more pictures when I get the planking done above the wales.

 

Thanks everyone for your suggestions.

Richard

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Hi again,

I have an opening in my budget for a couple of power tools.  I am considering the Proxxon 37060 Disc Sander TG 125/E and the Proxxon 37088 Scroll Saw DS 115/E. 

I looked at the Byrnes sander, and it looks great, but does not have a variable speed and from the description, cannot have a variable speed as an attachment. That is a deal breaker for me because I need to be able to slow things down.  Moving the part to the center of the sanding disk would probably not work for me. 

 

Any suggestions or thoughts are appreciated.

 

Richard 

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