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The log for this build was posted in mid-2010. I will be reposting it in between reposts of the Naiad log. The model was built between 1976 and 2009 - a long time, with many breaks in the work. To start this off, I attach a few pictures taken of the finished model for the 2011 NRG Contest.









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HMS Victory

1:96 Sratchbuild Project

Part 1 - Introduction

(Original post August 2010)


Hello everyone.  I am new to the forum and so far have been very impressed by its content and the work of so many modelers.  In this build log I want to make some contribution to the great work everyone is doing in this forum.  This hobby has given me many happy hours and I hope others may benefit from some of what I have learned along the way. 



This picture of the finished Victory model has a backdrop reminiscent of the Portsmouth sky as I remember it on my first visit back in 1970 – gray, cold and bleak.


In this series I intend to retrace the progress of constructing Victory at a scale of 1:96 from scratch, a project that began in 1976 and reached completion at the end of 2009.  The very long time to complete this project had many periods of inactivity, some measured in years.  Family and career priorities came first.  About half the work on the model was completed after my retirement in 2002, but even that stretch had breaks.  This was my first “real” ship-modeling project and I knew when I started that I was biting off a lot.  The learning curve was steep.  For me the learning process and the need to solve the many problems that arise in a project like this are primary factors in maintaining my interest, and I am glad I started with something this challenging.  The work started on the drafting board and ended last year with the building of the case.  All of it has been enjoyable.



Victory from astern, flying the huge white ensign.


This will not be a step by step “how to build Victory” practicum.  I will try to walk through the steps in the process that I followed, glossing over a lot of very well traveled ground.  I will try to cover in detail processes that I developed and/or used to do specific challenging tasks, for example, building the 1:96 plank on frame ships boats, constructing the tiny ships wheel assembly to scale, making gun port door hinges, etc.  I hope this approach will attract the interest of a range from novice to expert.  I consider myself to be somewhere well in between these two extremes.



This picture shows the beauty of Victory’s lines, the complexity of her forward rigging, her graceful bow structure and her formidable armament.


Several years ago, friends and relatives began to express interest in the Victory project and I began to circulate regular progress reports to them.  These included pictures, descriptions of the work and often background information that would be appropriate to a group on interested non-modelers.  I will use some of this material in this series, but the readers of this forum will, I hope, be interested in a lot more depth.  I will do my best to meet these needs.  In this first post I have interspersed pictures of the finished model with text covering introductory material and background.  I will start in on the actual work in subsequent posts.  Questions and comments are of course encouraged.  If more detail on something is required let me know and I will try to respond.



The complexity of Victory’s rigging even without staysail and studdingsail rigging is amazing.




Victory was commissioned by Parliament in 1758.  Her keel was laid at Chatham in 1759 and she was launched after some delay in her construction, in 1765.  She was designed by Sir Thomas Slade, Surveyor of the Navy from 1755 to 1771 and is considered the masterpiece of his many designs.  She was the fourth English ship of the line to bear this name.  Her 100 guns on three decks designates her a “First Rate” ship of the line.  She had a length of 186 feet on the lower gun deck, a breadth of 51 feet and had a displacement of 2142 tons.  As a “ship of the line” her purpose was to bring maximum gunnery to bear against enemy ships in fleet action.  The guns at the time were measured by the weight of projectile – usually iron round shot.  Victory’s guns ranged from 12 to 32 pounds, plus two 68 pound, short range carronades, mounted on the forecastle.  Her normal crew of over 800 men was needed to serve these guns – and of course, to sail the ship.



Under the foretop during the build.


HMS Victory is perhaps the most famous warship in British History.  She was the flagship of Lord Horatio Nelson at the battle off Cape Trafalgar in 1805, which was the decisive battle of the Napoleonic Wars.  Following the French Revolution, these wars raged across Europe as the hereditary monarchies (Britain, Russia, Austria, Prussia) fought the French to restore the Bourbon throne.  They also feared the spread of liberalism ushered in by the French Revolution and the ambitions of its heir, Napoleon Bonaparte.  Although Trafalgar ended the threat to Britain of a French invasion by confining Napoleon to the continent and putting a stranglehold his trade, ten more years would pass before he would be finally defeated at Waterloo in 1815.  Throughout 20 years of war, the Royal Navy maintained a constant blockade of Napoleon’s Continental Ports, a demanding task for men and ships.  Victory was one of these ships.


Fleet actions were rare, so most of the life of seamen consisted of make-work drudgery and boredom, except for those who actually sailed the ship.  Blockade service demanded that men be constantly aloft or on deck in all weather to adjust sails and maneuver the ship against the Atlantic or Mediterranean tides and winds.  The least inattention could lose the ship against the coastline.  Victory engaged in a few major fleet actions during her career including the action off Ushant in 1778, the Siege of Toulon in 1793, the action off Hyeres in 1795, the Battle of Cape St Vincent in 1797 and Trafalgar in 1805.   The most famous of all British seamen, Lord Nelson, was struck down on her quarterdeck during Trafalgar and died below decks with the knowledge that he had defeated the French and Spanish fleets.  Nelson lies in St Paul’s Cathedral in London.  Victory stands in dry-dock today at the Portsmouth Navy Yard on the south coast of England.



The head structure showing the figurehead, main rails and the port boomkin, which carried the fore course tack.


Background to the Model Project

As a young child of 8 or 9, my interest in ship models was ignited by a model of the whaling bark Wanderer, which was built by my uncle, Emidio Tosti.  This was one of several ships he had built by that time and throughout his long life he built many, all with consummate skill and meticulous attention to detail.  He loved building these ships and was devoted to this work for more than 75 years.  He finished his 1:48 scale model of the Victory at the age of 96 and completed another model before retirement from the hobby at 98.  He passed away in 2008 approaching the age of 102.


Although I had built some small crude models as a child, my interest lay mostly dormant.  In the late 60’s I started a model of USS Constitution, but lacking skills, tools, time, and good historical data, abandoned the project.   On a cold day in 1970, while living in England, my wife Dottie and I visited the Victory at Portsmouth, the first of a number of such visits I would make in later years.  Then, in 1975, I came across a book entitled Anatomy of Nelson’s Ships by Dr C. Nepean Longridge.  Dr. Longridge had been a physician in the British merchant marine until his retirement around 1929, at which time he began construction of his now famous model of HMS Victory.  He worked diligently on this 1:48 scale model until 1940, when the beginning of World War II caused him to return to sea.  In 1945 he resumed work on the model and completed it in the early 1950’s.  His book, written at that time, describes the construction of actual ships of this period and the detailed process of building his beautiful model.  This model is on permanent exhibit at the Science Museum in London.  I have been fortunate enough to visit this model many times over the years – with my little notebook.



Dottie at Portsmouth 1970


The work of Dr. Longridge was beyond anything I had seen before in ship modeling.  The attention to detail and the authenticity of every aspect of the model was impressive and inspiring.  I immediately began planning my own model.  I decided to work at a smaller scale, 1/8 inch to 1 foot or 1:96.  This would yield a model of manageable size with overall dimensions of about 40 inches long by 16 inches wide by 32 inches high.  Based on the information in the book and some other limited sources I began to prepare drawings for the model in early 1976 and began work on the hull later that year.  The structure of the hull and below waterline planking was finished by the late 1970’s.  During the 1980’s work progressed only intermittently on the topside planking and the stern of the ship.  Starting in 1995, I began to work intensively on the model during Christmas Vacation breaks.  It became an annual ritual.  By the time of my retirement in 2002, the model was about 50% complete.  In late 2005, work to finish the model began in earnest - an effort averaging about 10 to15 hours per week. 



The waist, boats, belfry, spare anchors, etc.


My goals for the model were historical accuracy, precision in details and clear representation of the ships beautiful lines.  I am not a perfectionist by nature, but on this project I tried, not always successfully, to follow the rule:  Good enough, isn’t.


The model is constructed from scratch of various hardwoods, brass and copper sheet and wire and thread of Irish linen and cotton polyester.  Aside from two or three small brass screws and a number of brass belaying pins and cannon balls, there are no purchased parts, fastenings or commercially cut wood in the model.



The area around the main mast.


The framing material of the model consists of luaun, maple and cherry, fastened by hundreds of small wooden pegs or “tree nails” and Titebond aliphatic resin wood Glue.  Exterior planking below the waterline is cherry, fastened with glue and nails made from copper wire.  The underwater hull is sheathed with 3700 embossed copper plates fastened with contact cement.  Upper planking is of cherry and European Boxwood, fastened with glue and small diameter boxwood pegs.  Lower decks are of maple planks and visible decks are of European Boxwood.  Masts are of boxwood and Yards are of Gabon Ebony.  Rigging lines down to about 4 inches actual circumference were spun into the correct size using Linen thread on a specially made rope machine.  Smaller lines are mostly mercerized cotton polyester thread in various sizes.  Wooden rigging parts like blocks and deadeyes are made from boxwood.  Deadeyes and standing rigging lines are blackened using acrylic ink.  In the interest of showing off the sheer lines and graceful woodwork, there is (almost) no paint on the model.



The foot of the mizzen mast on the poop deck with flemished lines.


Tools and Resources


Machinery and tools are required to build a model of this type.  Normal woodworking tools (table saw, bandsaw, planes, etc.) are needed to reduce large sized wood slabs to small-scale shipyard timber.  A scroll saw is essential to cut shapes.  A small table saw (2”diameter) was used to cut parts and planks to size.  Small-scale machine tools included an old Unimat SL Lathe/Milling Machine and a Sherline Vertical Milling Machine.  Specially built machines include the rope machine and a machine to “serve”, that is, to wrap lines with fine thread.  Many small hand tools are needed – too numerous to mention.



 Another view of the foretop.


Good modeling information for Victory was scarce in 1976 but since then a lot more reference material has become available, which I used to supplement Longridge book.  A book by John McKay called The 100 Gun Ship Victory features many excellent detailed drawings of all parts of the ship and it’s rigging.  In addition, I have acquired and used a number of contemporary books, which became available in reprint, which give actual Admiralty Specifications of the time.  These include The Shipbuilders Repository, 1788, Steel’s Mastmaking, Sailmaking and Rigging, 1794, and The Young Sea Officers Sheet Anchor, 1819.   Other key references include James Lee’s Masting and Rigging of English Ships of War, Peter Goodwin’s Construction and Fitting of English Ships of War 1650-1850, and Brian Lavery’s Arming and Fitting of English Ships of War 1600-1815.



Below the main channel.


In the next post I will describe the drafting of plans from the Longridge book drawings and focus in detail on a few drafting techniques that may be of interest. Please stay tuned.

Ed Tosti






2013 Copyright Edward J Tosti

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I hadn't seen pictures of you Victory before, Ed. You certainly were inspired by C.N. Longridge and have built your model equal to his standards. Tahnks for posting this log. Interestingly, it was his Anatomy of Nelson's Ships that also inspired me years ago.

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HMS Victory

1:96 Scratchbuild Project

Part 2 – Drafting and Preparation


The first part of this series was introductory. The remaining parts will, I hope, be much more hands on. As I said in the first part, this will not be a complete “how to scratch build Victory” practicum. Instead, it is my goal to provide a general overview of the stages of the work, but also to focus in-depth on specific work processes or solutions that may be interesting, solve a particular problem, or in general, be helpful to modelers of different levels of expertise. These will be examples of how I solved various problems; there may be better ways. These solutions worked for me. Some I developed; some I simply used or adapted from the ideas of others.


Drafting Plans and Patterns



The bow scanned from the final Sheer Plan


I will touch on drafting only very briefly. In the build log on MSB I went into some detail on this, with a view to helping novice scratch builders with some useful drafting techniques. In it I covered, in some detail, transferring and rescaling body plans accurately from books and developing true views of rotated and curved sections. It was long and perhaps sleep-inducing for some, but if anyone has interest it can be found at




As I said in Part 1, in 1976 there were limited resources for building a model of this type. I could locate only one set of plans and they were quite expensive and above what I wanted to pay at that time. Also, I had an itch to do the plans myself. It was the beginning of an idea I had that ship modeling would be most rewarding if it encompassed and followed as much of the whole historical process as possible – not just model construction. For me, this approach has been very rewarding.


My primary source of information at the beginning of the project was the Longridge book, Anatomy of Nelson’s Ships, which I described in part one. The book includes many diagrams and a set of foldout drawings as well as a complete body plan. This work was done a dozen years or so before the McKay book and plans were available.


None of the drawings in the book were to the scale I wanted to build, 1:96 or 1/8” to the foot. In the pre-PC/CAD era I redrafted these plans manually, adding detail and patterns, as necessary. This involved several weeks of effort before modeling could begin and additional work after that.



My well worn copy of Longridge, my source for drawings, instruction and inspiration.


The basic drawings for the model included the sheer plan, a plan of the model framing, waterlines, individual profiles of the main frame lines, deck plans and sections, and stern/bow decoration. Many other sketches were done from time to time as needed.


No drawings were done for masts, spars or rigging. By the time I reached that stage I was able to rely on the McKay book and several other sources for those details, which I will describe later.


The Model Shipway


Because it was such an important, useful tool over the whole life of the project, I want to describe the construction of the building board, or model shipway. Below is an undimensioned outline drawing of the shipway I built for the Victory model.[/size]




A large, 20” x 44” piece of ¾”Douglas fir exterior plywood, sanded one side, was used for the base platform. The length and width were made sufficient to clear the entire model including the bowsprit, driver boom and main yard with studding sail booms. Dry, clear pieces of white pine, ¾” X about 2 ½”, were planed true on one edge and screwed securely to each other and to the plywood top, as shown in the sketch. When this was done a long straightedge was placed on the top across different sections to check for flatness. Where a slight distortion in the top was found, some of the screws were loosened and thin shims inserted to bring the top perfectly flat. After thirty-four years of abuse, standing on its end sometimes for years in my basement, the board was as flat on the day I cut it up for fireplace kindling as it was when it was built. During use the board was securely clamped on my workbench.


On the top surface I placed three straight grained ¾” X ¾” oak rails, the first in the center on the line of the keel and the other two outside the maximum half breadth of the hull. The centerline of the keel and all the frame lines were scribed into these rails. To aid in frame alignment, checking of locations, especially within the hull, a carefully squared “gantry” device was built to slide on the outside rails. This could be aligned with the scribed lines on the rails or any point in between and was secured with bolts on either side (not shown in the diagram) that would squeeze the triangular gussets tight to the rails to hold it in position. This device was carefully squared both longitudinally and athwartships and was marked with a scribed centerline in the top horizontal rail. A datum line to match the top of the gantry rail was put on the drawings as a basis for vertical measurements. This device was indispensable for marking out and checking dimensions inside the hull. A combination square could be run along this top rail to set heights and breadths easily. The picture below, taken in 1996, is one of the few I have that shows the board well, without the gantry, unfortunately. Please excuse the bench clutter.




In this picture there are two squared up end strong end posts which could be used to stretch a piano wire along the centerline as another way to check the scribed centerline on the “gantry” and to initially center frames on the keel. These were removed when no longer needed. Also shown are felt lined cradles that were added after the lower hull was finished. Before then the hull was squared up by means of doubled copper wire from two lower gun ports on each side attached at their ends by small screwed eyebolts, one end into the board the other into a small piece of hardwood inserted inside gun ports. The wire was then twisted tight on each side until the ship was in proper alignment. This approach allows very fine tuning of the ships vertical position. The model was held in longitudinal alignment by a block on the middle rail at the back of the sternpost.


Finally, when rigging started, a temporary case, made from pine and foam board was fitted to the base to completely enclose the model to keep it free of dust. The sides of this or the whole could be removed easily to gain construction access. The top was made from clear acrylic sheet, so overhead ceiling lights could keep the work well lit. The case was fastened to the outside edges of the board. This worked well in what was often a very dusty woodworking shop. It also provided a nice backdrop for a lot of the photos. The picture below shows the model in the case at the start of rigging. The clear Plexiglas top can be seen in the upper left corner and the lighting from above is evident on the back of the case.




So much for the preliminaries. In the next part I will discuss the first stages of actual construction.




Ed Tosti




2013 Copyright Edward J Tosti

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HMS Victory 1:96 Scratchbuild

Part 3 – Framing, Hull Planking and Coppering



Keel Assembly


The first item to be made was the keel/sternpost/stem/head assembly. All were made from maple. If I were doing this again at least the head assembly would be cherry to match the other visible wood. The keel section is not like the original. It is deeper above the top of keel line to support the bulkhead/frame assemblies. The rabbet on the keel was cut using a small shaped scaper as shown in the following sketch.




I used a lot of these little scrapers for various tasks. Mine were made from 1/16” stainless steel only because I had that and it files easily. Other materials will work as well. If they are hardened steel, heat them until red, then allow to cool. File the shape, then (optionally) heat to red again and quench to harden. For the keel rabbet the scraper was simply drawn along the keel with the side marked “bottom of keel” held to the bottom until the full depth was reached and the cut was stopped by the side rounded edge. At the ends and along the sternpost and stem this device could not be used so the rabbet was cut with a small chisel. The assembled keel, sternpost, stem, head assembly was then set up on the board and fixed into a vertical position on the centerline. I am sorry but I have no pictures of this.




Unlike Longridge, I intended to model the ship with all ports open. This required some modeling of the lower decks and a change to the way Longridge cut his frames. I made my frames to allow access to the lower decks by assembling them with removable deck beams. A drawing of this is shown below with its alignment guage.




The area below the lower gundeck was a solid 3/16” thick bulkhead. Topside frames with knees to support the beams, shown in blue on the drawing, were cut out in one piece and fitted to each side on the pattern sheet along with the beams. Side frames were glued and pegged, beams were pinned only, from the outside. Bulkheads and frames were cut out of 3/16” lauan, a medium soft wood that would accept pins and copper nails easily.


Beams were cherry, rounded up to the correct level at their centers. This was done taking a wide, say 2” wide by 3/16” thick cherry, cutting it to the length of the midship frame deck beam, marking the centerline, then steaming it and clamping it over a form cut to the shape of the round up from a 2X4. Actually the round up was exaggerated slightly on the form to allow for some spring back when the beam stock dried. This can be judged by trial and error. When dry, the beams were ripped to their correct width, cut to length maintaining the correct centerline, fit into their frames and pinned through locating holes drilled through the frame. Each frame was then set up on the keel and held in place by gluing to blocks the thickness of the space between frames. The picture below, taken later, shows these frames. Also visible in this picture is the piano wire running along the centerline, which was used to square up the frames when gluing them to the blocks between the lower bulkheads. This work all went quite rapidly.




A few cant frames were added to round out the bow framing. These were patterned by rotating forward sectional profiles to the true view angle. This method was described in the full length drafting section on MSB. These were then cut out and glued to the stem/keel and also to an internal horizontal rounded support which is not visible. None of this framing is at all historically accurate except for the outer profiles.


Also visible in the above picture are white pine filler pieces glued between all of the frames. These were installed for three reasons. First I needed thickness to be able to securely fasten external hull fittings and to simulate the planked interior, which though not visible, was desirable. Second, since I wanted the external planking to be cut to realistic lengths, especially the anchor stock planking of the wales, I needed something between frames on which to fasten that planking. And finally, I needed filler between frames to accurately locate gun ports. The pine provided this. Later the ports were lined with thin cherry before planking.


In the picture the hull has also been faired to final shape and two battens have been pinned on in the curve of the sheer line at the bottom of the main wale and the top of the upper wale. These would provide guides for the planking.


Lower Body Planking


The picture below shows the lower body planking in progress. No filler pieces were needed here because planking, which would later be covered with copper, was put on in long lengths. All the lower body planking was cherry, just less than 1/16” thick and 1/8” inch wide. Planking was fastened using Titebond wood glue and small copper nails on each frame.




Titebond, an aliphatic resin, water based wood glue, was used for all wood-to-wood joints throughout the project. It produces a bond at least as strong as the wood itself, has sufficient work time to allow parts to be precisely positioned, holds parts together in an hour or so and completely sets in several hours. Excess can be wiped or washed away with water, or scraped off later. Clamping or pinning is needed at least until the preliminary set.


Copper nails were made by cutting a long piece, say 24”, of 20 gauge wire, clamping one end in a vice and pulling the other end until the wire broke, thus stress hardening the wire so it could be used for nails. The wire was then cut at ¼” intervals with one end snipped off square and the other at an angle. Pilot holes through the plank were drilled for these nails at each frame. The size of the hole was made slightly smaller than the drawn copper. After applying glue and positioning, the copper nails were simply hammered into the soft framing, so no clamping was needed.


The lower body planking began at the keel and worked upwards to the lower line of the main wale in such a way that the last planks leading up to this line were parallel to it along their whole length. Of course, all the planking had to be applied in fair lines, that is, smoothly curved lines. This raises one issue, which deserves some discussion. If you measure the width of the planked surface at the stern, in midships, and forward, you will see that the width to be planked is smaller at the fore ends, and if I remember correctly, larger at the aft end, meaning different numbers of planks along the hull. Once you get up to the main wale the remaining planking is mostly parallel, so this is an issue for the lower body. In historical practice, on this type of ship, a process called stealing was used to handle this. It is best shown with a diagram.




To facilitate this method I made a paper strip with the planking widths marked out and numbered along the strip. Then using this strip I measured down from the bottom of the main wale, at several points along the hull, to determine the number of planks needed to fill the space at each of those points. From this I could determine the number of stealers needed both fore and aft. There are several at each end. The question is, where to put them. Planking is started from the bottom. Using the paper strip, I measured down at midships and marked off the plank joints on the midship frame. Then I moved the strip forward, always perpendicular to the wale until I reached a point where exactly one less whole plank was needed. This would be the position of the stealer joint. This was repeated aft and the first plank was tapered to half its width at these points. The next plank was notched out to match the taper in the first plank. This was done for each strake of planking until eventually the same number of planks were needed at each point up to the lower side of the main wale. If inserting a stealer by this scheme disturbed the fairness of the lines of planking, I would simply not put it in and look at it again on the next plank up. This may seem like a lot of trouble for a bottom that would be coppered but I wanted to do it right and I am not sure this process is any more difficult than tapering planks. Also, this would be good practice for the time when I had to plank the ships boats.


I did not use sandpaper on the bottom planking or on any of the planking for that matter. Planking was leveled with small flat files. With sandpaper there is greater risk of rounding off edges that want to be sharp. Fine cut files also leave a cleaner surface on very hard woods, like boxwood, which was used for topside planking. They also do a better job leveling off the copper nails and tree nails which would be used topside. I had a couple files on which the handles were bent to allow them to lie flat on the wood surface. This was done by heating the handle with a torch, then bending and quenching.



Coppering the Lower Hull


From the beginning of the project I was concerned about the copper plating on the hull, especially about how to represent the copper nails used to hold the plates in place. I wanted these to be proportionally correct. This was a goal I had for all the detailed items on the ship. I knew I could not duplicate the Longridge process of using actual copper nails, because to look credible they would have to be too small. I finally settled on an embossing process, which is described in detail below. The following photo is not great, but is one of few I have that shows coppering up close. The coppering is about 20 years old in this picture. I believe the objective of producing proportionately sized nails was met. This turned out to be an easy efficient process once a tool was made. The use of individual plates also allowed the lines of plates to duplicate the original.




The one issue I had (and still have) with the coppering process was the attachment of the plates. It was done with contact cement, which seemed to be the accepted approach at the time, and maybe still is. I found it less than satisfactory, even after spending a lot of time getting the parameters of the process right, like drying time before applying the plates, thickness of application, cleaning off excess, etc. All of these caused difficulty with the ¼” X 1/2’ X .003” plates, especially the cleanup of excess cement, which had to be done with solvent that often loosed the bond. Over the years, probably less than a few percent of the plates have come loose of the original 3700, but that is dozens of plates. Replacement plates contrast with the weathering of the older plates. Perhaps they will blend in time. So, I am not pleased with this outcome and wish a better solution were available. Being undisturbed in the case should help keep them in their place.


The last photo shows the run of planking and coppering up to the stern transom. Some of the effects of excess adhesive can still be seen on the back of the rudder. By the way, I confess that the chain was a purchased part.





Making the Plates


The plates on Victory are about 15”' X 48” with the top edge slightly overlapping the bottom edge of the next row above which means they are put on starting at the top (unlike house shingles). Apparently they concurrently started the lower half at the same time because in the middle there is a row that overlaps both its neighboring rows. Longridge used copper nails to fasten his plates I'm guessing on about 4" centers, but his plates were 1/4" X 1" which put his nails on about .06" centers. This was an amazing modeling feat, and no way could I do 100,000 nails on .03" centers on 1/8" X 1/2" plates. The first picture shows some of my plates just below the main wale.




I cut my plates, 1/4" X 1/2" from .003" copper shim stock with a razor blade on glass. At this size I would have a half plate overlap. I decided to emboss my plates on their top half with a simple stamping device made from a piece of maple and some small nails. The tips of the nails protruding above the surface of the wood emboss the shape of nails heads on the plate. Here is a picture of the device and a sample finished plate.




The picture below shows a just-stamped plate in the device and the picture below that shows the boxwood block about to be whacked with a hammer to form the embossed plate.






The next picture is a closeup of the stamp face and the next a picture of the back of the stamp. The stamp is made using a piece of maple with a thickness just under the length of the steel nails, about 1/4". Holes were centered using the xy feeds on the Unimat, set up as a drill press moved across then down on about .03" centers. Drill size was just under the nail size. Nails were tapped into the holes from the bottom protruding just above the top of the wood face. Strips were put on to position the plate and a test plate stamped using a piece of hard boxwood. Where the plate was pentrated by a nail, the nail was filed down level with the rest. I made an extra grid of holes just in case, but it was never needed. Close to 4000 plates were embossed including the one I just did for these pictures. Its not too bad but the first 3700 were better.







In part four I will cover the construction of the stern galleries and the planking of the topsides. Please stay tuned.




Ed Tosti





2013 Copyright Edward J. Tosti


Edited by EdT
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HMS Victory1:96 Scratchbuild Project

Part 4 - The Stern Galleries and Lower Decks


The progress of the model during the 1980’s is a memory test for me. Although a fair amount of work was done between 1980 and 1986, no pictures were taken. For the next few years, the model was in storage while we were out of the country. However, a lot of work was done in the early 80’s including the construction of the stern, the planking and fitting out of the lower and middle decks, making the guns for those decks and a lot of the topside planking and rails.


The Stern


Although some planking was done before the stern, the stern with its detailing was done very early because it was almost completely prefabricated on the bench before being installed and neither planking nor the lower decks could be completed without it being in place, so I will start with that part of the work.



This picture was taken in 1997, long after the stern was installed.


The above picture shows the detail of the stern galleries and the counters, the 27 slanted windows with 9 panes each, the two rows of 69 slanted carved balusters, the carvings, the fluted moldings, etc. The carved boxwood letters of the name were a little extravagance not based on the prototype, but I liked the idea, especially since I wasn’t going to paint. Its one of the few departures I allowed myself. All this detail was done very early so it could be done on the bench on a flat surface with good light. I thought this worked out extremely well and so I will describe the process in some detail.


First, of course, the wing transom had to be in position. This was not described previously, but was put on in when the basic framing was done. This timber is curved on its aft face and on its top. The aft curve is quite slight which gives the stern an almost flat appearance. Being higher in the middle, the wing transom sets the pattern for the curve of the counters and the horizontal gallery lines, which parallel the round up of the decks. At the same time the eight “vertical” stern timbers, with their curved feet, slant both inward and markedly aft. All this required some careful patternmaking and measurement during installation.


Patterns for the individual stern timbers were developed using techniques described in the MSB version of part 2. They were then cut out in maple and pinned in position across the wing transom. The outer two were actually screwed down temporarily with tiny wood screws. Angles aft and inward plus the aft curvature were measured very carefully using templates that could also hold the timbers temporarily in place. I am sorry I have no pictures of this. Once the timbers were in their correct position, the curved interior deck transoms and the main exterior counter rails were attached permanently to the stern timbers. Then, filling pieces of flat maple were glued between the timbers except for the window openings. This gave the whole assembly rigidity and provided bedding for the exterior planking. The assembly was then removed from the ship and taken to the bench for completion of the detailing. The following picture taken years after permanent installation shows the maple inserts between stern timbers and window openings. It also shows the internal horizontal deck transoms and the external rails which had not yet been trimmed.



This picture was taken in 1995 several years after the stern as installed and after completion most of the topside planking.


The hexagonal table covering the rudder head and the wide seat of the middle deck ward room are also visible.


Once moved to the convenience of the bench, the first step was to finalize the shape of the gallery structure and add the missing panels at the sides. Frequent fittings on the ship were made to assure all this was correctly sized and shaped. When this was done the other horizontal rails and the window lintels were put on in boxwood. Then the remaining exterior planking was put on over the whole gallery surface and below on the two counters. This was done in 3” (1/32”) cherry which was attached with glue and boxwood tree nails. I will describe the making of these tree nails later. Thousands were used on the model. In the above picture the holes for the tree nails can be seen on the inside of the stern timbers. The following picture is a close up illustrating the results of some of the next steps.





I did not want to paint the model, but I did want to contrast the woodwork in a way similar to the painted original (except for the lines of the gun ports which I will discuss later). This was done throughout the model using the pale yellow European boxwood on the darker reddish cherry. This contrast shows well in the above picture.


After the planking was installed, the columns between the windows were made and installed. This was done as follows. Two thin sheets of boxwood were glued on opposite sides of a cherry core, a strip maybe ½” wide, with the total lamination thickness equaling the width of the columns between the windows. The column facades were then sliced off of this on the circular saw, cut to length and glued to the aft side of the stern timbers, matching their widths.


The next step was the dreaded balusters, two rows of 69 each slanting progressively inward, carved square (not turned). The following picture shows how ornate these are on the real Victory.




The balusters on my model are about 1/32” square and about ¼” long. I could not hope to duplicate the above patterns at this size, so I decided to retain the square shape but simplify the pattern. The result is proportionately correct, but of course lacks complete detail. To assure uniformity and alignment the balusters were carved after being glued to the façade. Once the were secure, a very sharp knife was used to scribe the lines of the pediments and heads of the columns (top and bottom). Then the aft part of the curved shape was cut with a small chisel across the whole row. This approach assured alignment top and bottom square sections. When the aft faces of the balusters were done, the side shapes were cut with a small chisel and surgical scalpel.


Next the 1/64” by 1/32”window frames were installed, a pretty straightforward task. They are inset just below the surface of the column facades and are actually glued to the stern timbers. The window mullions themselves are the same depth and thickness as the frames. To make them, a wide (1”) sheet of boxwood, 1/32” thick, was scored, twice only, with a .015” circular saw blade, 1/64’ deep at the pane width spacing. The mullions were then ripped off in 1/64” slices and assembled by locking the notches together. There was just enough movement in these to slant them to the desired degree. Then they were then trimmed to size, touched with a bit of glue and push fit into the frames. No glass was installed. They have been secure and I have not managed to stick a tool or a finger through a single one of them.


The only remaining work to be done was the fluted rails and the carved figures and stacked arms above the top windows. The figures and arms were cutout from a thin sheet of boxwood with a fine toothed jeweler’s saw, glued in place, then relief carved with very small chisels. The ropelike rails were done with a needle file on the edge of a wider piece then ripped off on the saw. The fluted rail may have been done in a similar way using a rotary tool. I cannot remember. The stern galleries were then permanently attached to the wing transom and secured structurally with additional members and knees, completing this major piece of work.


The Lower, Middle and Upper Gun Decks


The Lower and Middle gun decks would only be visible in the finished model by peering into the gun ports or through hatchways, so I did not want to overdo the detail. The beams for the Lower, Middle and the Upper decks do not attempt to replicate the original. However, the simplified beam structure provided by the frame assemblies needed to be modified and supplemented at every level to accommodate hatches, mast partners, etc. The following picture shows some of the simplified beam structure of the Upper deck and also some of the detailing of the decks below.



This picture taken in 1995 shows the middle deck planking and gun carriages plus the simplified planking of the Upper deck.


The planking of the lower and middle decks was done in maple, 1/8” wide, with no attempt to replicate plank length or stagger pattern. The dark caulking between planks was simulated by gluing black construction paper to the sheets of 1/8” thick maple before ripping off the planks. This left no paper sticking above the planks and could be scraped down smooth without difficulty. I will say at this point that all decks were scraped smooth, using a ½” square ended chip carving knife that had been squared off, honed and had a scraper curl added with a burnishing tool. This eliminated the need for sanding. The lower and middle deck gun carriages were also simply made in maple. After positioning, with their barrels in place, they were then pinned and glued to the deck. Barrels would be installed through the ports many years later. Waterways, hatch coamings, gratings, stairs, partitions and other miscellaneous basic items were installed on these lower decks without too much attention to their perfection.


The hawsers for the anchors had to be installed at this time. This forced an early entry into the art of rope making, including worming, both of which I will go into later. The anchor cables are huge, 27” circumference, hawser laid ropes that are wormed over their length. They pass upwards from the cable tiers on the orlop deck (not modeled) through guides and the corner of a lower deck hatch, along the deck forward, out the hawse holes in the bow and are secured to a bower anchor lashed on each side of the forward hull. These ropes, at this time, were attached below the lower deck, coiled on the deck so they could easily be pulled out later, with their ends just protruding through the unfinished hawse holes. These protruding ropes would get in the way of work for years to come.



The protruding anchor cables, with safety lines, still protruding in 1995 – and still in the way.


In Part 5 I will discuss making the gun barrels and get into the topside planking.


Stay tuned,


Ed Tosti

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HMS Victory

1:96 Scratchbuild Project

Part 5 – Gun Barrels and Topside Planking


In this part I will focus on the modeling of the gun barrels. These needed to be made for the lower and middle decks so the carriages could be correctly positioned before installing the beams and planking for the decks above, after which, they would be inaccessible. I will also start in on the topside exterior planking in this part.



The Gun Barrels




One of the extra middle deck 24 pounder barrels, blackened after machining.


All of the 102 gun barrels were individually turned in brass on a miniature machine lathe, a Unimat SL, which I was fortunate to purchase used, in mint condition, at a very good price in the late 70’s. I spent as much again on accessory parts, including the circular saw attachment and the indexing head among others. It has been durable, easy to use and capable of a number of precision operations – turning, drilling, milling, circular sawing, precision grinding, etc. The Unimat went out of production some years ago, so I was glad to have bought the accessories when they were available. Later they would become indispensable for a number of operations, which I will describe in their proper place. Unimat tools and accessories are still traded on eBay. Later, I purchased the Preac circular saw and a Sherline milling machine. These would make the aging Unimat less essential. Both are excellent tools. I still use the Unimat regularly, however, for all manner of tasks.


I wanted the guns to have a recognizable metallic sheen for aesthetic purposes. The clean metallic finish highlights the detail on the guns very well as opposed to paint. This effect was obtained with a blackening agent, which was used for this purpose and for virtually all the brass “ironwork” on the ship, from the anchors to the small hooks attaching the futtock shrouds to their deadeye chains.


The drawing below was done on a piece of file folder, knowing it would have to put up with a lot of wear and tear on the bench. On this, a dimensioned drawing of each type of gun was made at scale size. Also noted are the drill sizes for the different bores. It was very convenient having all the necessary information on one card and all machining was done from this drawing.




The guns were turned from brass rod. Although machined individually, uniformity and efficiency were achieved by doing one operation at a time on all the barrels of a given size. To do this efficiently, work pieces had to be in and out of the machine constantly. To facilitate this, the pieces were held on the muzzle end only in a Jacobs chuck, making change out fast and easy. This meant barrels would be drilled last without the benefit of centering in the lathe, but that disadvantage was accepted. Below are a pair of rejects of the process from my scrap bin that show the way these were chucked – on the stubs at the left.




First the outer diameter of the ring at the breech was turned. Then the pommel and breech end were cut in one operation with a special cutter (see below). Then the headstock of the lathe was rotated slightly to allow the taper of the barrel to be turned between the breech ring and the ring behind the muzzle. The raised rings were then located and the correct barrel diameter between them was turned. . The setup for this tapered turning is shown in the picture below. Keep in mind that each of these steps was done on all the similar barrels before moving on to the next step.




The Unimat is (was?) a very versatile machine. Mine is permanently mounted on a plywood base. Under the base a piece of foam carpet mat can be seen. This holds small machines like this in position while permitting easy movement out of the way when not in use or to different orientations on the bench. The white bench top is laminate coated particle board, bright, durable and easy to keep clean.


After all the tapered machining was done, the headstock was returned to normal for the finishing of the muzzle end. Special cutters were ground to facilitate and standardize the machining of the muzzle flare and the pommel at the breech end. The picture below shows these cutters.





The ¼” square Unimat bits were ground to the shapes of the muzzle and breech.



When all of this machining was done, the barrels were polished in the machine with crocus cloth and fine steel wool. Then the barrels were parted off the stubs and the muzzle ends filed smooth. Drilling the bores was then done very carefully to assure centering. They were drilled to their correct size held vertically in the Unimat vise with the machine set up as a drill press. Only a few barrels had any visible bore misalignment. The worst of these were rejected. Fortunately several extras were made for each type.


The last step before blackening was the drilling for the trunnions. The fact that these are below the bore centerline adds a slight complication. A jig was made to hold the barrel under the drill press so that the trunnion bore would be offset below the centerline. The bore location was given a center punch mark to help avoid the drill slipping off the curved barrel. After drilling, the trunnions were slipped in and held in place by a slight hammer tap on the bottom of the barrel. This avoided soldering with its potential blackening issues.


Finally, the blackening. It is best to blacken right after machining. Getting good results from blackening solutions may be a science, but it feels more like an art form. The problems experienced included: spotty blackening, blackening that rubs off, sooty like buildup, and flaking off, etc. The ways I battled these problems included, assuring very clean polished brass before dipping, degreasing with acetone, thinning the solution with water to slow the process, swabbing parts with Q-tips while immersed, allowing to dry before buffing, frequent changes of solution, multiple partial dips, plus others I am sure. I wish I could say that any one of these was consistently successful. Blackening silver soldered joints or overheated small parts was often troublesome and in some cases parts had to be re-dipped because of wear, after which some would not blacken at all and a few (very few) had to be painted, or touched up. This was not required on any of the guns and after blackening they were buffed up with a soft rag and put away for future installation.





The three tiers of guns below the waist.on the port side.


Topside Planking Overview


The workmanship on the topside planking makes or breaks an unpainted hull model. I wanted crisp lines, sharp edges, tight joints and cleanly cut moldings and rails. Most of all I wanted to highlight the beautiful sweeping curve of the ship’s sheer line. Note I do not mean the line of the gun ports, which follows the line of the decks, which is a much flatter curve than the line of the sheer. The “Nelson Stripes” painted between the gun ports may have suited his fancy, but, unlike the painting of earlier years, it did nothing for the beauty of the ship. This treatment gave these ships an awkward flatiron look, which I did not want. What I did want was to accentuate the gracefully curves lines of the sheer. To do this I decided to plank the three wales in the darker cherry and the rest of the planking and the rails in the pale yellow European Boxwood. Both are hard, flexible woods, capable of taking a fine polish without finish. In the end, I gave them a rub of very dilute Tung oil wiped dry, then a thin solution beeswax dissolved in turpentine, buffed. This was done mainly to prevent staining during the later stages of the work. This even allowed CA drips to be flaked off when they occurred. Of course, no further gluing to the surface was possible after this treatment.


Tree Nails


Before describing the planking process itself, I need to discuss treenails (or trennals, or trunnels, etc). These were used extensively throughout the model, both for appearance and for added strength. Glue alone was only used where treenails or others types of fastener was not practical, usually because of scale. For example, the wriggles above the gun ports in the above picture are glued only.


Because of the 1:96 scale, proportionately sized fastenings are not practical, so there was a compromise of fewer and larger tree nails vs. the original. These were made from Boxwood, although some were made from Bamboo. The round diameter of the treenail was made with a drawplate, a thin metal plate with an array of holes of decreasing size down to the desired nail diameter. In practice, getting a diameter below .030” (2 ¾” at 1:96) was hit or miss, so .030 became the standard minimum size. Larger diameters were used in structural applications, for example on beams. Below is a picture of some tree nails and the simple drawplate I made from hard brass sheet, which was used to make all the nails used on the ship.



The almost worn out brass drawplate with some .030” tree nails. The usable holes in this plate, the first 7 from the left, range in size from .039” down to .031”, that is number 61 to 68 drill size.



The process of making these nails was as follows: Strips of boxwood maybe 12” long were sized down to 1/32” square (.03125”) or slightly larger. One end the strip was tapered so when pushed into the largest hole, enough emerged to grab with a pair of pliers. The strip was then pulled through each successively smaller hole with even pressure. Final diameters of 030” were consistently achievable. The strips were then cut with a sharp chisel to length, first on a slant then square, then on a slant again, etc. to yield small nails with a square top and a pointed bottom. Thousands of these were made.




Above is a picture of three drawplates. The top plate is a purchased item (Cost on sale $25). Holes range from 1/16” down to .037” (No. 63 drill). This is made of steel, and is perhaps hardened. The holes are countersunk on the “pull out” side. You want only a small amount of metal to pull through. The cutting should be done on the back face of the hole. You do not want to squeeze the wood into the hole, but rather scrape off its surface on the way in. The middle one is my brass plate (Cost about $0) with holes from .039” down to the usable .030” and several sizes below, at which strips begin to break. The bottom plate is one I have recently made from 1/8” thick steel, which I intend to use on my new project. The middle plate will get a well-deserved retirement. The new plate begins where the upper plate leaves off and then goes down to a final .030” hole size. I will briefly describe how to make this plate since it seems to work very well, is easy to make, could easily be made to handle the full range up to 1/16”, and, very importantly, is inexpensive.


First I bought a 1/8” by 1 ¼” by 36” (the only length they had) strip of galvanized steel for $5. Galvanizing isn’t necessary. The plate should be wide enough to leave some room below the holes when clamped in your vice. After cutting the plate to length, countersink holes were drilled using a 1/8” drill, to just above the bottom of the plate, that is, almost but not quite all the way through. I would guess maybe 1/64” of metal was left. Then using small drills, smaller holes were drilled in the center of the larger holes, from the same side. Burrs were filed off both sides to complete the drawplate. I do not intend to harden the plate based on the longevity I got from the much softer brass plate, but if you want your great grand children to use it, you might wish to harden it. I also learned that Brynes Tools sells what appears to be a very nice drawplate with holes down to .016” for $25.


In the next episode, I will discuss how matching “anchor stock” and “top and butt” planks for the wales were made, how different rail moldings were made, and how planks were bent, clamped and fastened to the hull.





Ed Tosti

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HMS Victory

1:96 Scratchbuild Project

Part 6 – The Topside Planking

Posted to MSW 8/18/10


In Part 5, we started working up to the task of topside planking by discussing the objectives I had for the final appearance. I like to set these objectives up front for each major stage to use as a quality yardstick when deciding how far to go with each aspect of the work or when to scrap some unsatisfactory work. In this Part, I will cover some aspects of the planking that may be of interest. I will also discuss how the rail moldings and the “rigols” over the gun ports were made.


post-570-0-73840400-1362317104.jpgPlanking from the lower wale up to the waist rail.


The Lower Wale, or Main Wale


The main wale is a band of thick structurally important planking that runs from just above the waterline at midships up to the bottom sill of most of the ports of the lower gun deck. Because the line of the lower wale, and almost all of the topside planking for that matter, parallels the sheer line, and because that line has more curvature than the line of the decks, several of the after gun ports on the lower deck actually cut into the lower wale, the aftermost one being almost entirely within the wale. So, before doing any planking of the lower wale, the gun port framing had to be dealt with.


Because the gun port sides, tops and bottoms were formed by the ships structure, a collection of Lauan frames and pine filler pieces, the ports needed to be re framed to improve their appearance. This was done by enlarging the port openings and framing their insides with strips of 1/32” cherry. This also provided an opportunity to check the final location of the ports and make any necessary adjustments. Once all the lower deck ports were lined, the planking could begin.


Because the lower wale was expected to contribute longitudinal stiffness to the hull structure, its lower four strakes had planks in the shape of anchor stocks, that is, of increasing width from the ends to a point in the center of the plank. The lowest row had the peaks on the top and the second on the bottom and then a repeat for the next two strakes. This provided an interlocking structure which would help resist bending stresses on the hull, specifically “hogging,” the tendency for the ends of the ship to bend downwards as a wave lifted the center of the ship. The picture below describes this along with the slightly different configuration for the middle wale, known as “top and butt”. The picture above shows how this looked on the model.




These special shaped planks had to be made accurately or they would not fit together seamlessly, which was quite important to the final appearance. Special devices were made to cut these and the slightly different shapes for the middle wale, in which the highpoint is off center. The tools shown below were used to cut these planks all to the same size.




These two slightly different cutting guides, were made by filing steel plates to the correct profile of the pyramidal edge of the planks, making sure their top edges were smooth and accurate. Then they were fitted into wood forms, which set their height correctly and also the length of the plank. Spacing was set to just over the plank thickness for easy removal. The guide at the top right was for main wale planks and the one at the lower left for the middle wale top and butt planks. For use these were secured in a vise. Planks of the final thickness were cut to the correct length and just over correct width, allowing the guides to set the final width. These blanks were each placed between the steel rails and pared down with a sharp chisel flush with the top of the guides. This produced uniform planks with sharp square edges, which fit together well when installed.


Planking Procedure


All the planking was cut from 8/4 (2”) by roughly 6” wide stock. European Boxwood of this size was hard to come by even in the 1970’s, but I was fortunate to be able to acquire two pieces in this size about 3 ft long. Cherry was not a problem, but it needed to be selected for straight grain from pieces I had. The wide stock was then cut to about 12” lengths, ripped down to the plank width, using a very thin kerf 10” circular saw blade, and then if necessary, cleaned up with a cabinet scraper to assure a very smooth edge on the planks. Planks were then ripped to thickness on the Unimat circular saw, using a relieved fine tooth metal working blade that produced a glasslike finish on the surface of the planks. As I mentioned in Part 5, wales were done in cherry and the rest in European Boxwood.


Anchor stock and top and butt were worked in paired rows to make sure pieces fit each other as the rows progressed. To assure tight joints the back corners of each plank was very slightly chamfered with a file to assure that the front faces would touch. Titebond glue was applied to the back and bottom edges – also to the appropriate end if the plank was butting another installed plank. Since the framing and filler on which the planks bedded was solid, clamping was done using short pieces of soft pine about 1/8” thick through which stiff pins were hammered into the frame. Friction between the pin and the pine held the plank down and in until the glue had a chance to set. Below is a diagram illustrating this clamping technique.




Excess glue was then brushed off using a wet artists brush kept nearby in a jar of water. This eliminated the need for later sanding or scraping to get the glue off. After 30 years, none of these glue joints has failed and all the planking is still tight. Finally, holes were drilled to receive the treenails. This was done later, when enough planking was complete to draw in pencil the lines of the nails. Holes were then pricked with a center punch to assure that lines of nails would be straight. A drill size just below the diameter of the treenail was used to assure a tight nailed fit. The sharp end of the nail was dipped in the glue, held in the hole using tweezers or small pliers, and tapped in with a small hammer. Excess glue was brushed off and when dry, the surface of the plank was leveled off with a small file. Using a file here assures that the nail head will be flush. Sanding may leave a bump with the hard end grain of the nail. It also tends to ruin nearby sharp edges.


Toward the ends of the hull, planks needed to be curved to fit. This was done by cutting the plank to size, steaming it in an old teapot until pliable, then fitting and clamping it in place – without glue. As the plank dries, it will shrink, and if glued, will leave gaps. When the plank was completely dried it was glued in place. Boiling water sometimes discolored the surface of the planks, but I found this could be removed with the file. There are other good ways to bend wood, but this was the method I used.


The areas between and above the wales was done in straight boxwood planks using the same procedure as above. This planking was thinner than the wales, so care had to be taken to avoid sanding or filing off the raised edges of the wales. These were given a very slight rounding during the final polishing of the hull exterior.


As each strake of planking was completed, a dimensional check was made, by measuring up to the sheer line to make sure the height was correct along the hull. Discrepancies when found were very small and could be corrected easily with a file or small scraper. Doing this at each strake avoided a potentially nasty surprise when the planking ultimately reached the sheer line. Finally, before beginning the next strake, a triangular file or scraper was used to remove any fillet of glue left between the top of the planks and the frame to assure next strake would seat neatly.


Where planks ended at a gun port, they were left slightly long, then filed flush with the frame later. Where a gun port sill or lintel cut into the edge of a plank this was also filed out later. This assured a nice sharp corner to the port openings.





The picture below shows the three rails the run the length of the hull above the upper wale. The lowest is the waist rail, which in this picture is cut by the line of the upper deck 12 pounders. Above that is the sheer rail, which is in line with the fore, main and mizzen channels, and above that is the planksheer rail, which runs under the planksheer at the waist. There are additional “drift” rails aft and forward.




These rails add interest and accentuate the lines of the hull. The upper two have a similar profile. The waist rail is different. These rails were shaped in Boxwood, using a profile scraper which was drawn along the edge of a strip of wood with thickness equal to the width of the wale, but much wider so it could be secured in a vice while being shaped. After shaping the rail was sliced off on the circular saw. These rails were bedded on the framing, not on top of planking, so they replaced a row of planks. Actual practice may have differed, but this seemed a logical approach on the model. A picture of the profile scraper used for some of these different shapes is shown below.




These profile cutters are easy to make and do a nice job making moldings. The above cutter was used for the sheer rail, the steps up the side and the cap rails on the channels. The cutter is made by marking out the shape on the metal with a sharp scriber, then sawing out the rough shape with a jewelers saw. The shape can be dressed with small files, but very small parts of the shape were done with the saw alone. Very fine blades are available for these saws. Small files made for sharpening Japanese style saws have very sharp sides and work well. I made my cutters from some 1/16” stainless steel plate I had. Cutters like this were also used for things like the fenders shown in the picture below and for making rigging blocks, which I will discuss later.




]The picture, above, shows some of the other detail that was added after completion of the topside planking – the molded steps up the side, the elaborate middle deck entrance way, the two vertical fenders to protect the hull when loading barrels, the “wriggles” over ports to divert water and the sheave set into side which would later take the mainsail sheet into the waist. The scrolls at the ends of the drift rails were made by turning grooves on the end of a boxwood dowel. This was a compromise I have regretted. They needed to be carved as a scroll with decreasing radius to the center, but I gave up on this too quickly and took the easy way out. I have never been happy with this decision.


Port Rigols


The rigols over the ports presented an interesting problem. There are two types. On the lower deck ports they are straight across the top and on the middle deck they curve up into a point at the middle. The undersides are concave curves. The challenge was to make them proportionately correct and to have them uniform.


Both were made starting with a strip of boxwood the thickness of the horizontal thickness of the rigols and maybe 3/8” wide. The inside concave shape was cut along the face of the boxwood strip near its edge with a small ball end mill to make a rounded slot of the correct length and depth for the interior curve. The depth of this milling cut left about 1/64” of wood at the bottom. Several slots were cut along this line on the strip. The circular saw was then used to slice off enough so that only the top half of the slots remained on the edge of the strip. Then the inside lower 1/64” edge was trimmed back to its profile with a knife. Then the strip of “wriggles” was sliced off above the slot leaving a strip with quarter concave slots on one edge. The rigols were cut off to length and the outside curve at the ends shaped with a chisel.


The middle port wriggles were done the same way, except before slicing off the strip the upward interior concave pointy shape was cut with a small gouge. The strip was parted off, the pieces were cut to length and the top curvature carved manually. The picture below, of some leftover work-in-progress pieces I found, should help clarify this explanation. In this picture, initial milling of the some middle deck rigols has been done and the bottom half of the slot sliced off. The next step would be to shape the interior curves with a small gouge, then trim the lower edge inside the curve to match that shape. Next, the strip would be sliced off and the pieces cut to length. Then the top edge would be shaped to match the curvature of the inside.




In Part 7, I will address what I felt was some of the most difficult woodworking in the ship, the complex curved rails and supports at the head and also the detailing of the head back to the forecastle bulkhead, which was easier.





Ed Tosti

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  • 4 weeks later...

HMS Victory

1:96 Scratchbuild Project

Part 7 – The Bow Structure


The bow structure is one of the most interesting assemblies of woodwork in the ship, and perhaps one of the most challenging to model. In the picture below, taken later in construction, the various parts of the bow structure can be seen.


The topmost of the curved horizontal rails is the “main rail”, which provides a bulwark for the fore face of the cathead, but more importantly is a critical triangular brace for the beakhead. The main rail is supported along its length by four Y-shaped “head timbers” which rest on the gammoning knee (barely visible), which acts as a brace between the stem and the beakhead.


The head timbers are faced with a decorative beaded facing. The bottom feet of the head timbers also rest on the “upper cheek”, which fays to the lower plank of the middle wale, then curves inward, forward and upward to fay against the aft side of the beakhead right behind the figurehead.


The “lower cheek” is of a similar pattern running from the top plank of the main wale up along the beakhead, ending just at the base of the figurehead. Both these timbers act as horizontal knees for the beakhead. Between the cheeks are heavy planking overlays, surrounding both the hawse holes and the gammoning slots.


There is also a curved knee supporting the underside of the cathead and then curving forward along the hull to end just behind one of two lighter weight rails which are supported in notches cut into the head timbers.


Finally, we have the figurehead and some leafy scrollwork that trails aft between the cheeks.




In addition to the timber structure and figurehead, there is other interesting detail visible in the above picture, including the forecastle timberheads, the decorative arches along the face of the forecastle bulkhead, the “marines walk” with its two vertical supports curved around the bowsprit, the knightheads, pierced for the lower end of the mainstay collar, and, of course, the huge wormed anchor cables, patiently waiting many years for their anchors.


The following picture shows a top view of bow structure.




This picture, taken much later in the process, shows a different view of some of the details mentioned above. It provides a better picture of the decoration on the forecastle bulkhead and also clearly shows the toilet accommodation for men and the rounded enclosed stalls for the junior officers, all of which derive their name from their location at the “head” of the ship. The top of the marines walk is also interesting with its rectangular openings to take the collars of the mainstay and preventer. As I said above, I found this whole array of detail to be one of the most interesting parts of the ship.


Before any modeling of the bow structure could be done, a lot of work was needed to complete the framing of the fore end of the forecastle. My drawings were sadly lacking in details of this and a lot of time was spent looking for better sources of information and translating that into some sketches to base this on. The small, decked area in the above picture is actually at a level above the upper deck in the forecastle and the heavy cat beam across the top of the forecastle bulkhead actually is higher than the forecastle deck. This seemed quite unusual and confusing. The picture below, taken later shows some of this internal structural work.




Once this work was done and the basic dimensional information established, the first task was to fashion and install the Y-shaped head timbers mounted on the gammoning knee. These were fairly straightforward except that the notches for the light rails and the points of connection with the main rails had to be carefully laid out. Once that was done the making of the main rails had to be faced.


In the full version of part 2 9posted on MSB), I described how to loft the true shape of these rails. Now with the correct pattern in hand the rails needed bending to that shape in European Boxwood. First attempts to get this degree of curvature on this large timber failed – several times. I did not want to cut the rails against a weak cross grain because I wanted the full strength, and also did not want to show weak cross grain in the final model. This problem would also have to be faced in forming the two cheeks, which although having a gentler curve had the additional complication of a wide horizontal triangular shape. The picture below shows these three rails on the port side shortly after their installation.





This problem was solved by using laminations of very thin boxwood.


First, a six inch piece of 2X4 lumber was cut into two pieces along a line conforming to the curve of the rail with a small blade on a band saw. This would act as the form that would press the wood to the shape the rail. Then boxwood was ripped into very thin strips between 1/32” and 1/64”. In the case of the triangular cheeks these strips were 1½” wide sheets. Then the thin strips were steamed until very pliable. One side of the 2X4 “mold” was clamped in the vise. Strips of wood were then removed from the steaming and immediately given a liberal coating of Titebond glue and layered onto the mold in the vise. The mating part of the mold was then fitted on top and with large clamps the two parts of the mold were pulled together forcing the strips into the shape of the rail. After drying for 2 days, they were released. Below is a picture of a leftover lamination for an upper cheek showing how the cheek was then cut from it. With laminates there is virtually no spring back, so the mold shape will be retained exactly.




For some reason this piece was not used, but the lamination is very good, with little evidence of it being a laminate. Once these pieces were scored down with a beaded molding cutter, joints would really be imperceptible. This picture also illustrates the amount of expensive boxwood waste suffered in this process. This cheek, because of its triangular knee shape, required a wide laminate. Below is a picture of a failed delaminated main rail attempt, the result of not enough glue.




Once these curved rails were conquered, the work on the bow became easier and I will only describe it briefly since it was pretty straightforward modeling work.


The figurehead was carved out of a solid block of boxwood, using a rotary tool with small burrs for roughing out, supplemented with some small gouges and chisels to finish the shape. A picture of the finished carving is shown below. The stance of the two figures took some time and a few failures to work out. Final polishing was done with fine steel wool. If I were to do this again, I would make a mockup first using something like epoxy putty to help fully understand the shapes before diving into the boxwood.




The picture below shows the gratings over the bow timbers and in the marines walk. I will describe how these gratings, and many more to follow, were made, I will also discuss the issue of correctly locating the openings in the Marines walk grating for the main stay collars. This picture also shows the areas of straight beam grating, which for some reason was used in part of the surface. This picture also shows the safety netting and some hammock netting, which I will discuss in a later chapter.




Gratings were made using the setup shown in the picture below. First, an auxiliary saw table was made from a sheet of 1/8” clear Plexiglas to fit over the Unimat saw table. Then a groove was dadoed into the top surface with a .030” saw blade. A strip of boxwood of the same thickness was force fit into this groove, then trimmed down so that the top of the strip was 1/64th” above the top of the Plexiglas. A slot to take the .030” Unimat blade was cut through the Plexiglas and the table was clamped to the saw table in such a way that the blade projected just 1/64” above the Plexiglas. The table was then adjusted horizontally to give a spacing of exactly .030” between the blade and the strip of wood.




A 1” wide blank of 1/32” boxwood was then dadoed with 1/64” deep cuts across its width. First the blank was held against the strip of wood to make the first cut. Then, succeeding cuts were made by placing the previous cut over the strip and making another cut. This was repeated across the length of the strip. A small sample with a few cuts is pictured above. Then, 1/32’ strips were ripped from this piece. To avoid tear out a very high speed and very slow feed should be used with a sharp fine toothed blade. The strips were then interlocked together to form grating.


On the real ship grating was not interlocked but merely had cross pieces set in grooves in the support members. Interlocking simplified accurate spacing and also allowed me to avoid using glue. The unglued grating looks crisp and clean and none has ever come apart. A setup like this could be done on any small circular saw, or the grooves could be cut on a milling machine, a process I used later for the flag lockers. I used an angle cut with different spacing to make ladder sides and a similar setup to cut notches in window mullions.


The last point I will address in this part was the location of the three rectangular holes in the grating of the marines walk. These openings take the collars of the main stay and the main preventer stay. They must be located very accurately so that when tension is put on these stays no stress is placed on the grating, which would then break under the strain from these very large lines. These openings can be seen in the earlier pictures. The grating in this area is in the shape of a trapezoid and is 3” thick.


To locate these holes a dummy mainmast was setup and temporary stays run from the correct height do to their connections under the bow. Using 1/32” stock, a pattern was developed showing spaces needed for the stay collars. These hole locations were set out on an enlarged piece of grating to assure that the openings would clear the stays and also that openings would be bounded by grating bars on all sides. The grating shape was then cut and fit into the opening. The goal here was to avoid having to cut the grating in a haphazard way later. The last picture shows how this worked out on the final model. The stay collars, with their hearts and lashings, actually bend down over the forecastle fife rail. This could not have been foreseen without a mockup.



In the next part I will begin to discuss planking and detailing of the upper decks. I have not tried to cover everything in this log but only items I felt would be interesting to a range of modelers. Most of all I would like to reach those less experienced in scratch building, who may well be facing the same dilemmas I faced with Victory. To some, more experienced builders, there may be few revelations here, but if I have glossed over something too lightly, where there may be interest in a better explanation, please let me know and I will try to address it in a future chapter or separately.




Ed Tosti

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HMS Victory

1:96 Scratchbuild Project

Part 8 – Deck Details 1

Posted to MSW 8/20/2010.


In the next three parts I will describe, in general, the construction of the upper decks and their detailing, taking the narrative up to the completion of the hull.  I have selected a few parts of this work to describe in some detail, but will not cover every point.  As always, I welcome any questions.  If there is some aspect where more detail is desired, let me know and I will be glad to describe it. 


The picture below shows the status of the model by the end of 1996.  The exterior and most of the interior of the hull and the upper gun deck has been planked. The partition, which bars the way to the Admiral’s cabins is in place and framing of the quarter deck is about to begin.




The extent of detailing on the upper deck was limited to what would be visible, so no more of the interior aft partitions or decoration was done beyond what is shown in this picture.  Details visible through the hatches were modeled, for example the capstans, one of which is visible below the main hatch. 


The planking of the upper deck, the quarterdeck the poop deck and forecastle was done in European Boxwood using a four butt shift pattern.  All the planks were glued and pegged with boxwood treenails.  These were described in an earlier chapter.  The 12” wide planks were ripped from 1/8” thick by about 1 ½” wide Boxwood strips using the Unimat circular saw.


The black caulking between planks was simulated using black construction paper, which was glued to the strips before ripping them into planks, so that after ripping, each plank would have one edge with paper attached.  This saved a lot of messy gluing of individual strips between planks.  It also eliminated the need for scraping off excess glue and paper.  Only the ends of the planks had to be fitted with paper strips.


After gluing and tree nailing, the tops of the nails were cut off, the ends filed down flush and the decks scaped to a smooth finish with a 1/2” scraper.  The picture below shows some of the finished decking, as well as some of the final deck detailing.






However, quite a bit of work had to be done before getting to this stage.  Back at the stage of the first picture, the next task, to be done before framing the quarterdeck, was the installation of the thirty long 12 pounder upper deck guns.   On the finished model, some of these would be totally visible in the waist, and to some degree under the forecastle and quarterdeck, so these had to be well detailed.  The gun carriages of the lower and middle decks were roughed out in maple and not rigged.  The visible guns of the upper decks, all long or short 12 pounders, were modeled more completely and precisely, with full rigging.  The carriages of these guns were made in boxwood, based on large-scale drawings.  The barrels were described earlier.  The picture below shows a collection of leftover or reject parts, which will help describe the carriage construction.





The items in the above picture are laid out in a circular progression of the various steps. 


Starting at about ten o’clock is an odd shaped piece of boxwood.  This has been milled to the shape of a carriage side, actually two sides facing away from each other.  The sides were then ripped off of this on the circular saw and trimmed to size. 


The axles were made from rectangular pieces, which were drilled to accept the round parts which were inserted in each end.  The wheels were turned to size, bored, scored around their circumference and parted off  in the lathe. 


The larger assembly of wood at 3 o’clock is an assembly jig, into which the pieces were inserted for gluing, yielding the assembly at 4 oclock. 


Finally, an iron bar was inserted between the sides to hold the elevating wedge platform.  Eyebolts were then added, the guns were pinned to the deck and rigged.  Below is a picture of a finished quarterdeck short 12 pounder.






The rigging of each gun includes the heavy breeching which restrains the recoil of the gun when fired. One end of this has an eye spliced around a large ringbolt in the side.  The other end goes through another ringbolt on the other side of the gun, loops back on itself and is seized with lashing.  Two training tackles, each consisting of a double and single block attached by hooks to eyebolts on the carriage and in the side.  These were coiled up for storage.  Ringbolts were also installed in the deck behind each gun. 


All the eyebolts and rings were made from brass wire.  Rings were made by tightly wrapping brass wire around a rod the diameter of the ring.  This coil of rings was then sawed through along the axis of the rod, producing many open rings.  The ends of each of these were then silver soldered together to form a strong ring.  All the brass parts were blackened chemically.


I elected not to model the breeching rings on the pommels or the brackets over the trunnions.  The scoring around the middle of the wheels was to simulate the two pieces of wood bolted together crosswise to make the wheels.


The above picture also shows some of the very few purchased parts in the model – the belaying pins and the cannon balls.  The pins were too short and a constant headache during rigging.  The balls were perfectly sized and held in place with cyanoacrylate.


With the upper deck guns in place, the quarterdeck framing could proceed.  Some of this is shown below.  It is semi authentic and certainly not completely represented.  The upper deck guns are visible in this picture.  Notice only those forward of the partition (and visible) are rigged.  The first plank, the king plank, in the center of the deck has been laid.






In the following picture the quarterdeck and forecastle planking has been installed from the center out to the inside line of the gangways.  The waist beams have been temporarily setup to fit the notched gangway facings, which line the waist opening, and also to fit the turned posts, which support these beams.  The beams themselves are 50 feet long and so are scarfed together with a long vertical scarf, which can just barely be made out in this picture.  When all these parts fit correctly they were glued and treenailed into pace.  All the remaining planking at this level was then installed.






The next picture shows the model with all the decking and most of the deck detail finished.  This picture shows the extent of the hammock netting.  I will describe how these nettings were made in part 9.





The remainder of this part consists of some pictures of other deck detail, which I will describe only briefly, but will be glad to discuss further if someone is interested in more detail.





The above picture shows the belfry, the vent stack from the stove and low profile, rounded up coamings and gratings of the forecastle.  On either side of the belfry is a row of timberheads with knees.  These will carry buntlines, leechlines and braces for some of the forward sails.  On the waist beams are the shaped supports for the ships boats.  I will cover the modeling of these tiny, planked boats in a later chapter.  All of this woodwork is cherry.  The two boxwood posts at the rail on each side are kevels.  There are several more about the deck.  These two will take the fore topsail tyes through their sheaves and belay them around the timberhead top of the kevel.




The starboard 68 pounder carronade is shown here before its breeching was installed.  Four of its large diameter balls are in the shot garland along the catbeam.  The timberheads along the forward fife rail have simulated sheaves and timberheads and will eventually be almost completely covered with the many lines that belay here.  The topsail sheet bits, shown partly in the upper left corner have brass sheaves, which will take topsail sheets later. 




The above picture shows ringbolts in the deck for the guns, some of the shorter hammock netting, the large wooden staghorn for the port main sheet, and more of those purchased belaying pins.  The penny was not part of the real ship.




This last picture shows the flag lockers, which held the dozens of different signal flags.  These were made, “egg crate style” by a method like that used for gratings which was discussed earlier.  The stern lanterns are prominent in this view.  I will discuss how these were made in part 9.




Ed Tosti

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Hello Ed, I recall seeing your build the first time around and it has lost none of the WOW factor seeing it again. I can only marvel at the quality of your work, a worthy successor to Longridge, and at only half the size.


A wonderful model.





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HMS Victory

1:96 Scratchbuild Project

Part 9 – Deck Details 2


In this part I will focus on four modeling processes – the hammock nettings, the ships wheel, the lanterns and the anchors.



Hammock Nettings


Victory had hammock nettings on just about every rail, perhaps because they had to accommodate the hammock bags of 800 crew, but also, I am sure, because the more protection from flying fragments or splinters in battle the better. Anyway, there are a lot of them. They are of different sizes and those along the poop deck rail are tapered, being shorter at the aft end. If you look at pictures of the real ship, these nettings droop and sag as you would expect rope netting to do, so using rigid screen, for example, was out of the question. The method I used was to weave fine cotton thread on a 6” mesh grid to fit the shape of each of the sections of netting, then fasten these to the ironwork u-shaped hammock cranes that were fashioned from brass wire soldered together.


The hammock cranes were straightforward. On the real ship they were square, but because of the scale, I simply used stiff brass wire. This was bent into the u-shapes and a short piece was soldered to the bottom for insertion into the rail. Then longitudinal lengths of wire were soldered on at the tops to tie them together and provide support to which the netting could be lashed. Short pieces of wire were soldered across, between the tops of each crane. These assemblies were trial fit into place on the rails before adding the netting.


The nettings were a more difficult problem, though once solved the only issue was the tedious job of making them. First, a CAD drawing was made of the layout of each unique section of netting. An example for two of the sections is shown below.




On this drawing the diagonal lines are spaced 6” (1/16”) apart and the boundary of the net is drawn on this grid. A copy of this was the placed on a piece of Homosote board and a piece of wax paper placed on top of that. Pins were inserted at the four corners of the section and at the intersection of each grid point with the outside line. A piece of fine copper wire was then strung around the four corners and twisted taut. The following picture will help describe this.




In this picture the blue line represents the fine wire around the outside and the green closely spaced dots the location of some of the pins. When all these pins were hammered into place, fine cotton thread was tied off on one pin and then woven back and forth as shown by the red lines above. At each pin the thread was looped under itself and around the wire and then woven under and over previously laid thread alternatively to form the final woven mesh. A small curved sewing needle was very helpful in doing this endless over and under weaving.


When the section was completely woven, the mesh was pulled up on the pins about 1/8” to get it off the waxed paper. It was then coated with shellac to stick it together. This was done in several dilute applications to avoid the shellac filling in the holes in the mesh. If the mesh is bridged with liquid this can be removed easily with a Q-Tip.


When dry and with all the weave secured, the pins were carefully removed leaving the completed section of netting. This was then folded, inserted into its wire frame and secured to the top longitudinal wire with fine thread. The assembly was then given a coat of flat black enamel to deaden the sheen of the shellac and blacken the wire, an exception to my no paint philosophy.


When finished, the assemblies were fit into the holes in the rails and given a small drop of CA glue. The tops were then bent to the sag seen on the real ship. Some of the photos in Part 8 show these nettings well. The picture below is a close up of some of this on the port forecastle rail. These netting structures need to be fairly strong because it is impossible not to abuse them somewhat when doing later rigging, and once the mesh is in place they cannot be repaired with solder.




At this point I will mention a tool that was made to deliver very small drops of CA. Most applicators yield drops that are too large for most of this work, especially later when used for rigging. I use a very thin CA, which I buy in 2 oz. Bottles. I do not use the applicator tip. Instead the bottle is placed open in a safety holder made from thick wood with a hole bored to the diameter of the bottle. A 4” wide base is put under this. You do not want open bottles of CA free-standing on your workbench. I then dip an applicator into the bottle. The applicators I use were made from a piece of .020” brass stiff wire. A fine slot about ½” long is sawn into the end of this wire on the centerline with a fine jeweler’s saw. The end is then filed round and the two parts of the tip bent slightly into a shape resembling an old style drafting pen. This then holds a very small drop of cement. At least two of these are needed, because they quickly become coated with CA. The spares are kept standing upright in a tall closed jar with about 2” of Acetone in it. This quickly dissolves the CA so that a clean applicator is ready when needed. After awhile the Acetone needs to be refreshed. Keeping the jar closed is important, first because Acetone is hazardous from a health and fire standpoint, but also the vapors in the jar help clean the applicators.


The Wheel


The ship’s wheel is one of my favorite parts on the model, but unfortunately it is almost invisible tucked in under the poop deck and behind the binnacle cabinet. It is modeled in boxwood and is a pretty close replica of the original considering its small size of about ½” in diameter. The assembly consists of two wheels each with the standard 10 spokes. The steps to make these two wheels and the central spindle so that all the holes for the spokes were properly aligned is shown in the following drawing.




The first diagram at the top shows a square block of wood slightly larger in width and breadth than the finished wheel diameter. This is made long enough to eventually fit into a lathe chuck. To one end of this, thin pieces of boxwood are glued with alternating grain direction. In the diagram the darker grey is end grain, the light grey side grain. This lamination will yield strong wheel assemblies and mimics the real construction to some degree. “A” is the distance between the centers of the two wheels and the joints between wood layers must be located precisely on this dimension. The dashed line in these pictures represent the cuts to be made next.


This piece is then setup in the lathe between centers and turned to the outside diameter of the wheels as shown in the second diagram down. This now round piece is chucked in the lathe. I used a three jaw centering chuck. A center hole is then drilled to take the spindle axle and the wood between the spindle and the inside diameter of the wheel is removed with a very small lathe tool.


The bottom view shows the final steps. The ten holes for the spokes are drilled 36 degrees apart around the outside diameter, all the way through into the central spindle, before the wheels are parted off. The distance between these holes can be set off with dividers. It is essential that the piece be set up for drilling so that the drill is perpendicular to the tangent of the outside diameter at each point. If not, the wheel spokes will not be radial and that is one of the main goals of this process. An index mark is placed on both wheels and the spindle to assure correct alignment later.


Finally the wheels and the spindle are parted off where indicated by the red lines. This must be done carefully to avoid breaking the wheels. The excess at the end was taken off by turning it down on the lathe. Then the two wheels were parted off manually with a fine blade jewelers saw and the sawn surfaces were sanded flat and smooth.


Spokes of the correct diameter can then be inserted to assemble the three parts. This can then be mounted on an axle and supported by appropriate pillars. The best picture I still have of this assembly is shown below.







There are four lanterns on Victory, three at the stern and the Admiral’s lantern mounted on the aft side of the main top. I felt these were too small to be made in wood and decided to make them of brass to be chemically blackened. Making the main body of the lantern with its paned windows was the most challenging part. The lanterns are octagonal with the fore face of the bottom aligned vertically with the fore face of the larger top, so they basically slant aft. Each face has two vertical rows of panes, slanted down its centerline. The forward faces have no panes. The tops and bottoms have a curved shape on each octagonal face segment and each lantern has a small octagonal chimney on top. There is one large central lantern at the stern flanked by two smaller ones. The lantern in the maintop is quite small and eventually was done as a solid chunk of brass.


First the outside shape of the lantern was filed into a small block of brass. Extra length left on this was then clamped securely in a milling vice and the inside of the lantern was hogged out on the milling machine. In the next step, shown below, the bodies have been cut down to final length and the window holes are being milled out with a 1/32” milling cutter. These were milled across the whole face, since the cutter and my files were too large to make individual small panes.





After this milling step, the holes were squared as much as possible with a very small (1/32” sq.) jeweler’s file. I have had two of these for years, one square, one round, but have never seen them on the market since. I try not to break or lose them and save them for jobs like this. After squaring the holes slots were sawn vertically down the center of the faces to take the center mullions, which were made from brass wire and were soldered into place. Two of the completed lanterns with their mounting brackets are shown below before blackening.




The last picture shows the three lanterns mounted at the stern.







Victory had several anchors of various sizes. There were, of course, the two main bower anchors, which were attached to their hawsers and made fast to the side below the catheads ready if needed.. In addition, there were two spare bowers lashed to the side at the aft end of the forecastle. One of these had the smaller sheet anchor lashed to it for storage. Lastly there is the kedge anchor, which was stored on one of the mizzen channels. The bower anchors were huge, 21 feet long and weighing almost 8400 pounds. Making them with eighteenth century technologies with only muscle power forging was a major feat of engineering. For the model all these were made from brass and blackened chemically. The picture below was taken during fabrication.





At the top is a finished bower anchor and below are the parts of its three mates. The shaft is square at the top so was turned from a square brass rod along the middle section. It was left square at the bottom to fit into a notch that was let into the piece that was cut from 1/8” plate in the shape of the arms. These were silver soldered to the shafts and filed to the rounded shape as shown. The triangular flukes were cut from 1/16” brass sheet and silver soldered to the arms. Each was filed to the correct final shape. The rings were inserted into holes drilled in the square tops and then silver soldered together. After blackening, stocks made of boxwood were and fitted, square brass metal bands installed (not shown above) and the ring was “puddened”, that is, wrapped with thread. The picture below shows the spare bower and the sheet anchor, both lashed to the starboard fore channel with the fluke of the bower resting in a special block for that purpose on the planksheer.





Silver Soldering


The last thing I would like to mention in this part is silver soldering. I have referred to it a number of times and there is a great deal of it to be done in the fabrication of all the ironwork on this model, some of large pieces, like the anchors, and some of very small pieces, like eyebolts and small diameter rings. This can be a difficult technique to do reasonably well, let alone master, and many shy away from it. I had a lot of difficulty with it until I got a small propane torch and the right soldering materials. A small propane torch is inexpensive and very adequate for this type of work. I have a small dual gas high temperature torch which was expensive and uses expensive fuel. This is not needed. However, I found that the right soldering materials are most important. I started with brush on fluxes and wire solder, which had to be cut into small pieces which always seemed to be too large or resistant to being attached to the work. All these problems ended when I went to syringes of powder solder in flux, which can be injected directly where needed in very small amounts, easily controlled. Toxic and non-toxic, high and low temperature varieties are available. I purchase mine from an online jewelry-making supplier. They are inexpensive, last a long time, and for me at least, have made the process simpler and if fact manageable. They have also helped produce higher quality work, avoiding large blobs of solder on the final piece.


In Part 10, the last section on deck details, I will discuss the modeling of the planked ships boats, two of which are partly visible in the above picture.



Please stay tuned.


Ed Tosti

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  • 3 weeks later...

HMS Victory

1:96 Scratchbuild Project

Part 10 – Deck Details 3



Ships Boats


The ships boats are prominently displayed on supports on the skid beams in the waist, and for whatever reason, the eye seems to be drawn directly to them when looking at the finished model. For years I was aware that they had to be modeled very well, but was stumped for a good process. I spent a lot of time over the years thinking about the inevitable task of building these. Finally a couple years ago, it could be put off no longer. I had a process in mind and in the end I was quite satisfied with the results. Before wading through the details I will show a picture of the finished product.




These are only two of the traditionally modeled five. I actually made three, the thirty-four foot launch, the thirty-two foot barge, and the twenty-eight foot pinnace. Only the latter two were installed, mainly because I did not want to completely obscure the view into the waist. The boats are made with scale thickness boxwood planking, cherry frames, stem and keel, and boxwood internals (seats, flooring, oars, etc.). The boats are carvel built, meaning the planks are butted together, not overlapped.


The following image is of the 34 foot launch from John McKay’s Anatomy of the Ship Series on the Victory. Many sources of drawings for these boats are available in various books. This one shows the hull profile with frame lines, a body plan and other necessary details. I scanned the image, resized it to my scale and made some modifications which are shown in the next diagram.




In the diagram below the image has been split, flipped and re assembled so that all the aft and forward frames are on their own single view. Below the aft frames are on top. In addition, a rectangular box was put around each of these plans. The height of these boxes is the same distance above the top of keel in both images. These boxes define the size of the rectangle of wood from which each frame will be cut.




First, multiple copies of these were made, enough so that a frame could be cut from each. They were then pasted on to cherry squares the thickness of the boats frames, about 3” (1/32”). The external shape only of each frame was cut out, leaving the top and sides of the rectangle intact above the gunwale on each. The top of the wood was held precisely to the top line. This would become a datum line on which the framing would be setup for assembly and planking. The next two pictures, taken during the planking process for this boat, show how these frames were setup, upside down, on a block of wood for assembly and planking.




First the frame bulkheads are glued upside down onto a block of wood. They are kept aligned with two strips along the sides. Their spacing was matched to the profile drawing. The boxwood transom was then cutout (from the last aft pattern) and glued in place, along with the keel and stem assembly.





Boxwood planks, 1/64 ‘ thick and 1/32” wide were then cut and fit into place. A lot of clamping was needed to hold these tight against their neighbors so no gaps would appear. The gunwales were put on early in this process so the planks would end up parallel to it at the top. Stealers were used to bring these planks up fair. This process was described earlier in the section on the planking of the main hull.


Unfortunately I have no pictures of the final steps, but once all the planking is done up to the gunwale, the boat is sawed off the frame bulkheads just above (ie below) the gunwale and detached from the wood block. The bulkheads were trimmed down the correct height at the gunwale and were then hollowed out to their final moulded breadth inside the hull. This was done with small chisels. A rotary tool could be used if handled very carefully. It is very easy to split the fragile frames, or worse, gouge through the hull. If done carefully with a very sharp tool, the frames can be reduced to a scale moulded breadth.




The above picture shows the finished hull planking on the launch and the last picture is a closeup of the interior of the 28 foot pinnace taken during the rigging of the ship.




The oars were made from boxwood drawn down to about .020” in the treenail drawplate. They were then steamed until soft. The blades were then formed by rolling the ends flat and wider, being careful not to oversquash them. When dry the flat ends were impregnated with CA.


In the next part, before going on to the masting and rigging, I will cover the very last task done before completion of the model, which was the making of the gunport doors, their hinges and their rigging. These were left until after the rigging was complete so they would not be ripped off by the tangles of rope during during that process. I will then plunge into the rigging.




Ed Tosti

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HMS Victory

1:96 Scratchbuild Project

Part 11 – Gunport Doors and Quarter Galleries

Posted to MSW 8/24/10.



The topics covered in this part are both somewhat out of sequence. I was going to cover the gun doors last because installing them was the very last task in completing the model. This was left till last to avoid the mass of rigging lines getting fouled with the doors, having to be untangled, or worse, breaking a door. However, some interest was expressed in this, so I have moved it up in the sequence.


Interest has also been expressed in the quarter galleries so I have added them to this part. They were built when the planking and details on the sides were done. Some of their construction was similar to what I described in the section on the stern galleries, some had other issues.


The Gun Doors




Although in this picture there is a bit of overexposure on the tops of the doors, they were planked on their outer face with the same boxwood and cherry as their surrounding planking. In fact, when closed the doors would match their surroundings, thicker if cutting a wale or the black strake just above the main wale, as seen in this picture, and of the same wood.


Making the doors was pretty straightforward. They consist of two layers of plank set at opposed angles. On the model the inside layer was cut from a single piece of cherry, 1/32” in thickness. The sides of the ports are vertical, since they are flanked by the frame timbers. The sills and lintels parallel the respective gun decks, so some of the ports have a slight trapezoidal shape, more at the fore and aft ends of the ship. Note that they do not parallel the sheer. This means that the outside planks of the door will sometimes be at an angle to the sills, where the sheer is more pronounced compared to the deck line. To get this correct the cherry inside blank was fitted to the port and marked at the planking seams on each side. Planks of the appropriate thickness and wood type were then glued on so their seams would match the marks. Excess at the sides was then trimmed off. The door in the picture below, which somehow got mislaid during construction, shows this slant in the planking and the difference in thickness and wood.




This picture also shows the closed vent opening, which was a feature of the lower gundeck doors, and the somewhat crudely made horseshoe hinge for this. The hinge was made by elongating a ring of the type cut for ringbolts and flattening it with a hammer. It was then glued on with CA. The other items in this picture are the very small eyebolts which were fitted at the bottom edge of the doors both top and bottom. These were formed from brass wire with a pair of small needle nose pliers which had been ground down at the ends to a small point. I will show these pliers later in the rigging discussion. Four of these were inserted in holes after the hinges were installed and glued with CA. I discussed making an applicator for very small drops of CA in a previous section.


Finally there are the hinges. One is shown at the lower right in the above picture. Two are shown on the doors after bending their profile to fit the wood thickness. They are attached by two small brass nails each, and further secured at the ends with the top eyebolts.]


The Hinges


Proportionality in the hinge detail was the principle factor in making these. This out weighed any thought of making working hinges at this scale, so a dummy hinge that would look like the original was adopted. The hinges were made by taking a strip of brass plate, the thickness of the hinge and about 1” wide by a couple inches long. A piece of straight brass wire was then silver soldered down the length of this strip at its center. The strip was then clamped firmly on top of a block of wood and the hinges were sawed off to the correct width. The resulting hinge blanks are shown below.





The hinges could be sawed manually, but I used a thin saw blade set up in the milling machine to slice these off. This assured the exact same width and minimized cleanup of the sawn edges. The three holes were then drilled in each hinge. A small drilling jig was made so these holes would all be spaced uniformily. The blanks above have had their first hole drilled and the finished hinge at the bottom has its final three holes and has been blackened. This hinge has also been filed down in size on the portion that will fit into a hole in the side of the ship. These holes were made small so they would not be visible when the doors were pushed in. The holes were spotted for drilling on the side using the final assembled door for that port as a marking guide. The picture below shows some more doors and the underside eyebolts. Note that the ports in the waist do not have doors.






Gun Door Lift Tackle


Making and installing the rope lifts to raise the doors presented the interesting problem of how to fasten the ropes inside the hull. The two lower deck aft chase ports under the wing transom were done simply by pushing line into holes and grasping the line inside with tweezers, then tying the two inside ends together, pulling the line out and tying it to the top door eyebolts. This would not work for the side ports for a number of reasons so another solution was needed.


The sleeves on the real ship protrude a bit from the side. They were probably lead liners through holes into the gundecks, where the tackles would be suspended from the beams. All I needed to do was simulate the sleeves and secure the lines inside. This was done by making small boxwood sleeves. These are about the size of the sleeves on the real ship and have a hole drilled through them just large enough to take the lift line. Below is a picture of some leftover sleeves and a piece of blank from which they were cut.





The sleeves were made by drawing strips of boxwood down to the outer diameter of the sleeve to form a long thin dowel. A drilling guide was then made with a hole through it the size of the sleeve. This guide was then secured in the cross feed of the Unimat. Actually, the guide was secured first, so the hole would be exactly centered in the lathe. The drawn boxwood dowel was then placed in the three jaw centering chuck in the lathe. The tool rest was moved toward the headstock to bring the dowel to the front face of the guide.





In this operation, the hole through the guide, which just fits the boxwood dowel, keeps the spinning dowel centered for drilling. The small drill bit in the headstock was allowed to protrude only enough to drill one sleeve. This reduces drill wandering in the hole. To drill a hole, the tool rest was backed toward the headstock until the dowel was even with the face of the guide. The tailstock was then advanced with its handwheel to drill the hole and then pulled back. The picture below shows the next step.




In this picture I am showing how a sleeve was parted off after drilling using a razor blade in a slot set back from the face of the guide by the length of the sleeve. Very gentle pressure is used with the lathe turning. It is very easy to crush these small blanks. When the sleeve was cut through the tool rest was moved toward the headstock and the finished sleeve pushed out. The next sleeve was then ready for drilling. A razor blade was used for this because even the finest saw I had fractured the fragile sleeves.


To install the sleeves and the line, holes were drilled in the side of the ship above the hinge holes. These holes, of course, matched the diameter of the sleeve. The line was then pulled through the sleeve and knotted on the inside end so it would not pull out. The sleeve was then dipped in Titebond glue and inserted into the hole. Later when the glue was set, the doors were inserted and positioned and the lines were tied to the door eyebolts, with proper tension on the line to maintain the door height.


The picture below shows some more doors, including the vertical opening bridle port doors doors of the infirmary on the middle deck.




Quarter Galleries





The main issue I had in making the quarter galleries was the overall shape. The drawings I had were not overly detailed, and although I used a very simple underlying structure for these, a number of factors affect their final alignment and appearance. The slight s-shape vertical curve of the hull combined with the slant and step tiered construction of the three levels makes the galleries a bit hard to visualize and depending on the view point they may look correct or incorrect because of these factors. Also, the outward curvature of the rail structure affects the window slant and to some degree where the columns between the windows end up if the parallel window geometry is maintained. The best advice I can give about these is to get the best set of horizontal rail profiles and fore and aft vertical sections of these that you can find. I have mixed feelings about my final results with these, but these were not negative enough to redo them.





This picture was taken during construction of the starboard galleries. Curved sections of rail were cut to shape and moldings were scraped on the outer edges with molding scrapers. These were made heavy enough to provide the underlying structure of the gallery. They are held in place with pegs and glue. Curve sections of thick cherry were then shaped and inserted between the rail sections. The balusters were carved in exactly the way described for the stern galleries, except that these balusters are slanted backwards and inwards along the rail, with the slant being more pronounced at the fore end. The picture below shows the slant of these balusters.




This picture also shows the slant of the window columns, which were held nearly parallel with each other, with their bottoms and tops being set back by the same amount where they meet the rail. Finally the window frames and mullions were installed in much the same way as the stern galleries, except that with a lot more slant, the interlocking notches needed to be cut on angles.


The above picture shows the alignment of the galleries. Its close the original, but but perhaps not perfectly matched. I’ll let the reader judge. The following picture has been mirrored to align with the picture above. It is actually of the starboard gallery. It is taken from a lower angle than the above picture and from further astern.




I believe the way is now clear to move on the masting and rigging and I will start that in the next part.



Ed Tosti

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It's such a joy to re-read this log - I must have read it in its entirety at least three times now - because every time I do, I pick up another wonderful tip about the "how to" of some very clever operations. Your description above of making those gunport lift tackle sleeves is an excellent example. I would never have been able to figure out how to achieve such a delicate operation, but now I've filed that one away - the technique is broadly applicable and adjustable for a variety of similar delicate operations. ThanK you so much for being such an excellent tutor. I do hope you include this type of info in your next Naiad volume. If not, perhaps you should consider writing a general text on "modelling techniques" - I'm sure it would be a best seller.

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