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First Class Sloop of War Constellation by Jerry Todd - 1:36 scale - Radio

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Inspired by a large RC model of the Rattlesnake featured in an issue of Model Ship Builder magazine, I looked around for a subject to built and decided to built the ship in my own back yard, the sloop of war Constellation tied up in Baltimore's Inner Harbor since the mid 1950's.




Some video of Rattlesnake



Constellation was a sloop-of-war, of 22 guns, designed by John Lenthal, and built in 1854 by Gosport Navy Yard at Norfolk, Virginia; the last US warship designed and built to operate under sail alone. For a long time she was believed by many to be the old frigate of 1797, rebuilt and moderized, and that debate has raged in the maritime history community for decades.


Her lines and sail plan were acquired from the National Archives where I got to handle the actual hand drawn documents.  I decided to build her as she appeared in a portrait by deSimone when she was in Naples in 1856 and still a new ship.




Her lines were drawn in 1:36 scale, which was perfect, giving a model:

  1. Beam: 13-5/8" (34.713 cm)
  2. Length over the rig: 96" (243.84 cm)
  3. Width over the rig: 36" (91.44 cm) ~ Main yard w/o stuns'l booms.
  4. Length on deck: 61" (154.94 cm)
  5. Length between perpendiculars: 59-1/8" (150.178 cm)
  6. Draft, without ballast keel: 7" (17.78 cm) With 3-1/2" ballast keel: 10-1/2" (27.94 cm)
  7. Height bottom of keel to main truck, without ballast keel: 65" (165.1 cm) With ballast keel: 69" (175.26 cm)
  8. Sail Area: 2,807.01 square inches in 17 sails (19.5 sf, 18,109.7 scm, 1.8 sqm)



This log will cover my work on this model since it began in 1999 up to where it is now.


Author's Note:  This is a log of how I am building this model, not a guide to how a model such as this ought to be built.  It's full of fits and starts, changes of mind, errors, re-do's, more error's, a few mistakes; and somehow, despite all this, it seems to be becoming a working, sailing model that actually looks something like it's namesake.  The director of the actual ship recognized it on first sight - I take that as a good sign!

If you're considering taking on a project like this, please, please, don't let this build log deter you - it's not nearly as difficult as I make it seem.  Just take away from it that which helps you along, and ignore the rest.


Most of the images are named so they can be sorted by name and will come up chronologically; ie: con20090701d.jpg is of Constellation, taken on July 1st, 2009, and is the 4th (a,b,c,d) of the group.
Edited by JerryTodd
Added tags and fixed some typos
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Much more regarding the details of why I chose this ship to build; history of the ship; and other items of interest can be found on my web page for this project.  This "log" is to replace the one that had been posted here before the forum crashed and lost a lot of data.




Having the plans already in the size I wanted saved a lot of time getting started, and I used the Model Ship Builder article as a guide at first.  A bit of scrap particle board from a remodeling project was used as a building board.  The forms were cut from scrap wood paneling, and the keel was some 1/2" scrap birch plywood from a cabinet I built.  This was all stood up by the end of March, 1999.

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Then I discovered a book;

William Mowll's Building a Working Model Warship:HMS Warrior, 1860.


Mowll covered his forms with battens instead of planking and covered that with gummed brown paper packing tape over which he applied masking tape to create a plug for making a fiberglass mold. The masking tape was to give the texture of Warrior’s cast iron plating. I happened to have a large roll of the brown tape, and got the idea of using this method to make a plug and cast 3 hulls in glass fiber.  I didn't need the masking tape as Constellation wasn't iron plated, I would use the brown tape to impart planking details to the mold.



So, moving forward with this plan, I battened the forms with scrap white pine strips...

post-961-0-53835400-1378491254_thumb.jpg  post-961-0-92248600-1378491254_thumb.jpg



...and proceeded to cover that with the brown paper tape creating what would be a plug for a fiber-glass mold.

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The tape shrinks a bit when it dries and can be sanded.  Once the form was covered diagonally I began applying a second layer in the form of strips to represent planking, gunport lids, and even copper bottom plating - all this detail would be picked up by the mold and imparted to the glass hull when it was laid up.  The plug still needed more details, like quarter galleries, but none of the drawings available gave these details, so I had to go digging.



In the meantime we sold the house and bought a small farm where we kept some horses and I commuted 65 miles one-way to work.  The plug went into the barn, covered in plastic, and wasn't touched from 2003 till 2008.



Next: Work resumes.


Edited by JerryTodd
added the barn pic
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Work Resumes


So, life went and changed things around a bit.  My wife and I went different ways and the farm was sold.  I moved into an apartment and the workshop and the plug went into storage.  In the late spring of 2008 I bought a house with a 12 x 29 shed that became my workshop, subsequently known as "The Damn Yankee Workshop."

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With the shop set up, I began to work on the plug in earnest.  Those details needed for the mold still had to be added and the quarter galleries were a big part of that, so that's where I started.



These things didn't need to be very structural as the entire plug would be destroyed in removing it from the mold.


In the mean time I visited the restored vessel and learned some things.  The bulwark on the spar deck was actually planked up hammock stanchions.  When the ship was being "restored" as a frigate, they took off the hammock irons and tossed them into the bilges, the restoration recovered all but one and reinstalled them.

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This changed the shape of the hull for me.  Instead of "solid" bulwarks continuing smoothly up to the cap rail, the hull stopped with a cap on top of the waterways, and had these stanchions mounted on top of that cap and covered with wainscoting.  So, I cut the plug down to the lower level at the top of the waterways.



The whole idea of the plug being destroyed when the mold was made began to nag at me.  There was a chance, a very good chance in my opinion, that the mold might not turn out and the whole thing would be a disaster and a major waste of time and effort.


Next: A Course Change

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While I considered what to do about the plug, I found some very nice white cedar while getting something else at the lumber yard, so I began making the lower masts.

Since I had no plans for Constellation's spars specifically, I used several sources for the details, including Spars and Rigging From Nautical Routine, 1849 and Biddlecomb's Art of Rigging, but the best source I found for this 1850's warship was Luce's Textbook of Seamanship which has some very detailed drawings of the rigging of this period.


After drawing the spars full-scale, I cut the cedar to the rough dimensions on a table saw:

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I then marked out the details and the taper:

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Shaved the taper, then marked the spar to make it 8-sided:

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The masts were banded with the same brown paper tape the plug was made from, the hounds and the front fish were made and attached:

post-961-0-37274200-1378491851_thumb.jpg  post-961-0-74608800-1376494569_thumb.jpg


The cross-trees and trestle-trees for the lower tops were made along with a rough set of mast caps:
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The topmasts were made from the same cedar and in the same manner as the lower masts.  Some temporary mast steps were placed inside the plug, a stand made from 3/8" plywood to hold the model up, and some paint went on the lower masts.



By this time I was convinced that glassing the plug and making it the model's hull was the best course to take...


Next: Prepping to glass

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Prepping to Glass - or how not to build a hull.

April 2009


The plug, now "the hull." needed to be prepped in order to be glassed.  The card-stock quarter galleries were tossed; the stem knee shaped and tapered; and some of the brown paper detailing removed.  The sheer was trued-up and every thing was lightly sanded.

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I used the polyester resin available at the local hardware superstore, and laid up one half at a time with 4oz cloth.

post-961-0-22491900-1376498789_thumb.jpg  post-961-0-90720600-1376498789_thumb.jpg


After one side set-up, it was trimmed and the other side laid up.  The next day that was trimmed, the whole hull sanded, and another coat of resin rolled on:

post-961-0-84053000-1376498790_thumb.jpg  post-961-0-50982700-1376498791_thumb.jpg


Once that was set and sanded all the forms were carefully removed.  The hull was flimsy with only the battens, paper tape, and some very fine glass cloth:

post-961-0-44497900-1376498793_thumb.jpg  post-961-0-12703900-1376498794_thumb.jpg


Glass matting was laid in, one side at a time.  Extra resin was poured in while the hull laid on it's side, to try and fill the spaces between the battens.  This probably would have been better done with Water Putty, or some other filler that would have filled the space more solidly:

post-961-0-23778200-1376498792_thumb.jpg  post-961-0-82736000-1376498792_thumb.jpg


I now had a solid fiberglass hull as the matting made it very rigid.


This is NOT a good way to make a hull for an RC boat.  The original plan, before I was distracted by Mowill's book, was the way I should have gone from the start; wood planking on forms, covered with glass and resined inside.  If you're following this with the idea of doing one yourself, learn from my mistakes - look at how I built the hull for my Macedonian.


Next: Deck Framing

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The deck clamp was built up from two layers of pine strips, much the same as the hull's battens.  The sub deck would be 3/16" luan plywood with strips glued down on top for the visible decking, so the deck clamp was set down so the finished deck would be flush with the sheer.

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The subdeck was cut from the ply and fitted



Then the positions of the hatches and deck furniture marked on it to determine where the deck beams would be needed.



At this point I only had two sources for the ship's spar deck layout; Chapelle's drawing of Constellation from The History of the American Sailing Navy, and model plans of the ship from A.J.Fisher which the people restoring the actual ship told me they were using.  The Fisher drawings are of the ship in 1941 and very crude.  Chapelle's drawing says they are from the original drawings, but the 1854 drawing of the spar deck was missing from the National Archives.  The major differences being the main hatch in 1941 was shaped like a capital I and the galley hatch had a house on it - neither of which are on Chapelle's drawing.  I opted to go with Chapelle.  Later, I found more information that vindicated my decision.



Down in the hull, straight beams were installed to carry the equipment decks where the radio equipment and sail controls would be mounted.  I also decided to step the masts on these decks.  The deck beams were laid out to form mast partners and hatch framing.  Each beam was cambered and notched to hook under the deck clamp.  The subdeck would be epoxied on and sandwhich the beams and the deck clamp all together.

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Temporary mast steps were put in to get the mast partners properly aligned, and the subdeck was sawn into 2 inch wide strips so it could conform to both the beams camber and the boat's sheer.

post-961-0-69618500-1376761029_thumb.jpg  post-961-0-96916100-1376761029_thumb.jpg

Edited by JerryTodd
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All the deck beams didn't go in at once.  Some would have been in the way to do other work in the hull, but the basic framework that provided the main hatch, battery hatch, and mast partners was in place.  Below beams were set that carried the mechanical decks where the servos, battery, and other operating mechanics of the model would be mounted.  The battery was initially going to be stood up on the keel in a thin plywood box, but at the suggestion of a friend that was sailing a 1:24 HMS Surprise around, I laid it on it's own little deck with Velcro tabs to hold it in place; getting the weight lower in the hull as a result.

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On a visit to the ship I acquired from it's director a box of pieces of live oak removed from the ship during it's restoration.  One was stamped USS Constellation 1854 and will have the model's completion date and my name added to it, then it'll be mounted inside the hull so in the future folks will know what lunatic built this thing.  :)

Other bit of live oak were fashioned into the three mast-steps and fastened to the mechanical decks with brass screws.

It's really nice to incorporate wood from the original ship into the model.

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I then focused on the rudder.

First I drilled the 1/2" hole in the counter for the bass rudder tube.  This would stick out through the counter and approximate the sort of cowl the ship's apparently always had.

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This tube would be filled with JB Weld epoxy with a 3/16" i.d. brass tube suspended in it.  The epoxy would form a top to keep the rudder from riding up.  The rudder itself was cut from 1/4" Plexiglas with a larger surface than the scale rudder.  Two cheek pieces of 1/8" plexi, cut to the size of the scale rudder, were attached to each side - these would be painted, etc, while the over sized portion would remain clear.  The rudder's post was an 3/16" brass rod glued to the back edge of the rudder, with 3/23" brass rods drilled through the post and into the rudder as drifts.


The head of the rudder was made from a maple dowell that only reaches into the rudder tube about 1/8" and is the bearing against the JB Weld and inner rudder tube that keep the rudder from riding up.  The post rod extended into the hull and has a tiller attached via a steel collar.  It extends below the rudder about 3/8" where a gudgeon plate is attached to the hull to hold the bottom of the rudder to the ship.  Removing the tiller and gudgeon plate allow the rudder to be removed if the need arises.

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Edited by JerryTodd
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The next step was the removable ballast keel...


The ballast would attach to the hull by means of two stainless steel threaded rods that would run through a pair of tubes from the spar deck, through the keel.

The forward rod would be disguised with the galley stack, the after one hidden by the skylight that was part of the model's battery hatch made up of the skylight, companionway hatches, and the capstan.

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Initially I wanted to cast a flat lead bar about 3/4" thick that would bolt onto the keel and weight about 50 pounds,  I made a wood mockup but I've never casted that much lead before, so I opted to fill a 2" PVC pipe with lead shot that weights in at about 42 pounds.

post-961-0-67099100-1377197756_thumb.jpg  post-961-0-16043000-1377197758_thumb.jpg



The model will still require some internal ballast, which will be in the form of lead filled "bean-bags" that will attach with Velcro tabs, like the battery.  Then it can be moved to trim the model as needed. 

Edited by JerryTodd
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Just catching up Jerry. Very nice. I have never heard of using fiber glass like this before. I had always wondered how, after such a long time building these models anyone would float them on water (a possible sinking turn of events seemed unthinkable). But your resin cast is tough and waterproof. Again, very nicely done.

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Funny you should mention that lambsbk, as it was about this time the model got wet for the first time  :)


On October 4th 2009, I had taken my daysailer Lydia out and tossed Constellation in the truck.  When we got back I put the hull in the water for it's first float.  I forgot the rods that held the ballast on, so the closest thing that might be deemed a test was when I pushed the hull down to it's waterline.  No leaks.

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On the 7th, wanting a better "test" I tossed her in the truck and took her to the end of my street to Sloop Cove - where else do you float a sloop of war, eh?

In total there was 50 pounds of lead on board; 42 in the torpedo, the rest in baggies placed in the hull.  There was also about 4 pounds more consisting  of battery, radio gear, and a couple of hand tools; plus her lower masts, which together don't weight half a pound.

She floated 2 inches above her load waterline.  I figure it'll take 12-15 pounds of internal ballast to get her down to waterline, that includes her running gear and battery.

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Next up: Radio Control

Edited by JerryTodd
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Setting up a model square rigger to actually sail by remote control isn't especially difficult, unless you're trying to maintain a scale appearance - then it becomes a challenge.


There's two major geometry issues to deal with; the yard braces, and any sails that overlap each other or a stay, such as the heads'ls.


The usual way of dealing with bracing the yards is to put the widest set of arms on the brace control servo that will fit in the hull.  The braces are run up to the yards and attached the same distance out from the center line on the yard as they are out from the center of the servo arm.  This basically forms a parallelogram where everything moves evenly.  The problem is, this isn't how the braces run on a real ship; they are run out almost at the end of the yard, out-board of the side of the hull.


The best way to deal with this is to use a winch on a servo designed to rotate multiple times, a winch servo.  I intend to directly control the braces for the fore and main course yards, the crossjack, and the fore and main tops'l yards.  The other yards will be pulled along by the sails below them.  I also intend to control the fore mast braces separately from the main and mizzen masts so I can back the fore when tacking ship.

post-961-0-76436700-1377485882_thumb.jpg <=- The braces will be controlled by the left stick on the radio transmitter.


This means I need two winch drums for each controlled yard for a total of 4 for the foremast and 6 for the main and mizzen.  The problem is, again, geometry.  The fore course yard is longer than the fore tops'l yard (measuring between the points where the braces attach.  The winch rotates 3.5 times.  If the drum were the same size for each yard the braces would be pulled more for the shorter yards than for the longer ones - I want them all to come around evenly together.



The simple answer is different sized drums for each yard, but nothing is ever simple.  When the yards are squared across the hull, the braces are at their tightest.  As the yard is pulled to one side, the opposite brace is fed off the winch at the same rate and goes slack.  Bracing the other way the braces both go taught as the yard squares, then the paying out brace goes slack.

Slack lines on a remotely controlled model are not good.  They tend to snag and catch on things, and the brace paying out could actually run off the drum and tangle.  To deal with this I intended to run each brace through a block (pulley) on a spring that would keep tension on each brace all the time.  Initially I also planned to put some bungee else where in the circuit to be sure, but in the end I felt only the springs were needed.



The winches would be mounted on a pallet that would fasten to the mechanical deck in the model, so the entire control system could be removed as a unit if required.  They would also be offset vetically so they wouldn't interfere with each other.




More on braces and rudder control next:

Edited by JerryTodd
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Brace Winches


The winch drums were cut from pine planed down to 1/8 inch thick.  Each pair of drums was the diameter determined for it's yard and each had a slot cut in it so the brace could be threaded and knoted inside the drum.  Each drum was separated by a flange made from compact discs, CDs.

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When the drum was assembled, a 1 inch hole was bored in it's center, and a servo horn was mounted at the bottom of the assembly.  The forward drum (right) is the main & mizzen mast winch; from the bottom up, in pairs, are the main-corse, crossjack, and main-tops'l.  The aft drum is the foremast winch with the fore-corse and fore-tops'l braces.

post-961-0-46100200-1377630456_thumb.jpg  post-961-0-06885900-1377630457_thumb.jpg


To the right top of the winches in the photo you can see some silver colored cylinders; those are the springs that will maintain tension on the braces.  There are 5 on each side.  The large servo at the right of the photo will control the fore-n-aft sails; heads'ls, spanker, etc.




The rudder head is very close the to stern of the ship, just as the real one is; so I don't have the space to mount a T type servo arm with hard push-pull linkages to steer the model.  Instead, I mounted a tiller on the rudder and will mount beams with blocks to route the tiller rope to the steering servo; a high-torque, metal geared type.  In the images you'll see some cup-hooks in wood blocks hot-glued to the hull to test the theory.  Beams will be epoxied in place and the tiller rope guides will be mounted on them, that way it won't pull off the the hull.

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With the servo hard-a-port, and hard-a-starboard.

post-961-0-27771800-1377631492_thumb.jpg  post-961-0-67840800-1377631492_thumb.jpg

Edited by JerryTodd
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That's just the stock servo Bob, I hadn't gotten that far along in the design for handling the heads'ls.  On my Pride of Baltimore I have two heads'ls, an overlapping fores'l, running backstays, and running main fore stays to handle - if I can figure out a way to deal with all that - every other model will be a walk in the park.


I've got a couple of ideas in mind that I need to mock up and test - the one I'm hoping will work will use a large cross-arm on the servo and also slack the sheet before pulling it across.  I'd rather not use a winch if I can stay away from it.


I haven't gotten to it yet, but the tensioning system for the braces is being changed as well; to a setup where the winch servo itself slides fore-n-aft against springs instead of the brace being pulled against a spring.

Edited by JerryTodd
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Constellation's head was always enclosed and from her launch till the 1880's she had a white stripe painted straight through the head, except maybe for a short time during her Mediterranean cruise during the Civil War when it's mentioned that she was painted all black for a short time.  The model, will, of course, have an enclosed head and carvings, painted as she was in 1856.

The detail of the carvings are beautiful and it's hard to imagine they were painted through the first 25 years of her life - Beyond the fiddle-head, I wonder why they put carvings on her trail boards at all.


post-961-0-39915500-1401114310_thumb.jpg  When the ship first returned from restoration, her bow carvings, all original to the ship, were done up in gold leaf.


post-961-0-82063000-1401114311_thumb.jpg  The ship is allegedly supposed to appear as she did during the Civil War, so the gun strip was painted through the head.


There is, up here, a head; the "seats-of-ease" as it were, with a chute on either side of the bow to take the waste down to the waterline.  This set-up was on the ship right until she came to Baltimore in the mid 1950's to be "restored" as a frigate.


post-961-0-71971900-1401114312_thumb.jpg  post-961-0-52235000-1401114312.jpg


Replicating these carvings on the model is going to be quite the challenge.  I tried using Sculpty clay and it could probably be done, but I wasn't getting anywhere with it.  Someone suggested gluing string and cord to a trail board and painting it thickly. This didn't work out either.


post-961-0-05340300-1401114604_thumb.jpg  post-961-0-45010200-1401114604_thumb.jpg



What I'd like to do is have a set photo-etched, in two layers on each side to get the detail.  Further detail can be scribed and filed in, or added with Sculpty.  We'll see where this ends up someday.


As for enclosing the head on the model, I first had to figure out how it was done on the real ship.  There's surprisingly little information on the actual structure of this enclosure beyond it's being simple "old-style" head rails wainscoted over.  So, this is the approach I took...




Using pine, I made a keel, of sorts, on top of the head knee, to catch the ends of the stanchions, or ribs.  There are 5 ribs on the ship now, one of which is attached to the hull planking.  The upper rails are just sheet bass scribed to represent wainscoting.  The ribs are planked in straight runs on the restored ship, so I followed suite with more sheet bass.  It all got a very thin coat of water-putty, and then a wash of diluted white glue to help seal everything up.


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Next up: The Stern

Edited by JerryTodd
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Now, we move aft...


I only have one image of the stern of the ship that was done when she was in Boston for a refit in 1859, that shows how the stern appeared.  It is really nothing like any image of her afterward in that the upper curved moldings disappear.  Another painting of the ship at Naples in 1856 shows the stern somewhat, but I've never found a clearer image, nor one in color, where I could actually make out any detail other than the white stripe doesn't wrap around the stern.

post-961-0-64985300-1401115144_thumb.jpg  post-961-0-97179500-1401115144_thumb.jpg


With that little ammunition in hand, I wrapped some paper around the stern and marked where things were; the backs of the quarter galleries, the bottom of the stern, the stern ports, etc, etc.  Removing the paper, I connected the marks and basically drew the stern's details on the flat sheet.  This I scanned so I could work on it in the computer; adding moldings, the medallions, and other details.

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Printing this and cutting it out, I used it to mark where everything went on the model itself.

I used an old utility knife blade to make a molding scraper



and proceeded to apply moldings with epoxy.

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The quarter galleries also got a dose of detailing, in the form of posts and window mullions.


Edited by JerryTodd
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By-the-way, in that 1859 drawing of Constellation in drydock, I have no idea what those round objects are between the stern ports.  I'll wager your first guess is port lights, but they are drawn 3-dimentional and the port side ones are shaped all wrong if they were ports.  If fact, if they are protruding, then they appear to be pointed out-board from where they are; if they are inset, then they appear to be pointed directly aft.


They also appear to be connected by a cross-bar with a vertical bar running through it, right where the boat davits are - which were iron and slightly curved, but I believe pivoted up and down on an upright bar that allowed it to also swing from side to side.  I thought maybe these were some sort of fender to keep the boat from banging against the stern, but the boat would still hit at the center of the stern on the medallion?  But they appear to be just that in the photo taken in the 1880's.


So, what are they?


post-961-0-88802800-1401142531_thumb.jpg  post-961-0-21138000-1401142532_thumb.jpg


I'm simply going to leave them off for now.  If I can determine what they are for sure, I can add them at any time.

Edited by JerryTodd
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By Constellation's time, the split gunport was in common use, with a hole in the center to grasp the muzzle of the gun which poked through a short way and had a tampion in it.

I decided not to model the gundeck to keep things simple and a bit more water resistant.


I cut out each gunport, but only the outer glass and the resin/wood batten layer, leaving the mat layer inside. 



post-961-0-98099200-1401113705_thumb.jpg  post-961-0-39637200-1401113706_thumb.jpg


After a few tries, I managed to make a form that I was ok with and pressed it into some clay.  This became a mold to make 20 lids with muzzles and 10 plain lids without muzzle holes.  There would be three plain lids on each side and 4 on the stern.  The stern lids would be cut and mounted in the open position later.

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Each lid was set in it's port with epoxy thickened with fine sawdust to act as a filler as well as a glue.



post-961-0-54596700-1401113707_thumb.jpg  post-961-0-92042000-1401113707_thumb.jpg


I decided I was actually going to copper the bottom, and order a couple of rolls of peel-n-stick copper tape from The Tape Depot.  That tape came in and I realized it was time to...



Edited by JerryTodd
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Painting the hull was more of a primer job than a finished surface.  I had sprayed some Krylon black and some copper on the hull a while back to see how it held up to handling; that's what appears like a scorch mark on the hull during the float test.


I sanded the hull and washed it with dish-washing detergent, then wiped it down with degreaser.  I masked off the white stripe and sprayed it with flat white then, when it had set, masked over the stripe leaving the gunports uncovered, and masked the waterline about 1/2 and inch above the LWL - this is the top of the copper.  The hull was then sprayed flat black.

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The bottom was sprayed with the copper



and the quarter galleries were painted to match



As I said, this wasn't meant to be a great paint job, but more of a primer coat, and she was looking a bit like a log to me.  I painted the bottom copper with the idea that if any of the tape came off, it would expose the copper color, as opposed to black or white.


From a log to a copper bottomed pot


I got three rolls of the 1/2" wide copper tape.  I calculated it would take two rolls to do the hull and got the third roll to be safe.  I did wind up going a few inches into the third roll.

The tape came from The Tape Depot and has an acrylic adhesive; just peel the paper off and stick it on.  I don't recall now, but I think I got the "conductive" version.



I made a pair of stamps from some sheet aluminum (one for port side plates, the other for starboard side plates), using a nail to create the protrusions.  This was attached to a block of pine and pressed into the face of the tape against an eraser.

Coppering is attached to the hull with nails that have countersunk heads, like a wood screw, into pre-punched holes.  The effect is NOT the riveted appearance most modeler's apply, but more the opposite.  The dents made in the copper are push back out when it's pressed onto the hull and gives more of a countersunk nail appearance.  I pre-made 20 or 30 plates at a time, then began applying them.

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I began applying them from the keel at the rudder post, upward, and forward so each plate overlapped the ones below it and behind it about 1mm, like scales.  Each plate was burnish with an eraser.  I also used my finger, but wound up with a lot of little cuts from the edge of the tape.

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Examining photos of the ship in drydock at various points in her life, where I could see, it seemed she wasn't coppered in any specific pattern, but simply from the keel up and finished with a girdling belt at the waterline.  That's the pattern I went with.

post-961-0-13822300-1401116124_thumb.jpg  post-961-0-54399000-1401116124_thumb.jpg


The rudder was coppered as well, and when both sides were done, the keel got plated and the hull was complete.

post-961-0-90660600-1401116124_thumb.jpg  post-961-0-23001100-1401116125_thumb.jpg


I'm pretty pleased with the effect of the coppering.  At this scale I couldn't just ignore the nail marks, but I didn't want that ridiculous round headed rivet effect I see on models so often.  I never actually counted them, but I imagine there's some 2400 plates on the hull, counting the rudder.


After one side was done, I, and my fingers, needed a break from all the peel, stick, and rubbing - so I took a break by working on


The Mast Tops


Edited by JerryTodd
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Very nice coppering job, Jerry.  The eraser is a good way to clean up the work and I used it some years ago on Victory's 3700 plates - doesn't leave anything behind like steel wool threads or skin.


I assume the copper is self-adhesive.  Do you know the thickness?  Can you recommend a source?





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Thanks for all the "likes."  Ed, I'm a big fan of your Naiad and Victory logs - I saved all your Naiad images for reference as I do my Macedonian.


There's a direct link to the tape in post #26 just above the picture of the tape.  It's 1.4 mil thick and self adhesive with a paper backing.  At the time, I found it a bit cheaper than the model ship shops were selling it for, where you could find 1/2" wide tape.   When I get this build log caught-up, I plan to repost the Macedonian build log, and I have another plan for her copper bottom, I'll elaborate on that when I post on Constellation's boats.

Edited by JerryTodd
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After completing the copper on one side of the hull, I took a break in the form of making the mast tops.


As with much of this vessel, I had to figure out what would be right for the ship as she was when new.  I looked at the restored vessel, but I've already found things they've done that weren't right for the period they say she's representing, and I would find the tops were no exception.  While they appeared from below to match the standard practice of the day...

post-961-0-15052800-1378048899_thumb.jpg  post-961-0-99804700-1378048899_thumb.jpg


From above they did not. 

Standard practice called for "sleepers" that sandwiched the very thin and light platform between them and the cross-trees and trestle-trees below, as can barely be seen in a 1914 photo of the maintop (left) and which are absent in the image of the restored ship (right):

post-961-0-30990100-1378049264_thumb.jpg  post-961-0-08043900-1378049247_thumb.jpg


I had made the cross-trees and trestle-trees back before I fiber-glassed the hull and had worked out the proper size of each of the tops from rule-of-thump combined with proportions derived from photos of the ship like the one above.  Now it was time to make the platform.


The platform of the top is basically a rim under which is laid the decking of the platform, you're seeing the underside in these photos.  I built mine up, then trimmed the inside edge to shape.  I laid the decking with slight gaps between them as seen in the oldest photos of the ship.

post-961-0-10011500-1378050161_thumb.jpg  post-961-0-73787600-1378050161_thumb.jpg


The decking was trimmed back just inside the finished edge of the top...

post-961-0-32025000-1378050162_thumb.jpg  post-961-0-93831000-1378050162_thumb.jpg


Another rim was bent around the edge of the decking under the top-rim that basically covers the end-grain of the decking.  The untrimmed excess of the top-rim gave my cloth-pins something to hold on too as they clamped this piece in place.  Once set, the platform was trimmed to it's final shape, the hole for the yard sling made,  and the sleepers and compression cleats added.

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post-961-0-87957400-1378051750_thumb.jpg  post-961-0-54988100-1378051751_thumb.jpg


After painting, the platform was screwed to the cross-trees with countersunk brass screws, they were not glued.




Next: The Bowsprit

Edited by JerryTodd
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