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HMS Vanguard by Glenn - FINISHED - Amati/Victory Models - 1:72

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There are several excellent build logs on the HMS Vanguard already, so why do another one was my first thought.  I decided what the heck the world needs more build logs.  For credibility purposes, I posted a few photos of my completed HMS Pegasus in the Gallery portion of MSW.


Here’s why I am a bit reluctant:  1. Since completing the HMS Pegasus in 2010, the sixth of almost back to back models over 6 years, I had shoulder surgery (which in part I think had to do with long periods holding small pieces of wood) and I don’t want to go through that again.  2. Back in 2010 I did very detailed build logs on my Lauck Shipyards Fair American and the Amati Victory Models HMS Pegasus for MSW, and they are lost forever.  To be clear, I consider that my fault for not keeping an offline copy of the text, though I do have the photos.  Frankly I wish I had those logs for myself here 3 years later to remind me of what I did and not have to learn those lessons again. 3. My primary interest these days is photography and traveling so I just don’t want to spend as much time modeling as I did for the first 6 models I built.  I tend to obsess. Plus having finished my niece's wedding photos I still have a photo landscape book to prepare from my recent trip to Iceland.




I was particularly focused on historical accuracy for the Pegasus, I bought the Antscherl/Herbert Swan and read other not as good books, obtained copies of original drawings of the Pegasus from the Admiralty, (great for framing and workroom wall art by the way), kit bashed like crazy, etc.  For the Fair American I was meticulous and obsessing over every detail, wanting to obtain, in my own mind at least, master class status as a builder.   Now, not so much of any of that matters.  My goal is just going to be make the best of the Chris Watton designed kit, replace a some of the wood with quality stuff from Jeff Hayes at Hobbymill, and just go for “pretty.”  Fair warning, it won’t be historically accurate, for starters I’m not going to paint it with the Nelson yellow and black colors.  I want to use some nice woods on the upper hull, perhaps cherry, yellow heart, and ebony, I haven’t really decided yet.  I know when I do I’ll be able to get high quality lumber from Hobbymill.  Also, more than likely I will stub the masts for the simple reason it’s so big already and the location I have in mind for the finished work won’t support three feet of height (oh my gosh, substituting pretty and the table location for history, what is he thinking).   I will endeavor however to make it right, nothing that detracts from the quality of the finished product.  It will look like a 74 and have the name Vanguard on the back.  I like to think of it as the Vanguard from some parallel universe.


For many of you, the above paragraph was the last you read as you marked this log as “do not bother.” Nonetheless, I hope I can offer a few insights here and there that might help you in your own mission-oriented kits.  So check it out from time to time if you like.  If not, that’s ok too. I’ll have fun writing it anyway.


I’ll try not repeat what others cover, but who knows. While I could I suppose, I'm not going to go for every extra level of detail, though I enjoy looking at those on the Pegasus with my magnifying glass... I may not be as good a builder those other guys, but I’m no rookie either.  I hope to be casual about all this as well; I’m going to try and not obsess about stuff as I have in prior models (as much anyway).  Hopefully I’ll give you something useful to apply to your modeling; otherwise I’m either wasting my time or just seeking positive reinforcement (which isn’t t bad, so feel free to offer it…frequently).  So with that as the intro, and if you’re still with me, the next post will cover the initial steps. 

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The other logs provide nice photos of the Vanguard by Amati Victory Models box contents, and as I said this won’t be the traditional log.  Suffice it to say it Chris Watton created a well designed kit full of nicely cut laser parts.  Even with having to sand the burned edges, laser cutting makes for accurate fits. The MDF frame precludes the warping that sometimes comes with Ply.  Heck, the weight of the box alone says “work to be had here.”


The keel.  The instructions cover the basics, here are my thoughts and notes on extras.




This is the best time you’ll ever have to fit and mount the final stand.  It’s just a piece of MDF with walnut glued on the bottom at this point, but it has the final keel installed if you’re following the instructions. It’s easy to work with and there’s a high probability you won’t mar the final hull (it not being there and all).  I use brass stands and walnut baseboards I obtain from an online store (I don’t like the customer service from this store, so I won’t mention its name.  You can find stores like it I’m sure).  With a ship this size it’s important to take the mounting screw past the walnut keel into the MDF frame.  I used #6/32 2.5 inch screws mounted into holes hand-drilled with a pin vise first starting with a tiny drill bit then moving up in bit size to avoid splitting the frame and to keep it straight.  I probably should have done three, but my test mount shows it to be pretty sturdy with just the two.  I’ll epoxy these in later.  To prevent splitting I used machine and not wood screws and reinforced either side of the frame with scrap MDF.  As you can see from the photo, it seems to have worked.  My son looked at this and said, “Good, I see you’re halfway done.” Smart guy…  Now I take it off and it doesn’t go back on until the hull is finished.  My board was later finished with Watco Danish Oil, but any good stain and finish will do.




The instructions say to thin the stern to half its thickness so the planked hull will match the sternpost.  However, it doesn’t mention cutting a bearding line.  Perhaps that’s because the 74 hull lines are so “round” it isn’t needed as it would be for the sleek lines of a frigate.  Nonetheless, I cut one. I feel it will make placement of the garboard (first plank laid next to keel) easier to fit, and especially with a second planking and copper on top of that.  Basically a bearding line means cutting the MDF frame with a curved Xacto knife in where it meets the walnut keel the whole length of the ship about .75-1 mm on either side, fun stuff that, The goal is thin enough to hold the edge of the garboard, but not so thin as the walnut keel has nothing to adhere to, breaks loose and has to be re-glued.  How’d that happen… 


Update Post First Planking:  Because I hope this log might help future builders and not just glorify my work I must update and correcta statements I made in this entry.  While I did add balsa between the stem and frame 1, frame 1&2 and frame 2&3 I thought and stated that would be enough.  It was for the 6 boats I did before this one, but they weren't wide belly 74s. While it served, planking would have been easier and I do recommend also including balsa between frames 3&4 as well.


The extreme bevel I put on frame 17 was right and needed, as was the balsa I included between frames 16&17.  I don't think any additional balsa was needed and sliming the keel along the stern post is very necessary.  What I hat I would do different is to put an a 30-45 degree bevel on frame 16 as well.  I had fair it to match 17, but left it more curved.  Again, it worked out ok, but would have worked better with a more direct flat angled service than just a curved faired match.  The planks make a severe curve at the stern.  They have to be wet for this to happen in any case.


I hope this update helps.  I put it here so its in the right place for anyone reading this for help on building the model.  After planking has started is too late.

Edited by Glenn
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The bulkheads and the frame. Let the glue begin to flow and the dust begin to fly (but first turn on the fan and open a window).




This kit comes with a most wonderful invention, the inclusion of printed plans that lay out every part to its exact size and the numbered board its on.  It may seem trivial, but it’s worth the time to lay out each bulkhead on top of those plans and number them accordingly.  I dry fitted my bulkheads as you’re supposed to do and couldn’t figure out what was wrong, until I did the above and figured out in my casual approach I’d reversed 6 and 9.  That’s what dry fitting is for, to avoid fatal dumbness. 




The instructions recommend, and so do I, to partially fair the frames before mounting them, especially the last and first four.  I use a Black and Decker mouse sander to save my shoulder.  It really helps, but don’t over do it.  Test fit a lot as you’re sanding, the electric sander doesn’t know when to stop.  The real fairing has to be done once everything is mounted and glued.  Once the bulkheads are fixed in you can sand more but you can’t sand less.  This same is true for the extra pieces provided for the stern and bow, get them 85% right, but save the last 15% once they are glued in. The way I test this is to keep laying a walnut plank (because its easier to bend than the limewood first plank) across the dry-fitted frames to make sure it touches most of the frame at the same time its firmly touching its neighbors to either side.


Building the frame this large is a slow process.  I glued a single frame with PVA white glue, put the decking on top, squared it up with my Pinnacle Precision mini-squares and clamps then walked away.  My only concession to speed was to start from both the stern and bow since the deck is in two parts.  I suppose you can do this faster by gluing in more than one at a time, but the foundation of a good model (literally and philosophically) is a square frame.  It can’t be corrected once done wrong, so it's worth the extra time.  Also it not a time for cyano (superglue), you need to the drying time and strength provided by standard PVA white glue to square things up.  The decking helps alignment, but it alone doesn’t make the frame square.




I use balsa filler for both the stern and especially the bow.  However, I personally think it’s important not to over-engineer these things.  Get the balsa from your local hobby store and shape it in wherever there is a severe curve.  The objective is to help make the curve with the plank and to keep individual planks from buckling.  As anyone who has planked knows, around the bow you are curving the plank twice, both around and down. (I sometimes hear the plank screaming at me what the heck are you doing to me, when that happens its time to get some sleep).  The balsa helps to avoid an uneven first planking.  In my opinion I’m not trying to make a first hull with balsa, the first planking does that.  This model has an extreme bend in the stern, pre-sanding this bulkhead is essential, the balsa applied here is to add some form and a little additional bonding space for that severely curved plank.


I’m just trying to help minimize the smoothing work between the first and second planning.  It’s all to make your planking life easier (and it does become a life in and of itself, but not as bad as ratlines do…that’s another story). 




That dummy gun port strips were fun to fit.  The stern half was easy, but to first make the bow fit the curve between frames 2-3 I had to soak the strip for 30 minutes and guide it through while wet.  Tapering and beveling the leading edge helped guide it into frame 2.  Yes it’s a bit warped, but its straight where it counts.  It only has to go to frame 2.  There is no gun port between frame 1 and 2.  The plans show this fact, but the instructions don’t mention it.  I can’t wait to fit the gun port patterns to the hull later, should be a blast.


Though I plan to minimize the paint I use on this model as noted in the first entry, it will have paint.  I always paint whenever I can and try anticipate in advance were I can paint to make it easier on myself later.  I’m sure in this case I overdid it, especially with the red since those areas below hatch covers likely will either barely be seen or not seen at all, but its really easy now and paint’s cheap, especially when compared to saving my aching eyes.  I use Caldercraft Admiralty paints.  Not easy to get here in the US and I'm sure other brands are fine, their color and coverage just works for me.


EDIT NOTE PLUS GUNPORT Stage.  I want to go back from time to time and add lessons I learned later, this is one.  As noted I paint when I can.  This is a good time to paint the fore side of frame 15 red or whatever color you want.  While it is covered by the deck above eventually, you can see this frame rather easily from the aft most maind gun deck gun port.




Another of those anticipatory moves is to score (score, not cut) the bulkhead tabs that will eventually need to be removed once the upper decks are installed.  Reading way ahead in the instructions and the plans comes in handy and is a fun use of an afternoon or two.  This is one of those lessons I learned from other models.  Its much easier to remove these times without marring a finished deck if they are pre-scored.  You still have to twist and snap and sand, but you’re more likely to come away with only what you wanted to remove and not leave a deep gouge in the deck planking, I said more likely.


The last, very important, step here is to fair the frame.  Btw, these photos were before the final fairing.  If you’ve done the pre-work described above, it’s relatively easy with 100 sandpaper on your sanding block.  Again, I don’t need to over-engineer, just make sure there is clean plank contact on each frame and on its neighboring frames. 


As an aside: If there is one best friend to every modeler it is named dry-fit.  You can dry-fit many times, you can glue but once (well more than once for things you break off or try to de-bond to fit again because you didn’t dry-fit it enough times.  Never done that…much anyway.  Ok, I lied; I’ve done it a lot because I don’t learn).


That’s it.  I’m caught up with where I am in the build process.  Now to go take some photos, read a book, or back to the hobby room.  Wonder which I’ll do… 


If this were a photography blog, I'd fit in a lot of Google Adsense hyperlinks for product links, but its not.  So just to plug my favorite "tools:"  Where would I be without my Jim Byrnes table saw, and sure hope he soon sends the sander I just ordered from him.  Life is made easier with quality stuff around.

Edited by Glenn
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Glenn, glad you are back at the workbench. I agree with your sentiment on the loss of your FA and Pegasus logs - they were an unparalleled definitive work with beautiful results. Shame to lose that resource. BTW - are you going to post any FA pics in the gallery?


 I prefer the use of wood over paint on my models, influenced greatly by your FA work. I am looking forward to your rendition of Vanguard, I think the stub masts will enhance the beauty of the wood choices and allow the eye to be drawn to the details you are so good at producing but sometimes get lost in the midst of the rigging.


At the end of the day, we do this to enjoy the process as well as the result, and in my mind there is nothing wrong with "pretty". 

Edited by ASAT
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Thanks for the reply.  I do agree, I look at my Pegasus and love the rigging work on it, but the deck that took so much time is nearly lost in the blinding aray of "string."  There is a lot more deck on the Vanguard obviously so I can spend more time at it.  


One thing different about the Vanguard than past models I've done is that some of the detail work is done much earlier in the process.  I completed the bow area, it has to be installed before the gun port patterns but I plan to hold off on doing so until the last possible moment, it's just sitting there for this photo.  The paint pattern is a mix of the instructions and my own free will.


It still needs a final touch up and dust cleaned off, but here's how it turned out.  And in the Else How Would We Learn category and demonstrating I'm rusty at this.  The vent holes for the round houses are indeed mis-located on the lower instead of upper third.  I carefully measured to ensure they'd be equal, carefully cut holes by first using a small bit followed by larger ones to keep the thin .05mm wood from splitting, and did so while I held the bulkhead piece upside down.  Yea!.




So my options were to tear it apart and start over risking breaking the support structure below, fill the hole (which no matter how well I did it I know will show) and drill it above, put two holes in each roundhouse above and below, or take the whimsical approach and decide the ship's carpenter elected to put the holes lower so the men would have a lovely view of the ocean as they sat there doing their business.  I opted for the last - at least for now.  It's hurting my head looking at it this way, but I'm trying to stay true to my relaxed approach...we'll see...


I am using Holly from Hobbymill for all my decks sanded with 220 and 320 paper after install then finished with a waterbased Poly.  No caulk lines, I think you can see from the photo, the wood strips laid side by side naturally forms a fairly scaled version of a caulk line with no help from me.  I decided this (did them with a marker in past models) after reading a comment on this site from Chris Watton, the designer.  It think he's right.


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Hello Glenn

I remember your stunning work from the old MSW. It would be nice to see your Pegasus again but I'll settle for the Vanguard too. I'm using Jeff's holly for my Fly decks but I'm caulking with pencil lead. It will be interesting to see how it turns out. I thought about no caulking - which is probably more accurate for the scale - but the very thin pencil line was my choice. I'm also debating treenails at this scale too - do you intend to try to depict them? Today I experimented with a wood paste so pale that it matched the holly and I made invisible treenails! Smart!?


I think you are being too overly anxious about your heads/bow. No one will know. It is beautiful work that you have done on this piece and re-rendering will only be a risky waste of time in my opinion. Go with relaxed and point out the mistake when it is all finished. I can here them say "You cared about that? Are you kidding me?"


I really look forward to your updates! Love your work.




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A nice start.


If I may make a suggestion for another option for your vent issue... You could try planking the whole roundhouse with a very thin veneer and re-drilling the holes where they're supposed to be. If you want to change them.


I remember going through your old Pegasus log, and you did a marvelous job there as well.


Looking forward to following your updates.



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Planking the main gun deck.  Not sure how much of this nice holly will ever see the light of day once other decks are added, but what the heck planking is fun right?   And while very little of this deck will actually be seen, I like Jeff Hayes at HobbyMill and its important to me to spend money buying his great wood products, so here goes some holly.   I'm followingThe 4 butt pattern as per the instructions.  This will all be sanded once complete and finished with Poly.  The Chopper II comes in handy when doing mass cutting of planks and made easier still by the use of a block marked to 120mm (the scale length of the standard plank as per the plans).  120, 90, 60, and 30mm planks are used at the bow either side of the center line (and once past the hatches) to get the pattern started and lined up equally on both port and starboard.  


I'm following the designer's suggestion to not add any form of caulking (to each his own, I've done this differently on each of my models I can't decide myself).  Although its hard to see in the photo, the very front bow section (beakhead area) has had poly applied.  It seems to seep into the seams and darken just enough to satisfy me - at least this time for this model.    






In the background of the photo are the two gunport pattern blocks I'll use to shape the bow gunport pattern.  Just 1x6 inch pine cut with a jigsaw from a pattern I took from the plans.  Copy off the plans using tracing paper, cut it out, use it to mark the board and cut the board, easy.  Later I'll soak the ply gun port patterns and temporarily nail and clamp them to these boards and let them dry.  I used this method on my HM Granado (Caldercraft/Jotika actually provided patterns with the kit, Amati did not but they were easy to make).  I won't be ready to do this for a while, but it was a break from planking and I got to use my big boy tools:-)


Back to the planks.


EDIT NOTE:  I was sloppy on planking at the aft end of main gun deck knowing it would be covered by deck above.  That's still ok except to remember a small bit of it will be visiable through the gunports with a hard close look, so don't be too "expeditious" with the use of scrap planking.  Don't need 4 butt approach back here, but don't leave gaps and holes.  For one thing this planking is what your cannons will sit on - it nees to be the same and proper height as the ones at the waist that are visible.  I was fine, but maybe should have done it a little better.  It will be dark and hard to see, so its not to big a deal other than "peepers" staring in the ports later.

Edited by Glenn
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There are several well-done Vanguard build logs in this forum, all well ahead of where I am and all done by skilled modelers.  So if I’m continue this log I need to try to plow some new ground if I’m to be of help to anyone.  So, while is probably pretty boring stuff, especially for skilled modelers, I thought I’d share my process for making hatches, the same principals apply to most deck furniture as well.  I’m sure there are many and undoubtedly better ways to do this, just trying to help by sharing mine.




The place to start is with good tools.  The Chopper (I also have the Chopper II for longer boards) is great for making cuts, especially when you’re mass-producing things like hatches.  I’ve found it cuts better in the middle of the blade so I add the scrap (squared up with my Byrnes saw) piece of MDF you see on the left.  I use a smaller piece for straight cuts but I’m doing 45’s here.  The Chopper comes with several metal angle guides like the one you see.  The long triangular piece of MDF is to help hold steady the 2x3mm strip on its 2mm side.  It’s shape is not important, its just the scrap I picked up, but turned out it was easier to hold.  The 45 degree cut on its end, allows me to get the guide closer to the blade on a 45 cut without hitting it, its dual purpose as you'll see below.  The problem with the Chopper is even with a new blade the 45 degree cut is not as precise as I want it.


I also have a digital caliper to transfer lengths from plans to wood and these really cool Precision mini squares and triangles I found at my local Woodcraft store.  These are indispensible in squaring up pieces, I use them a lot in many different ways.  I use the larger MDF scrap as a mini work table.  My cutting mat is well used and a little hard to keep small pieces flat.




The newest edition to my hobby room is the Byrnes Sander.  Like his saw it is precision made and of high quality.  The table is millimeters from the disc allowing me to get in close with my little pieces of wood.  I found I need no more than 320 grade sandpaper, any grittier and wood disappears too fast.  It definitely takes a very light and well-positioned touch.  I use the sander to get a precise and matching 45 degree cut by stacking the pieces together on top of each other and using the guide along with my 45 degree guide stick to gently press them to the sander (not where the photo shows, but out near the right edge).  The guide stick comes in very handy as I also need a finger to hold it against the rail.  Trick is to be gentle on the approach and to avoid giving myself a manicure with the finger holding the short pieces of wood (“what’s that sanding noise, the wood’s not touching, oh wait its my fingernail…”)  I love well made tools and Jim Byrnes makes them.







Again its important to be light with the sander, otherwise you have precise cuts on boards that are two short.  Mitered boards in hand I can go back to the mini work table and glue the pieces together, first opposing corners, then putting the two L’s they create together all with cyano (move fast on alignment).  The squares allow me to not only square the corners but also to keep them flat. 


By the way, I’m sure there’s a case to be made for not bothering with mitered corners and simply overlap the edges, but it looks so much better on the model and makes for a nice mini-woodworking challenge.


Once I add the grid work for the hatches from the material supplied in the kit I finish them with waterbased Poly and I’m done.




Finally, here is the deck furniture for the main gun deck awaiting installation, most of this will never see the light of day once the deck above it is installed, but hey, it was fun making it right? 


Just a few small points.  I used flat metal paint on the stove, but then sealed it with satin poly.  Where it to be visible I wouldn’t have done that but in this case decided it was better to seal and preserve the wood.


The forward capstan sits in an open hold in the deck, no problem, the aft capstan sits in a hole, but there is a strip of the MDF keel below.  Had I planned it out better I’d cut this down before installing the deck.  As it was with the deck already installed it was still pretty easy to use my wood carving tools to burrow out the 5mm of depth I needed to install the capstand.  MDF makes this relatively simple (I like it), not sure had it been the ply used on many models it would have been so simple.


For no reason other than I felt like it I beveled the bitts by scoring a line 5mm from the top all the way around, carving in about 20 degrees to that line from the top, sanding it out then beveling the very top at about 45’s and .5mm.  Not sure if this is historically accurate and I know a upper deck beam lays over the aft main bitt, but what the heck.


I don’t really like the look of the bits going through the deck, I’m going to put some molding around the bottom of the bitts where they meet the deck.


As you can see, and as I mentioned in a previous post, I did not (for the first time) use any form of caulking on the deck planks.  It actually looks better than it does in this photo, but the jury is still out regarding the more visible decks above I haven't built yet.  I think its ok as it is, but it would be ok with a thin caulk (like my traditional Sharpie approach), really a modeler’s choice on what they like.  I just wanted to do it different this time.


My Swiss Pear from Hobbymill is in the mail, so once it arrives I’ll do the inner bulwarks on this deck.  My goal is not to paint this and just go with the natural reddish color of the pear.  We’ll see how it goes.


I hope this of some help.  I realize this a pretty boring part of the build and there are much further along build logs of excellent quality for this same model.

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Though eventually largely hidden by the deck above, my solution to the main bitts - a veneer attached to the kit provided MDF beam.  Makes for a more natural looking fit of the bits into the beam I think and it will be slightly visable if you look hard enough at the right angle with the right light on the right day and at the right time and even think to look there.  


Also trimmed the bitts at the deck only because I didn't like the fit or appearance of them going straight thru the deck (they are attached to the keel an inch or so below to the lower gun deck that forms the superstructure of the model.



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A quick update on my progress:


Changing my mind for I’m sure once of many times I elected not to plank the lower bulwarks with Swiss Pear, so little of it shows just didn’t seem to be a good use of expensive wood, not to mention the lime wood that came with the kit will be easier to cut gun ports. I sanded and painted each strip before installing then touched it up and sealed it with Poly after installing. 




I will caulk the upper decks, its not as plain as the picture would seem due to the flash, but my experiment with following the designers suggestion not to caulk deck planks is over, the butt joints just don’t stand out enough, scale issues or not.  But that’s just me.  The holly was a great choice.


Have not installed stove yet, its just sitting there.  Things can get rough during planking for me, nothing is driving me to install it until just before the main deck is installed, much later in the process.


I found in my dry-fitting the forward bits to be installed on the upper deck would be a bit short, so I added little 30x10x0.5mm planks to the lower gun deck.  The bits will eventually pass through the upper deck and glued to these little platforms.  Completely hidden once the upper deck is installed.




I also elected to cut the upper deck in half to make it easier to fit the four (instead of kit provided two) pieces.  It did take a little bit of trimming.  They are just lying there in the photo; I will temporarily nail it all down before installing the gun ports.


While I don’t plan to fully mast this ship, I’m keeping my options open (I may change my mind yet again).  I took the right size dowels and teste and mounted them.  Here too a few minor adjustments were needed to get the right fit and alignment. It is very easy to do now, very difficult to do once the deck and planking are installed.  I did the same thing before installing the lower gun deck and will do it again before installing quarterdeck and forecastle.


I used a mouse sander to fair the edges of the gun deck off the ship to match the hull.  Much quicker and easier than doing it once pinned down.  Just had to go slow and constantly check the fit with the other pieces in place.  I’ll do a final touch once it is pinned as the last step before starting on the gun ports.


The fun and challenge of the gun port patterns are next.

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Lessons learned from installing gun port patterns:



1.     Don’t build models with gun port patterns

2.     When man plans God laughs

3.     Outsource isn’t that bad a thing really – some nice models come already made by somebody else.

4.     Are guns really necessary, I mean really.  Can’t we just carry cargo.

5.     Alignment and a slow pace are crucial

6.     Dry-fit, decide on an approach, then throw out the approach and wing it

7.     Wetting for 20 minutes is enough, at 30 the ply starts to take on a life of its own

8.     I used PVA glue fro the upper patterns because I could clamp like crazy and to get the alignment right I needed the extra time it allows before setting

9.     I used Cyano for the lower patterns because I couldn’t discover a way for adequate clamping (and I hate nailing stuff) and alignment isn’t an issue, just fit the tabs into the proper place in the upper forms.

10.   The tops (alignment not withstanding) go on relatively easy, the roll and curves of the lower ones make for a nice way to test your finger strength.


11.   Use all the tools and clamps you have (first go buy more), make a view new ones for the occasion.  I cut a board to match the curve of the bow from the plans, and clamped the wet pattern to it, let it dry, then wet it again to install, having the bow pre-curved helped a lot

12.   Borrow and leverage other people’s good ideas. I used a PVC pipe to wrap a wet lower form, holding it on with parachute cord to dry, the curve of the hull is significant, the pipe helped get it in shape before applying to the ship.  Thanks Arthur.

13.   The multiple curves at the bow (around, in, and down virtually all at the same point are not easy to shape.  Patience, clamps, and finger holds are required.

14.   I also needed the spacers between the inner bulwarks and patterns described in other logs.  The ply tends to bow inward between frames, the spacers push it back out.  I used the same MDF the frames came on; it’s the perfect width.  I cut them about 1 inch wide and 1.5 inches long and made sure I didn’t block a gun port

15.   I also had to install a little brace on frame 15 by the lowest aft most gun port.  One pattern (where the upper and lower meet at frame 15) didn’t quite meet the frame.  Using the brace to double the thickness of the frame at that point gave it something to adhere to, thus aligning it with the adjoining pattern.

16.   Despite the best-made plans and efforts (this one did go better than any I’ve done before) not everything turned out perfect.  That’s what 100 and 80 grit sand paper is for.  I needed a little bit of wood filler at the upper bow area to help shape the severe curves there where the upper and lower pattern meet on frame 1, but that was it.  I don’t want to smooth it too much until the planking is applied, it didn’t take much more than sanding along the points where the patterns meet to smooth the joints.  I think it’s a bit long at the stern, but I’ll address that later.

17.   Did I mention the curve at the upper bow where the bow bulkhead will be installed is tricky.


BTW.  The balsa filler at the bow installed earlier is crucial, the pattern would not have never wrapped smoothly without it.  The kit instructions really ought to reflect this.

Also BTW:  My homemade stand is working out well.  It's a larger version of one I've used for all my models.  A base board with curved shoe molding set apart the width of the keel then an additional width of board next to that covered with felt. The last picture shows it if you look closely.  It sets of the wider boards at the frame while the shoe modeling holds it steady by the keel.

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Arthur, I think the way to avoid the rippling is not to get the ply too soaked.  It's a fine line between being able to shape it and it shaping itself into a waffle.  The 15-20 minutes seems to work for me verse the recommended 30 minutes in the instructions.


Part 167 does seem to fit ok, thanks for the heads up.

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I added an edit at the bottom of entry 2 of this log about my lessons learned from first planking on this model.  I'll add pictures later as I'm not quite finished, but hoping this log will help someone someday I wanted to do the update.  Short version, a British 74 doesn't have the sleek bow lines of a frigate of the same time period - who knew  :dancetl6:

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There is nothing glamorous or exciting about first planking.  It’s just what you do to build a model ship.  It’s the foundation for the real job of the second planking.  I wondered the first time I built a model why do you do two planking jobs, isn’t one enough.  Fact is no it isn’t.  A real ship, and advanced plank on frame models, have frames very close together.  Not the case on a plank of bulkhead type model.  The first planking really establishes the curves and feel of the hull, the second makes it look like a real ship.


As such, and even so, I can’t say I enjoyed this job.  It really was an ordeal to get “all the space filled.”  A lot of this is because I have to admit to taking a half-assed approach to it knowing I’d get wood all over the model and fit it close enough.  I knew I could sand it into the smooth surface it needed to be for the 2nd planking (not to mention copper plating) and I accomplished that goal.  The hull is fine, it’s the right shape, its even and mostly smooth thanks to 80 grit sandpaper followed by 220 grit paper, my Black & Decker Sanding Mouse, and my elbows.  But it was ugly, probably the worst I’ve ever done, and I didn’t enjoy it. 


I was committed to getting it done quickily and have it look right in the end, which it does.  But it probably would have been easier to take the time to plan and map out the plank splining, do a better job beveling the back frames and including balsa between frames 3 and 4 and not think I had to do it in a few days.




I elect to finish this stage with a couple of coats of waterbased polly with light sanding between coats with 220 grit and a light but coarser 150 grit final finish.  I’ve found this not only helps even further smooth the hull, it also keeps moisture and humitiy from upsetting anything.  Just serves to seal it up.


Again, it looks fine as far as a smooth surface goes, but there are awkwardly fit planks (that will soon never again see the light of day so its not that big a deal) that assault the senses of the perfectionist in me.  

Edited by Glenn
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Hi Glen

             Nice to see you back again your Pegasus was one of the reasons I built her myself. Nice work on Vanguard, and as you say so far this is the foundation for what is to come, and to me the shape looks spot on, and the jigsaw gun ports very well lined up, I look forward to more updates.

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Yes, the shape is correct and the gun port patterns are all on correctly, I just didn't like the cutting and splicing I had to do to fill the open spots in order to accommodate my lack of proper splining.  Must have been a motivation issue knowing there'd not only be a second planking but copper on top of that.  There are no dents to speak of, the stern is correctly aligned and level, and the big bow belly of a 74 looks as its supposed to.


Sometimes I just try to entertain a bit and hopefully help someone along the way.  I'm glad the Pegasus log was helpful to you and others.  Wish I had access to it myself right now. There were a few good lessons learned in there I'd like to remind myself by reading again.


btw: the source of my trials and tribulations was waiting too long to start splining (don't believe the instructions, start tapering right away) and not tapering far enough back on plank (should start closer to frame 5 not between 3 & 4).  Just because you can force a wet plank to bend tto fit doesn't mean you won't pay for doing that 3-4 planks later... 


also btw:  that is the camera flash bouncing off the bow, not a 45 degree turn, a trick of the light, its actually a smooth turn.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Not very exciting photos, but an update on my slow progress.  This is the sausage being made, only rough initial sanding at this point.




I elected to complete and install the quarter galleries and then later determined I also needed to install the bow bulkhead in order to get a tight fit on the 2nd planking.  The quarter galleries were pretty straight forward, but as stated in the directions it did take some beveling and sanding to get all the pieces aligned and neat.  I put a light stick painter’s tape to protect the windows, the rest of the decoration will be added much later.


The stern of every model I’ve built has proven to be an adventure.  This model is no different, but frankly has been easier than most.  I make sure all the pieces fit and adjustments are made at this point.  I don’t want to be doing that when the instructions suggest and after the model is in a much more delicate stage with decoration and small parts fitted.   In my case I had to trim the rear and top most portion of the gun port patterns down about 3mm,  trim/sand the angle on the back side of the galleries, and make some adjustments of the stern planking to get the proper fit of the transom (not installed in the photos but was temporarily nailed to check fit.




So that I could overlap the planking on the side, I first completed the stern planking.  This is a trade off, it would be easier to fit the lower stern planks as they curved up from the side, but this is not a visible area and I preferred not to have the edges show from the side view, I’m confident I can make it fit as I lay the planks.


First order of business for 2nd planking is to establish and lay the wales (not really, this is the first layer it will be built up later, but this is where the build up will go).  The full size plan is not exactly a match to the actual gun port patterns.  There is a difference between the top of the pattern and the wale position and from the main deck gun ports and that same wale position, mostly from about gun port 8 on back.  I elected to go with the gun ports as it didn’t require quite as much an unnatural bend at the stern.




The instructions don’t mention it, but I always install a garboard plank along the keel as a full sized, un-tapered plank.  In this case I cheated a bit and added a second one.  This gives a clear and easy measure point for determining tapering widths and prevents having a oddly shaped plank at the keel.


From here the option is to start up or down from the wales.  Up, no tapering needed, but lots of ports to cut out (I’ve really gone through some blades), down, no gun ports, but lots of tapering and bending.  Doesn’t really matter, so I went up first.


I will own up to a change in plans.  Originally I was going to not follow the authentic paint scheme and instead use some exotic woods. For a number of reasons I elected to not do that, so Nelson Checker painted it will be.


This ship has a lot of gun ports to cut out and make square, there must be at least 74 of them…

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