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Cutty Sark by brian2_h - Del Prado - 1:90

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Hi – this was purchased as a skill leaning exercise prior to finishing my Billing’s Cutty Sark version and was purchased through Ebay as was cheap with some parts missing.


No pictures of early stages as never thought of taking any!


I will detail the changes I made/make as it may be of help to other new builders. If anyone has comments always welcome as first time I've posted to ant forum


The model was published in weekly/monthly parts sent through the post. Not sure how people got on with actually building it on this basis, as having all of the building instructions to go through prior to starting is helpful as the build sequence and instructions are vague in many places and also after mounting the masts and yards holes need to be drilled in these to attach other parts. Difficult as the yard being drilled is attached to the mast and unsupported.


Although expensive if bought on a monthly basis this would result in the project being broken down into small manageable parts with no confusion as to what is the correct part to use for where and also step by step instructions, useful for other projects as well.


Recommendations before building would be:-

  1. To go through all building instructions to get an understanding of how the build progresses and work out what needs completing before a part is attached.
  2. Obtain a copy of Harold G Underhill’s Cutty Sark plans, as recommended by other members on this site. I purchased mine from Royal Museums Greenwich (£14.50 for 3 plans including postage), but also managed to download a set for free from the internet.
  3. Don’t rush, make sure that the parts fit correctly prior to gluing.
  4. To obtain a really detailed scale model a lot of additional work will be required to most parts, but if built as per instructions will give a good representation of the Cutty Sark plus a lot of building experience gained.
  5. To assist with rigging suggest obtain copy of the Revell 1/96 rigging instructions (available on the internet) as these give a lot clearer understanding of the various rigging parts and where they go.

To date the problems encountered have been:-

  1. Hull developed a twist in building despite following planking instructions. Would suggest that anyone building it adds additional bracing between the frames, making sure that masts can still be mounted, I would suggest sheeting diagonally from keel to deck level. To form a triangle between deck and keel. Attached diagram just shows square timber, but the main frames appear to be set at a distance of 62mm so easier than if all frames at different distances.post-8065-0-50491700-1384813228.png
  2. Certain liberties appear to have been taken to simplify the build. Two options are either ‘go with the flow’ or amend as per additional information obtained.
  3. Certain dimensions are not given so it’s either a bit of guess work or look for the information elsewhere, luckily I have the Billing’s plans for CS so have used them



To date hull completed as per following picture:-



Hull was built as per instructions but would suggest that all of the keel is glued together prior to adding frames as care is needed to ensure that the hull remains square, filling in between frames as suggested above would stiffen structure up. The masts are kept in place on the keel by a square box, however I found that the position of these results in a vertical mast not canted backwards as is correct, easy fix for the foremast and mainmast is to leave out the front part of the box as this is against a frame and for the mizzenmast to once again leave out the front portion and glue a spare piece of material across the front of the sides, this will result in 3 rectangular boxes allowing front to rear movement


The hull was planked as per instructions but nails were only partially inserted and removed when glue set. Planks bend quite easily if soaked in water. For the planks around the stern planking was soaked in water, excess water dried off and the formed round jar with masking tape and elastic band. Careful shaping of stern and bow braces is required to ensure smooth flow of lines of planking.


One major error in the design, presumably for ease of construction, is that the fore and rear decks are flush with the top of the hull whereas the hull should extent above these slightly. Decks form part of the hull and sit on top of the frames so only easy solution would be to add a 2-3mm extension on top of the current planking all the way round.

Deck planking per instructions is cut to 12.5mm x 3mm lengths which does not fit the pictures of the build. I modified this and cut to 62.5mm x 3mm, which gives actual life size of plank of 18.5ft x 10.5inches. About right for length but twice the specification width, which was 5 inches.  I put a border plank around the outside of the hull and all main deck structures and then planked to these, but didn’t joggle the planks where these joined. Latter per the instructions the main deck planking is cut back by 2mm to add the bulwarks, which are 2mm thick, I moved the edge plank in on the main deck in by the 2mm to avoid trying to remove a thin strip after planking




I cut all planking using a balsa cutter which was useful as the surface was divided into 1.5mm strips so made measuring easy, as a stop could be set to get all planks equal length.




The bulwarks are pre-cut and require two strips joining together with a strengthening piece glued inside and then planked outside, and after fitting planked inside. After joining and planking the outside I cut off the strengthening piece to give a smooth surface inside.



Once hull planking completed I made a mixture of polyfiller, PVA glue and water to fill gaps etc. and then sanded to a smooth finish (shows as white in the photo). Adding too much PVA glue, as I found out, results in a very hard surface which is difficult to sand, ended up using a wood chisel in the end. Careful sanding at bow stern and where bulwark joins is required to obtain a flowing shape. A second layer of thin planking is added of either sapele veneer or ‘copper planking’ so finish after sanding does not need to be ultra-smooth.




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Warm welcome to you, Brian, and welcome to the "CS fleet" as one of the members call us who build Cutty Sark model


I ll follow your log with great interest, there are so many questions about every single detail to think about and to learn. I like your approach to building, and like your model looks

Great help is to try to find Campbell plans (3 sheets) - you can find them on internet or you can order them, also instructions from other different kit manufacturers. Oh yes, Internet is here, pictures and photos from Greenwich


Waiting for your posts with impatience



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Thanks for the comments, currently build is ahead of post so trying to take pictures, write log and also get used to using the site! Added 'second' part below hopefully.


The sapele veneer for the planking comes in pre-cut very thin sheets. I found that the cut edges are tapered so care has to be taken otherwise gaps appear when sanded due to the taper and reduced thickness. Each strip either needs sanding square on the edge, easier if bent slightly while sanding,or lay alternative planks inverted so that the tapered edges interlock. This turned out to be the better alternative as if dry fitted first it becomes clear which way round they need to fit




Deckhouses currently built as per plan but to assist building them square, as several parts are glued together, used  balsa wood sheet cut to internal size and built deckhouse around this. The rear deckhouse has an extension at front which does not appear in any of the plans I have, only realised this after building and completing the decking, currently two choices, to either modify stern deckhouse and decking or leave, haven’t decided yet which route to take, but gave decking a sanding and varnished it with matt antique pine so need to be careful that any alterations blend in




‘Copper Sheathing’ consists of sheets 200mm x 98.4mm, each plate being 16 mm x 6.15 mm giving a real size of 4.75 ft x 1.8 ft, of what are said to be copper but appear to be possibly thin brass. Per instructions, a first strip of 4 tiles is fitted at the waterline and then the rest covered in large sheets toothed to interlock . I’m not sure how this actually works as the hull has compound curves against a flat sheet of metal. I did test to test fit these but gave up  I have therefore cut the sheets into individual tiles as this appeared to be the best way of getting them around the curves and also easier to work with. However got to decide how to glue them on




Gunwales are added using pre-cut 3 ply stern and prow sections and straight 5 mm strip in between. I ditched the pre-cut ply and edge glued two sections of spare strip together and after tracing round the bow and stern made the curved sections out of this.




The centre section was bend after soaking on my cutting plank. This is a spare piece of laminate flooring which I have found ideal for cutting on. The hull outline was drawn on it and then the soaked strip over bent to the correct shape (as it tends to lose some of its bend on release) bulldog clips, masking tape and any bits of spare wood hold in place. A bit crude but works well, best to select a strip that appears to bend more easily across its width and give a good soaking in water, wipe of excess water and clamp up. Scrap wood etc. can be used to hold in place





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Hey Brian,

Thanks for the detailed descriptions - really helps to follow along with.

One small comment you made resulted in a major "lightbulb" moment for me. Although I'm nowhere near it on my build, I want to copper the bottom, but my kit doesn't provide this. I was wondering what to substitute with, as hobby supplies here in SA (unless you are into RC aircraft) is difficult to come by. Your comment about the copper sheet maybe being brass, gave me an idea. Get hold of brass shimstock, and try that. Thanks man!!


Keep posting - you are being watched (with interest)

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Hi Dognut


I've looked on uk ebay and issues of the Del Prado magazine are available. I think its issues around 50 - 60 that have the sheets in so might be possible pick some up on the SA equivalent?


ps spent several years myself in Africa but on the Zambian copperbelt 

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After the deckhouse issue decided to have a break from the hull and do some work on the masts. Not a good move as it turned out!


Started by making up the tops and the spreaders from the parts supplied. Once again lucky that I had future issues as drilling small holes in parts already made up could be a problem. Decided to make all masts at one time as steps are repeated for each mast. Instructions are to make all masts with just the supplied base for the spreaders and then when mast complete add the other 7 pieces to complete the spreaders. Some pieces of these being glued on top of each other with nothing to support them whilst the glue dries. The only thing holding pieces together is the strength of the glue. Decided against this approach and made mine prior to completing mast and used cross halving joints for added strength and this also reduced the height. Not over happy with the final result as they are made out of 4mm timber giving a real thickness of 14 inches. I assume that the size is due to it being aimed and relatively newcomers with limited skills and also for strength




Cut all masts and yards to the sizes stated, but on test assembly could not find any mention of how for the masts overlapped! Major omission. ‘Light bulb’ moment and downloaded the Billings Cutty Sark off their website which had all masts and yard dimension on. Had to get calculator out to adjust for the different scales and then found that all masts and yard dimensions were different to what had been stated on the Del Prado instructions! Mostly the Del Prado sizes were smaller than calculated. Quick double check confirmed variances. Will use dimensions from the Billing kit for all mast and yard sizes and positioning. As some assembly of the tops had taken glued in place, had to decide which set of sizes to use. Having dry assembled the Del Prado masts they didn’t look right so having no spare dowels added pieces to the cut masts top and bottom to correct. Use ‘Gorrilla’ glue, which was recommended to me as the glue ‘wicks’ into the wood as it dries making end to end gluing possible, end result seems ok.  Correction of yards will wait until I obtain more dowel.




On test assembly masts are at 90 to the deck (see previous comments) so will remove material from the front of the masts prior to final assembly.




Having had problems with the masts etc. moved on to making the chains. Parts supplied are thin ply so after finishing was not being happy with the colour and finish, so decided to match them to the inside of the bulwark, and having spare veneer left, used this to cover them, carefully drilling the holes where indicated.  




On test fitting found that the mainmast chains are partially in front of the mast, swopping them round results in the same problem!




Back to the Billings drawings gives completely different style. Looked at the rigging plan from the 1/96 scale Revell plastic kit, this gives step by step instructions on rigging which appears quite clear. So decided to go for possibly the Billings version of the chain rail modified perhaps to follow the Revell rigging plan, as on the Del Prado version no provision for belaying any lines.


Frustrating time so thought get rid of another problem at the same time. From the instructions supplied both the Bowsprit and the Davits are just glued to the outside of the hull. This does not appear to give very much strength when rigging is attached to them. The keel is made from 3ply so, using a small 3mm drill to start, drilled a whole where the bowsprit was fitted, angled as necessary, drilled by eye rather than anything else! Once the 3mm was drilled opened it up with bigger drills up to 6mm the size of the bowsprit. Test fitted the bowsprit and success very slightly of line but little bit of work with round file sorted.




Following this ‘success’ drilled similar holes for the Davits on each side. The Davits are square so opened hole up with rectangular file, other solution would have been to round end of davit to fit.




Must say that the kit seems to be rather poor on both design and scale at times although does keep the grey matter working sorting things out

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Hi finally back building, unfortunately managed to put a 2 ½ inch splinter through the top of my palm building some decking and needed surgery etc to get it out and the hand working again.



During time off managed to undertake some research and visit the Cutty Sark at Greenwich. Interesting to note that the copper plates on the hull up to the waterline are actually flat with the nails hammered flat into the sheeting, however a lot of models are built with indentations to simulate the nails, as is the material supplied by Del Prado. Would be interested in other builder’s comments.





This makes sense as the smoother the hull the less resistance and why design a high speed hull and then spoil it with thousands of nail head marks.



Revisited the cabins and added the portholes and for a bit more appearance added door knobs using the small planking brads provided, locks ok and adds a bit more detail.





After comparing the Del Prado model with the Campbell plans decided to add the topgallant bulwark to the top of the current bulwark. Guess that this was left out to simplify build. Re drilled my current hole for the bowsprit and removed the Stem and moved it up to meet the new bowsprit position. Will fill gap where it meets the keel with some spare wood and as this will be covered with the copper sheeting




Finally bit the bullet and rebuilt the front of the deckhouse and filled in the deck gap as well, once again added portholes and door knob, (might adjust this to two half-doors as opposed to the current single but used the bits cut-off)




Hade another look and the various wooden fittings used to hold the various masts etc. together. As supplied they are big and bulky, but saves damaging when fitting, so used my disc sander to reduce them. Found that the shield around the top of the sander is just about right height above the sander disc to reduce them down to a more acceptable size. Picture shows bowsprit partially complete and the other the topgallant mask before and after



post-8065-0-86044900-1398442500_thumb.jpg   post-8065-0-31630300-1398442523_thumb.jpg


Got a bit carried away with the change in appearance so ended up rebuilding the mast tops as well, and added slots near the mast to take the various shrouds etc. as on the original these are taken around the back of the mast. Surprised as the difference to appearance that this actually made.






Whilst on the ‘improving appearance kick’ added more detail to the hatch covers, once again using the planking brads provided. Once again adds a bit more interest to the finish. However this was a a bit of a disaster as forgot that the brads were longer than the depth of the hatch covers and spend the next hour or so trying to get the hatchway off the building board into which the 32 brads had gone by about 7mm! Good thing it wasn’t the dining room table. Picture shows before and after.





When building the original helm box it looked somewhat bit and cumbersome and when placed on the stern did not look right. A quick study of the Campbell plans and some scrap bits of wood and version two completed. Have once again used the planking brads so that this can be nailed and glued to the deck on final assembly





Previously thought at revising the chains and belaying points and thought I would use the Campbell and Billing plans to give some guidance. Quick measurements from the various plans to get the correct positioning of the shrouds etc. and had difficulty getting things to work out for the main mast. Double checked all measurements taken and my conversion to the correct scale still the same problem, finally checked the measurement between the main and mizzen masts. For some reason the Del Prado hull is 20mm shorter than it should be from the measurements from the Campbell plans! Not sure why this is as impossible to build the Del Prado hull incorrectly as everything is pre-cut, so must have been part of the kitting process. This appears also to account for the difference in freeing port positions on the Del Prado model.


One solution would be to adjust the hull length between the two masts when the hull is being built as adding 10mm before and after one of the hull frames would be possible with the deck and bulwarks being remade as required. Another solution I have is to cut the hull into three and rebuild to the correct length, actual solution I intend to adopt is to ignore and carry on!   


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