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USS Constitution by usedtosail - FINISHED - Model Shipways - scale 1/76

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I am about to start the Model Expo Constitution. I have had the kit on the shelf for about a year, but I was waiting to finish the Bounty Launch. I only looked in the box once since I received it, and did not realize how many pieces parts there are for this one. I have to say I am a little intimidated now that I have started going through everything. Well, here goes...


Before I get to the pictures, I have come back to add an Index to this build log.


Hull Construction:



Stern Filler Blocks

Bow Filler Blocks

Transom Framing

Gun Deck Framing

Gun Deck Planking

Gun Deck Gun Port Framing

Gun Deck Knees

Spar Deck Gun Port Framing

Upper Hull Planking

Transom Planking

Lower Hull Planking

Bulwark Planking and Rivets

Painting the Hull

Copper Plating


Transom Details

Quarter Galleries

Gun Port Lids



Deck Details:

Gun Deck Cannon Rigging

Gun Deck Chain Pumps, Stove, Riding Bitts

Spar Deck Beams

Spar Deck Hatches

Mast Pin Rails

Spar Deck Planking


Cat Heads

Head Rails and Trail Boards


Ships Wheel

Bulwark Pin Rails



Hammocks and Cranes

Anchors and Davits

Ships Boats

Masts and Rigging:

Chain Plates

Bow Sprit

Lower Masts

Upper Masts

Mast Tops

Lower Shrouds and Stays



Bentinck Shrouds

Topmast Shrouds and Stays

Flying Jibboom

TopG Shrouds and Stays

TopG Jacob's Ladders

Royal Shrouds and Stays


Studding Sail Booms


Running Rigging


Short Interlude


Running Rigging II

Quarter and Aft Davits




Completed Model


Display Case


Now, some pictures of the contents:


Eight pages of plans:


A lot of wood pieces:





Looks like they upgraded some older parts:


Copper foil for the hull, blocks, cast metal parts, etc:


Edited by usedtosail
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Some more content pictures:



Some photo etched brass parts:


I organized the blocks, deadeyes, and bulls eyes in these small containers:


For the wood strips, I used these plastic golf bag tubes that I got from my father. I had originally planned to use these to organize all the extra wood strips I had in the workshop, but I had to go to something that could handle more strips, which you can see in the picture after this one. I was pretty amazed that the strips just in this kit filled up these tubes.


What I use now to organize my wood supply in the shop:


Edited by usedtosail
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Besides the kit instructions, I plan to use the Anatomy of the Ship book for the Constitution as an additional guide. I used the AOS Beagle book to build that model and I really liked the extra information and details in these books.




I am going to try to build the Constitution in its 1812 configuration, as others have done on this site. In fact, those other build logs (Cookster, CaptainSteve, Jeff Toma, and others) have been a huge inspiration for me and I know the information in them will be a huge help.


I plan to add some sails to the build, and my first thought was to go with a look like in this picture, when see sailed in Boston Harbor in August 2012 for the 1812 anniversary. I believe our own popeye2sea (Henry) was on it when this picture was taken.




Now I am thinking of adding some fore and aft sails too, but I am not sure on that yet.

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If you are going to bring the quality of work from your Bounty launch to your Connie, then I'm sure this will be a build worth following !!

Current Build:  HM Granado Bomb Vessel (Caldercraft)

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Thank you all for your encouragement. I wouldn't dream of tackling something this complex without knowing I can rely on you all for guidance and support.


I have been comparing the supplied plans with the AOS Constitution and started to note some of the differences, although the deck details in the AOS are not as detailed as I would like. I fear that I may end up adding details from the current configuration that weren't there in the 1812 version, but hopefully that won't happen too much.


This week's progress. I cut the keel and stem pieces from the laser cut sheet and glued the halves together. I used just about all the clamps I had that would work on these pieces.




I then cleaned up the three keel former pieces and some of the other pieces. I used a sanding block on its side to keep the edges square. I have since ordered a True Sander to do this right, so I am waiting for that to arrive before cleaning the other keel pieces.




I copied the plans for the three keel former pieces and glued them to some manila folder material. I will use these to transfer the bearding and other reference lines to the wood.




One difference between the 1812 version and the current version is that in 1812, the ship had rope gammoning, not chain as it does today. So, in order to use rope on the model, I need to expand the holes in the stem to slots. I have marked them on the stem but have not cut them out yet.




Here is my favorite picture of the stem - looks like a dinosaur to me  :)




Thanks again for the encouragement and support.



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Work on the keel continues. I glued the three pieces of the keel former together using epoxy, with some weights to hold them flat. Those jars contain rolled up pieces of lead sheeting.




I then carved the rabbet into the bottom edge. I used a #22 X-Acto blade and an X-Acto chisel blade. I cleaned up the rabbet after carving with a small sanding block.






I enlarged the holes in the stem to slots for the rope gammoning by drilling holes in the other end of the slot and cleaning them out with small files. They came out a little wider than I wanted, but should be OK once they are trimmed by the cheeks or head rail (whatever that piece is that follows the curve of the stem under the bow sprit) and have rope in them. I sanded the inside edge of the stem to fit on the keel former without gaps, then glued it in place with white glue. I used some clamps to hold them together and some weights to keep everything flat. There is some scrap wood under both piece to keep them level, too.




In the mean time, I am still going through all the Constitution build logs and other materials, making lots of notes. I still have many decisions to make going forward, but I am starting to get a pretty good idea of where I want this build to take me. There is so much information here that is really making this job so much easier than it could be, and so many good ideas and ways to tackle the different parts of the build. Again, I thank all those who have come before me on this path.

Edited by usedtosail
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More progress on the keel. Here is the stern post being glued to the former. I used a rubber band to hold it while drying, after making sure it was centered.




I then sanded and fit the three bottom keel pieces between the stem and the stern post. Lots of clamps to hold them together while the glue dried.




Then I filled the holes in the keel pieces that are there to help align the two halves when gluing them together, and also used a little filler on the joints. I sanded the joints flat, then drew lines on the stem and stern post for the extent of the tapering. I used a #22 X-Acto blade and a sanding block to add the tapers. I think they came out pretty well. I was a little concerned because I messed this step up on the Bounty Launch and was never happy with the way the stem looked.




I have started checking the bulkheads for symmetry. I found one that is a bit small compared to the plans, but the plans are also not symmetrical. I am going to add some strips of wood to the edge of that bulkhead and sand it down during the fairing process. The other bulkheads that I have checked look pretty good. I have four more to go. I am also adding the reference lines and tapering lines as I go.

Edited by usedtosail
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Your off to a great start. This kit will be my retirement present to myself in a couple of years. Thanks for posting the build log for all of us to learn from.

The heart is happiest when the head and the hands work together.



Current Builds:

HMS Halifax 1/48 POF Lumberyard Kit

Model Shipways Glad Tidings

Acoustic Guitar Build FINISHED

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... found one that is a bit small compared to the plans, but the plans are also not symmetrical.



I cut my plans out and used them as templates when fairing my bulkheads, but I think you'll find the plans are deliberately asymmetrical with one side being the outline for that bulkhead, and the opposing side indicating the fairing line (this side being slightly thinner).

Edited by CaptainSteve

Current Build:  HM Granado Bomb Vessel (Caldercraft)

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You are off to a great start Tom.  By the way, you might want to get a second roll of copper tape.  One roll is not enough.


          Bob R.

San Diego Ship Modelers' Guild
Nautical Research Guild

USS Constitution Ship Modelers Guild

USS Constitution - Model Shipways - 1:76 scale.

18th Century Longboat - Model Shipways - 1:48 scale

Higaki Kaisen - Woody Joe - 1:72 scale

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Indeed it looks like you are of to a good start.

One small suggestion, Tom. You might consider making a copy of the eight plans. FedEx offices should be able to do that for you. I am constantly referring to mine and my originals are getting pretty beaten up. As Steve suggested above, I have made 8.5 x 11 inch copies of certain sections on stiff paper and used them for templates or to keep next to me when working on small details.



Current build Cross Section USS Constitution  http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/10120-cross-section-forward-area-of-the-uss-constitution/

Finished USS Constitution:  http://modelshipworld.com/index.php?/topic/103-uss-constitution-by-modeler12/


'A picture is worth a  . . . . .'      More is better . . . .

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Thanks Steve Bob and Jay. I am with you all as I have already had the plans copied at Staples. This lets me cut out sections and use them as templates. One\ the bulkhead plans, there are two lines on one side, one for the fairing line and one for the edge of the bulkhead. The asymmetry I am seeing is in the bulkhead edges on each side. I found another one last night that was off, too. Thanks for the heads up on the copper tape. I have an extra roll that I bought a few years ago, but I will have to see how they match up in patina.

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I decided to build a new building board that would hold the keel more rigidly and straight. I cut a 1/4" by 24" by 6" basswood board in half and screwed one piece to a larger board. I then put three slots in the other board and screwed it down on the larger board. The slots let me adjust the width of the keel slot and to tighten it to the keel.






I have been cleaning up the bulkheads and adding the bevels to them. I have about half of them done so far. It takes about 15 minutes to do each one so it is taking so time. So far, the fairing looks pretty good, although I have not adjusted them for squareness to the keel yet. They are just slid into the keel for now and not glued in yet.






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I finished cleaning up all of the bulkheads and here is how they look (unglued) in the hull former:






As I mentioned earlier, I am going to attempt an 1812-ish version for this model, since taking a hard model and making it harder just seems like the right thing to do ;). So I want to have the main hatch open with beams across, instead of the closed hatches that are on the ship now. This one decision led to many others. Since the hatch will be open, the gun deck will need to be added since it should be visible when looking into the hatch, even though there will be a boat or two on the beams. And if the gun deck is seen, it has to have real cannons (not the dummy barrels), which should be fully rigged. So that means I need to buy the cannon set from Model Expo since I need about 12 cannons in the area that can be seen from the hatch. Other things could be seen too, like the chain pumps and hatches leading down to the berth deck, so these will be added too. Diagonal knees - sure. Deck planking and treenails - sure. Rivets on the walls - probably not (I have to draw the line somewhere).


I am going to use 1/16" thick planks for the gun deck planking, but I also want to put them on a basswood sheet backing, which will be another 1/16". Since the bulkheads are cut at the top of the gun deck, I need to remove 1/8" from those that will be seen from the main hatch, which are E through L. I measured down 1/8" from the cut out and marked the line to be cut to. I am going to leave the center supports and spar deck beams in place for now until I add the spar deck waterway. I will cut these out in place and clean up the center of the bulkheads so there is a smooth run of the gun deck across them, before installing the gun deck.




Since the top of the hull former is at the same level in this area, I also need to cut it down by 1/8", so I marked it too:




In the next post, I will show how I cut these areas out.

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To continue on dealing with the gun deck, I set up my Dremel tool in the Workstation with a sanding drum to sand down the area on the bulkheads to be removed. This set up let me quickly switch bulkhead sides and change bulkheads by raising the Dremel tool. There is a hole in the base of the workstation that allows the drum to fit into, so I could get the whole width of the bulkhead in one shot.






The drum doesn't fit in the corners, so after doing what I could with the Dremel, I put the bulkheads in a vise and used a razor saw to cut out the material in the corners.




I then used a flat file to clean up the cuts.




When I had all of the bulkheads cut, I stacked them together and aligned the top rails, then used a flat file to get the cuts even. Here is the before picture:




And here is the after. I think I could do more clean up but I don't want to remove too much, so I am going to wait until the final sanding after removing the center posts for any additional material removal.




Finally, to remove the material on the hull former, I just used a razor saw to cut close to the lines, then a sanding block to finish off the cuts so they were all straight. I had to deepen the notch for the main mast, which I did with some careful chiselling. Well, not really so careful, but the pieces broke off cleanly and I was able to cut the notch out with a razor saw at that point and glue the two side pieces back in. For plywood, this stuff splits pretty easily.




The next task will be to carefully glue the bulkheads to the hull former.

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Adding the bulkheads:


This was pretty straight forward. I had made these Lego corners for a previous build, but they were about half as tall as I needed for this one. A quick trip to the attic to find more of my son's Legos and I had what I needed.








And here they are all attached. Overall, this process took a few days as I was only adding them two at a time and letting them dry a few hours before the next two. The deck beams seem to have a nice run to them without any high or low spots. I know the sides of the bulkheads still need some fairing, which I will get to soon.




While this was going on, I started making the transom filler block. I used the supplied basswood block and cut out the templates from a copy of the plans, which I glued onto the top and bottom. I then used a disk sander to thin the block down and rough in the shape, then a variety of sanding blocks to get it close to the final shape.




I drilled the rudder hole, which is at a slight angle, by holding the filler piece in an adjustable vise and setting the angle to match the stern post angle, then hand drilling a series of small to large holes, finishing the hole with a couple of rat tail files. I used the raw kit supplied rudder to test the fit, so I left it a little tight, since the rudder stock will be sanded round later.


I test fit the transom filler piece to the stern, using the center line on the plans to line up with the center line of the last bulkhead. Getting the piece to be aligned horizontally was a bit of a challenge, but I used the transom pieces as guides, so that when they were level all the way across that was the right angle for the filler. I had to reduce the thickness of the filler a bit more and may still take some off before adding the transom pieces. I glued it on with white glue but did not find a good way to clamp it, so I held it in place until the glue was tacky.




I am working on the two filler pieces that sit under this piece and will have pictures when I finish them.

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Stern filler blocks:


The first one of these took me much longer than I thought it would, but the second one was a lot faster. Isn't that how it always goes.


I first glued up two blanks to use for these. Instead of the 2" wide block that came with the kit, I used a a 1" piece of basswood that I had and glued on a 1/4" piece at the top, just to reduce the amount of waste.




I then made templates form the plans and traced the edges onto the different sides of the blank.




I cut the side profile with a coping saw, then taped the pieces back together and cut the S shaped back profile on the scroll saw. This took a while since my little scroll saw and thin blades didn't want to follow the lines nicely. But, I eventually got it cut out.






I then used the belt and disk sander to square up the top and side edges so they fit flush to the last bulkhead and the keel.  I used them to remove a lot of the material in the middle of the blank, and I also used my Dremel tool in the workstation with a sanding drum to get into the tighter curves. I finished up with a rounded file and some sanding blocks, and used the profile templates I made form the plans to check the overall shape of the block. I got the overall shape but the top edges were too small compared to the transom filler. Instead of remaking a whole new piece, I cut about 1/2" off the top of the blank and glued on two 1/4" pieces that were wider. After they dried, I sanded them to fit the existing shape of the blank but left the tops a bit wider than the template.


It was at this point that I realized that I had left the underside of the transom filler piece too long, since the stern filler piece did not fit all the way to the back edge. I flipped the hull over and held it in a keel klamper, then used a sanding block to sand the back edge of the transom filler back to the correct length. I left about a 1/16” flat area so the planking can end nicely into the transom filler. I found it much easier fitting these filler pieces with the hull upside down.  I then used the disk and belt sander to sand down the added top pieces to match the templates and flow into the original filler piece. I had to remove material in the middle of the filler to match the profile templates. For this I used the sanding disk in the Dremel tool in the workstation. I left the drum above the base so I could get the piece under the disk if I needed to.








I ended up with a nice general fit, but then I worked the edges some more with sanding blocks and the rounded file to get the edges to flow into the bulkhead R and the rabbet along the stern post. I ended up increasing the rabbet depth some with an X-Acto chisel so a 1/16” plank would fit nicely into the rabbet. When I had a good fit, I gave the whole piece a final sanding with medium and fine sandpaper. I was very happy with the way this filler piece turned out, but it took about 6 hours for make it.


The second one was a lot easier. I bought a few tools to make this process a little easier for this and the remaining filler pieces, which included heavier scroll saw blades with larger teeth and a small hand saw. I found this saw at Home Depot and it worked really well:




I used the hand saw to start the cut of the excess off the side profile, then the coping saw to finish it. I drew the side profile on both sides of the blank this time so I could check that I was not cutting off too much on either side. I taped the cut off pieces back on and cut the back S profile with the scroll saw with the new blades, which worked much better, especially after I increased the speed of the saw.




I then sanded the edges to the template lines. I again removed the center material with the Dremel sanding drum set up, and finished off with the sanding blocks and file. The rabbet on the starboard side was in good shape so I did not need to so anything with it. This side only took me 1.5 hours, and the two piece seem to match very well. I'll give them a final sanding along the edges when I fair the hull. You can see that the tips got pretty thin and ended up breaking off, but there is plenty of support from the bulkhead at those points, so I didn't bother to replace the tips. The pieces are not glued in yet, but will be soon.




Lots of saw dust created to make these two fillers, but it was pretty fun overall.


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First, an update on the stern filler blocks. I ended up spending over an hour fairing these even more, once I started running a plank strip across them. They have a much nicer flow and a better transition from the rest of the stern bulkheads. The little shelf for the ends of the planks at the transom filler is now even on both sides. These are also now glued into place.





After making the stern filler blocks, it was time to make the bow filler blocks. Piece of cake, I thought. These have a much flatter profile than the stern so there shouldn't be so much sanding. Ha! I had not counted on the little notches, which made this a harder job than I thought.


OK, to start, I cut out the blanks for each filler block from the supplied block, cut out the rough shape with the hand saw, and sanded in the final shape using the disk and belt sander, just like the stern blocks. These both came out pretty well, so it was time to carve the slots. I marked them on the top of the blocks using the cut out piece from the plans as a template. I cut a slot on each side using a razor saw and started removing the material in the slots with some small chisels. Well, these came out pretty rough as you can see in these pictures:






I slept on this but decided the next day that they were not acceptable. I had bought a few end mill bits to use in the drill press, and I figured this was the job for them. I had to figure out how to hold these odd shaped pieces in the vice I had and then it hit me. I could reuse most of the pieces I already had by cutting off the top 1/4" and mill a 1/4" piece of basswood sheet to replace it. The sheet I could hold flat on the XY table that I have under the vice on the drill press. So that is what I did. I used the table saw to cut most of the tops off, then sanding the rest off in the disk sander. I milled two piece of 1/4" sheet, using a 1/8" end mill bit for most of the slot, and a 1 mm end mill bit to clean out the corners.








These came out so much better, I was rather excited. I carefully glued the milled pieces to the rest of the filler blocks, making sure the slots were in the right place in relation to the rest of the filler block.






The next day, I sanded one of them down and it fit like it was supposed to.




I started sanding down the second one and managed to round over the top so it was ruined. OK, I thought. If I can do this once I can do it again. So off came the top, another sheet was milled and glued on. When I sanded this one it looked good, but when I fit to the stem, it was too small. Apparently in all the sanding, I was removing little bits of the original section and in the end it came out too small. Another lesson learned.


So it was time to start over with the second bow filler block. I had a couple of scrap pieces that I glued together to form a blank. I sanded one end flat for the top and milled the slots first, while I still had a nice rectangular block that I could hold in the vice:




After that, it was just a matter to cut out the rough shape and sand it to the final shape. And here is the result of a week of work:




They are just glued on and there will be some fairing left to do, but I am relieved that they are finished.


While the glue was drying on various pieces this week, I also did some fairing of the bulkheads. I glued some sand paper to this sanding stick and used it to fair down the bulkheads. As I noted in a previous post, some of the bulkheads were not wide enough in some places, so in these areas I glued some thin basswood strips to build them up, then sand down to meet their neighbors.






After the bow filler blocks dry, I will do more fairing then start the bow and stern framing.


Thanks for watching.




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I faired the hull from the keel up to about the wale, then turned the hull over and faired the rest of the way up. I then started framing the bow. I first cut out the main frame pieces, after gluing up three strips of wood for the knightheads. The timberheads I could make out of a single piece of wood. One thing I did was to hold the pieces together to make sure the notches all lined up at the same height then sanded the bottoms flat.




When I was satisfied with these, I fit them into the bow filler block notches and cut out the stiffener pieces that go between them. This took a couple of tries because these pieces as shown on the plans are too short and don't reach all the way to the rabbet. I modified the new pieces to end at the rabbet, then glued them to the stem and the first bulkhead, using clothes pins and a binder clip to hold them at the right height.








I then added the upper piece that forms one side of the head entry. I clipped a batten between the adjacent pieces to get the correct location for the top of this piece.




If you look closely at the picture before the last one, you can see that the port knighthead was curved too far back at the top and didn't make a nice curve with the timberheads on this side. Instead of replacing it, I added some wood to the front and removed some from the back to get it into the right shape.




I added the side pieces for the bridle ports and the upper support pieces






Then the top and bottom of the bridle ports. I faired it all and here is how it came out.




I have some more design work to do before I can tackle the stern framing, but that is next.



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I'm enjoying watching your build. I like the care you're taking with each piece. I'm now having stern problems myself. Oh well....life is just a series of problem solving.

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Thanks Rich. I have gotten in trouble in the past when not paying attention to these support pieces, so I am being careful now. I will still have problems later, but like you said, that is life and solving problems (up to a point) is actually one of the things that I really like about this hobby. I hope your stern problems get resolved satisfactorily.


As I mention at the end of my last post, before I can tackle the stern framing I had some design decisions to make. Since I am shooting for an 1812-ish version, the first decision was the height of the bulwarks and taffrail. I had already decided to eliminate the bulwarks in the waist area and replace them with some stanchions and painted cloth panels. For the rest of the bulwarks, I am going to build them only as high as the top of the main rail, so there will be no top gallant rail and the top of the spar deck gun ports will be just under the main rail. I am going by these pictures from before the 1927 restoration. It was after the restoration that a topG rail was added. I am also going to make the top rail out of one wide piece instead of three glued together laterally, and thicker as in these pictures than what is on the plans (3/32" instead of 1/8").






There were some other design decisions that came out of this one, like the placement of the hammock boards and their height and the bow rail details, but I'll show you those as I get to them. The major design piece that I needed for the transom was the height of the main rail where it intersects with the taffrail, so now that I have established that height I can design the transom. I am going with a modified five window design from the Constitution Anatomy of the Ship (AOS) book, which shows a possible transom design in 1812. I scanned this design along with the transom plans from the kit, and using Paint and PowerPoint, I was able to get them to the same scale and start merging the two. The AOS design when scaled to the height of the top rail was too narrow, so I stretched it out to the width of the kit. The AOS design also shows the taffrail above the main rail height, so I moved it down to meet the ends of the main rail. This meant having to move the decorations down to meet the sides of the chase ports, but I think that still looks OK.




Since I am going with the five window configuration for the stern, and the kit has four inner supports for the transom, I wanted to make sure that none of the windows had supports behind them, since I plan to use acetate in the panes and would like some depth behind them. Since these supports are all the exact same, I figured I could move them laterally a bit without causing problems later, so I came up with a framing plan that has these supports moved and used to frame some of the windows and the two chase ports. I will add other framing as shown in the plan for the other sides, top, and bottom of the windows and chase ports.




So, working from this plan I am currently adding the side supports for the windows and chase ports to the transom support pieces before I glue them in. This way I can shape them to conform to the shape of the supports before I glue the supports in, which appear to be only edge glued to the transom filler block and last bulkhead. I will probably add some small blocks of wood along the joints to support them better when I glue them in.



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As you may know, I am also looking to do an 1812-ish design on my own build. Thus, I am very keen to see what you are doing with your Connie's stern.

(You'll save me a lot of work)

:D  :D  :D

Edited by CaptainSteve

Current Build:  HM Granado Bomb Vessel (Caldercraft)

My BathTub:    Queen Anne Barge (Syren Ship Models)       Log:  Queen Anne Barge (an build log)

                        Bounty Launch (Model Shipways)                 Log:  Bounty Launch by CaptainSteve
                        Apostol Felipe (OcCre)
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Happy to help. I am certainly using ideas I have seen here too, so that helps a lot. Hopefully this will all work the way I see it in my head.  :D Or, it may just turn out to be another "learning experience".  :huh:

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I would suggest looking at the photos of the stern of the Hull model of the Constitution, made in 1812. The model in general is very crude, but it has its good points, mainly the rigging. The model was made by the crew as a present for Captain Hull and its stern decorations are a reliable rendering of what was there at that time.


It is a more reliable and better source for this ship than the AOS book.



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vary nice work u are doing there keep up the great work i will be watching your log 

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