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Rattlesnake by MikeWz - Model Shipways - American Privateer - My first build


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Hello there everyone. I suppose this will be both an introduction to both myself, and the build of my Model Shipways Rattlesnake Privateer. This will be my first wooden ship build. I've built a few Radio Controlled airplanes, and quite a few high power rockets so I'm familiar with some techniques and woodworking/modeling. I've always been fascinated by tall ships, and have always wanted to build a kit. Well, after some random searching over the course of a year or so, I stumbled upon both this site, and the Model-expo site. I caught a great "year end sale" from model-expo on this kit so I couldn't resister....figured even if I really botch it up it's more a waste of time then money. 

 

There is a ton of great info on this site!!! For the last month or so I've been doing some research, and reading the build logs of Jpett, Eric and Scott L. I've picked up quite a lot of information but I've got a lot of learning, a lot of trial and error and a lot of work coming up but I'm very excited for the challenge. 

 

Firs thing upon receiving my kit this week was just opening it up and doing a parts inventory. It appears that everything that's supposed to be included is in the box, so onto the reading and first baby steps of the build! I've gotten the two center keel pieces marked and glued together as per the instructions and plans and have the stern and back half of the keel glued on. The front half of the keel and the stem are going to need some sanding to properly fit. I've cutout the area of the stem for the figurehead and will be working on tapering it to get him to fit on it. I've also made photocopies of each of the bulkheads as well, which I will cut out and fold in order to check for their symmetry, as per Scott L's method. This eliminates the need for accurate pencil and cutting work, and just relies on an accurate fold.

 

BulkheadPrintout_zps5485493c.jpg

 

I have a few questions already however:

 

1.) After cutting out the bulkheads, I've noticed that a few of them are warped...some more then others. I was wondering if this is going to be an issue, and I should soak them and get some weight on top to flatten them out. I'm not sure if it will wind up being a problem later on or not, what with them getting faired up to fit the planks anyway.

 

WarpedBulkhead2_zpsdd2c90d2.jpg

 

WarpedBulkhead1_zpsf9fb0c4f.jpg

 

 

2.) My center keel also seems to be warped. After making sure the waterlines were properly aligned I glued the two pieces together and placed a weight across it to assure that it was flat. However after removing it and checking to see if the keel was in fact straight, I noticed that the aft section of the keel is actually warped. I'm again wondering if this needs to be soaked and flattened out?

 

WarpedKeel_zpsc6a0a756.jpg

 

3.) The last one for now just concerns the stem. The manual states to taper the stem. The plans show a top view showing the front to back taper, but not how far down the stem the taper is "supposed" to go. My assumption is that the taper begins around the water line, where it would've been "effective" on the actual ship cutting through the water.I know it's not something that has a major effect on the outcome of the ship, I would just like it to "look right"

 

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and check out my build! I'm really looking forward to the upcoming challenges! I know it's going to be difficult, but with the help from all the awesome people on here, some good music and of course good beer, everything should work out in the end  :cheers:

 

 

 

 

 

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Hey Mike,

 

Welcome to the Rattlesnake club.  I too am building the MS Rattlesnake.  There are a lot of build logs on this ship.  I did not have any warping problems to speak of.  I did taper the stern piece.  If you take a look at my log you can see what I did and decide if you want to follow suit.  There are two different manufacuturer logs and a kit bash that you will find.  I have spent a great deal of time looking forward into the various logs to see the things I can expect.

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Helmsman - Thanks for the welcome! Glad to be here and definitely looking forward to the build!

 

Scott - Thanks for stopping by. Yes I was reading into your log on the snake. I picked up the photocopier method for checking bulkhead symmetry...great tip! I also saw the way that you've tapered the stem piece. This was the only build log I happened to see that mentioned in however. What i'm really wondering is, do I make the taper from the waterline to the top the same? Should it be tapered enough to fit the figurehead on, or will I have to taper the section his legs go over separately anyhow? I know it's not a major part of the ship or anything, just curious if anyone has done it any other ways

 

I've decided I'm going to go ahead and either soak or steam the bulkheads and center keel to get it straight and see what happens....if worst comes to worst I'll just give Model-Expo a call as it's already documented that I've got an issue. My only worry is if that's going to make the already fragile bulkheads even more so, but I can only imagine what kind of nitemare that warped hull is going to give me when the time (hopefully) comes later on for planking.

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Mike,

 

I tapered from below the area where the figure head is down to the bottom keel.  That being that I let it go back to its normal width right where the stem glues to the bottom keel piece.  A nice little bit of sanding should give a smooth transition between the two pieces.  Of course don't sand the stem to a point.  They didn't do that sort of thing with wooden ships and "knifing" the water like todays modern steel ships.  I was a little concerned as well because you are right, no one else had mentioned it.  I did it because I thought it made sense since the Rattlesnake was known for her speed.

 

As for the figure head, if you look at mine and Zev's site you can see that we did a seperate etching for the legs of the figure head and left that section of the stem its normal width.  I used some wood carving tools that my father-in-law left for me.

 

As for the warping, before you steam, perhaps plopping some weights on the wood for a day or two would be better.  Just a suggestion.  Since my wood has not been warped I am no expert on the solution.

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Scott - Thanks again for the reply. I wound up going with a taper on the stem similar to what you had mentioned. Unfortunately I can't attach it to the rest of the center keel yet as it is currently being pressed between two flat sheets of wood.

 

While waiting for my center keel to dry and hopefully flatten, I decided to do some work on the stem piece. I took out the dremel and cut the slot and taper for the figurehead to fit. This is my first attempt at something like this, and I'm pleased with how it came out. There's a little bit of air space but it's not terrible. If I decide to paint this ship, I may fill and reshape to remove some of it. I've also tapered the front of the stem, thinner at the middle and tapering back to full width just under the feet of the figurehead and just above where it will attach to the keel.

 

StemFigurehead_zps3b76400e.jpg

 

StemTaper_zps70242eb0.jpg

 

I also spent a few hours cutting out the copies of the bulkheads in order to check for their symmetry. I was going to just fold them over, but wound up just cutting them out as I found it was easier. Most of them were either even, or just slightly off and were marked on the side to sand. A few of them were approx 1/16 off, so I cut 1/32 strips off one side and glued them to the other in order to get them more even. Trying to get these as even as my newbie skills will allow to save some time when trying to fair them up....we'll see how it worked out.

 

BulkheadSymmetry_zps733a2691.jpg

 

Hopefully I'll be able to take the center keel out of it's press tomorrow and get the stem glued on. Then I'll have five bulkheads to press to get them straightened out as well. Then on sunday it's vacation time so I'll have a weeks hiatus.

 

One quick question. I've seen some people have square metal blocks in order to make sure the bulkheads are both right to the keel, and to the board at the same time. I checked in home depot and I was unable to find the blocks. Is there another place someone would know where to find them? If not is there another easy method of doing so? Thanks again for the help!

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Welcome aboard the Rattlesnake Armada! There are a number of us building this classic here as you know and probably many of the problems that you may encounter will already have been discussed at length on other builds be they Rattlesnake or others. There are no stupid questions. If you don't know or can't find the info, just ask. Enjoy your build.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Scott - Thanks for the kind words. I had a buddy of mine cut a block of wood for me making sure that it was square on all sides...what a guy

 

JSGerson - Thanks for the welcome, glad to be here! It's very fortunate that there are so many quality builds of the RS on here, a lot of great information already here...invaluable resource!

 

Well, I haven't had too much time to work on the RS since I got back from vacation, but I was able to get the rabbet cut out. I got it as close to 1/16th as I could while trying to keep a consistent depth along the length, and equal on both sides. As this is my first build, I'm not 100% sure how any errors will effect the end outcome of the model so if anyone can spot anything wrong in particular, please let me know!

 

BowRabbet_zps2ceea5b9.jpg

 

SternRabbet_zpsf5d07673.jpg

 

I was also able to get the bulkheads dry-fit to the keel. Man sanding the slots next to the mast slots was fun! A few of the bulkheads seem to line up nicely on top and along the rabbet line when the reference lines meet. However unfortunately, as others have experienced, some are a little high or a little low. What is the most important part of the bulkhead to line up before making the necessary changes to the top or bottom of the bulkheads. Should be sure to make the reference lines match up, or should I align all of the top decks and make the changes to the bottoms? Again this is my first build so I'm not sure what the proper way to line them up necessarily is!

 

Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for all the great information already! 

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Sport - Thanks for the reply. I had a feeling lining the decks up would probably be the easies way to do it. She's a really good looking ship, and for the price of the kit....hard to beat!

 

As far as getting everything lined up properly, let me just make sure I have the idea right:

 

BulkheadAlignment1_zpsd0fbdc7f.jpg

 

Above, I'm lucky enough that B lines up pretty well, maybe very slightly low on the bottom, but the deck seems pretty much lined up with the top of the center keel and the reference lines are matched. However, this is really the only one

 

BulkheadAlignment2_zpsda491425.jpg

 

Here E is high on the deck side but the reference line and the bearding line are lined up. The best way to go about fixing the higher bulkheads would be simply to increase the depth of the slot to lower the bulkhead even if the reference lines are off? There are a few bulkheads that sit high on the deckside, most of them infact, so if this is indeed the case it wouldn't be a bad fix. I'm then to just remove material from the bottom sides of the bulkheads until they line up properly with the bearding line, and eventually allow a temporary batten to flow smoothly over?

 

Sorry if these questions seem silly and basic, I'm just well aware that these next steps in getting this all "fair" are very critical to a quality finished product. I've been following a few builds and just want to make sure that my interpretation is correct! Thanks again for all the help already!

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I lined up my bulkheads with the reference lines and ended up with my quarterdeck sitting higher than it should. Scott is right with this, but I do remember someone else getting the advice to line up the deck ? Perhaps a compromise ? Or better yet maybe JPETT or some of the other rattlesnake builders could chime in ?

 

One of the bummers of the kit is getting hit with in accuracy right off the bat. Anything is fixable with shims, just got to ask yourself how much patience and wood do your have.

Sorry for contradicting myself but I think either way your gonna be shimming.

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Sport and Scott, thanks for taking the time to respond!

 

After reading the responses, I went ahead and lined up the few bulkheads whose reference lines were a little off. Afterwards I went ahead and sanded down the decks of those that were off, fortunately none needed material added, just a little bit shaved off the top. I first lightly sanded the decks to remove the laser burn. I then went ahead and used the side of a pencil to mark just along the border of the bulkhead and sanded with the rough side of an Emory board just until the line disappeared. I think checked the bulkhead against the plans to assure the curve was correct, and check the bulkhead on the keel to check alignment. I repeated the process numerous times with each bulkhead until all of them were on, or very close.

 

DeckSanding_zps6fd7c442.jpg

 

Also after lining up the reference marks I was very fortunate and, what I think is called the forcastle (please excuse my ignorance as far as nautical terminology goes, I'm learning as I go) now lines up pretty well. Will probably just need minor adjustment.

 

DeckForecastle_zps460a8d9a.jpg

 

I just have a few questions before I move on with fairing up the sides of the hull. There are a few spots on the center keel where the deck doesn't line up on both the fore and aft of the bulkhead. For example, towards the bow of the ship, bulkhead C lines up evenly with the keel on the bow side, but the stern side sits a little high. It may seem like a silly question, but am I to angle each of the bulkheads to match those lines, or will I be sanding the keel itself. I've attached a picture to show what I mean:

 

DeckonKeel_zps4cda7114.jpg

 

One last question for now: To begin fair the sides of the hull, I've just loosely held a batten along a few different spots on the bulkheads. Up by the rails the it seems much closer, but down by the rabbet is another story.Adding material to those bulkheads that don't quite make it to the line is much less intimidating to me then removing material from those that go past it. My question really is, what is the best way to remove the excess material while still keeping the overall shape of the bulkheads the same. It seems like it would be hard to keep the overall shape while removing what seems to be a fairly significant amount of material from a few of them!

 

Thanks again for all the help! Having a lot of fun with this build so far!

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Looking good.  Lots of questions.  Not sure if I qualify to anser them all compared to the real experts here.  Lets see.... for removing material I used one of my bog emery boards, not my drummel.  It was sand, sand, sand, check with plank, repeat until satisfied.  But always make sure to check 3 to 4 bulkheads at a time.  You want to overall flow of the lines, not just 2 bulkheads.  Make sure to look at the big picture.

 

Don't touch the keel.

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Mike,

Always good to have a new rattlesnake build on the site, the more ideas the better, especially with the model shipways kit, I found the instruction book lacking depth, so I relied on the plans for most of my work, plus allot of ideas from the members.   I tossed all the cast metal bits and scratch built everything.  During the bulkhead stage I also had the warping problems, and found the bulkheads very fragile, not to worry it all worked out, time trial and error that’s the key, every rattlesnake build is a bit different.  take a look at my log   “ Rattlesnake by mog”  I have taken a slightly different path  working for a more natural look and feel.  Please feel free to ask any questions or pass along any ideas, as I like to say it’s your build, build to please the builder.

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Scott - Thanks again for the reply! Sorry for all the questions, and I'll apologize in advance for the many more that will be coming! I've been following your log and it appears to be coming along nicely! I will keep that in mind when I really start looking at the hull lines. Still working on getting the deck lines appropriate and smooth.

 

Mog - Took a look at your build...looks really nice! I really like the wood colors that you chose for the ship, very, very nice! I'm interested in doing some of the scratch building myself, but for this build I'll probably build it pretty much to the plans/instructions. My plan is to try to make it look like the current rendition of the rattlesnake that's being restored in Florida currently. My issue right now is that I'm not really sure how a change here and there will effect the ship in the long run. Once I get a better idea of how it all works, I'll do my thing!

 

So it's been a rough weekend and start to the week, only had a little bit of time to work where I felt like working. Still working on getting the deck lines proper, and getting the hull reinforced. I have a better idea of how it works now, but still not 100% sure. My OCD is making me go back again, and again, and again to try to get the lines as close to perfect as I can now. I've got all the reference lines matched up, and the top decks sanded down and as close to proper lines as I can see/know what to look for.

The bow end of the ship is lined up pretty nice, the line flows smoothly from the center bulkheads up to bulkhead "A". Lying a batten across the keel reveals only a hairline difference in some places, but it touches the vast majority of it and lines up well. However the aft section is a different story. On the outer edges of the bulkheads the line is smooth, however across the keel is a different story. If I lay a batten across the entire keel section, the bow is nice, but it seems like there are some low spots on the keel. The sections between bulkhead slots don't seem to be as smooth as curve on the wood as it shows in the plans...it's more like steps then cut at proper angles to get the flow correct. I've attached a picture to show what I mean

 

SternKeelDeck_zpsbc98e5ca.jpg

 

KeelDeckAlignment_zps40cad759.jpg

 

If I push down on the batten to get it to sit on the keel (I am able to do this, it's not raised because the bulkheads are in the way) there are some funky lines with flat spots and then steep curves. I've seen some people add shims to the keel....is this to fix this issue? Is this less of an issue that I seem to be making it? I could see easily adding some shims and sanding them down to the proper angles to get the right line, I'm just checking to see if this is the proper fix.

 

The next issue I've been addressing is the mis-alignment of the quarterdeck lines. I was having a similar issue to Scott, where it seemed like bulkhead "L" and bulkhead "M" where a little higher then they should be, so a batten would not touch I,J or K. My first solution was to sand down M and L a little, and add some small shims to I,J and K to get it to have the same line as the deck. However, upon check placing the shimmed bulkheads to the plan to check my sanding, I noticed that the strip of wood was completely off from what the plans show.

 

BulkheadLquarterDeck_zps1e41c2a7.jpg

 

BulkheadIQuarterdeck_zps577c6634.jpg

 

Bulkheads L and I seemed to be the worst. As you can see, when making sure all the other lines were flush, the strip for the quarterdeck was completely off....and not due to my sanding. Even the bottom part didn't follow the curve. I'm currently bending some strips to the shapes on the plans (on photocopies I made) and will be cutting off the strips on there now and gluing on the ones I've made. Scott I'm not sure if this will solve the issue you are having as well, I'll see how it works out once the wood dries.

 

Thanks for following my build! Hopefully more to come soon!

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Looks like we have samekind of problems with bulkheads, even we're building different ships. I've noticed that you shouldn't trust those plan sheet drawings about bulkheads too much. Especially forget their center lines - they may not be at center! I'm suggesting you should take the gun deck lines (they will probably be vertically ok) and measure everything from there. Also use more the plan sheet picture, where is the whole ship's side view. You can see many things from there, where the deck lines should be and where the bottom of the bulkheads.

 

Markku

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Mike,

 

Don't sweat those little items with the poopdeck.  Get it close with sanding and shimming on the top of those back bulkheads.  And since most if not all of the poopdeck/ officers quarters/inside will not be showing or have any part of your build, don't worry about the bottom curves.  As for the bend on the false center keel. again, that back area won't be showing on the build.  They will be incapcilated.  I really would not mess with that center keel.  Things seem to be going pretty well for you really.  Keep it up.  Words of advice, look at all of the layout plans and compare and contrast where you can.  As I've been reminded several times, it's a wood kit, not prefabricated molded plastic.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Markku - Thanks for the advice, I've been trying to go as closely to the plans as possible so I can get all the lines in the right ball park. Any changes I make I measure against the plans to make sure the overall shape is correct.

 

Scott- I realized that was to be enclosed as I went back to it, not sure why I was going crazy over that back part. Just my inexperience and lack of knowledge as far as how certain things could change the end product. Slow learning process via answers on here and reading others builds....we'll get there eventually!

 

Not too much progress over the last week, busy with school for now. I did manage to get all of the top decks sanded properly and check with battens, everything seems to be okay there. I wound up cutting off the quarter deck section of bulkhead "L" and shaping my own against the plans from strips of the smaller planks. It wasn't even just high in the center, the overall shape of the bulkhead was completely off!!! I also cut the bevels in A and M (almost to the 1/16th thickness in the plans) with a little wiggle room to make up for any differences in my lines from what the plans are. All the bulkheads have been glued into place with balsa blocks between them to reinforce the hull. Even after reading everyone's issue with the frailty of the basswood, it's still surprisingly so hands on! Hopefully these will help with that. I've gotten the blocks on the sides of the mast slots for reinforcements, and they've been drilled out (by hand, of course) as stated in the manual....all pretty basic steps. It's nice to finally start to see some sort of hull shape coming together!

 

I have begun the shaping of the hull now using battens. There were a few bulkheads that went across the bearding line, which were cut and sanded in an attempt to keep the overall shape intact. I don't have a picture but it looks like it came out fairly well. Now starting with a batten along the gun deck, I've started to check the hull lines. 

 

So far, the aft end of the ship is coming along fairly well I believe. This is without much in the way of sanding except bulkheads "G" and "H". Looks like a few will need some shims, which makes sense as those are also sitting a bit above the bearding line.

 

HullLinesStern_zpsd8da2e3f.jpg

 

Towards the bow of the ship is a bit of a different story. It looks like bulkheads "B" and "D" will need some shims. Also I'm not so sure the line is supposed to be that straight between bulkheads "E,FG". Again, being unfamiliar with how the lines are really "supposed" to go is making this a bit difficult, and I'm finding it hard to see it on the plans....but we'll get there.

 

HullLinesBow_zps9ec4f5fc.jpg

 

My only question (so far) for this segment is how far should I really "bend in" the batten at the bow when checking the lines. If you note in the above picture, I have the batten squeezed in gently towards to the bow, but  not touching bulkhead "A". If I push it in to make contact with "A" the batten then winds up bending way out towards "D", "E", and "F", giving a very unnatural look to the ship (at least in my opinion). 

 

Thanks again for taking the time to check out my log, and for the advice offered! Looking forward to seeing more of your builds as well!

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You are going to have to take it easy up front there.  I actually undid those middle bulkheads so I could get the angle on those front 4.  It's tough.  Remember, you are going to be soaking, steaming and/or heating that wood up there to help the bend.  The lines look pretty good though.  As to be expected, shimming will need to be done.  Keep up the good work though and don't obsess over the little things.

Edited by scott larkins
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You are going to have to take it easy up front there.  I actually undid those middle bulkheads so I could get the angle on those front 4.  It's tough.  Remember, you are going to be soaking, steaming and/or heating that wood up there to help the bend.  The lines look pretty good though.  As to be expected, shimming will need to be done.  Keep up the good work though and don't obsess over the little things.

I agee 100 %  you are doing just fine.  You are not in a race.  Take it easy and enjoy yourself.

David B

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  • 2 weeks later...

Everyone sees there builds a little differently and with their  own opinions ,  so just my thoughts here

Precut parts are never perfect; most bulkheads will need some sanding and shimming along the way. Maybe allot of both  And still might not fit perfect but that’s the beauty of wood you can always shape it to get darn close.    I soaked my test battens to get a good bend,  just to see where I was,  I use allot of Rack of eye to get a visual of the lines,  however   I always got some gaps  or dips at or between the bulkheads, that’s just the way building is,   again it’s never  a perfect science, I agree with the other posts your doing great, your lines are looking good, take your time, enjoy the challenge.  I don’t know what your planking plans are? But it all starts with your battens and finding a good line. again take your time, it pays off later.    I double plank my hulls, It does several things for me, first of all   not being the best plank guy around  it gives me some margin for errors, the kit supplied hull planks are thicker so  you can sand ,  shape  and fill where needed to cover a few errors, and get really  good hull lines,  which makes the second planking much easier  as you learn from the first planking ,  second planking strips are generally .05 mm  gives a very nice look to a well shaped hull,  a little ahead of myself with all the planking talk, but you’re at the stage that sets tone for the rest of your build.  Again enjoy it,

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Thanks everyone for the kind words and encouragement! Unfortunately I haven't had too much time lately to work on the ship as school is priority right now! I been comparing my lines to the lines shown from the top view on the plans and it's been going pretty well so far, but again I haven't done much. Using bulkhead G as my "focal" point I've been working my way forward. Using the middle bulkhead as the reference point and not making any changes to it to keep things consistent throughout the hull. Just working on the starboard side of the ship, I've had to add a few shims to some bulkheads up towards the bow of the ship to get the lines looking right. Now it's time to fair and bevel them. Will get some more pictures up when I've gotten at least the one side "completed"!

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Hi Mike -- I just found your log and read it through.  You're doing some good, careful work so far, making sure everything lines up.  These early steps are really important, since they will affect almost everything you do later on.  The other Rattlers around are a good crew.  And this is a nice model with some pretty lines, so I think you'll get lots of joy from your build.

 

I'm almost finished with my own Rattlesnake, and only started my log with the rigging (and have added to it in the most desultory way).  But I'll follow your build with interest.

 

Cheers,

 

Martin

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  • 2 months later...

Okay so it's been a really long time since I've made any updates....because it's been way too long since I've been able to work on her! I've finally graduated so now I should have much more time for it!

 

I've decided to take a little break from fairing the hull and work on the long boat a bit, I figured that would give me some practice with shaping a bit. Just got the layers fled up and waiting for her to dry, should start shaping her up in the next few days!

 

20140601_003004_RichtoneHDR.jpg

 

20140601_002919_RichtoneHDR.jpg

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I made my Rattlesnake Long Boat from a separate POF kit because Mamoli provided a semi-completed shell. I felt like that was cheating so I took the different route. A least the Model Shipways method forces you to construct the boat. I am waiting with anticipation to see how it all comes together. This is the same method that their USF Constitution's boats are made, which in the next decade or so I hope to start. I learn from example.

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