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I was able to get the display case construction completed today as well as the sanding and staining. I know there is debate among woodworkers about the efficacy of sanding beyond 220 before finishing, but the Sam Maloof finish called for sanding through 400 and burnishing with steel wool prior to applying the Poly/Oil. Since I had them, I chose to sand through 600 grit using my random orbital sander. I also think it is wood dependent. If this were soft woods, trying to sand beyond 200 would prove useless. However, the walnut seems to do well with it.


Then I applied the stain. Tomorrow I will start applying the rub on finish.


The photos below show the case dry assembled. I will not glue the case together until all the finish is applied. Then I need to move it out of the workshop and upstairs before I put it together. I think it would be too heavy and cumbersome to move much once the glass is in it. I will do the final assemble a few feet from where it will be set.


This shows the construction of the case bottom. The cross supports were primarily to hold the sides in square before the top of the platform was installed. They are white pine so they do not add much weight but a lot of strength to the construction.




The plywood being glued here is the hidden shelf that will contain the plans and build log - that way they stay together with the ship. I wrote on the plywood in big letters that it contains the plans and log so it will not be missed.




Here is the dry assembled case. You can see how the glass will be inset now. The front of the case is facing outward. I am beginning to see the Connie's new home taking shape.




You can also see that the colors are now even. The lighter colored sapwood is no longer evident. 






You can see the groove for the access door in the back. There is a matching and a bit deeper groove in the top. 






This will probably be the last post for the case for a week or so. I think ti would be really boring to post pictures of paint drying! I also have to create the new walnut base for the ship. Once I get that done and the ship mounted on it, I will post that. I will also post the assembly of the LED lighting. Since it is custom it will require a bit of soldering and fitting.

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I know I said it would probably be a few days before I updated this again, but I finished the new ship's base today.  I still will be adding the poly/oil to it along with the display case. Anyway, since I was updating, I thought I could also show the case after the first two coats of the poly. It really brings out the colors and wood grain. Also, there is a shot of the glass waiting for the case to be finished.


I also started working on the LED lights today. I wired the power supply to the controller and tested it.













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Big step in the case construction today. I have completed all I can do with the case in the shop. Today, I staged everything up in the foyer where it will be located. We moved the table into the center of the foyer to give us a work place. Then we put the case together without the glass so I could fit the access door to her. The largest thing this entailed was running the light wires down through the corner post and into the base. I knew the door would require some final shaping to allow it to clear the sides of the slot as it was slid in place. After a bit of sanding we got the door installed. It fits like a glove. I have to admit, we did put the ship in the case (without any of the glass and turned the lights on. They will work well with her.


Here are photos of the door in the case.




Then we removed the door and all the clamps and started installing the glass. We started with the side the wire ran through since the top and corner could not be moved apart much without stressing the wire. I put wood glue on the corner top and bottom, then ran a bead of the GE silicone adhesive completely around the glass channel. Once cured this will also provide a great deal of rigidity to the case.



Once that was in place we worked our way around next with the front glass then the remaining side. Once these were in place, I applied clamps on each corner and checked for square. Once I was satisfied, I replaced the back access door. 


Here are photos with all the side glass in place. The black handles are suction cups used to move and handle the glass. These will also be necessary should I need to remove the access door to get to the model. Otherwise there is nothing to hold on to and the frame is inset into the case.




Tomorrow I will remove the clamps and clean up the glass and any glue squeeze out. I will also solder the connections between the LED dimmer control and put it all in shrink tubing to dress it. Then we will move the case into position and place the top glass in the top. This just lays in the top on felt. This will allow outgassing slowly since air can filter through the felt around the glass and out. The door will allow some air exchange but not much. I also will touch up the finish where necessary, primarily around the top of the door where I had to fit it. The good news is all of these areas are actually hidden in the joints so not much touch up will need to be done.


Tomorrow we will also pick up the printed build log. It follows this log pretty closely but is more extensive and detailed. It also contains more photos of the build. Rob (my Admiral) was kind enough to clean it up and send it off for printing and binding. I have two printed copies. One for our library, and one to be placed with the plans in the hidden shelf under the case's base. The log in the library also notes the plans are in the case.


I still need to cut the pedestal for the name plate. This will be cut from the real Connie's spar material (thanks again Popeye2sea). I have waited on the final design of this because I want to see what I need once the ship is installed in the case. That will inform me on the final design of the pedestal. The plate is already made.


So barring unforeseen complications, the ship will probably be in her new berth tomorrow evening! I will post a final entry here with some photos of her in place and close this build log.

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This will be the last posting for the build log. I was able to get the ship installed into the display case. The Connie is now in her berth. I cut the pedestal out of the spar material. I chose to leave the back side rough. It still shows the wear as well as paint from when it was part of a spar on the mighty ship.




I spent quite a bit of time researching LED lighting. The top of the case was only ⅞" thick and most of it is glass. I wanted LED lighting that would accurately produce the colors of the ship and be bright enough to allow everything to be seen well. The high CRI led's from Flexfire worked perfectly. They also do not produce much heat which is important in the contained environment of the display.


I had a number of goals when designing the case. I wanted black walnut to match that in the ship. I wanted to minimize the size of the surrounding frame to maximize the view of the ship. I wanted a glass top, and wanted the case lit. 


By utilizing ¼" tempered glass, I was able to use the strength of the glass to augment the rigidity of the frame. The glass is glued in with a GE Silicone household glue. This provides the holding power required and the give needed to allow for any seasonal movement. I also used low iron glass which is the most optically pure on the market.


The display case bottom contains a hidden compartment that is large enough to hold the full set of original plans, printouts of the CAD drawings I used for the ship's boats, and a full bound copy of the build log. 


It has been a fun and rewarding build. Now on to my next ship, a scratch build POF of the Brig Eagle. Thank you all for all of the encouragement, technical and mental support during this build.












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  • 3 weeks later...

I have mine sort of in between. Here was my thinking. I have my cannons run out ready to fire. As such, that means the ship is moving toward if not already in a battle posture. My understanding is during a battle the ship's boats would be lowered and towed astern to clear the line of fire as well as try to preserve the boats, which seemed to have a short shelf life. That was also my reasoning in having the rudders attached to the sterns rather than unshipped. Of course, I also like the look.


So I just played with the location until I liked the look. Here are some photos. I chose the white and green based on a Bainbridge note.




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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...

 Bill, allow me if I may to add my belated praise. Your cabinetry is superb, as indeed is your model shipwright presentation. The log was well written and I rather like that you retained a bound copy. Altogether, a beautifully executed project. Sierra Hotel.

 One question: what did you think of the Mamoli plans and instruction manual? I have heard conflicting opinions of their value, On the one hand, some say the plans are at least in part spurious and the instructions virtually unusable; one chap described them as having been written "by an Italian grade school boy who had heard English being spoken once." Others grade the manual from "quite adequate" to "well thought out" or "excellent, despite somewhat fractured English." Of the plans, I have heard opinions running the gamut from "serviceable"  to "the best Constitution plans available in any scale, period." I am planning a 1/96 scale scratchbuild of Constitution, with one one side intact and the other largely cut away to show off her innards. Among other references, I have acquired the Model Shipways plans (which seem to be the gold standard) and those from Bluejacket Shipcrafters, each with its respective instruction manual. I'd be interested to know how the Mamoli paperwork compares, in your opinion.

 Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2017. Happy modeling, mate.

 "Professor" Ray

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Thanks Professor. I appreciate all your kind words. I developed a love/hate relationship with the Mamoli Plans. Once I got into the swing of things I tended to use the plans as suggestions for the next phase of building. In most cases they were correct. Other areas I would jump around a bit. As I would do with anyones plans, I would read ahead and plan my attack on an area. If I followed the Mamoli plans exactly, it would have produced a ship but not quite the one I wanted.


There were a few errors in mine that (I believe) were corrected in later revisions. One area that comes to mind it the Spanker. The plans had the mast top terminating in space just below the fighting top. However, it actually mounted into the underside of the top. A minor point.


There was no instruction manual per se. Each of the plans would have a column of instructions associated with the drawings. The written instructions were poorly translated. I would read these through because they did give a good sense of what parts numbers they were referring to. By far the main benefit of the Mamoli plans were their tables. This is where they would tell you what the piece was to be made of, i.e. the size of lathe and type of wood. It would also tell how many of each would need to be prepared.


However, once I got into the rigging, The plans were very well done. While there were places I made decisions in the rigging that did not follow their plans, I still found what they wrote to be very well done. There is a thread under the rigging area of this forum where I wrote how to interpret the instructions for rigging.


I can't tell you these plans were better or worse than others. I did not have any other plans for the ship except the Navy's or the AOS. So I can't compare or contrast other builders materials.


As far as a cut away version, that will be cool. You might also want to look at Gene Bodnar's build log of his Constitution. He took the AOS and used it to build a Connie that was built in sections that could be pulled apart to see the interiors of the ship. His log would be on the Model Ship Builder forum.



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  • 3 months later...



I am almost finished with my build of the constitution and have been doing research on building a display case  I just came across your post and think your case is the most beautiful one that I have ever seen.  My model length is 48 " and I wanted to build a case with a removable door.  Would it be possible to get a PDF copy of the plans.  I would really appreciate it.





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Lon, when you are sizing the case the general rule is there should be 2" of space all around the ship. You can see the dimensions I used for both my Connie and the case. You will need to adjust the size accordingly since your scale is larger. I also was concerned by line of sight. So I did some calculations using the CAD program to insure that the ship's tops would not be hidden when an adult was standing a few feet from the ship.If it was too low it would have been. So the bottom of the case was adjusted up for that. 



Constitution Size

39 x 28 x 14


Case interior dimension 

43 x 30 x 18

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