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Robert E Lee by rodgerdodger - FINISHED - Amati

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28 Railings and Decorations.  The railings and decorations are made from photo-etched brass strip and supplied in a single sheet.  Well made and detailed.  Firstly I thoroughly sanded each side of the sheet before separating the components for convenience.  I found the sanding was sufficient to achieve a good bond for the paint (flat white enamel) although it can chip if not handled carefully.  I used a sharp chisel to separate the components as access for a cutter was difficult.  Shaping each component to the required curve was quite straightforward.  Each component is cut to length, curved if required and then painted before fixing.

 

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The procedure for installing the railings and decorations is illustrated in the following photos.  Firstly the combined railing and decoration is fixed to the upper deck.  A groove at the rear of the railing/decoration helps to located it very nicely on the edge of the deck.

 

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The next step is to install the 1mm sq railing columns.  This proved to be quite difficult and frustrating requiring a steady hand and patience that is in short supply these days.  To help I clamped a timber strip to the deck to provide a stopper for the bottom of the post.  Using tweezers I maneuvered each column into place and when in the correct location I used a strip of timber behind the column to hold it in position as I released the tweezers.  During this operation too often the column would flick into the distance like a twiddly wink and the hunt was on to find it.

 

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The bottom rail is then glued into position and I used 2mm sq timber spacers off the deck to be sure it was set level.

 

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This is not a very flattering photo as the columns appear out of plumb but that is largely camera lens distortion.  The railings/decorations and posts are held on with spots of medium CA glue, all very delicate and not particularly substantial.  One inadvertent knock and all will fall down.  

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This is a progress shot before I head off for some R&R.  During any build there comes a time when the pleasure of the build becomes a bit of a slog and I have reached that stage with this model.   Even the smallest of misalignments between decks edges etc are starting to show up as the decorations and railings are installed and I don't have the persistence right now to correct them.  So a bit of R&R is in order.  Will give me a chance to think about how on earth I am going to fix the 1mm sq trims to the decorations and railings! 

 

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Roger,

 

Beautiful exacting work. Glad I found your build. I will follow along.

 

Enjoy your R&R, we have certainly all felt that way. Much better to continue when your positive emotions are feeling "it". Helps to produce much nicer work. And it stays fun.  

 

Regards,

 

Michael

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Thanks Iran and Michael for you comments.  Iran, I am dreading working on the timber strips to the railings and would like to know how you, and Jim (aka Script), tackled them.  The 1mm sq timber provided is too out of square for this application and far too brittle to tackle the tight bends.  I am seriously thinking about using the 1mm sq plastic strip I used on the paddlewheel housings.

 

In the meantime, having a closer look at the photo I posted before heading off for some R&R I could see that when you line up the posts with the window frames behind, they are clearly leaning out and out-of-plumb.  Close-up photo shots highlight the smallest of faults of course but I couldn’t blame lens distortion this time so feeling refreshed from my break I decided to refit them.  The solution was a 1mm packer at the top of the post behind the upper decoration.  How this came about I am not at all sure.  It could be the deck panels edges were not aligned correctly plus the lower deck edging having a slight lean inwards.  However it illustrates how accuracy is an issue with this model if you want everything to line up correctly.  Fortunately the posts on the port side are true and plumb.

 

post-2544-0-64323100-1408346398_thumb.jpg   Posts before refit.

 

post-2544-0-45051600-1408346412_thumb.jpg Posts after refit.

Not 100% but better than before.

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29 Gangways.  While proceeding with the slow task of completing the railing posts and railings, and wanting to put off the installation of the handrail trims for as long as I can, I have branched off and commenced other stages of the model for a bit of light relief.

 

The gangways have been completed without any dramas – nice change to be working with timber again.

 

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The two gangways under construction.

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31 Smokestack Braces.  If you haven’t already been driven round the bend with the railing and decoration details then working on the smokestack braces will get you there.  Step one is to cut a length of 1mm tubing to fit the distance between the two smokestacks when erected.  The length has to allow for the end of the tube to fit into holes that have to be drilled in the sides of the smokestack.  Eyebolts are then glued into each end of the tube.  (The eyebolts supplied with the kit are the smallest and neatest I have seen in any kit).

 

I couldn’t see any way of assembling the braces without using a jig to hold everything in place.  The following photo shows my first attempt at a jig made up from three pieces of 2mm sq timber set into a balsa base.

 

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Each timber ‘post’ is slotted to fix the three photo-etched spacer-rings (no idea of the correct term) in position.  Then somehow you are meant to thread a thin brass wire supplied with the kit through the eyebolts at the end of the tube and back and forth through small holes drilled in the spacer-rings.   No way could I prevent the wire from bending as I threaded it through the holes and it was impossible to put any tension in the wire to straighten it out without the whole assembly collapsing.  After a couple of tries I gave up and decided that I would use 0.1mm rigging thread that I had from a previous model instead of the wire.

 

The next photo shows a new jig (a bit more carefully made than the first) and the task of weaving the thread back and forth underway.  The tube has been taped down to help hold it in position during the process. 

 

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After completing the threading I used CA to fix the thread to each spacer-ring.  To reduce the possibility of the thread ‘sagging’ when painted I gave it a coat of dope.  When dry I removed the assembly from the jig (carefully!) and gave it a coat of black paint.

 

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Two smokestack braces down and one to go.

 

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32 Smokestacks.  The smokestacks provided with the kit are well made with no preparation necessary.  The crowns at the top of the main stacks fitted with little trouble.  The peaks of each crown are bent outwards for effect which requires some effort as you are having to bend a curved plate but the end result is ok.

 

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Painting smokestacks in progress and trying some weathering effect but will have to try something else as not happy with it.

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I have seen quite a few Robert E Lees"s over the years and I think you are doing a superb job.  You have the patience needed to much of the tedious work.

David B

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Hi Roger,

 

The 1mm sq trim on the filigree was a bit of a headache. That was about the only wood in the kit that was cut accurately.  The strips were soaked for a long time in water + ammonia to get them good and soft. To bend them, I had the luxury of bending iron that Luthiers use for shaping parts when building musical string instruments. I built a classical guitar around that time and the bending iron was the perfect tool for the filigree trim.The iron gets hot enough that the water in the soaked wood turns to steam and further helps the bending process. I did break a few but it all eventually worked out.

 

As far as the vertical posts are concerned, welcome to the Amati Robert E. Lee. It falls under one of the dimensional problems that I think was never solved. It was a problem on both the models I built in the past.

 

Don't let that little idiosyncrasy hold you up. Your build is excellent and the posts will not be a distraction to anyone but you. :) :)

 

Looking forward to more updates.

 

Cheers,

 

Iran

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Rodger,

 

Been thinking about your build and found this. FYI, though I think that your build details suggest that you have good source material. But just a thought.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Mississippi-Steamboat-Era-Historic-Photographs-ebook/dp/B00A73AQGS/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1408471778&sr=1-1&keywords=mississippi+steamboats

 

Also available at ModelExpo

 

Regards,

 

Michael

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Hi Rodger,

 

Your Lee is looking great! I made my cross braces with a much more primitive jig. My process also involved using rigging thread but I threaded separate lines and then used tension on the lines to hold all the rings in place and then used CA to hold them.

I also used CA for those wood cap rails and formed the bends in the wood similar to what Iran describes but without a bending iron. I wet the wood...windex....and gently formed it on a wood plank using pins to hold the curve shape until set. I traced an outline of the curve on the plank and used that for a pattern.

Your finished model will be excellent!

 

Cheers,

 

Jim

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Thanks Michael for your encouragement and the reference to the book of Mississippi paddle steamers.  Very tempted to buy it.  Also thanks to you Jim and Iran for the info on how you tackled the hand-rails.  My compliments to you both for persevering with bending the 1mm sq timber strips provided with the kit.  I am familiar with the technique of using ammonia (or window cleaner) to help with the bending but I honestly can’t believe you succeeded in using it.  The bends are very tight in spots and the timber provided very brittle.  Also it is significantly out of square.  I am losing patience as the years pass and although I feel I am letting the side down I have decided to use the plastic strip in lieu of the timber.  The material is described as styrene strip and is used in a variety of shapes and sizes by model train hobbyists in their dioramas etc.  For those who want to take the easy route of using the styrene the following is a picture of the product.

 

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Taking pictures of the model in progress is akin to looking through a magnifying glass and I keep seeing things I don’t like.  One of the difficulties in constructing the model is you can’t lay it on its side and often you are fixing pieces to a vertical surface which is tricky when you are trying to keep things to a line and level.  I anticipated this problem when I put the skids under the model that have been of some help, for example when fixing the letters to the sides of the paddle wheel housings and illustrated in the following picture.  The skids are not useful when it comes to tilting the model to the bow or stern.

 

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I had cause to make a repair (too embarrassed to discuss) to the stern of the model that required standing it on end.  I managed this by clamping the stern skid to the bench and supporting the bow of the model on a cushion that in turn was placed on boxes of an appropriate height.  Not recommended but I fixed the problem.

 

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Unfortunately with the model in this position I could see misalignments in the stern edge boards, railings, etc. which are not evident (thankfully) looking down on the model when in the normal position.  Very disappointed with what I saw but I can’t fix it now.  Maybe a tilting table of sorts would be useful for this model to help with placing pieces more accurately – food for thought.

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I have just commenced work on the hand-rails which I will mention next posting but while waiting for the styrene strip to arrive I have been progressing with:-

 

30 Tackles  - meaning the gangway masts and yard.  Nothing of note to report here.

 

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35d Warping Bollards  Nothing of note to mention.

 

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Railings to staircase entrances.  When making these small items the photo-etched railings provided have to be trimmed at the bottom so that the height matches the height of the railings fixed to the edge of the deck.

 

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Hi Rodger,

 

Bending the 1mm sq was a nightmare. Once again, I think I was fortunate that I had material that was accurate and pretty straight grained which helped quite a bit. The wood that was not straight grained had a tendency to start splintering. If the splintering was not severe, while still quite wet, I used some CA to smooth the splintering out. It did not stain as nicely as I would have liked but one had to take a very close look to see it.

 

My problems with the stanchions was similar and I attributed it to slight differences in the width of the decks.

 

Keep up the great work,

 

Iran

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I have completed the handrail installation with some relief.  The use of the styrene strip made it so much easier than it sounded using the timber strip Iran.  I thought it worth illustrating how easy it was with a couple of photos.  I installed the rails in manageable lengths rather than trying to fix in in complete lengths to make it easier to keep the rail in position as the CA set.  Firstly I glued the end of each length in position and when set glued the remainder, curving when necessary the rail around the bend of the balustrade.  The styrene is very pliable and follows the curve of the balustrade very easily.  Hopefully the following photos illustrate the method better than words.

 

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The straight length of this section of handrail has been glued in position.

 

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The rail has now been curved around the bend (one of the tightest on the model) and clipped in position while the CA sets.  Clips can only be used on the top rail. The lower rails have to be patiently hand held in position as the CA sets.

 

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The remaining fill-in straight section can be accurately cut and easily glued in position.   All four rails have been completed in this shot.  These close-up shots show the joints but they are not so apparent when viewed normally from a distance through my rose-coloured glasses! 

 

Now I am on to all the deck fittings, funnels, masts etc. and have a choice as to what to tackle next.

 

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Hi Roger,

 

I fantastic solution to a very perplexing problem with this kit. :cheers: Can't wait till the next installment.

 

Cheers,

 

Iran

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The handrails look ok from the front (i.e. from the water) but not from the back.  I noticed from the illustration on the kit box that the rail had been painted in on the back side of the balustrade.  It took a lot of talking to myself to decide to paint the rail in, as it was going to be a fiddly operation with the masking tape.  However it looked pretty lousy as it was so I decided to go ahead.  Looking at the end result it was worth the effort.  Perhaps the rail could have been painted in before fixing each section of balustrade in place but after bending it etc I suspect there would be a lot of touch-up required. 

 

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At the same time I have been progressing on a number of fronts, erecting the stacks, making the numerous masts and flagpoles etc. and a couple of photos follow just to show I have been doing something!

 

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Hi David – yes I did use Tamiya tape – the best there is from my limited experience.  I had a peep at your USS Maine model last week and here I was thinking the RE Lee was fiddly!  Looks great.

 

Since my last post I have mounted the stacks and fixed the standing rigging.  The kit came with brown cord but I have used black cord from a previous model.  The picture of the model on the kit box has black cord and I think it more appropriate than brown.

 

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At the same time I have been working on the bits and pieces including the lifeboats, ship’s bell, the siren, smokestack lanterns, anchors and the ‘croce’ meaning cross.  A cross seems a bit out of place on a river boat? 

 

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Nothing untoward to note since my last post.  Getting there.  I think I have said that before?  I will have to start thinking about how I will mount the finished model.

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I am relieved to say I have finally finished except for making some additional deck cargo items, but I am keen to close out this log.  A few pictures follow and a final review of the kit for anyone who wants to take on this model.  I am not one hundred percent happy with the finished product due to some errors, misalignments etc. and the weathering could have been much better but at my stage in life my emphasis has been more on getting the job finished!

 

Having placed the model in its final resting place, amongst some of the other models in my collection, its unique design and colouring makes it stand out from the crowd and I admit it does look well worth the effort.

 

Thanks to my ‘followers’ and ‘likers’ – very much appreciated your company.  I also hope that the log may be of benefit to those who wish to embark on this project.

 

Roger

 

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Kit Review

 

The Amati kit is a quality kit and with a couple of exceptions noted in the log the materials are very good.  Quantities of timber etc. were quite adequate.  I actually have eight metal doors remaining and I wondered for a while if I had missed anything!  The instructions are very clear but as usual they tell you what to do but not how to do it and they do not identify any checks regarding alignment etc. that should be made as you progress.  For example despite components being laser cut they may still require work to get them to the correct shape/size etc.

 

It may look like the model goes together like a meccano set but don’t be fooled, it is not as easy as that.  The scale of 1:150 means that you are dealing with small items and any minor misalignment stands out like the proverbial.  It certainly tested my patience.  As an example I have never before had to use tweezers as much as I did on this model!  The balustrades and railings were the biggest challenge and I had to substitute styrene for the timber provided to get the job done.  One attraction was the minimum amount of rigging but what there is was small and fiddly.   I used CA extensively in the construction, where PVA was inappropriate and epoxy far too slow, more so than on any of my earlier models.

 

According to this log I have been working on the RE Lee for 10 months and that seems a long time.   However I am a part time modeler and I am guessing that I spent the equivalent of a full day and half each week working on it.   Well worth the time I reckon.

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Hi Roger,

 

A beautiful model. Yes, the kit does have it's sizing errors but you have handled them quite well. Your build will be a very nice tutorial for anyone that is planning to do this model.

 

Best of luck on your next project,

 

Iran

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Your build is an excellent tutorial for any one that is going to do this model. Your have done an excellent job, something you will always be proud of. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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I can't thank you enough for taking the time to detail your construction along with the excellent photos. I commend you for a beautiful final product. In highest regards, Larry

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