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San Felipe by testazyk - FINISHED - Panart - Scale 1:75 1690

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I'm still laid up with a broken leg and can't get to my workshop easily so I decided to amuse (embarrass?) myself by doing a retro build log of the Panart San Felipe.  I bought the kit in the 80s so it's pre laser cutting  and did the build 20 years later before I had access to the collective wisdom of all of you!





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This was my first Panart kit.  I'd previously done AL, Mamoli and the Mantua Victory.  The San Felipe was the biggest challenge I'd taken on so far. 


I did the ritual unpacking and one of the great things about the kit was that it had a very comprehensive instruction manual that included a detailed parts list.  To me, that made it easy to check and inspect each item in the kit and also get a better sense of what everything was for and how the build would come together. I was very impressed by the quality of the materials, especially the castings, blocks and deadeyes. 


The manual was much more than a translation of the Italian words on the plans.  But at the same time there were things in Italian on the plans that weren't translated in the manual.  It was no problem.  Between Mastini's book, a and Italian/English dictionary I was able to figure things out as I went.


The model has a three part false keel and I don't know if it was because of the time the kit had been in storage or what but the keel sections and the false gun decks had warped a bit.


So my first task was to soak everything and weight it for a few days.  (That's why the anvil is sitting on the stack in the picture above!).  Once everything looked good I assembled the keel and fitted the frames.


Once the frames were secure and straight I did the gun decks and posts for the dummy cannon.



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Hello Testazyk. I will be following this build really close. I have this kit in my stash and will most likely be my next project, as I love this ship.

Still a long way to go, though, as I am in the beginning stages of the Mamoli Royal Louis.

Please keep adding photos and advice to your log. 

Best of lucks.



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There is a lot of work to do once the frames are in place.  Because the kit predated laser cutting it meant of lot of time with the jigsaw and file!  The instructions for building up the back galleries are very good but be careful because there are three platforms and they look similar.  Make sure you get the right one in the right place. 


Once the framework is in place you can put the decks on.  They are made of very nice dark plywood and the deck planking is a nice light wood that I think makes for a great looking deck.  Note that the plans don't tell you to plank under the overhanging decks until after you've done the hull planking.  I thought that would make it a real challenge so I started the deck planking to finish off the areas under the overhangs.  I cheated under the overhang on the main deck and didn't plank properly but figured no one would ever see it.


This is a good time to triple check the alignment of the frames, especially towards the stern.  If you look at pictures of the finished model, you will see how the stern balconies join with the sides of the ship and you want to make sure that the second to the last frame is in the correct line with the round balcony platforms. 


Lastly its also not a bad idea to make a larger block for the bow to attach the planks at the bow.



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Hi Testazyk,


I will follow your log with great interest. The San Felipe is a amazing ship. Although I am not planning to build her in teh next years I always want to see the progress of other builders. And its Panart - a company I like.


So:I take a seat and watch...







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It was time to do the first layer of planking.  For plank bending I use an electric Aeropiccola plank bender.




For the first planking layer I usually drill holes in the planks and temporarily nail them to the frames until the glue dries.  But I also sometimes use these clamps which I got from Model Expo.  




Here's the first layer "finished."  The red tape is to prevent the bulwark planks from sticking to the frame bits that will be cut off. This is also where my first big mistake became apparent.  The kit includes a cardboard template that you are supposed to use to mark the locations of the gun ports.  Because of the existence of the template I didn't bother to mark the locations of the ports as I was planking.  Here I've marked and drilled out the pilot holes for the ports according to the template.




And here is how the hull looked after I started cutting and realized that the aft gun deck ports were nowhere near the blocks for the dummy cannon.  I patched up the bad ports and cut new ones and was ready to move on.  Moral of the story--don't trust anything but your own eyes!





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The main reason it took me 20 yrs to finish was that I retired an took up several antique car restoration project. I am now doing the Confederacy. While building the felipe i had it in a fixed stand and loosened part of the keel when I push on the side of the hull one time. I switched to the homemade styrofoam stand , and now can position the ship in any manner, lay it on the styrofoam, and have it fully supported.

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The first and second planking went on well.  The plans don't say anything about the chain wales at this point but it's probably a good idea to plan where they go and to cut slots for them in the first layer of planking so you can do a nice opening in the second layer without having to worry about damaging the final layer.


Once you finish the hull planking there are lots of interesting tasks like deck planking and planking the interior bulwarks.  One unusual task unique to this ship is planking the outside of the balcony terrace.  On the completed ship it is a solid curve around the stern and is decorated with beautiful carvings.  


I decided that I wanted the surface on which the carvings would be attached to be as smooth as possible and that started with having the planking that creates the curve to be as smooth as possible for future enamelling.  It's not as straightforward a task as it looks at first.  Because the platforms are not vertical, you can't just lay planks side by side around the curve because you will find the planks require an increasing slant.  The solution is to taper some of the planks to make them wedge shaped.  I started with vertical ones in the centre and worked my way out and was very happy with the result.






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Once the planking is finished there are several very interesting tasks to finish off the bulwarks.  


The first challenge is some circular gun ports fore and aft.  I'd never cut circular gun ports before and they have to be perfect because the kit includes wooden rings to use as gun port frames.  I took a very conservative approach because I wanted them to (1) be the right size and (2) round.  Plus I didn't want to damage the inboard or outboard planking.  I drilled progressively larger holes and then used a fat round file to finish off the ports and was very happy with the result.


There is also a double rail with vertical posts that runs almost the length of the ship.  You make the rail by cutting the verticals from thin dowel and inserting them in holes drilled through the railing and into the base.  There is a decorative strip on top to hide the holes.  The challenge here is to get the spacing between the vertical posts just right and also to make sure they are all perfectly vertical.  The kit instructions are excellent and with some careful measuring, marking and slow drilling you shouldn't have any problems.


Before installing the vertical posts:





One thing that makes the San Felipe so interesting is the wealth of unusual features.  One is the semicircular rails in the focsle above the officers latrines.  On my version of the kit you had to cut out the semicircular rails from a sheet with a jigsaw and unfortunately I found the quality of the wood wasn't very good.--the grain was very open and the wood split a lot and I couldn't get them to look decent.  So I bought some thin sheets of higher quality wood, laminated them and stained them and they came out really well.  Again the plans are very helpful for assembling the railings and getting the verticals in correctly.


The last challenge is to cap the bow railings with a decorative metal strip.  If I knew then what I know now I would have used a similar strip for all of the side railings too rather than the wooden strip provided in the kit.


Be sure to take some time to mitre and sand the little strips so you get a nice joint.  Bending the strips into semicircles seemed impossible at first.  What I did was get a piece of pipe of the correct size to use as a form.  Then made two crude wooden handles and stuck a length of the railing metal strip in each handle and heated it over a gas stove until the metal was soft.  I then bent it around the form and tapped it into shape.  I felt like a blacksmith and was happy with the result.


These pics give an overview of all the things I've talked about in this post:














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WOW... what an amazing build, what a perfect job you do. I am really impressed... Never thought that I would ever want to build a ship of this category like San Felipe, Souvereign or Soleil Royale... but I get more and more thrilled by those ships...

I like your log very much and will follow up constantely..


Best wishes



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Brian, Joe and Max, thanks very much for your comments.  Here are a few more pictures of the work so far:


The plans suggest using fairly thick timber to make the grill in the bow openings but I thought that looked a little heavy so I found some thin strips and used them.




Two overviews of the deck:






I thought that the back wall under the quarter deck looked too bare so I made some door outlines.  It turns out you can't see them on the finished ship but I'm glad they're there.




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Thanks Max  & Frenchy!


It was now time to start some of the really interesting decorative work.  But first I had to tackle a job that I'd been worried about--painting parts of the hull.  I rarely use paint on my builds because (a) I like as much natural wood as possible and (B) I'm worried about bleeding and running and generally screwing it up.  But in this case paint is necessary because there is some beautiful gold decorative work and to make it show up you really need a dark background.  I used Testors dark blue enamel.  First I did the stern sections.  Because I wanted them to be super smooth they required a lot of coats.




Next I installed the wales and chainwales and painted the bow sections and put on the first decorative strip.  






Then it was time to take a deep breath and do the rest of the painting.  I masked off the sections and went to work.




I was really happy with the results.





Then I started installing some of the decorative pieces.  As I mentioned earlier I was very impressed with the quality of the castings in the kit.  They required very little sanding and prep.  I painted them with gold enamel to tone them down a bit.  Also, I try to use CA glue as little as possible.  Epoxy is hard to work with so I've been using anaerobic glue that they use for industrial applications.  It doesn't work well on porous surfaces because there is supposed to be no air, but between enamel paint and metal it was great.  There are no nasty fumes (compared to CA) and it dries quickly but not so fast that you don't have time to make sure everything is where you want it.













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Hi again,


thats what I like on my Royal Caroline: The decorations are very impressive and - almost all - well-done. The figures come out quite realistic and after a painting with gold enamle and a little bit of black dust they look very good. I use the dust (black color pigments from artist chalk) to accent the moldings.


I really like your build - the colors look perfect and very smooth surface. Did you use a filler before you painted the wood?


I am very excited to see the next steps... Thank you for sharing :)





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Thanks Brian! 


I just happened to have the green tape and the adhesive seemed good and strong so I used it.   I've seen and used yellow and blue tape but don't know if the colour means anything as far as its properties.  The main think I think is to use tape that is rigid and won't bubble and with uniform adhesive so you can get a good stick down edge. 

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The next step was installing the dead eyes and chain plates.  The hardware was of reasonable quality but once again if I knew then what I know now I would have fabricated my own to get them to be neater and more uniform because the wire in kit was a little soft.




Then I continued with the decorative metal pieces.  There is lots of interesting detail in the stern.  If I had unlimited time and skill I wouldn't use the stamped windows that the kit provides but rather make my own with fake glass.  I've never been happy with painting them black or blue because I don't think either is particularly realistic.  So I went for even less realism and made mine grey.  The theory is that they are glass reflecting a cloudy sky, but as a practical matter, I wanted them to be fairly subdued and not draw too much attention.




Then came another interesting challenge--installing the curve stern railings on both balconies.  If you take nothing else away from this log, I'd urge you to make your own railings.  The metal railings provided in the kit are nice but a little too heavy I think.  Plus they are very soft and bending them is too easy--mine kept breaking so I ended up installing the railing in sections.  That wouldn't have been too big a problem except the posts are slanted to accomodate the curves in the balconies and the posts didn't match up between two sections.  That determined which side of the finished model goes toward the wall!















Edited by testazyk
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The next task was the decorative work on the stern.  It's very straightforward work and really makes the ship look good.  




The stern gun ports present a minor challenge.  Because of the sweep of the stern the blocks for the dummy cannon are quite deep so the guns are practically flush with the ports (i.e., not run out).  Trying to fit the cannons by hand resulted in me losing a couple in the bowels of the ship.   I was able to shake them out after much shaking and turning and twisting, but one wouldn't come out and to this day it's still sitting in there, rattling every time I move the ship.  


Fortunately the kit provided a couple of extra cannons.  I then decided to prevent further losses by tying strings to the cannon so I could fish them out if necessary.





Another interesting project is installing the decorative trim along the stern balcony.  the kit provides little disks and flowers and you alternate them around the curve of the balcony.  The challenge is to get everything perfectly even and equally spaced, so I did a one dimensional template to plan things out.




The end result turned out well.  Here is the completed stern work.



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