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Armed Virginia Sloop by GuntherMT - FINISHED - Model Shipways - scale 1:48

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Quality is quality when the items are equal it is what feels better in your hand.  As for the Harbor Freight stuff I always take into account that many of them are knock offs.  I purchased a digital caliper on sale from them last year.  I took it to work and asked QC to look it over + or- .002  for $25 I am not going to complain.

David B

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So it's been a few days, and I haven't accomplished nearly as much as I expected to this weekend, as I caved in and bought a new video game (Dragon Age) so wasted most of the weekend camped in front of the computer like the giant nerd that I am.  emot-buddy.gif


I have accomplished a bit though since the last update, including some new 'firsts' for me today, so I figured I'd give an update since I'm inordinately proud of myself for the latest bit.  gf-smug.gif


To start off with, over the last several days I finished up the aft outer bulkhead planking, and then put on the sheer strake.  For the sheer strake I used 4" sections (16' scale planks).  This is the first 'scale' planking on the model, although I meant to do that for the black strake and simply got ahead of myself and forgot.



I also got the hole for the bowsprit drilled, but it is left undersized for now.  I'll open it up the rest of the way later when I've got the bowsprit shaped for best fitment.



The next 'first time' thing I did, was I ground a simple trim form into a razor blade, and cut a 'line' into the outside edge of the cap rail pieces for 'fashion'.  I am reasonably pleased with out it came out for my first try at this sort of thing.



Unfortunately, when I went to actually fit the cap rails onto the bulkheads I ran into the problem that lead to my other 'first'.  The curve of the cap rails as they approach the bow was completely different than the actual curve of the bulkheads.  If I'd used the kit cap rails, the very tip would have actually ended up just behind the bulkheads where they meet above the stem, instead of extending beyond it slightly.  If I moved them far enough forward to meet where they should, the curve completely didn't work for the rest, and they also came up very short at the aft end.


So, I scrounged around in the box of wood that I got from Reno, and low and behold, there was a small sheet of 1/16" wood.  I'm not honestly sure if it's walnut or not, but it's wood, and close enough!  So I used the curve of the bulkheads, along with the width/shape from the kit cap rails, and made forward cap rail pieces from this new sheet of wood.  The sheet of wood I have wasn't large enough to make the entire rails over, so I just made the forward sections.



To join them with the kit rails, I made my first ever scarf joints, and cut back the original cap rails to match up with the new pieces.  I used my little shaped razor blade and cut my line into these new parts, and placed them.  This part is where I was really happy that I didn't try to use the kit pieces.  These came out great.  gf-clint.gif



I clamped the kit cap rail into place on the starboard side, and then measured and cut a 1/16 x 1/16 piece and cut the 'line' into it and placed it at the stern, and then I glued the kit piece into place.  I haven't completed these steps on the port side yet.



My 'trim' line isn't aligned perfectly where the scarf joint is, but I think I can make it look somewhat better with a bit of work using the sharp edge of a riffler file.


Hope everyone had a great weekend, cheers!  gf-cheers.gif

Edited by GuntherMT
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Alistair - to your previous question about the trim piece on the black strake.  I'm still undecided, but for now it's just black.


Update - I got a new toy today!


One final slightly out of focus (somehow appropriate) picture from the old Canon point and shoot:



On to the AVS.


I continued working on the cap rails, first placing the rest of the port side on to match the already completed starboard side.  The scarf joint on this side came out great, with only a tiny gap on the inside edge (which you couldn't even see in the picture from the old camera).



I managed to trim the main kit piece of the cap rail too short, so I had to add a small shim at the back end of it, but it will pretty much be covered up (except edge on) by the vertical piece at the quarter deck step.  After completing the main cap rail, I added the stern bulwark planking above the cap rail.  For this I used two 1/8" x .030 strips, and left them full width at the stern, and tapered them down to about 1/2 width at the front edge.



Once those planks were done, I sanded the edges level for placement of the upper cap rail along the poop deck.  This requires the placement of a vertical piece to cover the front edge of the bulwarks at the quarter deck.  I decided to do my fancy edging (if a single line can be called fancy) on the upper cap rail, and I did it on all three exposed edges.



One potential downside of the new camera, it exposes all evils, even when they aren't my fault!  Here you can see how much detail (and mess) I can now show by simply cropping out a piece of the 6000x4000 original image.  This shows the small 'shim' I had to add at the back of the cap rail - the vertical piece is on top of the shim.  I can probably get even closer/better than this by over-riding the camera and shooting manual, but it will take a while to learn the new toy.  The wood itself looks pretty rough when zoomed in this close.



For the stern cap rail, I decided that edge bending the largish walnut just wasn't going to work, so I used some heavy card stock and made a pattern off the top of the stern bulkhead, measured it out to be the same width as the cap rail, and traced it onto the same piece of wood that I made the bow cap rails out of.



The stern bulkhead was too narrow in comparison with all the other bulkheads, even with an inner layer of planking, and I thought that the cap rail overhang would look too extreme, so I glued a piece of 3/64 basswood to a thick piece of walnut (1/16" instead of the .030) and 'bulked it out', so to speak.



I used a heat gun to pre-bend the new stern cap rail over the curvature of the stern bulkhead (I built a curve into the top, rather than having it flat).  This is just laying in place, it's not glued yet, I want to leave it off until I'm done with the tedious priming/sanding/painting process on that bit of inner bulkhead at the stern.  Should have done this piece earlier, but I don't think I could have made everything fit right without the cap rails in place so I could see how it all fit together, and trim the stern bulkhead down to the correct height.



Oh yea, and one 'artsy' shot with the new camera.  It has an interesting effects mode called false color, where it will shoot black and white except for specific colors that you tell it to show.


I could see this making some really interesting photo's after there are more colors and the deck is starting to get fleshed out.


Have a great Thanksgiving everyone, even if you don't celebrate it in your part of the world!


Edited by GuntherMT
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too bad. I rather like the look of the planks. 


You replied while I was typing in my update.  I do like the appearance of the natural wood, so I'm planning on a bit of a hybrid build.  I am going to go with the kit painting scheme from the wale up, but plan to try to make the lower hull planking good enough to leave it natural.  I'm also planning to leave the stern natural as well.


I do reserve the right to change my mind and leave the upper planking natural too though (or to just paint everything!). :)

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Brian - you are on your way to a gold standard AVS. You are definitely taking those details to where I didn't even consider them. She's looking very fine and the little detail additions are perfect.


Camera wise - I'll still stick with my cheap point and shoot - but I can't deign tat your photos look great!

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Not a huge amount of progress, as I'm working on paint which is of course very time consuming because of the need to wait between coats before sanding and repeating.  I did play with the camera a bit this morning, and think that it's going to allow me to take some pretty neat shots later on as I get used to what it can do and how to take advantage of it.


This was taken using a tripod with the camera about 6' away from the ship and then cropped.  No post-processing done at all, using some natural light from a window and a single LED lamp and the camera flash shut off.



Hrmm.. the forum apparently does some brutal image compression, as that is not as sharp as the original, and it's gone from a 551k original image to a 130k image as an attachment.  Learn something new every day.


Link for uncompressed if you are curious - http://www.magetower.com/AVS/262OuterBulkheadsPaint.jpg

Edited by GuntherMT
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Good morning all,


I received a PM from someone this morning who was researching kits for future builds, and he asked about something that's a personal 'beef' of mine - How long is the hull of the AVS?


This seems like something that should be made available on all kits by all the manufacturers, yet it's extremely rare in a non-admiralty model to find that measurement.  Instead they use the largest measurement they can get, from the tip of the bowsprit to the trailing tip of the gaff boom, and print that on all the literature.  While it's nice to know that the AVS will be 31" (787mm) long using that measurement, it really does not give the shopper who is browsing through the kits a very good idea of the real size of the hull, especially when the bowsprit and boom have ridiculously large proportions to the hull like the AVS does.


In any case, I figured I would share the measurements here, so that anyone else who is following along and is considering this kit for a future build would have that information as well as the gentleman who asked for this.


The hull of the AVS (at least mine!) from the tip of the stem to the back edge of the stern bulkhead is 14 - 27/32" long (377mm for the non-Yanks).  That's measured at the top of the cap rail as seen below, so it's the max length, not along the deck to the insides of the bulkheads.



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So for the last few weeks I've been spending a great deal of time watching paint dry.  I may have mentioned in passing (or a lot more than that) that I'm not a terribly patient person, so this has been a fair trial for me.  Due to my extremely limited work space I really haven't wanted to jump ahead and work on other bits and pieces because I don't have a reasonable place to put those pieces until they are needed later.


Tonight after putting another coat of black on the AVS and setting it back down to dry, I decided that I would look at assembling (but not gluing, so I can put it back in the package) a gun carriage so that I could make sure that it would work height-wise with the gun ports.


I am not using the kit carriages, and the ones I am using (from Syren) are taller than the kit ones when looking at just the side pieces, so I was concerned about the fitment. 


Test fitment was a success, making me really wonder if the kit assemblies would have been too low!

The carriages and guns from Chuck are ..  well, I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves. 


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What? No pictures in the AVS to show how they fit? :P


Painting teaches patience, slowly.... :rolleyes:


The nice thing with the AVS is that it gives a small primer on rigging guns. With only 8, it gives you practice without rigging huge numbers. I've yet to tackle that task and see it as a huge challenge. The San Francisco at 1:90 has me worried, and it is the odd 2 wheeled carriages supposedly. The upgrades look great, it's always nice to go beyond the kit and make your build personalized.


Chucks ropes and blocks... well all I can say is I can't imagine using AL rope or blocks after seeing and using Syren,

Were the MS cannon cast? You should show a side by side for comparison, that sometimes really justifies the upgrade. There are some great up grades that MSW builders are producing that help take this hobby several notches towards a better place. Upgrading woods, lines, blocks, carriages, cannon and all other manner of bits and pieces (photo-etch) plus tools, make the original kit price pale in comparison, but I see it as investing in me. People don't blink twice at spending $75 or more every month for TV and they see that as a hobby, I'd rather invest it in a real hobby where I use my creative ability in an established historic hobby. Stamp and music collecting satisfied my taxonomy and artistic side , but ship building satisfies my tactile and academic sides. Both historic studies and the study of applied physics of how the rig/ hull create a working vessel. Plus its art in 3D.


Building and other physically active hobbies, I find so much more involving personally, don't get me wrong I like movies and some TV programing, but can not stand the commercial media invasion. I think this hobby draws people with that type of personality. The ability to spend hours on a task only you and a select few will ever notice, just because it brings you pleasure. It's also nice that each person can chose the limit of how far to go with a build. As the Carmen was an "out of box" build has the thought crossed you mind of ever revisiting her again? 


The good old "why we build?"  ...because its FUN :dancetl6: 

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I'll get a picture of the kit guns and carriage parts for comparison.  The kit guns are britannia cast, and the carriages are walnut laser cut.


So far for the AVS I have (or will) replaced guns, carriages, all rigging and blocks (using kit dead eyes), and have holly for the deck planking.  The wale was replaced with boxwood, but that is only because the kit walnut was complete trash.  If that walnut had been like all the other walnut in the kit I would have used it I'm sure.  I may use some different wood for deck furniture, and I think I'm going to plank the poop (or quarter) deck with cherry instead of walnut, but that's not a sure thing yet either.


As far as revisiting the Carmen, I suppose it's always a possibility, but there are so many other kits out there that interest me (3 of which are already sitting here next to my workbench) that I don't see that as something I would do anytime in the near future.  I do look at it when I'm in the office and think about what I could have done to make it better, even finishing stuff like rope coils, or completing the running rigging for the jib sails, etc., but ultimately I'm pretty pleased with how it came out, and at this time plan to leave it as it was completed since it was my first wooden ship, and there will never be another first one.

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Here you go Keith.




The kit guns are really not bad at all.  They are a bit 'fatter' than the brass guns, but are reasonably clean and wouldn't have needed a great deal of clean up.  The Syren carriages come with far more parts, everything other than what you see here would have been made from various pieces of walnut (I presume - haven't actually read that part of the instructions) in the kit, rather than getting all of them nicely pre-cut.  I'd have had to drill out the barrels in the kit guns as well, as they are only indented slightly.


The Syren guns & carriages are actually 1:64 scale 6 pounders, but I printed out the plans from Chucks site at 1:1 scale and laid the kit barrels on top of them before I ordered them, and they are almost identical in length to the kit 4 pounders.

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Nice looking cannon there Brian. Can't believe you can assemble it without glue! I'd suggest you get the sides much tighter to the barrel but you probably already figured that. I just used the sharp end of a toothpick for the quoin handle on my Fly cannons - works just fine and is very fine in size but with the AVS you are at a larger scale so your effort there will show nicely. Good stuff.


Keith - I wouldn't knock the kit supplied cannons on the AVS too much. I used them and they came up really well I think. Fully rigged etc.At the time I had no idea you could get cannons from other sources so I didn't even try.

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I'm not knocking the kit supplied anything, Alistair.

I'm just saying it is nice to upgrade If one wishes. One could say that filing the flashing seams on the white metal castings and adding photo-etched insignia and flint locks could be just as big an upgrade as new guns. Or one could simply paint the guns as they are, the originals probably has cast flashing and a much rougher finish then we simulate. Al I was saying is that its nice for a builder to have options and MSW teaches many differing ways to upgrade a kit, from modification to kit pieces, to completely replacing them.


The white metal castings of figureheads, quarter badges and stern pieces are another place where modifying or replacing a piece can make HUGE differences and whether modifying the kit pieces, or by buying a new piece, or making a piece completely from scratch, it is just a way for a builder to exhibit their personality. I personally enjoy seeing scratch built pieces, but as with anything, that requires skills, which we slowly accumulate over time and each build becomes better as we learn how best to modify the kit to our liking. That's a part of building I personally enjoy.

On a painted ship, one might question changing woods, but differing woods are easier to work with and give a better fit....or like in the case of the Holly decking, it just plain looks more striking then the kit decking.

It is really not about what one uses, so much as how one uses what they have. One who spends the most on extra parts doesn't have the superior model, but the builder that creates a more enjoyable and satisfying build for themselves has, as FUN is the measure of this hobby...and only the builder themselves can judge that in the end.

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I'm impressed with all of you, frankly. I'm on my first build with the AVS and based on everyone's input, I've got some pear planking on the way to upgrade the decks from bass wood. But other than that, I planning to build straight from the box.

I've been watching this thread about the cannons and decided that if anyone ever wants the definition of "geek", this is a great example. I mean that in a good way and hope nobody takes offense.

But really, how many places in the world is there a conversation about upgrading the cannon castings for your wooden ship model?  

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So I decided that good is good enough, and I'm tired of painting black layers.  So, I decided tonight would be the night for the 'big reveal'.  How well did my masking work?  Was all of this a huge waste of time because the black bled all over the yellow ochre?  (insert drum roll here)






I can live with this.  This is prior to buffing (not fully dry on the final coat of black) and adding a couple layers of clear poly.  Needs a bit of touch up here and there, especially in the bottom and top of the gun ports, but certainly a paint job I can live with for my first run at wood painting.


As far as colors go, I painted 4 different color strips (3 different blues and a green) and laid them up against the hull to eyeball, and while the blue certainly adds a nice splash of color, I think I'm going to be different from every other AVS build I've seen, and leave the sheer strake black.  In the instruction manual, painting the sheer strake blue, red, or green is 'optional', and I'm kind of fond of the black right now.


Tomorrow I can put the taffrail on, and then apply a couple coats of poly to protect the paint, then it's time to start the 2nd planking of the hull!  gf-toot.gif

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Looks very, very sharp Brian. Your good call on the blue - I went the blue way but the black looks very good too and she's in your command. I still miss the little gold rail that runs above the black strake. Perhaps because fitting and painting it caused me so much grief that I think you should feel the same pain :P.

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