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Gunboat Philadelphia by MarkCC - Model Shipways


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Hello Everyone.

 

New member here starting my first wooden ship build.  I am not quite sure how it happened, but a couple weekends ago I stumbled across Mamoli's website and got hooked on the idea of building a wooden model ship.  I spent a lot of time growing up building plastic model kits, and I have dabbled in model railroading as well.  So I have some experience, but nothing this intricate or in wood.  It will be challenging and I am really looking forward to getting started.  According to FedEx the kit will be delivered today :D .

 

As one might expect, being brand new to the hobby I found the choices in kits and manufacturers overwhelming at first.  This website really helped me get my bearings.  I quickly settled on this particular kit for the following reasons:

 

  • Model shipways seems to have a pretty good reputation for producing high quality kits with decent instructions.
  • The Philadelphia is an interesting ship visually without appearing ridiculously complicated.  I also have some knowledge of the history of the battle in which the ship fought and the fact that it is a somewhat obscure piece of our history appeals to me.
  • Popular opinion on the internet indicates that this is should be a good ship for a first build.  The model contains all of the basic elements that go into the larger ships, such as the frigate USS Constitution, like frame over bulkhead planking and relatively simple but complete rigging. 
  • The price was reasonable.

​After choosing the Philadelphia I was delighted to find three build logs in progress using the same kit by Chuck, Steve and Bart.  So I have been following their progress which is going to help a lot.  

 

Mark

 

 

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Assembling the Tool Kit.

 

Once I took the plunge and ordered my first kit, I had some time to think about what tools I will be needing.  I already have a pretty wide assortment of basic modeling tools.  What I lack however are tools unique to modeling in wood.  I want to avoid spending a lot of $ on tools which will be of little or no use, otherwise this could very well turn into a tool collecting hobby  :rolleyes: .

After spending a good part of last weekend scouring the internet on ship building tool kits I figure I will be needing the following as a minimum starting tool set, at least for getting started on building and planking the hull.  My plan is to pick up new tools only as I find I really need them.  At least that is the initial plan, but we will see how long before I convince myself that I really need that mini-lathe and milling machine.

  • Clamps.  Lots of em and in many different sizes.
  • Metal push pins.  Pre-reading the instructions for the model gave an idea for using these to assist the hull planking.
  • Mini drill bits and a pin vise.  For drilling tiny holes.
  • Razor saw and mitre bot.  For making clean, square cuts of wood strips.
  • Jewelers file set.
  • Approx 2′ x 3′ piece of tempered glass.  Will provide a nice flat surface for laying out and gluing pieces.  Can also double as an oil paint palette.
  • Small tweezers and forceps.
  • X-Acto handles and assorted blades.  Mostly #11’s and the scalpel type.
  • Small table vise.
  • Yellow carpenters glue and CA glue.

Most of these items I already have.  The rest will be easy to pick up and best of all, won’t cost too much.

Mark

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Mark,

 

Welcome to MSW and welcome to the Philly build. I see you are from Chicago. Are you associated with any of the Chicago ship model clubs and do you know Kurt Van Dahm? He is doing a series of articles in "Ships in Scale" about building the PHILADELPHIA.

 

Looking at your tool selection, the only thing I would add is a Dremel (for now). I use it mostly for the drills and drum sander, but also other things from time to time. The pricier stuff comes later.

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Mark,

 

Welcome to MSW and welcome to the Philly build. I see you are from Chicago. Are you associated with any of the Chicago ship model clubs and do you know Kurt Van Dahm? He is doing a series of articles in "Ships in Scale" about building the PHILADELPHIA.

 

Looking at your tool selection, the only thing I would add is a Dremel (for now). I use it mostly for the drills and drum sander, but also other things from time to time. The pricier stuff comes later.

 

Hi Chuck.

 

I was not aware of any model ship clubs in the area.  Will have to check that out.  I will also have to look into Ships in Scale, for me all new hobbies must be accompanied by several new magazine subscriptions.

 

Thanks for the tip on the Dremel.  I already have one, forgot to put it on the list.  I have been thinking about how best to construct a cradle to hold it securely in position on my table.  I don't think I want to be operating it in one hand while holding the part in the other.  Seems like a recipe for disaster.

 

Mark

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Oh my!!!! The Chicago area has 3 mighty fine clubs. We need to get you connected. Kurt Van Dahm, who is doing the SIS article, is a member of one of them.

 

A cradle to hold the Dremel or the model?

 

A cradle to hold the Dremel for cases where I want to be able to carefully hold and maneuver a piece of wood with my hands.  For the ship, I will wait to see how big it is before I come up with something to hold that.

 

Mark

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Thanks for the tip on the Dremel.  I already have one, forgot to put it on the list.  I have been thinking about how best to construct a cradle to hold it securely in position on my table.  I don't think I want to be operating it in one hand while holding the part in the other.  Seems like a recipe for disaster.

 

The best thing I've ever gotten for my Dremel was the flex-shaft attachment.  Very easy to hold the much smaller and comfortably shaped end of the flex tool, and clamp the Dremel into a vise, or rig a hanger for it, as they say the flex end should remain lower than the Dremel tool.

 

Here is mine so you can see what I'm talking about.  I have mine supported by a Dremel drill press workstation which is clamped into the end-vise on my work bench instead of being permanently mounted somewhere.

 

post-14925-0-01039400-1411070418_thumb.jpg

Edited by GuntherMT
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Ahoy Mark :D 

 

I think your being smart. The stand for the ship is more important right now.  

 

While a Dremel is fabulous tool it can be money whore and is not necessary to construct a model ship. 

 

Disclaimer: I own a Dremel and love it. I have the flex shaft too. They are a lot of fun and can do a lot. 

 

http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/1643-x-y-attachment-for-dremel/?p=239341

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Hey, thanks for the tips on the Drexel Gunther & JP. Some good ideas there.

 

Being a flat bottom ship I was not sure if I would need any sort of cradle for it. I just got the chance to open the box & take a quick look. It is quite a bit bigger than I was thinking. I will be able to inventory the parts a bit later tonight.

 

Thanks for the tips. Much appreciated.

 

Mark

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Mark I have been a member of all three Chicago clubs.  Get in touch with Kurt and he will be able to hook you up with all of them  besides there are several on this list who are members.  I know you will have a blast.

David B

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First look and Inventory.
 
Of course the kit arrives on a day when I have an appointment right after work.  I am able to take a sneak peak right after I get home, and my first impression is “Boy, that’s bigger than I thought it would be.”.  But fortunately it is not to big to fit into my work area.

 

After my appointment I get a chance to take a closer look at the kit.  My initial impression is favorable.  The kit was well packed and easily survived some dents in the shipping box courtesy of FedEx.  The laser cuts in the wood are clean and it appears the pieces will come out easily.  So first thing is to do a complete parts inventory to make sure everything is there and nothing is damaged.  Here is what it looked like with everything spread out on the kitchen table.

 

post-15454-0-62686900-1411165453_thumb.jpg

For scale the table is about 4′ across.  Everything that is supposed to be there is there and in good condition.  While going through the inventory I take the time to mark all of the round and square stock with their dimensions.  I also label the parts in their plastic baggies and store them in an old cigar box.

 

post-15454-0-71663200-1411165500_thumb.jpg

Once the inventory was completed it was time to begin studying the plans in expectation of beginning the build on Friday, which I just happened to be taking off.

This is gonna be fun.

 

Mark

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I was able to spend a good chunk of time over the weekend working on the Philly.  I got the basic frame of the ship together without any major mishaps.  So far the kit instructions are pretty clear and the drawings are really helpful.  Taking advantage of suggestions and tips from other build logs, I dug out some of my son's old leggos.  They really are as great as advertised for clamping at right angles and as small sanding blocks. 

 

post-15454-0-05536800-1411406522.jpg

 

After adding the cockpit floors and doing a bit of sanding, I think I am ready to begin thinking about planking.

 

post-15454-0-49384000-1411406623.jpg

 

This leads me to my first bit of uncertainty.  Given that this is a flat bottom boat, how does the lowermost plank join up with the bottom?  My inclination is to bevel the edge of the bottom to match the curve of the bulkheads.  I am pretty sure that this will work, but I am open to other suggestions.

 

post-15454-0-98372300-1411406916.jpg

 

Having a lot of fun so far.  Thanks for looking.  

 

Mark

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Mark,

 

    Yes, the bottom hull plank should connect to the outer most floor/bottom planking.  You would be correct in beveling the bottom to match the curve in the hull.

 

    Apparently when they built the Philly, they started at the bottom and worked their way up; cutting off whatever frames (and eventually stem) that stuck up above the last strake.  With the model, we start from the top and work down.  Chances are good that the bottom strake will extend past the floor and will need to be sanded down...but that's okay.

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So I am ready to start planking the hull. I will be soaking the planks in warm/hot water and then clamping them to the bulkheads to dry in place. The planks are 1/16" thick. How long should they soak and how long should they be allowed to dry in place?

 

Mark

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Mark,

 

    How long to soak?  For a basswood plank that thick I would go 10 to 15 minutes.  If you go to fit it and it doesn't bend easily, go a little longer.  Avoid getting it waterlogged.

 

    How long to dry in place?  Until it is dry.  It's not meant to be a smart-@$$ answer....well maybe...but it will vary with conditions, such as temperature, humidity, how long you soaked it, etc.  I usually let it dry overnight.  That may sound excessive, but you haven't glued a plank in place when you thought it was dry and it turned out to be NOT dry (shrinkage).  "Nice gap buddy."   Some people use a hand held hair dryer.  Others use an iron set at low.  These have the advantage of heating the plank, drying it and helping to bend it.

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Thanks for the advice Chuck.  "Smart ---" answers work for me ;), so long as the information is there I'm good.  Although the drying time question seems a bit obvious on the surface what I was wondering was if 'dry to the touch' is good enough, or whether overnight is necessary to avoid shrinkage.

 

I did soak, clamp & glue the uppermost inner plank along the port side last night.  Soaked for about 20 minutes.  Let them dry in place for a couple of hours then glued.  Checked it this morning and no signs of cracking or warping :cheers: , so I figure I am good to go.  

 

The next question to ponder is how to make sure I get all of the needed plank lengths out of the available stock.  

 

Mark   

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Mark,

 

    Good question.  Part of planning any project is ensuring you have enough raw material/resources for the job...and/or efficient use of existing resources to ensure they don't run out before the job does.  In this case I would LIKE to say it shouldn't be a proble.  ME usually provides plenty of material, particularly for the beginner and intermediate kits where they know the modeler may not be planning down to a gnat's ***. 

 

    Having said that, it doesn't hurt to do some estimating.  The interior hull planking will all be the same width, so I would set those all aside and make sure you don't use it for anything else.  If I recall, the plans do not specify plank lengths or locations of butt joints, so you should be able to come up with a plan to efficiently use them.  My plan is to make my interior plank lengths 6 frames long.  By staggering them, you will end up with either the bow or stern (or both) plank less than 6 frames long, but that is fine.  Are you familiar with the protocols for butt edge spacing?

 

    The exterior planking will be a little more challenging.  The bow and stern planks of each strake will have to be spiled/shaped, so you will need to use a wider piece of wood than you need for width of plank.  If I recall, the spile is not very severe.  On the plus side, the top 3 strakes do NOT need to be spiled, there are only 4 strakes below the wale, the hull is pretty much lined off already and the butt joints are clearaly marked in the plans.

 

    I suspect there will be alot of discussion about planking as we get into it.  I am right behind you and Steve is about where you are.  I'm not sure how far along bart is.

Edited by Chuck Seiler
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    Having said that, it doesn't hurt to do some estimating.  The interior hull planking will all be the same width, so I would set those all aside and make sure you don't use it for anything else.  If I recall, the plans do not specify plank lengths or locations of butt joints, so you should be able to come up with a plan to efficiently use them.  My plan is to make my interior plank lengths 6 frames long.  By staggering them, you will end up with either the bow or stern (or both) plank less than 6 frames long, but that is fine.  Are you familiar with the protocols for butt edge spacing?

 

    

 

Hmmmm...  For the inside I was planning on following the same butt joint pattern as for the outer hull.  I think I will map out the lengths needed tonight and see how things work out.

 

Mark

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Marc:

If you follow the planking diagram for the exterior of the hull you will have plenty of planking from the kit.  As to the interior planking there is adequate stock to do it w/o worry.  As to following the same pattern for the interior as the exterior, I would say to avoid that for the same reason you don't want adjacent plank butts on the exterior for stability/strength. In this type of boat the ceiling planking reinforces the exterior planking so you would want to avoid the duplication of butt joints from the exterior to the interior.

Kurt

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Good point.

 

For what it's worth, if I remember it correctly, the rule of thimb is that you don't want to put a joint on an adjacent plank/strake within 3 frames of the previous joint.  (Remember, in the kit, each kit frame is about 2 actual frames apart.)  Do not put a butt joint on the SAME frame within 3 strakes of one where ther is a joint. 

 

Hopefully somebody can word that better so it makes sense.

Edited by Chuck Seiler
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Good point.

 

For what it's worth, if I remember it correctly, the rule of thimb is that you don't want to put a joint on an adjacent plank/strake within 3 frames of the previous joint.  (Remember, in the kit, each kit frame is about 2 actual frames apart.)  Do not put a butt joint on the SAME frame within 3 strakes of one where ther is a joint. 

 

Hopefully somebody can word that better so it makes sense.

 

Makes sense to me.  On your advice I have planked the outer hull down to the gunwale and now am working on the interior.  Should have some pics up soon.  One thing I am finding is that it is impossible, at least for me, to avoid smearing glue on the planks.  But I figure that will all sand off so I am erring towards having a little too much glue (for structural integrity) rather than too little (in an attempt to keep things clean).  

 

My impression is that the planking on this kit is relatively straightforward, not too many planks and fairly large.  Yes?  So far I am doing alright, but I am glad I did not go for something like a frigate for my first build :o.  Lots of smaller planks.  I think I would have been overwhelmed.

 

Mark

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   Some times I am tempted to wipe the glue off when it oozes out of the seam.  More and more I resist that temptation, leaving the glob on there until it is semi firm.  I tehn remove it with a razor/exacto/scalpel.  I am told it is cleaner that way...whereas the wiped off glue residue seeps into more of the wood. 

 

   The planking so far is pretty straight forward.  Down to the wale and all interior does not need spiling.  Once you get below the wale, the planks will need to be spiled/shaped.  It is not all that severe, so it will be fairly easy, but you still need to know what to do.  Many people just want to edge bend th eplank, but that causes buckling.  I need to check the instructions to see what it says about it.  There are several good tutorials/build logs that explain spiling. 

 

    Yeah, this planking is much easier than a frigate.  Rigging is alot easier as well. :D 

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  Yeah, this planking is much easier than a frigate.  Rigging is alot easier as well. :D 

 

 

I have not even begun to think about the rigging.  I have no idea how I am going to approach that particular part of the build.  Keeping my focus on the hull for the time being.

 

Mark

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Progress!

 

post-15454-0-16542700-1412464848.jpg

 

I have been slowly planking along.  Started with the top strake, inner and outer.  Then went down to the gunwal on the outside before going back and working on completing the inner planking.  Other than making a mess with the glue and pencil marks no disasters have befallen.  At least I don't think I have make any mistakes which will not be sanded out.

 

post-15454-0-07250100-1412464888_thumb.jpg

 

Since I am spending a lot of time waiting for planks to bend and glue to dry, I figure I will get started on the 9lb gun carriages.  Does anyone have any clever tricks for carving the round axles out of the square wood?  

 

Mark

 

 

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   Use an exacto to rough out the corners, then hand sand to round.  I put the axle to be sanded between sand paper between my fingers and twirl.  You can do the same by chucking the opposite side axle into a dremel and using a sanding stick, but you have to be careful to avoid taking off too much.  I use this method since I have alot of practice making trunnels this way.

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