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Rattlesnake/Cormorant by RevKB - 1780-1786?

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This is a build log of my progression through the Model ship ways Rattlesnake kit.


The beginning, Opening the kit,



Nicely Packaged,








Laser Cut Pieces,My first time experience with these, I found the laser side was a tiny bit more beveled than the finished side.Cuts are very precise. Even though they are precise, some adjustments to the pieces may be needed .




The Blue prints are fantastic! and to scale, However the directions do assume your are at the Intermediate level of experience with some decent knowledge of ship design and woodworking experience.




On to the Build , Gluing the Keel . This is singly the hardest part of any project for some. The beginning step, I have found jumping in with both feet to be the best way to start, you may make mistakes, but there is no better way to learn than to make a mistake. Besides one of the fantastic parts of building a Model ship way project is they will replace any part you break or mess up . Often using things you have around the house helps during the assembly process. Yup those are Hockey pucks . I am a HUGE, yup almost obsessive Binghamton Senators hockey fan and by extension an Ottawa senators fan .



A straight metal edge is always useful when looking for plum.




Using my wife's Nail jewelry drill to pilot hole and pin with t-pins for precise alignment of Keel while glue sets.Rubber bands are very helpful to vise these peices, But a word of caution, ( do not make them tooo tight as they will twist the pieces away from plum)



While the Glue on the Keel is drying lets move on to marking the reference points on the bulkheads. using a pencil compass find the distance on the blue prints and transfer that distance to the bulkhead while still in the laser cut template, this is for two reasons , 1st, you use the lines made by the laser as a guide for your compass. 2nd,it allows you to measure for precision before you cut.


Old woodworking commandment " measure twice, cut once" lastly use a straight edge and a pin caliper to double check plum.






Lastly for this step , Using my wife's nail file sand the bulkheads and the Keel , dadoes to align before gluing .The nail file is flexible, however a little sand paper may be needed to fit the file in the space.




Build log for the week ending 10/4/2014

Edited by RevKB
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Ahoy Kenny :D


Welcome to the Ratt pack 


As i see or maybe don't see and will assume you have not yet started but will wish you well and follow along. My build is in my signature below. Feel free to PM me 

Edited by JPett
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Thanks J.Pett,


Right now I'm working on posting Pictures of  my first few steps. I looked through your build and see that Model ship ways has changed the kit. My version is the 2010. I really like the picture over lay you posted and though it a wonderful way to represent the next steps . 


As for my build I over the years used some unconventional tools and short cuts to help in the building process.


In His dust Kenny 

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Ahoy Kenny :D 


Nice signature :) 


In your profile there is a section where you can customize that and attach it to all your posts. You can also link your build so when you post in other logs they can easily find your work.  


As for your build. I had some minor issues with the bulkheads. Which will be one of your first big projects. It seems it might be an fault in the kit. Zev suffered from it too. It was well documented in my "old" log but sadly this was lost when MSW went aground in the storm of 02 13. At that time we all thought it was just me. 


Regardless: I highly recommend you do these two things. Take extra time when doing the bulkheads, Don't rush into construction here. And build a jig to support your keel, This will not only ensure your model is true but allow you to take accurate measurements which is always important in any project. 

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Thank you J.Pett,


I am please you recognize the reference to my signature.I am currently working on finishing my Masters degree at Baptist Bible college and you would be amazed how many other students do not understand the reference.  :rolleyes:


I'm curious what issues you had with the bulkheads? I have them all in place and aligned but not glued. I like to make sure everything fits in an area like this before gluing it fast.


As for a jig, I already have one in the works , so I guess great minds think alike  :D .


In His dust Kenny 

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Welcome the world of the rattlesnake build, there are a few builds going  on with a wealth of ideas and information,  JPetts log is one of the best sources to follow he does   excellent work, As he said the bulkheads have a few issues,   on most of the Rattlesnake kits  they are flimsy at best and care must be taken during this important phase.  In my log “ Rattlesnake by MOG”  I removed the thin deck frames, because I got tired of them snapping, I did not replace them until  I was ready to do deck work. Enjoy your build and  please feel free  to share ideas and ask any questions you might have

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Ahoy Kenny :D


In defense of your students who i am sure will one day see the truth in your reference I say "wisdom is like a great wine". 


As for you build: 


Mog is also correct in that the upper deck supports are very weak on those bulkheads. Cut out the filler piece and then put it back in with tape or some other easily removed means. Its a wood grain thing  


As for the other issue; it has only been highlighted on my build and then revisited on Zev's I can not say for certain exactly what is is. Perhaps we can solve it on yours for future members. It is not a big horrible thing either but more of one of those small issues that causes work you don't need to do.


It seems that either the plans are wrong or the machine that cuts the bulkheads is getting some bad information. Either way what you may or may not find is a slight misalignment with one or more bulkheads that will need to be addressed prior to planking. Zev seems to think it might be the slot that is cut to receive the keel. 


As I said it is minor and only seems to apply to one or two bulkheads but when you do your bulkheads save yourself some extra work by taking some measurements and confirming they are correct. It could also have just been a mistake both I and Zev both made. We were newbies. 


1) place the parts over the plans to confirm they are correct 

2) using a measuring tool confirm the keel slot is centered on the plans (if all the parts match up) Calipers would be my choice 

3) put all the bulkheads on the hull temporarily and check their alignment


As you can see i am not asking you to do anything that your not supposed to do but just reminding you to be throughout or "take the time' to make sure you do this the best you can


Should you find something, then I would ask you to please post it


PS: if you need any help with this you will find that while the people here may not all be following the same path they are heading in the right direction. Just my opinion but this site does seem to attract very good souls.  

Edited by JPett
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One last thought on your new build, do have a reference collection started yet ?  I have  two books

 that  are  must for me,  “ Neophyte Ship modellers Jackstay”  by George Campbell and “Ship Modeling Simplified “ by Frank Mastini   Allot of reference, detailed pictures on just about every step in a build.  a great need to have tool section. I go to them over and over. really could not work without them.   I follow Mastini's style of building , which centers on natural wood and stain ,  very little paint.  Just a thought that might help you along the way.



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Welcome aboard Kenny.


JPett is correct, those bulk heads have a few issues.  A couple of them do not have the center cut, cut in the center.  I showed a kind of neat trick to check that out.  Basically you should photo copy each piece, cut them out and then fold them in half top to bottom.  You will quickly see which ones are centered.


Pett is also right about those upper deck pieces.  Don't remove them.  They will break.  If you have already, like he said, put them back with tape.  You'll be happy you did.  You will also note, if you look at some of the other build logs, the deck and water lines are key to a good ship.  If they are not spot on you will pay for it later.


I highly suggest you review the previous logs and take notes.  They helped me a ton and saved me a ton of time and cursed words.


Take your time and have fun.  Look forward to your progress.

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First of all I want to thank all of you for the reply’s and heads up on some potential problems. I enjoyed looking through some of the other Rattlesnake builds and found some very valuable information.


Yes ScottRC, we did make a trip to Sally’s nail supplies for some new tools this week , I never would have thought I would be excited to spend more time in the nail salon supply store.


Thanks MOG and Jpett for the heads up on the bulkheads, your information made me go back and take a closer look at the bulkheads and I did find one that was misaligned and not center. I could have shimmed the one side and been done with it but found that caused a hull flow problem . It looked a little pregnant on the one side at this bulkhead. Just so happens it was bulkhead I that was wrong. I will show how I remedied it.


Kenneth, I laughed when I first saw you and Mog, Jpett talking about breaking these bulkheads as I though How rough can these guys be on their models , then I snapped off the Bulkhead/mast piece on the false keel and quickly understood where you guys were coming from.


Mog, I am looking into picking up those books, Barns and Nobles didn’t even hear of them , so off to amazon I go !

Oh and here is something I thought you guys may like to listen to when working on your models .




The week started off very busy and it wasn’t until late Thursday night that I finally got to work on the work station. I purchased 2 2X2X3/8 ply with finished side for $6 each, I then cut them to 14 inches by 24 with the grain going in perpendicular to each other.




 The extra pieces are for doing the planking, the points will hold the Hull upside down, I built this jig for the future models and it will hold up to a 24" flat keel. I also wanted a jig wide enough o protect the Bowsprint during rigging. 




I then made 2 pieces 24x4 inch pieces to serve as the vice. Making sure the touching edges ran true and straight are very important for a plum keel.


Ok something I found is that the laser cut pieces are beveled toward the laser side and placing them with the bevel pointing toward the bow or stern respectively will aid in truing the hull.




After many measurements, centering the bulkhead I found the only option left was to shim both sides and file them back down to being true to the hull line.





Yes I did take the advise of Jpett, and MOg and tapped back in the cutouts. 


I used another technique from my construction days that helped a lot in this area.

I took a flash light and shined it down the hull length wise to see if the bulkheads were even. I will show pics next week of that .


This completes the Build log for week ending ,10/11/2014 now off to see the Opening night Binghamton Senators Hockey game .

In His dust Kenny  

Edited by RevKB
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Ok so i do have two questions that i have been thinking about this week.


First is i notice the plans on this ship call for a tiller and not a wheel, although i know from history a vessel of this size did not usually have a tiller. Any thoughts ?


Second, i notice on my bulkheades the deck lines line up great, a little sanding is needed to follow the shape of the keel, however they all evenly lay about 2 mm above the false keel, do any of you recomend taking them all the way down to the center line of the keel? I didnt think this was necessary as , so far as i can tell this centerline is covered up anyhow.


Oh and another question just popped in my head, i noticed on scotts build that he was leveling the decks to level, shouldnt they be trued to hull?


Thanks for the help in advance

In His dust Kenny

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Ahoy Kenny  :D


If i am not mistaken almost all ships used a tiller back then. The wheel was really just an optional accessory to change the rigging that moved it. The Ratt was a base model, no power steering.  It is an interesting subject. We see it as a convenience, they might have seen it as something else that could fail and cause a major problem.  Just my thoughts,  


I looked at your pics and I see that you marked the WL on the Bulkheads and Keel. Provided they are in alignment (IE: connecting) then I would just add a spacer to bring the false keel up. Use caution when sanding the deck. It is very easy to sand out, Not so easy to sand back in. I sanded my deck flat; it took me a month to fix. 


I could be wrong but I think Scott is just using the straight edge on that level. Maybe he will chime in and let us know

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Kenny -

JPett is 100% correct; as you've learned already lazer cut doesn't mean accurate cut and some building-up in areas may be required. The decking will cover the false keel and I didn't add anything to it. Let the deck follow the natural curve of the ship. use battens to make sure it will lay true as you lightly sand the bulkheads.



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Thanks Kenneth , I did spend a considerable amount of time making sure the bulkheads were as true as I could make them ....... and then! :o


So here a  few pics of my process of making sure I have my bulk heads looking nice , One thing I used to say to customers was if you wanted perfect you should have gone with plastic and not wood. I enjoy the imperfections in wood I think it adds to the beauty of Gods creation. So to when it comes to woodworking , little imperfections give the piece character. So while I am doing this build I am not looking for absolute perfection, its OK if little wobbles and bobbles come up as long as they do not stick out like a sore thumb.


I must say this is contrary to my personality, I like to have cuts and joints perfect but what I found was I was driving myself crazy to attain that perfection. I learned this the hard way in my construction business when I spent a considerable amount of time on a cherry bathroom only to have the person not notice. Now on to the build...




Here using a string to check the flow of the hull lines is useful




Here is a old sheet rock trick , run a light down the side to see the shadows and a misaligned line will show out like a sore thumb


These next few pictures are all the bulkheads placed together on a single piece of scrap, when they are together you can check them for center and flow with the others. 



Bow to midship


Midship to stern




Keel alignment looks nice 


Poop deck looks nicely aligned

The one bulk head that caused me problems with center I needed to center on the Upper keel and then glue on square scrap to make sure I had center when glueing. 




Little did i know when I glued all these finally to the keel last night , I woke this morning to find that one ,Bulk head H had shifted while the glue dried. I thought about making a new piece and cutting out the old one , but alas the old adage came back to mind , If I wanted perfect I should have went with plastic. In the end I decided taking out the glued one may cause more problems than if I sanded it a little, It was the right decision and it looks great now! 




While the bulkheads were drying I decided to work on some guns, all those years of Civil war reenacting I always knew I would one day own my own 6 lber. But I never knew it would be so small. :piratetongueor4:


Me, training on a 6lb James rifle in Ft Niagara school of the piece.



This week I am also working on putting a new bay window in the living room, and working on rebuilding a neighbors Barn , so the wood chips are really flying.


In His dust Kenny :pirate41:  

Edited by RevKB
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Thanks Scott,


I placed arrows upon the pic to show what can be found by this method, A side not you can do this to a hull that has already been completed and see the same results. The light will show high spots and the shadows low spots. One cool thing I think my work here for planking is shadowing the hull  as you sand to see any missed areas to touch or fill. 


Of course in these pictures they are stills so the total effect of this procedure is lacking but if you move the light back and forth up and down you can use light references to get a better picture of how your hull looks.




Here is the Port view from the stern, Notice the arrow pointing to bulkhead H , if you notice there is more light shining upon the bulkhead than the bulkhead before or after , this would indicate the bulkhead needs more sanding or realignment. The four arrows from the top indicate what the light should naturally be on bulk heads that are true. 




This pic is the starboard side from the stern, Notice the same bulkhead has no light shinning upon it , that would indicate the bulkhead is not center aligned . This was the bulk head I realized was misaligned and thus caused me a problem after gluing/


Hope this answers the question for yea Scott.


In His dust Kenny 

Edited by RevKB
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Ahoy Kenny :D


It looks really good so far. Your doing a great job. 


While I would agree that this is a really good idea I would still check the fairing of the hull with battens as described in the manual before making any changes. It is so much harder to put the wood back on. I use the 1/32 by 3/32 kit supplied wood. The battens will show you if you have installed and sanded the bulkheads correctly. plus if you will need to spile any planks. See the section on belts Figure 21 page 17. Spend time on these next few steps. It will determine whether planking will be fun or a tour of that other place. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok boys , the past week has been a busy one , new bay window in the house , barn half ripped apart and a deer hanging in the tree makes for a very busy week. But I have had some time to work on the old Rattlesnake.


Well ships log for this week has been a refining of the trueness of the hull. I have had to add some shims to a few bulkheads; I have to say I am very happy with the results.If you look closely you will see the added shims .



 So on to the next step, the bow fillers and the stern fillers.

Here are the bow fillers ,




Now the stern fillers presented a little more fineness,I started out getting the basic shape 


The I looked at the blueprints to fine tune but ran into a small problem



Here I had to add shims in order to make the curve of the last bulk head






Now just working on some more fine tuning to see how the planking flows to the rabbit

This ends the Ships log for week ending October 25 2014



Edited by RevKB
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Fillers are looking good.  Make sure to use a piece of planking and mock fit that bow filler where it comes together with the rabbet line.  If you don't sand that filler back far enough the planking at the bow won't fit into that rabbet line. If you sant it back too much you end up with a gap and end up filling it in with a bunch of puddy or glue.  As for the stern filler, again, I suggest a mock fit.  No lines up there by the transom but as you rock the plank back and forth you can get a good idea on how the flow of the filler block effects the planking and you can finish sanding it as necessary.


Unless you've already thought of all of this and well..... never mind.

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Yea Scott I have been doing just that , although I am finding that the Rabbet from the directions is a little unclear as to its purpose. I mean by that , that the bevel is not what the directions convey, or maybe I just didn't understand them clear enough . I often wonder if the difficulty is based upon the vagueness of the directions and not upon the skill required to build .


I will post some more pics tonight with how the stern filler came out all sanded up . I looked at your build Jpett and others to see how you resolved the flow of the planks to the stern. Im looking forward to seeing how my understanding plays out .

Now on to the next step , what are your recommendations?


In His dust kennypost-15856-0-88013700-1414450495.jpgpost-15856-0-20164600-1414450526.jpg

Edited by RevKB
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