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Swift Virginia Pilot Boat 1805 by Grimber - Artesania Lantina - Scale 1:50 - My first wood ship model build. 1985 kit with no sails included.

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I have done many plastic models but I have never attempted to work on a wood model ship before.  I was inspired by reading other peoples logs to get started on something I have wanted to do for many years. 


I hope I can do a well enough beginner build log to help other beginners like me, so I may get a little bit step by step detail-ish along the way.  Should help me as well to think about what I'm doing, right and wrong.  So, this should be interesting.

(btw people can use my first name if they like, Tony, vs the forum name.)


My first step was to clean out my basement ( at least one corner of it) so I could have some work space.  My time modeling in my teens to twenties taught me a few key things:  Lots of light.   Lots of table work space to spread out on and be able to leave things sit for days weeks months at a time where things won't get disturbed accidently or intentionally.   A work surface that you can work at both sitting and standing as you will do both frequently.



My neighbor was rehabbing his home and tossed out kitchen cabinets and counter tops, so a few 2x4s, screws and a little cutting and drilling, got a hobby work space for a few bucks.  (BTW  the light on the arm is from a dentist office has a large magnifying lens in the middle,  they are awesome for working on detail work but buggy on the eyes after a while).


Next after reading over suggestions on basic tools (NRG has a nice PDF on this as well as forum posts on what to think about when having to get started)  I dug through all my tools and layed out what I thought best for modeling so I could keep them from mixing back in with the other tools.  Also gives me an idea what I may need to go get right away and what I can work towards getting.



If you are new to modeling, you should take note:  you will never know what you can use AS a tool when it comes to modeling.  You not only have to be creative when making the model but also HOW you make the model.  The most unlikely of things can be helpful and takes imaginative thinking.


Now on to the model:


Important to not only inventory but inspect parts for anything you may have to fix or replace.  Even a new sealed kit can be a mess,  Read the directions and follow along checking out each part at each step without taking anything apart or out of packages unless you have to.



After doing lots of reading, and more reading, and even more reading, I did some reading.  You can never learn enough but eventually you have to take the plunge and dive in.  Now, while I have built more plastic model kits, dioramas, and painted miniatures then I could ever possibly try and remember, I was still worried I was going to mess up on the first knife cut to remove the wood pieces from the sheets as I have never done one in wood.  My experience with wood working ( construction ) is you can take away but can't put back without making a mess of things.


After looking over the model you should have an idea where you want to go with it.  Paint, colors, little extras that give the model life.  I have my plans but I'll cover that in a post later on.


So to begin the work, the Hull:



A.1 False keel and frames.


The two parts I needed here are all on one sheet,  the false keel and the bulkhead frames. Using a scrap piece of 1x board to work on (so I don't cut up my work surface I always use a board to cut on/into), I begin by cutting away the wood holding the parts to the sheet.  I don't cut near the piece but instead cut near the sheet side this way I won't damage the part accidently cutting into it while cutting it loose.  




I will use my knife to trim down the 'nubbies' but I won't cut them all the way down to flush yet, just enough to take the excess off.


I now will practice fit each part, to see how they fit, if any trimming is needed to get it to fit in place and if they don't fit right.  I also look to see if there are any problems with the parts.  From the reading  getting these frames to go on JUST right is the first important step, else it will cause headaches for the rest of your hull work.  I think it can be summed up in 3 points:


1. Frames must be Perpendicular(90 degrees) with the false keel.  Perpendicular both to the sides as well as up and down.

2. Frames must not be canted or tilted left or right.

3. Top of the frame pieces must be flush with the top of the false keel where the pieces meet.


So test fitting I see that many pieces fit in so loose they are 'floppy', and the keel is also not straight ( can't do anything about it yet, but must keep and close eye on it as we progress to get it straight).




I know they make some nice 'jigs' out there to make this easy to attach, but I don't have any and probably don't want to spend the money one one yet.  So time to break out the creativity and come up with a solution.  I don't have spare balsa laying around but after some digging I found a piece of 1x2 that the edges were square.  So I cut it up into four 6" length pieces and ran a sander over them ( sanded my cutting board at the time too ).




Since the slots the bulkhead frames fit in on the false keel are perpendicular to the bottom of the keel,  I used my cutting board, which was squared, as a guide, trimmed down the 'nubbies' along the bottom of the keel till flush, and used a small square lined up on the bulkhead frame slots and drew 'guide' lines on the keel with a mechanical pencil.  These lines will help me place my 6" 1x2 boards on the keel as supports and guides for placement of my bulkhead frames.  I put the guide lines on both sides of the keel.  




Well, I hit my 10 picture max on this post, so I'll continue in the next with putting the blocks on the keel and glueing.


Edited by Grimber
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Nice first post in your log.  Look forward to seeing this, as you appear to have a very meticulous approach which should serve you well.


To add to your points in squaring up the bulkheads, also check that they are centered side to side, as some models do not have the slots centered, and in the case of one that is loose like you indicate this is, you can easily get them off-center.


On the 10 picture limit, I've posted plenty of times with more than 10 pictures in a single post, so I don't think that limit really exists.

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Gunther,  your right on that point of the bulkheads can also 'slop' side to side since the notching seems to be much wider than it needs to be.



Onwards ...


I went ahead and lined up my blocks on the false keel, i found spring clamps would have too much tension on the spring when putting it on the blocks ( I didn't want to pinch or crush the wood of the keel piece with too much pressure) so I went with rubber bands.  1 on each end to hold it togeather and a 2nd to 'clamp' it down tighter once I got them lined up on my guide marks.




Make sure you test fit the bulkhead pieces when lining up the blocks so everything squares up and no gaps.  the bulkheads should lay flush on the blocks.


As Gunther said, lining up the bulkheads so they are centered left and right as well is important.  I did this by finding the 'center line' of the bulkheads.  Also if you notice, the 'nubbies' on the tops of the bulkheads are also at the center point.  We can use a center line and the 'nubbies' to make sure we are centered left and right and the bulkheads aren't  twisted or rotated.



(I used a pen here vs a pencil so you could see the lines clearer, so I messed up and smeared a little ink.  Since this will never be seen I'm not worried but otherwise I would not use an ink pen on wood that would be visible)



with guidelines and 'nubbies' we can adjust the builkhead into being straight and aligned as best we can.


A word on glues...

I would think most people would start out with the idea to only use wood glue and super glue for their construction.  To be honest you shouldn't.  Glue is a tool in your tool kit.  Like any tool kit it grows and expands and gets all over the workbench, floor and any place you happen to lay things down at.  Glues should not be limited either.  Each type has strengths and weaknesses and used right, can make some things easier (and other things a real nightmare).


Superglue  while provides a fast tacking bond ( sometimes) it can be very bad.  On porous wood it will soak in and bleed through, plus it can ruin a finish as it changes how the paint/stain varnish reacts to that part of the wood compared to a non saturated part.    


Wood glue, great for wood of course but dries slow and needs to be clamped for a long time, runs, can 'glob up' if it runs and when it dries it shrinks so you can literally loose that glued connection on parts if they have a big enough gap.  So explore your glues as you also look for more tools for your modeling.  Wood glue is also water based, too much and it can 'wet' your wood causing the wood to expand and then after the glue dries the wood can contract.  The expansion and contraction can cause parts to misalign, warp and even pull itself apart from its contacted surfaces.


In this instance I think both superglue and wood glue won't due for me.  I don't want the superglue to get to the wood blocks and then make a big problem for me trying to cut them free and I don't have clamps to hold the bulkheads in place while wood glue dries.  I decide on using a wood formulated contact cement to 'tack' the bulkheads.  Sets up in about 15 minutes and will dry almost instantly after that.  So I use a cheap hobby brush and spread some on the center line of the bulkhead and a light touch along the inside edge of the notch in the false keel opposite of my blocks.  I wait 10 minutes and put the bulkhead in place and adjust it to center before the 15 minute 'tack' time of the glue.  I brush a little more into that seem where the keel and bulkhead meet.  Just enough to tack, I will fill wood glue in later after I remove the blocks.



Once I am happy with the alignment of the 2 bulkheads I just hold it like this for a few minutes.  The glue should tack up and hold the bulkheads in no less than 20 minutes after you start the glueing and you won't need to clamp them.


Notes:  don't use the brush that is in the cap of the bottle, too gloppy.  Get the cover back on the glue as soon as you can.  Contact cement evaportes super fast when exposed to air.   Have a bottle with some mineral spirits or turpentine or such to toss your brush in right away.


Once its set, I remove a rubber band from each side of the blocks to loosen them so I can slide them down to the next bulkhead slot and line them up, then replaced the 2nd rubber bands to clamp them again.




Now it should be a 'rinse and repeat' until all the bulkheads are in place.


As you work be sure to take care around the bulkheads, not just that you might nock them loose but if you look at the direction of the wood grains, they go straight up and down parallel to the keel.  you can easily hit one and snap the wood off along that grain.




Well, enough for this post.  I'm a night owl so sleep in the day.  Be back when I work on the boat more.

Edited by Grimber
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On glue, I've tended to use almost nothing but Titebond wood glue (although I'm using quite a lot of CA - Zap-A-Gap medium on the stuff I'm working on right now) so far.  If you get a nice thin coating on both pieces and let them tack up just a little, it grabs quite nicely in just a couple of minutes as long as the pieces don't have lots of tension on them requiring long term clamping.


Glue seems to be one area where everyone has different preferences, but the consensus that I've picked up here is that as long as whatever you are using works well for you, then it's the "right" glue to use.

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Your pictures show a AL Swift without sails, is this a kit that you brought some time ago or picked up at a flea market. I ask because the latest kits have sails and a larger deck openings.  I picked mine up at a flea market and it was in rough shape a couple of pictures on my log. I look forward to more on your building log as well as a second Swift building log on here.


Edited by hircsailor
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Yeah Gunther,  it shows that even between glues, you can get different results from different manufacturers,  So not all wood glues are the same, or superglues.  Right now I am just stuck using the basics of what you find in the big retailer stores ( glues and tools ) but as I can budget money and do some shopping around I can fine tune my work materials and tools.  I'm basically starting over on ground zero in this regard.  Everything I had when I use to model is long since gone.  But this can also be a good thing as it helps me relearn and maybe with a good log, help other new modelers a bit as they start out and also have limited things to work with.


Jim, I got this and another Swift (the same model, but one made in 1982 the other 1985) from an auction on eBay.  Both are sail-less models, the one with sails came along at a later date and I think I had seen some posts that there is more than one version of that as well.  I intend to add sails though if I can get enough researched materials together to make them and properly rig them in place.

Edited by Grimber
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Picking up where I left off...


I was working on attaching the bulkheads to the false keel using contact cement to just tack them in place.  When I got t my last 2 bulkheads (4 and 8) I noticed my 6" blocks were too wide to fit between bulkhead 4 slot and the already installed  number 5.  I opted to turn the blocks on the sides but had to be a bit more careful to make sure the rubber band tension was even on both sides else the blocks being so narrow could 'fold' on me keeping me from getting that bulkhead in properly aligned and it could even fold up damaging my pieces.




I already have a future plan for my blocks.  To cut them down a little width wise, drill holes in them and insert bolts, washers and wing nuts to make them a more reusable clamp and they may even serve as an impromptu keel clamp when we get to needing one.  So bolts and nuts go on my needs/wants list.  Good idea starting out to keep such a list so when you go shopping you can pick up a few things at a time.


If you look over the bulkheads now and notice a mistake or something got out of alignment, the contact cement will 'give' so you can just pull the piece off without doing any damage to the wood, take a knife and clean up the glue and reattach the bulkhead.  Plus the cement will still let us have a little 'give' to the bulkheads so when we start the next step (A.2 of the instructions) of putting in hull supports, we can get a better fit to the parts.


( a side note on the contact cement.  If I had waited until the 15 minute tack time of the cement before putting the pieces together I probably wouldn't get them apart.  That's why I put them together a bit earlier.  Putting contact cemented pieces together too early makes a much weaker bond)


End of section A.1


Step A.2  Hull support installation and reinforcement: 


Here I lay out the blocks on the diagram so I know what will be going where, I also read over the steps closely before i start anything ( I still make my first big mistake here but I'll get to that later)




I use some more scrap wood I have laying around so I can lay the hull on its side so I can work on all the blocks of one side and be sure they lay flat.  Starting with block #9 and 10 (the one that will attach to bulkhead 2).  I note that they aren't square but each dimention is a differnt size and no instruction on how they should lay so I make a choice how they will go in so they will be uniform on both sides.  I take one block and I check it for square, the 2 squared sides will be my glueing/attachment sides for the keel and bulkhead 2, so I place and 'X' on the remaining sides so I don't get it put in wrong.




I then test fit it.  The top of the block needs to be flush with the keel and butt up against bulkhead 2.  Don't worry it's not flush with the top of the bulkhead as the bulkhead curves, the flush to keel is what is important.  



We have a small gap at the bottom between the block and bulkhead, I measure this and place the measurement on the 'TOP' of the block and draw a guideline to the bottem corner of the block.  Repeat this guideline on the keel side of the block too.






This gives us how much to take off the block to get the bulkhead side of the block to sit flush when we have the block also flush with the top of the keel.


I place my block in my 6" wood block clamps and lining up my guide lines to the edge of the 6" boards. ( i would rather have a metal clamp or table vise for this part, but another thing to add to my needs list).




Ok your first test of shaping   :)  I attach some sandpaper to a dowl using double sided tape then starting from the 'shallow end' (where our guideline meets the corner of the block) I start sanding.  I don't put any pressure to the sanding, let the sandpaper do all the work.  The edges of our 6" boards just helps us to stay level as we sand.  You shouldn't be taking hardly anything off the clamping blocks at all.  Slowly work your way to the high end but work back and forth as you want to take it off in 'layers' or small amounts at a time, not gouge into it.  Eventualy you will get the support block flush with the clamping blocks.




Take it out of the clamp and test fit.  You will most likely have to hit the side a little more to get it in good, but think of taking off a layer of paint, you don't want to take off more than a few scrapes at a time and then re test fit it.


Once you get it where you like and it still is flush and lines up good we need to glue it.  What we want is maximum contact of the surfaces when glueing and the glue to also 'anchor' into the porous wood.  Most wood glues tend to be on the thick side for this, so I will add just a little water to my glue.  Don't want it runny just want it to spread smoothly and soak into the wood pores.



(added water but not mixed yet)


With a cheap paint brush apply the glue to the 2 contact sides ( the only 2 without 'X's on them).  When you put the block in place, you will notice that the piece will give a little 'floating' or 'slideing' feel just before it makes full surface to surface contact.  Typically this is the point where your piece can slide off smearing glue all over and even you can loose control of it and break something on your model.  So a firm but gental pressure straight down untill full surface contact.




While holding it take your brush and wipe up any excess glue around the block and clamp to hold till it sets up.   Don't worry about any small 'pinholes' or gaps.  We aren't filling gaps at this point, we are welding surfaces together.

Edited by Grimber
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I repeated the same steps for block #10 that attaches to the stern side of bulkhead 5.  Don't think we need pictures of that as it is the same process as block #9.


Now, this is where I made my mistake.  After finishing with block #9 I went on to block #12 which goes on the stern of the ship attaching to bulkhead 8.  I got it flush to the keel top, marked the difference what I had to take off to make it meet up with bulkhead 8, sanded it down, it fit good so I glued it in.  




Went on to block #11 which attaches to the bow on bulkhead 1.  Repeated the process of sanding down to fit it flush to keel and bulkhead and noticed my mistake.  The bow block I just shaped no longer would fill the entire space, ACK!  So I had to add some material to the block again to make it fill out the area.  I used some left over of the 'tree' which I punched out the bulkheads and false keel from, glued it on and then shaped it.  Looks now to be enough to fill in the port bow area.

( I'm trying to learn my nautical terms as I go btw :) )




After I felt a bit better about the bow I suddenly had a bad though it my head, did I also mess up the port quarter?  I took an aprehensive glance and.. ACK! it came up short too.  A small amount but it was enough to make me want to smack myself.




Now I could blame these mistakes on the dog, especially when he took a doody at the bottom of the steps of my deck and I stepped in it this morning, or I could blame it on the 2 liters of Mnt Dew I drank today, or the fact that I was glad the first 2 blocks went in so well I wasn't paying enough attention to what I was doing.  


It does remind me of when I went to the national modelers contest and this experienced older gentleman that was answering peoples questions said this about making mistakes:


" Modelers do not make mistakes.  They instinctively make alterations to the manufacturers design. "


That has always stuck with me. :)  but you can also take a quote from someone a bit more famous too:


" ... you cannot escape your destiny " ~ Darth Vader


You're going to mess up.  The creative part is in the fix :)


To finish off the port side of the hull blocks I take my handy dandy cheap paintbrush and using wood glue right out of the bottle ( not thinned out) and apply some along all my joints between bulkheads, blocks and keel.  Just on this side so I can leave the entire thing laying flat to dry and the glue won't run.  Want to give the glue plenty of time to dry before moving on to the starboard side tomorrow.




(edited side note... best thing to do here is probably just glue the bow and stern blocks in as-is after sanding the glue side surfaces a bit)

Edited by Grimber
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Hello Tony

In my older swift kit, and yes there are at least 2 major Swift designs, the bow and stern blocks were basswood. I used them for something else and swapped to balsa. Its much softer and a heck of a lot easier to fair (shape). They are basically filler that aid in shaping as you plank and also give added gluing surface area. I also added a block up next to the keel between bulkheads 1 and 2 for an added gluing spot for the garboard plank (the one closest to the keel) as it should end between bulkheads.


Of course this is covered in my log, which is probably way, way down on the list. There are several other good Swift build log on MSW also, but hard to find using search as the word has lots of hits, If you use the expanded search function and limit "swift" to titles alone, you can find them all. Its that little gear looking thingy to the right of the search box.


I can never pass up a swift build as it's just such a great kit build and every person has their own interpretation of how to build her... from making her look like the box to... um....er.... well some mad individuals do some pretty crazy stuff :).


The Swift kit has some GREAT bones for bashing and an excellent topic for new or more experienced builders. A lot of builders have cut their teeth on the Swift kit. For me she's become a personal experience. She was my second build started and I've built 2 others while building her as my mad version is something VERY different then AL ever intended....and I'm just starting the rigging.


I'll be following along, its always good to see a new swift appear.

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Thanks Keith.  Yeah I did a search in the kit build logs for swifts and I have that searched bookmarked, so I can just click that and brings me up a new updated search vs typing it in every time.  The work on it tonight has already shown me what I've read in other logs, that the kit has its problems out of the box.  But that just adds to the challenge and fun :)



Continuing on with the blocking from last nights work.  


The glue has dried nice so I started on the starboard side blocking.  Considering the problems on the bow and stern I decided I would repeat the same steps on those as well for the starboard side of the ships so the work will be symmetrical.  If you're going to mess up, mess up evenly so later work also will come out evenly.  Don't think we need pics of all that work as I did exactly the same steps  ..... But  ... everything did NOT turn out the same:




I trimmed the bow filler block #11 exactly as I did on the port side, even the measurement was almost exactly the same, but this one fit in right without needing a shim.  I even went back and checked pictures I took of the port side work (that I didn't upload) so I know I did them both the same.  


I also noticed something on the stern blocks today....




The pre cut filler blocks don't reach all the way to the bottom of bulkhead 8.  This got me pulling out the other Swift kit I have and I looked at these blocks, all precut like the ones in this kit.  Measuring the bow blocks I seen they were not the same size, almost 1/4 inch off one side of one block, an the stern blocks were also short of covering the full height of bulkhead 8.    Now, on the illustrations of the instructions they show a dotted line outline of full rectangular blocks for bow and stern.  So it really comes down to this... I didn't actually mess up yesterday, its a flaw in the kit.  To save the modeler some time they pre trimmed the blocks but they took off too much and the blocks are also not cut to the same sizes.


So I went ahead and glued like i did before.. watered down glue to weld parts then went back over them to strengthen the seams and joints.


Yay!  I feel better.  Time for a Mnt Dew and a cigar.  Good time to do some shopping for things on my wants/needs list but that was a bust.  5 stores and all I came up with was a compass, protractor, nuts, bolts, washer,s and 2 bottles of root beer.


The last step in section A.2 was to put in the two part #15 pieces:



(the washers on the wood parts sheet show where the 2 parts were located.  Right in the middle of the false deck piece for the next section of work)


I noted in the beginning of this log that the false keel was not straight and that these 2 pieces glue to a crossing of the false keel and bulkheads and If I glued these in and let them dry without getting the false keel straight then those 2 areas would cause me problems down the road.  So, after rummaging through my boxes of junk I came up with some 1" corner brackets and I made an impromptu rig to hold the false keel straight.








This was just another scrap piece of wood, sanded a bit so it lays flat and marked where the gaps were between the bulkheads.  Then placed a straight edge down as a guide and put in the first row of brackets.  Then using a piece from the sheet I took the false keel out of I used that as a spacer and clamped a second bracket to one already screwed down, and screwed that bracket down.  Did a little final tweaking for fit with pliers and screwdriver.


(edited note... I should have made this rig on day one before starting any of the keel and bulkhead assembly)


While I had my drill and other tools out I went and did my 6" wood blocks and turned them into something more like clamps:




just a 4" bolt, wing nut, hex nut, washer and then a T-nut driven into the back of the opposite 6" board.

Edited by Grimber
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Now with a rig to hold my false keel straight it was time to cut out those 2 #15 pieces.  So a few tips on cutting wood with a hobby knife:


1. be sure the blade is sharp.  obvious but as you use your knife it will dull and you can forget to check that it is still sharp.  On plastic kits I've had to sharpen my blades more than once in a single day.

2. cut on a cutting surface, not your work surface.  You don't want knife cuts on your work table plus a good cutting surface will let the blade tip pass into it as you cut through your parts vs mashing the tip of the blade on a hardened surface. 

3. be mindful of the grain direction as you cut.  cutting across the grain can make your blade jump on tougher fibers and if your knife is not sharp you can 'pull' the fibers vs cutting them making you rip fibers out of the wood.  cutting with the grain if your not holding your knife straight up and down you can snag a fiber and that fiber can pull your blade off the cut line.

4. cut like your sanding to shape a piece, in passes and layers.  don't try to cut it all out in one pass of the knife.

5. when you start cutting through you can feel and even sometimes hear the difference.  So flip over your piece and look at how complete you have cut through.  Keep checking this as you go.

6. if cutting out a piece with corners, don't try to cut that line all in one direction, cut about half then rotate your piece and cut the other direction.

7. if it looks like you got through don't try to 'punch' out the piece.  flip to the back side and cut it out.  If you cannot see the cut lines, flip over and cut some more.  If you punch push or pull the piece out you can damage the wood in spots it is still connected to.  cut till it is completely free.


You want a quality model, do your best quality work


On my parts sheet I seen that the laser cut didn't go through the sheet just a bit into the surface.


(top side )


after about 20 or so passes down each cut line I got through enough to finish cutting it out from the back side.

(notice that the cuts that are with the grain can be hard to see.  also at the bottom cut that is against the grain you see the bulge there in the middle?  shows the tip of my knife blade is getting dull as the bulge is where it pulled on some of the fibers)




after a test fit of the 2 parts ( which both are too big to fit ) I need to sand and file down the notches at bulkheads 4 and 7.  Unfortunately my small set of files I ordered have not come in yet so I went to two of the tools you should have in your modeling tool box anyways.  Versatile, flexible and best of all... cheap.  A nail file and emory boards.  



Only down side of these are they are more for light to fine sanding, not good for taking larger bits off.  So combining these with a little whittling with my hobby knife I got corners squared out and the keel and bulkhead lines flattened.




I'm sure a dremel type tool with some grinding bits would make short work of this,  another addition to my wants list ( along with a note if I get one to practice allot with it before using on a boat)


I test fit the parts and sand them till I get them to fit in place.  Don't want to have to push them down to make them fit so take your time and sand little bits, test, sand, test till it goes in.  I then apply my thinned glue to the top surfaces of the keel/bulkhead cross and put my parts in.  I just eyeball them in to be squared to the keel and bulkhead lines.  I'll add straight glue to the joints after this sets up a few hours.


This is a good place to stop as it is almost the end of section A.2 and the next section we have to work in the false deck.  Reading over the instructions it will be allot of work to get the false deck to go in right, so lots of rest and clean up the work area.

Edited by Grimber
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Great building log. It should give any new builder lots of information how to go about building their kit.



Thanks that is what I'm hoping to get from this first build log.  Being new at this mabey being a bit more step by step -ish well help some other beginners, plus it helps me on rethinking what I did a particular day when I have to actually put it in words.



On words...


We need to finish up section A.2 which consists of our first step in shaping the hull to be able to attach the false deck pieces in the next step.  This consists of sanding and filing down ONLY the TOP surfaces of the false keel, bulkheads and the reinforcement blocks.


SAM_carve_edit.jpg  we only want to follow along the top surfaces here for 'sculpting' for this step


First I am going to just sand following the false keel line to get a smooth line from bow to stern.  While sanding run your finger along the surfaces to 'feel' for any bumps, humps, dips that sometimes your eyes just can't see.




For the reinforcement blocks we can use the bulkheads as guides for sanding, just like we did earlier with the 6" wood clamps when we installed the blocks.  This time I made a small sanding block vs trying to use my bigger dowel sander.   Occasionally stop and use a straight edge from bulkhead to bulkhead looking for high spots you may be missing.

(remember, the bulkheads grain go straight up and down here so don't accidently hit them or you can snap them off)






on the Aft end blocks I use my sanding block to get it down to the top of the false keel.  I can't get the block too close to bulkhead 8 as I may just sand into it and take off more than a light sandings worth.  So I get the last in the aft  near bulkhead 8 with a small file, fingernail file and emory board.  

Note:  being at the end of the ship, as you sand the keel won't be as strong here so it will wiggle as you sand, so hold it steady by hand.  Don't want to break it off :)




We left the bow for last as we only have one bulkhead to follow for the curvature and being it sticks out it will move allot as we sand.  I took this much slower starting from the false keel top edge and tried to keep my sander parallel to the keel line and follow the bulkhead curve.  I also had the added problem that when I shimmed the port side block I used a much harder wood.  But by taking plenty of time with it I got it to curve without falling off the keel line. 






I finished up the sanding by running over the bulkhead tops lightly and then hitting it all with an emory board and did my finger 'touch' testing over all the surfaces.  I made sure I was happy with all the surfaces because the false deck plates have to fit right.  If you find you don't like how something is turning out, Stop, look it over and see what is going wrong and fix it right then.  Letting it go just compounds what you don't like and you probably won't be able to fix it later.  I think I spent nearly 4 hours sanding not including breaks in between.


End of Section A.2


Section A.3  False Deck #13  and Poop-deck #14


40 minutes and re-sharpening my knife 2 times I got the False Deck and Poop-Deck out of the sheet.  Going reverse of the instructions I wanted to put the poop-deck in first.  I sanded the edge of the deck that will fit up against bulkhead 8 and after test fitting and doing a little extra sanding of the aft blocks I glued the poop-deck in with thinned glue and clamped.  






I went with the poop-deck first as it sits lower than the main deck and I see that my deck piece will end up overlapping bulkhead 8 (until I can trim it down later).  So didn't want to fight to get the poop-deck in after the deck is down.  I'm also not going to use the nails as they suggest, I'll just clamp the best I can.


Now, the key here is we have to line up the 'Point' of the bow end of the false deck to the bow end of the false keel.  The very point has to be flush and centered on the end of the keel.




When we get to the rest of the hull shaping that keel board has to be filed and sanded to a point, so if any of the point of the deck hangs out over the keel our sanding and the deck will be off.  ( note I added screws along my mount board.  They are in line with all the bulkheads on both sides to be used when I 'strap' the deck down)


I water down my glue less and apply a good amount all along the top edge of the keel, bulkheads and over the reinforcment blocks.  I then lay down the deck making sure I am lined up on the bow tip and centered to the aft on bulhead 8.


I then push straight down on the deck at bulkhead 3 and wrap a rubber band across at that point, then repeat at bulkhead 6 then add rubber bands at bulkheads 4 and 5.    I then recheck my alignment and make sure I am spot on, then added rubber bands on the rest of the bulkheads,  I didn't double wrap any of the bands at this point.  Just one time across to hold the deck down.








Still being lined up good I add more rubber bands until it has enough tension to pull the sides of the deck down to the bulkheads.  A few I had to double wrap.  After checking how good the contact the deck is making to all the keel and bulkhead surfaces I find one spot at bulkhead 6 that the rubber bands just wasn't enough.  Had to dig around in my junk and I found an old broken clamp, managed to get it to work enough to get the right pressure on that spot.





Let it set up a couple hours then I went back over all the joints and with straight glue this time.  The brush comes in handy here as you can't get the tip of a glue bottle down into allot of spots.


Now, I'm just going to let that sit until it is 100% dry so I'll wait at least 24 hours.


That ends section A.3   next section is shaping the hull to get ready for hull planking.

Edited by Grimber
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hello Tony


Nice idea on the deck gluing jig, I've seen several methods of gluing the deck and its a hard bugger to glue, position and also get it to flex into the compound curvature. I attempted wetting and pre-shaping my deck but found it only came out twisted as that compound curve on plywood just didn't take the shape.


One of my favorite parts of the Swift is her deck curvature and sheer-line. Nice work! Glad you clamped the middle and was able to get it down in the middle. Looks like you nailed it. :dancetl6:  ...and without nails (I don't care for nailing either as I hate the holes after removal.)


also I noticed the picture got WAY smaller, even when clicked on, did you re-size? I like to click and see the bigger versions as one can see more detail.


Oh, also on gluing, have you considered a syringe for application. I started with a brush and found a 10ml syringe MUCH more handy. You can control both where and how much a lot easier with a syringe and blunted 18 gauge needle. 

Edited by themadchemist
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hello Tony


Nice idea on the deck gluing jig, I've seen several methods of gluing the deck and its a hard bugger to glue, position and also get it to flex into the compound curvature. I attempted wetting and pre-shaping my deck but found it only came out twisted as that compound curve on plywood just didn't take the shape.


One of my favorite parts of the Swift is her deck curvature and sheer-line. Nice work! Glad you clamped the middle and was able to get it down in the middle. Looks like you nailed it. :dancetl6:  ...and without nails (I don't care for nailing either as I hate the holes after removal.)


also I noticed the picture got WAY smaller, even when clicked on, did you re-size? I like to click and see the bigger versions as one can see more detail.


Oh, also on gluing, have you considered a syringe for application. I started with a brush and found a 10ml syringe MUCH more handy. You can control both where and how much a lot easier with a syringe and blunted 18 gauge needle. 


Yeah, I noticed just how much flex the wood of the false deck had and with the grain line running straight bow to stern I figured there would be no problem bending it just as it is.  Also figured if I can get enough pressure along all the bulkheads lines it should take care of holding it all down till it sets up.  The problem I had at bulkhead 6 looks like you loose allot of the bulkhead and deck curvature from there till the aft, so couldn't get enough pressure down on the middle.


I seen the pictures got smaller too.  I think when I uploaded to the image host (postimage.org) I probably had the wrong size setting in the upload.  So tonight I went back and fixed the images and redid the last post.


I've used syringes before.  I prefer the metal and glass one you can get at agriculture stores that sell generic meds for livestock.  They use screw on needles of various sizes and lengths and pretty easy to clean up.





I didn't get too much done today as I was giving the deck 24 hours to dry before removing the rubber bands.




Looking it over it turned out pretty good I think, other than the two openings didn't line up (where parts #15 came out of) and the aft end of the deck overhung bulkhead 8.  It was all off by about 3mm aft even though the tip of the deck was still right flush with the prow and the false deck was down tight all the way down the false keel.  The false deck is flush all along the starboard side of the bulkheads and only a 2mm overhang on bulkheads 7 and 8 on the port side.  Think it got off on that side as my big clamp was not exactly on center but a little on the port side, it probably pulled on the deck more to port.


If I would have lined it up starting on bulkhead 8 I probably would have been on right for these parts but would have had an overhang at the bow.  I think I rather have it this way so when I get to shaping the bow i won't have to adjust for that overhang.




So before shaping I decide to fix these little problems  ( fix what you don't like, before moving on).  I cut 2 pieces off the sheet the deck came on and filled where it was short on the 2 holes in the deck.  Since the wood is laminated 3 layers I cut them large so not to flake off the outer layers of the sheet when cutting.  Cut them to length, glued them in and clamped the outside edges so they sat flush and then they would curve over that little bit of the keel.    I then put some super glue on the areas I needed to file to strengthen the laminated layers so they wouldn't flake off while filing and sanding.   Lots and lots of carving with a hobby knife, sanding and some file work I got it more evened out on the openings.




The overhang of bulkhead 8 was more of a pain to do.  The distance from the false deck to the poop-deck sheet was so small it was hard not to gouge into the poop-deck.  Also the corners of the false deck had glued down to the poop-deck as well.  When I think about it I should have waiting on putting in the poop-deck until after the false main deck had dried.   In trying to file this down to get the main false deck flush to bulkhead 8 I got off and dug into the bulkhead along the starboard side to where I needed to shim it then file and sand the shim down.




Last bit I did tonight was shim the area on the aft blocks that came up short of the bulkhead then I cut off some of the excess of the blocks by following the back end of the keel.




Hit the stores tomorrow and see if I can find a hobby saw and hopefully my set of small files I ordered will be in the mail too.

Edited by Grimber
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I think she looks good. That first picture shows a great compound curvature.
The problem you had with the openings is strange as the deck isn't shifted back or it would over hang at the stern. So it must be an AL issue. You will find many of those.
I had similar issues on deck symmetry and just as you did with the openings, used deck sheet remains to widen one side. Your addition will work and since it isn't seen, no one will know unless reading this. I, late in my build, ripped up decking and closed the back hole as I decided to remove the aft deckhouse and with block sanding you cant tell where the hole was after re-planking over the deck.

You might draw a center-line from stem to stern and measure widths from it to the edges at several points to check for any asymmetry. If there is overhang you can just shim the bulkheads underneath.


Here is were I had to add, as you did, but to the deck edge.

Edited by themadchemist
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I seen the shimming along the bulkheads in your build log.  Been trying to read it but at 100+ pages it's taking a while :P  So I read a bit then bookmark where I left off, been reading along a few Swift logs that way a few pages on each every day.  If I don't limit myself to how much I read on each I'd never have time to work on my own  :D


I did add a center line before I started any real shaping today as I seen I was going to have an aft end problem and I would also need it later on for the planking anyways.




Section A.4  Shaping


With the shaping I see by the instructions we have several things have to accomplish:  The Bow, Stern, Keel and along the Bulkheads.  So divide and conquer I'll start with the easiest part first.


To begin I'll follow the false keel line.  Without sanding into the keel I want to get the lines perpendicular and flush to the keel.  This will take out some of the excess blocking.






I then follow the shape of the deck and file/sand downward to keep my work relatively parallel to the keel and bulkheads lines.






At this point I'm looking over that overhang of the deck I have along the port side and I know I need to fix this now before going any further.  I draw a guideline down the center of the ship, lined up on the center of the keel at bow and stern.   Along the center line at the holes in the deck I check just to see how this line lines up on those keel pieces and it looks good, so I'm happy about that.  I start taking measurements from the centerline out  to the deck edges on the starboard side ( as this side lined up nice to the bulkhead outer edges I will use the starboard side as a benchmark) and compare that to the port side all the way to the of the keel.  Lots and lots of remeasuring just to make sure I didn't read or mark anything wrong I got a line for the port side I needed to shave down. 




First thought that popped in my head was "wow, thats allot to take off.  Something must be wrong".  I spent allot of time rechecking everything.  How straight the keel was, the squareness of the bulkheads, the distance port and starboard on each bulkhead, the curvature of the keel and bulkheads and the curvatures of the deck.  It all seemed right, so how is this so wrong other than a possible problem(s) AL did with the kit in the first place.  While I figure that AL ( and probably other model companies) probably give you a little leeway on the materials expecting you're going to make some mistakes.  I also thought on my previous issues of the deck of not matching the holes and the overhanging of the deck on the stern.  I think part of this issue is all the way back to day 1 step 1.  I noted that my keel wasn't straight and the bulkheads had a sloppy fit in the notches.  I didn't take the time then and there to correct those problems.  I didn't straightens the keel before putting on the bulkheads.  I didn't do additional measurements to make sure the bulkheads were equal distant port to starboard or didn't check that they had no rotation.  I was just too excited to start my first build to do those steps right.  Now I cannot fix them and I have to compensate for it.  ( things you don't fix now will just compound issues later )


First boat, first build.  Learn from it and drive forward.  :dancetl6: So I go ahead and shave down this excess.SAM_0251.jpg






Don't know, but just by eyeball, it looks better by going ahead and cutting it off.  and after some measurements it is far more symmetrical port to starboard too.  I won't be surprised if I run into an issue with the first planking because of this.  I'll just have to be ready for that if and when it happens.


I'll continue on with the shaping in the next post.  Off to work on the bow and the tapering of the keel and fore bulkheads.  I'm going to leave the rest of the stern section and aft bulkhead tapering for last-ish.

Edited by Grimber
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Wow, that's a lot of asymmetry, but Mine had asymmetry also.


Shaving that off I'd say was the right thing to do. I just held a steel rule up to the photo on screen of the trimmed stern shot and they measure correct (equal)....and to my eye it looks more symmetrical. Plus looking at that last pic, it doesn't appear that the trim job got into the last bulkhead at all. I think you got a bad deck. The holes seem to scream something wasn't right with the deck from AL to begin with and they do expect you to know how to fair everything without telling you how.


I'm my opinion, and I'm still relatively new at this, I think what you did was correct and will have no negative effect on planking, as a matter of fact it should have a POSITIVE effect, as now it has symmetry. Great Job!

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The Swift was my first kit and I learned a lot building it. I bought the kit at a garage sale for $25. It came without sails, but I got so hooked on model building that I bought a full price kit just to get sails. It didn't hurt that I had a good supply of extra wood for my second build. Good luck! It looks great so far.

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The Swift was my first kit and I learned a lot building it. I bought the kit at a garage sale for $25. It came without sails, but I got so hooked on model building that I bought a full price kit just to get sails. It didn't hurt that I had a good supply of extra wood for my second build. Good luck! It looks great so far.

 I plan to add sails to this one. Long before I get that far I need to do allot of digging to see if I can find plans someone else has done or do allot of research and make my own.  ( it's not just the sails but all the extra rigging that might be involved too).  Thanks it's been an adventure so far already and I know I haven't even got very far into it.


Keith the deck to the back bulkhead actually turned out good I think.  The deck lines up right on the aft corners of the bulkhead, so when I get to shaping the aft bulkhead and blocks it should smooth right into place.


(try to do a better picture to show the bulkhead and the deck)






I haven't finished shaping but I wanted to put up what I've done so far.  Had a break in between as I didn't feel like cooking and went ahead and ordered pizza.  Didn't get my files or find a hobby saw so it was 1 for 3 but the pizza was better than a saw or files :)


Steps here were:


Taper the keel edge to a point down to bulkhead 6 then the taper needs to gradual end between bulkhead 6 and 7.  We want to taper the keel but not take anything off the straight line of the keel.  The taper of the keel also has to transition to the curvatures of each bulkhead, so the curve of the bulkheads to the 'edge' of the keel has to be smooth.


The fore and aft edges of the bulkheads have to also be tapered to follow the flow of the planking.  Bulkheads 4 and 5 are the widest ( port to starboard ) so these will be the medium center so bulkheads 1-3 have to taper to the fore and bulkheads 6-8 have to taper towards the aft.


So to keep this all straight in my head as well as my eyes while I sand away I drew some guidelines.  First I drew a line straight down the middle of the keel to about midway between bulkheads 6 and 7.  This is my center line for the keel 'point' so I will sand right up to the edge of this line but not take the line out.  As long as my line stays intact I won't create any dips in the keel line and I can keep that keel 'point' going right down the center ( I hope ).




I mark the 'fore' edges of bulkheads 1-3 to remind me that is the side I have to file on do the bulkhead tapering.

I mark the 'aft' edges of bulkheads 6-7 (I'm ignoring 8 for now) to remind me that is the side I have to work the taper on.

I also mark the edges of the keel where I have to file down to taper and get them to smooth out to the bulkhead edges.




The 'fore' edge of bulkhead 4 and the 'aft' edge of bulkhead 5 I sand and file a bit to round that edge off as the planking will start it's bending on those edges, so I don't want it to bend on a sharp edge.


I also wanted to put a curve into one of the first layer planking so I can use it as a guide along the bulkheads.  Took me a bit to figure out which bundle was 'limewood' as I don't know one wood from another.  I had to rely on the part count to get an idea, so I might end up using the wrong wood for the wrong parts guess I better stop before planking and figure out what is what and label it all.


Curving the wood... I see many posts people use 'wetting or heating' to bend the planks.  What I read in 'How to build Model Ships' book is for planking as long as it is not a radical bend you can just use a round object and with pressure rub the wood and it will curl/bend.  Inventory says I should have 30 planks.  I got 31 so figured what the heck, I'll try that.


So I clamp one end to a flat board, set my dowl perpendicular to the plank and put a little pressure on the dowl and just 'rubbed it straight down to the end of the plank. ( didn't rub back and forth, just did a straight forward motion to the end of the plank )




After only 2 passes....




I figure that should be enough bend just for testing the bulkhead edge tapering.


(edited note:  while this does bend thin wood like this, but for thicker or hard wood it doesn't work as well.  Also it tends to make the wood wider as it will 'flatten' the wood from the pressure)




Starting at the bow on the starboard side I tapered the keel edge on prow and worked my way slowly down the along the bulkheads with my sanding block.  I didn't have to work all that hard at it as working the block at about 30-45 degrees to the bulkhead lines I was hitting the bulkheads and keel at the same time.  Would only get hung up where the bulkheads made that extra curve right at the keel.  Worked that some with a dowel sander and emory board until I got to about  bulkhead 6.  I haven't fine tuned the sanding yet and I may have to do a tiny bit of shimming to make sure some of the bulkheads meet that keel better.








Time for a break and another slice of pizza.

Edited by Grimber
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Its looking good Tony.
While your fairing, I would recommend adding a block between bulkheads 1 and 2, up close to the keel. The garboard plank (the one next to the keel) if run all the way up to the first bulkhead, it will cause crowding in the bow, which means dropping a plank or over narrowing of the planks. General rule is not to narrow more then 1/2 the width. 
The garboard should start in between those bulkheads, so adding balsa gives a place for a more secure glue point.
Here's a pic of what I'm talking about. sometime a pictures worth many words, you can see were the garboard starts. I can put up a side shot if that helps. I realize my build log is a jungle to navigate, I'm not called mad for nothing.   :dancetl6:


Otherwise, I think you have a solid game plan.

I did want to mention your unique method for shaping the planks. I've read a lot of build logs and have never seen that method. It's amazing what wood with submit to, when worked correctly. Where did you find that trick, its a good one.

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I'll have to see if I can get to a hobby store in the next couple days.  Run out of options on regular retail stores as far as tools and materials I need ( at present) and buying from eBay can be hit or miss if you can get what you're after.  If no luck with the few around here I may have to look at online hobby stores as a last resort.


I got the tip from the book "How to Build Ship Models" by A.Richard Mansir  Moonraker Publication.  I think it pretty much covers everything from basic nautical terms to methods of building, rigging finishing even making your own sails.


SAM_0263.jpg  SAM_0264.jpg


page 13 shows the part of bending planks.  does cover 'wet' planks too.

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Oh, I think I will put in block like that in between bulkhead 1 an 2.  If I can't come up with some balsa by tomorrow or friday I just cut something out of wood.  I had this radical idea to reinforce all the bulkheads and then use that spray in expanding foam to fill all the bulkhead gaps.  Not on this model but if I find something I don't mind if the whole thing explodes from the expanding foam I may give it a try once.




Well, i kept filing and sanding and sanding and filing and checking the curvature over and over I found that bulkhead 4 just sat to low and the planking would dip between bulkheads 3 and 5  so had to shim that.  So now I think I got everything tapered and sanded about right from the bow to just past bulkhead 6 and finished the fall off of the keel taper between 6 and 7.





(when I seen this pic I thought there was a curve in the keel but it was something about the camera angle, i checked it with a straight edge)



Next step is the stern section and bulkheads 6-8,  start that tomorrow.




Oh, one little modeling tip.  If you plan to use that superglue and sawdust to fill small gaps, be sure you are saving sawdust on the side in a container..... and not taking it off the floor.  Otherwise you may be sanding other things besides glue and sawdust.... like dog hair.



Edited by Grimber
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Well checked a few hobby stores near my house (10 miles or less) but they were all more geared for trains then models.  Some had some balsa airplane kits and some sheets of balsa, but no blocks, base wood, or pretty much any wood.  As I also expected  the prices for any tools was insane.  Fortunately today I won an eBay auction for a Model Expo Deluxe Hobby Craft set at 1/3 of the price Model Expo charges on their site and it has a hobby saw with miter box.   Next to find a small plaining tool and some clamps.  Also got a small cheap rotary tool set which I put to use already today.


So didn't get too far on the build today but got a little work going.





Just have to work the stern half of the shaping before I need to think about the next section of planking the hull.  This model kit doesn't provide the very back piece ( I think it's called the Transom ? )  and no direct measurement referances on it's shape, only a small projected illustration.  So after taking a few measurements of the top and side cut away scale illustrations I put on some guidelines for a squared out outline of the shape to the aft end.






With these lines and the guide of bulkhead 8 shape I just cut out the excess of the fill blocks.  I'll leave the carving for later as I'll have to cut away excess from the false keel to get that basic shape of the curvature.






Keith, as you suggested to put in blocks between bulkheads 1 and 2, I had hoped to get some balsa today to do that so instead I opted to use some scrap wood I had laying around.  Found some old 1x2 I cut down to blocks that should work.  Will be harder to shape but I got time to work it.  After I squared off blocks and fit them to the bulkhead gaps I then just followed the keel and bulkhead lines to mark where to cut down.  Glad I got the rotery tool today as it make quick work of taking off the excess wood so I could glue these blocks in.  Now just have to wait till the glue dries then I can finish shaping them.






Got a little excited playing with my new toy so made blocks between bulkheads 2 and 3 as well :P

Edited by Grimber
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Well I filed and sanded down the inserted blocks between bulkheads 1-2-3.  May hit them one more time but I think they are about there.  Takes allot longer to file and sand a pine block then the ones used in the bow and stern :)







Also cut down on the stern blocks so I got a straight line against the keel from bulkhead 8 to my guideline on the back of the ship and started rounding out the block based on the curvature of bulkhead 8.





then I worked in the curvature of that line along the false keel.






At this point I'm sort of stuck.  I can't find a reference drawing or picture yet on the curvature of back part of the block as to how much angle/slope/curvature there is.



(the curved back part of the filler block)

Edited by Grimber
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Hey Tony,
There is no place where the curvature on the back of the stern block is listed or described, at least not in my older kit. Use a plank to find just how much needs removed. You can never go wrong if you fair so that the plank lays correctly. So add to sand and file, file and sand....... sand and file, check with a plank, file and sand....

To give you an idea of how much is removed, check giantdog's log, in post #38 I posted some pictures of my swift at that point. Giantdog is building the newer kit, which has a back transom bulkhead, so that must have been seen as an issue and taken care of when the kit was redesigned. For the old kit though, go with what the planking lay tells you, instinct is the best judge. 
BTW, thanks for posting that book, I'm always searching for resource material.

On planes, Harbor freight has a brass and walnut 3 piece set for around $10 and the block plane is great, once you sharpen and adjust the blade. I used mind a lot in planking. If you have a local HF you can save S&H charges, that's also a great place to pick up clamps of all types.


It looks like your building a great foundation for a really nice pilot boat. Great Work  :dancetl6:

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Thanks for the point out on Harbor Freight.  The plane set looks awsome for only 11.  Searched thier clamps and wow the prices are really lower then anywhere else I seen.  Could get 3-5 for the price one of the same size in Home Depot or Lowes.  Looks like is a store about 15 minutes away from me too.  I know where I'm going shopping tomorrow   :)


I read giantdog's log so far.  Everyones logs have helped point me in some directions, think I got allot more to even start looking at as well.  Looking at pictures on line too at the Virginia, pilot boats, schooners and clippers the best overall lay of the aft end is that they got a margarita/saucer glass shape to them.





I already have a bunch of pdfs downloaded I found all over the internet on modeling.  I can send you a list of what I got once I sort through them all and remove duplicates.

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Tony, things are looking good, just read through your log so far.


A couple of things on the tools. More clamps. Harbor freight has a tube of various sizes, mostly the small ones. They also have a digital caliper that has mm/fractions/inches, which is invaluable for planking.


A scroll saw or band saw. I use mine all the time, as have had to make new parts.


From the looks of yours so far, I think you're going to have a nice ship when your done.

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Thanks.  I intend to hit harbor freight tomorrow since I have to hit the post office anyways.  Probably spend the day making a long mental wish list.  Want a scroll saw but it will have to wait a while as a save my pennies for one.


After looking over more build logs, and what pictures I have found so far on the aft of schooners and clipper ships I committed to a shape.  It may not be right, but I'm happy with it as I think it fits the kits illustration.  The tricky part was sanding and shaping right along the line where it meets the false keel,  I think a little more could come off it but to get a bit more smooth transition but I need to find something I can sand that concave shape.  Might try steel wool on the tip of my finger.






After running a plank bow to stern and checking it  from keel to deck I'm still not happy with bulkhead 4 so I'll have to work on a shim for that.  Other than those 2 things I think I'm almost ready to try planking.  Just going to re read on it while I work these last 2 little things.


End Section A.4

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