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U.S.S. Constitution by Tuffarts - Mamoli - Cross-section 1:93 Scale

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This will be my first build log, so I will start at the beginning  with some photos of the kit, and discuss some 'kit bashing' I want to do.










The kit seems well thought out but has some shortcomings I will amend, and some that are beyond my skills to fix.


The Main thing that I cannot fix is that all of the ribs are the same size making the structure a lot easier to build as there are a lot more straight lines then if it had the correct curve of the hull, making for an easier build was mamolis goal here, I think.


And the top deck has one of the smaller cannons pointed very close to  a shroud, it has been placed there with artistic licence, so as to display a cannon on the top deck.


Both these things would need major changes made to the plans, so I will just have to live with these mistakes, and not point them out to people when I show the finished model off.


Things that I plan to fix are;


The pumps do not carry through the decks below, so I plan to research what the drains would look like and install them.


I plan on leaving some deck planking out to see into decks below, and let in light.

This will mean that I will have to improve the timbers that hold the decks, there seem to be missing knees that run under the decks, the vertical ones are represented but no horizontal knees, and I believe the constitution had 2 sets of wooden knees as well as iron knees that I want to research and replicate.


I also want to improve the gun hatches.


And plate the bottom of the model in copper tiles to replace the hideous GREEN pieces of planking suggested by Mamoli


I am sure I will find other ways to improve on the kit, and it will be good practice till I can do a WHOLE ship.


Looking forward to a good build.


I will update when I get this started.

Reading Italian instructions???, and researching the changes I want to make till then.





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After many years away from modeling I chose this kit a few years back and yes there are many short comings including the elimination of a deck. In all I totally enjoyed the build and decided to do it based on the supplied plans and put my desire for authenticity aside.


I look forward to seeing your progress


Dan Doyle


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Interesting box art.  I wonder if the JD is used as a finish, or something to drink while commiserating over the kits shortcomings.  I had a tour of the ship in August - if you'd like I will look through my photos and see if there is anything that might be useful to the kit-bash.  I will be following along as well.



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Welcome to the Connie builders - and to the smaller set of Mamoli Connie builders. There are a couple of build logs on here for the cross section. I would add to not reject out of hand the faux copper bottom Mamoli has. While you certainly can use real copper foil on the bottom, then you have to decide to patina it, clear coat it, or wait years while it goes through the darkening process.


The Mamoli green plates were designed to create a faux finish by first, being separate plates, then secondly by the finish you apply. The directions tell you after you apply the plates to the bottom you lightly sand them then coat the bottom with a copper paint, followed by a thin green stain. This creates the mottled copper/copper patina bottom. You have a lot of control over how green or copper you want your bottom to be. I actually like the way mine came out. However, I can see the attractiveness of applying copper foil as well.


Anyway, I know you will enjoy your build as we will who will be following your log.

Edited by robnbill
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Well I have been digging around on the internet and found various things out.


the pumps are incorrect type, as well as not going through the decks so I may change that,

or keep to my original idea to add 'pipes'going through to bottom of ship.


The floor beams do not have enough details which I will add


The knees are as I thought in very different positions to the kit, there are angled knees that meet above each cannon.


The capstan is just on the edge of the hatch that is the edge of the model, so I have toyed with the idea of extending some beams,

to hang the capstan out in mid air, with other beams and decks etc. extending out from the standard cutaway.

This idea is hampered by the lack of a gun deck on the model, as the capstan would have to be shorter by one deck also.


I am just going to improve on this kit as much as I can without going too overboard about authenticity, as there are already major flaws with the kit in that regard. I will try to add as much as I can (not a whole gun deck).


I will start Photoshopping some plans to see how ideas are coming together.


Still considering buying the Anatomy of ships book too

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I looked through my photos and found some shots of the knee arrangement on the gun deck and the orlop deck.  It sounds like you have already captured that information.  The other thing I noted was long diagonal braces (I think Henry called them riding beams) at the lowest level of the ship.   They were introduced to deal with the hogging that was always a plague to ship builders.  Henry said that even after two hundred years, there is almost no deflection in the keel on Constitution.  I also have a pic of the capstan on the gun deck that shows some of the detail of the pawls.  Probably not useful to you ssince you are not adding the gun deck :)



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Well time for an update


Things been progressing along, I have finished plans for the orlop deck beams that I will attempt with nothing more than a sharp knife, a razor saw and some files.

Other decks will be similar, but the knees are angled down the walls on those decks and not in the floor itself as they are in this deck.


Deck-beams-amp-Horizontal-knees.jpgI started construction of the hull It went quiet smoothly




Most of this will be hidden by planking of some sort so I did not concern myself with finish too much, just checked for square often, but easy method to keep square as the frames are all the same.





I did try to put the gun ports in as I built the whole frame (they can be see installed on the next photo), but I latter removed these as they were not even or square enough.





Next I used the trusty razor saw to remove the sides of the hull to make space for the gangway, and a change of level for the rail.

And I cut gunports for the upper deck, these I want to line with framing timbers after the hull planking is installed.





Next I made a redementry jigs that were held in place with small wedges, I lined them up by measuring the height with a rule and lined them up by eye

I used these to glue in the timber using the sides of the small jigs to keep them square to each other.




They came out fairly strait and at the right height, I can still adjust them after I have planked both sides of the hull.





That is where I am up to at the moment I have cleaned up some of the white metal parts with files, And played around with most of the other parts to see what I want to replace or add to, (Lots of extra buckets/tool boxes/chairs/stools/etc.)


I am still confused about the pumps, I find some models with chain type pumps and a cistern assembly on the gun deck next to main mast, but the real ship has the same pumps as was supplied with the kit.

Is it possible that it had chain pumps in it's early life and the type that are fitted now/supplied with the kit were added later, if so do the pumps that are fitted now have drains/pipes that carry through to the lower decks, 

The pumps in plans supplied with the kit are on gun deck but do not carry through to lower decks to collect water, I believe they were connected to the scuppers when in use but I am not sure how they were connected at all.


Here is the pumps fitted now




Thanks for photo Bob


Anyway I will keep log informed as to my progress


Back to building.

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Yes the pumps were replaced. Here is some text from the Constitution CD:


1812 Pumps = “Chain” pumps (right) - pulled water
up from the hold. Mid-1800s = copper pumps found
on gun deck today (left, below). Hand-operated fresh
water pump, berth deck, c.1870s (below, center). There
were also „fire engines‟ with hand pumps on board that
used sea water to put out deck or fires in the rigging.
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Tom is right. The chain pumps in your picture were added in the 1840-50s and are not accurate to 1812.


You will need to fabricate some like the pictures below (these are from my first build, so not the best quality), to make the fitting accurate to 1812. You can find the schematics in the AOTs book on the Constitution on page 79.








I hope this helps.


- Tim



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Just another small update


I decided to dress up the exposed ribs with venere that is cut to imitate the original timbers.


I drew up a plan



And started covering the ribs



And cut the covering from .5 x 5 mm rose wood, I will exaggerate the scarf joints with some pencil lines and I made the odd house shaped timber a darker wood for contrast. I will treenail with lots of small brass wire pieces, but the rest of the model will be treenailed with bamboo.




I still have the keel strip to cover to bring it up to the height of the new wood, these I will do in darker wood if I cannot figure a way to continue end grain.





Thanks for the help with the pumps I think I am going to go with the 'modern' version that came with the kit but I am still going to carry there drain system through to all deck levels.

Edited by Tuffarts
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Time for an update


I have made a jig to laminate the floor beams in the correct curve, I thought this would give more consistent results.

It uses more stock than the suggested way.




Things went well for the first 10 (I need 15), Then I picked out some more stock from the supplied wood, I proceed with the next 5, thinking the jig was a bit tighter then when I started, but the wedges where getting a bit worn. When I checked the last 5 they were wider because the stock I had picked was same width but slightly thicker, it is supposed to be used for the planking of the hull. I have been stocking my 'wood pile lately so I should be able to substitute something (most of them are painted so matching size is only concern)




I finished putting pear wood on the exposed ribs, I will tree nail this in brass wire.

Then I went on the inside planking (I think it is called the ceiling wood, but it is on the floor , crazy sailors) .

this I am going to tree nail in wood, but only the exposed joints, most of this will have ballast or cargo covering, 




I am thinking of putting a lumber rack in the lower hold, on one side that would essentially be a shelf that had some large timbers, sail cloth, etc. (suggestions please)





I have been playing around with some of the smaller things as well


The table had enormous feet so I trimmed them down too look like legs, I made 2 small (4mm high) benches to go with the table (what to put on the table).





Sorry for bad quality photos, is hard to get small parts with just a phone




And some tool boxes that still need hinges and handles 


and sea chests, sailors need chests (in case of booty).




I am up building the decks next, as well as get the cannons out to see what height they will be, as the plans are a bit vague on some measurements, and I do not trust they will be accurate enough if I want cannons in middle of gun port, so they will have to be built so I can measure accurately the height.


So till next update.

Happy building.

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Got the shelf started for the sailcloth and lumber store.




I scratch built it from some plans I scribbled.


I am still going to add five legs to the frame, and some 'temporary' clets to the inside of the hull to stay the legs.


It has a section missing so there is still clearance for the hatch, and will sit in this position of the hull




I also have to notch the back of the frame to accept the knees, I will build it outside the ship and fit it before the deck beams above it.

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More on the shelf, I have made 'legs' for the self, here is the first set getting treenailed.




Here is both sets of 'legs' being tree nailed to the shelf, and put into temp position for photo, the upper cleat has been glued into position, the lower cleats will be also glued in but I will hold of on installing till lots else is finished.20141127_090340.jpg


The ends of the legs need to be trimmed to bring shelf to horizontal (it has slight upwards incline at the moment).


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  • 4 weeks later...

Well it has been a while, but time for an update.


I finished the treenails on the lower deck, installed the shelf, which lost it's front legs which were replaced with angled beams that join to the back legs.20141203_014759.jpg


I waited a long time for the draw plate to arrive from America, so I made what other assemblies I could while I waited.

They included the fighting top. the riding bits, and some work on the cannons.


The fighting top was made was laser cut from thin plywood, I had wood that was same dimension as the kick rail, but more supple than the supplied walnut, I used the lasercut leftover as a jig to firmly attach the whole piece in one  length without a gap. It worked a treat. I then put a kick rail around the inside, so sailors don't slip down through the mast hole.






The riding bitt and pin rails were tree nailed together as were the uprights that were drilled  to take ropes (maybee little wheels if I can find some) 






I started the cannons, I grooved the outside of the carriage to simulate separate pieces of wood, I painted these and made small wedges for them from scrap, there was 3 badley cast handles from belaying pins that had not formed properly, these had holes/bubbles that were perfect for mounting to the wedges, leaving only 1 hole to drill in an impossibly  small part. 

The barrels of the cannon were some sort of antique brass finish, but needed the flash lines filed, so a new  finish is needed. I tried putting the barrels in acid, this gave them a nice matt black finish but fell of as soon as it came out of the acid. I may have to resort to painting or possibly buying aftermarket barrels/cannons.

The wheels have small treenails in centers to simulate the axle, I left them proud a little then peened them over with small hammer. They have not shown up on this photo but they look better than the plain wheel provided.





I have started the pipes for under the pumps, the copper tube will continue to the bottom of the ship and be painted black. the wooden flanged part will be covered in copper leaf. 





I also finished of the chests and boxes





Fitting deck beams was next, I pre cut all the parts.




Using the plans to approximate the fitting.





Most of the fitting was done on the model but the whole floor assembly is not fixed to the model yet.




The whole assembly lifts out but sits in its correct position without any coaxing.

I still have smaller beams to go in the rebates on the beams that run along the length of the ship, and the beams that hold up the floor.

And the knees need to be installed.





I am still waiting on some rivets that I want to detail some things in the lower deck and I want to get the rest of the pipe system for the lower deck worked out, I have not seen what happens to the pipes lower than the berthing deck. If I cannot find out the real configuration I will make up something interesting.


I must apologize also to Victorian shipmates, I did intend on coming to the BBQ but was waylaid by work.

No meeting for 2 months now, I will make a point of showing up for that, and will bring my membership application.


Also I have purchased the Shipways 18th century longboat (it's smaller than I thought), I will start this in a few weeks as a small side project.

And I purchased the Concord Stagecoach, that will be going in the storage locker for a while, but it looks like lots of fun for a future project.


Anyway back to the workshop till next time, if anyone can help with photos of the lower hold under the main mast would be appreciated.

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I have started on the deck beams for the gun deck.


Things are going well, the gunports will need to be redone to get the cannons to line up properly.


When I cut the gangway opening, I shortened the port side frame 1.5mm shorter than the other, an easy fix, but the mistake has been confusing me this whole time as I kept getting different measurements when trying to level the decks. Sometimes I would measure from the back frames, all good then latter I would measure from the front and want to do repairs to true up the deck levels, lucky I never did.





I also installed the 'Mast holding apparatus', I added grattings to each side of it and added some black nails.




Here is a good shot of the 'Sail/Lumber storage' 



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Back again with update;


I have been working on the pipe system for the pumps, I did not find a photo of the pipes in the lower hold, so I improvised and made a manifold that joins the pipes in groups of 3 to 1 then these 'drain' into the grate I put in to the mast holding device on both sides of the mast.


First photo shows the jig I made to get both sides similar 




Then this is the finished units, the 2 small pieces of wood with holes in them will go over the pipe and be stuck under the deck to fix the pipes hanging from under the orlop deck in correct position and angle.




I then started planking the orlop deck, I used thin brown cotton to simulate caulking, I have not seen this method used much here, but I like the rustic look that it gives.

You need to make sure that no cotton is higher than the deck level or it will turn to fuzz if you sand or scrape it before soaking with poly varnish.







Here you can see the holes that are for the pipes to pass through the deck, the small peice of wood with the hole will be glued in from below holding the pipes in these holes




I am part way through tree nailing, and need to finish some of the port side planking (some will be left out to show of the deck beams)




I have some lime wood shaped for the waterway/gutter/architrave, it will hide the last plank there that does not have caulking.


Next is to work out the arrangement of the diagonal knees for this deck and the gun deck. I have some photos of the orlop deck and lots of the gun deck, but the biggest influence is the existing model and fitting in with the Mamoli plans.


Hope to have all the knees worked out in the next week.

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This is looking great. I could not tell from your log. On the Connie the pumps were set up so the water removed from the bilge could be used to flood, or really wet the gun deck prior to a battle. Is that how you are plumbing it?


I have just run the pipes from the bottom of the pumps to larger copper holding tanks hanging from top deck on the gun deck there I will scratch build a firefighting station, the pipes carry through the orlop deck and attach to the manifold I scratch built from bamboo skewers, the end of the pipes will point towards the very bottom of the mast, where I have a small grating. the pipe does not meet the bottom of the ship but it is very close, and will be easy to hide with ballast if incorrect.



Next time I test fit them I will get a photo.

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Finished of the deck as much as I want too and added the waterways.


The tree nailing has come out well, is subtle on the deck but stands out on details like the waterway.






Next I trial fitted the pipes in position and the port side pipes are too close to my lumber rack.

I will have to coax them into position with a file and cover old holes as best I can, or I may remove a few deck planks and start again


The top gray sections are still far too tall, they will be cut to correct height and covered in copper foil, the bottom portion painted black to join the lower deck pipes.







This photo you can see where the pipes finish (so far), I do not think this is correct but it does look functional.





Till next time, I hope to get stared on the knees for this deck.

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I redid the pump arrangement again, I removed the old deck planks with incorrect holes. 


Replaced those planks (still need to tree nail and finish), and built the fire station (needs finishing/painting).




Now I can work out the exact height of the grey parts, I will be able to finish the pump system for this deck.




the small brass thingy on the deck there is going to be the fire nozzle (needs a buff).

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Thanks for the praise Patrick I looked in on you build log, looking great, much bigger project then mine is.


I have installed the knees.


I prepared all the knees the same size as the vertical knees provided with kit, but these were too short I discovered after fully painting them.

I had to lengthen them with CA glue and off cuts.




I glued them in with wood glue.




Making sure to scrape back the paint to get a good bond.




I then painted it all white again (still needs few touchups).








Next is partially install the pipes for the pumps, and start installing the deck beams for the gun deck.

I also have to fill both decks up with interesting 'Stuff' Table, benches, barrels, boxes, stacks of wood.

I have extra barrels coming from different supplier, so the ship is not filled with identical barrels.

Any suggestions of 'Stuff to lay around on the lower decks would be appreciated.

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