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Cutty Sark by stevenmh - Revell - 1:96 - PLASTIC

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I first joined this site with the intent of building wooden models and thought I'd start with the USS Constitution cross-section, as that would give me a chance to explore rigging in more detail and not yet have to worry about bending planks.  Then I got the kit and started looking both at the instructions and some of the build logs and found myself a bit intimidated - the kit seemed a bit complex, the parts very small and the work some of the other builders had done - AndyMech in particular - way past my current abilities.  So I decided I should work up to the wood by practicing on some of the old old plastic models that have been sitting in the garage for 40+ years.  As a teen I had done several smaller plastic models - the Victory, Charles W. Morgan, and even a Conny, but that was a long time ago, and so I thought it prudent to try to relearn those skills. 

     The 2 models I had sitting around were the Hartford and the Cutty Sark - The biggest problem with the Hartford was that the hull sections had become so warped, I could not even dry-fit the halves without them beginning to crack.  So the Cutty Sark it is - even after looking in on SailKat's equally intimidating build. 

     I expect this build will not live up to the standards of those who love this ship - my intension is to use this model to learn basic techniques, mostly of rigging, but it has become apparent I will also need to learn how to fabricate parts out of wood and plastic, which ought to come in handy later.  As you can see from the photo, this ship has spent the last 40+ years in a broken down box in an unheated garage, so parts have been lost (nothing major so far, just half the rudder and the jib boom!) and some of the plastic pieces have become very brittle - almost every time I touch a pin rail part or all of a belaying pin snaps off.  So I will be asking a lot of basic, newbie, which-end-of-the-hammer-do-I-use kinds of questions; I hope you will bear with me.  My ultimate goal is not only to get to the Constitution cross section, but ultimately try a plank on frame frigate or line-of-battle ship (suggestions welcome, but that is a few years off).  

     I have seen conflicting advice in terms of using or replacing parts that came with the kit - particularly the plastic eyebolts and blocks.  I expect I will try to make some new eyebolts just to try, and replace some or all of the plastic blocks with wood ones so I can learn how to strop and seize them, although seizing the becket on a 3mm block seems ambitious.


Well, here goes...


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Out of the box and on to the table.  Clearly I started this ship way back when, but did not get too far.  I'll probably do some work repainting some of the parts - deck houses, rails and belaying pins, but I'm not sure about spending time on the deck itself; I don't have that much time left to work out in the unheated garage with the smelly paints and glue before winter wins out.




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Hello Steven, and very hot wellcome to the Cutty Sark fleet.


As you progress, you will find your skills grow, and one day you will find that "I can never do that" on unknown way transformed to "Hey, I just did it !"


Just a lot of thinking and a lot of patience, and a lot of love and joy


Waiting for your progress



Edited by Nenad M
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Hi Steven,

could you work on your model in the house if you didn't use any stinky paints or glue?


I switched to using acrylics about a year ago and I can't see ever going back to oils.  For glue I use CA adhesives mostly, especially on plastic. They may be a little stinky to you working on the model but your wife in another room won't complain abut the smell.

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Thanks Bob, it should be fun, and perhaps a bit whimsical.  John, I expect I will use acrylics when I get to my wooden ships, but nothing seems to stick to this old old plastic other than enamel.  Also, and probably more importantly, it's a big ship and I don't really have a lot of space inside the house.  However, my plan is to spend the winter rigging all the footropes and stroping the blocks and attaching them to the yards and tops - given my one attempt so far at stroping and seizing a 3mm block, that should keep me busy for a while. 


Crew's vote of no-confidence?  All jumping ship?


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Finally took the masking tape off, and the white lines on the hull did not come out too terribly bad, some minor scraping should take care of it.


Now that the hull is glued, I decided to dry-fit the deck and one complete mast, just to get a sense of scale.  One of the pieces I discovered to be missing is the mizzen lower hound; I am using the foremast hound as a template and will attempt to fabricate my own.


The dry-fit uncovered the fact that the 3 deck pieces did not fit properly - the hull halves had warped a bit, so back into the iron maiden she goes to try to re-warp the hull around the deck.  I've also discovered the upper masts are bent - hopefully some of that will be fixed when I rig her.


It's finally get too cold to sit out in the garage for long, so I'm off to establish some winter quarters!





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Hello Steven,

Welcome the MSW, you really seem to have a good start on the Cuttysark.  I also have built it, along with all the other 1/96 Revell kits and would look forward to more postings of your build. In regards to the masts, these kits are notorious for the masts flexing.  I put steel rods in my lower masts and made all the upper parts out of wood using the plastic ones as templates.  It makes it a lot easier to rig.



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  • 3 months later...

Winter quarters not working out too well, and it is reflected in the work I've tried to do.  Not really happy with my first attempts at foot ropes (they are uneven and don't hand straight), so I will be taking these apart and trying again.  Hopefully we will stop with the record-breaking cold so I can get back into the unheated garage soon.





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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Steven, Stephen here

   ummmmmmm I don't know how to put this exactly but, I urge you in the strongest language to reconsider a course of action here.

    B) I strongly recommend that you go to a local hobby shop or maybe Lowes and get a selection of wood round stock. (Lowes happens to have oak round stock!) Replace every mast and spar with the real wood stuff. The reason why is manifold. First when you calculate the amount of time you spend sanding mould lines and gluing and trimming you could done that same job with much better results by using round stock- just take the measurements off of the plastic masts and spars and make them out of wood. Also, the old plastic is really weak and very brittle. When you start applying the rigging and perforce need to handle the masted and sparred ship - the wood replacement parts will prove much more robust This a really critical consideration when you get to the jib boom and flying jib especially when you have a vast investment in rigging time. Last, the replacements will simply look better, more true and authentic. Stain them and other observers will invariably ask how you got it to look like wood,--> best answer that always impresses--> it is wood! I only make these observations as a result of extensive experience, in other word 'ask me how I know'  :rolleyes:

   Thanks and great job so far

   Steve -  :cheers:

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If you have not gotten too far on the foot ropes, you might want to try using brass jackstays from ModelExpo for the vertical drops. I have used their .75 x 6 to good effect for my foot ropes. You can drill holes in the bottom of the yard and cut the shank to length.The eye is small enough for scale and it is a whole lot easier to run the foot ropes line through them and they hang perfectly. As I said, just an idea.


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Thanks Steve and Steve for your suggestions - converting all the masts and spars to wood may be a bit more difficult than I can achieve right now, given the amount of detail in the plastic (at least in the spars - I will probably try wood with the upper masts since they are warped already, without the strain of rigging.  I suppose if those go well I may develop the confidence to try with the spars).  The brass jackstays sound like a lifesaver.

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  • 4 months later...

Shipyard finally re-opened, mostly for structural work at the moment, not rigging much yet.  One of the things I discovered as construction went on was the mizzen cheek part was missing, so I attempted to make my own.  This was my first attempt at scratch-building a part, and it came out better than I expected. 














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Hi Steve, Stephen here great to see you back on the build

   As it happens I am only about 5 feet away from my model, allow me to grab the calipers and we'll set to- if anyone wants to chime in with better dimensions do not hesitate.

   From The HULL outwards to the jib boom cap(the tip of the boom)- the over all length is 8 1/4 inches( understanding that the jib boom foot is angled to match the knight head.)

At the hull end the boom is o.147 in. SQUARE- the square cross section moves forward 0.313 inches, goes through the aft chock (a figure 8 piece of iron that connects the aft part of the boom to the bowsprit stump. Then the cross section becomes ROUND for the rest of the length of the boom.

From there it is 2.290 inches further toward the cap end of the boom to the martingale ring. At the martingale the boom is .020 inches in diameter(just use the inside diameter of the martingale ring as a template).

Proceeding further to the boom cap-away from the hull, from the martingale ring 2.059 inches forward is the first sheave(a hole from above to below,through the boom that contains a pulley), this is for the inner topmast jib stay.

Next stop outward from the 1st sheave, 0.328 inches is a brace ring. There is an iron ring with eyebolts on either side(port and starboard) and below (NOT ABOVE ) for the guys and stays to attach; at this point the diameter of the jib boom is 0.175 inches.

Next farther outboard 0.801 inches is the second sheave for the outer topmast jib stay. (we're nearly there)

Next 1.621 inches farther toward the cap is a 3rd sheave for the inner  t'gallant jib stay.

0.466 inches farther outboard  is one last sheave for the outer t'gallant jib stay.

Now dont get lost - split the distance between the last two sheaves and there is an iron ring for the outer martingale stay(an iron ring with eyebolts like the the first one -on either side and below but not above the jib boom). 

Whew, last measurement. The jib boom cap is outboard of the last sheave 0.195 inches and the boom has steadily tapered to 0.085 inches in diameter at the cap. 

 To construct it out of wood(highly recommended for this structure). Start with a dowel slightly larger in diameter than we need about 0.20 inches to account for the diagonal measurement of the square foot. Lay out all of the critical measurements for sheaves, rings etc. Drill the sheaves . Then slowly reduce the diameter from the foot to the martingale ring(roughly parallel, there is very little taper between the foot and the martingale ring). Taper to the cap. Construct the two eyebolt rings, splice the mainbrace (navy speak for drink your favorite cold beverage)

 I urge anyone to top that.

 hope this helps 


Edited by historyguysteve
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  • 2 weeks later...

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